Kuromukuro Review


It’s time for an anime that mixes sci-fi with classic samurai characters. This one never seemed to get all that big as I’ve never seen it mentioned at all online but it’s a pretty good show. The action is on point and the story is good although the ending definitely has a massive cliffhanger so some may be wary in jumping in with no season 2 in sight. That said, the ending is really hype for that reason as well. You’ve got a well balanced experience here.

The show starts with Kennosuke fighting off alien invaders in his mecha with the princess but a giant explosion occurs and she seemingly dies/possibly gets whisked away into a portal while he falls back into the planet. 450 years later he is woken up by a girl named Yukina who looks just like the princess that he used to serve and she was able to activate his robot to wake up from its stasis. She is just a normal girl and doesn’t understand what is going on here but neither one has much time to think things through as we find out that the aliens are returning. Their goals are unknown but humanity will need to be ready if they want to survive and that means training up more pilots. Many years have passed so we should have great robots now but will they be enough?

The show’s got a reasonably large cast for a 26 episode show and it covers a whole lot here. While I say that the characters don’t have a chance for downtime initially, they do get that time later on in the series. So we have a lot of fights but also some day to day adventures for some slice of life adventures. The series is very character driven in addition to having the action scenes ready and there is even some romance thrown in here as well with a lot of characters getting involved.

I would say the title is at its best when dealing with the main alien invasion though. One thing that helped to add some more layers here is that there isn’t just one alien race involved. There’s a mysterious man with a mask who claims to be from a different alien race and he actually looks more like an ogre than what the main aliens that Kennosuke claims are the enemies. In fact those look like humans so the main characters have to determine if Kennosuke is actually being honest with them or if he’s hiding something. Naturally any secrets can hurt the morale and unity of the troops so you need to know that sooner than later.

Lets start with the technical elements though. The animation is very sharp for the human scenes. The colors pop out and there is always a lot of movement going on. The robot suits can be a little clunkier but you still get a lot of fun battles which only get more impressive as they start growing wings and using swords. I have yet to see an unimpressive aerial battle with robots and this was no exception. The fights do get good here and I didn’t walk away with any real complaints on the animation. It remains consistent throughout the whole run.

The soundtrack is a little more on the forgettable side. It’s not bad per say but the opening is a little underwhelming and you will have a hard time really remembering any of the tunes in the episodes. I actually looked up the ost while writing this review to check some of them out and some of the tracks are good but they will mostly blend together in the background as opposed to dominating the scene.

Kuromukuro can have a bit of a fanservice issue at times though. Mainly this tends to always occur when Yukina’s classmate Mika shows up. It’s a shame because Mika is easily one of the best characters in the series as a loyal friend always ready to help out and cheer everyone up. So she would have been cool without those scenes and it distracts from her quality moments. There was also an odd massage scene that seemed to be going out of its way to be a bit iffy when they could have just played the scene straight as a good recovery method. Naturally there is no fanservice during the fights so this really just shows up during the downtime so it’s not super frequent but does happen enough to be noticeable.

Now with the aliens running around a common trope is that the government will make the wrong choice and turn on the heroes right? That happens all the time here and for a while you figure maybe this will be the exception but the government looks really awful by the end of the series. It’s unfortunate because they last for quite a while but in the end they basically just decide to self sabotage themselves. The show doesn’t portray this as the ultimate betrayal you would expect it to be and the ending is still rather light as there isn’t much that the teens can do about all of this but most of the adults here lost all my respect by the end. Only certain characters who took a stand and made their choice were exempt. It’s no wonder Earth falls so easily in pretty much every sci-fi story.

Okay back to the story though. So Kennosuke has sworn to protect the princess for his entire life and so he still wants to find her but in the meantime he vows to protect Yukina as well since she looks like the princess. Also, as she woke the robot up, they are now linked as pilot and support for the mech. It can only work at 100% power with two riders and nobody else can connect so in a way their destinies are connected now. Some characters aren’t so thrilled about this but what are you going to do right?

It starts off as more of a monster of the week setup but gradually we meet the main villain cabal and get more of an ongoing story here. For example there is a mysterious lady named Muetta who looks just like the princess but is working for the villains. What’s going on there? Then you have a guy from school who likes Yukina and is super jealous of Kennosuke but is also feeling a huge lack of confidence because Kennosuke is just so much more powerful and talented. This guy can’t hope to beat him in a fight so what else can he do? So starts some of the drama.

In general I would say the romance here isn’t great. There are quite a lot of them going on here like with the classmates even outside of the main romance. The problem is that for a lot of these it’s too soon. Take Kennosuke, he liked the princess and then falls for Yukina who looks just like the highness but is he really liking her then or just seeing the princess in her? The show actually deals with this fully so I’ll give it some props there. The reason why I also give the romance some more credit is it doesn’t go 0-100 and even by the end of the series it’s still ongoing and now years have passed. So they’ve actually had time to develop even if Kennosuke can still be a little iffy about the cosplay pictures.

The romance with Mika and the shy kid Jose was more on the cringe side. I mean that’s his whole thing like when he tried to make an emotional message appear in a video he shot for the class and nobody noticed. I never ended up liking Jose though, he tries really hard but didn’t have a ton of personality by the end. The rest of the slice of life elements could be fun enough though. Perhaps filming a movie dragged on a little bit but playing sports and going on field trips was a nice way to explore the characters more. It was successful enough in that the whole class (The named characters at least) remain memorable even after you have finished the show. You won’t forget any of them.

In terms of balance it would probably be nice if the heroes had more resources though. They seem completely doomed if the villains got serious about fighting them. Keep in mind that it’s Earth against the whole villain empire which is apparently many, many planets strong. The only reason Earth hasn’t been wiped off the planet is because they want some resources and because the villains are too proud to ask for backup. See, there are 5-6 main villains in the cabal and they figure asking for back-up would cause them to lose face…so they just don’t ask. I mean perhaps they would be blown up so it may be a smart move but Earth really gets lucky all the time because they aren’t ready for a huge fight which is made clear every time the villains attack. If Kennosuke wasn’t around they would have gotten eliminated rather quickly.

Now lets jump into the characters. First up we have Kennouke who is a loyal samurai. He doesn’t know much about the modern world so he has the classic fish out of water arc but manages to not be very annoying about it. Considering all the hoops the government has him jump through, he does his best to comply. He’ll still stick with his sense of justice though. The only time he wavers a bit in a bad way is with dealing with Muetta since she looks so much like the princess. He froze up when it counted which was unfortunate but beyond that I wouldn’t say that he made any real mistakes. His fighting abilities are the real deal as well.

He does try to keep Yukina away from danger a lot but aside from the fact that it makes sense in a historical setting since you would usually try to keep women and children away from the battlefield, he also knows that she can’t fight and they’re up against aliens who show no mercy. So it’s totally reasonable on his end but of course the choice is quickly taken out of his hands considering that he can’t even pilot the robot without her. He tries to fight one while on foot but that doesn’t go very well. I tend to like characters that are very honorable and so Kennosuke made for a good lead.

Meanwhile Yukina is a solid heroine. At first the whole thing is a little too much for her and so naturally she wants out but once she sees that this is really happening then she gets on board. Yukina does her best to help out, even fighting when necessary. She may not stand out as much as some of the other characters but her bravery can keep pace with them and I don’t really have any negatives for her. I was also glad that she flat out rejected Ryoto as opposed to keeping him guessing.

Ryoto is the guy who likes Yukina but you know that he’s doomed from the start because he’s not the main guy. Apparently he also used to lightly bully/tease her back in the day based on some of the character dialogue although it was all prior to the series starting. This guy tries his best to get her to notice him but ultimately she just says that’s not going to happen and by the end of the series he has slowly started to accept this. He didn’t have a whole lot of purpose in the series but at least he was never selfish about the whole thing. He didn’t try to sabotage the heroes or do anything petty. He was upset with Kennosuke the whole time of course but that was about it.

Jundai is another one of the classmates who gets a fairly big role. He likes filming everything which is his big gimmick. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot to him beyond that. He also tries filming Mika a bit when she’s not aware of it which quickly dropped him all the way down. That’s usually not part of his character but one time is all it takes. I already talked about Mika being a fun character so not much more to say about that. She never doubted Yukina or Kennosuke no matter what others said and she helped him get used to modern day life without making a big deal of it all.

Marina is the school counselor but she’s woefully unprepared for virtually every situation in the series. She really wants to be helpful but just has a super tough time with it because she’s too scared to actually talk with people straight on. I wouldn’t say she ever got to be a very great character for me personally. If she was more confident that would have gone a long way.

Then we have Sophie who is a prodigy and is very good at using her mecha even though she is still a student and not yet a professional. She has actual practice with the sword and this translates into her piloting skills. She seems to like Kennosuke initially but gradually gets out of the race as the series goes on. She usually keeps a calm head and is always a reliable ally to have. Since most of the supporting characters didn’t end up being too helpful in the actual fights, it was good to have someone who could really fight here.

Hiromi is a character who could have easily ended up not being very good but the show handled her well. She is Yukina’s mother and also one of the chief scientists. That means she is often put in a position where she has to side with the government and can’t trust Kennosuke all that much. She is also always very busy so Yukina feels like she is neglectful. In some shows this may be the case but this time I actually thought she did a good job of always being there for Yukina. Later on when she is forced to really have to choose between the government and her daughter, she wisely picks Yukina. That was where she solidified herself as one of the better characters here. There comes a time in every character’s life when they have to make a choice and you always want to make sure you make the right one.

Tom and Liu are two of the professionals who lead the defense force. They are quickly rendered moot once Kennosuke shows up but to their defense they are still a tough combination and hold their own against the villains. Tom is the hot heads of the group while Liu tries to hold him back and is definitely the calm member. They make for a good duo but you do feel like their role in the show isn’t huge either way. You could probably cut them out and not much would change.

Takehito is another character who doesn’t appear all that much. He’s Yukina’s father and seemingly died a long time ago in the woods but it’s hard to tell if the aliens got him or something else. As the show goes on we do learn what really happened to him but I can tell you that it’s a little underwhelming. Ultimately I didn’t think his plot ended up being all that engaging. It’s mainly used for world building which is great of course but it tends to be more on the dry side so you’re always waiting to see the main characters again.

The same is true of Zell to a large extent. He’s the mysterious alien from a third party faction and at least he has the whole intrigue on his side. Is he friend or foe? You have to decide how much you actually trust him as the series goes on. Sure, he did end up saving the heroes once or twice but sometimes that’s just a tactic to try and get into their good graces so you can’t afford to let your guard down. In the end i thought he was okay. A bit soft spoken for my tastes though and he tends to fade into the background instead of stealing the scenes that he’s in.

Then we have Sabastian who is Sophie’s butler and you might expect him to have a small role but he ends up doing quite a lot by the end. He can fight and knows how to pilot a robot. He takes his job of protecting Sophie very seriously and you end up being impressed by the commitment that he puts into this. Most butlers would have absolutely faltered before he did. Meanwhile you have Koharu as a nice little character. She’s Yukina’s sister so she’s too young to do much here but helps make Kennosuke feel at home and is generally a nice person.

Then you have Arthur who is the big government general but he looks pretty bad. Mainly my issue with him is the fact that Kennosuke helps out so much and the guy still won’t trust him at all. More specifically, it’s fine if he doesn’t trust him so long as he doesn’t do anything about it, but he handcuffs, arrests, zaps, and ultimately keeps betraying Kennosuke at every turn. This guy is actively working against his planet’s own defenses after a while. A key moment in this is when he sends out the robot army against Kennosuke.

Keep in mind that the planet only has maybe 3-4 active robot fighters at any given time and so each one Kennosuke is forced to damage is just leaving the planet in further ruins. Arthur always just appears as very shortsighted and he just looks awful at the end of the series. The characters probably should have just did a full revolt by the end of it all. With him as the leader they aren’t going far.

Now as for the villains, the most important one is probably Muetta. After all there’s the mystery of her looking like the princess which is a big deal. She’s a fun fighter and can fight in close quarters as well as in her mech. She has some amnesia so she doesn’t remember a whole lot…makes it easy to theorize some things. She added a fun bit of mystery to the series so it was definitely fun to have her around.

Lefil is the leader of the villain cabal but unfortunatley he doesn’t live up to the hype. 90% of his screen time is sitting upon his massive thrown and talking tough but when it comes time to put his money where his mouth is, the guy falls short. He just isn’t able to keep up. Sure he is technically a good fighter but the show really needed to depict him doing a little more to justify his position at the top of the foodchain.

Meanwhile Mirasa gets a big role because of how jealous she is of Muetta. Mirasa wants to be known as the top villain and so she goes around lying and trying to take Muetta down. After a while keeping up the lie of Muetta having died is rather difficult since Muetta is still running around. Mirasa really digs her own grave here and while it’s always fun to have villains in-fighting and creating their own factions, I was rooting for anyone to take her down. Mirasa just felt very petty.

The rest of the villains mostly don’t have big character arcs or anything like that. Imusa and Hedo mostly just blend in with the others but the way Hedo goes out was almost funny so he loses extra points there. Finishing yourself off is almost never the right way to move up the ranks. Fusunani at least had the moment of busting out of jail and taking a lot of names to bump him up the list. That was a very impressive sequence. Finally Yoruba had a flying mecha which was really impressive since that is exactly the kind of suit you want to have to fight the more impressive opponents.

Yeah there were quite a few characters here and it helps to get the feeling across that this is a true war. It’s an alien invasion that the main characters are fighting off and so of course you should have a number of different villains to go up against. Having just one or two just wouldn’t feel right. I would definitely be hyped for a sequel to this someday though. How I see it, they are going to have to introduce a bunch of new characters and weapons for the heroes to stand any chance here.

Without going into details, there is quite the large time skip at the end and considering that Kennosuke was heavily outnumbered I’d assume that logically he’s dead by the enemy’s hands. If we get a sequel I’m sure he will be alive so best bet is they captured him but if somehow he’s winning I won’t be able to buy that. He has trouble just fighting a 2 vs 1 battle, how can he handle hundreds of these guys? The ending doesn’t paint a very hopeful picture for his odds even with Yukina getting ready. At least she can fight pretty well now too but there’s a big gap between fighting very well and conquering historic odds.

