Nancy Drew… Trouble Shooter Review

Nancy Drew has returned for some more detective shenanigans! Nancy herself doesn’t look very good in this film though and as tends to be the case in these older adventures, her friend Ted seems to be the real detective around here. It’s a fun movie and definitely a short one as well so you will have this finished in a flash. It may not stick out among the Drew adventures but it’s just solid all around.

The movie starts with a guy being accused of murder so he writes to his friend Carson Drew. Carson is ready to see that justice is served so he quickly heads out to help but much to his dismay, Nancy Drew finds out about this as well and now she wants to help. Unfortunately for Ted, she quickly tracks him down as well and decides that he will be helping her this time around. Can the two of them solve the case of who really committed the murder or will they just get in Carson’s way and cause an innocent man to be taken down?

You can see how Carson treats Nancy as a burden here with how he sighs and tries to keep her out of trouble. He’s just used to doing everything so having a kid around slows his roll. While he is confident though, it does feel like he is always foiled in the end though. There’s only so much that his law training can do here without becoming a vigilante like Nancy. Also, he’s a bit distracted here as he starts off a romance with Edna who immediately captivates him as well as Ted. Nancy gets awful spore about this which impacts her detective skills as well.

Now with a man’s life hanging in the balance you figure that the characters would not let any distractions stop them but that never seems to be the case here. All of the romance scenes here are rather painful with Carson and Ted just tripping over themselves in trying to help her. You’d think they would be a little more subtle and would realize that this isn’t the time for such tings. Worry about romance after the case has been solved. It also doesn’t feel like the romance actually impacts the story all that much. It’s just kind of there to be there.

It does hurt Ted a little but beyond that he looks good. He’s the only one to realize that the attendant was stealing the chickens and he ultimately proves to be helpful at the end as he ensures the heroes have a good landing. He is always very reluctant to get involved in these cases and would much rather take it over to the police, but once he is dragged in, Ted makes sure to do the job right. It’s why he’s such a quality character. You can sympathize with how he just wants to have a quiet day but that won’t be an option for very long. I’d say a lot of the film’s best humor also revolves around Ted and his reactions. It goes without saying that he’s the best character here.

Not to take too many shots at Nancy, she is a good lead but she almost comes off more like an antagonist at times with how she gets in the way. Her one sided feud with Edna doesn’t do her any favors either. Edna is trying to be nice the whole time while Nancy is just petty and takes everything personally. She’s also very slow on the uptake like when Carson had to quickly change his story around Edna and Nancy just didn’t get it. She tends to miss some clues that are right in front of her and so ultimately she has a ways to go before she would become the famous detective.

As for the actual case, it’s not bad. Despite a murder being involved I wouldn’t say it’s super captivating. It’s all fairly basic and the character cast is very small so it’s not like there are a whole lot of suspects that it could be. Basically if someone shows up and acts a bit antagonistic then you figure he’s probably the culprit. Sadly there’s no officer Tweedy this time so the heroes have to make do without him.

I’d say the reason why the film shines though is because the writing is just really good. Sure, it’s all very low key but because of that it ends up being a very calming film. It feels like a slice of life all the way through with two kids doing their best to spice up the day. They get their fill of action and adventure or at least Ted does. Nancy’s always ready for another round even if that’s not a good idea.

So even if the film doesn’t become all that unique, you could easily see 10 or more films just riding off of this one’s energy. You can easily just keep it going for a long while yet with slightly different cases and I think it would still be entertaining. I could probably do without the random romance but that strikes me as a one time thing anyway so the other films wouldn’t need to do that. Now we just need a film series about the Hardy Boys.

Overall, This was a pretty good film I’d say. I do have the disclaimer that you could be bored if you walk into this expecting a lot of action, but this isn’t that kind of film nor is it attempting to be. You have to be drawn in by the writing and the cheerful vibe of all the scenes. If that sounds good to you then you will certainly have a good time here. It’s just a very calming film that makes you feel good. The only thing that could have hurt this film would be if it was too long since this kind of plot is best meant for a shorter film but that’s why it’s so fast. It’s a quick adventure that’s over without having any pacing issues.

