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

Magia Record Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 6/10

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

Cardfight!! Vanguard: Shinemon Review


It’s time to take a look at the next season of Cardfight Vanguard. The franchise has definitely been going quite strong for many years now. It’s easily outlasted Buddyfight at this point and now there are over 10 seasons of the show. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. When’s the last time you had a show go all the way through, do the big next generations series with a new cast, get several sequels to that one, and then do the modern reboot of the original? Well, that’s what Cardfight has done and now we’re getting the prequel to the reboot and it looks like we’re getting close to a reboot of the next generation show. It’s really quite impressive and this is definitely staying up there as one of my favorite franchises of all time. Shin actually holds his own show quite well. While this one can’t match some of the earlier seasons for sure, it’s still a great anime.

The show starts by introducing us to Shin, possibly the youngest cardshop owner out there. However, his ownership of the place is a bit questionable. See, he decided to take it over when Misaki’s parents died as a last wish in order to keep her safe. Shin feels like he owes it to them and has quickly found his place in the cardshop setting. The problem is that he is still attending school and so he can’t be at the shop most of the time. A rich lady by the name of Esuka also wants to own the shop for personal reasons of her own. She has a fair argument for why she would be the best person for the job. She’s not a random villain or some petty person that wants to make some cash. She knew the parents as well and to be honest she seems like she would do a much better job. The show debatably has 2 main arcs, the fight against Esuka and then the G prequel arc about dimension hopping.

For most of the first half of the show Shin does his best to fight against Esuka and her corporation. The thing is, are you even rooting for him? Neither side is evil so you don’t have to worry about that. At the end of the day you have to think about who would run the shop better and I have to give the nod to Esuka here. Fortunately for Shin she also looks after him quite a bit and goes easy on the lead. For most of the series she seems to be way more skilled than he is and definitely has more resources. I have to admit that I was rooting for her the whole time. Shin’s a solid lead and all but he was too young to run a cardshop and I think this begun to sink in a little later on. Shin can be pretty stubborn though.

Then for the climax of the series we have Ryuzu showing up. Fans of the G series will remember him as one of the big villains. The guy is a little less crazy at this point in time though so this is sort of seeing how he went off the wrong path. He wants to harness energy from the other planet in order to make Earth a better place. The warning bells that trigger with statements like that though is that when you take energy from one place to make the other one better, it’s inevitable that one of the worlds won’t be doing so well at this point. It’s a conversation that he doesn’t seem willing to have at the moment. None of the other characters are really persistent about bringing it up though so it’s hard to blame him. How does Shin even fit in to all of this? Well, Rive is on Shin’s team but he may have to miss the tournament because of all this so now Shin has been roped into finding out what’s going on. It’s a pretty fun climax even if the characters could be a bit annoying at times. I think Ryuzu could have easily been encouraged to keep doing his research in a safe manner but nobody was really trying.

Going back to Shin, it’s amazing how far he has come from the original series. The other way of looking at it is how far he has fallen since his younger days I guess. This version of Shin is a lot more fiery and isn’t afraid to pick a fight. He does lose his motivation pretty quick when defeated but he always starts out strong. He has a great fight against Esuka in their first round and shows similar energy in most of his duels. I also like his go to card. It’s incredibly strong and also shows how one powerful card can take you a long way. Shin uses this as a crutch for a while in the series before eventually improving his all around skills.

While I wasn’t on Shin’s side in the debate against Esuka, at least his reasons for doing so were good. At the end of the day he just wanted to make sure Misaki could retain ownership of the shop and he needed to keep custody of it until she was old enough to do so. Shin’s always thinking about how he could help Misaki. Really my only problem with Shin is how he basically threw away one of the tournaments. After Mark had gone to the trouble of exceeding his limits and winning so many battles I thought that was just disrespectful. It’s a horrible way to lose the tournament if you ask me.

Mark is one of Shin’s best friends and so he gets a pretty big role here. Like Shin I was never particularly a fan of the guy in the main series. He is reasonable here though. While the series tries to make him look a little too powerful towards the end for plot convenience, the guy always had Shin’s back which is definitely important. Without him the heroes would have been in trouble during the tournament. He’s also a lot more reliable than Rive, who is mainly just here to be annoying most of the time. He participates in risky experiments and flakes whenever a big match is coming up. Shin and the others cut him a ton of slack but the guy is really not trust worthy. It just comes across as a betrayal when the team is counting on him to win the big tournament and he just ducks out of there. That’s completely unreasonable and I never liked him in the main series either so it’s pretty consistent. His big moment at the end also feels pretty pointless because he could have jumped to the monster along with Chrono. Deep down he didn’t seem to care a whole lot about getting back to Earth. That ending was rushed in quite a few different ways. It makes the monsters in Chrono’s deck actually seem a bit on the evil side with how they just allowed Rive to be trapped when they clearly could have done something.

Tatsuya’s role here is definitely a lot different than what I would have expected. He starts out as a nice enough kid who looks up to Shin and gradually gets a much bigger role. By the end of the series he’s a solid genius who has his own goals. Tatsuya makes for a solid antagonist because his motivation is a solid one. If anything the counter arguments that the heroes give in return are quite weak. It’s at the point where you are likely to be rooting for Tatsuya for a while. The heroes’ arguments all rest on hypotheticals and things that they can’t actually prove. Either way it’s a pretty fun battle though.

Mikuru is another one of Shin’s best friends and gets a big role. She never really gets to duel which does limit how much she can contribute compared to the others. Still, I did enjoy all of the crazy nicknames she would give Shin. His name rhymes with a whole lot of adjectives and she makes sure not to miss a beat. Misaki and Chrono don’t get to do a whole lot since they’re kids in this version. We briefly see them back to normal age at the end though and they should be quality characters as always. This just wasn’t their story this time.

Esuka’s a really fun character and she goes in a much different direction than what I would have expected. She’s definitely not your average rich tycoon. If anything it’s a bit of a subversion because to the characters she acts in much the same way as most rich villains. She uses some bribery and tricks to get her way so the heroes never trust her. The thing is, she usually means well and just has a hard time not acting like a rich tycoon. For example, she offers to make one of the characters rich and famous. The heroes assume she has some kind of ulterior motive and get out of there but she actually was going to try and make that happen. It’s fair that the other characters are suspicious though, it’s just a fun thing to note. She also isn’t afraid to go into the front lines herself like when she infiltrated Ryuzu’s base.

Nanami is Esuka’s main fighter and she gets a pretty big role in the series. She’s effectively a child prodigy and can keep up with the pros. Her deck’s pretty solid and I definitely like her confidence. Tonori is another one of Esuka’s top fighters alongside Nanami. His thing is that he gets stronger the hungrier he is. It’s a bit of an odd gimmick but it works well. He’s a bit underused though as he gets maybe 1-2 big fights in the series and that’s it. I also thought he was really nerfed because he shouldn’t have lost the final fight. The plot demanded it but I wasn’t able to buy that. He’s fun enough though.

Kanzaki got a big role in G and while his role here is a lot smaller, it’s a nice throwback to the G days. He still only thinks about power and yells that weakness is a crime. It can be a bit hard to take him seriously with that at times but he does win most of his fights here so I guess he earned it. He also paid Mark some respect in their close fight which was pretty solid. I probably would like his character more here if I hadn’t seen G first. He’s a bit one note though and his cool design can’t save him. Ryutarou is one of the members of Kanzaki’s team. I think he tries too hard to be Kanzaki’s opposite. He doesn’t really care about winning and just likes a good fight. That’s fine, but he tends to lose a lot so it almost seems like an excuse. The whole “I only lost because I didn’t care about winning” thing doesn’t tend to go well. To be fair, he never uses that excuse but I do think he should take the fights more seriously.

Ruga is definitely one of the most tragic characters in this series. All he wants is to have a serious fight with Rive and yet the guy always runs off. I don’t get why Rive is being so cold here. They used to be best friends and then Rive grew distant as soon as he got married. Yeah, both of them agreed not to get married but Ruga would have been a lot more understanding if Rive didn’t suddenly ditch like that. The only reason Ruga was opposed to this was because he felt like it would take up all of Rive’s time…and then his fears came true. Rive could have absolutely mended the bridge with Ruga if he wanted too and as a result Ruga became even more obsessive.

