Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution Review


It’s time to look at the remake to the original Pokemon movie. It’s always interesting to see a remake made to a movie in this day and age because there are now so many ways to go back and access the original right? The main incentive of remaking a film otherwise is to utilize modern effects and such that you didn’t have back in the day. That’s why it is especially puzzling to have a new film made that is technologically worse than the original. The original movie looks way better. So if anything maybe this could be a more family friendly version and I can roll with that logic. Due to the animation style it is something that would be easier for kids.

So the plot of the movie is that some scientists decided to try and create the strongest Pokemon of all time. His name is Mewtwo. I don’t really know why they wanted to make him aside from just proving that they could. Well, they succeeded and so Mewtwo blows up the island and works for Giovanni for a while. Eventually he has enough of that and decides to invite the strongest trainers in the world so try and test their mettle against him. Ash is naturally selected as one of the challengers so he heads on over to fight Mewtwo. Can Ash defeat this Pokemon or is this one fight that he is destined to lose?

Mewtwo is extremely overpowered in the film and it’s really nice to see. The film makes it evident that as a legendary Pokemon he is far above the rest and the same is true of Mew. This is how it should be. A Legendary Pokemon should be leagues above a normal one to the point where there isn’t even a contest. That’s just how it really should be. Later on the franchise would add weaker Legendaries, but at this point in time they lived up to the legends. Mewtwo also makes for a great villain. He’s got some fun goals and he has absolute confidence which you want to see in any villain.

The film continues to excel in all of the positives that the original had as well. The character cast is pretty strong and we get some solid action scenes as well. Right from the start in Ash’s first scene we are treated to a Pokemon battle. It’s always great to see those because a full Pokemon fight is pretty rare. Pikachu, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur all get to shine in the spotlight. Ash’s Charizard also looks really good whenever he shows up. He’s eager to battle and doesn’t shy away from a fight even when he is outmatched. It’s a big reason as to why he became a fan favorite Pokemon and he has definitely earned that title. Nobody is going to mess with him.

The soundtrack is a lot of fun. While I feel like it doesn’t have quite the same pop as the original version in some respects it could just be because I’ve heard that one so many times. It’s still quite solid here and I like the theme that plays during Ash’s fight. It’s very lively and a good way to kick things off. We also get an emotional theme near the end although I feel like they switched the song from the original.

I think this film really shows that if you copy a great movie then the remake is guaranteed to be great as well so long as the writing stays the same. The animation here is way worse than the original. To put it one way, it’s one of the worst CGI examples I’ve seen for a recent big media product. The Machinima Transformer shows look better than this one. Part of the problem is that the characters are drawn to look like action figures from a fan animation 10 years ago. For a fan animation I’d say that this looked exceptional but for a AAA CGI film from Netflix it is incredibly underwhelming. The only part of the animation that looks really good are the colors. I do like how the attacks really pop out at you and Mewtwo’s armor stands out as well. CGI tends to do colors really well which is why even hand drawn anime like Super typically use CGI for the aura that surrounds the characters. CG pops and blending it with 2D animation can work quite well., When you go full CGI though then it can get a little risky.

Ash is a great main character as always. This was back when he was at his best. I like seeing Ash jump into danger and have actual plans for the fights. While Charizard didn’t win, Ash had a good plan for him. I also like that he tried to punch out Mewtwo. The plan was doomed from the start but it shows Ash as basically working with his Pokemon instead of just sending them out there to do all the work.

Brock and Misty are still some of the weakest counterparts to Ash although I know they tend to be pretty well liked. Brock flirts way too much and is more annoying than entertaining. He never really has any good scenes. Meanwhile Misty is okay but I feel like she doesn’t have much personality here. She isn’t given a great deal to do in the movie. I’d argue that some of the random trainers who fought Mewtwo had more character as they stepped in and did their best in the fights. They lost of course but anyone would against Mewtwo.

I’m a big Pikachu fan but I do think he didn’t play the matchup right here. While he didn’t want to fight the fake, he still should have defended himself. If he could have escaped and aided one of the others then they could have turned the whole fight around. As it was most of the fights were total stalemates. I do consider that to be a cop out but it’s fine since the main matches had outcomes for the most part. Mewtwo vs Mew was also a stalemate although I still hold that Mewtwo would have won if they kept on going. Mew can dodge really well but you can’t win a fight by escaping. Soon Mewtwo’s hits would eventually land.

One scene that I always find a lot of fun is seeing the trainers try to cross the ocean during the storm. Seeing the Pokemon aid in real life trials like that is just cool. It shows the bond between the trainer and Pokemon as well as how strong the creatures are in a natural disaster. For sure you’d like to have a Dragonite or Gyarados for a situation like that. No mere storm would stop them. Ash and friends don’t have any big heavyweights like that but they ultimately pulled through with a little help.

Overall, Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is pretty faithful to the original. If you really don’t like watching things past a certain time period then it is certainly fine to watch this version instead. You’ll still be able to get most of the experience from the original. It really is basically the same film if you don’t mind the animation. The main problem for me is that there is really no reason to watch this one instead of the original. The original is simply better as there is no aspect of this film that defeats the original. Even minor things like the shading and atmosphere of the original are a lot more intense than the remake. I’ll give this film props for the attempt though. If you’re going to remake a film then it’s always ideal to remake a good one rather than something average or sub par.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising Review


It’s time to take a look at the new My Hero Academia film that came out. My Hero Academia (Although I usually just call it My Hero Academy) has become a really popular series and is now one of the big 3. Gone are the days when Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece were the 3 kings. While One Piece has remained in existence we’ve got a new generation of titles. My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and Demon Slayer are definitely those titles and MHA is the only one to currently have a film. Demon Slayer’s is coming up soon but now MHA has 2 so it has been on a nice roll. This one improves upon the first film and makes for another great experience.

The film takes place right after the Overhaul arc. The heroes are on high alert since the League of Villains now have bullets that can erase a person’s quirk. The Pros stop them from delivering more cargo but this results in a villain known as Nine escaping and joining back up with his friends. The 4 of them decide to take down the planet and since Nine can steal quirks he is a pretty big threat. In his first big scene he basically takes down a city in the span of a minute. The last quirk he needs is on an isolated island known as Nabu.

Meanwhile, Class 1A is currently on a vacation of sorts in Nabu. Calling it a vacation doesn’t really do their mission justice though. This is their chance to show that they can operate as real heroes. No pros or villains should be around so they work on smaller errands. The town loves them except for one girl named Mahoro. She wants to prove to her little brother Katsuma that heroes are all fake. Deku and the others will have to convince her otherwise, but it’ll be difficult because Nine and his partners won’t lose so easily. They are here to take names and their target is Katsuma. Can the students protect these two kids until back-up arrives?

I’m glad that the heroes have their provisional licenses now because it’s always annoying when the pros tell the students not to help. This time Deku and the others can go full blast from the start. Deku is stronger than most pros at this point anyway so it makes sense. The vast majority of the film takes place on the island with a lot of battles so that’s definitely pretty awesome. The opening scene is also a lot of fun though. We get a pretty quick skirmish with the League of Villains and Endeavor also gets in on the action. Dabi gets a good amount of hype here since he is able to block Endeavor’s first blow although he is ultimately defeated. We don’t get to see the pro heroes do anything after this so it was nice of them to get a solid scene here.

There are some brief interludes with Hawks and All Might during the movie but they never actually amount to anything. I suppose just seeing Hawks was hype for his fans but he really had no impact on the film so I don’t think he even needed to be here. If you cut him out than nothing changes. I was expecting him to get a mini fight at the end of something. Something sort of like Shigaraki’s role at the very end of the film. It was brief but pretty hype. Admittedly the other character in the scene looked pretty bad as I don’t know what he could have expected here, but his end was inevitable. This also served to help Shigaraki’s hype.

All right, let’s go back to the island. One fun thing about the set up here is that every hero gets to help out this time. Class 1-A all chip in even though not all of them are big fighters. At this point in the series there are some characters who have heavily surpassed the others like Deku and Bakugo then Todoroki, Kirishima, and Tokoyami. The rest aren’t necessarily combat types although they can fight when needed. There are 4 villains running around here and they’re all pro level which makes for some pretty tough battles. The fight scenes are pretty great. I’ll leave the best one for last. The guy with the puppets against Bakugo and the others was pretty fun. My only complaint there would be that Kirishima was heavily nerfed.

In this film Kirishima and Todoroki were given a lot of shade. Both of them are way stronger than how they looked here. Everything Todoroki tried was completely useless against the wolf’s attacks and Kirishima didn’t even get to put up a fight against anybody. His only good moment was blocking the energy blast at the end but he should have been using Red Riot from the start. Meanwhile Tokoyami looked pretty good here. While he ultimately did need some help against his opponent, he was the only student to hold his own even if briefly against one of the 4 big enemies. His quirk has a lot of room to grow and so I could see him becoming a pretty big fighter by the end of the series.

Uravity also looked really good here. We got to see her look a lot more determined than usual as she used her gravity powers quite a bit. As I mentioned, the class just got to shine here a lot more than usual. While Deku and Bakugo are clearly the power hitters, but the others are at least making contributions. From the villains Mummy gets the smallest role, but still has a good fight to himself. Then we have Slice who seems a lot more rational than the other villains and doesn’t panic very easily. Her hair abilities are quite lethal in a fight. Chimera is the most impressive as he was a beast in combat. He easily exceeded the kids in battle. Their plan to use the toxin to paralyze him was quite good but Chimera surpassed even that. He was probably a little too strong as this was the only battle where it was hard to see the heroes taking him down. It was still a clever move from Todoroki and Kirishima though. Chimera was my favorite villain next to Nine.

Nine is the standout villain here. He’s got a lot of determination and his reasons for wanting to change the world seem pretty personal. What I like is that we don’t really get to see much of a sob story though. Villains really don’t need one. All we need to know is that Nine has to be stopped, but that he won’t make it easy. The fact that he can absorb quirks through combat makes him scary tough and he gets more and more broken as the film goes on. By the end he’s clearly one of the strongest villains we’ve seen in the whole series. I dare say that only All For One would likely surpass him here. The villain from the first film would be close but I’d put him under Nine.

When you watch the film you get a really good look at how powerful the guy is. He keeps on getting up long after the point where you figure he would have been down for the count. He only has one weakness and his pure drive is able to help him get past it by the end. The final fight almost gets meta with how everyone’s fading out and moving across the terrain. Nine being able to comprehend and block such moves is totally crazy.

