Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Attack on Titan: Before The Fall Review


It’s time to look at one of the Attack on Titan spinoffs. The manga really lasted for an incredibly long amount of time considering how short the novels were. Even then the first novel is skipped for the most part as we cut right to the Kuklo stuff although the manga eventually adapts the older material. It’s a little better than the main series, but significantly less engaging which may sound like a contradiction. Put it this way, the main title is a lot more interesting and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It has more hype scenes and a better cast of characters, but the guys in Before the Fall are less morally bankrupt. The series is also shorter so there are less opportunities to mess up, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t give this series a particularly high score.

So Kuklo is a kid who grew up in a tough situation because he is known as the Titan’s son. This isn’t actually true, but people say that because his mother was eaten by a titan but he survived since he wasn’t totally born yet. As a result he grew up in a cage where Xavi would beat him up daily for many years. Eventually Kuklo was able to escape and thanks to Sharle was able to learn what it means to be human. He has now dedicated his life to ending the Titans. He wants to shed his title as the Titan’s son and this will be one of the best ways to do it.

As this title takes place in the past the goal of beating a Titan is significantly more outlandish than it would be otherwise in the eyes of the masses. It’s almost scary how back in these days beating one titan was crazy while in the main title you have guys like Levi taking them down by the dozens. It shows how equipment and technology has improved so much since those days. I suppose one of the interesting parts of the manga is seeing the heroes develop the 3D gear that would later be used to strike down all of the Titans. It is definitely a really handy piece of technology that is a must have.

Part of what hurts the manga is the whole plot with Kuklo. Attack on Titan has always been a series that thrives on being gritty and grim throughout. Even for this title it was rather dark though as it’s basically a kid being tortured every day. It also makes Xavi too far gone for him to ever be sympathetic. The series tries to make him a bit of a redeemed character by the end, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. As it is, maybe you could have tried to pull this off if this was the only thing he did. The guy was a kid so he didn’t know any better or something like that. Well, even in the present he tries to murder Kuklo repeatedly. Even when they’re in the middle of a mission to end the Titans which has huge stakes for the whole world his only priority is to murder Kuklo. Xavi really has a one track mind. It’s a shame because otherwise he is probably the most engaging character in the series. Why couldn’t he have at least had an honor code or been more of a reasonable character? That’s all I wanted to know.

Meanwhile Kuklo is a good character. He can be a bit naive, but you have to give him credit for not holding a grudge with Xavi. That can’t have been easy, but Kuklo consistently proves to be the bigger man and doesn’t let these things bring him down. While he isn’t as intelligent as Eren, Kuklo also has some pretty good ideas and plans that come in handy. He’s resourceful and knows how to survive even in Titan infested areas. His super senses come in handy for that and physically he seems a little stronger than the average human. Maybe there is something to the whole titan child thing in that the fluids at least gave him abilities or something. Either way he works as a solid lead.

His best friend is Cardina and that guy has a big role for the majority of the series as well. While he isn’t quite heading to the front lines as much as Kuklo, his expertise with the machinery comes in handy. He has a wealthy upbringing, but that ultimately just got him into trouble which is how he ended up heading outside with Kuklo. Cardina was a good ally and it was nice for Kuklo to have someone else who could help give him support since Sharle wasn’t always around to help with that.

Sharle is a pretty solid heroine meanwhile. The manga gives her a lot more screen time in which she is able to contribute. It works out well as she gets Angel out of his shell and back into action from retirement. She learns a lot about the inner workings of the 3D gear and also stands up to Xavi in defense of Kuklo. A lot of the time she is kept in the dark on what’s going on, but is always looking for Kuklo and doing her best to help out. Sharle tries really hard to always be ready for action so I definitely have to give her some good credit there.

Then we have Gloria whose character arc is definitely a bit more tragic than some of the other characters. I think she should have played the ending a little better. She falls for the whole posturing trap where she talks a really good game throughout but still puts herself in some bad situations. I think she underestimated just how corrupt the city is, but at least had some contingency plans so she was able to take a lot of people down as well. It would have been nice if she could have kept on appearing. Then you have Jorge who is effectively the Erwin of this era. He’s a good planner and a solid general. He tends to make the right decisions throughout, but doesn’t really leave much of a mark on the series. You really just know him for being a good general and that’s about it.

As I mentioned Angel doesn’t get as big a role in the manga as in the light novel and it ends up hurting him. Most of the time when we see Angel he has already fallen into depression from retirement and has no more hope that the humans can win. It doesn’t really paint him in a god light as by the time Sharle has gotten him to think otherwise we are basically done with the series. I liked him in the original novel and he still looks good in the flashbacks, but I think having his worst scenes first ends up hurting the experience.

