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

Hunter X Hunter (2011) Review


All right it’s time to look at the second anime adaption of the Hunter X Hunter show. The original anime ended quite early as the OVAs had to continue the arcs and even then it didn’t make it all the way. Since the manga is still going this series wasn’t able to finish either, but this time it did make it through the Chimera and Election arcs so it’s getting closer and closer. The series has a lot of dynamic scenes and has some of the best strategic battles in all of Shounen Jump. While the series has a few jump the shark episodes in the Chimera arc the series is still solid as a whole.

The world of HXH centers around professional hunters. In this world this is the most lucrative position as you can get rich just for selling your license. Of course if you went to all the trouble of passing the exam it is very unlikely that you would ever do such a thing. The hunters keep their licenses as a matter of pride and serve as body guards or go on quests. The options are endless. There are quite a few main characters who each have their own goals and ambitions which lead to the various story arcs. Unlike most other series you can get arcs where the main characters shift more than once. Otherwise I think the only other series I can think of where this happened is Naruto where Sasuke got his own arc. Potentially Dr. Stone will count as well if the other guy ever gets his own arc.

The first arc follows Gon in his quest to become a hunter. He is finally old enough to take the Exam and dashes on over. He meets up with a few other applicants known as Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio. The tests are quite rigorous though as you have to go through a forest of death, run for miles, escape a death zone, and then engage in one on one battles with other fighters. This won’t be easy, but Gon has trained quite a lot to be in shape so he would be ready for this. Unfortunately for him this happens to be the exam where a villain has entered the ring as well. His name is Hisoka and his goal is to cause quite a lot of chaos.

It’s a pretty good introduction to the series. We get to meet the main cast and there’s even a tournament. While the Chunin Exams from Naruto do still take the cake for this format you can see how similar these two are. Adding Hisoka into the mix also adds a good level of tension. It would have been interesting to have had Killua and Hisoka meet up early on here, but realistically that probably would not have gone well for the kid. At this point Hisoka already had nen which means he is effectively invincible here.

The next big arc was the Heavens Arena which is another big tournament. Now this arc isn’t very large compared to the others, but it’s a lot of fun. Gon and Killua learn about nen which will be crucial later on and Gon gets to have his rematch with Hisoka. That’s basically his motivation here and Killua works to keep everyone out of Gon’s hair. I don’t think this arc is remembered quite as well as some of the others, but it was another solid way to build more character development. I’ll also take any excuse to have a bunch of extra fights. HXH does a lot of “about to fight, but then doesn’t” moments so it was nice to enjoy these days while you could when every fight did happen.

Next up is the arc considered to be the best in the series and I would agree with that. Yorknew brings Kurapika into the center stage this time. His goal in life is to destroy the Spiders since they murdered his entire clan. It’s his whole reason for becoming a professional hunter and he never lost sight of this goal. This is his chance to take them down, but these guys are world class threats for a good reason. It won’t be easy for Kurapika to bump them off. Meanwhile Gon and Killua wander into the fray, but at their current level they sometimes prove to be more of a liability than a help. We also get the government involved and a bunch of other characters.

Yorknew is just a very packed arc with cool moments around every corner. Kurapika vs Uvogin is still a very iconic fight and seeing Chrollo take on Killua’s father and grand father was epic as well. At this point in the series there are also a lot of fun dream match-ups. For example while Killua may not have much nen yet he still does have a lot of strength and speed. Would he have been able to at least take one of them down if Gon wasn’t around? Kurapika also did good in taking on Uvogin, but would he be able to take down the others? Most of the Spiders have fairly broken abilities so in a sense Uvogin was the easiest to beat because he’s all about strength. His strength was certainly crazy though.

Then we have Greed Island which is more of a peaceful arc in comparison. Gon and Killua enter a video game to find Gon’s father an instead they wind up stuck in the video game. To escape they have to clear it, but in the meanwhile there are a bunch of bombers running around in there as well. Their goal is to clear the game first and they’re willing to murder all of the other players to get their way. They don’t appear to be quite as tough as the Spiders, but the ability to blow someone up with a single point of contact is always helpful. The arc is fun enough and we meet more characters like Biscuit. It’s never quite able to capture the same level of energy and excitement as the earlier arcs though.

Next is the Chimera Ant arc which was certainly anticipated because it had never been animated before. It’s the author’s shot at a DBZ type arc. If you’ve noticed each of the arcs seem to switch genres time and time again. Well this arc focuses more on power levels and the whole alien invasion even makes it part horror. This arc is very long and it feels like the longest in the series although I don’t know if that’s accurate. Basically these insect creatures have taken over a kingdom. They are slowly growing more and more powerful as well as intelligent because of the humans they eat. When they eat someone with nen they start to grow nen as well. The government is trying to hide this, but as a result the situation is quickly growing out of hand. Hunters are sent in to handle this. Gon and Killua will have to prove themselves against professional hunters as well if they want to make the cut. This time they will need to master Nen and have special abilities to help out.

This arc gives the heroes the biggest power upgrades they’ve ever gotten in the series. That’s why it’s a shame that neither Gon or Killua have really gotten to fight after this arc. Not only have they likely surpassed Kurapika now but they’re possibly Spider/Pro hunter level at this point. I’d say certainly since they were taking on Ants that the pros were having a lot of trouble with. There are a ton of fights in this arc and the heroes even have to split up at one point to take down a lot of enemies. That’s why it’s a shame that this is ultimately the arc that really holds the series back. On the one hand, it’s easily the most epic arc in the series. It has a lot of the best battles and the set-up is really solid. This is basically an alien invasion and it’s the most ambitious arc yet. We even see the Hunter association chairman Netero fight for once.

What hurts this arc is how the violence steps up and also covers animals. The insects murder a bunch of animals in this arc. They take down kids and in general the arc gets really dark. We even have a human villain out of nowhere who is basically doing trafficking amidst the chaos in a plot that has no point. The author also started to get a little more experimental around this point so we get an episode about nothing much as a guy with a terrible past is wondering what’s going on. He had an abusive father or something and while I’m sure the episode tied in to something, it feels like half an hour of nothing. The new characters here weren’t all hits so when they get a lot of focus it takes away from the main characters.

That’s why this arc is a mixed bag. It has the largest amount of great moments and the animation is also stunning. The Nen affects and how they affect everyone is handled very well. One character ages many years in an instant which is a dramatic but effective way or showing just how fierce these enemies are. After all, the heroes know that if they’re caught then they’ll definitely be dead. Put it this way, this arc would get the lowest score in the series at a 4 or a 5. Everything just adds up, but it is the most interesting arc. It does get the same atmosphere you’d expect from something like Attack on Titan or Fate/Zero which always does keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s just a shame that usually in creating that atmosphere the series usually has to go into some pretty dark places. You could take away those scenes and the arc would be fantastic. It’s rare to get a series to such an interesting place with so many pieces so you always hope it’ll be the next big thing.

Finally we have the Election arc. This one is more of a return to form as it feels like the first arcs. The Hunter Association is going to pick a new chairman and naturally there are a lot of candidates to choose from. They’ve all got their own motives and agendas so the people have to vote carefully. There are a lot of rules here to prevent anyone from being chosen too easily and I always enjoy this complexity. In the sub-plot Killua has to go back home to rescue another family member and then try to help out Gon. This leads to a lot of chase scenes and clashes of brawn and brain. It’s a pretty fun adventure arc and a nice little adventure to cap off the anime. You definitely feel how there are a ton of loose ends left, but hopefully the manga ends someday so we can get a sequel show. There’s almost no point in making another season yet because there isn’t a ton of content available at the moment.

So lets look at the characters. Gon is our lead here and he certainly goes through a lot of development. He’s a pretty happy kid at first, but as the series goes on we see more of his serious side. I dare say that he showed glimpses of being a little unhinged near the beginning though. All good main characters get upset when their friends are put in danger or threatened and Gon’s no exception. However, mix that in with his stubborn nature to never back down and he completely loses it. Gon tends to lose himself in his emotions which is good for building up his Nen, but it does mean he’ll often do anything for a quick boost of power. He gets the job done, but by the end he does tend to push people away.

Then you have Killua who sort of has the reverse character arc of Gon. At first he’s a deadly assassin who has a hard time fitting in. Eventually he learns to believe in teamwork more and even talks about friendship. He makes some close bonds with Gon and the others and really has come a long way from when he first started. He gets a lot of character development and is the best ally you can ask for. He’s always got your back and balances out his impressive fighting abilities with a strategic mind. Killua’s my favorite character in the series.

Then you have Kurapika who is also a big focus in the series. His origin story is similar to Sasuke’s and his goal of revenge is certainly the same. He’s put everything on the line to stop the spiders including giving himself an ability that is only useful against them. As a result he’s permanently limited himself against any other kind of enemy. He’s the smartest of the main characters and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. It’s a shame that he misses the final half of the series because he’s a very interesting character. Well if the next arc ever gets animated he’ll be the main character of that one.

Then we have Leorio who quickly gets left in the dust by the other characters. He used to be reasonably skilled, but he never learned a lot of Nen so he quickly fell out of the picture. Nen is something that you absolutely need to have or you just won’t stand a chance as the series goes on. He was never as serious or determined as the other characters though so maybe it’s for the best that he was written out. He can be a fun character, but you won’t really miss him while he’s gone.

Hisoka is one of the biggest villains in the series. He’s a constant thorn in the heroes’ path and the guy’s talents also ensure that it is hard to get past him. He’s incredibly powerful and right now it’s hard to say who in the series could really beat him. He’s at least around the level of the leader Chrollo and that would put him at the very top. His obsession with Gon can border on being a character wrecking trait, but so long as that never goes anywhere dicey we should be good. He’s definitely a wild card for all characters in the series.

