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Angelic Layer Review


I read the Angelic Layer manga a long time ago. It was really fun with its constant action and was something that I didn’t really expect Clamp to do. The action scenes hold up as some of the best drawn ones out there. The only thing holding it back was some of the annoying characters who had a running gag of trying to embarrass the main character. The anime did a good job of fixing that although it came at the expense of the fight scenes. They’re still around, but the characters have been nerfed. It’s definitely a trade off I can live with and the anime definitely ended up being a great title.

Misaki has always lived a cheerful life with her grandparents as she went through school and made some friends. That being said, she’s always wanted to see her Mom again after being separated across the country. The Mom is busy with her work so she’s never had time to visit or write or phone so Misaki figures that going to Tokyo could solve this. Once she arrives, she sees an Angelic Layer battle being presented on a TV screen. It is essentially a sport where you fight using telepathically controlled mini robots called Angels. A mysterious man named Icchan helps her pick one out and get introduced to the sport. Along the way she makes a few friends like Kotaro, Tamayo, and Hatoko. Can Misaki make it all the way to the world championships and take the crown? If she does, then maybe she can work up the courage to find her mother, but perhaps she won’t have to look very far.

Right away you can tell that the show has aged well. The visuals are nice and crisp with all of the characters and backgrounds looking sharp. This is great for the fight scenes since they are pretty fluid and you can get into the show immediately. The directing and writing are just on point as some shows take a few episodes to get going, but this one catches fire immediately. The soundtrack is also quite good. The opening is fun and iconic and the ending is excellent. It’s a very emotional yet hype theme that plays during the final 30-40 seconds of each episode. It is especially powerful in episode 13 with the DBZ esque cliffhanger but works well in all of them. Sadly they change the ending for the second half of the show. It’s not a bad ending, but it’s a lot happier so it no longer works well with the cliffhangers. The rest of the soundtrack is also pretty good with some nice battle themes in there. One of them even sounds a whole lot like a Toonami promo theme from back in the day. It’s pretty nostalgic. A minor detail that is also fun to notice is how each tournament stage gets grander and grander. The National Tournament stage is easily the most prestigious one of all and the show did a good job of making them all different.

As I mentioned earlier, the fights are a little different than in the manga. Instead of the more intense blows like DBZ where characters are smashing each other into the ground with enormous force, they’re played out more like if they are dolls or angels. They attack but not with enough force to make you think the stadium is going to fall over and that’s because the show acts a little more like a Shojo the whole time. I’d prefer the manga fights, but these are still good as well. You just don’t want to compare them all that much. The actual hand to hand is still really good and we do get one really intense battle with a lot of craters in episode 13. The Champion’s angel also has a very impressive showing during her first round as she moves so fast that she can dodge while appearing to be in the same place. That may have been a little too exaggerated since she was nerfed heavily after that, but it’s how it has to be I suppose.

There is a little more romance in the show than the manga. I suppose that’s to be expected and at one point the show has quite a few people trying to get in on the action. Person A likes B, but B likes C, C likes E, D likes A. We even get a whole episode for this which of course takes place at the beach. One good thing about this being a Shojo is that the beach isn’t used for fanservice which is great. The show completely dodges that speedbump which is awesome. Many titles struggle there, but not this one. As far as romances go, it’s not all that bad either. Tsubasa was still the best in this area, but at least it’s not too drawn out. Take that episode away and the rest of the series barely messes with that. I think there were only 2 episodes total which focused on it.

Another area where the series excels is its pacing. It never drags on and there are fights in virtually every single episode. It’s always nice to see and while I doubt any title has a big fight in all of its episodes (Probably some exception somewhere) this one came close. The birthday celebration episode didn’t have a fight, but it had a cool hammer and plate minigame that was fun because I remember it from another show, but can’t recall where. It seems like a pretty fun game where you definitely need solid reflexes.

Misaki is a great character and someone that most other leads can learn from. She’s a very happy character who is always trying to make the best of things. She enters every battle with a smile and doesn’t hold grudges against any of the bullies. She simply wins them over to her side and keeps on going. Misaki tries not to let other characters worry either and keeps everything to herself. Of course, that ultimately puts more of a strain on her, but she is definitely a noble character through and through. Unfortunately because of her happy nature, she is also highly susceptible to mind games from her opponents and is a little too trusting. I suppose these traits were bound to occur though and it’s still a good thing that she is such an optimistic person. I believe that I liked her a lot in the manga as well, but the anime did an even better job of developing her character. She’s easily one of the most heroic ones I’ve seen.

Her Angel Hikaru makes for a perfect partner. Her design is on point and the fact that she is a speed model with solid attacks is an added bonus. She even reminds me of Megaman.exe because of the chest emblem she has. I’d swear that it’s practically the same. Hikaru is also so strong that the show constantly has to write excuses to have the opponents even stand a chance against her. Misaki only has 2-3 fair fights during the whole series as in just about every bout Misaki is either distracted or the opponent is cheating to the main character doesn’t just steamroll the opponent. It’s definitely a good change of pace and I rather like main characters who are pros as opposed to just barely winning each time. It can be annoying as these gimmicks keep almost stopping Misaki, but she always gets through.

Icchan is one of the main supporting characters. He’s the head scientist involved with creating Angelic Layer, but he makes sure not to tell Misaki this. He discreetly helps her from the shadows as she progresses in the game and knows more than he lets on. The character has been improved from the manga although he still acts a little iffy near the beginning. He’s a decent character I suppose although his mean pranks can go way too far at some points. It’s always hard to know what to think of him, but at the very least he is a charismatic boss.

Hatoko is Misaki’s first rival and one of the stronger characters in the series. She is sort of like the Chaud and Protoman of the series as she defeats her opponents in an instant and is known as one of the best players in the league. Her Angel is another speed type who is also very powerful. Her fight with Misaki was definitely a lot of fun and it’s just a shame that she didn’t really get to do anything for the second half of the series. Her fight against Shirahime was also very anticlimactic and disappointing. I never really like 1 hit KO matches since it’s hard to do anything epic in that time compared to a more prolonged fight. That’s why Shirahime vs Hikaru is probably the best fight of the series although Kaede’s battle with Misaki is very close. The fact that Hatoko is only around 5-8 years old makes her even more fun since she is such a little kid but can still fight it out with these professionals. She shows that age really doesn’t matter in this game as it’s all about the skills.

Kotaru is the main guy in the series, but he doesn’t have an Angel of his own so that makes things a little tricky for him. He’s Hatoko’s big brother though so that helps him stay relevant. I’m not much of a fan of his to be honest as he spends the whole show getting pushed around by just about everyone. He does get his own romance plot twice as he goes after Misaki but ultimately allows himself to fall behind to the rival and goes with the childhood friend. This felt a bit like a rebound as he was clearly losing the battle for Misaki and went from not even acknowledging Tamayo as anything other than a friend to completely getting over Misaki (Aside from a brief relapse during the fight) in the course of a day or 2. That romance was a little rushed to be honest, but we’ll roll with it.

Tamayo is definitely more likable than Kotaru. She’s a good friend who constantly roots for Misaki during the tournament and also isn’t petty. She realizes that her chances of getting Kotaru grew slimmer when Misaki joined up, but never resented her for it. Tamayo even told herself that blaming Misaki wouldn’t be fair and she stayed true to herself with that. So even if I didn’t really buy into the romance, Tamayo handled the situation as best as possible so she deserves some points for that. I’m also glad that she can fight and doesn’t take any nonsense from the bullies.

Ohjiro is one of the hype characters as he was the tournament runner up the year before the series started. His Angel Wizard is incredibly powerful because of his seemingly impervious defense. That being said, while I like Wizard, I don’t like Ohjiro. He comes off as too much of a flirt at times and it’s hard to ever know if he’s actually here to help. His prank to Misaki to build up her courage was just bizarre. The guy just rubbed me the wrong way from the start.

Aunt Shoko is a recurring character, but her role never gets that major. Since she is a reporter she is able to follow Misaki around discreetly as she keeps up with the tournament. She’s a nice character and helps support Misaki when possible. Misaki’s mother Shuko has a pretty different personality which causes the two to differ quite a bit. Shuko’s plot was vastly expanded in the anime compared to the manga and certainly made her a better character. I definitely still don’t agree with Shuko’s decisions, but at least they had a decent rationale to them and Shuko did manage to win in a pretty hype way most of the time.

