RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant Review

This book came out a long while ago so it’s about time that I check it out right? It’s a spinoff so the main characters aren’t here and it’s really a bit of a meta book as this is basically meant to be a book that exists in universe as something that Professor Ozpin would hand out. As a result the stories aren’t exactly real per say. It’s heavily implied that parts of them are real or at least based on something which is really the point of the book in the end but at the same time since the complete stories aren’t real it does make you give it the side eye a bit. I think instead the stories should have been real since that would have been a lot of fun but either way it’s interesting. Since the stories are so short there will be spoilers as I describe them so definitely read this before checking the review out.

Each story is 6 pages so they all go by very quickly but it does mean that the book gets to store a lot of content. You’ll be able to breeze through the book in no time that’s for sure. The first story is about a boy who meets a huntress and this is a fairly novel concept back in the day. The rest of the village believed they were just lucky which is why Grimm don’t appear but the kid knows better now. He visits her once a year and they become friends but ultimately after a few years she stops appearing. Either she was defeated by the Grimm or eventually just got too old to keep on fighting. In the end that is probably the fate of just about every fighter because the Grimm are limitless while eventually every human gets old. This was a pretty good story to kick things off and ultimately while the ending can be tragic, it worked really well in this fairy tale setting.

The next story was about a man who challenged the Sun to a staring contest. If he won then the Sun had to be extra careful about his family’s crops for generations and if the Sun won then the family would have to worship it forever. Ultimately the human proves his determination and wins but it costs him his eyesight forever. It’s certainly a cautionary tale on one side that you have to be careful when challenging someone because you might lose a lot but also a story about how you should keep on going once you have started. If he quit midway then he would have really been in trouble since he would have lost a lot with nothing gained. This story was definitely a lot sadder than the first even though the hero won here. I feel like I’ve read a story sort of similar to this one but it works well.

In the 3rd story we have a god showing up to try and bring everyone to his utopia. He grabbed a bunch of humans and told them to follow him onto his island. Some did and gained animal traits but others were too scared and stayed away. Ultimately this would begin the big terror among the humans and faunus which would become a never ending civil war. Ozpin basically confirms that the story is fake but wanted to include it as another cautionary tale of not letting your fear get the best of you. I think what weakens this one a bit is Ozpin confirming that it’s fake and us knowing that it is because of the true origin of the Faunus but it’s still a decent what if.

Then we get a bit more of an action packed story as a hunter dies and his kids all think about what they want to do with their lives. One of them ends up becoming a hunter as well, one an adventurer, a protector, researcher, etc. Ultimately they learn that divided they will accomplish none of their goals and that they must work together if they really want to succeed. It’s a solid message here and in the end unity is the strongest weapon against the grimm. I think the kid who was planning to be a hunter as well had the right idea though. From all of the kids that one made the most sense and I guess in the end he just wasn’t strong enough to see it through. The teamwork moral is always a classic one.

Next up we have a story about a King who was the wisest in the land. Unfortunately after that he was given a crown which showed him some kind of future and he lost all of his confidence. It’s a shame since he was doing so well and I do think he looks pretty bad considering how overwhelmed he was. If he had just held on to a bit of his confidence then he would have ended up being all right but in the end that just wasn’t in the cards. The ending is at least happy thanks to a widow showing up and helping him overcome these fears. That tied the beginning and ending in well as she appeared right from the start and got good advice from him so this time it was her turn. The king looked pretty bad but it’s a solid enough story.

After that was easily the scariest story as a girl is performing a challenge with her brother one day to go into the woods. He’s scared since the Grimm are generally around but she forces him to go. Unfortunately he gets gravely ill and it turns out that he was possessed by the Grimm and ends up murdering everyone in the town. The girl tries to escape but eventually realizes that she is dead as well. It’s a chilling tale all the way through and Ozpin confirms that this could not happen but that the chill grimms are still very dangerous. The moral is obviously not to perform silly dangerous dares like this. In a world filled with powerful monsters everywhere it’s just not a very smart idea to wander off by yourself. That is how you get absolutely devastated.

Following that up is another story where a god decides to meddle with the animals and human affairs. He shows up and asks if they will listen to him. Each side figures he is about to destroy the other and quickly agrees but instead he merges traits from each side which effectively creates the faunus. Neither side is happy as animals and humans both turn on the faunus and now they are on their own. The moral basically is that they should have tried getting along at the start or having some unity afterwards but they let their differences get in the way. As always if the characters had just been reasonable then this could have been avoided.

After that is the worst story in the collection. It’s about a guy with immortality and it’s heavily implied that this is Ozpin. Basically he ends up taking in an apprentice and before long has a whole following. As he dies the girl convinces him to return to them which is something he never does but he ends up paying a visit to the organization (The Circle) and everyone is ecstatic because now they have proof of someone who can return from the dead. Unfortunately that means a lot of people start attacking them to challenge him so he decides to lose on purpose and dies. What he didn’t realize was that by doing this the organization was defenseless and they were all murdered. The moral is not to put all your trust in one person but really it should be that the main character wasn’t smart at all. You should never allow yourself to be destroyed on purpose. Of course the villains weren’t going to keep their word about sparing everybody. Cmon now!

The Two Brothers is a fun story since the show actually adapted this one, granted with some differences. The show version is the true canon one of course but basically it goes through similar motions as the god of darkness creates the grimm while the light one creates animals. Eventually they team up to create humans but there is still a lot of friction as they sabotage each other for no good reason. As a result they decide to hold a truce by going into a deep slumber and if the humans are finally united in the end then they will say that this was a success. If there are differences then the humans will be murdered so the stakes are high. Knowing that these two corrupt beings are still out there should absolutely scare everybody. I still say the heroes might need a plan for that since the gods are almost certainly going to be evil when they appear.

Then we have the story of seasons which is another story we already know from the show. Basically an old wizard is lonely and gets visited by 4 ladies who each represent a season. They help instill new life into him and as thanks he gives them each a quarter of his magic. He may be powerless but is more alive than he ever was before since they have shown him how to enjoy the day and just have fun doing normal activities. It’s a very cheery story and a nice change of pace from the more serious ones. At the end of the day it’s a classic moral of always doing nice things to people because there is no downside and sometimes it can be really helpful.