As for the Spiders, Chrollo is their experienced leader. His ability to copy other powers is always something really hard to defend against. Mix that in with the fact that he is a tactical genius (Isn’t everyone in this series a genius?) and you’ve got a solid threat. One thing that makes the Spiders especially dangerous is the fact that they’re all reluctant friends and will go to war to help one of their own. They’re a unit so mess with one of them and you mess with all of them. Feitan is one of the stronger members of the group. He’s pretty quiet but beneath that are the abilities of the strongest member of the group. Next to Chrollo I just can’t see anyone else challenging him in a fight. Feitan is incredibly fast and strong and his heat abilities mean that escape is basically impossible.

Machi is the most enjoyable member of the group. She has a lot of fun while doing her job and while that doesn’t take away from her being evil, she’s just a nice contrast to the others. Her thin wires are also a tough ability to fight against for sure. It won’t be an easy match for any of the other Spiders against her. Nobunaga hasn’t done much yet and his abilities are pretty straight forward. If you get close to him then he’ll slice you to ribbons. That being said, just because the technique is simple doesn’t mean that beating him will be easy. His idea to get Gon and Killua to join the Spiders was interesting, but quite far fetched so I guess he doesn’t mind going for long shot plans.

Shalnark is probably the most cheerful member of the group though. He just likes hanging out with the group and seems to think of them as just a group of people hanging out. His ability to mind control people is definitely a scary ability to fight though. You never know when you’ll actually be taking on an ally. Then there is Shizuku who is one of the more inexperienced members of the group. Her vacuum does most of the work but her physical strength is in the higher end from the Spider members. All she needs is one good hit to possibly win a fight. She’s one of my least favorite Spider members but she’s not bad. Her personality just doesn’t click with me.

Uvogin is a fun member. He’s all about beating people with raw strength. The guy did allow himself to get captured pretty quick which didn’t work out well for him, but he always knew that the other Spiders would come to help him out. Had he fought almost anyone other than Kurapika in Yorknew he would probably still be around. He certainly had the best fight out of all the Spiders. As for other villains, Illumi is another big name in the series. He’s always messing with Killua and it can be hard to tell what his ultimate goal is. I believe it is just to break Killua down so he recognizes Illumi as his boss and everything else is to get to that point. He certainly doesn’t want anyone murdering Killua before that happens and is willing to fight for him. I’ts a pretty twisted state of affairs. He does seem pretty powerful so I hope he fights someday.

Genthru is the big villain from Greed Island. He’s probably one of the pettier villains though. He just wants a lot of money and to blow people up along the way. There isn’t much to him beyond that. He’s an okay villain, but not one you will remember. Biscuit left a much bigger impact in that arc and she was a fun coach to have. I do feel like she was surpassed in strength pretty quickly though. I don’t think she would be able to hold her own so well if she were to return.

As for the ants, Meruem is their leader so he should go first. He’s like a DBZ character who was thrown into HXH. He’s way too strong for everybody else. Even when he isn’t fighting seriously he’s able to handle the strongest hunter of them all. I like hie design and skill set. He gets a big character arc with a Go player. Mereum started out as a total villain, but was quickly getting redeemed. He’s an interesting character and by the end of the arc it’s quite telling that you’re almost rooting for his side over the humans.

His three generals were also great. Youpi is the weakest of the group (In terms of personality) He starts out as one of those guys who only wants to fight, but quickly begins to learn strategy. He actually outsmarts the heroes a few times which was cool and his final form would have been really tough to deal with in a fight. Pouf is the strategist of the group. He may not be as strong as the other two, but his abilities ensure that it is difficult to trap him. His voice actor did an excellent job with the character. He’s just a lot of fun whenever he is on screen. Finally we have Pitou who I consider to be the strongest of the 3. She took down Kite like it was nothing and was brave enough to make a move on Netero. If not for power level stuff and overthinking she should have been able to take everyone down.

As a quick aside, that’s another issue with the second half of the Chimera arc. I think the author wrote the heroes into too big of a hole. They were heavily outnumbered already and then he added the 3 generals who were stronger than all of the Hunters. There was no way they were going to mount a real comeback here and it shows. The heroes were so far out of their depth that the arc basically got cancelled and had a sudden ending that was not satisfying in the slightest. The power levels had just started to get out of hand so maybe it was a good idea to suddenly stop it, but as a result there are a ton of battles that should have happened, but ultimately didn’t. It was a very anti climactic end to the arc considering how much build up there was. I think the arc could have used another 20 or so episodes which would have been enough to cash-in on all the anticipation built up throughout the saga.

Ikalgo is a chimera who gets a big role as he eventually joins the heroes. He means well and while the guy was a total villain initially, his redemption arc is handled quite well. Ikalgo contributes quite a lot during the arc and while he may not be the strongest guy on the block, he is pretty sneaky. Then you’ve got Cheetu who is just a fun villain. He’s incredibly fast so it’s hard to tag him and he causes a lot of damage. If anything it’s just too bad that we couldn’t see him fight a bit more. It’s hard to really see anyone taking him down in a straight fight. He can destroy most opponents before they even notice he is around. Cheetu also continued to improve more and more as he developed new powers mid-fight. Rammot’s role isn’t nearly as big but he’s also a fun villain. The guy was really the first Nen chimera. Of course that means he isn’t quite ready to take on any of the commanders, but he still gives a good fight. I think his design is what really made him interesting. It’s a cool hybrid type look.

Then we’ve got Netero. This guy likes trolling everyone and by the time he is ready to act in the Chimera war it’s a little too late. The guy is definitely powerful and is probably still one of the strongest characters in the series. He couldn’t quite match up to Mereum but otherwise there are probably just a handful of characters who could give him a good fight. I wasn’t a big fan of his, but he beats most other old mentor type characters. As for Ging, he’s definitely one of the worst parents you’ll see around. He still has no good reason for ditching Gon and his wife. The guy just likes adventures and doesn’t want any responsibility that comes along with it. I want to see him fight because the guy gets to much hype, but at this rate it’ll be a long time before that ever happens.

A real standout character was Pariston. He really stole the show in the election arc. The guy has a charismatic presence so it’s easy to see why he was a front runner to be the next chairman. He destroys the opposing arguments with ease and is always one step ahead of the other characters. Everything goes according to his plans and it’s safe to say that he is still in control. I wonder if he’ll ever get a big role again, but even if he does not he left a great impression. Morel is a pro hunter who can manipulate smoke. He’s a very calm and calculated guy who knows not to bite off more than he can chew. He’s definitely a solid ally to have around and was a fun supporting character. His partner Knov may have cracked, but I liked that guy a lot as well. Ultimately he wasn’t able to press on with the rest of the heroes, but he was inches close to death. His older design also worked pretty well. It was really surreal to see that.

Knuckle is like an old school brawler character from an 80s anime. His power is pretty good because unless you have broken levels of Nen it’ll seal you off very quickly. Calling his attack Bankruptcy was also pretty neat. I do think Killua surpassed him a while back though and at this point Gon should be able to take him down. The guy was a good coach though and he was always nice to the local animals. In comparison Shoot never left as much of an impact. He did fight hard to the end though. Even while dying he wanted Knuckle to continue the fight. It’s always good to have that level of determination in battle.

Then there is Palm who is an odd heroine. She’s very unhinged and is always throwing threats around. Fortunately the heroes are tough enough where they don’t need to worry too much, but she is not an ally you’d want to have on hand. She wasn’t really my kind of character. Then you have Kite who is nice enough. He seems a lot more reasonable than Ging at any rate. He wasn’t terribly interesting either, but I did like his weapon. It’s pretty unique and the fact that even he doesn’t know what it’ll do next makes it a very interesting weapon to see in action.

Zeno is Killua’s grandfather and we can see why he was such a big threat back in the day. Even now he has some powerful moves and the fight with Chrollo was a lot of fun. We also saw what a large range his attack had in the Chimera arc. Pretty much everyone got affected by that. Then Silva is also a powerful fighter. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him either (Such is the fate of many characters in this series) but you can tell that he is the real deal. Killua’s family is just stacked with great fighters. Just take a look at Alluka. Alluka has never even trained before, but was born with a great ability to grant wishes. There is no wish that Alluka can’t feasibly grant in some way or another. I wouldn’t want to have that ability since I couldn’t grant my own wishes though. Seems like a big downside to me.

This likely won’t come as a surprise but the animation is definitely top notch. The colors are very strong and the battle animations are smooth. Everything about the shows looks quite modern. It’s got that sleek new look while still having a good color contrast for the dark nen abilities. Meanwhile the soundtrack is great as well. It’s a shame that my favorite track was never officially released but you’ll hear it quite a few times like when Killua fought the darts guy. There are many other great themes that you’ll be hearing as you go through the series as well.

One big factor in why the show is so good is the writing. Every character is written to be pretty intelligent and three dimensional. The narrator in the chimera arc also adds to the hype by building up each scene. A good narrator goes a long way and this guy definitely succeeded. The play by play enhanced each of the scenes as opposed to slowing things down too much.

Overall, Hunter X Hunter is definitely a fun show. If you’re looking for a good action/adventure anime then this is the one to check out. In some ways it is still one of the most ambitious titles out there. The mind games are incredible and the universe built around the characters is very interesting. There are so many complexities and various characters running around that the series could last for many years even without all the breaks. Once you watch this show you’ll likely want to go read the manga to see what happens next. It may have had a rough patch with the Chimera arc, but the series is long enough where it was able to survive this. Just dive in and enjoy the ride.

