Ultimate Spiderman Review

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It’s time for a superhero show that really serves as the definition of what you can expect from one. I feel like if someone ever asked me to name what I think is the title that feels like what you can expect from an average comic book show, I’d have to recommend this one. Justice League is a great Superhero show and Teen Titans Go is a poor one. Ultimate is more of a symbol of what they all strive to be. It’s not great or very good, but it’s not bad or even mediocre. It’s a good show that blends in a lot of action and comedy. All of Marvel’s current shows essentially have the same style to them and Spiderman is what started the trend. At over 100 episodes, I can safely say that the show did all right for itself.

The show’s main premise is that Nick Fury believes Spiderman should be doing something more with his life. Instead of taking out ordinary crooks, he wants him to become the Ultimate Spiderman. Spiderman decides to give this a shot and is placed on a Shield attack squad with White Tiger, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Nova. Together, the team has to take on a lot of villains and prove to the world that they are the strongest team out there. Can Spiderman really handle this level of pressure though?

Season 1 is mainly episodic as we get used to the team and see them take on challenges. There are quite a lot of guest stars to keep you interested such as Iron-Man, Hulk, and Doctor Strange. You also start to get a sense of which villains will play a big role as Venom and Doctor Octopus show up numerous times. Octopus can get old fast as his design is just so bad in this version and it doesn’t make for particularly engaging fights. Still, I suppose he makes sense as the big villain since he constantly has a master plan up his sleeve. I wish I could take him seriously but he has to be one of the worst villains in the show.

There aren’t many specific episodes to call out for season 1 as great ones since this was the weakest season. The Iron-Man team up against the Living Laser was pretty fun. The big two part episode with Green Goblin wasn’t bad either and Venom certainly got to appear quite a bit. On the whole I think they dropped the ball with Venom though. His never really gets around to being with Eddie Brock and is instead treated like more of a power up the whole time. Harry puts him on sometimes and then loses him again. Eventually the writers would decide on his roll, but I definitely didn’t miss his Harry days from season 1.

As for the characters, most of them are similar to how they are in the comics so I’ll really focus on the main ones. It’s interesting to see a young version of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It’s an odd choice since part of Cage’s whole personality is that he’s a gritty guy who’s seen things and makes for a perfect anti hero to hire for a mission. Here he’s just a nice guy who goes to school. Iron Fist doesn’t have to be changed much as he’s just younger but they overplay his formal mannerisms at times. He’s probably the most mature member of the group though. White Tiger is the confident member of the group who always talks a good game, but she doesn’t really have any special abilities (At least for the first 20+ episodes) so it’s a little tough for her to keep up in a fight. Nova is the best member by far. He’s always pranking Spiderman and getting the last laugh in. Of course since he has the Power Cosmic, that is usually used as more plot hax than anything else. He should win every fight, but he just tends to miss every shot. That can be a little annoying.

Season 2 focuses on the Sinister Six. This means…you guessed it, Doctor Octopus is back in his full glory. He has assembled his team of powerful fighters like the Kraven, and Electro. Spiderman must put a stop to these guys while also helping the Lizard not get hurt in the process. He knows that a scientist is effectively trapped within the Lizard, but he’s doing his best to keep it under control. The Rhino is a kid underneath his guise, but the guy can’t seem to make up his mind on whether he wants to be a hero or not so it’s a little hard to help him out.

The Kraven episode may not sound great on paper as it’s just a team up with Spiderman and White Tiger, but it was actually pretty solid. The show did a lot of justice to Kraven as he was actually a real threat and always had good fight scenes in the show. I definitely enjoyed the episode at any rate and White Tiger finally got a big power up. The first Sinister Six episode also came on and it was pretty fun. It was rather rushed though as Spiderman had to beat them all in a single episode.

Then we had the Carnage episode which was fun. Again, I don’t think the Symbiotes were handled all that well and the show should have looked to the 90’s cartoon for inspiration but I suppose it did its best. I gotta give the Stan Lee team up episode a shoutout as well. Who would have thought that Spiderman would be teaming up with the One Above All? There were one liners for days in this episode. For a slightly more serious episode, the Deadpool guest star was fun. It was a little sad that Spiderman’s friends immediately preferred him, but Deadpool is charismatic. He always makes for good humor as well.
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Season 3’s big hook is that it adapts the Spider Verse storyline from the comics. A mystical artifact is broken so Spiderman has to go to various universes to find the pieces. He meets up with Ultimate Spiderman, Noir, Spiderham, and other versions of himself along the way. It was a fun multi part epic, but the main problem was that it was incredibly repetitive. Every episode had the exact same format and story telling. It was cool seeing every Spiderman admit that the main one was the best every time, but it didn’t always seem sincere because of how much it was spammed. The show maybe laid it on a little thick that time. Spiderman was definitely a team player in this season as he ended up teaming with the Avengers and then forming his own Warriors group. They definitely kept Parker busy and this led to his original team from season 1 being gradually written out of the show.

The Avengers two part event was fun, but mostly just the second part. The first one didn’t really get to go anywhere since Loki and Spiderman switched bodies. The second at least gave us a fight between the Avengers and Spiderman’s new team. Agent Venom was cool since this was a route I could finally get behind for Venom. I miss his classic Brock form, but I suppose this is the next best thing. It’s just a shame that he got so weak after this. I basically already covered the Spider Verse. It would have been a lot better if not for being so repetitive.

The Crossover with Jessie was interesting since I didn’t even remember that the show existed. On a more epic note, the show adapted the Contest of Champions Mobile Game and that was a lot of fun. Honestly, I wish we could have gotten closer to 10 episode of this as there are so many cool fights you can pull off with this concept. There was quite a bit of plot hax at times and Spiderman did a bad job of picking his teams, but this one really took advantage of how the show loves its guest stars. Spiderman could basically choose from anyone that he’s met so there were a bunch of options. It wasn’t handled quite as well as the Secret Wars from the 90’s show, but it was good nonetheless.

Finally, Season 4 had the return of the Sinister Six. Yeah…the show decided to give them another season. I guess they felt they could do more with them. This last season was certainly the most ambitious though as it had quite a lot of plot lines and multi parters including the return of the Spider Verse. By the end of the show you had certainly gotten used to Spiderman and his friends.

Hydra is usually rather boring, but the opening two parter was good because it saw the debut of the Scarlet Spider and started the ball rolling. Unlike the first 3 seasons, this one had an ongoing plot that would last the entire season. Who is the Scarlet Spider and can they trust him? The Scarlet Spider is a fun character because he’s constantly insulting Spiderman and just generally being a jerk. Yeah, he’s definitely not a nice guy, but he’s not supposed to be one anyway. This is just how he rolls. Of course, it is far too late when they try to get us to feel bad for him. That’s the drawback of being this kind of character and making certain decisions.

The next episode was also pretty solid as Miles is brought into the picture and becomes a main character. The two Spidermen have to team up with Doctor Strange to defeat his version of the Green Goblin and it’s pretty intense. This character is consistently portrayed to be too powerful for the heroes so they have to use a lot of teamwork to keep him down. Miles is a fun enough Spiderman even if he can be a little overconfident despite not usually lasting too long in a fight. His electric abilities really help to give him an edge in a fight and make up for that experience though. He’ll only get better as he keeps on fighting.

The next episodes get pretty intense as the team faces the threat of a traitor in their midst. Agent Venom is put in a wheelchair and Harry falls into a coma. It’s hard to picture any of this happening in the first 3 seasons as it’s actually rather dark and the plot is very serious. The Sinister Six then returns and this time they go after Aunt May along with one of the traitors so Spiderman is forced to get serious about this ordeal. Another character seemingly dies at the end although we know that nobody ever dies in comic land.

We get back to back sagas as The Symbiotes slowly take over the world in one 3 part adventure and then the Spider Verse returns as the guest stars have to unite once more. Both of these events were pretty fun and the extra episodes really let the show cut loose. Even Gwen Stacy’s recent Spider-Gwen form gets to make an appearance. The Spider Slayers 3 part story was cool because Mary Jane finally got powers. She absorbed the Carnage symbiote and became one of the stronger characters in the series. That was definitely a nice upgrade to keep her up to par with the others. Mary Jane had a very small role throughout the series so her fans were glad to see the writers bringing her back in again. After being in season 1, she basically vanished for all of 2 and 3. From here on out, Mary Jane would be a main character although the series only had a few episodes left.
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Finally, the Graduation Day 2 parter was a good way to end the series. It may have been embarrassing for everyone else as they were stuck in a bubble and couldn’t break it the whole time, but we had to prove to the world once and for all that Spiderman is the ultimate fighter. Seeing him save everyone is always pretty satisfying. Yeah, as you can tell I was pretty satisfied with season 4 as a whole Honestly, it was a great season and would have gotten a solid 8 if the first 3 didn’t exist. That being said, 3 7 star seasons and 1 8 star season ultimately end up equaling a 7. No matter how great that last season was, it can’t just bring up the curve all on its own.

That’s why it’s a shame that the show didn’t get one more season. Honestly, if the quality had continued to look up like season 4, then this really could have gone down as one of Marvel’s best titles. The ongoing plot had started to get rock solid and this is where the past 100 episodes of situations and characters popping up could have come in handy. With the sheer amount of heroes in the story, the show could have adapted any story arc that it wanted too. I could see the show deciding to tackle the Civil War and it would actually be able to do it justice in this version. It was not to be, but it was a fun glimpse at what the show could have been. Just imagine if all 100+ episodes had been at this level of quality.

One area where the show always excelled was with its animation. It was stylized to look like the iconic 90’s cartoon, but with up to date graphics. It was a little more streamlined and had a dark color scheme that worked well with the night time moments. I’d probably still make the case that the 90’s show ultimately won as its character designs were a step up, but the show definitely delivered in this department. Compared to the other current titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, or the upcoming Spiderman show this is a world of improvement. I would mention Avengers, but the animation for that one got considerably better with Season 2. It’s still a little behind Spiderman, but it’s close enough at this point where I didn’t really need to deliver any burns. There’s unfortunately nothing to say about Ultimate Spiderman’s soundtrack. There’s not a single memorable tune in the entire show.

