Bleach: Can’t Fear Your Own World Review


Bleach will always be known as one of the greatest manga to ever walk the planet. It balanced together a ton of action and hype moments but at the same time fans will note that we were left with a lot of unanswered questions. Well, this book seeks to answer at least some of them. Others will need more novels but if you had any questions about Hisagi or the origins of the Soul Society then this should answer them. It’s a pretty fun trilogy even if it probably would have been better to have sidelined Hisagi since he’s so far out of his depth.

The books starts with Aizen finally being sentenced to prison again. He may have helped out during the Thousand Blood War but nobody wants to see him since he makes them feel bad. The guy is successfully able to manipulate the whole cast in his few pages of screen time at the beginning. He says some rather disturbing things though which causes Hisagi to decide to run a newspaper. He aims to get to the bottom of the dark web of lies known as the Soul Society. To do this he will have to interview every character who had a role during the Bleach manga series. There’s just one problem: he may have just walked into a conspiracy.

Meanwhile Tokinada has decided that it’s time to act more openly. He’s the head of one of the 4 sacred houses of the Soul Society. This means that he can do just about whatever he wants whenever he wants. In this case he just wants to stir up some trouble and intends to use his protégé Hikone to accomplish this goal. With Ichigo away on vacation, do the heroes have any chance against this guy?

Since there are 3 books here there is a whole lot of time for story progression. As such the books are able to be very dialogue heavy with character discussing abstract concepts such as what it means to fear someone and if it makes you stronger. In particular Hisagi loves discussing such topics since he is obsessed with them. In a way I would say Tosen leaving seems to have traumatized Hisagi in some way because the guy is really obsessed.

You’ll have long monologues of Hisagi wondering if what he is doing is right or perhaps he made a mistake somewhere. It’s definitely a rough road for the guy that’s for sure. Hisagi’s not a bad character, I’ve never minded him at least although I would say he is probably better in the manga than in the novels because we didn’t know he was so dramatic. In the books he tends to panic whenever anyone talks to him. In his defense he is rather outmatched by everyone though. He still gets to participate in the climax though and I would say that was handled really well.

In terms of moments where he overthinks things, I would say that the answer usually isn’t all that hard to find. For example, he talks about the kind of justice that Tosen has but no matter how you try to explain it away, that guy was just crazy. You can’t find meaning in his actions due to that being the case.

Then later on when he’s panicking about Tokinada getting the better of him, you realize he just needs to beat that guy. Now, some of the characters have valid gripes against the Soul Society like Ginjo. I thought he looked really good here as well. I would argue in the fights he should have looked a lot stronger but he doesn’t train as much as Ichigo so I guess it’s not a big deal.

His main issue is really just that the Soul Society did betray him and they murdered a bunch of people. You can see why he is always upset at them because they get away with everything without any issue. That’s where the problem lies because you’d think that by now things would be different but they really aren’t.

Look no further than Mayuri’s subplot. Sure it’s mainly used as a dark humor kind of plot but he’s literally enslaved a bunch of hollows and quincies. The Soul Society looks the other way because they don’t like those factions at all but you’re really going to let them live such a tough existence? Mayuri doesn’t hide this at all either and is just as demented as he ever was. All of his scenes are painful just because of how dark they are. The guy gets his kicks out of experimenting on everyone but nobody stops him. It’s why I could never root for the Soul Society in any arc.

First they tried to murder Rukia on rather flimsy reasoning. That event is mentioned here a lot since of course Tokinada had something to do with it. That was one of their first appearances and things never really changed. They’re on Ichigo’s good side but that doesn’t mean that they are actually heroes. Throughout this trilogy we find out many other dark secrets about them which just keeps on adding up. Honestly I don’t think Hisagi will ever get to finish his story. He’ll probably be bumped off at some point.

Even characters with high ranks like Shunsui threaten Hisagi about this a lot. He really will have no friends if he goes too far to the point where it’s hinted that he would need to call in Ichigo. Ichigo gets a lot of hype here which was nice. Every tie the books hype up the new villains they always make sure to mention that Ichigo would still win. It’s nice to see because the power levels had be a bit worried. Sequels tend to surpass the heroes pretty quick like Granolah surpassing Goku and a bunch of Androids all surpassed Naruto with ease. So far that has not happened to Ichigo here.

In general the power levels in these books aren’t too bad but I definitely have some issues. Mainly it’s that too many of the characters seem deadlocked. You’ll be surprised at how many ties there are in this trilogy. Characters keep tanking everything until the battle gets interrupted. Most of the battles in the final book end at least which is good.

We get to see some of the Espada show up like Harribel, Nel, and Grimmjow. Harribel is currently the leader of Hueco Mundo and still looks good here. She doesn’t get a very big role but looks tough. The same is true of Nel as well. Grimmjow definitely gets a bigger role than the other two. He has several fights to himself and looks pretty good. It was always fun to see him get involved and was nostalgic in a way too.

Urahara knows a lot more than he lets on as always. He’s certainly a crucial piece to the heroes’ arsenal even if he tends to help behind the scenes. The guy hasn’t lost his edge. Then there’s Shunsui who may be the leader of the Soul Society but he has to play politics so often that he rarely gets to do what he wants to do anymore. I would say that holds him back as a character because he feels like someone who ended up joining corporate and can’t be trusted anymore. At the end of the day it’s clear that he will choose duty above all else.