Overall 7/10

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

D. Gray-man Review


It’s time to take a look at a pretty long anime that I watched quite a while ago. This review’s been in the backlog long enough so it was time to knock it out. This was one of the first manga titles that I read way back in the day. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it in the beginning. It got good towards the middle and then got a little too crazy after it turned monthly. The show covers the manga all the way through the good parts and then stops right before we start to get some time skips and other adventures. That’s for the sequel show which adapts the Kanda arc so that should be good. As for this show, it’s definitely a great title.

The series starts off by introducing us to the world of D. Gray-man. When people die, someone can visit them and make a wish to bring them back to life. Should you do so, the Millenium Earl will bring the husk of the dead person back to life to murder you. You’ll then turn into an Akuma, but hey….at least you got to say good bye one last time right? It definitely does feel like this isn’t worth it, but most people don’t know the cost until it’s too late. The Exorcists are the only ones who can fight against the Earl and his legions of Akuma. Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of Exorcists left in the world and they’ve been fighting a losing battle for years. Can a local kid born with a cursed arm turn the tides of battle? His name is Allen Walker and there is more to him than meets the eye.

D. Gray-man is a very grim series. That’s not to say that it’s super gritty like Attack on Titan because the show can be pretty light. It’s still a shounen, but when you think about the plot you realize just how serious this is. The heroes learn time and time again that the Earl could murder the whole lot of them at any time. The fact that he chooses to let the human race exist is still a puzzle for the Exorcists. Perhaps he needs enough people to keep the Akuma army going which would make sense. Also, if the Exorcists are not a threat then there is no reason for him to go out of his way to destroy them right? They may win battles here and there, but it really does feel like the war is completely out of reach. They’ll need a few more Allens to even start a comeback.

Lets take a quick step back though. As I mentioned, Allen is the main character here. He has a mysterious past which isn’t looked at much here so there’s always a lot of mystery around him. He’s been a loner for a long time as he worked under General Cross, but now he is ready to join the main order. He’s a powerful fighter and one of the strongest Exorcists on the planet. Once he unlocks his Crown Clown form he can take any Exorcist down aside from the generals. Allen has a lot of your usual main character traits like eating a lot and being rather hot headed, but can also be rather ruthless against Akuma. He believes that destroying them is the only way to purify their souls so he has no qualms about crushing them. The Akuma don’t have hearts and do appear to be dead which furthers his point.

As Allen has some demonic traits the order doesn’t always trust him though. The deaths also take a toll on the guy because there’s no way for Allen to save everyone. For every 5 people he saves another one ends up dying and becoming an Akuma. It’s a pretty depressing cycle for him and as a result it takes him an incredibly long time to regain his powers compared to most leads. I liked him more in the anime than in the manga. He still could have acted faster to save the dog but after that Allen doesn’t really make any big mistakes. He may be outmatched at times, but he’s always fighting to the end. There’s even one match where he continues to fight the Akuma even after he has been knocked unconscious. That shows his determination. Allen also does defy the order at times which is good because those guys always seem corrupt.

Lavi is another one of the main characters and he is the one who was most improved in the anime. It’s not that I disliked him in the manga or anything, but he really didn’t leave an impression on me. In the show he is definitely one of the best characters. Lavi is a bookman and isn’t supposed to get involved with the exorcists. He breaks the rules many times to help them out though and ultimately makes the right calls. While he may not be ready to admit that they’re his friends, Lavi’s actions speak for themselves. Even with his job on the line he goes in to protect them and you can’t ask for a better friend. It’s just a shame that he seems a little weak next to the others. Lavi won’t be giving Allen or Kanda a good fight anytime soon. His hammer is his big weapon and every villain can just slap it to the side.

Kanda is the big rival of the series and definitely lives up to the hype. He has accelerated healing which is very handy and his sword can cut through just about anything. His fights against Tyki and Skin were good showcases of what he can do. He is dependent on his sword though so once it breaks then most of his skills go away. He’s still strong, but in this world you need a weapon laced with innocence to do anything against Akuma. Kanda’s got that Sasuke/Vegeta vibe going and it works quite well. He’s really a textbook rival and the kind of guy you want to have on your side. As you can probably guess he is definitely a standout character.

Lenalee is the main heroine of the show and definitely gets a nice character arc. Right from the start it’s nice to see that she can fight. Lenalee is a very capable fighter and goes through a very similar experience as Allen when she loses her abilities. Both of them have to risk their lives in order to get back into the ring. Her powered up form seems to keep up with Allen pretty well and if anything that means they may have both surpassed Kanda. Just temporarily I’m sure, a good rival never stays down. Her fight against the Level 3 Akuma is top notch and the same can be said of her fight with the Level 4. Lenalee’s a top notch character and part of why the show is so good is because the cast is so strong.

Another exorcist is Miranda, but her role certainly isn’t as big as the main 4. She can freeze time though which is an incredible ability to have. Now, it’s not game breaking since you keep your injuries from when time is stopped, but it will let you fight a little extra even after you should have been dead. Miranda is a great support fighter and her ability also allows you a chance to catch your breath real quick. Then you have Krory who is part vampire. He can bite enemies, but that kind of ability always seems a bit dicey to me. As soon as you face an opponent whose skin is harder than your teeth that’s it. As you can imagine this happens to him quite a bit. Still, he does have enhanced strength and speed so he remains relevant for most of the series. He’s a reasonable side character.

Then you’ve got Lenalee’s brother Komui who is one of the commanders in the order. We learn that he got the position to better watch the organization since he doesn’t trust them. I think he’s too passive though. We learn from Lenalee’s backstory just how extreme they can be. It’s nice that he got such a position, but Komui doesn’t seem to have actually done anything with this position so then what was ultimately the point? It’s not like the corrupt members are scared of him so it feels like his efforts were for naught. I wasn’t a big fan of the guy. His counterpart Bak was way better.

Bak doesn’t mind defying the government and he helped Allen quite a bit. He makes the tough calls and jumps into danger even though he’s only human. His friendship with Fo was also handled pretty well and you actually grew to like that branch more than the main headqarters. Fo was also instrumental in getting Allen back into fighting shape. They sparred quite a lot which wasn’t super convenient for her, but she did it and even gave him a nice pep talk. Allen had a lot of support during his rough patch and that was mainly thanks to Fo and Bak.

Bookman is also around with the group, but he’s definitely one of those guys that you can’t call a true friend. He would be quick to ditch the Exorcists and live up to his role of just being an observer. He doesn’t really believe in taking sides and considering that the Akuma plan to wipe everyone out that just doesn’t really fly. He’s not downright corrupt like Malcolm though. He seems to be the most extreme member of the Order or at least from the characters we’ve seen. He believes that the end absolutely justifies the means and will do anything to destroy the Akuma. Somewhere along the line he became a monster himself. The guy is probably one of humanity’s only hopes against them, but you just don’t want to win at the high price he’ll put you through. I would have liked to have seen at least one of the characters take him down, but no such luck yet.

As for the generals, we get to see them all fight near the end of the series. Most of them haven’t gotten a role beyond that though. The ones with the biggest role is the one with Kanda who likes drawing and Cross. Kanda’s general is pretty annoying the whole time with how laidback he is though. He does a lot of scouting, but never turns up any results so I can’t give him credit. Cross has a lot of bad traits like gambling and messing around, but at least he actually did destroy a bunch of enemy bases and solved a lot of puzzles. He actually made a tangible difference in the war effort and we got to see him fight quite a bit. His battles against the Level 4 and Tyki Mikk show why he got this position. He definitely seemed to be more powerful than the Exorcists and he’s got some great abilities aside from his super gun. I don’t like the guy, but I can respect his power.

Time to look at the villains. Naturally there are a ton of Akuma. All of the Level 0, 1, and 2 are fun enough, but at that level they aren’t a huge threat. Usually they show up so the Exorcists can have a good montage. I suppose the Level 2 fighters were a slight threat in their very first appearance and there’s one fight where they are in the sky and they manage to do some damage. It’s when the Level 3 Akuma show up that things get interesting. For starters, one Level 3 Akuma can basically take on the entire team. Lenalee has to give it her all to take 1 down and even then it was just barely. It was impressive because Allen didn’t seem to do quite as well. Even with Crown Clown form he was getting thrown around a lot. He did last a while even though he was outnumbered though, but the Akuma just wouldn’t stay down. Their speed, power, and defense are all off the charts.

One of the cooler moments in the series is when they make it to the Earl’s island. There are tons of Level 3 Akuma there and just one is enough to be a big deal so you can see how hopeless everything appeared to be. As a result I agreed with their decision to just storm the base and try to assassinate the Earl. It’s not like they could use hit and run tactics to whittle off the Level 3 so at that point you just try to go for the head and take him out right away. This was doomed as well since they had the huge Akuma towers running around the the Earl’s Noah fighters, but no other plan would have been much better.

Then you’ve got the Level 4 Akuma who is my favorite villain in the series. He’s just super intense and the fight with him vs Allen and Lenalee is my favorite in the series as well. This guy’s completely broken. He was able to take many big hits and still kept on going. If Cross didn’t show up then he would have still managed to secure a win which is pretty crazy. If the Earl makes more of those then I just can’t see how the heroes can hope to win without some major power ups. The Level 4 Akuma are basically General level.

