Attack on Titan Season 3 Review

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Well, it’s time to quickly talk about season 3 of Attack on Titan. The season isn’t quite over as it’s on the mid-season break but my journey with it likely is. This season finally crossed the TV-14 threshold and Toonami bumped it up to TV-MA. Now, this might not be for all episodes, possibly just one or two here and there, but it was still a pretty solid jumping off point. TV ratings have always been a little all over the place as sometimes shows just keep whatever rating they got for a while even if the individual episodes don’t deserve it. You see this frequently with many shows on Toonami. There’s less effort put into the ratings than if it were a movie as I suppose they think the fans will just keep on watching anyway. If you know that lets say one episode of Black Clover coming up will be TV-14 you might as well give the rating to all of the episodes or a good chunk of them. Sometimes they’ll update the rating other times they won’t. So for Titan it may end up sticking to TV-14 most of the time or once they go to MA they may not bother switching it back for a while. The ratings can be a bit arbitrary but either way I don’t watch any TV-MA episodes on principle. It’s a guideline that I’ve always stuck to. Anyway I doubt I’m missing much since this show was never all that good.

From the few episodes I did see the show was off to a terrible start anyway. The heroes are torturing their prisoners now to get information. Their desperation to come out on top has ultimately made them into the villains they were trying to stop. That’s a common theme within the series as the characters constantly justify their actions or throw themselves a pity party. None of them stay heroic by the end so you probably end up rooting for the ones who are less corrupt than the others. As most of the characters know what the others are doing and still do nothing, there aren’t too many innocents around. It’s a shame but the character cast certainly isn’t going to be holding you on to the hype.

This arc deals with the political struggles within the walls for the majority of the season. The government is trying to regain control while the Survey Corps are starting to wonder if they should be in charge. Then of course you’ve got the Titan shifters who have some kind of plan in mind to recapture Eren once more and of course Kenny has been hired to help get Eren for the government. With nobody to trust and everyone showing up as villains it’s a pretty sticky situation for all parties involved. If you enjoyed the Titan battles of previous seasons then you’ll be disappointed as there isn’t much fighting here. You have the huge oversized titan but that’s barely even a fight. No worries as part 2 of season 3 will bring the action back if you’ve made it that long.

The negatives are basically the same as in all of the other seasons. The violence is still wildly over the top. The series thrives on being as depressing and dark as possible with everyone not wanting to die before they finally do. The characters are constantly whining and collateral damage to the civilians is always to be expected. Whole towns will be used as bait by the “heroes.” I don’t recall as much animal violence here as in season 2 which is nice even if it’s not enough to save the series. Historia’s backstory is definitely pretty dark and it makes her decision to listen to the father seem rather terrible even from the start. Sometimes it really does seem like Eren is the only reasonable character in the series.

I will give the series props for its tight animation and soundtrack as always though. A lot of budget is clearly put into this series and it always delivers time after time. It’s just a shame since the series could do so much more with itself. Put this creative team in front of another big title like a Black Cat reboot and it would be nice to see. On a technical level you just can’t fault this series. I dare say that they increased the speed even more on the zip lining through the city scenes like when Levi tries to escape the government agents. I’m sure those scenes took a lot of work to create.

Naturally this review is a little on the shorter side since I didn’t watch much. The episodes I did see didn’t have much going on so it’s not like there is too much new content to discuss. I do have to say that seeing Eren get kidnapped is always iffy since with his titan powers I’d like to see him be more prepared for these attempts. Summon a little armor at all times or something like that. I think with enough practice he would be able to use such a skill and then he’s really be nice and overpowered. The government agents would stop messing with him at that point.
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Overall, By this point you will likely know if you like Attack on Titan or not. It’s not as if the series has changed since season 1. It’s still the same characters fighting Titans even if their situations have grown more complicated. The writing style has not changed nor has the animation or the soundtrack. It’s a very familiar series that you’ll have nostalgia for as soon as you watch the first episode. Whether good or bad memories surface from this is another question entirely. I fully expect that we will get a season 4 once season 3 ends and the series isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With the manga possibly ending relatively soon (2 years or so) the anime will probably have a finishing point by around season 5 but you really never know. In the meantime I’ll be content with my quality action shows like Dragon Ball Super and RWBY.

