Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

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Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

A Certain Magical Index III Review


It’s time to look at the next season of Index and this one finally wraps up the original saga. We get a few different arcs here, but the big one is definitely World War III. Index is definitely a franchise that has gotten a lot of media over the years as the spinoff Railgun got 2 seasons, Accelerator is getting a show, and in general there have been a lot of novels and manga. It’s definitely a pretty fun series with a good plot even if it is held back quite a bit by the fanservice. That’s the case here as well as the first half of the season has quite a bit of this but then World War III gives us the best arc in the series. All in all, it’s a show worth checking out.

The first arc is about Touma heading over to France to recover the document of C. It’s a mass hypnosis document of sorts that has been used to turn everyone against Academy City. He’ll have to deal with Terra though, one of the 4 members of the Right Seat of God. Fortunately his old ally Itsuwa is here as well so together they’re able to fight a lot better than they could individually. They may also have more allies than they know.

There are a few mini arcs between the main ones with Accelerator and his group tracking down other nefarious groups. They seem to be trying to get other countries to fight against each other and to cause a divide in Academy City so they can’t let this happen. These arcs are usually only 2-3 episodes long, but they’re definitely quite solid. The whole vibe of the show feels so different here as it all takes place at night where the true Academy City shows its colors. Then you cut back to Touma and the happiness of the daytime. Academy City is definitely as shady as it gets.

Touma gets to fly to a few other countries to fight off the threats until we get to the big arc. The season ends with World War III. At last the tensions between the various countries have caused everyone to attack each other. At this point we’re following 3 different characters so there are a lot of plots to unpack here. While the 3 characters don’t all get to meet each other at the same time, each of them do meet the others individually. I suppose they’re probably saving a meeting of all 3 for the sequel show. Well, I’m not positive that Touma and Hamazura met here, but I think they did. Touma’s mission here is to take down Fiamma. Fiamma aims to crash a large meteor known as the Star of Bethlehem and basically wipe everyone out before saving the survivors with his power. Accelerator wants to find a cure for Last Order and also needs to stop a rampaging angel so Last Order will remain safe. Meanwhile Hamazura mainly wants to keep ITEM safe from the various government groups who are after them. They’ve all got different goals, but they end up at the same place.

One thing that’s always been very good about Index is the exposition. Exposition can be a mixed bag of course, but on the whole I tend to like it. Throwing info dumps around is a nice way to quickly expand the world. I know that for some it can just be rather boring, but I think that’s actually a rare case particularly if it’s about abstract concepts and lands as opposed to someone’s sob story. If it’s the latter then it’s gonna get pretty boring. Pretty much every character in Index goes on long winded rants about cosmic events, and various religious artifacts that have amassed a lot of power in a short amount of time. It’s cool to recognize the events that are being talked about even if they are not exactly accurate from real world events. They’ve gotta put that sci-fi spin on them after all.

Index has also gotten to the point where there are enough characters and plots for the series to really have fun mixing characters together. This is especially evident in one of the early mini arcs with Accelerator as you had 4-5 different factions running around. Even in the show various characters would start mixing up the groups. “You’re from ITEM!” “No, I’m from GUN.” “GUN is actually FORM” and stuff like that. It’s convoluted, but the more convoluted the better. It’s also pretty good for replay value. This is Index at its best, just throwing more and more info at you even during the battles.

Index definitely has its share of fun battles as well. For the most part Acelerator tends to have the best fight scenes although my overall favorite fight in the season was Acqua vs everyone. He was fighting off a whole army, Kanzaki, Touma, Itsuki, and a few others. That was just really impressive. The show does have a lot of plot hax with the fights though and probably has some of the more inconsistent power levels that I’ve seen. This is because Touma is the main character and that’s something that has always been a little dicey. Keep in mind that he is basically just a normal kid whose right hand can nullify all magic. That’s definitely very handy of course, but it doesn’t help against villains who have super speed and crazy attacks.

As a result his final fight in the series doesn’t really make any sense. Especially since the show went out of its way to stack the deck against him. Touma is standing on a pillar and there is nowhere to run or dodge to. His only real option is to fall to his doom and that’s not really much of a choice if we’re being honest here. Somehow during the fight he always lands on the same pillar though and Fiamma never thinks to just cut the pillar beneath him. There are hundreds of ways that should have been enough to beat Touma but it never happens. This is never really an issue with the other fighters as they all have super powers. Touma is really just the one who throws in the plot hax. I do think Acqua’s rival got a little nerfed by the end but that’s more debatable.

The animation may not be quite as impressive as Railgun or the earlier Index seasons, but it still has its moments. The company has been having quite a bit of trouble lately, but I’m sure they did their best. The fights that count still look really good and the openings look solid. In particular the final opening of the season is excellent and the best opening in the series. The animation style also does make Touma look a lot older. Not sure if it’s an intentional effect of the animation, but it does work pretty well since Touma acts a lot more mature than he used to be. He’s more of a hero here. In general the season also has a much darker look than the first two which makes sense since I’d call this the darkest season. As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty solid as well. My favorite theme only shows up once, but the rest of the battle themes are still pretty solid. The show definitely delivers on this front as well.

Now lets talk about the characters. Touma is the lead as always and I dare say that this is his best appearance. He makes a lot of good speeches as always and does a better job of keeping himself out of sticky situations. The first half of the season is still tough for him, but for the most part he stays strong. He’s also very resolute in trying to save Index after she is put in a dicey spot by Fiamma. He’s willing to make the heroic sacrifice when need be and in general is definitely a solid hero here. He may be a bit naive like with shooting Fiamma to Earth first, if the guy was still evil then he could simply start his murder spree all over again. Touma always believes in the good in people though which I suppose isn’t a bad thing.

Index doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. For most of the season she is stuck at home and once she enters the fray she is quickly taken right back out. She’s definitely a character who ultimately wasn’t that important in the series and could have been swapped out. Considering that she has a bunch of knowledge stored inside of her it would have been nice to have seen her finally fight for real at some point. Meanwhile Mikoto unfortunately also shares the same fate of not being very important in this season. If anything you could say that her role here is basically filler. She did finally learn about Touma’s amnesia, but doesn’t actually do anything with that knowledge so it doesn’t feel like this matters. She even lets him go off to a fight when she very easily could have followed him to try and help. She just accepts his decision to try and do everything on his own. It’s a noble call on Touma’s part, but as a real friend Mikoto should have absolutely stepped in to help instead of simply leaving. You know that Touma would have never just walked away.

Accelerator gets a pretty big role here and he’s definitely still one of the best characters. Before this season he actually was #1 but someone finally passed him, you’ll see who that is soon. Accelerator definitely looked awesome regardless though. While he still doesn’t like to be called a hero, his days of being a villain are basically over. Aside from one outburst he has where the guy almost turns back into his old self, Accelerator does a lot of good in this season. He saves a lot of prisoners on multiple occasions and does all he can to save Last Order. His abilities still seem to not have an upper limit so as the series progresses I expect he’ll become more and more valuable to the heroes. He’s definitely nobody’s pawn though and even when he’s tied up the guy is calling the shots. All of his scenes in this season are dynamite and it’s worth mentioning that all of his mini arcs were quite good.

As with Index, Last Order doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time here. Still, she’s reasonable enough I suppose and does her best not to be a burden. She just wants to have a peaceful life even if the government refuse to let that happen. Misaka Worst is a minor villain who shows up at one point, but seems to have become a bit of a supporting character. She’s definitely pretty cool and I’d like to see her fight more in the future. An evil version of Misaka is definitely a good idea and while her abilities don’t seem all that impressive, she was fighting Accelerator. Otherwise I’m sure she’d be doing quite well.

Monaka is an old lady who knows quite a lot because she was in a position of power for a long time. She’s retired, but the villains haven’t so people are still out for her life. As it stands she has a very painful time in the series as she gets shot and then has to shed some skin in order to help the heroes infiltrate the villain base. She’s not my favorite character though and takes a long time to make a decision. Meanwhile I still don’t like Tsuchimikado who is always acting vague and keeping secrets from Touma. He should just spill the beans already and comes across as a faker. At the end of the day he’s a government lackey more than he is a friend so he’s not someone that Touma should trust. He also doesn’t really have much of a power set so he’s not that good in a fight.

Itsuwa is one of the nuns who aids Touma when possible. Her abilities aren’t all that great, but she can definitely still fight and does aid Touma as best she can against Terra. The heroes are outmatched there, but she never gives up. She is around for several of the other fights as well. Terra is one of the big 4. He’s openly corrupt and enjoys harming everyone he fights against. He even brings innocent civilians into the mix which is something Acqua wouldn’t tolerate. Terra’s ability to change whatever matter is coming against him to 0 is very handy. It has some obvious weaknesses of course, but in a one on one fight it is very hard to see him losing. He made for a pretty good villain.

Then we have Acqua who is the best villain as well as the best character in the series. The voice that was chosen for him is perfect and I always like villains who have an honor code. He’s definitely a solid fighter and does realize when he is on the wrong side. Acqua bows to no one and makes time to help everyone he can. He even jumps to obscure towns to help fight off the government when possible while everyone else was busy dealing with the large scale threats. Acque goes where he is needed and the guy has a lot of determination. He’s one of the more impressive characters in the series and in a fight he can take down just about anyone. The guy’s also really knowledgeable which isw helpful since in Index you need to be able to comprehend all of these abilities and traps very quickly.

Vento is another one of the four. She appeared in season 2 and doesn’t have much of a role here, but she does show up for a fight real quick. Her opponent quickly takes advantage of her big weakness though and that is the fact that she fights with a cross in her mouth. There’s a lot of ways that this can go wrong and it gets pretty violent for her. In general Vento just doesn’t seem as impressive as the other 3 although her large constructs are pretty handy for defense. I can’t say that she’s one of my favorite members of the four though.

Finally you’ve got Fiamma who probably gets the biggest role of the 4. He is debatably the main villain of the series after all. His right hand is similar to Touma’s except that it destroys anything that it touches rather than nullifying it. He makes for a good villain and the guy is definitely very confident. He makes a lot of plans and always has backup ideas as well so taking him out of the picture is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

Hamazura is not quite as heroic as Touma but makes more of an effort than Accelerator. At the end of the day he’s fine with murdering people and doing what he has to in order to protect his comrades. He’s not particularly invested in the missions so much as he just wants to protect his friends. He’s a fun character to have around but he’s definitely a lot more iffy than the other characters. He tends to make some dicey comments and is usually guilty of getting himself in trouble. Nobody to blame but himself in these cases. I also think his decision to try and team up with Mugino at the end was super risky and realistically they all should have been blown up at that point.