Finally we have Ryuzu who has always been a fun villain. His goals are pretty interesting. In this series at least I wouldn’t consider him a villain since he is still trying to help the world. Things don’t always go his way but at least he tries his best. His deck is solid and he is usually one step ahead of the other characters. At least he is actually doing something important. Towards the end of the series they try to make a case that playing a normal game of Cardfight is just as important as making research that can save the lives of millions. Ryuzu is really at a loss for words at this and I kind of was as well. Ryuzu may not be perfect but at least he is trying to better society, can Shin and the others really say the same?

Shinemon is definitely the right way to do a prequel. Each episode is a lot of fun and it develops the characters rather quickly. You know the setting and everyone in it within the first 3 episodes. From there we are able to jump into the duels. The series doesn’t really have high stakes like some of the other seasons but that’s fine. In a prequel you already know most of the characters are safe anyway and it would be difficult to jump to end of the world stuff so quickly. That’s why the series focuses more on powerful character moments and sharp duels. The series is just a lot of fun and taps into the early G feels. Shin’s also a very different main character from Chrono and Aichi which helps to differentiate him. I really had no complaints with the title. If anything I wouldn’t have minded if it got more episodes but in a way I like the short seasons because it helps the franchise keep going further. I want to see how many seasons it can churn out.

As expected the animation here is quite sharp. The animations are very clear and smooth. Whenever a monster is summoned it also looks quite crisp and it’s clear that they’re not phoning it in for any of these episodes. I’ve always liked the style that they use for Cardfight. It’s pretty simple in terms of design and such so they’re able to put a lot of effort into the colors. I’ve greatly enjoyed anime with detailed or simple designs so both can definitely work as long as you put the effort in and this one definitely did. Meanwhile the soundtrack is pretty great as always. I’m not really sure if this one added any new themes but at this point the series has so many that you barely need to do that. It grabs some themes from G and the reboot seasons so that’s already a good amount of variety.

Overall, Shinemon is a great season and a nice way to handle the prequel. It really shows us that Shin used to be a cool character as opposed to being one of the blandest characters I had ever seen in the main seasons. I’d consider that to be a bit of a soft reboot since it’s impossible to picture Shin being this great back in the day. The final episodes even try to give a reason for why he changed so much at the end and it’s a nice attempt although you will still have a tough time buying it I’m sure. Since this is a bit of an origin story you can easily watch it without seeing any of the previous seasons. It is one of those prequels made to be watched after experiencing the originals but that doesn’t matter much until the final 2-3 episodes. Either way you should have a blast.

Overall 8/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

D.Gray-man Hallow Review


It’s time to take a look to the sequel to the original D. Gray-Man anime. It hasn’t been so long since I saw the original so it’s nice to see the characters return. This was around the part where the manga started to go off the rails though with the artwork taking a dip and it never quite reached the parts that the original show adapted. Perhaps it would work better in anime format? Well, I can definitely make sense of the events a lot better and you can follow the action really well. Unfortunately, the show is not able to salvage these arcs to the point where it can hold a candle to the first show.

The show has 13 episodes and mainly focuses on two arcs. First up we get a mini arc adding a new kid to the cast. Allen and Kanda are sent in to investigate a possible new exorcist who can possess Akuma. Considering what a bother those enemies have been over the years this would definitely be a very valuable asset to have in the field. The heroes will have to hurry though because the Akuma are also after this kid. It’s a pretty reasonable first 3 episodes. I don’t really care for the kid but it did feel like the original days a bit. It also gave us a chance to see most of the characters and some quick fights.

After that we focus on the Alma Karma arc. This is definitely the darkest arc in the series as we see the shady experiments that the order runs on the Exorcist candidates or clones that can be disposed of. In the present we find out that Alma was actually kept alive and the Earl decides to use him to help awaken Allen as the 14th and possibly eliminate Kanda in the process. With the Order acting so questionably the heroes will have to decide if they really are on the right side.

Finally, we end with the debut of Apocryphos as one of the best villains in the series. He attacks and Allen’s arm resonates with the character which makes it difficult for him to stay with the order. At this point Allen is the host for quite a lot of beings so he has to go on the run. The Exorcists are given the order to destroy him so we will have to see which of his allies will remain loyal and which ones will decide to destroy him. Either way Allen better keep his guard up.

Right from the start Hallow positions itself as a much more intense take on the series. It gets quite violent as now even the Akuma all bleed like living things. It’s always been an odd take to have the monsters all bleed like this and many titles do this off and on. How I see it you should just keep the Akuma hollow. The series goes into the next level with this during the Karma arc though which is what ultimately holds the series back the most. It just gets way too dark with the kids effectively being murdered over and over again with their healing factors keeping them alive.

It also makes the Order look completely evil to be condoning these experiments. The Earl even points out that the Order seems to be just as evil as the Noah. It’s also ultimately pointless since the Earl has control over all Akuma so these experiments just ended up helping the villains even more. Even if they were effective it wouldn’t make these decisions any better. The fact that all of the higher ups are in on this makes it worse because even if you like the main Exorcists you have to now acknowledge that they are working for an evil organization. All the good they are doing is just protecting the villains above this. The arc goes too far in making you dislike the Order because now you have no one to root for.

The season does its best to get back on track after this. The final arc with Apocryphos is a lot more enjoyable and feels more like the classic adventures. We get to see Tyki Mikk and Road appear again to fight off the new villain. Apocryphos has a pretty great design and he can actually fight which is important. Allen gets framed and the episodes are pretty suspenseful with solid action and a good story. It also leads us to a pretty solid end for the series. The second last episode probably works better as an ending than the actual finale but either way I was satisfied with the ending. The manga hasn’t been super consistent since then so I don’t really think there is enough material for another season but eventually we’ll probably get another installment.

Allen continues to be a strong lead here. He’s doing his best to fight off the 14th and the total corruption of the Order. He’s in a tough spot here since no matter what he does someone tends to get upset. He is a full fledged Exorcist at this point though and can even hold his own against Kanda which is important. You still get the feeling that he won’t be beating the Noah anytime soon but who knows, maybe he could take them at this point. He just needs some allies because 13-1 are not good odds. Right now Allen has handled every situation admirably.

Then you have Kanda who definitely got a really big role in this series. He was rather mean to Karma throughout so you’ll feel bad for the kid. In the present he didn’t handle the situation well at all until Allen knocked some sense into him. Kanda seems to have mellowed out by the end of the series so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself in future arcs. He’s still a fun character regardless. The guy isn’t as heroic as some of the others, but doesn’t pretend to be either. He does what he wants at this point although some of his tough rhetoric doesn’t land since he is still working for the Order after everything they’ve done to him.

Lenalee and Lavi don’t get a whole lot to do here. Lenalee’s abilities still look really cool so I’m hoping she will get a real fight soon. Lavi gets kidnapped but that’s about it for his role. He’s pretty strong willed so hopefully he’ll come out of this okay. Cross gets a minor role as well, but he looks pretty terrible. So much for being a General and getting a lot of hype right? When it was clutch time he folded like a trading card.

Link is one of the new characters and I actually liked him a lot more here than I did in the anime. While he did start out as a watchdog for Allen he ultimately did gain some real personality. He made the wrong choice in stopping Allen during the fight with the thirds, but he made the right choice against Apocryphos. He may not have been the strongest fighter around, but his stats were still pretty good and he seemed like a nice guy. He was just in a little over his head.

Timothy is not nearly as interesting. He can possess ghosts which is cool but his personality isn’t all that great. I think it’ll be a while before he matures more and becomes a character you can root for. I’ll give him props for fighting valiantly later on though. If he keeps this up for another arc then he should rise up. We get a new Noah member in this show named Wisely. Technically there are a bunch of others but most of them haven’t done much yet. This guy gets some hype because he did take out Kanda in one hit which is hard to do. I think he should make for a very enjoyable Noah member.