Bakugo is one of the main characters here and he definitely looks great. The guy’s as brutal as ever as he constantly talks about destroying the villains. Bakugo takes each fight seriously even if he doesn’t really see the value in the less exciting parts of the job. He’s always got a bit of a point behind his actions although he never bothers to share them. The film has a good Goku and Vegeta dynamic with the two of these characters. This film really seems to paint Bakugo as the more talented fighter while Deku’s sheer stats are higher. I’d say this seems pretty accurate since Bakugo trains on his fighting style so often.

Then you’ve got Deku who is still quite the contrast from Bakugo. He just loves being a hero and will take on any task no matter how small it may seem. Deku doesn’t take things personally and just rolls with each insult. This doesn’t mean he’s a pushover when it comes down to a fight though. Since he has One For All, Deku’s powers are always at a high level. He can only use 20% of this power and yet he is already a heavyweight. Once he gains 100% mastery he will really be impossible to defeat.

As you can probably tell from how I described the fights, the animation here is top tier. All of the energy attacks look fantastic and the animation is always moving. There are no shortcuts to be found here and it’s all very theatrical. The battles with 9 are particularly impressive as I liked how his energy barriers were used. Through dialogue we know that the characters can’t see these fields so they are animated for our benefit. It’s also a way to show us the contrasting styles between how Bakugo and Deku fights. The soundtrack is also a lot of fun. While I didn’t notice any new themes, the themes from the show work as well as they ever have. I probably would have chosen a song that’s a little faster than Eri’s for the final fight, but it’s a pretty emotional song so they were going for a different angle.

The film’s ending will vary for some. I’d say it was on the weaker side. The film comes close to making a pretty big decision and then cops out on it. I understand why the film backpedaled on that one, but they definitely should have just gone with it and lived with the consequences. That would have really made the film incredible and people would have lost their minds walking out of the theater. The ending slightly weakens the emotional impact of the film but it’s not something that ultimately limits the film much. We still had a great ride with terrific fights all the way through. Even the kids were pretty reasonable for a change. I thought the sister did a reasonable job in trying to turn her brother against the heroes without going overboard as the kids usually do in these kinds of films.

Overall, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a pretty great film. The opening may take a little time to get to the good stuff but once the fighting starts there is really no turning back. The onslaught of nonstop fighting is great and this film will have a whole lot of replay value. The final fights with Nine are particularly impressive. The animation is stellar and no matter which student is your favorite you’ll have a good time. I can’t think of any other recent film that was able to juggle so many different characters at a time. The power levels may not always be perfect, but the film did a good job of keeping them pretty well balanced the whole time. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you should definitely check it out. It’s the kind of film that is definitely a lot of fun in theaters.

Overall 8/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Reflection Review


Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion Review


It’s time to look at the Index film that came out a while ago. The series has definitely expanded quite a lot with three different shows coming out. Two of them already have 3 seasons which is quite impressive. While the series is mainly an Index film it does bring together the leads of all 3 titles. Unfortunately the film doesn’t really plan out many things for them to do and falters with some fanservice issues which limits how solid the title could ultimately be. It’s an interesting premise with a solid opening act, but it just couldn’t stick the landing.

The film starts off with Touma and Index meeting up with a singer named Arisa. She’s quickly become mega popular over her songs lately and even someone like Touma who doesn’t really listen to music much is a big fan of hers. The three of them get along well enough, but then Arisa is attacked by 3 mages working for Stiyl. Touma tries to figure out what is going on, but Stiyl gives no answers and the heroes are saved by the arrival of a mysterious group of robot riders led by Shoutaura. After everyone leaves with no explanation Touma invites Arisa to stay with him and Index for a while until they sort things out. Everyone is after Arisa and Touma aims to protect her for as long as he can.

Everyone going after the new film character isn’t really a new concept. It’s a convenient way to get everyone in on the action from the jump and works well enough. Arisa is also a likable character who just wants to spread the joy of music to everyone so I have no complaints with her. She also stays strong and sings her song for as long as possible even when the circumstances are getting quite dodgy for her. She never gives up and that’s good since not all of the characters here can say that. There are 2 other important new characters.

The first is Shoutaura who has a personal stake in this. She does not like miracles at all and brings this up quite a lot. Shou is a solid fighter and her group comes in handy on more than one occasion. For a while she was my favorite character but she cracks quite a bit by the end and makes more mistakes than I could allow. I understand her being generally upset and not liking the main characters but by the end she becomes totally crazy. She should have just stopped at trying to murder Ladylee for a while. At least that made sense. Her final target made 0 sense and destroyed her character.

Meanwhile Ladylee is the main villain. She is cursed with immortality and isn’t having any fun so she is trying to get Arisa to fulfill her plans. I don’t think her plan is all that good because there’s no reason why it should erase her immortality. I suppose she needs to try something but ultimately this is a long shot. At least in the meantime she built up a pretty solid reputation and succeeded in life. Even if things don’t pan out nobody should be any the wiser so in theory she can continue her existence.

So, why did the film’s plot not work out so well? Well, as I mentioned the beginning is pretty interesting. You have the magicians and science users all going after Arisa. There’s gotta be a good reason for this right? Well, it’s a bit underwhelming. Basically Arisa has the potential to become a very powerful Angel who could throw the world into chaos. That doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to be hunting her. If anything all this does is make it a whole lot easier for the villains to try to get a hold of her. It also makes Stiyl’s group impossible to root for because they are hunting an innocent girl with no proof that she is bad. If anything they know that she is a nice person in the present and don’t care.

I’ve never been a big fan of Stiyl so it’s not super surprising so much as it’s just disappointing on his part. Meanwhile Kaori also appears briefly and while she is more sympathetic to Arisa’s plot, she isn’t exactly trying to stop her group either. She gets a decent scene trying to stop some rockets but there is no reason why she couldn’t stay to help in the climax except that the film didn’t want her there. I’m also dubious that her slashes could not cut through the random mechs that the villain group was using.

Another problem here is that the film sets up a lot of big fights and character moments only for them not to happen. One case is Accelerator as we see him fairly early on in the film with Last Order, but then he does nothing until the very end. He at least gets a fight right? No, he just gets to slam a tower, but that’s it. There was no real point to his inclusion then but he deserved to do something since he’s such a big character. You can’t throw someone like that into the mix and then not use him. Last Order was fun as always though and did have a good line about why Accelerator should care.

Then you have Misaka who falls into the same boat. She appears early on with her friends and even escorts Arisa through the villain base. (Although they didn’t know it at the time.) After that she doesn’t do anything until the end of the film where she zaps some robots and breaks a tower. This is another case where the whole thing is a missed opportunity. Misaka has broken the law before and has experience being a vigilante. The film should have gone into that as it would have been a pretty interesting plot line. Have her finally get to work with Touma and pals. That would have been really cool instead of doing nothing.

The weirdest part is that Ladylee has two main henchmen who work for her. You’d think that each character would get one right? Well, one of them dies at the very end without being able to fight while the other one is busy dealing with Shou. Both of these characters got some nice build up so it was an odd way to end. At least the main robot got a few fight scenes before he got blown up so it felt like he had an important role. The others…not so much. It just made so much sense to have all of these characters get some action. This is probably the single biggest way in which the film limited its potential. The setup was perfect for a big 3 on 3 fight and it just didn’t happen.

Now, the film wasn’t devoid of fight scenes or anything like that. We got quite a few good ones with solid animation. Stiyl and friends vs Shou was solid as well as Shou’s fights against the robot. The movie’s animation was consistently very solid with the character designs looking good and the energy effects being on point. The soundtrack is also good with a lot of the classic tunes thrown in. Unfortunately my favorite theme from the show didn’t show up but you can’t win em all. That would have helped enhance any scene you throw it into though. We do get a few insert songs from Arisa though which are a lot of fun. Her songs were actually translated in the English version which is cool. Those scenes are definitely a lot of fun.

One area the film struggled with was the fanservice as mentioned earlier. Characters just randomly walk around with nothing on for no reason. Mainly Shou was guilty of this and after it happened multiple times you can tell the film was just being cheeky. It had to throw in random bath scenes and Touma walking in on people too so in general the film was squeezing in as much of this as possible. It’s not as if any of the scenes themselves are all that terrible, but they’re consistent which is still a big problem.

Accidents aside, Touma looked good here. The accidents here weren’t actually his fault. Sometimes they are, but in this film they weren’t so I don’t hold it against his character. He’s quite patient despite being put in a few tough situations like having to pay for large meals that Index likes to eat. You’d think Index would contribute once in a while, but she never seems to help out financially. Touma also does his best to help out during the fights and is in general a good lead. Index isn’t nearly as solid as she just tends to get in the way all of the time. She is certainly not quite as helpful or charismatic as someone like Misaka generally and Arisa looked better in this film.

Overall, A Certain Magical Index: The Movie is decent at best. You’ll get a fun enough story that feels like it could be a two part episode of the show. All of the characters show up and since the music is the same as well it easily fits in with the series. Unfortunately it would be adapting some of the weaker stories with a plot that isn’t particularly strong and more fanservice scenes than some of the episodes tend to have. If you’re a big fan of the series then I imagine you’ll want to check this film out. It still is pretty fun and you’ll be engaged while watching. The weaknesses of the film don’t become as glaringly apparent until you’re done with it. While watching you just keep seeing scenes where you’ll shake your head and think it should have gone another way but there’s always a chance it could change by the ending. Otherwise you really aren’t missing much and you can definitely just go ahead and watch Railgun S instead. That’s still the single best part of the Index series with Misaka showing why she is a one woman army.

Overall 5/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


It’s time to look at the new Kino series. This one is effectively a remake of the old one in a way as some stories are re-adapted while others are looked at for the first time. Since the series is an anthology in a sense the stories will always differ a bit. Anthologies are still the riskiest type of story telling since there are so many different adventures that one is bound to drag the rest down. Unfortunately this was the case here. They say that a bad ending can hurt the whole product and it is true. An ending can really change things and this series had one of the worst final episodes I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of the series is that Kino and her sentient bike Hermes travel the world seeing a lot of different countries. Their rule is that they can’t stay anywhere for more than 3 days. That’s because any longer and you may get attached to the place, but Kino wants to stay a traveler for her whole life. She has to keep on moving and so she follows this rule. That’s also why the series is able to be an anthology as each place is different. There is also a different main character for some episodes but more on that later. As an anthology it makes sense to look at the episodes so lets take a look at each adventure.

Our first episode sees Kino head into a country where murder is legal. As a result you’d expect the place to be very chaotic but it’s strangely peaceful. Kino enjoys the place quite a bit although she keeps her guard up at all times just in case. After all most places tend to seem better than they are. The twist here is handled pretty well and ends up making the place one of the better towns we’ve seen in the series. It’s certainly not an area to be trifled with and I think Kino would have fit in quite well.