Finally we’ve got the Ogre who is responsible for Kuklo’s mother perishing at the start of the series. As a result there is a vendetta between the two of them. Ogre seems to be more intelligent than the average titan and is fairly powerful. He’s not an easy target and made for a pretty good end arc boss. A normal Titan just wouldn’t have been nearly as thrilling to fight. I suppose we couldn’t have a talking titan since that would have been too soon, but I admit that it would have made Before the Fall’s climax a little more exciting.

One of the themes in the main AOT series is whether the humans are the real monsters or not. This series doesn’t go quite so far, but the humans do look pretty terrible most of the time. Even when Titans are outside the gates they’re busy murdering each other for political position and power. The Titans wouldn’t be doing nearly as good without the humans constantly destroying each other and constantly getting in the way. Even by the end we find out there is a traitor in the Survey corps and this person came awfully close to murdering a member. I feel like the person got off rather easy although it could have been worse. There still was a punishment at least which is good, but every time you see a traitor like this you can’t help but shake your head.

The humans will never beat the Titans if they’re constantly fighting like this. You’ve got characters getting jealous of each other and all that. I’m fine with the fact that the survey members didn’t appear much here because whenever we see them most of the members are pretty bad. It was good character development to have Kuklo and Cardina become squad leaders though. They really did grow a lot as the series progressed and that’s one aspect where the longer run time ended up helping them out. By the end it’s hard to imagine that Kuklo was ever not the strategic captain that people look up to.

In regard to the art, I’d say that Before the Fall is pretty good. There’s a solid amount of detail here and the characters don’t look too similar or anything like that. The titans have the creepy designs you would expect. The human vs human fights are really where the title excels with a lot of good speed lines and dynamic angels. The series can get pretty violent as you would expect though. It’s got the usual Titans munching on poor humans who really don’t stand any kind of chance. People aren’t begging for their lives as much as in the original title but the Titan scenes still end up being some of the weaker parts of the manga. Give me the Kuklo vs Xavi fights anytime.

Overall, Before The Fall does a good job of maintaining the tone of the original series. That being said, the main series is one of the weaker manga that I have read so it didn’t bode well for this one. The character cast isn’t all that strong and it falls into most of the usual Titan negatives like excessive violence and everything being too grim the whole time. It’s hard to root for the humans when half of them are evil and when their whole mission seems futile. They are having a hard time dealing with 1 titan and there are hundreds of them beyond the borders. It just feels like the humans would never get past this and since we know this takes place way before the main series where things are pretty much the same…it all feels a little futile. You can’t help but think that nothing these guys does will matter in the end. It has no real effect on the main series. It’s a complaint you can have with any prequel, but most of them do a good job of at least making you feel like the characters are making a difference.

Overall 3/10

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.

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls Review


It’s time to look at an Attack on Titan manga spinoff. I remember reading the light novel for this a while back so it’s interesting to revisit it in manga format. It seems to be a pretty faithful adaption, at the very least I couldn’t really see anything big that was removed or changed. Each of the girls gets one volume with Annie’s being a pretty big mystery while Mikasa remembers the good ole days. It’s a fun enough story that completely obliterates the actual manga and reminds me that the series is always at its best when there are no actual titans around. Yes, it’s pretty ironic, but it is what it is.

In Annie’s story she is preparing for her big showdown with the Survey corps. In a sense it’s her last day before her whole life is shaken upside down. She was planning on using the day to meditate and dwell on what’s going to happen, but then her roommate asks her for a favor. Well…”asking” may be putting it politely. In the novel it’s downright blackmail while here it’s basically the same thing even if maybe it’s more implied than stated. Since Annie needed someone to cover for her the next day when she was out on her master plan this girl wanted her to cover for her right now. See, this girl was put in charge of finding a lost girl, but decided not to bother with it. It’s been days, but someone’s got to take the mission on and at least give a fake speech to the person who gave out the request that they tried. Annie figures this will be a bother, but decides she may as well do it since it’ll give her something to do in the meantime. This mystery won’t be easy to solve though.

Keep in mind that everyone in Attack on Titan is pretty corrupt, especially the military police. As a result it’s hard for Annie to actually get any info through legitimate means so she has to go to bars and beat people up to get the answers. Everyone’s pretty suspect so you don’t feel bad for the various people she beats up. They all seem like criminals and would destroy her without a second thought. Annie is very capable so eventually she gets through the mystery and figures out what happens. It’s fun to see the series taking a stab at a mystery and it did a good job. It’s not easy to figure out the mystery so you may connect the dots along with Annie rather than jumping ahead.

