Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade Review

The gang is back in another adventure. This time it’s more of a full fledged movie so everyone can really contribute and we have a longer plot. I would give the first film the edge overall, but this is a good follow up. It’s on the same level and while it does have some more weaknesses it doesn’t do anything bad either. Diana also gets to look good here as she performs some really high level spells so I definitely can’t take issue with that.

The annual witch festival is coming up and Atsuko has been put in charge of the ceremony for this year as a punishment. Why is this a punishment? Well, the festival is basically just an excuse for the humans to mock the witches as they torment them with a bunch of games. Atsuko realizes how ludicrous this is and decides to put on a happy festival instead. Tension quickly begins to build between her, Lotte, and Sucy though as Atsuko begins to get a little obsessive. Fortunately she meets up with some other kids in the group who might be new friends to replace the older ones. Atsuko has to tread carefully here. Even if she can get this parade working, can she really repair the relationships between humans and witches?

I have to say that the whole premise further reinforces why Shiny Chariot was really good for the Witches. People actually liked her quite a bit. If anything the fact that witches didn’t like her probably just made the various relationships a whole lot worse. The school is partially to blame here for allowing such a parade though. From the screens they showed of the previous years it was totally at the witches expense. That’s not a good way to run such a big event, especially in front of impressionable kids.

This special does introduce some more concepts such as the fact that the witches are basically powerless away from their energy source at the castle. This is a bit alarming as they can barely even take on a bunch of school kids without their powers. I know this isn’t an action series so they don’t have to worry about invasions or anything, but I do think this weakness is a bit extreme. Hopefully as they grow older they will be able to store larger amounts of magic power to at least be able to defend themselves with. Otherwise it’s definitely going to be a rough road for the witches.

The two annoying parts of the film are Lotte and the kids. There’s a subplot where the kids represent the rest of the humans in how they don’t like the witches. They steal the power source and engage the witches in a fight near the beginning. The kids are just very annoying. Sure, they’re young so they don’t totally know what they’re doing, but it’s still painful to watch since the heroes can’t do much about it. How can you attack a kid right? By the end they end up helping out, but the problem was because of them in the first place so I can’t give them too many brownie points for that.

Then we have Lotte who is pretty unlikable here. She has valid reason to be upset with Atsuko for breaking her music book, but beyond that she just wasn’t very co-operative throughout the adventure. This was a pretty big deal for the lead so I think Lotte should have been more amiable. Susy took things a lot better and ultimately works as a person in the middle to get the others talking again. Atsuko is still quite solid even if she did let the festival get to her during different parts of the film. Fortunately Diana was there to give a pep talk. While Diana doesn’t get as much combat here, she still shows her expertise during different parts of the film. Easily the best character like last time. As I mentioned we did get a few new kids. The main important one is Amanda who is a solid addition. While she isn’t as much of a prodigy as Diana, she has skills of her own. She actually does stick by Atsuko’s side the whole time which is great and is quick to help out in the fight with the kids. She did the best in that battle for sure.

The animation is definitely pretty sharp as with last time. I’m not sure if I’d say it’s better but it’s at least on the same level. There aren’t any real action scenes beyond the climax, but the energy effects still look good. There’s still not much of a soundtrack. I don’t know how long the gap was between this film and the first, but it does a good job of feeling like it took place pretty quickly afterwards. If you watch both films back to back they look almost identical which was probably nostalgic depending on how much later it was.

Like with the first film, the real strength here is in how likable the characters are and the fun setting. There’s a reason why school films and shows are so popular. It’s just a fun setting for the characters to interact and to quickly throw in a lot of fun scenarios. Something as simple as planning out a parade can easily be a full movie plot whether or not the main characters have super powers or not. At this point it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of movie series this is trying to be. A school days type plot or more of a fantasy adventure. Perhaps it will change from adventure to adventure but so long as the writing stays strong I don’t imagine it will falter at all.

Overall, The Enchanted Parade is a good follow-up to the original. It’s nice to have a feature length film for the gang. In order to get that film experience the film added more characters and a longer plot, but I don’t think all of it was necessary. Cutting out the kids would have gone a good way, but I think it would have been even cooler if the film had higher stakes like the original one. Having the witches go on a field trip somewhere would be a pretty cool plot. Regardless, I’d recommend checking this one out. If you have to choose a side, I recommend picking team Witch.

Overall 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Pokemon XY The Strongest Mega Evolution Act III Review

All right, the third act of the Mega Evolution special has arrived! It’s been a fun little series and a good way to show off the Mega Evolutions since the main anime hasn’t done a whole lot with that so far. It’s too bad that the special is only about 20 or so minutes, but it gives us some action, which is really what counts I suppose.

Alain is still working with Steven as they try to uncover the mystery behind the large evolution stone. Alain’s boss wants to use the energy to let humanity experience a time of peace. That sounds a little suspicious eh? Well, Alain seems to think that it’s all right and he just wants to become the strongest Pokemon Trainer of all time! Meanwhile, Steven is also interested in finding out about the stone, but Groudon and Kyogre suddenly emerge and the situation escalates. Can the heroes stop these Pokemon from destroying the stone?