The current Marvel shows all like to place a big emphasis on comedy. I suppose they just don’t want their shows to get too serious and it helps them gel better with the live action films which use a similar format. That being said, the TV show writers are not necessarily at the same level at times so many of the jokes can be forced. This is Spiderman as well so you can bet that the jokes are constant. They don’t really bother me for the most part, but it does cement the fact that the show won’t be known as an epic one. It can’t quite reach the same level of intensity as Justice League, X-Men, or Avengers EMH as a result. It’s a fun show with a lot of action and cool guest stars, but it never gets past the “Fun” aspect of the show. That means it is relegated to a solid seven, but can’t hit the elusive 8.

That’s not to say that the show didn’t try. As you saw with some of the episodes I hand picked above, it did have some pretty serious ones. The show also had a lot of really good fights that actually had good hand to hand and really solid animation. It’s just that for every great episode I showed above, there were also some really lackluster ones or even downright bad episodes. Some did have crude humor which could be annoying and other episodes could be boring. Every show has a few episodes which aren’t that good, but they’re balanced out by a higher average.

One thing the show actually did well was give characters character development and keep the universe moving. A lot actually happened during the 100 episodes and most of the characters are vastly different from how they started. New designs, new powers, and even personality shifts. The status quo wasn’t the same as when the show started which is important. The show wasn’t always consistent with this and I do get annoyed that Spiderman’s spider sense didn’t always work, but I suppose that’s bound to happen in any Spiderman show.

I can count on one hand the number of characters that the show actually wrecked: Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and Rhino. Those are the main ones anyway and season 4 was able to redeem Doctor Octopus. Beyond that, everyone was pretty true to form and it was fun seeing them all show up. Spiderman was also a fun lead as he was ultimately the hero that we all know and love. By the end he was pretty experienced and wise as well since he became a leader and got to learn how to lead in a few episodes. He got serious when he had too and was also a sharp fighter. It really felt like you grew with the characters in this series.
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Overall, Ultimate Spiderman is a fun show. Perhaps it’s not what everyone was expecting or hoping for, but I was satisfied with it. I’m still glad it exists and that it lasted so long. The fact that it was entertaining and came up with so many different stories is nothing to sneeze at. It’s probably the best Spiderman show next to the 90’s one and it does come very close to matching that one as well. Its longer length gives it more replay value at any rate. The next show is coming out soon so I’ll see how that one turns out, but my expectations are a little lower. I’m going to miss all of the guest stars and the rich history this show brought along with it, but I suppose it’ll be nice to go back to having a solo Spiderman story for a chance with occasional guest stars rather than constant ones. Hopefully it can work through its poor animation and deliver a pretty good product.

Overall 7/10

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The Time of Their Lives Review

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Looks like it’s time for another Abbott and Costello film. I dare say that this one makes a case for being the best one yet as the characters take part in an ambitious ghost story. The Supernatural elements are handled well even if the rules surrounding them are a little muddy. The plot can also be a little confusing at times as you try to remember who the traitors were and why everyone is so gun happy. It all makes for one chaotically fun adventure that you won’t want to miss!

The film starts off with Horatio returning from a big mission. Nora greets him happily and brags to the world that he is actually is a pretty great guy who never slacks off. What she doesn’t realize is that Horatio has an iconically low IQ and can’t understand anything for beans. Still, they’re together and that’s what counts. This is stopped when Horatio’s old enemy Cuthbert shows up and locks Horatio in a chest. He is freed by Melody who warns Horatio that they need to get out and warn George Washington of his impending doom. They are shot on the way over and cursed to be trapped in the land forever until they are proven innocent of being traitors. Fast forward to the modern day and some people live in the mansion. Horatio and Melody decide to play tricks on them to make themselves feel better, but then realize that if they can get the new owners to find the letter…they’ll be free. How can they do that when they’re ghosts though?

It was pretty ambitious to actually have the main characters murdered in the beginning. Nora was possibly offed as well. I can safely say that I was not expecting that in the slightest so the shock value was handled well. There’s also a lot that you can do with the ghost gimmick so that was fun. The rules confused me a bit though. So, people can’t hear the ghosts, but they can feel them…sometimes. The ghosts can make contact with each other…sometimes. What’s the point of going invisible when nobody can see you? The ghosts do that a lot with a cool spin move (That was admittedly handled very well) but I wondered what the point of it was. Horatio could do the spin move sometimes and sometimes he couldn’t. I thought that the rules were a little convoluted, but I suppose that’s part of the point right?

The humor is basically the same as it always is so you either like it or you don’t. Horatio spends the majority of the film sputtering and stammering as he takes everything literally and is the but of every joke. You have to admire the fact that he never lets any of this get to him though and always gets right back on the saddle. The guy has heart and charisma. It is admittedly the same array of jokes in every Abbott and Costello film so I can see how some would get tired of it, but it always works well if you ask me. The style is pretty nice and Horatio isn’t a bad character. Even though he is stuck with Melody for almost 200 years, he resists all of the flirting attempts as he thinks about how to get back to Nora. Melody felt a little more fake on that note as she was willing to rebound with Horatio until she could move on and be reunited with her original partner.

Ralph takes himself seriously as always. He gets picked on by the ghosts quite a bit so in a way it’s like Costello is finally getting his revenge for all of the other films. It works pretty well, but you have to admit that there wouldn’t be much of a movie without Horatio. I mean, it would be a decently serious mystery I suppose, but the comedy is what makes the film. Horatio may make a lot of mistakes but the fact that he is so petty makes him more endearing. The human characters get a fairly big role yet they are largely forgettable. They are mainly here to get picked on and scared on many occasions by Horatio. While they may not have much of a personality of their own, it’s still fun to see them slowly believe in the ghosts one by one. Stealing poor Ralph’s whiskey may have been a bit much, but it showed that the ghosts meant business this time around.

And to think that I was actually worried that we’d be stuck in the past for a little while there. Trust me, that wouldn’t have been nearly as engaging. It was rather painful for the lead as well since he ended up falling on a giant pitch fork there. No, he’s definitely glad that they’re in the present now even if he was stuck there for quite a long time. He may not be even remotely smart, but he still knows enough to try and stay away from gunfire. Now if he can just learn the difference between a recording a live voice, then he’d be golden!

Finally, I think what helps this film is that it feels like it’s always moving in a straight line. The plot is simple so it is always the focus. Every minute of the film is essentially trying to get to that goal. Because of that, a large intro isn’t needed or a bunch of twists and turns. After all, this isn’t really a mystery, it’s more of an adventure. It’s a pretty big change from the other films and it’s one that works well. I’m also getting slightly closer to watching them all so that’s pretty fun.

Overall, This film was just a lot of fun. It’s fairly short so the pacing is tight as each scene keeps on moving with quite a lot of speed. Horatio and Melody make for a pair of charismatic main characters. It was fun to see them enjoying their time as a ghost for the most part since most ghosts end up falling into self pity mode. They ultimately did enjoy their freedom, but at least they had fun in the process. I do think they could have stopped the cops a lot easier tough like by hitting the wheels or something. I suppose that as long as their methods worked it all ended up for the best though. The surprise ending was pretty intense though and a fitting way for the film to close out. Washington always gets the last laugh after all. I’d definitely recommend checking the film out and then you can decide for yourself if it’s one of the best Abbott and Costello films or not.

Overall 8/10

The Lego Batman Movie Review

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It’s time to review the recent Lego Batman film that was in theaters a while back. This movie got a lot of hype as one person even told me that it was the greatest comic book movie of all time. Of course, that person didn’t enjoy Man of Steel or Batman V Superman so some credibility may have been lost there. It’s a fun film and has fun going over the top with the Lego visuals. Despite the epic action scenes, some of the jokes don’t work as well as the normal shorts as they are reused and stretched a bit much. It’s a fun film, but one with the typical flaws of turning what could have been a 30 minute Lego short into a full length film.

The film starts off with a pretty intense action scene as Batman reminds the world why he is the top crime fighter around. Joker has amassed an army of villains who obey his every order and he wants them to shut down Gotham City. Batman manages to defeat all of them rather effortlessly but also hurts Joker’s feelings when he admits that Superman is actually his greatest enemy. Joker decides to retaliate by destroying the city and hires some pretty notable figures like King Kong and Sauron to help him. Batman may need some help from Barbara and Robin if he’s going to survive this, but will he ask for help?

I was glad that Batman pointed out all of the tropes that companies use when starting movies. The ominous music and long logos always do seem to be a staple and starting the film out in all black is probably one of the more annoying ones. It shows that the film is trying to win an Oscar instead of trying to make a movie. Batman points all of this out and then gets to work on wrecking everyone. As always, his voice is perfect for the character. He gets Batman’s serious nature across and delivers his lines without sounding like he’s going to laugh.

Batman has looked great in the Lego films and for the most part this one is no exception. He’s as overconfident as ever and is even more of a loner in the Lego films than he is in the main ones. It’s the Batman that we wanted and the one that we deserve. He conquers overwhelming odds and doesn’t learn the teamwork moral until the final 15 minutes so he lasted quite a while. Yeah, Batman was basically on point. The only trouble here was his rapping gig on the side. That just felt a little out of character and was a new twist that I couldn’t get behind. Seriously…lets not bring the singing in. That just doesn’t feel right if you ask me. The songs are bad on purpose…but it doesn’t work.

Keep in mind that I’m just talking about Batman singing. The film had a lot of retro songs that worked fairly well. Remember Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up Never Gonna Let You Down” song? That one makes a cameo and it was brilliant. Batman chose another song instead though. Ironically I couldn’t actually hear the one he chose though because the sound effects were way louder than the movie. I can only imagine how hard it would be to hear the music in the theater with the sound effects bashing away at the walls. I’m pretty cool with that though as they brought the Adam West visual effects back at long last. That was pretty sweet.

The Lego graphics are also on point. It’s still Lego so it falls short of the average animated movie, but I feel like they brought the style to the height of what it can do. The cool Crisis City vibes I was getting from the climax made it that much more intense. The opening action scene was also really fast paced and visually interesting. At times it felt like the film was on 2x speed with how quickly everything was happening. That’s a good thing though as it made Batman’s skills appear to be even more extreme and hype.