Etzali is a pretty interesting character and his plot probably gets the least amount of screen time here. He has a backstory involving him being a part of a shady organization from a while ago. It seems like they got even worse after he left as now they force their memebers to turn into monsters while trying to wield super powers. He definitely got out at the right time. This part never really gets any closure and I wonder if it would probably get finished in the sequel series or something.

Awaki doesn’t do a whole lot here, but her teleporting is definitely as handy as ever. It’s a great ability to have and really lets you bypass a whole lot of security measures that you would have to deal with otherwise. She gets a pretty fun fight against one of the villains. Really there are a lot of extra villains I won’t be mentioning here because the season has a ton, but I’ll still be mentioning the big ones at least.

One of those is Kakine. He’s the second ranked Level 5 esper and his abilities are pretty nice. He’s able to keep up with Accelerator to an extent after all and that’s not something that just anyone could do. He’s a pretty solid villain and gives Accelerator a really good fight. He certainly did better than the other teleporting guy as there Accelerator was winning without his powers for the most part. Either way Accelerator wasn’t about to lose here though.

Takitsubo spends most of the season knocked out or injured. She’s not quite as good as Last Order or Index, but she isn’t bad. the girl means well even if she is a little out of her league here. With crazy strong individuals running all around the place her enhancement pills are good, but they just won’t cut it. Then you’ve got Mugino who used to be the determined leader of ITEM, but now she’s gone completely crazy. She seems to be losing her sense of self as she becomes more and more like a zombie. In her final form she is barely even alive anymore. It’s interesting seeing her as a total villain, but that’s why it is pretty hard to accept her turning at the end. She brutally took care of Frenda after all..how do you come back from that? Kinuhata doesn’t get nearly as much of a role as the others, but she’s definitely a fun villain. Her abilities are handy and in a 1 on 1 fight she’s probably the only one who could possibly hold her own against Mugino.

Well, Frenda also doesn’t get much of a role here. She meets her fate pretty early on. She’s always been a fun character so it was unfortunate to see this happen to her. She probably should have tried to escape or stayed strong earlier, but I guess she probably never suspected that things would escalate so quickly. Then you’ve got Lessar who joins the cast near the end. She seems pretty crazy and while the character had potential at first she goes off the deep end later on. Lessar becomes incredibly obsessed with Touma and basically loses all of her potential. A shame that her character arc had to go that way.

Meanwhile you’ve got Aleister who is still as mysterious as ever. He doesn’t do much here so that’ll probably be saved for the sequel. He’s still content to watch everything from his water jar. Then you’ve got his alien double running around who seems to be a 4D being who can barely even talk in a way that humans can comprehend him. It’s hard to say where they are going with him, but his plans seem super risky. He needs Touma alive and yet there are so many times where the hero nearly died. You’d think he would pay a little more attention in that case right? When the double does show up he tends to be pretty invincible so far. Only Accelerator likely has much of a chance against him unless they can get Touma to grab him. It’ll definitely be tough though.

Then you’ve got some of the season 1 cast running around. Kanzaki definitely isn’t as impressive as she used to be. She seems to lose every important fight that she gets into here. I suppose the power creep was just too intense. She’s still a good character, but one that desperately needs a power up. Hopefully she will get that soon and she also needs to stop letting Tsuchimikado troll her all the time. Then you’ve got Stiyl who I never found to be all that impressive anyway. He does a good job against Index…but it’s Index. He seems to be a little too obedient though. Kanzaki disobeys the group when she feels like it, but so far Stiyl hasn’t done that. You’d think that he would be ready to ditch the group since they were prepared to end Index. He’s friends with Index right? A threat like that should make him take notice.

Carissa is my favorite of the various princesses. While her methods may be a bit extreme, she is definitely looking out for Britain in a way that the others clearly aren’t. Her abilities are pretty impressive since she wields a sword that gives her an incredible amount of power. She has a lot of fire and determination. Carissa also does battle with some other princesses who look pretty cool but we never get to learn much about them. Then you’ve got the Knight Leader who was able to do battle with Acqua on even ground. After that fight he never looks quite as impressive again, but it was still a great role and he was one of the best villains here.

As mentioned the series’ only real weakness is the fanservice. It pretty much vanishes after the first half although then you’ve got Lessar trying to mess with Touma in World War III. Her scenes quickly become annoying. The season felt a little more violent than the last two, but it’s hard to say for sure since it’s been a while since I saw season 2. At the very least you can expect the characters to really go through the wringer here. Several characters are shot point blank and others take so many injuries that they basically bleed out. It’s definitely no Titan, but it does get a little intense here. The scene has some pretty shocking moments like when Mugino took out Frenda. You just wouldn’t have thought that something like this would happen so it changes the whole dynamic of the show up to that point.

While I wouldn’t go as far as calling the whole show very dark, there are moments where it gets pretty serious. Going back to the animation style, it works really well as a result because while the first two seasons were pretty optimistic, here everyone is quickly forced to adjust to the situation. It’s war now and the casualties start to build up. There are moments of levity here and there, but the season maintains a steady serious tone. By and large this season probably works as a good example of a “dark” show that isn’t super gritty. It’s always hard to maintain that balance and to this day Madoka Magica is the best example of it.

The pacing of the season is definitely very fast. The events really go by in a flash so you want to absorb everything you can right away. It does help the series always stay exciting though. With the exception of the early Touma episodes, there is always something happening around the corner. There are so many groups and villains that you’re always wondering who is going to show up next. It’s a really good thing if you ask me. There are some fights that I would have liked to have been a little longer like Touma vs Accelerator, but as it stands most of the fights seem to last for a good amount of time.

Overall, Index Season 3 was definitely a good way to wrap up the series. World War III definitely felt like the big climactic event that it was supposed to be. Everyone got to throw their hat in the ring and we got a lot of cool fights and plots going. The season does get hurt a bit by the first half which suffers from the usual issues, but it’s still a good season in the end. You’ll probably have a better time if you watch the other two seasons first since you’ll really be able to appreciate all of the storylines, but I think you’d be able to hang in there with this season if you follow all the exposition. Just try to keep all of the names straight.

Overall 6/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Future Card Buddyfight Ace Review


Buddyfight never hit it off quite as well as Cardfight but it still did last for an impressive amount of time. It got several seasons with the original cast and then we got this one, a sequel sort of like Cardfight G. It’s definitely not quite at the level of the first set of series but as you have to get used to a whole new set of characters it is rare for this to be the case anyway. As it stands, this is still a great show and I was sad to see it go. I’m sure the next arc would have been pretty epic and with more time the ending probably wouldn’t have been so rushed.

The plot follows a kid named Yuga Mikado. He is the son of Gao Mikado but for reasons that are never explained and make no sense Gao never introduced him into the world of Buddyfight despite being the world champion. I guess we have to assume that Gao just never went back home because it sure seems like Yuga doesn’t really know the guy. Still, Yuga prides himself on being the ace of games. He just tends to be very good at whatever he does and even has a Paltube account to document his experiences along with his friend Ranma. One day Ranma gets Yuga into the world of Buddyfight and his world changes forever.

The first episodes are mainly for introducing the other characters who I will talk about in a bit. The actual plot mainly revolves around a big tournament that is coming up. The champion will be considered to be the best in Japan. Yuga is definitely ready to claim victory but Ranma realizes that the gap between them is steadily growing. As a result he decides to turn to the powers of darkness to make a comeback. He decides that crushing Yuga is what he has to do and they can’t be friends until that happens. Meanwhile his buddy has plans to destroy the world and Yuga’s Buddy Garga may be Earth’s best hope against him. Can Buddyfight really solve all of their problems?

The show definitely starts out pretty strong thanks to having a pretty well rounded cast of characters. Aside from Ranma most of the other characters tend to be pretty solid. It’s also cool to have the heroes grow up in the same city as the originals but I do think we should have gotten more guest star appearances. I understand the logic of keeping them away during the first season and Cardfight did that as well, but it’s always a lot of fun to see the old gang band together one more. Surely at least Gao should have shown up at some point.

I suppose this does mean that the show has to succeed or fail on its own merits though. The animation is definitely pretty sharp. The energy effects are really on point. While I don’t think it beats the top Buddyfight animations, it is definitely up there. The show looks really clear and all of the scenes flow well. It’s always pretty consistent and definitely works to enhance the experience. Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is definitely dynamite. This is one of those series where all of the main characters get their own theme which is cool. I think it’s a nice touch and really lets you get into the heat of the duel. The best theme is actually Ranma’s. It’s a really solid villain theme and definitely gets across the despair of facing off against him.

So let’s talk about the characters. Light is probably the character who shows up the most yet gets the smallest role. He duels maybe two times in the show and spends most of it just watching the other characters. Being a spy is his job so it makes sense I suppose but I feel like he should have done more. His plot of resenting Gaito a bit also came out of nowhere considering how much he also likes Buddyfight.

Then we’ve got Yuga who is the actual main character. He’s definitely a fun guy who is always looking on the positive side of things. As the Ace of Games he also has his competitive side as well. That being said, Yuga is probably the best loser that I’ve seen. He never even comes close to being upset at anything. Even when Ranma turns evil and starts hurling insults 24/7 Yuga just shrugs them off and keeps claiming that the two are still friends. Yuga may be a bit exaggerated in that respect but it is a really nice change of pace to have a lead who just refuses to acknowledge his friend’s betrayal. Even as Ranma continued to get worse and worse Yuga keeps their friendship. He’s definitely a great lead and whenever he puts on the headphones you know that he is getting serious.

Masato is the Ace of Sports and one of the main fighters here. He fights with the Link Order Dragons. While sports are his favorite thing to do he also does enjoy Buddyfight quite a bit. He is able to hold his own with just about anyone in a fight. His backstory is pretty good although to an extent all 3 characters have a similar one. They were all friends with someone who turned evil and needed to be dueled out of it. Masato even has his own winning cheer. I feel like it probably just adds salt to the wound for the foes he defeated but since he died the cheer no matter the outcome you know it isn’t personal.

Then we have the Ace of study, Subaru. He’s a little more aloof than the others, but isn’t mean as you might expect from the rivals. He just likes Buddyfighting and studying and quickly makes friends with the others as a result. He’s not quite as interesting as the others as a result, but his skills are definitely the real deal. His Buddy can predict the future which is handy, but whenever Subaru is going to lose he suddenly can’t see the future which is a little too convenient. It is what it is I suppose. Subaru comes up with an infiltration plan in the second half of the series which was an interesting idea, but I don’t think he pulled it off too well. Still, he always made it pretty far in his duels.

