What makes for a good villain?


It’s time to look at what makes for a good villain. Now, there are a lot of factors to consider when looking at such a sweeping generalization. There are many different kinds of villains and different situations to put them in of course. As such it can be difficult to just grab a few attributes and say that they make a villain. As a disclaimer you have to consider a whole lot but I am going to list 5 factors which I see in my favorite villains. If you have all 5 you are basically guaranteed to be an amazing villain but even just having one of them should help quite a lot in rising you up the charts. As you may or may not know, I consider Bass EXE to be the greatest villain of all time. He is an example of a villain who meets all 5 criteria. He also happens to be the most powerful villain if you ask me but that’s a discussion for another time. So without further build up, lets take a look at the 5 main criteria.

Cool Design

This first one is pretty obvious. It’s hard to like a villain when you just don’t like their design. It would be next to impossible for me to like a villain like Bubbleman. No matter how powerful he may become, I wouldn’t be able to take him seriously. To a degree voice is a similar aspect that can make or break a villain but it’s not universal the way a design is. You could be reading a book or a manga where the description of the design is still there but you can’t picture the voice as well. A good design is a great first step for a villain. It helps you instantly assess what this guy/girl is all about. It’s your initial impression and those are absolutely critical. You’re not likely to forget your first impression of a villain.

As with just about everything media related designs are very subjective. What I consider to be a good design will typically have a strong color contrast/sleek design. Purple is a color that is usually associated with villains and always tends to work quite well. Red and black make for a solid pair. Then you’ve got pure white/silver like Zeref which is pretty great. Ideally you want a design that looks combat ready although you can also go for one that is startlingly happy/unassuming which can work out well like the final boss of Undertale. A bad design to me is one that is either very generic so you forget it, or a design where you can instantly tell the villain can’t fight.

Honor Code

The honor code is definitely a pretty big one. I don’t want a villain who hides behind others or hostages all the time. I want a villain who is confident in their own abilities and isn’t afraid to tangle with the heroes whether it be physically or mentally. A good villain knows exactly what their goals are and sticks true to them. It’s a matter of pride and villains need to have that as well as heroes. The main example I’m using for this is Grimmjow. He and Ichigo had a rivalry right from the start of the series. Grimmjow absolutely wants to crush the lead but he wants to do it on his terms. He’s not going to be satisfied beating up on a weakened Ichigo. He even has Orihime heal the lead so they can tangle which is pretty much unheard of. That always helps me gain respect for a villain. A true villain should be able to overcome his opponent when they are at their peak and without outside help. Grimmjow’s even willing to fight other villains to ensure he gets his fair fight.

I’m not opposed to friendship power within the villains of course, but in general I like when a villain can just handle his business right from the start. Likewise a “dirty” trick during a fight may not be out of bounds if it was already 1 on 1. At that point anything goes of course and if the villain has already been fighting then more power to him. A villain who admits defeat and starts attacking random civilians to distract the hero has already lost in every sense of the word. You have to stay true to your ideals to the very end.

Has to be a threat

This is another one that probably seems obvious but is worth noting. If you’re a villain who gets completely wrecked time and time again then it’s going to be very hard to enjoy the character. This could work for a comic relief villain which follows a very different set of rules but not for a big villain that we’re supposed to take seriously. A villain needs to take care of business and that should be established early on. This is very common so there are probably millions of good examples I can use. The one I choose here would be Hideyoshi’s first appearance in Sengoku Basara or at least his first appearance in the war. He immediately sets the tone by forcing both armies to acknowledge him. He stops a huge array of arrows in their tracks with simple wind pressure and then takes down a captain in a single hit. This guy’s power is on a whole other level and it’s just hard to top that debut. I was certainly very satisfied at the very least. When you’re a threat like that, you’re forced to acknowledge the villain right away.

Has solid motivations

Now, I’m all for the villains who just want to destroy the world of course, but what really takes a villain to the next level is when they have solid goals. If the goal is something you can understand then that will play a big role in how endearing they are. A villain who is upset because some guy elbowed him when walking through a line? That’s so petty you may lose respect. A villain whose world is about to be crushed but can save it by destroying the other world first? Well, that’s something you can buy into. He would even possibly be considered the Hero from another point of view. There’s a saying that everyone is the hero of their own story. While I don’t find that to be true necessarily, I think a villain’s motivation should feel that way. You never lose sight of the fact that they are a villain but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that this is now a villain you can sympathize with.

For this one I’ll use Mr. Freeze as an example from Sub Zero and the Batman animated series His wife is terminally ill and only has a slim shot of survival. The way to do this is to do a blood transfusion with someone from a rare blood type. Only problem is that the transfusion will destroy whoever undergoes the operation because of how much blood is needed. Perhaps if you could find two people then this could work but there isn’t a whole lot of time and Mr. Freeze is already a known criminal. As a result he decides to kidnap someone so that he can save the wife which leads into the movie. This is a perfect example as you know that what Freeze is doing is wrong and he knows it as well. Still, it is worth it to him in order to save his wife and that’s as solid a motivation as you can get. It made him a particularly great villain in the DCAU and one of the best Batman villains out there. Later on Freeze eventually begins to get buried by feelings of rage and feelings of revenge towards society but this is how he started out,.

Overwhelming confidence

Finally we have another trait which ties in to the others. A good villain needs to have absolute confidence. These villains aren’t afraid to defy authority even if a higher up tells them to do something. I already used Grimmjow as an example but that’s something he did quite well. The villains who are quickly to kneel before another don’t have the same true respect for themselves that other villains have. A lot of the best villains in history have always been overwhelmingly confident to the point of arrogance. They may readily lower their defenses just to show the heroes how absolutely outclassed they are. Honestly, it was hard to pick an example here because you could pick almost literally any villain and you would be good to go. That just shows how critical this factor is.

Ultimately I’m going with Jiren. How confident do you have to be to close your eyes and meditate in the middle of a battle with your universe on the line? You got to admit that this takes a whole lot of guts on his part. A lot of villains absolutely wouldn’t dare even if they were powerful. It’s a great moment though because that unwavering conviction in your abilities is exactly what you need in order to succeed.

So those are the 5 traits a good villain really should have. If you have all of these traits then you are probably going to go down as one of the all time great villains. Whenever a villain is introduced with some of these traits I get excited. Now, there are certainly things a villain can do in order to lose that hype which I will go into in my reverse editorial on what makes for a bad villain. That one should be fun and I already know quite a few off the top of my head. A lot of villains will end up having traits from both in which case you just have to see which side wins out. It’s rare to find a perfect character like Bass EXE but there are still tons of other amazing villains. In theory every great series should have a great villain to combat the hero. If you have no great villains then that could be trouble for the series long term.

Positive Trope: An Even Stronger Villain Appears


One of the things I really enjoy about anime and manga is seeing how the arc after a big power up starts. This is something that can appear in any medium to be fair, but I feel like it is especially prevalent in anime/manga. The title’s a bit vague so let me get more specific on what I mean. This is the trope where the hero has just gone through a lot of great ordeals and unlocked a new level of power which was enough to stop the villain. Then the next arc starts and all of a sudden the hero is managing to get wrecked by the new opponent. That’s always one of the most hype kind of moments for me because it means the heroes are going to have to train up yet again. It’s particularly effective when the main character was considered to be absolutely crazy in terms of strength. I will be using examples from Yu Yu Hakusho’s Sensui arc, Dragon Ball Z’s Android Saga, Bleach’s Arrancar arc, and for a reverse look at a villain scenario, Fate Stay Night’s Unlimited Blade Works’ Grail War. So it goes without saying that there will be mild spoilers for each of these titles. The spoilers only encompass the beginnings of these arcs and for Fate, the beginning of the second act of the series. If you have not yet read/watched these titles I’d advise you to do so as they all are perfect examples of this. Other instances that are references through images include Luffy vs Kaido, (One Piece) Yami Yugi vs Rafael, (Yugioh) and Estarossa vs Meliodas. (Seven Deadly Sins)

This kind of plot can happen in a few different ways. The image I showed above is one of the great fakeouts from Hitman Reborn where after the heroes finally dealt with the Funeral Wreaths it turned out they were actually fighting some weak imposters. The real ones were significantly tougher. Medaka Box did this as well. It’s a slightly different variation from what I’m talking about since that affected the whole group and really a specific villain appearing. More like a group of them, but in a way that makes things even more dangerous for the heroes. The examples below are of a specific villain showing up.

First up, I’m going to start with Yu Yu Hakusho’s example as it’s a little different since it actually plays up the defeat with a bit of a mystery angle to it. So this takes place after Yusuke had just survived the Dark Tournament. He finally gained complete mastery over his spirit power and is feeling pretty invincible. He literally was able to defeat some people while tied up and unable to move so you get a feel of just how powerful he was. The Sensui arc starts with some mysterious teenagers showing up asking to pick a fight with Yusuke. Yusuke obliges them since he’s always ready for a good fight and then from there he vanishes which kicks off the arc. Somehow or another they were actually able to take Yusuke down . Part of what makes this really work is because Yusuke was built up as being pretty unstoppable. No demon could handle him so how could a bunch of human teenagers bring him down? It was a great moment for sure.

Next up we have the famous Goku vs Android 19 fight. I don’t even need to go into great detail here since everyone knows this example. Goku just took down the mighty Frieza with new Super Saiyan form. Goku’s also gotten stronger since then and handled Trunks with ease. Additionally Goku had some time to train before the Androids showed up. Yet, when they did, Goku was powerless to stop 19. He might as well not have even been fighting back because Android 19 gave him the work. To date this is one of my favorite fights in all of DBZ because of how 19 just stepped in and handled business. I like how nonchalant the whole thing was and 19 is heavily underrated. It’s easily one of the most shocking fights in the series because at this point Super Saiyan was still seen as invincible. It’s probably one of the earliest example I can think of with this trope appearing in full force and it was handled masterfully! I know people bring up valid points about how an Android should not have been able to be that powerful and I agree with that, but at the same time the scene was so hype I don’t even mind.

