Digimon Adventure Tri: Determination Review

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It’s time to look at the next Digimon Tri adventure. It’s been quite a while since we saw Alphamon handle Omnimon. Naturally this volume has a little tension between the main cast which is liable to stick around for the duration of the series. This one focuses on Joe and Mimi’s struggles while the others try to just have a good time without worrying about the fate of the planet for a little while.

After Tai held back against Alphamon and caused the heroes to almost be destroyed he has lost his competitive spirit altogether. He doesn’t even want to confront Matt about this since he isn’t even sure how to word his argument. The Digidestined decide to distract themselves by throwing a party at school. Still, ready or not the Digimon aren’t about to wait for the heroes. Ogremon surfaces and the infection rate in the Digimon World is growing rapidly. What was thought to be a natural disease may in fact be all part of a master plan.

As I mentioned Mimi and Joe are the main characters here so let’s talk about them. First we have Mimi. She’s always been very outgoing and while she used to be more fashionable than practical she has also developed a tough personality. That said, she has started to intimidate her classmates who decide to sabotage her school party idea by not participating. Mimi’s teammates also reprimand her for trying to fight off one of the evil Digimon on her own.

For the first issue, I wasn’t a fan of the costume that Mimi wanted to use for the dances and it’s reasonable to assume that not every student would be comfortable wearing it either. We find out that Mimi never asked anyone about wearing it beforehand either so she was a little short sighted there. Of course, the students didn’t have to immediately turn this into a fight so they were being confrontational for no apparent reason. Mimi maybe took it a little harder than she she should have but she did cause that issue.

As for fighting on her own, she definitely made the right call there. The others told her to wait for backup but what about in the meantime? Ogremon wasn’t going to wait and he could have caused a lot of damage on the meantime. Also, backup never even came since the cops stopped the kids before they could get through. The chopper getting hit by the needles was just being careless. Mimi probably should have seen it but I wouldn’t put any blame on her then. If a villain is attacking you definitely don’t have time to wait for backup. That’s when you’ve gotta step up and show why you are a hero. Long story short, Mimi’s obstacle here is that she is very confident and impulsive which are both fine traits and she is certainly doing well.

As for Joe, I can’t say that things are going very well for him. Throughout the film he decides to ignore everyone being in danger so he can keep on studying. There usually isn’t anything wrong with hitting the books but when it comes at the expense of putting your friends in danger then that’s when it has definitely gone too far. He may not like the hand that he was dealt but the fact remains that Joe is one of the only people who can defend the world from the infected. He has to step up to the plate. He finally does by the end which is good since I had enough of his moping. Debatably the worst part is that he knows he is to blame for most of the film but keeps on making the wrong choices anyway.

The film ends with a pretty solid cliffhanger to get you hyped for the 3rd film. It’s gonna be hard for any of the films to top the ending was it was just perfect. It helps establish the threat and leaves the heroes in a bad spot. Considering that this series is a 6 part epic, it’s always good to have a stinger like that. I didn’t elaborate on most of the other characters, but they’ll all get their moments coming up in the future films so I’ll look at them in more detail when it’s their turn. Naturally the final review in the series will likely be the biggest as I’ll wait until then to discuss the route the series went and if it addressed all of its different plot lines. I do like how mysterious the series is acting right now, but we are certainly going to need a solid payoff to keep up with that.

As expected the animation is pretty solid. The fight scenes are on point and it’s always nice to see the Digimon cut loose at the end since for the most part they don’t get too much action here. Once in a while the human characters tend to have a derpy look on their face when chatting but that’s likely a stylistic choice. I’ll still take the bold and colorful art style of the actual show over it but I have no real faults with this style.

The soundtrack is mainly the same as the first one and is as solid now as it was then. The danger theme that pops up in the climax of this film as well as the last one is still the best one in the film. It does a good job of making the atmosphere more tense and epic. I also still do like the Tri into theme which is a techno version of the original. The Digievolution theme is iconic and I’m sure fans are glad they kept the original but I’d sure love to see the English version here. That theme was awesome!

Digimon Tri is more about the plot and drama than the action so as mentioned earlier there isn’t much fighting here. Fortunately the writing is on point so that isn’t really a concern. I do think it may make the film a tad bit trickier on re-watches, but for initial viewing you’re definitely going to be caught up on the suspense. At the end of the day most of the main characters are likable which is also helpful. Currently Tai, Joe, and Izzy are probably having the toughest time of it, but they’ll have their time to get more screen time. Well, Tai and Izzy at least. Joe already got his moment, but it seems to have ended the part of his character arc that I didn’t like so he can only go up from here. I’m definitely ready to see the heroes take on Alphamon again now that they have their fighting spirit back.

Overall, Tri part 2 is pretty solid. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t really do anything wrong. I may disagree to an extent with how the characters judge some of their decisions (It was good Mimi jumped in) but the film never gets heavy handed with trying to get you to agree. You’re left to decide for yourself if the character made the right call and I’m certainly all for that. I’d definitely recommend checking this movie out. Of course, you should probably watch the first film to get a better handle on what’s happening here. As this is a direct sequel there really isn’t any way around that. In this film it is literally a part 2 that starts off right after part 1 soooo…go watch part 1 first.

Overall 8/10

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Yugioh VRAINS

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The latest Yugioh series is finally here! I’ve only seen the first episode of this show so far, but it’s already setting up a lot of hype plot points for the future. Make no mistake, this is a show that is certainly going places. It’s already got all the makings of a great show, the only question is how it will fare against the other Yugioh titles. I shall have a review with all of those answers once the show is over.

Overall 8/10

Pop Team Epic Review

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It’s time to look at another one of the worst anime out there. This one definitely holds its own against titles like FLCL. I’ve never been a big fan of anthologies and I’m even less of a fan of this kind of art style. Mix the two together and you’ve got yourself a show that was doomed right from the start. There just isn’t anything really good about this show so what ends up happening is that you just wait for it to end. Each episode is only around 10 minutes before it repeats so it isn’t even all that long but it feels long.

There’s no plot so we don’t have to worry about that I guess. There are two characters here Pipimi and Popuko. They just like walking around and doing crazy things. Most of the shorts don’t have anything to do with the others. Since there is no continuity to keep or logic to follow the series can get as absolutely crazy as it wants. There’s just no end to it. In particular there are 3 kinds of shorts that pop up frequently.

First is Bob’s Epic Team. The whole point of these specials is that each of the characters look incredibly deformed and they go around doing more crazy stuff. The voices are annoying and much like the rest of the show it just isn’t funny. It usually gets 2 segments in each episode so brace yourself for those. The second kind of short is Pop Team Cooking. In these the characters usually start to cook or just talk until the segment ends. Nothing ever really happens but at least I can say that the title is kind of catchy.

Then we also have the french segments which are great if you like recycled animation and nothing ever happening. These definitely don’t help the show’s case either. Then we’ve got the random segments that have nothing to do with anything as well. Those are about as bad as you may expect. The only ones that are even kind of good are the long ones at the beginning of every episode. Each episode gets 1 long segment and this allows the segment to get an actual plot. We had an action one, a Detective Conan one, a supernatural murder one, etc. At least these plots were trying to be okay. Of course the show can’t help but go off the deep end here as well as one segment decides to have a romance plot within the family which gets to be about as bad as you would expect. Hey, at least nobody can ever accuse the show of being classy right?

Surprisingly the show doesn’t have a lot of fanservice since I wouldn’t have been surprised from this kind of title. With the animation being this bad though I guess it didn’t want to even try. The soundtrack is basically nonexistent, but I suppose the opening isn’t bad. The images are pretty boring but the tune can be catchy. This kind of show just doesn’t have much in the way of music during the episodes. I already talked about how terrible the animation is so we don’t have to go over that. It’s just painfully bad.

I did like the episode previews at the end because they hint at what kind of show this could have been. The hypothetical story in those bits already look a whole lot more interesting than this one. It seems like a real show with actual animation. You just can’t go wrong there am I right? The show looks rather generic intentionally of course, but I would still take it over this one in a heart beat.

The only 2 real characters here are Popuko and Pipimi but of course their personalities do tend to change based on the short. No matter how the show up the two characters are always pretty annoying though. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a fan of them. Without a good cast or a reasonable plot a show is never going to go anywhere and that’s exactly what happened to this title.

At the end of the day Pop Team Epic is a comedy show. It tries for very outlandish and abstract humor which doesn’t land. Since that is the whole point of the show it was rather doomed right from the start. It’s very focus just wasn’t good enough to keep your attention and there just isn’t anything for it to fall back on from that point. I almost feel bad for the show, but it really has no one to blame but itself. From the very first episode you could tell that it was not going to be good. Making half of the show recycled animation is also incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine how this ever got to be on TV with such lazy production values behind it. In the end you could say that it just didn’t deserve to succeed.

Overall, This is a short review, but Pop Team Epic is basically only 6 episodes so it’s a rather short show. There is no cast or plot either so there just isn’t much to talk about. It’s essentially a long joke that keeps losing its focus and forgetting the punch lines. I’m sure it had a lot of plans initially but in the end the show just couldn’t bring them to fruition. All it did for me was reaffirm the fact that anthology series don’t have a whole lot of potential. Especially when the shorts are only around 2 minutes or less on average. There is really nothing you can do in such a short amount of time. If this sounds interesting to you then by all means check it out. Still, I can’t say that I’m hyped for the next season. Hopefully it is able to do something because the references aren’t enough to help this show overcome its terrible sense of humor and nonexistent plot. Maybe we could just get a full reboot with a different group of staff behind it. Surely an overhaul would ensure that the season is better…right?

Overall 1/10

FLCL Progressive Review

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It’s time to look at the recent FLCL show. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a terrible anime but leave it to this franchise to fix that. The first FLCL show is still considered by me to be one of the worst anime of all time. I’d have to say that it actually is in last place from the show’s that I’ve seen. This sequel is marginally better at best. It improves in the animation but certainly didn’t do anything to actually help the aimless writing and non existent plot.