Lets talk about some of the aspects where the film didn’t fare as well. It all starts with the Joker. His whole plot about wanting to be Batman’s greatest enemy starts off as annoying and very quickly turns cringe worthy. It ends up overriding his entire character as every single scene with him on screen is about that. The film goes way too far with its obvious parallels here and Batman is ultimately forced to admit that Joker has earned the title. Even if it could have possibly been funny for some, the joke drags on for way too long. It just keeps coming back over and over again well past the point where you just want it to go away. It really hurt the film in my opinion and was the biggest detriment to it in the end. The film should have just kept on focusing on the absurd parts of the film like the opening with the bombs over the city. That’s the film’s forte and it needed to remember that.

I can’t say that Robin was very likable either. He goes from being a big Batman fan who is fairly timid to just rummaging through Batman’s stuff without permission and messing with the guy. Where was the respect? He just ends up getting in the way a lot of the time and while I was glad that it gave us an excuse to hear Batman’s useful life lessons, Robin could have been a better character. Most of the humor with his character didn’t work well either. You know what the problem is? Batman’s the only character here who understands humor. I’d wager that over 90% of the jokes that worked in this film are the ones that Batman used. That’s just a guess off the top of my head, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the cast.

At least Batgirl was pretty good. Once she takes over as Commissioner she begins to take names. She did a good job ob taking down all of Batman’s most dangerous enemies without breaking a sweat. She may have taken all of Batman’s insults and attempts to get her out of the action a little too personally, but at least she could fight. From all of the supporting characters, she was easily the best. Alfred wasn’t bad either, but he spent more time trying to shut Batman down and get in his way than actually helping. Also, am I the only one who thinks that the group was way too ungrateful to Batman after he saved their lived from the Hollywood villains? He could have just not done that and they’d all be broken like the cops that he smashed at the prison.

The Justice League makes a nice little cameo. It’s fun to see them all around and while it may have been a little mean of Superman not to invite Batman to the party…Batman did say that they were worst enemies. I suppose Superman is just trying to live up to the title. I was kind of expecting him to show up at the end, but I suppose he wasn’t needed this time. The climax was already really explosive and intense anyway.

When it all boils down to it, I think the film had a stronger opening than ending. As I mentioned earlier, the first part was really on point with Batman taking names and then Bruce Wayne pointing out how awesome Batman was. Grabbing a glass of water just to dramatically spit it out is a classic Batman thing to do. The second half just got a little confused with all of the extra characters and the whole Joker plot when in reality it should have focused on Batman. I think the problem may have been the length. A lot of the DC Lego films are roughly 70 minutes at this point, but this one was closer to 90 I believe. Maybe they just couldn’t fit in all of the extra time. The plot is fairly basic after all so it could have been done a lot quicker.

That being said, the pacing was pretty good. Something is always happening so it’s not really a lack of ideas. It’s just a lack of focus. Maybe they thought people would get bored if Batman got too much screen time and wanted to include everyone. That didn’t work so well as you might expect. I admire the effort though and I am glad that this got to be in the theater. It’s pretty surreal to see Lego Batman actually get mainstream as people saw it in the theater. Not bad…not bad at all.

Overall, This wasn’t a bad film. It had its good moments and while it struggled a bit, the goods outweighed the bad. The Joker plot may have shed the film a star or 2, but Batman’s strong performance keeps the film on the positive side of the spectrum. If we get a sequel I’d like to see Superman get more of a role and the two characters can duke it out. This is a rare time where I’d like the character development to revert as well so Batman is a solo act again. That being said, since his personality didn’t change, they could also just come up with an excuse to have the other characters just be on vacation or something. I’d recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. Otherwise, you should check out some of the earlier specials as the action is just as good, but you’ll also see a higher level of witty banter between the characters. The wit is what makes or breaks the Lego films after all and DC seems to have a knack for it.

Overall 6/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Buddyfight series. For a little while there I was worried that it would only get 2 seasons and die out because many great anime don’t make it to 3 seasons. However it did make it and now has a 4th season so we can safely say that the franchise is safe. Even if it were to end soon, it’s had a great run. It’s awesome to be living in a time where we have Yu-Gi-Oh, Buddyfight, and Cardfight all airing new episodes. Buddyfight is the weakest of the 3 at least when it comes to the franchises, but it always puts up a good fight. This season had a rocky start, but by the end I’d say that it surpassed season 2 while still not being able to catch the original.

Gao doesn’t have his Drum Bunker Dragon anymore so he has to get a replacement. He ends up getting a buddy named Bal. Bal is a lot younger than Drum and acts like a little kid. It takes a while for the pair to really get along, but they gradually develop a tight bond. They decide to enter the local tournaments to prove that they are the best and gradually approach the World Cup. However, they will have to get past some powerful rivals like Tasuku, the boy prodigy, and Gaito, a mysterious newcomer who wants to prove his strength above all. Meanwhile, Kyoya has been replaced as the head of the financial company and has decided to enter the tournament as a normal participant. What are his goals here? There are many other foes who have surfaced like the new head and a mysterious scientist with a split personality. Gao will have to keep his guard up at all times since these games may not just be for fun anymore.

Lets talk about why the season had a rough start. It acts a little bit like a reboot at times. It’s not a full reboot though so the best way to describe it is like Pokemon. Ash has gone on all of his adventures, but he is still only 10 years old and forgot a lot of his battle experience and even acts like he doesn’t know some of the original Pokemon at times. That’s how it is here. Gao and friends act like they barely know some of the old characters like Tasuku and many supporting characters. This is only relevant in the first episodes as they all become friends again and act like their old selves, but the early episodes are fairly bizarre. It feels like the writers couldn’t decide if he knows the others or not so it goes back and forth on that.

Another issue is that the show seems to aim a little younger this time. Particularly in the first episodes again, it seems a little like Pokemon Sun and Moon. There are a lot of visual gags now with characters faces getting exaggerated and crude humor jokes. One new addition to the show is Zom-B. His whole character is made for excessive humor as he constantly panics and destroys himself. It’s a running gag that the show spams in almost every episode of the first half along with recycled animation the whole time. None of his jokes are funny at all and he does drag down some of the battles to an extent. I was glad when he slowly started to appear less. As you can tell, I didn’t care for the humor. It did not work well at all.

So you may be wondering how this season could possibly top 2 right? Well, it has less repetition. What severely brought Buddyfight 100 down was how many times Gao had to fight the same enemy. That’s never an issue here fortunately. The season is also filled with nonstop tournaments the whole time which was really good. As a result, the action never let up and there were a lot of interesting fights in the mix. In the end we watch card game shows for all of the epic duels and that’s one of the reasons why this show succeeds. Tournaments are particularly fun to watch in this genre although I’d say that they work in just about every genre as well.

As always, the show doesn’t disappoint with the over the top visuals. Every final smash ends up severely damaging the planet and you wonder how the player can survive the intense virtual damage. All of the character designs are on point and a lot of the monster designs look really good. Gaito’s design is solid and his monster is very cool as well. The show’s soundtrack is also amazing. The show is now at its height in that regard. This is mainly because Gaito’s theme is really good and may even surpass the arena theme from 100. Fortunately that one returns along with the despair theme. Combined, those themes make this show one of the best in the business.
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Gao is a likable character as always. He’s not quite as awesome as he was in the first two seasons, but he’s still solid. He’s less intense, but still has a lot of skills. It’s just a shame that he’s not as overpowered as he used to be. I remember when winning every single battle was child’s play for him. Kuguru and Baku don’t really do much in the season. They’re even more irrelevant than they were in the previous two seasons which is a little disappointing for their fans. Fortunately, I don’t like either character much so I’m pretty fine with this.

Bal is certainly no Drum. By the end of the show I didn’t mind him. He beats the new Buddy in the current season, but Drum is still the best. Bal’s true form is really epic to watch and I’m glad that he can actually fight. He didn’t master the form for quite a while, but the payoff was good once he got going.

Tasuku’s as cool as ever. He (finally) quit the Buddypolice for most of the season although there is a slight twist about that. Anyway, he is one character who did not lost his character development. Since he already had a bunch in the previous seasons there is no longer any room for doubt or worry. He is completely sure of himself here and doesn’t have to enter any morally grey areas. Unfortunately this also does make things tricky for him near the climax. He disagrees with challenging Kyoya because he wants to wait for the cops to make a move and thinks it’s dangerous. I disagreed with the rationale there because stopping Kyoya is the safest way to save the world. It’s risky, but still the best move. Still, Tasuku ultimately relented and was pivotal in taking down some of the minions. With Gao being slightly nerfed in the personality department you can make a case for Tasuku being the best character. His buddy Jackknife Dragon is as reliable as ever and serves as a mentor to Bal.

Gaito is the new rival on the block and he’s a really good character. He uses a Dark deck and has shadow energy at all times. This instantly meant that he was going to be my kind of character. His Dragon Abigail gets a lot of development throughout and has a big subplot to himself. I liked him a lot and he is probably my favorite hero dragon in the season. That may seem a bit specific but if we count enemies then I’d probably have to go with Kyoya’s dragon. Gaito gradually does get a little more friendly, but he always stays serious compared to the rest of the characters. Heading off to face Kyoya alone is the kind of decision that I’d expect him to make and it’s one that I supported. I didn’t like his odds going into that fight, but everyone is outmatched against that guy.

Kyoya is the main villain once again. This means that he was the final boss in 2 out of 3 seasons. It could seem repetitive if you see the plot summaries from afar, but it makes sense. True, Kyoya may have had a bit of a personality shift since he seemed like he was turning good after the original season, but his motives are fairly complex. Season 1 was like the opening act for him to gather data and season 2 was something he just didn’t calculate on. I was surprised to see him lose there, but it helped to legitimize the threat. It’s like if an alien attack our world, heroes and villains alike would team up to stop them because we want the world for ourselves. Kyoya just didn’t think it would be enough to beat him. He regained all of his hype in this season though. His new card is great and without plot hax it is virtually unbeatable. There are always some tough questions to ask like if creating your own card is really legitimate or not, but Bal gave Gao, Gaito, and Tasuku one so fair is fair right? It’s no coincidence that the 4 created cards are the strongest either. Why would you make yourself a weak one right?