Yoruichi and Shinji are other characters who get quick roles here. Yoruichi is confident as always and likes testing various characters but only participates in a fight briefly. Shinji also gets one fight but it’s quite the important one. He’s one of the few side characters to get a full fight to himself which is pretty big. His fans should definitely be satisfied with the results since you really can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.

Not to be outdone, Zaraki gets some hype as well. He doesn’t fight until nearly the end of the trilogy but it’s really a fight that’s worth your while. His power level has to be one of the strongest among all the captains at this point if not the absolute strongest based on how everyone acts around him.

Tosen is important only in the sense that his justice speech gets mentioned a lot by Hisagi. Honestly I think Hisagi reads way too far into everything. Tosen was pretty much insane and made his choice. You can’t use him as a beacon of hope anymore. Then you have Aizen who looked great in his initial appearance as I mentioned. He gets a flashback as well and appears a bit near the end so it’s always good to see him show up. The guy gets so much hype that you can’t help but feel he would able to win against the heroes if he were to ever return.

Mayuri gets a bit role as mentioned earlier as he really tries to make the Soul Society look as evil as possible. Between him and Tokinada they make a compelling case for why the place needs to be taken down. Then we get onto the 4 new characters in the series. First up is Tokinada since he is the main villain. The guy is certainly going for an Aizen vibe but a crazier version of the character.

Aizen always spoke very respectfully and had grand ideals. He knew how to talk about those in a very regal sense. Tokinada is also a master strategist but he likes really messing with the heroes. He’ll constantly bring up old traumas to see how everyone reacts. His back story really hits different as a result of that. It’s not an origin where you’re supposed to feel bad for him. Far from it, it shows that he was always twisted to the core right from the start.

He makes for a very powerful villain but not a likable one. You feel like Shunsui or Byakuya should have taken him out long ago. The main problem is that they just accept what happened each time without retaliating. That would lead to Tokinada growing more and more bold. It is impressive how he is able to hold his own against everyone though. Maybe a little too impressive since taking on Espada, the Quincy, and the Gotei 13 is just insane. This guy could have even ended Arc 2 based on how good he looks here.

Then you have Hikone who is Tokinada’s right hand man. As a human, arrancar, quincy hybrid creation the kid doesn’t know anything about the world except what Tokinada has told him. To that extent he’s a rather tragic character since he has no possible way to know that what he is doing is wrong. All he can do is keep on moving forward and hoping for the best. This guy’s power is also very impressive and he keeps on getting stronger throughout the series. I ended up liking him. Hikone’s true personality shines through since he doesn’t murder his opponents the way he would have if the guy was pure evil. He simply doesn’t know better and I can’t really blame him for that.

Then you have his sword Ikomikidomae. That guy’s a very interesting character and I would have liked to have seen more of him. He’s a very old being who has so much power that it’s hard to even say what he is. The guy ultimately gets overshadowed by the other two villains but looked really impressive in the meantime. In a 1 on 1 fight it’s hard to say that anyone else would be able to defeat him. Not the way he was dominating the other characters.

Finally you have Aura. She’s certainly an interesting character with the way her intangibility powers work. Aura is quite broken in that sense as nobody could really land a hit on her throughout the whole trilogy. Only one specific blade would even have a chance against her and since Tokinada is a master strategist she would need to be careful of him. She gets her own backstory and everything so by the end you feel like you know Aura quite well. She got a very satisfying ending to her character I would say.

In the books there are some illustrations which is fun. It would be nice to see this turned into a manga or anime at some point since there’s a lot to absorb here. I don’t read a whole lot of novels though so it’s fun to see how the information is presented in a different medium. For sure it allows you to have a lot more dialogue and characters really processing the events. To an extent I would say that a novel will always be more dramatic than other versions since you have the characters thinking and using hyperbole about everything. (“This is the strongest attack I’ve ever seen!!!!”)


Overall, This was a really fun trilogy. The only goal the trilogy didn’t succeed with was getting me to like Hisagi. The guy is just too filled with self doubt and panicking all the time. Since that was part of his character arc perhaps he will be better going forward though. I liked how the series handled the Ichigo aspect since the guy would have cleaned shop if he was around. I thought the reason for why he wasn’t around was logical though and there’s even potential room for a sequel explaining more in depth what happened to him. What really seals the deal for the trilogy being great though was the ending. It’s really the ideal ending in many respects and an ending is always important since it leaves an impression. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the final outcomes. So if you’re looking for more Bleach content until we hopefully get a sequel soon, these 3 books are great ones to check out.

Overall 8/10

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Dreams Come To Life Review


It’s time to look at the Bendy novel that came out a while back. The first Bendy game was definitely a lot of fun with how atmospheric it was. There was always just a lot happening and everything had a second meaning of some kind. The spooky atmosphere is really what helped make the game so good and it’ll be hard for the second game to match it. Well, the book is a way to bridge the gap and it actually has some important information so I’d recommend giving it a shot. It really turns up by the end as any good horror book should.

