Princess Tutu Review

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It’s time for a pretty unique anime that I had never really heard of until I began watching it. The Magical girl genre has always been pretty good, at least for the titles that I’ve seen. Madoka Magica is one of the greatest anime ever and Sailor Moon/Cardcaptor Sakura were also pretty fun back in the day. Princess Tutu is the first one I’ve seen in a while and it’s pretty solid. There is always an air of mystery with the series and not everything is as it seems.

The first arc starts off with a Duck being turned into a human. Duck had always wanted to be a human so she could cheer up Mytho (Pronounced Muto) since the guy always seemed sad. This was her big chance and she is now enrolled in a dance school. She quickly makes two friends once she’s there. Duck then discovers that Mytho is actually missing all the pieces of his heart and it’s up to her to find them. Duck can transform into the hero known as Princess Tutu in order to complete this task, but she will have to deal with many objects that have gained sentience. Whether it be solving puzzles or giving them a pep talk, Tutu must stand strong.

Of course, it’s easy enough when there is no big antagonist, but that doesn’t last for long. The big villain behind the scenes is Drosselmeyer. He’s an old story writer who died and went to the spirit realm so he could become all powerful. Whatever he writes becomes reality so he is a dangerous opponent. We also have the evil Princess Kraehe who doesn’t want Mytho to regain his heart pieces and stands in Tutu’s way. Mytho’s best friend Fakir has the same objective although he is at odds with Kraehe. Tutu will have to overpower all of them to help Mytho out.

Arc 2 continues the plotline of gathering the heart pieces, but the game has changed quite a bit. For starters, Kraehe gets a bigger presence in the story as we find out that she is working for the Raven King. He wants Mytho to get his heart back to he can take over his body and destroy the world. Drosselmeyer is still around as well and Tutu has doubts on if she can get all of the heart pieces back and even if it’s the right thing to do at this point.

Throughout the show, the town is very cloudy. It’s still light outside, but this effect makes everything a little more mysterious than it would b otherwise. You always wonder if something sinister is about to happen. It’s a pretty nice atmosphere effect to make scenes a little more tense even when they’re happy moments. It helps you feel like someone may be in control in the background.

The show even hints at the final plot twist early on as Duck will wake up one morning to randomly find that they have an animal for a classmate or a cat for a teacher. Humans randomly change, but everyone acts as if they’ve always been there. The whole town can be strangely isolated at times with people only being around when it’s inconvenient. Yet, the humans still appear enough to cement their roles in the town. Very mysterious.

Princess Tutu is first and foremost a dancing show. Tutu beats all of her opponents by convincing them to dance with her and the bond they develop as a result gets the villain to turn good. Most of the villains aren’t evil after all, they just went down the wrong path to ruin. It’s handled pretty well and I wouldn’t call it cheesy. It’s outlandish, but as none of the villains were super evil it was pretty believable. A few of them did try attempted murder so the water’s a little murky but it’s a nice gimmick.

The soundtrack may not be the most exciting as a result, but you’ll get to hear a lot of classic songs. Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and other iconic songs from ballet. It’s a very soft soundtrack that lets you focus on the dancing. I think a quick electronic/fast paced rock song would have fit in well enough, but I suppose I can see why they didn’t go that route. The animation is pretty good. It’s nothing amazing, but the show has aged well for its time. The character designs are on point and the action scenes are good when they appear. At first I wasn’t expecting too many fights but about midway through Arc 1 we slowly started to get more and more of them which was certainly a good thing. I love a good fight scene even if the villains always seem to have the edge in raw power. That’s why you also need some dancing to slow them down.
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Duck is our main heroine and she’s a fun character. She can run low on confidence at times, but always does her best to do the right thing. The fact that she can transform from human to duck and vice versa is certainly very useful. It’s also interesting how she gets a different personality as Tutu, but still does seem to be in control and keeps her memories. I suppose it’s just a really big confidence boost inside of the power up that happens automatically. Either way, I definitely had no qualms with Duck. She made the hard calls and never deserted her friends.

Mytho is an interesting case since he was missing his heart for quite a while. Without it, he let everyone push him around for a while. He had no emotions so he was fine with betraying everybody and just doing what he wanted. It was definitely hard to sympathize with the guy. In arc 2 he made for a good villain as he turned evil thanks to the Raven’s blood. I suppose we can’t blame him here either, but it is tempting since it shows a lack of willpower. It was probably his best string of appearances. We finally see the real Mytho in the final episode so that’s something. He finally becomes the hero he has always wanted to be. I guess Mytho was an okay hero, but a good villain. All in all that makes him a good character, but he serves as more of a plot device for the cast to fight over than anything else.

Fakir starts off as a rather antagonistic person who slaps Mytho and threatens Duck’s life. We eventually learn that he only became a villain to keep Mytho safe. See, it goes back to how the characters are all puppets who are being manipulated by Drosselmeyer. The whole town is essentially one giant page and the author has full control. However, Drosselmeyer’s plan can only continue if Mytho gets his heart back so Fakir has decided to prevent this from happening. He isn’t able to stop Duck though and that’s why he goes down the dark path. Eventually he comes around though and after realizing that it is futile to try and stop Tutu, he does his best to protect Mytho. By Arc 2 he is finally a full fledged hero who helps in saving the day. It’s definitely hard to forget how over the top he was at the start, but I suppose all of the characters either started out evil or turned evil at some point. Duck is the only one who was a hero throughout. Fakir also gave us some fun action scenes which was neat since he had a sword.

Rue is the best character in the show and one of the main supporting characters. She agreed with Fakir that Mytho shouldn’t get his heart back but didn’t change her mind quite as quickly as he did. She wants Mytho to stay with her, but if he regains his memories then he will likely ditch her right away. Her character’s destiny from the story is to be despised by all and then to die. Again, it makes for an interesting dynamic since they all know that they’re merely puppets in a story. Rue shows some glimpses of possibly returning to the good side, but then her father the Raven King shows up and makes that impossible. Rue still does her best to spare some humans that she comes across and ultimately doesn’t want to be a villain, but has a hard time getting out of her predicament. Arc 2 as a whole was pretty tough on her, but at least she got a happy ending. Rue made for a very good rival to Tutu and the show basically said that she is even stronger. Rue has quite a lot of special abilities at her disposal aside from dancing. Tutu got some plant abilities to counter them, but I’d still give Rue the edge.

Raven King is the big villain in Arc 2, but 90% of his screen time is just him on the throne. He only throws one body slam near the end or attempts too, but that’s the only action that he gets. He is pretty huge and technically powerful, but he just isn’t fast enough to hit the heroes. Maybe he shot some energy blasts, but I can’t recall if that was really him or I’m just mixing up an effect. Either way, he had a nice voice, but was also very repetitive. His role was to keep reminding Rue that she was doomed to be forever alone. He’s not a very nice guy to say the least.

Drosselmeyer is the actual main villain, but I never liked him. He’s not nearly as intimidating as the other antagonists. He panics quite a bit and while he talks a good game, there’s nothing interesting about him. He’s pretty OP since he can do anything from the mirror world but he rarely goes to the human world since he is supposed to be dead. The heroes can’t really do anything to him either so he’s just around. I suppose it can be entertaining to see him running back and forth all the time.

Edel was a pretty shady character from the start and I had a feeling that you couldn’t trust her. I never liked the character since she always just spoke in riddles that went around and around. Maybe that could have worked, but it didn’t this time. Everytime Duck would ask something Edel would just dodge the question. Uzura was slightly better as she was a kid version of Edel who was always yelling. She also didn’t add much, but at least the yelling and drum playing she always did must have been real annoying in real life so I like thinking about how the villain has to put up with that.

Autor is a character who shows up near the end of the series and he was pretty cool. He actually knows the truth behind the town and is working to get past it. Unfortunately, he is not the chosen one so there isn’t much he can do, but he acts as a mentor to Fakir. He even has a pretty cool moment where he takes down the guys with the axes. They certainly went off the deep end and had some of the worst plans possible so I was glad Autor won. I was expecting him to be a villain for a while so it was cool to see him as more of a rival. He was one of the more low key great characters in the show.