The Earl may be the head honcho, but it’s hard to say if he is really the strongest villain around. It makes sense that he would be since the leader usually is the strongest, but I’ve never been too impressed with him He didn’t seem too eager to fight General Cross and Allen was holding his own pretty well. This likely isn’t the Earl’s final form, but he still doesn’t look great yet. He’s definitely a very different kind of villain as he doesn’t mind crying in front of his followers and such. You just can’t forget how many evil acts he does in the meantime. The guy is a complete psycho for sure and it’s hard to see him being redeemed.

From the Noah the one with the biggest chance of turning good would likely be Road. She may not actually be a kid, but she does seem the most innocent out of the group. They’re her family so she fights with them, but she doesn’t seem as openly malicious as the others. Road does do a number on the Exorcists with her attacks though and she is very hard to deal with. She’s rather unassuming but may be the strongest member next to Tyki. Lulu Bell gets the smallest role out of the Noah. She is reasonably tough and was beating the Exorcists when they fought, but that was very early on in the series.

Tyki Mikk definitely lives up to the hype of being a Noah though. Not only is he able to stalemate Kanda, but he also takes down Allen very easily when they first fought. In his final form he’s also far too much for Allen to handle even in his final form. Lavi’s help isn’t enough to beat him either. Tyki seems to enjoy his human life with his gambling buddies, but ultimately he never would have been able to have it both ways for long. The humans aren’t going to survive an Akuma invasion so eventually they would have been bumped off. Tyki’s a fun villain though. He keeps a front of formality in all of his conversations before eventually cracking when things get tough.

Jasdevi is sort of 2 different Noah, but they eventually merge into one. I forgot if that’s how they originally were and then they split or vice versa, but I believe they used to be one. They’re a fun duo even if Cross does mess with them a lot. It’s always interesting to have a Noah who’s part comic relief as they do the dishes in one scene and then murder everyone in another. They’re fairly strong, but not on the level of Road or Tyki. Their traps are really what made them a threat to the heroes during the fight. Then you’ve got Skin who is very strong physically but doesn’t have much else going for him. I suppose you don’t need much else when you’re that strong though. His lightning is hard to dodge and he gave Kanda a good fight. That alone tells me that he is very powerful. That was also one of the better fights in the series. He doesn’t have much personality so I wouldn’t say that I was a big fan, but Skin added to the villain ranks pretty well.

The animation in D. Gray-man looks excellent. The colors are sharp and as I mentioned we do get a lot of really great fights. There’s a lot of detail here at all times and the backdrops are suitably grim. It’s almost always night time in the show with very few episodes taking place during the day. You always feel the impending sense of doom with Akuma around every corner. The animators also really kick it up a notch during the big battles in the tower and everything afterwards. You just feel an uptick in the animation and there’s no comparison when looking at the first episodes and the last ones. Initially I didn’t think the soundtrack was that good when I used to listen to it online. Context does tend to help though and the scenes worked well with the music. It’s not the largest soundtrack so you’ll be hearing the tunes quite a lot, but that’ll give you extra time to get used to them. I didn’t have any issues with them by the end.

Now, why doesn’t the Earl just destroy the Exorcists? As I mentioned we don’t really know why, but my main theory is that he wants them around to destroy the weaker Akuma and keep the supply of Innocence around. We see how the Akuma are gradually growing stronger after each invasion and it’s possible that without the Exorcists fighting them left and right this wouldn’t be happening. If anything the Earl is toying with the humans which could come back to bite him. It’s hard to see how though because the Earl can churn out hundreds and even thousands of new Akuma with his factories as well as the personal visits to people who have died. Meanwhile the Exorcists are lucky to get 10 new recruits a year. Mix that in with the fact that it takes 10 or more to defeat one Level 4 Akuma and then you’ve got a problem. The Noah also appear to be as strong as at least a Level 3 Akuma and while there aren’t many of them here we learn in the sequel that there are many more.

The power levels stay consistent in this series, but we can expect them to start flying out the window soon in order to give the heroes a fighting chance. I expect the ending to be Allen getting a way to shut them all down at once or a non-ending where the author just abruptly ends with nothing resolved. At the rate the series is going it’ll likely still be quite a few years before this happens though. Ideally this will also let the Exorcists fight against the order a little more.

The writing and directing are also pretty good. I don’t really think about directing much, but then I watch Naruto Shippuden and it reminds me why it is so important. The characters are all written to be pretty likable here and their day to day conversations don’t drag on. Flashbacks are used quite sparingly and none of the episodes ever feel like they drag on. Even the scenes of the Noah picking off random Exorcists is handled well as they at least get a chance to use their attacks. You do know that they’re doomed either way though.

Overall, D. Gray-man is definitely a great show. It may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but it definitely gets to its peak when the Noah start to show up. The animation is solid and the soundtrack is well rounded as well. If you haven’t seen this show yet and are in the mood for a good action title then you can’t go wrong here. It’s quite unique next to most of the other big action anime with a lot of mystery thrown into the mix with the action and horror. A lot of these questions aren’t actually answered here though so be prepared for a lot of loose ends as the series ends. The manga is still on-going so that is inevitable though. Even if it were not to have continued the ending is still pretty solid.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece: Stampede Review


Time to look at the latest One Piece film. This one was definitely getting a lot of hype before it came out because it was bringing together a ton of One Piece characters. Pretty much every big pirate who is currently alive in the series is returning for this film. Naturally since the film is under 2 hours you can’t expect all 60+ of these guys to get a big role, but the movie does a good job of at least allowing them all to get their special attacks in. Then you’ve got the second wave of characters who are big enough to get their own fights. It’s definitely an amazing One Piece experience for fans and anyone who enjoys a good action film is sure to have a blast as well.

The film starts by taking us back to the famous Blackbeard prison breakout from a while back. It turns out that there was one pirate who was far too powerful for Blackbeard to let him join. This guy’s name is Bullet and he once served aboard the Pirate King’s crew. Well, now he is back in a big pirate festival. Festa has organized this thing in order to bring together the Marines, Pirates, and Revolutionaries so they can all be destroyed in one fell swoop. He doesn’t really care who wins so long as everyone gets crushed in the end. Strawhat Luffy and friends have arrived here as well even though they figure it’s probably a trap. That’s because the prize is a treasure from the Pirate King and nobody can resist such a tempting offer. Can Luffy protect his crew and secure the prize before Bullet destroys them all? It’ll be a hard battle for sure.

Right away you have to acknowledge that Bullet is going to be an incredibly powerful villain. He has to be in order to take on pretty much the whole cast of One Piece. The film does not disappoint with his abilities. The guy is pretty much on the level of the 4 empires with how easily he is able to dispatch his opponents. The best fight in the film for me is definitely when he takes on “The worst Generation” (Which is basically a bunch of the hype characters) and defeats them all with ease. They can barely land any decent shots on him which shows just how unbelievable he is. Bullet’s speed and power are off the charts to the point where it’s like seeing All Might bump off the League of Villain lackeys back in season 1. Luffy and the gang are completely outmatched.

Bullet’s also just a fun villain. His goal is to be the strongest and stop the Buster Call. A Buster Call is when the army sends in their admirals and a fleet of ships to sink an island. To date nobody has ever really been able to stop a buster call on their own. Sure, a bunch of characters escaped in Marineford but that wasn’t technically a buster call and they did manage to stop the main threats the government wanted to end. For Bullet to defeat such a thing would be very impressive. He also likes a good fight and seems to have a reasonable honor code. He’s defeating his opponents at the top of their game and doesn’t use any cheap tricks.

Festa is the only other important new character and he’s a fun enough villain. The guy definitely holds onto his grudges and really wants to wreck havoc on the world. It’s for a surprisingly petty reason though. The guy has a great seat but you do have to wonder how nobody noticed him the whole time. I guess he’s so weak that the heroes don’t need to bother prioritizing him. They’d probably just finish him off afterwards which works well enough.

The animation is definitely top notch. It’s all very smooth and vibrant which is great. The fight I mentioned from earlier is very impressive and like something out of DBZ. There are also a bunch of other fights throughout that have great cuts as well like Zoro vs Fujitora and pretty much any scene with Sabo. It’s all very consistent for the duration of the film. We also get some CGI which looks good enough. I think CG is at the point where it should always look good so long as you splash it in a lot of colors. That’s where CGI is at its best. It may not be enough to make giant things exciting, but it tries its best. As for the soundtrack you’ll recognize some tunes from the show. The main new theme was Bullet’s theme and it’s the best piece of music in the whole film. Whenever it appears you know that things are going to get tricky for the heroes. It’s just great all around.

This film also completely avoids the occasional fanservice issue that the series has at times and even Brook doesn’t have time to do anything iffy. The film managed to avoid having any real issues and that’s the first step to being a great film. The next step is to actually have great moments and this move has them in spades. There are a ton of homages and nice little scenes for fans. All of the characters get quick moments where they look good and they all get a ton of hype. That being said, keeping up everyone’s hype does come at a bit of a price.

Pretty much every fight in the film is a tie. That’s something that tends to happen when you bring in a bunch of old characters who still have a lot of fans and Stampede wasn’t able to get around it. Unlike some titles like DBZ where there are big power gaps between everyone, a lot of characters in One Piece are still very close. There are characters from the opening arcs who can hold their own against the current villains. That’s because the characters get stronger very gradually and the old characters keep training as well. The matches are still hype, but this does dampen the excitement for them a little since you know that the battles can’t end. This happens over and over as everyone gets a skirmish and then backs down. Unless you’re fighting Bullet then your battle won’t end.

This film is trying to be Marineford 2.0 with how every character is around and that arc also had the same issue at times. Naturally nobody can die this time around, but all things considered the film did do a good job of keeping that same energy throughout. Once the action starts near the beginning of the film is really never dies down. That’s always important for a big movie like this one since it helps for replay value. Stampede definitely has a lot of that at its disposal.