Next up is effectively Rapunzel but with a bit of a twist. A girl is locked up in a tower by her father, one of the most powerful warriors in the world. She wants out and so she throws letters out the window begging people to save her. Many heroes arrive but they are all defeated by her father until one rescues her. It’s a classic saving the princess story but the tale makes sure to note clearly that a ton of people still died during the rescues so it wasn’t quite as happy as it may sound at face value. You do feel bad for those guys but at the same time they died following their own sense of justice so it was definitely a pretty good way to go out. I don’t think they would have any regrets.

Finally we come to the end with a story about the Moon but it’s probably the most boring story. It’s not bad but there isn’t much to it. The Sun has a hard time trying to make everyone happy and it crashes from over effort. The humans build a second one which becomes the new Sun and then they turn the old one into the Moon. It’s certainly interesting how humans are advanced enough to do this so it’s also probably the fakest story of them all. It’s also a shame for the Sun since he lost in both stories that he appeared in. I guess in the end he just can’t quite keep up with those pesky humans.

Overall, There are quite a few stories in here and they do make for a fun read. As with all anthologies there will be some fun stories and some weaker ones. Ultimately the balance works well enough to make this a good book but I will always prefer a central narrative to the anthology style. It’s higher reward all the way around. Still, I’m always glad to see more RWBY books and hopefully they keep coming. There is a whole lot of additional content that we could stand to learn about the world of Remnant.

Overall 6/10

Beast Complex

This one’s not quite as dark as Beastars yet but at the end of the day it’s an anthology with a lot of animals not doing so well and so I don’t see this getting much higher. The chapters come out fairly random so if I get caught up in reviews and no more chapters are out I may do the review at some point but if you liked Beastars then you’ll like this one and vice versa. Anthologies are already at a disadvantage from the jump though so this will have to do something big to try and make a comeback.

Overall 2/10

Kuroko’s Basketball – Replace Plus Review

This is a series I was reading for a very long time until it finally finished. The original Kuroko’s Basketball was excellent and I enjoyed the sequel a lot as well. This one’s more of an “Eh” kind of series though. It’s a comedic slice of life title that can be borderline 4 koma at times although usually it’s still traditional. It’s basically about the characters messing around and having fun the whole time. The only catch here of course is that the cast isn’t the most varied in terms of their personalities. They’ve all got their gimmick that is dialed up to 11 for the series but that’s about it.

There isn’t exactly an ongoing story for the series either but I have to say that it’s impressive how the series ran for 10 volumes. That’s surprisingly good and so there are a lot of different stories here. It’s a series that is very easy to just turn your brain off and check out at any time. I would say that is its biggest advantage. None of the stories are going to be bad either. Maybe some of them will be a bit dull but they tend to be very consistent. You watch the characters all overreact to classic situations and there are a whole lot of different scenarios you can put them in.

The artwork isn’t bad. It’s close enough to the original where you can easily recognize all of the characters so there’s no issue there. It’s not quite as high tier as the main series would be but I can’t think of a time off the top of my head where a spinoff beat the main title anyway. Additionally this series is focused more on comedy as it is so that’s where the focus would be anyway. As long as the art is good enough to be clear then I don’t have any issues on that front.

It feels like it can be a bit harder to go in depth about this series as well just because it’s all pretty straight forward. Either you like the anthology type stories contained in the series or you don’t. For my money I just don’t have much of a strong opinion on them one way or the other. They make for a fun enough read as you go through but it’s why the series is right in the middle. I wouldn’t have any reason to read it again but if someone wants more adventures with the Kuroko gang then this is a solid recommendation. They are all still in character after all and this works as a way to see them outside of the matches.

The main series had a good amount of character development either way but this one helps to take a step further by constantly having them hang out outside of the game context. It’s almost like you have a whole series that would usually just be a bunch of bonus chapters. It’s always a pretty interesting way to think about this. I could absolutely picture these chapters just being shown at the back of each volume. It’s almost like how the slime diaries could just be bonus comedy bits at the end of main episodes.

This one has no fanservice issues or any real demerits but at the same time there is also less happening here on a story level. Occasionally you will have a more serious mini arc like one where two of the characters go to an abandoned school to find some basketballs. That worked pretty well in context and was probably one of the more engaging stories. Other times it’s just a matter of finding somebody or getting part time jobs to help grab some money. The stories have a lot of variety in what is happening even if the tone and atmosphere of them are often the same. They make for easy reads but it’s probably not the best series to marathon because then it might get a little repetitive. Of course whenever someone tells you not to marathon something that doesn’t sound good because it will always feel like a bad thing no matter how it is phrased.

Personally what I would have done here would have been to give some kind of central focus that would make all of the stories more interconnected. I think the easiest way to do this would have been some kind of summer camp. So the heroes are all taken somewhere where there is no basketball and then all of the stories happen there. It would take them away from their comfort zone and even if the stories are anthology style, it feels like they are connected because of the new landscape. Of course alternatively you could have some kind of a big overarching plot as well. It’s not like these things are necessary but I do think the series would have stood out more as a result.

Alternately you could have more of the stories taking place at the same time so it all feels like one big adventure. For example you can merge the chapter where the club all gets jobs to raise money with one where the main heroine is trying to convince Kuroko to go out with her with one where there’s a big party going on. Just keep everything going as more of a serialized comedy as opposed to anthology. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a big fan of the anthology format. To me there is no winning there because each story is so short. Either the story is weak and drags the good ones down or it is good and then it ends before you can really enjoy it. By going with these short stories you are effectively always behind the curve and there just isn’t much opportunity to change that.

If you did longer stories that had more of a full continuity to them then the comedy would really have a chance to excel and soar to new heights. That is definitely the best way to go if you ask me. I also think it would make this easier to marathon. You can probably think of many comedy and slice of life titles where you’re eager to see what happens next because there are still dynamics that continue and some kind of goal at the end. This one doesn’t have that which is why it just feels like a bunch of bonus chapters all stuck together.