Tasuku is really the only old character with an active role so he’s repping the old characters. He only gets to duel 2-3 times but it is definitely fun to see him get in on the action. He’s still got his Jackknife Dragon at the ready and their retro combos. As the police chief he can’t be quite as reckless as he used to be and seems to follow regulations more. While he may not be quite as much fun as when he was a kid, Tasuku is still a quality character. He is ultimately the one who comes up with the super weapon that plays a key role in saving the world.

Dan or Da Dan as they call him is the main comic relief villain in the series. He has his own Pal Tube account and likes to mess with the heroes. He can’t fight as well as the others for a while, but he never gives up. How much you like him will definitely depend on if you like this kind of character but I thought he was pretty reasonable. He actually did put up a great fight against Ranma in the end. Dan was really close to winning that one and it’s crazy to think on how different the series would have been if he succeeded. Dan also probably had the toughest time out of all the characters since he was effectively trapped for a long while.

Garga is Yuga’s buddy and he is a very formal dragon deity. He’s one of the strongest monsters in all of Buddyworld so the guy has a lot of experience under his belt. He surprisingly has things under control from start to finish and doesn’t go through the whole “Yuga needs to prove himself worthy!” plot. He definitely gets a little more comfortable with the heroes towards the end and even starts filming Paltube videos. From the various main buddies through the years he is definitely one of the best ones. His decisions on how to handle the situation with Vile Demonic Dragon were also the right ones. Garga really hits all the right notes. He’s a dependable ally and a great friend.

Banjoe is one of the supporting characters who is around at times. He’s your classic punk character, but he doesn’t get a whole lot to do compared to the others. He’s a reasonable fighter and has a decent character arc, but I don’t think you’ll be remembering this guy much. Ion is the new announcer, but she definitely doesn’t have the memorable charisma that Paruko had. Mel is a girl who likes to sleep a lot and doesn’t have the bravery needed to talk to Subaru. That’s not really what I want to see in my favorite characters so you can tell that she was one of the weaker ones.

Mamoru is a nice homage to Ultraman so he’s a fun guy to see. You sort of know that he’s doomed in the duels since he just feels like a one shot character, but the fact that he can actually fight in the real world is definitely pretty cool. Miko is a supporting character who appears quite a lot. She owns a pizza shop and always treats the main cast to free pizza every other episode. I do think she is probably losing out on a lot of profits here, but I can’t really fault her for treating her friends right? She may not be too outgoing, but her buddy isn’t afraid to take control of her body and fire energy blasts at opponents who get too close. Miko can fight when in a pinch as well so you definitely don’t want to count her out.

Now it’s time to take a look at the main villains. One of these guys is Daijiro. He’s Masato’s main rival. Aces decided to give each of the main 3 heroes a rival so they all pair up nicely in the final tournament. Daijiro is super competitive like Masato, but winning is all that he cares about. This naturally led to a rift developing between the two characters. Daijiro has a pretty reasonable deck and I do like him as a villain. He’s one of those guys who still follows an honor code and that’s something I always like to see with these characters.

Then we’ve got Seiji who is the more cunning villain. He’s not direct like Daijiro and likes to pit characters against each other and watch the fireworks. When this doesn’t go well then his confidence fades fast though which is definitely his weakness. He’s also a little more petty and easily manipulated by Ranma and the others. I always like the dynamic of a sub villain who wants to betray the leader, but you never really feel like he’s going to come out on top. Seiji really isn’t that kind of villain and he gets too emotional to really be much of a leader. I do like him as a villain though.

Naturally then we have Ranma. Unfortunately..he’s the weakest of the main 3 villains. He starts out as Yuga’s best friend, but quickly gets jealous when the hero gets the most OP buddy in the game. Ranma sulks quite a bit as other people become Yuga’s friend and he really wants to be the hero’s only friend. You can see the warning bells right away here. Ranma succumbs to darkness in order to beat Yuga and does finally get his own buddy. However, instead of being grateful for that he turns into a full blown villain. He goes so far off the deep end that it’s hard to buy his inevitable redemption arc. He even gets over the fact that his buddy murdered one of his teammates. The last episode feels really rushed in this respect and since it looks like we might not get a season 2 that’s going to make it even harder to like the guy. You can sometimes make a big betrayal like this work (ex: Sasuke) but you can’t do it like this. The motivation is extremely important and Ranma’s is petty at best.

Ranma’s buddy is pretty cool though. Vile Demonic Dragon will remind you of Azi Dahaka from the original series. This guy has big plans and he has quite a few different super forms at his disposal. There’s one part where he fights alongside his super form and it makes for really cool visuals. Realistically you should never lose when this guy is your buddy. Of course, he wasn’t exempt from the cheesy end either. It’s hard to buy this guy wanting to be a nicer monster after all of his tough talk. I do like the idea of a bond between him and Ranma, but he just shouldn’t be willing to join the heroes so quickly. Also, how did he get out of jail so quickly? Even if it was for good behavior, you’d think it would take years and not a few weeks. Maybe the Buddypolice do some brainwashing?

One character that the show was probably a little too misleading on was Rei Urameshi though. He was seen as a very mysterious figure for most of the final tournament. The build up gets to the point where you start to actually look forward to his debut. Unfortunately he then shows up as a comic relief villain. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I thought Dan was handled well, but he’s just pretty annoying. It’s hard to go for that complete 180 and succeed. Either you like the twist or you don’t, but it definitely didn’t work for me. I was hoping for someone who was a little more impressive.

Buddyfight Aces definitely wastes no time in making the monsters pretty OP here though. By the end of the series there are quite a few fighters who could probably hold their own against the strongest fighters in the original series. The power creep gets incredible particularly for Yuga and Ranma. There’s no way they can realistically lose to anyone now. Yuga is not even the strongest and he can launch almost 10 consecutive attacks with his combo. If you don’t have a bunch of shields then you can expect an instant loss. Ranma’s attacks are even more devastating as even when he loses all of his life points you have to beat his monster around 15-20 times in order to beat him. In a normal duel you are definitely not getting that many attacks before you lose. Ranma may get lonely at the top now, but he has finally gotten his wish to be the best. Hopefully he makes the most of it.

Aces definitely had a really solid run, but it feels like the season was cancelled or at least had to end a little sooner than expected. The last episode is just crazy sudden and moves at a lightning pace. Quick pacing isn’t inherently bad of course, but when you have multiple villains who have to pull a 180 in the span of a single episode that really isn’t going to work well. If there was going to be a season 2 I feel like the ending would have been quite different. The Dragon would have escaped and Garga would have pursued him. This would lead to Yuga deciding to follow him into another world and of course then there would be a bunch of other monsters. Maybe Gao would also show up to save his son. A lot of potential there that we might never see.

In the end I would say that the character roster is a little weaker than the original Buddyfight’s, but at the same time the core characters are mainly good. The supporting ones are more hit or miss. The villains are probably more solid all around although with the main villain not being too high that does limit the others a bit. The dueling is on point as always though and with the power creep it would have been fun to have seen what they’d do in season 2. I feel like Garga would have lost his form change ability or something to make Yuga have to work for his wins a little more. Alternately everyone’s gonna have multiple flags at the ready.

Overall, Buddyfight Aces is definitely a great show. It’s very focused on developing the characters but throws in a lot good duels and action in the meantime. It’s a shame that it looks like it won’t get a follow up season though. Typically the second season is when the plot would really get going and we would start to see more guest stars. Still, it’ll definitely hold up very well as a one shot title, particularly if you look at it more like a stand alone than as a sequel. It’s a Cardfighting show, how can you not love it?

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Digimon Adventure Tri: Future Review


We’ve finally made it to the final installment in the Digimon Tri series! There were quite a lot of plot threads still dangling so does this one manage to finish them off? Well, it does end the main plot, but for the most part we still don’t know a whole lot about what was going on in the back end. Perhaps it’s intentional as the Digidestined are also left in the dark for the most part. So, I wouldn’t clal this a rushed ending, but I wouldn’t say it is a super satisfactory one either. It’s ultimately a fun sequel package that will have a good amount of replay value, but I do think the next follow up will likely be far better so long as it goes back to its roots. The film does end with a nice potential cliffhanger. Whichever option it chooses should work out pretty well.

So last time Tai seemingly died when the cliff caved in due to an unnatural earthquake caused by the Digi souls and the rulers. Matt is now the temporary leader and the group decides to head back to the human world once again. They’ve basically been playing ping pong across the two worlds if you think about it. Unfortunately Meicoomon has digivolved once again and is now a cosmic being that seemingly can’t be stopped. The heroes are ready to accept their end, but if they’re going to die anyway they’ll go down fighting. Even if there is a chance for victory it may have to come at the expense of Meicoomon. Is there a way to save her or will they have to sacrifice the one for the many?

One unfortunate part about having Meicoomon be so powerful here is that fact that we can’t get any real fight scenes as a result. Meicoomon’s final form is too large to really take shots at the opponents and at the same time it’s so durable that it doesn’t need to dodge opponent strikes. This leads to a bit of a stalemate where the heroes can talk to it, but don’t do much else. There isn’t really any kind of big fight here so much as we just get a quick strike. It’s too bad since the films usually had such good fights when they did show up. I suppose as the finale the thought battles were the most important part here. So lets talk about those.

Throughout the series one of the subtle debates has been if the heroes should destroy their Digimon partners if they were to ever turn evil. Their bonds of friendship are strong, but apparently not absolute. Well, Meiko has been asking the team to destroy Meicoomon if necessary but they were confident that it wouldn’t come down to that. Well, in this film quite a few of the characters decide to go ahead and do this even while Kairi objects. Kairi’s objection is rather half hearted though as she says she’ll never forgive them, but then follows that up by saying that she won’t try to stop them or anything like that. If you really think it’s wrong then you should do something. Either way it’s not really a good look for the heroes. There wasn’t much of a choice by the end of course and mainly I would blame Meiko for not trying to stop them. For the other heroes they’re basically acknowledging that their bonds to each other are more important than Meiko. Everyone’s got to make a choice and they made theirs. Meicoomon also seemed pretty corrupt from the start so maybe he was all gone but it does feel like the villains got a bit of the last laugh here as a result.

