The Alphabet Murders Review

Time for a very different kind of Poirot film. Throw away everything you knew about the character beforehand as this one goes as far as to act like a parody the whole time. The movie even starts off with the lead breaking the third wall which is certainly something else. While I do like the film and will go into it in a second, I will say that the breaking the third wall gag felt flat as it often does. In very rare circumstances will I say that such a scene is good. It really just serves to take you out of the story in the same way as seeing the main character in the present talking about how he barely survived the events that we’re about to see. Fortunately the film didn’t go that far here.

So the movie starts with a poor clown getting murdered. He seemed to be shot by a mysterious woman. Then another victim takes their final dive and so Poirot will have to be the man to put a stop to this. Surely the world’s greatest detective can stop this criminal right? The only clue that the heroes have is that this villainous seems to be murdering people according to the alphabet. The first victim’s first and last names began with A, the second B, etc. Well, Poirot won’t have to search as hard as all that since the villainess confronts him straight up. She talks about how she doesn’t want to murder but that she must and other vague things as she beats the stuffing out of him and runs off

Prepare to see Poirot get beaten quite a bit in this film. He’s really not prepared for the kind of opponents that he is dealing with as this version is fairly weak and also not very intelligent. He has to rely on luck and physical ability in order to complete this case and I wouldn’t say that he is the toughest guy on the block either. Mix all of these things together and it doesn’t bode very well for him. The opening scene where he is getting choked by Amanda is also pretty odd. Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not but for me it didn’t even seem like she was seriously trying to murder him.

Or at least it was very half hearted with how they were tussling around. Poirot was calling for help the whole time but everyone would either misunderstand him or promptly get knocked out. It was crazy but I would say this was the best scene in the film partially because of how insane it all was. It can also be spooky, imagine calling out for help the whole time but nobody steps in because they think you’re all right? Now that will keep you up at night if you almost got choked to death. Poirot believes it was the lady’s way of asking for his help after it’s all over.

While Poirot is beaten and outsmarted throughout the film, he is a fun character. He does have some decent plans like pretending to choke himself to get Hastings to lower his guard. Poirot spends half the film trying to defeat the other good guys as opposed to going after the villains which is also meta in a sense. Fortunately for the heroes the villains don’t go around murdering too many people because they would have been in no position to stop these guys.

The hero is arrested and captured more than once. He’s not very good at being self aware like when he was chasing the girl. You’re actually rooting for the civilians to stop him since without context the whole thing that appear to be really crazy. It shows that these people aren’t just going to stand for this. The other main hero in the film is Hastings and he’s basically this film’s version of Watson. Hastings isn’t very smart and often gets outsmarted by Poirot but he means well.

What the man lacks in skill and bravery he makes up for in loyalty. You can always count on him to have your back and that’s a powerful thing. He even attempts to provide assistance during some of the more dangerous moments even if it doesn’t end up working out most of the time. I gained some respect for him when Poirot wasn’t able to outsmart him for once near the end of the film. It was almost like character development of sorts.

As for Amanda, well she’s a decent villain I guess. I think the whole plan was way more convoluted than it needs to be but granted, that could be due to the adaption. After all, in most cases it would be tough to murder Poirot or outsmart him so you can see villains coming up with all kinds of crazy plans to throw him off the scent. In this one though, well it would be extremely easy to bump him off. Poirot was being overpowered in the steam room after all and he was also chasing Amanda in the darkness with ease. Just set a trap for him at any time and I’m sure he would fall right into it. That’s absolutely the game plan the villains should have had without having to go with this whole ABC angle.

Amanda did a good job of completely tricking Poirot though so I have to give her some props there. All in all, the writing is good. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest but you’ll get a good amount of witty dialogue. Some of the visual humor is nice too like when each character is snapping their finger at the other to grab a hat and other things. They had good coordination there and it made for a peaceful scene.

Ms. Marple also gets a little cameo here which was neat. It’s always good to establish a crossover continuity here and it also is a good way to show where Poirot ranks in comparison with Marple. In her one scene she was able to easily crack the case but presumably the cops didn’t believe her. Meanwhile Poirot “solves” the case by the very end and it took everything he had.

