SSSS.Dynazenon Review


Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Shenmue Review


Shenmue is a show based on a game series that I have not played, however you don’t really need to know them to enjoy the show since it re-adapts the sagas. I was impressed with the show right off the bat because it’s got a very retro vibe to it. I’d compare it to Batman Beyond and the classic superhero shows of the DCAU. Even the main character himself has that punk vibe like Terry. It’s a very short show so it hasn’t made it all the way to greatness yet but the way it adapted the events was definitely a lot of fun so hopefully we get a season 2 soon.

The show starts with Ryo being rather confident in his strength to the point where he doesn’t really take his father’s teachings very seriously. He ends up regretting that immediately as he heads home one day to witness a villain known as Lan Di murdering his father. Ryo tries to help but is instantly defeated and his confidence is shattered. He now wants to find out why his father was murdered and his only clue is a mysterious mirror. Ryo will have to ask around and get involved with a bunch of gangs as he tries to get closer to solving this mystery. With his heart clouded by vengeance can Ryo really get strong enough to stop Lan Di?

Shenmue is really a investigation show but what sets it apart from the rest is that Ryo’s not a pro. He’s not a hot shot detective who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s just going around and almost literally knocking on doors and asking questions. Each episode will have him walk over and ask an old lady for help, she’ll tell him to go to the coffee shop, the coffee guy will say to flip some cups, he’ll then get mugged, then rinse and repeat. Ryo is really going around doing the same things a whole lot but it just works.

There is a level of convenience to this of course as he always ends up meeting the right people, but the fact that it’s so tedious on his end helps to at least make it not feel too easy. The guy definitely does still have to walk everywhere and he gets mugged a whole lot so it’s not like he’s taking 0 risks either. Ryo is a really good fighter but he’s in a world where expert fighters seem to be around every corner and so he gets crushed many times. Even by the end of the series you can tell that he’s nowhere close to the top yet.

I’d say my best complement for the series is just that it’s a lot of fun. It really captures that retro action show vibe. There’s no end of the world stakes, no fancy combos, or really anything out of the ordinary. This is purely a street level show with Ryo beating up on goons and getting closer to his father’s murderer. The show never tries to be anything more than that and it’s probably one of the most relaxing shows that I’ve watched in a while. The pacing was always on point with each episode.

I also enjoyed the animation quite a bit. It’s not going to touch the big titles like Bleach but the fight scenes were always solid. They used the sonic boom effect for each hit which I always liked. It’s something you don’t always see nowadays but it’s a good way to make each strike feel like it has a lot of impact. The fight scenes are always solid here and the show also goes all in on the eye effects to show when someone is focused. Apparently a lot of the attacks are even taken straight from the games which is a cool attention to detail. Smooth might be the best word for the animation. It’s not as bright and colorful as some of the others out there but the fights exceled as you could really follow each exchange and feel the power behind the hits. Sadly while the animation in the episodes is real good, the opening is one of the lazier ones. I’ll never get why you would decide to cheap out on the intro since that will appear for every episode.

There’s very little actual animation in the intro at all and it’s just rather boring which is never a good thing for an opening. A proper opening should fill you with energy and have you jumping up and down. This won’t do that for you at all. As for the soundtrack, I wasn’t particularly impressed there either. I didn’t really care for the intro song. There were some decent instrumental themes in the show itself but none that I can remember off the top of my head. I feel like they worked well enough in the scenes as you’re watching but it’s quite telling that I can’t remember them at all.

As for Ryo himself, I definitely liked him as the main character. He’s focused on avenging his father’s death but never lets it consume him. He takes a ton of losses throughout the series but is always striving to do better. One of the standout scenes to me was when he and and Lishao disagree on how he should go further. He doesn’t storm out of there or cause a scene. He just respectfully says that it appears they will not be able to see eye to eye on this and leaves.

He just walks out of there peacefully and still in good standing with the master. It’s so rare to see that and Ryo just comes across as a very mature main character. Perhaps not the smartest one with how often he lets his guard down but a very solid one all the same. He slowly gets stronger throughout the series and his final fight with Lan Di was satisfying even if I thought he would have done way better. He’s clearly still got a ways to go and hopefully we get a season 2 soon so we can see how things play out. I haven’t played the games yet but who knows, I may end up experiencing the saga that way first.

As for Lan Di as the main villain, he doesn’t appear a whole lot. Really it’s just the beginning and the ending where we see him but you can still get a solid glimpse into his character that way. The guy seems very honorable but someone who will also see his revenge through to the end. He was clearly not going to spare Ryo’s father no matter what and the guy has an entire criminal empire. The fact that he can fight so well was always going to be a good sign for his character because I love it when characters can fight like that and don’t have to hide behind their minions. Lan Di is the strongest we’ve seen in the series so far so it’s fitting that he be the final boss.

Nozomi was the main heroine for a while but she pretty much gets written out once Ryo leaves home. She was as helpful as she could be in the meantime though. Nozomi may not be a fighter but she looks out for Ryo as best she can and is a nice person in general. Then you have Joy who is the main heroine in Hong Kong. Joy has a lot more energy to her and also isn’t afraid to take some risks. I thought she was a fun character to have around and Ryo would have had a really tough time settling in without her helping to show him the ropes.

There’s a third heroine Shenhua for the latest land but she hasn’t really gotten to do anything yet so there’s not much to say about her. Right now she would be the weakest of the 3 heroines and we’ll need to see some more personality out of her to get higher. Something beyond just the vague prophecies but I expect her role in season 2 would be rather large so she’ll have plenty of time for that.

Guizhang was a really solid character and definitely one of Ryo’s best allies. It was a shame that he couldn’t follow Ryo into Hong Kong because I think he would have really done well there. The guy was pretty much on par with Ryo in terms of overall fighting ability and had a good head on his shoulders. The way he was written out wasn’t terribly satisfying but maybe he’ll be back someday.

Ren was his replacement of sorts in Hong Kong. This guy is more of an opportunist who loves money and wants to get rich but as the show goes on he starts to become more of a legitimate ally. He does come in handy a lot so while he starts off as the kind of guy who will backstab you at every turn, you grow to like him. He never passed Guizhang for me but it’s always good that Ryo doesn’t have to go through the adventure alone.

Then there’s Lishao who is the master of her Dojo and has the skills to back this up. She’s a very fun character and someone that all of the villains and heroes have to respect. When she’s around you have to take that into account because of her incredible power. She’s certainly one of the standout characters here and pretty much forces Ryo to improve his own skills. Without her there’s no way he would be prepared to stand a chance here.

Wong is a kid in Hong Kong who helps out a bit here and there but I wouldn’t say he was particularly all that great. He has a good character arc where he learns to stop being a thief but that’s about all that I would say for him. You’ve got two more villains in Yuan and Dou but I wasn’t a fan of either of them. Yuan can barely even fight which really huts his case. Dou was surprisingly powerful with how he was beating Ryo on multiple occasions though. He seemed like the slow type who could never hold his own in a fight so I suppose he got the last laugh on me there. It was still pretty embarrassing for Ryo to lose there though.

Technically there are a bunch of other supporting characters running around but this pretty much sums up the main cast. As Ryo has to try and learn all of the Wude (It’s pronounced Wuda but seems to be spelled Wude online for some reason) he meets a lot of characters who help him out. I think these practices can be a little overhyped and some cross the line into just being common sense. It’s a surprisingly long plot point that takes up a good chunk of the show but fortunately the show usually throws you some fight scenes so you have something to do in the meantime.

There was one villain that felt wasted though. He shows up at the very end of the show with a cool looking mask but is taken down in seconds. Why give the guy such a good design if you’re going to throw him out right? I suppose it was subversive but I would have much preferred to see this guy get a real fight. There was a whole lot of potential there without a doubt. Lan Di’s a great villain but he’s really the only good villain at the moment so I’d like to see a few other good ones get introduced soon to keep things fresh. That slippery minion from arc 1 would definitely beat the minions in Hong Kong.

The power levels in the show are also handled pretty well which is a nice benefit of everything being fairly low tier. Ryo starts out as someone who’s low even within the verse despite having a whole lot of confidence. It’s to the point where he has to be protected by Guixhang the whole time. By Hong Kong Ryo is strong enough to hold his own but definitely can’t beat the general and still gets mugged a lot. Once Ryo has learned all of the Wude he is now able to fight and defeat any non-master but would likely still lose to Lishao and definitely Lan Di. By season 2 I expect he should make even greater strides.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of travelling in season 1. We mostly stuck to two different locations but as the show ends Ryo makes it to a third one as well. Then he’s always going to a bunch of different shops for clues and everything. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the next season. I assume it will since Ryo still doesn’t have an easy way of finding things out aside from asking everybody and following each lead. So how strong the region will be will depend on how good the supporting cast is.

Without the Wude to worry about we can also go back to more basic Shenmue investigation like Ryo heading back to the coffee houses and things like that. It’s just nice to see how nonchalant the whole thing is and I can’t stress that enough because it feels so unique in a show. I can’t think of any other time I’ve seen a main character have to check out so many places to follow through on his leads. Of course it could go in a different direction so we’ll see but as long as the show keeps its calm vibe I expect it’ll continue to be a blast. Naturally you also have to keep up the fun martial arts for the battles and I feel like Ryo needs a new super move. He has two now between the elbow hit and the axe kick but I think some kind of punch would suit him the best.

Overall, Shenmue is a very fun action show. It’s extremely low key and is more of a calm title despite the action genre but it works well. If you want to watch something that just feels nostalgic even though it’s a story you haven’t seen before then this is definitely the one to check out. For season 2 I suppose what I would like to see are some longer boss fights and for Ryo to keep his training. I can understand him forgetting the Wude when fighting Lan Di because of his grudge but you can’t use the same excuse next time. So I want a proper fight where Ryo has to give it his all. That would make for a very climactic battle and the pieces should all be in place to make that possible.

Overall 7/10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2! I like what they did with the title. It’s a small thing but a season 2 should always have some way to easily differentiate itself from the first and a question mark even works on a story level since the competition is starting to get trickier for the two leads. It’s definitely a great follow up to the first season. I would still give season 1 the edge as it had more standout segments for me, but it is nice to see Ishigami and Ino getting more of a role here. They do help to make the student council feel more complete.

The general plot here is that Shirogane and Kaguya are still trying to get the other person to confess their love first. Love is War after all and the first person to concede is the one to lose here. That’s the general set-up but more specifically it’s time for the election arc. The first year is over after all and that means the Student Council will be temporarily disbanded as the elections go on to elect a new student council president. Shirogane ultimately ends up running for the position again but this time he will be up against Ino. Ino is a first year student with big dreams and she wants to change the school. Thing is, if she wins then Kaguya and Shirogane might not see each other as often anymore so even if they can’t admit this, it adds extra fuel to their determination to win this.

The season is 12 episodes and a lot of those are stand alones so I won’t say the election arc lasts for very long but I would still consider it one of the major story beats here. Then we have the aftermath and the other big story event is that we finally see Ishigami’s full backstory of what happened to make everyone in the school dislike him. It’s certainly one of the more emotional parts of the story and while you may have expected that to be the season finale, there is one episode after that so that things can end on a lighter note. I still say Ishigami’s episode would have been perfect to end the whole thing on though.

So lets dive in and first off I’ll get the technicals out of the way since not much has changed since season 1. As was the case last time, the soundtrack is dynamite here. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important a soundtrack is for a comedy/slice of life kind of show. You need it to really inject a lot of energy into each scene. While strong writing would be enough to keep the show interesting without it, why turn down an advantage right? Kaguya is leaps and bounds above all other shows in these genres with the soundtrack. There are a lot of fun themes and then you even get the occasional homage like a Mission Impossible/James Bond kind of track.