Bleach is no stranger to power creep so it makes sense that it would have a great example. It’s got quite a few to be honest but the best one I’d say is coming into the Arrancar arc. Ichigo just got done taking down a Captain and being acknowledged as one of the greatest Soul Reapers of all time. He takes out one of the random Arrancars and is feeling pretty good about himself. That’s when he is confronted by Grimmjow who turns out to be more than a match for the Hero. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Grimmjow is *only* ranked as number 6th among his group so he isn’t even the strongest. Ichigo is unable to do anything against Grimmjow and is completely crushed during this fight. This was a massive jump in power the likes of which we hadn’t seen. Not only did it establish Grimmjow as a serious threat (Who would go on to be my favorite character in the series) but it also showed that Ichigo and the other heroes were in deep trouble. They were definitely not ready to handle this.

Finally as mentioned lets look at a villain version of this example. It’s time for Gilgamesh vs Berserker. Part of why this one works is because Berserker is introduced as a servant so powerful that he could destroy the other 6 combined. At least in terms of pure mana output he beats the rest with ease. Now Fate does have a habit of throwing a little too much hype at everyone so they don’t live up to it (coughSaberalwayslosescough) and I’ve got an editorial coming up which will reference a fighter there but this is the whole lore behind Berserker. It’s very rare to see him be defeated in a straight fight. That’s all well and good until a new Servant decides to throw his hat in the ring. The King of Heroes, Gilgamesh. Want to talk about upping the stakes and hype? Gilgamesh is said to be the strongest Fate character in the whole Nasuverse. Granted, there are certain limitations to that quote. I believe it only applied to the base characters, once you reach into the spinoffs (Particularly the mobile game) there are some characters who could take him down. That being said, his abilities are in a world of their own. This fight shows that clear as day. It’s just about impossible for any hero to take him down because Gilgamesh has limitless Noble Phantasms. Additionally should anyone try to counter him with a world of their own, he has a weapon that perfectly nullifies it.

Gilgamesh’s only real weakness is that he tends to be overconfident so he doesn’t tend to try until he’s losing. That said, it makes his power that much more intimidating as he humiliates Berserker without even trying. Without a hostage Berserker would have done better although I don’t believe he would win. So there you have it, those are 4 examples of solid moments where this came into play. This definitely happens to villains quite a lot to be honest although in a slightly different context as it tends to happen within the same arc as opposed to the next one. The true leader tends to not show his hand until the main one is defeated. A good villain always waits until the perfect moment to strike.

I know what you’re thinking. No examples from Black Clover or Sword Art Online this time? I know I use those constantly, but I wouldn’t really say they’ve had an example like this. Certainly not Sword Art Online although Clover has some in the most recent arc from the manga. It definitely could have made the list but I figured I’d keep this editorial pretty short. Just a few examples and explaining why I enjoy this element so much. It really just a great way to take the show/manga to the next level. I always think the next villains should continue to get stronger and stronger. You will run into some issues if the power creep doesn’t stop after a while but the easiest way is to just have the strongest villain show up first to mess up the heroes and after that you have the weaker ones appear to let the heroes gradually improve to take them all down one after another. I feel like any good action series should throw this in at least once. It doesn’t have to be this directly, but in some way or another.

I’ve got more editorials like this coming up at some point with things I like to see in anime or character traits that I want in a hero. It’ll probably be a little while though as I try to balance this along with the reviews and fights on the site. Right now I’ve been doing 1 editorial a month at least. Stay tuned for July’s editorial as I talk about what makes for a good villain. Specifically I’ll be talking about what I like to see in a villain and not so much what I don’t want to see although I may reference those points. As with any character, there are a lot of factors in making a good villain. Just because I list around 10 traits or so, doesn’t mean a villain needs all of them. Of course if the villain does have them all, that’ll likely turn out pretty great for me.

8 necessary traits to being a good Hero?

It’s time to take a look at what it means to be a good main character. There are a lot of qualities that you need to have to be a quality lead and it’s a very broad subject. There’s no way I can tackle literally every part of this equation, but I will at least get to the important parts. A hero stops the villains. That’s the basic definition of it at least, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. You’ve got to have a strong fortitude, the will to defend others and fighting battles that are not winnable. You gotta protect your family and friends even if it means going against the law. The characters I use as examples below aren’t necessarily great heroes, but they have shown at least that one of the 8 major traits that all big heroes need. So without further adieu lets talk about this.

Disclaimer: The images/gifs below include scenes from Naruto (The flashback saga between the classic series/Shippuden), RWBY (The volume 6 Adam short), Yu Yu Hakusho (The second showdown with Sensui), Sword Art Online (The Sleeping Knights arc), Super Smash Bros Brawl (Final cutscene), Fairy Tail (The Sabretooth arc), Seraph of the End (The first meetup with the leads), Bleach (Soul Society climax), My Hero Academy (The introduction to the Mafia arc), and Dragon Ball Z (The Buu Arc). So if you haven’t read/watched those series and are concerned for spoilers then you may want to look away. Mainly the scenes here are bits without context and I wouldn’t consider them all that spoilery, but I know what a spoiler is depends on the individual. Some prefer to be 100% surprised so even seeing 2 characters together is a bit of a spoiler since now you know that they cross paths. For others it has to be something bigger, but nonetheless you at least know the various series involved now.

1 A Hero can’t be bound to the law.

You can’t always follow the protocols. Follow your heart, not the law. Of course this is in the context that the heroes will still follow the just ones of course. You have to keep in mind that half of the time the villains are the ones running these worlds. If you blindly follow the laws then you’ll end up allowing villains to get away with everything. If you’re a hero who is a part of a larger organization then you have to watch out as the group will often try to stifle you. They need to wait for proof and such, which as an organizational policy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, this means that innocents will still be suffering during the wait. That’s when a real hero steps up.

A good example of a hero moving in on his own is Natsu from Fairy Tail. Here’s the context behind the clip here. There’s a guild known as Sabertooth which is a group that carries out missions. The group has a very strict policy where if you lose you’re publicly shamed and then thrown out of the guild. Natsu finds out about this and decides to break in and take out the leader. Attacking another guild isn’t something you’re supposed to do and especially attacking on your own is typically a suicide mission. The Fairy Tail group is a lot more reasonable than other guilds so I actually think they may have supported Natsu here, but at the same time I’m glad Natsu didn’t wait to go check with everyone. He went right to the group and if he wasn’t interrupted I really think he would have taken down the whole group there. Natsu wasn’t playing around.

2. Heroes can’t worry about villainous mind games.

There are a lot of villains who start talking about their grand ambitions, how they’re actually the good guys and all of that nonsense. It tends to work on some characters who start weakening in their resolve against the villains. Some heroes go all the way in turning to the dark side while others simply become paralyzed with fear. True heroes really don’t care though and that’s part of what makes them a good hero. A good hero doesn’t need to worry about if what they’re doing is the best course of action or not. They’ve already thought through their plan earlier so at this point they just need to go in and get stuff done. In Yu Yu Hakusho a big part of the Sensui arc was the villain trying to convince the heroes that humans are even worse than demons. It works on some of the characters, but Yusuke never buys into this from the start. It’s not that he’s disregarding Sensui’s points, but at the end of the day the villain’s trying to destroy the planet so no justification will save him from Yusuke’s beat down. A hero can’t waver in their convictions.

3. Heroes save their family and friends no matter what


This one seems to be really hard for a lot of heroes. They become bound by their own feelings and the law rather than standing by their allies. Kakashi’s line in the image shown above perfectly describes the true heroes from the ones who neglect their title. Time and time again we see a hero get framed and his or her supposed best friends and comrades are quick to turn. One of the worst examples of this was in the 6th Naruto movie where almost the whole leaf village decided to take him down as well as allowing Kakashi to sacrifice himself. None of those are real heroes. Even if nobody else believes in your friends you’ve got to save them. Even if it’s against the law or you’re outnumbered you’ve gotta at least try to save those closest to you. Mikaela’s whole character is built around how he’s sworn to always protect Yu. It hasn’t been easy, but in the clip below he finally locates him and gains a surge of strength to save him. Not everyone here may be enemies, but they’re all pawns so Mikaela has to save Yu on his own.

4. Heroes don’t back down


This is a big one because depending on the circumstances it’s easy to lose all respect for a character. An infamous example of this is Deku from one of the latest arcs as he allows a girl to be kidnapped and tortured in part because he was scared of the villain, but also because he was told to let it happen. That’s falling for 2 taboos in a row there. It’s very hard if not impossible to ever recover from that. As a hero you can’t back down. If something bad is happening in front of you then you’ve got to act. This includes a scenario where you don’t have a chance of winning and have to try anyway. Even if you lose at least you’ll have bought some time or at least weakened the villain. Even if you’ll ultimately be defeated without dealing damage, it’s better to stand and fight than flee. The villains win automatically when you don’t even try. Kirito is one of those fighters who is always quick to jump into a fight even if it may not be a winnable one. He certainly won’t back down and in this clip Asuna and the others showed similar resolve. You’ve just got to stand your ground.

5. Heroes don’t make sacrifices

One of the worst things a hero can do is allow someone to be sacrificed. I don’t care if it’s the other character’s plan, if the character begs the hero to let him die, etc. If the hero allows this then that’s a problem. There’s always another way and in the cases where there isn’t, well I guess everyone’s gonna have to die then. Better to go down as a team than to let someone make the sacrifice. Endgame did a good job with that with the Black Widow and Hawkeye dynamic since both of them did their best to stop the other. You have to do everything you can to stop the other person even if it means taking the plunge yourself. I’m not against the hero doing a self sacrifice move, but you can’t let anyone else do it. The point of being a hero is taking the shots so someone else doesn’t have to. Is it selfish? Yes, but sometimes being a hero is about being selfish. That may be a topic for another day. Here Ichigo just prevented Rukia from dying even though at this point she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. He just decided to save her anyway and that’s always the right call.

6. Heroes act rather than wait

This is a big one. You can have the loftiest ideals in the world, but if you’re not acting upon them then you’re doing more harm than good. I’ve seen a lot of villains created in part because the heroes are ineffective. Take a look at this clip. The White Fang is at this moment a fairly peaceful group, but they are being stopped by bandits (or countrymen as the world of Remnant definitely did not like the Faunus) and the leader just halfheartedly tells them to stop. Of course they continue to shoot because it’s a very passive attempt at best. You have to actually stop them. In this case, Adam was right to neutralize the bunch. He didn’t murder any until the end, but he made sure that they wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Now, for the last person? I don’t see anything wrong in that instance as he had to make a snap decision to save his comrades. Could he have just sliced the gun? Sure, but that’s way easier said than done and he only had an instant. Again, a hero can’t hesitate as more lives would be lost. You just have to act and live with the consequences there.