Overall, The Alphabet Murders is pretty good. It’s a shame that we didn’t get some kind of sequel. Who knows, maybe it’s better as a one off, but there’s a whole lot you can do with this concept. The bumbling detective and his witless sidekick is not something that’s done very often at all. I’d also have liked a full crossover with Ms. Marple. From what we saw of her, she would likely have the advantage in a fight but with both characters having such a strong ego, I’m sure this would be a lot of fun. This film goes by pretty fast and ultimately how much you enjoy it will be directly related to how funny you find the characters to be. Does the dialogue feel naturally comedic or does it all feel forced? This is the question that will determine it all.

Overall 7/10

Nightshade Review

We have made it to the final new NES game added to the service by Nintendo. It’s definitely a very complex title with a whole lot of mechanics and such to learn. Unfortunately the idea was a little ahead of the technology in this case. It’s just not easy to seamlessly use your many items and the puzzles just don’t work as well as you would hope. The game isn’t all that fun and I would ultimately have to give it a fairly low score here. I just don’t see it being all that fun even if you were to progress further.

The main plot of the game is that you’re a detective on the trail of a villain. Unfortunately he caught you and tied you to a chair. I will admit that the opening of the game is intense as you literally start out strapped to the chair and have to slowly try to escape. The way to do this is to back up and cause a candle to burn through the ropes. It’s pretty interesting and not really something you see a lot. From there you work on escaping the castle and once you’re in the town it’s time to find where the villain is. I played the game for around an hour as I looked for the elusive villain. Let me tell you, that guy’s not easy to find. There are a lot of areas to explore and items to inspect.

The main gameplay style here is a 2D platformer but you are able to move up and down so I suppose it’s close to 3D. If you press the A button you can move a magnifying glass to inspect all kinds of objects. From there if you have a good hint of an object looks useful, press the B button to take out your other magnifying glass and inspect again. You get a different message that way. At this point if the object is even more interesting then click the select button to take out one of your items and try it out on the object. You can also pick it up if the thing you are inspecting is a loose pipe or something like that.

You’ll have a ton of items at your disposal by the time you finish getting out of the castle. The game doesn’t really explain any of this though so I recommend looking up the guide online for the controls. It makes a big difference knowing what you are supposed to do next as opposed to just stumbling through the levels hoping for the best. Not that’s a scenario that can get pretty dicey pretty fast. So I do applaud the fact that the game crammed so much in but I do think it comes at the expense of the actual user experience. At the end of the day you want these levels to be fun and you just don’t get that feeling of excitement from the game.

There’s even combat elements thrown in and I don’t feel like they were all that fun. It was pretty surprising though as a cop ran into me and then suddenly the game turned into a 2D fighter. The controls are really difficult though. It took me around 20 minutes to beat a female ninja that showed up. Apparently there are combos though so if you master those then that may make a good difference in the long run. Normal blows are easily blocked and countered by the A.I. here.

One more touch that the game added which was pretty nice is what happens when you die. When you lose a life you suddenly find yourself on a conveyer belt with the villain mocking you. Based on how interactive the whole time is I suspect that there is a way to break free but every time I reached for the lever the game told me I was too far away. I figure it was worth a shot at least. Then we get some images of the villain hanging out at a rooftop as some sad music plays. It’s all very atmospheric and works rather well.

When it comes to the graphics I would definitely give this game a thumbs up as well. It’s aged quite beautifully with the character designs being on point and the backgrounds looking quite nice as well. The music is good and so on that level the game succeeded. At least those background elements help to offset the gameplay. I think this is the kind of game that could do really well if it were ever remade in the modern day.

Overall, Nightshade is a very different kind of NES title. It’s a game that wants you to do a great many things. The fact that it originally came out with a part 1 in its title shows you just how ambitious the game was to start with. Clearly the developers had a really good plan in store for the series even if it ultimately didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s just not really any fun and that’s definitely one of the biggest negatives I would hold against a title like this. At the end of the day you have to be fun.

Overall 3/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review

It’s time for a mystery thriller from Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is still her best work as it’s a perfect example of how a murder thriller should go. While this one couldn’t quite match that master piece, it’s a very solid film and one that you should add to your repertoire. With all of the suspects boxed in on the train, it’s the perfect scenario for Detective Poirot. Still, he’ll have to work fast since the snow won’t last forever.