Pike and Lillie were Duck’s two friends from school. I didn’t care for Lillie as she always pretended to be Duck’s friend but would then backstab her constantly and try to get her into trouble. She would try to chip away at Duck’s self esteem and was just mean the whole time. We never even got a character moment to explain that so it was just odd. At least Pike was always trying to be helpful and supported Duck in what she did. Then we also have Mr. Cat who is the dance instructor. He’s pretty annoying and is constantly asking people to marry him and sweating bullets when they refuse. The gag shows up in every episode that he is in and got old the minute it happened. He’s definitely the worst character in the show.

The main cast was really good or at least very interesting the whole time while the supporting cast was quite a bit weaker. Still, there were always enough good characters to keep the ball rolling. The writing was pretty good throughout. Everyone moved with purpose and they all had their own motivations. The show didn’t have any real fanservice as even the transformation scenes and the tricky Duck turning into a human moments were handled really well. It’s a pretty safe anime that I could recommend to anyone.

If I have any problems with the show, it’s that I’m not a big fan of some aspects of the final twist. I’m fine with them all essentially being stuck inside a fake town that is all a story. I think it was maybe a little too far when they were all literally puppets being forced to move around. Even if Fakir is now the one with the controls, it takes away from their free will. Based on Fakir’s struggle to write a happy ending, they do have some limits and it’s all based on will power, but they still do control an awful lot. The characters really have to wonder about everything they do now and if it is really what they wanted to do. I think just take away the strings and have it so the authors can write new characters and events into the mix, but they can’t actually control the characters. That would work a little better. I ultimately don’t get why Drosselmeyer didn’t just write a new ending after the bookmen stole it, but I’ll assume that he just didn’t have enough willpower left.

I suppose that the romance was handled pretty well. Mytho had a tough time making up his mind and the first choice couldn’t work out for some characters, but it’s just another tough call to make. Duck made the hero call and just did what was best for the team so that was definitely nice of her. Anyway, being a duck isn’t so bad. It sounds pretty fun if you ask me although I would definitely stay in human form for the most part. It’s still the best way to play.

Finally, a neat visual effect was the little clocks that would zoom in on various characters whenever Drosselmeyer checked in on them. Since he was essentially the grand author in charge of this production he needed to keep an eye on them somehow right? I would have liked to have seen more of how he used those to affect the real world though. I guess we couldn’t see too much or he’d truly be OP but there must be some limits to it. How is he even this strong? He brings up the most questions in the series for sure and I suppose we just have to roll with them.
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Overall, Princess Tutu is a pretty fun show that I’d definitely recommend checking out. I’d say that it’s probably a little closer to Madoka than Sailor Moon in how serious it is, but is pretty well placed in the middle. It has a lot of Sailor Moon’s happy scenes and monster of the week moments at first, but also has the increased stakes and mystery of Madoka. There is also quite a bit of drama since Duck wants to bring Rue back to the side of the heroes, but this proves to be a really difficult task. It’s also hard to say which arc was actually better. Arc 2 got off to a faster start since the characters were already introduced but Arc 1 did have the better climax. I’ll probably say that Arc 2 takes the narrow win here. It’s just a very balanced show that did a good job of playing to its strengths.

Overall 7/10

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Attack on Titan: A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence Review

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It’s time for another Attack on Titan OVA. You’ll be happy to know that this one is the best yet. It approached dangerous territory when the characters decided to go hunting, but the special did a pretty good job of handling it. It wasn’t perfect, but it managed to save itself as there was no blood or anything. It would be a little dicey if this was a long show were that kept happening or a movie with repeated scenes of this, but as a one off it wasn’t fatal.

This special should really be called Attack on Jean. He’s a pretty minor character in the main series, but he effectively got his own special here. Jean wants to get a cushy job in the Interior so he won’t have to fight Titans for a living, but this is proving to be difficult. His best chance is to do well in a training exercise, but then his teammates destroy this chance by just being better fighters in general than him. Jean doesn’t take this too well and hastily accepts a cooking challenge against Sasha. If he wins, she’ll have to stop up staging him every day of his life. The battle is on, but can Jean really win?

I do have to say that the remixed opening was handled pretty much perfectly here. We see a lot of shots of Jean running around and trying to be relevant and then at the end when the music is ramping up we just have him walking around since he usually doesn’t get to do much during the climax. It’s emotional yet also very fitting for the character. The soundtrack in general is easily 5 star material as we get most of the show’s famous themes from the first season. It’s just consistently amazing. The visuals are also pretty good. You’ll recognize the green energy effects the show loves to use and all of the character designs are on point. It’s not an action this time around so it’s hard to say just how good it is in the end, but it’s certainly good enough for me.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Jean is a whole lot meaner than usual. In the main series he’s not the nicest of guys, but he’s still pretty even tempered as he just tries to get promoted to a safe job. In this special he’s mean to his Mom for no reason and even threatens to punch Sasha. He resorts to stealing/cheating and just has absolutely no moral compass. I suppose it’s part of the humor, but I can’t imagine his fans would be too thrilled about this. The Mom subplot in particular felt random since in the flashbacks Jean was actually a nice guy and I suppose we are led to believe that joining the army corrupted him. He’s just not the nice guy that he used to be anymore.

The ending is also really cheesy so I wasn’t thrilled with that. We all know who should have won the cooking contest based on the two dishes. On the other hand, we can also assume that the wrong choice was picked because the judge was incredibly drunk. At least he was in character as I’ve never liked this guy. He has some hype but never does anything with it and is content to boss everyone around from the sidelines. Not the kind of guy you really want on your side.

As I mentioned before, there was one tricky scene where the heroes decide to hunt a boar for no good reason. Unfortunately they do nab him, but it was at least not done in a violent way. It’s a nice consolation. That’s really is for negatives and minor gripes. Beyond that, the special had really good pacing along with its soundtrack and graphics. It did a good job of embracing its comedic nature without going too far. For example, a good scene was when everyone transformed into Titans and could only watch as someone started taking everyone down. It was a nice high budget action moment that was certainly one of the highlights. It was just a good amount of fun.

I also liked Eren’s cameos as he called Jean out and also didn’t let Mikasa do all of his work for him. Eren likes to contribute so he will get strong enough to stomp all of the Titans. It would have been cool if the special could have kept in the scene where Eren beat Jean up, but at least the highlight is up on Youtube so you can always pause the special and quickly watch it during the beginning where it would have been perfectly thrown in. In case it wasn’t too clear, I was on Sasha’s team for this mission as Jean just didn’t do anything that made me want to root for him. He was basically the antagonist in this one after all.

The special also added some clever homages to the main series like when Sasha hit Reiner with her elbow in the same way that Eren attacked him in the forest. It was the same exact shot and I seem to recall 1 or 2 other instances of this. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing for the people who had already read the manga. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than average viewers, but both should still enjoy it quite a bit. It’s ironic that the best Attack on Titan special would be the comedy one, but now we know what the series could have been if it was a parody.

Overall, Attack on Jean was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind if the series followed his adventures, but I have a feeling it would still suffer from the same problems as the original and a big problem would be that there would be fewer Eren scenes to try and bring it back up. The ending may be a little disappointing, but I’d still recommend checking the special out. It’s just pretty fun and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to see Attack on Titan like this. It’ll truly go down as a collector’s item.

Overall 6/10

Azumanga Daioh: The Very Short Movie Review

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I recently saw the Azumanga Daioh show so now it’s time for the short movie pilot/intro special. I enjoyed it more than the show because of its impressive pacing and improved animation. I suppose it’s easier to give a 4-5 minute short a high budget because of how short it is, but it would have been really neat if the whole show could have been animated at this high level. Aw well, it is what it is.