7. Heroes can’t be pawns

There’s a little overlap here with the bullet about not always following the law. Sometimes heroes allow themselves to be pawns by either acting in a situation where they’re just going off of someone’s word or they’re doing something they know is wrong because their boss told them to do so. One instance of this was when Captain Adam chose to help Cadmus rather than the League. He stood by as they tortured a League member and were planning to murder several others. You just can’t call yourself a hero at that point. At least if you don’t realize that you’re a pawn you can use that as a defense but if you willingly jump into the role then it’s all over. Vegeta allowed himself to be mind controlled in order to access his next form and fight Goku, but he never let Babidi give him any real orders. At the end of the day Vegeta still does whatever he wants and that’s exactly the kind of hero you want. If the orders you’re given don’t make sense then you shouldn’t follow them.

8. Heroes inspire confidence

This last one is a bit obvious, but worth mentioning. A Hero should inspire confidence. His or her mere presence should turn a situation around and bring some hope into a situation that was filled with despair. Originally I chose a Justice League clip with Superman here, but the gif website was having some issues and I couldn’t load the video so I quickly had to go with another option. Sonic’s another hero who inspires confidence and the scene of him saving everyone in Super Smash Bros Brawl was perfect. Not only did it finally solidify him as the strongest character in the game, but it was just the perfect entrance. Sonic’s appearance automatically changes the whole situation and a good hero should have that kind of impact. A hero doesn’t have to be massively powerful like Sonic or Superman, but a hero should have enough experience and tools in his kit to always be able to give the good guys some valuable help. If a hero shows up and everyone stays gloomy or throws some insults around then you’ve done something wrong.

So, these are my 8 bullet points on what makes a good hero. There are more things of course, but I feel like these are the main 8 without starting to repeat myself. Eventually a lot of the other points would overlap. Look, if you’ve got a brave hero who fights to save everyone then that’s a great character. A hero should always strive to save everyone even if it isn’t practical. The more cynical heroes who think you have to let everyone die are the ones who are really missing out on the big picture here. At that point you may be doing the right thing, but you don’t have the right hero mentality. So, what kind of hero do you get when you merge all of these aspects? Well, you get one of the ultimate anime characters of legend, a hero through and through.

Best Animated Film of Each Year

It’s time to look at the best animated film of each year! This post is going to have a lot of gaps during the early parts as there are many years where I didn’t see a film, but I wanted to keep it separate from live action so both sides got their time to shine. Naturally if the only film that I’ve seen in a year got under a 5 then I won’t be counting it. I mainly used Wikipedia for researching this list, but you never know if I missed one or not so if I find a better movie for a year then naturally I’ll update it. 2018 is pretty early so far and I’m sure it’ll change, but I’ve still added it. Without further adieu, lets do this.

1937 Snow White
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Certainly a classic film and it has the honor of being the very earliest animated film that I’ve ever seen. Considering that this was back in the 1930s the animation is actually quite good. It’s really impressive and just makes me even sadder for some of the current animated stuff that comes out.

1940 Pinocchio
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Pinocchio is definitely a fun film and one that is certainly more intense than you may remember. The whole scene of the kid getting drunk and then everyone turning into Donkeys was quite unexpected. Definitely a film that you will take a second glance at while watching to make sure that it’s the right film.

1941 Dumbo
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How can you not like the concept of Dumbo? It’s about a big elephant who always knew that he had what it takes to be the best. We had some solid supporting characters here and while it would never hit it off the same way that many of the other Disney films did, the important thing is that the film had heart and never gave up without a fight. Yeah, I was having a hard time filling out this paragraph, but I did a good job I’d say.

1950 Cinderella
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Cinderella is definitely an intense story and one that has really aged well with the animation. 1950 was a very long time ago, but the story is remembered just as much now as it ever was. Maybe even more so with the recent remake.

1959 Sleeping Beauty
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Just from this picture you can see how far Disney has come in 9 years. The animation was solid and we actually got a fight scene here which was really epic. You can’t go wrong with big dragon battles and this movie did a really good job of handling it.

1964 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
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Rudolph is definitely a classic film. Santa may have been rather mean the whole time, but Rudolph never let it get to him. He’s just a very nice reindeer who always tries to do the right thing. That’s just the kind of guy he is and it’s why this special is always so emotional. The Island of Misfits was always a fun scene as well.

1969 A Boy Named Charlie Brown
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The Charlie Brown series is certainly a very large franchise. This was one of the really early ones and it was a good way to get used to the cast. It’s not as if there is a huge plot or anything, but it’s a fun slice of life adventure that will claim your attention.

1970 Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
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You may think that Santa was already in town, but it turns out that he had to travel. This wasn’t a great movie or anything, but it was in a relatively weak year. It’s fun enough though and will certainly put you in a Christmas mood.

1973 Charlotte’s Web
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I saw Charlotte’s Web when I was really little and it was only recently that I rewatched it. It’s definitely an emotional story with Charlotte. While the parents weren’t very likable, at least the main character was ready to protect the pig. It’s a film about hard decisions for sure.

1976 Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
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Who ever thought we would get a Rudolph film with a convoluted plot? Well, that’s exactly what happened with this film and it definitely turned out pretty well. It has good replay value since you’ll likely want to watch it a second time to truly appreciate how meta the plot is. It’s a film that has been forgotten by many though.

1977 Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
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It was finally time for Charlie to get a long sports film. The bullies may have been a little too intense here, but I can always appreciate a good competition. It’s not like you’d expect Charlie to do too well in such circumstances anyway, but I was still hoping that he would come out on top and finally show the world that he was a champ. Maybe next time.

1979 Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July
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Who wasn’t excited when this crossover was announced? It makes so much sense and yet this film never got too popular. The plot may not have been amazing or anything, but Rudolph looked really good in the action scenes and the story just writes itself. This is hype confirmed.

1983 Mickey’s Christmas Carol
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A classic take on the Christmas Carol and one that really works well. Mickey and Scrooge are perfect for the roles. Scrooge was practically born into it with such a name. It definitely has a happy ending and Scrooge does a good job of resisting the Christmas spirit before getting sucked into it.

1986 Transformers The Movie
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Take a look at the picture and can you tell me that this film came out in the 80s? It’s another film where the animation was utterly spectacular and the movie gets better every time you see it. I couldn’t really appreciate it the first 3-4 times, but the final time I saw it the whole thing finally clicked. This is the ultimate Transformers experience and a big reason as to why the franchise is so good.

1987 Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers
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I can’t really get behind Shaggy’s red shirt, but this was a fun special. I never really knew the Boo Brothers too well, but who wasn’t familiar with Scooby Doo? I wouldn’t mind if they brought these movies back as the Shaggy and Scooby dynamic works pretty well. Of course, having the whole gang around is probably the better dynamic, but it’s close.

1988 Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf
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I saw this film so many times back in the day. It may not be the greatest Scooby Doo Adventure, but the race is solid and it’s certainly nostalgic. With everyone cheating and the actual terrain being pretty suspect, the heroes had to use all of their skills to drive through that mess.

1989 Dragon Ball Z Dead Zone
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Dead Zone started DBZ’s long reign of destruction as it kept getting best film of the year awards. Dead Zone had some really good action scenes and while they may not be as high tier as the later films, that didn’t take away from the actual fights. These fights had a lot of heart and you could feel the effort that was put into them. It was a solid start to the movie series.

1990 Dragon Ball Z The Tree of Might
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The Tree of Might had the first Goku Black since before Super was even thought up. The film surprisingly didn’t really go into that, but it’s still a really solid DBZ film with a lot of fight scenes. Goku may have been a little outmatched, but it was good for hype. I’m not a big fan of throwing in the apes at the end, but people like them so I guess the film had to do it.

1991 Dragon Ball Z Cooler’s Revenge
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Definitely one of the best DBZ films. It was a great way for Super Saiyan to debut and the movie was basically nonstop action. It’s easily the best early DBZ film and was a great transition to the Super Saiyan adventures. Even the soundtrack was 5 star material and this is just a very complete movie.

1992 Dragon Ball Z Super Android 13
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Super Android 13 may have been extremely short like a lot of the early DBZ films, but the action starts almost within the 5 minutes and continues to the end. It’s awesome if you came for the fights and naturally I did so this worked quite well. It’s easily one of the best DBZ films and is just incredible in general.

1993 Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan
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While Resurrection F may have finally passed this film as the best DBZ title, Broly is still absolutely amazing. The animation was certainly ahead of its time and Broly makes for an incredibly imposing villain. The fights here are some of the best choreographed in all of anime and I really hope Broly returns someday.

1994 Broly-Second Coming
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Broly Second Coming may not have been as good as the original since Goku and Adult Trunks weren’t around, but his fight with Gohan was still pretty solid. I was glad he got to appear again at any rate and it’s still a lot better than the third film in the trilogy would be. This one still had a solid plot and a good portrayal for Broly.

1995 Dragon Ball Z Fusion Reborn
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Fusion Reborn is a pretty hype DBZ film even if it wasn’t as great as it could have been. Focusing on the Goku and Vegeta plot would have made this film much better. It’s rare to see SSJ3 Goku so overwhelmingly outmatched, but he still tried his best. Janemba has a great design and this film is a must watch for DBZ fans as it effectively ended the initial DBZ adventures. I mean there was one other film, but it didn’t really have any big fights…

1996 Sonic The Hedgehog
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I’ve seen this Sonic movie many times. Technically it’s an OVA, but I’ve seen it in movie format each time and it’s the definitive Sonic experience. The fight with Metal Sonic is incredible and it’s what I expect when watching something Sonic related. I doubt the film will ever be surpassed and that’s fine since it sets such a high bar. Still, if you have not seen this movie then you need to change that as soon as possible!

1997 Slayers Great
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Slayers has made it into the fray! The movies and OVAs for typically prequels while the TV show focused on the current events. That was actually a pretty smart move and a good way to keep both sets of adventures going. It was a fun movie that had solid animation which were good for the fights. Otherwise, Lina was pestering Naga as much as you can expect and that dynamic is always fun.