The show starts off with a small segment of the main character in an apocalyptic future where Zombies run amok. They start destroying everyone and naturally a dog is included as well. This kind of show just can’t resist such things. Get used to these scenes of nonsense since they will be in almost every episode. Hidomi then wakes up and goes through life as normal. She wears headphones so she can pretend not to hear anyone even though no music is playing. It works though as people don’t really mess with her. That’s when she gets a new transfer teacher who decides to change her life. It turns out that Hidomi is another time bomb whose emotions allow her to summon giant monsters and even gain super powers herself. Her greatest ability is the Kirby suction power which allows her to absorb anyone who gets in her way. It’s basically a one hit ko tactic against just about everyone. There is another person who wishes to stop the heroine though so everyone has to keep their guard up.

This show is bad on so many levels so let’s start with some of the mild positives. Unlike the first show this one actually does have a few scenes where the animation looks pretty decent. It’s not that random experimental stuff we had to deal with in the older one. The animation is still pretty bad most of the time though. No effort is put into the character designs and nothing about this show tells you that this was made in 2018. It just doesn’t look nearly as good as it should and that’s because the show is trying (and failing) to be artistic. Enjoy the battle between Julia and Haruko as well as Hidomi vs Haruko since those fights are really the only times that the show gets to look good.

The soundtrack also isn’t good. It’s mainly just satisfied to grab some tunes from the old show and call it a day. Don’t expect to get any solid battle tunes or anything like that. This just isn’t that kind of show I’m afraid which is rather unfortunate. It’s how it goes I suppose.

Another tick against the show is the animal violence as I referenced earlier. Why did we need a dog to die in the zombie scenes? It really had no significance there and just served to help the show dig its own grave as always. The zombie scenes were also randomly violent despite the rest of the show not going that route. It’s all just for shock value.

The show can also be rather fanservicey which is just what I’d expect. It’s not extreme like Fairy Tail or anything like that, but it all adds up. Throw in the fact that the main cast is terrible and we’ve got some problems. The main guy’s two friends are both terrible. One guy is so bad that he has to hire a girlfriend which is as bad as it sounds. The other guy never actually gets anything to do and is only around to mock everyone. The main guy (Ko) tries to help Hidomi at least but he does have ulterior motives so I don’t count that in the slightest. He also loses every fight he is in which really does not help.

Then we have the main heroine Hidomi who is really hard to sympathize with. Her father left so she is waiting along with mother for him to come back. The issue is that he probably isn’t so the mother is hoping they can move on. Especially since she does all of the work while the main character shuts off life. She does help monetarily with her job at the cafe but certainly isn’t good for moral support. At least she finally initiated an attack on the teacher for the final episode but it took her way too long to finally try and be proactive. I would have liked to have seen her do something sooner and even in the final episode she ends up being extremely annoying and is unable to see the big picture so I can’t give her any props there either.

There is also the teacher from the first series who has become a straight up villain in this one. Haruko wants to sacrifice the main heroine so that she can meet up with a mysterious guy from her past. Maybe in a classier show with decent writing her dilemma could have actually been a little sympathetic. Maybe we could have seen her trying to find a different way to do this or something like that. Instead Haruko comes across as very unreasonable and likes to go about her plans in a very roundabout way. Most of her actions don’t even make sense so you just wonder how important her goal ever was to her.

Julia is Haruko’s rival and is always trying to get in her way. Julia will talk tough to Haruko about how this isn’t right, but spends far too long trying to convince her arch nemesis of this. After a while she should know that Haruko isn’t going to change and yet she doesn’t do anything about this. You can’t feel bad for Julia when she is inevitably beat up because that character never even had a good plan. I feel like none of the characters in this show are even remotely intelligent.

Then we have a bunch of random side characters like the plant owners. Their plot is just pointless and tries to add some mystery to the whole thing, but it fails quite badly. You’ll just be wondering why the show thinks you will end up caring about them when that is certainly not the case. If anything it’s the opposite and you’ll just be counting the minutes until the episode ends.

Overall, This show just couldn’t do anything right. The humor falls flat and the characters aren’t interesting in the slightest. The writing is horrendous. The battle scenes can be good but considering who is fighting it hardly matters. The show is just soulless and doesn’t do a good job of trying to prove that we can have a quality show in such a short amount of time. Anime should at least be 12 episodes if you ask me although in this specific situation I doubt it would have helped at all. I’d advise staying away from this anime. Keep your distance and you’ll be fine.

Overall 1/10

.Hack//Sign Review

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It’s time to look at what I’d consider to be a fairly iconic anime. It’s not so much that it’s known as one of the greatest anime of all time like DBZ or that it’s super long like One Piece, but it’s just an anime that you’ve likely heard of over the years. The .Hack franchise is also pretty popular in its own right and this is certainly the most well known show. It’s definitely a fun adventure that takes a pretty deep look into the online gaming genre.

The show takes place in the future where online games are finally on the rise once more. In particular a fully immersive game known as The World has gotten incredibly popular because of how realistic it is. Just pop on the helmet and you are inside the game. A player named Mimiru was exploring a cave like normal when she bumps into a player named Tsukasa. He runs off and she thinks nothing of it at the moment. However, it turns out that Tsukasa is unable to log out of the game and can’t even recall what is happening in the real world. The other players suspect that he is a hacker while others are worried about what has happened to his real world body. The secrets can be found with the Key to the Twilight. It’s an object of immense power can can change the game itself. Of course, finding it will be tough since the heroes don’t even know if it exists at all or if it’s merely a legend.

A big part of the anime is about exploration as the characters look around for a dungeon that isn’t in any of the official guidebooks. Effectively, they are really getting into the game now since it’s like going back to the days before the internet. Of course the stakes are high since Tsukasa’s life hangs in the balance. The heroes have to decide if helping like this is worth it or if the game is starting to take up too much of their time.

Despite being the main character, Tsukasa is actually pretty annoying. He is constantly snapping at everyone and feeling sorry for himself. From the start things would have been better for him if he had talked to the Crimson Knights instead of making a break for it and acting all suspicious all of the time. From his actions he basically told them that he was a cheater so of course they would try to arrest him at that point. Then Tsukasa actually destroys a few players. He never turns into a total villain or anything though and his actions are not malicious. He attacks in self defense but naturally the Crimson Knights won’t believe it. Tsukasa doesn’t have an easy time of it at all, but the reason why he is annoying is that you feel like the lead is making the situation a lot worse on himself.

Mimiru is the main heroine here and in a sense you could say that she represents the average player. She is intelligent but not a pondering philosopher like the rest of the characters. She is just here to enjoy the game at first but gradually gets pulled into Tsukasa’s web. I’d say that she definitely has a pretty tough experience here since the wavemaster is hard to be friends with and tends to panic or run away when the going gets tough. Mimiru’s definitely a fun character throughout and was certainly crucial in Tsukasa’s personality change. I dare say even more than Subaru as she got him to take the initial steps out of his shell.

Subaru is the leader of the Crimson Knights but she tends to disagree with their methods. She wants them to just go around talking with people as opposed to actively keeping the world safe. I rather disagree with her on this one at the very least on the idea that they should be so lenient on cheaters. They should report them to the admin right away and in the meantime locking them up makes sense. It would be like locking someone’s account for a little while. The knights naturally did take it a little far by the end, but I felt she was too far in the other direction. Subaru is a nice character though even if she isn’t the best fighter. She can just be rather naive at times like when she actually expected the Crimson Knight to tell her if the friends that he disliked leave her a message. I don’t think anyone expected him to actually do that.

Bear is another one of the main characters. He hangs out with Mimiru a lot as well as BT. Inside the game he is probably the deepest thinker and is also the most pro active in trying to find out the truth behind Tsukasa’s predicament. He has to make a lot of tough calls on his own and ultimately ends up making the right ones. It would have been rather tough on the kid without him. Bear can always hold his own against the other characters in a verbal battle and is good at planning as well. He’s just a very solid all around character.

BT is a character who really doesn’t care for lettuce since it erodes the taste of whatever it touches despite society telling her that it has no taste. It’s a pretty interesting backstory. In the game she likes to play as a very tricky character who will betray the heroes for a good item. She plays both sides quite a lot throughout the series before finally choosing the right side. As a result she is rather annoying though and it was too little too late when she came to aid the heroes. She also tries to go after Crim in the real world even though he’s pretty decisive in rejecting her. Of course it’s always tough to move on immediately.
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Crim is essentially the “Top Player” character of the game. He has a considerable amount of skill and vows to use it for justice. He role plays as a Superman type figure who is always around to help those in need. He definitely ended up being the best character in the game. For starters he is the only one who didn’t really bring any drama with him to The World. He likes to keep the real world and the video game separate and completely gets absorbed into his role. That’s definitely the way to play and he is able to do this while still appreciating the stakes that the game now holds.

Sora plays a big role in the series as he likes to manipulate all of the characters and hatch plans of his own. As he is one of the strongest characters in the series there typically isn’t much that the heroes can do to oppose him. Only Crim is able to properly stand up to the guy. He can be fun to have around, but I definitely wouldn’t say that he is a likable character. At least he ends up trolling both the heroes and villains which is always nice for a wild card. At most you might feel bad for him during the end of the series since he tries one last betrayal which doesn’t even matter and ends up getting himself a little too deep into The World.

For a while the Crimson Knight was easily the best character in the show. He’s one of the big antagonists of the series who believes in hunting down the hackers so everyone will have a fair gaming experience. He isn’t pleased when Subaru tells him that they are just a fan group with no real power. At this point he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s not as if he goes crazy and starts trying to destroy everyone though. He merely stays in his quest to stop the cheaters and it’s a shame that by the end of the show he didn’t get to do as much as I would have hoped. His fight scene with Tsukasa early on was cool though. I think that may have even been the first episode. Even there he wasn’t in the wrong you’d think since Tsukasa was obstructing Justice. On the other hand, since the Crimson Knights are a fake group with no authority then are they outside their jurisdiction? I’d say no.