I also liked that the guy who gave the mission seemed pretty intelligent. Usually these guys seem to be really slow on the uptake, but he did a full psycho analysis of Annie the moment she stepped into the room. That was certainly impressive. Then the actual missing girl also seemed pretty smart which was a nice dynamic. We’ve got enough drunk bar guys as it is so it’s a good change of pace to have some other characters who can think ahead. The only part of the story that may make you wonder a bit is the climax involving a titan shift. The shifts are incredibly loud and bright so I feel like there’s no way you can get away with doing that and not having people ask a lot of questions. It’s the only part that would make this seem to be non-canon as otherwise everything works pretty well. I suppose you could also explain this away by saying that Annie has enough control to lower the glow/intensity which isn’t really all that far fetched.

The other story for Mikasa isn’t quite as exciting. That’s likely because it’s a flashback story. We get to see how she and Eren first met up. Naturally this doesn’t cover the part with her parents getting bumped off since that was already covered in the show. Eren already seems a bit unstable and obsessive here which is an accurate depiction of him. He’s certainly one of the most ambitious shounen leads of all time with how his character arc goes so it’s always fun to see a bit of his early days as well. The issue is that there isn’t much to do. We see them hang out a lot, we get some foreshadowing with the human traffickers running around, and Eren gets beaten up for his political views. The story’s a little more mean spirited than the first one as it’s dark throughout. I don’t know if it’s meant to be dark, but you feel the tension throughout since you know that things aren’t going to end well.

The story also makes Mikasa’s parents look pretty bad since they definitely should have left the house after they knew people were lurking around. The mother was sick, but then tell Eren’s father or something. You need to have some kind of backup so you can escape because otherwise they were all doomed. They just really didn’t think ahead here. The scene of Eren getting beaten up by the adults is also pretty intense and not a fun scene. It’s literally full grown adults badly beating up a kid to the point where he was severely injured for a while. At this point we already get how the city is super corrupt, no need to beat it into us. (pun intended) Things don’t end well for them though since karma also tends to hit like a truck in this series. Characters who do bad stuff rarely get a happy ending, the cycle of violence tends to get everyone.

Finally there’s a 2-3 page story with both characters I guess so their stories could link up a bit. Mikasa basically takes issue with Annie’s ring blade since she feels like it could hurt Eren so there are a lot of veiled threats in the conversation. I’d definitely take Mikasa in a human fight between them, but in a no holds barred battle Annie would naturally win. Of course it would completely blow her plan so in a sense Mikasa could at least take a consolation victory there.

The artwork looks pretty good. It’s a little smoother than the main series art. I wouldn’t call it top level or anything, but it certainly holds its own pretty well and makes for a pretty easy read. The fight scenes have a lot of pop behind them with the art which is always a key fundamental to have. It really helps the whole manga rise up an extra notch as well. The writing is also pretty good which is definitely important no matter what kind of manga you are. This one does a good job with that.

Overall, Lost Girls is an interesting spinoff. Annie’s story definitely destroys Mikasa’s though. I don’t think we really need to learn too much more about her origins since the manga already covered that pretty well. It could have worked better if things worked out more for the heroes but with everything already being grim I don’t think this story really added to anything. Both stories are pretty self contained so you could probably enjoy them even without reading the main series. That being said, you’ll naturally get more out of it if you already know the characters. I’d recommend picking this one up, it’s a good enough story to add to the verse.

Overall 6/10

Editorial

3 Characters who are stuck in bad titles

I think it’s time we look at a rather tragic situation for a character. One of the saddest things is when you’ve got an amazing character who is stuck in a bad anime, manga, or film. It’s like having a player who is stuck on a bad sports team or a great video game locked behind a console nobody bought. There are likely many times this has happened, but in general there aren’t too many that would immediately come to mind. For the definition of “bad” in this context I’m talking about series that I’ve given a 4 or lower.

1. Gray Fullbuster

Who better to start this off than a character from Fairy Tail? Fairy Tail is one of those series that should have been nothing short of amazing. The art is absolutely top notch and the fights are great. It has some of the most epic scenes out there and the franchise has really done a good job of spreading out over the years with various spinoffs and prequels. Alas, a character cannot hold an entire franchise up on his own. Gray is awesome, but you can’t fully appreciate how many great scenes he has because then you’d have to watch Fairy Tail.