1998 Pokemon The First Movie
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The first Pokemon movie was incredible and to this day it makes a strong case for being the absolute best one in the series. Mewtwo is really powerful and is probably still the most powerful Pokemon. Ash got to throw a good punch and all of the characters were at their best here. It’s a film that I’ve seen many times and is always as fun as the last.

1999 Pokemon 2000
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Pokemon 2000 may have been a lot more low key than the first film, but it’s still a nice adventure. Adventure is the right word to use for this film because the whole film is essentially Ash trekking through the snowy island that he is on. There isn’t a whole lot of action, but it’s an enjoyable film and it’s always nice to see the original cast.

2000 Batman Beyond Return of the Joker
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Return of the Joker was definitely a very intense film and a good way to cap off the Batman Beyond series. The animation was definitely really solid and the soundtrack was great as you always expect from the series. Joker and Bruce Wayne finally got some closure and this film is the main reason why we want the Beyond series to return someday.

2001 Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase
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Scooby Doo Cyber Chase is probably the best of the Scooby Doo films as I think it even has the slight edge over Zombie Island. It was a really fun video game inspired film with even some crossover elements like meeting the other Scooby Doo gang. It’s a really fun film and for Scooby Doo to take a win in the post 2000 era you know that the film had to be solid.

2002 Pokemon Heroes
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Pokemon Heroes was a pretty fun film. It was good to see a more experienced Ash take charge here. The film was rather light on action and Latios looked fairly weak, but I guess not all of the legendaries can be fighters. It was definitely fun watching this film in theaters and the visuals still hold up well.

2003 Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
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While the mystery may be the biggest incentive to watching this film, I was mainly interested in the fight scenes. The film had a lot of them and they were all quite solid. Even Penguin’s two bodyguards were actually able to fight this one as the ladies were even defeating Batwoman quite handily. It’s definitely a very solid Batman film to watch and one that I’ve seen many times.

2004 Yugioh and the Pyramid of Light
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You may wonder why Yugi has 2 copies of Ra, but that’s not important right now. This was a very fun Yugioh film with some solid card duels. It may not have gotten the same acclaim as the other 2 newer Yugioh films, but it was a good way to get the ball rolling. Kaiba gets the hype you’d expect from him and the new villain is solid as well. Just a very good all around movie.

2005 Final Fantasy VII Advent Children
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This film had a long history of being my all time favorite. It has since been surpassed a few times, but it’s still an incredible film that shows off the potential of CGI. It can look good if applied properly and this film proves it. The soundtrack and plot are also awesome making this a great film that could win almost any year with ease.

2006 Bleach: Memories of Nobody
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The first Bleach film was a lot of fun. Ichigo was relentless against the villains here and we got to see all of the Captains get to do something by the end. The villain was a credible threat and the animation was movie level as well. When I think of Bleach, this film captures the essence of the series the best even if Hell Verse is still the best movie. This film got Bleach off to a great start.

2007 Bleach: Diamond Dust Rebellion
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A film about Hitsugaya may have been a rather intriguing call, but it’s one that worked reasonably well. You can’t help but think that the movie would have been better with Ichigo as the lead, but we got a good amount of action either way. It also helped prove my theory that Soul Society is actually evil and must be defeated someday.

2008 Bleach: Fade To Black
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Dark Rukia was a cool concept even if the film didn’t really go all out with it. The third Bleach film may be the weakest of the Bleach films, but it’s still a very solid movie in its own respect. It was just lacking in action when you expect a lot more from the series. Throw in just one more action scene and this film would probably have a far better rep.

2009 Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire
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The Will of Fire is the best Naruto film for the simple reason that it had the best fights. All of Naruto’s friends may have betrayed him and I lost respect for all of those guys, but Naruto always held true to his beliefs of making sure to save everyone. This film really shows why Naruto is a very likable main character and I’d highly recommend checking it out to see for yourself.

2010 Yugioh Bonds Beyond Time
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The greatest film of all time! I don’t see anything ever possibly topping this movie. I don’t care if it’s the big Goku Ultra Super Saiyan 6 vs Whis Level 5 or if it’s a big budget RWBY series finale movie. This film cannot be stopped as it was the ultimate crossover and still had the best audience I’ve ever seen at a theater. With a super cast and nonstop action, Bonds Beyond Time is the champ for good reason.

2011 Tekken Blood Vengeance
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Tekken is definitely a very fun film. The action doesn’t really heat up until the heroes make it to the tower, but we get a few fights before that. Tekken has always been well known because its a fighting game series that also has a good story so it makes sense that the film would be an example of this. It’s also one of the few CGI films that still looks really great. It makes sense since the games use a similar visual style.

2012 Justice League Doom
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Justice League Doom is a pretty fun film. It’s certainly a little more low key than Crisis on Two Earths, but still gives us a lot of action scenes and more quality time with the Justice League. It shows why Batman is so feared since he can easily come up with plans to stop anyone. The guy cannot be underestimated.

2013 Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods
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Battle of Gods was huge when it first came out since it meant that we finally got to see the old characters again. Nostalgia initially helped me give it such a generous score, but either way it is still a very solid film. The ending may not be satisfying, but Goku finally getting a new super form was a long time coming. There were some solid action scenes so how could you not like this film?
2014 Naruto The last
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Romance aside, it was great to finally see a grown up Naruto who could really cut loose. He wasn’t holding back at all in this movie and the fight scene on the Moon was incredible. The movie is definitely very action packed and feels a lot like DBZ in a good way. It was a very nice way to wrap up Naruto’s story before his son would take over.

2015 Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F
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Finally, a new Super Saiyan form! This film got a lot of hype and lived up to all of it. It has the best soundtrack in a DBZ film and while the power levels were wonky it didn’t make the viewing experience any worse. Just sit tight and enjoy the hype combat!

2016 Yugioh Dark Side of Dimensions
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Dark Side of Dimensions is definitely a great film. The duels are absolutely top notch and Kaiba really looked great. The writers seemed to look at why people like Yugioh and then incorporate all of the best elements into the film. They did a flawless job and I don’t see how they can possibly top this with another classic film. If this is how the original part of the franchise ends, I would be satisfied.

2017 Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale
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I was a little worried when walking into the theater for this film since SAO is a series full of highs and lows, but the movie was firing on all cylinders. The action is intense and the animation is amazing. With tight pacing and a great plot, you couldn’t go wrong with this title.

2018 Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold
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Scooby Doo has returned to claim the 2018 spot! This was a fun crossover with Batman and definitely was a good way to bring this Batman series back. I doubt it will keep this spot for very long, but we have to give credit where it’s due. The gang really outdid themselves this time.

Congrats on getting to the end! This post was definitely a lot of fun to make so be on the lookout for other sections like Live Action Movies and TV shows at some point. In the meantime I will be sure to keep this list updated.

Bleach Review


It’s time to take a look at Bleach. “Y You don’t just mention one of the greats like that.” That’s true. This is one of the greatest titles of all time. Honestly, Bleach didn’t make it to the top as smoothly as something like DBZ, It made more mistakes than Hitman Reborn, and it never got as intense as Megaman NT Warrior. That being said, the series kept on persevering as it churned out chapter after chapter. The pros always ended up outweighing the cons and it easily had some of the best action scenes in any title out there. That’s why it’s good to be a really long manga because as long as the negatives don’t show up constantly, they’ll eventually be swept away by all of the good scenes in the series. With only 4 real arcs, Bleach had time to develop all of them and give us a bunch of fights.

The basic premise of the series is that Ichigo Kurosaki one day sees monsters attack his home and quickly moves to stop them. He gains the abilities of a Soul Reaper by accidentally stealing Rukia’s. She tells him that it is now his duty to slay the evil demons known as Hollows and Ichigo agrees…to an extent. The first real arc starts when Rukia is kidnapped by her superiors and they decide to execute her for allowing a human to obtain her powers. This all seems rather crooked so Ichigo decides to go rescue her along with some friends that he made along the way. Still, can he really beat these Captains of the Soul Society who have been training and honing their skills for multiple centuries? It’ll be tough, but Ichigo is as brave as they come!

As there are a ton of characters throughout the series. I’ll mainly be talking about them as they arrive. So for example, I’ll now discuss all of the characters who were in Arc 1. We gotta start with Ichigo of course. He’s a very aggressive character who is always eager for a fight and very quickly became one of my favorite protagonists. He doesn’t dwell on things as much as other leads and just jumps into battle. He takes what his friends say at face value and doesn’t even fall for the usual mind games where the villains try to make him doubt the Soul Society. He gets stronger and stronger with each arc and eventually became the ultimate hybrid fighter. His Bankai has an excellent design and is still my favorite in the series. The original is certainly the best although all of the versions were pretty cool. His Hollowfication is also a very cool ability and it was handled perfectly. I would have liked to have seen it more in Arc 4, but it got a lot of screen time in the first two arcs so that was pretty satisfying.

I think one of the things that separates him from Naruto and Luffy is that he is a lot more serious. The others tend to have comic relief moments even during big fights or just have more displays of not looking all that smart. Ichigo’s not exactly a genius or anything like that, but he certainly doesn’t let his opponents know that and Ichigo always has a good bluff going on. He takes on all opponents even if he is outmatched and generally finds a way to come out on top. He adapts in battle well and just comes across as a really heroic guy. He is certainly one of the big reasons why the series was so good.

Rukia is arguably the main heroine. It’s between her and Orihime, but I’d argue that Rukia certainly appears more and gets a bigger role. She fights with ice abilities and gradually moves up the ranks of the Soul Society. I’d probably hold a bit of a grudge against them if I was her considering that they tried to murder her in the first arc, but she got over it surprisingly well. She’s a nice enough character and I’m glad that she decided to help Ichigo even though it meant defying orders. He would clearly do the same for her and has done so in the past. She was a consistent character throughout the series and was probably the most enjoyable member of the main supporting cast.

Next up is Orihime and unfortunately I can’t really say that she was a great character. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice enough person. I just feel like she didn’t stand up for herself enough. The whole series hyped up the fact that she is a reality warper who can reject events. This power has unlimited possibilities, but she only uses it a handful of times in the series and mostly just gets kidnapped, defeated, or mind controlled by the enemies. She never makes a decision to step up and fight for herself. It was a little disappointing because I had been expecting her to make a big move like that. I feel like the author never let her get a real role beyond being the damsel in distress so there just wasn’t much to like about her.