As this is a fairly short special, we jump to the fighting very quickly. That’s good as the first few minutes before the fight scenes weren’t incredibly awesome. They weren’t so much dull as you were just wondering where the Act was going with this. We are on a time table after all and expect a good fight since the specials don’t have the luxary of being 800+ episodes. Watching the heroes engage in small talk and walk around semi aimlessly just felt like wasted time that could have been used for more action. Luckily, the two Kaiju Pokemon arrive and then things get really intense. The special takes a lot of cues from the Godzilla films.

Groudon walks through the ocean in a similar fashion to Godzilla and uses Ghidorah’s sound effects and even seems to borrow some from Mothra, but maybe it’s just Mecha King Ghidorah. Kyogre actually used Godzilla’s roar, which was incredibly awesome to see! Then we got to the meat of the special as the two Pokemon fought each other in their Primal forms. I liked the special’s explanation of the forms as they both regained their original abilities from when they first walked the Earth. That’s pretty reasonable to me.

The battle between Groudon and Kyogre did not disappoint! Naturally I was on Groudon’s team as he has always been one of my favorite Pokemon. It was certainly a hype moment as he just grabbed Kyogre and slung him away with a back throw. That was awesome and Groudon definitely had the edge in this fight as he hit Kyogre with wave after wave of attacks. Kyogre landed many blows as well, but they just didn’t seem to have much of an impact compared to Groudon’s. Then, Rayquaza jumped into the fray and I had a feeling that the other two Pokemon were basically doomed.

In a fair fight, I like to think that Groudon could actually put up a decent fight. The problem is that Rayquaza can fly and Groudon can’t. That immediately puts Groudon at a sizable disadvantage since he will have a very tough time trying to dodge any of Rayquaza’s attacks. What helps to balance this a little is that I never found Rayquaza’s raw attack or defense power to be that impressive although this special would certainly disagree. His giant energy blast looked spectacular and made for a great end to an impressive fight. No cop outs or anything of that nature, but an actual end to the fight.

It almost goes without saying that the animation is pretty stunning here. You really feel like this is a battle between immensely powerful Pokemon and the big jump in the animation helps to distinguish it from a normal Pokemon fight. Groudon’s eruption technique from the ground along with the laser blasts especially look great. Everything is crisp and feels modern. You can tell that the company gave this special a good budget.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack is very uninspiring and there are no good themes to be found here. That’s a real shame as having a good soundtrack can make everything feel so much better as you’re watching the fights unfold. It’s safe to say that a dynamite soundtrack would have added an extra star to the rating or just made this one a stronger 8. It’s actually the dub’s fault in this case, which is too bad. The dub will need to work on improving the music as that has been a recurring problem for Pokemon for some time now.

I haven’t talked about Alain all that much, but that’s mainly because he’s a bit of a nonfactor here. He still wants to be the best, but his Charizard gets absolutely wrecked by Groudon in the fight. It’s decently realistic I suppose, but with the dragon’s speed, he should not be getting hit by any of Groudon’s attacks. Speedblitzing in this match should not be hard so he could have definitely been more impressive. At least Alain beat a random guy at the very end of the special, which will help him reclaim some dignity.

Unfortunately, you get the distinct impression that Alain is simply being used as his boss seems completely evil right from the get go. If you’ve played the games then you’re probably ready for what happens next as well. I’m hoping that Alain makes the hero call and doesn’t hesitate to unleash his powers when the stakes get high. As a character he’s all right, but while his dream gives him a lot of promise, Alain has not done anything with it yet. His bold moment when trying to save Charizard also falls flat because he gets knocked out and misses the whole climax.

Mairin is still travelling with Alain. She means well and is a nice character, but she can’t fight, which hurts her chances of really being useful in the adventure. You could essentially call her a filler character as she definitely doesn’t add to the story. I suppose that she is slowly trying to make Alain a nicer person, but that’s a very small part of the story. Steven’s probably cooler than Alain and Mairin combined although he also seems quite naive. I loved him in the Pokemon Ruby game and I’m glad that he’s still portrayed as a very tough fighter here, but he should have suspected something when Alain started to talk to himself. Letting the crystal get snagged was also unfortunate. Luckily, he is trying to correct this by personally escorting Mairin to Alain so he can get revenge and some answers. I’m rooting for Steven here!

Overall, This was a good third part to the special series. I’ll admit that I’m more interested in the fights than the actual plot as it’s been underwhelming, but with part IV supposedly being the final one, I’m expecting an epic climax full of betrayal and tension! The final fights are sure to be really epic and I hope that Alain and Steven look really good as I want at least one of them to end on a really high note. It’ll likely be a while before that one arrives in the US, but I shall be ready with a review. If the next special improves with the soundtrack, we could be looking at an elite title! I highly recommend this special if you’re a Pokemon fan or just a person who wants to see some epic action scenes! It’s short so it’s not like you will have to set aside too much time to check it out.

Overall 8/10