He’s got a very tragic backstory involving an ice demon and has done a great job of trying to get past that. He’s always grown up being a noble main character and is willing to throw his life away multiple times in the series to stop the threat on his own. He’s got an ice spell that sacrifices his life in order to stop an enemy. This attack may have even stopped Zeref if Natsu hadn’t stepped in. Even his comic relief subplot of always losing his shirt may be a subconscious method of trying to remember the good ole days with Lyon and his master.

Gray functions as the rival in Fairy Tail as well as a secondary main character of sorts. He’s managed to keep up with Natsu throughout the series to the point where they are at similar levels of power even by the end. He saved Natsu when up against Mad Geer as well in what was probably his most impressive scene. I would also rank that as one of the all time best “Someone steps in to save the main character” scenes in a series. The one liner about reminding Natsu to keep track of his scarf made the whole thing even more epic.

Aside from being an excellent fighter Gray is also a smart character. He’s the first one to figure out that something is up during Fairy Tail Gaiden’s mystery story with Gajeel and in general he simply doesn’t fall for tricks. He doesn’t have the weakness of being motion sick like the Dragon Slayers and this makes him a well rounded fighter. Even his romance plot is better than 90% of other romance plots. I’m still not a fan of most romance in general and I’ll probably do an editorial someday about what makes for a good romance, but his is actually pretty sound.

In short, Gray’s just an incredible character and it’s a shame that he couldn’t have been in a better series. This guy should be spoken about in the same sentence as Sasuke or Vegeta but he’ll always be relegated to B status at best simply because he’s stuck here. At least he’s a great silver lining for if you ever check out Fairy Tail, but it’s not like I could actually recommend the series just because of Gray.

2. Eren Jeager

Attack on Titan is a very popular series, but one that I ultimately had to give a thumbs down. It goes too far in being ultra violent and making everyone out to be so unlikable and evil that there is nobody to root for by the end. Still, that doesn’t stop one character from making a name for himself and ultimately overcoming all of this. That would be Eren, the main character. He’s an excellent lead who really hits the right balance of being impulsive and calculating. His whole life was turned upside down when his town was attacked by titans and he’s sworn to take revenge against them his whole life. Once he becomes old enough Eren gains the abilities of a Titan Shifter and begins his revenge. He starts out as a pure hearted hero who eventually goes down a gray road to the point where he isn’t much better than some of the villains. Eren’s always been about revenge so it’s not like things have really changed all that much for him, but revenge seems to be his only motivation now.

Part of what makes Eren great is his quick actions. He doesn’t buy into the various justifications that the villains give even when the others characters begin to crack. One good example of this is when the Colossal and Armored Titans begin to explain why they are going around murdering everyone. Eren doesn’t believe a word of it and calls them out for just being mass murderers. Eren says it how it is and doesn’t worry about appearances.

In combat Eren is quick to adapt and learns how to fight the Armored Titan mid-fight. He also did well against the Female Titan. He makes up for his lack of experience with pure fighting technique. He didn’t start out as an ace fighter or anything like that, but didn’t stop until this became the case. That’s why he’s such a great character. We actually see Eren training with the others and his gradual improvement over the series. It’s really something to see how far he has gone from the original days. The character is almost unrecognizable upon first glance, but on closer inspection you can see the same fire in his eyes.

He’s easily the highlight of the series and whenever he appears you know something cool is going to happen. I think part of what makes him work so well is that he actually has the power to back up his plans. He’s not going to just go along with the corrupt government any longer than he has to. Once the time skip happens then all bets are off and we see Eren truly unchained.

3. Kirito

Let’s be honest here, Kirito is one of the main reasons why I made this editorial. He’s one of the greatest characters of all time and yet he is stuck in Sword Art Online. SAO has a cool premise and the first arc of the anime is one of the most complete sagas out there. Alas, after that things went downhill a bit with almost every arc having something wrong with it. Kirito shines as a beacon of hope in even the worst of arcs, but imagine what he could really do in a better series?

Kirito started out as your average teen who just loved video games a lot. Once he gets stuck in the world of Sword Art he does his best to get back while keeping as many people alive as possible. Kirito prefers being a solo act and that’s how he is for the first two arcs of the series. Eventually he becomes more of a team player in Gun Gale and that leads up to Alicization where he has a tremendous amount of character development. In that series he is now portrayed as the mature adult who has been through a thing or two. He teaches Eugeo how to be a good fighter as well as how to be a good person. He instills a lot of great life lessons like fighting for your goal and not letting it turn into hate or a vendetta against the villains.