Chad is another one of Ichigo’s friends and his arms can turn into cannon arms which increase his attack power quite a lot. While his stats are still human in nature, his attack strength is enough to hurt even the strongest of enemies. It makes him a bit of a glass cannon. Ultimately he can’t really compete by the second half of the series or even after Arc 1 really. He’s a nice enough guy though, but I lost a lot of respect for him in Arc 3. Going behind Ichigo’s back and joining a really shady organization was pretty suspect. Doubting Ichigo because of his new friend was also iffy and Orihime should be blamed as well. Yeah, mind control’s tough, but if Byakuya could see through it and said that he would be on Ichigo’s side even despite his memories….then how could they not do the same? Their bonds with Ichigo should be far stronger than that. I do have to admit that Bleach had a bit of a weaker supporting cast than the average Shonen, at least from the main main cast. I’m only counting Ichigo’s inner circle of friends with that statement. Most of them cracked by the end.

The biggest character to flop was Uryu. He started out as a weak rival who Ichigo surpassed almost instantly and then helped out during the next few arcs. He wasn’t mind controlled so that was good. Unfortunately, he decided to become a big traitor in the final arc and there was no turning back from that. I knew from the start that he would have some kind of big justification but that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. It turns out that his reason for betraying everyone was more pitiful than I could have imagined. It would have made more sense to have attacked with Ichigo and friends instead of trying to murder them several times. Uryu had the help of a great deal of plot hax throughout the final arc and every scene with him was just incredibly annoying. He’s easily one of the most unlikable characters in the series by the end and you have to question just how weak the bonds were to the guy. If he can betray everyone so easily, then maybe he was never really much of a friend in the first place.

Zaraki is one of the big Captains of Soul Society and one of my personal favorite characters. He really enjoys a fight and likes to charge straight in. That doesn’t work too well against some of the more overpowered villains, but I certainly like the confidence. At one point he was my favorite character. While he was surpassed by Grimmjow, Byakuya, and Ichigo, he still remains as one of the more likable ones. He may not have looked too tough in Arc 1 since Ichigo was able to take him on, you could argue that this was plot hax or that the author hadn’t really thought the power levels through yet. Regardless, he began to look much better from there and did particularly well in Arc 3 and shined a bit in Arc 2 as well.

Byakuya is another Captain and the polar opposite of Zaraki. He’s always very calm and collected during his fights. Instead of charging in, his abilities are made for long-middle range combat as he assaults you with thousands of flower petals. He’s known as one of the more powerful Captains and potentially the strongest although the series tries to convince you that the title goes to Shunsui or Yamamoto. I was hoping to see more of him in the final arc but the cast was so big by then that everyone only got to have 1 or 2 big fights. As it is, I’m satisfied that he at least got one big fight in every arc. He really did well for himself throughout the series.

Hitsugaya is one of the youngest Captains and as such he is a little weaker than the others. Like Rukia he has ice powers and he has made it his mission to protect Momo. He gets into a rage a little easier than the others as supposedly he is still too young to control his emotions. (Not that I buy this much as all of the Captains lose control once in a while) He gets a lot of screen time so you’ll see him a lot. I liked the character well enough, he’s not my favorite character, but still beats quite a lot of them. He’s in the upper echelon at any rate. His Bankai needs some work though. I never found it to be particularly useful or strong.

Ichimaru is one of the 3 evil Captains. No worries, he has a sob story to explain why he did what he did and I didn’t buy it at all. I didn’t like him as a villain or as a “hero.” I did like the fact that he actually lied about his Bankai’s ability though. Seriously, more characters should do that as everyone takes what their opponent says at face value. A lot of people make fun of the series because the villains always explain their abilities to the heroes. Some of them would be quite dangerous if they didn’t explain it because you just couldn’t figure it out. At the very least Ichimaru is certainly one of the smartest villains. I don’t like the character, but he made for a good opponent.

If you want an unlikable villain who doesn’t even make for a good antagonist, look no further than Tousen. He is another one of the Evil Captains who fights by erasing your 5 senses while you’re within his bankai. It doesn’t work out so well for him though so then he gains the ability to turn into a fly. His whole character’s personality is meant to show that he’s a very rotten person who tries to make everyone feel as bad as possible. The series doesn’t even try to make him a likable character and it’s just hinted that his sense of justice was corrupt from the start. His fans were likely disappointed by this since the fact that he lasted over 40 volumes hinted that he would get to do something big. It just never happened.

The final one of the evil captains is Aizen. He’s the mastermind behind all of Arc 2 and gets more hype than almost any other character in manga history. He’s an incredible character and I’m always tempted to put him in as my favorite character in the series. Grimmjow has that spot wrapped up and I think it’s safe to say that Ichigo has the number 2 spot, but Aizen is 3rd. He basically planned out the entire series and used everybody. Even as a normal Captain he had already surpassed the rest and then he got to evolve into a higher level being. His illusion abilities ensured that he was 100% unbeatable. Only plot hax could help Ichigo at that point. It was just a great moment and Aizen became a DBZ level being. He has quite a few of the best moments of the series and breaking his glasses was one of them. It’s amazing how quickly his design can change. His fight scene against all of the Captains and Visored is also one of the best in manga history.

What really makes Aizen great is his incredible overconfidence throughout the series. He is always smug and knows that the events are all happening according to his plans. He doesn’t get to do much beyond Arc 2, but that was really all that he needed to be considered as one of the best Shonen Jump villains. You’ll see why he is so great once you read Bleach. He just had everything that you could possibly want in a villain, Power, and Personality. He was a very pragmatic character.

Back to the heroic captains, next up is Komomura. He’s probably one of the weakest Captains as his Bankai makes a bigger version of himself. The problem is that it’s slow and that makes injuring it easier. Komomura also takes in all of the damage that his avatar takes which makes it one that is ill suited for combat. He’s a very by the books character which is a huge red flag and it makes using him so much easier for the villains. I never got around to liking him and I have to say that the character’s ending in the series was pretty sad.

Shunsui is supposedly the Captain with the most potential and possibly the strongest current one. He is always bored during fights so he rarely ever tries. He prefers to just flirt around the whole time and comes across as a rather unlikable guy who just holds everyone back. I never actually got around to liking him and he’s definitely one of my least favorite Captains. His attacks involve games so they can change for every fight. It’s the kind of ability that can easily backfire if you ask me.

Another captain is Ukitake and he is almost always sick so he rarely gets to fight. I didn’t care much for him either. He got some random plot twists at the end and got a little relevant, but I couldn’t take him seriously by that point. I never saw anything that suggested he was worthy of the Captain title. Yamamoto is the leader and he has fire abilities. He is one of the most corrupt members of the Soul Society and decides that people should be executed for no real reason. Honestly I was rooting for Yhwach during their big battle. Yamamoto seemed to be in the wrong the whole time. The fire attacks aren’t bad, but we didn’t get to see Yamamoto fight much. He made for a decent villain, but the fact that he was allied with the “heroes” made it a little more difficult to look at him without cringing. Nothing worse than having an army of potential heroes, but then seeing that they’re being led by the biggest villain of all.

Rangiku is Hitsugaya’s second in command. Her sword can turn into smoke which is pretty useful. She’s a decent fighter even if she can’t compete with the higher members. None of the lieutenants can really fight at such a high level anyway so it’s to be expected. Unfortunately she is mainly used for fanservice so it’s hard to take her seriously. Momo is another helper but she spends most of the series getting tricked. She never actually gets to have a serious fight and her best moments were missed due to an illusion. Depending on when the illusion started, she was able to fight several Captains at once though so that was cool.

Renji gets a pretty big role like Rukia and serves as one of the main supporting characters of the series. His sword can stretch and turn into a dragon that attacks opponents. It’s another Bankai that is filled with weaknesses so Renji has to rely on fundamentals to win. He’s not a bad character. His personality may be a little weak at times as you wonder what it even is, but he’s someone that you can count on. He gets quite a few fights, but usually ends up losing them. He’s decently strong, but just not strong enough.

Hisagi and Ikkaku are other generals who get a reasonable role. Ikkaku is decently good as he also loves a good fight. He ends up holding back a little too often though even if it means losing a fight. That character trait of his can be really annoying. Hisagi is pretty bland so it’s hard to ever get around to liking him, but he’s still not bad. I think he could just use some more character development. Finally from the main generals we also have Yachiru. She’s a fun companion to have and is always helping Zaraki out. The plot takes some intriguing turns with her and while they may be a little suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that she was one of the more likable generals. She was able to help fight off one of the big Quincy opponents and there was always a lot of potential for what the author could do with her character.

Grand Fisher is the only pre arc villain that I need to talk about. In theory he should have been a major deal because he murdered Ichigo’s Mom and is what started him on this path. In the actual manga he felt a little more like a footnote though and is mainly memorable because he got his own OVA and then later returned briefly in the Hueco Mundo arc. (Which I have no idea what Kubo was thinking there since it was such a small cameo. He’s a pretty decent villain I suppose even if he doesn’t always fight fair. He’ll use any means in order to win. He’s not really my kind of enemy, but he’s not bad either. He certainly had a more menacing design than most of the other villains.

Lets quickly talk about the comic relief squad. Keigo is Ichigo’s main friend and he’s annoying. Orihime’s friend is Tatsuki and she’s a little better as she knows how to fight and is always ready to give Orihime a pep talk. Next up is Chizuru and this is where things start to go downhill. She just can’t hold her own scenes at all and definitely wasn’t needed in the manga. I can’t think of a single scene where she contributed. Then there’s also Kon. He’s a pretty pointless character if you ask me and one with a terrible personality. The verdict is out and I have to say that the human friends were absolutely terrible. Tatsuki is the only bearable one and even then she’s not all that memorable. Ichigo also has two sisters who get some mild hype and all, but never actually get to do anything. The series had hinted that the plot would go somewhere, but it was another red herring. Fortunately, the humans don’t appear much since Ichigo is never actually home.