Next up was one of the better episodes where we meet the other main character Shizu and his dog Riku. Kino enters a land where she is forced to participate in a tournament against other fighters. It’s all held under the authority of a corrupt king who forces travelers to participate and most if not all of them end up murdered. Kino begins taking down all her opponents and aims to seemingly end this while Shizu has similar goals. It’s a pretty intense episode and we get more fight scenes than usual which is nice. Shizu is also a good fighter so Kino finally has a good rival. Typically in the series she is portrayed as being pretty much invincible.

The twist ending here is definitely unexpected as it portrays Kino as being particularly merciless. We know that she is not a hero, but in this episode she goes as far as to basically be a big villain. She is directly responsible for triggering a mass murder at the end of the episode and she did so intentionally. It’s hard to really forgive her for this by the end and for the rest of the series you probably won’t be rooting for her quite as much. It’s possible for a hero to become a villain that you still root for sort of like Garou but the goals are a big part of that. Kino really doesn’t have any goals which hurts her personality.

In the third episode we see a moving country that likes to roll right over other countries as it destroys them entirely. The country has the same mission as Kino, to travel the world. The main difference is that the entire country moves around and it’s inside a giant armored shell so they just blow up anyone who tries to stop them. One country refuses to move and they end up paying the price. Kino gladly helps the moving country take care of these guys as well. They are giving her a free ride after all. It’s an interesting concept to have a moving country like this but you’re definitely hoping someone does shut these guys down soon.

Next up we got the return of Shizu as he finds a shady country that lives on a big boat. The boat is failing so eventually everyone is going to die. Shizu warns the leaders of this, but they refuse to listen. He doesn’t want to let everyone die so he decides to stop the boat by force only to be met up with the main antagonist Kino. She is working for the boat guys and so they have to have another fight. Shizu also meets a little girl named Ti who has had a pretty tough time of it and decides to adopt her. He intends to find a nice country where they can finally relax but it’ll be tough to find a good place. This was another fun episode in part because Shizu is just such a great lead. This guy’s a hero who is out to stop the villains whenever possible and I’d be up for a full series about him.

The next episode involves a lot of lies within lies. Kino finds out about some people who seemingly died, but then again maybe they didn’t. It’s an interesting concept where everyone knows the lie, but they don’t know that the others do. It’s an infinite loop where everyone has to play dumb until someone makes the first move. It’s a little tragic for everyone involved, so Kino just takes a sip of tea and leaves them to it. I do think the whole situation may make you roll your eyes a bit. Hopefully the characters just allow themselves to learn the truth at some point.

Following that up was the darkest episode in the season and certainly the weakest one aside from the final episode. We see a travelling caravan of merchants who have a slave girl with them. They force her to do all of the chores and such without really letting her eat or anything. The whole episode is them mistreating her as she tries to keep on a brave face throughout. They go to a poisonous area and everyone ends up dying except her. She gets a happy ending, but the episode is pretty unpleasant. For a while you may even think this was Kino’s origin story since there are a lot of similarities to the lead, but ultimately the episode doesn’t go down that route.

After that we got a pretty solid episode with Kino’s master and her partner. They enter a town where the partner is arrested and so she decides to break him out and they take over the town. We get some fun spy scenes and I like both the Master and the Partner. These two characters have a really solid dynamic and they have their epic entrance theme. The town definitely gets wrecked pretty badly by the two characters, but in the end they all get a reasonably happy ending. The Master’s team definitely won though. It was a fun prequel adventure and I’d be glad to see more of those.

Next up we see Shizu again. There’s this one town where people randomly turn evil and start murdering others once in a while. They blame it on radio waves so people don’t get arrested and go back to living normal lives. It’s pretty dark since everyone knows they get one chance to do something as evil as they want and there will be no punishment. Shizu goes out to the tower to prove that this is fake, but the town refuses to believe him. He does his best to change their minds, but is ultimately forced to leave with the assistance of Ti who causes a distraction. Shizu makes for an interesting lead as always, but the episode does cross into extra grim territory with everyone in the school getting murdered. It was definitely a twisted town.

The next episode was an anthology inside of an anthology which was definitely an odd choice. The stories were fun enough but the highlight was the two bandits who are wondering who they should try to rob. Kino passes by them and they wisely decide not to attack her since they would have been promptly murdered. Then you have Shizu’s group and again the bandits decide not to attack since they’d be sliced and diced. We find out that the reason why they are so wary is because they tried attacking Kino’s master once and lost most of their men real quick. Being a bandit just doesn’t pay off in the end.

After that we get an emotional story where Kino heads to a town that is known to be really mean to strangers. Surprisingly everyone is nice to her and she has a good time. It all seems pretty odd but she takes it in stride before leaving. Naturally there is a pretty big twist to the episode and the ending does make a lot of sense. Naturally Kino had to wreck this ending by pointing out that her first thought was almost a glad one because she didn’t want the extra responsibility of watching over someone. If you want extra context for this you’ll need to see the episode but it’s such a terrible first reaction to what just happened.

Next up was Kino’s big origin story. She grew up in a country where things get pretty dicey for kids and the original Kino learned this the hard way. It was nice to see the first Kino even though he looked pretty bad here. He’s definitely not quite as well trained as the current main character. It’s an interesting enough story. There’s not really a twist here compared to most of the other stories, but I suppose an origin didn’t really need a twist right?

Then we’ve got the terrible final episode. Kino and Hermes are travelling between lands when they run into a bunch of sheep. These sheep are particularly violent and just want to murder all travelers. Naturally Kino and Hermes are not exempt from this and so they have to be on the run. There is no escape though so Kino decides that she will murder all of them and does just that. The majority of the episode is Kino blasting them with fire, running over them, and then shooting them. It’s a really mean spirited episode that threw in a lot of animal violence for no reason. It’s a shame because the series hadn’t really had any animal violence before that. It was hard to believe what I was watching with that ending.

The character cast is very small since most of the stories make up their own leads. Hermes is a reasonable sidekick to Kino, but he does feel like a yes man half the time. He always gives her assurances that what she is doing isn’t all that bad which helps to justify her behavior. He’s also pretty helpless without her so it’s not like he can help much. Kino’s a unique character since she just looks out for herself and comes off as more of a villain than a hero half the time. She just wants to have a good time and so she does whatever she wants. If a villain helps her out she will likely return the favor and she doesn’t want to be burdened by anyone. I really wasn’t a fan of her in this series.

Shizu was great though and he stood out even more than in the original series. He was a great lead in all of his episodes and part of what made him so good is that he’s looking out for Ti. It’s not easy to have to be looking out for someone else like this, but he was ready. His dog’s decent, but the weakest of the 3. Meanwhile Ti is solid. She knows how to fight a bit with grenades and is a very solid supporting character to have. Her dynamic with Shizu is really good. I said it earlier, but I’d like to see more of them. Meanwhile the Master and her partner were also good. I liked the partner’s confidence. The Master tends to slam his ideas down, but he never loses his nerve and keeps on trying to be helpful.

The animation is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it excellent or anything like that as it’s going for a bit of a simple style, but it still looks clear enough to me. The character designs are on point and we get some nice action scenes as well. The best action scenes are always with Kino’s old mentor as they take the place down. We usually quickly cut away to the aftermath as this series isn’t really about the action but it works well when it occurs. The soundtrack is more low key so that part isn’t as impressive. I did like one theme though and coincidentally it always shows up for the mentor as well. It’s the main battle theme of the series.

So the series definitely has its ups and downs. One thing I’ll give the series is that it’s usually pretty interesting. Take away 3-4 episodes and the rest of it was pretty solid with the twists and that Twilight Zone feel. The series is at its best when everything feels rather odd and you don’t know what to expect. The mystery is what the series thrives on. If we ever get an actual arc where the whole season is one story I think that would have a lot of potential. I really wouldn’t mind if we switched main characters though.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is a series that will have a hard time really hitting the next level. Anthologies just limit themselves with the style that they have and I would say that the original Kino’s Journey was a little better. The title is like a modern day Twilight Zone so if that sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Each episode has a different theme going on and there is usually a twist. Some episodes can be very light hearted and fun while others can be dark and dreary. You never know quite what you’re about to get. If you want a series that’s more consistent with its tone then you should check out Black Clover instead. That one’s sure to deliver with the epic fight scenes for you.

Overall 5/10

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

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: Nemesis Raetsel Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Phi Brain season. The first two seasons were pretty great so I was ready to jump into the next season. This one is also very good although I would say that it is the weakest season of the 3. It just has a hard time keeping up with the first two because of Jin’s antics. His character gets flushed away here, but fortunately Kaito still makes for a pretty epic main character. We also get to see a lot of the big characters from the first two seasons show up which is always cool. All in all, it makes for a good wrap up to the series.

The season starts with Kaito solving another puzzle as per usual. It’s a little odd that there was still a puzzle around since they should have all been solved, but he doesn’t think too much of it. This changes when a girl named Raetsel shows up and kidnaps Jin. Kaito gives chase while the rest of the Phi Brain children are attacked by a man named Enigma. He is the leader of the Master Brains, a group who is dedicated to destroying all puzzlers. He states that the group is doing this under Jin’s orders. Up til now Kaito has known Jin as his trusted master who loved all puzzles and was a hero through and through. Is it possible that this was all a lie?

Why not ask Jin? Well, they try this, but Jin is no help since he is still missing most of his memories after getting steam rolled by the main villain in season 1. Jin never truly recovered from that in future seasons and even now he is being affected. He spends most of the season teetering like a rag doll between sides as he lets everyone speak for him. Jin is effectively an echo chamber or a mindless monster who follows whatever people say. He has no will of his own and unless he is being possessed you can’t expect him to do much of anything here. He’s a bit of a dull character who is always getting everyone in trouble. He never really shapes up so hopefully you enjoy his character more than I did. He’s the weakest one in the season.

Fortunately to counter that the other villains are pretty solid. One of the new ones here is Raetsel and she claims that she’s known Jin back during the “missing” year he had and that he does in fact despise puzzles. She is a talented solver which isn’t surprising since she was trained by Jin himself. Raetsel definitely doesn’t like Kaito since from her point of view he basically took Jin away from her. It wasn’t really his fault as Jin was just a jerk, but as a kid it was hard for her to know better. Raetsel does tend to get manipulated a bit as the series goes on and I would have liked her to defect early on, but she still has a strong showing overall. She’s another great rival for Kaito and we even got a duel involving her, Rook, Gammon, Freecell, and Kaito which was pretty amazing. Pretty much all of the big rivals were there.

Enigma is another big villain here and he was fun. He’s not as solid as the other master strategist from season 2, but he’s got the smug demeanor down pat. You always want to have a villain with a lot of confidence like this. He’s also good at what he does as shown by how he easily betrays so many other villains in the process. That’s not exactly an easy thing for anyone to pull off. I don’t think anyone expected him to be the final boss or anything like that, but he definitely does last for quite a while.