Poirot was enjoying a very peaceful train ride and was off duty for a change. He hadn’t expected to have any problems, but then a dead body is found. He quickly begins to deduce that there was something more to the victim than it would appear. Poirot also decides to interview all of the suspects and there were certainly a bunch. First is Harriet, a bold woman who loves to voice her opinions and is constantly chattering. She has something to say about everything so it is difficult to actually find out what she knows. Next is Hector, the secretary of the deceased. He is fairly mild mannered and always nervous. Then there’s Beddoes, a seemingly perfect butler who is always ready to answer politely. He was close to the deceased and delivers the nightly wine. Princess Natalia may be rather old, but that would also make it easier for her to do something while staying inconspicuous. She has a maid named Hildegarde who has served the master faithfully for many years so maybe it was all for this moment. Diplomat Rudolf and his wife Elena appear to be rather quiet for most of the journey. Rudolf does blow up whenever someone talks to him though so are his nerves cracking or are they both quiet because they know something? Mary, the teacher is around as well and her scholarly knowledge could be sinister. The Missionary Greta always seems rather timid and doesn’t know English too well, but is it all an act? There’s also Antonio, a car salesman and one of the only reasonable people here. He’s loud and bold and certainly isn’t nervous like the rest of the passengers. He’s ready to help the country and that could be suspicious. Finally, there’s the actor Cyrus. He always seems to fade into the background and that may not be an accident. We also can’t forget Poirot’s friend Signor. Sometimes friends aren’t as innocent as they appear to be. Poirot has a lot of suspects to flip through so this’ll be tough.

I love a good mystery and the whole film is about that. Poirot’s interrogation of every member is pretty fun as he grills them. Since most of the riders are either lying or hiding something, it really does make his job very difficult. The only co-operative guy was the car salesman who also happened to be the best character in the film. It’s no coincidence as I was glad to see someone being at least a little co-operative. Perhaps he was a little too eager so that makes him suspicious as well, but something to think about for sure.

The pacing is pretty tight here. The opening which shows a crime in progress is fairly short. It just gives you enough time to see each of the characters and then we are quickly taken to the train. Once at the train, it never feels like the movie is dragging on. While the mystery doesn’t start immediately, it gives you a chance to learn about each of the characters and gauge the reactions of each when things finally start. Naturally in any good thriller, you know not to pay too much attention to the reactions though. The guilty party is typically an expert and can feign any reaction somehow.

I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It’s not really a cop-out or anything like that. It’s probably not an ending I would want to see all that much as it would then start to feel like one, but done sparingly like this it works well enough. We’ll see if you can end up guessing what happened.

The underlying story in the prologue is fairly dark, but fortunately the film doesn’t go into it much. It was handled optimally as you know enough to understand the situation, but the film doesn’t go over details or try too hard for the edgy angle. It’s something that I hope the modern remake is taking notes on. The writing is quite good as you likely have suspected. I don’t know how strict of an adaption it was from the book, but I suspect that the writing is rather similar. All of the characters are sophisticated and it makes for multi layered dialogue as a characters says one thing and means the other. It results in everyone trying to manipulate one another.

If there’s one character who’s rather annoying (Aside from the guy who died rather instantly) it would be the missionary who has a hard time speaking English. Her scene dragged on for quite a while and it can be hard to get what she is saying. Moreover, it feels like what she is saying doesn’t actually matter. I’m sure it was relevant in some way as Poirot explained everything at the end and went into great detail with each member. It was probably relevant, but it didn’t feel like it was and I forget what part of it helped solve the case. I would have chopped that scene a little. Still, that’s really my only complaint with the film so you can tell that this is quite a solid one.i

Overall, The mystery genre is a tough one. I personally think it is one of the toughest ones to write and maybe it is The toughest one. Coming up with a good mystery sounds difficult and that’s probably why I enjoy reading them so much. It may be the best genre next to action, but it’s one that has to be handled delicately. Case Closed is an example of an excellent one. The only pitfall that they have is that the mystery only works once. They don’t have much replay value because when you watch it again, you already know the ending. It’s why the remake coming up should tread carefully. Granted, you won’t actually know if it’s the same ending until you’re at the end of the film so maybe it won’t matter all that much. Regardless, if you haven’t seen this film, I’d suggest changing that right away. It’s aged quite well and makes for an engaging watch.