Additionally because of this the series will try too hard to be funny. Now the link is not necessarily true that being an anthology will have you try to hard but it does make sense to me. Because the stories don’t continue then they have to try and cram all of the random gags in as quickly as possible. Usually this just means repeating the same jokes like Kuroko being invisible. The main series does a better job of the comedy because of this as it gets to make the most of the little moments between games while this one is just trying to throw everything at you all at once. Some jokes may land but more often than not you’ll just keep reading without much of a smile. Fortunately the stories are still interesting enough where you want to get through them even if you aren’t laughing though.

Overall, Kuroko’s Basketball is a solid franchise and it’s always cool to see more installments but this one won’t be moving the needle for you much at all. It’s a series that you will read and then once you put it on the shelf that’s probably the last time you will think about it. There aren’t any deep themes to unpack or serious plots to have fun with. It’s not even super funny so at the end of the day while there are no negative aspects to the series and it is in no way bad….it’s just not going to be keeping up in the end. You should only check this out if you’re a huge fan of the franchise but otherwise you can skip this title.

Overall 5/10

Beyond The Promised Neverland Review

It’s time to look at an anthology that came out recently for the author of The Promised Neverland. It brings some stories I’ve already reviewed but some that I haven’t so lets look at this collection as a whole. Naturally I’m not the biggest fan of anthologies in general but I do think it’s great that you have a way to read these stories physically as opposed to having to try and find them online. That’s always a better outcome than the stories never being released at all so this is the best reason to have an anthology in general. Since the stories are all oneshots I would throw a spoiler warning right at the front here since I will talk about somethings that would be considered as a spoiler. So if you want to fully enjoy the oneshots you should read them before reading the review.

Okay first I’m going to put a link to the stories I already reviewed. One of them is DC3 and you may remember this one since I just reviewed it last year. I thought it was a fun story and gave it a positive write-up. It captures your attention well for a oneshot and has a good setup about it. A oneshot is supposed to grab you with the premise and then they flesh things out later on so on that level this film definitely succeeded and I can’t say that I had any big issues with it. I would go as far as to say it was the best story in the collection.

Then we also have the story about the Spirit Photographer. I was far less impressed with this one. The concept is interesting but the first story is rather dark out of the gate and if that’s any indication of how the series would go then I don’t think it would have really been for me. Of course it is early so the series could have ended up being amazing for all I know but the objective of the oneshot is to get you ready and this one didn’t succeed there. So for that reason this would end up being the weakest one in the collection.

I got the feeling that I had read the original premise chapter “We Were Born” for the Promised Neverland before but I don’t see a review for it so maybe I just saw some images back in the day. This is a pretty solid story. Basically it is The Promised Neverland but you can see how the idea changed over time. There are no monsters here and it’s more of a classic story about the humans being the true monsters all along. Basically there is an orphanage and the main girl does her best to live life as happily and perfect as possible. She’s done a rather good job of it and finally there is a foster home that will take her in. Her life is thrown upside down though when she finds out that this isn’t true and being “adopted” actually means that you are going to be an organ donor and will die. The head of the orphanage tells her to embrace this as her duty in God but she is unsure.

Meanwhile, the world at large has been put in a tough place. Wars are constant and almost everyone is dead so many people wonder what the point of life even is anymore. There is one guy who gets saved by the child and he wants revenge on a mobster who crossed him but also has time to help her out once he finds out about this. It makes for a good introduction and you figure the rest of the series would be about getting his revenge but along the way they get more and more hope about living in the now. It seems like the series would be a little more hopeful than The Promised Neverland because at least when you’re not dealing with monsters there is a chance. So I liked this story, it covered a lot and had potential.

Then we have Poppy’s Wish which is about a genius named Takashi who lives alone with an A.I. he created known as Poppy. Takashi is perfectly happy to live out his days without going outside but Poppy wants to experience the outside world and get a body of his own. Takashi gives in and makes Poppy a body but things get a little stressful when Poppy wants them to both go outside. The outside world isn’t so easy though. It turns out that they are on an alien planet and that’s part of why Takashi doesn’t want to go outside anymore. It’s just too tough and nobody likes humans. It was an effective way to go about the story and gives extra reason to why he wouldn’t want to go outside beyond just being timid.

After all now it’s more of a safety thing. In the end the story does have some hope that they can change things though. It’s not nearly as dark as almost any of the other stories and while it’ll be a tough journey for them, it doesn’t seem impossible. Being a super genius is also handy as you figure Takashi should be able to find some way to fit in on the sneak although it will always be tough to do this long term. Poppy is a reasonably solid A.I. even if I think he should have been more patient with Takashi. The guy did his best to give Poppy a good life and even made him a body so maybe give him time to go outside instead of immediately dashing off and jumping to conclusions. For an A.I. Poppy was very emotional here.

The story must have done well as we actually get a follow up to this one. It’s more of a quick excuse to get a lot of cameos as they warp from planet to planet and we get cameos from all of the other stories. That was fun and they see how each world is so different which gets them confident enough to try and succeed on the first planet. I’m not sure that a toast shop will be the most successful but they’re giving it a go and that’s the important thing. It’s got a fun ending and while I’m not sure there would be enough material for a long ongoing, you could absolutely make some kind of limited run series about this concept and execute it rather well.

Finally there’s the actual Beyond The Promised Neverland story. If that is what you are here for then you will probably be a little disappointed to be honest since it’s really short. It’s really just a few pages and Emma finally gets to live out the dreams that all of the kids had. It’s a little bittersweet since she still doesn’t have her memories intact but she tries to look on the bright side. It can’t be easy for any parties involved to know that Emma doesn’t truly remember what happened but they still get to have fun with her and that’s the important part. These memories are still things that she won’t forget. I’d have liked the story to have been longer even if it’s just about them having fun and experiencing different things though. After all the trials and hardships they went through, it would be really satisfying. I’ll take what I can get though, it was still a good story.

The artwork is solid here as you would expect. I feel like there is a very distinctive style here which is fairly detailed and works well. The characters always have a lot of emotion in their faces that’s for sure. It’s easy to read through the stories. It can get a little busy during some of the more action stories but when it’s a clear page the artist is really able to go all out. It may not be top tier but it gets the job done.