Unfortunately in this season Gammon doesn’t get to do much. In the first two seasons he was one of Kaito’s biggest rivals, but you can tell that he’s slowly stopped being able to catch up to the lead. Gammon is seen as more of an after thought and only gets 2-3 big puzzles during the whole season. It’s a shame but he did get a really big role in the first two seasons so I suppose eventually he had to slow down. He still talks tough to an extent, but is more on automatic mode than anything else. Gammon’s really just going through the motions at this point rather than actively trying to be the best.

The rest of the Phi Brain children also don’t get to do much here. Cubik gets wrecked in the very first episode of the season which is quite good foreshadowing of how useful he will be for the rest of the season. He’s never been the best solver though so it’s not as if it is out of the blue. He does his best when he appears, but I’ve never been a particularly big fan of his. Ana was also one of the more quirky solvers who relies on mind games more than skill. There isn’t really anyone here with personal ties to her which limits her abilities. Nonoha was never a solver anyway so she doesn’t get to do much of course, but she’s always around for moral support which is important. She’s a nice character as always.

Kaito is a top notch lead as always. It’s pretty rough for him since in every season the villains use mind games to get to him. It’s established early on that Kaito is one of the greatest solvers of all time. He’s only lost maybe 2-3 duels in the entire show in fair fights. Usually the only other way he will lose is if someone is messing with his mind or if there is some kind of device limiting his abilities. The latter doesn’t get to happen this time, but the mind games are still present. Jin and Raetsel do a number on him and he also gets more visions of how the world will end depending on his actions. It’s a lot of pressure but he does a good job of getting past it.

At the end of the day Kaito just loves solving puzzles and the villains aren’t able to take that away from him. He jumps into every battle and is quite impulsive so he just leaps in without a plan. Kaito’s a bit of a loner despite the group he usually travels with and isn’t opposed to fighting a villain one on one. I definitely liked him quite a lot and while Gammon was fighting neck and neck with him for the earlier seasons, it’s clear that Kaito is the best at least in this season.

Meanwhile Rook has now become one of the big executives of the puzzles group that used to be evil. He is now more of a planner than an active participant although he does get to have a few duels regardless. He looks pretty solid although there was one point where I disagreed with him. He basically told all of the heroes that they weren’t allowed to go after the villains. He figured it was a trap and so they needed to stay put. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but time was of the essence and they needed to free Jin. Not going wasn’t going to solve anything and so Kaito rightfully ditched Rook. Rook tried forcing the issue with a lethal duel and I was just not on his side the whole time. Also by fighting each other it was playing into the villain’s hands. I do like the idea of having all 5 of the super geniuses across the 3 seasons fighting each other to awaken their true powers. Since it’s been such a long time and you had characters from different seasons (3 from season 1, 1 from season 2, and 1 from season 3) it was a nice balance. I think everyone would expect Kaito and Raetsel to be the final survivors, but I won’t confirm if that was the case.

Freecell had really hoped not to have to duel anymore and I don’t blame him since it was never his passion. Compared to the other characters in the show who just live for puzzles, Freecell was just mainpulated into using them. Once he regained his sanity it was time for retirement, but it was not to me. He made some powerful enemies in season 2 and one of them ended up coming back for revenge. Freecell ultimately embraces his abilities and has some pretty good duels near the end of the season. I do like him as a character. He was at his best as a villain, but is still portrayed as a skilled solver which I appreciated. He’s a step below some of the others, but really does his best to keep up and comes across as the most sympathetic hero. He could have walked away from all of this, but stayed behind to help his friend Melancholy.

Meanwhile Melancholy gets a big role here as she signs up with the villains just to get revenge on Freecell. She has a lot to avenge at this point since he took down her boss in the last season and nearly broke her with his vague optical powers. Melancholy does pretty good and still never lost sight of herself. She didn’t actually aim to murder the heroes most of the time although some of her puzzles seemed pretty dangerous anyway. Her main mistake was allowing the other villains to have control over her puzzles as well. In the end I wouldn’t say she was the smartest villain because she got manipulated quite a bit, but she was a fun wild card to have around. I always love having a third party here to shake things up and she fulfilled that role.

In a way Elena could have been in this role as well (only as a hero) except unfortunately she doesn’t really get to duel here. It’s a shame because we know she is quite skilled, but she only offers her support financially and through planning this time around. It is helpful to have her around though as she finds out a lot about Raetsel. Although in general the Raetsel thing was a little odd since she kept trying to murder the heroes, but they were pretty relaxed around her anyway. How can you hang out with someone who’s always trying to murder you? I know Kaito doesn’t really fear anything, but even for him it’s pretty bold.

Herbert seems to appear in every season as one of those villains who just doesn’t want to stay down. You have to give him some props for that even if you never really think that he’s going to come out on top. He’s just a fun guy to go up against and here he gets a brief power up which makes him even more of a threat. Herbert doesn’t last long, but you’ll remember him. Then you have Lovushka who is mentioned a whole lot more than her actual screen time would suggest. She’s the main reason why the villains are going through the plan so she’s important in that sense. I can’t say that I was a fan, but she didn’t really appear enough for me to have much of an opinion on her.

Finally we have Orpheus who makes for a solid end boss. It was also nice to see Jin finally leave for the rest of the season which helped me like Orpheus even more. He’s fairly standard as far as Phi Brain end bosses go, but it was a nice way to tie in season 2. It gave the Orpheus Order a little more credibility here. Orpheus has a pretty cool final form and the shadow eyes effect is always a nice one. I would have liked to have seen him fight more directly though as he usually chooses to go through intermediaries.

Each season of Phi Brain always has a terrific climax and this one was no exception. As I mentioned earlier I really liked the big duel between the 5 strongest solvers in the series. It was a pretty good way to let them all have one last crack at a puzzle and those kind of stakes are just fun. It’s like the 4 way duel from Battle City in the Yugioh series. It’s a lot of fun because it does make it a little harder to know where everyone will place. You may know who will win, but it’s hard to guess aside from that. Aside from the main plot I also liked all of the duels with the Master Brains. Their competency level varied for sure, but it did bring us more puzzles which is what the whole series is about. I like to see the puzzles and watching the heroes try to solve them is fun. The series does a good job of really thinking of a lot of different combinations.

The writing is sound as well and that’s important because the puzzles are naturally going to rely on having strong writing at the ready. Weak writing would result in puzzles that don’t make a lot of sense or have convenient answers. I’d make the case that the first season still had the best puzzles with answers that you could actually solve on your own but these were good as well. My favorite puzzle was probably one of the ones from early in the season where the heroes had to find the correct door while Raetsel would snap her fingers causing the doors to shuffle. The idea is to memorize which direction her snaps cause the doors to move and then go from there. It was a very logical puzzle with an answer that made sense. It was definitely an extremely tough one, but one that followed a set of rules.

As always the animation for the season is quite good. I like the character designs and energy effects the series has. It’s looked quite solid from day 1 and that’s never changed. The first episode of the series may still have had some of the most impressive scenes with Kaito first getting his powers, but it’s been pretty consistent since then. This season is no different. Then you’ve got the top notch soundtrack. Most if not all of the tunes are from previous seasons, but the show had already established itself as having a top tier music selection so I can see why they would want to bring them back. The songs can range from being pretty emotional and ominous to having straight up battle tunes. These music selections are part of what makes the puzzles so intense and are definitely necessary for the full experience.

Overall, Phi Brain season 3 is a fun end to the saga. I may not be the biggest fan of Jin, but since his plot had started back in season 1 I suppose it was about time we wrapped that up. On a technical level the series delivered as expected with great animation and a really solid soundtrack. The old characters didn’t get to shine as much, but as they had all already finished their character arcs I suppose their time was simply up at this point. The new characters were fun and I was glad to see old favorites like Rook and Freecell again. I’d definitely like to see a revival of this series someday, but it’s probably a little too recent for that. Even so, a 3 season show about puzzles is quite unique and hopefully more and more people will find out about this title.

Overall 7/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

One Punch Man Season 2 Review


Anime is definitely one of the most amazing mediums there is. It never ceases to really bring you into a show. Even anime that I haven’t given the highest of scores will usually have some kind of epic confrontation that takes it to the next level. As a result I tend to really get into various series. I was on a Sword Art Online high for a while, then there was RWBY, One Punch Man and of course Black Clover. There are many great shows, but then at the top you’ve got the elites. These are shows where you are engaged no matter what is happening on screen. It could just be the characters hanging around chatting and you’ll be interested because the characters are just so well written. Then when the action comes you know you’ll be in for a good time. One Punch Man is the second greatest manga I’ve ever read and the first season is easily in my top 10 shows. Season 2 continues the series on a supreme note and I certainly hope to see the franchise continue to go for many years to come.

The season really has two main story arcs going on. One arc follows Saitama as he decides to enter a martial arts tournament to see if some of these fighting techniques will help him face off against a worthy opponent. He’s tired of one shotting monsters all the time so perhaps this will give him some kind of a challenge. This is Saitama though so it’s going to be hard to find such a challenge. Meanwhile the monster association has started to make their first moves against humanity and so the heroes could really use him right about now.

The other big arc follows a new character named Garou. He has dubbed himself the “Hero Hunter” and aims to defeat all of the S Class heroes. He believes that monsters are always portrayed in a negative light and bullied by the humans so he will become a monster that defeats them all. His quest leads him up against most of the series’ biggest fighters as he gradually goes from taking on weaker opponents to some of the strongest in the series. As he becomes a bigger and bigger threat the heroes are forced to acknowledge his power.

It’s easy to see why the 12 episode format is so popular. One Punch Man is able to go at a very quick pace much like season 1 and so there is never a minute of dull time. The plot is always progressing and we go from fight to fight. It helps to really capture the high level of intensity from the manga which is ideal. This season is also covering the beginning of the greatest arc in the series which is a really great place to start. It’s a little hard to know what to talk about first. I guess a logical part is the writing. In most shows it’s hard to like the whole cast, but OPM really manages to do a great job here. I can’t think of any character that is downright bad….well there is one. I forgot he appeared in this season, but I quickly double checked and Puri Puri Prisoner showed up after all. He would be the only negative character. The others ranging from heroes to villains are all pretty spectacular.

Another positive in this season is that it goes out of its way to build up the monsters as a real threat. In season 1 we did see a lot of powerful enemies that dealt major damage until Saitama took them out, but as a whole the society was pretty much okay after each encounter. There were slight hintings in the background that something was coming though. Season 2 is the payoff with that as we find out that there is a monster association led by Monster King Orochi and they have plans on how to deal with the heroes. It’s really the worst nightmare of the hero society since these guys are all mega powerful and know how to pick off the heroes. It’s a fact that there are more monsters than humans so if they properly gang up then it’s hard to see how they could be defeated.