As the characters mention from time to time, they are all role playing inside of The World. Why not role play as a police officer? While the Crimson Knight gets a little extreme towards the end, he is not unreasonable at the start. If someone is hacking the game then they must be stopped before other players are hurt right? Especially since this game does seem to give you some level of pain feedback in the real world. In the video games a lot of the characters also don’t like the hackers since they mess with the game so much. The Crimson Knight does get distracted by the romance angle quite a bit, but otherwise he had a pretty interesting mission throughout the show.

The show is very dialogue heavy of course so don’t go in expecting constant fight scenes. Fortunately the writing is really good so the dialogue works. The show never feels dull or boring despite all of the talking because the show is just very interesting. You’re engaged with what they are talking about. The characters may go in circles at times but it won’t dampen your enthusiasm as they will at least gain some kind of new clue which alters the conversation. I think the voice acting deserves a lot of credit here as well. Every character sounds rather monotone and robotic but that makes sense since they’re all role playing within the game. It adds to the effect pretty well and makes them easy to listen to.

.Hack also manages to avoid some of the negatives that typically go hand in hand with anime as well like fanservice. The show avoids this which seems to be pretty tricky for video game anime like this or at least that’s the impression you get from titles like Sword Art Online. It was tough deciding whether this show would be a 7 or an 8 because it is fun, but is it great? It was very interesting throughout and while the show lacked action the mystery was fun. It’s not the kind of mystery that would lose much replay value on the second watch since it’s not about a culprit that you are finding, but secrets of the world. Everything is very meta so I think it would hold up well enough on a second viewing.

I also liked the soundtrack quite a lot. We get many different operatic themes which help get across the show’s mysterious tone. “Come with me to the Twilight” works well for all of Tsukasa’s moping scenes where he’s wondering what to do next. The show is constantly throwing in both lyrical and instrumental themes at you which fit in well. They are epic but can also be interpreted as sad depending on the scene. The only theme that I really didn’t like for epic scenes was Sora’s. It’s a really happy theme that seems completely out of place whenever it pops up. For example, it pops up during the final battle between Crim and Sora which is a hype scene but the music doesn’t fit at all.

It’s not a theme that pops up too often though so it’s fine. Also, as we don’t get too many fights during the series it’s always fun when they do pop up. The Sora bouts are always enjoyable and the invincible monsters were also cool. Each fight is fairly short so enjoy what you get from them. The thing is that most of the characters aren’t too strong here as they want to enjoy the game and aren’t grinding their stats. Only Sora and Crim decided to grind their way to level 100 and at that point it all comes down to their skill level when wielding their weapons. Since The World is so glitchy, it’s probably for the best that they don’t take that part too seriously.

The animation is also pretty good and holds up well. It’s a classic 90s-early 2000s aesthetic. The colors are bright and the backgrounds have a lot of detail. I liked how they animated Skeith as well. He certainly comes across as a very intimidating figure. The gray, faded out look for the real world also did a good job of showing that aside from The World, Earth hasn’t changed much and that’s why everyone wants to be playing the game instead of just going through the same motions as always. It would be cool to see more of the human world, but this way it does keep more of a mysterious vibe.

How much you enjoy the show will depend on what extent the vibe works for you. The first half can be rather slow as all of the characters keep heir secrets and don’t really do a lot to shed light on the situation for anyone else. It’s not til we enter the second half where the characters all start to team up and realize that an enemy is near. Then we get the fun dungeon exploration and battles against the mysterious being. As it is the show basically just ends around this point as the clean up is left to the characters of the original 4 video games. It’s not like these characters can fight a being who is a part of the game like this so I wonder how often they would log on after this or if they began to take a more cautious approach. Either way as long as you find the show interesting like I expect you will then the lack of activity at times won’t really be an issue.

One thing that would have been nice would have been to include more of the video game characters. Several of them got cameos here which was cool, but having them around more would have been even more exciting. I suppose they could have stolen the show since they were so OP though. By not having them around, it also showed that while the situation was huge for the main characters, it wasn’t necessarily an end of the world event where everyone had to show up. Even by the end of the show a lot of people probably didn’t even realize what was happening since they would probably just ignore the forums.
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Overall, .Hack//Sign is definitely a fun show. It’s the kind of title that has a lot of replay value since the dialogue is engaging from the start. It’s very solid across the board so I wouldn’t say that it had any specific weaknesses. At most I do think it could have used some more fight scenes but the characters do stress that this isn’t really that kind of game. Combat is a feature though so it’s always an option. The show is also better in batches than weekly since the show likes to progress at a slow pace in order to allow all of the characters to process what is going on and discuss it. If you haven’t seen a really solid video game adventure yet then this is a great way to start. Now I just need to go back and play .Hack part 4.

Overall 7/10

Dinosaur King Review

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Dinosaur King is one of those anime that everyone knows about but many have not actually seen it. I read the manga but hadn’t seen the show until recently so I was guilty of that as well. It’s a pretty fun show that delivers with the Dinosaur action. It’s about what you would expect as a backup Pokémon show but it gets the job done. The dub even plays up this aspect by having a bunch of Pokémon voice actors play similar characters. Dinosaur King is pretty long so that gives the show time to have a lot of fights and the main characters develop past being archetypes.

The show picks up with three friends looking through a bunch of ruins in their backyard. Their names are Max, Rex, and Sal. They manage to find three pieces of the legendary Dinosaur rock which allows each of them to summon a personal Dinosaur from a card. Max’s Dad quickly realizes that they will have to liberate all of the Dinosaurs from their cards which are in the hands of the future Dinosaur King. If the heroes can snag back all of their the cards (About 50) then they will be all set and ready for action. It won’t be easy though as the villain group of 3 each have their own dinosaurs including a T Rex and a Spinosaurus. Be careful out there kids!

The first arc mainly deals with capturing all of the Dinosaurs. Since they get around 1 an episode it is easy to see how this ight last a whole season. The next one begins with a bang as aliens show up from out of nowhere and kidnap Rex’s parents. Max and the gang have to travel across time and space in order to rescue them while also stopping the pirates from altering the course of history to their own benefit. It’ll be tough since they don’t know where they are even going but at least now they will be able to meet up with a lot of iconic legends from History.

I definitely preferred the first arc and that’s mainly because the villains were better but also because modern day Earth is just a better back drop than the past. If the heroes had gone to the future then of course that would be quite different but the past just isn’t all that interesting. Meeting up with all kinds of famous people does have some novelty, but it doesn’t last long. The only thing that arc 2 has over arc 1 is that I dare say the fights were probably a bit better. I did like all of the armor transformations each side got even if it did mean that we had a lot more recycled animation. The energy sword that we got in Rome was also a blast.

On the other hand, Arc 1 didn’t have Spectre which is already a positive. He’s just not all that funny while the Alpha Gang’s humor isn’t bad. Naturally one thing to keep in mind here is that this series is an action adventure but it’s a very light hearted one filled with a bunch of humor and laughs. That means that how much you enjoy the show will really depend on how funny you find it to be. It’s not like it’s going to be laugh out loud funny or anything but I think the whole thing works out well enough where it’s not annoying or anything like that. The writing is pretty solid.

The writers even got the tiers right as the T Rex beats the Spinosaurus in a fair fight despite the latter being a water type while the T Rex uses fire. In fact, Terry (The T Rex) consistently looks amazing in the show and gets a whole lot of respect. I could definitely appreciate that. Unfortunately the Spinosaurus in general doesn’t look amazing here, but I suppose he at least got to appear quite often which is a solid consolation prize if you ask me.

Max is the main character and he is definitely a fun lead. While he isn’t always the smartest of the bunch he is certainly the most heroic. He is always ready to stop the villains in their tracks at any cost. It helps that Max is the strongest of the 3 and tends to take in the leadership role. He was definitely my favorite character from the trio. There’s nothing really to dislike about the guy as he always does his best to do what’s right and save the world. At most he is rather generic.

Max also has one of the best dinosaurs in Chomp. Chomp is a thunder type Dinosaur who isn’t very quick but makes up for that with a lot of raw power backing up each attack. Chomp won’t go down 1 on 1 very often and always pulls his weight. I dare say that he is the best main dinosaur in the show aside from Terry the hype T Rex. Chomp also gets many different power ups which keep him near the top at all times.

Then we have Rex who serves as the brains of the group. He’s more about making the logical decisions and not running into battle which naturally means that I would like Max a lot more. Rex isn’t a bad character either though, but does tend to make some questionable decisions. Deciding to go back to the future with his parents instead of staying in the present is one that I had a hard time buying into. He grew up in the present ever since he was a baby, I don’t see how he would be able to even have any fun being in the future. It’s great to go with family of course, but he doesn’t actually even know his parents.

I also feel bad for Rex because his dinosaur isn’t all that great. For starters…he’s afraid of the water. That’s a huge weakness since water can be found just about anywhere and the dinosaur doesn’t really get over it until the very end of the series. That’s too little too late. Also, I’ll always take a thunder type Dinosaur over a water one but I guess that’s more up to personal preference.

The third member of the group is Zoe and she can be handy, but does tend to get knocked out of the fights quite often. either she ends up tripping or her dinosaur gets one shotted. She got some pretty bad luck when choosing the dinosaurs because hers is a healer as opposed to being a fighter. Fortunately to try and make up for this Zoe does get quite a few assist dinosaurs which lend their strength in the battles. They actually tend to be some of the strongest dinosaurs in the series so maybe it does end up being a fair trade off.
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There’s not much more to say about her dinosaur beyond that. He (or She) just doesn’t tend to be very useful during any of the fights. Even if Zoe has other dinosaurs that she throws in to help out when things get tough, that doesn’t really help the Dino’s case of being a good character. You’ve gotta be able to fight when you’re a huge dinosaur like that. Just body slamming opponents should be rather helpful as well.

Spike is Max’s Dad and he gets a reasonably important role during the series. He serves as one of the many forms of comic relief in this show but pulls it off way better than the other characters. You actually feel bad for him from time to time since the guy really wants his own dinosaur but everyone always tells him no. He never even gets to have his own fight even at the end of the series but improvises by carrying around a whip. It’s rarely useful as you can probably guess, but it gets the job done.