Shuko basically decided to abandon Misaki because her legs were going bad and she decided not to return until they were fixed. The problem is that nothing could fix them in their current state so she kept pushing off the reunion over and over again. Eventually it got up to the point where she couldn’t work up the nerve to meet her. She suddenly decides to do it right before the finals which may not have been a good move. Honestly she probably could have handled it a lot better, but it was definitely an intense way to start the ball rolling, that’s for sure. I’m glad that the show doesn’t even try to hide the fact that she’s Misaki’s Mom from the start because the plot point just seems very clear. Even when the Angel first appears on the screen as Misaki arrives in Tokyo to find her Mom you can basically guess where this is going. The plot could possibly get a little over dramatic at times, but all in all it was a fun little subplot and while Misaki took it pretty hard I can almost guarantee that most characters would have taken it a lot worse. Misaki still handled the situation with her usual dignity and politeness even being the one to ultimately break the ice.

Sai is another one of the big rivals and became the second major threat to Misaki after she defeated Hatoko. Her ice Angel is pretty good since it is a power type but can still move with great speed. It was one of the best fights in the series because there were no gimmicks or mind games. It was simply a really good fight with both characters doing their best to adapt to the situation. Well…actually I kind of forgot about this, but there was a sand gimmick now that I think about it. Still a great fight, but once again the opponent needed an edge to stand a chance against Hikaru. Sai’s a pretty likable character as well as she stays tough and tries to win the tournament for her late sister. Her motives are definitely a lot better than half of the characters in this tournament and she always keeps up a tough exterior.

There’s also Kaede who is Sai’s friend, but a lot more morally dubious. Kaede believes in winning no matter the cost so she allows her Angel to overheat in the hopes of winning the battle. It can permanently damage her angel, but she doesn’t care as long as she wins. While this does make for a great fight, I have to say that I lost a lot of respect for her after that. Kaede’s a little too brutal and forgets that this is just a game. Misaki probably should have called her out on this a little more, but maybe the loss was enough of a message to send. Kaede’s Angel is definitely cool with its neat fighting skills and good dodging abilities. It reminded me of Rosalina quite a bit.

Ringo is a celebrity who fights Misaki early on and has some pretty good abilities. She can fire off invisible blasts of wind and is good in close quarters as well. She’s a pretty fun character to have even if she starts quite the panic during Misaki’s Birthday. The circumstances were only iffy because Misaki didn’t announce her decision in time though so I can’t blame Ringo for it. Ringo’s a fairly minor character in the series, but she appeared enough to be mentioned. There’s also a random boy named Misaki who decides to fight Misaki to prove that boys are superior, but he definitely doesn’t look too good. That was back before Misaki (the main character) could beat everyone with ease so that was his best chance and he still couldn’t take the win. The guy is comically petty to the point where he was an amusing character. You knew that he was doomed from the start though as Misaki was able to beat him while dancing. On that note, I have to say that the show knew when to pour on the disrespect. The heroes including Misaki can be absolutely brutal to their opponents at times. They don’t mean to show off, but it just ends up happening.

Madoka is another one of Misaki’s opponents who acts like a bully and resorts to cheating. It’s a shame since she seemed like a decent fighter, but this proved that she wasn’t actually all that tough. Her sister was just as bad if not worse. Misaki fought quite a few bullies or at least mean spirited characters like this. Another one complained that being tall was annoying and short people always got to have their victories. Misaki promptly beat her and then converted the bully. It’s great how Misaki turns so many lives around just by beating people in front of a national audience. Misaki has definitely made the country a better place.

Finally we have Ogata. He’s the main comic relief of the series, but I had to give him a mention because you can’t help but feel bad for the guy sometimes. I mean, he does ask for it on a few occasions as he accuses Icchan of iffy stuff and makes some big mistakes, but other times he means well and still gets into trouble. Inviting the main characters to the BBQ seems totally innocent..he didn’t realize that Misaki’s Mom would be there and that things could be tricky. The punishments can also be pretty mean like being attacked by an alien or getting tied up. He didn’t ask for this!

I suppose it should be mentioned that the ending of the show is a little cheesy. For once I wouldn’t call it rushed or anything and I was glad that the final episode was basically just one big fight, but they went overboard with trying to make it seem hopeless. Hikaru lost about 80% of her health in a flash and then got hit by a super blast. That should have finished off Hikaru and she stayed down for several minutes. Somehow her health didn’t hit 0 though…then she got hit again…and still had more health while the final boss lost. I would have been okay with that if Hikaru had activated a barrier or had a health regeneration abilitty, but it made no sense in context. She just doesn’t have that much health. Athena was just hyped to no return and it cost the writers a bit. Even in her first fight when she was moving at insane speeds, Athena lost that ability for all of her future fights. It was there for shock value, but then the writers realized that this would be too overpowered. It’s definitely something to watch out for as shows tend to bite off more than they can chew. Sai’s fight with Shuko was also cheesy, but just because neither one of them decided to fight seriously so Shuko won with ease. Isn’t that a little disrespectful to the contestants who lost to these two fighters earlier? I mean, it happens in Super Smash tournaments so it is slightly realistic, but just annoying to watch.


Overall, Angelic Layer is a great show. It’s a lot of fun right from the start. There is constant action throughout it and the pacing is always on point. The main cast is very strong and I could have easily seen this show going over 50 episodes. I definitely wouldn’t mind a sequel series someday where the characters have to fight new opponents or defend the world from evil Angels. I’d also like a sequel since Misaki is past the point of having any doubts so the villains would have to get stronger to deal with her since they can’t play with her psyche anymore. There’s a lot of potential here and a crossover with Megaman.EXE would also be fun since the two titles have so many similarities. If you haven’t seen the show yet, I’d highly recommend doing so. It’s aged phenomenally well and is probably one of the more underrated titles out there. After all, when was the last time you heard this show mentioned in any capacity?

Overall 8/10

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Manga

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc

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The sequel’s off to a good start. Granted, it’s only the first chapter, but already it is much more interesting than the Tsubasa sequel and the art is a big improvement. I wasn’t a big fan of the original Cardcaptor Sakura so this could end up being the sequel that elevates the franchise if it plays its card right. I’ll have a review for the series when it finishes.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Tsubasa World Chronicle Review

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Well, The Tsubasa sequel has reached its conclusion. It ended with only 19 chapters so it was quite short, but since this was monthly, it actually lasted around 2 years and a half. Now that’s scary considering how little it accomplished. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it was a good series. It started with some minor promise, but ended up being quite boring, uneventful, and just plain bad. It really could have been decent, but I feel like Clamp never knew what they wanted to do with the series. It virtually didn’t even have a plot as Syaoran and friends were just fed tale after tale after tale. The series just ends and you’re left wondering what was accomplished here. Now, it’s not completely necessary that something is accomplished. Sometimes a sequel can just be for fun to see the characters again and watch their adventures. Just look at Dragon Ball Super or Boruto. That being said, both of those didn’t end in 19 chapters (I doubt they will anyway) and will probably get an actual serious plot at some point. That never happened in Tsubasa nor will it happen since World Chronicle is already over.

Syaoran and friends were enjoying their eternal banishment due to the events of the original Tsubasa series when they are approached by a mysterious lady who tells Syaoran that he is her world’s last hope. The world of the dead and the world of the living are both joined to an extent. The only hope for the dead is for Syaoran to go and revive them, but should he really bring these people back. Is it even possible and what does it mean for the world of the living? He’ll also have to destroy a friend to bring back the others which is…dicey to say the least.

There are a lot of problems with the series. One of the main ones is the fact that the team dynamic isn’t very good. Honestly, I feel like the team really needs Sakura back or a new member at this point. None of the main characters are particularly interesting since they are all watered down versions of themselves. Fai’s only role in the series is to constantly tease Kurogane, which gets old incredibly quick since it is the same old tired joke chapter after chapter. Not to mention that Fai isn’t really a fighter anymore. To think that he used to get a lot of hype and had a good amount of magical talent. He could be a decent character at times, but take that away and you have a very boring supporting role.

Meanwhile, Kurogane is supposed to be the tough guy of the group, but he simply can’t keep up with the new fighters. He talks a good game, but rarely fights anymore. He reminds me of Zoro, but a far weaker and less imposing version of the character. Yes, he’s basically New World Zoro. He’s not a bad character like Fai though, but he simply doesn’t add much to the series and definitely adds nothing to the banter. As for Syaoran, he’s your average heroic lead I suppose. He’s always thinking and tries to do the right thing. He’s a good kid, but also comes across as rather soulless. Not heartless, but he doesn’t have a great deal of personality. He just goes through the motions of being heroic, but that’s about it. Fighting his shadow self was also a little dicey, but he held back enough and stopped fighting so I’d say that he did a good job there.