Overall 8/10

Harper Review

It’s time to look at an oldish film from the 1960’s. It’s pretty old, but not old enough in the sense that it makes some modern mistakes. The film is also a little too long and drags out quite a bit. While the ending is decently good to an extent, you’ll find yourself struggling to find any likable characters in this film, which makes it difficult to be invested in the plot.

Harper is a private detective and a very good one at that. (Or so he thinks) He is hired because a man has disappeared so his wife wants Harper to track him down. This won’t be easy as the guy may not have been on the up and up with the law. The lady wants to find out who her husband has been cheating on with as well, but little does Harper know that things might be a little more serious than that. So begins his wild goose chase across the state.

See, the main plot is derailed for quite a while, as various other plot lines come up. Technically, Harper is on the trail the whole time, but the film moves at a snail’s pace. We slowly meet the supporting cast like the daughter, Harper’s old friend, and a guy who likes to hang out at the Beach. As mentioned before, none of these characters are very likable at all. Harper’s the kind of guy who acts like he’s not interested in women with all of his tough talk, but he still takes time to stare at the daughter when they first meet near the swimming pool and he basically acts like the kind of guy that you wouldn’t want to be around.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that Harper isn’t even a very good detective. He talks tough, but is constantly knocked out whenever things get dangerous. For example, he walked into a bar and started threatening one of the characters so he didn’t notice the bouncer sneak up behind him for a quick haymaker. He was then too dazed to do anything during the fight so he was quickly wrecked. This happened again in the final minutes of the film as he enters the villain base and figures that nobody was home. Well…he was wrong! Harper definitely comes across as a rookie at times.

The daughter was a pretty terrible character as almost all of her lines were just for flirting purposes. Her character lacked any real depth and she really had no bearing on the plot. Despite Bacall being a rather big name, she really had a very small role in the film and didn’t get to do anything. Harper’s friend wasn’t cool either and he was attracted to someone who was way younger than him. That’s certainly not a great way to start off his character arc and the ending doesn’t make him look any better either. Finally, the swimming guy doesn’t mind leading the daughter on even though he’s no attracted to her. He’s definitely not a good person. We also have a former star who gained weight. Her role was larger than I would have thought, but she definitely didn’t help the cast.

The daughter’s extended dance scenes at the Beach and the completely unnecessary romances in the film didn’t help its case either. The film was certainly trying to go for that James Bond feel as you can tell from the posters and it didn’t go over so well. Not to mention that there’s a random scene near the end where the villains torture someone for information using a cigarette. It came out of nowhere and Harper naturally couldn’t be bothered to come to the victim’s aid. He naturally waited until the ordeal was over because he’s no hero.

As mentioned earlier, the plot isn’t very interesting either and the story could have been told in half of the time. An example of a subplot that could have been cut out was where he pretended to be a guy from Texas who fell in love with the old actress. The scene went on for quite a while and while she ended up being important in the end, the scene could have been greatly shortened or removed from the movie altogether.

For positives, well, the writing was solid. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect to find a whole lot of language here and there was none. Such is the beauty of the old classics. The witty banter goes between the characters easily although it’s still not as good as the average classic film thanks to the daughter and the fact that her lines simply aren’t good.

Another positive would be the ending, which was certainly original and not what I had expected. It essentially leaves the decision to the viewer as you decide what happens from here. I certainly know what my guess is. The guy in the car will shoot and the other one will yell for help so one of them dies and the other is arrested. That sounds like a fair tradeoff to me although Harper still didn’t look so good right up until the very end. The fact of the matter is, he doesn’t know if he is going to bring a murderer to justice. No matter who the person is, murder is murder and it’s not like it was in self defense. The guy shot someone who was already helpless and on the ground…he should get no sympathy from Harper.

The car chase scene was decent although you can certainly tell that they don’t make cars the way that they used too. One car breaks down from going down a very small hill. A current car would have just kept on going and going. It’s a neat contrast although it certainly wasn’t intended as such. I’m always up for a chase and since there weren’t any real fight scenes to be found here…it’ll have to do.

Overall, Harper was not exactly a winner in my book. It succeeded in its attempts to be like a James Bond film as it fell into all of those pitfalls. The romance, the dragged out feeling of the movie, the unlikable characters, the unprofessional main character, etc. The film had it all and that just wasn’t a good thing. I’ll give it props for the ending, but that’s about all that I can give the film at the moment. If you want a good classic film, check out Godzilla or the old Superman and the Mole Men movie. Those are classics and have aged quite well. I can’t say that this one has.