I always like a good villain meetup scene so the episode where we first see Orochi and his full staff of monsters is excellent. I also like how they trolled the humans by pretending to be interested in a truce only to start shooting anyway. These monsters are ruthless and most of their members are actually cool monsters and not just throwaways. The series went out of its way to establish a lot of these guys and that’s great if you ask me.

In particular I liked 2 of the monsters in this season a lot. First is the cockroach guy who has a cool design and gave Genos a real fight. That alone is enough to make him pop out on my radar. Then you’ve got Gouketsu who has a great design and a solid presence. I would have liked to have seen him fight some more opponents to really see him in action before he left though. While we didn’t get that, it’s still clear that he is one of the strongest fighters out there.

We’ve already got an engaging story and excellent writing so that’s how you know you’ve got a winner. Next up is the animation. It certainly took a lot of heat as soon as the first promo came out with people saying that J.C. Staff was going to ruin it and that it couldn’t match up to the original. To start with, season 2 was never going to pass the first one. To date One Punch Man season 1 has the greatest animation I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it will be passed in the near future, that anime just looked perfect and it was fitting since the manga has the best artwork I’ve ever seen in that medium. You simply can’t top it. That being said, season 2’s animation is still great. At its absolute worst it’s still pretty good.

Just look at any of Garou’s fights and you’ll see how stellar it is. Genos vs Sonic and Genos vs Cockroach are also great fights and the same goes for Suiryu. What I’m basically saying is that all of the fights are great. This season uses different animation techniques which may take a little time to get used to if you watch both seasons back to back, but they aren’t bad. We get more air slash effects to compensate for not being able to animate every little detail like in season 1. It’s also more of a fluid color scheme that has less detail, but still gives you a lot of movement. I’d say it’s similar to the older seasons of Cardfight vs the newer ones, DBZ vs Super, or Naruto vs Boruto. In general I think a lot of anime are going towards this more streamlined era of less detail. It’ll be up to personal preference though and it’s all done within reason. For example, Black Clover falls under the “more detailed” line of anime but for big fights they tend to switch to simpler designs. Super interestingly went the opposite direction as the first few arcs were very simple so they went for a detailed look in the Tournament of Power.

In general I’d say that the detailed approach will look better than the simple designs. It’s clear that it takes a lot more work and effort to get it across, but if it’s something that’s 5x as hard to do and only makes 2x as much money (if even that) then it’s likely not worth it from a studio perspective. As long as the animation is still great I’m cool with whatever they decide to use. At least it’s not all CGI right? Now that would be something for me to get disappointed at. Season 2 has a few CGI gradients put onto the characters at times, but it’s never a full transformation like the Colossal Titan in AOT or anything like that. The actual fights are always still hand drawn and that’s the important thing.

The soundtrack is also great like with season 1. I wasn’t a big fan of the opening though. I dunno, both OPM intros haven’t really been my thing which is surprising since they are rock based. Maybe season 3 will get that one across. The new theme we have which plays during Bang’s scenes is excellent. In particular when it shows up during his fight with Garou it’s perfectly timed. It starts out as a fairly soft theme and then really picks up. Every show should have a standout theme and this is the one for this season. We also have the return of the Genos theme which was slightly remixed and still sounds great.

It’s a small complaint, but the sound mixing did seem a bit off at times. The Genos theme in particular was one instance of this as you could barely hear it playing during his fight with Garou. The sound effects were way louder than the music. Then some of the sound effects don’t have quite the pop you would expect during some battles. I didn’t notice the effects sounding weak for any of Garou’s fights though as it was just in early episodes. Perhaps it’s something that was quickly addressed.

Most of the big characters from season 1 return here which is definitely good. Saitama is still a great lead. He’s just a nice guy who’s pretty relatable and does really want to be a great hero. It must be tough being the strongest, but he’s never even been remotely tempted to turn into a villain which is good. The series could easily have had him try to be a villain so he could see if the S rank heroes give him a good fight but it hasn’t gone in that direction. It’s also always cool to see him transition into his cool hero persona.

King is one of the big new characters in this season and he definitely makes a positive impact. Everyone believes they he is one of the strongest heroes out there because King always happens to be in the right place at the right time. He is similar to Hercule from DBZ only King is fairly selfless and isn’t here for the money or power. He just wants people to leave him alone so he can play his video games. King does step up when needed though. One of the main reasons why he is such a fun character is he actually does give good advice and solid speeches. His character definitely goes in a different direction from how you’d expect and it works out really well.

Bang was in the first season, but this is the first one where he gets a fairly significant role. Since Garou was one of his students he wants to defeat the villain personally. This leads to him taking down a lot of thugs and ultimately helping out a lot in the climax. He is treated as one of the strongest S class heroes for sure although his age does factor in a bit. He’s not quite as powerful as he used to be although you wouldn’t guess it from his fights. He’s probably one of the best Shonen mentors I’ve seen in a very long while. You can’t even compare him to someone like Master Roshi. Garou manages to stay relevant next to the main characters and is just a good guy. Then we get to see his brother Bomb. Bomb’s not one of the more popular characters but he is quite solid in his own right. He is able to keep up with Bang blow for blow and just having him along as backup is incredibly handy. There would be too many enemies if Bang had to worry about them all by himself.

Meanwhile Sonic is awesome as always even if his role is very small this time around. He still has his super speed and confidence when he fights the other two ninja but this season is mostly just not about him much. His quick fight with Genos was also great. I like the rivalry between them. Genos gets a solid role meanwhile. Unlike season 1 where he basically lost every fight he actually scores some impressive wins here like against the cockroach monster. Garou also takes down a legion of enemies all while overwhelming Garou. It’s great to see him improving although I expect ultimately he will still be losing to most of the bigger fighters. It just wouldn’t be One Punch Man without Genos breaking down at least once. He never loses confidence though and that’s why he is the best hero.

Another new character is Suiryu and he’s definitely a hit. At this point Saitama already has 2 solid rivals in Genos and Sonic but why not add in a third one right? Suiryu is a martial arts master and quite possibly the strongest non hero out there. He is able to easily defeat A rank heroes and I dare say that he could give some S Ranks a run for their money. His pure physical abilities are off the charts and I always enjoy confident characters like this. He completely overwhelms his opponents in the ring and is only stopped short by Gouketsu. I don’t believe any of the villains under that guy would have been able to do much here. I really hope Suiryu gets to appear again because this guy has potential. The scenes of him getting beat up by the villains are probably some of the most emotional in the series.

Then we have Garou who really lit up the anime with his appearances. He gets stronger as he fights which is always a great trait to have. A good villain should always have an interesting backstory as well and Garou’s is top notch. He does have a point that in a lot of the old monster type shows the heroes would pick on the monster unfairly. Just look at the original Ultraman. Part of my complaints with that show was that not all of the monsters would be evil, but they’d all be beaten and blown up anyway. Garou takes this down an extreme path and does without a doubt become a villain, but it’s still a solid motivation if you ask me. He’s borderline the main character of season 2 and should play a large part in season 3 as well. Garou faces off against crazy odds in most of his fights and easily feels like the most dangerous villain. Take this into consideration, he was giving Genos an even fight despite being almost unconscious and losing his vision. Garou at full strength at this point would be completely insane.

Then there’s Fubuki who hasn’t yet had a lot to do in the show. She’s a fun character and I look forward to seeing her get more fights in the future. Her dynamic of not wanting to be saved by Tatsumaki is good as it’ll make her get stronger and is also a good motivation in general. Saitama was that making the Fubuki group is a bit of a waste when you can just get stronger but it isn’t so easy for most.

So in the end does season 2 manage to dethrone season 1? The answer is no, but it’s a very close fight. Season 2 does adapt what I consider to be some of the best scenes in the series. The season has higher stakes and more emotional moments because Saitama just isn’t around to save the day as much. It has a grander feel, but ultimately season 1 wins with how phenomenal it is. Having the greatest animation of all time certainly helps, but we also got to meet all of the S ranks in the cool climax of season 1. Boros made for a great opponent and I also enjoyed a lot of the light hearted moments with Saitama and Genos. A whole show of them hanging out would be a lot of fun as well.

Overall, One Punch Man Season 2 is a great follow up to the original and a top notch show in general. When you combine both shows you’ve got 24 episodes that would be hard for any title to match. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you need to change that. Each episode is guaranteed to get your heart pumping as you enjoy the excellent action scenes. It’s really rare to have such a well balanced show on this level so the wait for season 3 is definitely going to be tough. I hope they launch the next one right away. Since the seasons are only 12 episodes that should help them pump it out quickly. Whether they adapt the rest of the arc or not I just want to see more One Punch Man!

Overall 9/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

A Certain Scientific Accelerator Review


It’s time to look at one of the Index spinoffs. The series has definitely expanded itself into a full franchise at this point with several manga and anime each spinning off into their own thing. It’s definitely neat that Accelerator got his own show since he is the best character in the franchise. Unfortunately he surprisingly isn’t able to carry his show into the spotlight as it just ends up being weaker than some of the other titles. An underwhelming climax and general lack of Accelerator ultimately stopped this season from reaching its full potential, but it’s still a fun ride.

The season starts by introducing us to Accelerator, the strongest Esper in Academy City. At one point he used to be a mass murderer, but has since made it his mission to protect Last Order. Last Order is a kid who also serves as a memory generator for the rest of the Misaka units who are still alive. As a result Accelerator tries to hide her from the darker parts of society. Unfortunately Academy City is as corrupt as they come so this is difficult. We’ve got various groups trying to either destroy the city, claim it, or just murder people for fun. Accelerator has to stop them all. One of the problems though is the fact that he took a lot of damage in a previous arc. He now relies on a web link to Last Order to keep his brain active which is also how he can use his limitless abilities. If someone turns off the switch then he shuts down.

The main story arc here revolves around Esther. She was a necromancer until she realizes that messing around with the dead seemed like a very shady thing to do. As a result she has decided to step away, but first she has to clean up one last mess that was made. See, Esther decided to help Mikihiko with his experiments and now he has enough tech to use dead bodies to fuel his robots. The guy is teaming up with an underworld group called DA and they have been making several moves against the cops. Esther wants to stop them, but she isn’t particularly powerful so she asks Accelerator for help. He couldn’t care less, but then one of the Misaka units gets captured and now it’s personal. Together these two fighters will have to stop DA and any other groups they hire to slow the heroes down along the way.