There are many examples of good shows that didn’t have a good rapport among the characters. Naruto is a great series, but the characters definitely could not hold a slice of life series. Likewise with Bleach. Meanwhile, Yu Yu Hakusho, Hunter X Hunter, and DBZ could effortlessly lead a slice of life series where nothing happens for 50+ episodes. It just comes down to whether or not the characters are charismatic. I’m not saying that Naruto characters are bad, but they need fights. Tsubasa is like that. The main characters really look terrible because there is no action. If there was more of an actual plot, then I’m sure that the main cast would have been more likable like in the original series.

The art is fairly clear, but it can also get chaotic whenever any action is occurring. That’s really a Clamp tradition at this point though so it’s to be expected. The important thing is that it usually looks clear so I’ll give them a pass there. It could still use a decent upgrade though and hopefully they’ll be ready for the upcoming Cardcaptor Sakura sequel. If handled right, that one should be able to surpass this title with ease.

After all, this series spent a few chapters just fighting evil animals (Bad move Clamp!) and trying to survive amidst an evil forest. That’s not very exciting material. At least Clamp didn’t contradict their no cop-outs strategy from the other titles. The concept of the dead being able to come back to life would have definitely gone against the whole Clamp universe. xxxHolic’s a key example of how a whole series/plot is about one character’s death and how she can never return no matter how many fancy spells are used. In the Clamp universe, once a character is dead, they’re staying that way. Sure, the spirit can talk with wise words of advice, but coming back to the real world in a corporal body is out of the question. Syaoran realized that by the end so at least he didn’t begin to jeopardize the real world as well. Chase after too many things and you’ll wind up losing them all. Although in World Chronicle’s case, it didn’t chase after enough things.

The ending does state that the story will continue back in xxxholic Rei so hopefully that title can use its momentum to push things forward. It had been fairly interesting. Part of what helps it is that the cast is better and while it is also pretty aimless it is better suited for it. Rei is all about mysteries and spirits causing mischief after all and the locale is better. If any Clamp title can grab Tsubasa’s plot and improve on it, then xxxholic’s the way to go.

Overall, World Chronicle was definitely a let down. It was consistently fighting for last place every month for the last 3 years. There were no chapters that were particularly exciting and even Syaoran’s rematch against Dark Syaoran came out of nowhere and wasn’t that enjoyable. It was a decent fight, but there was no reason for it and the battle was basically filler so it was hard to care about what was happening on screen. That’s the problem with deciding that plot is expendable and then still trying to have a serious fantasy adventure. Remember Dimension W folks? Not from my blog as I haven’t reviewed it yet, but that’s probably the token example of why you should focus on your plot before attempting to go placed. World Chronicle is still a class act for the most part as it steers away from things like super violence or fanservice, but there isn’t much going for it either. The biggest crime that it commits is being very boring, but that’s a serious offense for any manga. If you want to read a calming title about a few people aimlessly wandering around then you may enjoy this title. If not, then you may not want to spoil your Tsubasa memories and you should just go re read the original series instead. You’ll certainly get a lot more out of it.

Overall 4/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

xxxHolic Review

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xxxHolic is now over and it only took me a little over 2 months to get through the series. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me and it was certainly one of my quicker speed reads. This series was fun and to an extent, it’s a peaceful, episodic series similar to Yotsubato or Natsume. The main difference is that it’s more interesting and the characters are better. If you were expecting action then you will be disappointed, but if you come in expecting the right vibe, then you will be pleasantly surprised at how it’s handled.

Watanuki is your average kid who goes to school and tries to be a nice guy. He doesn’t really get along with his classmate, Domeki, but they still end up hanging out a lot thanks to interventions by Watanuki’s employer, Yuko. Yuko is a space/time witch who owns a shop which can grant wishes for people. Her abilities seem to only be limited by her imagination and most of the cases that she deals with are fairly meta. Watanuki is typically stuck with the manual labor when there is something to do. Things tend to freak him out but he adjusts as the series goes on.

xxxHolic was definitely a slice of life at first, but then it slowly started to take on a more somber note as Yuko hinted that things would have to end. The status quo can never remain for long as change is inevitable, but Watanuki didn’t want to have to past ways so soon. Yuko continues to lose power as the series goes on until she finally starts to fade and disappear, which leaves Watanuki with a new mission to uphold the shop until she returns. This is essentially the last part of the series. You can split xxxHolic into two chapters, the Yuko adventures where she messed with Watanuki a lot and then the second half is all about Watanuki being the owner and losing all of his personality.

Before I go into that, it should be noted that this series is in the same continuity as just about every other Clamp series. That’s nothing new, but it is heavily intertwined with the Tsubasa series to an extent that you would typically not expect. If you haven’t read the Tsubasa series, it won’t really affect your experience here, but if you have read it, then the interactions between the series is always interesting.

As expected, the art is fairly clear and easy to read. The Clamp series have varying levels of quality for me and I think they’re at their best in these slice of life series as the clear art works well for creating the characters. It doesn’t work quite as well for fights although Clamp gave it their all. I’d definitely give the art a thumbs up here.

All right, let’s talk about Watanuki. He’s the main character of the title and a decently likable character for the most part. He really overreacts whenever Domeki is on screen, which can get a little repetitive, but sometimes he’s right. Typically he’s not, but it’s good to see him take the win sometimes. Watanuki still means well for the most part and he’s a nice guy. My problem is his new personality in the second part of the series. Once Yuko is gone, Watanuki decides to run the shop, but he also decides to become Yuko to an extent. Now, he only wears the clothes that she would use to run the shop, smokes the same cigar that she had, and even goes as far as to copy her poses and dialogue within the chapters.

It’s simply overdone and I believe that this does have a term in real life as a person can try to essentially become a person that they were close to who ended up passing away. It wasn’t good character development for Watanuki though and I ended up not really liking the character by the end. I definitely miss the original.
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Domeki is the main supporting character and he’s always around. He really likes to drink and he’s a fairly loyal friend who came to Watanuki’s aid several times during the series. Unlike the main hero, Domeki can actually fight and he gets all of the action scenes in the series. He’s definitely a nice guy and while he is rude to Watanuki on purpose, it seems to all be a game for him. With everyone else he tends to be slightly more polite or at least more aware of the situation.

Yuko naturally has a very large role in the series. As Watanuki is always very serious, Yuko loves to tease him the entire series by making absurd demands or putting him in dicey positions. (Inviting everyone over for a sleepover) Watanuki always has a huge reaction which certainly encourages her. She’s a lot of fun and one of the reasons why the series is so enjoyable. Yuko always knows how to have a good time and she hides a lot of the tougher truths from Watanuki, like the fact that she is in a fairly tough fight at the moment.

Throughout the series, she gives a lot of wise advice to Watanuki. Yuko believes that nothing is by chance and everything that is to be was meant to be. She mentions this quite often, but also tells Watanuki about how strong desires can eventually just turn into darkness. For example, there was a lady who wanted to be with someone so badly that she turned into an evil spirit. Yuko will grant any wish for a price so it is a stretch to think of her as a hero. She tends to help the heroes and has a soft spot for them, but she is also content to just let a person fade away so that she could let Watanuki witness the irony of that person’s demise.

While Yuko’s the most enjoyable character in the series, Mokona is also a very good one. He loves to drink as well and messes with Watanuki when he has the chance. Mokona’s role is very small next to the other characters, but he makes his presence felt. Himawari is the main heroine of the series and she is mainly just around to act oblivious. It turns out that she has a rather dark secret which explains a whole lot, but I still can’t say that she was a very good character. She’s a nice character so I won’t say that she’s a downright bad one, but she just lacked character development and never became all that memorable.

Kohane is a fairly important character as she gets a whole arc to herself. She can see spirits like Watanuki so she is quickly thrust into the world of television. The heroes help her to repair the rift between her and her mother although it takes time and a few years since after the time skip, things aren’t quite perfect yet. She was a nice pal for Watanuki, but once her powers started to wane, so did her role in the series.