Overall, You should have a good time with Kuromukuro. I’d consider it to be a fairly strong Sci-Fi adventure. It gives you a lot of time to really get to know the characters which is something that many shows don’t have time for. The battles are always a lot of fun but it’s also nice to be able to just hang out with the characters. There is plenty of time for this in titles like Naruto and Bleach which is part of why they’re so huge but titles under 30 episodes usually don’t have as much time for it. There’s a good balance here and that’s why I’d say it’s a fundamentally sound show all around. I’d recommend checking it out even if the government will annoy you the whole time.

Overall 7/10

Clannad: After Story Review


Clannad: After Story is one of those shows that will start to stress you out near the end. It starts to go towards an ending that you know would absolutely wreck it and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t go that way but a small part of you knows that it could be possible. Well, it doesn’t happen and so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The show does stick the landing and ultimately it’s a good show. I do think it lags behind the original which managed to balance the drama and comedy a lot better. As the After Story this one is a lot more serious throughout with less time for light hearted humor. As expected from this franchise though the emotional scenes definitely do land and this will be a show where you get emotionally invested.

The show starts off with some final school adventures. Enjoy this part of the show while you can because once they leave the school then that’s it. The first episode is sort of the introduction episode for new fans that you often see for season 2s. It’s a chance to get the whole cast hanging out and having fun. It’s a Baseball episode so you’ve also got the sport bonus. It’s a fun way to start up the season and is probably the happiest episode in the saga. Nothing goes wrong, it’s just everyone having a good time bonding over the game. Definitely one of the best executions of the “intro” episode that I’ve seen.

The first real arc involves Tomoya’s friend Youhei as he finally gets his time to shine. Or falter as is the case this time. His sister Mei is really concerned about him because Youhei is still a big troublemaker and doesn’t seem to have matured at all. A lot of time has passed over the years so she was hoping to see some improvement. Youhei figures that he will need a fake girlfriend to trick Mei into thinking that he can look out for himself. None of his female classmates want to help out with this though so the only candidate left is Nagisa’s mom Sanae who doesn’t mind helping out.

The only tricky part is that Youhei doesn’t actually realize that she is the Mom and actually thinks he has a chance. Meanwhile Mei sees through this fairly quick and is discouraged again so she pretends to be going out with Tomoya to test Youhei’s bond but unfortunately he fails at this one because since he’s Tomoya’s best friend he figures that he will look the other way. Everything pretty much blows up at this point and it doesn’t help that Mei wants Tomoya to help her get Youhei back on the soccer team since everything seemed to go wrong as soon as he was kicked off of that club.

Part of the problem though is that the club is as corrupt as they come. The actual members of the club just aren’t good people so there isn’t much benefit in trying to warm up to them. It would have been better if they didn’t even try to help but of course once Mei says she will go Tomoya has to accompany her because these guys can’t be trusted. We do get a big fight there though and then another fight later on between Tomoya and Youhei.

This arc definitely had a lot of serious moments and a lot of dramatic ones as well. The reason I thought that Youhei didn’t look good though is because all of the plans were just bad. For starters, getting a fake girlfriend to convince Mei that he is mature now is just going to have the opposite effect when she inevitably finds out the truth. Even if he could keep the secret, well now he’s living out a lie. His best bet would be to get an actual girlfriend but of course that wasn’t quite in the cards for him either.

He’s always been the most unintelligent member of the cast and so Tomoya ends up tricking him a whole lot but if there was ever a time to rise above that then this would have been it. Instead Youhei makes the wrong call in not speaking up when he knows Mei is way too young for Tomoya. Honestly if the explanation was that he thought it was another prank that would have been way better than his nonreaction here. I would at least have been able to buy that a bit but otherwise he had to make a stand here and shut this down.

Youhei never really came back from that since he doesn’t get much of a role after this. Ultimately he was a good friend to Tomoya and kept him in check over the years but as the resident punching bag of the series it would have been nice if he could have at least looked really good during his big serious arc. That was his chance and he blew it.

Meanwhile I’d also say Mei didn’t look very good here. She could be a bit too forceful in trying to make sure that Youhei matured. At the end of the day it’s something that he has to do on his own and it’s not like you can really force it to happen. Her decision to get him back on the soccer team just ended up causing a whole lot of issues instead of really helping anything out.

It is unfortunate that Tomoyo and the others don’t get much of a role this time but it does work as the after story. It’s a bold approach for sure but when you think of this as the story taking place after the main story has concluded then it makes sense that most of the old characters would be completely written out. Their time in the sun has ended after all.

That said, we do get an alternate reality saga real quick with Kyou and Ryou. So of course Ryou has always liked Tomoya but was way too timid to actually say anything. Well, this time she does say something and he agrees to go out with her basically because he would agree to go out with any girl who worked up the courage to ask him out. That’s how it seems to be at least given how many alternate paths there are. Thing is…he quickly realizes that he actually likes her twin sister Kyou more which makes things complicated.

Kyou’s always liked Tomoya as well but tries to bury these feelings. Having her twin sister going out with him just makes it even harder to hide. Ultimately she wins out and Ryou gets wrecked again but I feel like having both of these involved in the same alternate path made things a little extra tragic. It would have been better if either Ryou got her own alternate universe episode or didn’t do much here. It just makes Tomoya look bad for jumping around so quickly.

Additionally Kyou owed it to her sister not to make a move in that case. Teasing Tomoya on the bench and messing with him was really just a way to get him to fall for her even if she wouldn’t admit it. It’s only natural that she would defeat Ryou once she got serious because she’s more outgoing and attractive while also being able to hold a normal conversation with Tomoya way more than Ryou ever could. But it’s like the bro code, you have to have the sister code as well where you won’t just steal the man like that.

The instant it happened everything was all over because if Tomoya stayed with Ryou then she’d know it was out of pity so the relationship was destroyed right off the bat. This at least allowed them to get more of a role in the season though. Kyou appears a bit anyway as a teacher in the future but Ryou mainly vanishes. Fuuko also appears a bit in the future but her role is really small and I wouldn’t say that it’s too pivotal. It was mostly just a reason to have her around but I miss her supernatural abilities as a ghost. Surprisingly the ghost never got to appear again but I guess that’s because she was back in the world of the living.

We get a mini arc for Misae who is sort of the dorm mother for a bunch of the kids. She was around a bit in season 1 as well so I suppose this was her chance to finally get some real development. It’s a pretty emotional arc that even has some supernatural elements to it. Basically she likes one guy who already has a boyfriend and then a magic guy named Katsuki likes her but it’s hard for him to confess now since Misae was already crushed.

As you can see this is one of those very dramatic arcs. I do think getting together with Katsuki wouldn’t have really worked because the rebound would have been way too quick there. You need time to get over the first love since things didn’t really work out there. It’s interesting to know more about her past but at the end of the day it’s not like she ever ends up being a main character. Think of it as extra world building. Katsuki did the right thing in not confessing initially though. I would defend that as there are times where you shouldn’t “Shoot your shot” and confessing right after someone had a big break up or was rejected is certainly one of those times.

Yukine gets a mini arc as well and if you don’t remember her that’s fine. Her role was eve smaller in season 1 but basically she is always in a small room in the school with some coffee. It turns out that she works as the resident nurse for a bunch of gangs in the area and patches them up whenever they get hurt. As a result everyone likes her because she doesn’t interfere in the fights. Still, her brother was the only one strong enough to stop the fighting entirely and things are getting dicey without him. This leads our hero Tomoya to have to jump in and try fighting.

There are some fun moments here especially the big moment where the brother seemingly appears. This one is less of an emotional arc I’d say and more of a quick action one. The fight is actually played totally straight and has a good amount of tension. It’s clear that Tomoya won’t be able t win with his busted arm but it’s always impressive just how long he lasts considering what he has to deal with. He does well in every sport and challenge even when he can only use one arm.
Now we enter the big part of the series which is the climax to Tomoya and Nagisa’s plot. Well, she is sick once again which is rough because that means that she will have to miss school once again which could prevent her from graduating. Her condition has always been a bit of a mystery as the doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with her. This naturally makes things rather tough on Tomoya who can’t possibly enjoy graduation without her. Also if she has to start a whole new year again then that means she will be all by herself this time. He also has to move on and get a job which is where Yoshino comes in handy.

I always thought Yoshino was a good guy and he really comes in handy when it counts here. The guy does his best to show Tomoya the ropes and has his back at every turn. It’s not every day that you find a good friend like that. Yoshino’s speeches also may be a bit on the cheesy side but he does mean every word of them. I was glad that Tomoya never laughed at them because he does owe this guy a lot.

Akio and Sanae are fun supporting characters here as always. Sanae definitely likes to have fun and act as one of the kids along with the main characters. She’s good at alternating between being a motherly figure and a friend and helps quite a lot of the characters in the show. She really came in clutch with helping Tomoya when he was down in the dumps during the show. He really had a rough stretch and during that period she kept going after him until she was able to get him into the clear. It’s not something most characters could have done.

Akio also helps out a lot too of course both verbally and economically. He wants Tomoya to know that he’s here for him and the message is definitely received. I’d say a good part of why Nagisa is able to remain so hopeful throughout everything going on is because she had such supportive parents. It just wouldn’t have been possible without them.

The show definitely goes farther in the timeline than you’d expect but it’s why around half of the show takes place after school. We get to see Tomoya out in the real world working a job and how each character has went on to pursue their dreams. It does mean that the show takes on a much more serious tone for those moments though. There isn’t a whole lot of comedy after the school part is over and things can even get rather dark. It’s why everything was riding on the ending which ultimately is what keeps the show afloat.

You are super invested in everything going on and it’s all emotional but of course that is also why a bad ending would really doom the whole thing. The animation is solid here as expected. I would say it maybe doesn’t feel quite as high budget as the first season which had some really stylish moments for the occasional fight scenes and Chun Li combos. This one has moments like that as well but they tend to be rare and not quite as flashy. Still, it all looks good enough to me. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the classic tunes. The emotional songs definitely fit in with the scenes really well and help to really amp up the atmosphere. I’d definitely give the full soundtrack a thumbs up for sure.

Now I’m going to dive into the more spoilery aspects of the show so skip the next 5 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. After all with a big emotional show like this you don’t want to know any of the big events before they happen. It would soften the impact of every scene in a big way since you can only experience them once.

All right so here we go. Nagisa is unable to overcome her illness and ends up dying. It was definitely a real tragic moment because you really thought that she would get better this time. She does end up delivering her baby Ushio first though and asks Tomoya to watch out for him. Unfortunately Tomoya gets super depressed to the point where he can’t even interact with the baby and so for several years Nagisa’s parents take care of him instead. I have to say that this made Tomoya look really awful though. You can’t just shut down like that and he basically became his father even though he swore that he never would.

Well, eventually Sanae tricks Tomoya into spending time with his daughter Ushio and the two of them grow close. Tomoya finally reconnects with all of his old friends and becomes a good father…only for Ushio to get the same illness and die. So now Tomoya has lost everything. See, this is where the show would have immediately gone down the tubes for me if it ended like that. There would just be no coming back from this because it would all be way too mean spirited and empty. It would be like the whole adventure was a waste and it was a cruel twist of fate. Tomoya had a theory that Nagisa and Ushio’s lives were dependent on the town so it being changed was what destroyed them.
Well, that wasn’t quite it. It turns out that instead there is an Earth Prime of sorts with the robot and the girl. By sacrificing her life the girl is able to give everyone a fresh start and resets things to the happy timeline where everyone lives and is happily ever after. Every part from Nagisa dying onwards just didn’t happen. It’s a little rough for the robot since he wanted to have fun with her but in a way he is reincarnated to the human world too. It’s all a bit trippy there for sure bit I was a big fan of this one without a doubt. We needed a happy ending and it finally justified that whole plot so I was glad about it.

Otherwise that arc was quickly becoming a train wreck. Tomoya would have lost all my respect in ditching his daughter like that. It would have been such a horrible look for him. Meanwhile his father committed a crime and went to jail which I thought was unexpected but maybe it would at least remind Tomoya not to make the same mistakes. So seeing him go to the dark side anyway was just really off. Even though the timeline reset it still happened so I can’t forget that but at least he got a shot at a second chance.

Meanwhile Ushio was a good character. She had to live without her father for a very long time but she kept a positive attitude about the whole thing and didn’t hold it against Tomoya. She just rode the waves of life and kept it moving. We don’t get to see her too long since the series was nearly ending by the time she showed up but she made an impact in that time.

I didn’t really talk about Nagisa much but I’d say that she’s a good heroine. It’s certainly not her fault that she gets sick a lot and she tries to stay strong throughout all of the sad things happening to her. Having to repeat a year again for the third time just because she was sick probably felt really unfair. Then she does her best to work and support Tomoya during his tough job as well. She never complains and always tries to do the right thing so there’s nothing to really dislike here.

Meanwhile Tomoya definitely made more mistakes this time around. Even in season 1 he wasn’t perfect as I thought some of his pranks could be a bit on the mean side but at least that was more of a humor plot. Here he tends to make more serious mistakes as the show goes on, ones that are a whole lot harder to just wave away. To in the end I have to say that I didn’t like Tomoya, he erased most of the goodwill around his character.

At least I can say something for this show that I rarely say and it’s that the romance here was actually rather solid. At least for the main pairing since Tomoya and Nagisa got a lot of time to interact and build this romance up. It’s certainly way better than the usual rushed type of romances where you feel like it just happened out of nowhere. In context this one took months to develop and at this point they’ve known each other for well over a year. When a show that is part romance manages to execute the romance well you know that it’s going to be in good shape.