Kirito is a master swordsman in all combat styles, but he’s also a super genius and picks up on things very quickly. What never wavers is his unshakable confidence. He’ll jump in to help anyone at any time while always keeping a cool head. Kirito is the kind of guy that you always want to have in your corner. He’ll figure out a way to win and if it doesn’t exist yet then he’ll invent a way for it to work. He’s always been a very outside the box kind of fellow at it is. There’s no shortage of amazing Kirito scenes in the Sword Art Online series. You always know that no matter what happens he will be around to help. One such scene is when he takes on an entire platoon by himself. I can’t really picture anyone else in the series being able to do something like that.

Kirito really embodies what it is to be a perfect character. He’s a really nice guy who will always do his best to help his friends get through a tough spot. He’s got an awesome uniform and is always up for a fight. As long as you try your best you should always be able to get through a situation and Kirito shows how dedication really does make a difference.

So, those are 3 characters who are quite awesome, but just so happen to be stuck in titles that will never really be able to hit the big time for me. It’s too bad, but at least those titles do have a cool character to help them. It’s way better to even just have one good character then to be a title with no solid characters to back it up. These 3 are all stars who would be top 5 in any title and that’s definitely an impressive feat.

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Attack on Titan Season 3 Review


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

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

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

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

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

Naturally this review is a little on the shorter side since I didn’t watch much. The episodes I did see didn’t have much going on so it’s not like there is too much new content to discuss. I do have to say that seeing Eren get kidnapped is always iffy since with his titan powers I’d like to see him be more prepared for these attempts. Summon a little armor at all times or something like that. I think with enough practice he would be able to use such a skill and then he’s really be nice and overpowered. The government agents would stop messing with him at that point.

Overall, By this point you will likely know if you like Attack on Titan or not. It’s not as if the series has changed since season 1. It’s still the same characters fighting Titans even if their situations have grown more complicated. The writing style has not changed nor has the animation or the soundtrack. It’s a very familiar series that you’ll have nostalgia for as soon as you watch the first episode. Whether good or bad memories surface from this is another question entirely. I fully expect that we will get a season 4 once season 3 ends and the series isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With the manga possibly ending relatively soon (2 years or so) the anime will probably have a finishing point by around season 5 but you really never know. In the meantime I’ll be content with my quality action shows like Dragon Ball Super and RWBY.

Overall 1/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

Attack on Titan: A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence Review


It’s time for another Attack on Titan OVA. You’ll be happy to know that this one is the best yet. It approached dangerous territory when the characters decided to go hunting, but the special did a pretty good job of handling it. It wasn’t perfect, but it managed to save itself as there was no blood or anything. It would be a little dicey if this was a long show were that kept happening or a movie with repeated scenes of this, but as a one off it wasn’t fatal.

This special should really be called Attack on Jean. He’s a pretty minor character in the main series, but he effectively got his own special here. Jean wants to get a cushy job in the Interior so he won’t have to fight Titans for a living, but this is proving to be difficult. His best chance is to do well in a training exercise, but then his teammates destroy this chance by just being better fighters in general than him. Jean doesn’t take this too well and hastily accepts a cooking challenge against Sasha. If he wins, she’ll have to stop up staging him every day of his life. The battle is on, but can Jean really win?

I do have to say that the remixed opening was handled pretty much perfectly here. We see a lot of shots of Jean running around and trying to be relevant and then at the end when the music is ramping up we just have him walking around since he usually doesn’t get to do much during the climax. It’s emotional yet also very fitting for the character. The soundtrack in general is easily 5 star material as we get most of the show’s famous themes from the first season. It’s just consistently amazing. The visuals are also pretty good. You’ll recognize the green energy effects the show loves to use and all of the character designs are on point. It’s not an action this time around so it’s hard to say just how good it is in the end, but it’s certainly good enough for me.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Jean is a whole lot meaner than usual. In the main series he’s not the nicest of guys, but he’s still pretty even tempered as he just tries to get promoted to a safe job. In this special he’s mean to his Mom for no reason and even threatens to punch Sasha. He resorts to stealing/cheating and just has absolutely no moral compass. I suppose it’s part of the humor, but I can’t imagine his fans would be too thrilled about this. The Mom subplot in particular felt random since in the flashbacks Jean was actually a nice guy and I suppose we are led to believe that joining the army corrupted him. He’s just not the nice guy that he used to be anymore.

The ending is also really cheesy so I wasn’t thrilled with that. We all know who should have won the cooking contest based on the two dishes. On the other hand, we can also assume that the wrong choice was picked because the judge was incredibly drunk. At least he was in character as I’ve never liked this guy. He has some hype but never does anything with it and is content to boss everyone around from the sidelines. Not the kind of guy you really want on your side.