While I did mention that the series can be a little somber at some points as Watanuki wonders if he’ll ever see Yuko again, for the most part I’d say that it’s fairly light hearted. It’s a calming experience as you read through the volumes and that’s part of why it’s so enjoyable to read. The character interactions are handled well and even if some of the characters can act a little repetitively, it reinforces the whole slice of life angle.

If I had any complaints with the series, it would be that I didn’t like 2 of the cases. One involved a spirit who used to be human and there was hintings of domestic violence there. It’s never explicitly stated, but it’s fairly obvious and Watanuki wasn’t really able to help the spirit very much. It was a very somber story and there are a few that don’t get to have happy endings, but for the most part it’s either an ironic fate or one that is sad for the individual, but not in a really dark way.

The other arc that I wasn’t crazy about was Kohane’s as the media and the other stars decided to throw water on her and basically act rude because they were jealous of her abilities. The arc dragged a little and was mostly filler so I was essentially just waiting for it to be all over. The stand alone stories were typically the best one like the mysterious sounds so Yuko gave someone a bell case. There were a lot of other ones and they were typically all good. Even Kohane’s had a lot of good parts like the learning how to cook section. I always love cooking parts, which is why it’s too bad that we don’t have more good food titles. Toriko counts, but only to a very slight extent.

As for the interesting ending to xxxHolic, it’s definitely pretty unique. Let’s just say that there’s a pretty big time skip and while it’s customary to end a series with one, you typically don’t see one that’s quite so large. It just goes to show that the heroes will have to do a lot of waiting and it’s easy to imagine that Watanuki would be bored at this point. With technology, it’s safe to say that I’d never be bored even if I had 100 years, but Watanuki is a bit old fashioned in that sense so he should really give it a shot. I imagine that meeting descendants every once in a while is always interesting.

It’ll definitely be interesting to see how a sequel series handles this. To an extent, if it’s more of a nostalgia based sequel like Tsubasa, the series doesn’t have to introduce a whole lot of plot as the stand alone adventures can just continue. This series had a very small cast as you can tell from the review and I don’t expect the sequel to add many others. I also don’t see Yuko returning in the sequel either, but I could definitely see her being able to talk with Watanuki for brief periods of time. Spoilers time, although I essentially hinted at it already. Bringing her back just seems like it would defy a lot of what the first series talked about as death is one of the few things that is irreversible. Yes, Yuko’s disappearance cannot be called a normal death, but it’s essentially what it all boiled down too. She just slowed it down for a while.

Of course, that’s why a sequel series likely wouldn’t be as good as the original. Without Yuko’s interesting views on everything, the series may not be quite as deep as the first one. Watanuki intentionally copies her personality, but it’s not the same as hearing it all from the original. Also, I still don’t like Watanuki’s new personality and the timeskip likely will not have done him any favors either. Maybe he’ll slowly regain his old personality, but the odds of that are slim.

Finally, I may as well talk about the power levels for a second. Everything is pureposefully vague, but Watanuki and Yuko state that their abilities are greatest while in dreams. In the real world, they do seem to have some slight magical abilities as Watanuki can levitate and both of them seem to have telekenesis and general magic. They wouldn’t do too well against other magicians like Dr. Strange or Fai for me, but in universe, Yuko is much stronger than Fai as she contends with foes like Clow Reed. I would have liked to have seen some more action to see their true abilities. Domeki has his spirit arrows which can deal a good amount of damage, but his human state remain so it’s similar to the Sailor Scouts. He has good offensive powers, but he’s still a total glass cannon.
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Overall, xxxHolic was a pretty fun title. It’s certainly the kind of series that you could easily read again as a calming experience. I wasn’t a huge fan of the final saga in the series though and Watanuki still feels fake there, but it is what it is. At 19 volumes, the series is decently long so there’s time for quite a lot of adventures. With so much meta content, a lot of things are vague, but in a good way and Yuko’s wise words are always interesting to listen too. As already said, the series is just a lot of fun and I’m sure that you will enjoy it. Don’t go into it expecting a thriller, but remember that it is a slice of life with some fun supernatural elements. Then you’ll be fine!

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Cardcaptor Sakura Review


This is another title that I started a very long time ago, but finally got around to finishing it. I used to watch the show when I was a kid and it was certainly a classic along with Sailor Moon. I saw it so many times that some episodes are really stuck in my memory and I remember the animation being pretty good considering how old it was. Unfortunately, the manga is typically not quite as exciting as the anime and overall it was not as enjoyable. The story is good and we do get some solid action from time to time, but subplots hold it down.

Sakura has been chosen to find all of the Clow Cards. They were made by an incredibly powerful sorcerer who died many years ago. Once Sakura has them all, she will have abilities that far outshine those of the other mortals. The problem is that she isn’t the only one collecting the cards as a kid named Li is also hunting them. Sakura must find them fast because most of the cards like to cause terror and destruction. Balancing this out with her school life will be tough, but Sakura is up to the task!

After the main plot is over, the manga has a second arc. A mysterious kid appears who seems to have great magical power and he is causing some trouble. Sakura’s cards have also lost their power so now she must transform all of them into Sakura Cards. What do the villains want and is Sakura prepared to fight the opponents? (She’s a pretty big pacifist so fighting anyone can be difficult for her) Luckily, Li is here to help, but more backup would still be appreciated. Is it time for Cerberus to join in on the action?

The series is a little over 10 volumes although I read it in omnibus format so it was considerably shorter. Each volume was around 500 pages this way and I actually managed to read the final 500 in one sitting because I was ready to see how everything ended. The manga is not without its problems, but the premise still proves to hold up well. I always like the “Gotta Catch Em All” format as it typically works quite well. The manga/anime still has to be careful not to be too repetitive, but that’s usually the only concern with the plot. The first arc doesn’t really have a main villain as a result, but that’s what we have the second arc for.

Sakura is the main character and her life is changed when Cerberus meets her. Sakura is more than happy to catch all of the cards, but she’s not a fighter at heart so she tries to catch them peacefully. It’s why she’s lucky that there were no real villains for quite a while as dealing with cards is less personal. She has a crush on one of the supporting characters for a while, but luckily she manages to get over it by the final volume. That subplot was definitely not great for her. Sakura is fairly generic as far as protagonists go, but not in a good way. I prefer the outgoing, ready to fight, kind of main character. Sakura is more on the timid side. She’s a nice heroine, but a little bland and harder to root for than you would hope from the lead.

Cerberus is Sakura’s animal partner and he’s not bad. Once we find out that he has a true form, things get more fun for his fans. Cerberus can shoot giant energy blasts and he’s a real trooper. From Sakura’s two guardians, Cerberus is easily my favorite member. He’s a very loyal ally to have and it’s safe to say that Sakura wouldn’t have lasted quite as long without him. He’s easily the best hero in the series, which is cool. Yue is Sakura’s other guardian and he’s fairly tough. He has an energy sword at the ready, which he uses to slice away at his foes. He starts off as an antagonist and doesn’t think that Sakura is worthy of the cards, but he eventually comes around. Due to his current predicament of being stuck in someone’s body, Yue’s screen time is considerably less than Cerberus’. His design helps me to believe that he is stronger than Cerberus as he has the speed edge, but Cerberus still wins in terms of personality. Sakura definitely lucked out by having two powerful guardians.

Li is Sakura’s rival who eventually drops down to just being her friend. He’s decently tough, but Sakura is the true chosen warrior so he is left with only a small handful of cards and a sword. He provides her with a good assist during the manga though and he’s not totally helpless. That being said, he spends a great amount of time just arguing with Toya and being insulted by the villains. He’s simply too oblivious at times and the way that he handled his moving situation with Sakura left a lot to be desired. At least he claims that he was going to tell her…but it’s just a claim.

Tomoyo is Sakura’s best friend in the series and she is always making costumes for Sakura to wear. Unfortunately, she’s a pretty bad character. While not nearly as outrageous or insane as Chizuru from Bleach, Tomoyo is basically in love with Sakura and the manga makes sure to mention and hint at this whenever she appears. It’s certainly unnecessary and it’s too bad that they couldn’t just be friends. Tomoyo knows that they will always be just friends because Sakura already has someone that she likes, but it’s still an unnecessary plot development that hurts the series a little since Tomoyo appears a whole lot.