Dr. Z is the main villain of the first arc and while the guy is a genius you still aren’t supposed to take him too seriously. He tends to break down in tears or his back literally breaks so then his minions have to try and help support him. It can be rather tragic for the guy. Then you’ve got the traitors running around and Z doesn’t have anyone that he can really rely on. You would feel more bad for him, but based on the flashbacks that we see the guy isn’t all that nice most of the time so maybe he’s getting what he deserves in that regard.

Ursula is one of the main Team Rocket members and you could basically call her the leader of the group. She always tends to take charge after all and does have the strongest dinosaur as well. Ursula does also happen to be the most likable member of the group. She has more of a heart than the other 2 as she was willing to spare one of the dinosaurs once after it had helped her out while the other 2 still wanted the money. If there is any member that could possibly turn into a hero one day it would certainly be her.

Zander is often busy trying to get someone’s attention in this series so he definitely didn’t have a chance at beating Ursula. I do admit that his song is actually rather catchy despite being a comic relief romance song. There’s nothing much to really like about the guy though. He works decently well for jokes but beyond that he doesn’t have as much character as Ursula and you can see why he’s the second in command. He’s better than Ed though. That guy easily got the smallest role out of the main 3 and never got a subplot to himself. He was really just around to have to have at least one guy who likes to eat and to make the team a trio. Beyond that he didn’t really have any purpose in the story.
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Rod and Laura are two kids who are also part of the Alpha Gang but you can think of them as the junior members of the group. Of course the irony is that they are way better at Dino fighting than the main 3 to the point where they actually gave Max a few good fights during their short lived period where they were the Alpha Gang’s main fighters. They get a big character arc as well and given that they are kids it’s not as if they were ever totally evil or anything like that. They were definitely on the wrong side, but at least they end up seeing the light. They weren’t all that bad, maybe just a bit on the annoying side.

Seth is probably the only big villain to actually be very serious the whole time. He is never used for comic relief which actually isn’t something that I can say for just about any of the other villains. He knows how to manipulate basically every character who is a part of the main cast. His acting skills are evidently top notch and nobody is ever able to stay one step ahead of him. His final appearance is a little cheesy, but aside from that it was always a blast to see him appear. He’s easily the best villain in the series and besides Max he is probably the best character as well. Throwing him into the show was certainly a good idea.

Helga is the maid who works for the villains and she is always fun. She likes to boss around the rest of the villains and they always have a look of terror come upon their faces when she appears. The lady certainly demands respect and boy does she get it! The characters know better than to mess with her and that is certainly how it should be. The fact that we later find out how she has actual super powers is pretty key as well. It adds a little legitimacy to the whole plot. It’s just a shame that she still manages to lose quite a bit when Seth shows up.

Spectre is the main villain of the second arc and he’s a big down grade from Dr. Z. He is probably the worst villain in the series actually so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This guy is comic relief and his main dinosaur isn’t even as powerful as the one Seth had from Arc 1, at least I think Seth’s was stronger. Spectre loves singing and trolling which can be good if handled right, but it certainly wasn’t in this case. He brought down Arc 2 quite a bit.

Gavro is the big and strong member of the Spectral Pirates. He’s basically the Ed of the group but of course the big difference is that he is actually pretty strong. It’s one thing you have to respect about the pirates in general. Whether you like these guys or not, at least they are actual threats to the heroes since their dinosaurs are so powerful. Gavro looked his best during his initial appearance. After that he was still strong but they played up his unintelligent side a little more which definitely didn’t help his case.

Then we have Foolscap whose most memorable trait is his whiny voice. It’s a memorable voice so I’ll definitely give him some credit there but beyond that he’s basically also just around for comic relief. Being able to fly would have earned him extra credit but since the other two pirates can do that as well it sort of loses that special value it once had.

Finally we have Sheer who is a step up from the other 2 and is basically a mirror version of Ursula. It would have been a pretty cool plot twist if she had lost her memories permanently and stayed with the ninja squad, but that was never a real possibility. She is a little more serious than the other 2 members though and is an opponent that the heroes don’t really look forward to going up against.

The animation is pretty good. The character designs are solid and so are the backgrounds. Unfortunately the Dinosaurs are in complete CG animation which as you may expect means that they are very stiff and look a little odd next to everyone else. It’s unfortunate but it’s not as if it looks terrible. It’s just a step down from the rest of the show’s visuals and does limit just how good the show can look. The series also uses a massive amount of recycled footage since it incorporates summons for all of the characters, the same card draw animation, the same attacks, the same armor, etc. a good chunk of every fight is the recycled animation.

The soundtrack is pretty decent. There aren’t any hype themes or anything like that but what we do get fits pretty well for the show. Ironically the parody beat that plays whenever Xander takes out his violin is easily the most memorable tune and I dare say that it is the best one as well.
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Overall, Dinosaur King is a fun show. It may not try to be all that unique in the long run, but it accomplishes it’s goal of being a quality dinosaur battle anime. It was nice to finally see the T Rex and Spinosaurus have a rematch. I can’t imagine that it was a coincidence either. The characters are fun and the episodes will keep you entertained. The second arc is g quite as good as the first one but it’s not bad either. I did like the power ups that we got as a result of that and bringing in combo attacks was a good idea as well.

Overall 7/10

Future Card Buddyfight X Review

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The card game genre is certainly going very well at the moment with Cardfight, Buddyfight, and Yugioh all hitting it out of the park. In particular Buddyfight has been going very well. I believe I said that the last season was the best in the series and this one comes very close to topping it. Just when you think the series has peaked it always returns to go to the next level. This season has three arcs which are all quite solid, but that’s enough build up. Let’s start the review!

Well, it is time for another large tournament. This time it will decide which monster world is the best as each one picks an emissary to represent them. It goes without saying that Gao is chosen for Dragon World. However one big surprise is that instead of Tasuku representing Star Dragon World we have a new character named Kanata. He is known as the no damage fighter and has actually managed to never get hit during all of the battles that he was in. Considering how the game works this is virtually impossible so either he cheated quite a bit or he is just very lucky. The best part is that he hasn’t even played Buddyfight in ages as he ditched the game to play soccer full time. Well he is basically forced into entering so now Gao will have to deal with him.

The first arc being a tournament is definitely a good way to kick things off and we get some nice development for Kanata as well. It is pretty much nonstop Buddyfighting so that’s definitely cool. As hype as the next arc is, I have to admit that this one wins. Still, the next arc starts off with a bang as you might expect. A new villain named Wisdom has shown up with his powerful Gear God. He wants to upgrade the world which means turning everyone into machines and controlling them. He manages to crush Gao as well as Kanata which makes him a legitimate threat. Beneath him are the Chaos 3, a group that should not be taken lightly. Gao and his friends will have to get much stronger if they want to save the world this time. Fortunately Tasuku and the Buddy Police are also on the case.

As per usual a big part of the season’s main focus is on Gao and his new buddy monster Batzz. This guy is a tough character whose personality is probably the most similar to Drum’s. He believes that he is the strongest monster in and people say that he came really close to destroying all of Dragon World before he was sealed away. Gao is determined that they will be friends though and as he is the strongest Buddyfighter they should easily become the best. Of course it won’t be that easy since Batzz has quite the ego at times and doesn’t like taking orders. While he is strong that also doesn’t make him immune to gameplay mechanics. I’d say that he beats Bal for me and it’s pretty tough to say compared to Drum. It’s a close one there but I’ll say that he wins out as Gao’s best Buddy so far.

Gao is a very solid main character as he always is. He’s pretty much the same as in the last few seasons so there isn’t much new stuff to say about him. He is still eager to win and always seems prepared for whoever they throw at him. Even without a buddy he has some good skills at the ready to back him up. At times Gao isn’t proactive enough and it feels like the heroes just wait for the villain to make a move but sometimes he goes with his gut like when he broke into the amusement park. That is definitely when he is at his best.

As for Batzz, he can be a little rough at first as he seems to be all talk and no action but I do like the idea of having Gao team up with the strongest monster of them all. Batzz still has trouble with mini Gear Gods and I have serious doubts on him being the strongest but he is certainly powerful. He is always up for a fight while at the same time being willing to atone for his past by getting sealed up. Once Batzz stopped zapping Gao all of the time he was able to get some real character development. I also like the fusion between him and Gao even if that got ditched for a big chunk of the season.
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Ancient Holy Sword Dragon is basically the sidekick of Batzz. He means well and always defends the big guy, but in his own I wouldn’t say that he’s a great character. He’s not bad but felt rather unnecessary as having one main monster was enough of you ask me. He did help with Batzz’s development though so I can see why he was added.

Kanata is one of the big new characters here and I can safely say that the show handled him really well. As I mentioned earlier he was so good at the game that nobody could even land a hit on him. Realizing that this was hurting everyone’s morale he decided to stop playing the game even though he had enjoyed it and went on to play soccer full time instead. Fortunately he was selected for the big world championships which forced Kanata to realize that the game is still fun and there will always be more opponents. I actually started to root for Kanata towards the end of his duel with Gao because the hero’s deck started to get cheesy as he drew around 6 shields back to back. Kanata winning the tournament would have really completed his character arc. He also ended up losing to Wisdom later on but despite that you can’t really say that Kanata lost his edge. Naturally he does take damage in all of his duels now but that’s because it was never realistic to avoid damage in the first place. It just doesn’t work within the rules of the game. While Gao surpasses everyone by the end of the season again, Kanata gets enough power ups to stay on his level. Considering that he is a brand new character, it’s impressive how high up the ranks he has gotten.

Gaito may be returning from the past season but he is still one of the big three alongside Gao and Tasuku so he gets quite a few fights. The season addresses the weakness behind his Death Count Requiem technique as it does guarantee a win after 3 turns but lasting that long isn’t easy. Gaito is able to speed this up to 2 turns which is huge. It also becomes borderline overpowered but a lot of the abilities started to get crazy in this arc so it keeps Gaito relevant.