Also the theme song’s pretty catchy. It even remembered that Kaguya was in the archery club and incorporated that into the song which was a nice detail. Then you have the animation which is still really good. It may be slightly calmer than season 1 so the original may have the slight edge there but it’s extremely close. Either way the animation is still very smooth and works well with the scenes. It never feels low budget and it’s a show that remembers to give everyone eyes that stand out. One of the big benefits of anime is how crazy they can make the hair and eyes so whenever a show remembers this it’s a good thing. In fact there’s a whole segment about Shirogane’s eyes and how they change when he has gotten some sleep. This would not have been as effective if they hadn’t given it as much detail earlier.

One of the reasons the franchise made it so big in the first place is how clever the writing is and this season doesn’t stop with that. One of the most effective gags in the whole series comes in the final episode as the gang play a fun Mario Party type game where you have to pump up a balloon. If it pops during your turn then you’ll lose and may also get a bit traumatized with how big the explosion will be. Each character has emotional flashbacks and inspirational montages where you’d expect them to surpass their limits and they don’t. It’s definitely a great scene and that was one of the better segments so it was a good way to end off the season.

The show is always funny without being silly. It’s got a great balance here. Another really solid part is when Kaguya has a trial against her other selves in her mind. The way each personality is represented while also being recognizable from her previous moments is solid. It’s a comedy scene for sure but at the same time you can tell that it’s not coming out of nowhere and can even be a bit of foreshadowing for her future moments. The show has quite a lot of depth which puts it apart from the average comedy.

I’ve read the manga and in a lot of ways that’s why these early adventures were my favorite part. I like the fun shenanigans before things get too serious. Serious moments are all well and good too of course but the banter between the characters and the fun games are when the show is at its peak. We definitely get a lot of moments here for that throughout the show as well so it never loses its momentum. Now lets dive into the characters although the cast is still a little on the small side.

Kaguya is still a great lead and certainly gets her share of wins here. From the main two I still think she tends to plan out her attacks a lot more thoroughly and is also willing to cross the line a bit more to get what she wants. Whenever we see how she knocks candidates out of the running through poison tea (Probably just sleepy tea or something very mild) or blackmail, it shows that she is really someone who has Shirogane’s back at all times. She can still be a bit quick to betray Chika all the time though so their friendship certainly isn’t the best but I’m sure she’ll get better at that eventually.

Kaguya’s plan of using citrus to burst the balloon at the end was also inspired. In general she definitely has quite a few good showings here and part of why the dynamic works is because she and Shirogane both get their clear cut wins from time to time. So instead of constant cop outs you have times where each one can feel proud of their complete accomplishment. She’s also very supportive of Ishigami even if he doesn’t always realize this.

As for Shirogane, it’s also a great season for him. While he may not be as thorough as Kaguya, his reaction times are always impressive as he’ll be able to think of some kind of excuse to save his bacon all the time. His most impressive win here had to be tricking Kaguya into being the one to beg him to stay on the council. His plan here was solid in a few different ways because if she hadn’t done that then he probably wouldn’t have re-submitted the application so it was a win-win. He created a scenario where he couldn’t lose.

Shirogane is also able to take the high road many times. He helped Ino when he saw she was in a jam and he’s the kind of guy who will accept a personal loss if it means helping someone out. I’d say that’s his humble beginnings showing here as he had to work his way to the top and knows what it’s like to lose. He’s just a very nice guy and probably one of the nicest characters in the series. You can always count on him in the end.

Ishigami has a lot of character development here and getting his own arc was impressive. He definitely had a rough string of luck. I would say he didn’t handle some parts amazingly like trying to convince the girl of why he was beating up the cheater but in the spur of the moment it’s not always easy to make the right call. I’m glad he didn’t end up writing the apology because that would have definitely been unfortunate. In the end he did not have to compromise on his ideals and now he can finally move on from the past.

He may not have gotten the perfect ending to his arc that he would have wanted but ultimately he’s still in a much better place than he was. You can see how he’s gotten more confidence over time as well. He’s not always perfect and can speak his mind a bit too much but at least now he has a positive relationship with just about everyone. Ino is really the only exception with how she’s constantly attacking the guy for no real reason. At least right now she always appears to be the instigator.

Then we have Chika who is still the fun comic relief character here. She does well in that role and is always ready to brighten up everyone’s spirits. She enjoys her role as the love detective as well and is always ready with some good advice. Chika also still has the sub plot where she will occasionally train Shirogane on a task that he’s really bad at. That continues here as well and you have to applaud her dedication of not giving up. She even ends up having a bit of a rivalry with Kaguya this time around while poor Shirogane is stuck in the middle.

Chika’s role may not feel as big as the others in a sense since the serious story parts never involve her but she is always around. You don’t feel like her role is small while watching the episodes since she is constantly around. Next up is Ino who has now joined the ranks as a main character. She makes for a solid antagonist in the election arc. Ultimately her points and ideas may not have been particularly valid in a lot of ways which explains why she would have a tough time getting votes but she tries hard.

I like her enthusiasm and confidence but do think she could work to be a bit nicer. It does appear to be true that she doesn’t really incorporate feedback most of the time or she could have done better and of course her baseless attacks on Ishigami don’t help her case. Ino’s timing can also be rather rough most of the time so she ends up not getting a very good opinion of the whole student council for a while there.

Hayasaka is more of a supporting character but one who’s always a lot of fun to have around. She plays a lot of roles here like being a student and Kaguya’s maid. She is expected to help out on the field and subtlety find out intel for Kaguya as well. There is no break for her and there’s a whole segment about Kaguya bugging her constantly when she is just trying to relax. It’s quite the thankless job for her but ultimately Hayasaka always pulls the mission off without a hitch. It’s why she is the ultimate bodyguard.

Finally there’s also Kei, while she did appear a little in season 1, her role has gotten a bit bigger here. As Shirogane’s sister you would expect her to have a role since it’s a common practice to win over someone’s family members so you can get closer to your actual target. This doesn’t tend to work out very well for Kaguya in this season though. Kei’s a fun enough character even if she always seems a bit rude to Shirogane when he’s just trying to help. Imagine getting mad at him for trying to get you a present for your birthday right? The show did good in also giving her eyes a distinct design too. No detail was left out for this anime that’s for sure.

Now with the amount of segments that the show has (2-3 per episode) you’re not likely going to find all of them top tier. The reason why the show still manage to be great though is because the vast majority of the segments are really excellent. The weaker segments for example can be when the two randoms are always asking for love advice from the main characters when they’re just trying to flex. I’d like to see the council call them out on it although still being more low key than Ishigami’s reaction. It’s always tough when your rep is on the line though.

Still, the show avoids the easy pitfalls of romance/slice of life titles like fanservice. The show has been very good about staying sophisticated so this doesn’t become an issue. There can be some small moments here and there but never any scene that stays into focus for very long or an extended situation that would make this an issue. The romance still plays a backseat to the comedy as well so things don’t get too dramatic. It’s a little more serious than in season 1 as you can tell the characters are weakening but it’s still not quite there yet. The two characters are best as rivals so it’ll be sad to see the dynamic go away once that changes.

The pacing is also really fast with how many segments are in every episode so things are always happening. You’ll never be bored in any episode that’s for sure. Whether the characters are playing a game or going for one of their many schemes, it’s always moving quickly. You’ll laugh at the funny scenes and get emotional during the triumphant ones. We even got a whole tragic plot with Kaguya’s phone getting damaged. I know it can definitely be rough losing out on all of your data like that. It’s why my important photos are backed up through social media or this site so if my phone were to ever be destroyed I’d still be okay. It’s still a hard loss though so you can feel the sadness of the scenes before the heroes are able to help her out. The show really knows how to handle every genre and we even get a lyrical song to close out the final episode as it transitions well into the opening. We’ll see if season 3 can keep up this momentum but I have no doubt that it can even if passing season 2 can be another story.

Overall, Season 2 is a solid follow up here. If you liked season 1 then you will certainly like this one because it really keeps the same energy and focus that the first season had. It’s really just as strong in most ways. I still give season 1 the edge because I felt like the climax was more emotional and the segments would beat out the season 2 counterparts on average but it’s a very close battle to be sure as I still gave them the same score. If you’re in the market for a fun rom-com then this is definitely the title to check out. With season 3 having started recently you also know right off the bat that there are a lot of episodes to check out so it makes jumping into the franchise that much more appealing.

Overall 8/10

Megaton-kyuu Musashi Review


Megaton is a show that I would consider to be reasonably obscure. I forgot about the franchise entirely after it came out because you just never saw it talked about anywhere. Well, the show actually turned out to be rather great. You’ve got a solid main character here and a lot of good battles. I do think parts of the core plot don’t make a lot of sense so you will have to stretch your disbelief but the show turns up in all the other aspects and ends up making for a very satisfying experience.

The show starts by explaining that humanity was nearly wiped out by aliens. These invaders struck quick and hard so the humans that did survive now live inside of one last city. This city is protected from the outside world and most of the people within it are being mind controlled so that they think life is going on as normal. The ones who do know better have constructed robots to fight against the invaders and protect us as a last line of defense. There are also some scattered human settlements around the planet that try to survive but for the most part humanity is over.

We then cut to our main character Yamato who is a bit of a delinquent. He is always getting into fights with Ryugo and the other gangs. Well, one day he is attacked by a group that’s a little different as they’re all cyborgs. Yamato crushes them and even the robotic leader so he is brought into the fold by the government. They unlock his memories which were torn away and he decides that he will exterminate all of the aliens. Ryugo and Teru join up as well and find out that more people are a part of this resistance than they ever could have known.

The robots require multiple pilots to use so you can’t just go in and start moving around but Yamato gets the hang of it right away. The show starts off with a very Attack on Titan kind of vibe with humanity almost being down for the count and all. Same with Yamato and his grudge against the aliens because they destroyed his whole family. From there the similarities start to end and either way this is a pretty solid way to kick things off.

We actually see the alien’s point of view rather early on in the series too. They don’t all seem super evil but they do want to eradicate humanity so we still have to stop them. At the end of the day they’re trying to take over our planet so we have to stop them no matter what. You’ve got the queen and her loyal subordinates trying to make a move on their end and then you have the subplot with princess Anshem and her mentor. Anshem wants to prove herself by murdering Yamato but has a hard time doing this. At first it’s due to comedic shenanigans where she just can’t pull this off but gradually starts to doubt her cause.

I should mention that the aliens can’t live properly in Earth’s atmosphere so they terraformed most of the planet. The city that survived has its own oxygen so in order to carry out her mission, Anshem possesses the body of one of Yamato’s classmates. You feel bad for the girl being controlled since Anshem is really hurting her reputation the whole time. It’s a fun enough subplot even if you’re really waiting for the battles.

Where the series really excels is in the fights, particularly the hand to hand ones. Yeah this is a mech show but the best fights are definitely when Yamato just picks up a pipe and starts to beat everyone up. He gets many different fights in the series ranging from street thugs to robots to aliens. In each fight he gives it his all and manages to come out on top. At first you may think he’s just a little too talented but I like seeing him be able to take on these new challenges without a sweat for a change. Usually you’d expect the lead to be overwhelmed eventually but that’s not what happens here.

Yamato’s determination really goes above anything that can be thrown at him and he is really a great main character. It may be hard for anyone to change his views about destroying all of the aliens but it’s hard to really be trying to stop him since they are the ones that invaded the Earth first and are causing all of these issues. As much as Anshem starts to talk about peace later, it’s hard to forget that they did already genocide billions of lives across the globe. That’s a rather large thing to put to the side for peace.