As I mentioned before, there was one tricky scene where the heroes decide to hunt a boar for no good reason. Unfortunately they do nab him, but it was at least not done in a violent way. It’s a nice consolation. That’s really is for negatives and minor gripes. Beyond that, the special had really good pacing along with its soundtrack and graphics. It did a good job of embracing its comedic nature without going too far. For example, a good scene was when everyone transformed into Titans and could only watch as someone started taking everyone down. It was a nice high budget action moment that was certainly one of the highlights. It was just a good amount of fun.

I also liked Eren’s cameos as he called Jean out and also didn’t let Mikasa do all of his work for him. Eren likes to contribute so he will get strong enough to stomp all of the Titans. It would have been cool if the special could have kept in the scene where Eren beat Jean up, but at least the highlight is up on Youtube so you can always pause the special and quickly watch it during the beginning where it would have been perfectly thrown in. In case it wasn’t too clear, I was on Sasha’s team for this mission as Jean just didn’t do anything that made me want to root for him. He was basically the antagonist in this one after all.

The special also added some clever homages to the main series like when Sasha hit Reiner with her elbow in the same way that Eren attacked him in the forest. It was the same exact shot and I seem to recall 1 or 2 other instances of this. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing for the people who had already read the manga. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than average viewers, but both should still enjoy it quite a bit. It’s ironic that the best Attack on Titan special would be the comedy one, but now we know what the series could have been if it was a parody.

Overall, Attack on Jean was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind if the series followed his adventures, but I have a feeling it would still suffer from the same problems as the original and a big problem would be that there would be fewer Eren scenes to try and bring it back up. The ending may be a little disappointing, but I’d still recommend checking the special out. It’s just pretty fun and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to see Attack on Titan like this. It’ll truly go down as a collector’s item.

Overall 6/10

3 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review


All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.

Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.

The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.

Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Attack on Titan: No Regrets Review


It’s time to look at another Attack on Titan OVA. I read the manga version of this one a while back so I basically knew what to expect. I definitely considered it to be one of the better spinoffs and it did a good job of making Levi a good character. The main series disregards that of course as it makes everyone compromised by the end, but that’s why prequels can be cool sometimes. The OVA is divided into two episodes with the first one being really good and the second one pretty bad. The mix makes for an outcome that you’d probably expect from the franchise.

The story starts with a girl named Isabel running from shady fellows who are unnecessarily gritty as always. Levi stops them and the guys retreat. Isabel realizes that learning how to fight would be pretty useful here so she joins the group and becomes one of the team. The other member being Furlan. She gets the hang of things rather quickly. Unfortunately, one of Levi’s comrades is taken to a hospital and held as a hostage so he and his team are forced to join the Survey Corps to murder the commander Erwin to help a corrupt politician escape persecution. Can they accomplish the task before they are eaten by titans?

The first episode is pretty fun. It still gritty in some aspects, but there aren’t any titans running around. It’s just Levi and the others trying to survive the slums. Levi’s a pretty stand up guy who looks out for his comrades and he gets a lot of respect around the place. He’s the kind of heroic main character that you’d expect to find in a Shonen. He goes through with the scheme to get Erwin because if he doesn’t his friend will be in trouble. He’s just a great all around lead and he also knows how to fight. His 3D Vertical maneuvering abilities are second to none.

Furlan is a good second in command. He doesn’t have much character except that he is always ready to help Levi and also stands up against injustice. That’s good enough for me. Finally, Isabel is a chipper young cadet who is eager to help out. Her first scene has her protecting a bird which is a great start and it even gets to live which makes the whole thing even better. The dynamic between the three characters is pretty fun and that probably would have made for a pretty fun show on its own. I had no real complaints with the first episode. The animation was sharp and the soundtrack was good. The ending could have even worked as an ending since it shows how he joins the corps.

The second episode is where it all goes downhill. The first half wasn’t bad as we see the characters excel in the Titan hunting practice. Levi may use an unorthadox grip, but it gets the job done. The other members may not like it, but as long as he gets results they can’t do much about it. They still plan to destroy Erwin, but there aren’t really any openings for them to accomplish this. The guy is like a stone wall that blocks everyone off. Finally, they get their chance on a titan hunt when the rain gets extra thick. Levi goes ahead to take Erwin down, but as he leaves a titan murders all of his friends so he murders it as well. In despair, he decides to follow Erwin’s cause so that his life can now have meaning.