A new mechanic that I neglected to mention earlier is Overturn/Overkill. It is a special ability that can be used once per match depending on if your monster has evolved enough to use it. How useful this ability is completely depends on the monster. Gaito’s is extremely good as it skips his opponents turn so he gets to have 2 waves of attacks. Wisdom’s endsvthe opponent’s current turn in addition to letting him summon 3 monsters. That’s the just of the ability and it is definitely a game changer. This instantly puts any fighter without such an ability at a huge disadvantage but fortunately for the cast it appears that everyone learned it.

Wisdom plays a huge role in this story of course and is a very charismatic opponent. His goal of upgrading the world is certainly a fun one and it’s always nice to see him dismiss his underlings so casually. He reminds me a lot of Kyoya and is certainly about as smug. Even his fame and wealth are comparable. He is evidently smart as Wisdom is able to create code and bend Gear God to his will. He is an expert duelist and also has no qualms about taking the fight to the heroes. The batch of episodes where he attacked Gao and Kanata for the Mirage Card was certainly a standout moment. The season definitely wouldn’t have been the same without such a great villain at the helm.
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There is also his butler who is surprisingly a powerful opponent as well. He transforms into a powered up mode rather nonchalantly and may have the best ability out of them all. His flag goes over the opponent’s flag so they can’t use any spells or monsters. Basically unless you have the one specific upgrade card that Wisdom or Kyoya has, it is game over. There is nothing you can even do against this technique so it is easy to see why he didn’t get to fight all that much in the series. It would have been very tough to think of ways to defeat him.

Of course older characters from the series are still present. Tasuku gets a reasonable role here as he continues on with the Buddypolice. While he may not have much time to duel for fun anymore, he has still kept his skills and helps out at times. The only questionable part for Tasuku is that he seems a little more “by the books” than usual. He actually tells Gao and the others to stay back because civilians but he knows better than most just how strong Gao is. It was a rather odd scene. At least he didn’t care much when Gao followed him though so I guess it wasn’t much of a big deal.

Tetsuya and Zanya show up as well but their roles are quite small. They never actually get to do anything important in this season and just serve as a reminder that if you don’t work to improve your skills you will quickly be left in the dust. I suppose I should just be glad that they got to appear? I dunno, I was never the biggest fan of theirs anyway. Their buddy monsters get new super forms though to keep up with everyone else and join the thunder empire though.

I suppose Kiri’s role is kind of important here. He knows about the coming threat and goes over to protect Dragon World while the heroes take on Wisdom. Considering that he is an Omni lord his abilities are never all that impressive. Still, I guess it is good that he is trying his best. He is much better than Guru after all. Guru is an old guy who actually has incredible power. We’ve seen this kind of character many times before but it tends to not work out. This is one of those times. Guru is always trying really hard to be funny but the scenes may just make you cringe. His advice is rarely ever useful and he doesn’t deserve to have such a high power level. The heroes keep on crawling back to his base for more intel over and over again which definitely gets annoying. Hopefully he is written out of the show as soon as possible.

From the Chaos 3 the member with the biggest role is easily Sakate. He is Kanata’s rival so naturally that makes their duels very personal. His dueling style is very unique as he attacks with a bunch of swords instead of monsters. It’s a pretty unique approach and one that feels very useful. I won’t call it OP since having monsters is still really handy but I can see why he is one of the strongest duelists. Brutal’s role is the smallest and he’s the most bland character of the 3. He’s a loyal guy but he really doesn’t have a great reason to follow Wisdom. At the very least he should have defected once Wisdom started going crazy.

Then we have Keisetsu who is taken a lot less seriously than all of the other villains. He is legitimately strong as he gives quite a few characters a good fight, but at the end of the day he just isn’t able to close out his matches. It’s not how you start a fight of course, but how you finish it and this guy just wasn’t ready for that.

The final arc is a nice homage to the rest of the series. It is a shame that the tournament was so small since this meant that it couldn’t bring back a bunch of the older characters but since the first arc was a huge tournament I suppose that the series didn’t want to seem redundant. At the very least we did see all of the villains return like Wisdom, Kyoya, and Bolt. Tasuku and Noboru getting their own fights again was a blast as well. Some of the fights could get a little questionable like Kyoya getting a new super form and 10 hand cards, but not drawing a single shield to win the duel though. I suppose since he was the final boss of a big tournament in the last season they didn’t want to do that again though. Plus going with Tasuku vs Gao is definitely the ultimate homage to the old days for when they were big rivals. This series gave just about everyone the closure you would want to see and the easter eggs to the previous seasons were handled well.
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Then the series even squeezed in one last duel in the final episode which was unexpected. Gao receives a challenge from a new character by the airport and this guy may be the strongest opponent that Gao has ever seen. The scene couldn’t quite decide if it wanted the new character to be super mysterious or more of a happy fellow, but either way he had skills. If not for the plot summary of the next season already spoiling the twist the scene would be even more powerful. Either way it kind of makes you not want the time skip yet so we can see Gao get a rematch but if time travel becomes a factor soon then that might not be an issue. It is a great way to hype up the next series even if it does mean that you will be waiting for the new main character to master the game so we get him at this level. I haven’t seen a passing of the torch moment like this in quite a long time so it was an unexpected surprise.

As always the animation is really high quality. The colors are very sharp and the energy effects are on point. Something is always happening on screen whether it be during a fight or normal dialogue. You’ll never feel bored during an episode of the animation has anything to say about it. The soundtrack is also top notch as we have come to expect from the series. At this point several characters have their own themes and that continues to be a trend. Wisdom’s theme is certainly the standout here as it’s just a great tune. It perfectly builds up the suspense and anticipation of what is to come next.

With the classic era over here is how the Buddyfight seasons rank. In 1st is Buddyfight Triple D. The tournament was just handled flawlessly and is my personal favorite from the whole series. 2nd is Buddyfight X for all the reasons described above. In 3rd is the first season which will always be nostalgic and did a great job introducing the cast. In 4th is Buddyfight 100 which had a very slow middle which brought down the season somewhat, but was ultimately still pretty good. It’ll be interesting to see where season 5 ends up ranking. The show will have to introduce all of the characters and everything so the first season probably won’t be cracking the top 3 just yet but never count a card game show out. It just may end up surprising you.
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Overall, Buddyfight X is definitely a great title both literally and in regard to the whole season. It’s just nonstop excitement and the new characters really worked well and were seamlessly added to the universe. I dare say that it had the highest stakes as well since Wisdom actually did take over some planets and he was playing for keeps here. When he attacked the heroes on the ship they were in real danger. Of course now Gao is fairly OP with his current deck since he has access to so many super forms so he will be ready for any new villains. It’s always hard to see how they will be able to come up with stronger decks and opponents for Gao, but taking away his Buddy has usually worked well since it nerfs him until he inevitably gets some cool special abilities. The next season won’t have to try and work around this though as we are getting a time skip and a new main character. It should be a blast and this era of Buddyfight ended on a high note.

Overall 9/10

Cardfight Vanguard G: Z Review

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It’s been a good run, but Cardfight Vanguard has finally ended. With 370 episodes across both generations that is quite a lot of Cardfights. It’s really comparable to Yugioh at this point. Naturally that franchise has more total episodes and it would be tough to ever match that number, but once you cross 100 episodes you can certainly be counted as a legitimate powerhouse. I’ll be sure to rank all of the Cardfight seasons at the end of the review. Most of them are super close so it’s definitely a tough one to decide. All right, lets dive into Z!

Right away you can tell that this series is going to be intense because you only use the term Z when the series is going to have a ton of action. Vanguard does not disappoint here as action is absolutely what you will be getting. The last season ended with the heroes defeating the main 3 Diffriders and winning the tournament. That may have been good progress in the fight against evil, but Kazumi was never the main threat. The Apostles of Gyze are around now and they need a vessel for their leader. Their plan is unaltered, they want to awaken the 6 Zeroth Dragons to pave the way for Gyze. The members decide to split up and take Team TRY 3 out of the equation pre-emptively. (Pretty smart move honestly) The heroes will have to move quickly to stop their plan and they will need teamwork, but the situation is already quite personal for them so it may be tough to move in with a clear head.

As this season is only 24 episodes (The shortest in the franchise unless you count one of the G seasons that was merged together with another one in the Dub) the plot has to move right away so there is no waiting around here. That’s the bonus of continuing the plot of a previous season. There is no need for build up or character introductions since that was already done last time. As such the villains attack Chrono and Shion within the first 3 episodes. The Apostles really look very impressive from the start here as the heroes just seem like no match at times. The most impressive member would be the one who fought Shion at least when comparing their initial appearances. The show dropped the ball on him a bit though.

Almost every episode has a big fight occurring in this season. As the villains aren’t playing games around you also see a level of desperation among the heroes that hasn’t happened too often in G. At the very least, it usually doesn’t happen quite so soon. One small moment that I really liked here was how Chrono used a Zeroth dragon with no hesitation. Usually when the main character relents and uses the dark power of a villain there is a lot of drama or the character gives it some long thought. Chrono just went for it. For context, he was up against the leader of the Apostles. If he wins this fight he can save his friend and eliminate one of the biggest threats to the world in one move. None of his cards are strong enough at this point, but if he uses one of the evil deity cards that he swiped from another member it will give him a chance.

Dark power like this never comes cheap though. The price for playing a Zeroth Dragon is that if you lose the duel all of your Grade 4 cards will be atomized and so you will be losing all of your strongest cards. It’s a steep penalty since you are essentially powerless in a duel without those. before G you could get away with it since Grade 4s didn’t exist, but now that they do they are absolutely essential. The stakes are high, but it would have almost been selfish of Chrono to not use one just for that. He had a world to protect.

Naturally I was a big fan of Chrono here. He definitely looks like the experienced veteran that he is here. It doesn’t mean that he is now the strongest player in the world but he certainly ranks up there. He takes risks and is always ready to defend his friends. Chrono is the kind of guy that you want on your team for sure. He won’t back down from a duel. Chrono has definitely developed into a character worthy of his mysterious deck.