Now, I mentioned that there is a part of the main plot which is hard to buy and this is it. The aliens knocked out almost everyone on the planet except for this one city. They know where the city is as evidenced by their sending assassins to bump off individual agents and have known about it for a while. So why not take everyone out? The reason the villains don’t nuke the place is because they want the evolution factor. This hasn’t been fully explained yet but clearly it’s not super crucial since by the end of the series the villains are launching a big invasion anyway.

There are just so many ways to take out the city without nuking everybody. At least send a big group in to wipe out the chain of command and get some villains stationed there instead. It’s hard to buy into the human’s survival here because they are so outmatched. The reason it worked in Attack on Titan is because the titans were largely mindless so a wall could actually work. In Seraph we had ways of fighting back and the numbers weren’t so bad. The issue here is that the villains have an entire planet’s worth of fighters on their side and countless enemies. We’re talking millions and more as they send thousands of fodder to be wiped out by the heroes every episode.

Conveniently they send just enough to be destroyed each time. In ep 1 for example they’ll send just enough to Yamato could beat all of them. By ep 3 they’ll send more than he can handle but the heroes recruit Jun to the team. By 5 even more but now the heroes have more mechs, etc. If the villains had just sent more mechs then humanity would have been doomed but they always send too few again and again. Just send a full assault of aliens and mechs to take over the city once and for all. When you do that then there will be no way for the humans to fight back.

The fact that they haven’t just feels like incredible plot armor. There’s no way the aliens should have not done that by now. It just doesn’t make any sense. Moving beyond that, I think it’s a mistake on the humans part to be mind wiping everybody. What’s the purpose of them living ordinary lives instead of preparing for war? They certainly could have helped the war effort a great deal if they could have been allowed to do that. I also think that erasing their memories on principle is the wrong decision. That’s something you’d expect out of the villains, not the heroes. It’s a big mistake and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a bigger deal in season 2 as more characters think about it.

Meanwhile I thought the soundtrack was excellent as well. There’s a lyrical song that plays when Yamato is beating people up. It’s surprisingly catchy and really shows just how skilled he is. You can feel the power behind all of Yamato’s attacks and it feels like a bear that he might listen too while walking down the street. There are plenty of solid tunes throughout the show but the only one I was not really a fan of was the intro. It’s just not all that catchy and I would like to see the song changed up a bit for next time. It just wasn’t really working for me.

Now back to the characters. Ryugo is the classic punk type character who ends up being one of Yamato’s best friends but I never liked him all that much. The guy isn’t very tough even if he thinks he is and never really enhances the show in any way. He’s not all that bad but there’s nothing particularly interesting about him. In comparison Jun is a lot more fun because of her fiery personality. She’s always picking fights, having hero moments, and generally dominating during her screen time.

It’s also worth noting that she was beating Ryugo when they fought briefly. It wasn’t a great look for him since he didn’t lose for great reasons but I was impressed that she quickly went into battle mode. Jun clearly put a lot of work into the whole scheme of finding out what was going on and also defending her troops when it was time to do so. Ultimately she was one of the more memorable characters as a result.

Reiji is more of a pacifist so you can bet that he wasn’t my favorite character. When you have great power then you need to use it to defend everybody rather than sitting on the sidelines. Doing that isn’t going to ultimately end up helping anybody at all. He takes too long to act and it ultimately costs the life of one of the cats. It was a very emotional moment to be sure and it was regrettable that the show had a cat die at all. He didn’t deserve that and it was really a gut punch by the show in having such an emotional moment there. Don’t think we needed all of that to guilt trip him into action.

I can see his role growing even larger in season 2 as we delve further into his super abilities. Yamato seems to be developing his as well so that would make sense. Then we have Teru but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of that guy either. He’s the smart member of the group and tends to pick up on things rather well but at the end of the day his emotions will get the best of him at the worst times. He stops Yamato from saving someone near the end of the show which wasn’t a good look for him. I’d like to see him be a little more aggressive in battle instead of calm and calculating in season 2 as he takes a harder stance against the enemies.

On the alien side we have Anshem who has a solid character arc as she starts wishing for peace. At one point it seemed like she wasn’t very powerful considering that she was an alien but fortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case and she ended up using her true form. At this point she’s doing all that she can to help. It may be a little late in the game but better late than never right? She’s a good character and I look forward to seeing how this plot plays out.

There are quite a few students that I didn’t talk about but the show doesn’t really have enough time to juggle all of them so some don’t get to do much yet. A good example of this is Takumi who is around but doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s the tech guy so he doesn’t go into the robots but helps with preparing them and making sure that everything is ready. It’s a necessary role even if it isn’t a particularly interesting one. Meanwhile Asuna spends most of her time being mind controlled but tries to help out when possible. Fortunately she remembers being mind controlled even if she doesn’t know what she was doing.

She’s a little quick to be okay with Anshem taking her body over but at least since she could sense the alien’s emotions that helps a bit. It would be nice to see Asuna pilot one of the robots eventually. Momoka ends up becoming Jun’s rival in the show and she does well in that role. She can fight well in hand to hand and also has a good amount of super strength. Both of those traits are handy in this fight. I was usually on team Jun in these moments but Momoka made for a solid rival all the way through.

Kiyoka hasn’t had nearly as much to do so far. She is working in a support role but I’d like that to change soon since it’s the only way that she can end up rising in the ranks. Otherwise there just isn’t a huge future in the support field. Kouta was the worst member of the heroes though. He’s an android who has decided not to fight back so he lets everyone bully him all the time. Momoka slowly teaches him how to defend himself but it’s a long road. One of the most egregious moments here is when a villain runs into the command room with a gun. Kouta is clearly the best person to try and take him down but he just watches until after someone is shot and then he makes a move. The rest of the characters are guilty of not jumping in either but as an android I would put the heaviest burden on Kouta here. It’ll take a long while for him to really go up after that.

Sayaka has a fairly big role here as the commander in charge of field ops. She gets a twist which you might see coming a little before it happens since the anime throws you some hints but either way it’s a solid twist. Sayaka is a good character even if she never got to do a whole lot here. From what we saw she was always a good leader. Then you have Sarzant who is the bodyguard to Anshem. He’s not very good in this role as he tends to lower his guard constantly and allow her to go into dangerous circumstances. He seems like a nice guy but perhaps being a bodyguard just wasn’t the right role for him. It’s a shame since he always looked and talked like he would be really tough.

Rounding up the villain side we have the Queen who is all in on destroying the humans. I blame the fact that they haven’t done this yet on her though since the buck stops here. She talks really tough but never really lives up to her hype. I liked the idea behind the character and she’s cool in most of her scenes but ultimately that just isn’t good enough. She couldn’t step up when it counted and that cost her.

Finally there’s Grieffas and he is easily the highlight as far as the villains are concerned. He has a clear goal in trying to save Anshem and is loyal to her above his normal duties. He has some great fights with Yamato and just doesn’t back down in his convictions. The guy is crazy but doesn’t just throw away his goals in the end. Instead he stands by them and I look forward to seeing more of this guy going forward. He’s really got a lot of promise.

For the most part the show has the look and feel of a kodomo type anime. The characters have vibrant designs, the atmosphere is light and the soundtrack is energetic. That’s why it’s particularly effective when a character dies or the fights start to get intense. This clearly isn’t a kodomo but you could have been tricked for a little while there. In the end I would consider this to be more of a classic Shonen but it balances all of the genres well. There’s even some drama here although I would consider the romance to be a little more on the weak side. The show is always at its best when there is some action going on but that’s true of most titles.

With the way the season ends off I’ll be interested to see how season 2 goes. We could easily have a time skip or just continue from where this one leaves off. I do think they will have to address how humanity isn’t just wiped off of the map though. We need more than a vague “evolutionary materials” excuse now that the villains are getting more serious. The heroes are getting stronger and stronger too so the aliens absolutely need to factor that in before they become the prey in this equation. Once that happens then there is really no way back.

As for the debate about destroying the aliens or not….right now I’m with Yamato’s initial view on taking them out. Look, there will be a time for peace and coexistence later on but right now you’re looking at an army that is many times stronger than your own. There isn’t an easy way to spare them on the battlefield without sacrificing your own men. It’s different than in most situations where I’d say to spare the villain where you have the framework to do so. When you’re defending the last 10% of your species against the invading force that has every advantage then you really just have to go for the win.

Holding back at all will put you in a really bad spot. It’s also fair to say that most of the villains have pretty much been brainwashed right now so it’s unlikely that you will get many supporters. It’s just a slippery slope with Anshem saying to spare the villains every time when they just run back to their ship and request reinforcements. It’s not a viable strategy at the moment and I’d say the episodes illustrate that pretty well. Near the end of the season the villains come up with a giant robot that takes everything the heroes have to take out and they only barely manage it with a trick that probably won’t work twice.

The more time you buy for the villains who seem to have better tech, the more unwinnable the fight is. I will say that the show did a very good job with that fight as it could have easily been more on the boring side with the heroes not being able to do much of anything but instead you really felt the durability of the robot and made the whole thing feel grand. I use robot and alien rather interchangeably for the minions because in a way they both work but they really are robots since the actual aliens look like humans.

As a final point, the villains even have a lot of operatives running around the city assassinating the pilots so they can’t fly the mech suits. Until you deal with that then the situation will keep on getting worse for them. It’s why it’s still odd that the humans are being mind controlled to just go to school and live life as normal. Makes it way easier for the villains to bump them off if they feel like it. The slice of life scenes we do get in the show are always fun enough but this is what you’ll be thinking in the back of your head.

Overall, Megaton might not be a show that you are super familiar with but I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. Whether you’re a fan of classic mech shows or just want a good action title then you’re in luck either way. While I singled out the hand to hand fights in particular, I thought the mech battles were still good as well. The animation is solid in each way. The story is interesting and while I may not be a big fan of some of Yamato’s friends, he stands as a strong enough lead for the rest of them. You do not want to miss out on this adventure!

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


Kaguya is definitely a title that took the romance genre to new heights. It has to be up there with Nisekoi as one of the all time greats. The manga has definitely been a lot of fun with how crazy it is and season 1 of the anime manages to capture that same energy. The premise is excellent and the show really manages to capitalize on this. So in the end you’re bound to have a good time with this one and you’ll definitely be really hyped for the next season.

The show starts by introducing us to the 2 main characters, Kaguya and Shirogane. They are members of the Student Council and are considered to be elites in a school that is already comprised of only the rich and influential. Shirogane has earned his way to the top as the student council president through good grades and being a general genius. It’s something he is quite proud of since there is otherwise no way he could possibly be in the school. Then you have Kaguya who is a member of the most powerful family in the world, the Shinomiya family. She is a natural prodigy at just about any skill she picks up.

With such talents comes a great ego on both sides though. Shirogane and Kaguya both like each other but refuse to make the first move. That is where “Love is War” comes into play as the anime uses a lot of battle analogies for this. The way to win this battle is to get the other person to confess first. If you can do this then you will have won the match but on the other hand is you break down and confess then it will be an eternal loss. So who will end up conquering the other? That is the basis for each episode as they use their impressive intellects to try and get the other person into a tight spot where they have to confess.

Right from the start I thought this was really a great plot. It’s also a fairly big departure from the usual rom-com setup where it would be one character obviously chasing after the other. Here we actually get to see into their heads as they come up with all kinds of crazy plans. It’s safe to say that Kaguya tends to be better at planning things out long-term as her plans usually involve a lot of research from before the day has even started. Meanwhile I would say that Shirogane is quicker at thinking in the moment like when he has to counter her various plans and come up with some strategies of his own. He’s never on the back foot for long.