So, the new girl on the block has entered the school. Her name is Chiyo and her hair is detachable. One of her classmates finds this out the hard way as her hair tries to escape the building when Osaka pulls it out. This leads to a big chase scene where Chiyo gets pretty upset and Osaka realizes that it’s all her fault. Yukari makes fun of the students in another scene and Sasaki remembers that one time she got bit by a cat. A lot is constantly happening and this could have worked very well as the first episode. Everyone is still in the same class and everything, but none of them know each other yet (Except for Tomo and Yomi who were already friends) so it’s a way to introduce the characters before they all get to know each other. You see a bit of their personalities, quirks, etc. In the show they all got together almost immediately so we didn’t have much time to meet them.

As I mentioned, the animation is quite sharp here. There’s a lot more movement than in the show and all of the designs feel more modern by a few years. The colors really pop out of you and everyone is extra shiny. I’ve always considered J.C. Staff to be one of the better animating companies out there so I was surprised at the full show. This shows that they’ve still got the talent, I guess they just had to rush too much to really use it on the main show. There’s not much to say about the music. I suppose you really can’t hope to use much when you’ve only got around 4 minutes to show off.

Overall, This special is only about 4 minutes long so it’s not as if you can really say a whole lot about it. That being said, it was fun and none of my negatives from the show apply here. It’s not repetitive and none of the really unlikable characters got to appear either. Right away that was nice to see and since the special tried cramming in as many jokes as possible, we didn’t get to see any of them repeat. It was all pretty original and the pacing did a good job with that. It’s 4 minutes that doesn’t feel long but covers a lot which is always the final goal in this. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

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All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.
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Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.
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The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.
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Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

Azumanga Daioh Review

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It’s time to look at my first pure comedy anime as well as the first one to take an anthology style to it. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that the mix worked too well. The series got off to a rocky start but was able to at least balance the ship by the end. It’s not the best one out there, but you’ll be used to the characters by and end and will have had a fun ride.

The plot follows a group of teenagers as they go through the various years of high school. Tomo and Yomi are already friends when the series starts, but Sakaki is a loner. The situation changes up when a little girl by the name of Chiyo shows up. She is a prodigy and got to skip enough grades to make it to high school. Another transfer student nicknamed Osaka also joins up. With the gang together, they can go on many adventures and try to achieve glory in the sports fest!

Lets quickly go with why the show had a rocky start. The anthology format is a huge warning bell for me because I just don’t like it. The concept of an anthology just sounds like a bad idea as each story is so short that you can’t fit much story into it. Some of the episodes here were split into 5-6 parts so each one was only 4-5 minutes. At first this was very jarring as nothing would happen and the segments felt like they had nothing to do with each other. I also think the writers didn’t know what to do because they acted like each 5 minute segment had to be as contained as possible. For example, if a segment had a joke, it would just keep on getting repeated and drawn out for the whole time. The show tried to limit itself to one main gag in the segment. It would even recycle animation and use a ton of stock footage to literally repeat the gag.

Another thing is that one of the few aspects where anime may lose to Western animation is in comedy. Westerns seem to prefer snappy dialogue as comedy with characters just rapid firing a ton of puns and subtle burns while anime really like having a perverse character say something crazy and then everyone either blushes or starts yelling at him. The former can be great while the latter is absolutely never funny. Daioh actually has a big problem trying to be funny throughout. I feel like the vast majority of the jokes didn’t work because either they were never funny from the start or they were dragged out way too long. That’s why it couldn’t really pick up til the second half where it started to get more of a plot or at least longer segments.

For now, one last problem is that the series is extremely low budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series originally debuted as 5 minute shorts behind various shows and was eventually compiled into a series. It would actually make a lot of sense with how I said that each segment limited itself to effectively one scene/joke. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with as much recycled animation as this one. The animation can be decent at times, but usually it is satisfied with as few motions as possible. You’ll notice a lot of times that if there are two characters on screen only one will move at a time. If two are talking on screen, they’ll each only use one mouth animation which continuously loops. So, I think the show just didn’t have a budget. Sure, there aren’t any action scenes so I guess it didn’t need much of one, but it should have at least gotten enough to reasonably bluff through it.

Now, here’s why the second half was better. For starters, they gave Kimura a shorter role. Kimura was one of the reasons why the humor was hit hard as his moments were just really bad. He would make scenes tougher to watch by making inappropriate comments and pointing attention to what the characters were wearing. He took advantage of his position constantly so he could be around. The show didn’t really have much in the way of fanservice but by going to the pool and trying to create it, that sort of defeated the purpose. The fact that he is still a teacher is appalling and every scene with him just reminded me of this fact. He was never completely written out, but he didn’t do a whole lot after the opening episodes. After that, the only iffy moments left where when the characters would have quick remarks about someone’s chest and those were slight in comparison. While the show show is pretty fun for the most part, he made it hard to enjoy the early episodes. As I said those just had issues with pacing and writing, but they certainly didn’t need more problems. Without Kimura the show would have definitely jumped up a star and possibly 2.

The next reason why the second half was better is that it had less segments. Episodes would be able to have a longer plot and the segments actually did continue from each other. The characters finally had goals like getting to college or studying for it. The last few episodes were all consistent in this regard. The show also stopped relying on one joke since it had plot to cover. Most of the characters stayed pretty much the same throughout the years, but Sasaki got a considerable amount of development by the end. It was a little hard to like her at first because she is extremely quiet and spends 90% of her time blushing at various animals or anything that she finds adorable. It’s cool to like animals, but it just made for a very limited personality. By the end of the series she starts to speak up more and blush less. She becomes a lot more open about playing with the animals and had a nice bond with Chiyo. She stuck up for the kid during the final sports fest when the other teens started to mock her. It was a nice friendship between them.

Chiyo is effectively the main character even if she doesn’t always feel like it. She’s rich and a genius so that makes it easy for her to be at the top of this class as well. She’s probably the nicest character of the group and constantly tries to get everyone to get along. They make it difficult though since bickering is what they do best, but all in good fun. Chiyo invites everyone to her summer home each year and is certainly popular in the classroom. She gets traumatized after a certain car trip and doesn’t do too well at the sport competitions since she technically is just a kid but Chiyo always tries her best. She’s a nice all around character.

Osaka is a total space case as she can’t think about something for more than a minute. As a result her mind is always wavering and she says random, abstract things at times. She finds studying to be pointless because she won’t remember what she looked at anyway. Osaka is a nice enough character. She’s one of the weaker members of the main cast, but she is a nice contrast from the others. I also like how bold she is like when she decided to take a nap right after getting to Chiyo’s place even though everyone was supposed to study.

Tomo is one of my favorite characters. She was surpassed by Kagura by the end, but Tomo always kept it close. Tomo is very loud and overconfident. She doesn’t do well in school but brags about it instead of stressing. She’s constantly sabotaging the team and failing to win when it counts. She’s effectively trolling the main cast throughout and even rubs it in when something goes wrong for the others. She has fun teasing them all but it encourages the team to try harder. It was infinitely satisfying when she got accepted to college before Yomi since the latter had constantly insulted her and studied so hard. You don’t need to study when you have good intuition ya know? Tomo certainly made all of the interactions more fun.
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Yomi is the most boring member of the group. She effectively plays the straight man in this series as she doesn’t understand any of the jokes and is always wondering what everyone is doing. She studies hard and doesn’t mess around like the others. Yomi tries to act mature for her age and everything but as a result she never seems to really have any fun. This act that she puts up also results in her getting sick before the big amusement park vacation so that one was really all her fault when you think about it.

Kagura is the best character and it’s mainly because of how competitive she is. Kagura is always trying to surpass Sakaki. Honestly it’s like the whole Goku vs Vegeta thing, but even more sad. Sakaki never actually trains or exercises at all while Kagura trains 24/7. Yet, Kagura can never manage to beat Sakaki….at anything. Kagura really deserves the win, but at least she continues trying and never holds it against Sakaki. She’s actually happy when Sakaki wins as it means she just needs to train more. Kagura didn’t become a main character until the first time skip in the series, but from then on she stole the show. She’s essentially Tomo if Tomo was actually good at something and is a little less extreme. She certainly doesn’t mock the others or try to sabotage anything. The two of them do get along quite well though as they both aren’t great at school work. I guess Kagura couldn’t be perfect at everything right?

