Smokey and the Bandit II Review

Now it’s time for the big sequel. Smokey and the Bandit II retreads a lot of ground from the first film but tends to do it in a weaker way on all fronts. Right off the bat I can say that this is still a good movie but it’s a step below the first. In no way does it surpass the original and that’s a shame because a sequel should always strive to do better…to be better! This one doesn’t quite accomplish that in the end.

The story starts with Snowman being recruited once again to help with some smuggling. He’s forced to call in his pal Bandit, but the guy has let himself go ever since Frog broke up with him. He’s gained a ton of weight and just doesn’t have any energy anymore so Snowman calls her back in too which causes her to walk out on her wedding to Junior. Once again that sets off Smokey who decides to take Bandit down. Frog and Bandit will have to put aside their personal feelings to get the job done as there is a lot of money at stake here. Will they be able to pull it off or is this game over?

Right off the bat it’s a rather odd decision to have Frog and Bandit be broken up only to reunite them right away as she runs out of the wedding. Immediately you know how the film is going to spin this but now the romance works even less than it did the first time. Bandit now knows that she was absolutely going to marry someone else just a few minutes ago so how much does she actually love him? Then she reveals that he was cheating on her even while they were together which makes sense with how he is acting all the time. They have so much dirt on each other that the romance can’t possibly start up again and yet it does. This is a complete rebound which is a bad idea.

In general the script isn’t quite as tight this time either. The characters are a bit more exaggerated this time. For example Smokey is now shown as being completely incompetent. He’s scared of other truck drivers and no longer intimidates anyone. While he would usually watch the other cops crash and burn in the first film, he’s the one crashing in this one. It’s just way too much of a role reversal the whole time. The film is trying to have him be the funny character without building up his talents without it. It completely missed the point of the original which is a shame.

Smokey is still fun of course but he’s just not nearly as imposing or effective. The characters don’t fear him at all and that’s a shame because it’s part of what made him such a good character. Instead the gag of him constantly insulting Junior is played up even more here and Junior is even less intelligent than usual. You can’t see how Frog was even close to marrying him unless he is just really rich or something. That wouldn’t be a good look for Frog regardless.

As for Bandit, man he has really fallen off since the first film. He’s not the big leader that he used to be now as he got all depressed so quickly. It takes a lot for him to finally get back in shape and ready for action. Then even after that he seems a little more petty than usual like how he blows up at someone for not being a big fan of his. You just didn’t think that something like that would bother him nearly as much as it does. Bandit wasn’t out for the fame, but the thrill of the hunt right?

Snowman also doesn’t get to do a whole lot even though he’s the lead. It’s a little hard to even say what his personality is here. I guess he’s just a nice guy who is ready for some action but for the most part he’s going through the motions. Now you may be wondering at this point, how is this still a good movie? Well, to a large part I’m comparing it to the first movie a lot and of course it doesn’t compare favorably but if you look at the movie on its own then it’s still good.

For one thing, the soundtrack is still solid here. Smokey still has his big moments with his iconic theme song playing. That’s always fun to hear and the chase scenes are still good. They may not be as dynamic as the first film’s but they’re good enough. The comedy is still solid even if less of the jokes land. I feel like the film was also trying to be more family friendly which explains why the humor was a lot goofier. Not sure if that was the intent but that makes sense to me at least.

The movie still has good pacing and you won’t get bored. The slowest part has to be the opening as you just want Bandit to be ready for action already. Once he is then the race is on. The film doesn’t focus as much on the dangers of smuggling this time as it’s all easy for the leads now but I guess in the back of your mind you can assume that it’s still a tough bet for them. I think we should have gotten to see more of the big race for governor since the petty squabbles there had some potential. Unfortunately that pretty much vanishes after the opening scene instead of being a whole big deal.

While the movie doesn’t excel, I also wouldn’t say it has any seriously bad points. Reusing so many plots from the original is certainly something that it shouldn’t be doing but that is what limits it from being better as opposed to striking it down. Ultimately I would recommend checking this film out to anyone who likes a good comedy. In a way it might work better to start with this one and then go back so you end with the higher note and then treat it like a prequel.

Overall, Smokey and the Bandit II didn’t really know what it wanted to do. The film was less focused and borrowed a lot from the original. Still, it wasn’t bad and I would say it worked well enough on its own merits. It may have less replay value than the first but you’ll still have a good time here. Expect to have less laughs but you’ll be engaged all the way through. We’ll see how the third film is able to compete with the first two, or even if it can compete with them at all. It may end up just being a sound loss for the movie but hopefully it can surpass its limits and even be the best one.

Overall 6/10

Smokey and the Bandit Review

Now this is one of those films that has a classic feel to it. It’s all aged well from the humor to the plot itself. It may be fairly basic but the execution is on point and it doesn’t drag on. This is a good example of a solid all around comedy movie with memorable characters and music choices. Definitely a solid flick that you can check out at any time.

The movie starts with a trucker getting pulled over for trying to smuggle beer across state lines. This is a rather serious offense and it’s been going on for quite a while now as two guys in particular are really trying to make this happen for their big celebration coming up. Finally the rich duo are forced to ask for the help of Bandit, the most notorious truck driver in town. Everybody loves this guy, he’s effectively a local hero. Bandit agrees to help once the price is driven up enough. He contacts his friend Snowman who decides to bring his dog along. They must now get ready to drive an extremely long distance to get these beers what feels like halfway across the country in 48 hours.

There are two hitches to the initial plan though. One is that Bandit meets up with a girl who they later give the handle Frog, who has just ran off from her wedding. At the last second she decided to call it off and will be hitching a ride for now. Due to that there is a second hitch in that they’ve attracted the attention of Smokey, a very influential sheriff from Texas. His son Junior is the one who was going to marry Frog so the guy is extremely steamed and will get even more upset once he finds out what they are up to. This guy will do whatever it takes to stop them, even if it means tangling with other state law enforcement agencies. Can Bandit really pull this one off?

There’s a lot to like about this movie. The simple set up of a car chase across various state lines is really solid because then you have time to try and make the chase memorable. The movie pulls this off with its solid character cast which is rather small but as a result they all have strong character personalities at all times which can lead to a lot of good dialogue. The script here is consistently solid with all of the dynamics.

Bandit and Smokey have a very antagonistic relationship going here as Bandit will always talk very sarcastically or throw out plain insults while Smokey is yelling the whole time. Bandit and Frog also have a lot of good banter going on the whole time as they hurl insults. Now you know this will eventually turn into a romance so you will probably shake your head at that, but before that point there’s a lot of good dialogue going around. I’d say the same is true of all the characters, you’ll have a lot of fun here with how quickly they throw out all the lines.

Bandit is a very entertaining main character. He’s up for any challenge and always knows how to lose the cops. He may not be a hero as the guy is illegally smuggling and it sounds like this isn’t the first time, but at least his crimes are not violent ones. He’s not attacking anyone or anything like that, which doesn’t suddenly make him a hero or anything but he has his own honor code. I don’t see any romance with him lasting for long though as he likes to flirt with everyone and doesn’t seem like a very loyal guy. He just goes where the wind takes him.

Then you have Frog who is a rather fiery character as well. She goes with her gut even if her instincts kick in halfway down the wedding aisle. Frog can keep up with the fast paced banter as well as everyone else and takes everything in stride. That’s part of what makes the dynamic with her and Bandit work. She’s not out of her element at all and is just a very grounded character. Frog even gets to drive the car herself at times.