You may wonder how this premise could go on for so long but it’s really easy as the show comes up with all kinds of fun scenarios throughout the 12 episodes. Additionally there are other characters here as well and I’ll get into them in a moment. First off, as an adaption the anime really does a great job. The soundtrack is a 5 star title. There are so many great themes that fit each of the various moments in the show. You’ve got action themes, comedic ones, emotional tracks, etc. Whatever scene is happening, the show is able to amp it up with some well placed music. You’ll definitely want to listen to a lot of those tunes again. As for the theme song itself, it’s fairly decent. I wouldn’t call it high tier or anything but the song is catchy enough. I think the visuals can feel a bit too lazy with how so many scenes are reused over and over again.

It’s a stylistic choice but one that didn’t land for me. Otherwise the general animation in the show is really quite good. There’s always a lot happening in every scene from background effects to things happening in the character’s eyes. The show is never taking a break with the animation and it helps keep everything as interesting as possible. The story is engaging enough where it would still be good but that’s why this ends up being a great adaption as it makes everything even better.

You can feel the tension in the episodes as the characters have to try and get each other to crack. In that sense the Umbrella segment is one of the best ones because almost the whole thing is the two characters casually hinting that the other one is lying about not bringing an umbrella. There isn’t a lot technically happening so the scene has to carry itself with pure dialogue and music. It does so quite well. On average my favorite segments tend to be the game themed ones though. Whether the characters are playing a card game, board game, or a mental game, I like the competitive fire it brings out in the cast. Chika tends to do surprisingly well at some of these too even if she doesn’t always win.

All right, lets talk about the characters now. I think it’s a strong testament to how good the cast is that I can remember the names of the main 4 immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while to really know the characters. Kaguya is a solid lead for all the reasons I mentioned before. She’s a genius, always has a lot of plans at the ready and knows what she wants. Kaguya does well in this war of love and is also just a good person beyond that. She will put aside her competition to help someone out in need, whether it be a child who needs to cross the street or Ishigami flunking a class. So her role as a member of the student council never really takes a back seat and that makes sense.

Kaguya is someone who certainly values honor and duty so she doesn’t let go of those things. Then you have Shirogane who is also a blast. He’s someone who is always under a lot of stress since he has no family connections or money to fall back on. As a result the guy is constantly doing a million things but he always has time to compete with Kaguya and the others. He really comes through in the climax of the season and definitely helps to put everyone in a better place. At the end of the day he’ll also stop to do the right thing even if it might hurt him in his battles with Kaguya.

The two have a really solid balance going in part because of how different they are. They each have similar goals but you’ll see how they tackle this in different ways. I’d also say Shirogane tends to overthink things a little more than Kaguya does. He imagines things going in the worst possible way all the time. While this may happen to Kaguya once in a while, it’s almost constant for him.

The next biggest character here would be Chika. She’s the main comic relief character of the series and fulfills her role very well. She doesn’t notice any of the tension between the main two characters and just likes to have a lot of fun. She’s often the character who will bring in the games to play with. She has less of an honor code than the other two and doesn’t mind cheating at times though. Chika can often be a bit of a space case and mess things up for the others but at times you also figure she’s a lot smarter than she lets on.

Chika is one of those characters who just doesn’t let anything really get to her and has a lot of fun all of the time. She’s another very strong character as a result. The main two still win but she’s still an extremely solid character and probably one of the best you could hope for to slot in as the comic relief character. Often times those characters don’t seem to contribute a whole lot to the plot or can get annoying but that never happens with her. She’s just consistent through it all and the series would lose a lot in the dynamic if she wasn’t around. Just having her here as a third party to mess up Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans is great.

Ishigami is the final member of the student council and doesn’t really get to do much until fairly deep into season 1. I liked how the anime would keep him out of frame or have him facing the wrong way until it was time for his debut. It was a good way to acknowledge/foreshadow that he would be appearing soon without actually spoiling that part yet. While I don’t think he’s as strong as the main 3, he’s still a solid member. His gimmick is that he’s super afraid of Kaguya and loves playing video games so he doesn’t take the school as seriously as the others. It’s to the point where he nearly flunks so the guy definitely likes to live life on the edge.

Ishigami tends to get in trouble a lot but most of the time it’s through situations of his own creating so you don’t feel super bad for him. The guy needs to work on reading the room which is not one of his strengths right now. He does add to the dynamic though and so I’d say he didn’t arrive too late or anything. With these 4 the student council is in good hands and they’re all quite different so it’s not like they’re stealing a lot of screen time away from each other or anything.

That’s it for the main characters and right now there aren’t too many supporting characters. A few like Shirogane’s sister do appear but haven’t had much to do yet. I’d say the two main ones to show up would be Hayasaka and Nagisa. Nagisa and her boyfriend have a bit of a running sub plot where they will show up to separately ask the main 2 for advice since they assume Kaguya and Shirogane would have a lot of experience even if that is not the case. There’s not a whole lot to say about them beyond that but they seem like nice enough characters.

Hayasaka is a much more entertaining character though. She is forced to live a double life so that nobody suspects that she is actually Kaguya’s maid. Her role is really to keep Kaguya safe and so she does this really well by also being at school so she can help out as needed. Hayasaka is more old school on the romance angle and just thinks Kaguya should confess but of course that’s not going to happen. Hayasaka really goes the extra mile in her duties to help Kaguya out so she’s a very solid ally to have.

That about wraps up the characters. Each episode tends to have 2-3 adventures in it so the episodes really breeze by. It shows how quick some of the adventures are but also that the show isn’t really going to drag them out which is good. The pacing is always on point here. While the series eventually gets more plot driven I would largely say that season 1 is episodic. Some development and events do carry over of course but for the most part you can pop in any episode and understand what’s going on right away.

There really aren’t any negatives to speak of for this show. With any comedic title there are bound to be some segments that you won’t find quite as funny as others but with multiple segments per episode I doubt there will be any episode where you don’t like any of them. The weakest segments for me would be Kaguya getting sick and Kaguya being unable to laugh. Then the best ones would be the Umbrella and all of the game episodes I mentioned earlier. The series also avoids some of the potential pitfalls of the rom-com genre like random fanservice and lots of rivals popping up out of the wood work. Not to say that the show is completely devoid of fanservice but it’s fortunately just about nonexistent.

Finally, the writing just feels very sophisticated. It’s the kind of show that will randomly drop lots of different scientific theories at you. The characters are always showing off in one way or another so it makes sense and works naturally. This helps to enhance the script all around and the line between the characters stating facts or just bluffing gets really blurry which is always nice. You don’t want to necessarily believe whatever you hear them say but it’s always nice to see them invoking all of the theories anyway. The show is really a comedy first and a romance second but balances the two to perfection and never gets overly dramatic. It is just a great all around title.

Overall, If you’re looking for a solid rom-com then look no further. Even if you’re not big on romance I could still recommend it entirely because at its core the series is about the mind games that come from this. The romance is always around but it’s not a dramatic romance or anything. Often times the characters will just seem more like friends anyway and you might even hope that this could be the end game instead of getting together. It’s just season 1 though so it’s too early to be thinking about the end game. Just enjoy all the laughs and fun and the 12 episodes will go by in a breeze. You’ll also be looking forward to Chika’s continued assault against the Ramen Kings. It’s a small subplot that begins in this season and is just a lot of fun with how seriously they take their food. I’m more of a “Stuff my face” kind of eater personally but I understand that some like to really savor the experience. It’ll also make you hungry for some good pasta even if you don’t have a ramen on hand.

Overall 8/10

Persona 5: The Animation Review


The Persona video games are immensely popular. Not only do they guarantee a lot of content in the games which really run on the long side but the characters tend to become very popular and the franchise is huge at this point. Persona 5 is likely the biggest installment in the series as well so it’s fitting that this one got a full anime. It’s definitely fun to see the thieves in action and the ending really leaves things at a high note. One of the best endings I’ve seen a while. A rough first arc is really what keeps this one from going higher.

The series revolves around a character named Ren and starts with him being beaten by the police and then interrogated. We then cut to the past where he has just gotten out of probation. It was a tough period for him because he was arrested solely for doing the right thing in defending a lady from some random creep. Unfortunately she didn’t defend him when the cops arrived and the whole experience set him back but to this day Ren does not regret what happened. Now his life is really spinning though. At night he has dreams where he is behind bars again and this time a demon is talking to him about rehabilitation.

What does he need to be rehabilitated against though and why is he here? In the real world he finds out that the PE club is run by a villain known as Kamoshida who is exerting his will over all of the students as he assaults them. Ren runs into another student named Ryuji who wants to help but neither one of them are sure what they can do. Fortunately that’s when they end up in an alternate universe of the school where they can tap into summoned spirits known as Persona. These heroes now have the ability to steal the hearts of the wicked and force them to repent. Perhaps they can free the world of all evil? We know that he ultimately ends up being captured by the police so throughout the series you’re wondering when that’ll happen and what leads up to this.

You know this is based on an RPG type game when just explaining the plot takes a few paragraphs and we’re not even past episode 2 yet. There is absolutely a lot going on here. The sheer amount of characters and cases is impressive so you can see how the game would be long. Especially since it seems like this show doesn’t cover the whole game based on how it ends. So lets dive right into this.

First off, the soundtrack is really a blast here. It’s got a very party kind of vibe to it. The opening is very catchy, both of them in fact. I prefer the first opening for sure but the second one grows on you after a bit. It’s definitely going for more of an emotional vibe while the first one is very upbeat the whole time. Then you have the transformation theme whenever the characters activate their persona and a lot of other insert songs throughout. They spared no expense on the soundtrack for sure.

For the animation style itself, it’s good but I wouldn’t say it’s great. It has what I’d call a very standard style here. There aren’t any cuts that are particularly impressive but it never looks bad either. So it’s just standard/average which is good enough here. As long as the animation isn’t bad I’m usually okay on my end. In the end this show really succeeds on a technical side. So now lets jump into each of the arcs.

First is the Kamoshida arc and as I mentioned, this is the weakest one. It does give us the origins of the Phantom Thieves which is nice as they get up to 3 members and learn more about how the castles work. The show leaves a lot to your imagination on this which opens the door for a lot of questions but I’ll get into that later on. So the reason why they have targeted Kamoshida is obvious. His actions have brought great harm to the school and one of the students even tried to commit suicide after he attacked her. So the heroes have to go in and take him out.

How this works is a bit complicated, they can’t just go in and destroy him after all. The way to take his heart is to first scout out the area and find the treasure room. From there they have to send him a notice in the real world to announce that they aim to steal his heart. This causes the treasure to appear in the castle and only then can the heroes steal it. Of course by this point the target is aware of their presence so they always end up having to fight anyway. These thieves never get out without a fight.

So with the rules out of the way, the adventure goes pretty directly. The heroes break in and give Kamoshida the hands with their transformations. Ann gets to directly enact her revenge next to the other characters. It was good that she got to have the win and of course they have removed the evil in him so he can’t hurt anyone else. It’s just too bad they couldn’t have done this a little sooner. A lot of the damage was already done by this point.

Persona 5 really goes out of its way to show that most of the adults are crooked here. They’re either going after girls like the corrupt fiancé, the guy from Ren’s backstory, and Kamoshida; just generally violent like the cops who enjoy beating Ren into the ground, or just plain mean like every other criminal they go after here. It’s rare to find any adults that actually seem like good people here. The only big one I can think of would be Futaba’s legal guardian and a politician who realized that he needs to bet on the youth of this world. So as you can guess this is not a very pleasant world to be in and that’s why a lot of heart snatching is necessary from the heroes’ side. That’s a whole other debate which I’ll go into later as well.