The book follows a kid named Buddy. He has grown up in a fairly poor neighborhood where everyone struggles to make enough to stay in their houses and get food. It’s just Buddy and his Mom, but they’ve done well enough so far. That’s when Buddy meets up with Joey Drew and somehow manages to get a job at the Bendy art studio. As someone who has always wanted to draw, this is perfect for Buddy. Joey is pretty eccentric and quickly seems to forget he hired Buddy, but the kid is just glad to be making a steady wage. He even becomes friends with a girl named Dot who also works there. Unfortunately this studio may be hiding something sinister within. Will Buddy have to risk his life for this job?

There’s really only one thing that holds this book back from being solid all around. That’s…Buddy. He’s the worst book main character that I’ve ever seen (Not counting light novels) and he just never becomes a good character. He’s surprisingly mean to his grandpa throughout the book and is always super defensive. I don’t even totally understand why Buddy was always so petty. They hint it’s something about his being Polish and catholic or something but the book doesn’t delve into it and I’m not so briefed on foreign policy that I was able to pick up on it. Maybe if I thought about it more but it didn’t even seem relevant to the book all that much so I don’t know why Buddy was always getting steamed. Couple that with the fact that he isn’t very smart and super timid and you’ve got a truly terrible combo.

Dot is nice enough to be his friend and he always gives her a hard time. Then you have the fact that he allows everyone to drag him along for a ride. Joey tricking Buddy into paying for dinner was the single worst scene in the book because his family really needed the money and Buddy didn’t think about that. It’s definitely surprising that Joey would have him pay, but Buddy should have taken no chances. He should have been celebrating such a big day with his family, not with his boss. This came back to bite him rather quickly. Buddy also tends to be quite dramatic through the narration and isn’t even a reliable one. He admits towards the end of the book that he isn’t even sure how much of this is real since he may have mixed up events. Yeah….Buddy’s no good.

Beyond that the book does a good job of slowly building up the tension. There are some fake jump scares at the beginning of the book but eventually we start to get some real horror in there. It starts off pretty subtly as things just don’t add up or you see some shadows. Of course part of it is Buddy literally jumping at shadows, but it can get very real. Right off the bat I can tell you that the book ends on a high note. The ending is quite solid and makes for an exciting climax. It’s really a great payoff that helps make the rest of the book succeed as well. This is the kind of book where a weak climax would have hurt quite a lot. I don’t want an ambiguous ending that tries to stay realistic instead of being like the game. The Bendy game showed us that the dangers are quite real so I’m glad that the book embraced that.

I haven’t read a lot of books lately, but it’s always good to get back into them because they really do help you jump into another world. Not having any images really lets you make up the pictures yourself and visualize everything without assistance. In a way that’s probably what helps make the immersion so complete and powerful. This book is certainly as interesting as any other that I’ve read. With a better main character it would be able to hit the next level but as it stands I definitely had a good time.

I talked about Buddy a lot, but we do get a few other characters. First up is Dot who is a solid heroine. She’s always thinking ahead and doesn’t mind pushing the rules a bit in order to satisfy her curiosity. She isn’t just about to accept things as true just because someone told her that this was the case. Her persistence is solid and she is also willing to put her life in jeopardy to solve a case even if Buddy is too scared. Her attitude of not wanting to beat around the bush with pleasantries the way everyone else does is also admirable.

Then you’ve got Joey Drew who is shown to be rather absent minded the whole time. You can see the chinks in his psyche early on though. The guy definitely appears to be a little corrupt and also close minded which is surprising for an artist. Of course we don’t know if the guy can really draw, I’ve got my doubts. Sammy is also around and he’s pretty insane like in the first game. He’s always doing something crazy but it’s tough to deal with him because the heroes don’t know if he’s insane in a quirky way or a dangerous one. If you wait too long with someone like that you won’t know until it’s too late.

Buddy’s Mom is a good character although she also keeps too many secrets. Not telling Buddy that the grandfather was coming over was a bit last second. It’s not like she should need to let him know, but a heads up would certainly help him not panic the way that he did. Buddy is quite jumpy after all. As for the grandfather, it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know a lot of English but it does make his scenes a bit annoying at times. He loves to beat around the bush and takes Buddy on a journey before getting to the answer. Heading to Buddy’s job was a bad move though because it really got Buddy into trouble and he could have been fired for something like that.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this book out. If you haven’t played the Bendy game or are unsure of how you would enjoy it, then you should read this book. If anything it makes sense to read this book before you play the game because it’s just a great introduction to the game. The book takes place before the game as well so it makes sense to do the prequel first. It’ll also make you look at the game a lot closer. The book really does a great job of expanding the franchise. So long as you can get past Buddy you’ll be in for an enjoyable adventure here.

Overall 6/10

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Employee Handbook Review


It’s time to look at the Bendy guidebook that came out a while back. I like the angle of calling it an Employee Handbook as it guides you through the inner workings of the company. The first half of the book is basically a walkthrough of the game and then the second half gives you illustrations, concept art, and fun facts. It’s a fun way to learn more about the universe of Bendy. Also if you missed out on a lot of the audio tapes like me you get to see them all here which is pretty cool.

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a book review and this one doesn’t technically have a plot so it’s definitely a nice way to jump back in. There’s really nothing negative to say about the book because it does a really good job of getting you the information you need. The writer had a lot of fun with the script here as there are a bunch of inside jokes. Things take a sinister turn now and then with the narrarator always having a passive aggressive tone. They let you know that taking vacations is not going to happen here and double down on the fact that you should be really happy at the job.