Think about it, by the end the villains managed to murder a bunch of people, they’ve convinced the humans that all Digimon are evil, and then they convinced the heroes to destroy one of their own. Now when the factions ever decide to return, whether it be Homeostasis, The Digi King, or Gennai, they’ll have quite a lot of confidence here. Gennai also gets away with way too much here. He shows up to taunt the heroes quite often and they usually just stand in watch. Case in point, Gennai shows up in this film to reveal that he let Tai and the professor live just so they can choose which one of them gets to escape. None of them even try to attack Gennai as they just get resigned to their fate. The Digidestined seem to have lost most of their fire by the end and if that was part of the villains’ plan then they really did succeed.

With Tri over and the benefit of hindsight, I think the problem here may have been that Tri attempted too many things. The writers clearly had a bunch of ideas they wanted to throw around, but there’s just not enough time for all of them. This would have worked better if it was a full TV show. I also think some parts of the plot are swept to the side, but don’t make sense if you think about them. Think of all the kids who were kidnapped/vanished thanks to the villains? We’re talking dozens to maybe even 100+ and nobody found out? The government was covering for the villains because they’re naturally evil as well, but surely the parents would have said something. The original main characters know the 02 cast as well so it’s even more suspicious that they weren’t able to find anything out. Maybe the government got the parents as well (Can’t recall if they had a cameo) but the more people you kidnap the harder it is to hide that. The 02 cast also never actually get to appear so that’s a shame for their fans.

The animation looks nice as expected. We get some fun visuals with Omnimon’s form at the end. It’s definitely a powerful moment and for most of the film the world is covered in darkness so the colors do tend to pop out. Unfortunately for the soundtrack my favorite theme didn’t show up this time. In general the soundtrack is pretty subdued but it works well enough for the scenes it is present in.

Overall, Digimon Adventure Tri certainly won’t go down as one of my favorite parts of the franchise, it’s probably one of the weakest honestly. Still, it was an interesting experiment into what Digimon could be like if it was trying to be more Slice of Life/Cerebral instead of being more of a classic Shonen. (Honestly it probably holds up even better if you don’t think of it as a Digimon film. Think of it as standalone with no preconceived notions of what kind of fights and action should be in and you’ve got a good plot based anime film) It is a title that’ll make you think and force you to choose sides since there are usually quite a few options to choose from. Typically all you need to know is that Matt is right and Tai is wrong. I still think the first Tri film did a great job in setting up a mysterious premise and re-introducing the characters. Ultimately the follow ups just couldn’t completely cash in on this. The films fortunately do stay away from a romance angle that the various installments were hinting at. Even by the end it’s still lightly hinted at, but at the end of the day there’s a good chance we won’t see Meiko again so there’s nothing to worry about there. This is a good film to check out regardless of whether you’ve seen the other Tri titles or not, but you’ll likely be more than a little confused if you just skip to this one. I’d recommend watching them all in order.

Overall 7/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2 of Phi Brain. The first season was definitely a rock solid show. We got a bunch of great puzzles and in general it was a pretty unique show. I haven’t seen many like it so it was good to have the title return. While season 2 does retread some ground from the first season it’s definitely a great follow up. It’s not quite as good as the first season of course, but the quality is very close to that of the original.

The season also does start off with a bang. Kaito and the rest of the Phi Brains are hanging out at school when they are challenged by a new villain group. They call themselves the Orpheus Order and right off the bat they challenge the heroes to a group battle. Kaito and Gammon can handle themselves well enough but can the rest hold their own? The leader of the Orpheus Order is named Freecell (Or is he the leader?) and he seems to have some ties to Kaito from the past. Kaito doesn’t remember this guy or the promise he supposedly made. Either way Kaito has to stop these guys, but the Orpheus Order is more expansive than they can imagine. Kaito may need to call on his old friends from the POG for assistance.

I always like it when the villains make a move right away. Why bother waiting 20+ episodes to appear when you can storm the hero stronghold in under 10 minutes? It’s really impressive just how quickly they move. I also really like the idea of a team battle. It’s basically a 5 on 5 match as everyone plays a square related game. It’d be even cooler to have everyone moving at once, but logistically that’d probably be a nightmare so this makes sense. It’s still super tense because even if Kaito wins his round there is no guarantee that the whole team will win.

One advantage the season immediately has over the last one is that Kaito isn’t sidelined for every other puzzle. In season 1 there kept being a ton of different circumstances that would keep him out of a fight. First we had Cubik come out with something that prevented Kaito’s brain from activating, then he went through an emotional breakdown where he forgot how to do puzzles, etc. There were so many episodes where Kaito could have solved the puzzle easily but then something happened and he had a hard time. Here the only times Kaito is having a difficult experience solving the puzzle is because his opponent is that good. In season 1 a lot of the puzzles were 1 player, most of the ones in season 2 are vs puzzles so you’re actively fighting someone. It makes a huge difference on how you go about solving it this way. Even Nonoha gets to duel in one puzzle which was definitely interesting. Her photographic memory unfortunately isn’t too helpful in most cases, but she always tries which is good.

The Orpheus Order has quite a few members so lets quickly talk about them. First up is Freecell who serves as the main antagonist here. He blames Kaito for the death of his mother, but gradually we learn more and more about his full backstory. He makes for a good villain, but typically he’s at his best when Kaito isn’t around. For example, his confrontation with Klondike is his best scene. It’s awesome and one of the best moments in the whole show. When he’s with Kaito he gets a little more delusional and in some ways is just Rook 2.0. Overall I did think he made for a pretty great villain though. He may not have been the most original villain in the series, but the execution was on point. If anything it’s too bad we didn’t get to see him fight more. I wanted to see his new powers in action.

Then we have Pinochle who is definitely the worst of the group. He’s the kind of guy who goes for mindgames and intimidation right off the bat, but can’t pull it off. As a result he seems more like a try hard and never becomes all that interesting. It’s a shame since he gets some of the most development out of the characters. Next is Mizerka who also isn’t too great, but she’s a step up from Pinochle. She needs to have a use and so that probably makes her the most loyal out of all the members. So long as the leader gives her a task she is happy to complete it. Her character is tied pretty closely to Melancholy so you can probably expect that things don’t go too well for her. She also tends to get psyched out by Ana as Mizerka takes everything very seriously.

Next up is Doubt and since he’s Gammon’s rival you can imagine that he’s pretty solid. (For the most part all of the Orpheus Order members have a natural rival) He can fight which is handy and he always struck me as the strongest main member behind Freecell. By the end of the series it is strongly implied that this isn’t the case. Things actually get pretty dicey for Doubt in general in the second half. Still, I liked his confidence and as the tough guy of the group he served in his role pretty well. It took a while for me to realize that his name was literally “Doubt” though.

Then we have Melancholy who is pretty young compared to the other characters. Still, that isn’t to say that her talent is lacking in any way next to the others. She’s always confident and sarcastic aside from her final scene. I don’t think she really got any closure compared to the rest of the group so it’s a shame that Melancholy couldn’t have gotten one more puzzle battle. Likewise, Whist gets a lot of hype throughout but ultimately doesn’t really get to do anything at the end. He does have a lot of hype moments in between, but at the end of the day he didn’t have the breakout duel that you’d expect. The butler from season 1 was definitely more impressive in that regard.

Klondike is the head of the Orpheus Order so you definitely expect a lot out of him. His role is pretty small, but definitely very powerful. He instantly became one of my favorite villains in the series. The guy’s so good at puzzles that he reached Kaito’s level during his first time even trying one out. The guy’s potential is nearly limitless. He’s another character that I would have liked to spend more time with. I suppose there are just too many characters for them all to keep on appearing, but it’d be nice if he could appear again. I suspect this was probably it for him.

That wraps up the new villains here. Well, we have Ana’s sister, but she really didn’t add anything to the show. I didn’t even realize Ana still needed a backstory although I suppose maybe it was hinted in season 1? She has her big moment at the end of course, but for the most part she’s pretty forgettable. We do see the return of an old villain from the POG arc. I won’t say who, but his role here is pretty fun. Despite the fact that this guy is always whining, he can apparently fight as he actually takes down Doubt. It was definitely intense to see him again even if I don’t really get why the villains humored him for so long anyway. I suppose testing the villains’ loyalty and Kaito’s progression is always good, but I feel like there were other ways to do this.

Rook and Bishop may be on a quest to destroy all the puzzles of fools, but they do take the time to quickly show up here when Kaito is in trouble. Bishop never really gets to duel, but Rook has some nice moments. His tag team duel with Kaito was definitely pretty cool. It’s always fun seeing the old villain show up as more of a rival in the present. It’s a nice character development moment. It would have been nice to see Rook fight with Freecell, but I think that may have ultimately been too much for him. The other POG members show up, but only the celebrity member really gets to do anything. The rest just panic a whole lot.

From the supporting characters, Tamaki probably gets the biggest role. She has to step in as student body president and naturally the villains make a move. The season is long enough where there are several sections in the plot. At one point what the villains would do is go around mind controlling people. Tamaki ends up being one of those targets. Jikukawa as well, although his was a lot more epic. It made for an excellent cliffhanger when he showed up and challenged Kaito. The guy always had an interesting history as he was close to being a Phi Brain, but decided not to do so. I guess this was his chance to test all of that. I do think his plan to put on the ring was a little sloppy, but it all worked out in the end which is what counts.

From the Phi Brain children they mostly just get a role in the first half of the season. By the end they aren’t really able to help out at all and just stay on the sidelines. Ana’s role near the beginning is to annoy Mizerka and of course the whole thing with her sister. Cubik is heavily involved with trying to figure out how the rings work and Gammon tries to teach Doubt a lesson for involving his sister. They’re all pretty consistent with how they were in the first season. In that respect, Gammon’s the only disappointing one here just because he had such a big role in season 1. He was Kaito’s rival while now he is treated more like an underling. It’s clear that they are no longer on the same level. I suppose it was inevitable to an extent but it’s still a shame.

Nonoha still gets a big role of course as she is always ready to support Kaito. She also helps get Freecell to sort through his emotions in time for the final boss. She’s definitely an integral part of the story. Finally we have Kaito. As always he’s definitely a great main character. He doesn’t really suffer from the same levels of doubt he had in season 1. The mindgames still shake him up a bit from time to time, but for the most part he’s gotten past all of that. He’s now in a spot where he can just enjoy puzzles again. He’s definitely a fun main character and his aggressive nature towards solving puzzles has served him well. I’m glad he chose to do the puzzles without the armlet as well. In season 1 he basically surpassed it so that would have felt like a step back.