Snowman is a solid partner to Bandit. He plays the part of the more reasonable member who isn’t necessarily jumping on these challenges but won’t back away from it. His dog was a nice member of the crew as well. Part of what makes the scheme Snowman and Bandit are running have a much better shot of working than all the other truck drivers is because there are two of them. Basically the set up is that Bandit drives ahead in the car and if he sees any cops then he will lure them away as Snowman goes through in the big truck. Likewise if Snowman sees them then he can give Bandit a heads up. It’s not a full proof system or anything but it’s better than going it alone.

A lot of the time the heroes end up getting bailed out by their friends though. Bandit has a ton of fans on the airways so you constantly have people intentionally getting in Smokey’s way and helping out. Without them the main characters would have lost a lot of times. You can see why Smokey gets so heated because everything seems to be against him. What he doesn’t realize is…everyone is against him!

Smokey is a very entertaining character and definitely one of the highlights here. Part of what makes him really work is how exaggerated he is. The guy is extremely full of himself and believes that he represents the law 100%. Nobody else can get any say here because he knows that he’s always right. I respect his determination at least. You can tell that he’s someone who takes advantage of his power and gets set off too quickly but that’s what makes him such an intense antagonist. You may even find yourself rooting for him at times.

He sure takes a lot of shots at his son Junior though. Junior isn’t very smart and seems to lose intelligence the more he appears but at least he means well. Things just never work out for him and so he digs a hole for himself that’s deeper and deeper with each line. Sometimes the best thing to do is to not say anything at all and that’s what he will have to try and learn at some point.

As I mentioned earlier, the soundtrack here is solid. Smokey has his own theme which is always good. It definitely lets you know that something’s about to go down. What this film also got right was having Smokey still be a competent officer. We see that he does better than the other cops and is also intense enough where the teen delinquents fear him. This is a hard but important thing to balance. If Smokey was totally comic relief then the whole dynamic wouldn’t work as well because you need that fear to show how good Bandit is. It’s only impressive to see Bandit beating Smokey because we know that nobody’s ever bested him before.

The only weak part here is the obligatory romance and the film doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on it. You can just tell that it’s here because it has to be when Frog and Bandit’s banter was much better as reluctant allies. Once you go the romance route then you can’t really recapture that and so the film loses out on a lot of potential for the sequels and for the final act of the movie. Changing the dynamic like that is always risky and it didn’t pay off here.

Overall, Smokey and the Bandit is a very fun film. It’s got a lot of really solid dialogue moments which is important for a film like this and the humor is really good. It’s a very balanced movie from start to finish which is important. It never drags on and you’ll have a solid time with a very satisfying ending. So there’s no point in the movie where it loses steam and that means I can easily recommend this to just about anyone.

Overall 7/10

Father’s Little Dividend Review

It’s time for the sequel to the last film in this series which means that Stanley is going to have to deal with another trial. You definitely have to feel bad for the guy because he just got done spending a fortune on the wedding and now there is a kid on the way. Granted there is a time skip of course as kids don’t just come out of the blue but it looks like the burden will be on him again. This is one dividend that he may not want to accept.

The plot starts with Stanley being in a good mood though. He is in a great point in his life where everything is working. His life is clicking like a well oiled machine which is just perfect. The problem occurs when his daughter Kay announces that she and Buckley are having a baby. This was not the good news that Stanley was hoping for and naturally a lot of issues start to come up. Kay and Buckley are fighting again and Ellie is hoping that they can move back in to the main house. Stanley will have to think of something quickly or his life is basically going to be gone yet again.

As with the last film I sympathized a lot with him here. You figure at least that after the marriage there would be peace as Stanley can visit and all but they’re still in separate houses and he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Asking them over to come and live at home is really a bit much. Ellie doesn’t take it well as she guilt trips Stanley but I feel like she could have been a whole lot more understanding on the matter. Certainly she can see how it would end up being a lot of trouble on his side here since a baby is really a full time commitment. It doesn’t help that the baby doesn’t even like Stanley and is always throwing a fit.

Of course Stanley’s no saint here either. He has one scene where he really messes up in leaving the kid alone for 30 minutes. Ultimately he is able to sweep this under the rug after the cops find the baby and he convinces them to stay quiet. It’s all well and good for him and his reputation but that was such a bad look for him. Beyond that he looks good here and ultimately he is as supportive as possible even when he’s not thrilled about the whole thing.

Both sides of the family fight a bit about what the baby’s name should be and if they want it to be a boy or a girl. I always thought that kind of conversation puts a whole lot of pressure on the parents because it’s not like you can really control that. As for the name, I personally think the parents should have that all settled before even talking to family so that there are no issues there. Imagine allowing peer pressure to dictate what the name of your kid would be. There’s no way that would end up being even a remotely positive experience for anyone involved.

I didn’t really care for Kay in the first film and that continues here. She still has a bad habit of dashing out of a situation where anyone starts to question her. She tends to panic at the drop of a hat and doesn’t handle her disagreements with Buckley very well at all. We don’t see the whole scene but the movie never portrays it as Buckley being super out of line but rather Kay just seems to be a little overly sensitive. Considering how long they’ve been together now you would figure that their relationship would be a little stronger so that it wouldn’t crumble at the drop of a hat like this.

As for Buckley, what happened to the guy? He was some kind of fancy young CEO in the first film but now he’s hard up for cash?? Does not compute. It felt like the movie needed some excuse for them to be on tough times financially but I think this could have been handled a little better. I can’t say I really liked Buckley by the end either. It’s really up to Stanley to hold the film together as per usual.

Ellie and Buckley’s parents are all reasonably good even if they don’t always seem to get along a whole lot. There’s definitely a lot of competitiveness going on between the two sides. Ultimately things always turn out well for Stanley and Ellie so I wonder how the other two feel about that. At the end of the day though it’s not like the characters are awful or anything so they still do a good job of keeping the movie going.

Where this film shines is that it’s just a fun rom-com. The movie has good pacing so it never drags on and I would say the script and writing are both good. You’re always sure to be entertained which is absolutely the important thing here. There’s a lot of fun little events you can have with a kid coming into the picture, especially when the kid himself doesn’t have a big role for most of it.

It’s the kind of film that does still feel long but more in the sense that a lot is going on as opposed to you feeling like they’re overplaying a part. In general that can be a strength of a rom-com. You can fit in a whole lot of scenes and development because the more low key the film, the more you have to rely on talking scenes and a lot can happen there. A single conversation in a movie can completely change the plot after all.

Personally I would say that the first film has the slight advantage though. It’s always hard to beat the first encounters and that’s when all of the characters really got to meet up. Additionally, the whole thing was a lot more personal with Stanley trying to stop Buckley as opposed to the kid who is coming whether he likes it or not. There is much less that he can actually do about the situation here and so the stakes aren’t nearly as high.

Overall, You should have a good time here. This is a film with quality writing throughout and is just fun. It’s got a good amount of replay value and I wouldn’t say that I had any serious issues with it. The series would probably need to change up the formula a bit if it got more movies but this works very well as a follow up. This kind of film rarely gets a sequel either so it’s fairly neat to see how the characters are doing after the events of the first movie.

Overall 7/10

Father of the Bride Review

When you’ve got a movie with a very laidback premise like this you know that it’s going to feel like a very long movie. Whether this is a good or bad thing will definitely depend on the writing and the characters. If this is handled poorly then that’s really game over but if handled right then you’re in for a fun time. Fortunately I can say that this was a fun film. While it was hard to get behind the actual romance, I did like the main guy’s reaction to all of this.