Erwin’s not very sympathetic to the whole situation as the show portrays him as a guy who’s been around the block many times. None of this is as a surprise to him anymore and he’s made of sterner stuff. He’s willing to cross any line if it means defeating the Titan so he’s not really a hero. He just aligns himself on the same side as the main characters. He’s not my kind of character, but he’s certainly someone who’s useful to have on your side. At least he saw through Levi’s plan the whole time so he’s fairly cautious. It makes sense to be suspicious when the characters were caught so easily. I like to think Levi would have defeated Erwin in a fair fight.

What hurts the second episode is naturally how super violent and dark it is. The animation uses a detailed style to try and make the deaths as graphic as possible. You see the spine and body parts as their remains are found. It’s definitely super done and likewise with Levi’s fight against the Titan as he keeps on slashing it over and over to take his rage out on it. I would have preferred the light novel approach where Titans just turn to steam and don’t really bleed. Those were the good ole days.

Levi was still a great character of course as avenging his comrades is the first thing he should do and he did abandon the mission to check on their safety right away. It’s like Spider-Man’s origin story as his choice ultimately decided their fate. He couldn’t do everything, but the overall message of the OVA was good. You can’t regret your choices when you don’t know what outcomes they will bring. Some choices lead to positive outcomes and some don’t. As long as the decision itself was good, then you shouldn’t actually have any regrets. Levi’s reasoning for joining Erwin wasn’t bad either. I definitely think part of it was helping to avoid what happened to his friends to anyone else. Who wouldn’t want to stop the Titans after that?

What makes it more painful for him is that he warned his teammates not to come. Their skills aren’t at the same level as his so it makes sense that it would be dangerous for them. Still, it’s not as if he could have stopped them from coming in the end so what’s done is done. It’s a pretty sad ending to the OVA and I would have preferred the first one, but it shows why Levi is so cold to everyone.

As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are really good. All of the character models are really high quality and the fight scenes are smooth. The Survey Corps battle with Levi squad is definitely the best part of the whole thing. The animation and directing did a good job of showcasing their speed without getting distracted or spinning around in an attempt to look good. Some anime try to do that to be clever, but it’s a cop out. The soundtrack is also great as it grabs a lot of the good themes from the anime and plugs them in. The fun techno theme is always a fun addition and I’ll never forget it from the very first Attack on Titan episode. It was a good way to start the series….for an instant.

Overall, No Regrets had a solid beginning, but a weak ending. It’s a little too dark/gritty/tragic at the end which brings down the score considerably. That’s why Attack on Titan will always be limited since it always goes down when the Titans appear, but a series without Titans would be a completely different show. Still, it definitely has an interesting premise and I’d probably recommend checking it out over the main show. If you like the OVA then you should go ahead and watch it. The intro is included here and some quick exposition so you’ll know what’s happening from the get go. I have another OVA coming up and it has the potential to be the best yet as we return to the main cast. It’s hard to say which ending was more tragic and mean spirited, this one or Ilse’s Notebook. I dare say it would be the latter since Ilse was by herself and pretty much defenseless while at least Isabel and Furlan had each other, but it’s close. Hopefully the next one has a happier ending so it can end the OVA on a solid note.

Overall 4/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review


It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City Review


There are some series that can start out on a high note and keep that level of quality intact. Look at the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It has the super emotional song from the first film, but still managed to get by just fine in the sequels without it. That’s because the writing and characters were on point. Other titles like Skip Beat can start out decently interesting and go into the gutter. It’s not about how you start a race, but how you finish it. That’s true in life, cooking, platformers, pie eating contests, and anything else that is worth your while. This novel may have started out to be pretty good and a contender for best novel in the franchise, but crashed and burned in the second half. The title should have been a giveaway I suppose.

The plot of the book takes place in a small little town in the Titan World. The bridge collapsed so everyone is kinda sorta trapped in the town. They can go outside though so I guess they aren’t really trapped at all. I don’t know exactly how the layout is since it doesn’t make much sense, but essentially all of the other villages have left them for dead. All of Rita’s bosses end up getting bumped off so she is suddenly the leader of the military. She goes from being a really nice person to a corrupt dictator and decides that the only way to give the people peace is to murder them and anyone who falls out of line or looks at her the wrong way is subject to death. She will destroy anyone who defies her wish of a Utopia!

Meanwhile, Mathias is the other main character. He was a rich guy who never had to work for anything and was ignorant of the ways of the commoner. He was good friends with Rita, but he ended up murdering her other best friend so he had to go into hiding. He must now find a way to take her down and considers that he may have to use lethal methods. Friendship and camaraderie is thrown to the winds in this tale as everyone does what they feel they have too. Things get a lot worse before they get better and they never really get better so just focus on the first part.