Overall, Beyond The Promised Neverland is a good book but the title is incredibly misleading. The Promised Neverland just plays such a small role that you feel like they only called it this to maximize sales. It may feel a little jaded to say that but that’s absolutely the vibe that you get from it. Still the other stories are mainly good, there are more hits than misses here and you should have a good time with this. See which stories you think could have been full ongoings and which ones you’re glad stayed as oneshots.

Overall 6/10

Trilogy of Terror Review

Now this is more like what I would expect from a horror anthology. None of the 3 stories are particularly good and so from the start you don’t think that this one is really going to make a name for itself or surpass its limits. It’s just falling flat and in at least one of the shorts you can guess the twist right away. Lets break each of the stories down though.

The first story follows a villain named Chad who begins to like Julie, one of his teachers. He figures that nothing will stop their being together and while she warns him that they cannot be together, he figures that he can win her over. From blackmail to kidnapping and spiking the drinks, Chad will do any and everything in order to get her. Fortunately as a horror segment you figure there will be a twist here because if played straight this could have easily earned the film a 0 right off the bat. It goes rather far and the twist turns the tables but the whole segment still seems to be in rather bad taste.

Rule number 1 of having a villain as the main character is that you need to give him some decent goals and make sure that the guy isn’t just a random creep. If he is then why are we following the guy? It’s a good way to just make sure that the whole segment will hurt as a result and that’s exactly what happens here. All of his scenes are just annoying to watch and the segment really drags on through to the end. As for the twist, that part was good at least. It’s really the only kind of twist that could have saved the segment somewhat. It’s relative but at least it kept this one from being all the way at the bottom.

Then we have the second story where Millicent is jealous of her sister Therese who seems to be a total rebel. Millicent plays things by the book but she has had to watch as Therese has ruined her life in every way possible. Millicent doesn’t know what to do at this point to try and get out of this situation and figures that she may have to go in a rather drastic direction. There’s a doctor that she speaks to over the phone but he isn’t of much help. Therese will usually corner him when the guy shows up so he has to beat a hasty retreat.

This is the one where I’d say you will guess the twist right away. Mainly due to how it’s all presented but I won’t give that away. Still, it’s another really bad segment. There isn’t even a whole lot of horror to this one. It’s more of a disturbing segment as we get all the exposition on what Therese has done over and over again. She has a way of corrupting people and unfortunately everyone has really weak willpower so they are never able to stop her. That’s certainly unfortunate because you’d like to think that everyone wouldn’t just crack so easily. Maybe if the doctor got to appear more and land some wins that would have been good but instead this segment is really an eye roller. I think they could have toned down Therese’s colorful history a bit and styled this more as a quick thriller with the doctor trying to quickly save her and we get a battle of wits there. That’s not what the segment was going for but it would have been an improvement.

The final segment has Amelia talking with her mother on the phone and deciding not to meet up this time. Her mother is quite upset at this since they had a family tradition going but Amelia doesn’t have too much time to worry about this because a random Zuni doll shows up and suddenly becomes alive. It looks very disturbing as it has a lot of sharp teeth and carries a spear around. It’s small but quite fast. Amelia will have to try and destroy this doll somehow but it won’t be easy. The doll has more combat experience and has incredible durability.

So the first thing we’re considering here is that Amelia has to play the matchup right. What I mean by that is Zuni has a few advantages but so does she. In a close quarters battle she should be able to defeat Zuni due to her better lifting strength and raw power. If she can knock him out of a window that will be game over. Additionally if she can disarm him from using the spear then she has knocked out most of his attack options. All she has to watch out for is the bite. In terms of speed, the doll is incredibly fast in short bursts but realistically can’t catch up to her otherwise so that’s when the planning should get involved.

Amelia’s win condition is to trap Zuni or ring him out by getting him off the battlefield. Unfortunately that’s what makes this segment annoying as she has multiple opportunities to take him out but squanders them. Every time she grabs the spear I wait for her to throw it out the window, put it in the oven, flush it down the toilet, do something! Instead she always leaves it on the ground which is an absolutely massive mistake since Zuni grabs it each time.

When Zuni starts to bite her I figured that would be it since with how sharp his teeth are, that felt like a game over. Somehow she tanked that and then gets him into a box. Okay, now we’re cooking with gas! Once Zuni is in the box she can hurl it out the window, down the steps, put it in more boxes to lair it, etc. Or if you have to, just take the time to escape by running out of the room. Instead…she just sorta panics and watches as it starts to cut its way out of the box since she let him get the spear again.

The final part where she makes a big mistake is she finally gets him in the oven. Keep the oven closed!! Look, she has already seen that it can breath underwater and that it has tanked many lethal hits at this point. So why are you opening the oven door? Keep it baking in there for hours as needed but there’s no rush to open the oven and why not make sure that the job is done? Realistically this probably wouldn’t have worked since Zuni is massively overpowered but at least you won’t be losing directly and put the burden on him to find a way out. Amelia played the matchup all wrong throughout the whole segment. At least we did have some action though but the segment could get a little bloody and more violent than it needed to be.

So that’s the Trilogy of Terror. Definitely a title that I would recommend avoiding. For the most part I wouldn’t even call the segments pure horror but more on the disturbing side. The first segment is certainly meant to be as disturbing as possible and I would say the second fits into that category as well. It’s only the third one that is actually going for a horror vibe as it’s a life or death battle against a supernatural entity. That’s something that can make you feel the fear but the others are relying more on shock value which is never a good crutch to use.

Overall, You can do a lot better than this movie. The writing isn’t very good and none of the stories are particularly solid either. The final story is the best one by default but it’s not exactly a high bar and wins by default aren’t the most impressive ones out there. It looks like it may be some time before we get another quality horror anthology as most of them turn out like this one but we’ll see. There could always be some hidden gems in the rough out there.

Overall 2/10

Dead of Night Review

A horror anthology that’s actually good? Yes, this one was able to surpass its limits and actually turned out to be one of the better horror films that I’ve seen as of late. The stories were solid for the most part and the main plot that was keeping them together was also solid. Throw in a little mystery/intrigue and I was really sold on this one. Check this one out if you want a quality horror movie to watch.