Then the only other part of the film that could have been improved was Bullet’s final form. When he started to transform I admit that it was a little disappointing. That’s because he went from being an awesome DBZ villain to suddenly being a skyscraper who can barely move. Naturally this is where the CGI starts to come into play. No matter how neat a design the giant form might be, it’s just not going to be able to make for really fun fights the way that his first round was. When one fighter can’t fight back then it’s no longer a real fight. Since Bullet’s giant form can’t do much it just barely counts as an actual match. Bullet does manage to bring back his human form near the end of the film for a quick fight as well though so we did get a true climax.

Luffy is definitely at his best here. He may not look too good against Bullet for a while, but not being strong enough to win isn’t a bad thing in itself. The important thing is that he was trying to win right from the start and was quick to try and help Usopp. Helping his crew out has always been Luffy’s main objective and it’s good to see that hold true here. The rest of the gang aside from Brook look good as well. Zoro and Sanji definitely contribute the most, but Franky and Nami are also very useful. Then for the other pirates it was nice to see Sabo since it’s always rare to see his adult form. It’s a little surprising how calmly Luffy and Sabo exchanged a casual greeting here and then just didn’t talk again. I guess it wasn’t really the time or place to really have a long dialogue but a team up would have been good.

Stampede did a good job of choosing the all star team at the end. Hancock is one of Luffy’s most dependable allies at this point while Law is practically a strawhat now. Smoker may not always be able to compete against some of these guys but his ability is really neat and he has been improving quite a lot. The fact that he can still give these guys a fun for their money is pretty good. Mihawk also shows up to flex real quick and the heroes are lucky that he didn’t stick around since the guy still appears to be way out of their league. He’s definitely Emperor level or at least that’s the way he appears to me.

Overall, Stampede is definitely a great film. I like this new trend of the fight starting early on and then continuing for basically the entire film. Dragon Ball Broly did that to great success and now the same is true for Stampede. I definitely preferred it to Gold and Strong World. I haven’t seen the rest so I can’t comment on that, but that would put this as the best One Piece film right now. There are really no serious complaints I had with it and the movie definitely has a ton of replay value. Naturally as a fan you will get extra enjoyment out of it since it’s a reunion type film, but I dare say that casuals who haven’t seen the series before will enjoy it as well. There’s something here for everyone.

Overall 8/10

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

Fruits Basket Review


It’s time to look at the recent Fruits Basket anime. I read the manga many years ago when I was a kid and didn’t really like it all that much. I actually put it down as one of my least favorite Shojo series so it was good to see it in a fresh setting. I actually liked the show so maybe I would like the manga more on a re-read or the show is just directed that well. Either way it’s a title I can definitely recommend. It’s an emotional slice of life title that manages to hit different tones in different episodes, but is careful not to go too far into being tragic.

The show is centered around a girl named Tohru. After her Mom passed away she went to move in with her other relatives, but it wasn’t ideal and so now she lives in the forest. She is found by the popular boy at school (Yuki) and he convinces her to stay at his place instead of the forest. To be exact, it’s Shigure’s place and soon after another kid by the name of Kyo stays there as well. Kyo and Yuki are constantly fighting like cat and mouse (heh) so Tohru quickly becomes the most mature member in the household. Tohru has decided to always have a positive attitude and to do her best to help everyone else out in respect to her mother’s memory.

There are no shortages of situations for her to help out here as everyone in the school has issues. The 3 people she lives with all of things to deal with and then the rest of the family. See, in a larger scale look at the plot there is the Sohma family. They were hit with a curse where if anyone from the opposite gender makes contact with them they turn into an animal. It is from the Chinese Zodiac legend which may be real and of course Kyo is the Cat and Yuki is the mouse so now things make sense. In the legend the rat didn’t send the cat the invite so he was shunned for life. Of course that was ages ago so we’re likely dealing with descendants, but the wound is still fresh.

Tohru is definitely a great main character. I mean she is pretty much portrayed as the perfect heroine. She’s super nice, does well academically, and is always ready to lend a hand. Tohru imparts wisdom whenever she can and even stands by her friends when they literally lose their minds. If Tohru has any issues it is just that she is a little too oblivious when other people are being downright mean to her. It’s great that she turns the other cheek but at least acknowledging this or telling them to stop would be a good idea.

We don’t see Tohru’s Mom much since she dies prior to the series but she appears through flashbacks a few times. She also seems really good and I’m glad that she still knows how to fight even though she is retired. The flashback where she helps Arisa was handled really well since it’s implied that she basically took down an entire gang.

Yuki is one of the main guys so he naturally gets a lot of screen time. He has a tough time showing his emotions except for when he’s upset at Kyo. Gradually Tohru helps get him out of his shell. We haven’t really seen his true origin but there is a lot of foreshadowing for it. From the main 2 I do prefer Kyo, but Yuki is good. He does step in to help Tohru at times and I do believe he would be able to conquer his fears and help even if Akito was involved. I really hope so at least. Yuki still gets hit with fear and isn’t perfect, but he does his best.

Then there is Kyo who is always ready for a fight. I dare say that Yuki picks the fight most of the time but that isn’t always the case. Kyo always tends to lose the fight, but at least he is enthusiastic. Kyo is not great around people but does his best to communicate with Tohru. He’s come a very long way from the first episode to the last one. His character arc already feels pretty complete and that may help in why he is one of if not the best character in the show. He’s probably the only character to not be openly scared of Akito. While part of him wants to be in the main family, I do think this is an advantage of not being there.

Then we have Shigure, but I can’t get behind him. He’s always trolling his editor to the point where he basically puts her job at stake. Then there’s the fact that he flirts a lot and rarely takes things seriously. He may be the adult in the house, but there is a reason why I said that Tohru is the most responsible. Shigure will have a moment or two where he steps up but that’s about it. The show is hinting that he is planning some kind of big revenge on Akito and is pretending to be a friend for now. He claims that he will avenge everyone else, but he’s sure taking his sweet time. Shigure better do something before the tables turn on him, but that is one of the more interesting plots right now.

Arisa is one of Tohru’s friends. She used to be a juvenile delinquent who hanged out with gangs and was generally on a rough path. Her origin is a bit similar to Tohru’s mom in some respects and that’s also why Arisa always wanted to meet her. Arisa was less thrilled to meet Tohru but along the way Tohru got to show her how to properly adapt to school life. Arisa had a tough road, but now she’s in a good place and has a solid group of supporting friends. Arisa is a nice ally to have. While she may not be as entertaining as some of the Sohma characters she is definitely a good character.

Then you have Saki who is Tohru’s other best friend. She has psychic powers which is cool. Mainly she just uses them for comic relief scenes against bullies and there is actually a story reason for this. She gets a backstory where we learn that her abilities nearly ended Saki. Saki’s origin story was definitely one of the toughest ones in the series, maybe the toughest because everyone was against her. I was glad that she had supportive parents who were there for her at least. It’s a reverse of most situations where you have a friend on your side but the family isn’t. Saki is fairly laidback and quiet so she can’t hold her own episodes the way that others can, but as a side character she’s good.

Kagura is a very persistent character and that’s a good thing since otherwise she probably would get pretty hurt with how Kyo is always ignoring her. Deep down she likely realizes that he isn’t interested in her but will keep on trying until he meets someone else. She’s a good side character. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go down the road of making her jealous of Tohru. That always gets old pretty fast and them being friends is a much better development. Momiji is one of my least favorite characters in the show though. He can be pretty annoying with how oblivious he pretends to act. He trolls Kyo and Yuki about Tohru quite a lot. She may be too oblivious to really take notice but it doesn’t do wonders for his character. I’m not even really interested in learning more about his backstory, but maybe it’ll help to make him more likable. Right now he’s just quirky and not really in a good way.

Ayame is also fairly eccentric, but he handles himself well and with style. Ayame throws himself into every situation and you can admire how bold he is. Even in real life it’s always an admirable trait to be so confident. Nothing throws Ayame and even when everyone is hurling insults he keeps his cool. Ayame and Yuki may never properly bond the way he hoped they would because of how different their personalities are, but at least they won’t be as antagonistic as they used to be. Ayame is a handful, but not in a problematic way. I can’t point to anything he did in the show that was downright bad. Perhaps inconvenient for the others, but that’s about it.

Hatori is a character that I definitely had some problems with. For starters he is very submissive to Akito to the point where he allows the guy to wreck his life. Hatori is basically a yes man and even threatens Tohru into meeting him. We learn that he is a nice guy for the most part, but since he is so weak that is barely a consolation since you won’t be able to trust him when it counts. His origin story is sad, but it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him because of how terribly he handles it. He met someone and they were to be together, but then Akito decided that he didn’t like this and throws a fit. Instead of stopping him Hatori lets Akito claim the win and then even erases the girl’s memories. From there on Hatori lost the will to resist, but he never had it to begin with. If he won’t stand up to Akito there then he never will. The whole origin was just really annoying, especially since Akito is so sickly to begin with. How is he going to threaten Hatori and the guy just takes it? I don’t really have any respect for this character.

Hatsuharu is another one of the Sohma and his dual personality is definitely unique among the others. One half of him is very edgy and definitely wants to be close with Yuki. Then the other half is calmer and more polite in comparison. He can shift gears at any moment and as a result tends to get involved in a lot of fights. It’s nice to have another fighter on the team, but it makes it more and more odd why everyone is so scared of Akito. I’ll get into that more later on. Anyway Hatsuharu would be near the middle of the pack. He’s nowhere near the best members but he’s better than someone like Hatori.