Naturally the soundtrack is still great as we have a lot of old themes that return. I do miss the classic samba type music that played though. I don’t even know what style of music it was, maybe Mexican? It fit really well for the tombs, but I guess with the change of scenery for season 2 the directors thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. Still, on the whole we get the rest of the epic tunes. Then for the animation it’s pretty consistent with season 1. The visuals are still nice and shiny. It doesn’t stand out too much in particular, but it all looks good I’d say. Most of these puzzles aren’t exactly made to look super flashy anyway.

I think one difference here compared to the first season which does hurt a bit is that it’s more up and down. I feel like season 1 was consistently excellent with high stakes while this one could fluctuate. At its best the hype moments were even better than season 1’s. The Klondike duel, Jikukawa turning evil, the big duels with Freecell, Rook jumping in, etc. These are all show stopping moments with how amazing they are. At the same time, then we have the episodes that feel like they’re just trying to buy time. These include moments like: Ana’s sister, Tamaki turning evil, the puzzle adventures on the island, etc. Not to say that any of these episodes are bad. They just feel like filler thrown in the middle to buy some for the villains to make another serious move. Since season 1’s episodes were mostly all introducing the characters and getting us to know them even the “filler” felt important. It’s a perk that season 1 has which is supposed to be countered by the fact that season 2 can just jump right in. It’s a good balance and as I mentioned before, the seasons are still very close.

Overall, Season 2 is definitely quite solid. I do like the idea of a villain group of geniuses. We do get some cop outs in terms of the whole group being Phi Brains, but the higher ups still delivered with the fights. Phi Brain will continue to succeed as long as they keep thinking of fun puzzles. Season 1’s were still more creative, but this season definitely had enough hype scenes to match 1. I look forward to seeing how season 3 stacks up. Who can possibly challenge Kaito and friends now right? Maybe there’ll be a super Armlet of Orpheus or something like that.

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Megalo Box Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent anime that came out. I hadn’t seen any boxing titles prior to checking this one out so that was definitely pretty cool. It’s definitely a quality title that does a good job of illustrating the kind of world Joe is in. It doesn’t lose sight of the main plot during this though so it consistently moves at a good speed. Really the only bad thing about the show is the opening and in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t mean a lot.

The show takes place in the future. Boxers now use cybernetic enhancements to fight known as “Gear.” It’s like a robotic backpack that extends to your fists. Some have it ingrained in their bodies while others use the basic gear. Joe has been fighting in an underground arena for all his life and he’s sick of it. He has to throw fights to win and as such he is unable to really test his skills. His big chance occurs when they announce the Megalonia tournament. He decides to enter and gets into the tournament with a fake id thanks to some help from his coach Nanbu. Still, the more Joe climbs up the ranks the more it seems like he can’t escape his fast. What will end him first? The top ranked boxer Yuri, or his dark past?

Right away you can tell that Megalo Box did a good job with the atmosphere. It’s going for a very realistic setting despite being in the future. For the most part it actually feels like the past, but it just shows the natural progression of how the rich have gotten even richer while the poor continue to fade away. It doesn’t go too far into making the place tough to look at either though. I’m not a big fan of deserts of those kind of backdrops because I like seeing the more high-tech areas. As such the best looking scenes are often in the ring or at Megalonia. Still, the show did a good job with the setting.

The soundtrack is also top notch. The themes all capture the moments that they’re placed in. They help up the intensity without feeling really forced or anything like that. It’s probably one of the best soundtracks that I’ve heard in quite some time. The animation is also pretty solid. It’s nothing extremely high end, but it’s all pretty smooth. I don’t recall any bad looking episodes so it was pretty consistent the whole time. It continues to give 12-13 episode titles a good name. They seem to consistently have some of the best animation, pacing, and music available. Something about only being 12 episodes seems to help enormously with the budget which makes sense. I think it creates a cycle where the best writers/animators try to get onto those shows and so they continue to excel.

As I mentioned, the show does falter with the opening though. It’s just pretty terrible which is surprising. It’s going for a meta look at Joe at a literal dog and other such stuff, but it doesn’t really give you a good impression of the show. If you showed me the opening I would have told you that the show was likely terrible. There’s just no potential in the opening or anything to grab your attention. The music for the song isn’t particularly catchy either. I definitely don’t agree with the approach the show was going for with this intro.

The character cast was solid so lets quickly talk about them. The best character is the reigning champ of Megalonia. His name is Yuri and he’s pretty much the rival/main antagonist all in one package. I like his confidence and he’s the kind of opponent who is fighting for something. He’s not just a random obstacle to face nor is he a boxer who turned crazy. The guy just likes a good fight and is also trying to reward the faith that the leader of the corporation put in him. He’s a good guy and also just wants a clean fight. He won’t accept a win any other way. We don’t get to see him fight much at all (mainly because of the show’s length) but he is definitely a scene stealer.

Then you’ve got Joe who was close to taking on Yuri for the top spot here. He’s always looking for a fight and is a very aggressive character. A lot of times the main character can heavily influence how good a show is and I think Joe also contributed to Megalo Box’s quality. When the villains try playing mind games with him Joe is often able to get past this without help. Where other characters would start guilt tripping themselves Joe is able to stand strong. A good example of this is when a guy who lost his legs in a war shows up to guilt trip Joe. Joe doesn’t buy it and after explaining that it has nothing to do with him just goes in for the win. Joe is fixated on getting to the top and doesn’t let anything get in his way. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any doubts or trials, but he does a good job of getting past them.

Then you’ve got his coach Nanbu. That guy isn’t quite as solid as the first two. Mindgames always work on him and the villains tend to have a lot of leverage on him so he’s not someone that you can really count on most of the time. He’s also got the toughest road to follow in the show as bad things seem to happen to him constantly. A lot of it is trouble that he really started though so you can only sympathize with him so much. Long story short, he’s a decent mentor character, but definitely not one of my favorite characters. Then there’s the kid Sachio who isn’t quite as bad as he could have been. He’s still a little out of place among the main members of the cast though. He isn’t nearly as smart or witty as the others so he ends up just being around to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get what is going on. I don’t think he ever really needed to stick around.

Yukiko is the rich leader of the company sponsoring the tournament. As such she does serve as one of the main antagonists. Unlike Yuri she is not about fair play and will succeed no matter what the cost is. Still, she is reasonable for the most part. She does share some of the usual prejudice against the lower class but is at least willing to provide a safe haven for the kid. She got a good amount of closure in the ending. Fujimaki is the leader of the thugs and someone who helps the main characters quite a bit. He’s an annoying antagonist who gets in the way a lot, but he is certainly good at his job. I was glad that the random villains couldn’t hack his fake ID so easily since that would have made him look bad. As it stands, his plan was pretty solid although expecting Joe to just backout at the end wasn’t too realistic. He’s easily the most evil character in the series. I think if Nanbu and Joe had talked to Yuri then maybe they could have avoided some of this, but it was a complicated situation.

Through his journey to the end Joe did manage to fight some other notable characters as well. There were two in particular. The first is Aragaki who was Nanbu’s first pupil. He has good reason to be upset since everyone basically ditched him. He’s still not all that reasonable though with how he’s targeting Joe though since he’s not just using him as a scapegoat. His fight is definitely an intense one though and one of the more memorable bouts in the series. Then there is Mikio who is actually a pretty great antagonist. He’d be second only to Yuri from the villain side. What really works for his plot is the fact that Mikio is a wild card. He wants to take down both Joe and Yuri while foiling Yukiko’s ambitions at the same time. This would also destroy all of Fujimaki’s plans. Basically if he wins then everyone else loses.

I always love it when a third party steps in. There’s just so many ways they can wreck everyone’s gameplan. Still, you’ll know right away whether he has any chance of succeeding just because there’s only so many wrinkles that a show can have before getting back on track. This isn’t the kind of show that’s going to subvert the ending to such a degree. From episode 3 or even earlier you know how the final fight is going to go down. There’s no room for someone like Mikio there. I did like his armor though and overall he is a charismatic fighter. This isn’t the kind of show that will likely get a season 2, but if it ever did I could see him getting a role.

As far as the ending goes, it’s pretty lackluster. Fortunately the rest of the show is solid enough where it doesn’t really matter but I feel like it did everything wrong. I don’t really like Joe’s intentions at the end. It’s not that they’re bad, but it seems really out of character. Was his final fight that intense/satisfactory? Then Yuri’s end is also really not satisfying at all. I felt it was pretty excessive. Nanbu’s life is also basically wrecked so that’s too bad for him. Then there’s the outcome of the final fight which I wasn’t a big fan of. The show goes out of its way to reassure you that the outcome would have been different if one of the fighters hadn’t done something drastic before it started, but I was still hoping it would go the other way. The conversation with the army that serves as a red herring also heavily hinted this was the case. It’s done intentionally to keep you guessing, but once you know the outcome then the conversation makes absolutely no sense. Ah well, the ending could have been a lot worse.

I do have one other complaint, but this one’s more about power levels. At the start of the show the gear is hyped up quite a bit. It’s considered madness to get into the ring without gear and expect to walk away with your life/the win. Well, when Joe does this for almost the whole series it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Sure, the punches hurt a little bit more, but that’s about it. I don’t know, I was expecting much more of a difference. It feels like everyone could just fight without gear without many side effects. Sure, as a competitor you take whatever edge you can in order to secure the win so it makes sense from a narrative perspective why they would use it, but the gear should offer more of an advantage. Joe could have still won by dodging hits. The irony is that he always takes a lot of hits in every match so if the gear was even remotely stronger than a normal punch Joe definitely should have been dead in several of those fights. So I think the gear mechanic wasn’t really handled as well as it should have been.

After all, the show was epic even without it. All of my favorite hype scenes didn’t even involve gear. One if the first confrontation with Joe and Yuri where they nearly spar. It’s an intense moment and while Yuri actually did have the gear on under his jacket, it’s just about Joe defying authority. I also liked the stinger with Mikio showing up to blackmail Joe and then the sucker punch. It’s too bad Joe couldn’t have fought him right there though. That would have been fun. Then we also have Joe crashing the announcement party to try and throw himself back in the tournament. Again, Joe’s just a great character who is always trying to get in on the action. It’s impressive how much he does in only a few episodes.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Megalo Box very highly. It’s a very complete anime title and one that has no real weaknesses. The character cast is strong and the anime looks/sounds very good. The plot is pretty memorable and the episodes offer great cliffhangers so you’re always ready for the next installment. Megalo Box does more to keep its events memorable in 12 episodes than some do in 26. It’s going to be very hard for another boxing anime to top this one. Not saying it’s impossible of course, but this one really knew how to keep boxing exciting and fresh.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Digimon Adventure Tri: Coexistence Review


We’re now nearing the end of the Digimon Tri series. It was definitely fun to see the heroes back again in these adventures. That being said, with this film the series is really turning into more of a total seinen as opposed to a shonen. It was always like that to an extent with the more faded color scheme and theatrical animation approach as opposed to the vivid hype of the average anime, but at least the plot was super engaging and we did get hype fights. Coexistence does throw in a fight at the end, but most of the mysteries are starting to lose their allure and this installment has the slowest pacing. It’s still a good film, but mainly because it’s part of the franchise.