The Millennium Earl appears a lot here and we finally see more of his human form. Unfortunately it does destroy his character. You can’t take him seriously when you see his human form constantly crying. He also seems like less and less of a fighter every time he appears and his obsession with the 14th could very well ruin all of his plans. The guy doesn’t seem to have a great plan laid out so I can see why his followers are getting very frustrated at this point. He may ruin it for all of them.

Road is a fun enough villain as always. She doesn’t do a lot here but does like messing with the heroes aside from Allen. Tyki Mikk gets a good role as he tries to fight Apocryphos even if he isn’t successful. He’s always gotten more personality than most of the other Noah members and that continues to be true here. He’s just a fun guy to have around. Then you have Apocryphos who is pretty great as I mentioned. It’s excellent to have a third party villain here especially since he seems to be a very radical “good guy” who just wants to protect the Innocence. It seems like he’ll murder anyone who gets in his way and if he is the ultimate enemy of the Noah it makes you wonder where the Exorcists stand. I want to see more of this guy.

Finally we have Karma. He’s a very tragic character since he started out very happy and then everything eventually broke him. By the end of the series he was a total villain. His whole reincarnation plot was a bit wacky but beyond that he got a cool super form and did give us solid action scenes. Battles between fighters with healing factors can always get pretty intense. I liked Karma. He may have cracked in the end, but he did a good job of making sure he saved Kanda and held out hope for as long as possible.

One thing that’s pretty noticeable with this show is that it throws in some random humor to try and get your mind off the serious stuff. To an extent most shows or movies will do this as throwing in a more light hearted moment helps to cut the tension of a dark one. This show just isn’t very subtle with it so it can be pretty jarring. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it to the extent as I did with this show. A character might have just been stabbed or in trouble and suddenly he will have a comic relief face or a deadpan moment where they make a joke. It happens a lot in this season and so it seems to me like the show knew it was getting really dark. It can be a bit off putting but not the kind of thing that will hurt the score or anything. Maybe if I really liked the dark stuff I would mind more.

In D. Gray-Man as I pointed out in my original TV show review there is still one element that is hard to ignore. The whole story doesn’t really make sense because the Akuma should have just won by now. The show continually points out that the Exorcists are completely outmatched in numbers and power. A single Level 4 was able to take out almost all of the strongest Exorcists and the Earl can mass produce hundreds of them. Why has he not just stormed the base at this point? The only reasonable explanation is that the Earl wants to keep the Exorcists alive but then why launch attacks on them in general? Everything he does seems half hearted.

In most titles the heroes are outmatched at least a bit but in this series it is incredibly one sided. The heroes really have absolutely no chance of victory which is just odd to see. When watching the show you know that they can’t win and so unless the heroes get a massive power up then it’s all futile. One episode here even illustrates that as the Earl sends the Noah in and they absolutely crush all of the Exorcists, but decide to spare most of them for kicks. The heroes are definitely lucky but surviving purely on your opponent’s whims is not a good spot to be in.

The animation is definitely solid though. We get a lot of striking colors and the dark color palette stands out. You’re always able to see what is happening and a lot of the visuals are adapted really well. I like how the feathers were implemented and Link’s various attacks were cool. It was consistently great during the show. Then you’ve also got a pretty solid soundtrack from the show. The opening for Hallow is also very catchy. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the images are also solid. It definitely sets up the atmosphere quite well.

I’d say the best thing I can attribute to Hallow is that it is very interesting. At this point in the series there are quite a lot of pieces moving on the board which makes for a lot of interesting plotlines. You certainly won’t be bored during any episode. At most the final one has some slow scenes with the flashbacks but the rest of the series is very fast paced with something always happening. It’s definitely a positive for long running titles like this one because the longer they go on the more plots you have to juggle. With only 13 episodes Hallow definitely had to keep going at full speed.


Overall, D. Gray-Man Hallow wasn’t exactly the sequel I think it could have been. It goes too far in trying to be violent and gritty as it gets a lot darker than the original series. The first series could also be pretty dark but more in terms of atmosphere than just giving everyone a hard time throughout. If you cut away the Karma arc then the title gets considerably better. To an extent I suppose a show can only do so much with the source material but that’s where deviating can come in handy. Regardless if you’re a big fan of the original anime then you should definitely check this sequel out. It is still following all of the classic characters and continues the story so you want to see where things are going.

Overall 5/10

8 Star TV Shows, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Dr. Stone Review


It’s time to look at one of the current big Shonen Jump titles. For a while there I actually thought it was going to be one of the current Big 3 next to Black Clover and My Hero Academia but the huge success of the Demon Slayer ended up nabbing the third slot in my eyes. Also depending on how you look at it One Piece would still deserve one of the slots but my view is that even though it is still the biggest title it is firmly known as the leader of the last generation. With all that said, Dr. Stone’s anime was great and this is a really solid anime to check out. We’ve got a lot of excellent world building here and a colorful cast of characters that make this unique premise work out quite well.

The series begins by introducing us to Senku and Taiju. Both of these characters are completely different but are great friends nonetheless. Senku is a science wiz who likes to look at things objectively and isn’t very emotional. Then you have Taiju who is super emotional and despite being very powerful he likes to resolve things peacefully. One day he goes outside to confess to his childhood friend Yuzuriha but a powerful light envelops the world first. All humans and animals were turned into stone and then billions of years passed. Taiju manages to break out of his stone shell eventually and finds that Senku has managed to do the same. These two now need to find a way to find a cure and break the rest of humanity out of stone. Will they be able to restart the human race? Another question in the back of their minds is also, how did this happen?

A great show should always start off with a solid first episode. I don’t think you have the luxury of hoping that people stick around for a bunch of episodes just waiting for things to get good. There’s no excuse for a premiere to not be exciting and Stone delivers. A lot happens in that first episode and we’re introduced to the premise. You’ll likely have a lot of questions and that is intended because the series is part mystery to the extent of wondering how this all started. Was it an alien attack, did another country mess up with a chemical bomb? There are a lot of possibilities but the characters have little time to ponder this initially so don’t expect a lot of answers in the first season. I wouldn’t expect that plot to get closer to ending until near the end of season 2.

The series is pretty well grounded in reality right now so I wouldn’t expect anything too supernatural either. The toughest part about a plot like this is once you know most of the answers. The intrigue and suspense is part of the appeal as well as the limited cast. It’s inevitable that more and more people will start to get revived and I’m assuming the series would probably end once almost everyone is back as we cut to an epilogue. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the series goes in because there are a lot of paths to take. The cliffhanger for this season definitely makes the story of season 2 pretty obvious. Based on the plot coming up I’m assuming that one may even beat season 1.

Lets back up a bit to talk more about the show though. The animation is really solid. It’s very smooth and the colors pop out. The faces from the manga are adapted pretty well so you can expect some nice, crazy expressions. The fight scenes can be a little less intense and it’s clear that it’s not the anime’s strong suit. I’d like to see them put more of an effort behind this in season 2 since that one has many more fights, but they’re still good enough. Most of them just rely on stills and such to hide the movement. A good story will always compensate for the fights but I think Stone can get closer to hitting the next level with quality action scenes.

The writing is definitely great here as well. For a dialogue heavy series like this you definitely need good writing. It’s completely necessary here and Stone delivers in full. There are no episodes here that are boring in the slightest. The pacing is on point. Clearly for any series you can’t be in a big action part all the time so we have a few downtime episodes but they still further the plot and give development to the characters. An example of an episode that could have been boring in a different show is the flashback episode with Senku’s Dad and the rest of the crew. The characters are fairly short lived but they’re all fun enough. I definitely enjoyed Byakuya’s character.