Overall 3/10

Neuro Supernatural Detective Review

It feels like a long time ago, but I actually read this series as recently as the end of May. (May 31st is when I had the original post up) I haven’t read many mystery series in the past so it’s great to finally meet a long one and it naturally has the Shonen twist to spice things up. All that aside, could it end up being as good as Assassination Classroom and join the big leagues? (Not saying that Classroom is in the big leagues yet, but it’s a solid series thus far) Time to find out!

The main character of this series is a girl named Yako and she was leading a normal life until her father is murdered. This naturally distresses her and she’s unsure of what to do next. Luckily, a demon by the name of Neuro appears and he agrees to solve her mystery, but now she will have to be his assistant…forever. That seems like a small price to pay so Yako accepts. There are many mysteries that make up about half of the series (Feels like it anyway) until the real plot begins. An organization of terrorists appear and they want to spread chaos and panic throughout the world. Their actual goals beyond that are pretty vague, but they want to conquer the world. They’re all human and Neuro’s a city busting demon so this should be easy…right? Well, Neuro gets weaker for every day that he is in the human world, so that helps to even the scales a little bit.

The artwork is pretty great and it’s very easy to follow the action along. This isn’t the Sword Art Online manga that we’re dealing with! It can certainly hold its own against just about any other series on the artwork and while it may not stand out as terrific, I would call it very good. The character designs are all fairly unique, which helps you to remember them pretty well. (Names are another matter altogether. I can’t say that I remembered the names of just about anyone after I finished and let my thoughts stew for 4-5 months.)

The humor in the series wasn’t for me and it certainly played a part in the series inevitable drop in the ratings. One of the running gags in the series is that Neuro is constantly making Yako’s life as miserable as he can. He puts demons in her food so that she can’t eat and he never lets her sleep by placing many traps around the apartment. If she tries to go to sleep, she runs the risk of being impaled, electrocuted, or basically destroyed. Keep in mind that this is all in a comic relief/slap stick so to some it may not seem as bad as it sounds, but the humor is still too morbid for me. The stuff that Neuro really crosses the line into being a villain no matter how Yako may try to sympathize with him. It’s just not enjoyable to watch.

As a main character, Yako is pretty good. I still think that she shouldn’t put up with Neuro so much, but she really does want to help solve mysteries relating to crime and she’s always ready for a good meal. I’m not sure who to compare her too in terms of main characters, but she’s likable. Naturally, she won’t be very similar to someone like Luffy or Ichigo since she never gets to fight, but she helps for the brain vs brawn argument. Of course, this does lead to some plot hax during her big action scenes. I have to say that the ending of the series is pretty sad for her.

Neuro is the other main character and I don’t care for him. He has some good parts of course. I like that he’s one of those fighters who never backs down from a villain and he could care less about what the villains are threatening to do. He’s very skilled and he enjoys a good challenge. This is just outweighed by his bad aspects. He loves inflicting pain and misery to people and his whole gimmick is that he eats mysteries so he loves when things happen to create them. No matter what the act is. The only reason why he is against murder is because it eliminates future mysteries that could have appeared. He’s simply too over the top. Also, he may be insanely strong, but it’s simply not enough at times. He grows weaker with every chapter and eating mysteries doesn’t give him back enough strength to counter what he has lost. So, he gets less impressive as the series goes on and it gets to the point where a human (Amped of course) is giving him some trouble. It was still pretty interesting though and Neuro is one of the few main characters in media who uses fear as his weapon. (Nura is the only other one that I know of who uses this attribute)
X is one of the biggest villains and he/she is decently cool at first. X is a human who can shapeshift and “he” doesn’t even know if he is a guy or a girl. I’m just going to refer to X as a him for this paragraph since the first form that we see him in is that of a guy. He’s pretty quick and since his DNA has been messed with, he’s far superior to an average human. I found myself looking forward to his fights with Neuro. That being said, he was ultimately doomed since he went after a dog. That was the moment of no return for him. His method of destroying people is also rather sinister as he literally turns them into a box. It’s pretty dicey to say the least. I gotta admit that it is a great name for a villain though!