This adventure is two novels long and the first one was actually pretty decent. It was a fun enough tale about Rita and Mathias and how they lived very different lives, but did their best to connect with each other. It wasn’t a bleak and gritty story the way that most Titan adventures were and it was cool to just have a happy scene for once. It figures that this wouldn’t last right? The story started to get a little more grim as Mathias made a deal with some bandits to rob his father in exchange for getting him to the town where Rita was trapped. It didn’t go very well so the bandits murder a bunch of soldiers and then Mathias panicked so he blew up one of the young workers who was helping Rita. He panicked again after that and ran off. This basically happened in the final pages of the first book so it was quite a downer.

The second novel is where it really goes off the rails though. Rita was apparently traumatized after seeing her best friend murder her other friend so she decided to go down a dark path. She forces people to get eaten by the Titan she planted in the city and tortures others until they get her some intel. Nobody is safe now and she murders her father and is prepared to do the same to Mathias if she can find him as well as her best friend Amanda. The novel shows us in great detail just how insane she has become. It gets about as bad as the main Titan series in that regard and there’s no way she can come back from this.

This is why the ending of the book is rather hard to swallow. The author suddenly tries to make her sympathetic as she was only trying to help and she’ll be a nicer person now. She has this 180 character development in the span of 2-3 pages as Titans attack the city and suddenly we’re supposed to see her as a nice person again. Mathias also forgives her for murdering everyone and putting the townspeople in jeopardy every day since it just doesn’t matter now. Never mind the fact that one of Mathias’ main allies was poisoned to death right in front of him on Rita’s orders. She may claim that it was for the greater good, but she stepped well over the line of vigilantism and became an evil villain during this book. It was far more extreme than the book and characters acknowledge afterwards and it was just puzzling the whole time. It was an even more drastic character arc than Shu’s from Guilty Crown and that’s pretty scary. It may not be in Black Butler levels quite yet, but Rita is easily one of the most evil main characters that I’ve ever seen.

It goes without saying that I didn’t like her. Regardless of how good she was in volume 1, she nullified it all in the sequel. I didn’t care for Mathias either as there is no way he should have panicked so much upon seeing the scout and he handled the situation as badly as possible. It was hard to take him seriously as the rebel leader since he was always terrified of everyone and got tricked so many times. He was just annoying to see. The rebels were also a bit much as they were all too overconfident and full of themselves even though they could never do all that much when it came time to fight. The super hyped leader of the Rebels went down in the worst way possible as his drinking habits finally got to him and poison ended his career. You’d think that he would have been a little smarter about something like that.

In the end, the only real good character was Amanda. Even she was a little fishy as she took forever to make a move and just allowed people to be tortured and eaten. At least she did something about it though. She also got a lot of hype as being the best fighter in the squad, but naturally once she turned good, Amanda was surpassed by Rita. So much for the hype eh? She still put up a good fight though and was probably the only character who actually stayed true to herself. Again, the book kind of glossed over the fact that Rita was so evil in the end as she gets Amanda back her gear and they team up again. It just shouldn’t be so smooth. If anything, I think the ending should have kept Rita as a villain, it certainly makes more sense than suddenly making her a hero again.

Even the ending doesn’t offer much hope though as the heroes lost their town to the Titans. Their plan is to head to the next town, but they already know for a fact that the Town doesn’t want them and will attempt to slay the group. It’ll come down to yet another fight and that should give the Titans an opening to move in and take them all down. It’s Attack on Titan though so you should never expect anything even remotely happy for the conclusion.

Overall, What started as potentially the best Titan novel ended up being the worst one. It’s why I always say that you can’t really tell these things ahead of time. A whole novel (or 2 in this case) is more than enough time for a story to turn rotten. You won’t even recognize the characters by the end as they could basically be other people. In the end, what really destroyed the book was that it was way too dark and violent. If you thought the other novels were gritty, this one is far more intense. The novel could have made Rita’s character transformation a little less drastic and it would have worked a lot better. There’s no good reason for her to become a full fledged mass murderer. She should have just gotten more obsessed about the rules and we could have had the town be under a curfew with a lot of punishments handed out every day. The situation didn’t need to jump all the way to 10 so suddenly. Had the book showed some restraint, it would have been a lot better and glossing it over so much at the end didn’t help either. If you want a good Attack on Titan novel, I suggest checking out Before The Fall. It’s the only good one at the moment and shows you what Titan novels should be like.

Overall 1/10