He’s definitely quite different from Senku with how expressive and emotional he is, but he’s still got a good intellect as well. He just seems to hide it a little more than Senku would. All right, let’s talk about the cast. First up is Taiju and the series does a nice mis-direct here. Initially you think he’ll be the main character because he gets the first scenes and the largest role in the opening episodes. That’s actually not the case though as Senku takes the reigns and Taiju vanishes for most of the season. Taiju really gets written out of the show pretty early on but I like the concept of two main characters on different paths. It doesn’t look like Stone will fully go there as it’s 95% Senku but it’ll be fun when Taiju returns.

I like Taiju’s character, but he is too soft at times. I understand not wanting to fight. It’s not a bad trait to have and just because you’re strong it doesn’t mean you should even have to fight. However, if you are in front of someone who is trying to murder your friends then you have to fight. Taiju’s strategy is to let Tsukasa keep whailing at him without trying to land a blow but the guy is going to murder everyone else once Taiju can’t get up again. It’s not a proper strategy and it makes Taiju appear to be way too idealistic here. Sometimes you have to raise your fist.

Meanwhile Senku is a much more practical character, but his body isn’t ready for a fight. He’s devoted everything to learning the art of science so he really can’t fight at all in hand to hand combat. He is prepared to fight in his own way though with a lot of scientific gadgets. He’s a very entertaining lead and a very unique one. We don’t see a whole lot of super geniuses as main characters. The last one I can think of would be Light Yagami whose genius ended up turning him over to the dark side. Senku has a lot of great moments throughout the series.

Then you have Yuzuriha who appears to be the main heroine at first, but similar to Taiju she vanishes early on. We don’t get to learn a whole lot about her character yet, but I can say that she’s already a quality character from how she handled the situation. Rather than panicking or anything when she broke out of the stone she quickly got with the program and followed the heroes out of there. It’s extremely rare for a character to take this kind of situation well without asking a bunch of questions so she left a solid first impression with me. She’s also very pro-active and will help out with any task.

Then we have the best villain, Tsukasa. He doesn’t want the world to go back to the way it once was with the rich ruling over all and society becoming one sided. As such, he believes that only kids should be revived which leads him to be at odds with Senku who wants to revive everyone. Tsukasa is the main villain of the series so far and they did a good job of picking him to be the leader. His goals aren’t even crazy and he’s not the kind of guy who goes around murdering everyone. He stays true to his ideals and even though those don’t negate the fact that he is a mass murderer, at least he is one with a sound plan which is the first step in being a compelling villain. So far he has dominated in all of his fights and I look forward to seeing him get more fights. Right now it’s clear that nobody stands a chance against him.

Clearly you’re to root for Senku in this series but Tsukasa’s main point is hard to grapple with. He points out that if Senku just resurrects everyone society will quickly go back to how it is. Senku’s point is that none of that matters until they resurrect everyone. His main thought here is that he is not a politician or anything like that so his goal is to use science to save everyone and it’s up to everyone else to make things work after that. Both of them are rather extreme at the moment but even if they do resurrect everyone at once there is no proof that things will go to how they used to be. If Tsukasa and Senku were to work together it should be easy to change things but both of them are quite firm on their views.

Gen is another main character in the series. He is a wild card and is proud of that. Senku knows that he’ll have to try and win Gen over because this guy can cause a lot of damage to both sides. He’s a fun character who is a genius in his own way. He’s great at manipulating people although I find it ironic that at least half of the time this doesn’t work because everyone already knows that he can do this. It’s an ironic thing to happen to him, but it makes sense. If someone knows that you are great at lying then they just won’t believe you. It’s the same concept with Gen.

Then we have Chrome who is a scientist in his own right. He’s done really well in the past and is Senku’s main partner. He’s a fun character and brings a lot of energy to the series. He’s easily one of the best characters in the series. He’s improved quite a lot in a pretty short amount of time so the guy has a ton of potential. I don’t see anyone ever passing Senku because that guy is practically a robot but it’s always good to have more than one genius. This way you can work on two things at once.

Finally you have Kohaku. She’s introduced pretty early on and is the first villager we meet. She also happens to be the strongest one which is a nice change of pace because usually the strongest is left for last. Kohaku’s a great character and even has a brief skirmish with Tsukasa. While you definitely don’t think she ultimately has a chance it’s still a great effort on her part. She’ll do whatever it takes to help Ruri and isn’t afraid to jump in and grab whatever materials Senku needs. Right now they’ve got a pretty good dynamic going. While I miss the opening trio from the show, she helps the village come close to matching up to that. Between her and Chrome I’d even say that they’re a better trio than the first 3 characters but the other villagers bring them down a tad.

Suika is one of the side characters in the series. She’s a nice kid who wants to help out, but her eyesight isn’t very good and naturally there are no glasses back in these days. She’s not bad although definitely one of the least interesting side characters. You’ve also got Kinro and Ginro from the village. Kinro is a serious fighter whose eyesight also isn’t great but he has learned to fight well despite this. He’s a good character although I do admit that I thought he’d be a little stronger. He’s very loyal to the village so you can always count on him. He’s way better than Ginro who is openly antagonistic and doesn’t want to fight. I really can’t trust that guy as an ally and definitely wouldn’t mind if he got written out.

Ruri is a pretty big character in the village for a while because of how sick she is. Ruri’s definitely not a fighter like her sister Kohaku but she is very wise and helps the characters learn about the past. For a non combatant character Ruri is solid. Then you have Kaseki who helps Senku build a lot of the inventions. He’s a pretty emotional character since he never really had any friends before. The guy may be very old but now his life is a lot more fulfilling and he’s getting to really enjoy himself. I’m hoping he lives through this series, I’d definitely like to see him continue to contribute.

Then we have Magma who is the main bully of the village. He just wants to rule no matter what and for these tribal times that isn’t really unheard of. I don’t really like him as a character though and he doesn’t offer a whole lot. The main problem is also that he has strength but no real technique so it’s not like he’ll be able to do much against the villains. That was his only asset that he could bring to fights and without it there doesn’t seem to be much point to his character. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong though.

For the villains we are briefly introduced to Hyoga and Homura. Both of them have not had a whole lot to do yet so it’s almost like a preview for season 2. Homura was able to hold her own against Kohaku briefly and Hyoga seems like a dangerous foe both in physical abilities as well as with strategies. I can already see both of these characters being very solid villains which is making Tsukasa’s army look more and more stacked. At this point it’s hard to picture the heroes winning against them in a fight.

That’s where Senku comes in though. Inventions are the ultimate equalizer though so that’s why this is a series where it can actually be believable for Senku’s team to come out. Between his actual inventions and the bluffs that they can create, the army of Science is in a great position as well. The season has set up a lot of good pieces and this feels like a very complete anime. There are enough episodes to really introduce the characters and every aspect of the show is sound. This is what it takes to be a great anime.

Finally one thing I also like about the show are the various science experiments. I’m sure a lot of these things are simplified down for the sake of making everything in the show quickly a lot of these recipes and methods are quite real. I made the Senku Cola myself and it actually did taste quite good. I always like when I feel like I’m learning something while watching a show and you’ll definitely gain some good knowledge during Dr. Stone. It’s like an added bonus on top of everything else.

Overall, Dr. Stone is a show that I can recommend to everyone. Whether you want a classic action Shounen or are looking for something different this show should have something to interest you. It’s well written and the show looks nice. The action scenes are really the only weakness as I mentioned but it’s not enough to stop this show’s momentum. The animation in general is also very detailed so I feel like if the animators really put some time in they could definitely get us some great fight scenes too. Stone quickly shows why it is an up and coming title and I’m sure things can only continue to get better from here. I’m definitely looking forward to Tsukasa taking more fighters in the next arc.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution Review


It’s time to look at the remake to the original Pokemon movie. It’s always interesting to see a remake made to a movie in this day and age because there are now so many ways to go back and access the original right? The main incentive of remaking a film otherwise is to utilize modern effects and such that you didn’t have back in the day. That’s why it is especially puzzling to have a new film made that is technologically worse than the original. The original movie looks way better. So if anything maybe this could be a more family friendly version and I can roll with that logic. Due to the animation style it is something that would be easier for kids.