The Kamoshida arc is felt throughout the rest of the series and will be brought up a lot. It was certainly a big moment for sure but the show would have been better off skipping this one. That kind of villain never enhances an episode. The next arc introduces Madarame as the big villain. He’s a corrupt art teacher who steals his students’ work and then tosses them aside when they’re no longer useful. Right now his victim is a kid named Yusuke who refuses to believe Ren and the others when they talk about this. Since it will be incredibly hard to prove that Madarame is guilty, they’ll have to take his heart away.

Yusuke was very unreasonable the whole time but this was a good case. By this point we’re starting to meet some other characters here like Akechi who wants to catch the Phantom Thieves and the cast is slowly growing. The main moral here has to be that you should always not lose sight of the fact that people will take advantage of you if you don’t keep your guard up. Yusuke figured that this could never happen to him but sure enough, it did.

After that it’s time to go up against Kaneshiro. Yes this name is really similar and they are pronounced in very similar ways so that makes it a little hard to keep the names apart. Kaneshiro is using money to ruin lives as he gets people used to gambling and then takes their futures away and blackmails the rest. It’s a tough scheme that reaches all throughout the city and so the only option left is to take his heart. Each arc so far has added a new member to the team and this one is no exception as Makoto joins in. She’s definitely one of the better members and it was good to have her on board. This one was fun enough and the heroes made quick work out of him. It’s another reminder on why you want to stick away from the shadier parts of town though, everyone’s just waiting to mess you up in Persona world. Make one mistake and they’ll throw the blackmailing at you.

Next up, Medjed declares that they will attack the city if the phantoms do not give themselves up and reveal their identities. Up to this point people had been rooting for the phantoms but now with their lives at risk the people change their minds real quick. Naturally giving up their identities would be a bad move here since they would not be able to do much after that. You could make the case that it would be tough to prove their guilt even if they voluntarily turned themselves in but with everyone knowing about how all of these criminals have suddenly turned a new leaf, it is still too risky. The heroes have to steal Futaba’s heart to stop all of this.

Futaba’s not really a villain the way the rest of the people had been so far but she needs her heart stolen because she has been traumatized by this point. She hasn’t had the best experiences with her family as her mother committed suicide and the rest just weren’t particularly pleasant at the time. She blames herself for what happened and no longer goes outside. She has locked herself into her room and intends to never leave it again so if things don’t change, that will be game over for her. For once the heroes are trying to change a heart to directly save their target.

While I was not really a fan of Futaba, this was a solid arc. Sojiro got to appear more ere and he was doing his best to protect her the whole time. That guy gave Ren a chance when everyone else wouldn’t so now Ren had a chance to help him out in return. This helped the team really get together and now they had even more members in place. You have to think that this is happening just in time because every boss requires more and more fighters to beat it. Imagine if it was still just 2 or 3 of them?

Next up, the heroes are confronted with a string of mental blackouts where someone seems to be stealing hearts the way that the phantoms are, only these guys are completely murdering their victims. The blackouts effectively turn you into a vegetable or worse. The only lead is that a company owned by Kunikazu stands to gain from this. His daughter Haru is also being married off to some random creep and he won’t even talk to her about it. So the heroes have to stop Kunikazu quickly but making matters more complicated is that Morgana has been getting upset at them recently because he feels that they don’t appreciate his contributions.

Additionally, Morgana is still a human trapped in a cat’s body and feels like there has not been any progress on this part. So he also blames himself for this and not being able to help so all of that frustration comes to a boil here. Haru also gets to activate her persona here so the group gets even bigger. This arc wasn’t bad, I liked the idea of Morgana teaming up with someone else to form a splinter group of sorts. Then we have the mysterious guy in black and these mental outs so a lot is going on here. It ends up being one of the more important arcs in that sense. While Haru’s father looks awful and the would be fiancé is just as bad, you’re used to it by this point since all of the adults are just corrupt here.

The arc also doesn’t end the way you might expect. Finally, we enter the last arc which leads up to the present where Ren has been captured by Sae. The show really had the whole first season be a flashback if you think about it so it was nice to be in the present. Basically Sae has been gradually getting more and more off the deep end by the day in her desperation to stop the Phantom Thieves. So Akechi tells the team they need to steal her heart and he will even help. It’s hard to know if they can trust him but Ren agrees. As it is, it’s been hard to actually act lately with Sae around every corner and improving security all around.

Well this is the big arc and it lives up to the hype. Putting aside my questions of the capture for now, it was just great to get to this point. This also ties into the ending. Of course I can’t go into it but it really doesn’t go the way you might have expected. I wasn’t ready for the twist and then the ending theme that plays as the episode concludes is phenomenal. The ending just felt very valid. There was a game of wits and someone won while someone else lost. You sort of know that this ending cannot possibly stick but even so it was just really solid. Also, the show did end this way so if you don’t watch anything afterwards or play the game then in a way this was really the ending. Either way it definitely threw me for a loop.

So one of the big debates here is the ethics of stealing hearts. After all, the way it goes, this seems to be like mind control to an extent. The person’s whole personality changes and suddenly they want to be an upstanding citizen. The reason mind control is always controversial is because it’s a slippery slope. The good intentions you have can change over time and it’s not always clear what is the right thing to do but taking away someone’s agency is a big thing. Even in a series like One Piece people deeply disliked when one of the heroes would go around mind controlling the villains. I’m usually an advocate against mind control myself for those reasons.

The reason this one is tricky is because the heroes aren’t giving any commands. It’s not like they’re telling this guy “Go donate your money” or something like that. They remove the dark intentions without any orders so in a way the individual is still making their own choices. The difference is that they’re making their choices from a much smaller list of options because no evil ones appear there. It’s still a bit squishy but I would actually be in favor of the Thieves here. You’d have to convince me that there is a tangible downside to doing this.

In my mind it’s not equivalent to mind control and that’s why I’m on board. So if I’m the phantoms I’d keep on going. You can never get to everyone of course but each person they convert means one more potential victim that they’ve saved. The team is objectively making the city safer. Of course I don’t fault Akechi and the cops for trying to stop the Thieves. They have no way of knowing all of the information that we the viewer have but I think if they did have that knowledge, a lot of the would end up agreeing with the main characters. There are valid reasons to keep on opposing them since that’s a lot of power to be giving a few teenagers but it’s a good bet. I like to think if we had a way to tangibly make the world better then we should take it. Particularly since this world seems so corrupt but even in the real world, being able to eliminate evil emotions while only keeping the good ones just seems like such a good deal. Of course you take a risk since you could die in the castle but it’s a risk worth taking.

Now, there are some questions about how the castle system works out. In the show we see that the heroes take out their phone apps and the surroundings sort of turn into the castle framework. So in the real world are they still walking around and looking crazy like it’s a VR? Well, we see in the last episodes some cases to suggest this isn’t it. From an outside perspective the characters seem to just vanish. If you’re really close you’ll even vanish along with them. So once you are transported there is no connection to the human world until you get back.

With this in mind, how could the characters possibly get caught by the cops? I didn’t buy it personally but someone led them into the virtual world and they nabbed Joker. Here’s my thing, Ren has summons, super powers, and is more used to the world. You’re going to have a hard time ever convincing me that a bunch of cops with no knowledge of this world just popped in and took him out. Come on now, that’s just hard to buy. It’s a pretty big deal too considering the entire season hinges on him getting captured. I’m glad that we got an explanation on how it worked by the end at least because the whole season I was wondering about it. The heroes sure are lazy about keeping the secrets though as they’ll just vanish in the middle of school or right outside and get caught several times.

It’s a small thing, but I enjoyed the music and atmosphere whenever we’d cut to Ren being interrogated. You’d always hear that click sound effect and then be brought right back to the room where Ren definitely just wants some sleep but has to keep answering questions over and over again. You could feel his exhaustion just from watching the screen and also see how it feels like he wasn’t getting anywhere in his story. We still don’t have any answers on the rehabilitation jail Ren is in with the demon so we’ll have to see what becomes of that. Arsene also doesn’t appear much at all. Unlike the rest of the heroes who keep using the same persona, Ren keeps on switching so that’ll probably be a big plot moment eventually.

All right, time to talk about the characters. First up is Ren and he’s okay at best but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan. It’s hard to get a read on the guy as his personality just seems to change or not really make much sense to me. He’s often quiet and just trying to do the right thing but then he’s also a pushover. He lets the guys talk him into ordering a maid for sketchy reasons which was a real low point for him. He has some debates with Akechi but doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for them so this banter is not nearly as good as it could have been. Ultimately Ren is a good guy but he’s not a great character. He needs to be either more outspoken or just more confident but something needs to change a bit there.

Then there’s Morgana who is the animal mascot here and he’s good for lore but doesn’t help a whole lot in the fights. He does have a persona but it seems weaker than the others. Perhaps that is not the case but it feels like that at least and it works well with the whole sub plot about Morgana doubting himself so it makes sense. Too bad Morgana never got a big power up.

Ryuji’s a fun character. He’s the first person that Ren meets up with from the phantoms and really gets the hang of things quickly. He doesn’t doubt himself or the mission as much as some of the others do. He’s not perfect or anything but by and large he does his best. Ryuji just has fun with the mission and tends to keep an upbeat attitude.

Ann joins shortly afterwards and is all for the mission too. She takes it very seriously considering that she’s been a victim of the corrupt adults before and is always helping out a lot. While more members join up later, I consider these 3 to really be the main players of the group and the leaders when you boil it all down. If they have an opinion on the next mission you expect it to get a lot of weight.

Next up is Yusuke and I never warmed up to the guy. For starters he claims to seriously be an art guy who does his sculptures just to achieve his mastery and yet it doesn’t seem that way when he wants the sculpture of Ann. He stopped being reasonable at that point and while he gets past that after the episode, his normal personality isn’t great either. He’s always rather aloof and just doesn’t really contribute as much as the others.

Makoto is one of the last members to join but she’s one of the best ones. For starters she was actually trying to enact some justice on her own first by working for the school and then by tailing the main characters. Her connection with Sae helps in that regard but so she’s always been on the front lines here. Becoming a phantom was the next logical step on her path and she had more personality than most of the other characters.

Futaba is not nearly as impressive. She’s a great hacker who helps out a lot on that front but she’s not really used to the outdoors and can hold the others back a bit. She doesn’t take as active of a role in fighting either. It’s good to have the tactician monitoring the situation of course but ultimately I’d like to see her do more. Due to her origin story it’ll take some time for her to really get the hang of things but after that maybe she will be fighting more.

Finally you have Haru. I give her credit for being able to self teach herself how to work in the castles a bit. I’m sure Morgana helped out as well but it was nice to see. Haru’s stint as an alternate hero group to the phantoms was very short lived but it was still a nice plot point. She shows up late enough in the series where she hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot just yet but should be a nice addition to the cast.

That’s it for the main heroes. I’ll mainly sidestep the villains as there isn’t much to say about them. They show up and prove how evil they are before being taken down by the heroes. The exception to this would be the mysterious man in black but we have yet to know who that even is. There’s certainly a big suspect on who that is based on the context clues but it’s not totally confirmed just yet.

For the side characters, well we’ve got Sojiro who I mentioned before. He’s a nice enough bartender and while he talks tough, he still helps Ren out in the end. There is Sae who we slowly see get more and more obsessed with the Phantom Thieves. She may not be a total villain but Sae is right on the edge about that. She is tempted to falsify evidence and can’t be reasoned with by the end so that’s when you know that her heart needs rescuing. I appreciate her determination but she really was crazy by the end so even though she started to see the light eventually, it was a little late. Sae makes for a good villain though.