In a way the show benefits from not trying to squeeze in a bunch of side romances. That would ultimately just distract from the main one where you want as much development as possible. Since this is the after story we also don’t have to worry about any of the other heroines trying to make a move because at this point they have all accepted that Nagisa and Tomoya are together. So there’s no funny business. It’s just everyone being good supportive friends as the adventures go on. The show is also long enough where you feel like you’ve known the characters a long while and got to see them on their journey. Not all of the characters get a big conclusion but since it’s from Tomoya’s view it makes sense that he wouldn’t see them all complete their dreams. We do get quick glimpses to see where they are at though.
Overall, Clannad: After Story really lives up to its name as being the post game in a way. The characters get to go through their epilogues while you watch. It’s something you almost never see since usually the end of the story is just that…the end. It’s very rare that you get the cast back for a whole other season like this. Maybe a big movie or something but not a full show. In the end the first show still wins just because it is a lot more fun and the school setting just works better but if you saw the original show then you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Even if just to see how the whole robot plot ends since in season 1 it still felt rather pointless by the end. At least now in this season you really see why it was included.

Overall 6/10

The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Review


Slime is one of those series I always mention as having improved greatly from the start to be one of the premiere light novel adaptions. Well this spinoff is more like a return to the old days. It’s more of a slice of life adventure about the cast hanging around the village and having fun which can absolutely be a fun angle to have on this. The only issue is that when the series isn’t focused on the action it always gets real tempted to just focus on fanservice instead and….well this one falls into that trap as well. The fanservice is pretty much a constant in every episode and so this one was a bit doomed from the start. It can still be a lot of fun but it’s certainly not a title you would recommend to someone to enhance their view on the main show.

As the title would suggest this series is about adventures that Rimuru has written down in his diary. During the rare times when the heroes aren’t defending themselves from another kingdom or fighting off demon lords they get to have a whole lot of parties. The village loves their parties and why not, they’re a great way to build up morale and get everyone excited. Quite a few of these episodes have some kind of a party to the point where it is almost a running gag. As someone who likes making a big deal out of just about any kind of event I can definitely get that.

So the show is completely revolving around how interesting the day to day life of the characters can be without the fights. Because there are no big fights here, this is all about just having fun around the village. Slime’s cast is pretty solid but I would say they got more of the good characters to the cast by season 2. This one doesn’t have Veldora as a main member yet or Diablo but Milim is here a lot and she’s always a real highlight in the show.

The show’s humor is typically fun too. You have Rimuru having to teach the monsters about Christmas and New Year’s which results in some fun scenes. The holidays probably do sound a bit odd to someone that’s never heard of them before but simplifying things to just say that it’s a big party works for the cast. Milim is also a lot of fun because she can end the whole kingdom with a punch and is thousands of years old but she still acts like a kid the whole time so Rimuru has to be careful how he talks to her about anything really. If she gets the wrong idea or gets upset then it can all be over for them.

Now as mentioned the fanservice is the main issue here. It feels like quite a few episodes through in the obligatory hot springs type moment. Shion’s outfit has never been the most practical one but this show certainly makes sure to jump in with the zoom ins from time to time. Every episode will have some iffy fanservice moments like that. I wouldn’t say the scenes are ever super egregious and the light hearted comedic nature of the show ensures that it never gets too serious or anything. It’s just the sheer frequency with which they happen that really bogs this one down. It’s always the low hanging fruit, the easy way to try and generate clicks but the show should have more confidence in its own humor and characters to not have to rely on this. Instead of being another advantage it just works against the show.

It’s also been a while, maybe ever since I saw a show that had both Christmas and New Year’s in a single season. So that was nice to see. As a slice of life I wouldn’t say that the show is able to keep up with the bigger titles like Kanon or Clannad though. Maybe in part it’s because the characters are more suited for action and aren’t built for comedy or maybe it’s just that the setting doesn’t work as much. I’ve thought about this and a lot of times the best slice of life casts and circumstances are in worlds that are more like real life. Of course you could make the case that it just makes sense statistically because a lot of them take place there. It’s hard to make such a sweeping generalization there either.

So at the end of the day it just comes down to writing and character dynamics. There are a lot of fun dynamics within the cast and Rimuru is a good main character so that makes for a lot of good humor. I do think the show would have absolutely have been able to hold its own well enough if it focused on the humor entirely. Probably not an award winning show or anything but it had enough pieces there.

The animation is decent. I wouldn’t say that it’s great or anything but it’s good enough and you can always tell what is going on. I wouldn’t say they’re trying to make this an S tier title with animation and you can certainly tell that but it’s still good. Part of the show is about seeing the seasons in the village and you can clearly see the differences the whole time so the animation succeeds there. The soundtrack is much more on the forgettable side though. There aren’t any big emotional or action tunes to really focus in on.

In a way there also isn’t a whole lot to talk about in this show compared to most since there isn’t as much of a plot here. So you can expect this show review to be shorter than the last few. As it is when a show is only around 12-13 episodes like this one then it’s always going to go fast. It works in this sense though because then the show doesn’t drag on. I also think they would have had a hard time thinking of more ideas after a bit because it’s not like there are any other holidays to grab. If the show went too much further in the timeline then you would be questioning how they are able to have this much time before the next attack.

I don’t think the show needs to worry about continuity and being in canon too much to be honest but it’s still something they were probably trying to keep in mind. I do think that a season 2 would benefit from taking place later in continuity because then you can have Veldora as a main character and he could have a lot of fun interactions with Milim. That would be a recipe for greatness right away. As it is Milim does a lot of the heavy lifting here already. Throw in the fun Veldora and then things will get even better. After all he’s one of the only characters who can hold his own against her in power so they’re able to have even conversations.

Plus he’s another immortal who acts rather young but I feel like he’d end up being a bit of a father figure to her. Shion and Milim have a bit of a rivalry going but it’s so one sided in terms of power level that it just doesn’t work nearly as well. It does help to show that Milim is still fairly nice on the inside. No matter how heated things get it’s not like she blows Shion up or anything which would be easy to do even accidentally with how powerful Milim is. It was nostalgic seeing the old Rimuru though. He gets teased for looking like a girl quite a bit here as a result though and his old design could seem like that at times so it’s not super surprising. I feel like this pretty much stopped once he got the cool black leather jacket so in a season 2 if it takes place late enough then Rimuru can probably look forward to the teasing ending.

Plus later on he ends up being strong enough where he is finally in Milim’s league so he doesn’t have to be quite as nervous either. I mean Rimuru is a bit nervous just due to his personality so he’ll still be panicking a whole lot but it’s a different kind of panic. The village idolizes him so much that you’d think it would have improved his confidence more though. I get that it can be a bit weird to have everyone making statues of you and everything but Rimuru needs to either embrace it or find a way to stop it. By meekly accepting it, that just means that nothing will be changing anytime soon.

It doesn’t go to his head though so at least I don’t really see the harm. It’s something for the village to unite around and it gives them hope. Rimuru directly saved most of their lives from futures that would have been way more dire after all so this is still an upgrade. The average townsfolk is living a near perfect life in the village protected by powerful fighters all around. Who wouldn’t want to live there? None of them take this for granted.

Overall, Slime Diaries is a reasonable show to pass the time by. The fanservice is what keeps me from giving this one a positive score and being able to recommend it though. It would be interesting to see this get a season 2 though and if they can build on the good aspects of the show to make it better. Imagine a jump in quality similar to the main Slime seasons 1 and 2? That would be great and also a fun coincidence. I also think there is an audience for this kind of a show as just a very calm slice of life title. You can watch it as something peaceful in the background or something to watch before bed. A show filled with good feels can be fun so I’ll be rooting for the series to surpass its limits.

Overall 5/10

Tiger & Bunny 2 Review


It’s time for the return of Tiger & Bunny. This sequel gets us some new heroes to change the dynamic a bit and we get fights which are always good but ultimately don’t make a ton of progress in the grand scheme of things. At this point it may be fair to say that the series doesn’t intend on actually taking the villain organization down for the count and instead they are planned to be here for the long haul as a constant obstacle for the heroes. Season 2 still doesn’t match the full potential that it could have had as a very slow start holds up its progress but the climax was very solid. Ultimately I would still lean on season 1 being the better season even though this one had the better visuals.

The series starts off with mainly exploring each of the new team dynamics. See, the government in charge of the heroes, in all of their wisdom has decided that heroes shouldn’t be solo anymore. They should all be a part of the buddy system and so everyone is divided up into pairs. Of course Tiger & Bunny are already a team so there is no change for them. In a way it’s a bit embarrassing that they aren’t leading the ranks which causes some disputes but at this point it’s nothing too serious. Tiger & Bunny get along way better than they did in season 1 and I like that their development really stuck. Now when they fight it’s all in good fun and nobody takes anything too personally.

So the first half of the reason really has each team get an episode as they try to work with each other. Unfortunately most of those episodes are on the weaker side and do little to make the characters more likable. One of my main issues with the series has always been that the cast isn’t quite as likable as you would expect. A lot of them are okay and so you can get through the show easily enough but you don’t have many standout characters. Some are better than they used to be like Fire Emblem while others have sharply fallen like Origami Cyclone so it doesn’t feel like a whole lot has changed. There are two new characters, He Is Thomas (I’m just going to be calling him Thomas for the rest of the review) and Mr. Black. Both are characters that are very interesting and had a lot of potential but I didn’t feel like they ever lived up to that.

I’ll break down each of the team up episodes a bit while going over the characters. The first one is about Tiger & Bunny so there’s not too much that needs to be said there. Their characters have already been explored a lot. As always I tend to prefer Bunny as he’s more impulsive and ready to just jump into action. Tiger has the stronger moral compass as he’s been a hero for much longer and wants to do the right thing no matter what. They make for a good team even if Bunny has to hold Tiger up a bit more now that Tiger’s powers are running out sooner. With all that said…it’s still crazy that normal bank robbers can actually give the entire hero cast a run for their money though.

At this point it’s a bit of a running gag but it still just feels a little crazy. These heroes may not all have the strongest of abilities but it should be a simple matter to take these crooks down. It always feels like the show is stalling for time to introduce the heroes but there have to be better ways of doing this than by nerfing them. It’s just not going to be worth it to hurt the hero reputations like this. I suppose it does make things even more believable when Fugan and Mugan are taking heroes down left and right though. Usually each episode ends with them beating up a bunch of other heroes in the background as they get closer to the main series. I do think that this is a compelling plot point as you are waiting for them to appear the whole time. The flash forward at the beginning was also a really good way to set things up even if it takes forever to get back there.

We start to learn more about Mr. Black in the next episode. Basically he’s a guy from a small town who really wants to be a really big hero and is determined to do this as fast as possible. The whole being in a team thing is a huge issue for him because now he has to share the spotlight and he has to team up with Thomas, the most anti social member of the group. Black’s power is also more on the defensive side as he can create barriers but that’s about it. Later on he starts to learn how to weaponize them which is good since you should always be able to convert barriers.

Black gets a lot of screen time but you always feel like his development doesn’t get to the end you were expecting. He does become more of a team player gradually but it takes a whole long while to get there and you don’t feel like he will end up being one of the top heroes anytime soon. He almost starts to come to terms with being more of a support type fighter. He’s not always quick on the uptake and he can try too hard. I just thought Black’s potential was greater than the actual execution but at the same time he is still one of my favorite heroes by default so there’s that.

As for Thomas, he ended up being a little more interesting and rising to the top. Basically he prefers to be a lone hero because he feels like he really can’t trust anyone. We get an origin story which gives us some added context into why that is. He definitely has good reasons for not wanting to team up with anyone and then in the present he is given even more reasons to support this. His telekinetic powers are also very handy even if they have a very hard limit compared to most. He basically can’t lift more than what he can lift normally which does limit just how much he can use these powers. Still, he knows how to fight in hand to hand and has a lot of determination. The show is going for a nice parallel with how Bunny used to be and that works really well.

After that we get to see how Blue Rose and Golden Ryan work as a team. Unfortunately their teamwork isn’t great as you would expect. They tend to disagree about the catchphrases and then Ryan is super jealous of Blue Rose meeting up with Tiger. Now she certainly could have told him why she was meeting with him one on one to avoid the misunderstandings but personally I don’t think that she needed to. Ultimately it’s her private business and you don’t have to tell your work partner everything. Ryan jumps to all the worst conclusions the whole time. At least Bunny took Tiger’s side the whole time and wasn’t doubting him. Sure he may have weakened a bit over time but at the end of the day I do believe Bunny was going to trust Tiger no matter what and it shows how they have been teammates much longer.

Ryan does get a big role in this season as his backstory actually gets expanded on here. The whole climax ends up being a lot more personal for him than you may have expected initially. He easily has one of the most powerful abilities in the series so I would like to see him take more of a center stage role. He is just rarely put in a position where he can succeed though which is unfortunate. He does bounce back from the initial episode though and ultimately looks good. He’s still one of the better heroes.

Blue Rose is also good here as she is slowly but surely starting to get over Tiger. A part of her may not move on for a while but I think she is starting to see that he’s just never going to notice her at this point. She gets a solid role in helping out throughout the series and her ice comes in handy. Her tag team battle with Ryan was definitely good as they both got to use their special talents to slow the villain down. Ultimately you always know that they’re doomed but the attempt is what counts.

Then you have Rock Bison and Origami Cyclone in one of the worst episodes to set up the team. Basically Cyclone is super sensitive about everything so if you get his name wrong then he’s going to sulk a lot. A big issue with Cyclone is that he refuses to actually directly confront Bison about this and instead moves behind his back and acts passive aggressively. Look if you’re upset about the mix-up on the name then just say so. It’s not like Rock Bison is a bully or something. He would absolutely apologize right away and not make the same mistake again. In fact Bison does try to apologize right away and Cyclone just won’t accept it. It makes him look really bad to the point where I ended up putting 100% of the blame on Cyclone. You have to be able to take a joke and keep it moving instead of just being down and out the whole time. That’s not the right way to handle any kind of situation.

As for Bison, I would say he looks a lot better here than in season 1. He mostly just felt like a joke in the first season as he was the power hitter but got absolutely clobbered in every possible fight that he was in. At least here he gets some respect and is trying to even change his image a bit. I think it’ll be some time before I can really say that he’s risen up enough to where I could call him likable, but he’s trying to be better and that’s what counts.