The film starts off with Stanley in a fair good mood. It’s been a nice day and he’s enjoying dinner with his family. That’s when his daughter Kay drops the bombshell that she likes a boy named Buckley and intends to marry him. This sends Stanley into hysterics while Ellie is thrilled with the idea because she wants to be a grandmother. The next bombshell drops which is that according to standard customs, the parents of the bride must pay for everything and spend their whole life savings on the wedding. Stanley’s life has now been turned upside down…can he make a comeback here?

So in a lot of ways I sympathize with Stanley because I do think the whole wedding gig has been absolutely taken over by corporate and nobody realizes it. It all starts with the Wedding Ring that you have to spend a ton of money on as a symbolic gesture of love all the while not realizing that you are just tossing money into the tank. Why do you think so many people believe they have to spend a fortune on the wedding and make it a big event where they hire planners and such?

Big Business came up with that and have been laughing all the way to the bank for years. I’m telling you it’s just not worth it. If you ever end up getting married, make it a very small affair where you just get it official and don’t even worry about the ring. Once that’s done you can have a fun house party where everyone brings a dish of food and you all celebrate. Now you’ve taken the middle man out of the equation and just made it a really fun time like a Christmas party or something like that. You’ll have also saved on thousands of dollars minimum which is a really big deal.

You can then put that money to far better use. In the film we also see that Stanley has to pay for every person that attends. Forget that. I’m calling up my friends and telling them that they’re paying to attend if we’re doing some kind of formal gathering. Everyone pays for themselves and that keeps it even stevens. Definitely makes it all a whole lot better if you think about it that way. Of course you don’t even run into that problem if you do my suggested way. There are a ton of ways to save money on this while still having a great time with the wedding if you think it through. Naturally you should be thinking that through with your partner well before the actual date so it doesn’t become a surprise.

Throughout the film Stanley runs into the issue of having to lose money at every corner and that’s why you feel bad for him. He had been saving up for so long and to see it all go in an instant like this has to be rather rough. It’s hard to just get that money back when you’re already later in life like this. Ultimately he’s still a good sport for Kay’s sake and that’s definitely appreciated. He could have been harsh about it but didn’t want to guilt trip her about the whole thing.

Stanley also has a good sense of humor and helps give the film a lot of life. His inner monologues are really solid and the film has great writing in general. He’s definitely thinking things through all the while and he also stands up for his school when Buckley’s father gets a little ahead of himself. Ultimately you can always count on Stanley and he’s the standout character in the film.

Ellie is solid as well. She’s his contrast for most of the film as she is thrilled about all of this right from the jump. Ellie also wants a really big wedding and is eager to help out with it. At times Stanley gets so nervous that he ends up getting her nervous as well but in the end she always bounces back.

Then we have Kay but she would be my least favorite character in the film. She’s constantly bursting into tears and running off whenever she is confronted in even the smallest way. This even leads to her nearly cutting all ties with Buckley after we’re super deep into the film. He calls her spoiled at one point and you definitely see it. It’s to the point where she’s super irresponsible about the whole thing. Imagine if they hadn’t talked her out of it and she did cancel the wedding? A lot of the expenses can’t be taken back so the parents would have been out of a ton of money with nothing to show about it.

Even then Kay seems more upset about herself than the money. She barely ever lets Stanley get a word in edgewise before panicking or getting super defensive. Even when the characters are being very pragmatic like discussing which invites to cancel since they were over budget she runs off and starts yelling. It just ended up being impossible to like her and she made the whole situation a lot tougher on Stanley and the crew than it needed to be. The first red flag was not even telling her parents that she was in a relationship so serious that she was ready to get married.

Finally we’ve got Buckley and he seems okay I guess. The guy is constantly nervous but seems successful in his business. It raises some questions for the sequel but here he is really well off to the point where Stanley is rather surprised about it. Buckley’s got his priorities in order and will ultimately be going places. At least they know Kay will be in good hands. I think Buckley does try to make an attempt to do the right things an get a good bond with Stanley even if that tends to be tough.

As the whole film is building up to the wedding that is why it can feel long if you aren’t engaged. To me the film does a great job of staying interesting but I will say that it still does feel long. Because the plot doesn’t change much you can really see how it takes a while to get to the end. It’s a good movie though so that just means there is more time to enjoy the characters squirming and wondering what to do.

Overall, Father of the Bride is a pretty good movie. It doesn’t overstay its welcome even if the length gets a little close to that point. You’ll probably sympathize with Stanley a lot on all of the wedding traditions that have to be kept because they’re historic even when they aren’t particularly practical. I can’t imagine tossing so much money up for an event like that but I know that it’s still the popular thing to do. The movie got a sequel so you can expect a review on that pretty soon as well.

Overall 7/10

Fairy Tail: Happy’s Heroic Adventure Review

Fairy Tail is one of those franchises that is very interesting because it has extremely high highs but suffers from never ending fanservice that always drops it way down. This spinoff is no different. Well, I wouldn’t say the highs are that amazing but in a lot of ways it looks rather solid. The fights are great, the art is top notch, and the story is interesting. Towards the end it starts to sputter a bit but it’s never able to truly achieve greatness because the fanservice sticks around. Yes, even without Lucy and the gang this keeps up for the animals…ah well Fairy Tail will be Fairy Tail I suppose.

The series starts with Happy being warped away from his normal world over to animal village. He’s not exactly sure why this happened or how but now they are saying he is the hero of legend who is here to save them all. Happy is more interested in going home but the only way to do that is to perform a lot of good deeds. This will fill up the smile heart that he has to wear and once it is filled up, then a miracle will occur which will take him home. Sounds easy enough right?

Happy is a nice guy for the most part even if he’s not super heroic. So for example if he sees a crime in front of him then he’ll definitely jump in. Happy isn’t about to let something like that slide. At the same time he still just wants to go home above all else so it’s not like he’ll stay to fulfill the prophecy first if he has a choice. Ultimately Happy doesn’t really have a say in the matter though as completing all of the tasks will take a while. There is a lot to do in this world that’s for sure.

The pre arc introduces us to some of the characters in the village and Happy starts to win over everyone’s trust. It isn’t particularly difficult since he is able to fly and is physically strong enough to help everyone out. I wouldn’t say that he is the strongest character around but he can hold his own with the heavyweights since the characters aren’t all that powerful here. The introduction is sound and all as we gear up for the first big arc.

At first you may have expected this to be more of an adventure title without a whole lot of action but that quickly changes as the series goes on. It transitions into a complete action story which I thought was an excellent move. You get dynamic fights with a lot of characters who have different skillsets. The art is top notch as I mentioned earlier and the story is sound. The chapters really breeze through too so you can definitely fast blast through the series.

On the negative side, yes the fanservice is as bad as you would expect. It’s crazy how even with no human characters in the series for most of the arcs, the series still manages to include a lot of fanservice like this. You have one character constantly flirting with Happy and while he doesn’t react to it at all, it still gets crammed into the series a whole lot. If you take this away then the series would be a lot better without a doubt.

The final arc involving time travel also gets a little dark. Keep in mind that these are all animals running around here. They are evolved versions that can talk and walk so they get a bit more humanoid but we find out about a farm that basically forces the animals to fight and get slaughtered in vicious war games. It’s possible that they all survive since Fairy Tail tends to spare them at the end but they certainly go through quite the ordeal and it’s hard to say if they actually did make it completely intact. I think for a series like Happy this felt rather out of place. You even had characters pretending not to know about it and while they were threatened, it’s awful that they didn’t try harder to stop this whole project. Ultimately this ended up being the weakest arc.