Shion is still Chrono’s rival but at this point that is rarely evident as he has completely mellowed out into being a friend. I suppose it’s a good change of pace to have a rival who isn’t super rude or obnoxious the whole time. Shion is finally back to being master of the Kiba empire at this point so as you can imagine he feels pretty unbeatable. That’s why his first fight with Valeos was so intense because it was basically unheard of for someone to have the upper hand against Shion. It also showed that the villains recognized him as a legitimate threat. Shion’s role in this season is still rather small but it is a good one nonetheless. He does get his revenge for the earlier loss as well.

Then we have Tokoha who has started to bounce back from the last season. That one didn’t go so well for her as she absorbed quite a few losses and wasn’t really in a right state of mind since Miguel was taken out of the picture. Now she has mainly recovered from this and is back to being a strong contender. Like Shion she doesn’t get too many duels here but still gets to help out in the final battle.
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Kazuma certainly has a large role in this season and is probably the most crucial aside from Chrono. Now that he has his brother back Kazuma is ready to take the fight to the villains. While he is a very strong fighter and Kazuma’s confidence is at an all time high, he still isn’t quite ready to take on these villains yet. Things don’t go very well for him, but I do appreciate the attempt. Kazuma still has a cool deck and a nice theme. Couple that with his character development into a more confident character and he is one of the best members of the main cast. At the very least I think he would be second among the main G heroes.

Kazumi was one of the big villains of the last season since he was being possessed but it’s important to remember that he was a world class duelist even before all of that. It is fortunate for the heroes that he is around. Kazumi’s a nice character and you will get some Itachi vibes from him. Unfortunately he doesn’t look great when it comes to dueling. After all, what better shock value can there be than taking down the former Under 20 champion? Winning and losing are t everything though and it doesn’t change the fact that he is quite formidable.

Arata and Makoto are a little important in this season because of what happened to their friend Noa who was possessed by the dark side. Still, they really can’t fight so for the most part they are stuck cheering everyone on in the background. The characters really weren’t needed to be honest but I guess it would be weird if they had just vanished. They aren’t bad characters, they just aren’t ready for a villain of this magnitude.

Noa is one of the big villains and probably the strongest aside from perhaps Gyze. He was in the shadows a lot for the last season but his presence is always felt. He has the Link Joker deck which is still the best one in the series. The monster is the only one who doesn’t just fade away after being defeated or turns good. This guy can’t stand the humans and does his best to bury them. I would have liked Noa to have dueled a little more to be honest, but I’m certainly satisfied with how much effort it took to bring him down. Having Aichi and Kai team up against you is always a sign of respect.

Kouji is definitely an interesting character. I’m still not really a fan of the guy. He is essentially the vanguard of the heroes but his plans never seem to be very good. The villains always have the drop on the heroes and while he may have been very powerful back in the day, Kouji seems a little outmatched against all of the new villains. He has softened up completely into a nice guy, but never likes to admit to it which leads to him always trying to keep to himself. He’s not as bad as in previous seasons as he has finally stopped doubting Chrono’s ability, but the guy just needs to be cooler. Maybe a new costume would have done the trick.

Saori doesn’t last too long in this season as he was mainly a big character in the last season, but he is still a lot of fun here. He still has one of the best battle themes out of all the characters and he is just a tough fighter. Saori has a lot of doubts about what he is doing, but ultimately just stays on his path. The villain’s confidence is really what makes him a fun character.

Aichi finally gets to duel a little more seriously here which is good. In general I still think the original cast didn’t get to do a whole lot compared to what I would have liked to see. They did have 4 seasons (Aichi only had 3) so I guess that was enough fights. I don’t like how Aichi has basically retired from Cardfight but I suppose as long as his skills don’t get rusty he will always come to help out when it counts. Likewise Kai is also here to fight the good fight. He gets 2 big fights against the villains which is good. Wakamizu actually does give him a good fight, but the outcome is what matters and at the end of the day Kai is still one of those guys that you never expect will lose.

Kamui also looks solid here. He has done a good job of keeping up with the other characters over the years. While he isn’t in the top 5 at this point he still helps out a lot against the villains and it’s always nice to see him around. Misaki finally gets a duel of her own. The series took its time with her, but having her take on one of the big final villains was certainly good. I am a little skeptical on her being strong enough to take on this particular opponent, but perhaps her deck was simply well suited from the job. In a duel you never ultimately know who is going to win. Her tactical style does bring out the best from her deck as well.
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Valeos is a bit of a tragic case since I actually liked the villain quite a bit. He was a credible threat to the heroes and seemed to be the main thinker of the villains. Going after Shion’s OP sword was brilliant and taking it out of the equation definitely helped their goals get a bit easier. That’s why it makes no sense when he suddenly goes insane near the end. The show was slowly building up to this as we gradually got hints of his psyche decaying, but why did it have to happen at all? It came out of left field and seemed to just be an excuse to let Shion have the upper hand. If he didn’t crack then I don’t really think Shion would have been a match for him. Not sure what to think of this guy by the end but at least he had a great intro.

Gastille is essentially the deputy of the villains. Gyze is certainlty still the leader but while he is out of commission Gastille tends to call the shots. He is a powerful villain, but one who doesn’t get to appear a whole lot. Still, he does really well in his brief appearances and I liked him. He’s still not the best villain since Noa and Saori are around but otherwise he is probably the beast. You get a Ren vibe from the guy with how confident he is. Well…okay all of the Cardfight characters are confident, but they tend to show it in different ways.

Taiyou was one of the big members of Chrono’s team for the last few seasons, but his role in this one is rather small. He gets badly injured after one of the early duels and never really recovers after that. You still have to like the guy’s dedication though. He’s very loyal to helping out the heroes and won’t hesitate to throw himself into harm’s way. He eagerly attacks the villains and while he doesn’t succeed, he did put up a good fight.

Then we have Wakamizu who is probably the least interesting villain. He’s technically pretty smart and the villains would have had a tough time without him, but his deck isn’t quite as good as the others. He’s deceptively strong, but I just didn’t care for the guy much. Not a bad villain, but I suppose he was simply outshined. His master Gredora was certainly more compelling even though her screen time was incredibly limited. At the very least she felt like more of a commander though. She was also a villain who actually cared about her subordinates and quickly went to defend Wakamizu after he was defeated. It’s always nice to see villains who also show loyalty and that’s why Gredora was a villain worthy of an army.

Gyze is the big boss of the series. Naturally this means that he is asleep until near the very end though. He gets 2 duels which isn’t bad, but I would have liked to have seen him more. The guy serves his purpose as a big final boss though and puts up a good fight. He just wasn’t ready to deal with the likes of Team TRY 3. He did come close to destroying the world though and I like how even in defeat the world would get destroyed by the sheer impact that it had on space and time. Gyze is definitely not the kind of opponent who does anything halfway. He did have a pretty cool design and his special ability of bringing in all of the Zeroth Dragons at once is really useful.

As always the animation is certainly stellar. The character designs starting from the last season certainly look really good. Chrono and the others look more experienced than they used to be and they also act accordingly. They get the respect you’d expect them to have considering that they have saved the world a few times now. The duels are as sharp as ever and the colors are vibrant. There is nothing negative at all to say about it. Then the soundtrack is just as impressive. I really like the new bumper/music that comes at the start of each episode. It’s a very dramatic theme that has you keep your guard up. It also really supports the feeling of dread that the heroes have. Each character still has a battle theme and most of them are quite epic. Even the few characters whose theme doesn’t absolutely stand out still have a good one. The best theme is definitely the red haired kid’s, but Kazumi’s is also excellent. You have a lot of options to choose from. Cardfight never disappointed on a technical level (Or any level for that matter) and this last season was no exception.
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All right it’s time to rank all of the Cardfight seasons! There have definitely been a lot of great ones over the years so it’s tough. I know the first and last place ones off the top of my head, but the rest get really tough. Still, I gotta make the tough choices at some point so it may as well be now.

1st. Cardfight Vanguard: Link Joker. Pretty easy number 1, this was the best season by far and the season was completely amazing. Really has everything that you could ever want in a single season.

2nd Cardfight Vanguard. The original Cardfight definitely helped get the series on the right track. It’s really rare to see a main character who actually loses as many fights as Aichi. If handled wrong that could have been annoying but overall he learned from his losses and got really good. It was just a great season and is also super nostalgic.

3rd Cardfight Vanguard Asia Circuit. This season probably has less memorable aspects to it compared to the other seasons, but this was the big Psyqualia boom. Everyone had it from Leon to the leader of the kid squad to Ren and Aichi. I still miss Psyqualia to this day so that was a lot of fun and the season was basically nonstop tournaments so you really can’t go wrong there. The climax was also super hype as you would expect.

4th Cardfight Vanguard Legion Mate. This season is tough because I thought it was awesome from the plot to the execution. At the same time it was a little short. I guess 33 episodes is a solid length, but it’s really close between this and NEXT. I’ll give Legion Mate the edge because having Kai as a main character was hype and the loser of each match getting burned was definitely a very real way of raising the stakes.

5th Cardfight Vanguard G NEXT. Definitely the best G season. The tournament was really good and Kazumi was just such an awesome villain It was also really long so we had time for a bunch of fights. We hadn’t had a tournament that was this long and serious since the original Cardfight days. The new animation style also worked quite well for this saga and the first episode was the perfect way to hype up the new villain.

6th Cardfight Vanguard G Z. This season is very close to NEXT, but it mainly loses out because it’s a lot shorter. There’s less chance to quite match the hype that was behind NEXT. Still, a great way to end the series and 6th is certainly nothing to be ashamed about when it’s relative to other Cardfight seasons. A superb show in all aspects.

7th Cardfight Vanguard G Stride Gate. We finally got the payoff to the first G arcs here and it was definitely a lot of fun. I liked the main villain and this is really where Chrono came into his own as a solid main character. He didn’t fall for the mind games of the villains and kept dueling as he knew best.

8th Cardfight Vanguard G: GIRS Crisis. The plot started to get moving with this show, but it was still a little slow. Not a whole lot happened here compared to what you might guess from the title. The heroes were still trying to get recognized as serious fighters here, but it would be a while before the grownups would acknowledge them.

9th Cardfight Vanguard G. Still a very solid show, but pretty much the whole season was just character introductions. While that is similar to the first half of the original Cardfight, we didn’t get a big payoff at the end like the original. There was no Psyqualia equivalent or an antagonist quite as interesting as Ren.