Then we have Sky High and Fire Emblem’s combo episode but this one makes Fire Emblem look bad for the most part. Here’s the issue…he thinks that Sky High is too perfect. He wants the guy to have some flaws so they can talk as equals and know that they have each other’s trust. My common argument to that would be that maybe he doesn’t have any real flaws. Nobody’s perfect of course but it’s not a given that you have to have a big enough flaw that it would ever show up in daily life right? Sky High basically has a perfect life going on for him and he’s very methodical about it. There’s just nothing wrong with it and of course he overhears Fire Emblem gossiping about this to the main heroes and that starts another misunderstanding.

There just didn’t need to be any issues between the two of them. They are the number 1 ranked hero team in the city and I think it would have made a whole lot of sense to have just kept it that way by explaining in the episode that they both get along really well because they just have a good system. That’s all you really need. In this season Fire Emblem is no longer attacking Rock Bison in every scene so he’s automatically better even if the episode wasn’t a great look for him. Sky High is a solid hero as always although I wish he would contribute more in the fights considering that he’s known as the #1 hero. I know it’s popularity based and not by strength but still.

Finally we’re up to the last team which is Dragon Kid and the new heroine Magical Cat. Dragon Kid is eager to leave a good impression as her first time being a mentor and so she tends to be a little overbearing in how she looks after Magical Cat. Cat doesn’t really mind but the issue is that her mother does. Cat’s mother believes that Dragon Kid is doing this on purpose to steal the spotlight and so she encourages Magical Cat to defy orders and do whatever is needed in order to rise up. This is a plot that will actually last for the rest of the series. Mainly my issue with Cat is that she lets herself be ordered around and manipulated like this.

If she would just stick up for Dragon Kid more or make a stand then things wouldn’t escalate so much. It is tough defying your parent like this but Cat knows deep down that Dragon Kid isn’t doing anything super wrong and should have just talked it out with her. For sure there are times when Dragon Kid won’t listen at all which is annoying but for the most part there is usually a chance for some dialogue. Kid ultimately gets better by the end as well so it was mainly a momentary setback and then she starts to be a quality character again. Of course it would help if Cat’s power was more offensive though. It’s totally reasonable not to want her in the front lines when her water powers are so weak and emotionally fueled. If Cat is having a bad day then her powers get even weaker.

Lunatic is still around but unfortunately the show really dropped the ball with him. He used to be such a grand figure in the series but he starts off as being semi retired here and only briefly goes back into the spotlight. The show sort of glossed over the actual retiring part which was unfortunate. I would have liked more of an extended scene on why he chose to retire as opposed to picking up the context pieces ourselves. Then when he gets back out there it’s just way too brief. Lunatic as a character is just fascinating and when the heroes are constantly on the ropes you know that he’s someone else for the villains to fear.

In fact you could say that the heroes can almost start to understand him more when the city turns against the NEXT and they have to choose to continue as vigilantes like Lunatic or retire. It changes the perspective a little bit even if there’s still no way to get around the murders. Lunatic has to be brought in but I wanted more of a fight around ideals instead of the rushed subplot we got here.

After that we start to get into the main plot with Fugan and Mugan showing up to cause chaos. They work for Ouroboros and are commanded by Nicolai. They’re pretty powerful as one of them can absorb attacks and the other one can teleport. It takes a painfully long amount of time for the heroes to figure out how their powers work when at least the teleportation one should have been obvious for a while there. What works about these villains is even after you figure out how the powers work, it can be hard to stop them. Basically you have a tag team that can stop any attack easily with the absorption and then counter quicker than the eye can see due to the teleport. Taking them on individually is your best bet and I recommend taking down the teleporter first.

Unfortunately teamwork isn’t often the heroes’ best trait and Bunny was taken down earlier by a bomber so he wasn’t able to contribute much here until the end. (That bomber episode was a really good oneshot episode though. We got to see Tiger really get upset and go solo as a rogue for a little bit there. I think that could have even worked as a multi part episode) So Mugan and Fugan really start to dominate the heroes rather easily but it makes for a lot of good fights. You may feel like the heroes should do better but then you remember how much trouble they had against normal bank robbers and it all starts to make sense.

The animation for the show has never been my favorite and I would still consider it below average compared to most but they do their best for the fight scenes. The show certainly looks its best during these moments as the sharp colors stand out and you really get to see the super speed of Bunny and Tiger in motion. Sometimes it can be a bit exaggerated because if they actually moved that fast then things would play out very differently in many circumstances. So try to ignore the power level issues as best you can because this show has a lot of them.

Despite the powers I wouldn’t say that I liked either villain much though. Mugan and Fugan were just a little too needy the whole time. One of them was also super unintelligent for some reason and they’re always goofing off until it’s way too late. I can’t say that their boss Nicolai was much better either. He gives the orders and got attached by the end but that’s really about it for him.

The other boss in Sigourney was more interesting but made a whole lot of slip ups. She didn’t handle things as well as she could have. Towards the end she starts getting “Just as planned” moments but they all fall hollow when you remember she’s on plan D by this point. Her ability isn’t the most handy to have because while she can possess people, it leaves her real body completely defenseless. It’s good when hiding in the shadows but won’t help a whole lot in a straight fight.

For some more supporting characters we do have Kaede who gets to show up a bit. Her role isn’t particularly big though but she is starting to get used to her powers a bit more. The tough part about being a copy expert is that you need to have someone on hand with powers to borrow but with the new buddy system that should help a whole lot. I look forward to her appearing as a full hero one of these days. She does need to learn to be a bit more honest with Tiger though. She lies to him on several occasions here. You know that he wouldn’t be on her side with some of her decisions which is why she lies but that’s not a good excuse. She has to face Tiger, not try to deceive him.

There’s also Mattia but that guy tends to be annoying. He doesn’t realize what is going on all around him at all and tends to be oblivious every step of the way. I was actually waiting for him to turn evil the whole series because of how shady he was. I also felt like he never added a whole lot to the series so I question a bit on why he was even added. I know the lab stuff tie in later on but you could have the heroes find out about it as opposed to having this guy as the go between. Agnes also shows up for hero TV but she definitely ended up putting on a lot of weight since the last season. At first I thought it was an animation thing where the character model was off at first but then things stayed that way so it’s an intentional change. I guess that the TV business is just way too stressful after a while but it will take a while to get used to her new design for sure.

Then for the final arc we have two main villains here. The first one is Gregory who has the ability to cause your powers to run wild through physical contact. Specifically he will usually lick the opponent which is certainly a gross way to pull this off. This guy can’t fight so he’s always hiding behind the ability because if he gets out there for even an instant then he would be crushed. It’s why it’s always annoying when he isn’t just taken down right away. He lasts a long while but in part because the government looks awful here the whole time. This guy whines quite a bit as well and so he’s a very weak villain in this series. I never ended up liking him.

Fortunately we had one more villain in Aldun who was way better. Basically this guy was a big villain back in the day but after he was caught, he rotted away in jail for so long that he actually thought he was a hero. So when he’s freed Gregory just pretends that the actual heroes are the villains and quickly convinces Aldun to take them down. Aldun is unfortunately very gullible and it takes him a long while to realize that he’s on the wrong side. By then he’s wide open for a cheap shot. I do like how overwhelmingly powerful he was though. The guy is sort of like an All Might type figure who requires a whole lot of fighters to even come close to him in power. The average fighter would be completely decimated against him.

Now I should note that it was an interesting angle to think that the NEXT were just being infected by a plague instead of a villain’s super ability. I thought that it was a reach for them to think this but fine. Where things got iffier is afterwards when the heroes find out there is a villain with the exact kind of power that seems to be affecting the heroes. Suddenly nobody wants to hear it and the heroes don’t have any real support. This should have been a huge deal and with how often the heroes have saved the day it would have been nice to see the public helping out or even random government guys stepping in.

Instead Ouroboros is so infested into every network that they bury the knowledge and quickly turn the heroes into public enemy number 1. Even the cops get in on it as they start prioritizing taking down the heroes over taking down the villains. That never makes sense in any show that I watch and so of course the same was true here. It’s just annoying to see the priorities completely backwards like this and so Tiger & Bunny are stopped on multiple occasions. Even the heroes are very lackluster in their responses when they should be out there trying to find the villain and taking names. They do to an extent but it always takes a lot of convincing and debating.

It also just worked too well to split up the heroes. Look, the NEXT were still being infected after the groups were split up so if it was a virus then isolating everyone wasn’t doing much good anyway. Naturally crime went up in the main city immediately so how were they going to handle that? The police were so antagonistic and they could never stop a villain before so that won’t help. Villains with powers aren’t going to peacefully leave either so all you’ve done is make the world a more dangerous place but the public readily accepted it. It reminds me of Magneto saying how the humans and mutants would never be fully integrated. All it takes is one bad thing to happen and everyone forgets all the good. That was the case here as well.

At least it wasn’t the whole planet though. Apparently only the main city went crazy as others were still having the heroes so Cat and Thomas were close to going to other cities. It makes you feel like the heroes wouldn’t even want to stay in the city after a while since it’s like they were pretty much being betrayed there. I’d be tempted to leave for good after stopping the villain myself.

The soundtrack is mainly lifted from season 1 with a few new tunes. It’s not the most impressive soundtrack. I’d say that it sounds okay but it could have used some more fast paced action tunes. This may not be a show with an overabundance of flashy action scenes and speed moments but some really solid music like that could still go a long way into helping it become that kind of show. Good music to listen to never hurts a title after all.

Tiger & Bunny 2 shows promises of what the show could be like and if everything was like the climax then this would be an easy 7 star show. It just needs to focus on the big plots and action scenes over the day to day stuff. Some shows can do day to day adventures really well but this one cannot. The opening team up episodes really show this. The characters just aren’t interesting enough to pull it off and as a result those episodes can almost come close to being boring at times. Perhaps really top line visual effects could bump this to the next level as well but that doesn’t happen here.

For season 3 to finally take the next step I’d say that we need a big plot right from the jump and more likable villains. Maybe have a replacement for Lunatic to challenge their sense of justice a bit more. We also don’t need much more bickering from the heroes as they should all be a good unit now. So instead build stories around that like in Justice League or Avengers where they’re a good team and have to stop some kind of challenge. Just making things fast paced with a good story is really all that you need.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny 2 really starts to pick up during the climaxes of each arc but getting there is always the rough part. The villain abilities tend to be cool but not the characters themselves which is another issue. Black and Thomas should really improve the dynamics and I expect to see more of that in effect by the third season. So if everything goes as I figure it can go then I expect the next season will be the best one yet. It would be nice if we could make some legitimate progress on the Ouroboros plot though beyond just taking out a few more members. It depends on if they actually want to have a conclusion to the plot but it would make sense to me. If you like superheroes then this is still a good title to check out but I would recommend watching My Hero Academia first as the definitive superhero anime.

Overall 6/10

Romantic Killer Review


Romantic Killer is a bit of a different romance title but you can probably guess that from the title. The main heroine isn’t going to make things easy and that’s why she refers to herself as the Anti-Heroine. It’s a nice spin on things which you’ll see once I get to the plot. The ending doesn’t drop the ball on this either so it stays true to the plot and I would say this is a pretty good adventure.

So the show starts by introducing us to Anzu who is really having a great life so far. She has a nice pet cat, her collection of video games, and a whole lot of chocolate! Yeah life is pretty much perfect but one day a fairy named Riri infiltrates Anzu’s home and announces that Anzu’s top 3 possessions in life will be taken away from her. Anzu can no longer eat chocolate, her cat has been taken away, and her video games are also gone. The only way to get these back is to fall in love with a guy. Yes, Anzu is being blackmailed into falling in love by this fairy who basically says that she is doing it for Anzu’s own good. Anzu refuses and says she will not get a boyfriend no matter what happen and Riri puts this to the test by using her magic to summon a bunch of guys in the most contrived situations in order to break Anzu. Can she stay strong?

I think part of the big thing that separates this from the other shows is how Anzu is so completely against getting a boyfriend. In a lot of these shows the heroine technically wants to find a guy but it’s either tough to confess her feelings or things just weren’t working well. Here, Anzu is against this but you are supporting her because of the situation.

If a fairy shows up to ruin your life and said you would only get it back by getting a boyfriend, wouldn’t you want to rebel? You want to control your life and how things go but letting yourself get manipulated is not a good idea. You’re completely rooting for Anzu because of this without a doubt. You could even say that there is a tragic angle to this as it means that Anzu really can’t give any of the guys a fair shake as a result. I can’t say I felt bad for them though…this is just how it goes sometimes.

The show’s almost like a competition between Riri and Anzu or you could also think of it like a video game. Every time Anzu stops one guy she is met with an even tougher challenge in the next level. Since Riri has magic it’s also not like there is any chance of this stopping anytime soon. The game is set up against Anzu for sure because there is no end date to this. In theory Anzu could be doomed to not have her possessions forever which is pretty rough to think about. So time is on Riri’s side as Anzu’s resolve could theoretically start to shake the more the days/months/years go on.

It goes without saying that I don’t like Riri for this reason. She is just trying to force Anzu into love which is absolutely the wrong approach. I know Riri is merely an employee working for some really tough bosses who will do whatever they want but Riri still has a choice not to do this. The only possible way I could defend Riri is if she gave Anzu some kind of a chance and a reward to even things out. For example, declaring that Anzu has lost her 3 possessions for a full year and if she makes it through that period without a boyfriend then she will get something extra. I dunno, a million dollars or something. That would really raise the stakes.

I’d say Riri is also annoying because you can’t count on her when the going gets tough. Things get serious near the end of the series as we get a real villain and some life or death stakes and suddenly Riri’s magic isn’t so helpful. Either the wand is dirty or she’s too slow to help but it’s just annoying. Seriously what’s the point of magic if you can only show up in time to annoy everyone?

Riri also sometimes acts against her best interests by getting Anzu into tricky situations that make the other guys a bit wary. I suppose the long con here is getting the other guys jealous enough to make a move but eh…..doesn’t seem worth it. There’s really no point in Riri shapeshifting into a guy except to make things tough on Anzu and cause misunderstandings. At least Riri does one nice thing by the end but that’s about it.