Kaori is sort of one of the main characters, but she always got the shaft next to the others. Her role is just a whole lot smaller and in the second half her only role is to get harassed by Kimura. I never liked her though as her subplot is that she is admires Sakaki and has a hard time trying to talk to her. It gets old before it even begins. Finally we have the two teachers. Yukari is the main one. She doesn’t like being a teacher and doesn’t hesitate to let the kids know this. I dare say that most of her scenes are the ones that are legitimately funny. At least most of the examples I can think of involve her in some capacity. She’s effectively terrible at her job which is her character arc. Yukari is definitely crazy and she doesn’t mind manipulating her students if it will let her win the contest. I can respect her drive to win even if it’s always hard against Nyamo’s squad.

Nyamo is the other teacher and she is an example of a perfect teacher. She supports her students and is also really good at all things athletic. That being said, she can’t really handle the rowdy things that Yukari likes so if she starts drinking then things get tricky. Nyamo is fun enough. She’s not quite as interesting as Yukari but she doesn’t shut down all of the jokes like Yomi. She does a much better job of bouncing off of the moments such as when she got revenge on Yukari for mocking her students by stealing her money. (Granted, she wasn’t “stealing” it because Yukari owed her money for something else)

An example of one of the jokes that I did like was the donation box. The kids forgot to get Yukari a gift and she was pretty obvious about it so the gang decided to bring her a donation box and then they would throw nickels in it. Yukari didn’t take it well, but it was a pretty fun scene as everyone approached the box very grudgingly. A scene that was more random than anything was when this cat creature would appear. He claims to be Chiyu’s father and only shows himself once in a while. He may have some special abilities, but he’s so abstract that you don’t really need to worry about him.

One big plot that actually had an ending was the cat that would always bite Sakaki when she was in the neighborhood. She certainly fell for its tricks many times, but only once at the end. Fortunately she got her own cat guardian which stopped the bullies from messing with her. I guess the cat was just a mean person because even at the end it seemed to have a grudge with Sakaki. The gag was a little overused in the early episodes, but it was handled a lot better by the end. I also am glad that Sakaki got her own cat since it really helped give her some kind of payoff for being bitten so often.

While the animation was quite limited it did have some good shots. I liked the chibi style it would use when characters gave a thumbs up or be in the background agreeing on something. Their arms would turn into noodles at times and it was a better effect than in some other shows. It doesn’t really make up for all of the stock footage but the actual animation certainly wasn’t bad. It may be more that the character designs were simply solid, but it’s hard to say. The soundtrack isn’t very good though. It’s also quite limited/repetitive and I would have liked a little more variety.

Even if the comedy may not always have been on point, one thing you can say for the series is that is was pretty much always fun. The negatives I have with the show don’t involve language or being super dark/violent. At the very least you can always leave the show feeling happy since it is so lighthearted. It’s one thing that I always like about uplifting shows because they should be enjoyable to watch. The characters are always having fun even if things don’t really work out. If there’s any reason I’d recommend watching it, this is the main one. To that end, I actually do tend to like slice of life shows. Sonic Boom is a great example of one that’s currently airing and to date it is the best in that genre. It perfectly pulls it off every episode and I dare say that it is the greatest comedy of all time even if that is a little bold. The show hasn’t ended yet so we’ll see if it can keep that up.

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Overall, Azumanga Daioh was somewhat limited from the anthology style it had, but I suppose it was to be expected since the manga was close to a 4 koma at times. Still, with full sized episodes I think it would have been more fun. The cast was solid though and even if you’re skeptical of the show at first you should be able to get on board by the end. After all, that’s one of the points of being a full show, by the end you should be used to the characters which will make the series more enjoyable. You’ll see the characters develop over the 3 years they’re at school so surely you’ll be a fan of at least one by the end.

Overall 5/10

Angelic Layer Review

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I read the Angelic Layer manga a long time ago. It was really fun with its constant action and was something that I didn’t really expect Clamp to do. The action scenes hold up as some of the best drawn ones out there. The only thing holding it back was some of the annoying characters who had a running gag of trying to embarrass the main character. The anime did a good job of fixing that although it came at the expense of the fight scenes. They’re still around, but the characters have been nerfed. It’s definitely a trade off I can live with and the anime definitely ended up being a great title.

Misaki has always lived a cheerful life with her grandparents as she went through school and made some friends. That being said, she’s always wanted to see her Mom again after being separated across the country. The Mom is busy with her work so she’s never had time to visit or write or phone so Misaki figures that going to Tokyo could solve this. Once she arrives, she sees an Angelic Layer battle being presented on a TV screen. It is essentially a sport where you fight using telepathically controlled mini robots called Angels. A mysterious man named Icchan helps her pick one out and get introduced to the sport. Along the way she makes a few friends like Kotaro, Tamayo, and Hatoko. Can Misaki make it all the way to the world championships and take the crown? If she does, then maybe she can work up the courage to find her mother, but perhaps she won’t have to look very far.

Right away you can tell that the show has aged well. The visuals are nice and crisp with all of the characters and backgrounds looking sharp. This is great for the fight scenes since they are pretty fluid and you can get into the show immediately. The directing and writing are just on point as some shows take a few episodes to get going, but this one catches fire immediately. The soundtrack is also quite good. The opening is fun and iconic and the ending is excellent. It’s a very emotional yet hype theme that plays during the final 30-40 seconds of each episode. It is especially powerful in episode 13 with the DBZ esque cliffhanger but works well in all of them. Sadly they change the ending for the second half of the show. It’s not a bad ending, but it’s a lot happier so it no longer works well with the cliffhangers. The rest of the soundtrack is also pretty good with some nice battle themes in there. One of them even sounds a whole lot like a Toonami promo theme from back in the day. It’s pretty nostalgic. A minor detail that is also fun to notice is how each tournament stage gets grander and grander. The National Tournament stage is easily the most prestigious one of all and the show did a good job of making them all different.

As I mentioned earlier, the fights are a little different than in the manga. Instead of the more intense blows like DBZ where characters are smashing each other into the ground with enormous force, they’re played out more like if they are dolls or angels. They attack but not with enough force to make you think the stadium is going to fall over and that’s because the show acts a little more like a Shojo the whole time. I’d prefer the manga fights, but these are still good as well. You just don’t want to compare them all that much. The actual hand to hand is still really good and we do get one really intense battle with a lot of craters in episode 13. The Champion’s angel also has a very impressive showing during her first round as she moves so fast that she can dodge while appearing to be in the same place. That may have been a little too exaggerated since she was nerfed heavily after that, but it’s how it has to be I suppose.

There is a little more romance in the show than the manga. I suppose that’s to be expected and at one point the show has quite a few people trying to get in on the action. Person A likes B, but B likes C, C likes E, D likes A. We even get a whole episode for this which of course takes place at the beach. One good thing about this being a Shojo is that the beach isn’t used for fanservice which is great. The show completely dodges that speedbump which is awesome. Many titles struggle there, but not this one. As far as romances go, it’s not all that bad either. Tsubasa was still the best in this area, but at least it’s not too drawn out. Take that episode away and the rest of the series barely messes with that. I think there were only 2 episodes total which focused on it.

Another area where the series excels is its pacing. It never drags on and there are fights in virtually every single episode. It’s always nice to see and while I doubt any title has a big fight in all of its episodes (Probably some exception somewhere) this one came close. The birthday celebration episode didn’t have a fight, but it had a cool hammer and plate minigame that was fun because I remember it from another show, but can’t recall where. It seems like a pretty fun game where you definitely need solid reflexes.
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Misaki is a great character and someone that most other leads can learn from. She’s a very happy character who is always trying to make the best of things. She enters every battle with a smile and doesn’t hold grudges against any of the bullies. She simply wins them over to her side and keeps on going. Misaki tries not to let other characters worry either and keeps everything to herself. Of course, that ultimately puts more of a strain on her, but she is definitely a noble character through and through. Unfortunately because of her happy nature, she is also highly susceptible to mind games from her opponents and is a little too trusting. I suppose these traits were bound to occur though and it’s still a good thing that she is such an optimistic person. I believe that I liked her a lot in the manga as well, but the anime did an even better job of developing her character. She’s easily one of the most heroic ones I’ve seen.