Last time Meicoomon went on a rampage and the Digidestined were unsure as to what to do. Fortunately the Digimon runs out of there and the heroes are run out of the Digital World shortly after. Now that they’re back in the human world they know that they need to get back to the Digital World to end this once and for all. Until then though they have to try to reconnect as a team and remind Meiko that she is one of them now. Can their bonds be forged anew or is it too late for the team?

As I mentioned, this film is really mostly about the dialogue. That’s not a problem as this is true for most of the Tri films. I think what works against this film more than with the others is that a good amount of the dialogue isn’t all that interesting. Ironically the worst scenes are typically the ones with the Digidestined as they all try to cheer up Meiko. She spends a great deal of the film crying and feeling sorry for herself. She ultimately comes up with the wrong decision as well as she tells the group to destroy Meicoomon. So much for being friends forever right? Meicoomon is going off the deep end, but even so she needs to hope until the end.

Then we have Tai still being scared and afraid to fight. I’m ready for him to finally get past that. By the end of the film he’s maybe changed, but we won’t really know since the next film will have them back in the Digital World and he doesn’t care about the collateral damage there. At least he did agree that they won’t destroy Meicoomon so that’s a start. Matt is still the main voice of reason here and he should be the leader. Meanwhile Kairi gets a bit of a bigger role as Homeostasis uses her as a vessel to talk to the heroes. It is one of the main factions in the film and finally steps in here. I’ve been waiting for it to show up so that was pretty neat. It has a good voice for sure.

The best part of the film is naturally when all of the factions finally meet up in the end. You’ve got Omnimon from the Digidestined side, Alphamon from back in film 1, Jesmon, and Meicoomon. Alphamon had a great fight in the first film so it’s definitely great to have him return. Jesmon’s been in the background throughout all of the films as well so him stepping in was definitely appreciated. Then Meicoomon’s been getting stronger as well so it makes for a very satisfying final fight. It is a little sad that the other DigiDestined can’t even really contribute at this point, but only super mega Digimon can really do anything at this point. It’s definitely a great way to start wrapping up the film since you always want to have at least one big fight in the film.

This war of factions is also the most interesting part of the film. The King of the Digital World is at odds with Homeostasis and then you’ve also got Meicoomon. This is the part that I want the series to focus on. It’s also interesting that nobody’s really worried about the 02 cast yet. I’m wondering if they’ll appear in the next film or if they’re just doomed at this point. It would be sort of funny in a way if they just don’t appear or even get referenced in the next one. It’s a bit dark, but really shows how the fandom just moved past them. The Adventure 01 cast is what everyone wants.

We’ve also still got the subplot of the government lady who lost her partner a while back. I feel like her plot may have ended here although it’s a bit ambiguous so she could still return in the next one. She definitely really cracked on the way to trying to see her old Digimon again though. At least she packed a gun. It’s a pretty interesting scene that is a bit tragic, but at the same time it’ll likely bring her to the reunion she was hoping for.

With kids still being missing from across the planet I’m waiting for the news to hit the public. By this point I’d expect the armies to start mobilizing and for the armies to step in. That’d make for a pretty cool development although that may end up being too many plots to have juggling around. Right now it’s all been left to the task force but with Digimon appearing all around the world it can only be so contained. It looks like the next film will be in the Digital World so either we’ll have a subplot with that or when the heroes take out the threat at the source it’ll knock the rest out.

The animation is pretty consistent with the last ones. The fight scenes definitely look really good. The rest of the aspects of this animation aren’t quite as solid as it’s all just very washed out, but it’s good enough overall. I also think the soundtrack is fine. The best theme from the first few films doesn’t return here unfortunately, but we’ve still got enough energy to go through the action moments. Hopefully in the final film we get to see the Dub Evolution theme as a nice tribute or something like that.

Overall, Coexistence does suffer a bit from the series fatigue here. It’s the second last film so the writers are saving all of the big events for the next title. As a result this one is really biding for time compared to the last few. I’d consider this the weakest of the Tri series, but overall it’s still a good film. Parts of it may drag a bit (Meiko breaking out her southern accent and then dropping it again) or even come close to being boring, but the final fight does help to raise the film back up and I do think the final part should give a more satisfying conclusion. Hopefully we get a longer fight in the final battle as there should be a lot of action. Quite a few villains/factions are still on the loose so I’m expecting them all to pull out everything they’ve got left. After all, they won’t get a second chance to do so.

Overall 6/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Yu Yu Hakusho Review


It’s time to look at an incredibly well known anime in the form of Yu Yu Hakusho. This anime is one of the all time greats and after watching it I can confirm that the dub is top 5. Purely in terms of script it may be the best one yet. The anime really nails Yusuke’s character and makes him even greater than he was in the manga. (Where he was already pretty great) The show is definitely a very complete one and certainly an anime that you should find the time to watch. It’s fairly long, but that’s a good thing.

The basic premise is that Yusuke is a delinquent. He doesn’t like going to school and the teachers don’t like him. One day, he dies when saving a kid from a passing car. Yusuke’s soul did not pass on though and he was chosen as a spirit detective. Eventually he gets his body back, but the detective gig is still going on. Yusuke must now live a dual life as he fights off demons and would be conquerors while still dealing with school. Although, the first half takes up most of the anime as he rarely ever seems to be in the human world during the show. From the Dark Tournament to the big Demon Tournament, there’s a lot of epic action in this show.

Right away you’ll notice how great the script is. There’s enough memorable quotes to make long video compilations of them. Yusuke has dozens of amazing burns and zingers throughout. You know he’s gonna say something cool whenever he talks. I think part of what makes him so great is how he really isn’t afraid of anything. Even when he’s tied up he’ll talk about how the villain’s boring him. His humor can range from defiant to even edgy, but he’s always got something to say about everything. I’ve never seen such an amazing script before. He can pull off pretty much every emotion as Yusuke goes through a lot of sad moments mixed in with the rage and defiant ones. He also gets a lot of great character development throughout the series. It’s hard to believe he’s the same kid who began the series as a normal boxer and eventually goes on to Goku levels of strength. It’s pretty uncanny. I think Yusuke seems a little more merciful in the anime version than in the manga as I seem to remember him being quicker to try and axe the doctor there, but it’s been a while since I read it.

The animation is definitely really sharp. It only gets better and better as the series goes on. It has that distinct 90’s-early 2000s look about it. The colors are sharp and you can feel the power behind the hits in the fight scenes. The series also has fun using some experimental animation from time to time like Yusuke’s fight against the doctor or some of Hiei’s shadow dragon techniques. It’s nice that the series is confident enough to try these things out. Nowadays you don’t really see that very much. I mean, the experimental stuff usually doesn’t quite hold its own to the normal animation so it’s not a bad thing if they skip that altogether, but I don’t mind the attempts especially if they’re infrequent.

We also have to mention the soundtrack as that one is an easy 5/5. There are a lot of incredibly tense themes throughout the series. Pretty much all the top ones are in the Dark Tournament arc. I don’t know the exact names, but the anticipation theme from when the battles are about to start is always good or the feeling of unease theme when the villain powers up. The Sensui arc also had some solid tunes like Sensui’s theme as well. The final arc wasn’t quite as solid with the new themes, but by that point the series already had a huge selection so it’s not like it needed more.

Naturally a show that is over 100 episodes will likely hit some pitfalls along the way. There is some animal violence in the show via flashbacks as we learn someone’s sob story. There are also bits of the story that are pretty dark with torture and stuff. Almost surprisingly the series manages to avoid fanservice although in trying to make Yusuke a big delinquent we do get some dicey moments with him and Keiko. Even though they’re friends it can be a bit iffy. Still, 90% of the time the show avoids these things and it’s long enough where the positives manage to overpower these negatives. That’s a luxury that a shorter show would not have had.

After all, the show is not lacking in positives. Top notch dialogue and fights for over 100 episodes will do that to you. The show also has an incredible main cast and a lot of solid supporting characters. I already talked about Yusuke, but now lets take a look at the rest of his crew. First you’ve got Yusuke’s best friend Kuwabara. He starts out as a fellow delinquent, but gradually begins to hit the books more. Throughout the series a running theme is that he is trying his best to put down the fists and pick up some knowledge. At the same time he’ll never back down from a fight though and has a strong honor code. It’s pretty rough for him since he’s still just a human though and can’t quite keep up once the enemies start getting really high tier. He even missed out on the entire final arc as a result. He’s a fun character although from the main 4 he is certainly the weakest one both in strength and character.

Next up is Kurama, the brains of the group. He’s always thinking up a plan of action for the others, but can also fight quite well when necessary. He’s quite possibly the best executed brainiac type character. He’s not one of those smart characters who lacks common sense or is terrible at fighting. Part of being a top strategist is knowing how to defeat an opponent. He’s also got human ties which end up giving him a ton of character development. An opponent may get the upper hand against him temporarily, but this never lasts. Kurama always wins the end game.

Then we have Hiei, the best character in the show aside from Yusuke. He starts out as a villain very briefly, but then plays more of a Vegeta type role for the rest of the series. He’s probably one of the only characters who got a power boost from being good rather than evil. As a villain he was very weak, partially because the author likely hadn’t thought of what to do with him at the end. By the end of the series he is able to trade blows with all of the big shots. Hiei’s confidence always makes him a winner and makes for a lot of hype scenes. As I said, the core characters are very solid here.

Moving on to other big characters, we have Yusuke’s mentor Genkai. She’s far better than the average Shonen mentors like Jiraiya and Roshi. She actually knows how to fight and teaches Yusuke a lot of important life lessons. While she is old, Genkai is still able to fight with the stronger characters in the series. Keiko is the main heroine. She’s pretty solid although it would have been cool if she could have learned how to fight by the end of the series. She always protects Yusuke’s spirit animal though and never lets the villains get her into a hostage situation. She can take care of herself pretty well.

Botan is the more charismatic heroine though. Her accent is handled well and she does like trolling Yusuke quite a bit. She’s mainly here to drop off information from Spirit World or give the heroes a push in the right direction when they need it. Koenma is her boss, but he spends a lot of time panicking. He doesn’t actually intervene in the action until near the end of the series. He’s not really much of a fighter but his pacifier makes for a very powerful tool. It’s actually a very satisfying reason as to why he still uses one even though he’s grown up. I was blown away at this revelation.