Azi Dahaka has always been a fun dragon in the series. His fans may be a little upset that he doesn’t really get to activate his master plan and is basically used by Kyoya the whole time, but he still has a very intimidating presence. He’s a good villain to have around for sure. I’ll miss him if he doesn’t return, but I somehow get the feeling that Kyoya will bring him back. If not, maybe this finally was Kyoya’s last hurrah, but I won’t believe that until I see it. Even if he returns as a rival instead of an enemy, I’d be on board with that. Kyoya’s 2 on 1 duel against Gaito and Tasuku is one of the most epic moments of the franchise. The duel may have been off screen, but it’s unheard of to beat multiple opponents. In Buddyfight, that is basically impossible to accomplish thanks to the structure of the game.
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Rouga also gets to appear a little, but I have no idea what the writers are even thinking with him anymore. His character serves no point and I just don’t like the guy anymore. That may be a bit harsh, but I used to like him. It just feels like his character has gone nowhere and he hasn’t gotten any stronger while everyone else has improved. He’s not a threat anymore and I think the franchise should just write him out unless they have a specific plan in mind for him. Noboru is the opposite as he’s still a great character as always. It’s just rather tragic as he loses basically every big battle that he gets involved in. He always gets to make a good speech and it gets emotional, but he can’t close it out. It’s because he always ends up fighting the big villains. It’s a shame, but at least he is a character who tries. Actually, maybe he should be known as the best character in the series now. He’s certainly consistent and I’m always rooting for him at any rate.

Lets talk about some of the new characters. Kaido is a guy who loves yelling about festivals. He never gets serious, but that’s part of his character. He always makes sure to have fun when playing Buddyfight even if everyone else forgets that when the world is at stake. He has the largest monster in the franchise which is essentially his gimmick. It’s pretty impressive and he’s a nice guy. I don’t mind him all that much and he’s a decent rival. I don’t find him to be all that cool, but his gimmick doesn’t get too annoying which helps a lot. He’ll either be your kind of character or not. As far as the new additions go, he’s probably the weakest not counting the one shot characters.

Doctor Gara is one of the big villains who shows up and I liked him. His happy personality as a scientist is pretty boring, but his deranged form works really well. I don’t know how everyone kept getting tricked by him, but I suppose it was the Team Rocket effect. He was actually a very powerful opponent and nearly took Tasuku down. Mix that in with his cool design and he was one of the best parts of the season. Buddyfight is probably one of the few shows where the new villains always seem to be cooler than the new heroes. Maybe that isn’t too rare depending on who you ask, but I liked all of the new villains. He may be no Kyoya, but at least he was a threat. His monster: Zodiac was really good as well. He had a great design that was on point.

Genesis is the other big villain who entered the fray. He replaced Kyoya in the company and now makes it his life’s work to mess up Kyoya’s plans when possible. We get a lot of episodes where both characters are constantly trying to one up the other and it makes for an interesting plot. Kyoya always seems to win in the end, but Genesis came close. He may be the single strongest duelist in the game to be honest. His one hit KO combo is incredibly good and it really should have won. He only lost due to the cheese factor and the fact that someone came back from the grave. Yes, one character’s ability lets him keep on dueling even if his life points hit 0. All right, it’s Gaito, I may as well say it since the ability isn’t a huge plot point. Genesis’ final monster form has a really cool design and the next Buddyfight season even brought back the concept. I guess it must have been a big hit.

As always, the show has an incredible climax which just made the rest of the show even more awesome. It made me really realize what a fun show it had been. The original still wins because it had consistent writing and quality the whole time. The climax may not have been quite as explosive and awesome, but everything else made up for that. This show’s climax is easily the best of the 3 seasons and one of the best anime climaxes in general. Part of it is the fact that Kyoya returned as it feels like a big payoff from the 3 seasons.

I have to say that there’s going to be a lot of pressure for the next season I’m roughly 10 episodes in for that one so it’s way too early to say how it’ll fare. Buddyfight generally starts to ramp up the plot and intensity in the 20s as it loves to use the early episodes for character development and world building. You may think that’s a little excessive but it does work. Hear me out, it can be tough to sit through a bunch of episodes that feel like filler, but it absolutely does make you care more about the characters. Why do you think Cardfight was so successful? It takes just as long to get started at times and G gave us roughly 40-50 episodes of pure character development in the form of the first season before the plot really went underway. As long as the episodes are good anyway (Which they were in Cardfight. Buddyfight admittedly does struggle in this area) then it’s fine. It’s shows with lackluster plots like Naruto which gives the impression that development episodes are bad.

A big element in this season which I almost neglected to mention is the legendary Dragon Force. It is a super ability that only the chosen may wield which naturally means that the main 3 characters obtain it. Gao, Tasuku, and Gaito. The ability is pretty handy. Aside from the cool visuals it also gives some nice abilities to the users. Gaito gets the ability to obtain a second life, Gao can attack multiple times, and Tasuku’s also increases his attacks. Clearly Gaito got the best one if you ask me. Each character also gained an Impact Card which is essentially a super attack that their main monster can use. Gaito’s so good that he obtained two of them though.

These attacks and forms get a pretty high budget animation, but it is one that is reused constantly so it’s a mixed bag. Personally I’m all for it. Recycled footage can be a little dicey at times, but it seems more like a fun gimmick than a crutch in this case. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to have to reanimate these moments every single time. It would certainly get old fast.

When it all boils down to it, one of the best parts of the show is the large amount of hype that everyone gets. Unlike World Trigger where it is a little overdone at times, the characters all live up to the hype. Gaito gets some really epic scenes where he takes down enemies even after they figure out his Impact ability. He quickly grew to be one of my favorite characters because of it. Similarly, Kyoya, Genesis, and Tasuku had big moments as well. Unlike Sengoku Basara where the show didn’t want to give up on the hype, this show knew when it was time to choose a winner though. For example, Gaito and Genesis got to fight when both of them were near the height of their hype reputations. There wasn’t a draw though and a clear winner was chosen. The show is pretty good at not having draws overall as there was only one big one that I can recall and even in that instance, Kyoya would have won, unfortunately the machine couldn’t handle the power of his card.

There are some power level stuff that gets a bit tricky. I didn’t really buy into how Genesis was defeated and there may have been a few cheesy moments here and there. Nothing major though and a big part of card games is the luck factor involved. For the most part it was all fairly believable. I’m definitely hoping for a big reunion season soon though with a tournament that encompasses characters from all of the seasons. You have to admit that this would be hype. On one last note, Kiri fans will be disappointed by the fact that he looks terrible here. He nearly resorts to kidnapping Bal to run away from the enemy threat and doesn’t fight almost at all despite gaining these super powerful abilities of his. Not a good look considering his character development.

For fun, here are the card game seasons off the top of my head. Shows without subtitles are treated as the same though and I’m merging Zexal and Zexal II since that’s what I did on this site. The order would be Yugioh GX, Cardfight Link Joker, Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V, Cardfight Legion Mate, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, Cardfight Asia Circuit, Digimon Tamers, Future Card Buddyfight, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, Cardfight G GIRS Crisis, Scan 2 Go, Buddyfight Triple D, Cardfight NEXT, Cardfight G, Buddyfight 100, Buddyfight NEXT, Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters. I’m pretty sure I got them all. It’s pretty tough to put them all in order since most of the shows are really close to each other. Some are still ongoing as well so they may move up by the end. The worst card show (Minus Capsule Monsters) on the list is still a very good title overall which is why the genre is just so much fun. I’m glad that it has been doing so well as of late.
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Overall, This was a great anime. I highly recommend watching this season. The best part is that since they tried to target newcomers with this title, you can go ahead and watch it without knowing much of the series beforehand. The rules are easy to follow and the plot is pretty basic. After all, a tournament is as straight forward as it gets while still being incredibly epic. We also get the awesome climax and there is a real time fight during the night where Bal fights Azi Dahaka outside of the game rules. That was fun and I’d love to see more of that. Please bring Azi Dahaka back as well, there’s still so much that the franchise can do for him. Buddyfight’s action and pacing ensure that this is a show everyone can check out.

Overall 8/10

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff Review

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Abbott and Costello are back in yet another adventure. The two of them always make for an entertaining experience and this film is no different. While it may not be their best outing it still hits all of the right notes. It’s a timeless classic that most modern comedy films can learn from.

The film doesn’t really try anything new so it is all the same gags that you have come to expect from the series. That can work well for some and others may find it too predictable. For me, I’d say that it still worked well since if was executed well. Even if you know how various jokes are going to play out, it’s still fun to see them unfold. I’ve always liked Abbott and Costello’s joke style. The only joke that probably didn’t pan out was Freddie cross dressing and getting hit on by a random hotel guy. It seems like comedies love to use that trope at least once.

As this film is essentially a parody, most of the suspects are rather crooked. While there is one main villain who murdered the hotel guy, the rest of the suspects had wanted to do it, they were just beat to the punch. As such, this made it difficult to actually question anybody since they were all covering for each other. The detective certainly had a hard case on his hands.

Casey is the voice of reason here and probably the best character in the film. Even when he would be betrayed or woken up in the middle of the night he rarely lost his cool. Towards the end of the film he finally started to lose it but it was hard not too. He had a stroke of bad luck when he slipped and sprained his ankle in the cave. That part was so sudden that I definitely had to wonder how genuine Casey was. Was he actually in on the threat or did he want to finally get some sleep while Freddie wasn’t around?

Freddie was the main character though and he was pretty good. He doesn’t drink and does his best to think about what to do next. Thinking isn’t his strong suit so it’s nice to see the effort. He takes the initiative on putting the bodies on the elevator after all. He also knows what he saw even if everyone else doubts him. The guy may panic a lot and resort to stammering gibberish but we can’t all be super brave. His one iffy moment was when he kept on doubting Casey and putting him on the spot.