Overall 1/10

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Phi Brain: Puzzle of God Review

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It’s time to look at a puzzle anime which is pretty unique. There are a few puzzle franchises out there, but if we’re strictly looking at shows the only one that I can think of is Layton and I haven’t seen that one yet. A puzzle is different from a mystery after all as you’re trying to find the way to complete it, not so much finding out who made it. The season’s definitely a lot of fun and basically handled everything flawlessly. It’s a show that you can certainly recommend to anyone and it has no weak points.

The show starts with Kaito Daimon (Get used to his full name as all of the characters like using it) beating the puzzle club’s best puzzles once again. Try as they might they can never defeat him and that’s because Kaito is a genius. His catch phrase is “There ain’t no puzzle I can’t solve” which is a triple negative so it basically turns into “I can solve all puzzles!” It’s definitely one of the best catchphrases I’ve heard in a while although “I’m not done yet!” still wins at the moment. His best friend Nonoha isn’t any good at puzzles but they still get along pretty well with how different they are. Kaito’s life gets a little more complicated though when an evil organization known as the POG shows up. They have begun setting up puzzles which are designed to take the life of those who challenge them.

This goes against what Kaito believes puzzles should be like. He plays them for fun after all. Now he is obligated to try out all of these puzzles so he can solve them before anyone gets hurt. He registers with the school as a genius with an official title so he can go after the POG and is also chosen by the Armlet of Orpheus which grants him super human intelligence for a time, but also completely exhausts him. He won’t be alone though as 3 other geniuses from the school, Gammon, Ana, and Cubik are also chosen. Together they have to stop the POG, but are these other guys just holding Kaito back? If so…how can he get them to back off?

A great deal of the season is shrouded in mystery as we only learn more about the POG in small steps. At first all you really know is that Kaito has to stop them. Gradually we see inside of the POG. Their motives, how the organization works, etc. Especially towards the end as we get a full flashback episode and you get all of the context. I’d say that the show does a good job of answering all of its questions. I still have to question how practical the POG is. Apparently they used to be more of a heroic organization but gradually they became more ruthless and were just hiring a bunch of murderers. However, from the start they were going around murdering people so it’s safe to say that this was all a front. If anything the disturbing element of the POG is how like most other cults they get a lot of people who seem like ordinary citizens to quickly be eager to destroy their fellow man. It’s definitely not what you would expect from a teacher at the local school for example. The POG also gets away with quite a lot to be honest, but I suppose one day the cops will learn of them and they’ll all do some time.

Back on target, as I mentioned the puzzles are one of the big selling points of the show. They certainly deliver. All of the puzzles in the show are properly explained. They are nice and complex without being hard to understand. For example, when you see the puzzle you will quickly know what to do even if you aren’t sure how to find the actual answer. The puzzles are just written really well. My favorite one is probably the Lightsaber duel. There’s a lot of strategy there while also being more of a physical test of skill since you also need to be able to move fast enough to pull off most of the moves. The same can be said for some of the other puzzles like the battle atop the construction building. If you can’t run from pillar to pillar fast enough then it’s really all over.

The animation is quite sharp. I like the effects that are used for the armlet and the glowing eyes that Kaito and Rook have. The energy effects are just very vibrant and same with all of the backgrounds. The show always looks sharp and you can tell that a good amount of effort was put into it. I also greatly enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s an interesting Brazilian/Portuguese type soundtrack with a lot of fast paced tunes that work well for the puzzles. The theme song is also really good which is definitely fortunate since the whole season just has one. iI still think that a theme song should change every 13 episodes, but I suppose that can get expensive. It’s definitely a memorable bundle of songs so that is reason enough to give this one a look.

Now lets look at the main cast. Kaito is our main character and he’s a good lead. He is very confident throughout the series and never even considers the fact that he might not win. He knows that he is a top notch solver and I do tend to enjoy characters like that quite a bit. He does have a few times where his confidence is shaken thanks to stuff that happened in his childhood which the villains love to use against him. Still, it never keeps him down for long and Kaito always bounces back. He has to work extra hard most of the time so he wins the puzzle while still saving his opponent. It’s definitely not an easy road, but it’s one that he can handle. The best character in the show is certainly him or Gammon.