So the plot of the movie is that some scientists decided to try and create the strongest Pokemon of all time. His name is Mewtwo. I don’t really know why they wanted to make him aside from just proving that they could. Well, they succeeded and so Mewtwo blows up the island and works for Giovanni for a while. Eventually he has enough of that and decides to invite the strongest trainers in the world so try and test their mettle against him. Ash is naturally selected as one of the challengers so he heads on over to fight Mewtwo. Can Ash defeat this Pokemon or is this one fight that he is destined to lose?

Mewtwo is extremely overpowered in the film and it’s really nice to see. The film makes it evident that as a legendary Pokemon he is far above the rest and the same is true of Mew. This is how it should be. A Legendary Pokemon should be leagues above a normal one to the point where there isn’t even a contest. That’s just how it really should be. Later on the franchise would add weaker Legendaries, but at this point in time they lived up to the legends. Mewtwo also makes for a great villain. He’s got some fun goals and he has absolute confidence which you want to see in any villain.

The film continues to excel in all of the positives that the original had as well. The character cast is pretty strong and we get some solid action scenes as well. Right from the start in Ash’s first scene we are treated to a Pokemon battle. It’s always great to see those because a full Pokemon fight is pretty rare. Pikachu, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur all get to shine in the spotlight. Ash’s Charizard also looks really good whenever he shows up. He’s eager to battle and doesn’t shy away from a fight even when he is outmatched. It’s a big reason as to why he became a fan favorite Pokemon and he has definitely earned that title. Nobody is going to mess with him.

The soundtrack is a lot of fun. While I feel like it doesn’t have quite the same pop as the original version in some respects it could just be because I’ve heard that one so many times. It’s still quite solid here and I like the theme that plays during Ash’s fight. It’s very lively and a good way to kick things off. We also get an emotional theme near the end although I feel like they switched the song from the original.

I think this film really shows that if you copy a great movie then the remake is guaranteed to be great as well so long as the writing stays the same. The animation here is way worse than the original. To put it one way, it’s one of the worst CGI examples I’ve seen for a recent big media product. The Machinima Transformer shows look better than this one. Part of the problem is that the characters are drawn to look like action figures from a fan animation 10 years ago. For a fan animation I’d say that this looked exceptional but for a AAA CGI film from Netflix it is incredibly underwhelming. The only part of the animation that looks really good are the colors. I do like how the attacks really pop out at you and Mewtwo’s armor stands out as well. CGI tends to do colors really well which is why even hand drawn anime like Super typically use CGI for the aura that surrounds the characters. CG pops and blending it with 2D animation can work quite well., When you go full CGI though then it can get a little risky.

Ash is a great main character as always. This was back when he was at his best. I like seeing Ash jump into danger and have actual plans for the fights. While Charizard didn’t win, Ash had a good plan for him. I also like that he tried to punch out Mewtwo. The plan was doomed from the start but it shows Ash as basically working with his Pokemon instead of just sending them out there to do all the work.

Brock and Misty are still some of the weakest counterparts to Ash although I know they tend to be pretty well liked. Brock flirts way too much and is more annoying than entertaining. He never really has any good scenes. Meanwhile Misty is okay but I feel like she doesn’t have much personality here. She isn’t given a great deal to do in the movie. I’d argue that some of the random trainers who fought Mewtwo had more character as they stepped in and did their best in the fights. They lost of course but anyone would against Mewtwo.

I’m a big Pikachu fan but I do think he didn’t play the matchup right here. While he didn’t want to fight the fake, he still should have defended himself. If he could have escaped and aided one of the others then they could have turned the whole fight around. As it was most of the fights were total stalemates. I do consider that to be a cop out but it’s fine since the main matches had outcomes for the most part. Mewtwo vs Mew was also a stalemate although I still hold that Mewtwo would have won if they kept on going. Mew can dodge really well but you can’t win a fight by escaping. Soon Mewtwo’s hits would eventually land.

One scene that I always find a lot of fun is seeing the trainers try to cross the ocean during the storm. Seeing the Pokemon aid in real life trials like that is just cool. It shows the bond between the trainer and Pokemon as well as how strong the creatures are in a natural disaster. For sure you’d like to have a Dragonite or Gyarados for a situation like that. No mere storm would stop them. Ash and friends don’t have any big heavyweights like that but they ultimately pulled through with a little help.

Overall, Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is pretty faithful to the original. If you really don’t like watching things past a certain time period then it is certainly fine to watch this version instead. You’ll still be able to get most of the experience from the original. It really is basically the same film if you don’t mind the animation. The main problem for me is that there is really no reason to watch this one instead of the original. The original is simply better as there is no aspect of this film that defeats the original. Even minor things like the shading and atmosphere of the original are a lot more intense than the remake. I’ll give this film props for the attempt though. If you’re going to remake a film then it’s always ideal to remake a good one rather than something average or sub par.

Overall 8/10

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

The Reflection Review


Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion Review


It’s time to look at the Index film that came out a while ago. The series has definitely expanded quite a lot with three different shows coming out. Two of them already have 3 seasons which is quite impressive. While the series is mainly an Index film it does bring together the leads of all 3 titles. Unfortunately the film doesn’t really plan out many things for them to do and falters with some fanservice issues which limits how solid the title could ultimately be. It’s an interesting premise with a solid opening act, but it just couldn’t stick the landing.

The film starts off with Touma and Index meeting up with a singer named Arisa. She’s quickly become mega popular over her songs lately and even someone like Touma who doesn’t really listen to music much is a big fan of hers. The three of them get along well enough, but then Arisa is attacked by 3 mages working for Stiyl. Touma tries to figure out what is going on, but Stiyl gives no answers and the heroes are saved by the arrival of a mysterious group of robot riders led by Shoutaura. After everyone leaves with no explanation Touma invites Arisa to stay with him and Index for a while until they sort things out. Everyone is after Arisa and Touma aims to protect her for as long as he can.

Everyone going after the new film character isn’t really a new concept. It’s a convenient way to get everyone in on the action from the jump and works well enough. Arisa is also a likable character who just wants to spread the joy of music to everyone so I have no complaints with her. She also stays strong and sings her song for as long as possible even when the circumstances are getting quite dodgy for her. She never gives up and that’s good since not all of the characters here can say that. There are 2 other important new characters.

The first is Shoutaura who has a personal stake in this. She does not like miracles at all and brings this up quite a lot. Shou is a solid fighter and her group comes in handy on more than one occasion. For a while she was my favorite character but she cracks quite a bit by the end and makes more mistakes than I could allow. I understand her being generally upset and not liking the main characters but by the end she becomes totally crazy. She should have just stopped at trying to murder Ladylee for a while. At least that made sense. Her final target made 0 sense and destroyed her character.

Meanwhile Ladylee is the main villain. She is cursed with immortality and isn’t having any fun so she is trying to get Arisa to fulfill her plans. I don’t think her plan is all that good because there’s no reason why it should erase her immortality. I suppose she needs to try something but ultimately this is a long shot. At least in the meantime she built up a pretty solid reputation and succeeded in life. Even if things don’t pan out nobody should be any the wiser so in theory she can continue her existence.

So, why did the film’s plot not work out so well? Well, as I mentioned the beginning is pretty interesting. You have the magicians and science users all going after Arisa. There’s gotta be a good reason for this right? Well, it’s a bit underwhelming. Basically Arisa has the potential to become a very powerful Angel who could throw the world into chaos. That doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to be hunting her. If anything all this does is make it a whole lot easier for the villains to try to get a hold of her. It also makes Stiyl’s group impossible to root for because they are hunting an innocent girl with no proof that she is bad. If anything they know that she is a nice person in the present and don’t care.

I’ve never been a big fan of Stiyl so it’s not super surprising so much as it’s just disappointing on his part. Meanwhile Kaori also appears briefly and while she is more sympathetic to Arisa’s plot, she isn’t exactly trying to stop her group either. She gets a decent scene trying to stop some rockets but there is no reason why she couldn’t stay to help in the climax except that the film didn’t want her there. I’m also dubious that her slashes could not cut through the random mechs that the villain group was using.