Her Angel Hikaru makes for a perfect partner. Her design is on point and the fact that she is a speed model with solid attacks is an added bonus. She even reminds me of Megaman.exe because of the chest emblem she has. I’d swear that it’s practically the same. Hikaru is also so strong that the show constantly has to write excuses to have the opponents even stand a chance against her. Misaki only has 2-3 fair fights during the whole series as in just about every bout Misaki is either distracted or the opponent is cheating to the main character doesn’t just steamroll the opponent. It’s definitely a good change of pace and I rather like main characters who are pros as opposed to just barely winning each time. It can be annoying as these gimmicks keep almost stopping Misaki, but she always gets through.

Icchan is one of the main supporting characters. He’s the head scientist involved with creating Angelic Layer, but he makes sure not to tell Misaki this. He discreetly helps her from the shadows as she progresses in the game and knows more than he lets on. The character has been improved from the manga although he still acts a little iffy near the beginning. He’s a decent character I suppose although his mean pranks can go way too far at some points. It’s always hard to know what to think of him, but at the very least he is a charismatic boss.

Hatoko is Misaki’s first rival and one of the stronger characters in the series. She is sort of like the Chaud and Protoman of the series as she defeats her opponents in an instant and is known as one of the best players in the league. Her Angel is another speed type who is also very powerful. Her fight with Misaki was definitely a lot of fun and it’s just a shame that she didn’t really get to do anything for the second half of the series. Her fight against Shirahime was also very anticlimactic and disappointing. I never really like 1 hit KO matches since it’s hard to do anything epic in that time compared to a more prolonged fight. That’s why Shirahime vs Hikaru is probably the best fight of the series although Kaede’s battle with Misaki is very close. The fact that Hatoko is only around 5-8 years old makes her even more fun since she is such a little kid but can still fight it out with these professionals. She shows that age really doesn’t matter in this game as it’s all about the skills.

Kotaru is the main guy in the series, but he doesn’t have an Angel of his own so that makes things a little tricky for him. He’s Hatoko’s big brother though so that helps him stay relevant. I’m not much of a fan of his to be honest as he spends the whole show getting pushed around by just about everyone. He does get his own romance plot twice as he goes after Misaki but ultimately allows himself to fall behind to the rival and goes with the childhood friend. This felt a bit like a rebound as he was clearly losing the battle for Misaki and went from not even acknowledging Tamayo as anything other than a friend to completely getting over Misaki (Aside from a brief relapse during the fight) in the course of a day or 2. That romance was a little rushed to be honest, but we’ll roll with it.

Tamayo is definitely more likable than Kotaru. She’s a good friend who constantly roots for Misaki during the tournament and also isn’t petty. She realizes that her chances of getting Kotaru grew slimmer when Misaki joined up, but never resented her for it. Tamayo even told herself that blaming Misaki wouldn’t be fair and she stayed true to herself with that. So even if I didn’t really buy into the romance, Tamayo handled the situation as best as possible so she deserves some points for that. I’m also glad that she can fight and doesn’t take any nonsense from the bullies.

Ohjiro is one of the hype characters as he was the tournament runner up the year before the series started. His Angel Wizard is incredibly powerful because of his seemingly impervious defense. That being said, while I like Wizard, I don’t like Ohjiro. He comes off as too much of a flirt at times and it’s hard to ever know if he’s actually here to help. His prank to Misaki to build up her courage was just bizarre. The guy just rubbed me the wrong way from the start.

Aunt Shoko is a recurring character, but her role never gets that major. Since she is a reporter she is able to follow Misaki around discreetly as she keeps up with the tournament. She’s a nice character and helps support Misaki when possible. Misaki’s mother Shuko has a pretty different personality which causes the two to differ quite a bit. Shuko’s plot was vastly expanded in the anime compared to the manga and certainly made her a better character. I definitely still don’t agree with Shuko’s decisions, but at least they had a decent rationale to them and Shuko did manage to win in a pretty hype way most of the time.

Shuko basically decided to abandon Misaki because her legs were going bad and she decided not to return until they were fixed. The problem is that nothing could fix them in their current state so she kept pushing off the reunion over and over again. Eventually it got up to the point where she couldn’t work up the nerve to meet her. She suddenly decides to do it right before the finals which may not have been a good move. Honestly she probably could have handled it a lot better, but it was definitely an intense way to start the ball rolling, that’s for sure. I’m glad that the show doesn’t even try to hide the fact that she’s Misaki’s Mom from the start because the plot point just seems very clear. Even when the Angel first appears on the screen as Misaki arrives in Tokyo to find her Mom you can basically guess where this is going. The plot could possibly get a little over dramatic at times, but all in all it was a fun little subplot and while Misaki took it pretty hard I can almost guarantee that most characters would have taken it a lot worse. Misaki still handled the situation with her usual dignity and politeness even being the one to ultimately break the ice.

Sai is another one of the big rivals and became the second major threat to Misaki after she defeated Hatoko. Her ice Angel is pretty good since it is a power type but can still move with great speed. It was one of the best fights in the series because there were no gimmicks or mind games. It was simply a really good fight with both characters doing their best to adapt to the situation. Well…actually I kind of forgot about this, but there was a sand gimmick now that I think about it. Still a great fight, but once again the opponent needed an edge to stand a chance against Hikaru. Sai’s a pretty likable character as well as she stays tough and tries to win the tournament for her late sister. Her motives are definitely a lot better than half of the characters in this tournament and she always keeps up a tough exterior.
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There’s also Kaede who is Sai’s friend, but a lot more morally dubious. Kaede believes in winning no matter the cost so she allows her Angel to overheat in the hopes of winning the battle. It can permanently damage her angel, but she doesn’t care as long as she wins. While this does make for a great fight, I have to say that I lost a lot of respect for her after that. Kaede’s a little too brutal and forgets that this is just a game. Misaki probably should have called her out on this a little more, but maybe the loss was enough of a message to send. Kaede’s Angel is definitely cool with its neat fighting skills and good dodging abilities. It reminded me of Rosalina quite a bit.

Ringo is a celebrity who fights Misaki early on and has some pretty good abilities. She can fire off invisible blasts of wind and is good in close quarters as well. She’s a pretty fun character to have even if she starts quite the panic during Misaki’s Birthday. The circumstances were only iffy because Misaki didn’t announce her decision in time though so I can’t blame Ringo for it. Ringo’s a fairly minor character in the series, but she appeared enough to be mentioned. There’s also a random boy named Misaki who decides to fight Misaki to prove that boys are superior, but he definitely doesn’t look too good. That was back before Misaki (the main character) could beat everyone with ease so that was his best chance and he still couldn’t take the win. The guy is comically petty to the point where he was an amusing character. You knew that he was doomed from the start though as Misaki was able to beat him while dancing. On that note, I have to say that the show knew when to pour on the disrespect. The heroes including Misaki can be absolutely brutal to their opponents at times. They don’t mean to show off, but it just ends up happening.

Madoka is another one of Misaki’s opponents who acts like a bully and resorts to cheating. It’s a shame since she seemed like a decent fighter, but this proved that she wasn’t actually all that tough. Her sister was just as bad if not worse. Misaki fought quite a few bullies or at least mean spirited characters like this. Another one complained that being tall was annoying and short people always got to have their victories. Misaki promptly beat her and then converted the bully. It’s great how Misaki turns so many lives around just by beating people in front of a national audience. Misaki has definitely made the country a better place.