Gammon is the rival here. He’s another very confident character who is convinced that he is the best. Initially he is a solver like Kaito but eventually he remembers that he used to be a Giver. (Givers create puzzles while solvers…..solve them) This leads to a rather iffy decision where Gammon joins the POG for a while. Now this is where it’s pretty complicated. See, the show doesn’t play it off as too serious a thing. He betrays the heroes and works for a bunch of murderers, but he never personally destroys anyone. The heroes also seem to think that he knew they would survive each time which is why he had no qualms about murdering Kaito. Still, it’s taken quite far so even if the heroes can forgive him I’m not sure if I can. At the very least he did drop from being my favorite character to going under Kaito. I suppose I’ll put him in 2nd for now, but it will be interesting to see where his character arc goes from here. His tale is tragic at times admittedly as he is quite good, but always gets overshadowed by Kaito. That’s why it was interesting to see him as an antagonist since he busts into the villain base and starts taking everyone down. The fact that he was able to beat everyone aside from the boss Rook (Who he never got to fight) is quite telling.

Nonoha is the main heroine and she’s a fun character to have around. She can actually fight unlike most of the cast which is certainly handy in case any of the villains decide to take matters into their own hands. I also like how she was helpful right from the start like in the very first episode where she helps Kaito during the maze. Yeah, she almost fell to her doom, but it was a good effort. She’s always around to cheer Kaito and the gang up. Even after all of Kaito’s friends start running scared she manages to stick with him the whole time. Definitely a quality character and even if she can’t solve puzzles hopefully she continues to get a big role in the next adventures.
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Cubik is one of Kaito’s less impressive friends. He tries to stop Kaito from solving puzzles several times. The worst instance of this was when he put something on Kaito that wouldn’t let him focus on puzzles and would give him shots of pain if he tried. It’s always tragic to see since those puzzles would have been easy for Kaito otherwise. Cubik also deserts Kaito when the lead needed him most. He has his reasons and at least he had one unlike the next character, but he could have handled the situation much better than he did. It was still rather tough for him to recover from what happened in the end. Cubik also isn’t one of the better solvers to be honest.

Then there is Ana who is the worse of the friends. For starters, when he deserts Kaito there is no good reason. He just couldn’t take the stress and thought that Kaito was going to die so he wanted no part of it. Even by the end of the series all he got to do was show Kaito a painting. Sure, that was Ana’s big moment, but it wasn’t nearly as emotional or impactful at the others. Ana just could have done a lot better and never taking anything seriously doesn’t help his case either. Sometimes you gotta take things seriously or overconfidence will be your downfall.

Jikukawa is the mysterious student counsel president who works directly for Principal Baron. He acts like a troll most of the time and is just around to give the heroes their orders. He keeps a lot of secrets from them, but at the end of the day he does try to help them out at times. He just has the dangerous attitude of letting them go to the death puzzles and deciding that if they can’t solve them then it was simply their time. He starts taking more initiative as the series goes on and gradually becomes a better character as a result. You should only listen to corrupt orders for so long after all. Then we have the Principal who never really became a good character.

Baron is one of the big members of the POG and he tries to get the heroes to solve the puzzles. The problem is that his end goal is to defy the POG but he does a really bad job of it. He’s in over his head and doesn’t even know what is happening half the time. He may as well be a villain since he does whatever they say without question. Don’t let his peaceful words fool you, the Baron is not someone that I would trust and the heroes should probably be less happy to see him each time. Then we have Jin who used to hang out with Kaito and Rook before vanishing. The way his plot goes may be a bit unsatisfying, but it was an original twist. Lets just say that the big showdown really didn’t go his way despite the guy’s confidence. Maybe he would have done a little better if he had kept the armlet.