To Freddie’s defense, I also suspected Casey for a few minutes there. It seemed awful convenient that he had to head back home immediately after such a small fall right before the villain showed up. It was a pretty good red herring. I also wouldn’t have minded if Casey was actually evil. It would have hurt his character for sure, but it could have been the ultimate twist. It would explain why he is always so cool under pressure. Casey has a natural air of confidence about him as he talks with the cops and the suspects. Nobody ever makes him back down and he laughs at bullets. While he may get too enthusiastic about the murder at times, he always means well.

Even beyond that, it was just hard to guess who the guilty party was. Everyone had secrets and many characters in the film tried to write Freddie out of the picture. There were dangers around every corner so he was never really safe. The most dangerous situation for Freddie was either dangling from a rope in the cave or being stuck in the sauna. Both were tricky. I guess no matter who you chose as the guilty party, you’d be right to an extent since pretty much the whole cast was evil. Still, it wouldn’t count unless you got the person who was apprehended at the end.

The film teaches you a valuable lesson about how it is never wise to hide evidence to save your own skin. For a while there it was hard to even know who to root for. The heroes were just looking out for themselves after all and Freddie was practically asking to be arrested. Of course it may not have gone well if they had showed the bodies to the inspector but it would have been the right call.

As you would expect, the writing is quite solid here. I would expect nothing else from a retro film like this one. The witty banter between the characters is fun and makes Freddie’s character work. If the writing had been bad or halfhearted then he probably would not have been all that funny. You need solid writing for films like this one and I can only imagine what a disaster a modern version could be. There’s no language here and no dirty jokes. Try selling that in Hollywood nowadays, it would get tricky.

Overall, This film holds up really well. The gags are as solid as they ever were. The film moves pretty quickly and you’ll barely even notice the time as it whizzes by. The film doesn’t really make any mistakes either which is certainly hard to do. With the writing being on point as well, this is a film I can totally recommend you check out. It’s not quite as good as Who Done It as that will probably always be their best film, but I’m pretty early on with these team up films so it’s hard to say for sure.

Overall 8/10

Woman of the Year Review

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I’m glad that the poster mentioned how this isn’t suitable for general viewing because it really isn’t. Yes, I’m talking about the content. It’s not violence or fanservice, but just a bad message that the film churns out which basically says that the heroine tried to step out of her designated gender line and so she was in the wrong. Lets delve into this film a little more, but it all feels like some kind of big scam considering that the title suggests that this will be a very empowering film.

The film starts off with a reporter drinking away his sorrows at a bar. He’s your stereotypical American. Sam like sports, has an over inflated ego, and drinks constantly. He hears a coworker by the name of Tess on the radio who says that sports are basically pointless and she wouldn’t mind if they were banned. He gets incredibly triggered and starts yelling a lot as everyone gently kicks him out of the bar. He writes a quick editorial back at her and the wars start. She’s completely destroying him in these written arguments and the boss begins to worry that it’s getting too personal. He tells them to knock it off and Sam realizes that he’ll have to “win” some other way. He invites Tess to a baseball game and they almost immediately decide to get married. Phase 1 of Sam’s plan is complete…time for phase 2!

Sam wants Tess to stop overshadowing him and making him feel bad. While they are co-workers in the magazine, they are on different levels. Sam writes pieces on sports and nobody really cares about him. Tess has connections within the army and ties to foreign ambassadors and people of very high stature. She speaks dozens of languages and is also rich and known as one of the most charitable individuals in the world. Sam is jealous and I suspect that he has been for some time now. He wants her to be a normal housewife or he’s going to embarrass her socially. He decides to skip out on her father’s wedding because he’s a jerk like that and does his best to destroy her legacy as such a pioneer for women’s rights. Can he succeed?

Short answer: Yes. Long Answer: He causes a lot of damage and does undermine her efforts at every turn. Towards the end of the film, Tess starts to get over dramatic to make Sam look good in comparison but it’s far, far too late. While the film doesn’t necessarily say this either, the whole thing seems like a plan of Sam’s from the beginning. I feel like he only married her so that he could try to get her to retire from being super successful and then he can finally feel superior. The whole thing felt like a way to put her down and the film never made this out to be a bad thing.

On the contrary, most of the climax is about Tess trying to make him a breakfast. Plot twist! Despite Tess being a super genius she has never been inside of a kitchen before. She doesn’t know how to make Toast or how to crack an egg. You’ve gotta be kidding right? That’s such an exaggeration and there is no way that she wouldn’t be able to do these things. I was getting triggered myself during the scenes as Sam is still being petty the whole time. He just sits there making mean facial expressions and mocking her efforts the whole time. She shouldn’t even have to be making it up to him since he was in the wrong the whole time.

Lets backtrack a bit though. When they first went out to the baseball game, Tess made an effort to learn it. Learning a sport and all the positions can be pretty tough if you’re not familiar with it, but she used her analytical experience from solving foreign matters of great delicacy and did it. She was then able to really get into the game and have a good time. Next, she invited him to one of her diplomatic meetings. Sam quickly found out that nobody there spoke English so he took the chance to make fun of someone since the guy couldn’t understand him and then Sam dashed out. He gets pretty full of himself from then on and tries to visit Tess in her office without talking to her secretary. Why would he be allowed in without an appointment? He has absolutely no respect for her position or duties and seems to think that he should be given priority over all of them. “Drop your appointment with the Prime Minister…I want to go to McDonalds tonight!” is essentially his attitude.

The only real mistake Tess made was to try manipulating Sam. She made him breakfast in bed for the first time and started talking about having a kid out of the blue. Sam was thrilled about this since having a kid would in theory mean that Tess would be focusing on her job next. She then lays the atom bomb on him by walking in a fully grown kid that she adopted from an unsafe environment. The kid’s a refuge. Sam’s immediately apprehensive, but you can be sympathetic to him. It’s like waking up on Christmas and your parents saying, “Remember that Nintendo Switch bundle that just came out with Mario Odyssey?” Me: Yeah! Them: “Well, we got you a Nintendo 64 and a used copy of Superman 64” Me: “Nooooooo!”

Superman 64 is actually a good game and adopting a kid is a really nice thing to do. They can easily turn his life from a very tragic one into a blessed one. The problem is that it’s not fair to just push this onto someone with no warning and even more so when you bring their hopes up only to smash it down. The kid can’t speak English either which makes the situation worse and the whole thing is unfair to Sam. This is the one part of the film where I don’t blame him for being upset and returning the kid to the orphanage was the right thing to do. The pair couldn’t handle the kid, but none of them really had a discussion with the other. This was also a pretty tricky moment since he did it as she was supposed to accept her Woman of the Year award. He naturally decided not to attend either although to his defense again, she claimed that he had no life so he should come. That’s kind of a mean thing to say.

You can tell by this point that the film was now trying to make her so exaggeratedly mean and insincere that we’re supposed to root for Sam. The problem is that I’d never do so in a million years. You really have to watch the film to see what a terrible character he is. At the very least, he does believe in getting even and tries to do so every time he is slighted.

It’s a shame that the film had to die in the writing department/plot because it could have been good otherwise. It’s part comedy and the humor is handled rather well. I liked one of Sam’s friends who is always talking about how well he fights. The guy came through when it counted and I always like the genuine friends like that who enjoy a good beer but are around when it counts. The scenes of Sam getting embarrassed are also pretty fun as you’d expect. It’s just all for naught in the end…such is the power of a bad ending.

Overall, I’m clearly not impartial in this film. I was on Team Tess the whole time. If you were rooting for Sam then I imagine that you would probably like this film quite a lot as he gets the last laugh time and time again. I never like seeing someone running around trying to please the other when it’s the mean character’s fault in the first place. It’s just unsavory and brings this film down quite a lot. I recommend avoiding it like an old Cheese stick and just watching something a little classier like The Magic School Bus. At least that show is educational and always leaves you with a heartfelt message.

Overall 3/10

Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown Review

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As you may remember from older Scooby Doo films and episodes, Shaggy has quite a large family. Many of his ancestors are famous for something or other. We deal with another one of them in this film so Shaggy has to man up and do the impossible. More on that in a second. It’s a pretty fun Scooby Doo film as you’d expect. By this point, you either like the format or you don’t. I still get a little irritated at how Shaggy and Scooby never get braver even if that is the point. Still, since this film is about Shaggy getting tough when necessary, it’s less of a problem than usual. If anything, I pin most of the blame on Scooby in this movie.

So, the gang heads to a ranch that is owned by Shaggy’s cousin. Unfortunately, Shaggy himself is given a rather poor reception as everyone either avoids him or gets terrified at the sight of the guy. While it’s true that Shaggy hasn’t shaved his hair in a while, he thinks this is a bit much. It turns out that Shaggy looks just like one of his ancestors who was a big outlaw who looks just like him. The outlaw’s ghost has been showing up around these parts as well to scare tourists. It’s getting out of hand and the ranch may be doomed. They need money and fast. Fortunately, there is a 10K prize pot for staying on a horse the longest. Shaggy figures he can win the money to save the ranch, but can he overcome his fears to do so? Also…what does the ghost have to say about all of this?

The plot twist about Shaggy’s ancestor is a little obvious. It turns out that he wasn’t actually a bad guy and he was just framed by the sheriff. I think that having him actually been evil would have been a pretty nice twist to be honest since they all tend to be good, but while it was pretty expected, that doesn’t make the twist bad. After all, the main part of the plot was in the present after all with Shaggy trying to prove his mettle once and for all.

His reasoning was morally dubious tough. Obviously, getting the money to save his cousin’s business was noble. That being said, he was confident that he could win because Scooby would talk to the horse ahead of time and tell it not to start jumping around. I’m pretty sure that this is totally CHEATING but hey…what do I know about horse racing? Fortunately, Scooby forgot to do this so Shaggy had to earn the win the hard way. He pulled it off though since he knew how large the stakes were. When the going gets tough, Shaggy manages to pull through and that helped him a lot in this film. I can safely say that he was likable here as a result..even if the scenes of him being scared are still a little too much.