You learn through clippings and employee quotes that most of them aren’t getting paid for the overtime they put in. Additionally they have to work in a very noisy environment and there is a ton of office gossip. It sounds like Drew really got more and more corrupt as time went on. He didn’t even give too much credit to the guy who built the amusement park for Bendy. As the book goes on you really see how the whole thing spiraled out of control. I think all of the blame can really fall to Joey here though. He seemed to know or at least suspect that something wasn’t up but did nothing to stop it. He pit employees against each other and kept making the work conditions worse until something had to give. His special projects also ate away at all of the organization’s budget until it naturally had to go under.

Sammy definitely seems like the diciest person on the staff. He appeared to be losing his mind early on so it doesn’t even come as a surprise when he goes off the deep end. His appearance was one of the most powerful moments of the whole game though and I was a little sad that we didn’t get more development for him in the book. He’s a pivotal figure and while this is the kind of series where we likely will never get all of the answers, it will still be cool to learn a little more about him.

I did learn how to draw Bendy at the end of the book which was pretty cool. I didn’t try to draw his partners yet since they seem a little more complex but I’ll add that to the bucket list. It’s a nice little addition that I’m glad made it into the book. I also took a look at the bacon soup recipe which sounds reasonable, but I’m not a big soup fan so I’ll probably skip on that. I feel like I’m not a big fan of soup because I like my food to be solid. It would explain why pudding and jello don’t really rank for me either. I’ll eat em all of course, but they aren’t my first choice.

There’s not much else to say here but I’m ready for that Bendy sequel. I know they are saying it’s not a total sequel in some ways, but I really hope it is. Maybe that’ll be some kind of plot twist. Really the game doesn’t even need to answer any plot questions, I’m just ready to learn more about the time loop and fighting off Bendy a little more. It’s impressive how many theory videos there are about Bendy. That’s the kind of following you get when the writing is on point and you build such an interesting lore into the game.

Overall, The Employee Handbook is a pretty fun book to read through. It’s definitely helpful for trying to get the Platinum in the Bendy game since they show you all the collectible locations and give you tips along the way. You could even read it as you play through the game although I wouldn’t recommend it since part of the experience is experiencing everything first hand. The book would spoil some aspects for you if you’re doing both simultaneously. Even if you don’t buy the game it’s a pretty interesting look at the back-end and maybe it’ll even convince you to buy the game. It’ll definitely have succeeded in a major way if that’s the case.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: Battle for the Z Ring Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Pokémon Sun and Moon season. The first one was a reasonable start to the quasi reboot and this one is actually an improvement as we get our first serious island challenge which is basically just a gym battle. It’s not exactly Kanto just yet but it still makes for a decent volume nonetheless. Hopefully the series can keep up the momentum.

Ash wants to obtain a new Z crystal since his last one broke when he fought the island guardian. The local professor tells him how he can get another one and the answer is that he must beat the human guardian. Ash goes over there to fight but the guardian tells him that he has to solve the island’s rat problem first. A bunch of Pokémon are blocking the way and making a nuisance of themselves so Ash has to go to a cave and defeat some powerful Pokémon so he can team up with them and save the day. Can Ash win all of his matches in this volume?

The local head tries to tell Ash that battling isn’t always the answer and that’s the point of the trial. However, combat was the answer to winning and saving the island so I found that whole part ironic. Perhaps it was intentional but it’s hard to say. What makes this volume better than the last one is definitely all of the battles. Ash has to face off against at least 3 different opponents and he does a good job against all of them. Ash actually uses some strategy and while he seems to be a newbie at life (Forgetting basic Pokémon) at least he is quickly becoming a better trainer. Seeing him defeat the leader and use Pikachu’s new attack was definitely great. The series seems to be hinting that Ash will get a new attack for each type which will be pretty interesting. He will probably pick the thunder move but I personally found this one to be a lot more impressive. It’s essentially quick attack but even faster which will be great for overwhelming opponents. Maybe Ash will choose this one though, that’d be cool. It was also nostalgic seeing Hariyama again since that Pokémon is pretty cool. I love the design and he always struck me as one of the stringer fighting types. I think I’ll always have a lot of nostalgia for the first 3 generations.

Ash is surprisingly on his own for most of the volume as the friends just don’t get much screen time. They appear for a brief instant to remind Ash that he’s being petty about the cat stealing his food and also give him an idea about saving the island. I suppose their role was important after all even if it was so small. Aside from the big battle plot, the first few chapters were about Ash and Litikitty. That was definitely the weaker part of the volume. It wasn’t bad or anything but it definitely wasn’t as exciting as the action part.

Pikachu looks really good which is always a plus in my book. I’ve said this a million times over the years but at this point he should easily be level 100 so I don’t want to see him losing against anyone. Pikachu should be able to claim victory no matter the opponent. That’s just how it should be. Ash will need more Pokémon though as Rowlett just isn’t an amazing backup. He’s not really much of a fighter and constantly falling asleep isn’t doing him any favors either. Once Ash has a team of 6 then he will really be set.

Overall, I’d say that the books are doing a good job of adapting the episodes. The book is quite small so the author does a good job of not overdoing it with the details so we can still cover a lot of ground. These little books are always a good format for such adaptions and while you know that it’s definitely not going to make it all the way, hopefully we get a lot of volumes before it finishes. That’s the dream at any rate. I wonder when the next big Totem Battle (I think that’s the correct term) will be. I stopped following the anime early on so I can’t say that I know much of the specifics aside from big moments like Brock and Misty showing up. As long as we get battles like this every volume, the series should continue to go smoothly.