Lets jump into the first arc now though. We are introduced to a group of animals from Wild Town led by Chee who want to rule the village. They don’t believe in friendship and operate in a might makes right kind of mindset. Happy’s group of fighters will have to try and show them the error of their ways but it won’t be easy at all. This was a solid arc with a lot of fights and a really solid villain in Chee. It was the first point where the series really felt like a Shonen title with a lot of good battles. I would even say this was the best arc in the series.

Chee is an emotional villain who has a tough exterior but the whole time you know he’s going to have a big backstory. The fact that he is constantly emitting a poisonous aura that he can’t really control shows just how tough he would have had it. Not being able to approach anyone is hard to deal with no matter how you slice it. Chee ends up becoming a solid supporting character afterwards and someone that Happy can rely on. It’s always good having allies who can really fight.

Then we have Rhino who is one of the more petty villains. Sure, he eventually sees the light but I felt like he went a lot farther than Chee the whole time so it was a bit harder to get on board with his turnaround. The guy was just willing to go so far to claim his win and help the villains that I ended up already not liking him. It’s not bad to really go all out as a villain but you typically need some kind of master plan or honor code. There just wasn’t anything that I found really cool about this guy.

Tigre was a much better character and like Chee she would really get to help out in future fights. Her speed is excellent in combat and she has a lot of confidence. If anything I thought she should have been able to defeat her opponent Eleph but it was a close fight either way so that works out well enough. The villain group as a whole was rather impressive which really helped you take them seriously as a threat in this arc.

I should go back and talk about some of the heroes now though. I already talked about Happy for a bit so we can get past him. Long story short, he’s a good main character and surprisingly a lot better than in the main Fairy Tail series where he could be a bit iffy at times. Ururu is a reoccurring character and one of the main heroines in a way. Happy helps her out when she’s sick and she looks up to him as the legendary hero. Ultimately her role isn’t particularly big since she’s very young and can’t fight so she represents the emotional part of the village. Hamta is in the same boat here as he’s a little hamster kid who looks up to Happy but can’t really fight. He has his big moment where he stays back to fight the villains but that’s really it.

Captain Bull is the police chief who means well but tends to scare Happy a lot. He’s a nice guy though and while he isn’t very strong, he does stand up for what’s right and tends to always show up in the climaxes. Bull just can’t keep up with the power creep. There’s the elder Tortoise and while I would say he’s a non character for most of the series, he suddenly gets a big role near the end. I can’t say I liked him though. To me he makes all of the wrong decisions both in the past and the present. I wouldn’t want him as the leader of my village.

Now we get to Luna who is the real main heroine in a lot of ways. My issue with her aside from being the main fanservice character here is that most of her character is about flirting. She has a tragic backstory and can fight but those elements always fall to the background for her. I think there is a decent character somewhere here but I don’t think she was handled all that well in the series.

Dori Dorin is another character running around who was a villain and then helps out the heroes. That’s a running theme in Fairy Tail as most characters can ultimately be redeemed so long as they are fought with healthy amounts of friendship. He doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the other characters though because he doesn’t fight much once he turns good. One character who was good from the start was Eleph who is a powerful warrior. You can probably tell from the name what kind of creature he is. Eleph is good and even gets a power up before the series finishes.

As someone who was loyal from the start I definitely have to give him extra credit here. Agi was another good fighter here who was always ready to rumble. He had some good combos with Happy and was a great addition to the hero army. He tends to create a lot of misunderstandings with the roundabout way he talks but ultimately he does mean well.

One more villain from the arc was Moppity but I didn’t like him at all. He’s the pervy character of the series and that’s all that you need to know about him. He was completely doomed from the start and whenever the manga tries to make him sympathetic or something it just doesn’t work out. It’s just not going to happen, there’s no way I’m going to buy into that. He just needs to try being a better person and since that’s not going to happen, he was never going to rise up.

There’s a mini arc where Happy shows up to help a girl named Kai against some robots but then we get to the next big arc. Happy is captured by Leon who rules the holy kingdom and is sentenced to death as the devil who will bring ruin to the world. Even Happy’s friends begin to doubt him so this will be a true test of loyalty. Naturally Leon has a powerful group of fighters at the ready for him so we get a lot of action here. I do have to say that I don’t see why anyone had doubts about Happy though. By this point in the series he had already saved them so many times. Even if the prophecies were turned around, you have to believe in your friends right?

It’s not like this kingdom is all that trustworthy either. They showed up and were acting real aggressive right from the jump. At least once the heroes focus up then they are ready for the big battles. Leon himself works well as the big boss. He talks tough and wants true power. It may be a little straight forward but he had more charisma than Rhino. The guy didn’t even need a big backstory here, just the ability to run in and take names. He gets a cool final form and really gives Happy and the other heroes a lot of work in trying to take him down.

One of his big three advisors is Shieshiemon who is really impressive as a villain. The guy is able to fight numerous opponents at once with how his hair can stretch out and even by the end of the arc he looks like he can fight a lot more. The guy was rather naïve in being quick to believe Leon but his fighting abilities can’t be doubted. I thought he was rather solid as a result. Shadow is another good villain who ends up getting some emotional moments. His role isn’t huge or anything but he does a good job with what he’s given.

Needles and Maru are also decent villains but they got more of the shaft compared to the other villains. They have good designs and potential but their fights are over in a flash. Happy means a little animal named Bakkun but he has that annoying gimmick where his nose is always running and he talks like a baby with how he can’t pronounce some of the words. He can read minds to an extent which is handy but the kid’s not too subtle which leads to him being captured. He’s a kid so you can’t expect him to be an expert but I didn’t think he was all that good here.

Finally we enter the final arc where Happy gets to find out the true reason why he is here and goes through his last trial. This arc involves time travel which is always fun and there are a lot of twists here. It is still my least favorite arc but we do get more fights. So Happy heads over to the tower now that he has the hearts and it sends him 1000 years into the past where he gets to meet Marice and the ancestors of all his friends. It turns out that a villain named General Star wants to use her powers for himself so of course that’s something that Happy can’t allow.

One of the big issues with this arc is the ending. Oh man, this is the kind of ending you never want to see because it effectively voids the entire series. It’s not a dream so everything still happened but the ending is the classic copout you do for spinoffs to ensure that it is never mentioned or brought up in the main line. It’s the ultimately copout for me and just hurts the arc. If you ask me they should have played it straight and you could easily handwave questions about why Happy never brought up this place in the main series. He just chose not to, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Then as I mentioned way earlier, the arc just randomly gets to be more on the darker side here. Star ends up torturing a bunch of the animals and even the kid Marice for her power. Everyone is too shellshocked and nervous to do anything about it either. So what you have is a cast that doesn’t look very good here as they overlook Star’s actions. Blackmail can buy some time for the villain for sure, but I’d expect the heroes to have thought of some way to stop him eventually. Instead it felt like they hadn’t done anything on their end.

Ah well, we do get some fights but then there’s also a whole new group of villains that show up when there are only around 5-7 chapters left in the series. Needless to say, they don’t last very long. I liked their designs and everything but there isn’t enough time to really like them. Their names are Cyclops, Unicorn, and Griffin. They are robotic fighters who are super powerful and get a lot of hype. Technically they would have really won and done a whole lot of damage if not for the heroes getting major buffs at the end. Take that away and it would have really been game over.

The 3 were all cool, I just probably won’t remember them after a while. General Star is the only villain with a really big role here and he’s a tough villain but not really my kind of antagonist. For starters he probably could have had a winning strategy if he was nice to Marice instead of tricking her. She would have listened to him if he wanted to use some power since she doesn’t know much about the world. Why not just have her help you like that instead of going through all the trouble of having a conspiracy and all of these different plans? Star ends up overcomplicating the issue which costs him in the end.