Toya and Yukito’s plot is the other subplot that hurts the series. They were best friends for most of the series. Toya would help his sister, Sakura, out whenever trouble arose and Yukito was just a nice guy who ignored Sakura’s infatuation with him. Then, the manga decides to go the Tomoyo and Sakura route with these two, which was just sad. Toya was the tough character of the series, but that goes away once his magic is taken away and then the plot with him and Yukito stops being veiled. The series definitely had a thing for characters turning out to ultimately be gay, which was regrettable. The series also placed a ton of focus on romance in general, which hurt.

It’s one of the main reasons why I found the anime to be more exciting although they certainly did include many of the plots, it was always very subtle. Of course, I saw the dub and that was a long time ago so perhaps the subs just decide to let loose as well. This is the big reason as to why the franchise could never be as good as Sailor Moon. While Sailor Moon’s fight scenes were often anti-climactic, the series as a whole was just a lot more fun. Less romance and more action is typically a recipe for success.

Eriol is the big villain of the final arc and he’s definitely not a great bad guy. He’s constantly talking a good game and saying vague things, but I can’t take him seriously. He has strong abilities that rival Clow Reed’s and he could have easily defeated Sakura at any time. It simply wasn’t part of the plan though so he holds back a lot. This is definitely the kind of villain who should never be the final boss. He’s just a smug kid when it all boils down to it and the sooner he was off screen the better.

Eriol’s two minions are Ruby Moon and Spinel Sun. They are essentially copies of Cerberus and Yue and were created to be slightly stronger than the originals. Ruby Moon likes to mess around with the guys in the series, but she is still a strong fighter when she gets serious. Her energy sword packs a punch and she was defeating Yue for most of their fight. Spinel Sun is essentially a dark Cerberus and he seems like a nice guy even though he acts tough. They don’t get a whole lot to do in the series, but Eriol definitely needed them since he would have certainly been outnumbered otherwise.

This is Clamp so the art is good as you would expect. It can get very convoluted like with Tsubasa at times, but this is very rare due to the lack of action scenes. Typically, the series just has a lot of large panels, which makes it easy to see what is happening and just blast through the chapters. It’s why you can read the volumes so quickly for this series. Everything is very clear and the style reminds me of Bleach. It’s certainly tough to beat.

As I mentioned, we do get some fight scenes though, which is always cool. The final battle has Sakura’s two guardians fight the fakes while Sakura takes on Eriol. It’s one of the only full fledged fights in the series so it was a good one to watch. In Arc 1, it was more of a test for the final showdown so while there was action, it wasn’t quite as real. More action scenes would have definitely been a lot of fun for this series.

The lack of action may not have been quite a bad thing either if the characters had been more likable. It’s hard to put my thumb on it besides the gay themes in the background, but none of the characters were interesting or likable. It felt like a very old series, but not in a fun and campy way. For example, Kitchen Princess and Pandora Hearts are two series where there isn’t a lot of action all of the time, but the characters are still interesting and relatable. In Cardcaptor Sakura, we don’t really have anyone like that. I don’t think that I really ended up liking a single one of the human characters and for a 12 volume series, that’s not a good thing. The only characters who ended up being good were the guardians for me and they could fight so that was an added bonus.

This series may be a classic, but it’s safe to say that it’s be dethroned by series like Sailor Moon, Angelic Layer, (Not exactly Shojo, but close enough) and Magic Knight Rayearth. Those titles had a lot more action and better main characters to stay up there. While Sakura has better artwork than Sailor Moon and mayyyyyybe Rayearth, (Not Angelic Layer, but not many things can beat that one) it’s not enough to bridge the gap.

A reboot could actually help Cardcaptor Sakura. As I mentioned, one of the problems is that the series feels really dated in a bad way. A modern reboot could help to address this and I’m confident that more action would be included as well. The series is old enough where it would be nostalgic for a lot of people so I can see this working. As for whether it will actually get a reboot, the odds are certainly slim to say the least, but you never know.

Despite its flaws, the series was still pleasant enough to read. The calm art style and slice of life aspects made for an easy read. It’s easy to just pick up and read because of how simple it can be and I’m always happy to have another series around. In the end, the negatives ensured that I couldn’t end up calling it a good title, but it still wasn’t actually boring. It was just hard to relate to any of the characters and sometimes it felt like the series wasn’t really going anywhere.

Overall, Cardcaptor Sakura is a title that many people will likely remember right away. I enjoyed the TV show back when I used to watch it, but the manga couldn’t quite live up to the anime’s memory. The character cast just isn’t good and the gay themes between some of the characters were simply not needed. The art is good and the fight scenes are great when they actually happen, but there really aren’t enough battles to keep the series up. If you’re in the mood for a good Shojo title, I’d recommend reading Sailor Moon instead. The stakes actually do get very high over there towards the end of the series and the Sailor Scouts are more interesting heroines than Sakura. As with Fire Emblem, I have now finished another series that I began several years ago. It always feels good to complete another series and I’m one step closer to finally getting my Naruto manga review up.
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Overall 4/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Angelic Layer Review


It’s time for a classic battle series that may not be the most popular series that Clamp has done, but it makes a solid argument for being their best. The series is only 5 volumes, but it’s essentially comprised of nonstop fights. That’s a winning formula if I ever heard of one and it comes close to 9 star territory, but it does stumble a little along the way to victory.

Misaki is the main character of the series and she grew up in a world that has become engrossed in a new game called Angelic Layer. Essentially, it’s like the Bionicle Meta game in real life, but with a bit more intensity. You buy a doll and then you customize her to be a speed, power, or defense fighter. After that, you can buy her equipment and accessories so that she can be a distinct fighter. Now that you’ve completed all of the steps, you’re ready to enter the tournaments! Misaki witnesses an incredible battle between the angels on TV and decides to enter one with her new doll. What’s the harm right? Maybe she’ll actually end up being the world champ by the time this is all over!

You can argue that Misaki’s road to the top is a little more lonely than the average main character. The reason being that she does have two friends who are main supporting characters, but they don’t play Angelic Layer. Most leads get to spar with their friends, but that isn’t the case for Misaki. I don’t mind the fact that the friends can’t fight though because they just aren’t very good characters. One of the friends is Tamayo and she’s definitely very annoying. She’s constantly beating up Misaki’s other friend and talking about romance when there is no need for it. Her over the top theatrics are not amusing and I would be able to take her a little more seriously if she could actually fight. She actually involves the one big negative for the series so we may as well get it over with as soon as possible.

It’s a running gag that Misaki’s undergarments are mentioned when Tamayo or Ohjiro is around. It’s completely unnecessary and definitely not a good way to throw in some comedy scenes. It’s safe to say that this prevented the series from getting 9 stars. It’s not bad compared to most other series since you never actually see anything, (There is basically no fanservice in the series, which is pretty exceptional) but it’s still not something that you want to see in a series. It just helps to make Tamayo even more unlikable than she already is and it also stops Ohjiro from being a good character.

Kotaro is the other main character and he’s much better than Tamayo. He’s pretty generic and he’s certainly not one of the best characters out there, but he tries hard to be cool. He knows how to fight in the real world and it comes in handy at the very end of the series, but he really needs to learn how to fight in Angelic Layer. He spends the series just getting beaten up on so this doesn’t do wonders for his character either.

Misaki is a pretty decent main character. She always fights to the end while never giving up. Misaki’s instincts for battle are typically spot on and she can decipher the weak point of any opponent that she faces. On the other hand, she can certainly be a little on the generic side and she gets flustered way too often. Misaki isn’t going to be the next Ichigo or Kirito, but I’ll accept her as a decent enough lead to hold the series up. If she was a little more hot headed with some trash talking to back it up, I think that I would probably like her a little more. As it stands, she’s pretty polite and she keeps everyone in the friend zone so I can admire that. Misaki’s other trait that can get to you is that she’s way too gullible. The scientist tries to help her get through this, but it’s a difficult task.

Icchan is the scientist in question and he’s definitely all over the place. He likes to make remarks that don’t make sense and he’s constantly ditching his job to help Misaki. He definitely plays favorites throughout the tournament, but it all comes down to Misaki’s cheerful demeanor. All of her opponents end up rooting for the main character after they lose because Misaki doesn’t want to win for the money, she wants to win for the love of the game. Icchan gives her the angel and he also helps Misaki customize her during the earlier stages of the manga. He’s definitely a decent character, but his almost literally all talk as he never actually fights even though he knows so much about the game. Ah well, he’s definitely a nice guy and he knows that ice cream is one of the best desserts.