Yukina is an ice princess who appears early on in the series and sticks around as a supporting character. While most of the characters know that she is Hiei’s sister early on that plot runs all the way through to the end as they keep it a secret from her. She’s not quite as outgoing as the other characters, but always presents herself in a very dignified manner. Rinku’s a yoyo user who’s definitely very confident. He’s not one of the more powerful characters in the series, but I suppose just making it into the Dark Tournament is enough to say you’ve earned the right to be confident. He’s not my favorite villain, but he’s not bad I suppose.

Chu is one of Rinku’s teammates and he is certainly a lot tougher. He definitely makes for good fight scenes although his character starts to go down towards the end of the series. Toya is a fierce ice ninja who’s definitely cool. There isn’t a whole lot to say about him but when the chips are down he is ready to help Yusuke. Jin is another ninja and he just loves a good fight. His accent is so strong that you might have a difficult time understanding anything he is saying, but that’s part of the fun with the character. He’s definitely eager and one of the more memorable characters from the tournament.

Then we have Younger Toguro who is certainly one of the most important characters in the series. He’s extremely powerful and serves as an impressive roadblock for Yusuke. He has a pretty solid backstory and his motivations for fighting aren’t bad either. Toguro is the kind of villain who does have an honor system while battling. I definitely think he wouldn’t have lasted long in demon world, but I think a part of him knew that from the start. He got greedy for power and paid the price, but it’s easy to see why he is one of the most popular villains. He certainly is cool.

Elder Toguro isn’t quite as solid. He’s definitely more of a trickster and is willing to achieve victory at any price. Definitely not a villain you want to turn your back to. You can’t deny that the guy is persistent though. With his regeneration and quick attacks he is one of the most deadly villains in the entire series. Not my kind of villain but he makes for good fights. Then we have Karasu who is certainly quick and manages to stay competitive in his fight even when up against Yoko Kurama. He’s slightly less engaging than the other members of Team Toguro but another big hit overall. Then we have Bui who has a really cool design with the armor. His weapon is comically large to the point where it seems impractical but that speaks to how strong he is. His fight with Hiei is definitely a lot of fun and we get a lot of DBZ visuals as well as abstract moments. He doesn’t talk much until the very end. Then we have Sakyo, who is the guy who orchestrated the events of the tournament behind the scenes. His backstory is definitely iffy and so he would have been a dicey villain had he not changed. Fortunately in the present he’s much better. He’s a tactician and not a fighter, but has the courage to stand next to villains who could wipe him out in an instant. Sakyo is ambitious and makes for a very interesting antagonist. He does give up a bit easy in the end, but definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Then we get to Sensui who is definitely an iconic villain. He’s basically insane and has a lot of split personalities. Sensui simply couldn’t deal with the pressures of being a spirit detective and so he became a citizen of evil. Still, he didn’t lose his tactical mind and what makes him such a dangerous villain is that he has super strength as well as a sharp intellect. He continues to get stronger and stronger throughout the arc and is definitely a villain that you’ll miss once he’s gone. He’s definitely one of the greats. He has a band of minions who all get a bit of a role. The smallest role likely belongs to Gourmet though. That guy just got too overconfident for his own good. He’s not nearly as dangerous as the other members of the group since his “Territory” abilities just aren’t too potent.

Itsuki is probably the only member of Sensui’s team who isn’t an underling. Without him Sensui’s plan wouldn’t have a chance and the ex detective knows this. Itsuki does a good job of maintaining the portal as well as buying time for Sensui. He’s not the most interesting villain, but he’s good at what he does. Minoru is a crazed doctor who worked as part of Sensui’s group. He’s probably the most psychotic as he doesn’t even care about the plan so long as he gets to murder people. There was definitely no reasoning with him. His episodes were fun though with the hospital being a very unique locale. You rarely see it being used for fights.

Kaname is definitely good with a weapon and gave Yusuke a lot of trouble during their fight. His ability is probably the most deadly in a typical situation since he has a ton of range. It’s hard to get close to him and he can shoot you at any time. If he fought almost anyone but Yusuke he might have won since even here it ultimately took a third party to stop him. Mitarai gets the most development from the group, but he also whines a whole lot so it’s a mixed bag. The guy ultimately sees the light, but I never became a big fan of the guy. He doesn’t really add much to the table. Then we have Amanuma who is a lot younger than the other characters and as a result it’s easy for Sensui to manipulate him. His end is actually one of the most tragic in the series. The kid was messing with forces beyond his comprehension.

Yomi is one of the 3 Kings and probably the one who gets the most screen time of the 3. He’s another master strategist as this series kept on its path to Hunter X Hunter levels of conflict. Like Sensui he is also ultra powerful though so don’t think that relying on his intellect is his only option. The voice they chose for him in the dub is perfect and he certainly commands the room whenever he appears. He’s always a few steps ahead of the other characters and seems to be ready for any angle. He only loses his cool once or twice during the series. I liked him a lot more in the anime than in the manga, maybe it’s just how the directing was or how they took the arc’s direction. Either way he was quite solid and so the series continued the trend of having great main villains for each arc.

Mukuro is another one of the Kings, although she is a little less impressive than Yomi. I think her character arc feels like it never had much of a final destination at times. By the time we get her origin story it’s pretty late in the game. Still, she’s a solid villain as well and we do get to see her fight quite a bit by the end. Then we have Raizen who lived and died by his ethics. At least he stayed strong so I’ll give him some props there. Still, I feel like he didn’t really handle any of his situations too well and ultimately came close to dooming his people. I never really became a fan of his in the end. There are quite a few other characters who show up in the final arc like Raizen’s friends and the lieutenants of each faction. The only one to get a really big role was Shigure I’d say. He definitely had a big part in Hiei’s origin story and made for an interesting wild card. The monks on Yusuke’s team were also interesting even if they did keep subtly saying that they were weaker than the other factions by a lot even once the tournament had started.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters but if you want to see them all then check out the show. There’s not a whole lot to say about the pre arc adventures, but pretty much every story part of Yu Yu Hakusho is interesting and a lot of fun. Again, it comes down to the fact that this show was firing on all cylinders in every area. Each arc is also pretty different. The Dark Tournament is awesome because of the constant fights. It embraces its shonen nature and adds in a lot of danger and suspense constantly. The way the rounds are handled is also a lot of fun as you never know exactly how the next fight is going to be structured. This also makes things difficult on the heroes since they don’t know what to expect either. There’s a lot of backstabbing going on here as well.

Then you have the Sensui arc which is a big tonal shift in the series. We get a lot of new themes that fit in with this. It started out on an awesome note as well with Yusuke being kidnapped. It’s handled in a way that really makes you anticipate the next episode. Whether you watch the show weekly or binge it, you’ll be at the edge of your seat. Yusuke’s first encounter with Sensui in the city is also epic. This arc had the highest stakes and the most tension in the series. You really never knew what to expect and while Dark Tournament is certainly still my favorite arc, this one’s also dynamite.

In comparison the final arc is a little weaker, but it’s still pretty excellent. I think I enjoyed the build up and first half more than the tournament ironically. There were just so many players and plot threads moving early on that it was a lot of fun. In a sense it all climaxed when Yusuke went to Yomi’s base to discuss things. There were a lot of ways that could have gone. The tournament was fun and all, but I did like the idea of a 3 way war for the demon world. I think that would have made for a more enjoyable arc, but it probably would have been super long as well so it makes sense that the show shifted gears. The tournament was still a lot of fun anyway even if for the first time there were no real stakes here.

Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is definitely one of the best anime out there. I highly recommend checking it out ASAP. The show is pretty great from the start, but it enters elite status once the Dark Tournament begins. That’s when the series really hits its groove. From there on the rest of the series continues to operate on that high level and never looks back. Even the transitions from arc to arc are incredibly smooth with new villains showing up and a lot of great fights. As the series is ending there are fights right up until the end. Whether we ever get a sequel or not, the series is definitely very complete. There’s so much to talk about in this series but at the end of the day you’ve really got to experience it yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

Overall 9/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Hunter X Hunter Phantom Rouge Review


It’s time to look at the first big Hunter X Hunter film. From the poster and the name you’d expect it to be all about Kurapika, but instead he shares it 50/50 with Killua. That works for me since Killua’s always pretty hype even if this might not be his best appearance. It’s a pretty solid movie that delivers a fun plot and some good action scenes. It’s a good all around title.

The film opens with a quick recap of what Hunter X Hunter is and then a Killua flashback. In the present Kurapika meets a kid he used to know from his clan. The problem is that his whole clan was murdered so how can the kid still be here? The answer is pretty clear, he can’t be. The kid steals Kurapika’s eyes and then escapes. Gon and Killua are quickly called in to find the kid and recover the eyes. The problem is that they can’t really fight so how can they get the eyes back without engaging the enemy? They’re going to have to count on the kindness of strangers/enemies this time.

I do think the opening scene with Illumi was pretty unnecessary. We know that Killua had a tough childhood and was probably put on many assassination missions like the one we saw here. Still, I don’t think we needed to see those kids die like that. It’s a dark element that could have been cut out or implied a little more than shown and that would have gotten the message across. It does show a little more into how brutal this world is though, nobody’s going to be around to save you if you can’t fight. That’s part of why being a hunter is so appealing in this series.

As for the main plot, it’s pretty interesting. HXH always has a good story to tell. I think you’ll likely get where the film is going with the mysterious kid from Kurapika’s clan from the start though. The film isn’t too subtle about it, especially as we are introduced to a new character named Retsu who controls puppets. Puppets you say? Hmmmmmm. They look pretty life like too. Retsu isn’t bad I suppose, but there’s not a whole lot to her character. There is a twist where you find out that the character is a girl, but if her disguise was meant to make you think otherwise then I can’t really say that it worked. Still, she means well I suppose even if the way her character arc ends doesn’t feel like it needed to have been played out that way. She didn’t plan things out too well.

A big part of the film is how Killua is intimidated by this new character since she became friends with Gon so fast. It’s pretty out of character and is really only here to create conflict. I think Killua working through the fear Illumi put into him was handled better as he resisted his urge to escape when Uvogin showed up. He did fight with Gon for as long as possible and did a good job there. It’s just a shame that he isn’t particularly strong at this point in the series. You’ll notice that throughout the movie they are unable to fight back against any of the villains. As a result they do a lot of running, but after a while you may get a little annoyed at that. Fortunately this shouldn’t be an issue in the next film. Although they are still fairly outmatched by most of the big villains in the current manga, they have closed the gap to the point where they can at least try to fight now.