Finally we have Ogata. He’s the main comic relief of the series, but I had to give him a mention because you can’t help but feel bad for the guy sometimes. I mean, he does ask for it on a few occasions as he accuses Icchan of iffy stuff and makes some big mistakes, but other times he means well and still gets into trouble. Inviting the main characters to the BBQ seems totally innocent..he didn’t realize that Misaki’s Mom would be there and that things could be tricky. The punishments can also be pretty mean like being attacked by an alien or getting tied up. He didn’t ask for this!

I suppose it should be mentioned that the ending of the show is a little cheesy. For once I wouldn’t call it rushed or anything and I was glad that the final episode was basically just one big fight, but they went overboard with trying to make it seem hopeless. Hikaru lost about 80% of her health in a flash and then got hit by a super blast. That should have finished off Hikaru and she stayed down for several minutes. Somehow her health didn’t hit 0 though…then she got hit again…and still had more health while the final boss lost. I would have been okay with that if Hikaru had activated a barrier or had a health regeneration abilitty, but it made no sense in context. She just doesn’t have that much health. Athena was just hyped to no return and it cost the writers a bit. Even in her first fight when she was moving at insane speeds, Athena lost that ability for all of her future fights. It was there for shock value, but then the writers realized that this would be too overpowered. It’s definitely something to watch out for as shows tend to bite off more than they can chew. Sai’s fight with Shuko was also cheesy, but just because neither one of them decided to fight seriously so Shuko won with ease. Isn’t that a little disrespectful to the contestants who lost to these two fighters earlier? I mean, it happens in Super Smash tournaments so it is slightly realistic, but just annoying to watch.

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Overall, Angelic Layer is a great show. It’s a lot of fun right from the start. There is constant action throughout it and the pacing is always on point. The main cast is very strong and I could have easily seen this show going over 50 episodes. I definitely wouldn’t mind a sequel series someday where the characters have to fight new opponents or defend the world from evil Angels. I’d also like a sequel since Misaki is past the point of having any doubts so the villains would have to get stronger to deal with her since they can’t play with her psyche anymore. There’s a lot of potential here and a crossover with Megaman.EXE would also be fun since the two titles have so many similarities. If you haven’t seen the show yet, I’d highly recommend doing so. It’s aged phenomenally well and is probably one of the more underrated titles out there. After all, when was the last time you heard this show mentioned in any capacity?

Overall 8/10

Sengoku Basara: The Last Party Review

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It’s time for another Sengoku Basara adventure. This one’s the big movie so I expected a lot of action out of it. Fortunately the movie obliged. This one feels like more of an anniversary kind of film then a serious plot one although I feel it was gunning for the latter. The whole cast comes back and we get a lot of fights, but like always most of them are draws. This way both characters keep the hype. You know the drill. While it has some of the same issues as season 2 with all the cop outs, it still manages to tick off a lot of the right boxes and I’d end up calling it a great film.

It takes place almost immediately after season 2. Mitsunari wants to avenge his master Hideyoshi since the big boss ended up falling against Date. He challenges Date and overpowers him, but the commander retreats. This leads to a long time skip although we never know how long. Yukimura has now become leader of his clan after his boss “retired.” I put the quotations as it is vague on whether or not Yukimura murdered him or he just completely retired and gave up fighting. I like to hope that it’s the latter since the former is just so random and crazy. You see their sparring session and it does get a little intense, but I do like to think that this wouldn’t happen. On the other hand, it is realistic in a sense as I think this should happen quite frequently with training in comics and anime since it is usually portrayed as being rather lethal. Yukimura gets a letter from Tokugawa along with all of the other commanders. He tells them to join him at the Hotpot celebration so he can give them one last chance to unite peacefully or he’ll take them down hard. The whole cast heads down there and the big party begins!

Right off the bat lets get the usual aspects out of the way. The animation is really solid. All of the characters are solid and various attacks are flashy and colorful as you’d expect. We get a lot of nice visuals with the destruction scenes and Yukimura’s coat looks really good. It was still nostalgic to see him classic one come out during his fight with Date of course, but I can get behind the new look. It reminds me a lot of Naruto’s Sage Mode. The soundtrack is also excellent. We get to hear the classic Devil King theme along with Hideyoshi’s iconic theme. The two of them in one movie is a surefire method of success if you ask me. The rest of the tunes are solid as well and I’d like to give a shout out to the end credit theme. It’s pretty fun and inspiring. A nice upbeat song that would fit well at a party.

The writing and pacing for the film is pretty good. Something is always happening. The film also started off with a nice action scene as Mitsunari attacks Date. If you ask me, a film should always start with a big action scene. It sets the tone and even Pokemon realized that in its original films. We do get some portions of the film without action of course, but the plot is always engaging. You’re always ready for what’s going to happen next. One thing that can worry you is how the villains keep talking about the real party that’s going to start even when there is only around 30 minutes left. You know that this is hyping up something, but will there be enough time to execute it? Final Fantasy Advent Children did something similar with Sephiroth, but while the film was close to being over by then, the fight was incredibly satisfying with a solid outcome. This film’s climax is not quite up to that level.

Okay, lets back it up a bit. One unfortunate part of this film is that more dead characters come back. Remember how Yukimura beat Mori in season 2? Well, he escaped somehow. The Orochimaru look alike from season 1 has also returned. From these hints you may have figured it out by now, but a certain iconic villain returns as well. As Resurrection F showed, it’s always fun to have the most popular villain come back. It is pretty epic to a certain degree. That being said, it feels like this guy was mostly just thrown in here for the shock value. While he fires off a lot of cool explosions and kicks around the supporting characters, we don’t get to see him fight much. His durability is great as he takes everyone’s final smashes and keeps on grinning, but I would have liked a nice fight scene. Something like the fight where Aizen took on all of the Captains. That would have been awesome and I know this movie has the animation to pull it off. It was still a really cool appearance though and this character is my favorite villain, but I would have liked some more screen time. I wasn’t too thrilled with how his plot ended.

Nohime’s plot finally wrapped up as she started getting shadow abilities in the first two seasons. Her abilities are definitely pretty overpowered in this universe as a single hit from her shadow hands results in death. I did like her character development for the most part and at least she finally decided to stop running away when things got difficult. As for the Orochimaru guy….fine, I’ll use his name. Mitsuhide was a little disappointing here. He had a good plan at first and was pretty serious, but then went out in a rather comic relief fashion. He didn’t even put up a fight and was just thrown away. It was a rather odd and sudden way to go. I was hoping Yukimura could have taken him down since he was arguably losing their first round in season 1. This would have been a fun rematch.

The power levels are still a little out of whack here as Mitsunari is able to give Date a good fight as well as just about everyone else. The series needs to stop with the whole “Everyone is tied” nonsense since it’s just not accurate. Characters need to lost their hype. Ah well, it was cool that we finally got to see Date and Yukimura have another fight. The timing was a little odd as Date just cracked and decided that they should fight, but the absurdness of it all is part of what made the fight epic. Ignoring the ending, it was probably one of the best parts of the whole film. It shows that no matter how much time flies by, these two characters ultimately won’t change much. They’re always up for a good fight and especially if it’s against each other. It also brought Yukimura back to the happy fun loving guy that he used to be. He’s back to being in his prime and that was quite the treat to see. Once again his role wasn’t huge and Date had a bigger focus, but it was a vast improvement over the last time.

While Yukimura took the lead again, Date was a great main character as expected. The fact that he was able to put up a good bluff even while losing shows how tough the guy is. I’m not sure I can buy into him losing the fight, but it’s always good to have a villain who is a serious threat. He redeemed himself in the rematch at any rate and Date is definitely a charismatic guy. It was his idea to finish the fight with Yukimura at last so I have to give him a lot of credit for that. Keiji also steps in to have some fun, but unfortunately it is another scene that doesn’t really make sense in context. How is this guy going to possibly stop a strike from these two warriors and remain standing? It’s a little too much hype is all I’m saying.