Dr Magicana is a lot more reasonable. He’s still not perfect as he’s one of many characters who just overlooks what Star is doing the whole time but at least this guy isn’t quite as insane. You can at least count on him to try and think of some idea to help Marice. Better to help a little than to not do anything right? It’s a start at least and he’s a decent doctor kind of character. He’s just not much of a fighter.

Marice gets to have a big role here. The whole arc is definitely tough on her since she’s a little kid and yet she has to deal with a whole rebellion going on and a would be world conqueror. She grew up in a small area and doesn’t really know anything about the world either so it’s easy to manipulate her. Ultimately she is manipulated for almost the whole saga and tends to go wild so she didn’t end up being very high.

Finally, you have the 3 hearts who were actual characters in the past. It was nice to see them try to help out but I was glad that Happy beat them in the competition. He’s the true hero after all so he’s not about to lose to these guys like that. It’s just not happening. I should mention that this arc throws in some DBZ homages like the introduction to power levels and one character’s power level going over 10,000. It was a small thing but it’s always cool when DBZ is brought into the fray like this.

Overall, That wraps up the Happy adventure. Happy was a surprisingly solid lead so that worked out and the action was good. If you cut out the fanservice then I dare say this would be a pretty good manga but ultimately that held it back just enough to keep this one from breaking even. There’s less time for it at the end of the series but man is it heavy at first. One day Fairy Tail will be able to resist the whole time and that’ll be a great day. I mean I know some of the shorter ones can be fine at times but I’m talking about a decently long adventure like this. I want Fairy Tail to reach its full potential and this is the best way. Of course I’d like to see the actual members appear next time. Happy is cool for the novelty and all but ultimately you want Natsu and the gang to show up and get their action.

Overall 4/10

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review

Now you may be thinking of the newer action film when you see this title, but this one’s going for a very different vibe. There isn’t any real action to speak of this time as it’s more of a romance comedy. I feel like there’s definitely better ways you could have executed this plot but all in all it’s still going to give you a decent time. It’s one of those films that is right in the middle. It’s not particularly good or bad so you’ll have your share of good and bad times with it. Mainly I’d say it’s that there are a lot of missed opportunities and you sense that it could have been something more.

The story starts with Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith having another one of their big fights. They have a rule where neither one of them can leave the room until they have made up. Apparently this can sometimes result in their spending 8 days inside the room. Mrs. Smith has a whole lot of rules with this being one of them and you can tell that Mr. Smith is not too thrilled with them to the point where he says he would not marry her again if given the choice. Of course it was purely hypothetical…until he is told that the marriage actually wasn’t legal since there was an issue with the borders. Now Mr. Smith is being given the second chance he had just considered and is determined to make the most of it.

Mr. Smith decides not to tell Mrs. Smith about this as he is now relishing his freedom but little does he realize that she has also been told this and is quite steamed about the whole thing. Will they end up getting remarried or will this event be the trigger to their doom? One thing’s for sure, they are no longer Mr. & Mrs. Smith but have returned to David and Ann.

It’s certainly an interesting angle here. You like to think that for 99% of instances the couple would just walk to the office and get remarried in a heartbeat. I could see some deciding to make a fun party/event out of the ordeal or maybe even relive their first date. More in the manner that Ann was expecting with David to propose again. Of course we wouldn’t have a movie if that were the case and so this ends up being a whole big deal for both of them. While we mainly saw Ann’s faults from David’s perspective at first, we then get to hear Ann’s list of complaints later on. They certainly had a lot of issues with each other.

The film also reverses course a bit as initially David is the one who seems to not really want to remarry Ann but then when she decides not to get back together David is the one playing the Uno reverse card. Effectively it seems to me that David just wanted a few weeks of being single again and probably would have told her eventually but to Ann that was already a massive slight and so she decided to have a permanent split here. To her defense David definitely should have come clean from the start. There should be no hesitation in wanting to get remarried to bring things back to how they were. It doesn’t help that he had just responded to the hypothetical question earlier that day so she saw his true feelings.

Meanwhile on Ann’s side, she was way too quick to go on the rebound. Now initially she was just messing with David presumably but she actually gets serious about his best friend Jeff. This hurts her quite a bit because it shows that she was actually willing to go all the way to marriage with this guy just to spite Jeff. There’s a limit to how far you should go in a moment like this and she goes well beyond it. At that point it feels like the marriage can never be the same again. Once the rebounds are in play then all bets are off.

So I wouldn’t say that either of the main characters were particularly good. David getting Ann fired was also rough just as she was trying to start things off again. Meanwhile Jeff was no good too. Deciding to actually go through with this and have an affair with Ann was awful. Sounds to me like he was interested in her the whole time even while she was married and just made a move now that she was back on the market. This is another thing that you can absolutely never come back from. Once your feelings are out in the open like that, well that’s it. You can’t put it back in the box so to speak.

He wasn’t very smart either as he didn’t try harder to see through David’s deceptions. The ole pretending to be sick routine really shouldn’t be working like that either. C’mon now, it’s obvious that he was faking with all of the over acting. Jeff seemed to suspect at first but then started to weak on that. Additionally, the scene of Jeff getting drunk was also rather painful to get through. His final straw was in not defending Ann when David put her in a chokehold. Sure, by then he saw how manipulative she was, but it still wasn’t a good look for him.

I guess by the end we see that Ann actually enjoys some roleplay with Jeff as they mess around and presumably have their happy ever after but it’s hard to see this working out. The film has some solid writing and a good script which is all well and good but the characters needed to be a little better in order to make it to the next level. I think this plot really had a whole lot of potential to do something amazing and it just never reached that point. It really could have been more fun than it was. The direction was a little different than what I expected.

Overall, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a film you aren’t likely to forget because the plot is really original. I actually think this is one of the rare times where a modern remake could actually improve on it a bit. It just feels like a comedic goldmine for potential. I would also increase the time frame so they’d have been married for 10 years or so instead of 3. Adds to the drama of the whole thing and you could really play up how each character and their supporting cast takes it. Give their families a bigger role since their “helpful” advice could also really help add to the dynamic.

Overall 6/10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review

It’s time to take a look at season 2! I like what they did with the title. It’s a small thing but a season 2 should always have some way to easily differentiate itself from the first and a question mark even works on a story level since the competition is starting to get trickier for the two leads. It’s definitely a great follow up to the first season. I would still give season 1 the edge as it had more standout segments for me, but it is nice to see Ishigami and Ino getting more of a role here. They do help to make the student council feel more complete.

The general plot here is that Shirogane and Kaguya are still trying to get the other person to confess their love first. Love is War after all and the first person to concede is the one to lose here. That’s the general set-up but more specifically it’s time for the election arc. The first year is over after all and that means the Student Council will be temporarily disbanded as the elections go on to elect a new student council president. Shirogane ultimately ends up running for the position again but this time he will be up against Ino. Ino is a first year student with big dreams and she wants to change the school. Thing is, if she wins then Kaguya and Shirogane might not see each other as often anymore so even if they can’t admit this, it adds extra fuel to their determination to win this.

The season is 12 episodes and a lot of those are stand alones so I won’t say the election arc lasts for very long but I would still consider it one of the major story beats here. Then we have the aftermath and the other big story event is that we finally see Ishigami’s full backstory of what happened to make everyone in the school dislike him. It’s certainly one of the more emotional parts of the story and while you may have expected that to be the season finale, there is one episode after that so that things can end on a lighter note. I still say Ishigami’s episode would have been perfect to end the whole thing on though.