As for Scooby, it’s a little hard to recover from this. He had one job, talk to the horse. Instead he decided to encourage a little kid who was scared of horses. It was a nice thing to do, but leaving Shaggy high and dry was not. I’m as a little disappointed in Scooby since you wouldn’t expect him to make a huge mistake like that most of the time. The rest of the Scooby gang didn’t get a particularly huge role this time around. Fred was great as always as he had the net at the ready and continues to be rather self aware. He’s by far the best character in the series. Daphne and Velma have their own sub plot as well as they do some sleuthing and the store owner is only willing to help Daphne. That seems to always happen, but Velma took it reasonably well and I’d say that she was decent here. Daphne was fine as always so Scooby is really the only bad character this time around.

I have to give the film some kudos for its climax. It almost felt like the film was going to be wrapped up a little too easily, but fortunately the film villains decided to make a break for it. Nothing quite as exciting as having the villains decide to run and giving us a nice chase scene. Shaggy actually chasing after the villains is definitely very novel and this really could be the first time where this ever happened. Seriously, for once nobody threatened Shaggy or forced him to do so. It was his own idea since he knew that if the villains got away it would be all over for the ranch. This is probably the most heroic that we’ve seen Shaggy yet. It was a solid way to end the film off.

The soundtrack is fairly decent. It’s mostly free domain stuff so it’s not very unique, but it works well enough for the scenes. The animation looks pretty crisp and Scooby Doo does get noticeably clearer as it goes on. It’s fairly subtle if you look at it film by film, but if you look at a film from a few years ago and skip to this one, then it’s a little more evident. It’s a simple look that is easy to look at and understand what is happening in a flash. I definitely appreciate the style. The series is very consistent when it comes to these technical areas.

If I have any complaints here, it’s that I want them to experiment with the opening credits more. For a while, the series had some really awesome opening credit themes and then they just stopped. I’m not sure why, perhaps fans didn’t like them, but I personally thought they were really fun. The intros used a lot of different animation styles and intense music to work as a backdrop for it. I miss those and hope to see them make a return.

Overall, This is a pretty good Scooby Doo film. It was nice to see Shaggy act tough as we don’t get that very often. Nothing will beat the time he broke into a bar and beat everyone up, but this will rank as one of his best appearances. It was a satisfying way for him to get some character development over the course of the film. Whether you’ve seen the last few Scooby Doo films or not, this is one that you’ll want to check out. It’s a fun film and it’s not even that long. It embraces its mystery/comedy set up without going overboard on each one. I guess you could argue that the actual mystery is less front and center here than usual as it’s more about the horse race and getting the money, but the mystery is still there. I recommend trying to guess who the culprit is after the first 30 minutes since that’s enough time to meet most of the suspects without getting too deep into the film. If you go deep enough, then it usually starts to get clearer and clearer who did the deed so it’s not as legitimate of a guess.

Overall 7/10

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Gotham City Breakout Review

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It’s time for another lego film. In this one, we get 2 main plots instead of 3 or 4 like usual. This allows each individual plot to be fleshed out more but of course it means that you have to like both or you’re out of luck. Fortunately, both plots are pretty solid. The Batman plot ends up winning for me, but both of them are on the up and up.

The film starts with Batman’s friends deciding that he needs to take a vacation. As such, Nightwing and Batgirl take him to the place where he first learned how to become Batman. Batman’s master is known as Madame Mantis and she is the one person that he actually fears. It can be a little novel to see Batman actually scared of someone (for 2 seconds anyway) but the next twist made the whole thing even more interesting. Basically, Mantis had actually been kidnapped and Deathstroke had taken her place. Here’s why this is interesting.

For starters..Mantis had actually been beating Batman. That means Deathstroke is even more lethal than he used to be. He also saw a side of Batman that few ever have..his nervous side. Now, Batman claims that he knew this from the start which was a nice save but you have to decide whether you believe it or not. At the very least, Batman did end up winning in the end. It was a great way to start off the plot, but maybe that was also a bad thing. The rest of the story (Batman’s side) isn’t quite as exciting as this initial confrontation. The fight was epic, fast paced, and well choreographed. It was just hard to top it.

Batman and friends discover an underground bunch of beings who work under Madame Mantis and together the gang teams up to take down Deathstroke and foil his evil ambitions. I can’t say that I liked the Trogowogs much and I had to look their name up online because there is no way I was gonna remember it. The revamped origin story of Deathstroke and Batman was pretty cool though. I wouldn’t mind if it became canon since it adds an extra layer of intensity to their rivalry.

Meanwhile, Superman is left in charge of protecting Gotham while Batman is away. Arrogant and over confident as usual, Superman believes that the city’s villains are a joke. This leads to him being tricked by the Joker and losing to Poison Ivy. The whole film is a lesson in humility for Superman. While I could start talking about plot hax and how Batman’s villains really would be a joke to Superman…it’s so self explanatory that I won’t even bother. I don’t mind seeing Superman get put in his place either. His over confidence is why I like the character, but I definitely don’t mind poking a little fun at him. Superman is eventually forced to call in Cyborg and Wonder Woman although they also have a hard time with the situation. It’s a little odd since they certainly aren’t overconfident, but it proves what Batman has been saying for years. He’s the best member, the other Leaguers are just here to back him up!

A big part of the plot is that Robin wants to help out, but Superman constantly patronizes him and reminds the poor boy that kids can’t fight super villains. Superman’s technically correct if this was a normal universe, but in comic book land we all know that kids can be pretty tough. Robin works on his homework for a while, but eventually realizes that without him the team is doomed. He gets set to win and ultimately proves to be the League’s secret weapon. Who’d have thunk it?

As per usual I have to give a shoutout to Batman’s voice actor. The specials really wouldn’t be the same without him since the dialogue is part of why the specials are so fun. Batman just steals the show with ever appearance that he has. The rest of the characters are solid as well and fulfill the parts as best they can, but Batman’s just feels totally legitimate. He sounds like the guy from “How it should have ended” and maybe it’s just easier to voice Batman. Who knows, but either way it works well.

The soundtrack is also pretty good as per usual. The Lego films have been getting progressively better with the fight scenes or at least consistent. The format has shown that it can actually deliver serious fights when it wants to do so. The fight with Batman’s teacher at the beginning was definitely the best one in the film. I’m still not crazy about Lego animation and at this point I don’t think I’ll be changing my mind on that anytime soon, but it won’t take you out of the film. If anything, I’m fairly used to it by now and it still beats Stop Motion. That one’s definitely aged the worst.

The film’s pretty short as always since it’s just over an hour. 70 minutes seems to be everyone’s favorite go to for short films. The old films from the 40’s-60’s were always around 70 minutes like the Universal Monster films and same with anime. Maybe there’s some kind of research which shows that 70 minutes is just right. I do admit that it helps the pacing to stay consistently fast so I suppose it has worked out quite well. With the Lego style, I suppose going to 2 hours could be hit or miss, but if done well it could definitely work.

Overall, This is a pretty fun DC special. It’s not the best Lego adventure, but it can hold its own with ease. I am glad that Batman’s plot got a lot of screen time since a DC special without him just would not work well. This one also didn’t have Supergirl rhyming the whole time like a certain other special so I was down with that. Aside from her, there haven’t really been any poorly written heroes in the Lego specials. We’ve had some bad villains like Vandal Savage, but that’s all. I’d recommend checking this one out if you enjoyed the other DC specials. It’s fairly similar to them and follows a rather safe formula. It hits enough of the right notes to certainly be counted as a good film.

Overall 7/10

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

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All right, it’s time to check out DC’s latest film in its big film continuity. It scored 2 mega hits with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, but then delivered one of the worst films of all time in this genre with Suicide Squad. Clearly it’s been an all or nothing gamble thus far. Well, DC tried to stay with this motto for a while, but ultimately they had to cave in. Critics demolished their older films for being too serious so DC had to fall in line. This was their first attempt to make a film that’s more like a Marvel film with a large increase in humor and a lighter tone. It works to an extent and this film is fun, but a considerable step down from the first two. I’ve been a little cautious about this new tone as Justice League also looks like it’s going to be very jokey, but perhaps it’s good that they switched sooner rather than later. The dark tone worked surprisingly well for Batman V Superman, but typically it’s a recipe for disaster. This is the safer option for the series especially if they want the critics on their side. That being said, I hope we still get a lot of action.

The film starts off with a long prologue of Wonder Woman growing up on Paradise Island and deciding that she wants to be a warrior. She trains in secret and quickly grows to be the strongest on the island. One day, Steve Trevor crashes on the island along with a bunch of Germans so the Amazonian warriors are forced to fight back. They suffer many losses but drive back the intruders. Steve pleads his case to return to Europe to expose the German deeds and potentially end the war with a book that he has found and Wonder Woman decides to go with him. She believes that Ares is secretly behind this war and that destroying him will finally Make Humanity Great Again! Steve doesn’t believe her, but he now has a ticket to get off the island so he agrees to take her to Ares. Can the two of them stop the war?

There’s definitely a lot to say about a big film like this so I guess lets start with the positives. The big climax was pretty great. I had been worried that we wouldn’t have any real villains during the movie and it would just be Wonder Woman beating up helpless soldiers the whole time. Fortunately, we did get a big boss in the end. It should be obvious who the villain is, but I won’t say just in case. We got some tributes to Man of Steel with the imagery and seeing the super fight was intense. The speed and punches were at a high level and still show that DC has the best fights. Wonder Woman’s use of her lasso in the battle was great as well and her bracelets are definitely going to be very useful in future films.

Also, the film gets the sword out of the picture for the climax so Wonder Woman has to fight in hand to hand combat. I can safely say that this is how Wonder Woman should always be fighting. Hand to hand is just the most satisfying for fighters like her, Superman, and the other heavy hitters. It makes their strength feel more real. Now, you can make the case that there is a bit of power level fluctuations in this fight as WW’s opponent is initially much faster than her along with being much stronger as well but suddenly can’t dodge. We can chalk that up to arrogance on his part of just plot hax. Either way, the fight and visuals were on point so it’s not really a big deal.

Speaking of the visuals, those were definitely pretty solid. Wonder Woman’s lasso certainly glowed rather well and seeing it used in combat was fun. The video game esque combos that Wonder Woman got off it was certainly cool. The fiery landscape at the end was also very epic. DC seems to like it as we’ve now gotten this landscape for BVS, Wonder Woman, and it’s confirmed for Justice League as we see it in the trailer. It’s a great background so I wouldn’t mind if they used it for all future films. It just works really well.