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony: The Elements of Harmony Volume II Review


It’s time to check out the new My Little Pony guidebook. I read the last one almost 4 years ago so it has certainly been a while. I suppose that makes sense since each guidebook covers 3 seasons of the show and it takes a while for those to be produced. As it stands, I can’t see a third volume coming out for a long time since I think it is currently only 1 season out of date. It’s a very informative book and I can honestly say that it is pretty much perfect for learning about the ponies. I dare say that Megaman.exe and Transformers still had the most colorful and immersive guidebooks on the block, but this one keeps it close.

There are several sections in the book. First we take a look at the main ponies of course. The book talks about the Mane 6, their friends, allies, enemies, etc. It also talks about the surrounding areas and just about everything you need to know about the basics of Equestria. This section is always pretty fun and even if you already know most of the characters, it’s nice to see their write ups. It’s an essential part of every guidebook.

There is also a small section at the very end of the guidebook which talks about the songs. It writes down all of the lyrics for them so you can really appreciate the writing. I’m guessing they only chose some songs as I doubt there were 3 seasons worth of lyrics in there, but maybe there weren’t as many musical episodes as I had expected. The songs were nice although it’s always a lot more enjoyable to actually listen to them than read the lyrics.

The bulk of the book and the section where you’ll spend the most time are the episode descriptions. The guidebook goes through each and every episode from seasons 4 through 6 and gives a detailed look at what happens. They even post the moral to each episode on the bottom of the page. This is one of those areas that separates the guidebook from the rest. I can’t think of any other guidebook that does such a great job of showing you all of the episodes. You could theoretically be able to start season 7 feeling confident that you know everything if you read this guidebook. (And the last one of course)

There aren’t a whole lot of bonus features beyond that so I’ve pretty much mentioned everything there is to know about this one. So it’s pretty basic with the episode summaries being the main thing that makes it a lot of fun. Without it I’d probably have to dock a star, but it’s good enough with that feature. You’ll find yourself breezing through the book as you eagerly catch up on the latest pony knowledge. Now lets talk about some of the bonus features that the book could have had though.

I think some sections that could have made the book a lot more detailed would have been a nice Q and A section. Seeing the writers and voice actors talk about the characters and answer questions from fans would have been nice. Maybe hintings at future episodes or at Derpy’s big upcoming role would have been neat. Maybe some character popularity polls like which MLP characters are the most popular or something of that nature. These are all things that could have made the book more epic. “Top 10 MLP fights” may not be applicable for the average fan but what about something like top 10 songs or top 10 episodes? Those are a must for the average guidebook. Maybe what this series can do is make the next volume come out after 2 seasons instead of 3 and then they can pack in the empty space with some of these bonus features. Just a suggestion, but I do think it would make the book even better.

Overall, You’ll enjoy this guidebook. The only way you wouldn’t is if you aren’t an MLP fan, but if so then I doubt you’d be reading this in the first place. I suppose it could be a good launching on point for fans who haven’t had time to watch the show but in that case I would hope that you would have read the first voluem first. That would definitely be beneficial. It’s been a while since I read a guidebook, but maybe more will pop up at some point. They seem like an easy thing for a franchise to do so I wish more would do them. Imagine a nice Pokemon version where it’ll cover all of the episodes in a region? That’d be really nice. Meanwhile, now I just need to wait for my library to get the next My Little Pony comic to continue this marathon of the franchise.

Overall 8/10

Pokemon Talent Showdown Review


Time for another Pokemon adventure. Ash and friends were minding their own business when they notice a big crowd of people gathering around. It turns out that a big talent show is occurring nearby and Gary is even participating in it. Ash isn’t a big fan of contests, but Gary eggs him on and continues to insult Ash until the main character decides to bluff his way through it and claims that he already has a great act in mind. Can Ash think of an act that will actually defeat Gary’s or is it time for a slice of crispy, humble pie?

This adventure is a lot of fun because having Gary in the story is always great. I recently went back to check out most of his best moments and it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan favorite. The book does him justice as well since he actually had the slight upper hand against Ash. As Ash referenced, it’s a little odd for Gary to be so arrogant after Ash upstaged him in the tournament, but this is the fan favorite portrayal of Gary after all so I guess it’s to be expected. Either way I hadn’t been expecting a rematch between the two of them so that was really awesome.

The actual talent show wasn’t bad either. I felt a little bad for Ash since he apparently can’t sing or even play any instrument so he was given the smallest role. Still, Misty and Brock did help him out by coming up with their show so that was nice. I’d definitely assume that Gary is a better singer than Brock, but it’s nice to see that the Pokemon characters have such musical talent. The ending is a little cheesy though as the owner stated that this contest wouldn’t be about battling and just sportsmanship, but then Ash saves the day and he flips on that statement. I suppose having your life saved is a decent reason to quickly change up the results, but it still felt like Ash didn’t really earn his win. I guess that part could be pretty nostalgic to the original season as well though.