Kisa is one of the younger members. She’s a nice enough kid although she hasn’t gotten much of a role yet. I’m not sure if that’ll change or not later on, but so far she’s off to a good start. The same can’t be said for Hiro. That guy’s real petty and a jerk to Tohru for no reason. She overlooks all of it because she’s so nice, but it doesn’t do him any favors. He seems to be over that now so things will be looking up for him, but he’ll have to work hard to fully get past that terrible intro. Then we have Kazuma who was Kyo’s instructor. This guy seems reasonable. He lives on a mountain probably so he can get away from the main family. Forcing Kyo to transform was definitely a pretty iffy strategy since that could have easily backfired and really made life terrible for Kyo. It worked out in the end I suppose, but it’s hard to see them being quite as close after that. Kazuma seems like Hatori, but with more self-confidence.

Then we have the main villain of the series, Akito. He gets a lot of hype throughout as everyone is scared of him. Everyone shudders at the thought of even meeting him and they all freeze in terror. The guy’s super sick though and needs constant attention or he’ll die. How is anyone scared of him? I think this goes more into cultural impact and the fact that the family is so old. Traditions are strong here and maybe everyone is afraid because he would ruin their reputation. Since everyone else is afraid it becomes circular logic where everyone is afraid because of everyone else. All one person needs to do is stand up to him though and then everyone else could. Maybe the next season will go more into depth on this.

Regardless, Akito isn’t a good villain. The guy just seems really petty and self centered the whole time. I’m sure he’ll have a sad origin, but he’s taking it out on everyone else which is never good. Everyone in this series has had a tough background and I mean almost literally everyone. That means it’ll be very hard for Akito to try and stand there with a straight face and explain why he has to be mean to everyone. I just won’t be able to buy that very easily. Seriously, someone just needs to stand up to this guy and then the rest will quickly fall into place.

At the end of the day Fruits Basket is really about moving on from your past. That’s the main theme of the show and Tohru helps the characters come to terms with it and move forward. The origins are all sad and dark in different ways which allows her to give many different kinds of advice. It’s definitely a moving series in that regard and that’s why it’s a fun watch. You should always feel pretty good upon finishing up the episode. It can get heavy at times as well so make sure you are prepared. It’s worth noting that the romance here isn’t terrible so far. I still don’t think any romance should ultimately happen here since Tohru is just too heroic and oblivious to get into that, but it does feel inevitable that it’ll happen soon. We’ll see how the show handles that.

It’s also just plain fun most of the time. The cast can handle themselves pretty well and that’s extremely important for a slice of life show. There aren’t going to be big action scenes here so the show has to hold its own with pure writing and fundamentals. The pacing is on point and the writing is good so it’s all set there. The animation is pretty good as well. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but it all looks smooth and vibrant. Then you’ve got a reasonable soundtrack here as well. It may not be the most memorable, but it does get the job done.

Overall, Fruits Basket season 1 is a pretty good show. It’s the kind of all around title that you can easily recommend to someone who doesn’t really watch a lot of anime. That’s because it touches on a lot of themes that a live action show would with regard to the origin stories and characters trying to find reasons to keep on living or to re-experience what it’s like to enjoy their day to day existence. The show can get pretty sad, but there is always a happy ending. I can’t think of any episode that ended on a low note. It’s not a perfect show and I’d say that a drama will always be limited in how high it can ultimately reach. That being said, the execution is basically ideal and we’ll see if season 2 can match it. I don’t know if season 2 intends to cover the rest of the series but you can already see how not everyone can get their perfect ending here. Multiple characters are interested in each other so someone will have to take a back seat. I also better see more people stand up to Akito because that’s the one part of the series that makes no sense so far.

Overall 7/10

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

Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 Review


Time to look at the next installment in the Mob Psycho series. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season due in part to the experimental animation style and Ritsu’s plot line wasn’t all that good. This season improves quite drastically though and even the animation appears to be a big improvement. This is the kind of season 2 you want to see because it takes all of the good parts of season 1 and expands on them. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes but that is a normal length for a show even if you get used to the 26 and 52 episode titles. There’s a lot you can do with 13 and Psycho made the most of it.

Mob has been slowly improving himself physically through the body improvement club and even mentally as he has come to terms with his abilities. He is now almost ready to ask out one of his classmates. Unfortunately there is still a villain group at large which is making it difficult to find the time. He’s also starting to wonder if he should still be working for Reigen now that he knows more about the world and his place in it. He’ll have to find the answers to all of these questions as he fights and hopefully it’ll all just turn out well. He’ll have to be careful though as he may not be the most powerful psychic around anymore.

Mob Psycho and One Punch Man were both created by the same guy and feature a main character who is unstoppable. While that is still true for the latter and likely will always be, Mob does have some limitations. He’s actually a character who can be beaten due in part to the fact that his powers take up a lot of energy so he has to sleep them off and there are enemies who can actually keep up with him. We saw that briefly in season 1 and in this season the big 5 are able to match him for a while. When Mob completely loses control and goes into 999+ mode he is still one of the strongest guys out there though. Either he or Suzuki would be the strongest esper in the world. I wonder if the series will really keep trying to increase the power levels like DBZ or if this was the height of that.

The fights are really why this season is so great though. The action scenes are all top notch and one really great fight is when Shimazaki takes on the whole group of main characters. I always like a good group fight and this one did not disappoint. His teleportation ability is incredibly handy and I’ve always thought that it could be one of the most deadly abilities if used right. Alas, most characters do not use it very well but this guy definitely makes the most of it. A particularly impressive cut is when he smashes Teru through a wall and then through a car window as he teleported mid combo. It’s such a genius idea. I don’t doubt that a lot of writers have thought about doing cool tricks like this but hold back because they either can’t illustrate it well or are worried that the teleporting character would be OP. This guy would be insane in just about any series, but in a title with Espers who can use TK abilities that helps to keep him in check at least to a degree.

One thing I was happy about is Shimazaki doesn’t get nerfed or hit with plot hax. The guy actually improves while he fights and another great scene is when his eyes open and he ascends. No cheesy friendship power victory here folks, they ultimately do need Mob to show up. That would have been an awesome fight, but the resolution that we got was also really satisfying so I can definitely live with it. I talked more about his fights than the character, but Shimazaki is definitely a great character and easily the best villain in the series. He’s really a scene stealer.

That’s not to say that he has all of the best fights in the season though. Suzuki’s fight with Mob is excellent of course and we get a lot of other fights throughout. The last few episodes really focus on the big battles with Claw and ends the season on a high note. It’ll be extremely difficult for a possible season 3 to top this one. It’ll have to be firing on all cylinders, but that’s certainly something that can happen.

Meanwhile Mob has improved a great deal since season 1. He’s not a pushover anymore and he has learned more about the world so people can’t manipulate him as easily. Those are both good things and while it means that we may never get quite the same Reigen and Mob dynamic, their relationship will ultimately be a better one this way. I did get a little worried that Mob’s emotions would nerf him, but it’s a good tradeoff. As I mentioned earlier, Mob isn’t quite unbeatable anymore, but he’s still quite possibly the strongest character in the series. You can actually deal damage to him, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to claim victory. His rage modes in this season are definitely intense. I do feel like he should have been able to see through the fire ploy with his mental abilities but as the show points out, everyone’s mental abilities are different. Mob seems to excel more in defense and offense as opposed to miscellaneous abilities.

Reigen is still an awesome character and my favorite in the series. He goes through a rough patch where he starts to let the fame get to him and doesn’t give Mob the respect that the kid has earned. He takes Mob’s help for granted and learns a valuable lesson from that. It does involve having to get humiliated on a national level but everyone learns through different methods. You just have to find the one that works for you and then roll with it. Reigen also gets to take on one of the big villains here and is always a calm voice amidst a tough situation. He is a little different from characters like King and Hercule in that he may be a poser, but he does have a lot of legitimite skills. If not for half of these villains being crazy psychic powerhouses he would actually be able to really deal quite a lot of damage. I have high respect for how he faces off with these guys all the time without fear.

Then we have Ritsu who has come a long way from his season 1 days. Now he is on the hero side and has become a capable fighter. He may not be on the same level as Mob or Teru but he is strong enough to help out against the members of Claw. His fight with Shimazaki is pretty good. Ritsu’s always looking out for Mob and I do expect that his abilities will continue to grow as well. Another supportive character or characters in this case are the body improvement club. They’re always quick to rush to Mob’s defense even though they are a little outgunned. The fight with Dimple possessing the leader and fighting one of the Claw members was fun. I think what really makes these guys solid is how loyal they are. They really want to help make Mob a better person with no agenda or strings attached.

Dimple is still floating around with goals to eventually possess Mob. It’s at the point where it’s likely all talk though and he seems like one of the heroes. He may not be the most powerful guy around, but he does help out a lot when needed though. Then you have the heroine Tsubomi. She didn’t actually get to appear much in season 1 so it was good to see her get at least part of one episode here. She still has less presence than any other heroine I’ve ever seen, but at least this season gave her a real personality. She seems a bit jaded or perhaps just careful and won’t fall for a scam as easily as some of the other characters. I’m not sure where the series is going with her, but right now she is a solid character.

Teru also returns in this season and is still one of the strongest heroes around. Next to Mob I’d say that he is definitely the strongest although Sho and Ritsu may end up giving him some competition someday. I like Teru’s character. He’s able to keep a cool head under pressure and is one of the more strategic characters. His psychic abilities are versatile and he is able to adapt mid-match very well like when he predicted Shimazaki’s teleportation angles. I see him as a consistent Trunks type character who probably won’t be able to finish off the big opponents but he will always do well against the sub-villains.