Time to look at the villains. The leader/main villain of the series is Rook. He was Kaito’s friend back in the day before vanishing. Now he is focused on destroying Kaito because he wishes they could have been friends without anyone else. Of course, I don’t trust Rook much though and I think he would have made them go through the Puzzle of God anyway. I haven’t really talked about that part much, but basically the ultimate goal of the POG is to develop a talent strong enough to challenge the Puzzle of God. Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, you need 2 solvers to challenge the puzzle at the same time since it’s a battle puzzle. The loser dies while the winner receives the Book of God which can be used to destroy the world..somehow. I don’t think the show even knows how it would work, but it’s basically just an incentive to get everyone fighting. The actual book is never all that important. Fortunately since the two solvers in the past already solved it, the book is already out in the open. Back to Rook, he’s not the greatest villain. He seems pretty intense by the end with how he wants to be with Kaito, but still chooses to act as his enemy the whole time. He let his jealousy turn him mad which wrecks all of his composure. He has a cool design, but he’s probably one of the weaker villains personality-wise.

Then we have Bishop who is Rook’s right hand man. This guy was pretty cool and it’s too bad we couldn’t have seen him more. The guy’s a genius in his own right even if he is a considerable step below Rook. He always keeps his cool and helps the villains from behind the scenes. He believes in winning fair and square so he doesn’t use any cheap tactics. That definitely makes him an honorable fighter in my book. It’s certainly possible that he may return, but I just get the feeling that he probably won’t do much. Meanwhile, one of the other big villains is Elena. She’s a villain by night and an entertainer by day, but both roles involve puzzles. Her heart is never really in it compared to the others, but she still stays on the side of the POG. She may as well since she’s a celebrity and doesn’t have to fear them as much as the others. Elena is a fun character and pretty resourceful. The heroes definitely owe her for the insider information she gave them. I could definitely see her showing up again at some point. She got a lot of development so it’s time for her to challenge a puzzle as a hero.

That’s basically it for the relevant cast. I’ve also covered pretty much everything about the series so it’s almost time for the wrap up. It goes without saying but the writing is also pretty solid. I think you’ll be kept engaged from start to finish. The show has a lot of replay value given how you can also choose to pause the puzzle from the start and solve it yourself. Some of them can be a bit of a stretch to solve without clues, but others are laid out from the start with a solution. You’ll just need a paper and pen handy to see if you can crack it. It’ll definitely take you longer than the characters from the show though.
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Overall, Phi Brain is definitely a blast. It’s a series that I highly recommend. The puzzles are really well thought out and the cast of characters are all pretty interesting as well. I think the random episodes of the heroes beating puzzles of fools and POG traps may have beaten some of the more plot based episodes of the second half, but both have their strengths. You can be satisfied with knowing that season 1 is a complete package. It’s a story that has a beginning and an ending. There isn’t even a real cliffhanger for season 2 as long as you don’t watch the preview. I’m certainly glad that there are more adventures to be had with the main cast though. They can easily hold their own plots. Even without a main villain group the puzzles would be good enough, but we do actually have a fresh villain group coming up which will be cool. They have a lot of potential.

Overall 8/10

My Hero Academia: The Two Heroes Review

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It’s time to look at the new Hero Academy film! With the franchise growing more and more popular it’s about time we got a full length film. The last few big films for the various Shonen titles like DBZ and Naruto have been great so I was confident that this one would be no exception. It definitely is a great film and continues the show well. While the heroes are still limited a bit by their own decisions, they at least help by the end and show the world that sometimes you have to step up. Once they get their hero licenses then it will be even easier for them.

The film starts off with Deku and All Might heading over to America. They were invited by Melissa, genius inventor, to go say hi to David who used to be All Might’s partner. The two of them drifted apart over the years as All Might wanted to save people with his abilities while David wanted to retreat to his lab. Surprisingly David seems happy to see All Might and I’m glad the film didn’t go the drama route there. Most of Deku’s classmates have also decided to tag along for fun so Deku has to be careful that they don’t figure out his connection to All Might. The reunion is cut short though when villains attack the tower and take hostages. None of the pros can make a move so it’s up to the kids. The problem is that they don’t have their hero licenses so according to the regulations they have to ignore the terrorists. Can the heroes still save the day?