The movie starts with Walter driving up to a house where he will was invited by the head to do an inspection. For some reason the place looks familiar and what’s worse is that he recognizes everyone who is at the house despite never meeting them before. Walter feels like he has gone through this already but his memories are mostly foggy. What he does remember for sure is that something evil is about to happen here and that’s enough to really scare him quite thoroughly. The rest of the guests don’t really believe him but then start to talk about supernatural stories of their own. Can Walter remember what is about to happen or will it all be too late?

Walter probably should have dashed out but it’s always rough when your own memories aren’t working properly. He’s an interesting main character though. Walter may not have the strongest will or be the most dynamic character but one thing’s for sure, he is super scared the whole time. That’s one aspect of his character that can always be annoying though. Like okay, we get that he is super scared and unsure of what to do but there comes time where he just needs to man up eventually. Instead by being on the defensive he is really ensuring that nobody is all that safe. At any time things can change and the evil that he senses will be upon them.

Well, lets go to the first story. So Hugh remembers a time where he saw this mysterious guy who asked if he wanted to get on a bus. Hugh was convinced that this was some kind of specter or personification of Death and that going with him would have been his doom. So Hugh decides not to get on board and the bus promptly crashes so everybody dies. Clearly it was good that he didn’t get on the bus but of course the others are doubtful or think that it could have been coincidence.

It was a quick story and one that was fairly low key but I thought it was pretty good. Sometimes a little atmospheric story like this can really get the message across quite nicely and doesn’t need a long run time. They accomplished everything that was needed here and it’s one of the better stories. Probably the second best one for me personally. The next story is a bit longer. So Sally was at an orphanage with a bunch of other kids and so they decided to play hide and seek. Sally found a really good spot but it actually led to a room where she got to meet a kid who was all by his lonesome.

Sally figured he got lost from the pack or just lived there but when she went back downstairs she found out that he had died a very long time ago. Had she been talking to a ghost? It’s one of those stories that is odd so of course she was worried but technically there wasn’t a lot of danger there or anything. So she was fairly safe either way. I thought this story maybe went on a little too long and one of the kids was annoying the whole time. Sally was good though and playing hide and seek in a big house definitely seems risky because it can be hard to find someone after a while. It’s definitely a game that’s easier to play in a small hut even if it’s less exciting.

Now we get to the most dangerous one. So one day Joan got a mirror and Peter thought it was okay at first but then he notices that the reflection is of a different room entirely. He can’t even see Joan there when she stands next to him. The more he looks into the mirror, the more he starts to get possessed by it. Peter’s willpower is easily overpowered by the mirror and it just seems like he doesn’t really stand a chance here. No matter what he does, he weakens and the mirror makes you relive the life of the original owner who ended up strangling the wife so that gets tricky for Joan. She just barely smashes it in time.

This story was actually a matter of life and death which separated it from some of the others. That said, I would say that it makes Paul look really bad since he was not able to escape its gaze. You’re basically telling me that he lost to a mirror. He should have broken that thing ages ago especially when he knew that Joan was leaving for a while and he could never beat it 1 on 1. She should have also broken it after the first few incidents even if Paul thought they would be okay. They got way too lax about the whole thing and it nearly cost them. It’s a bit weaker than some of the other stories but still decent.

Now we’re on the best story which involves golfing. So George and Larry are both madly in love with this one girl so they decide to settle everything with a game of golf. George wins so Larry drowns himself but later on Larry realizes that George cheated. Now Larry is determined to haunt George until he makes things right. George feels a bit guilty so he asks Larry what he can do but the demands are steep. Larry wants George to give up his wife and to never play Golf again. George isn’t gonna do that and so things continue to escalate.

This one may feel more comedic in nature compared to some of the other stores but I thought it worked out pretty well. I liked the whole idea of using golf to settle things and then Larry just casually appearing as a ghost was intense as well. That said, the heroine probably should have just picked one instead of letting herself be used as a prize. Usually you never want to just be the prize right? You want to be the one in control. It was a fun story with how absurd the whole thing was.

Finally we have the story with the dummy. So Maxwell has a dummy that he uses for the shows named Hugo but he seems to have a mind of his own. Hugo even keeps threatening to leave Maxwell for another performer. Maxwell gets mad at the other guy instead of Hugo which was my main issue with the whole thing. Just take Hugo out if he’s messing with you but why are you taking it out on the other guys? Maxwell is clearly unstable the whole time too so I can see why people wouldn’t suspect Hugo. The ending is definitely like something out of the Twilight Zone here and will get you thinking.

It’s a classic doll story. It’s not really trying to do anything too different but it doesn’t need to either. It’s just a fundamentally sound story from start to finish that hits enough of the high notes. This then takes us back to the main plot for the climax as we get to see what Walter could not remember. Things get really crazy in the climax but all I can say is that I was still blaming Walter the whole time. I thought the ending was also great and you can take it a few ways but I like to think of it as the loop is confirmed. That’s about as vague as I can keep things for now.

The writing is on point here and that’s a big reason as to why this succeeds. If the writing were not very good then this would have failed and if there were weak stories then it would be game over. Instead the stories themselves tend to be rather solid and I liked the main one that connected everything. The film was good with the atmospheric horror instead of trying to make this all too dark. It ends up being a very suspenseful movie that just works well and it never feels too long.

Overall, This is surprisingly a good movie. I can’t say that I had high hopes for it at all but at the end of the day it did surpass my expectations. This is a film that I could recommend to anyone, whether you are a horror fan or not. That’s when you know that a movie is good because it is very accessible. If more anthologies were like this then I may even appreciate that sub genre more but I’d assume this is more of an anomaly than a sign of things to come. I have another anthology coming up after all and that one wasn’t even close to being as good as this one was.

overall 7/10

PokeToon Review

Pokemon has been getting a lot of little shows here and there. This is the latest one and it’s going for a more low key vibe as the anthology switches animation styles a lot. Some of the shorts are pretty solid while others are definitely weaker. In general I would say this one doesn’t hold up to the last few shows but you should still have some fun here. With only 8 episodes that are shorter than normal ones, it won’t take you long to blast through them all.