Now for Anzu, well I was quite pleased with her character from the start. You absolutely empathize with her because her top 3 hobbies are very relatable. Who doesn’t like to just enjoy time with their pet, video games, and eating some chocolate on the side? Those are the top 3 hobbies out there and so when they are taken away you can understand her anguish. The fact that she immediately takes such a hard stance against having a boyfriend was brilliant.

Throughout the show she conducts herself well. One thing I appreciated is that she isn’t rude about it. Anzu is quite straight forward about not wanting to get romantically entangled with anyone but is still willing to be their friend and just a nice person in general. It would have been so easy to make the main heroine a jerk but the show doesn’t do that.

Anzu is also potentially putting herself at a disadvantage by letting herself be close to these guys but she just wants to do the right thing and that’s great. Doing the right thing is its own reward after all. Anzu can also fight a little bit as needed even if she doesn’t get to go hand to hand against the main villain. That would have been nice but she stood in there and didn’t give up.

She is also able to talk back to any bullies and defends her friends. We get a quick flashback later on in the series with her best friend Saki and see how Anzu just squashed all of the bad rumors. Anzu doesn’t let any injustice happen on her watch and this continues into the present when she tells off the girls who were going after Tsukasa.

A lot of times when a girl asks if the heroine can let her meet up with the main guy, the heroine relents. Usually it’s a mix of “Well, he’s not my boyfriend so I don’t care.” or “Sure, I don’t see any harm in that.”. This was better as she just said she wouldn’t be a party to any of this and wouldn’t set up anything since Tsukasa obviously didn’t want to hang out with these characters. Anzu speaks her mind which is a big upgrade from many characters.

Her friend Saki doesn’t get a whole lot to do here since most of the show is about Anzu meeting up with the various guys but she did good in her limited screen time. She had a really rough backstory that also shows why she is so close to Anzu now. She really rebounded from how things used to be to still be popular and nice in the present instead of jaded about everyone.

Now lets talk about the guys. As they’re all effectively boss battles, I’ll describe them like video game fighters. I should note that Riri does make sure to mention that she isn’t mind controlling anyone. That would have been a very dubious moment after all so while she dos create circumstances to play matchmaker, the characters all do actually like Anzu of their own accord. This was a good move by the way as all of the romances would have really been doomed otherwise.

Of course I can’t say that I was really on board with any of the romances here either way. I stand with Anzu in staying strong against these guys since the fairy is trying to play matchmaker with blackmail the whole time. So without that then maybe they’d have a chance but nah that’s game over until the deal is over.

So first up we have Tsukasa. He’s the cool guy in school who is mega popular but really cold to any girls that are around. He’s got a tragic backstory and his best asset is the fact that he is always around. Put it this way, Riri flooded his house so now Tsukasa has to live with Anzu for a while. That means since they are together a whole lot there isn’t a way to really avoid him.

It would be difficult not to become friends after that and so keeping the line drawn is the tough part. For Tsukasa it’s easy to see why he falls for Anzu because up until now he’s always been around a lot of very judgmental people. Anzu is the only one who treats him as just an ordinary guy and is super casual around him instead of putting on a persona.

Then you have to also factor in Tsukasa’s childhood tragedy involving a stalker named Yukana. basically Tsukasa was traumatized by her because of how unhinged she was. She would buy him clothes and follow him around and ultimately even drugged him. He was very fortunate that things didn’t escalate past that. So he’s unable to really feel free outside as he doesn’t want her to find him again.

He easily has the most amount of screen time and development so even though there are a few guys here and it’s more of an ensemble show, it’s fair to say that he is the main guy here. The climax even revolves around him so at the end of the day you figure that while he is the first boss battle of the show, he also works as the final boss. Anzu has to be careful around him.

Then we’ve got Junta and his biggest attribute to watch out for is that he’s the Childhood friend. He moved away for a while but he’s back now and is ready to try and make a move. He’s loved Anzu for many years and never got over her but of course she never really noticed this. I mean that’s on Junta for not saying anything though. When you’ve got a crush you have to either silently get over it or let the other party know but staying silent is the only way to really lose.

Junta is great at sports and is a super nice guy. As the nicest member of the guys that is another aspect of his to watch out for. He gives everyone a fair shake but can be stern when needed. He lacks self confidence which may make it easy to give him sympathy points though so that’s something else to watch out for. On one hand, the fact that he’s liked her for years helps in the romance angle because it’s not super sudden like Tsukasa. It’s more of a believable romance even if Anzu never noticed him before.

Of course at the same time ending the plot as an unrequited love while tragic always makes things a bit more compelling as you get to see him slowly accept that just being a normal friend really isn’t that bad. If he was a bit bolder then I would like him more but I rarely like the characters who really aren’t confident like this. He tends to throw in the towel early until he’s given a motivational speech.

Then you have the third main guy here named Hijiri. Well he’s rich which is always a very tempting attribute in any character. If Anzu ends up with him then she will be set for life and will never have to worry about anything ever again. You should never marry for riches of course…but it is probably the single most tempting thing aside from pure love.

Hijiri is used to everyone throwing themselves at him so of course the fact that Anzu isn’t interested at all just makes him want her even more. He has a tough time acting normal though and tends to throw around insults by mistake and can be generally annoying. Showing him how to live life as a normal person is something Anzu might feel instinctively so she has to worry about that. Of course she also has to be careful that she doesn’t just feel bad for him since he’ll be crushed. Pity dates are never a good idea.

Those are all of the main guys. There are a few supporting characters like Tsukasa’s friend Makoto who is around but it’s not like he’s ever involved in the romance. There is one extra guy for romance but his role is really small. His name is Ryuya and he’s really just annoying. He’s another childhood friend who liked Anzu but unlike Junta who was too shy to make a move and stayed quiet, he ended up teasing her a lot because of his crush.

You don’t see that happening as much nowadays but I do remember it being a really big thing for a while where they say you would tease and bully the person you like accidentally because you didn’t know how to interact with them normally. I gotta admit I always thought this was a super lame excuse. Seriously, your way of dealing with your feelings is to be mean to the person you like?

That’s just awful so nah I wasn’t going to root for him. Ryuya is super petty and nearly messes up the reunion for everyone by getting into his feels like this. It’s just not a good look for him at all. Maybe a tiny part of you feels bad for him…but it’s a super tiny part that is almost nonexistent. Anzu didn’t take any of it seriously at least and barely even remembers him so he should have just taken it in stride and kept it moving. They could totally be friends in the present without all the awkwardness but he really makes a spectacle of himself for a while there.

Finally we have some of the supporting characters from Tsukasa’s plot like his sister Arisa. She’s probably the only super nice member of the family. His father is a bit crazy as he blames Tsukasa for everything and unfortunately his mother tends to be a bit more passive about the whole thing. This really forced Tsukasa to have to move out and live on his own.

In part this would help him avoid the stalker but it’s also because he wasn’t getting any real support here. His father seemed to have a very old fashioned idea that if there were issues with a girl then it means that the guy led her on. He never even tries to hear Tsukasa’s side of the story and blames him entirely. This even continues on to the present. I wasn’t expecting him to stay as a villain in the present but it gave Anzu another really good moment.

Considering how much he went through, Tsukasa definitely turned out well. I also can’t say that he really made any big mistakes with how he handled the stalker situation. It’s really hard to know just how to handle something like that but he tried ignoring her, talking to her directly, but nothing would work. With someone like that who is clever enough not to break laws too openly escape can feel like the only real option. Especially since even once the courts get involved it doesn’t deter her.

Yukana is the stalker and the final boss of the series. It was nice to have some action at the end here for sure and when she took out the knife you knew things were going to get intense. It is crazy that with such a big cast, one person can make so many waves but the whole situation is handled pretty realistically. The show is mainly comedic but the whole stalker situation is handled super seriously. Riri at least helped a bit in summoning everyone at one point to deal with some bullies (Who had the least believable redemption arc in the franchise. They looked awful and were actually going to beat up Anzu so they shouldn’t have been forgiven so easily. I thought they should have been arrested personally) but Riri’s reasoning for not taking down Yukana directly was really weak.

Riri does need Anzu alive and well to get the mission completed so Yukana is an active threat. Ergo it should be reasonable to take her down but Riri is not convinced and can’t make a move without that confirmation. It’s definitely annoying and feels a bit contrived since otherwise there would not really be a big climax like this. With magic ending it all would be easy.

The humor in the series works well. I would say that it is rarely laugh out loud levels of funny but you can appreciate the humor. I liked how fake they made the first dating sim look which helped to illustrate just what Anzu thought of the whole thing. A whole show with those graphics could actually be rather fun. You can also appreciate this from the guy’s point of view here as well since they all like her and she just has no interest in returning those feelings.

Think of it like everyone falling for the popular girl in school. Usually in the movies there is the main guy who ends up breaking past the pack and they get together so this show is more like if there was no guy. Everyone here are the bit players in the average movie who are doing their best to get her to notice them and it’s all to no avail. None of their feelings are being returned and that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Meanwhile the animation for the show is good too. I get the feeling that it wouldn’t work too well with a lot of movement because it feels a bit rigid but at the same time the colors really stand out. Everyone has eyes that are really sharp and the colors are on point. For a show like this where there won’t be big action scenes I think it makes sense to focus on the artwork than on pure animation. Because of that the visuals will really age well even several years from now. It’s why all of the screenshots look so sharp here as well. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side though. I really couldn’t recall a single tune by the time the show was over but I want to say that it did work well while watching the show.

There is an interesting gimmick where any bugs are turned into different cakes in the show. It’s super random but I’d say that it works because of that. It’s almost like the show is throwing in some photoshop and you can’t go wrong with that. I guess Anzu needed one weakness as well since otherwise she was shredding all obstacles. So since she is scared of bugs that throws the guys a little lifeline to use.

Overall, Romantic Killer is a pretty fun show and I definitely had a good amount of fun with it. It succeeds by focusing more on the challenge and comedic aspects than the actual romance. The serious stuff was handled well too but to me the comedic moments are when the show is at its best. I’d be down with a season 2 to see how this continues on and if they stick to those fundamentals then I think it would be in good shape. In theory Anzu should still be trying to stay strong and it would focus more on the guys doing their best to win her over. It would make for a fairly unique spin on the whole romance genre and if it balances in the humor like this one did then I think it would be a success. Of course the ending is always really important for a show like this as well so they do need to make sure to stick the landing. I believe the show can pull this off though. The ending here could have easily been dodgy but it wasn’t so that worked out.

Overall 7/10

Mob Psycho 100 III Review


It’s time for the end of Mob Psycho. It’s always a pretty big achievement when an anime completes a full adaption of something. No stopping in the middle, detours, or big breaks. This one just went straight through and now you can recommend it to anyone as a complete story. You just love to see a full success like this and season 3 ends on a great note. I would still say that season 2 is the best one and it’s really hard to top that teleporting fighter but this season continues to operate on a high level with excellent animation, music, and characters. So there’s a lot to like here from start to finish.

The show starts off with more of a casual episode to get you used to what’s going on. You see Mob and Reigen on a more standard adventure with exorcising. It works as a good revisit into the characters before we get to the really serious arc. A good chunk of the series is about The Divine Tree and it’s also the best part of the season so we start off strong right off the bat. Initially starting off as a small plant, this thing starts to grow and grow until it’s an absolutely massive tree that dwarfs everything in sight. It’s mind controlling everybody within the city as well, even those with psychic powers. Its reach continues to grow more and more to the point where it may be a threat to the planet. Mob isn’t too concerned initially but once it starts going at the friends then all bets are off.

I think part of what really worked for this arc is just how ominous it was the whole time. The music gets noticeably more serious during all of the episodes with the tree. The animation does a great job with the lighting to make everything look dark as well and so everyone is suspicious. Whenever someone talks to Mob you have to wonder if they are under mind control or if that is what they are really thinking. This was done really well with Reigen at one point where you just don’t know exactly which way to think. Of course if you are not too sure then leaning towards mind control is the best bet.

The best episode cliffhanger was the one when Mob decides to walk into the Tree so go and have a talk with the main villain. The whole time he sort of figures that it is probably Dimple but he just doesn’t want to believe it. They’ve been friends for so long and it just didn’t make sense to him which makes for a solid dynamic.

In a way the setup may have been too good though because there were a few parts of the arc’s resolution that I found to be a little disappointing. For starters my main issue was that Mob tried a little too hard to be diplomatic here. Lets keep in mind that pretty much the whole city is under control at this point so the villain’s gone very far. He’s turned Mob’s closest friends and family against him including his brother Ritsu and his friend Hanazawa. I was hoping we’d get to the point where Mob decides to just take him out with force.

We do get a big fight scene but not with Mob this time. Mob’s determined to just go in with peace. It is of course an interesting angle but I admit that in this case I didn’t want that. The setup was already so masterful with setting up the stage and how everything was so ominous. So you were ready for the big fight which would be extra personal if the leader really was Dimple as opposed to some random guy at the top of the tree.

The possibilities were all just really great. So yeah I wanted a little more than that. Hanazawa had an excellent intro in this arc though as he stormed in to take the villain down. I liked that he didn’t hesitate at all and just dashed in. A lot of times when someone notices a villain around you get some build up and then maybe in an episode or two he makes it, but here he just zoomed over immediately and got into a big fight. That was great.

The climax does have a big fight involving the tree though so I was glad about that. It did save the climax for me because that fight was spectacular. It also led to a really emotional way to end the arc. One character got himself into a rather sticky situation by holding back for so long though. If he hadn’t done that then the climax fight would have been a whole lot easier. Sometimes you can’t afford to be too nice or things definitely get a little tricky.

After that we get into the only weak part of the season. The kids decide to go on a field trip into space to meet some aliens. It’s an emotional story or at least that’s what they’re going for but it was just a bit boring if anything. This is more about character development but it’s focused on side characters that you don’t really care about. Tome is nice and all but she’s never been a huge character in the series and really just gets overshadowed the whole time.