Naturally it makes sense that in a world where 70-80% of the population have super powers there would be rules to restrict people from using their abilities at random. If everyone decided to play hero then there would be no point to the hero schools and the government would lose money. At the same time, you gotta realize that if someone’s in trouble in front of you then it’s time to act. I have little doubt that most main characters would reach this conclusion like Ichigo, Naruto, etc. The problem with Deku is he doesn’t really learn that lesson. In fact, the manga goes out of its way to teach him the reverse of it. There were several occasions where Deku stepped in to help out, but then he was rebuked by the adults for saving lives. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Sadly the words have stuck and since then Deku has started doing his best to follow the rules even if it means abandoning those in need. It’s a rather disappointing look for him in season 3, this movie, and be prepared for season 4 where he makes his biggest mistake yet.

While I’m not saying that the rules shouldn’t apply to Deku, I’m saying that he shouldn’t care. You’ve always gotta make some tough choices on whether to follow the rules or not. The fact of the matter is that some rules and laws are simply bad and immoral. Others are seemingly harmless but depending on the circumstance they provide no benefit. This is one of those times. The rule makes sense, but must be ignored when people are in danger. The idea that these heroes are all around and simply don’t want to make a move because they can’t attack villains is terrible. Fortunately Bakugou and Todoroki completely ignore this once the fighting starts.

That’s enough on the Deku part. He does good when he’s in a fight at least although he is heavily nerfed at different points to ensure that the film doesn’t end too quickly. It’s still a cool concept to be completely overpowered next to the rest of the case although the series rarely delves into that. Deku is a little out of character here with how easily he gets flustered and resorts to his pre arc personality, but he’s not bad either. He’s better than some of the other students. It’s probably no surprise here that Bakugo is the best character. He sees someone he doesn’t like and an attack is already underway. He won’t hesitate to make the hero call and his abilities are definitely really useful in a battle. While it will be hard for him to keep up with some of the other characters since his abilities can only improve so much, he won’t back down from a fight.

Next up Todoroki is also pretty solid here. As always he is another one of the characters who thinks that fighting the villains is the right move. What puts him slightly under Bakugo would be the fact that he is more likely to listen to the others and not break the rules. His abilities are definitely quite solid though and they work a lot like Gaara’s. His tag team fight with Bakugo is definitely one of the better fights in the movie. It’s very fast paced and the more battles the better.

The other classmates range from bad to just being around. I won’t really talk about the ones who were stuck at the hotel. Ochako is still too nervous throughout. She’s got a ways to go if she wants to be a pro her. Mineta and Kaminari look pretty bad here as they are ineffective in combat and aren’t even fighting for the right reasons. Kirishima and Jiro are all right, but don’t do much. Kirishima’s abilities are definitely quite useful though so the film makes sure to keep him away from the action. Can’t have too many heroes outshadowing the villains right?

Now we get to the bad characters Iida and Yaoyorozu don’t look good here at all. As always they really like to listen to the rules even if it means letting everyone die. They’ve gone pretty far off the deep end. Iida is beyond redemption in the franchise and while Yaoyorozu isn’t quite as bad since she doesn’t try to get in the heroes’ way, she’s not much better. The two of them just don’t realize what it means to be a true hero and until they learn that lesson it is going to be hard for them to move up the ranks. They aren’t particularly helpful in the fight either as Iida forgot how to do basic maintenance on his tech and Yaoyorozu’s abilities are simply too defensive.

As for the pros, All Might is really the only one who gets to do much here. As always he is the strongest by a long shot and it’s easy to see why he is the symbol of peace. In the flashback his design looked quite a bit different. Sort of like the overconfident athlete kind of character which works pretty well. He was always earnest and the overconfident appearance was simply his look, not his personality. It’s always nice to see him from back in the day although I don’t imagine he got a lot of practice in since the villains never seem to be in the same league as him. In the present he is naturally a lot weaker than he used to be. The film does a good job of keeping him out of the fight through the hostages since it doesn’t matter how strong you are if humans get in the way. Once the hostages are safe he is finally able to let loose against the villain.

The final fight delivers as you could probably have guessed. Seeing All Might and Deku team up was a lot of fun. The other students also got to help and in a way that wasn’t cheesy. (Invisible Rasengan..) They were able to help clear the field for the two heroes while being aware of their limitations. The glove that Melissa gave Deku was also a nice way to see Deku go all out a little more than usual. Having such a gadget is definitely great and while it did shatter, it would be cool to see something similar be implemented in the manga at some point. This final fight had quite a few phases and climaxes so it certainly wasn’t rushed and was even a tad bit longer than I thought it would be. That is certainly a great thing.