Then we have Akechi who really lives up to the hype. He’s effectively like L from Death Note. Akechi is a super sleuth who is out to catch the Phantom Thieves because he believes that what they are doing is unjust. He thinks it’s an abuse of power and that it bypasses the court systems. So like I was saying earlier about how you could easily get this viewpoint and that it’s a valid one, I do like him as an antagonist. He is willing to talk with the thieves about this although they can’t out themselves so they’re careful about it. Ren’s not very subtle but you like to think they have a subtle understanding that they will talk vaguely around each other. Akechi doesn’t do much until near the end of the show but he really makes his presence felt in those episodes.

That covers all of the big characters I’d say. It’s really a colorful cast of characters here. I wouldn’t say it’s a great cast since I’m not a big fan of quite a few of the Thieves but Akechi and Sae make for two formidable opponents. The thieves seem to spend more time being fighters than thieves in the virtual world but the show makes up for it by having the characters strategize in the real world a lot.

Now, while the animation as a whole I wasn’t too impressed with, I did really like the transformation sequences. Each character gets one for the very first time they merge with their persona. These moments seemed to get a really high budget in particular. The attention to detail with each of the transformations was really excellent. There was even a specific theme that would show up each time this happened. These moments were always a lot of fun and we got a look into each character’s psyche as you have to tap into your inner desires to use the power. I was half expecting the characters to start faltering when they had doubts, but fortunately that didn’t happen. They may have had some doubts but on the battlefield they would stow their fears and keep on going.

The show even squeezes in a few one shot episodes like the moderator of the website going crazy, the heroes heading to the beach, etc. The slice of life episodes tend to be a little on the boring side though. This is a show where you really want to see the next story beats and the episodes for character development don’t land as well. Probably because I wasn’t a big fan of some of them but also because they tended to not look very good in these episodes. They tend to bring out the worst in Ryuji and parts like the maid episode don’t help Ren either. The show mainly avoids fanservice fortunately but if there were any episodes where you could expect some, it would be in these episodes which didn’t help their case compared to the plot based ones either.

Overall, Persona 5: The Animation seems like a very good adaption of the game. It doesn’t end all of the plot points so get ready for a few cliffhangers but that just makes the whole thing even more epic. I’d have liked more of an explanation on how the Persona’s work. Why can Ren use several while everyone else is tied to one? Headcanon will work in the meantime though. The opening arc started the show off on a real rough patch with the villain getting away with way too much but the show rebounds from there and by the end I’d still say it’s good, in no small part due to the climax really being quite epic. I still say that was one of the most effective endings I’ve seen in a while. If you’re up for some good ole mysteries and moral discussions on if you should change hearts or not then this is up your alley.

Overall 6/10

Cells at Work! Review


Cells at Work is definitely a show with a very unique premise. It’s sort of like the Magic School Bus episode where everyone heads into the body except this time the show show takes place inside the body and every blood cell is an individual character. So you’ve definitely got a show that’s not quite like any other and can even be educational to an extent. You may end up missing the outside world pretty quick but it’s a fun enough show.

The main character here is the Red Blood Cell. (I’ll call her Red for short) Red’s job is to go around the body delivering nutrients to every part of the body. Unfortunately she is not very good at directions and ends up getting lost all the time. That’s when she meets Neutrophil, one of the white blood cell variants. His job is to ruthlessly murder any germs and bacteria that get into the body. The guy’s always serious and slashing away but deep down he’s a nice guy and they end up hitting it off after he saves her from one of the monsters and helps her with directions. As the show goes on we see more adventures with these two and get introduced to the rest of the blood cells.

For the most part I would say this is a slice of life title. Each episode is fairly stand alone even though we do have the big climax at the end. Typically Red will get lost somewhere and Neutrophil will step in to help along with the cell of the day. Each episode will usually introduce a new blood cell so by the end of season 1 you’ve pretty much met them all. Sometimes we’ll even get a big budget fight scene.

The first episode has the best fight in that regard. The battle with Neutrophil against the germ really looked great. There was a lot of excellent hand to hand and the animators went all out. The rest of the show can’t quite compete with that but I would say it still keeps to a pretty solid level of animation. The character designs are consistent and the animation looks good.

For the soundtrack, there’s the main battle theme that I like a lot. It’s really good for when danger approaches and is suitably fast. The opening isn’t really my thing but I appreciate the effort of dubbing the intro since that’s pretty rare. All in all the musical themes are memorable so you aren’t likely to forget them.

A slice of life anime lives and dies on the characters so lets jump into those. First off we have Red and she is a fun lead. She may not be good with directions but she tries hard and just keeps on going. Near the end of the series she gets her big episode when the body is snowed in and got to prove herself. She definitely holds up her end of the show very well and it someone you can count on in the end.

Then you have Neutrophil who’s the main fighter here and he definitely looks good. The guy is absolutely invested in his job and loves any opportunity to go in and crush the germs. The guy is always yelling and acts like such a savage that most characters are afraid of him except for Red. Deep down the guy is just trying to make the world a better place and that’s his role within the body. He also has his lighthearted moments where he watches over Red to make sure she’s okay.

Killer T is like a more exaggerated version of Neutrophil when it comes to beating up germs but he has less social awareness. The guy has no time for happiness or anything like that and just focuses on the mission. I like Killer T’s confidence and he never bets against himself in the end. You’ve certainly got to respect that. Then you have Macrophage who is also really intense but she doesn’t typically let it show. She just goes about her business and drinks tea but when the going gets tough, she gets going.

Platelets are like junior cells that go around stitching up wounds and making sure that the body is safe. They can’t really fight but they get around and there are sure a lot of them. They would probably use a few bodyguards though since they don’t stand a chance when villains show up. Typically there is someone on hand to help but they probably shouldn’t take any big chances.

Helper T is someone who really tries to do things by the book and lets the other cells know when there is trouble. He may not do a lot in the present but he gets a whole episode to himself where we see how he and Killer T used to be rivals. That made for a fun watch but it’s a shame that Helper T went for more of a desk job when his fighting abilities are so good. The heroes could have used him in some of these battles. Maybe someday we’ll see him in the field again but it feels unlikely since his station is always so far from the action.

His partner on the job is Regulatory T and she makes sure the paperwork is in order. She keeps Killer T and Helper T from fighting too often as well and has always been a bit of a mediator there. Without her I’m sure they would be bickering even more. Naive T is a cell who gets his own episode too. He feels bad because he has been completely ineffective in combat and everyone’s always going at him. Eventually he comes to terms with this and evolves into a more powerful cell who can defend himself though. It was good to see him step up when it counted since he had a rough start there.

Eosinophil is a type of white blood cell but she’s not meant for direct battle with the germs. Due to this the other cells tend to make fun of her a bit since a lot of them didn’t properly learn the duties and tasks of all cells the way Neutrophil does. Fortunately she gets to show her skills off later on. She’s a fun character who is really enthusiastic. She may not have strength against all enemies just yet but she will still jump in to try and do what she can.

Then there’s Memory Cell but there’s not a whole lot to say about him yet. The guy should be able to use his memories really well to help everyone out but he always forgets them. He’s the one cell you could say is just bad at his job because remembering is the one task he should be able to do at any time. You definitely end up feeling bad for him there. Dendritic Cell’s job is to awaken other cells to their maximum power. He does this by using embarrassing photos/memories of other Cells. In a way he should have been the memory cell then right?

Mast Cell and B Cell don’t get to do a whole lot here. B Cell has his gun and as long as memory does his job and remembers the formula, B Cell can use this to take down a lot of germs from afar. Unfortunately for B Cell, he is powerless without this. Meanwhile Mast Cell is ready to tell the body when to panic but she is always stressed out which puts her in a tough spot here. If she stresses everyone too much then it’ll backfire.

Basophil’s role is to be really mysterious and try to be vague about everything. I wouldn’t say that it really works though. The main issue with him is that you really feel like his speeches aren’t going anywhere so you feel like he’s talking just to talk. That’s what really holds him back here. To be a good mysterious character, your paranoid delusions have to make some kind of sense and be interesting. That way I can get behind what is going on here but without that it just feels like mumbling without a true goal.

That about wraps up the heroes. On the villain side most of the germs and viruses are oneshots. Technically each one that appears is a different member of the same species and similar to the heroes, each kind of villain just has the same design based on what strain they are. I really liked the designs though, these villains look intimidating and can fight rather well. They give the heroes a good fight each and every time until they find their worst opponent.

Cancer Cell stands out as being the most memorable villain though and that makes sense. After all, cancer always felt like a perfect big boss for a series like this because cancer cells actively destroy other cells and spread quickly. Cancer Cell has a grand master plan and even tries to explain his own ethics to Neutrophil. It’s all very interesting and ultimately they still need to take Cancer Cell down for the count of course. I was glad that he got a character arc though.

His point also brings up an interesting part of the world. So of course every cell is born with their own role to play here. What cell you are will dictate what kind of germ/virus you must destroy or if you have another function. You will be unable to destroy a virus that’s outside of your role no matter how strong you are and the cells here learn that the hard way. It’s an interesting dynamic because it shows that the world runs on a Pokemon type/matchup kind of dynamic. This is one series where you cant really surpass your limits because they are built in.

The cells also don’t seem to know much about the past as they tend to learn things on the fly. I expect that is memory’s fault but maybe this body just doesn’t have a library where you can read up on the past. It’s possible that they just don’t have the time though. I can’t recall if the characters ever sleep. You see them taking breaks on occasion but that’s it. I remember at first I thought that Red and Neutrophil would be different in each episode since they mention that there are millions of them inside the body. After all, each blood cell is technically different but they still end up meeting all of the time. While that could be a stretch when you think about it, I think it’s a necessary one. I don’t know about you but it’s more engaging to be hanging out with the same characters as always.

Now, as I said before you may start to miss the outdoors though. One thing about being inside the body the whole time is that a lot of the backgrounds and scenery start to feel the same after a while. it can feel a little confined but I don’t know what the show could really do about that. At the end of the day, the body is the setting and there are ways you could cheat that but I can’t fault a show for sticking to its premise. Personally I wish we could have seen the human running around a bit.

As for the humor, I’d say it works well enough. It may not be the funniest slice of life out there, but the characters are enjoyable enough and make the dynamics work. There weren’t any really bad characters or anything like that here and we did have the occasional big action scene which was always nice. As the characters are blood cells, you can probably guess that there is a lot of blood flying around. Ironically, the blood pretty much always comes from the enemies though as Neutrophil really lays into them. It’s fairly excessive with the geysers everywhere but the show’s using it for comedy. Always a tricky gag and I think it could be dialed back a bit but in this context it’s not something that really would hurt the show.

Overall, You’ll have a good time with Cells at Work. I was on the fence the whole time on if this is a high 6 or a low 7. I don’t feel like it really has any replay value, it’s not the kind of show you’re likely to watch again but at the same time I wouldn’t say it made any real mistakes. It’s just not quite as funny as it could be. Still, I’d say it does enough right where your initial experience is good so I’d give it the points. You even get to learn a few things about how the body works although good luck on retaining that info. The scientific name for each blood cell is just so advanced that they tend to fall out of your mind as soon as you hear them.

Overall 7/10

One Piece: Episode of Chopper Plus: Bloom in Winter, Miracle Sakura Review


One Piece has the next arc remake with this movie tackling the Tony Tony Chopper arc. While this arc is not considered to be one of the stronger ones and tends to pale in comparison to the new ones, it’s always nostalgic to see the old team. I’d say the crew also learned from the last movie remake and made sure that this one had longer fights and a longer length in general so it felt more like a complete experience. It’s still hard to do a whole arc in one movie but I’d say they did a good job with this one.