The first short is about Scraggy as he fights with Mikikyu in classic Looney Tunes/Mickey Mouse style. The animation is very much going for that kind of retro look and so there is a lot of battling going on. It’s very nostalgic to see this style and it’s nice enough but what I do miss about it is that there isn’t any dialogue or anything like that. So there’s barely a plot here. It works well enough since the short is….well short, but if this was full length then it would eventually drag on. This would be in the lower tier from the 8 episodes at 7th place overall.

Then next up we have an episode about Pancham and now this was a really solid one. I would put it as the 2nd best. Basically he wants to be a hero like his role model Arcanine but the problem is that the way evolution works, he can never be an Arcanine which shakes him up a bit. Still, he decides to train hard and become a respectable hero in his own right. One day there are a bunch of miners stuck behind a cave-in and it’s up to Pancham to save them.

It’s always nice seeing a Pokemon with a lot of personality and ambitions of his own. I liked Pancham right away and the story is very satisfying as he works to achieve his dream. The kid also wasn’t super annoying here although he could have let Pancham know about the situation a little sooner instead of just running around. At the end of the day Pancham is someone that you know you can count on to help save the day and take the right steps to saving the people.

Next up is a short that’s more about the human this time. Blossom wants to be a Pokemon trainer but her Mom denies the idea while her father is too nervous to do much of anything. She figures that she will just have to leave without permission and finds a nice Nidoran but unfortunately there is a misunderstanding and now his parents want to crush her. Blossom retreats to the village but with NidoKing and NidoQueen fast approaching, has she just doomed the village?

I liked the idea of the story more than the execution which is why this one has to settle for third place. I was thrilled when some Pokemon Trainers showed up right away because the idea of a village without trainers would be crazy. So that was cool and it also just made a lot of sense. The fact that they were losing is quite embarrassing but I can also get behind this especially with how the new Arceus game presents the world. If you live in a low level area then you might have weak Pokemon so when a tough wild one shows up then you’re sunk.

This does make Blossom’s dad look awful though. He just couldn’t care less and even when he hears the large explosions in the distance he doesn’t do anything. When Blossom shows up scared and desperate he coldly reminds her that his Charizard won’t listen to her. Throughout the adventure he just isn’t helpful at all even through to the climax as he lets his daughter take all of the risks. The special was trying to make him appear as the guy who appears to be rather helpless but is actually really tough. It just completely failed on that note.

The special itself is nice because of the action and Blossom is a good character but the Dad definitely makes it fall down a notch this time. I still like the idea of some Pokemon storming a village with trainers. I’d actually like to see something similar with Team Rocket someday. At this point all villages should have a bunch of trainers so that would make for a great premise to a short.

Now we can talk about the weakest special of the 8 which is about a Magikarp. This one is going for a very quiet kind of short like the first one. There is no dialogue here or anything like that. So it’s all about this one kid who plays by the lake and his music is really appealing to Magikarp. One day the kid leaves so the Pokemon has to try and find him. It’s one of those shorts that would be a lot more emotional with some dialogue and more of a full story. The abstract design of the short really doesn’t work nearly as well. It’s not all that interesting so it really couldn’t keep up with the others.

On the upper half of the 8 specials was one about Slugma at 4th place. This one is about a girl who always tries to be friends with Slugma when she stays at her grandma’s house, but the Pokemon is very shy and always hides. Still, Slugma is a nice Pokemon and does his best to make sure that she’s comfortable by always supplying a lot of heat to the house. There’s not a whole lot going on in this one but it’s a nice wholesome story. I also just like seeing all of the Pokemon just hanging around the house. They really would be a lot like having pets in the real world.

One of the longer specials was about a girl trying to survive past the Pokemon scare challenge. Basically there is a haunted spot in the school and so a bunch of guys decide to check it out. The main girl here gets spooked by a ghost and raises her hand by accident so she has to come along but then she is turned into a Gengar, one of the very Pokemon that used to frighten her. With the other kids stuck in the school, she will have to try keeping them safe from the other Pokemon and conquer her fears at the same time.

I put this one as a bit weaker than the others at 5th because while the idea is good, I don’t think the short did a whole lot with it. The kids aren’t very likable and I’m also not sure why they would all be super scared of ghost type Pokemon. I feel like if there were real ghosts here then that would make sense but in a world where Pokemon are so common place, I don’t see them being thought of as super scary or anything like that. The kids are very young so I can cut them a little slack, but only a little.

It was cool to see the girl turn into the Gengar since that’s like something out of Mystery Dungeon but the special just wasn’t all that exciting. The more emotional stories are definitely the ones that would tend to be a lot more high ranking and this one wasn’t going for those vibes. At least we got some cool effect with the whole dimension shifting.

Then there is the Snorunt episode which is one of the weaker ones at 6. Basically a few kids have a secret base which is a nice homage to the old Pokemon games. One day they come across a Snorunt that is outside but the problem is that they live in a very warm climate so it’s not good for the Pokemon. They have to decide if they should take him to the PokeCenter in which case their secret base could be exposed or just try to save him themselves. Fortunately they make the right call.

It’s a decent enough short but the animation wasn’t as good as some of the others ones and I wouldn’t say that the story was super explosive either. I also don’t think that this would necessarily expose their base’s location. I’m thinking that the rationale would be that they would have to say where they found the Snorunt but they could always hide the base for a day when the adults go to check on it and then blow it up again. Still, it was good that they made the right choice.

Finally we have the Jigglypuff short which I rank as the best out of the 8. This one is about a girl who befriends a Jigglypuff but for some reason she’s afraid to sing. What’s worse is that another girl has a Jigglypuff that loves to sing so they start blaming the Jigglypuff and even the main girl for this which leads to a lot of tear and emotional moments. This Jigglypuff may not be able to sing, but at the end of the day she still tries her best so as not to disappoint her Poke trainer.