As for Sho, he’s a pretty good character. His plan may not have worked, but it is admirable that he was trying to stop Suzuki on his own. We really don’t get to see him in action for very longm, but that’s fine. We get a general sense of his abilities. He was simply out of his league this time. Hatori is one of the Ultimate 5, but the guy gets no real screen time so we can skip past him. Serizawa is one of the more important members of the group. His abilities are quite high as well and he may be the 3rd strongest member behind Suzuki and Shimazaki. He has self confidence issues and gets manipulated a lot. It’s tough for him since Suzuki got to him at a pretty vulnerable time. While he ultimately gets a bit of a redemption arc I would have liked him to have stood up for himself a little sooner. By the time he acted it was pretty late. I can see him being a fun character in the next season. The guy means well after all.

Toshiki has plant abilities that are surprisingly formidable. He gave Mob a reasonable fight with them after all and rage mode or not that is a good feat. The guy did earn his way into the Ultimate 5. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but is a quality villain. Then there is Hiroshi who is the power hitter of the group. He isn’t terribly interesting since the guy is just there to punch people out, but he serves his purpose well enough. Then we have Joseph who isn’t actually part of the group. I thought he was a really interesting and fun character.

The series takes a page out of Index III’s book with various groups running around. In this case CLAW had another faction built in thanks to the government and Joseph was the mole. He went around trying to cause a civil war but ultimately it did not impede Suzuki’s plans. It was a good effort though and it’s hard to ever get tired of a good ole villain vs villain throw down. The whole concept of the government having their own Espers is also interesting and I really hope we get to see that plot pursued at some point. Clearly they have some offensive abilities at the ready which is good. That means this government is automatically a lot smarter than most.

Finally we have Suzuki who is the big boss of the organization. He’s a very strategic villain whose plan has been in the makings for around 10 years or so if I recall correctly. His abilities are sort of like All For One’s as he can give people abilities. What he does is he can charge his abilities for years to build it up and can power up other people. Then when he no longer needs to do this he can just re-absorb the abilities back into himself. He’s really a serious threat and there are multiple times during the fight with Mob where he just has the upper hand in raw power. Ultimately Mob proves to have a bit of a higher ceiling, but Suzuki seemed more impressive. Without a 10 year head start Mob definitely wins this, but with the 10 years Suzuki is a total monster. He’s an incredible villain and really ticks all of the right boxes for me. A confident leader who can fight like that makes for a really high quality villain.

Before the whole Claw arc we do get other stories of course which help to develop the characters. In one of them we see an innocent group of spirits and Mob doesn’t want to exorcise them because they weren’t doing anything wrong. This is one episode where Reigen was surprisingly slow on the uptake. I remember thinking that it would have been so easy for him to just pretend that they exorcised the spirits to keep things moving. It’s not like the humans would really know otherwise. Pressuring Mob to destroy them even while knowing the were innocent was pretty out of character. Mob also goes through a lot physically in these episodes like one villain who basically tormented him for years and years in a “what if” future world. That was pretty brutal from what we saw and definitely made for a very dark experience even if it was mostly off screen. Times like that are when you wish Mob had some more mental defenses to fight with. The mind seems to ironically be his weakness.

As I mentioned the animation is a lot better here. When the fights are happening it is near the top of the biz. At times it’s hard to even think that this is the same show. Everything looks so sharp and even from the screenshots I’ve attached you can see how vibrant it looks. Then the soundtrack is also a lot better. In particular Shimazaki has a great battle theme for when he is fighting with the group. There are a lot of familiar themes from season 1 as well and it all comes together for a very well rounded experience.

Overall, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 is definitely a top notch show to check out. It’s got solid action, quality writing, a good cast, etc. You feel more of the One Punch vibes here as the supporting cast is gradually beginning to turn into a very solid cast. The episodes will really fly by and you may even feel like marathoning the last 4-5 episodes so you can really experience all of the fights in one shot. It’ll just be hard to tear yourself away at that point. Definitely watch this show as soon as you can.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia Review


It’s time to look at the fairly well known Little Witch Academia special. I remember seeing this one mentioned online a lot and always wondered if it was made as some kind of rival to My Hero Academia. The timing was just coincidental I’m thinking though because the two aren’t very similar at all. It’s a pretty fun fantasy story and feels like like Spirited Away or the other big anime films that can also make it as a Pixar type film. It’s a good movie that can appeal to just about anyone. It introduces the characters right away and gives us a good debut adventure.

The story starts by introducing us to Shiny Chariot. She is pretty well known to the humans and serves as a shining example to how Witches are. Atsuko has always wanted to be a witch and thanks to Chariot’s grand display Atsuko reaffirms her wish to join the school. She has now made it and must aim to do well in her classes. It’ll be difficult as she didn’t grow up with magic the way that most of the others did. She is a quick study though and makes it to the team phase with two other girls named Lotte and Sucy. The 3 of them must climb a tower and find some items in a scavenger hunt, but when a dragon shows up the danger becomes very real.

You’ll get some Harry Potter and RWBY vibes here as well. It’s an all girls school since it’s for witches so that part is like RWBY (Yes, there are some guys in RWBY, but rarely are they important) but it’s less action based and more of an adventure/fantasy like Potter. The characters even have wands and such to use their spells. I think starting off with this tower exploration was the right move since it feels like a video game mission and lets the characters interact with each other in a fun environment. Now lets take a look at the cast.

Atsuko is our lead and she’s a good main character. Her determination and youthful energy are what you would expect upon seeing her and she does not disappoint. Wherever there is action you’ll find her at the center. Atsuko isn’t irresponsible though and stays determined even when the others don’t take her seriously. None of the other characters like Shiny Chariot, but Atsuko doesn’t take it too hard. Then she comes in clutch during the climax with the legendary scepter weapon and manages to save the day. I definitely look forward to seeing more of her. Her teammates Lotte and Sucy are less impressive. Sucy’s fine, she’s fairly aloof and doesn’t talk all that much. It’s hard to get much of a gauge on her character beyond that but her spells are quite potent. I can easily see her being the secret weapon on the team. Lotte is more of a book worm and fairly timid. She’s not my kind of character but I wouldn’t say that she is bad.

Shiny Chariot is the legendary witch that humans like, but ironically witches don’t. She seems nice enough so I have to disagree with the witches here. They don’t like her theatrics, but as we learn in the next movie, humans and witches don’t get along very well. Isn’t it good that she is bridging the gap? While it’s not outright stated, it’s heavily implied that she was forced into early retirement and now works as a teacher in the school. Her teacher persona is basically like Clark Kent. She can’t act very tough in this one, but it works well enough since it isn’t the real her. I do hope we get to see Chariot fight again soon though.

Finally we have Diana who is the rival character in the series. She is a prodigy and typically can master any spell with ease. The tower is pretty much a cakewalk for her. What I like about Diana is that she’s portrayed as a tough character, but she never becomes petty. A lot of times the bullies will show up to make fun of the main character for no real reason and quickly get jealous. Here Diana does get into it with Atsuko, but only in passing and it never becomes a priority. Diana isn’t suddenly switching life goals just because Atsuko is here. She also does her best to help against the dragon at the end. Diana is easily my favorite character and I look forward to seeing her return. She’s definitely a dependable ally that you can count on to always see the bigger picture.

The animation definitely looks really good. There aren’t a lot of flashy scenes to really let the animators show off, but the make the most of each moment. The opening scene with the monster and Chariot looks good and likewise for the climax. The rest of the film is smooth as well. You definitely can’t take away any points on this one. The soundtrack is fairly standard so that part doesn’t really stand out. What you’re really here for is the quality writing and pacing which is on point. The characters are all pretty realistic and the film doesn’t have any real negatives. It’s just a pleasant experience and one that will have a lot of replay value.

Overall, Little Witch Academia is a title that I would recommend. It’s pretty short as it skirts the line between a mini movie and an episode, but it does a good job of setting up the universe and characters right away. By the end of the film you’ll have a good understanding of the world and what’s going on. I’ve already seen the next film so I’ll have a review up for that one as well pretty soon. So stay tuned since the Little Witch adventures are not over yet.

Overall 7/10

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

Cardfight Vanguard: High School Arc Cont. Review


Time for another Cardfight review! This may seem pretty soon compared to usual, but that’s because this was more of a miniseries than a full fledged one. It deals with the fallout from the recent reboot season. Kouji must face his demons and Aichi still intends to bring his club a world championship as soon as possible. At 14 episodes the series has to move on pretty quick but still makes for a good watch. It’s probably the most standard of the series and by default is the weakest entry in the franchise. There’s only so much you can do in 14 episodes when the others are all around 30-50 episodes (Some are at 60+) but it does what it can.

The show picks up where the last one left off. The universe has been reset after Kouji was defeated. Everyone has seemingly lost their memories of the old timeline. As a result there are a few things that don’t add up. One is that Aichi’s cardfight club no longer has the right amount of members so the student council decides to shut them down. Aichi and his team defeat them to avert this dilemma and as part of the deal even get the council to aid them in joining the big cardfight tournament that is about to start. Aichi aims to learn why the club is seemingly missing someone despite having no knowledge of this. Winning the tournament might somehow give them clues on how to do that.