Godai is a former thug who is forced by Neuro to work as the Detective Agency’s bouncer. He does the dirty work for the heroes like filing for an eternity and Neuro messes with him just as much as Yako. Unlike Yako, he doesn’t really get to participate in the mysteries very often though so it’s a pretty rough situation for him. At least he has started to work legitimately so we can thank Neuro for that. I still didn’t care for Godai no matter how much the series tried to make him likable. He just didn’t really add anything to the series.

Sasazuka is one of the best characters in the series. He’s a Policeman with a mysterious past and he has no problems with talking back to Neuro. He’s one of the few humans who is actually very helpful against the villains and he has a pretty emotional wrap up to his plot. His past is rather tragic as you would expect from someone in this series. Upon further thought, I would say that Sasazuka is the best character in the franchise. It’s just hard to top him and he’s basically perfect. It would have been great if he had been the main character.

Sicks is the main villain and he’s certainly unlikable. He’s meant to represent evil in its purest form. Everything that he does is evil and his goals are for the sake of evil. The author makes it clear that you will be rooting against him and we are reminded of this pretty regularly as he attacks people and decimates many buildings as the casualties continue to rise. He’s pretty tough for a human, but it was still pretty hard to buy the fact that he held his own against Neuro. No matter how many power ups he gets, Sicks is still a human so it shouldn’t have been much of a fight. He does have an intimidating presence about him so he was certainly a good match to fight Neuro.

Ishigaki is Sazazuka’s sidekick and he’s typically humiliated throughout the series. Someone is always breaking his toys and all of the villains are able to defeat him rather easily. It’s a running gag in the series on just how weak he is and the worst part is that one of the big tragedies in the series is arguably his fault. It’s because he typically messes up that we assume that he did in one scene, which ends up hurting the heroes. He’s technically pretty likable, but he can become way too full of himself at times.

Usui is one of the higher ups in the police and he’s pretty good. He sets a lot of traps and while Sasazuka may be more of a direct combatant, Usui likes to set traps from the shadows. They both find some success in their methods, but I still prefer Sasazuka. Usui does manage to come through when it counts though, which should not be overlooked. He’s a pretty solid character and it’s easy to root for him.

Higuchi is a top notch hacker who joins the ranks of the heroes about halfway through the series or maybe a little earlier. He’s all right, but he never got a whole lot of character. He’s just what you would expect from a hacker and he’s not quite as tough as Daisy. (The hacker of course) He looks pretty bad as the series goes on since he’s not exactly immune to mind control and that’s what Hal does best.
Speaking of Hal…he’s a pretty cool villain. After he is built, Hal naturally evolves and decides that he will rule the world on his own. His powers inside of the Cyber World are absolute and he is actually able to give Neuro a good fight. Neuro may be the strongest fighter in the human world, but the net is a different story. It was also a fun way to show off some more of Neuro’s powers since there were no bystanders to worry about. It was a fun mini arc and Hal may be the best villain in the series.

Aya is one of the first villains to be defeated by Yako and she gets a decently large role in the series. Her crime wasn’t as bad as some of the others as she only destroyed two people. Her music has the power to control people’s minds and she’s quite good at it. She is rehabilitated after her first crime and she gives Yako advice from time to time. It would have been cool to see her fight, but I guess her powers probably wouldn’t have much of an effect on the villains. She’s certainly better than some of the other villains.

Ai is X’s assistant and it feels like she just got a bad draw. She’s a lot like Konan from Naruto. She is not inherently evil, but she was an assassin for a while and then she began to work for X. She developed a pretty close bond to the villain and decided to work with him until he discovered his true self. She will do just about anything to help him and she is also one of the only people not to fear him. She keeps him in line and watches over him when it comes to conventional things like reminding him that he needs to eat. You end up feeling bad for her since she seems to be a very nice person at heart.

Hisanori and Yukinori are brothers who get their own mini arc and then help out in the final arc. They’re pretty minor villains at first and they seem to be on their way to being more on the side of justice by the end. Yukinori tries to attack Neuro, which is admirable, but both of these guys are seriously outmatched compared to the real villains. One of them has a fishhook and the other one can’t even fight. I wasn’t really a fan of either character.

Genuine was one of the worst villains from the big 5. She can’t really fight, but she is able to lure men to her and mesmerize them so that they can distract the heroes. We all know that this technique won’t work on Neuro so she was really doomed from the start. Her character is just pretty bad and she is just letting herself get used by the villains. Her story was not going to have a very happy ending.