I also liked the final boss. He was a metal user who is a lot stronger than he seems. Even before the enhancement he is strong enough to give Deku a reasonable fight. Yes, Deku should have wrecked him, but we’ll assume that his shock simply slowed down his reaction times. The villain had a lot of great dialogue and a cool design. His super form at the end was also pretty neat as it had a bit of a cosmic look to it. All Might definitely had enough of the villains though as he attempts to murder them by blowing up their chopper as he got David to safety. There’s almost no way the villains could have survived that so it was a bit unexpected. I suppose since All Might knew he was going to change soon he figured that he had to wrap up the fight.

It almost goes without saying, but part of what makes the fight so good is the stellar animation. The battles are very flashy with the action moving very quickly. The backgrounds are bright and a lot of nice details are in the film. It’s definitely theater budget. While there are 1-2 scenes where character faces are completely blank without any details, I have to assume that this was a stylistic choice similar to how All Might’s eyes are never shown to make him seem like his game face is always on. That’s always been a pretty cool look. The soundtrack is mostly just tunes from the show although I think we did get 1-2 new themes. The music is pretty sound and complements the film.

As for the two original characters made up for the film, I can’t say that I was a big fan of David. The guy just doesn’t think things through and isn’t the smartest bulb out there. It’s hard to feel any sympathy for him to be honest. As for Melissa, she’s a fun character. She has good inventions and is a useful companion during the film. While she may not have a quirk, she doesn’t tend to panic and helps out whenever she can. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

Naturally I do have to quickly mention Godzilla since part of the marketing for the film kept on showing him. Well, the bad news is that his role is extremely small. His screen time is less than 10 seconds in the entire film. That’s…..pretty disappointing for fans who were looking forward to his appearance. It’s not exactly the Legendairy experience that everyone was looking for, but I guess they weren’t milking his reputation for this film. Heh. I like the roar they used. As a casual Godzilla fan I couldn’t tell you which era the roar was from, but it was definitely retro.

Overall, My Hero Academy The Two Heroes is a pretty fun film. It does a good job of hitting that balance between being an extended episode and feeling like a special adventure. The action scenes are solid and the pacing is really good. While a lot of the students aren’t really ready for these battles and make the wrong calls, they are still just kids so they have plenty of time to improve their game. It was nice to see America for a change along with this high tech island. A film is always a good time to take the characters out of their usual environment. The film also includes a recap at the beginning for people who haven’t seen the anime. It’s pretty well done and includes all of the information that you would need so even if you haven’t watched the show I believe you could watch this and still understand what is happening. You’ll still enjoy it and while you may not get the 100% experience, it’ll still be a great time.

Overall 8/10

Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss Review

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It’s time to look at the 4th film in the Digimon Tri series. This one finally has the gang head to the Digital World, but what does this mean for all of the ongoing plot lines so far? Well, they’re basically gonna get dropped for this film so we can focus on character introductions. This was a bit of a dicey call and I can certainly see how this would be the weakest installment yet. It basically just feels like filler for the most part and choosing to lead with a grainy low budget intro was…interesting to say the least. The scenes in the intro were interesting, but I wanted my high budget animation!

So the film starts off by showing us the school agent back when she was a kid. Apparently she had been one of the chosen ones (Or not chosen depending on how you interpret the speech) along with the teacher guy and she had to watch the elders appear for the first time as they sacrificed her friend to save the world. Well, now she has found a way to bring him back, the reboot! Meanwhile Tai and the others are in the Digital World, but their Digimon haven’t gotten their memories back as expected. It’s no big deal since they all get along…with the exception of Sora and her Digimon. Can they reconnect in the middle of this crisis? They better get their act together soon because Mega level Digimon are after them!

Sora is the main focus here as she goes through her personal dilemma. Was I on her side or not? Well, here’s the situation. The gang has arrived in the Digital World but their partners do not recognize them. The humans knew that beforehand but they held out hope that the Digimon would just remember somehow. Sora is no exception and since her Digimon wants nothing to do with her she takes it pretty hard.