Overall 7/10

In/Spectre Review

I know what you’re thinking. Inspector Gadget finally got his own anime right? Well, not this time but this is still a mystery type show. It’s a very unique kind of approach to it though as the cases revolve around finding an explanation but not necessarily the correct one. I’ll explain what I mean in a moment but it’s a nice way to change things up. Ultimately this is a show you will remember quite well after watching it and I’ll be interested to see what cases season 2 covers.

So the series starts off by introducing us to Iwanaga. She was kidnapped as a child and when she was found, Iwanaga was missing a leg and an eye. In exchange she has now gained the ability to see yokai and helps them out as the goddess of wisdom. There is still some mystery regarding what exactly happened to her but the outside world is unlikely to ever know the full truth here. Well, Iwanaga has been solving mysteries for a while now but her top goal is getting Kuro to fall in love with her. Now that he has broken up with the girl he was dating for the last 2 years, it’s time to make her move!

Okay that’s the plot for the first episode and after that we get the cases. The first episode is important though because it sets the stage for the rest of the series and the dynamic between Kuro and Iwanaga. Also, I would say the first episode is the best episode in the series. Not a diss to the rest of the show but I didn’t feel like it ever quite matches up to the first adventure.

The first episode really has a similar vibe to Death Note. We know there’s something odd about Kuro but it’s hard to say exactly what. Iwanaga is odd in her own way too so who is the hero and who’s the villain here? Kuro gives a story about how his girlfriend Saki broke up with him because a Kappa appeared and Kuro was too scared to help out. Iwanaga counters that this is unlikely and we get an interesting dynamic there. There’s a lot of verbal battles as they compare theories. Finally the episode ends with a massive cliffhanger as Kuro seemingly outs himself as a villain and walks away.

From the first episode you almost get a Death Note meets Carmen Sandiego feeling as Kuro will keep avoiding Iwanaga while she chases him. Things don’t quite go in that direction though as Iwanaga is not scared of his abilities and is still in love with him anyway. From there they end up forming a very reluctant team as they are “dating” and Kuro has to protect her at all times since the world of Yokai is a dangerous one. It’s a different dynamic compared to the first episode but still a good path. That first episode just really leaves a strong impact.

The first case is a fairly small one. So a body was found inside the lake of the Great Snake and so he summons Iwanaga to ask what happened. If the answer is not satisfactory then he will create a giant storm and cause a lot of destruction. Throughout the two episodes Iwanaga poses several theories and explanations on what has happened. This is really the meat of what makes the series interesting. So in most detective shows/movies you will have the main character explain everything as we get flashbacks as to exactly what happened and then we call it a day.

Well we get the explanation and the flashback but then the Snake starts poking a lot of holes in the theory. So Iwanaga switches her story up and you quickly realize that she was completely bluffing the first time. It’s a fun subversion because you are used to the main character being correct the first time around, not having to backtrack and try again. I can’t think of the last time I saw something like that. It happens over and over again as the Snake keeps dismissing the theories until he accepts the last one. Thing is, we don’t know if it’s actually correct. Iwanaga ultimately admits to Kuro that it’s still a guess since it’s not like she was actually there.

Although she did have her mystic Yokai informants to fill in some of the holes but ultimately she doesn’t know if this is the truth. Iwanaga points out that it’s close enough though and works as an “Alternative Truth” which is a main theme of the show. As long as you get to the correct outcome, the details themselves don’t matter and can therefore be made up. Iwanaga’s job is to make everything make sense, not to necessarily uncover the truth behind these mysteries. You can see how that’s a very different perspective from what you may be used to. It makes for a fun watch and becomes a bigger debate/point of emphasis in the upcoming arc. The snake adventure was a good way to kick things off as we see different flashbacks which keeps contradicting themselves as the story goes on. I’ll give the Snake props for shooting down so many theories initially though.

Now we enter the final arc. You may be thinking that this was awful quick but the final arc is quite long which is why it shows up immediately like this. So there is a rumor going around about “Steel Lady Nanase” which is believed to be the undead spirit of Nanase that is going around and murdering people. Nanase was crushed when a giant construction beam broke and fell on her. The circumstances of her death were very suspicious though. Why was she alone in the middle of the night at an abandoned construction area? She was a very well known voice actress of world renown who should not have been there at the time. Additionally, the way she died makes it appear that she didn’t react to the beam falling down at all as if she was already knocked out or put to sleep. Thing is there are no other injuries to be found or any traces of a drug. Naturally Iwanaga is called into action.