Of course, at least Genuine got character. You can’t really say the same for DR, Tierra, and Vijaya. Vijaya has poison abilities and he barely gets to appear. He puts up a decent fight with the heroes, but he is the only one who doesn’t even get to fight against Neuro. That shows how he is simply not at the same level. His abilities are dangerous since getting near the poison will destroy you, but it’s simply not enough. DR and Tierra have been modified so that they have animal DNA like claws and sharp fins. They’re decently tough metahumans, but they’re basically throwaway fighters for Neuro to take down.

Kasai has fire abilities and he easily gets the biggest role from the villains. He’s decent for the most part, but there is a scene with an old lady that doesn’t help his case and he’s ultimately just not that likable. He’s probably the only villain to talk back to Sicks, but he’s still extremely afraid of the man so it’s not much of a consolation. It’s sad too since his fire abilities guarantee that he is the strongest human from the bunch. He is not amped up so he may lose to some of the other villains, but there is no defense against a good fire blast.

There are many more villains that I didn’t even name from the mini arcs since each mystery brings a new cast along with it. There is also a new policewoman who joins the force towards the end, but her character arc never really went anywhere. She got her own sub plot and mini arc of course, but it just didn’t have a lot of meat to it. She’s super serious so she is naturally paired with the comic relief guy, which leads to sadness for the both of them.

One of the issues that I had with the series is how gruesome the villains and situations can be. Aside from the main arc there are many small mysteries that take up 3-5 chapters. They usually involve something sinister, but I wouldn’t say that it’s anything too drastic. The plot is where things start to go a little overboard. There are really a few types of violence and I categorize them in various ways. In this case, the one that stands out is fighter violence vs bystander violence. See, it’s one thing to see someone like Ichigo or Goku take a beating and another altogether to see a random cop or expendable fighter get crushed. The first typically isn’t as bad, but not beyond reason of course. Here, many of the characters suffer fates worse than death, which is when things get too dark for me. If the character’s never going to reach the light at the end of the tunnel…just let the character die already! (From an author’s standpoint, not the hero’s)

The atmospheric writing is very similar to Attack on Titan’s. You know how Titan loves to show a scene every other chapter where the heroes remind us that we have to lose our humanity while some expendables talk about how they don’t want to die? It’s supposed to add realism, but you just start to tune out the whining from the expendables after a wile. Neuro loves to do that with the characters as well. They deeply think about life and how pointless it is while others are just sad by how frightened they are. One scene that stands out is when a villain is so scared of the main villain that he obeys an order to destroy himself in a rather painful way. The logical choice would be to attack, run away, or quickly destroy yourself before they can stop you. Just obeying like that out of fear is a little much, but we get tons of speeches to try and rationalize it. There comes a point where all of the self doubt and realism just makes it too “realistic” to the point where it isn’t like the real world anymore. That’s an example of one of the “worse than death” moments, but there are several others throughout the series. Torture, or any other fate that you can think of, which fits that criteria is not acceptable in any medium under any circumstances. It always helps me drop the score from something and that’s where Neuro lost the majority of its points. It probably took it all the way down from a 7 to a 5 because that was really the big negative in the series.

There aren’t many fight scenes to be found until the plot really begins, but the ones that we do get are pretty fun. The author takes the easy way out though since Neuro continues to invent new powers throughout the series. He seems like he can do just about anything that one can think of if he wants too. He has a bad habit of playing around with his opponents until he’s so weakened that it’s a close fight though, which is pretty dangerous. It usually turns out okay though I suppose.
Overall, Neuro was really teetering between a 4 and a 5 for a while. On one hand, I was pretty hooked once the plot began and it was hard to tear myself away from what was happening. On the other hand, that’s simply an effect of the well written universe that the characters were interacting in. It still had too many unnecessary scenes and themes for me to rank it as a 5. The villains are simply too disturbed and the casualties could have been lessened or made less intense. I also think that Neuro should have been more likable or heroic since it would have made the ending more believable and emotional. This is a pretty good series if you want a mystery and you want something that is pretty dark tones. Otherwise, you may want to check out Spiral for a good mystery title. That one was pretty great and it even has a prequel to check out once you’re done with the main series. After reading this review, you should hopefully recognize him in the PS3 fighting game with Goku and friends!

Overall 4/10