Gon looks pretty good here. He may be a bit trusting as always prior to the Chimera Ant arc but that’s how you’d expect him to be. It’s not like he ever tries to ditch Killua or anything that would hurt him like that. He does a good job of just trying to be there for everyone. Meanwhile, while Kurapika is sidelined until the climax he does get to look pretty good there. His Emperor Time ability is definitely very handy. Since he can only use it against a spider we don’t get to see him use this ability much so it was nice that he got a reason to use it here since the villain was an old spider.

Speaking of the old villain, Omokage isn’t all that great. The guy definitely didn’t take being booted off the Spiders too well. There are some twists and all so it isn’t that straight forward but he’s not exactly the “calm and collected” type of villain. He’s more the panic type and it shows. He can still fight to an extent, but take away his puppets and it’s game over. I’d take just about any of the real spiders against him. Still, his powers are perfect for a movie like this one since he can bring back all of the old characters. It was nice to see them show up.

Meanwhile, the animation is pretty solid as always. I’d say that the movie feels like a 2 part episode or like some kind of special. The animation isn’t necessarily any better than the show which gives it that feel. As the show already operates at a high level that isn’t really a problem. Based on the looks of the second film that will change though as it gets kicked into the next gear. The soundtrack is solid. The show always had cool themes. It was also pretty neat to hear the ending song during the climax. You usually hear it only for a few seconds, but this time we get to finally hear the whole song.

Overall, Phantom Rouge is a solid action film. It pretty much checks off all the boxes for what you would expect in a classic Shonen Jump film. It has good fight scenes and you get to see all of your favorite characters. While it isn’t quite as off the rails hype as the more recent Shonen films like Resurrection F, the SAO film, or Boruto, there aren’t any real problems with the film. Barring the intro scene which still wasn’t that bad, I can’t think of any negatives for the film. The heroes being unable to fight is frustrating but not really a negative. It was also cool seeing the Spiders fight a bit since that’s so rare. If the manga keeps on going on hiatus eventually we may just need a big movie to wrap things up and I think that could end up working just fine.

Overall 7/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

My Hero Academia Season 3 Review


It’s time to look at the third season of My Hero Academy. This is the best one yet and finally adapts my favorite arc of the series, the Bakugou rescue arc. Now granted, I consider this arc to start when the villains arrive in the forest and that it doesn’t conclude until after the All Might vs One For All fight. That may not officially be the case as it’s possible that these are actually 3 different arcs. If that is the case…well, it’s still my favorite chunk at any rate.

This season pretty much starts with that plot right off the bat. The heroes have gone to a secluded mountain to train since the villains keep infiltrating the school. The problem is that there still seems to be a mole within the school so this tactic doesn’t fare any better than the last one. The villains have arrived once again and aim to injure as many of the students as possible in order to further weaken trust in the heroes. Can Deku and the others stop these guys despite the professional heroes getting in their way at every turn?

It’s a great arc because there’s a lot of action right from the start and it never stops. Even though Deku and a few other select students have fought with real villains before, most of the class still isn’t ready for this. There are those who can fight and those who have to flee. It’s pretty tense all around and as expected Deku steps up to the plate. His fight with Muscular is quite epic and certainly one of the better fights. It does ultimately end up getting beat out by the All Might fight, but it certainly won’t be forgotten. It’s also always fun to see larger scale free for all fights as there are a bunch of villains and heroes in the area so it’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen next.

This also leads to one of Bakugou’s best scenes as he refuses to be tainted by the villains and prepares to fight them all off. The series has managed to completely avoid the trope of the rival turning evil and I’m glad to see him staying strong. That classic trope can be used really well and has been in many occasions but sometimes it’s nice to see the tough rival stay heroic throughout it all. While he didn’t stand much of a chance, Bakugou certainly wasn’t doing half bad for himself. His powers are pretty well equipped for a group fight, I like to think that he would have done some damage before going down.

Finally that leads to the big climax where we finally get to see All Might take on One For All. It’s definitely a battle that lived up to the hype. We’ve been waiting to see this match up since season 1 after all. All Might is as strong as a person can get and One For All has as many powers as he could find. It’s the ole quality vs quantity debate and as always the latter does tend to look quite impressive. I think it’s a case by case basis but I’m inclined to go for the latter at times myself. Still, it’s a very even match up.

I guess that leads to the only tough part for the season which is the fact that you really can’t top that. The fight almost should have been the final part of the season. Instead we get the start of the next arc right after it. The students are back to training and now they are going to meet some of the senior students. I’ll give the author some credit here, no matter how big the arc, he always brings the students back to the training grounds right afterwards. Even if it may seem a little anticlimactic, it’s consistent. It’s also not as if it gets boring or anything, you may just have a tough time taking the school seriously after a while. The series still tries to paint the other students as also being on roughly the same level and all, but you can’t help but feel that Deku and the rest of the strike squad have completely left them in the dust. Nothing beats real life experience after all.

The animation is basically the same as the last season. It’s very polished and all of the colors are very vibrant. It really looks like a new anime and I don’t think the animators took any shortcuts. It all feels like it’s at the level where the series should be right now. It’s actually fun to take a look at season 1 and you’ll see how the animation has really improved. It’s not something that you’ll notice week to week but it’s more noticeable if you look at it from such a big time gap. There are also a few new themes here including one that plays for the big All Might fight. It’s definitely a great track and continues the series on a high note there as well. None of the openings are quite able to beat the first one as of yet with the music, but the final opening of the season probably has the best visuals yet. With the next season bringing a lot of fights with it I’m also expecting a lot of fun visuals there as well.

Most of the characters are unchanged so I’ll mainly talk about the ones who had a big role here for better or worse. While most characters look pretty good here, I’m afraid that Ida was not one of them. In the last season he had his big run in with Stain which unfortunately gave him the wrong lesson. He now believes that the law is absolute and he has to obey it without question. While this is portrayed as being the right attitude for the most part I disagree with it as much now as I did back in the manga. It’s the same issue as in the movie. Ida is willing to let people’s lives be in danger as long as the rules are followed. As the students are now technically allowed to engage villains even in self defense, he believes they should stay at the hospital while the pros try to rescue Bakugou. It just shows where the limits of his friendship are and the others should definitely remember that. He spends the whole arc grumbling and holding everyone back. So, this is where I stopped liking Ida completely and he never managed to make it back. His character appears to be irrevocably ruined.

Meanwhile Deku is at his best here. He refuses to simply wait and quickly decides to go along with the others to save Bakugou. For something like this you can’t just wait and I’m glad that he went with the others. Deciding to go definitely helps show me which characters to root for in the future. It also certainly was good that the heroes went as things would have likely gotten very messy without them. Deku and Bakugou certainly stole the show in this arc. Meanwhile other characters like Kirishima and Todoroki continue to look good. They’re both around to help as needed and continue to keep up with the others in terms of ability. Others are doomed from the start with their quirks and will need to try and find a way around them.

This is also All for One’s big debut for the most part as he finally gets a role. He’s definitely a fun villain to have. He doesn’t waste much time trying to get the audience to sympathize with him. He just wants to throw the world into chaos and is going to do whatever he can for that purpose. He’s the complete opposite of All Might’s symbol of hope for the heroes. He sparks confidence in the villains. While he will likely be on the sidelines for quite a while, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns at some point. Unlike All Might you get the feeling that he’s still got a lot more energy in the tank and probably has some contingency plans to put himself in a good spot.

Tomura’s allies also get some more screen time here. Dabi gets to use his blue flames and he seems like one of the stronger villains. He was even able to get the jump on Eraserhead. Then we have Toga whose shape shifting abilities are incredibly useful. The split personality guy definitely seems more crazy than being a real threat, but I guess just having him around will help a bit. We also get a tease on the villain for the next arc. This gangster is just as tough as he appears and his group will be appearing quite a lot in the next season. We also can’t forget about Muscular who is pretty much everything you could want in a villain. He’s very powerful and he’s got a lot to prove. The guy has a lot of determination and while he isn’t anything more than just a villain, he perfectly achieves his role in the story. He’s a real fun villain. My favorite one in the series will finally be showing up in the next season.

Mirio also appears at the very end. He gets a lot of hype and as he is a third year student you can see how he should be very skilled. His powers are a lot of fun and he definitely outshines the other students with ease. He seems like a fun character. I’m going to restrain myself on talking about the next season for him. I should only judge him on how he appears here after all. While I can’t say that I’m hyped for the next season it makes the ending to this one that much better. It got in as much as it could without going too far and holding the season back and that’s a very good thing.

As always the writing is top notch. As I mentioned, the season ends on a much calmer note than the first half as it’s about being at the school festival with class B and trying to save civilians. It’s fun to see the guy who voiced Kirito play a role as one of the new students. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing more of him. It also makes sense that the author would throw the heroes in some missions like this one rather than classic beat the villain type ones since class A would be way overqualified here. There’s just no way that the others could keep up. That’s why I feel bad for Deku at times though. It’s tough to be constantly holding back around everyone. He’s just almost too strong.

Of course, we do get the big rematch between Bakugou and Deku in this season which really shows off my point to its fullest extent. Bakugou is very strong and aside from Deku I think he’s probably the strongest student in their class right now. The problem for Deku is that he has to try and keep up with Bakugou’s speed and power without going too far above it and actually hurting him. I remember in the manga a lot of people thought he would accidentally cause a serious injury to Bakugou by being goaded into using too much power at once. Fortunately that didn’t happen but that’s why win or lose it is definitely tough for Deku. Once everyone else begins to catch up to his level then it’ll be easier for him to fight normally.


Overall, This was definitely an epic season of My Hero Academy. As always the series continues to be super interesting and the world around the characters is just so vast and well developed. I also don’t think this season shall be surpassed since the next arc is my least favorite of the series. I don’t doubt that the anime will do the best it can with the adaption, but when the source material is no good then there is only so much you can do. Still, once it gets past that hump then we’ll be back in business. Although, we’ve only really had one true arc since then so we’ll have to see where it goes from there. As this is season 3 I’m thinking by now you’re either watching My Hero or not. If you aren’t, I guess you could start with season 3 but it probably won’t feel quite as much fun as it would be if you start with season 1 instead. This series does have a pretty tight continuity after all. As long as the production values continue to stay at this high level I don’t see MHA’s popularity declining anytime soon.

Overall 8/10