There’s no danger or action here but it’s a pretty good story. I liked the animation and it had solid vibes here. On a technical level is probably had the highest budget and I could easily see a slice of life kind of show in this setting. It was a good way to end things and it’s easy to root for Jigglypuff. Always good to end on a high note and that’s exactly what PokeToon did.

At the end of the day, the anthology format is what really holds this one back a bit. We had some solid shorts here but also some very weak ones. Some would have good animation like the final short and others looked incredibly rough. In general this does not look as good as any of the earlier Pokemon shows and I wouldn’t say that it manages to beat any of them either. It’s still not a bad show though and it’s so short that it’s worth a watch. I would like the next series to be a little more focused though or if not, at least stay consistent in the animation instead of going for more experimental styles. Build a whole show off of the last special and that would really work well.

Overall, PokeToon is a solid online series. As a mini series it fills the bill of being entertaining and I’ll always take anything to extend a franchise even more. It ultimately won’t be making any waves or claiming any big victories but it’s a show that you can pick up and play at any time. You don’t have to try and remember a lot of characters or what’s going on. Just pop in a short episode and you’re all set.

Overall 6/10

Shokugeki no Sanji Review

One Piece is one of those titles that’s so huge you’d expect there to be more spinoffs than there actually are. Still, it was about time that Sanji got his own and with a full 6 chapters, that ended up being a fairly decent run. We get to see a day in the life of Sanji across several different arcs and fans of his character will be thrilled about all of his extra screen time. It helps that he looks pretty great in all of the stories. You can definitely expect him to come out on top with his expert cooking skills. Each story is stand alone so it’s an easy one to just pick up at any time.

The first chapter is fairly straight forward to introduce Sanji to the general audience. A world class food critic appears on the restaurant ship and she threatens to shut the place down with her reviews if the food isn’t top notch. She seems to have a lot of contempt for the place so Sanji is eager to change her mind with his top tier cooking. We get to see how bold Sanji can be when it comes to the food and he isn’t going to back down here. Sanji lives by a lot of rules of honor regarding food which is that it must not be wasted and he will feed anyone, even if that person is a villain.

Of course his food turns out great and she ends up being conquered by the excellent taste. The chapter really goes into detail showing us just how good the food looks and all of the preparation involved. This artist’s really detailed style definitely works well for that. I feel like it must take a lot longer than usual to draw like this but either way you have to give the artist a ton of credit here. Give a bunch of people any amount of time and they could not possibly match this style. It’s just super impressive.

The second chapter actually has the Strawhats be around a little more. A guy shows up with a super hard animal to cook, some kind of advanced eel. It’s so tricky that no ordinary blade will do so Sanji is forced to ask Zoro for help by borrowing his blades. I thought it was a nice teamwork moment and also showed that Zoro would help him out. At the end of the day they may be rivals but they are still on the same side and Zoro hypes him up a lot. It’s a very wholesome chapter for that reason and Zoro even says that Sanji’s a good cook. I also thought it was nice how Zoro endured the food explosion so his clothes didn’t blow up the way that everyone else’s always does. That’s why Zoro is the power hitter of the group. The stakes aren’t as high as the other chapters but it was just a nice chapter.

In the following chapter, Sanji and friends are preparing for their big banquet after stopping Crocodile but some petty bandits prevent the supplies from getting there in time. Ultimately the cooks are kind of doomed so Sanji steps in to save the day because he’s a true trooper. He is able to make the best use of the rations in order to make some great dishes and doesn’t even ask for thanks. It’s one of those times where Sanji is just being a really good guy and that’s reward enough for him. Again, you can see why I like Sanji here because he’s just one of those ultimate heroes who helps everybody out.

The 4th chapter is definitely one of the more crazy ones. Sanji is stuck on the island with Ivankov’s gang and the only way to get out is to get a bunch of recipes. If they catch him then it’s game over so he has to try and make the best recipes possible. It’s difficult but not impossible for someone like him. So the big challenge this time is trying to make recipes on the go while constantly moving. It’s got to be the toughest battle in this mini series and also the highest stakes because losing would be really rough for the guy. It’s not nearly as solid as the other chapters in the end. The villains aren’t really my kind of characters.

Then we have the 5th chapter where Sanji heads to Wano. Unfortunately there is a ramen villain who is cheating everyone with his ramen and not letting other people make their own. Sanji challenges him to put this guy out of business but the deck is stacked against him so it won’t be easy. It’s always nice to see Wano show up. This chapter was fun because we finally had one of those corrupt villains to beat up. Perhaps not physically but we get to see Sanji humiliate him in a food contest and that’s just as good. Never mess with an honest chef! Yeah this was a satisfying read.

In the final chapter, we get to go back in time to Sanji’s origin. The first time he was able to make a dish for a customer. Basically some ladies thought he was a really nice guy and asked if they could eat something he prepared personally. He’s thrilled to do this but his colleagues aren’t as happy and decide to sabotage him by hiding the ingredients. Will Sanji still be able to make it or is this game over for him? I feel like those guys got off really light here because messing with food like that is a huge taboo. Especially since they would be costing this place a lot of money.

Fortunately Sanji is a pro no matter what dish you get him. He never gives up and is always thinking of ways to get by. It’s clear that he earned his way to being the top chef on merit and he takes it all very seriously. This spinoff manga really got to let him shine because his usual vice of being obsessed with the ladies doesn’t get to be much of a factor here. Instead his cooking skills are played up which is good because that’s the best part of his character. It’s exactly what you want to focus on.

Now the manga isn’t perfect on this, we still do have some fanservice issues. You’ll probably have expected that since this is by the Food Wars guy but at least one time per chapter you have someone’s clothes exploding because the food was so good. It’s definitely not needed and if you take that away it would be a good thing for the manga. It’s not too excessive at least but it would have kept on adding up if the series kept going. Once a chapter may not sound like a lot but to have it show up every time like clockwork is a bit much. It doesn’t add anything to the story after all.

If you take out the fanservice then the manga is really the perfect Sanji experience. Of course battle manga are always the best but sometimes it’s nice to see what I would call a laidback experience for the hero. Put him in a setting where he is the strongest and just has to handle more day to day stuff. That’s the appeal of a title like this or Zero’s Tea Time and it works really well. The hero should be allowed to have some downtime once in a while right? As opposed to just being in battle against battle getting dealt painful injuries all the time with no moment to savor the fact that you’ve gotten really strong. This at least gets to show Sanji having a lot of fun all the time and just being the people’s hero. None of these kingdoms will forget how Sanji saved them.