Time to quickly mention a moment in the film that felt rather convenient. This was when Wonder Woman decided to raid the Amazonian armory and steal the artifacts. Why was there a random brick sticking out on the wall so she could grab it? I don’t get the purpose of that brick as it would just make stealing from the place a little easier. There were like 4 or 5 others that I saw as Wonder Woman crashed so maybe it was a design thing for the tower? It’s not like it mattered since she could climb it on her own, but I was a little puzzled.

One plot element that didn’t make sense as well in a more major way was how Paradise Island has no defenses. Apparently you can just wander near the barrier and walk right in. Once you’re through, then the illusion fades. If it’s that easy, I can’t believe that more people haven’t gotten through. So either the Amazons have been murdering everyone who’s gotten through (That wouldn’t be too hard to believe, but they acted as if a man hasn’t shown up in a long time) or they’ve just been lucky. Regardless, I think it would have made more sense to have had an actual physical barrier or gusts of wind that typically blow everyone else back. That way, Steve crashing there could still work since he would be going so fast that the winds couldn’t stop him.

Okay, time to talk about the iffy parts in the film. Roughly the first 100 minutes are pretty slow. I had my phone off and my watch is still broken so I couldn’t record the exact time, but it’s not a very exciting start. Wonder Woman training on the island isn’t exciting, but I suppose it’s necessary so the average viewer can get used to the character. As long as origin stories are done once and then never brought back again, then I’m okay with them. Every character has to go through the motions at some point although Hulk still did it best by just including it in the intro. That being said, most films counter this by starting off with a big action sequence. I feel like that would have been useful for this film. Have Wonder Woman start off with a cool fight in the present time as she beats up some super powered crooks or something and then have her reminisce about the good ole days.

Once Steve lands on the island, things go south. The film’s writing is particularly bad as we get very long flirting conversations. Since the Amazons haven’t seen a man in a while, the film plays up this angle extremely hard. It just keeps coming back and back over and over again. The whole boat ride is basically about this as well as Wonder Woman’s conversation with Steve while he was bathing. The film goes for some misdirects by having Steve misinterpret what’s happening half the time, but these scenes are just filler and not very well handled filler at that.

One plot I’ve never cared for much was the “I don’t know about human culture so I’m going to take everything literally and get into a bunch of crazy situations” trope. This one isn’t as exaggerated as other versions that I’ve seen through the years, but it is surprisingly high up. Wonder Woman doesn’t know that you can’t undress in public, but she’s read a lot of rather mature novels. She gets into a lot of trouble by waving her sword around and falling for Steve’s flirtations. I should mention that the romance is pretty bad as you’d expect. It was expected of course since Steve Rogers was about to get in the plane for the last time….I mean Steve Trevor. He got to have some fun before dying this way.

Another issue here is the supporting cast. Don’t bother to learn any of their names since they are complete throwaways. Steve figures that to break into Germany they’re going to need some men. So he picks up a drunk punching bag who used to be a sniper but is too traumatized to shoot anymore and is only good for singing. We get a liar whose whole strength is being charismatic, but there is never a chance to use this skill except for a drive through enemy territory where the villains are so inept that they let a guy in without a passport. Finally we have an Indian who is good at stealing cars and making smoke signals. These are not interesting characters nor are they good ones. The Indian is the only one who is somewhat tolerable as he doesn’t actually do anything…but then why is he in the film? Any scene with the singer is pretty bad and he really should have been cut out. The liar guy is also just bad as he’s only good for bringing us the beer scenes and we really didn’t even need those. The slow dance could be cut out as well.

I think it’s fair to say that the humor is also pretty bad. I suppose it’s a little better than Guardians as it’s handled with more tact and we don’t have a character like Drax running around, but it’s not really funny either. I can’t say that I really laughed at any of the scenes. The funniest moment of the film would probably be when Steve pretends that he can’t hear his boss and hangs up. I rather like that trope and it’s one that has lived through the test of time.

One problem that this film has to an extent comes back to the fact that there is no villain until the final 20-30 minutes. Because of that, most of the action scenes are of Wonder Woman beating up humans. It’s a slight problem because it makes the fights less exciting. For example, how engaged would you be if Superman breaks into an enemy base and beats up all of the minions? It’s just so easy that it’s not as exciting as it could be. It depends on your mileage as we did have a lot of people cheering in the theater as Wonder Woman took them down. The scene of her breaking a tower to stop a sniper got a lot of applause as well. At the same time, for me there is less enthusiasm because that’s just so easy for her. It’s why I was thrilled for the last fight because it meant that she could finally have a challenge. I think I’ve basically covered everything now.

Meanwhile, the Amazons better hope that they never have to fight a real opponent. Despite their tough talk and camaraderie they wouldn’t last very long against any army. Their island suffered losses to a very small battalion of German troops. What this effectively says is that any army could easily defeat them if they wished to do so. It seems like Wonder Woman is the only one with any actual super powers since she is the chosen one. The rest have to constantly keep their guard up or they’ll be shot.

The film is never boring though so that’s always a good thing. Even if the dialogue isn’t always my favorite, it doesn’t feel like the film ever slows down to a halt. Part of that is the novelty of finally having a Wonder Woman film and the other part is the visuals. It’s an entertaining film and it’s why I’d have greater hopes for a sequel since it would ideally take place in modern day. The old World War 1 days may be a better backdrop than the Jungle or the Wild West, but it’s still nowhere close to a nice high tech city.

One worrisome thing to keep in mind is that the film doesn’t explain why Wonder Woman abandoned humanity. We learn in Batman V Superman that she kind of grew bored of them and only came out of retirement on a whim. I was expecting the film to end with her being jaded with humanity and going back to the island, but I suppose a sequel would delve into that. The reason why I’d be worried about this is because I want her sequel to take place in the present. Hopefully they can just briefly mention it or make some kind of excuse for why nobody’s heard of her. I mean, she’s not exactly stealthy based on this film or even the ending where she jumps across buildings striking a battle pose. Something just doesn’t add up here.

As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely pretty sharp. There are a lot of fast paced rock themes that are fun to listen to. Wonder Woman’s signature tune plays a few times and the end credits theme of the film is good as well. Throughout the movie the soundtrack was consistently rapid which is certainly my style. DC’s been hitting it out of the park in this area for sure. Hopefully we’ll get some more epic tunes like this in Justice League.

I suppose we can’t end the review without talking about Etta Candy. Her role was a lot smaller than I had expected, but that’s fine. She was a reasonably good character and she took the situation in stride the whole time. Candy’s the kind of person who always makes for a good friend. I didn’t talk about Steve much either, but I wasn’t a fan. He’s basically your average Captain Kirk. He fights for what’s right and makes the tough calls, but always finds time to flirt now and again. Wonder Woman’s a great lead and certainly makes for a contrast to Batman and Superman as she murders everyone in her path. As a warrior that’s just how it goes and especially in war time. The first villain, Doctor Poison is basically just your average scientist so there’s not much to say about her. She came and went. Hopefully she would not return for a sequel since I want to stick to fighters who can fight back. Adding in Aresia to the 2nd film would make sense if you ask me. She would be a great opponent.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a good film. It has a pretty great climax and Wonder Woman herself is a good lead. The film tripped up a bit with the below average writing and supporting cast, but that wasn’t enough to destroy the film. There’s no after credits scene I’m afraid, but I suppose DC didn’t want people to claim they were copying Marvel. Hopefully Justice League has one though. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you should definitely check the film out. Low replay value is an issue with the film, but it’s not something that would affect you on a first viewing. Wonder Woman will certainly play a major role in upcoming films so you’ll want to see her origin first hand.

Overall 6/10

Nisekoi Review

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It’s time to review a very different manga series. Seriously, it’s not one that you’d have expected me to read. It’s my first complete harem manga. There are some titles that can act a bit like a harem at times like Sword Art Online, but this is a full blown one with comedy hi-jinx around every corner and a lot of situations that will make you suspend your disbelief. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this series at all. Luckily it plays up the comedy angle first and foremost. There isn’t a great deal of fanservice here as it’s pretty mild for the most part. There are some tricky moments though and it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s likely the best adaptation of this genre. I can’t imagine another one handling it quite as well.

The protagonist is Raku and he is the heir to a local Yakuza organization. He doesn’t want to lead the group though as his passion is to be a civil servant who lives in a very fair and balanced way. It’s an honorable aspiration and the gang members don’t mind this as they figure that he’ll grow bored and decide to lead the gang in the end anyway. His life changes forever when a girl named Chitoge moves into town. She is in a very similar situation and her gang does not get along with Raku’s at all. The two gangs decide to form a peace treaty by convincing Chitoge and Raku to pretend to be dating. Only the top executive of each gang knows that it is fake so the rest believe that it is legitimate and do their best not to get into fights. Naturally, this has serious social repercussions for both characters since they have to keep the act going 24/7. Raku was hoping to live a normal high school life and Chitoge wanted a great start to her school year, but neither were to be.

Quite a few more complications would enter the fray though. The main characters are all in the same class and it just so happens that most of them know Raku in some way or other from the past. Onodera was one of Raku’s best friends back in the day and Raku secretly admires her. Unfortunately for him, the Chitoge situation has shut the door on any hopes for him since he is officially taken and Chitoge has to find a way around that as well. Her best friend Ruri has decided that overcoming your rivals is necessary in a case like this and tries to push the two of them together. Meanwhile, Chitoge has a bodyguard named Tsugami who is forced to come to class as well to protect her mistress. She believes that Raku is not fit to protect Chitoge but gradually realizes that he is tougher than he looks. A rich transfer student also shows up who is a pre-arranged fiance for Raku. This hurts his reputation even more and she is the most overt with her constant advances towards Raku. Not to be out done, a transfer teacher also shows up named Yui. She grew up with Raku as she learned how to be an effective mob boss and then went her own way. Well, now she is also back to claim Raku. Finally, we also have Onodera’s younger sister. She doesn’t want to get in Onodera’s way but that becomes more difficult as her friend tries to push her into some tricky situations.