Back to the soul society characters, we have Yoruichi. Unfortunately she is used for fanservice at all time and is a flirt by nature, but she does have some good fight scenes. Unlike the rest of the characters, she fights with athletics and hand to hand combat rather than use a weapon. She is similar to Chad in this respect except she is actually powerful and can fight with Captain level opponents. Yoruichi serves as a mentor to Ichigo as well. Overall she’s a fun enough character to have around and it would have been neat if she could have had some more fights. Her Arc 4 fight didn’t feel real since the series kind of messed it up a bit.

Soi Fon is another ninja and unlike Yoruichi, she didn’t defect from the Soul Society. (Wrong move) She can be a little too obsessed with Yoruichi, but at least she is also overconfident which is always a very nice trait to have. She can hold her own in a fight reasonably well which allows her to get past the fact that she has one of the worst Bankai abilities. Just about everyone can dodge a bullet that moves in a straight line after all. Her general is pretty bad though so she has to hold the fort for her division.

Mayuri is easily the most evil of all the Captains. It’s played for humor to a large extent which seriously doesn’t work and it’s going to come as no surprise that I do not like Mayuri at all. Few things are worse than villains who stay in the company of the good guys and get to wear that flag at the end of the day. Mayuri would have been better if he was a pure villain and joined the Espada or something. Otherwise his emotional moments don’t work at all and basically any fight that he was in felt like a waste by the end. Unfortunately he did get a bit of a big role in the series. His assistant is Nemu and she’s nice enough. She has to put up with quite a lot throughout the series. Nemu gets a really random power up at the end of the series which was nice as it skyrocketed her power level even if it didn’t make all that much sense. She’ll give you a good fight or two, but overall doesn’t appear very much.

Urahara is one of the mysterious ex captains of Soul Society. You don’t find out why he had to go on the run for quite a while, but I didn’t like him at all. He’s one of those classic comic relief characters who only acts serious once in a while and by then it’s way too late. It’s impossible to take him seriously in the slightest and grates on your nerves constantly. You can go for about a dozen volumes or more without seeing him at times though so that works for me. Finally we have Unohana. She is a mysterious Captain who only gets one fight during the entire series. It involves a pretty sharp change in her personality and I wish we could have seen her actually fight a villain. The way she gets written out of the series is like something out of Fairy Tail’s last arc and doesn’t make much sense. Why didn’t she help during Arc 2? She didn’t really have a great excuse for that considering that the worlds were at stake and this is a character who just took too long to live up to the hype.

It’s pretty nostalgic to go through the first arc because you can see how the art and the characters have changed. It was a great way to get the series started because the plot was simple so you just got to see everyone fight each other. This helped to build character dynamics and such for the future arcs. Ichigo got really strong in a short period of time so this helped the fight scenes since it meant that the author could really go all out. The pacing was on point and while it had lower highs than Arcs 2 and 4, it probably had the fewest lows. It’s a very consistent arc.

Next up was the Hueco Mundo arc. You can split it up into multiple arcs but for the sake of the review it’s just one big one. It starts immediately after the first arc as Aizen turns out to be a traitor. It’s a pretty amazing way to end the arc and I have to admit that the anime handled it perfectly. Seeing Aizen handle everyone with ease was some good foreshadowing for what you can expect in this arc. Aizen has kidnapped Orihime and now commands all of the Hollows. He lives in their domain which is known as Hueco Mundo. He commands 10 Espada, which are Ultimate Hollows that are now sentient and humanoid. Ichigo heads over there to rescue her along with his friends and several members of the Soul Society. The battle also takes place in the human world as the rest of the Captains do battle with Aizen and the Espada that he took with him. Will Ichigo be able to defeat the Hueco Mundo members and return to Earth in time or is it all over? This arc is the best part of the series so you won’t want to miss a beat here!

Lets dive into the Espada. Stark is number 1, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is the strongest. Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, and possibly Harribel all seemed a little more impressive. I’d possibly stretch it and mention Nnoitra, but I do think he’d have a problem with all of the potentials. Stark is a pretty laid back guy which makes for a reasonable villain. He thinks things out strategically so you don’t have to worry about him panicking and falling into traps. He did a good job of understanding Shunsui’s complicated bankai and countering it. He certainly put up a very good fight.

Baraggan is another high ranking Espada and anything that he touches crumbles into dust. It’s actually a very useful ability since he can also emit dust that damages the opponent. You can’t get anywhere close to him as a result or you’ll be in mortal danger. He used to be the king of Hueco Mundo as well so he is used to calling the shots. You almost couldn’t help but feel bad for him when Aizen showed up because his whole life was flipped upside down in an instant. There just wasn’t really anything he could do at that point.

Harribel is a fun water type Espada whose abilities are straight forward. She is fast and can attack from long range with her water towers. She was actually doing well in her fight and may have even claimed victory if Aizen had not stepped in. I can see why her fans wouldn’t be too satisfied with how her story ended. It was even more disheartening when she showed up in the final arc. Honestly there was no point there since she only appeared for one panel and was then never brought up again. It was a rather disappointing return, but the same for Grimmjow as well. Most of these characters just shouldn’t have returned in the final arc if they weren’t going to do anything. Being cancelled isn’t much of an excuse either since Kubo had a bunch of time.

Grimmjow is the best character in the series and I liked him right from the start. He’s a headstrong Espada who decided to challenge Ichigo right from the start. He doesn’t have any fancy powers and just overwhelms his opponents with pure speed and power. He doesn’t like to take orders from anyone and that even includes the mighty Aizen. He gets quite a few good rounds against Ichigo and I would probably consider him to be the 2nd strongest Espada at the very least. I just don’t think any of the Captains would have lasted very long against him.

Nnoitra is another powerful fighter. I don’t think he could have beaten Grimmjow if the latter hadn’t been so weakened, but he does live up to his rank rather well. He’s another close combat fighter who makes use of his extra arms in battle. His durability is so high that even Zaraki’s slices had a hard time of actually piercing him. His personality may leave something to be desired, but you can’t really ask for a better match up for Zaraki. Power vs Defense, a classic standoff.

Ulquiorra is the only Espada who is likely stronger than Grimmjow. He has two resurrection forms which increase his strength exponentially. Considering that he was overpowering Ichigo in his base form, the two power ups just made the difference even more drastic. He was a very likable villain and certainly one of the best in the series. He also gave us some of the best moments in the series. It’s almost a shame that he didn’t return in the final arc, but since everyone who did show up looked pretty bad…it’s probably for the best.

Nel is a former Espada who ended up being turned into a kid. Now she fights on the side of the heroes and can change back into her adult form once in a while. She’s a pretty fun fighter. I think her role could have been a little bigger as she never ended up actually winning a big fight since the effects didn’t last long enough. She did come through for the team when it counted though as she bought enough time for Ichigo to regroup and for Zaraki to arrive.

Yammy is the 0 rank Espada so he is technically pretty tough. The trouble for him is the fact that raw size and power are basically the only things that are on his side here. He doesn’t have much speed so his opponents can speed blitz him all day. Surprisingly, he did have some of the best fights in the series though. His first fight with Ichigo and Yoruichi was a lot of fun and then his rematch with Ichigo was one of the most epic moments in the whole series. Ichigo was making a big speech and he still managed to stop him. He ended up being a more well rounded character than I had expected.

Aaroniero is definitely the weakest member of the Espada. He isn’t even remotely tough and can only win battles through mind games. It’s quite telling that some of the Espada subordinates seem like they’d put up a better fight. Naturally Aaroniero is supposed to be one of the main thinkers of the group. He needed to be since he can’t fight, but he doesn’t even have any engaging dialogue so he completely struck out. Just as underwhelming is Zommari. He’s the most boring member of the group as he barely has any personality. He has a lot of eyes which can paralyze his opponent. He’s also supposed to be very fast, but Zommari’s not even the fastest so it’s not a huge asset. I think Kubo was running out of ideas by now so he just had to slap some Espada ideas together.

Szayelaporro is the final Espada and he’s another thinker. His abilities are pretty overpowered since he can destroy your bones by destroying little stick figures of yourself. Classic Voodoo abilities. He is countered by Mayuri in the end who can move his bones and take them out anyway. It was an odd explanation for what ended up being a very twisted battle. Certainly one that wasn’t my cup of tea. There’s nothing to really like about this guy but I’ll give him some props for being another smart villain. He was pretty well prepared.

Isshin is Ichigo’s Dad and he got a lot of hype during the series. Unfortunately he is comic relief for most of it and only gets serious a handful of times. It’s hard to even say how strong he is since his only real fight was a decisive loss against Aizen. The series may make the case that he is a little stronger than Ichigo, but was then surpassed by the Final Getsuga mode. This is another one of those times where the author went a little too far in trying to make Isshin unlikable the whole time. There’s just no way you can like him after all of his early scenes. Sure, he’s stronger now, but just because he’s strong doesn’t mean that he is actually a good character now. Uryu’s Dad also gets a lot of hype, but doesn’t actually get to do anything which is even more mind boggling. He’s better than Isshin, but you also couldn’t say what his personality is.

Enter the Visored. Shinji is the leader but he’s pretty annoying the whole time. His ability to alter your senses is pretty good, but it is effectively a weaker version of Aizen’s illusions. I bet Shinji wishes he had gone for a lethal slice right away instead of messing around eh? Shinji’s the kind of guy who likes to be vague and just annoy you for a while. He gets a lot of hype, but it’s mostly all unfounded when you consider that he doesn’t really win any fights. Hiyori is the only other member to really get a role. She talks a good game and yells at Ichigo quite a bit. She is reasonably strong, but Ichigo surpasses her pretty quickly.

We should also talk about Zangetsu and Hichigo. The series is pretty vague about them for a while and there are a bunch of twists. Ultimately, Hichigo is Zangetsu and just didn’t want Ichigo to know that so they could train a little harder. It was a pretty good twist since admittedly I like Hichigo a lot more anyway. The person that Ichigo thought was Zangetsu was actually just a shadow of Yhwach which was…interesting I suppose. I can’t say that I ever cared for him so that’s fine, but Hichigo should have appeared more. The filler seasons in the anime gave him some extra fights and I suppose the manga gave him an ample amount of screen time. He was just a blast!