So lets dive in and first off I’ll get the technicals out of the way since not much has changed since season 1. As was the case last time, the soundtrack is dynamite here. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important a soundtrack is for a comedy/slice of life kind of show. You need it to really inject a lot of energy into each scene. While strong writing would be enough to keep the show interesting without it, why turn down an advantage right? Kaguya is leaps and bounds above all other shows in these genres with the soundtrack. There are a lot of fun themes and then you even get the occasional homage like a Mission Impossible/James Bond kind of track.

Also the theme song’s pretty catchy. It even remembered that Kaguya was in the archery club and incorporated that into the song which was a nice detail. Then you have the animation which is still really good. It may be slightly calmer than season 1 so the original may have the slight edge there but it’s extremely close. Either way the animation is still very smooth and works well with the scenes. It never feels low budget and it’s a show that remembers to give everyone eyes that stand out. One of the big benefits of anime is how crazy they can make the hair and eyes so whenever a show remembers this it’s a good thing. In fact there’s a whole segment about Shirogane’s eyes and how they change when he has gotten some sleep. This would not have been as effective if they hadn’t given it as much detail earlier.

One of the reasons the franchise made it so big in the first place is how clever the writing is and this season doesn’t stop with that. One of the most effective gags in the whole series comes in the final episode as the gang play a fun Mario Party type game where you have to pump up a balloon. If it pops during your turn then you’ll lose and may also get a bit traumatized with how big the explosion will be. Each character has emotional flashbacks and inspirational montages where you’d expect them to surpass their limits and they don’t. It’s definitely a great scene and that was one of the better segments so it was a good way to end off the season.

The show is always funny without being silly. It’s got a great balance here. Another really solid part is when Kaguya has a trial against her other selves in her mind. The way each personality is represented while also being recognizable from her previous moments is solid. It’s a comedy scene for sure but at the same time you can tell that it’s not coming out of nowhere and can even be a bit of foreshadowing for her future moments. The show has quite a lot of depth which puts it apart from the average comedy.

I’ve read the manga and in a lot of ways that’s why these early adventures were my favorite part. I like the fun shenanigans before things get too serious. Serious moments are all well and good too of course but the banter between the characters and the fun games are when the show is at its peak. We definitely get a lot of moments here for that throughout the show as well so it never loses its momentum. Now lets dive into the characters although the cast is still a little on the small side.

Kaguya is still a great lead and certainly gets her share of wins here. From the main two I still think she tends to plan out her attacks a lot more thoroughly and is also willing to cross the line a bit more to get what she wants. Whenever we see how she knocks candidates out of the running through poison tea (Probably just sleepy tea or something very mild) or blackmail, it shows that she is really someone who has Shirogane’s back at all times. She can still be a bit quick to betray Chika all the time though so their friendship certainly isn’t the best but I’m sure she’ll get better at that eventually.

Kaguya’s plan of using citrus to burst the balloon at the end was also inspired. In general she definitely has quite a few good showings here and part of why the dynamic works is because she and Shirogane both get their clear cut wins from time to time. So instead of constant cop outs you have times where each one can feel proud of their complete accomplishment. She’s also very supportive of Ishigami even if he doesn’t always realize this.

As for Shirogane, it’s also a great season for him. While he may not be as thorough as Kaguya, his reaction times are always impressive as he’ll be able to think of some kind of excuse to save his bacon all the time. His most impressive win here had to be tricking Kaguya into being the one to beg him to stay on the council. His plan here was solid in a few different ways because if she hadn’t done that then he probably wouldn’t have re-submitted the application so it was a win-win. He created a scenario where he couldn’t lose.

Shirogane is also able to take the high road many times. He helped Ino when he saw she was in a jam and he’s the kind of guy who will accept a personal loss if it means helping someone out. I’d say that’s his humble beginnings showing here as he had to work his way to the top and knows what it’s like to lose. He’s just a very nice guy and probably one of the nicest characters in the series. You can always count on him in the end.

Ishigami has a lot of character development here and getting his own arc was impressive. He definitely had a rough string of luck. I would say he didn’t handle some parts amazingly like trying to convince the girl of why he was beating up the cheater but in the spur of the moment it’s not always easy to make the right call. I’m glad he didn’t end up writing the apology because that would have definitely been unfortunate. In the end he did not have to compromise on his ideals and now he can finally move on from the past.

He may not have gotten the perfect ending to his arc that he would have wanted but ultimately he’s still in a much better place than he was. You can see how he’s gotten more confidence over time as well. He’s not always perfect and can speak his mind a bit too much but at least now he has a positive relationship with just about everyone. Ino is really the only exception with how she’s constantly attacking the guy for no real reason. At least right now she always appears to be the instigator.

Then we have Chika who is still the fun comic relief character here. She does well in that role and is always ready to brighten up everyone’s spirits. She enjoys her role as the love detective as well and is always ready with some good advice. Chika also still has the sub plot where she will occasionally train Shirogane on a task that he’s really bad at. That continues here as well and you have to applaud her dedication of not giving up. She even ends up having a bit of a rivalry with Kaguya this time around while poor Shirogane is stuck in the middle.

Chika’s role may not feel as big as the others in a sense since the serious story parts never involve her but she is always around. You don’t feel like her role is small while watching the episodes since she is constantly around. Next up is Ino who has now joined the ranks as a main character. She makes for a solid antagonist in the election arc. Ultimately her points and ideas may not have been particularly valid in a lot of ways which explains why she would have a tough time getting votes but she tries hard.

I like her enthusiasm and confidence but do think she could work to be a bit nicer. It does appear to be true that she doesn’t really incorporate feedback most of the time or she could have done better and of course her baseless attacks on Ishigami don’t help her case. Ino’s timing can also be rather rough most of the time so she ends up not getting a very good opinion of the whole student council for a while there.

Hayasaka is more of a supporting character but one who’s always a lot of fun to have around. She plays a lot of roles here like being a student and Kaguya’s maid. She is expected to help out on the field and subtlety find out intel for Kaguya as well. There is no break for her and there’s a whole segment about Kaguya bugging her constantly when she is just trying to relax. It’s quite the thankless job for her but ultimately Hayasaka always pulls the mission off without a hitch. It’s why she is the ultimate bodyguard.

Finally there’s also Kei, while she did appear a little in season 1, her role has gotten a bit bigger here. As Shirogane’s sister you would expect her to have a role since it’s a common practice to win over someone’s family members so you can get closer to your actual target. This doesn’t tend to work out very well for Kaguya in this season though. Kei’s a fun enough character even if she always seems a bit rude to Shirogane when he’s just trying to help. Imagine getting mad at him for trying to get you a present for your birthday right? The show did good in also giving her eyes a distinct design too. No detail was left out for this anime that’s for sure.

Now with the amount of segments that the show has (2-3 per episode) you’re not likely going to find all of them top tier. The reason why the show still manage to be great though is because the vast majority of the segments are really excellent. The weaker segments for example can be when the two randoms are always asking for love advice from the main characters when they’re just trying to flex. I’d like to see the council call them out on it although still being more low key than Ishigami’s reaction. It’s always tough when your rep is on the line though.

Still, the show avoids the easy pitfalls of romance/slice of life titles like fanservice. The show has been very good about staying sophisticated so this doesn’t become an issue. There can be some small moments here and there but never any scene that stays into focus for very long or an extended situation that would make this an issue. The romance still plays a backseat to the comedy as well so things don’t get too dramatic. It’s a little more serious than in season 1 as you can tell the characters are weakening but it’s still not quite there yet. The two characters are best as rivals so it’ll be sad to see the dynamic go away once that changes.