Accelerator never likes to be considered as a hero so he constantly tries to remind everyone that he is still a villain. Nobody really ever seems to buy this, but he definitely isn’t as merciful as someone like Touma. He will give the occasional heroic speech, but it’s all hidden between the lines so you have to pay attention to really get it. It’s a very interesting approach and I can roll with it. At the end of the day Accelerator does what he needs to in order to protect Last Order. This may usually go in line with the heroes’ interests, but that may not always be the case so he’s making it clear who his priority is. It’s why he doesn’t need a hero label and at the same time doesn’t want to suddenly be in charge of protecting other people like Esther.

This gets difficult though since Esther gets pretty attached to him right away. She sees Accelerator as her mentor and hangs on his every word. I suppose it’s hard not to look up to someone like him since Accelerator is mega powerful. He’s definitely a great character as always and has all of the best scenes. Pretty much nobody here can stand up to him which is something the show has trouble with. Either Accelerator completely overwhelms his opponents in a single hit or he fights a cosmic entity who can’t be hurt. There is no in between, but he never loses his confidence.

Meanwhile I thought Esther was a good heroine. She definitely does tend to hesitate and isn’t all that powerful, but she does her best to do what she can to help. At least she did quit the villain group right away when she saw it was getting dangerous and tried to stop everyone else. Esther just needs to hesitate a lot less and stop freezing up when everyone is counting on her. Esther’s resolve needs work and she can be a bit oblivious. Still, her core character is good and I always do enjoy a heroine who can fight back. That’s definitely important.

Then there is Last Order who is a fun enough kid. As you may or may not know I’m not a big fan of kids in these kind of shows because they tend to be used as hostages or just be slow on the uptake so everyone has to recap events for them. Fortunately Last Order doesn’t really fall into these traps and comes across as a nice enough character here. You do get the idea that she knows more than she lets on at times, but at least she doesn’t use this to slow Accelerator down. She’s also extremely handy since without her Accelerator would be powerless.

One of the Misaka units appears in the show for a while, but looks terrible the whole time. I think her character wasn’t used all that well. She has electricity and should be able to fight yet she forgets this the entire time. She loses every fight and you would think that she was a powerless human half of the time. The real Misaka hopefully would have showed a lot more fighting prowess and as a clone I’d expect the same from this one. Then we have the villain group Skill-Out. These guys are pretty fun. They may not be nearly as strong as ITEM, but they can certainly still fight and I always love having a whole group show up.

First up is the leader Iizumi. Her ability is that she can find you no matter where you are. She’s got the proper confidence that you need for being a leader, but her abilities definitely aren’t that handy in a fight which does hold her back. Having an offensive ability is pretty necessary if you want to last in this show. Naruha was a lot more impressive in this regard as she could make a giant rabbit suit and manipulate paper. She was pretty fun and one of the highlights in the group. Hopefully she’ll get another chance to fight at some point. Then we have Seike who is the best character of the group. Admittedly I never guessed that the character was a guy until I looked him up to remember the name for this review. His ability is the most dangerous since he can manipulate frictional coefficients. Essentially he can stop you from moving and it was one of those super scientific abilities that the series loves to use. I imagine there is quite a lot you can do with such a power.

Youko is one of the villains from the very beginning of the series. She was super out of her league with her tech suit and gun against Accelerator, but she gave it the ole try which is admirable. I always like villains who are confident and while her group may not have kept their hype for very long, they were still good to have around. Her two allies left less of an impact though. Hasami is the last ghost on Esther’s side and gets a big role. Since she is manipulating the body of someone who is already dead she feels no pain. Effectively she has no emotions either and as a result doesn’t tend to understand human cultures much. This makes for some forced scenes, but otherwise she is a good fighter to have around. She has basic super strength and speed which are two abilities that will never steer you wrong.

Time for some of the characters who go off the deep end. First up is Hirumi and we can blame most of the series on her selfish actions. She is a very obsessive character who appears unhinged from the start. I feel like the series was obvious about that so it’s no real twist. Her decision to make the ultimate sacrifice when it was not necessary and nobody wanted her to do it really sums up her character. Her will power is so low that two different characters possess her at the same time. You’ve got the demon and then you’ve also got Isaac. While this may make for an interesting villain it really does her no favors. The final episodes really go crazy with all of the various forms and such. It doesn’t make for an exciting climax but more on that later. Either way she was one of the weakest characters in the series.

Finally there is Mikihiko who is also a very dicey character. From the start the show establishes him as an evil character who is also quite sketchy. He betrays everyone and messes around with people who are dead. His sister is without a doubt his top priority but he doesn’t notice when she starts acting rather off. For a genius he is surprisingly slow on the uptake. Some scenes are a bit iffy too like how he found a short cut to catch up to the heroes when he was bleeding out and on the ground, but we’ll assume he’s just that good I guess. He gets quite a lot of development and scenes near the end. While he doesn’t turn good, the show does try to make you sympathize with him for just wanting to help out his sister. It doesn’t work though because of how much of a villain we saw him be earlier. He’s just one of those villains who wants to have it both ways. I prefer him to Hirumi but neither one of these villains were particularly good.

That basically wraps up the main cast. It’s not a bad cast, but really Accelerator has to do most of the work here. Esther and Last Order are good as well, but I wouldn’t call them great characters. Then for the villains I liked the more minor Skill-Out fighters more than the actual main villains. The DA guys were just insane the whole time and I already spoke at length about Hirumi and Mikihiko. The writing is good though as the series still has that scientific feel that Index is famous for. Nothing will top the fight between Accelerator and Kakine from the main Index fight in terms of dialogue though as it perfectly sums up the series. Still, we get a lot of technical dialogue here as well which is great.

It should come as no surprise that the soundtrack is great. The team did a great job with the catchy Shadow is the Light theme song. It’s got that rock theme to it as well which really fits in with Accelerators character as someone who helps out in the dark so nobody even knows that he is helping out. Throughout the season the themes are solid as well. Meanwhile I thought the animation was good. It’s definitely not quite as striking as the Index seasons or Railgun, but I’d still call it pretty good. The only episodes that didn’t look quite as good were the ones in the climax since everyone turned more gray scale. It was an effect that the villain had of course, but I saw it as a quick way to lessen the animation budget a bit. The show would kick it into high gear at some points, but not all the time. Still, it’s still animation that looks nice as you’re watching the show.

Naturally the show does have some fanservice issues at times. Characters forget that they’re not supposed to change while everyone else is around and at times the fighting starts suddenly so they have no time to properly get dressed. Most of their attires aren’t great even when they are ready. It’s never quite as extensive as in the main show fortunately. It adds up enough to be noticed, but definitely could have been a whole lot worse. It’s not the biggest problem that this title has. The main problem in Accelerator is unfortunately the fight scenes.

So how do you make fights for a guy who is pretty much all powerful? Well, I’d say that it was a difficult dilemma except that the main show has had no problems with this so far. The battles against Kakine and the archangels are perfect for showing how this could go. Since Accelerator is still hooked up to the device you can give him a run for his money. The first half of the season did a reasonable job of it with Accelerator wrecking everyone. Then the second half came up and all his fights were with robots. The problem here is that you couldn’t really call them fights. It’s really just him firing a shot at the robots, they dodge, he fires, etc. These scenes just never really amount to anything and feel like they’re stalling for time. Then we get to the final episodes where he is effectively firing at plants the whole time. Of course he can blow them up with ease, plants can barely fight back.

The climax is incredibly weak which is disappointing since there is a lot they could have done with the concept. Accelerator’s first half of the show was considerably stronger than the ending. The main villain by this point was becoming a cosmic being with a bunch of persona fighting for attention. The setting felt like an end of the world type of battlefield too so it at least looked cool. The problem is that the villains stayed in a cocoon the whole time which meant there was no chance of a real fight. When she strapped in I knew that the series had given up on giving us a big fight at the end. This is the main thing that lowers its replay value. You’ll definitely be interested and engaged as you run through the show for the first time, but it’s unlikely that you would come around a second time because there isn’t much you would need to re-watch.

Esther’s origin story also took valuable time away from getting to see Accelerator. It’s not a terrible flashback or anything but without Accelerator at all it couldn’t hope to match up to the present stuff. I’d rather see more of the reluctant Accelerator mentoring Esther dynamic. That was always pretty entertaining with how insistent Esther was on following Accelerator and him always trying to escape the situation. It’s unlikely that Esther would be a main character in the next season since the cliffhanger is already throwing him into another adventure, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she showed up again at some point.

Overall, A Certain Scientific Accelerator is an enjoyable show, but one that always leaves you feeling like it has some missed opportunities. Accelerator himself misses out on quite a lot of screen time as Esther gets her backstory and the other characters all try to be relevant. I believe focusing on him would have made the show better and it’s really the only advice I need to give to a potential season season. Still, just getting to see him as the main character for a while is fun and you’ll get to learn more about the Index franchise as a whole. I’d recommend checking this one out and hopefully we’ll get more Index seasons in the future.

Overall 6/10

Editorial

Why Toonami needs to bring in episode promos for all their new shows


Toonami is a pretty cool TV block and I dare say that it’s the best block out there. It’s done a really great job of getting its brand out there. When something is on Toonami you know it. The channel has great bumpers, an actual ongoing story with TOM and manages to always have a pretty great lineup. Just having a place for anime to get aired nowadays is really cool since there aren’t many alternatives aside from watching online. At times the channel may make some questionable decisions (Super’s frame rate. There’s a bit of a blame game here with everyone deflecting, but ultimately it seemed to be on the channel not double checking their tapes) (The TV ratings for shows don’t always make sense. I believe channel ratings are up to the discretion of the channel so it could be more of a CN decision, but I imagine Toonami would have some input) but it’s still a top notch block. The channel has been through a lot, but there is one change I’m not too fond of. For a while the block always had 30 second promos for the top shows. Now they’re down to 15 per show and a lot of big titles don’t even get them.

To be fair, Toonami has never made it a practice to give every new show episode promos. I’m assuming this is due to budget concerns and not getting the content quick enough. Even so, I’m here to make the case that all new shows should have consistent episode promos of around 30 seconds. I really don’t think this would have a huge impact on the budget. Editing is no joke, but it’s something that they could certainly have staffers do. One way to get around the time involved would be to make episode promos based on the sub versions. You could just grab the entire thing, but of course this would be more of a last resort. Ideally I’d like to have 30 second dub promos for it the way they used to. For the purposes of this editorial when I say “new” shows I’m talking about anything that is airing on Toonami for the first time. For example something like My Hero Academia which is already available online is still on Toonami for the first time so that should get dub promos. Likewise if Sailor Moon Crystal were to air, I’d want that to get promos as well since it’s on Tooami for the first time. So…why are episode promos important?