This arc was easily the height of Bleach and one of the best arcs in manga history. This is where introducing all of the Captains in Arc 1 paid off. We got to see them go up against this new team of Espada. Ichigo got to use his newfound abilities against the Espada and gradually grew stronger during the adventure. The climax in Hueco Mundo with Ichigo taking on Ulquiorra was spectacular and yet it was topped with the Aizen battle against the whole cast. Just when you thought the arc was at its height, it would raise the ceiling once again. Most of the villains were really strong as well so it was fun to imagine hypothetical fights and see who really should win. Could Ulquiorra beat Aizen? Could Grimmjow beat Stark? Just about any fight was on the table. This series pulled off the villain round table meeting cliche to perfection and you really can’t help but give the series some props for doing such a good job.

After that big arc, the manga decided to finally let the heroes rest a bit with a mini arc. Ichigo has lost his powers after pouring everything he had into defeating Aizen and is now a normal human again. The problem is that he can’t even see Hollows anymore so he certainly can’t protect anyone. He decides to gain his powers again as a group called Xcution decides to help him, but they turn out to be traitors and steal his powers. They mind control his friends as well but fortunately the Soul Society returns to aid Ichigo. With his strength restored, Ichigo may just have what it takes to come out of this battle on top.

Tsukishima is really the standout character of the Xcution group. He serves as the main antagonist for the most part and his abilities are really useful. If he hits you with his sword even once, then he can insert himself into your memories. This causes you to believe him to be an ally. If he strikes your weapon then he’ll be its friend as well and will know what it can do in advance. Add in his super speed and technique and you have a very formidable adversary. He was a lot of fun and had a really good fight with Byakuya in the end. I was reasonably satisfied with how they countered his ability as well. Without him the arc wouldn’t have been nearly as hype.

Riruka is probably the nicest member of the group, but she’s still evil for most of it as she knows about the sinister plan. It’s another “appearances can be deceptive” kind of moment. She may not be the strongest opponent in combat and her fight scene wasn’t even all that serious, but she’s all right I guess. Not really a bad character, but not one that you can take seriously. At least she had more of a role than Giriko though. He is a bar tender who can turn into a really strong monster. He goes down in a single hit though and barely gets any lines at all so he’s completely forgettable. He’s only worth mentioning because I thought the character had a lot of potential until that moment. Talk about giving a character the short end of the stick eh?

Jackie was one of the first members to fight and I actually did like her. Her Dirty Boots ability was fun and there certainly aren’t many fighters who use their legs instead of hands. I mean, I’m sure hardcore anime fans could probably name a bunch, but it’s still considerably less than fist fighters. She was able to give Ichigo a good fight even if he was weakened at the time and she was just a fun fighter to have around. It’s too bad she never really got to do much after this arc, but all of Xcution basically vanished.

Ginjo is the big mastermind behind the group and his plan was pretty bold. He had to actually lose his memories for it to work which is clearly risky because of all the variables that it brings. He became a bit of a generic villain once he turned evil with a lot of yelling, but at least the foreshadowing was always there. Honestly if I was Ichigo, I would have suspected something was up after he slashed his eyes. Seriously that was going way too far for a simple training exercise. Ginjo’s super form was really cool though and the plan to steal Ichigo’s powers was certainly one that could have a lot of payoff. Due to his low screen time compared to Aizen and Ywach I can’t say that he’s quite as cool as those two and it would be hard to make it up there anyway (At least Aizen would be unobtainable anyway) but I did like him. Ginjo was a serious threat and worked really well as the main villain.

Moe didn’t do a whole lot next to the other members since he barely appeared until he got his powers, but I did like his fight with Ikkaku. It may have been a little cheesy, but it was reasonable. His luck based abilities are certainly fun to have even if I’d never want that to be my super power. It’s one that can really come in handy if you’re very lucky. He’s the kind of lackey who was created just to have a good fight and not really to become an actual character. Yukio can send people into a video game which is pretty neat. Naturally that power is pretty much a crutch though as he can’t fight at all if you get past that. Once you’re in the game he is pretty OP, but it’s definitely not a very combat ready kind of technique. He was okay I guess, but not too memorable or exciting to watch. I wouldn’t have minded if he was replaced with another character.

This was a fun enough arc. While it is probably the weakest one in the series, it did a good job in the few volumes that it had. It was certainly more low key than the others, but depowering Ichigo was a nice way to bring back some classic hand to hand kind of battles. Ichigo’s fight with Jackie was fun as despite being a more low tier event, captured the early Shonen feel that the series no longer had. Instead of watching two city busters going at it, it was more of a street level affair. While some of Ichigo’s friends fell into the gutter in this arc, it was worth it to see Ichigo mess up the XCution group with both his newfound powers and his restored ones.

Finally we enter the last arc. The Quincy have decided to rule the world and destroy the Soul Society. They actually did not go extinct as we were told and have been hiding in a shadow dimension all these years. They have decided to strike now and their target is the Soul Society’s leader, the Soul King. They have amassed a large army and are poised to take the win. Ichigo hurries over to help, but his friend Uryu has joined the other side. This leads to a lot of tension and it appears that Ichigo is also a quincy in addition to his Shinigami and Hollow forms. He has to come to terms with this and save the world, but it’ll be his toughest fight yet.

Yhwach is the big bad of this arc and Kubo did his best to make him the most threatening villain yet. His plan was so detailed that he knew everything that would happen in the next 1000 years including Aizen’s whole plan. If you take that into account then that makes this villain one of the most brilliant masterminds in history. He’s pretty strong as well and has a good design so I can roll with this. He may be a tad bit generic next to the others and the fact that he is omnipotent and all powerful may have been a bit much. After all, that basically confirmed early on that plot hax would be necessary to defeat him right? Still, he gave us some pretty good fights and his design was on point.

Bazz B is essentially this arc’s version of Grimmjow. He just has a little less personality and doesn’t get as big of a role as Grimmjow. His abilities are impressive though as he was defeating Hitsugaya with minimal effort and at least tried to defy the villains after he was portrayed. He’s probably my favorite Quincy villain even if he can’t match up to most of the Arc 2 guys. He made the arc more fun.

BG 9 wasn’t really a big villain, but he had a really cool design. He also put up a really good fight against Soi Fon and could have been a major villain if the higher ups weren’t so impatient. It was a bit of a running gag that the Quincies ended up destroying as many of their members as the heroes. It’s why you shouldn’t work for villains, you’ll always end up getting back stabbed. As Nodt is another villain with a creepy design and his fights against Rukia and Byakuya were pretty intense. The author has always shown that he is pretty good at drawing horror designs as well as action and it worked out pretty well in this case. As Nodt was definitely a powerful Quincy.

Mask is one of those villains who I feel is created just to irritate the fans so I have to admit that I became a big fan. He’s just so out of place next to the other villains as he loves having a good time and boasting about his strength. He was also incredibly strong and lasted quite a while during the series. It must have had some of the most negative reception in all of Bleach week after week but he pressed on. I was rooting for him the whole time and so it was good that he put up such a fight.

Askin is one of the big Quincy generals and he was a fun character. His poison abilities are quite formidable and he wasn’t quite as loud or aggressive as the other characters. It worked well as a contrast and he sure did a lot of damage to the heroes before finally being taken down for the count. His design also reminded me of Aizen the whole time even if they don’t necessarily look all that alike. It may have been the cunning disposition. There was also the Thor homage by the name of Gerard. He was a fun character who had a similar personality as Zaraki. He just wants a good fight and is always eager to jump into a brawl. His damage reflection/absorption ability was pretty handy and I was glad to have another straight forward fighter. While guys like Askin are great because they’re exceptions to the rule, there’s always room for another brawler.

Pernida is the Hand of the Soul King or something like that. He was completely insane so it was hard to believe anything at the moment. His nerve attacks were pretty interesting even if they also felt rather weird. I guess you have to make use of the attacks you develop right? He wasn’t my favorite villain, but he was pretty tough. Gremmy is a reality warper who should have been 100% invincible but plot hax led to his defeat. He could literally do anything that he believed he could, but decided to squander this ability by making comets and portals instead of just instantly destroying his opponents. In the hands of a more confident character like Grimmjow or Ichigo, this ability would have really been something else.

Lille is another hype fighter from the Quincy and he is a long range specialist. His bullets can hit opponents from anywhere even if they miss. It’s a fun ability to have, but his super form is even better, the arrival of the Chicken. It was one of the funniest parts in the whole series and I just love how it was executed. It may not have been intentional, but cmon…can we really take this villain seriously after such a transformation? He was really powerful anyway so you just can’t let appearances deceive you. It was certainly one of the most fun power ups in Shonen Jump.

Jugram is the right hand main of Yhwach and his powers are pretty good. He becomes omnipotent and all powerful at night when his master is asleep. Otherwise, his abilities revolve around balance so he can reflect all damage that he has taken to his opponent. Naturally this leads to him fighting an opponent with the exact same ability which was the perfect loophole against him. I don’t actually like Jugram and he messed up so many times when it would have been easy to squash Uryu’s plans and stop the heroes. You don’t have many excuses when you’re all powerful. Still, the infinite fight of swapping damage was fun enough.

Bambietta and her posse were interesting. I didn’t care for her partners much since they were typically a little more disturbing than anything, but I liked Bambietta’s can do spirit. She was always ready for a fight and her explosives were quite handy. It’s like Bakugo’s ability from Hero Academia but a little more potent. She didn’t get to appear as much as I would have liked, but she did well with what she was given.

We also can’t forget Squad 0 and the Soul King. The Soul King was a big joke and lived up to his One Above All reputation. He may be all powerful, but he can’t talk or even move so it is easy for villains to take him down. I can see why Aizen wanted to terminate him right from the get go. The guy is the ultimate definition of a figure head and can’t actually do much. Meanwhile, Squad 0 got a ton of hype and supposedly they could beat the Captains with ease. Their hype may have been intense, but that didn’t stop them from getting destroyed pretty easily by Yhwach’s squad. The funny thing was that you knew Squad 0 was doomed from the start despite the hype and that’s what made it all the funnier. They were also pretty corrupt and evil much like the actual Soul Society so it’s not like you even felt bad for them.