The pacing is also really fast with how many segments are in every episode so things are always happening. You’ll never be bored in any episode that’s for sure. Whether the characters are playing a game or going for one of their many schemes, it’s always moving quickly. You’ll laugh at the funny scenes and get emotional during the triumphant ones. We even got a whole tragic plot with Kaguya’s phone getting damaged. I know it can definitely be rough losing out on all of your data like that. It’s why my important photos are backed up through social media or this site so if my phone were to ever be destroyed I’d still be okay. It’s still a hard loss though so you can feel the sadness of the scenes before the heroes are able to help her out. The show really knows how to handle every genre and we even get a lyrical song to close out the final episode as it transitions well into the opening. We’ll see if season 3 can keep up this momentum but I have no doubt that it can even if passing season 2 can be another story.

Overall, Season 2 is a solid follow up here. If you liked season 1 then you will certainly like this one because it really keeps the same energy and focus that the first season had. It’s really just as strong in most ways. I still give season 1 the edge because I felt like the climax was more emotional and the segments would beat out the season 2 counterparts on average but it’s a very close battle to be sure as I still gave them the same score. If you’re in the market for a fun rom-com then this is definitely the title to check out. With season 3 having started recently you also know right off the bat that there are a lot of episodes to check out so it makes jumping into the franchise that much more appealing.

Overall 8/10

Komi Can’t Communicate

This series definitely seemed to get pretty big once it became an anime. It’s got an interesting premise about making 100 friends although I can’t say that the main heroine is very solid and the near anthology style of the manga holds it back for now. We’ll see if the friends amp this title up as their numbers grow and I’ll have a review up for this series once it’s over.

Overall 6/10

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Review

This is definitely what I would consider to be a very weird film. Nothing is as it seems to the point where by the end you could call it pointless. Not sure I’ve ever described a film in that way before but that was my first thought. Nothing in the film ultimately mattered and it was vague enough where you could have tons of theories on what really happened. I was laughing a bit by the end at how absurd it all was. So I liked it and while it’s not the kind of film you could probably check out a second time, it was good in just how absurd it all was.

The film starts off with a bunch of rich drug dealers heading over to Alice’s place for dinner. They had been looking forward to this after her invite but unfortunately she claims the invite was not until tomorrow. They try going somewhere for dinner instead but the place had someone just die which spoiled their appetite. As the film goes on things begin to get crazier as a terrorist group is after one of the old men, the cops are on the trail of the drugs, one of them is cheating on the others, etc. Will these guys be able to come out on top?

The movie is always moving which is a good testament to the pacing I suppose. Things tend to happen quickly like the main trio looking at their cocaine stash to casually entering the diner. None of these guys are meant to be heroic or relatable in the slightest. They’re all rich folk who put up a nice front but don’t seem to actually have respect for each other. From Alice and Henri deciding to mess around instead of meeting the dinner date to Simone and Rafael having their affair, everyone is only interested in their own business.

All in all, they definitely can’t trust each other but they do have a vested interest in keeping the cops off their back. We then start to get a lot of dreams where nothing appears to be real. This may have all been figments of their imagination. There is a scene of the main characters walking through an abandoned highway that keeps on going back into focus and is even how the film ends. So you can make the case that perhaps these guys aren’t rich and these are all delusions they’re having while trying to find a car to hitchhike with. That would make a lot of sense and that’s what I’m banking on here.

The delusions can be fun though like when Rafael shoots this one guy who kept insulting his kingdom. He definitely wasn’t going to stand for that and he certainly felt brave in the moment. In another dream the characters wake up on a play set where their whole meal has been part of the act. That was definitely another really wild moment but they took it in stride. You have ghosts going around and murdering people and even two different sob stories for one random army grunt.

The movie never slows down in how crazy it all is and that’s where the movie wins some points. It may be pointless in a sense because there’s no rhyme or reason to this but at least its entertaining. As it becomes a bit of an anthology, some of the segments are certainly more entertaining than others. For example the girl with the toy animals who kept trying to assassinate Rafael was one of the weaker plots to me. I think they could have cut her out or at least made Rafael a little less sinister the whole time.

It’s easy to forget that the main characters are basically all villains here since they’re so nonchalant about it. I assume they got greedy because they already have a lot of money so why take things any further? You could also say that they got rich because of the drugs though in which case that would explain why they are in this business. It’ll always catch up in the end assuming even the beginning was real though and I have my doubts. The whole film was fake if you ask me, just delusions on top of delusions while the heat of the highway gets to them.

If you enjoy some crazy comedy then you should have a good time with it. In a sense you may enjoy the movie more if you have no idea about the plot or anything since it can catch you off guard but nowadays that’s difficult. You will likely hear about it in some way or another even perhaps as you tape the film since it will have the summary available at the ready. If it’s vague enough then you may still be able to appreciate some of the twists though.

As for the characters constantly trying to enjoy a nice dinner, I must say that French cuisine is not my favorite so most of the dishes did not look that good anyway. I like the pastries and all but the main dishes they would reference just did not sound appealing. When it comes to food, American, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish are the top tiers for me. You just can’t beat those and I love so many things on each menu. Japanese, Cuban, and Mexican would follow closely behind where I like their foods but it can be a bit more of a gamble depending on the place. Finally you have Thai and French near the bottom for me although I would say French is still in last for now. In the end just give me a McDonalds Cheeseburger or a Domino’s pizza and I’m satisfied.

Overall, how much you enjoy this film will all come down to how much you enjoy the film messing with you the whole time. You have to like this kind of surreal humor a lot to actually find the movie enjoyable or you may end up feeling like you just wasted a lot of time instead. For what it’s worth, I thought the movie delivered on the humor the whole time so I did find myself laughing at times. Not all of the segments will be so solid but more of them hit than the ones that miss and the characters do a good job of reacting to how crazy things are. It’s not the kind of film you can come out with too often but I’d say it works here.

Overall 6/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review

Kaguya is definitely a title that took the romance genre to new heights. It has to be up there with Nisekoi as one of the all time greats. The manga has definitely been a lot of fun with how crazy it is and season 1 of the anime manages to capture that same energy. The premise is excellent and the show really manages to capitalize on this. So in the end you’re bound to have a good time with this one and you’ll definitely be really hyped for the next season.

The show starts by introducing us to the 2 main characters, Kaguya and Shirogane. They are members of the Student Council and are considered to be elites in a school that is already comprised of only the rich and influential. Shirogane has earned his way to the top as the student council president through good grades and being a general genius. It’s something he is quite proud of since there is otherwise no way he could possibly be in the school. Then you have Kaguya who is a member of the most powerful family in the world, the Shinomiya family. She is a natural prodigy at just about any skill she picks up.

With such talents comes a great ego on both sides though. Shirogane and Kaguya both like each other but refuse to make the first move. That is where “Love is War” comes into play as the anime uses a lot of battle analogies for this. The way to win this battle is to get the other person to confess first. If you can do this then you will have won the match but on the other hand is you break down and confess then it will be an eternal loss. So who will end up conquering the other? That is the basis for each episode as they use their impressive intellects to try and get the other person into a tight spot where they have to confess.

Right from the start I thought this was really a great plot. It’s also a fairly big departure from the usual rom-com setup where it would be one character obviously chasing after the other. Here we actually get to see into their heads as they come up with all kinds of crazy plans. It’s safe to say that Kaguya tends to be better at planning things out long-term as her plans usually involve a lot of research from before the day has even started. Meanwhile I would say that Shirogane is quicker at thinking in the moment like when he has to counter her various plans and come up with some strategies of his own. He’s never on the back foot for long.