A bunch of the old supporting characters also come for some posturing and tough talk. Mori and the pirate show up to fight once again, but as always it is dead even between them. The Warrior god of Echigo (Probably how you spell that) appeared very briefly in the beginning as he finally lost to Yukimura’s leader. At least that fight I could respect since it had an actual winner. It’s lightly hinted that the guy died which is rather dark, but I suppose they all have to die at some point right? The show may disagree though. I like to think that he was spared and that Yukimura’s leader just retired, but both thoughts may be rather optimistic.

For the new factions, lets start with Tokugawa. He wants peace and doesn’t use a weapon anymore, but it is hard to take him seriously with that mission. He is right as the wars never stop and everyone is still fighting each other, but such a plan cannot exist as long as any villains remain. Mori still wants to rule and now they also have to worry about Mitsunari. It is nice to have a character who fights with his fists as opposed to with a blade though. While Tokugawa’s mission appears to be futile, it is still a noble one. He is a reasonable character I guess and while he doesn’t bring much to the table, I think he can end up being a good character if used right.

Mitsunari is a whole lot more impressive though. He has some of the best action scenes in the film and his motivation to destroy Date is straight forward and one that I can get behind. Avenging his master makes sense and he isn’t using trickery or anything like that. He just went straight at Date. He did become a complete villain by the end though as he attacked villagers to lure Date out, but that’s mainly because Date was evading battle. Doesn’t change the fact that Mitsunari is evil of course. He’s probably the best villain here. I won’t count the final boss since he doesn’t appear until the very end but if he did then the guy steals the show no questions asked.

There was also a magician who was a little odd. He speaks in riddles a lot of the time and while he hinted that he was going to betray Mitsunari…he decided not to in the end. It was an interesting choice and I guess their bond was too strong to be broken like that, but the guy’s character development never actually went anywhere. I think the film could have definitely done more with him although since he isn’t a close combat fighter I don’t really mind him getting the shaft. A mage fight scene likely wouldn’t be all that interesting.

I may not have gotten to see all the fights that I wanted, but at least I was glued to the screen. The franchise’s hype is its greatest strength as well as its weakness. The former always has the greatest impact even if the latter is present. Seeing the old moments from the show during the prologue just helps you to remember that even further. While there was no time for planning things out like in the shows, the character interactions were still a lot of fun. If we ever did get another full length film like this one, I feel it should be made a little longer so we can really keep those scenes in. One thing I liked a lot in season 2 was the planning and counter planning that each group engaged in. It was pretty fun to follow.

Overall, This was a really fun movie. It still had some issues with not making up its mind for big fights and could be rushed at times, but had enough going for it to be considered a great movie. These issues aren’t as big for a movie as with a show since it’s shorter. Whether the action makes sense or not, it’s still action. As long as the characters are likable and I’m entertained the whole time, then it’s a full success. I can imagine that this would have really been a blast to have seen in theaters. I highly recommend checking this film out. It’s a very enthusiastic movie with all of the characters constantly talking about battle and it’s a movie where you can cheer along as there are many hype moments. I look forward to seeing how season 3 fares and if it can really match the movie.

Overall 8/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Sengoku Basara II Review

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The first Sengoku Basara was incredibly good. It had a lot of action, good graphics, as a hype soundtrack to boot. All of the tactical scenes were also handled well thanks to the music and it made for one complete package. It’s only slight issue was that the end of the show started to feel like a cop out since basically all of the characters survived. This season takes that a little more to the extreme and is just a lot weaker than the first season. It’s still a really good show, but one that should have been better.

The Devil King has been defeated so all of the various clans are back to fighting each other. Unfortunately, this peace was never going to last too long. A new villain named Hideyoshi has arisen and he wishes to take over the world for the sake of his ideals. He quickly begins to take over land after land so Date realizes he’ll have to deal with this threat personally. Meanwhile, Sanada heads to the beach to overcome his mid life crisis, but will he be able to deal with all of the dirty techniques his opponents use?

Let’s start off with the positives that stayed with the show from the first season. The animation is still really solid. The character designs are on point and this makes for some really fun action scenes. There is a nice contrast whenever it is night or day. Also just about all of Hideyoshi’s fights get a high budget and look spectacular. Furthermore, the soundtrack is excellent as you’d expect. Basically all of the themes from the first season return except for the Devil King’s. I’m glad his didn’t return since it should be exclusive to his character. Replacing that one is Hideyoshi’s theme which is virtually as good. “This is a fight to change the world” makes the fight feel larger in scale and more theatrical. The normal battle themes and talking themes are very solid as well. They did a good job with the selections.

Hideyoshi makes for a great villain. While I still prefer the Devil King and consider I’m to be more powerful as well, Hideyoshi doesn’t disappoint in the strength department either. The scene where he punches a hole in the sky was an incredible start and then draining a river with a single punch was also super impressive. If not for some plot had at the end, he would have certainly achieved his vision. More on that later. He may have a twisted sense of justice since he’s a classic “I’ll destroy everybody, but then we’ll be at peace” kind of guy. Sometimes tricking yourself is the only way to get out of answering the tough questions I suppose. Either way, it was a nice surprise to see the show churn out yet another really cool final boss.

His subordinate Hanbei was also a good character. Unlike the Devil King who had a few minions, Hanbei is really his only minion. Still, he is in charge of all the tactical operations and is actually loyal for a change so that’s nice. He’s a good fighter although he’s a little naive. I don’t think Kojuro would have ever joined his ranks so the mind games felt rather futile. I would have liked to have seen him fight more since he only got 2 action scenes, but he did well in both of them. He had the upper hand against Date and was also beating Kojuro until his illness took control of him. He made for a great lieutenant and I definitely wish that Yukimura had gotten a swing at him.

As expected, the cast of returning characters here is very solid as well. Date has moved up from being a dual main character in the first season to being the complete lead in this one. He may lose a few fights here and there, but overall I’d say that he definitely looked really good. After all, his personality is the main important thing. Even without his right eye, Date continued to show some strategy and foresight into his plans which was nice to see. He didn’t become a commander for nothing after all. He definitely worked well as the main character in Yukimura’s place.

Kojuro got a larger role here as well. He’s always been one of the main characters, but he has another big role here since he was kidnapped and forced to watch the villains plan things out for a while. He eventually got out and was able to claim his vengeance, but his intelligence was certainly praised a lot. Even when he was entirely out of the loop he could predict what everyone was doing. He’s probably the best tactician in the show and was shown to be capable of foiling Hanbei as well. I suppose Mori could give him a run for his money in the intelligence department, but I like to think Kojuro has the lead.

Motochika also got a much larger role here. His army is usually at a disadvantage since it’s smaller in size when compared to the other, but his large battleship always keeps him in the running. He’s got a pretty good personality and doesn’t back down from a fight. I was definitely cool with seeing more of him here and I’m just sad that we wasted an episode with him during the whole mountain exploding debacle. I think having him team up with Date to fight Hideyoshi made a lot of sense instead of sending him off to an off screen climax. He did a great job while he was on screen though and his weapon is pretty unique. The show’s actually pretty good with that as most of the characters use different weapons as opposed to the same sword. One other new character was a ninja who served Matsunaga. He’s apparently extremely strong and he ends up winning his only fight in the series. He’s another character who just appeared out of the blue and I would have liked to have seen more of him. Ah well, perhaps in the next season. What I just want to know is how Matsunaga can hold his own against guys like Date when he seems like the kind of guy who just sits on a throne all day? I can’t picture him training.