The rest of the club just aren’t very likable. I guess the guy who has actual telepathy was a little better at least. Having actual psychic abilities is always a really big deal and sets him apart from the rest of the characters. I just would have made the aliens evil or something to spice things up. The arc may not have been as original if it did that but it could have been cooler. This one just feels like filler the whole time but without any really fun character moments or at least humor to get you through.

Fortunately after that we’re right back on track with the big climax to the series. Mob has decided to finally confess to Tsubomi because she is moving away and this is effectively his only chance. The tricky part is that the whole school wants to confess to her. He knew that she was a really popular girl but even he probably underestimated just how popular she was. There’s no way to break through the crowds of people and he doesn’t want to be forgotten so he calls her up to have an official meeting place. Now nothing will stop him from meeting up with her and confessing his feelings. Whether it be a tornado or the entire cast of the series going up against him, he will crush them all!

The final arc really lets you get to see pretty much the entire cast one last time so that was cool. There’s also a whole lot of fights here as everyone gives it their all so that was nice. This feels like a final arc in every way whether it be tying things to the beginning by having Tsubomi return or just having everyone basically give their goodbyes during combat. It’s a nice blend of emotional moments and big fights here even if you know that most of them just do not stand even a small chance at victory.

Now I do have a small issue at the trigger to the arc. Lets just say that it involves Mob getting hit by a car/truck and no matter how distracted he is, I don’t see this playing out the way that he did. Psychic abilities are always such a great barrier to have and when we’ve seen him getting thrown through cities and everything is just feels a bit weird to see something like this lay him out. Of course it was a fantastic cliffhanger to end an episode with and the sound of the lights changing worked really well.

The show does know how to land the emotional moments. As expected the animation here is definitely top tier. The fight at the end of the tree arc is the single best looking fight in the season and you can tell a ton of budget went into that. It’s almost like a big sci-fi Gundam fight with all of the lights shooting out everywhere. We also see some really great durability feats and you can feel the increasing amount of despair and dread as the enemies just won’t let up. The rest of the season also has consistently great visuals for the psychic abilities being thrown around.

The soundtrack doesn’t stand out as much as in season 2 but it’s still a well rounded blend of songs. The opening hasn’t grown on me yet but the ost within the episodes is good. The production values here were definitely on point.

As for the characters, Mob is a solid lead as always. He has definitely learned to voice his feelings a lot more than he used to be able to. He may not be talking up a storm like Reigen or anything like that but he’s not super quiet anymore. He’s even able to help talk other characters through their issues a bit which would have been unheard of back in the day. Perhaps he also needs to learn to draw a limit to when the time for talk is over a little more but it’s still a positive trend for him. His abilities are also still easily the strongest in the verse and it’s one of the reasons why the season isn’t trying to introduce a villain who is stronger at this point. It would be a little hard to buy at this point.

Then Reigen is a great character as always. He still loves to swindle people as much as possible for big money but he always gives Mob a fair shake. They have a great dynamic and he’s someone that Mob can trust when the chips are down. Reigen gets a big role as always and he is pivotal in the climax. He tends to be the comedic highlight of the show and he still is, but he really does well in the serious moments as well. It’s why he is just such a great character.

Hanazawa is also someone who has exceled throughout the series and it’s no different here. He’s the first one to go up against the tree and he also moves in quickly in the final arc. He may tend to be outmatched against some of these villains but he is always training and increasing his abilities. Apparently he made a huge jump in power since the last time we saw him and that’s really impressive. I would love to see a spinoff about him and what he was doing in the meantime. Ultimately he has become the ultimate defender of the planet and does his best to save everyone at all times. You have to respect that and he doesn’t have to worry about holding back or anything like that. He’s just around when you need him.

Ritsu also gets his moments to help out and be supportive here as well. He hasn’t really trained his psychic abilities as much since he mainly wants to lead a normal life but you figure as Mob’s brother he will always have a good amount of power at his disposal if he can unlock it. The anime handles this really cleverly when he appears with a bit of a subversion on what’s happening. That was probably Ritsu’s best moment in the entire series. So he ended on a good note.

Unfortunately I have to say that Dimple could not copy this. He actually went way down for me in this arc. Ultimately I thought he made the wrong decisions here and his reasoning for them was even worse. It’s just hard to overlook what he does here even if he has second thoughts later on. He is strong for sure and I was glad that he got a big role to wrap up his character arc but I have to say that it was a lot different than what I was expecting but not really in a good way. He does get some really good moments here but they just weren’t enough to fully redeem him.

Serizawa’s role here is really small and I’d say that’s due in part to just how the show is going about this. If this season was going all in on the action with some final big threats then I think his role would have been big since he is still rather powerful. Since it was more of an emotional journey though, there just wasn’t much room for him. It’s not like he has known the rest of the cast for very long so there weren’t any opportunities for big speeches and moments for him.

Tome at least got her big role for the 2 episode mini arc but that wasn’t really my favorite part of the series as you saw above so it’s a mixed thing. Tome also felt a little petty with making decisions for everyone by herself. By the end she’s okay but she always was overshadowed by other characters. Mezato gets even less to do here and really just makes an appearance to round up the cast. Goda is fun as always. I feel like the body improvement club gets a moment in every season where they come in to help.

They always get absolutely destroyed but they never give up regardless. That’s what I like about them and they are the best friends a guy could ask for. Tsubomi’s role isn’t all that big. In a sense you can say that the events are happening because of her so the role is big in that sense but her screen time isn’t massive. I still like her as a fun heroine though. She’s very unique with her portrayal and it works really well. She isn’t afraid to reject any suitor who comes her way and she has a whole lot of determination. She is the only one who doesn’t fall for the tree’s traps

This was also established in a previous season when she interrogated Reigen. Tsubomi makes up her own mind and doesn’t let anyone try and trick her. So Mob knows that she will give him a straight answer to his confession. Honesty is the best policy and she is cool with giving a very direct answer at any time. She also keeps her promises even when it’s tough like staying on her bench through a full tornado.

Suzuki gets to appear briefly here which was nice since he was one of the most powerful villains in season 2. He’s definitely still got a lot of power but of course he used all of his reserves in the last season so his abilities took a huge hit in this season. It explains why he doesn’t look quite as impressive here since there’s no way he could already regain 40 years so soon. His son Sho also gets to help out though and it’s nice to see them team up. Ultimately they can’t do much more than just delay the inevitable but every minute helps in this kind of thing.

Finally for the two big villains of the arc, the Divine Tree was actually a really good villain. He has a lot of presence throughout and incredible abilities. Against most opponents the Tree would just be way too much to stop. He’s incredibly impressive and his goal is simple but effective. I was impressed at least since I wouldn’t say that my expectations were super high initially.

Then you’ve got the final boss. I’ll call him “Dark” for now. Dark is an interesting figure and he’s powerful as well as good at the mind games. I thought the show handled his introduction well. I can see how he would effectively be born out of the circumstances because things were rough for him for a while there. From his point of view you also see why he wants to be free. Yeah he’s definitely a villain so you don’t lose sight of that but they do a good job of making him a sympathetic kind of villain. As the final boss he made a lot of sense even if again I would have liked some more action there.

The season definitely goes by really quickly. I suppose that’s what 12 episodes will do to you but it’s also because the writing is so good. Yes I would have liked some more action in here since with these powerful fighters you could really have a lot of great visuals. We even got a glimpse of this with the big Divine Tree fight after all. So don’t go in expecting a ton of action but the show still holds its own with the writing.

Overall, I’d be able to recommend Mob Psycho III to anyone. It’s a great show that completes Mob’s big character arc. He’s really grown up now and is a very changed person from how he started. At its core this series was always going to be about his development and it works well. With a solid supporting cast the show was always going to be a really solid one. Of course I’d be down with a big sequel series one of these days. Who knows, maybe that’s coming at some point.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard will+Dress Review


Cardfight’s dress series is easily one of the greatest success stories in all of anime. It went from being a show that was barely treading water and a few more iffy moments away from being a flat out bad show to going all the way to elite now. It’s absolutely in the conversation with How I Became Reincarnated as a Slime and Mob Psycho as the biggest improvements for a TV show. This one continues to excel the series up to new heights to the point where it can now compete with the top Vanguard seasons although the short length does hold it back somewhat.

The show starts off with a new girl named Urara showing up. She is brand new to the game of Vanguard but thought that it looked rather cool and Yu-Yu shows her the ropes. Before anyone has a chance to catch their breath, a mysterious guy named Zinki shows up and announces that he is hosting a big tournament. This will determine who are more powerful. The professional duelists or the ones who duel off the record like Yu-Yu’s group. There is even a name for these duelists, “Counter Fighters” and professional fighters are known as “Front Fighters”. Yu-Yu and the gang are always up for some fun duels so they accept the invitations but is this really a friendly competition or is there something more going on behind the scenes? It’s really hard to know for sure. Specifically the heroes invited from Team Blackout are Yu-Yu, Tohya, Megumi, Zakusa, and Tomari. Other fighters involved are Mirei and Haruka as well as the new girl Urara. Naturally there will be new fighters here as well like Taizo, Michiru, and Raika. Can Yu-Yu take all these guys down for the count?

One of the big draws of this season is that the entire thing is a tournament. There are no breaks, slice of life eps, or things to distract from the duels. Instead you have a whole lot of fighters all doing their best to rise to the top and prove that they have what it takes. A tournament is always a fantastic idea to try and get your show to the next level and this one definitely pulled it off. The rules were also fun as it was not your standard single elimination tournament. Instead you play in a type of round robin that continues until you have enough wins to move on. The only downside is that a ton of fights had to be off screen since this season is only 13 episodes. If you remove the first episode which takes place before the tournament then you only have 12 episodes to get through a massive tournament. Round robin style is way longer than single elimination after all so you can see how this would be a big one.

So it is regrettable that so many battles were off screen. If they had made this show 24 episodes instead then it would have really gotten a nice boost even more than what it already got. The only advantage I can think of to the show being so short is that you know each on screen duel is massive so you really get to see how things go. Unfortunately that also means the victor is obvious almost every time but you still have to try and savor the battle for your character even if it may be the only one that he or she gets in the season.

Naturally the animation is really sharp here. The visuals are really good at all times and it helps to make sure that the anime is operating on a high level at all times. A great duel will be even more fun when the animation is stunning after all. They go all out with a lot of the battles here and everything is very streamlined. The character designs are memorable and everyone has a nice color scheme that stands out from the pack so they’re all unique. The soundtrack is also an area where this season really stands out.

Each character has their own theme that plays when they are about to win the duel. Yu-Yu is stuck with his old theme so it is easily the weakest one but everyone else has themes that really pop out while they are dueling. The one that stands out the most by far has to be Raika’s though. His Youthberk song really throws a lot of intensity into the moment and you really can’t count him out. This song plays early on in the season in his first duel against Yu-Yu and I’ve had to listen to that song many times after that. It was a powerful way to kick things off.

There was also a very solid lyrical song that played during the first episode when Zinki recruited the heroes and it helped to set the stage. At the end of the day what the series was lacking was a very dramatic tone and atmosphere that I had come to expect from earlier seasons. Season two of the dress series had some fantastic duels and a great climax but any time the characters weren’t dueling it was not nearly as hype. This season fixed that right off the bat with such high stakes. Then there was another great song that played to signal the end of the round robin portion of the tournament. We got to see each fighter get eliminated and what an emotional moment that was for them. Definitely stuff we hadn’t really seen before.

Yu-Yu is a solid main character here. He’s still a bit timid for my liking but he has slowly started to be a bit bolder. At the very least if someone is trash talking he will respond. His resolve is questioned once again but this time Yu-Yu doesn’t take it quite as hard as he once did. He is still shaken up though and I hope by next season that things like this won’t phase him anymore. He’s been through a lot so I want to see Yu-Yu embrace that more. You also can’t help but feel like his skills aren’t as good as some of the other fighters here despite winning a lot. In general he’s still got a ways to go but at least has made strides in his development. His current outfit is also many miles better than the original one so it’s great to see him getting the clothes upgrade here.

As always Tohya is the best character here but he doesn’t get a ton to do this time. We know that he was cruising through the tournament but most of his duels are off screen which is a shame. He’s a character who got a massive amount of character development over the past two seasons and has retained all of it. It’s always a pleasure to see him and of course he is still one of the strongest characters in the series. He fights with a lot of passion and ferocity. I look forward to him hopefully having a bigger role next season.

Then there’s Megumi who may have been the main heroine for a while but in this season she is mainly replaced by Urara. It’s pretty tough for her the whole time because it does seem like she has hit a bit of a wall. She’s a very good duelist but has been unable to catch up to Danji and has been left behind by Yu-Yu. I could see her getting some kind of a bigger character development arc out of this down the road though. She’s a fun fighter and I expect to see more from her as well.

I’m still not really a big fan of Zakusa though. I get that he can be tough when he wants to be but it’s never really convincing since he is comic relief all the time. If he was serious more often then that would really help big time. As it stands he just isn’t strong enough to pull this off. Then there is Tomari who is a fun character and does her best to help out as well. She is a decent duelist as well and certainly talks tough but feels even more doomed than Megumi most of the time. She would really need a new deck to go much further.

Masanori gets a minor role here as a villain in the shadows but the guy has already overstayed his welcome. It’s no longer possible to take him seriously so I hope Zinki holds onto the master villain role instead of sharing it with Masanori. Zinki is already way more interesting than that guy and he hasn’t really gotten to do much of anything yet. You at least know that he’s powerful and can hold his own in a fight though. That’s the kind of villain you want to have overseeing everything.

Danji surprisingly misses out on the whole thing. The show missed an easy opportunity for a massive upset by having him get taken down by the new villains. I suppose this way he keeps his hype for the next season as one of the strongest duelists though. Mirei and Haruka return but it’s safe to say that the power creep has gone right past them as they don’t look very dominant or imposing in this round. They really just get destroyed in most of the rounds although at least Mirei lasted long enough to make it to the last stage. Honestly she should have been more dominant and crushed Urara if you ask me. Her skills were just so good in the last season. She had bad luck in the seeding with fighting Raika so early on though.