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Overall, This was a really great way to end the G part of the series. By the end of its run it had really solidified itself as an excellent show even without the influence of the main series. I currently have Cardfight Vanguard as a whole in my top 5 shows. If we count G separately then it would likely still be in my top 15, perhaps just barely making it into Top 10, but no guarantees there. Throughout the various sagas the characters got a lot of development and we got a bunch of great characters. The animation and music were on point and this show has met the high bar that the card game genre has set. I definitely recommend checking this show out. Honestly, it’s best if you start with either the first G series or the very first season as opposed to starting with Z, but either way you’ll have a blast here. I look forward to seeing the retro season coming up.

Overall 9/10

Cardfight Vanguard: Neon Messiah Review

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It’s time to look at a film that I’ve been waiting to watch for quite a while. I consider Cardfight Vanguard to be one of the greatest shows of all time and it was really at its height back when Aichi and the gang were the main characters. This film was the official wrap up for them before handing the baton over to a new cast. The trailer was really good and looked to include the first ever 2v1 fight in the series. While this movie is incredibly short that isn’t all that uncommon for an anime film. Until recently a lot of them seemed to be about 70 minutes and this one was a double feature as well. Still, it’s definitely a great ride while it lasts.

The film starts off with a mysterious new player challenging Ren. The skilled Cardfighter accepts the challenge but it soundly defeated and his tournament entry pass is stolen. Meanwhile Aichi is pretty psyched to finally get a chance to prove his mettle once more at this exclusive tournament. He is one of the lucky 16 to make the cut and heads to the arena with his friends. Unfortunately 7 combatants do not show up and Kouji declares that he has taken them down. He is allowed entry into the tournament and now all of the heroes should be worried. What is Kouji’s true aim in all of this?

I always like the movie trope of having a new villain show up and suddenly start beating up on the old hype characters. We had Frieza show up in Resurrection F as he took out Mystic Gohan in a single blow, the main villain from the Pyramid of Light who actually defeated Kaiba, and Mewtwo who took down Gary in the first Pokémon film. There’s just something nice about seeing a new villain show up and start taking names. Of course the other way around is also fun though like when a hype character actually manages to hold his own and claim the win but that’s super rare. Considering that by the movie the main cast are usually at their strongest, this cliche really helps make the villain appear to be a legitimate threat.

Neon Messiah does that well with Kouji. Taking out Ren is already impressive and then he also beat Leon. Those two were probably Aichi’s biggest rivals besides Kai and they lasted for quite a while back in Arc 3. Seeing them get absolutely wrecked (Leon losing off screen and Ren losing without getting his theme music) shows just how skilled Kouji is. Kouji is definitely an intense villain here and one that I can get behind. His motivation for destroying Cardfight does come across as really petty and hard to take seriously but considering that he had to master a game that he couldn’t stand it does show his resolve. He was able to become one of the best players in the world at the end. As a villain I would put him up there as one of Cardfight’s best. It’s too bad we couldn’t see him go up against Kai though. That would have definitely been a great fight and I’m still convinced that Kai would have been able to claim victory.

As for Kai, since he had some ties to Kouji from the past he gets a particularly large role in this film. Kai has experience being the main character, main villain, and rival in various seasons of the Cardfight show so one might say that he has the most well rounded resume of the bunch. As such it is no surprise that he can easily hold the plot on his own. I’d say that his portrayal was definitely really good since he doesn’t lose a duel in the whole movie. With his current skill level there are very few who can hope to challenge him.

Aichi also looks pretty good as always. He has certainly come a long way since the days where he was just a timid beginner. Even though he is unable to match up against Kouji, he still had his confidence throughout the duel. You could also make the case that he was a little distracted because Planet Cray was getting beat up for the 100th time in the last few months. Aichi was probably disappointed that the supposed embodiment of Cardfight is so weak. Aichi quickly regrouped in time for round 2. I’d argue that he should have let Kai finish off Kouji, but I suppose this was one duel that he didn’t want to miss.

The supporting characters are fun as always. Kamui probably gets the biggest role from them as his duel is reasonably long and he gives Kouji a good fight. It’s nice to see someone step up with Leon and Misaki couldn’t stay on screen long enough to help. For the record though, they made the right call in standing up to Kouji. If they aren’t strong enough to stop him then it doesn’t matter if they wait or fight now. On the other hand, if they are strong enough to stop him, then the sooner the better since the longer he lives the more chance there is of the monster planet being completely destroyed. The characters here are all confident in their skills and they should be. They’ve tangled with many strong opponents in the past.

I do think that Aichi should finally start using his Psyqualia more though. I know that he basically ditched the ability along with everyone else in season 2 because it was deemed unfair as it’s an auto victory, but shouldn’t that not apply when you’re fighting a villain who will destroy the world? I can respect an honor code, but it would be nice to see the return of Berserk Aichi. That would really be hype.

The animation is definitely really good as you would expect. The show already has a lot of vibrant colors and detail so for a movie this is amped up even more. As there wouldn’t be time to show the actual cardfights here as just 2-3 would be the whole length of the movie, this film opts to give us some visuals as it speeds through the fight in a montage style. The cynical side of me can’t help but notice that it is also a lot easier on the writers as they don’t have to actually think up the specifics of the duel. It would be extremely hard to notice some kind of error in this style and most wouldn’t even bother to try. Of course no matter the reason it is fun to see some real time action. It would soon be the norm in Cardfight G so I guess this was another bridge to that sequel. The film has 2 insert songs which is always cool. Some of the ingame music for the duels were also fairly solid but I can’t say that I really remember any of them. It worked well for the duels which is good enough.

Overall, Neon Messiah was definitely a great film. I would have certainly preferred it to be another 30 minutes longer at the very least but it still tells a complete story and gives us a lot of action so I’m satisfied. The action scenes have a really high budget and the film is always exciting with no dull moments to slow it down. It’s not enough to place it as the best card game movie or anything like that but it’s still a great movie all the same. I’d recommend it to fans of the series for sure or if you are a Yugioh fan as well. If you like action movies then you can potentially enjoy it even without any context as it’s very fast paced and engaging from start to finish.

Overall 8/10

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On Review

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It’s time to look at Monster Hunter. An anime that may be different than what you’re expecting as it is based on a very specific game in the series that is about riders instead of hunters. The series never really manages to break out of its shell and become something too epic which is a shame. There are certainly some more interesting things they could have done here and it could have potentially opened up into something like Pokemon. Still, it’s a reasonably good show and one that lasted for a long time so the show had time for a lot of things to happen.

There are two main arcs, but lets say 3 since the pre arc was rather long. The start of the show is about Lute, Cheval, and Lilia as they journey throughout the village and into towns as they learn more about being Riders. Unlike Hunters who destroy monsters for rewards and safety, Lute and the gang grew up in a village where they live as pals. Lute aims to prove that having kinship with a monster is the right thing to do while the hunters aren’t very sure. Hijinx ensues and the cast often have to wonder if this is the right call. Even if it is, how will they convince anyone to change sides? To become a rider you have to get a special jewel and to do that you basically have to join a village so that’s a tough sell for anyone.

The next arc is the darkest of the show as Cheval’s life is forever changed when a blighted monster destroys the village. He decides to avenge his family by hunting down and destroying all blighted monsters. Lute doesn’t think that this is the way to go though and decides to purify all of the crystals instead to stop the corruption at its core. The two of them become enemies now and while Lute is convinced that they can still be friends with differing opinions, Cheval doesn’t agree. He aims to destroy Lute once and for all to prove that sometimes Kinship isn’t enough to keep two people together.

Finally, the series brings in a new group of villains known as the Black/Ebon/Dark Riders who show up and kidnap Avinia. They aim to bring the world to its knees by performing a forbidden ritual and getting unlimited power. Lute and Cheval have to try and stop these guys, but the problem is that they are outnumbered and these villains are also way too powerful. They will need some kind of power up to hold their own. The other villagers realize that they will have to get stronger as well, but can they bridge the gap in time?
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The show’s tone was all over the place, but for the most part it was rather light. Think of it as a classic slice of life series for a while as the heroes head to various towns and chat with people. That’s why in some cases the episodes could get a little boring since the cast isn’t amazing. Then the show gets really dark for the main Blighted Monsters arc. One thing the show is rarely clear about is if defeating monsters means destroying them. It seems like this is the case due to how everyone reacts and Lute always tells everyone not to defeat the monsters except for when he does. The show’s just really not consistent here. This may be more the dub than anything, but it really tried to never use the word destroy. As a result, “defeated” is the term always used even when a monster is slain.

That’s why the middle arc gets really dark as Cheval goes around destroying all monsters who have been in contact with the blight and even any other that just gets in his way. Lute and the others are unable to save any of them. Chieval even commands a Nargacuga of his own as a revenge of sorts for the main one dealing with his family. He is very mean to it of course and then abandons it. Cheval never really had to answer for all of this much and I just felt bad for the monsters. Then of course we have the hunters running around slaying them all. It’s definitely a rather brutal world that Lute and the others live in. The worst part is that Lute has his kinship stone which can purify all of the blighted monsters but he typically forgets about this and still tries to take some of them down at times. This whole part of the saga definitely brings it down quite a bit and is one of the main reasons why the Black Rider arc ended up winning. At this point the monsters started getting written out a bit although Shadow still destroys quite a few along the way as well. I guess they all need to become pals with a main character quickly before it’s too late.

Lute is your typical main character. He believes in the power of friendship (Known as Kinship here) and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s really close with Navirou so they trade insults quite a lot but all in good fun. Lute’s only real flaw at times is just how much of a pacifist he is. Even when being attacked he refuses to fight back if he is up against a fellow rider. This is at its worst during the final arc when he first fights with Gale. Considering that this guy kidnapped one of his friends and may destroy the village, Lute really has no time to keep trying to dodge the fight. You’ve got to make a stand and it’s not like simply fighting the opponent is the same as destroying him. Aside from that it is nice to have a more experienced Lute for the final arc. He is treated with a lot of respect at the end since he did help save the world and his new design does a good job of getting that across without any words. As soon as you see the design for the first time you can tell that he has gotten stronger.