Another problem here is that the film sets up a lot of big fights and character moments only for them not to happen. One case is Accelerator as we see him fairly early on in the film with Last Order, but then he does nothing until the very end. He at least gets a fight right? No, he just gets to slam a tower, but that’s it. There was no real point to his inclusion then but he deserved to do something since he’s such a big character. You can’t throw someone like that into the mix and then not use him. Last Order was fun as always though and did have a good line about why Accelerator should care.

Then you have Misaka who falls into the same boat. She appears early on with her friends and even escorts Arisa through the villain base. (Although they didn’t know it at the time.) After that she doesn’t do anything until the end of the film where she zaps some robots and breaks a tower. This is another case where the whole thing is a missed opportunity. Misaka has broken the law before and has experience being a vigilante. The film should have gone into that as it would have been a pretty interesting plot line. Have her finally get to work with Touma and pals. That would have been really cool instead of doing nothing.

The weirdest part is that Ladylee has two main henchmen who work for her. You’d think that each character would get one right? Well, one of them dies at the very end without being able to fight while the other one is busy dealing with Shou. Both of these characters got some nice build up so it was an odd way to end. At least the main robot got a few fight scenes before he got blown up so it felt like he had an important role. The others…not so much. It just made so much sense to have all of these characters get some action. This is probably the single biggest way in which the film limited its potential. The setup was perfect for a big 3 on 3 fight and it just didn’t happen.

Now, the film wasn’t devoid of fight scenes or anything like that. We got quite a few good ones with solid animation. Stiyl and friends vs Shou was solid as well as Shou’s fights against the robot. The movie’s animation was consistently very solid with the character designs looking good and the energy effects being on point. The soundtrack is also good with a lot of the classic tunes thrown in. Unfortunately my favorite theme from the show didn’t show up but you can’t win em all. That would have helped enhance any scene you throw it into though. We do get a few insert songs from Arisa though which are a lot of fun. Her songs were actually translated in the English version which is cool. Those scenes are definitely a lot of fun.

One area the film struggled with was the fanservice as mentioned earlier. Characters just randomly walk around with nothing on for no reason. Mainly Shou was guilty of this and after it happened multiple times you can tell the film was just being cheeky. It had to throw in random bath scenes and Touma walking in on people too so in general the film was squeezing in as much of this as possible. It’s not as if any of the scenes themselves are all that terrible, but they’re consistent which is still a big problem.

Accidents aside, Touma looked good here. The accidents here weren’t actually his fault. Sometimes they are, but in this film they weren’t so I don’t hold it against his character. He’s quite patient despite being put in a few tough situations like having to pay for large meals that Index likes to eat. You’d think Index would contribute once in a while, but she never seems to help out financially. Touma also does his best to help out during the fights and is in general a good lead. Index isn’t nearly as solid as she just tends to get in the way all of the time. She is certainly not quite as helpful or charismatic as someone like Misaka generally and Arisa looked better in this film.

Overall, A Certain Magical Index: The Movie is decent at best. You’ll get a fun enough story that feels like it could be a two part episode of the show. All of the characters show up and since the music is the same as well it easily fits in with the series. Unfortunately it would be adapting some of the weaker stories with a plot that isn’t particularly strong and more fanservice scenes than some of the episodes tend to have. If you’re a big fan of the series then I imagine you’ll want to check this film out. It still is pretty fun and you’ll be engaged while watching. The weaknesses of the film don’t become as glaringly apparent until you’re done with it. While watching you just keep seeing scenes where you’ll shake your head and think it should have gone another way but there’s always a chance it could change by the ending. Otherwise you really aren’t missing much and you can definitely just go ahead and watch Railgun S instead. That’s still the single best part of the Index series with Misaka showing why she is a one woman army.

Overall 5/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


It’s time to look at the new Kino series. This one is effectively a remake of the old one in a way as some stories are re-adapted while others are looked at for the first time. Since the series is an anthology in a sense the stories will always differ a bit. Anthologies are still the riskiest type of story telling since there are so many different adventures that one is bound to drag the rest down. Unfortunately this was the case here. They say that a bad ending can hurt the whole product and it is true. An ending can really change things and this series had one of the worst final episodes I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of the series is that Kino and her sentient bike Hermes travel the world seeing a lot of different countries. Their rule is that they can’t stay anywhere for more than 3 days. That’s because any longer and you may get attached to the place, but Kino wants to stay a traveler for her whole life. She has to keep on moving and so she follows this rule. That’s also why the series is able to be an anthology as each place is different. There is also a different main character for some episodes but more on that later. As an anthology it makes sense to look at the episodes so lets take a look at each adventure.

Our first episode sees Kino head into a country where murder is legal. As a result you’d expect the place to be very chaotic but it’s strangely peaceful. Kino enjoys the place quite a bit although she keeps her guard up at all times just in case. After all most places tend to seem better than they are. The twist here is handled pretty well and ends up making the place one of the better towns we’ve seen in the series. It’s certainly not an area to be trifled with and I think Kino would have fit in quite well.

Next up was one of the better episodes where we meet the other main character Shizu and his dog Riku. Kino enters a land where she is forced to participate in a tournament against other fighters. It’s all held under the authority of a corrupt king who forces travelers to participate and most if not all of them end up murdered. Kino begins taking down all her opponents and aims to seemingly end this while Shizu has similar goals. It’s a pretty intense episode and we get more fight scenes than usual which is nice. Shizu is also a good fighter so Kino finally has a good rival. Typically in the series she is portrayed as being pretty much invincible.

The twist ending here is definitely unexpected as it portrays Kino as being particularly merciless. We know that she is not a hero, but in this episode she goes as far as to basically be a big villain. She is directly responsible for triggering a mass murder at the end of the episode and she did so intentionally. It’s hard to really forgive her for this by the end and for the rest of the series you probably won’t be rooting for her quite as much. It’s possible for a hero to become a villain that you still root for sort of like Garou but the goals are a big part of that. Kino really doesn’t have any goals which hurts her personality.

In the third episode we see a moving country that likes to roll right over other countries as it destroys them entirely. The country has the same mission as Kino, to travel the world. The main difference is that the entire country moves around and it’s inside a giant armored shell so they just blow up anyone who tries to stop them. One country refuses to move and they end up paying the price. Kino gladly helps the moving country take care of these guys as well. They are giving her a free ride after all. It’s an interesting concept to have a moving country like this but you’re definitely hoping someone does shut these guys down soon.

Next up we got the return of Shizu as he finds a shady country that lives on a big boat. The boat is failing so eventually everyone is going to die. Shizu warns the leaders of this, but they refuse to listen. He doesn’t want to let everyone die so he decides to stop the boat by force only to be met up with the main antagonist Kino. She is working for the boat guys and so they have to have another fight. Shizu also meets a little girl named Ti who has had a pretty tough time of it and decides to adopt her. He intends to find a nice country where they can finally relax but it’ll be tough to find a good place. This was another fun episode in part because Shizu is just such a great lead. This guy’s a hero who is out to stop the villains whenever possible and I’d be up for a full series about him.

The next episode involves a lot of lies within lies. Kino finds out about some people who seemingly died, but then again maybe they didn’t. It’s an interesting concept where everyone knows the lie, but they don’t know that the others do. It’s an infinite loop where everyone has to play dumb until someone makes the first move. It’s a little tragic for everyone involved, so Kino just takes a sip of tea and leaves them to it. I do think the whole situation may make you roll your eyes a bit. Hopefully the characters just allow themselves to learn the truth at some point.

Following that up was the darkest episode in the season and certainly the weakest one aside from the final episode. We see a travelling caravan of merchants who have a slave girl with them. They force her to do all of the chores and such without really letting her eat or anything. The whole episode is them mistreating her as she tries to keep on a brave face throughout. They go to a poisonous area and everyone ends up dying except her. She gets a happy ending, but the episode is pretty unpleasant. For a while you may even think this was Kino’s origin story since there are a lot of similarities to the lead, but ultimately the episode doesn’t go down that route.