1. They are your first glance at a show

Toonami has four kinds of promos. They have the motivational speeches every once in a while, the monthly lineup change promo, episode promos, and new series introduction promos. I’m mainly focusing on the third kind, but the fourth one has some overlap. Every new show does get an intro promo so Toonami does a good job with that. Typically this promo is a minute long and it’s a great way to set up a show for new viewers. To date the best series promo by far was the Sword Art Online Alicization one.

Despite there not being a whole lot of action in the premiere they used amazing editing and a rock solid music choice to get you hyped. I’ve seen that promo at least 50 times since it first aired. It’s just perfect and it’s an example of a show I could see myself checking out without knowing anything else other than the promo. It’s just that good. Episode promos can have the same effect.

Put it this way, the series premiere promo only shows up for 2-3 weeks. After that it’s gone so if you turn on the TV at a random time odds are that most of the shows airing won’t have any promos. That’s where an episode promo comes in. Lets say you turn on the TV and you get the Samurai Jack episode 3 promo below.

You have no idea what this show is, but all you care about is when the episode is going to air. You’ll tune in and now there is a chance that you’ll pick up the show. You’re much more likely to take a chance that way after seeing something rather than blindly tuning in at the time and checking it out. A good episode promo goes a long way to letting you see if you’ll like the show or not. Actual footage goes a long way.

2. They get you hyped for the next episode

An obvious benefit of episode promos is they get you ready for what will come next. Especially as most of the Toonami shows are action ones. A solid promo builds up the hype and anticipation for next week. Lets take this Titan promo for example. We’re finally going to see Eren’s rematch against the titan from episode one. This is an event that viewers looked forward to for several years so just having that scene in the promo really gets you amped up. It’s just not the same with no promo or even with a 15 second one. They’re just way too short for you to do anything with them. We need consistent episode promos and all of the new shows deserve them, not just the top 2-3 each season.

3. A good promo may make you jump on board a show even if the first few episodes didn’t look so good.

This is similar to the first option, but a little different. Lets say you’ve got a show where the beginning looks boring? Say you turned on Dragon Ball Super and you saw the early Beerus stuff. You figure “I’ve already seen this as a movie” so you turn it off and don’t watch again. About a year later you turn on the TV and the following promo shows up. Now you’re thinking “Wait a minute, this looks hype!” and you scramble to watch the next episode. An episode promo like this shows you what you’re missing and may incentivize you to re-start the show. After all, you’re more inclined to do so if you know there is going to be some big payoff like this rather than watching something you’re not a fan of and hoping it’ll get better. A lot of shows have slow beginnings and for some they may never get better while for others they hit that next gear and never look back. Promos are perfect for this.

So, those are 3 reasons why I think Toonami should reconsider their current approach and begin airing 30 second promos for all of their premieres. It would really go a long way towards getting more and more people excited about their current shows. The biggest benefit will be for more casual viewers, but I just love promos even if I’m already watching the shows and am hyped for next week. Promos are just amazing and I’ve always enjoyed watching them a bunch. A good one just goes a really long way and also helps when trying to recommend a show to someone. Well, with or without this change, Toonami has definitely been a great way for us all to experience new titles. Without Toonami I doubt anime would be quite as mainstream as it is today.

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

Dragon Ball Super Review


It’s time to finally take a look at Dragon Ball Super. It may have finished a very long time ago over in Japan, but Toonami only finished airing it rather recently. It’s definitely a show that’s been pretty polarizing in many aspects, but overall it’s great to have Dragon Ball back. The show has significant issues to be sure, but it did bring us some big elements like Goku Black. Hopefully we do get that next show announcement by the end of the year, but the year is ending fast. Lets take a deep look at good ole Super.

The first two arcs recap the movies that came out. The first one where Beerus arrives to destroy Earth and find the legendary Super Saiyan and the second one where Frieza returns to exact his revenge. These stories are old so there’s no reason to really go into them again. Unfortunately both adaptions were not quite as good as the movies they were told in. This is mainly because the show has to pad these stories out to buy a lot of time. I’ll really be starting my story look through with the next arc, the big universe against universe showdown!

Basically Champa has challenges Beerus to a battle. The winner gets to claim the Super Dragon Balls and can make whatever wish they want. Beerus accepts and for his fighters he wisely chooses the power hitters like Goku and Vegeta. There is a mysterious Monaka fighter on the roster, but Beerus insists that he fights last. Meanwhile Champa’s team has a mysterious individual known as Hit which could get a little tricky for the heroes. It’s a fun way to really start the show off because we get to see some new characters and the first opponent to actually defeat Super Saiyan Blue. Hit vs Vegeta is definitely one of the best fights in Super and it really raised the stakes. If this random guy could beat Blue then who knows how many other guys could possibly take down Goku and Vegeta.

This arc may not have life or death stakes the way that the Z arcs had, but it was still a great kickoff event for the show. We got a lot of big fights and no real wasted time here. Hit vs Goku was also great and it was nice to see Vegeta take down Frost. It did start off the power level issues a little more, but I’m going to be tackling that after covering every arc because that’s a big topic that’s going to need its own section. This arc really let you ease into the new characters and just enjoy some nice fights.

Next we have the Goku Black arc which is definitely the best arc in the series. Trunks arrives from the future and we find out that in his timeline Goku murdered everyone. The heroes figure there must be more to it than that since turning evil isn’t really Goku’s thing. The guy shows up and easily beats Vegeta and Goku when they first fight. Black continues to get stronger with each fight which makes him incredibly dangerous. He also has an ally in the immortal Zamasu and they make for a great tag team. There’s also a bit of mystery here because we just aren’t sure exactly who Goku Black is. There are definitely a lot of people he could be, but it’s hard to get that definitive answer.

Part of why this arc is so good is because it’s the only big arc in Super to really have high stakes. The Tournament of Power is an example of the stakes not being existent because of how high they are, but more in a moment. Goku Black and Zamasu are here to destroy everyone, they aren’t following any rules and since we’re in the future there isn’t a Beerus or Whis to suck the tension away. It’s just a brutal battle among Saiyans and we get a lot of great scenes here. Trunks being around is also great. I do like the contrast of how he’s always ready to charge in and attack while everyone is still gloating. Trunks always goes for the finishing move, it’s just a shame that he doesn’t have the power to carry it out most times.

Finally we have the tournament of power. With the exception of two universes everyone else has been instructed to fight. Each universe gets 10 members and they all have to fight within 40 minutes. Each episode is roughly a minute and so we naturally get a ton of fights. The main threat appears to be a man named Jiren whose power is basically absolute. Super Saiyan Blue won’t cut it here so Goku will need an entirely new level of power if he wants to even get close to this guy. Can Goku really master such a form in such a small amount of time? Meanwhile his allies will have to try not to hold him back.

This is the longest arc of the series I believe and it does benefit from the animation upgrade Super got in the second half of its life span. It’s very noticeable how the animation improved and some of those final fights will likely live on forever as some of the best in anime. The concept of the arc is great since we have so many fights here and a lot of the best themes in the show appear here. Goku’s Ultra Instinct is definitely incredible and it felt like so long since he last had a super form. It was definitely worth the wait. There’s a lot of action and excitement to be had here for sure. While it may not be quite as serious with the stakes as the last arc the nonstop action definitely really helps to keep it at a high level.

The reason why there are no stakes here is because you know it won’t stick. The rules are that every defeated universe will be eradicated. That means Goku would be murdering untold amounts of people if he won the tournament. There’s just no way that could possibly stick so while you enjoy all of the fights it’s more of a friendly tournament at the end of the day. I love all tournaments so it’s not a big deal, but it does help to give Goku Black’s arc that slight edge. It’s really the only high stakes arc post Z and I’m hoping a sequel series brings back that tension by bringing in the demons and having foes who can defeat Beerus and Whis. That will really throw us back into uncharted territory.

The animation in Super is definitely solid. I know the show got a lot of mocking back in the day for how off model everything is, but it still looks good. Sure, it’s nowhere near the big shows nowadays like Fate, Bleach, or something like that, but it still looks good enough. The big battles also get a boost and then with the tournament of power the animation really got elevated. Towards the end there we finally get back into the high-end level of anime. The fight with Kefla, Jiren, Toppo, they were all quite solid. Once the animation goes up it actually manages to stay there for the rest of the series which is very impressive. The animation is definitely not a real concern for this show, it’s definitely very impressive and again, that boost at the end puts it up there with any anime it would like to face.

Then we have the soundtrack which is absolutely top notch. Super has one of the best OSTs that I’ve seen in a very long time. Pretty much every theme is one that you’ve just got to listen to. We have suspense themes, battle themes, emotional themes, you name it and the show’s got it. It’s easily a 5 star soundtrack and very few anime can even get on the same level as this one. I don’t know exactly where I’d put it, but I’m confident that it would make top 10.

Goku is the lead here once more but he may be a little different than you remember. Interestingly he is the most flanderized of the characters compared to the DBZ days. He has a very tough time taking anything seriously and is more kid-like than usual. To an extent this is because the old Z dub made him extra heroic but it’s also just the show dialing him back a bit. It’s a shame because he is an awesome character in Z. He’s still solid in Super to be sure, but not quite up to par with his normal self. He’s at his best when bantering with Frieza or Vegeta. That’s when he is back at his peak. Goku’s battle intelligence is also unaffected as seen by his plans against Hit and Jiren. His destructo disc plan against the latter was very impressive even if it ultimately did not work.

Naturally Goku did get some new forms here so how did they stack up? Well, I definitely loved the Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken form mainly because I would always question why Goku didn’t use it more often with SSJ. Certainly it takes a larger strain but it would help him take down any foe. The form also just looks really cool with the blue and red colors blending together.

The big form is Ultra Instinct though. It’s got two modes, Onen and Mastered. Both forms are incredible. I’ll give the latter form the edge with how stylish the white hair looks. It feels more complete but I can also see why people love Omen mode since it’s more mysterious. Goku acts like his SSJ4 form where he is completely ruthless and just wrecks his opponents. Whenever Goku transforms into Ultra Instinct form it’s an epic scene. Surprisingly his first transformation scene is the weakest of the group, but I’m going to have an editorial on that soon. Personally the most impressive appearance of that mode was against Kefla. Either way I look forward to this form continuing to show up.

Then we’ve got Vegeta and the show really does an excellent job of portraying him. Yes the first arc with Beerus makes him look terrible and the running gag of Vegeta being scared of him does continue for a bit. Fortunately that starts to get dropped by the end because otherwise the show really depicts how Vegeta has changed over the years. He’s more of a family man than Goku and is always doing his best to protect Bulma. He’s kept up his Saiyan pride and no matter how many power ups Goku gets Vegeta is right behind him. Vegeta never loses sight of his drive to be the best. He may lose all of the important fights in the show, but he always puts up a good effort.