Overall, This was a fun manga experience. I would like it if everyone could have their own spinoff manga. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few chapters like this one and that’s all that you need. Plus each chapter was fairly long so it still felt like a lot happened here. Seeing Sanji just get to do his own thing is nice because you get to really see how he acts as a character. I’m really not the biggest Sanji fan at all but at least in this chapter he’s pretty cool. He has an answer for everything and is just so skilled at cooking that he can turn anything into a meal. Now that’s talent.

Overall 7/10

Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas – Gaiden

The Lost Canvas is still one of the best manga titles of all time so reading into one of the spinoffs definitely sounds like fun. It’s off to a good start to far with each Saint getting a volume to themselves. It’s going to be tough to keep giving them big fights without making them look too weak though since there should be few who can challenge them. I’ll have review for it once the series is over.

Overall 8/10

Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker Review

Anthologies usually aren’t my thing but I suppose it is a way for everyone to show off their stuff in how they would draw a Star Wars story. With Luke Skywalker being the main presence here, it’s a nice way to give him some more action. The guy is probably the most recognizable Star Wars character aside from Vader so it’s good that he gets some time to shine. The stories are solid and I would say this book is pretty good. Perhaps it could use some more action but I really don’t have anything negative to say about it.

The first story starts off with the Empire getting absolutely devastated by the rebels to the point where their Star Destroyer is blown up so the main character is forced to get on an escape pod. He’s near death right now and pretty scared because it seems like Luke Skywalker is the one who downed the ship. Fortunately a cloaked stranger appears and starts to drag him off. Perhaps not so fortunate though depending on what this guy is doing here. Throughout the story the guy begins to think that this could really be Luke Skywalker but why would he help out in the first place? The guy’s motto is that they are all Luke Skywalker and by the end the empire guy says this too as he rebels against the crooked villains.

It’s a solid way to start off the volume and shows just how big Luke has gotten. At this point in the verse he is considered to be more of a mantle than a person. He inspires the rebels to such an extent that they all believe they can be Luke Skywalker as opposed to just being ordinary joes. It’s rather inspiring and they even got an Empire soldier to join the cause as a result. Of course the Empire should be embarrassed at how easy they make it for someone to want to join the rebels. Interrogating their own people and torturing them for barely any reason? Not a good look when they claim to be the good guys. You’ll notice that nobody had names in this story to help show the main character’s transition from a random person to another Luke Skywalker.

Next up is a story about a droid named Zeta. He is a robot who works the mines and is pretty horrified at the rough treatment down there. Droids are worked to the bone until they melt or are discarded. All of them are controlled using chips so that they must obey these commands and there is really no hope in sight. Fortunately Luke Skywalker shows up and offers them a way out. Here we get to see the real Luke Skywalker who lives up to his legend as he saved almost everybody. He does whatever he can in the force and then some. It’s easy to see why the rebellion has got his back.

This story was certainly darker than the first as we got an inside look as to just what kinds of things the Empire is up too. They really do make life hard on the droids and the toughest part is that the robots are aware of this but can’t really do anything about it. They’re effectively being mind controlled every step of the way so that’s game over for them. If Luke hadn’t showed up they really had no other alternatives which is really a sobering thought.

Next up is much more of a lighthearted story. Princess Leia befriends an alien flea named Mote who is rather full of herself. She tends to talk very big and has no shortage of confidence which is always fun and so Leia asks if she can watch over Luke. This takes place during the famous intro where Luke breaks in and saves Leia from Jabba the Hut. Turns out that rather than the force being what led Luke to victory, it was Mote pretending to be the Force. Perhaps this is a bit of a retcon but it’s a fun enough one to consider.

Mote is a nice character and really shows that big things come in small packages. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as strong as the first two stories but perhaps they felt the volume was getting a little too dark so this would shake things up. Either way it was fun enough for what it was and we also got a little more action in this one since Luke had to fight his way out so that was handled really well.

Finally you have a story where a biologist gets a ride from Luke Skywalker but they are trapped inside a giant monster. This one ends the collection on a fitting note. See in the other stories Luke was more of a novice or at the very least he wasn’t super settled in as a Jedi Master yet. In this story that has changed as Luke is one with the force and really knows how to use his powers. He’s not afraid at all here no matter how dangerous things get. I liked to see this level of confidence even if he might be taking it too easy at times. While it’s true that they won’t disintegrate for many years, they’ll have to eat eventually right?

Still, the two get to learn a lot about the ruins, the Force, and the monster itself thanks to getting eaten. They are definitely glass half full kind of people that’s for sure because I think a great many characters would not have taken this so well at all. At the very least you typically feel like getting eaten is a very bad thing and not something that you sneeze at. There’s no action here so it’s a pure adventure story but an interesting one nonetheless. You don’t get to see the experienced Luke so often after all.

The art changes for each story of course but I wouldn’t say any of them are very solid. It’s all about average at best which tends to be the case for big franchise titles and anthologies. I guess maybe the big established artists always want to do their own volume so in the anthologies they naturally do not tend to look quite as high tier. They aren’t bad but definitely are not at the top levels.

The anthology lives or dies based on how much you enjoy each individual story. There is no ongoing plot after all so you can’t be waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel or a big cliffhanger. You have to enjoy each of the stories as they come in and they are good. I definitely thought the writing was satisfying. A little more action could have taken things to the next level but I suppose that’ll have to be for another collection.

Overall, This was a solid volume. The stories are all pretty self contained so there isn’t a ton to talk about but none of them are weak. They are quite varied and stay interesting for the whole duration. You’ll be finishing each story really quickly too that’s for sure. An ongoing plot will always win but you will walk away from this one feeling satisfied. Star Wars has definitely gotten quite a few manga as of late so the franchise is in good hands. If you want some good Luke Skywalker adventures then you’ve come to the right place.

Overall 6/10