After that we got a pretty solid episode with Kino’s master and her partner. They enter a town where the partner is arrested and so she decides to break him out and they take over the town. We get some fun spy scenes and I like both the Master and the Partner. These two characters have a really solid dynamic and they have their epic entrance theme. The town definitely gets wrecked pretty badly by the two characters, but in the end they all get a reasonably happy ending. The Master’s team definitely won though. It was a fun prequel adventure and I’d be glad to see more of those.

Next up we see Shizu again. There’s this one town where people randomly turn evil and start murdering others once in a while. They blame it on radio waves so people don’t get arrested and go back to living normal lives. It’s pretty dark since everyone knows they get one chance to do something as evil as they want and there will be no punishment. Shizu goes out to the tower to prove that this is fake, but the town refuses to believe him. He does his best to change their minds, but is ultimately forced to leave with the assistance of Ti who causes a distraction. Shizu makes for an interesting lead as always, but the episode does cross into extra grim territory with everyone in the school getting murdered. It was definitely a twisted town.

The next episode was an anthology inside of an anthology which was definitely an odd choice. The stories were fun enough but the highlight was the two bandits who are wondering who they should try to rob. Kino passes by them and they wisely decide not to attack her since they would have been promptly murdered. Then you have Shizu’s group and again the bandits decide not to attack since they’d be sliced and diced. We find out that the reason why they are so wary is because they tried attacking Kino’s master once and lost most of their men real quick. Being a bandit just doesn’t pay off in the end.

After that we get an emotional story where Kino heads to a town that is known to be really mean to strangers. Surprisingly everyone is nice to her and she has a good time. It all seems pretty odd but she takes it in stride before leaving. Naturally there is a pretty big twist to the episode and the ending does make a lot of sense. Naturally Kino had to wreck this ending by pointing out that her first thought was almost a glad one because she didn’t want the extra responsibility of watching over someone. If you want extra context for this you’ll need to see the episode but it’s such a terrible first reaction to what just happened.

Next up was Kino’s big origin story. She grew up in a country where things get pretty dicey for kids and the original Kino learned this the hard way. It was nice to see the first Kino even though he looked pretty bad here. He’s definitely not quite as well trained as the current main character. It’s an interesting enough story. There’s not really a twist here compared to most of the other stories, but I suppose an origin didn’t really need a twist right?

Then we’ve got the terrible final episode. Kino and Hermes are travelling between lands when they run into a bunch of sheep. These sheep are particularly violent and just want to murder all travelers. Naturally Kino and Hermes are not exempt from this and so they have to be on the run. There is no escape though so Kino decides that she will murder all of them and does just that. The majority of the episode is Kino blasting them with fire, running over them, and then shooting them. It’s a really mean spirited episode that threw in a lot of animal violence for no reason. It’s a shame because the series hadn’t really had any animal violence before that. It was hard to believe what I was watching with that ending.

The character cast is very small since most of the stories make up their own leads. Hermes is a reasonable sidekick to Kino, but he does feel like a yes man half the time. He always gives her assurances that what she is doing isn’t all that bad which helps to justify her behavior. He’s also pretty helpless without her so it’s not like he can help much. Kino’s a unique character since she just looks out for herself and comes off as more of a villain than a hero half the time. She just wants to have a good time and so she does whatever she wants. If a villain helps her out she will likely return the favor and she doesn’t want to be burdened by anyone. I really wasn’t a fan of her in this series.

Shizu was great though and he stood out even more than in the original series. He was a great lead in all of his episodes and part of what made him so good is that he’s looking out for Ti. It’s not easy to have to be looking out for someone else like this, but he was ready. His dog’s decent, but the weakest of the 3. Meanwhile Ti is solid. She knows how to fight a bit with grenades and is a very solid supporting character to have. Her dynamic with Shizu is really good. I said it earlier, but I’d like to see more of them. Meanwhile the Master and her partner were also good. I liked the partner’s confidence. The Master tends to slam his ideas down, but he never loses his nerve and keeps on trying to be helpful.

The animation is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it excellent or anything like that as it’s going for a bit of a simple style, but it still looks clear enough to me. The character designs are on point and we get some nice action scenes as well. The best action scenes are always with Kino’s old mentor as they take the place down. We usually quickly cut away to the aftermath as this series isn’t really about the action but it works well when it occurs. The soundtrack is more low key so that part isn’t as impressive. I did like one theme though and coincidentally it always shows up for the mentor as well. It’s the main battle theme of the series.

So the series definitely has its ups and downs. One thing I’ll give the series is that it’s usually pretty interesting. Take away 3-4 episodes and the rest of it was pretty solid with the twists and that Twilight Zone feel. The series is at its best when everything feels rather odd and you don’t know what to expect. The mystery is what the series thrives on. If we ever get an actual arc where the whole season is one story I think that would have a lot of potential. I really wouldn’t mind if we switched main characters though.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is a series that will have a hard time really hitting the next level. Anthologies just limit themselves with the style that they have and I would say that the original Kino’s Journey was a little better. The title is like a modern day Twilight Zone so if that sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Each episode has a different theme going on and there is usually a twist. Some episodes can be very light hearted and fun while others can be dark and dreary. You never know quite what you’re about to get. If you want a series that’s more consistent with its tone then you should check out Black Clover instead. That one’s sure to deliver with the epic fight scenes for you.

Overall 5/10

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

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: Nemesis Raetsel Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Phi Brain season. The first two seasons were pretty great so I was ready to jump into the next season. This one is also very good although I would say that it is the weakest season of the 3. It just has a hard time keeping up with the first two because of Jin’s antics. His character gets flushed away here, but fortunately Kaito still makes for a pretty epic main character. We also get to see a lot of the big characters from the first two seasons show up which is always cool. All in all, it makes for a good wrap up to the series.

The season starts with Kaito solving another puzzle as per usual. It’s a little odd that there was still a puzzle around since they should have all been solved, but he doesn’t think too much of it. This changes when a girl named Raetsel shows up and kidnaps Jin. Kaito gives chase while the rest of the Phi Brain children are attacked by a man named Enigma. He is the leader of the Master Brains, a group who is dedicated to destroying all puzzlers. He states that the group is doing this under Jin’s orders. Up til now Kaito has known Jin as his trusted master who loved all puzzles and was a hero through and through. Is it possible that this was all a lie?

Why not ask Jin? Well, they try this, but Jin is no help since he is still missing most of his memories after getting steam rolled by the main villain in season 1. Jin never truly recovered from that in future seasons and even now he is being affected. He spends most of the season teetering like a rag doll between sides as he lets everyone speak for him. Jin is effectively an echo chamber or a mindless monster who follows whatever people say. He has no will of his own and unless he is being possessed you can’t expect him to do much of anything here. He’s a bit of a dull character who is always getting everyone in trouble. He never really shapes up so hopefully you enjoy his character more than I did. He’s the weakest one in the season.

Fortunately to counter that the other villains are pretty solid. One of the new ones here is Raetsel and she claims that she’s known Jin back during the “missing” year he had and that he does in fact despise puzzles. She is a talented solver which isn’t surprising since she was trained by Jin himself. Raetsel definitely doesn’t like Kaito since from her point of view he basically took Jin away from her. It wasn’t really his fault as Jin was just a jerk, but as a kid it was hard for her to know better. Raetsel does tend to get manipulated a bit as the series goes on and I would have liked her to defect early on, but she still has a strong showing overall. She’s another great rival for Kaito and we even got a duel involving her, Rook, Gammon, Freecell, and Kaito which was pretty amazing. Pretty much all of the big rivals were there.

Enigma is another big villain here and he was fun. He’s not as solid as the other master strategist from season 2, but he’s got the smug demeanor down pat. You always want to have a villain with a lot of confidence like this. He’s also good at what he does as shown by how he easily betrays so many other villains in the process. That’s not exactly an easy thing for anyone to pull off. I don’t think anyone expected him to be the final boss or anything like that, but he definitely does last for quite a while.