I’d say that part of the problem on her end was that she was rushing the whole thing too much. You can’t expect to become friends with someone again over night like that. Granted, part of the reason why she got such expectations was because the others did the same thing so quickly. Naturally she gets a little jealous about the whole thing and since she is used to bottling her feelings up, Sora doesn’t do a great job of handling the situation. Naturally this is all leading up to the fact that I was not on her side. Not only should she not blame Tai and Matt at all, but her issue doesn’t even seem as big as the others. If she didn’t get emotional every time Biyumon yelled at her she would be in a far better position.

Now lets talk about more serious dilemmas. Unfortunately this is the first film to really get wonky when it comes to the power levels. It is quite noticeable even if you don’t usually focus on things like that. Gabumon is able to cancel out an energy blast from a Mega level Digimon despite being only a rookie. Then another rookie is able to stun the Mega. At that difference in power the attacks shouldn’t even be noticed. Rookies can rarely even damage champions, a mega is too much of a stretch.

This is definitely an issue that I would say falls with the writing. The film appeared to be trying to create a sense of danger and suspense for the heroes and figured that putting them in such a dangerous position was the way to go. That was not actually the case though because the writers went too far so when the heroes make a comeback or delay the inevitable like in those scenes it just doesn’t work. The film should have just not used a Mega right off the bat or the heroes should have kept their ultimates. That would have made a difference.

As far as the soundtrack goes, it’s only natural that this film could not top the last 3. That’s because this is the first installment not to feature the excellent danger theme that I always like to see. You can’t just cut out the best theme in the series like that. We also don’t have the techno intro but we have other insert songs at the ready here so it seemed like a fair trade. It’s still a reasonable soundtrack but one that is now missing a little impact. The animation continues to be consistent here. If you liked it in the first 3 parts then I don’t believe that this would change here. The fights are solid and the landscapes are on point. The character designs/animations may still be a little pale but as they don’t have their iconic costumes I suppose that it can’t be helped.

As far as Dark Jedi goes, the film does its best to make him as unlikable as possible. He goes through the trope of licking one of the heroes for shock value and to make sure you know that this guy is batty. So much for being the calm and collected mastermind right? The FBI agent is also going downhill fast as her final scene already negates her sob story. The other agent is certainly taking his time figuring this all out as well. I’m just ready for Alphamon to show up and start wrecking everyone again. Having the King of Digimon show up soon would also be a lot of fun.

Unfortunately this movie didn’t bode well for Meiko and Meicoomon either. Both of them panicked under pressure when the going got tough and made the villain’s job quite easy. The other Digidestined should also be blamed to an extent as they totally ditched her without any good reason. The whole point of the mission was to protect her and yet they left to go on their victory lap. Really? That also seemed very plot convenient. Also, the heroes had many chances to attack Dark Jedi (They even knew to call him Dark Jedi pretty quickly) but they kept just not doing so. At some point you have to step up and make an attack. Only Joe actually tried here and naturally it didn’t go well. I appreciated the attempt though. If the heroes had knocked him out that could have helped the situation quite a bit.

So while this film could have certainly be handled better, you’ve still got to give it credit for building a compelling story. The universe around the characters still feels nice and mysterious the whole time. The villains operate in the shadows so most of the residents in the world don’t even know what is happening. While certain scenes can be frustrating, at least you do care about what is going on. I’ll give a more thorough breakdown of the various plot lines and such in the final film so hopefully it is able to tie everything together.

Overall, This installment seemed to be buying for time to an extent. If you didn’t know any better you would almost assume that there was some kind of change in writers behind the scenes as the story definitely seems to be changing directions. That’s not a bad thing per say, but hopefully they do have an end goal in mind as I still have quite a few questions that need to be answered. Even if there may be some missed opportunities by the end of this series at least the plot is still engaging and I don’t expect that will change. Naturally if you saw the first 3 films then I’d recommend checking out this one. If you have not, then maybe you could jump on here and still enjoy the film as it’s a reasonable jumping on point but you will be missing some context which will make the scenes less emotional.

Overall 7/10

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

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.
Crim
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