Navirou is Lute’s travel companion and he is very useful for navigation in his mind at least. He is the main comic relief character of the series so you can probably guess that he isn’t very good at almost anything. He does have some thunder abilities which are really handy when Navirou actually remembers that he has such a power. Unfortunately that isn’t very often so don’t expect to see it much. Navirou’s cross armed salute is probably his best running gag but I also don’t mind his “Navi rules.” Cutting out some of his comic relief would probably have been nice though or even some of the cat episodes in genera. Overall I think he worked well as a support character and I’m glad he was around but the character could have been better.

Lilia is technically one of the 3 main characters for a while but starts to get written out by the end. Her path in the show was doomed from the start as she did t have a monster to protect her. Without a monstie in an action show like this, of course she wouldn’t ultimately stand a chance. It’s the same situation as being in a Pokémon show without catching a Pokémon. Lilia decided that she wanted to be a researcher instead which is fine but that kind of character rarely gets to do all that much. Lilia ends up being rather bland as a result.

Then we have Cheval who is the main rival. He gets a very Sasuke esque role here as he starts out by being one of the more heroic characters, but quickly starts to let the darkness consume him. He goes as far as to try and destroy Lute multiple times and nearly destroys one of his own Monsties. His whole arc gets rather dark at times. Naturally he also gets the redemption arc at the end as well. It may be a little tough to buy into as well especially since he did claim quite a few victims. Lute may accept him, but should he? Ultimately it’s hard to see Cheval as anything but a villain even by the end. It’s a shame because his character type is always nice as he becomes the rival that he always should have been by the end. The guy certainly went through a lot of character changes.

Avinia is a mysterious figure who shows up in the series from time to time before getting a big role in the final arc. She does lose this mystique almost right away but it was nice to finally have another rider who could fight. At the time Lute was the only heroic rider so he really needed an ally. Unfortunately, we never did get that Avinia vs Cheval fight I was hoping for. Once again I can say that the show dropped the ball with Avinia quite a bit. She has one of the best designs in the show and a monstie with a lot of potential. Despite this she rarely fights in the series and spends most of the final arc on the sidelines. Considering how powerful she apparently is, I would have liked to have seen her play a more active role. Still a cool character but one who wasn’t given enough to do in the show.
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Of course we can’t forget about Deb….Li. Every character in the series likes to mess up his name and it is heavily implied that this is intentional. That’s because they say his name normally when he isn’t around. We already have a handful of comic relief characters but I guess you can never have too many as this one was thrown in as well. For the most part he is about as obnoxious as you would expect. He yells quite a lot and can’t seem to do anything right. The one running gag that he does right (Aside from the whole name thing since that one is decent because of how Debli panics every time) is when he Rides on. The animation and fake sound effect that he gets for it is handled beautifully. Debli toes the line between being a sympathetic character and an annoying one and does a good job of making it ambiguous. In the end I was okay with him although I wouldn’t have been sad if he had never shown up.

Reverto is probably one of her biggest unintentional jokes in the series. He gets a lot of hype throughout the series as being one of the world’s greatest hunters. If that really is the case then that doesn’t bode well for the hunters in general. He can barely handle any legitimately strong monsters and forget about taking down a plot important villain. In this show all hunters can do is swing their sword around and hope to land some good hits. They have no special abilities or even any enhanced physical ones. They are just guys with swords. Of course one of the main themes of the show is that the Riders are right and the Hunters are wrong so I wouldn’t expect them to look that good but they look downright horrible by the end. Hundreds of hunters can accomplish what a single rider can because they have no special abilities. Why would they possibly not want to become riders then? How have they not all been wiped out by this point? Anyway, there isn’t anything actually wrong with Reverto as he is a decent character but you just can’t take him seriously when he is fighting because despite all of the tough talk you know that he won’t end up coming out on top. He is just there to buy time for Lute.

Simone would fall into the same issue except from the start she is portrayed as a researcher rather than a fighter. Her intel is rarely useful and barely goes beyond the realm of common knowledge but I guess her role isn’t all that bad. She’s just not a very interesting character and none of her scenes really leave an impact. Cut her out from the show entirely and nothing really changes at all. That’s never a good sign.

Dan is one of those comic relief characters where you aren’t sure if it is intentional or not for a while. Technically you would think that he is rather skilled since he is rather old and teaches the kids, but they end up surpassing him very quickly. Part of the issue is the fact that he chose a very weak monster to be his monstie. He never explains why he doesn’t just pick a different creature. Perhaps it has sentimental value or perhaps he just isn’t the smartest rider in the group. Either way, his character doesn’t work too well and his “In top Form” battle cry is so half hearted that you will wonder why they built a whole character around the line. As you can tell, many of the supporting characters just aren’t very interesting. I won’t even get into the various elders who never do anything or the riddle master who is just annoying.
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Mille is one of the side characters who is actually good. She can fight and in the final arc is probably the strongest rider aside from the main 2. (Lute and Chevall) O would have liked her to have gotten more of a role though. From the start of the show you got the impression that she may turn out to be a bit of a rival or at the very least would remain as one of the main fighters for a while. Instead she is effectively kept to the background for most of the show. Still a good character but she could have been even better.

Instead a lot of screen time is wasted on Hyoro as he tries to overcome his timid nature. The plot does not go well and he even sides with the villainous Chevall to take on the village. Yes, Mille does this as well but at least she was already a quality character. Hyoro never ends up becoming a good character and even after he gets stronger off screen for the final arc it’s hard to ever gain respect for the guy. He just never had a big moment where he got past his fears and did something amazing. Instead he essentially proved his doubts right as he never got to be all that strong. Genie is Hyoro’s older brother and the main reason why the kid turned out the way that he did. Genie can be overly critical of Hyoro but of course he says it is only to make Hyoro better. I didn’t mind Genie, but he was a rather half hearted bully who couldn’t back up his tough talk. Ultimately he was about as weak as the other side characters and Hyoro likely surpassed him in the end.

Gale is the Shadow Rider with the biggest role in the series. He gets to fight Lute quite a few times and his skills are the real deal. He is also the strongest member I’d say although Shadow would give him some competition for that title. He gets quite a few plot twists. While his plan may not have been amazing and he probably should have tried doing something a little earlier, he did make for a good rival. He just kept getting stuck in rather bad situations. While he was also unable to make the hero move at the end which nearly caught him, it’s a mistake that I could sympathize with since he was so close to finally accomplishing his goal. It was an intense moment and he’s in my top 3 characters in the series. I’d say that he is second only to Lute.

Next is Shadow who is certainly the 2nd coolest member of the group. Her speed is astounding to the point where the heroes can’t even keep track of where she is. There is a plot twist about this that I was a little mixed on. It is essentially a nerf, but I didn’t see it coming so I’ll give the show that. I also think Shadow’s rage mode should have kicked in instantly after what Anvis ends up doing to someone instead of waiting til their next meeting. It’s not as if anything would have changed in the outcome though.

Then we have Mad who is one of the villains that you can’t take seriously. I guess in the end the Riders could only score a 50 as 2 of their members were good and the others weren’t. Mad is just one of those guys who only cares about his looks and as a result he can be defeated if you simply get some dirt on him. Even his monster’s design isn’t all that good. It’s basically just a huge worm so that’s not too impressive. Same goes for Wrath but to an even bigger extent. Wrath is the strong but not smart type, but he isn’t even all that tough. There’s nothing original or interesting about him as a character.

Finally we have Anvis, the leader of these guys. Somehow he was able to gain control over an Elder Dragon even before undergoing the complete power up ceremony. Considering this, he does earn the title of being the strongest rider in existence. He makes for a solid final boss and a solid character all around. He definitely thought things through and stayed one step ahead of Gale and the heroes for a while. He’s a considerable improvement over the doctor who was the main villain of the first few arcs. He is reduced to comic relief for the final arc and was never much of a threat anyway. His episodes had a tendency to simply be rather boring so I was fine with him being gone.

There are also the Numbers, but they never had much of a point in the story. They are really just around to get their long piece of recycled animation over and over again. The show certainly loved doing that to save on the budget. The animation for the show is fairly decent. It does take a lot of shortcuts by using recycled animation constantly though. This becomes a bigger issue in season 2 as we even get little scenes of the characters reaching out when calling their monsties. It feels really forced and I could have done without that. I’m happy they all got armor but it just feels like another way to save on animation. It also uses quite a bit of CGI. We do get some real animation whenever a big fight happens though. Some of the special abilities also look really good like Chevall’s energy disc. Overall, the animation wouldn’t hurt the show, but it wouldn’t really help it either.

The soundtrack is rather bland as well unfortunately. You will definitely start to remember the tunes after a while since they keep on popping up, but that’s because the soundtrack is just really limited. I would have loved to have had some really great tunes to amp up the fight scenes, but alas it was simply not to be. This title could not deliver.

Finally I have to say that the show’s ride on mechanic seems rather odd. Basically the monstie that is summoned shows up when a character strikes the pose. The show portrays this as the monsters are just hiding nearby until they are needed but what are they doing in the meantime? Shouldn’t they just be with the heroes then? Lute has over 6 monsties in the show, but only uses his main one for basically the whole series. What is even the point of everyone having up to 6 if they only use one for all of the fights? They should have just had Pokeballs of some kind to keep the others in as that would make more sense if you ask me. I think the show dropped the ball a little on the collect them all aspect of the series.

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Overall, This isn’t a bad show. I’d say that Monster Hunter is fairly decent. The problem is that it’s only average or below average in most areas. There isn’t a single section that I could point to and say that the series was amazing. On the contrary, the series could be a little boring at times. The characters just aren’t strong enough to hold the show as well as others could. It got a little more exciting towards the end but the show also amped up the crude humor and comedy to match. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you need a good fantasy show, but there are many others that I would suggest seeing before this one. At least there is a lot of content here since the show managed to make it to around 70 episodes. That was actually pretty impressive.

Overall 6/10