Unfortunately in this season Gammon doesn’t get to do much. In the first two seasons he was one of Kaito’s biggest rivals, but you can tell that he’s slowly stopped being able to catch up to the lead. Gammon is seen as more of an after thought and only gets 2-3 big puzzles during the whole season. It’s a shame but he did get a really big role in the first two seasons so I suppose eventually he had to slow down. He still talks tough to an extent, but is more on automatic mode than anything else. Gammon’s really just going through the motions at this point rather than actively trying to be the best.

The rest of the Phi Brain children also don’t get to do much here. Cubik gets wrecked in the very first episode of the season which is quite good foreshadowing of how useful he will be for the rest of the season. He’s never been the best solver though so it’s not as if it is out of the blue. He does his best when he appears, but I’ve never been a particularly big fan of his. Ana was also one of the more quirky solvers who relies on mind games more than skill. There isn’t really anyone here with personal ties to her which limits her abilities. Nonoha was never a solver anyway so she doesn’t get to do much of course, but she’s always around for moral support which is important. She’s a nice character as always.

Kaito is a top notch lead as always. It’s pretty rough for him since in every season the villains use mind games to get to him. It’s established early on that Kaito is one of the greatest solvers of all time. He’s only lost maybe 2-3 duels in the entire show in fair fights. Usually the only other way he will lose is if someone is messing with his mind or if there is some kind of device limiting his abilities. The latter doesn’t get to happen this time, but the mind games are still present. Jin and Raetsel do a number on him and he also gets more visions of how the world will end depending on his actions. It’s a lot of pressure but he does a good job of getting past it.

At the end of the day Kaito just loves solving puzzles and the villains aren’t able to take that away from him. He jumps into every battle and is quite impulsive so he just leaps in without a plan. Kaito’s a bit of a loner despite the group he usually travels with and isn’t opposed to fighting a villain one on one. I definitely liked him quite a lot and while Gammon was fighting neck and neck with him for the earlier seasons, it’s clear that Kaito is the best at least in this season.

Meanwhile Rook has now become one of the big executives of the puzzles group that used to be evil. He is now more of a planner than an active participant although he does get to have a few duels regardless. He looks pretty solid although there was one point where I disagreed with him. He basically told all of the heroes that they weren’t allowed to go after the villains. He figured it was a trap and so they needed to stay put. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but time was of the essence and they needed to free Jin. Not going wasn’t going to solve anything and so Kaito rightfully ditched Rook. Rook tried forcing the issue with a lethal duel and I was just not on his side the whole time. Also by fighting each other it was playing into the villain’s hands. I do like the idea of having all 5 of the super geniuses across the 3 seasons fighting each other to awaken their true powers. Since it’s been such a long time and you had characters from different seasons (3 from season 1, 1 from season 2, and 1 from season 3) it was a nice balance. I think everyone would expect Kaito and Raetsel to be the final survivors, but I won’t confirm if that was the case.

Freecell had really hoped not to have to duel anymore and I don’t blame him since it was never his passion. Compared to the other characters in the show who just live for puzzles, Freecell was just mainpulated into using them. Once he regained his sanity it was time for retirement, but it was not to me. He made some powerful enemies in season 2 and one of them ended up coming back for revenge. Freecell ultimately embraces his abilities and has some pretty good duels near the end of the season. I do like him as a character. He was at his best as a villain, but is still portrayed as a skilled solver which I appreciated. He’s a step below some of the others, but really does his best to keep up and comes across as the most sympathetic hero. He could have walked away from all of this, but stayed behind to help his friend Melancholy.

Meanwhile Melancholy gets a big role here as she signs up with the villains just to get revenge on Freecell. She has a lot to avenge at this point since he took down her boss in the last season and nearly broke her with his vague optical powers. Melancholy does pretty good and still never lost sight of herself. She didn’t actually aim to murder the heroes most of the time although some of her puzzles seemed pretty dangerous anyway. Her main mistake was allowing the other villains to have control over her puzzles as well. In the end I wouldn’t say she was the smartest villain because she got manipulated quite a bit, but she was a fun wild card to have around. I always love having a third party here to shake things up and she fulfilled that role.

In a way Elena could have been in this role as well (only as a hero) except unfortunately she doesn’t really get to duel here. It’s a shame because we know she is quite skilled, but she only offers her support financially and through planning this time around. It is helpful to have her around though as she finds out a lot about Raetsel. Although in general the Raetsel thing was a little odd since she kept trying to murder the heroes, but they were pretty relaxed around her anyway. How can you hang out with someone who’s always trying to murder you? I know Kaito doesn’t really fear anything, but even for him it’s pretty bold.

Herbert seems to appear in every season as one of those villains who just doesn’t want to stay down. You have to give him some props for that even if you never really think that he’s going to come out on top. He’s just a fun guy to go up against and here he gets a brief power up which makes him even more of a threat. Herbert doesn’t last long, but you’ll remember him. Then you have Lovushka who is mentioned a whole lot more than her actual screen time would suggest. She’s the main reason why the villains are going through the plan so she’s important in that sense. I can’t say that I was a fan, but she didn’t really appear enough for me to have much of an opinion on her.

Finally we have Orpheus who makes for a solid end boss. It was also nice to see Jin finally leave for the rest of the season which helped me like Orpheus even more. He’s fairly standard as far as Phi Brain end bosses go, but it was a nice way to tie in season 2. It gave the Orpheus Order a little more credibility here. Orpheus has a pretty cool final form and the shadow eyes effect is always a nice one. I would have liked to have seen him fight more directly though as he usually chooses to go through intermediaries.

Each season of Phi Brain always has a terrific climax and this one was no exception. As I mentioned earlier I really liked the big duel between the 5 strongest solvers in the series. It was a pretty good way to let them all have one last crack at a puzzle and those kind of stakes are just fun. It’s like the 4 way duel from Battle City in the Yugioh series. It’s a lot of fun because it does make it a little harder to know where everyone will place. You may know who will win, but it’s hard to guess aside from that. Aside from the main plot I also liked all of the duels with the Master Brains. Their competency level varied for sure, but it did bring us more puzzles which is what the whole series is about. I like to see the puzzles and watching the heroes try to solve them is fun. The series does a good job of really thinking of a lot of different combinations.

The writing is sound as well and that’s important because the puzzles are naturally going to rely on having strong writing at the ready. Weak writing would result in puzzles that don’t make a lot of sense or have convenient answers. I’d make the case that the first season still had the best puzzles with answers that you could actually solve on your own but these were good as well. My favorite puzzle was probably one of the ones from early in the season where the heroes had to find the correct door while Raetsel would snap her fingers causing the doors to shuffle. The idea is to memorize which direction her snaps cause the doors to move and then go from there. It was a very logical puzzle with an answer that made sense. It was definitely an extremely tough one, but one that followed a set of rules.

As always the animation for the season is quite good. I like the character designs and energy effects the series has. It’s looked quite solid from day 1 and that’s never changed. The first episode of the series may still have had some of the most impressive scenes with Kaito first getting his powers, but it’s been pretty consistent since then. This season is no different. Then you’ve got the top notch soundtrack. Most if not all of the tunes are from previous seasons, but the show had already established itself as having a top tier music selection so I can see why they would want to bring them back. The songs can range from being pretty emotional and ominous to having straight up battle tunes. These music selections are part of what makes the puzzles so intense and are definitely necessary for the full experience.

Overall, Phi Brain season 3 is a fun end to the saga. I may not be the biggest fan of Jin, but since his plot had started back in season 1 I suppose it was about time we wrapped that up. On a technical level the series delivered as expected with great animation and a really solid soundtrack. The old characters didn’t get to shine as much, but as they had all already finished their character arcs I suppose their time was simply up at this point. The new characters were fun and I was glad to see old favorites like Rook and Freecell again. I’d definitely like to see a revival of this series someday, but it’s probably a little too recent for that. Even so, a 3 season show about puzzles is quite unique and hopefully more and more people will find out about this title.

Overall 7/10