Despite all the positives, there were certainly some negatives that got thrown into the show and became a bit of a problem. Let’s start with Yukimura. His character seems to go in circles as he deals with fears that he overcame in the first season. Once again, he is unsure of whether he is doing the right thing or not since he is taking a lot of lives even if it’s for the sake of peace. This causes him to go train on a beach…for almost the whole series. Those episodes are all complete filler and Yukimura doesn’t even get to take on the final boss like Date. Yukimura’s fight with Date in episode 1 is great, I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, that’s the only fight you’ll get to see Yukimura have. Even his big climax battle isn’t really a fight, it’s just him doing one really big tackle and maybe 1-2 minutes of actual swordsmanship at best. Yukimura is still my favorite Sengoku character so this was pretty disappointing. He was absolutely given the shaft here.
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Also, the show made it seem like he made the wrong decision by trying to help Motochika instead of continuing with the mission. His effort to save him was in vain (Although Motochika lived since Sengoku Basara lets everyone live) and then everyone basically blamed him. Yukimura was rather half hearted the whole time, but it was still the right decision. That carries into another point, the show seemed to just have a very poor director or whoever plotted the scenes. Several times an episode would end with an epic cliffhanger only for it to just be skipped over in the next episode. This episode had ended with Yukimura’s team taking the field. The next one starts with the battle already over and they explain that Yukimura lost. A significant amount of fights are off screen in this title which is pretty unacceptable. I feel like the writers weren’t sure if they should continue their story or turn the show into a history lesson at times. It was just very inconsistent and as a result, we saw less fights than we should have.

The show’s problem of having everyone avert death is another issue. It was starting to get bad in season 1, but it’s far worse here. Motochika is basically destroyed by Hideyoshi as he is punched through a battleship and the episode heavily implies that he is dead. Nah, the guy shows up in the next episode. Matsunaga died in season 1, but returns here. Honestly, his episodes have no point and are basically filler. There was no reason to bring him back. Lady Nohime also comes back from the grave. I’m telling you, nobody stays dead here except for the main villain group of the season and even then subordinates seem to come back if they try hard enough. The show needs to just be bold and let the characters die. At the very least, fix the power levels.

If Sengoku Basara’s death problem is basically turning it into the Fairy Tail or Shonen, it’s wonky power levels are second only to Dragon Ball Super. The problem here is that the show acts as if everyone has the same exact power level. Date, Yukimura, (Lost by a fraction) Motochika, Yukmura’s master, the Ice Master, Keiji, Hideyoshi’s lieutenant, Matsunaga, Matsunaga’s assistant, etc, etc. They all have the same power level so just about every fight in the entire season is a stalemate. That gets really old after a while. I don’t want to constantly be seeing matches end in a draw over and over again. I feel like this is because the writers want all of the characters to stay hype and cool when that is not what should be happening at all. Even if your favorite character loses, at least you’ll know that it was a good fight. If it’s a tie, then it ultimately ends up feeling like a waste.

For the matches that aren’t ties, they can be even worse. Look at Date vs Hideyoshi the final round. Date was getting completely clobbered during the entire fight. Hideyoshi was way stronger and he also appeared to be faster. Then after Hideyoshi “won”, Date gets up with the power of friendship and defeats him in a single hit. Of all the anticlimactic, plot hax endings, that’s how you finish it? It has to go up as one of the most random victories along with Soul Eater’s ending. The anime built up Hideyoshi way too much during the arc which ended up backfiring horribly. He was simply too strong so the anime had two options. They could have had a big team up fight where Date allies himself with other commanders or they could have simply not built him up as much.

Also, I mentioned that Samurai Jack’s ending was pretty rushed. Well this one told tat show to hold its Katana because this one tops that. We have around 6-7 big fights going on and a ton of plots in the final episode. This may attribute to why Date’s fight was so rushed at the end and likewise the other scenes don’t get much screen time. Quite a few new characters even show up in this last episode which was just really weird. They got some hype and appeared in the shadows, but only had time for one clash before we got a cut away and then the rest of the fight was off screen. The whole thing was bizarre. I suppose it was meant as a homage to the games since the characters probably had their own stories there, but if you’re going to include them in the story, find a role for them. It’s like how Brawl couldn’t squeeze in Toon Link, Wolf, or Jigglypuff so they put them in secret rooms. Fortunately, there is a movie and a third season so this should hopefully help with that. If anything, they would have worked well as a stinger in that case.

As with the first show, there is a bonus episode/OVA that is included along with it. It shows how Yukimura participated in the Man event with Date back when they were nursing him back to health. It’s a fun enough special as they get to have some fighting accomplished and all. The power levels were still out of whack as Sasuke got way too much hype, but at least Date didn’t actually lose. It was a fun enough episode and while it wasn’t serious, we never did get a chance to see the characters just hang out before this so I’d say that it worked pretty well. Yukimura’s squad definitely has the most fun out of all the groups.

Aside from Yukimura’s character being wrecked in this season, most of the characters were on point. Date shined quite a lot in his main character role. All of the other captains were around as per usual even if they didn’t do much. Kasuga’s recycled fanservice image is as old as it ever was, but fortunately it is only used once or twice this time since her role was greatly reduced this time. Her commander also doesn’t appear much, but does a good job of not actually harming anyone. Stalling Date for no reason definitely seemed rather pointless if you ask me though. However, I said that most of the characters were on point, there is one other figure who looked really bad here, Keiji.
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Keiji’s whole gimmick is that he’s all for peace and rarely tries to fight. He wants to be diplomatic and he used to be friends with Hideyoshi. However, it’s heavily implied that Hideyoshi destroyed one of their mutual friends (The anime never goes into it and I’m sure glad they don’t to be honest. The plot should have never even existed since it just seems to go against his character entirely) so a rift formed between them. He tries to solve things peacefully but it doesn’t work and he gets ignored. Finally, he realizes that the time to act has come and heads off to meet Hideyoshi. Unfortunately, he gets cold feet at the last second and lets the guy steamroll him, losing without trying to fight back. That scene was pretty brutal since you can’t just keep trying the same tactic over and over again and hope to win. Especially since Hideyoshi made it clear that he’s going to conquer the land and innocents are also targeted in his campaign. After a while, it you refuse to fight the enemy, you may as well be aiding them.

Keiji’s friends are just as bad though. Even after the Devil King back stabbed them, they have decided to join forces with Hideyoshi once more. I don’t get their rationale for this at all. They know that he is evil, but they still go through with it. It’s like they’ve learned nothing from their last encounter which could be another example of no character development or regression. Fortunately, Keiji breaks his rule this time to take them out and becomes head of the clan so they can’t do anything, but those guys were definitely annoying.

Keep in mind that this episode is only 12 episodes long and we have all of these characters and various plots running around. It’s no wonder why the whole thing was so rushed. I feel like the writers really wanted a 26 episode show and were only given 12, but they didn’t want to cut anything out. That would certainly explain quite a lot in the show. It’s not really a legitimate excuse, but at least it’ll make the whole thing make sense.

While I definitely had a lot of negative things to say about the show, that’s mainly because the first season just set such a high standard. Compared to the rather tight plot of the first season, this one was incredibly scattered. It just included too many characters and plots that should not have arrived since they ultimately didn’t contribute anything to the story. Still, it kept all of the elements that made the show as good as it was. We get a lot of really Hype moments throughout even if you discount the Hideyoshi moments. (Those were certainly the best ones though) Just about all of the characters get to shine. While the show has about as many hype characters as World Trigger and should probably have a few of them lose, it still does make for fun matchups. While it got a little more jaded here compared to season 1 since you knew they would all be ties, it still works to an extent. It’s a step down, but just as a Lasagna is a step down from pizza, it’s still a very good product in the end.

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Overall, Sengoku Basara crumbled under the pressure of its own ambitions. Still, the animation is rock solid and the soundtrack is amazing. The character cast is very solid and the writing is on point. You’ll never be bored during the show except for possibly the Yukimura filler episodes. Even just seeing the characters talk and plot strategies on the board is always interesting. I do enjoy that kind of thing as I like to see strategies unfold. It further emphasizes how ambitious the show was as many different pieces would be moving as once. Everyone had a plan and the villains would try to anticipate these plans and counter with their own. It was all very intricate and interesting. That’s why it would always be regrettable when the outcome would be off screen. Anyway, I definitely recommend watching this show. It may drop the ball on a bunch of things, but still has more than enough to let it compete with just about any other title. It’s definitely still one of my favorite recent franchises and I look forward to seeing what they do in the sequels. Ideally Yukimura will get a larger role coming up.

Overall 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10