This book probably had the most action out of all the Pokemon books I’ve read so far so as you can imagine it is also my favorite one. Pokemon action is just a blast to watch and I definitely picture the fights in my head as they go. I forgot that Gary had a Charizard or if they just made it up for this adventure but that’s certainly interesting. It’s a little disappointing that Charizard was losing to Alakazam, but psychic types are some of the only ones who can give him a real fight so I can live with it. The stakes were definitely pretty high. I think Alakazam could definitely beat Psyduck though. Psyduck’s confusion certainly is great, but it takes forever to use and no opponent should actually just stand there and wait to be attacked. Gary’s confidence let this happen, but it wouldn’t be viable on most opponents.

Ash also fought another performer earlier as she thought he stole her Seel so she retaliated by trying to beat him up. I guess she was determined to get the truth out of him, but beating Ash in a Pokemon fight is no easy task. I think Ash is a little too quick to return his Pokemon during the battles here, but when you have Pikachu at the ready I suppose it’s no big deal. I also didn’t mind that the battles got more screen time than the actual show because that part was certainly more exciting for me.

As always the pacing is really great for the book. Since it’s so short everything has to happen quite rapidly which always makes for great results. Ash really can’t catch a break as a result, but it also shows how he is able to think on his feet. There’s never a dull moment and so you’ll be engaged from cover to cover. It certainly won’t take you long to finish this book anyway so it works out well.

Overall, This was a really good Pokemon story. All of the characters were itching for a fight and Ash was always ready to oblige. He may not have won all of his matches instantly but at least he reacted right away and acted reasonably experienced. I’d love to see an old school Pokemon movie that takes place around here where Ash just takes on trainers. It would be a lot of fun and I miss his old school lineup of Pigeot, Charizard, Snorlax, and the others. It was just a very balanced team even if Bulbasaur and Squirtle may hold the team back in attack power since they’re still in their first forms. They really haven’t been looking good in these books so far but maybe that’ll change soon. Charizard and Pikachu have really been doing all of the work. If you haven’t checked this story out yet, then you should definitely change that ASAP.

Overall 8/10

Pokemon: Journey to the Orange Islands Review


It’s time for another quick Pokemon chapter book. This one brings us back to the beginning of the Orange Island adventures. Ash may have conquered the Pokemon League or at least that’s what you’d assume from how he talks about it in this book, but there is a new challenge around the corner that he cannot resist. Before starting the tournament he runs into a Lapras who is in need or a rescue and a Professor who may be in over her head with research. Ash is ready to save them all, but can he also stop Team Rocket from kidnapping Pikachu?

It’s always nostalgic to take a look at the good ole days of Pokemon. The newer adventures are fun enough (Although Sun and Moon is a downgrade) but the classics are classic for a reason. It’s great to see Ash just show up and take down 3 bullies in a single blow. He didn’t have time for one liners or panic attacks, Ash just got the job done. That’s why he’s the hero of legends. Ash doesn’t play games when it comes to cleaning up shop and I wouldn’t expect him too. Ash is also pretty straight forward here as he openly cringes depending on the situation. I’m not kidding, on page 2 he cringed and that’s when I knew that I was in for quite the ride. It was a good way to start things off.

There are really two main adventures here although they continue into each other pretty seamlessly. The first adventure has the kids stop by Professor Ivy’s lab to pick up the GS ball. For some reason it is impervious to teleportation so they are supposed to bring it to Professor Oak. Brock decides to stay with Ivy so he can become an official Pokemon breeder. Ash and Misty are pretty okay with this and head off, but Team Rocket tricks them and they get launched pretty far away. That’s when Ash notices the bullies and takes them down. A kid named Tracy shows up to join the crew and Oak allows Ash to forget about the GS ball so he can just have fun entering the league. Oak’s a pretty nice guy. The adventure is On!

Naturally this was a pretty big moment in the anime since Brock had been around for so many episodes. That being said, he was always the worst of Ash’s friends as he never kept his head in the game and was always holding the team back. He may have been the team’s cook, but I couldn’t get around to missing him. His replacement wasn’t exactly a fan favorite though as Tracy can be extreme in his own way. He notices some kids bullying Lapras and decides not to do anything about it because he’s busy sketching. That’s very shady right off the bat and he basically forced his way into Ash’s inner circle. Ash was totally against having Tracy on board but the decision was taken out of his hands. It was all pretty sudden. Tracy will have some work to do to get past his initial appearance and since he isn’t much of a fighter, that’ll be tough. Misty doesn’t do much here, but I’m sure she’ll have more of a role in the next few volumes…possibly. Technically Ash’s Pikachu is really the only Pokemon to get a big role. Ash doesn’t even use his others. Jigglypuff looks pretty good as she shows up to take names. I really miss the days when she would come out of the blue and just start singing. That was a quality running gag.

One thing I have to wonder is if the author has to recap what everything is at the beginning of every book or just for each region. For example, we’re reminded what a Pokedex is and the author describes everything as if we’re seeing it for the first time. The book’s fairly short and even then these scenes are really quick, but it does seem like you’ll lose valuable page space this way. In the end, I have no real complaints with the pacing though. The book flies by and it’s an engaging read from cover to cover. If I had any small complaint, it would be that this book is light on action. Pikachu’s one hit win and Geodude’s one hit win were basically the only battles in the book. Props to Team Rocket for tricking the heroes the same way twice in a row. Since the book cuts out the filler it almost literally occurs back to back. At least Ash didn’t go down without yelling for his food first.