Urara is a fun character even if I think her skills were overhyped. She tries her best and learns quickly so she gets to be on the level of the pros almost immediately but it feels like it should take a little longer to get quite so high up. She’s probably a little too sensitive with her empathic abilities since just seeing others play while being upset can mess her up a bit though. She even gets a bit sensitive while dueling if she is taken out of the zone. I expect her to improve on all of this and ultimately be a tough fighter who can really rise up the ranks of Team Blackout. So as a rookie she has come quite far but is still under some of the more senior members for me.

From the 3 big fighters introduced the first would be Taizo. He seems to be a step below the other two but is still great at what he does. He’s a top ranking pro and he has put everything on the line in order to win this tournament. If he loses then he may have to become rich and take over a company instead while feeling unfulfilled so he can’t let that happen. He takes things a lot less personally than the rest of the duelists and just likes to have a good time so I can really respect him there. It’s nice to see someone who is just embracing the game. Of course Taizo is taking is very seriously and trying to win but he’s not being a jerk about it.

Then you have Raika who in many ways is the biggest character here. He looks up to Michiru who is generally considered to be the strongest player out there but is trying to gain ground quickly. Raika believes that winning is everything and you shouldn’t have fun when you lose. It’s a classic character type that we’ve seen before but he can be a bit whiny at times. In fact I’d say that he whines a whole lot. He works well as a villain but it will take me a while to really get used to the guy as a likable character.

His best episode was easily during the fight against Tohya which is naturally a big highlight of the season in general. Tohya is really the only one who can really understand Raika the whole time and so they actually have a pretty good discussion about their way of battling and winning. Of course Raika isn’t able to hold his end of the conversation quite as well so it’s almost like Tohya is talking to a wall half the time. I can’t deny Raika’s skills though, he is a top duelist and that’s why he does work well as a really imposing villain. He’s also got the best theme in the whole show so he’s a lot of fun to see duel but I’d like him to be a little more confident without the whining.

Finally we have Michiru but he’s actually not as impressive as his reputation. Here’s what it boils down to for me. He’s supposed to be the best and all but he’s more of the quiet type of character. He really likes to analyze the plays and try to console the opponent but he doesn’t have any loud confidence. You always feel like he is doomed to be defeated as the tournament goes on and there’s nothing super interesting about his fighting style. I think what we needed was another duel or two for him to really help and flesh out his character. Especially with it appearing that he will miss most of season 3, he didn’t get to do a whole lot. I think he had potential but is just overwhelming as the big power-house.

There are other fighters in the tournament of course but for the most part they are busy getting absolutely destroyed off screen and don’t really get to do anything. Again, that’s the only rough part about the season being so short. Particularly when you’re going for a tournament plot since usually you need a whole lot more episodes for something like that. Still, I couldn’t walk away from the show feeling anything other than a whole lot of satisfaction. For me the show was elite even with the 13 episodes. It all goes by super quickly after all and the fights were absolutely spectacular.

This tournament was a real shot to the arm for the series and gave it the boost that it needed. If the next season can keep up the momentum then it should be really clear sailing from here on out. It’ll be tough to surpass this season without another tournament of course but at least the way the show ends we are continuing that to an extent. I’m actually not positive on exactly what the rules are going forward since it all seems a bit vague but I’m eager for more duels and in theory the opponents will be even more fierce now.

Overall, Cardfight Will + Dress is a fantastic show and the best yet in this part of the series. I would highly recommend checking this one out even if you aren’t familiar with the series. The whole point of this season is just to get the best of the best so that they can all compete. Is it perhaps a little too soon? Maybe, since we don’t have a massive cast yet, but it’s also a good way to kick things into high gear right away. You’ll be satisfied with how things play out and while some matches you will probably feel could be overturned, each battle just has so much energy. This season is a thrill a minute and that’s the kind of thing you always want to see. I can also say for once that the season is great in all areas as opposed to Tohya having to carry it through the tough times. It’s going to be a long wait until the next season.

Overall 9/10

Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night Review


Sword Art Online is a master class of how to write a great main character, heroine, romance, story, and then balance that with top tier animation, fight scenes, and soundtrack. It’s why the first arc of climbing Aincrad is always considered to be one of the top arcs of all time by me. It just has everything you could want in a story so a movie retelling the events but in an alternate route where Asuna is the main character was a great idea. Similar to Fate it’s basically going to show how making a single choice can take you onto a whole different route and I’m here from it. (I mean it’s a little different since in Fate everything is exactly the same up to the decision while here things are a bit different but it’s close enough) I would definitely recommend this film to anyone looking for an excellent time.

The movie starts out by introducing us to Asuna who is a straight A student who excels in all students. It’s still hard to please her mother though who wants Asuna to keep excelling and doesn’t give her any real praise for this. Asuna’s only time to have fun is when she hangs out with Misumi who is the top student in the whole school but is a professional gamer on the side. Asuna wishes she could balance her time out like that and one day decides to make an impulsive decision of her own and borrows her brother’s nerve gear to play the new Sword Art Online game on its launch day. She meets up with Misumi but then she quickly finds out that there is no log out button.

It turns out that this whole game was an elaborate MMO trap. Every gamer who is in here cannot leave now and if someone tries to take off their virtual reality helmet from the real world then the player will die. The only way to get out of this game is to complete all 100 floors but as any MMO player will tell you, completing these games takes years and years. It’s nearly impossible to get through and you can’t speed run it. There are no revives either.

If you die in the game then you die in real life.

You have to let that sink in for a bit. Asuna was never much of a gamer but her friend Misumi is really good so perhaps the two of them will be able to clear this game. Their bond will be tested in this death game. Of course everyone’s favorite hero Kirito is around as always but this time it isn’t his story to tell, but Asuna’s. As you can probably guess this film can’t cover the entire 100 floor epic so you have to try and guess how far it’ll go and what the ending will be. With this new character, Misumi, in the equation you also don’t know how far the arc will diverge or if it’ll still play out the same.

Don’t worry though, we don’t have a “Chris in Sonic X” scenario here. Misumi isn’t around to steal scenes from other characters and instead she adds extra context and depth to Asuna’s character. I thought the movie did a great job of incorporating her character into the story in a very natural way. It’s part of why I’d like to see them adapt some of the video games at some point where all of the heroines from every future arc also get warped to Aincrad with Kirito and Asuna for the first time but it’s probably a very tough thing to adapt without it feeling forced. Throwing in one character is a lot easier.

Part of the appeal of Sword Art Online is just how cool it would be to be in this scenario. Who wouldn’t want to be warped in there with such high stakes? Personally I would love it and I think that’s why the isekai genre is so big. Living in a fantasy world like this where you have to fight to survive just sounds amazing. Of course you can die but deep down everyone figures they would be able to survive. I’m confident enough in my gaming skills to figure I’d do really well here and Sword Art Online handles the fantasy world angle way better than any other series.

As to the film though, we can go over the technical aspects first which are top tier as you would expect. The animation is really sharp and full on movie quality from start to finish. The show has already always looked good right from the start and the movie takes things up a notch. The fights are all very streamlined and the colors stand out. Then the soundtrack is also top tier with a lot of operatic themes going on the whole time. It helps make the adventure feel even more grand and it’s why music can always enhance a great film to be even greater.

As the main character Asuna is a very fun character. Initially she starts out as a rookie who is eager to learn but eventually it really becomes a matter of life or death. When given the option of fight or flight, she chooses to fight. She really works hard to keep on fighting at the top of her game even if it means putting her life on the line constantly. Asuna pretty much starts to use her cool and reason as she fights over and over again but she gets big props for always fighting.

Asuna is willing to take the high road and help out those who aren’t the best of characters and has more of a conscience than some of the others. She really still thinks of this as real life and acts appropriately. We also see a glimpse of her leadership qualities even if it doesn’t seem like she will be going that route this time. Asuna is a well balanced fighter and a quick learner and that makes sense since she was shown to be athletic and very knowledgeable. The intro scenes in the real world do a good job of establishing her character that way. She grew up with a very strict family but never shows any resentment about this. She certainly gets a little upset and discouraged at times since she is trying her best with no recognition of this but that just inspires her to keep on trying harder.

I also thought some of the mistakes she makes when starting her first VR game made a lot of sense. I could absolutely picture someone using their real name and image when setting up an avatar if they didn’t know any better. It’s all written well so these are rookie mistakes are opposed to them making her exaggerated in what she doesn’t know about the game. Even not understanding the menus to see someone’s name makes sense because sometimes I’ll be watching a Call of Duty stream and the menu is so cluttered with all kinds of stuff on the screen that I wouldn’t know what I was looking at. SAO does seem to have a cluttered screen so even if it seems obvious to see the name, I could see you missing it.

Kirito may not be the lead but he still gets a good amount of screen time here. He is a pivotal character in Asuna’s journey after all. He’s the classic loner who acts cold and aloof but is always the first to run in and help when things get tough. He’s the only one who tried to help the party leader when the guy got greedy for the kill bonus and of course he found Asuna and prevented her from meeting death early on. Kirito is just a great guy and he is very game savvy while also being good at reading people. So he foils the first attempt by Laughing Coffin to disrupt the player base and basically puts everything on his shoulders. Kirito is still the genius that we all know him of and the only difference is that he’s doing this in the background now. He takes more of a main character spot for the second half of the film though and that should continue into the sequel.

Then we have the new character, Misumi. In a way she serves as a role model to the person Asuna wants to be. Misumi is top of her class but still finds time to just have fun and do whatever she wants. While Asuna is burdened by social responsibilities, Misumi has none of that. At school Asuna is way more popular but Misumi doesn’t care about those kinds of things and just has fun her way. She’s a true free spirit and the two of them make sense as best friends.

Ultimately Misumi does make one crucial decision though which will be a big determining factor on if you like her a lot. She reminds me of the main character in The Mist in how she gives up a little too soon. When you have to make a crucial decision you really need to make the right move. When you’re in a situation of life and death you really see a person’s true colors and they won’t always turn out to be bright. So for me Misumi made a big mistake like Madoka’s Mami and that keeps her from being a top quality character.

You’ll still enjoy all of her scenes prior to that but it does leave her in a very tricky spot. It’ll take a whole lot for her to really rebound from that. I still respect her abilities though and it’s clear that she is one of the strongest players. She has a great dynamic with Asuna too and I’d like to see her interact with Kirito. I think there could be a fun rivalry dynamic there too. You could really have the 3 adventuring like a trio and then slowly continue to redeem her character. Misumi has a fun personality and is nice to have around so given enough time she could really rise up high in the ranks. Honestly I already like her more than virtually every arc 1 character so it’s not like she’s very low in the ranks. If she can get enough good scenes then we can start the conversation of her against characters like Yuuki and Alice but those are high bars to clear.

Now while the film is amazing all the way through it still does have minor issues. Mainly one would be that it still does indulge in some fanservice. We get the clichéd bath scene because SAO can’t seem to ever get away from that. Sometimes there will be a drawn out camera angle or some tricky visual choices but at least on the whole it’s nothing crazy. It never gets to Gun Gale levels of the camera being obnoxious or anything like that. It’s nothing drastic enough to hurt the film or anything and honestly SAO has been really good about this in the films compared to the show but it would still be nice if we could bypass that and then the film would be really close to perfect.

If I’m nitpicking a bit here as well, the world feels a little too empty at this point on the story. There is only one floor unlocked in the game right now so the roughly 8000 players left after the first 2000 died are all here. You feel like every area should be swarming with people after a while, especially the meeting place in the main town. I understand from an animation perspective it’s better not to be so cluttered but it’s something you’ll be thinking about the whole time. Beyond that I thought all of the mechanics and aspects of being in the game were really thought out though. Even the small things like stocking up on potions before a boss is addressed which is important. I would absolutely be doing that before any boss especially when you’ll die if you lose.

Overall, The film does a great job of introducing you to the world of Sword Art Online. Whether you’ve seen the series before or not the film is very accessible. You feel like they will have to cover more ground soon since you couldn’t take 100 films to finish the story. The first floor is important as an introduction to the characters though so I think it was the right move to spend the whole movie on it. After this you could probably do more like 10-15 floors per movie as not every floor is important. It would be fun to see all 100 bosses but you don’t absolutely need to have that. Still, if they want to drag this out as long as possible I’m game for that because this will always be the best arc in the franchise. I definitely recommend checking this out.

Overall 9/10

One Piece – Defeat Him! The Pirate Ganzack Review


It’s time to jump far into the past with this one for a retro One Piece adventure. It’s a full original story with just the first 3 Strawhats so that’s pretty fun. The team has grown a lot over the years but there’s still something special about seeing the first crewmates team up to take a villain down. The special goes by very quickly but makes the most of its roughly 30 minutes. We get some good action here and Luffy gets one step closer to being the King of the Pirates!

The story starts with Luffy and the crew chilling on a boat when they are attacked by a giant monster. Unfortunately they are at sea so Luffy isn’t able to fight once he hits the water and this prevents Zoro from claiming the easy victory because he has to save Luffy. So Nami is kidnapped and eventually Luffy finds himself on a mysterious island. He saves a girl named Medaka from two pirates and finds out from her that the pirate known as Ganzack has taken down the whole village. They no longer have enough food to survive and need someone to save them. Luffy may not be a traditional hero but he likes his food so he is ready to help.

Ganzack actually does rather well as the villain here. For starters he actually takes down Luffy twice which is likely way more than anyone was expecting here. He just takes him down like it’s nothing and you may expect that once, but twice? Granted Luffy was much weaker back then but it’s still fairly unheard of to be taken out like that. Ganzack also talks about being the King of the Pirates several times which helps to really establish him as a big threat. He’s not someone who’s just playing around here but trying to accomplish his dreams.

There isn’t much more to his character beyond this but it’s enough to still make him a solid villain. I liked his fighting style with the little crab arms. It wasn’t something that you’d quickly forget. I dare say Zoro would have had a tougher time beating him though. This was early enough in the series where you could make the case that Zoro was stronger than Luffy. Some would say Luffy didn’t truly pass Zoro until he obtained Gear 2 but it would be a fun debate either way.