You may wonder how this premise could go on for so long but it’s really easy as the show comes up with all kinds of fun scenarios throughout the 12 episodes. Additionally there are other characters here as well and I’ll get into them in a moment. First off, as an adaption the anime really does a great job. The soundtrack is a 5 star title. There are so many great themes that fit each of the various moments in the show. You’ve got action themes, comedic ones, emotional tracks, etc. Whatever scene is happening, the show is able to amp it up with some well placed music. You’ll definitely want to listen to a lot of those tunes again. As for the theme song itself, it’s fairly decent. I wouldn’t call it high tier or anything but the song is catchy enough. I think the visuals can feel a bit too lazy with how so many scenes are reused over and over again.

It’s a stylistic choice but one that didn’t land for me. Otherwise the general animation in the show is really quite good. There’s always a lot happening in every scene from background effects to things happening in the character’s eyes. The show is never taking a break with the animation and it helps keep everything as interesting as possible. The story is engaging enough where it would still be good but that’s why this ends up being a great adaption as it makes everything even better.

You can feel the tension in the episodes as the characters have to try and get each other to crack. In that sense the Umbrella segment is one of the best ones because almost the whole thing is the two characters casually hinting that the other one is lying about not bringing an umbrella. There isn’t a lot technically happening so the scene has to carry itself with pure dialogue and music. It does so quite well. On average my favorite segments tend to be the game themed ones though. Whether the characters are playing a card game, board game, or a mental game, I like the competitive fire it brings out in the cast. Chika tends to do surprisingly well at some of these too even if she doesn’t always win.

All right, lets talk about the characters now. I think it’s a strong testament to how good the cast is that I can remember the names of the main 4 immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while to really know the characters. Kaguya is a solid lead for all the reasons I mentioned before. She’s a genius, always has a lot of plans at the ready and knows what she wants. Kaguya does well in this war of love and is also just a good person beyond that. She will put aside her competition to help someone out in need, whether it be a child who needs to cross the street or Ishigami flunking a class. So her role as a member of the student council never really takes a back seat and that makes sense.

Kaguya is someone who certainly values honor and duty so she doesn’t let go of those things. Then you have Shirogane who is also a blast. He’s someone who is always under a lot of stress since he has no family connections or money to fall back on. As a result the guy is constantly doing a million things but he always has time to compete with Kaguya and the others. He really comes through in the climax of the season and definitely helps to put everyone in a better place. At the end of the day he’ll also stop to do the right thing even if it might hurt him in his battles with Kaguya.

The two have a really solid balance going in part because of how different they are. They each have similar goals but you’ll see how they tackle this in different ways. I’d also say Shirogane tends to overthink things a little more than Kaguya does. He imagines things going in the worst possible way all the time. While this may happen to Kaguya once in a while, it’s almost constant for him.

The next biggest character here would be Chika. She’s the main comic relief character of the series and fulfills her role very well. She doesn’t notice any of the tension between the main two characters and just likes to have a lot of fun. She’s often the character who will bring in the games to play with. She has less of an honor code than the other two and doesn’t mind cheating at times though. Chika can often be a bit of a space case and mess things up for the others but at times you also figure she’s a lot smarter than she lets on.

Chika is one of those characters who just doesn’t let anything really get to her and has a lot of fun all of the time. She’s another very strong character as a result. The main two still win but she’s still an extremely solid character and probably one of the best you could hope for to slot in as the comic relief character. Often times those characters don’t seem to contribute a whole lot to the plot or can get annoying but that never happens with her. She’s just consistent through it all and the series would lose a lot in the dynamic if she wasn’t around. Just having her here as a third party to mess up Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans is great.

Ishigami is the final member of the student council and doesn’t really get to do much until fairly deep into season 1. I liked how the anime would keep him out of frame or have him facing the wrong way until it was time for his debut. It was a good way to acknowledge/foreshadow that he would be appearing soon without actually spoiling that part yet. While I don’t think he’s as strong as the main 3, he’s still a solid member. His gimmick is that he’s super afraid of Kaguya and loves playing video games so he doesn’t take the school as seriously as the others. It’s to the point where he nearly flunks so the guy definitely likes to live life on the edge.

Ishigami tends to get in trouble a lot but most of the time it’s through situations of his own creating so you don’t feel super bad for him. The guy needs to work on reading the room which is not one of his strengths right now. He does add to the dynamic though and so I’d say he didn’t arrive too late or anything. With these 4 the student council is in good hands and they’re all quite different so it’s not like they’re stealing a lot of screen time away from each other or anything.

That’s it for the main characters and right now there aren’t too many supporting characters. A few like Shirogane’s sister do appear but haven’t had much to do yet. I’d say the two main ones to show up would be Hayasaka and Nagisa. Nagisa and her boyfriend have a bit of a running sub plot where they will show up to separately ask the main 2 for advice since they assume Kaguya and Shirogane would have a lot of experience even if that is not the case. There’s not a whole lot to say about them beyond that but they seem like nice enough characters.

Hayasaka is a much more entertaining character though. She is forced to live a double life so that nobody suspects that she is actually Kaguya’s maid. Her role is really to keep Kaguya safe and so she does this really well by also being at school so she can help out as needed. Hayasaka is more old school on the romance angle and just thinks Kaguya should confess but of course that’s not going to happen. Hayasaka really goes the extra mile in her duties to help Kaguya out so she’s a very solid ally to have.

That about wraps up the characters. Each episode tends to have 2-3 adventures in it so the episodes really breeze by. It shows how quick some of the adventures are but also that the show isn’t really going to drag them out which is good. The pacing is always on point here. While the series eventually gets more plot driven I would largely say that season 1 is episodic. Some development and events do carry over of course but for the most part you can pop in any episode and understand what’s going on right away.

There really aren’t any negatives to speak of for this show. With any comedic title there are bound to be some segments that you won’t find quite as funny as others but with multiple segments per episode I doubt there will be any episode where you don’t like any of them. The weakest segments for me would be Kaguya getting sick and Kaguya being unable to laugh. Then the best ones would be the Umbrella and all of the game episodes I mentioned earlier. The series also avoids some of the potential pitfalls of the rom-com genre like random fanservice and lots of rivals popping up out of the wood work. Not to say that the show is completely devoid of fanservice but it’s fortunately just about nonexistent.

Finally, the writing just feels very sophisticated. It’s the kind of show that will randomly drop lots of different scientific theories at you. The characters are always showing off in one way or another so it makes sense and works naturally. This helps to enhance the script all around and the line between the characters stating facts or just bluffing gets really blurry which is always nice. You don’t want to necessarily believe whatever you hear them say but it’s always nice to see them invoking all of the theories anyway. The show is really a comedy first and a romance second but balances the two to perfection and never gets overly dramatic. It is just a great all around title.

Overall, If you’re looking for a solid rom-com then look no further. Even if you’re not big on romance I could still recommend it entirely because at its core the series is about the mind games that come from this. The romance is always around but it’s not a dramatic romance or anything. Often times the characters will just seem more like friends anyway and you might even hope that this could be the end game instead of getting together. It’s just season 1 though so it’s too early to be thinking about the end game. Just enjoy all the laughs and fun and the 12 episodes will go by in a breeze. You’ll also be looking forward to Chika’s continued assault against the Ramen Kings. It’s a small subplot that begins in this season and is just a lot of fun with how seriously they take their food. I’m more of a “Stuff my face” kind of eater personally but I understand that some like to really savor the experience. It’ll also make you hungry for some good pasta even if you don’t have a ramen on hand.

Overall 8/10