The movie starts with the gang on the ship as usual but then Nami gets seriously ill with some kind of virus. She is fading fast and so the heroes stop by a local island to find a doctor. Unfortunately all of the doctors are gone except for one who is regarded as a witch named Dr. Kureha. She lives alone atop a giant mountain so Luffy will have to try and carry Nami there. The main obstacles in his way are: The terrain which is naturally dangerous, Nami’s health which is fragile right now so Luffy can’t fight or make too many sudden movements, and the Wapol pirates who hav e returned to retake the island. Can Luffy save Nami in time or is it too late?

While the whole crew it here, Luffy does most of the work. Zoro and Franky get to beat up some minions and Sanji fights some of the animals but for the most part the rest of the crew is written out. The way they got Sanji out of the big fights was the most awkward though as he injures his back somehow and can’t fight anymore. That scene was really hard to buy. Sanji’s back gave out just like that? I’d have preferred him to lose to one of the pirates instead since at least he would have gone down fighting.

As for the villains, there are two main ones here. First up is Wapol who was in the original arc as well. The guy may not have been super powerful but he does his best with the chomp chomp fruit. He gets a rather big powered up form at the end which may not have been enough to save him but it looked cool enough. Then he has a brother named Musshuru who was made up for this version. He looks rather skilled as he is able to trade blows with Luffy and keep at it for a while. I can’t say he was a very interesting villain but I’m always up for some good fights.

After all, that’s part of the fun in this movie. The characters get to see a lot of action this time. Also, the animation style is very distinct. It’s going for a bit more of an abstract feeling at times with a different color set than usual. I wouldn’t say it beats the classic style but it does help the film stand out which is an important thing in a movie. You want it to feel extra special and this is one way to go about that.

The soundtrack has your typical One Piece themes. Nothing very new and different but they always sound good so I didn’t have a problem with that. The music tunes are fitting for the scenes that they’re in. You can feel Luffy’s determination as he climbs the mountain while the music is going and why he’s a solid lead. The film has its share of emotional moments after all and the soundtrack balances them pretty well.

There are two main doctors here, the one from the flashbacks and the one in the present. In the present we have Dr. Kureha who has done well to continue practicing medicine even when she sees all of her colleagues “vanishing” or being directly captured by the villains. It’s a risky line of work but she doesn’t falter and definitely ends up being a really solid character. She’s the kind of character who has a tough time actually voicing her true feelings but will always help silently.

Dr. Hiriluk is the other character but I did not like him. His personality type is that he’s a really nice guy who is chasing a dream that is nearly impossible to achieve. He wants to make the Sakura blossoms bloom in this winter land despite everyone telling him that this is crazy. Along the way he meets up with Tony Tony Chopper and the two of them become close friends. It’s all good so far but then Hiriluk realizes that he will be dying soon from an incurable disease.

He then makes the wrong choice by shooting at Chopper to make him go away and to get some distance between them. Chopper had been traumatized by guns before so this felt like a really cheap move by the Doctor. I also think he should have just been upfront with Chopper about this. Tell him that death is near and then they can at least enjoy some happy days together at the end. It is much better than trying to destroy your reputation and friendships. So I lost a lot of respect for the Doctor at that point.

Finally we have Tony Tony Chopper who is a nice enough guy. He was never my favorite member of the Strawhats as the guy isn’t much of a fighter and I don’t think his comedy scenes work as well as some of the others but he still does have his moments where he helps out. Ultimately Luffy and friends are able to get him to a better spot but he gets outshined by all of them here.

Overall, Episode of Chopper is a fun adventure. If this is your first way of seeing the arc then you should still be fine. This movie does a good job of recapping things. Some of the events are a little different like we have some members of the team who shouldn’t be around yet. That might confuse you a little when you go back to the show and see them introduced but I want to say that it’s a very small amount of people who would have actually started the series with the movie recaps instead of watching the show. The movie is a good action adventure film in the end. It’s not trying to be much more than that and doesn’t need to be. Whether you like the franchise or not, you should have a good time with this one.

Overall 7/10

One Piece The Movie: Episode of Alabasta: The Desert Princess and the Pirates Review


Alabasta’s definitely one of the most well known One Piece arcs. For those who don’t answer with Arlong Park, this is the arc where people would say One Piece really got good. We got the first big villain group with a ton of memorable fighters and everyone got some action. I do think it’s an arc that has aged well but one that has been long since surpassed by adventures like Water Seven, Marineford, and Wano. Still, it’ a pretty solid adventure although I would say it’s weaker than the show version in just about every way so that’s the version that you would want to watch instead.

The film starts off with Princess Vivi as a child riding Pell throughout the kingdom of Alabasta. Things were really good back then. She then wakes up in the present aboard the Going Merry. She is with a band of pirates known as the Strawhats and a mysterious guy appears who can assume the form of anyone he has shapeshifted into before. He can add new people by touching their face. One of the faces he used was of King Cobra, Vivi’s father. She is worried that Alabasta is in danger so the crew sets a course for the kingdom immediately. She as not wrong, the terrorist known as Crocodile has set his sights on the land. Can the Strawhats stop him?

Now from the jump you’re assuming that the movie can’t possibly adapt a whole arc in one movie so some concessions are going to have to be made. That’s normal but at the same time it feels like the fights are what loses out most of the time. Some of the fights are practically off screen or we just see the end of them. Take the iconic Zoro vs Mr. 1 fight. It’s so short here that you’re barely able to get into it. I think the film could have focused on more of that and instead cut out the Robin flashback and some of the Alabasta flashbacks. If you’re reliving the arc then odds are that you’re doing so for the fights right?

Each fight just feels so short and you wish they could have been extended more. Even the Luffy vs Crocodile fights are pretty short when you really think about it. Of course they do get a bit more length to them compared to the others though. Things move at a very fast pace at least, you certainly can’t say that the story was dragging or anything like that. While I wish the fights were longer, it is still impressive that the movie went all the way to the end though.

There’s just no reason to choose this over actually watching the anime itself unless you desperately need to save a ton of time. In that sense this could be better as a rewatch or refresher for fans but if you’re a big enough fan to be revisiting an arc then you’ll probably just be watching the episodes again. Considering that this is a movie I kind of expected the animation to be better but I wouldn’t even say that is very impressive. Maybe it’s slightly better than the show?….I may not even go that far.

The animation style seems a bit different like it’s going for the more stretchy style like in Naruto vs Pain except that was stretchy so you could have terrifically fast fight scenes with a lot of energy. You didn’t really have that here so then if the fight’s going to be slower you may as well go with a more detailed style and that would be for the best. I did like the sound effects used when punching the sand though. That part did feel grander than usual.

I feel as though the film just wasn’t particularly high budget though. Maybe that’s why they had to rely on some extra CGI shots and a ton of still shots like this was a manga. Unfortunately those are also reused which ends up hurting the visual experience. So….the visuals didn’t quite live up to what this could have been which is what I’m getting at here. The soundtrack is fun enough though, has that classic One Piece feel to it for sure.

For newcomers it is probably less friendly to jump into than films like One Piece Gold or Strong World but I guess you just have to get on board and try to follow along with what’s going on. The story of Alabasta still hits right. It was a smart plan of Crocodile’s to use shapeshifting to get the country to fight amongst themselves. It certainly would have worked really easily if not for Luffy and the gang stepping in. For once I can’t even blame the civilians because the plan was quite thorough even including whole camps and villages being completely wiped out.

Crocodile works as a very solid villain. He’s smart enough to know when someone is trying to betray him and is also powerful enough to put a stop to that right away. Even now he is one of the more impressive fighters and the ability to turn into sand is really good. Of course haki would eventually wipe out that advantage but at this point in the story it really made him someone who could not go down very easily. His fights with Luffy were definitely a blast.

His group really gets no time to develop though. You won’t find any of them to be particularly memorable as they are taken down in short order. Bon Clay has the biggest role by far since he is the one who really jump starts the adventure by showing up and using his shapeshifting. It’s a good ability to have but mostly in non combat scenarios. Once you’re in a fight though then you need to have something else. Fortunately he does have his kicking abilities which are apparently good enough to even give Sanji a run for his money.

As for the crew, well they show up to take names. Zoro even looks like the Captain when the film first starts as he is in the front and all. He looks very capable throughout the movie and wins his fight with dignity so I’m reminded why he is my favorite Strawhat. Sanji definitely takes his share of Ls here like letting Bon Clay manipulate him during the fight but ultimately comes through for the team. Usopp has one of his best roles here since there’s not a lot of time for his comedic moments with how fast everything is moving. As a result he gets to tank one of the more painful looking hits and keeps on going.

You get the feeling that Usopp isn’t quite as powerful as some of the others but he certainly looks brave here. He came through when it counted. Chopper doesn’t get to do much but seems like a nice support. Nami even wins her fight 1 on 1 which was really critical. She’s not usually someone you have on the front lines so that was really impressive. As for Luffy, well he definitely loses quite a bit here even when everyone’s hopes are resting on him but he comes through in the end which is what counts. It was fun to see the film keep cutting away to everyone saying how Luffy was going to win while he was getting absolutely demolished in the fight.

Robin gets some foreshadowing here as we see a bit of her past but the film doesn’t really end up finishing that plot. Of course that’s what happens when your film just adapts one story arc in the middle of an ongoing. To be fair, it wouldn’t feel like a cliffhanger or anything with how the film ends. On that I can at least say that the film does have a true ending here.

Overall, Episode of Alabasta is a good film, but a weak adaption. I don’t think it’s impossible to adapt the arc into a movie effectively but you need to change up the pacing a bit. The fights absolutely needed to be longer to have really done the story justice. I also think that as a movie this film should have looked a lot better. Mainly the film’s only weaknesses are from when you compare it to the show though. If I saw this as a big One Piece movie in a universe where Alabasta did not exist in the manga, that would probably help it. It’s why I still say it’s a pretty good movie. You’ll have fun with it and it’s a nice way to see the adventure from another angle but of course you’re better off watching the show version so you get all the details.

Overall 7/10

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold Review


It’s definitely good to have the Gold Saints back in action. They mostly just got wrecked a lot in the original series although some god to have their moment to shine in the Hades arc. This time they have a whole show to themselves where they can really get to cut loose and it works really well. The show can be rather formulaic so you know what to expect but it ends up being a great show from start to finish.

The show starts with Aiolia being mysteriously revived over in Asgard. He’s unsure of how this could have happened as he is sure that he died. Well, no matter. Aiolia has to head over to Hades to back up the bronze saints but he is asked by Lyfia to stay and save Asgard. The place has become very corrupt as the God Warriors serve Andreas now. Hilda is sick and unable to take control and Odin is sleeping as usual. If something isn’t done quickly, all of Asgard will fall as the villains raise up the world tree.

Usually Aiolia could just end this in an instant but it won’t be so easy this time. For starters, the World Tree absorbs the energy of the Gold Saints so their abilities are heavily nerfed. Making things even worse is that the God Warrior have their abilities amplified at the same time so what ends up happening is a double disadvantage. On the bright side, the rest of the Gold Saints have been resurrected as well. Fighting as a team has never been their strong suit but perhaps Aiolia can rally the group to save Asgard. Then they will head over to help Seiya and friends.

I may as well say now that they don’t get to help Seiya and friends but you probably guessed that since it would have completely changed the timeline. That could be fun in a way as a massive plot twist but keeping things separate isn’t a bad idea. It’s fun to just see the Gold Saints hanging out and we get more of their personalities here since there’s some down time. In the main series you certainly didn’t have time to see the Gold Saints just hang out and grab a drink. I would say the first part of the show is more of a creature of the week format as they beat up on a poor God Warrior with their own God armor and then end up fainting. Rinse and repeat until we get more structure.

