Angelic Layer Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

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Sengoku Basara: The Last Party Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Sengoku Basara II Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Mob Psycho 100 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 4/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars: All Star Battle Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Sengoku Basara Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10