Regardless Zoro definitely looks great here though. He commands a lot of attention as the pirate hunter and pretty much takes down the whole army on his own. He didn’t need any help and he didn’t take any Ls. He was just around dominating the whole time with his 3 sword style. Meanwhile Nami is surviving as bet she can with a little trickery and it makes sense as a strategy. When you can fool the villain really easy then you may as well do that right? Luffy and Zoro should still have enough confidence in her not to think that she has actually turned evil or anything like that. I’m cool with the plan because it didn’t seem super risky and it’s not like she had to do anything villainous in order to gain Ganzack’s trust. So it worked out pretty well.

Meanwhile this is probably not Luffy’s best appearance since he was getting wrecked so often but I guess we can chalk it up to him being overconfident. By the end he was ready to make his comeback and start winning. It just took him some time to really get settled. Luffy gets credit for not backing down from a fight although that’s the bare minimum for any good lead.

It’s definitely interesting seeing One Piece with such a different animation style. It feels extra retro and not having the same sound effects when Luffy does his attacks will take a little getting used to. Still, I think this group could have done a fine job with the series. I liked the speed showings they gave to the characters and the action scenes are on point. I wouldn’t call this high budget but it has aged well enough so it works on that level. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side for the most part. There are a few scenes where it feels like the music is about to pick up but then the scene ends real quick before that can happen.

The special is really short as I mentioned but it does work well. You’ll be engaged from start to finish and it’s really just a chance to see the characters get to fight some villains. It would have been nice if Ganzack had a right hand man or something so Zoro could fight him instead of the normal minions though. That would have helped make the film even cooler but this way at least they had Zoro taking on the whole army.

The original character here was also not bad. Medaka may just be a kid who wants to help her town but she doesn’t get in the way and actually saves Luffy twice. Once directly and the other indirectly by triggering his rage mode. So she really did a good job here and was likable which isn’t always easy for the heroes made up for the movies and specials. In general the writing here was on point which really goes a long way to making this a solid special.

Overall, If you’re looking for more One Piece content then this is a special you will want to check out. Ganzack makes for a memorable villain and there is a lot of action here so that’s all you really need. There is never a dull moment here and everyone gets something to do. It’s too bad they don’t make short specials like this quite as much nowadays. Personally with how One Piece sells I’d be trying to generate one of these every year. I’m sure the profits would be enough to cover the expenses each time. Maybe have a dedicated company that would handle these so it doesn’t impact the show.

Overall 7/10

Pandora Hearts Review


It’s time to experience the world of Pandora Hearts. It was always a very unique title with a whole lot of fantasy and adventure but at times it would get so convoluted that the story couldn’t really move forward. The anime finishes rather early into the series or at least it felt early. It was nostalgic to see the old characters again. I’d still say that it doesn’t end up being one of the stronger titles out there but at the end of the day I’d still call it a good show.

The series follows a kid named Oz who has had a really rough time of things. He is in line to be the King eventually but his father barely ever talks to him. He seems to dislike Oz on a personal level for some reason and no matter what Oz has done, he just never seems to be good enough. As a result Oz seems chronically depressed even if he always forces a smile on his face. One day during a ceremony a group of villains known as the Baskervilles appear and attempt to murder Oz. He ends up falling into the Abyss where he makes a contract with a chain known as Alice. This allows him to return to life rather than being stuck in purgatory but 10 years have passed. There is a lot of mystery about what happened on the fateful day that caused Oz to disappear. Why did his father seem to be in league with the villains and why does Alice have no memories anymore? All of the mysteries appear to converge around Oz’s lineage and so together with his childhood friend Gilbert, he seeks out the answers to these questions.

In a way you could say that the series is part mystery. A lot of characters know much more than they let on but they are always rather dodgy with their answers. Good luck getting a straight answer out of anybody. Everyone here appears to be shady so Oz can’t really trust anyone, not even his best friends. So this also causes him to be even more alone but at the same time part of the theme in the show is about trying to trust people again which is something Oz and Alice both have trouble with.

The show balances out the more serious moments with a lot of humor. The characters will get drunk and run around and we get a decent amount of slapstick humor. Alice certainly enjoys beating people up if they don’t listen to her and there are a lot of antic around. I’d say that the humor lands well and in some ways it even feels a bit nostalgic like an older humor style. While the cast may not be the strongest overall, they all have good dynamics with each other which makes for a lot of good banter.

Another thing the show does well is the soundtrack. It’s got a very grand feel to it like Sword Art Online. There are quite a few operatic themes in here and so it just sounds great on all accounts. It’s definitely a very good strength of the show. Meanwhile the animation is also pretty solid. I wouldn’t say it’s anything amazing but it’s consistent and the fights are on point. I wouldn’t call this an action show even though there are some fight scenes so it’s more about just making sure that the visuals are on point and the show does well there.

One thing the series does not do well is to convince us that Alice (AKA B Rabbit) is one of the strongest Chains out there. So in the Abyss there are a bunch of chains which are effectively monsters. Alice is so advanced that she has a human form and interacts just like a normal person. Everyone is always afraid of her because she basically rules the Abyss. Think of her like Godzilla on Monster Island. He is the unquestioned King. Well, you would expect her to be extremely powerful then and yet she loses so many fights.

There is always an excuse of course like she’s low on energy or Oz isn’t controlling her properly but these are things you would expect her to fight past. If she really is the best then what’s the problem with having a little handicap right? Much like Saber in Fate, I didn’t think Alice actually lived up to the hype. She’s a great character but the power levels in the show just felt a little screwy because of this. If anything Xerxes seemed to have a more useful ability at times since Alice is more about brute force and doesn’t have any hax type powers.

I’d say the other weak point of the show is the actual mystery. Keep in mind that a big chunk of the series is about “The Tragedy Sablier” and you’ll probably hear this phrase at least once an episode. It’s a really big thing and so we get flashbacks and everything but often times you’re more interested in the present. It’s because they really drip feed you things that are happening in the past so after a point you want them to just show you the whole thing or keep it moving. The show is often at its best in the present with the characters having a good time and getting past their personal issues. Each of the main characters have some kind of trauma that they have to get past so focusing on that works really well.

You’ll notice that there are quite a lot of really sad scenes in the show and the OST has a good amount of emotional tracks to reflect that. These scenes are always executed well and you could probably keep the mystery element to a smaller focus and the show would really be able to just focus on the present instead. The lowest point of the show is during one of Alice’s flashbacks where she deals with the other Alice and things get a little rough for one of the cats. One guy even loses an eye in the process. Xerxes and Alice went through a lot back then, that’s for sure.

Now as to the characters, as mentioned earlier Oz is a really good character. For starters I like that he doesn’t feel bad for himself. He’s been through a lot but always puts that big smile on his face so that nobody will worry about him. It works with most of the characters at least. People all handle sadness differently but in general the ones who put on a brave smile and try to keep going always tend to make for the best characters. Then you have characters like Gilbert and Alice who can see through this but they are rare for sure. Oz is always ready to stand up for his friends as well.

He’s definitely not a fighter but will pick up a sword so he can defend his allies and is also not quick to trust others. He’ll say all the right things but always keeps his eyes open and that’s a really smart thing to do. Then we have Alice and while I had the power level issues, I do like her a lot as a character. She’s one of those characters who may have a difficult time speaking her mind without putting in some tough talk but is very attentive. So she’ll notice if something is up right away even if the other characters don’t realize it. Oz would have been in a tough spot without her. I’d argue that she had an even tougher backstory than Oz with everything she had to go through in the Abyss, not even knowing if she would ever get out. That has to be an absolutely frightening prospect. Even if you are the strongest in that realm, being immortal and knowing there is no end in sight while also losing your memories is a raw deal.

Gilbert is Oz’s best friend but the whole thing is a bit awkward for him since he aged 10 years while Oz hasn’t changed at all. Additionally they didn’t part in the best of ways with how the incident went down. Oz is naturally glad just to be back together though and Gilbert is able to warm up and go back to the way he used to be even if it does take some time. It also can’t be quite the same way it used to be now that he’s older. He tends to fight with Alice a lot which makes for some fun scenes. Gilbert also had to make some concessions during these 10 years including leaving the service of Oz’s family for the Nightrays. I was glad that Oz took this in stride because it was a reasonable move. Gilbert needed to get more power and this was the way to do it.

In comparison Oz’s uncle Oscar is not quite as interesting. He didn’t do a ton during these last 10 years and while he is one of the only characters that Oz can really trust, he doesn’t know a lot of the answers that the other characters have. They basically kept him out of the loop so he is rarely all that helpful. He’s a nice guy and all so he’s not bad but you just wish he would be able to contribute a lot more than what he does in the show.

Oz’s sister Ada also gets a decent role here. Naturally the situation is tough on her as well since she was Oz’s younger sister but now she’s so much older. It’s gotta be tough to adapt to that. She’s not really a fighter but she is always ready to help out and stand by Oz’s side which is important. He needs a strong cast around him to make sure he doesn’t break under the strain of everything going on.

Sharon’s got a much bigger role here. She rules over Xerxes as a very mysterious third party. She’s someone who seems to know a whole lot about the tragedy, the abyss, and the Baskervilles so as you can probably guess she rarely ever tells Oz what he wants to know. It’s not that she knows everything, there is plenty that she doesn’t know but the fact that she won’t say what she does understand is why you can’t trust her. I found her and Xerxes to be two of the most suspicious characters in the show.

They can be very helpful and they get a lot of comic relief scenes but that’s not enough to consider them as allies for sure. One of the benefits of this style is that even villains can get comedic moments to try and hide their true evil. It’s an effective ploy in a mystery like this because then you really can’t rule them out. Likewise they could not be the main villains but still have goals that are at odds with the heroes. If Sharon is the planner then Xerxes is the muscle.

He is always sent off to do battle or aid the heroes when things get dangerous. He gets a lot of development here and even a bit of an origin story. It’s the kind of series where everyone is hiding something. Xerxes does come in handy a lot and saves Oz’s life on more than one occasion so whatever his true mission is, you know that Oz is still happy to have him in his corner for the time being.

The Baskervilles make for a very interesting villain group. Their objectives are wrapped in vague shadows but they say Oz is a curse and want him back in the Abyss so something is going on there. They seem to have some kind of cause that they believe in and a flashback gives more depth to this. Part of what helps them as a group is that they all seem to have their own character. They aren’t just mindless minions even if you’re unsure of exactly what their end game is. I guess you can add that as another mystery to the pile.

Never out of mysteries, the show gives us another one with the character Jack. He is one of Oz’s predecessors in the family and for reasons unknown his dead spirit can inhabit Oz’s body and take control of him. While Oz is frail and can’t fight all that well, Jack was known as the greatest member to ever be born into the family. He’s strong and commanding, even the villains will always stop and listen to what he has to say. This doesn’t help Oz’s confidence issues but Jack helps out a lot and he’s definitely one of the best characters in the series. He also tends to be cryptic though and would prefer to just vanish for a while than answer Oz’s questions. So again I would not trust this guy but he’s always cool to see even if his role is small so far.

Then there is Vincent who is up front about being a big villain. He mistreats his maid and comes across as a very intense guy. He’s quite cruel and a big change from Gilbert even though they are brothers. While he will listen to a request from Gilbert, he can ignore everyone else and follows his own agenda. Whatever his end goal is, you know that it’s not good. He makes for an interesting villain as he helps to mix things up even further but hasn’t done a ton yet.

Echo is fairly emotionless but it’s still rough to see her working for Vincent. It would be great if she could strike out on her own and just get away to a happier life. Working for that guy is just plain confusing and she seems like a nice enough character. She just happened to be on the wrong side. One character that is only hear to add more questions is a guy named Rufus. He is one of the dukes and a man of great stature but he spends most of his time messing with the heroes or intentionally spoiling someone’s backstory instead of answering the relevant questions. So he’s intentionally annoying to the characters even though he is someone who could also shed some light on things.

Then we have one of the best characters in the show, Elliot. This guy is great. He’s got a solid honor code and is a really stand up guy. He knows how to fight with a sword and has a very traditional mindset where he will do the right thing no matter how hard it is. He may seem out of his depth at first as a normal guy in a world with a lot of craziness but he always holds his own. He has a good skirmish with the Baskervilles and protects Oz. He may not get along with Oz at all really but he doesn’t let this slow down his sense of justice. That’s how you know that he is a real one. Other characters could have been petty about the whole thing. Unfortunately his role is small so you don’t see him much.

His partner Leo is also around but I was never as big a fan of that guy. He can be a little harsh to Elliot and can’t quite quite as well. His banter isn’t as funny as some of the other characters and so ultimately he doesn’t do anything to really enhance the show. Finally we have Oz’s father who is presented as one of the big villains. We still don’t know exactly why he wants to get rid of Oz but you can bet that his role would continue to get bigger as the series went on. Right now there’s no reason to like him as he just feels like a traitor who is on the wrong side.

So there is a lot going on here. Pandora Hearts builds up quite a large world with a lot of rules and mechanics. At times it feels bigger than what the show can possibly adapt as well which ends up being true since it ended early anyway. I still say that focusing on the present would be more fun but I understand that the mystery is a big part of the experience. One advantage the show has over the manga is it’s much easier to tell characters apart. In the manga quite a few of them look so similar that it’s hard to keep them straight while in the anime you can easily tell who is who. Ultimately I look at the show more favorably than I did the manga. It may not be quite good enough to get to the next level and lacks the replay value that some other shows have but I had a good time here from cover to cover and could easily recommend it. It’ll definitely make you engaged in what’s going on or laugh at the funny moments but either way there is something for everyone.

Overall, Watching Pandora Hearts is like reading half of a mystery novel. You’ve got the setup and all of the questions but the show ends before you can actually get the answers. Maybe one day the show will continue but it seems just old enough and the series just not popular enough to get that chance. You can’t rule out anything anymore though so I’ll just hope that it does return. At least because of this the ending does leave things off on a very intriguing note and you can do your best to fill in the blanks on your own unless you read the manga. I’d still recommend checking out the show. The ost is amazing as I said and it makes for an interesting watch. It’s fairly unique too so it’s got that going for it.

Overall 6/10