Hikaru is Misaki’s angel and she’s one of the strongest fighters in the series. She is a speed fighter so she relies on a lot of quick hits and sudden moves to knock the opponents out of the stage. It’s good that she can do this since she usually starts the battle on the losing end. Her health goes into the red zone before she counters and typically she wins with a one hit KO or some quick attacks. She’s definitely a great angel and one who will certainly remind you of Megaman. She may not have a lot of flashy techniques at her disposal, but she gets the job done. She’s definitely the most likable angel in the tournament.
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Hatoko is one of Misaki’s friends and her angel is named Suzuka. Hatoko seems to have a pretty good reputation as a very good Angelic Layer fighter and many thought that she would ultimately win the big tournament. Her angel is a powerful defense fighter so she is able to repel just about any blow with ease. Suzuka’s design is definitely pretty good and she shows that defense types can still match up against speed fighters when necessary. Her final fight in the series isn’t very satisfying since she loses in a single blow, but Hatoko made it pretty far. She’s definitely the best friend from Misaki’s supporting cast and Suzuka is probably the third best angel.

Ohjiro and his angel, The Wizard, are not some of the best characters here. The Wizard is actually a pretty good angel and he’s another defense type. He can block an opponent’s attack by reflecting their energy and making a barrier. He is said to have never been hit by an opponent before so his opponents have a lot of explaining to do. Naturally, it’s up to Hikaru to give him a pretty good fight and prove that speed really does trump everything else. The Wizard looks a lot like Syaoran or Fai from Tsubasa, which is cool since Clamp loves borrowing characters and designs from their other series. The Wizard is pretty likable even if he seems to be pretty weak once you get past his barrier. On the other hand, Ohjiro is definitely not cool. He talks a lot from the shadows about how cool he is and on Hikaru’s potential, but it never goes anywhere. Once he starts to make random comments about under garments that have no relevance to the plot, he immediately lost any chance that he may have had on being a likable character. Sometimes, that’s all that it takes to make a character plummet down the ranks.

Shuko and her angel, Athena, are known as the strongest fighters in Angelic Layer. After Hikaru wins the tournament, they have a quick clash. Athena is technically a speed type, but she’s also one of the strongest fighters in the series. I was pretty glad to see that after all of the defense and speed fighters that were featured throughout the tournament, it was a good change of pace. I did think that Hikaru was probably doomed though since attack power is probably the most important factor in a match like this. Not to mention that Athena still has enough speed to match Hikaru’s. Athena also comes equipped with a giant energy blast that really tips the scales in her favor. Athena is probably the second best angel in the series. It’s too bad that I can’t say the same for Shuko. Shuko has a pretty big twist that is pretty obvious once you see her, but I guess I’ll refrain from saying it just in case. It explains why she isn’t very likable, but it’s still pretty overdone. Shuko is incredibly shy so that she’s constantly blushing in just about every scene and she can barely talk to someone without looking away. She gets tricked at the end into finally seeing the main characters again and maybe this will help her as a character, but we never really get to see this.

Arisu and her angel Alice are the final fighters to face Hikaru in the tournament. It’s actually pretty anticlimactic since I would argue that Alice is much weaker than all of the other opponents that Hikaru faced. (Not counting one shot characters) Alice doesn’t really have any gimmicks and her special trait is that she has great balance. That’s nice and all, but it seriously doesn’t help in most battles. She just gets lucky because the stage is an ice rink so Hikaru’s balance is off for the whole fight. She quickly figures out a way around this though so Alice was doomed. Alice is all right, but she’s not one of the better angels. You could really say the same about Arisu. Arisu just doesn’t have a whole lot of character and she’s simply not that likable. I think that the Wizard probably should have been the final boss.

Sai and her angel, Shirahime, are pretty similar to Hatoko and Suzuka. Sai fights with complete seriousness and poise as she faces her opponents. Shirahime is also a defense type of Angel and her stats are almost identical to Suzuka’s. Their match was extremely close and she puts up a very good fight against Haruka. Once she sheds her protective gear, Shirahime is able to move at speeds similar to a speed type’s, but then she must lose her defensive edge. It’s a gamble, but one that I would definitely make since defense usually doesn’t trump a good speed character. Sai seems to be a little full of herself, but she is a good fighter and I like Shirahime. This is another fearsome pair who could have defeated most of the other opponents in the series.

There are a few other characters like a wind doll and one who could use Hyper Mode, but you get the jist of the series. It’s basically one battle after the next and the fast pace is one of the reasons why the series is so fun. It’s like a good ole Megaman manga and it never gets dull. The action scenes look very impressive and I have to say that it’ll be tough to adapt in animation. They’ll probably tone down the speed feats so that it’s lower tier, but maybe they’ll be able to do a good job.

Clamp just outdid themselves with the action this time. The fight scenes are similar to Megaman NT Warrior and DBZ. The constant hand to hand combos mixed in with the occasional special technique just makes the battles so exciting. The art for them is excellent and I can see why Clamp has such a good reputation. It may not be as impressive for the normal scenes, but they still look good. There’s a rough edge to it that will remind you of their other titles, but you can always clearly see what is happening. I’m not a huge fan of their art gags like the characters turning into octopuses all the time, but they’re not bad either. If they could just tone it down with the blushing, it would be even better.

Angelic Layer is just a very fun series to read. It’s pretty light natured and you could almost picture it in the real world. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we’ll finally have virtual reality games like this one within the next 50-60 years. I may be too old to really enjoy them by then, but it would be pretty awesome to have a realistic simulator like this. It would probably be a bit more complex here and I doubt that a newcomer would become the world champ after a day of practice, but we can let that slide since Misaki may be the chosen one. She has a better battle record than most main characters since she wins just about every battle that she enters. The final battle may be unsatisfying to a lot of people, but you can argue that Hikaru was still battle fatigued. The actual ending to the series is better than most of the other manga titles that have ended and there is certainly lots of room for a direct sequel (So Chobits doesn’t count) if Clamp really wants too someday. That would definitely be exciting.

How does it compare to other toyetic franchises? Well, it definitely loses to Megaman and the Yugioh franchise is too massive to lose here. Aside from that, I dare say that it takes down Bakugan, Beyblade, and most of the rest. It loses to Cardfight Vanguard as well, but it puts up a brave fight. Power level wise, it’s probably above all of them and only Yugioh/Megaman could hope to stand up to them. Angelic Layer’s biggest advantage over most series is just how absurdly fast the angels are. Catching up to them is nearly impossible and their attacks have lethal amounts of power behind them.
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Overall, Angelic Layer may only be 5 volumes, but it’s a great series to check out. This is definitely Clamp’s best work as it even takes out Tsubasa. It’ll be hard for them to top it, but it’s always possible. The nonstop action can rival any series since the fights are so good. In terms of speed, you could probably pit the angels against just anyone short of Goku and they could probably hold their own. Most of the characters are pretty likable and the art is solid. If not for the lines of the two annoying characters, this could easily be top 5 material. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend this title if you like action and it could end up being one of your favorite titles.

Overall 8/10

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

Tsubasa Spring Thunder Review

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It’s time to review the second Tsubasa OVA, which is also the final one to ever be created. For better or worse, the franchise ended (On TV anyway) with this installment so does it provide us with a lot of closure and such? No….not quite. Luckily, this turns out well for us in the sense that it is basically nonstop action. This OVA raises the stakes from the last one and we have less exposition so more time for fights. As you can tell, this one easily defeated the last OVA!

The plot continues after the heroes saved Fai from the sorcerer….is that really how the last OVA ended? Wellllll…maybe not, but they assume that you guys read the manga so it’s okay to jump a lot! Kurogane loses his arm and someone goes to get him a replacement when an old foe appears. Remember Seishiro, Syaoran’s mentor? Well, he’s back to keep on searching for the vampire twins and he also decides to intimidate the heroes as a consolation prize. Syaoran isn’t having any of that and he attack the man. He shall get the feather at any cost! Unbeknownst to the heroes..the other Syaoran also approaches! (The original Syaoran who was with us for the whole series before turning evil…that Syaoran)

Now, this OVA can be a little cruel to longtime fans of the series who didn’t read the manga since it skips a whole bunch of story arcs while including flashbacks that reference them. It’s an intriguing strategy and one that many will not really appreciate. It’s probably a lot more fun if you’ve never seen Tsubasa before since it’ll be a mystery. (I said something similar for the last OVA) Starting off with the heroes escaping from a dying world after murdering the magician who had been hyped as one of the ultimate villains since the very first episode is rather anticlimatic as well. I’d be pretty disheartened if Frieza or Aizen had been taken out off screen like that. We also don’t really hear the plot twist about Fai’s name. (Tsubasa loves its name twists…..just wait for Kurogane’s!)