It’s not a bad set up though and will remind you of the classic Saint Seiya structure. At no point would I say this show gets close to the original but it still works well. The first reason for this is since this is an original story, you don’t know how it’s really going to play out. After seeing the classic adventures in a few variations, it’s fun to see a brand new ordeal here. Even the tone and feel is a bit different since the main characters are the big shots here and not the Bronze Saints surpassing their limits all the time. We’ve got a bit of a mystery subplot with how Lyfia will randomly stare at the Saints once in a while with a dangerous look on her face and of course the tensions of Saints acting in another jurisdiction.

The animation isn’t great here but it works well enough. They put in some extra effort for the climax as well. I still wish we can get a truly top notch Saint Seiya animation at some point though. Some of the movies look great and take the lead there but I’m talking about a Studio Pierrot or Ufotable kind of production. With how flashy all of the Saint designs are it would be really easy to make the fights look amazing. Regardless, it works well enough.

As for the soundtrack, I wouldn’t say there are any real standout themes here. The music all feels almost free domain at times. The opening has a very good opening beat but then it fades from there. Also, there are a ton of sound effects in the song that make it hard to just listen to casually. I think they could have done better on this front. There are a few decent themes scattered within but I wouldn’t call this a very good soundtrack.

Before I jump into the characters part, I also have to give the series credit for directly referencing the old Asgard arc from the show. As an anime exclusive arc I’m sure they may have been tempted to ignore it but that arc was quite solid so I’m glad that it was still relevant. We learn about how these new God Warriors came into place and it makes sense since the Bronze Saints didn’t hold back against the last ones. It also reminds you that these guys would be easily dispatched if not for the tree messing up with the balance the whole time. Take that away and things would be different.

All right so Aiolia is the main character here and he makes sense as the pick. He’s easily the character who is the closest to being like one of the original characters. He is a hero who does the right thing and never wavers. That’s something that most of the other Gold Saints could learn a thing or two about. Aiolia also tends to lose quite a few fights here as a result but by exploding his cosmos he is usually able to win in round 2 or make a last second comeback. While most of the Saints seem fixated on doing whatever they want or protecting Athena, Aiolia seems to actually believe in justice which is important.

He was always one of my favorite Gold Saints and he certainly looks good here. We also get to see Aiolia’s older brother Aiolos. I was surprised that he was resurrected since he died so long ago but I was definitely happy to see him. He’s as tough as you’ll remember from back in the day and he gets a good role here. It’s not a particularly big role until the end so you have to wait, but it’s worth it. It’s safe to say that he’ll always be the best Gold Saint. Not saying he’s the strongest but he’s the coolest.

I never cared for Mu much. Usually he prefers to just watch all of the fights instead of doing anything which is annoying in itself. Then he went full on traitor in the Hades arc and kept on sinking and sinking. Well, in this show he’s not bad. He still seems a bit weaker than the other Gold Saints but the guy is more of a defensive fighter so that makes sense. When your main technique is a big shield…it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to break it. That’s how these things always go. Mu does his detective work in the show and helps find the weakness to the tree though.

Usually Dohko is in the same camp as Mu in terms of just watching everything the whole time but he gets a little more involved here. As one of the more powerful Gold Saints I expected him to do more than what he did. He’s still around for some battles though. Then there’s Aldebaran who is still the strong man of the group but his fighting style is what really lets him down most of the time. The guy always crosses his arms as his fighting stance which doesn’t work. I mean his big attack is then unfolding his arms with a great push. What kind of combo is that?

Aldebaran badly needs some new material. I think you can only get away with that if you’re one of the stronger Gold Saints and it seems like this guy would get smoked by most of the others. Scorpio Milo is one of the Gold Saints who looks really solid the whole time. He just wants a good fight and is eager to fight the villains. He also takes Camus’ betrayal very seriously and just wants to beat the guy up. He ended up being a lot more engaging than I expected him to be.

Unfortunately Camus is the perfect contrast here as that guy looks awful. It wasn’t enough for him to be a traitor once, he has to do it again? His whole character here is that he’s with the Gold Saints. Yeah, they explain why but the reason is as shallow as it gets and I don’t buy into it being reasonable. So I was rooting for the Gold Saints to absolutely devastate this guy in the fights. Just get him out of there asap. There was no coming back from this.

Shura is one of the Gold Saints who doesn’t get much of a role. With 13 episodes and 12 Saints it makes sense that some wouldn’t get much of a role. Especially when some Saints get a considerable role so there is even less time for the others. Shura gets to prove that his sword is the best though. Aprodite gets the smallest role but to help make up for it, the writers made sure that his moment really counted at the end. So in a way you could say that Aphrodite ended up being one of the more crucial pieces in the whole show.

Deathmask gets an entire character arc here. He starts off as a very annoying guy who refuses to hel and just gets in the way the whole time. Definitely the kind of character that will make you shake your head. Fortunately after that he starts his journey of recovery although it takes him a long enough time that things get a bit tragic for him. By the end he’s learned what it means to be a hero but it sure takes him a long time. He was still one of my least favorite characters by the end of it. He’s lucky that Aiolia didn’t knock him out when they first met.

Speaking of which, the show continues the urban legend about how a fight between Golden Saints will take 100 days or something like that. It’s a great story but we’ve seen many Gold Saint battles at this point and they’re still over rather quickly. 100 days would really imply that their powers and abilities are exactly equal but this just isn’t the case. I think the Saints tend to overestimate themselves a bit which ultimately ends up coming back to bite them. I do like the bravado though.

Now we come to the big 2 Saints who get a lot of hype in the show. First up is Gemini Saga and whenever he shows up all of the villains start to panic. I like that he is given this much respect because he has definitely earned it. Gemini Saga was the highest ranking Saint who was even in line to become the Pope after all. (Aiolos was the #1 choice though) While there is always a fun debate to be had on whether Virgo Shaka is stronger, either way they are near the top. Even while nerfed Gemini Saga was able to hold his own against various opponents here. He always has a very cool demeanor to him and I was glad that he still had that presence here.

Finally you have Virgo Shaka who really did look quite good here. He was even portrayed as a bit of a mastermind and really came through when the team needed him. His attacks have the most variety to them and since he is the man closest to god in this verse, he is able to even handle the various demi gods and actual gods that show up in this show. Ultimately he still isn’t unbeatable or anything but when he shows up you can expect that the villains are going to have a tough time.

Andreas is the main villain of the series and he’s your classic evil dictator. The guy acts really nice the whole time but he is tricking people to be used in live experiments and only cares about conquering the world. His nice personality is all an act but unfortunately one that works well. Everyone trusts the guy and the sad irony is he probably could have become the King legitimately with how people liked the guy. I guess he would never settle for being second fiddle to Odin though. So Andreas is okay but I wouldn’t say he is super memorable.

Loki makes for a much more interesting villain and that guy is also a lot more powerful. As another true god in the Seiya verse, you would expect him to be strong too. Perhaps not as strong as Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, and Odin as the 5 great gods here but he would be about as strong as Hades’ two right hand men. Of course we canm’t take this standing too seriously as Athena always looks super weak and Odin can’t do anything for himself. Loki also appears to be stronger than Hypnos and Thanatos, that or Seiya and the gang are just that good.

Either way you should be satisfied with how Loki looks. He shows up and starts to dominate right out of the gate. His abilities are the real deal and the fight actually goes on for quite a while. He’s got the kind of confidence you would expect from such a villain too. On the hero side we don’t have any gods to aid the heroes but we do have the heroine Lyfia who is always around for moral support. There are quite a few twists about her seemingly evil mode. For her normal state though, she’s nice enough. The show starts to mess around with a possible romance involving her but never really goes through with it so we can write this off as normal admiration.

She certainly owes the heroes a lot for saving her people and the people of Asgard owe her even more since nobody was helping. Lyfia was really the only person trying to stop the evil in the kingdom which paints a very bad light on the rest of these guys. She can’t really fight but considering that everyone here’s an easy planet buster it’s not like she should be expected to battle. Just summoning everyone here was enough.

Frodi is the main God Warrior here and while that means he’s a big sucker who bought into all of the villain plans, at least he means well. I don’t usually have a lot of patience for these guys who are just following the rules and don’t think about the truth. I should think the whole thing is pretty obvious when Hilda is “sick” and Lyfia is trying to help take down Asgard’s ruler. Shouldn’t it make you think a bit if the royal family isn’t happy with what’s going on? I would have just liked this guy to try thinking ahead a bit more. In terms of ability and design though this guy was fun.

Fafner is the worst member. Every villain group tends to have that one creep and that’s Fafner in this case. The guy likes to run human experiments to make the villain tech work better. He uses people to power up the tree and to increase his own energy. The guy can’t fight nearly as well as the others and usually gets taken down quickly but any scene with this guy is usually annoying.

Heracles is the power member of the villains but I didn’t find him to be very impressive personally. He gets wrecked by Aldebaran really early on and never came back from that. He is one of the only God Warriors to not get any kind of convincing win. The guy talks a big game that he just can’t back up and doesn’t have many long range options. When you’re weaker than the others and are the “power hitter” of the group then that’s a problem.

Surtr is the guy who guilt trips Camus the whole time but I don’t even blame him for that. That’s all on Camus for being a chump here. In battle Surtr is decent. He prefers not to just jump into battle and relies on strategy but that shouldn’t be mistaken for being weak. He just fights in a smart way but if he has to get into the ring personally then he will. This is why the guy’s such a big threat. I liked him well enough and he was one of the better members of the group.

Another solid member was Sigmund and this guy has more of an honor code than the others which is always appreciated. This guy wants to win on his own merits and as a reward of sorts he gets to fight Gemini Saga. I liked this guy through and through. Of course he is still on the wrong side of things and didn’t think any of this through but at least he isn’t using any cheap tricks and that goes a long way.

Baldr is the last big member of the group and he’s the one who became an actual immortal which makes him very dangerous. His fight against Virgo Shaka is one of the best parts in the whole series as a result. Both of these guys are a lot stronger than the average fighter and you can feel it in each of their moves. They can counter any attack thrown their way which leads to a lot of back and forth. I liked Baldr quite a bit and he has a fairly emotional backstory. I thought it was sadder than most of the others at least.

So the show has a very solid cast of heroes and villains which always goes a long way to making the show great as well. As you can probably guess, there is a lot of nonstop action here as well. The battles never really end as each episode will throw something at you. Then the climax is a bunch of other battles in a row before we get the big team up. Seeing the Gold Saints team up is also a very nice moment. Soul of Gold did well to take the premise of having the Gold Saints in the front lines and making the most of it. It’s why this works so well as a spinoff.

Overall, Soul of Gold was definitely great. I really didn’t have any big issues with it. Of course it would be nice if the show was longer and could get more arcs but it would probably get more and more difficult to do this without having them get in the way of the main series. After a while it may be forced if the heroes aren’t able to get to Hades. The ending also could have been a bit different, I’d prefer many different options to how things played out here. In a way it’s because it feels like a bit of a cop out. The classic “If you didn’t watch the show then you didn’t miss anything” kind of feel. I always think making the whole show not feel important after all is a shame. It doesn’t take away from the experience but it would be nice to tell someone they have to watch this to find out what’s going on in the Saint Seiya saga. With the way the ending goes (Don’t worry, it’s not a dream) you can’t really say that but I would still highly recommend this to anyone who wants a good action story. In this case it is highly recommended you watch the classic Saint Seiya show first though.

Overall 8/10