They aren’t the only team to enter the Koshien though. Meanwhile you have Ren’s team and they’ve recruited a powerful ally in Kouji. Kouji no longer wants to erase Vanguard from the world, but as a result he is frozen with fear whenever he duels someone. He knows that if he wins he will end up destroying the opponent’s will to play so he must find a way around that if it’s even possible. His plot is almost as big a focus as Aichi’s as he tries to find a new path for himself. Meanwhile Kai is also still weakened from when his spirit was destroyed and along with the rest of the emptied souls must try to regain his joy for the game.

While the main plot of the season is technically about the tournament, it really doesn’t have a whole lot of importance. It’s here as a plot device to get all of the characters together to get through their difficulties but ultimately that’s about it. Unfortunately someone must have told the animators/writers this because it gets the shaft. The tournament doesn’t start until the last few episodes and as a result just about every fight is handled off screen. Sure, you see them on screen briefly for the trash talk and posturing but then most of the duel just goes by in a flash. It almost would have been better to not have had the tournament at all. It all feels very half hearted like the show is just going through the motions.

I suppose a rushed tournament is still better than not having any duels…but there’s more the show could have done if it cut the tournament out. The best episodes here are mainly the ones about Kouji as he struggles with his inner demons. It continues to show why he is the best character in this post reboot world as he is trying very hard to change himself. It’s a pretty painful process compared to everyone else who just has to win a duel. Trying to lose is always a tough thing to do because it also hurts your reputation. I still consider Kouji to be the strongest duelist here even with the nerf as I don’t find his new deck to be quite as impressive.

Although it initially seemed like he was the only one who kept all his memories while everyone else had to start remembering little flashes, the last episode seems to contradict this. Perhaps the universe change is slowly going to get everyone and Psyqualia only prevents this for a time. Ideally I’d like everyone to remember the old days as I never like for it to be permanently forgotten. The characters all get happy endings this time around though so that’s an improvement over the last adaption of this arc. Kourin gets her proper closure and is once again a true part of the team. She’s definitely been a fun character and it’ll be nice to have her back on the cast for a future season if we go back to these guys someday.

Nakagami is probably the biggest of the new characters. He’s got a lot of potential to be sure. At times he is played off purely as a comic relief character and I have a gut feeling that this will always be the case, but there’s always the chance he will be played seriously. If the show ever does go down that route it’ll be cool. I like the concept of his demon arm and he actually seems like a pretty decent duelist. His ramblings are fun and his duel theme is great. All in all I have to say that he is just a great character and struck all of the right notes.

The rest of the student council are decent, but they won’t leave much of an impact on you. They’ve each got their character quirks, but that’s about it. I like the President’s global gimmick as he is always yelling about that. Aichi’s club is always around, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have an especially big role. Naoki does want his revenge on Kouji since ironically one of his only memories is of the days when Kouji was a villain and insulted Aichi. As a result he wants revenge during the big tournament which is his perfect opportunity to do so.

Kai’s episodes are not quite as thrilling as Kouji’s but he also does get a pair of episodes where he duels Mamoru which also works as some setup for Cardfight G. It’s just so weird to see Kai acting so weak. It doesn’t feel right since he’s always been the champ above everyone else. I dare say that he’s taken the biggest hit from his old stature in this reboot series. He is getting to his old level though so I like to think that by the next series he will be back to normal. At least he ultimately did get his hits in though. At this point we definitely need another big season with more G characters. I feel like they’re all close enough in age right now where we could get some good fights between them without the original cast being as old as they were in the original.

As always the animation is pretty sharp here. I’ve always liked the style and especially since the show isn’t very action based the animators can easily just focus on making sure that the character models stay even at all times. The colors are bright and the whole thing just works quite well. In terms of soundtrack it’s all tunes from the last season and they are just as good as they used to be. Kouji still has the best theme but the others all share solid themes as well. The action tunes go quite well with the duels.

I know there are some who prefer the days of Cardfight before the stakes became planetary level. Back in the old episodes it was more about having fun and getting better with your friends so I can understand that. However, I think it’s the natural progression of every series to get higher and higher stakes so my favorite seasons are still the ones like that such as Link Joker. Still, this is a nice refresher season I suppose which is the best way to put it. As I mentioned earlier it’s still quite solid, it’s just “average” compared to the others which would absolutely blow you away.

Overall, This was a good aftermath season. I can see why it would make sense to just include this one with the last season. Ultimately it’s not like it’s trying to tell a brand new story just yet. The next season has already started in Japan though so I’ll be watching it pretty soon. I’m not sure how long that one’s going to be, but I expect it’ll be at least 26 episodes if not 40 so the review for that will likely take a lot longer. If you’re been watching the Cardfight shows then you definitely need to check these out. If this would be your first Cardfight title then I definitely recommend watching the previous season first as you wouldn’t really appreciate the aftermath without actually seeing the events that led up to it.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece Strong World Review


This has definitely been a movie that’s been on the backburner for quite a while. Strong World is known as one of the better One Piece films or at least when it came out it was known as such. After that we got some heavy hitters like Z and Gold which have also forged a name for themselves. Strong World is definitely a fun film but definitely a step under Gold and I get the feeling that Z will win. It’s a good all around adventure, but does have some issues.

The film starts off with the Strawhats scattered once again amidst a bunch of flying islands. We then see that Nami has been captured by the pirate known as Shiki, the strongest man in the world. Luffy and friends will have to hurry if they want to save her and after this we also learn how she was captured in the first place. Shiki has amassed a large pirate army and many other crews have also gathered to help him wipe out the East Blue. The stakes are high and continue to escalate as the terror approaches the home of the Strawhats.

Shiki is definitely established as a powerful villain here since he is untouchable for most of the heroes and even Luffy has to play defense for most of their encounters. The film makes it very clear that Shiki is stronger than Luffy. In a straight fight the hero just has no shot to win here. While not unheard of, it is still rare to see Luffy losing like this. He takes quite a lot of hits throughout the film. Shiki’s ability is to manipulate gravity and that helps him enhance his speed and power as well. Shiki is definitely a powerful enemy, but I can’t say that I cared for him.

He’s super quirky to the point where it is hard to keep thinking of him as a threat. He panics with his subordinates quite a bit after all and has a very short memory span. Nami manages to escape from him several times as well so you do have to doubt his security measures. Being good in a fight is not enough to make you a great enemy. His two lieutenants also aren’t all that good. One is basically King Kong and the other one is decent with a sword, but too busy trying to keep up charades to actually remain as a threat.

As expected the animation is quite good. Surprisingly the film doesn’t lead off with the big high budget scene. Typically the films love to show the environment and the animation in the first shots like in all of the Pokemon films. For the One Piece film it starts off with a Shiki scene first and then cuts away to Luffy which is where the animation goes way up. The visuals for the jungles are definitely quite solid and the whole thing is very smooth. This is one area where it can definitely hold its own against the newer titles.

I also really liked the soundtrack. The tunes are a lot more fun than what is in the actual show. It’s going for a very “nature-esque” array of themes which makes sense since Luffy is in the jungle the whole time. It’s all very fast paced and high energy. The film definitely went all in on a technical level.

So where does the film falter? Well, it does have a fanservice issue. To an extent we can always expect that with One Piece with Nami around, but Gold for example did a good job of restraining itself. Maybe a tiny moment here and there, but Strong World just keeps it coming for quite a bit. It’s enough where it is noticeable. As mentioned, the villains are also a little on the weak side. The ones in Gold had a lot more character. Brook also still exists and so naturally most of his dialogue is terrible.

It is also a bit iffy to see Luffy and the others get wrecked so badly, but that I can roll with since you can’t ask for the strongest villain to fight and then be upset when he clobbers the heroes. At least Luffy and the others put up a fight although Luffy should have gone into Gear 2 as soon as Shiki went after Nami. There’s no real reason to hold back when lives are at stake right? Zoro and Sanji are definitely shown to be out of their league this time, but they do get to contribute a little at least. The scene of the whole team trying to fight Shiki was cool because they almost never get to fight an enemy like that. The only time I can think of off the top of my head is when they all fought Aokji. I love group fights like that and for One Piece I feel like that may never happen again, but the series has a ways to go so hopefully they do get to do that. In the meanwhile the movies help with this since it’s a lot easier to have the whole group assemble here.

A standout character was actually a thunder bird named Billy. At first you expect he’ll just be a fun animal mascot to aid Nami, but the guy can fight. He takes out a ton of giant monsters and without him Luffy wouldn’t have stood a chance against Shiki. Billy’s the kind of movie character you want to have. He doesn’t steal moments from the main cast, but does assist a lot so he doesn’t feel like a filler character either. The guy just wants to help his friends out and you can’t go wrong there.

One key part that the film does right is keeping the adventure very fast paced like all good fantasy films should. There’s rarely a time where the film really slows down so there is a lot of replay value. I may not call this film great, but I did have a fun time and there’s a lot to like here. It’s just a good popcorn fun adventure where you get to see all of the characters unleash their signature abilities and take down some villains. It’s a little contrived that both Sanji and Zoro’s opponents escaped only to have to fight them again though. I’m thinking they wanted to include their second intros, but you do have to wonder how the villains would have escaped in the first place.

Overall, Strong World is definitely a fun film that I’d recommend. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not you’ll definitely enjoy it. There are enough recap nods and such to ensure that even people unfamiliar with the series can get into it. I thought the opening showing off all the members of the crew was handled really well. They all get the name bumpers and a quick scene so you can see what they can do. Nami is the last to be shown, but I think you’ll still be able to tell that Luffy is the main character since his segment is the longest and he just feels like your classic Shonen lead. I’ve always loved character intros like this so One Piece really nailed it here. I look forward to seeing what the next film is like.

Overall 7/10

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