So, the continuity of this OVA is definitely a little dicey, but if you read the manga everything will still make a lot of sense. At first, I was pretty skeptical about Kurogane losing his arm since it seemed to be counterproductive at the time. It would just reduce his chances of escape right? Luckily, we just find out that he had to sacrifice his arm to save Fai and escape. (Fai’s always getting rescued now and that’s a trend that won’t end anytime soon) Tsubasa saved itself from that small stumble.

This OVA is only two episodes so it’s extremely short. Luckily, it tries to make up for this with all of the action and its a winning strategy. The first episode mainly deals with Syaoran’s fight against Seishiro and it’s nice to see how Syaoran’s improved since their last encounter. (Different Syaoran, but same fighting techniques) However, Syaoran has not improved nearly as much as you would have thought and he’s still losing pretty badly in this fight. I love his determination, but it’s disappointing to see him so outmatched here. Things get even dicier for him in the second episode since he goes up against Dark Syaoran. (I’m going to just say Dark before his name to make it easier to tell them apart) Dark Syaoran is much stronger than Seishiro in my opinion although I’m sure that many would disagree on that. Syaoran puts up a brave fight, but I seriously don’t see him posing much of a threat for the experienced villain. The fight scene is fun and it’s nice to see the contrast of fire vs thunder.

I definitely enjoyed the action scenes in this OVA more than the last one’s. They weren’t rushing and the fights were allowed to really develop. The energy attacks from Seishiro’s blade as well as the two Syaorans also helped since energy attacks tend to look pretty great when they’re used in such a high budget OVA. One area where this OVA lost to the last one is the theme song. The last one was lacking in images, but the overall atmosphere helped it and the green circle was ominous. There really isn’t anything redeeming in this opening and it’s just very boring. I don’t know what happened, but it feels like it was created as an afterthought. There’s no action scenes or anything and it just shows all of the characters a bunch of times. Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z has openings over 20 years ago that were better than these. There’s no excuse for a bad opening these days since so many anime produce great ones every year!

Aside from the opening, the soundtrack is pretty good. Naturally, most of the selections are from the show so they are tried and true. They never get old and it’s very well rounded. I’m pretty sure that my favorite theme didn’t play this time, but I suppose that it can’t make the cut every time. (Even though it is the best theme….)

I would almost say that Syaoran is a 5 star protagonist in this OVA. (5 out of 5 of course) However, there is one scene that holds him back and it is near the beginning. Seishiro starts to intimidate the heroes and he beats up on Fai for a while…and nobody helps. This is actually worse for Kurogane (Since he does nothing, but Syaoran should have done something. Syaoran does challenge Seishiro to a match, but it’s only because he wants the feather. He seemed to not care about what was happening to Fai, which was pretty out of character. Aside from that brief moment, Syaoran was basically perfect.

At this point, Sakura is basically avoiding him (As seen in a new flashback) so he is basically alone. He’s still intent on getting the feathers so that Sakura can have her memories back, but he’s going to have the short end of the stick either way. He’s still very resolute in this decision and he’ll face anyone to get the feathers. He never backs down and Syaoran is just a great hero. He’s certainly more heroic than your average fighter and he doesn’t even need any comic relief scenes to balance his personality out. He’s completely serious and stone faced the entire OVA and it works for his character.

Dark Syaoran mainly appears for the second episode, but he does get a pretty epic cliffhanger for the first episode. He definitely means business and to be honest…I’m basically rooting for him. I try to root for both Syaorans equally, but Dark Syaoran is technically the character that I’m more used too and if you didn’t see the last OVA, you wouldn’t know just how evil he is. From this perspective, he seems more like an anti-hero, although a strong case can be made that he’s the villain since he’s willing to destroy the other Syaoran. Regardless, his goal is to help Sakura get her feathers back and the main difference is that he doesn’t take no for an answer. His design is epic and you can tell that he’s more on the dark side than the regular Syaoran. Dark Syaoran definitely helped the series excel to new heights!
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Sakura is a lot better here than in the last OVA. She is typically awake…well, she’s awake inside of her dream anyway. It’s an interesting moment since she has a meta conversation with Watanuki and it’s all very deep. (Literally since they’re basically underwater) It can be a little upsetting to see her avoid Syaoran, but we do find out the reason for it at the very end and it’s explained more at the end of the manga. It makes sense to an extent since we wouldn’t want Syaoran to get any false hopes. Her final moment is not that great though since it’s something that we’ve seen a lot of characters do in the past and it’s always a clock stopper. (Not in a good way…I want my action scenes to keep on going!) She doesn’t fight in this OVA, but we can always hope that she’ll grab her gun and take on a villain someday.

As mentioned earlier, Kurogane looks really bad here. Not only does he freeze up when Fai is attacked, but he has been reduced to sitting on the sideline for all of the battles. Gone are the days when he was a big fighter. (He does get a big fight soon, but it is not animated at this point in time) He does have some scenes with the princess where we find out new twists and such, but it’s not really going to help him rise up the ranks. I like him as a character, but I just didn’t care for him here. Just counting this OVA and not the previous one + TV show, Kurogane just wouldn’t be that great.

Although, Kurogane would still be better than Fai. Now that Fai is basically powerless, he’s really no help to the team. He tags along and gets beat up by the enemies, but that’s about it. We know that he’s a very good hand to hand fighter from the TV show…unless he was just amping up his abilities with magic. Still, I would expect him to do better and I’m sure that he would have some good moments in the future. This OVA just happens to take place at a time where he doesn’t really have a role to speak of. It’s a sad time for him and Kurogane.

It’s good to see Seishiro appear after being gone for so long. He’s easily one of the best characters in the franchise and his character is still a mystery. He seems to have joined the side of the heroes in this OVA sine he’s a lot friendlier then he once was, but you still have to question his goal. What will he do with the vampires once he finds them? It’s too bad that Seishiro won’t stick around to help since he could definitely do a lot of good. He may be the strongest hero at the moment and that’s saying something! I guess he’ll just have to let the main characters do their thing, but it would have been nice if he had stayed with the party.

The tone of this OVA is a little more like the show. There are still a lot of twists, but it’s a little lighter. The stakes haven’t gone down, but these two episodes feel like they could have been in the animated series. Maybe the director changed or it’s just a coincidence in the story. The Kamui arc was likely darker in the manga as well. This one had more nostalgia for me in that sense and that’s always a nice plus.

The ending may be more than a little dicey for Tsubasa fans and for those who just picked this OVA up on the fly. The ending gives us a huge cliffhanger with the heroes deciding to take out the main villain once and for all as they make another dimension jump. After all of the adventures, we are finally at the final battle! Only to find out that the series was not going to be continued and that you would have to read the manga and try to decipher the fight scenes to see it! On one hand, it’s not cool since you’ll never see the ending, but I do have to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cliffhanger. That type of ending really makes me jump on the hype train! It’s just so intense and it’s one of the ultimate cliffhangers! (Another example of an ultimate cliffhanger is Goku finally arriving to his allies’ aid against Frieza or Sasuke preparing to fight Gaara after some intense training. Shonen Jump is full of these scenes and it’s one of the reasons why they are awesome!)

Overall, Tsubasa definitely ended on a high note with this OVA! It’s a mixed bag since it doesn’t really tie up most of the loose ends and it doesn’t really end, but it was still a very fun ride. We had a lot of action and the soundtrack/animation will hold up very well for many years. Bringing back Seishiro and Dark Syaoran was a good way to bring in most of the villains and Fei Wong got his little cameo. Kurogane and Fai looked really underwhelming and this is their last animated appearance to that could be a little disheartening to their fans. (Not quite as bad as being a fan of the evil sorcerer though…) I definitely recommend this OVA to Tsubasa fans and to anyone who enjoys a nice anime fight! It doesn’t really have any negative qualities and it fixes the mild issues that I had with the first OVA. (I’ll miss the Angelic Layer crossover from the manga, but I suppose that this was how it had to be. Hopefully it’ll get animated someday) This is something that you’ll be glad you saw!