Overall, This was a good volume of Pokemon. It could get a little dark like with the Lapras chapter and it’s easy to forget that the stakes used to be so high. Even Ivy almost died because of Pokemon spores gone wild. I have a feeling they’ve been nerfed to just knock you out in newer episodes. That being said, Ash is even more intense than usual in this volume and it’s just nice to have the old gang back. The show really had a lot of depth and emotion at this point. I still prefer almost all of the other regions to Orange Islands, but I like to just think of them as the lost episodes of Kanto. Think of it like an epilogue story and it works a whole lot better. No Gary this time, but he’ll return soon enough. If you haven’t read the book yet, now’s a good time to do so. It’s a pretty nice way to read through two episodes and it covers all of the important parts so it’s a quicker way of getting caught up with the anime.

Overall 7/10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid


I forgot to put this on the blog way back when, but I checked out the first book in the series. There are only 11 out so far so at least it’s pretty easy to read through them. It’s not exactly my kind of series as I always look for a little action, but it’s not bad. I expected it to be worse and at least the characters are always trying to one up each other. As the title suggests, the diary plays a huge role even if the main character can’t admit that it’s a diary. It suffers from some instances of crude humor and as with all comedies, not all of the jokes work. I’d give it a look if you’re a comedy fan and it won’t take you long to get caught up. I’ll have a review out if the series ends and I make it through all of them.

Overall 5/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: The Pokemon Training School Challenge Review


I read the first volume in the Pokemon chapter book series for the recent Sun and Moon adventures. I was debating on whether to review this book or just wait until the series ends, but the latter could certainly end up taking a while. Ultimately I may start reviewing the individual books for some titles with no foreseeable end while for others a series review still makes sense. It’s tricky, but especially since this book is so small it seems reasonable. It covers around 2 episodes of the anime give or take. The series had a lot of controversy surrounding it when it first came out and it’s easy to see why. Pokemon went from being a really serious action show to a comedy. It’s not the Pokemon that I grew up with, but it works out well enough.

The series starts with Ash being on summer vacation. He sees a lot of cool new Pokemon while at the new region and asks his Mom if he can stay. She allows it and he quickly joins the school so he can learn how to be a Pokemon Trainer. I can understand why he would want this knowledge since he’s been training for over 10 years with nothing to show for it. He hasn’t even aged a day for some reason. So, Ash sticks around and everyone starts to teach him the ropes. However, the island’s sacred guardian has taken an interest in the kid and challenges him to a fight. Can Ash really win this battle?

Ash has definitely lost most of his character development from the old days so part of the plot in the series will likely be him gaining it back. He learns something new in every episode so in about 100 or so episodes he should be a good strategist once again. It’s a long while to wait, but what else can we do right? It’s just the way it has to be I guess. Pikachu has also gotten quite a bit weaker so it’s rough for the pair. They used to be one of the strongest duos and now they’re getting kicked around left and right. It feels bad when you really think about it. They are still good leads though. They mean well and are always up for a challenge. The series works much better when you just think of this as a prequel. Imagine that it takes place immediately after episode 1 of the original series and you’ll be set.

I think one of the parts where a book can adapt this better than an episode is that the comedy gags don’t stand out as much. Ash getting pinched and saved from random disasters doesn’t seem as bad when you’re reading about it compared to actually seeing it on the big screen. He keeps a little more of his dignity this way, at least that’s how I see it. For example, I can’t stand the living Pokedex in the anime. That may be a bit strong, but at least in AMVs and such he just gets in the way. In the book he barely talks at all so he’s not as annoying.

That being said, learning all of the names is going to take some time. The new rival is a guy who’s named something close to Kiwi. He talks a good game and has a Charizard so I’m expecting him to fight quite a bit, but he gets on my nerves. He seems to think of himself as a big shot. The other friends are nice enough but they start to blend into each other since their personalities are virtually the same. The teachers try a little too hard to all be suave and cool around Ash, but it just doesn’t really work. Once they fight and prove themselves, then things could be different.

Team Rocket doesn’t get to do a whole lot here either. Nobody really fears them and while they may be more of a threat in this region than the others since Ash has forgotten how to deal with them, they aren’t very interesting. The only part that will make their plot fun is Mimikyu once he’s a main character. I had fun watching his fights in the anime and he’s probably the best part in the whole region. He looked quite good in the book as he was beating Pikachu with ease, but had to leave since Team Rocket was getting wrecked. Why do they manage to snag really cool Pokemon like that one?

Finally, Tapu Koko is a pretty cool Pokemon. He easily has one of the best designs in the entire region which may not be saying all that much but I’m certainly a big fan. He lives up to the hype and really manages to be a thorn in Ash’s side. He’ll make for a good rival as I’m sure he isn’t quite done with Ash and friends yet. His appearance also resulted in an action scene so I’m all for that.

Overall, This chapter book is quite short of course so you’ll read through it right away. It still does a good job of covering quite a bit though. This region certainly is my least favorite because the animation is the worst and there’s less action than usual, but the former doesn’t apply to the book and the latter isn’t noticeable yet. If I didn’t know any better, I’d actually consider this to be a pretty promising start to the region. If you’re a Pokemon fan then you’ll certainly enjoy this and it’s a reasonable way to jump into the franchise. It certainly is new reader friendly. We’ll see if the next book adaption can be quite as good. Moreover, I’m ready for Ash to finally win a fight!