Trunks is always a lot of fun so it’s nice to see him return even if just for one arc. He gets a crispy new super form and is no nonsense as always. His battles with Goku Black are great and I do miss having him around. The show really missed a big opportunity by not keeping him around at the end. It would have made perfect sense to have brought him over instead of going to another world with no real benefits. Perhaps he’ll still appear in the future some day.

Beerus is an enjoyable character even if he does come at a big price. He has good banter with the rest of the characters and Beerus is super competitive so that leads to a lot of great dialogue as well. The show retconned the fact that Goku in SSG mode was close to beating him, but even so it’s hard to imagine that the heroes can’t beat him at this point. They’re basically just friends now though so I suppose the point is moot. The only problem about having Beerus and Whis around is that there is rarely a sense of danger. You know that the villains won’t be able to compete with Beerus which is a shame.

As for Whis, he’s portrayed as being even stronger than Beerus. Everything is a joke to him, but at least he doesn’t threaten to destroy the world nearly as often as Beerus. Whis is content to just hang out and enjoy whatever is going on. I hope to see him fight seriously someday. Then we’ve got some of the original Z fighters like Krillin, but there’s not a ton to say about him. He’s still not very strong, but at least Goku does put him on the final team roster so he gets to have a few fights.

Bulma gets a good role here. As always she is the genius of the group and develops a lot of great tech that helps the heroes out in their battles. Without her they would really be in a serious pickle. She may not fight, but her constant advancements in weaponry and armor have helped the team a great deal. Then we have Piccolo who is also not one of the stronger fighters anymore. He does help Gohan out in the tournament though and still has good tactical awareness. He’s also just a fun character to have around.

Gohan let his skills slack off once again for the first two arcs, but fortunately after that he finally takes fighting seriously again. He even re-unlocks his mystic form and gets back to his peak strength. While he is unable to pass Vegeta or Goku by the end (Nor should he since they never stopped training) he does get to be a serious threat once again. His best showing is probably when he took on Dyspo. Gohan was actually keeping up pretty well. I’m definitely up for seeing more of Gohan in a sequel show.

Android 18 joins the fray in the final arc. Unfortunately she has not gotten any stronger from the Android saga unlike 17, but she still contributes quite a bit in the various fights. She may be quite harsh to Krillin at times, but at the end of the day she really just wants the money to help out the family. Android 17 is one of the surprise hits of the series. Apparently being a park ranger can multiply your power level hundreds of times over. He went from being an Arc 2 villain to suddenly having power on the level of the gods. He’s a really fun character and I always like his dead pan approach. His best scene is probably when he caught the light speed power ranger in time to prevent him from landing a hit on 18. It was just a crispy scene.

Naturally Frieza has a really big role here. He is instrumental in the tournament of power arc. He’s definitely one of the all time best Dragon Ball villains and Super really handles his personality perfectly. He’s constantly messing with the heroes but fortunately he also has enough raw talent to back this up. He has the best strategy out of all the heroes in that he waits for everyone else to get tired and waste their energy before he steps in. Unfortunately the show does drop the ball with his character by the end. The entire time it is heavily implied that his power level is on par with Goku and Vegeta’s and his scenes support this. Then he suddenly looks terrible in the last few episodes. I’ve heard that it was a change of writers or something, but when watching the show it makes no sense. Dyspo and Toppo should not have done nearly as well as they did against him. It made all of his planning futile in the end.

Then there is Buu but in contrast you can tell that he got the raw end of the stick here. He is around for the first tournament and then gets a training episode for the second, but is quickly written out of the show. The whole sub-plot is rather bizarre. Maybe there was a plot that was intended for him at some point and then it was scrapped. It’s too bad because there was a lot of potential here. I do think he would have been a bit overpowered for this arc though. Healing and a high power level go a long way.

Goku Black is one of the most ambitious characters in the series and it was really great to see him step up to the plate. He certainly deserved his own arc so that was great. His regal personality makes for a great contrast to Goku’s design and his whole getting stronger the more damage he takes stick is also great. The end of the arc may not have been the most satisfying for his fans, but at least he got a lot of fights before then. He quickly rose up to become one of my all time favorite villains as well and I’d put him second behind Broly. Black is just that good.

Meanwhile I also greatly enjoyed Zamasu. His whole obsession with disliking the mortals is handled very well. You can feel his disdain in every scene that he is in. While his power level may not be too high, it’s nice to see his immortality in action. I always said that immortality is not a power I would want because if you’re weak then it just means that someone can beat you up for eternity. Since he has a partner in Goku Black it is less of an issue though. Otherwise he definitely would have been in a whole lot of trouble.

Jaco and Champa are two of the comic relief characters running around. Jaco’s a decent enough guy even if he is super weak. I mean, that’s basically the point. Champa is harder to take seriously because we’re meant to believe that he is about as strong as Beerus and I find that hard to believe. Not working out at all and getting super overweight should absolutely hamper your fighting ability. I just can’t see how it wouldn’t. Then we have the Grand Minister who is likely extremely powerful but we never get to see him fight. There are a ton of fan videos where he ends up challenging the gang and I must say that this would be a rather awesome turn of events.

Zeno is a high above being who can end reality with the snap of his fingers. He’s not my kind of character as I prefer actual fighting ability to triumph. He also has a habit of just repeating everything other characters are saying which gets old very quickly. His scenes are basically just around to save budget on all the recycled animation and to pad out the time. Now lets talk about some of the bigger characters in the tournament of power. First up is Frost and I really like the concept here. He’s basically a lower version of Frieza. His power level is considerably lower, but he can fight which is really all that I need. The guy has a good future if he ever appears again.

Then we have Cabba who is a Saiyan like Goku. He may not be super strong yet, but given how easily he was able to reach Super Saiyan 2 I could see him becoming a truly powerful asset at some point. In the meanwhile we have Caulifla for that. She’s a great character with a very considerable power level. I like her aggressive personality and she is always spurring on her allies to get even stronger. She really helped Kale improve for example. Kale isn’t quite as solid, but I really like her Broly form. Then when the two become Kefla they are easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise.

Hit is definitely a warrior with a lot of hype and it is deserved. His ability to time skip makes it so that any opponent going against him is going to have a bad time. Unless you are extremely fast there is really nothing you can do against him. He’s also important because he was the first fighter to take down Super Saiyan Blue. It would have been nice to see him do more in the Tournament of Power, but his fight with Dyspo was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to see a ton of fights where various universes fought each other without Goku’s team jumping in which is part of why it was so solid.

Then we have Ribrianne whose power level was jumping all over the place. You have to give her points for resilience because she just kept on getting up no matter how many times everyone would beat her down. Her super form is also pretty cool. I do prefer her human form to the transformed mode, but her Shojo powers were a nice homage to the classic anime. Then we have Dyspo who is part of Jiren’s main 3, but less impressive power-wise than the other two. There were quite a few times he was nearly eliminated. I do like the fact that his speed is so off the charts though. By the end of the series he’s going to fast that even other characters who are FTL have trouble keeping up with him. Dyspo definitely rounds out the trio quite well.

Nearing the end is Toppo, a pretty tough guy who doesn’t have too much going for him. His opening fight with Goku during the prelims was a lot of fun and in the tournament he gets his share of battles. He definitely did become one of the strongest fighters even if Vegeta wasted a lot of unnecessary energy in defeating him. His super form was just great and you can see why he is the 2nd in command on the team. He could have been even cooler, but as it stands you do have to respect his power.

Finally there is Jiren, the wall of power. The guy is portrayed as basically being invincible throughout Super. The writers really wrote themselves into a hole with how strong he is. Attacks on the level of Super Saiyan Blue literally could not hurt him and he was taking full shots from everyone at different points. You can see how he noticeably gets nerfed as the show goes on, but by the end you still know that he’s one of the strongest. His fight with Ultra Instinct Goku is great and I don’t think he needed more personality. A lot of people thought he was too much like a literal wall in Goku’s way, but that added to the mystery. All I need from a character like Jiren is a bunch of good fights and a solid design. It’s also worth noting that a lot of his lines were pretty great. He’s definitely a super solid villain.

Super’s writing is decent. The characters do act like exaggerated versions of themselves at times, but the plots are engaging. The music and graphics are definitely top notch so there are no complaints there. Really the big deal here are the power levels. It’s finally time to take a look at them. DBZ was not perfect, but for the most part it was very consistent in telling you exactly where everyone stacked up. This series throws that out the window almost immediately. Hit being able to tag Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but then being countered by base Goku is already crazy. The difference in speed is thousands, if not millions of times apart there. Super Saiyan 1 is a 50X multiplier, SSJ2 is around 2.5, SSJ3 is X4, SSJG is unknown but way higher than SSJ3, and then SSB is 50X that. When you multiply all of these things together with the original power level you can see how that makes no sense.

It would only get worse in the next arcs. Trunks goes from having SSJ2 level power to being in god mode and holding his own with Black and Zamasu. That’s definitely not going to make any sense no matter how often you look at it. Then the biggest offender is the Tournament of Power. Krillin and Roshi are able to trade blows with some fighters and their power levels are absolutely terrible. They’re so low that they should literally lose the instant that the match starts. The reasoning for not letting Goten and Trunks into the tournament was also terrible since their power levels are way higher. Then you’ve got the whole Frieza debacle.

Almost every show has power level issues, but I’ve never seen any as massive and obvious as Dragon Ball Super’s. It’s just completely unrelenting and you can’t help but think about it in every episode. Even if you’re not a huge DBZ fan you’ll likely be able to notice this. It’s just hard not to with the show throwing it in your face the whole time. It’s likely just a writing issue when you think about it. The show did struggle to get that DBZ vibe for most of the show. Really the only time it actually got that serious air again was during the Goku Black arc and then during the climax of the TOP.

The single best moment in the entire show is when Goku got up after being knocked out by Kefla and re-awakens his Omen form. With the narrator there as well it felt like the kind of cliffhanger you would see in DBZ. A good narrator makes a world of difference with how much hype he can bring to the table. Goku’s transformation into the finalized form of Ultra Instinct also gets a similar vibe. It’s just great to have such a powerhouse on the hero side and it’s also believable when Goku is holding his own and even beating Jiren. At least with that there were no power levels to think of.


Overall, Dragon Ball Super is a great show. We can do the “What if” game forever of course, but ultimately you can still be satisfied with what we got here. The show had a pretty good life at 130+ episodes and it kept the saga going. I’m definitely not in the group that says this should replace GT or that says GT is significantly worse than Super. It’s still a great sequel as well and I’d still say it takes place after Super. Super does have the advantage of being longer and keeping the Z Fighters though. Once you watch this show be sure to watch the Broly film since it takes place after the tournament of power. Hopefully the next show doesn’t re-adapt it, but no need to wait for that since Broly is available right now.

Overall 8/10