Arc 4 was definitely a mixed bag. On one hand it had a lot of hype moments like always. The silent chapter of Ichigo noticing the ruined Soul Society was handled incredibly well and there is just something about being the last arc that helps to draw you in. At this point in the series, Ichigo is already so powerful so when the new villains come into the picture you can’t help but get excited at the battles that are coming up. The fights delivered as always. On the negative side, it feels like the author started to give up a little here. Some of the villains felt very random like the Mask guy. The Chicken power up came out of nowhere and the random characters got so much screen time that in the end Yhwach didn’t actually get to have the big climactic fight that everyone was waiting for. The series ended very abruptly without tying up many loose ends. A lot of plot lines the fandom will just have to end on their own with a bunch of theories.

The ending is also pretty lackluster as it’s about as generic as you can get. We have a big timeskip as always with the next generation possibly being even stronger than the last one. It’s just not all that inspired at all and we certainly could have done a little better than that. The final arc also started going for more creepy factor effects which were okay in some aspects, but didn’t work in others. The villain who was actually a guy and constantly smelled of something vile was just a little over the top.

By now you get why I like the series a lot. There’s constant action and a lot of powerful fighters. The author does a great job of delivering hype for all of the battles and the trash talking among the characters was beautiful. You never knew what to expect and constantly powering up and explaining your abilities to the enemy was a fun trope by the end. The series could also be unintentionally hilarious which is the main reason that I like reading the chapters and then checking out the feedback. It was so negative at the end with everyone poking fun at it, but that just made Bleach all the more enjoyable.

There are some considerable negatives with the series though. First of all, there is a degree of fanservice here. It’s nothing major as it is pretty much forgotten for all of the climaxes. It really only pops up occasionally when characters like Yoruichi, Chizuru, or Rangiku show up. It’s enough where it can be noticeable. There is also the creepy factor like when a villain essentially forces one of the heroes to give birth to him as a form of regeneration or other moments where shady things seem to happen. Bleach is definitely darker than some of the other Shonen titles like Naruto and One Piece. It doesn’t go too far for the most part and as I mentioned, it is 74 volumes so the positives typically outweigh these negatives considerably. I’m sure you could fill in 69 volumes with the positives and leave the other 5 for the negatives or some similar fashion. If the series had been shorter or the negatives more frequent then it would have lowered the series regardless.

One thing that was always a very strong aspect of Bleach was the artwork. It is easily one of the best series of all time in that regard as the simple, but smooth art style makes it easy to follow the action. The author is also able to raise the stakes in various scenes by applying more ink. The only series that is really ahead of Bleach would be One Punch Man. I dare say that Bleach is the second best series after that and the author really put in the work. I don’t know if I could have enjoyed the series quite as much if the art had been a step down. The high quality of the art is what really allows you to appreciate the manga to its full potential.

With a title like this, there is just so much to say, but where to start right? I mainly spent time on the cast, but through that I also explained why I like the series so much. I’m a huge action fan through and through. You don’t get to see huge titles like this one too often anymore where you get to enjoy the cast for over a decade with an array of fights at every corner. I suppose that what makes this title elite is simply that it lasted so long without seriously jumping the shark or losing sight of the genre. Imagine how awesome it would have been if DBZ had lasted this long? A large part of Bleach’s success also has to come down to Ichigo being the main character. A title is only as good as its lead after all. Hopefully Arc 4 of Bleach gets animated someday because that’ll help it be more memorable. Part of why its section is the smallest is that since it was so rushed a lot of villains weren’t iconic. If they’re in the anime, that’ll help their influence quite a bit and hopefully it can expand upon some of the things that were skipped.

Overall, Bleach is definitely a legendary series and one of the most famous ones of all time. I’m glad that it had such a long run. It would have been great if it could have kept on going a while longer, but at 70+ it is hard to actually say that you weren’t satisfied with it. I’d definitely recommend jumping on board with the series and marathoning it would certainly be a blast. I got to do that with Prince of Tennis when I first started it and I have to say that it is one positive of discovering a series so late. Of course, sticking with a series while it’s live is also awesome since you see the audience talk back after every chapter. With Bleach and Naruto gone, I do have to admit that Shonen Jump is a shell of its former self. Still, as the current titles get longer and longer, perhaps we will eventually get a new Bleach. Hero Academia can be the new Naruto in a sense, but I don’t think there is anything that has gotten close to matching Bleach’s spot yet. It left big shoes to fill but I’m sure something can rise up to it eventually.

Overall 9/10

J-Stars Victory Vs+ Review

J_Stars_PS3_Box
This is a game that was definitely unlikely to come to America when it first came out. If this had arrived just a few years earlier, I’m confident that it never would have made the trip to the USA. Luckily, we’re starting to get better with licensing anime fighters like this one thanks to the power of leaving their voices in Japanese. It’s a trade off that I’m definitely willing to make and I’m sure that many anime fans actually prefer it this way. The crossover is as great as you could expect!

There actually is a Story Mode in this game. Essentially, all of the various Shonen Jump manga series actually take place on an incredibly large planet called Jump World. Before you start the story, you can choose to play as Luffy, Toriko, Naruto, or Ichigo. Depending on who you pick will determine which characters you meet along your quest to enter the legendary tournament and prove your superiority to the rest of the cast. Along the way, you can help other characters through quests and recruit some strong fighters to your team. Once you complete the tournament, the real villains appear and they aren’t here to have tea!

I mentioned that this was a crossover already, but I should explain a little more about how extensive it is. Just like how Super Smash Bros crossovered characters from the many Nintendo franchises, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale did the same for Sony’s fighters, Marvel vs Capcom brought together characters from their companies, and Justice League vs Mortal Kombat did a nice mixup, J-Stars Victory Vs did the same thing. There are 39 playable characters from 24 different series. Coincidentally…or not, Super Smash Bros for Wii U also represents 24 different series thanks to the inclusion of Ryu from Street Fighter. Super Smash Bros does have over 10 extra characters to J-Stars, but this is just the beginning for the J-Stars franchise and we can look forward to more sequels at some point. Video Game Crossovers are always a lot of fun and as I’m a fairly huge Shonen Jump fan who has read several of the series, I can definitely appreciate the interactions. I’ve read 12 of the 24 series that are in J-Stars so I definitely know a lot about more of the characters.

Also, you heard me right. There are actually a lot of interactions and a fairly deep plot in story mode. This is something that quite a few of the other crossovers that I mentioned lack like the new Super Smash Bros and MVC3. It was great that the game added the story mode as it adds more enjoyment to any title. I completed Luffy’s Story Mode and aim to do the other 3 at some point in the near future. I decided to do one story mode, then complete another game, and rinse/repeat the process until all 4 are done.

Aside from Story Mode, there are quite a lot of other things to do here. There’s an Arcade Mode that you can play to test your skills. Completing it doesn’t seem to actually unlock anything as far as I know, but it’s a great way to earn money and may be even more effective than Story Mode at that. There’s also a mode titled Victory Road, which is basically an Arcade Mode that is more mission based. There seem to be quite a few levels to complete here, but an incentive is that you will get 3 trophies as you complete it. That’s not a bad deal!

Those 3 modes alone should already take you many hours to complete. This is no short game by any stretch of the imagination. The replay value is essentially limitless as the gameplay is a lot of fun so you can enjoy many matches in local multiplayer or through online. Trying to nab the Platinum will also extend the journey a little. It’s not too much of a grind though and it’s not unreasonable either. It will force you to really experience the Story Mode as you will have to complete several extra quests and fight more ships than you would have otherwise. You will also need to complete all Victory Road battles along the way. The Platinum is worth the effort though since it’s the ultimate bragging right as far as the PS3 trophies are concerned.

Now, it’s about time that I talk about the actual gameplay right? It’s a 3D brawler and you have to defeat your opponent a certain amount of times in order to win the match. You can do a 1 on 1 battle or go up to 4 on 4 at a time. 1 on 1 is probably the most direct, but 4 on 4 can be quite epic since so many things are happening at once. You have standard attacks as well as power ones and special abilities. You can use the R1 button to block or mix it with the other attacks for even more techniques. You really have a lot of attack options, but you will most likely find yourself sticking to one or two favorite combos after a while. I’ve been playing as Luffy a lot so I go with his rapid fist option all of the time.

Once your team has gotten enough encouragement, they will be ready to go into their Victory Modes. At that point, you can use your Final Smash to attack the opponents. Even if you are a team of 4, you will only control 1 character. The other 2 will be helping out as A.I. allies and one character can be used as a support fighter like in Marvel vs Capcom 3. I felt like a lot of effort went into the gameplay because each character feels like he/she did in their own games. I can really only speak for Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, because I haven’t really played modern games for most of the other franchises. Naruto’s combos feel like they did in Ninja Storm, while Goku’s combos seem to be straight from the BT series. Even Ichigo’s attacks feel like they did in Soul Resurrection. This way, you know what you are doing with your favorite character right off the bat if you had already played that character’s game earlier.

The soundtrack is naturally very good as it uses music from all of the various SJ titles. You can even choose which music theme you want to play for when you activate your Victory Burst. The large variety of themes is a lot of fun and most of the series get their own stage as well. My favorite is probably the Athena one with my least favorite being the Bleach stage. It’s unfortunate, but there are just too many walls to navigate around if you ask me. The graphics are solid and you can easily tell who’s who. The manga effect isn’t quite as smooth as it is for the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, but it’s still good and effective at evoking that manga effect that the game is going for. Nothing beats looking at the Kamehameha wave..unless it’s being tossed at you!

Now, we have to compare the game to Super Smash Bros for a minute here. Super Smash Bros does win the battle in terms of soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and replay value, but J-Stars takes it down when it comes to the story mode aspect since Super Smash Bros surrendered that. Taking one win against the ultimate video game is still some good bragging rights though and I look forward to seeing what J-Stars has up its sleeve for the sequel.

Overall, J-Stars Victory Vs+ was a lot of fun. It’s still amazing that the game actually managed to come out in America. This is certainly worth purchasing and there’s enough content to last you here for quite a while. I’m still working on getting the Platinum on the side so you can expect an update for this game at some point. As a big Shonen Jump fan, I can do no less! I eagerly await a sequel for this game and wonder which other characters will be added to the fray. Hopefully we can get around 60 playable characters next time so each franchise can have more reps. This is easily one of the best PS3 games on the block so you need to purchase it as soon as possible!

Overall 9/10