So, we’ve got quite the cast and you can see how this is clearly a harem title. There are 6 different girls going after Raku and he has to try to stop all of their advances while he chooses one over the others. While the reverse harem title Gentleman’s Alliance (I believe that’s the right name) did a cop-out by having the heroine choose 2 guys to alternate with, I can safely say that there is none here. The series wraps up with each girl getting her own story arc and one by one Raku completely rejects them tournament style. It’s pretty interesting and at least he was direct about the whole thing. Of course, the series is 25 volumes long and those arcs don’t really start til around volume 19. The first 18 are for good ole comedy shenanigans along with a plot about Raku’s pendant. See, he has this pendent which can only be opened by a girl that he promised to marry when he was a kid. The problem is that from the 7 girls, 4-5 of them have their own keys. They can’t try them out either since Raku conveniently breaks his pendent. Oh well, they’ve got a lot of time to figure it out right?
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For a story like this, the two most important aspects are the characters and the writing. Those two things are handled pretty well and the art also helps a lot. You may notice that all of the pictures in this review are from the same fight. That’s because the art for this fight was just so good and it came out of nowhere. This was the only serious fight in the whole series or at least the only one that was of a decent length. It shows what the series could have been like if the author had decided to pursue Nisekoi as an action series. It would have had quite a lot of potential. The art is consistently good throughout and I’d consider it to be fairly high end even counting all other manga titles.

If there’s any part of the art that’s weak, it’s that parts of it can seem recycled. So that’s not a quality thing, but just a byproduct of the genre. It’s something that you tend to see in comedy titles a lot since the characters always have exaggerated expressions. You’ll see what I mean if you flip through a volume. The characters make the same faces constantly. You can’t go through a single chapter without someone yelling or panicking. At least not until you’re in the climax of the series. The overreactions can definitely get old pretty quick.

All right, lets talk about the characters. First off is Raku, our lead. He’s a nice guy who wants to help everyone out, but just has a lot of natural charm so everyone wants to hang out with him. Raku does his best not to lead anyone on and is pretty oblivious to the situation as you probably would expect. I can’t say that I’m really a fan of Raku though. While he handles most of the situations fairly well, he can also make them worse at times. Other times he’s a little slow on the uptake and tends to insult other characters at inopportune times. He calls Chitoge a gorilla as a joke while she calls him a bean sprout, but often times Raku will use this insult quite randomly and it makes you wonder what he was thinking.

Chitoge is the main heroine and one of the better characters. She’s probably my second favorite behind Tsugami. Chitoge is outgoing and does her best to make a lot of friends during her school days. She helped to bring the whole gang together and is always ready to help the others out like Raku. She’s pretty selfless as well and tries not to get in the way of the other character’s goals. Chitoge can also fight to a mild extent which helps quite a bit as well. Next up is Onodera, one of the other major characters of the series. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of hers. She’s a really shy character who has a hard time talking to Raku and her friends often have to push her into action. She means well though and is also a very nice character, but the shy character type has never been my favorite. Just about all of my favorite characters are outgoing or have generally tough personalities. I feel like it makes the character more interesting.

Next up is the worst character in the series, Shu. This character had no point being in the series and it feels like he is just here to make Raku look even better. After all, Raku is heroic, noble, and treats everyone with respect. Shu flirts with everyone and is always thinking very sketchy thoughts as he tries to get everyone into sticky situations. His romance plot was also the worst since it basically exonerated everything he does. The series ends with him refusing to change his ways and his partner just deciding that she can live with that. It’s just terrible all around and I’d wince whenever he was on screen. Bad things were always sure to follow.
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Ruri is Onodera’s friend so she never really counted as one of the people interested in Raku. Things get tricky for a second, but her bond with Onodera is a lot stronger and another guy ends up appearing for her. Ruri was a pretty decent character until her romance plot started wrapping up. The series kept hinting at it whenever she would appear, but I just hoped that the title wouldn’t go down that route. Unfortunately it did and Ruri got the worst pairing possible. Anyway, she’s a nice friend who helped Onodera a lot, but the latter was just too timid to really make use of the assistance.

Another supporting character is Claude. He doesn’t like Raku and constantly makes plans to humiliate the kid or get some dirt on him that could be used as blackmail. Naturally he’ll never find any dirt on the perfect main character though and most of his plans backfire because his subordinate Tsugami breaks it by mistake. Claude gets a pretty decent action scene towards the end and he is one of the best characters. While he is really bias against Raku, he does ultimately mean well since he just wants to protect Chitoge. He makes his share of mistakes, but I can sympathize with this guy.

Back to the main characters, we have Chitoge’s bodyguard up next. Tsugami was the best character by a long shot as she’s a great fighter and makes all of the right choices. She puts her feelings behind Chitoge’s happiness and safety consistently. She can be a little too naive at times to be honest and the series really exaggerates this character trait of hers, but when it comes to being a bodyguard she is prepared for every contingency. She saves the day on multiple occasions and Raku definitely wouldn’t have lasted so long without her. She gave the series quite a few of its best scenes so it’s safe to say that the manga as a whole would have dropped without her as well.

Tachibana’s personality is one that you probably wouldn’t assume would work well but she’s actually one of the better characters. She’s the most direct and upfront about her plans for the future and she lets Raku know about this constantly. It’s a little refreshing when you compare her to everyone else who constantly ducks the questions with the classic “Don’t get the wrong idea!” lines. Her story is probably the most tragic of the bunch, but it has a fairly happy ending. Tachibana also did have the absolute best arc of the series so that was pretty cool. She also came out to help in the last part of the final arc. I’d place her as the third best character and she definitely made the series a whole lot livelier.

Honda is Tachibana’s bodyguard. She isn’t quite as skilled as Tsugami, but she comes close. The images that I’ve attached in the review are of her fighting Tsugami so you can see how she put up a really good fight. That being said, I definitely don’t like Honda. She is the opposite of Tsugami who knows when to disobey an order and where her priorities lie. Honda follows the orders no matter what and is very strict when it comes to the rules. This leads to her making a lot of the wrong choices throughout.

Haru is Onodera’s sister. She wasn’t a bad character, but I can’t say that she really added anything to the series either. You could cut her out and nothing would really change. Haru starts out as the most antagonistic character to Raku, but gradually warms up to him since he’s such a nice guy. She knows that Onodera is trying for him though and steps aside which is pretty self less of her. She wants to be a pro baker but goes through many adversities along the way. I was glad for that subplot though because I do like seeing snacks. I could use a good Chocolate Chip Cookie myself right about now.
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Finally we have Yui. She is the leader of a gang and used to live at Raku’s gang base when she was a kid. She doesn’t have any family left so she looks to Raku as a brother. We get a pretty iffy subplot where her admiration morphs into something else, but by the end they agree that this would be a mistake so they keep the status quo as it is. It’s certainly a weird dynamic when you have her as the teacher though. Fortunately she got out of the arranged marriage thing so now she has time to rethink about what she wants to do. She was also a little unnecessary to the series and didn’t bring much to the table. I think I prefer Haru so the question is who was the worst heroine….her or Onodera? I’m probably going to give Onodera the slight edge here, but it’s reasonably close.

There are a few other supporting characters of course. Chitoge’s Mom shows up a few times during the series and she’s a good character. She lets her business get in the way of family time for a while, but Raku shows her how to balance it so she can hang out with Onodera more. The gang leaders show up a few times like Raku’s Dad, but they never really do much. There are ninja, classmates, friends of friends, and more characters but we covered all of the major ones.

This goes without saying, but one of the negatives of the series is the fanservice. It’s not all that excessive or frequent, but it is around enough where it still needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that most titles just can’t seem to get away from completely. Another issue is naturally the constant romance. As I mentioned earlier, the series is at its best during the normal adventures where the characters are just having fun and hanging out. The cast is actually better than some of the Shonen action casts. Perhaps it’s because we see them hang out more so getting used to the characters happens a lot quicker than when they are fighting and we don’t get to see the development for a while. Titles like DBZ throw that theory out of the water though.
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The romance is handled well for what it is. I’d say that it’s probably better than most main stream films in that regard. The characters don’t immediately get to the next level for no reason and it’s not like a CW show where you’re rebounding from one character to the next. Since Raku is unsure about what to do for most of the series, he makes sure not to actually get together with anybody. Of course, he has to pretend to be with Chitoge, but he keeps it in pretend mode.

Since a great deal of chapters are standalone, it also stands to reason that for all of the hits there are some misses as well. For example, pretty much any chapter where all of the heroines drink a love potion and decide to chase Raku are fairly weak. On the other side, pretty much any athletic competition…or simply any competition at all are typically a lot of fun. Since the series is so long, the cast gets to go on quite a lot of adventures so pretty much every kind of situation happens. We get haunted houses, School against School competitions, trips to other states, island survival tests, etc.

I read most of the series in batches of 2-4 volumes so I can also safely say that the series is a page turner. It never gets remotely boring and I think that can be accredited equally to the interesting cast and the exceptional art. Both really help to complement each other for any series really. If a series has bad art, then it’ll be hard to marathon no matter how engaging the plot is. It was just fortunate to have both factors in its favor.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but what else is new? Manga rarely have satisfying endings for me and this one had a big time skip as per usual. My main issue with it was the heroine’s final decision after being selected by the main character. It’s a choice that seems to happen a little more often now and I still don’t really get the logic behind it. It dampens what is otherwise a happy ending. There are also a few random pairings that I’m pretty iffy at, but the ending certainly could have been a whole lot worse.

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Overall, Nisekoi is a pretty fun series. If I were to rate the series based just on how enjoyable it is, it would easily get an 8. However, just being fun isn’t enough to get a high ranking since I still do have to count the negatives. It’s in the same boat as Medaka Box although less extreme in both the positives and negatives. The author definitely did a really good job of mixing up the various arcs by the end and giving each character time to shine. All of the main characters got a lot of development through the series. I can safely say that Nisekoi was a lot better than I had anticipated. At least now if anyone asks me to recommend a good romance series I can bring this one up. Tsubasa is probably still my go to example though since it was pretty much perfect, but this one can definitely be seen as more of a traditional romance. Now I can only hope that it really does get a battle spinoff manga someday.

Overall 6/10