Overall 7/10

Kingdom Hearts Review


It feels like I’ve been reading this novel for months, but I have finally finished! As you can probably guess, this book covers the plot of the first Kingdom Hearts game. It does a good job of going through all of the important events and really covering the worlds. This does come at the expense of the fights which is unfortunate, but it’s a great way to catch up with the series if you’re not really a video game player. After all, the plot is fairly engaging on its own and with the movie/TV series probably not coming for a long time, this is your best bet! (Perhaps the manga as well, but the novel seems to handle it with greater detail)

The plot of this story revolves around a kid named Sora. He lived on a peaceful island with his two friends Riku and Kairi. Unfortunately, he wakes up one morning to find that the ocean has turned to darkness and a tornado is ripping the island off the ground. Riku vanishes in the waves and Kairi also disappears. Sora tries to keep himself together, but then he also fades away. He wakes up in a mysterious town where he meets up with strange people who tell him that all of the worlds are connected…and dying. Sora shakes this off and meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy from the classic Disney movies. They explain that they are looking for King Mickey and were told to travel with Sora in the meantime. This is because Sora is the chosen Keyblade Master of destiny who will find the keyholes in all of the planets and restore balance to the universe. Sora gets his game face on and prepares for this endeavor, but it’ll be tougher than he dared suspect.

It’s a pretty fun story that works well enough even if you switched out the Disney characters for made up ones. That being said, it certainly has more of an impact when you throw the crossover angle into the mix. It’s pretty fun to see the characters show up and help Sora out in each world. Sora gets to travel to Aladdin’s world, Peter Pan’s, Alice in Wonderland’s among others. It can be pretty nostalgic to see them and while those characters can’t fight all that much, Sora doesn’t really need any help.

As I mentioned earlier, the one drawback to this novel is that the fights are very short. Most of them are over in a couple of hits and don’t usually last more than a couple of pages. Some of them seem to be over in a single page. I hope we can get some longer fights in future adaptions, particularly Kingdom Hearts II since that should have quite a lot of fighting in it. I don’t mind if they have to skip a few worlds as a result, the action will be worth it.

Sora’s a likable protagonist and a good kid. He loses confidence a little too easily at times which is his main character flaw, but I’ll certainly take that one over most. He seemingly gets over this by the end of the novel, but it’ll be difficult to say for sure until we actually get there. There are quite a few plot twists and villains who like their mind games coming up so that could rattle Sora quite a bit.

I didn’t like Donald or Goofy though. They showed their true colors when they chose to leave Sora after the keyblade vanished. Friends shouldn’t just leave each other so easily. While they eventually went back to Sora’s side, it feels like he can’t really trust them as much as he thought. That test of loyalty was one that they failed. It’s not as if they’re great fighters either. Goofy’s shield and Donald’s magic will never be quite as effective as Sora’s sharp keyblade. It’s just the ultimate weapon.

Riku also shows up and part of the drama with him is that he has been tempted to the dark side. He thinks Sora is having too much fun as he goes on side trips while Kairi is still in a coma. Riku decides that he’ll have to save her on his own and goes through a lot of dangerous quests to get to this point. The darkness starts to overwhelm him by the end though and he loses sight of his goals to an extent. With his character arc coming full circle as Sora convinces him to join the light once more, he should make for a good ally in the coming volumes. While he may have had a point initially with Sora, he was also pretty unfair about it since Sora did try to find Kairi and just failed to do so. Riku had the advantage of having an evil witch on his side….if you can call that an advantage.

Maleficent is one of the big villains here, but her role is greatly reduced from the game. She gets to appear a few times, but comes across as an underling who was being used the whole time. Unless she redeems herself in the sequels, I’m going to say that the author probably wasn’t a big fan of hers. Ansem shows up at the end of the novel as a fun final boss and he makes for a good opponent. We certainly haven’t seen the last of him. Once Organization XIII shows up, it’ll help the series as it will finally have recurring villains who will last for a very long time.

This novel is of a pretty good length so it should last you a while. It’s about 300 words and the font isn’t all that big either. A lot of stuff happens over this time and as I mentioned, the book was able to fit in a lot of worlds. Each of the Disney worlds gets a good amount of screen time. While the Beast may have only gotten to appear without his world, he still looked pretty good since he was able to follow Belle when all of the other main heroes failed to do so. Following someone through a portal is rare no matter what medium you’re in. Characters just tend to hesitate a little too much when the going gets tough.

Overall, It’s fun to revisit the original Kingdom Hearts story and to finish another book in general. It’s been a long time since I played the first title so this is always nostalgic. I remember the series very well so it’s not as if it’s new to me, but it is fun to see how the series was before the deep plot started. Make no mistake, the seeds had sprouted for the plot with hintings all around. The writers likely had a good portion of the sequel all planned out and that’s one of the fun things about the franchise. It’s all connected and you always feel like it’s planned out well. I’ll be reading the sequel right away, but it’s a lot longer than this one so it could take a while to finish. I definitely know it’s going to be fun as well and it may even be better since Chain of Memories had a more engaging plot with higher stakes than this one. If you haven’t played the game, I highly recommend reading this book to get you into the franchise. Alternately, you should take the plunge and finally buy the original game.

Overall 7/10