Overall 8/10

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

Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations Review

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I watched the Tsubasa show pretty recently (Or it feels recent anyway) and it was an enjoyable watch. It was a great adaption of the manga and I dare say that it was more interesting except for the fact that it didn’t cover the second half of the series. The half of the series where the action really kicked into high gear and the part where I became a fan of the series. Well, this OVA covers the Kamui arc, which was my favorite volume of the series. It helps that this is the first part of the story where I really began to enjoy the series. Let’s see if it has the same effect on the animated adaption!

The OVA is three episodes long so it’s actually still shorter than your average theater film and it may be a little longer than your average animated film. This story takes place immediately after the library battle so the filler from the TV show has been ignored for the sake of the canon plot. The heroes arrive in a land where it is always raining acid and the world’s inhabitants have all been destroyed except for a handful of people. They have divided into two groups who protect their supply of water as they try to survive. Both groups don’t like each other and the heroes bump into a group that’s led by a vampire named Kamui. Syaoran needs to find the feather that is in this island, but what if it means extinction for the poor inhabitants of the city? Meanwhile, the Syaoran who has been trapped in the water tomb finally awakens and Sakura has to go on a solo adventure.

A lot of things definitely happen in this OVA so hopefully you are prepared for a fast paced journey. Right away, you’ll likely be able to tell that the animation is much different from the show and the tone has shifted as well. This one is a lot darker and it’ll be tough for you to locate any cheerful moments. (Whereas the anime had those in spades) Of course, we do get plenty of action scenes, which is always a solid consolation prize!

The soundtrack is pretty good and you should recognize most of the tunes from the anime. My favorite opera theme only appears once, but that’ll have to do. The rest of the themes are pretty good and while Tsubasa doesn’t end up having anything that will become iconic, the overall soundtrack is well above average. The theme song is intriguing since nothing really happens and we just see a glowing object. I think it works really well for a theatrical experience since it would slowly build up the hype for you. It definitely would have been more fun to look at if there were fights and fun images in the song, but this was still pretty good. For me, it’s a natural hype builder.

The animation is solid and I supposed it’ll be based on your personal preferences on whether you think it beats the show’s animation or not. I think the animation here is more fluid, but the fight scenes may have been a little hurt by this. It’s hard to describe, but the action scenes aren’t really fleshed out as much as they could be. The characters are fighting and yet, not much is happening. Either the screen will cut away or they’ll only have time for a few blows to be exchanged. (The next OVA is better in this area) This OVA really only has two fights. Kamui vs Syaoran and Syaoran vs Syaoran. Both fights are very short though, which could also be why I wasn’t very impressed with them. Good action scenes take time and the OVA covered so much that they breezed through them. Sakura fights with giant monsters, but I can’t say that it’s much of a consolation prize this time.

Syaoran is the protagonist that we all remember, but his personality quickly changes as the OVA goes on. He starts out as the happy camper that we’ve come to expect and by the end you can only call him a hero who has strayed from the path and turned into the villain. He wants to get the feathers at any cost and that cost may now include murder. (Of course, he did risk the lives of everyone in the village to get a feather in the TV show so…) One can argue that the change is beyond his control since a soul is taken from him, but he still has his soul so I like to think that he can control it. He still has his memories and everything so this was basically his decision. It’s intriguing, but I would say that he is my favorite villain in the series. He gets a pretty huge power up to coincide with the trope that a hero who turns evil gains great power.

The mysterious Syaoran in the container wakes up and he gets a role in this OVA. He uses a mixture of sword techniques and thunder abilities to contrast with the other Syaoran’s fire sword and spellcasting. He is similar to the original Syaoran, but he’s definitely more sullen. He’s not very cheerful and his thoughts always seem to keep him preoccupied. His arrival brought many questions along with it and it’ll be tough for the other heroes to get used to him being around. Which Syaoran is to be trusted right? All is explained in the OVA and they’ll continue to bring up more plot points as Tsubasa goes on.

Kurogane is really more of a non factor here. He proves that he can go up against Kamui in a fight and he’s definitely a skilled warrior, but he doesn’t really have a stake in the whole situation. He does get a lot of character development with Fai though since they have definitely become closer as allies. Fai still keeps his secrets, but it doesn’t stop Kurogane from making a dangerous decision to save his life. It’s also frustrating for Kurogane since he’s unable to help when the two Syaorans face off against each other. It wasn’t a great moment for him, but I’m sure that he’ll do better in future stories. He’s still a pretty good supporting character and he just needs a good power up to keep him in the helpful section of characters.

Fai doesn’t look very good in this OVA. He has a lot of power and he’s finally willing to use it to help the others, but he underestimates his opponent. This is a critical mistake and he ends up losing just about all of his power. He went from being immeasurably skilled to suddenly being the weakest member on the squad. Kurogane makes a deal to keep Fai alive, which also gives Fai some superhuman abilities, but it’s regrettable that the situation had to occur at all. I would have expected Fai to have put up a better fight. I definitely didn’t care for him in this collection, but I’m sure that he’ll do better in the next OVA. He just needs to learn how to fight in his new state and he’ll be set.

Sakura is mostly asleep or unconscious in this OVA due to circumstances that happened earlier. All of the clone drama and other twists have likely weakened her condition as well. She is unable to prevent the tragedy of the two Syaorans fighting and when she finally wakes up once again, Sakura is given a task. She must find a treasure and bring it back to the base so Yuko can grant a wish to help the heroes. This results in Sakura going on her own adventure to get past giant monsters and prove that she can help the team as well! It’s a noble gesture and Sakura is a good character although it would be great if she was conscious more often. Going on the trek by herself did grant the other heroes some much needed rest so it certainly helped.

Kamui quickly became one of my favorite characters in the manga so it was nice to see him appear in the OVA. He’s still one of the better characters although he may not be quite as high for me here as he originally was in the manga. He was just a little weaker than I remembered since he looks bad against the other squad of humans and his showing against Kurogane wasn’t great. He still pulls through when it counts, but Kamui wasn’t quite as awe inspiring as I had remembered. Still, his design is pretty good and he’s one of the few vampires that I actually like. Kamui is also pretty unreasonable to the other group. They just want to share resources to last longer in this world, but Kamui just wants to fight. Perhaps they did something in their series to make Kamui distrust them, but strictly speaking from a Tsubasa viewpoint, Kamui and his team seemed to be at fault. Kamui’s twin, Subaru, isn’t quite as memorable since he doesn’t really get to appear until the very end. He spends most of his time being trapped, which doesn’t help his case.

This OVA definitely takes place at an interesting time since there is really no conclusion. The animators likely should have just made this a 13 episode OVA to adapt everything since there isn’t a whole lot of time in 3 episodes. Still, it was good to see that Tsubasa’s popularity was still strong enough to get it this far. Viewers of the show may not appreciate how different the OVA is from the show, but this also occurred in the manga. The OVA isn’t very violent although one character does steal someone’s eye, which is definitely the most graphic part here. I never liked that kind of violence since attacks against the eye are rather sensitive. It’s just not the same as losing an arm or something like that. Still, it’s not very graphic and it’s just the thought that can be stomach churning. The OVA is certainly a lot more intense than the show, but likely nothing that you can’t handle if you’ve seen Naruto Shippuden or Bleach. The only other scene that may not be a lot of fun is the Sakura vs Giant Monster part. She has a gun so you can likely tell that the monsters are doomed. That part’s a little iffy since giant monsters are practically the same as animals at times so those scenes would be a little negative as well.
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Overall, Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations is a pretty solid OVA. I think the adaption may have went more smoothly if they had kept going in the show format and I have to wonder how the scenes would have been altered to fit the show’s format. I’m sure that it would have been a little more cheerful and the fights would have been longer. So, in that sense, I still think the show was their best bet, but this OVA does a good job of continuing the series. The soundtrack and animation are very solid and the plot has definitely moved forward. We have been waiting for the Syaoran in the water tank to get out for so long that it’s refreshing to see him finally get out. There isn’t much of an ending and it’s basically a “To Be Continued” so it’s good that this OVA got a sequel. (Which I shall review shortly) This is a fun stand alone story that I could recommend to people who didn’t see the Tsubasa show as well as those who did. It’s pretty atmospheric after all and it’ll play out like a mystery if you didn’t see the show. We get a lot of references to other old villains and even Fei Wong makes a cameo as he takes down his assistant. Of course, every viewer can appreciate Mokona and all that he does for the team! The eye scene and giant monster violence are the only things that you may want to be on the lookout for as the rest is all clear sailing! (The next OVA has more action so get ready for epicness!)

Overall 7/10