With almost 10 episodes for this arc it’s quite a long one as you can expect with quite a few twists and alternative truths mixed in. We also meet a new villain and several new characters. This is a good place to talk about Kuro’s abilities since they will play a big role in this title. So Kuro ate part of a mermaid at some point which is part of his origin story and so he is immortal. Any fatal wound he receives will quickly heal up at all times. Additionally, while he is dead, Kuro has the ability to grab onto the literal strings of fate to determine what path he takes.

This isn’t an invincible ability where he can change the future though as it has some limitations. First, he can only see some branches into the future and can’t follow them along too far before his healing factor kicks in and he regenerates. Additionally, if the future is something very strong then he can’t change it. For example, if a villain is attacking someone, it’s probably too late to change their fate to spare the victim because the action is already in progress. Another wrinkle to the equation is that he’s not the only one with fate altering abilities so if the other user is more powerful than he is, then Kuro will be blocked out.

A side effect of Kuro’s abilities is that his blood is poisonous to monsters/yokai now. So most avoid him by default. Mix that in with his immortality and getting eaten intentionally is an actual battle tactic for him since he can walk away from that while the monster will blow up. So that wraps up Kuro’s abilities and it makes him a very valuable asset to have. Iwanaga always wants him to help out but unfortunately for her he isn’t a great team player and tends to vanish a lot. Ultimately he will show up to help out in each arc though.

It does also feel like the show jumps around a lot. It feels like there is a significant jump between the giant snake case and then Steel Lady Nanase. Personally I’m thinking the show may have skipped some stories to get to the big Nanase case or something but it may just be a normal jump. Either way the duo have really grown comfortable with each other by this case and Kuro no longer denies being her girlfriend. The two of them are just partners in for the long haul at this point although if Kuro’s immortality includes his age then that could be tricky for Iwanaga eventually.

Back to the arc though, here’s a bit more of the details. So of course Yokai exist in this world and the Steel Lady Nanase is very real. The trouble is that spirits grow stronger based on how many people believe in them. Initially there weren’t a lot of people who believed in Nanase, but a certain website has helped her become big through its active forums. It turns out that Rikka, Kuro’s cousin is at the helm and she appears to be using this as some kind of experiment. That makes the case extra personal for Kuro. The problem is that it’s not so easy to figure out how to beat Nanase since Rikka keeps using fate alteration to prevent her defeat.

So the goal here is really for Iwanaga to convince people on the forums that Nanase isn’t real. Effectively she has to make the truth appear to be a lie and the lie appear to be truth. It’s interesting because we know that the villain in this case is telling the truth about Nanase being an evil spirit murdering everyone so in a way you’re hoping that the forum won’t fall for Iwanaga’s fake news. On the other hand, this is the only way to stop the spirit since if nobody believes in her then she will fade from existence.

We get a lot of rules about how this specifically works. The fact that everyone knows how Nanase looks and that someone drew an image of her also made the spirit more powerful since everyone would have the same illustration in their minds. It was really quite the impressive trick by Rikka. Rikka is quite fortunate that the forum was so supernatural though as on Reddit I can’t imagine a lot of people buying into this. They may ironically post about it but that’s really it.

It was a lot of fun to see the forums going though as Iwanaga and Rikka both infiltrated and pretended to be random users. We get multiple episodes of all these users interacting as Iwanaga provides story after story. Like with the giant snake she just keeps on throwing out constant theories until one sticks. I personally thought she should have used a different user name with each one to really split everyone up though. See, her goal isn’t to win everyone over at once but to gradually split up the group so that everyone is believing in different things at the same time. That would weaken the collective image and allow Kuro to take Nanase down.

After all, while Iwanaga is typing all of this, Kuro is fighting Nanase so that she can’t murder anyone else in the meantime. I did have major issues with this fight though. So Nanase isn’t super strong on her own, I mean she is decent but you can absolutely wrestle her to the ground. For someone like Kuro this should be easy right? Nanase’s only big weapon is her steel beam which murders Kuro several times. That’s fair, I accept those losses since the man seems to have 0 fighting instincts. There are 3-4 times in the fight where he throws her beam off of the stairs or she is separated from it.

In those cases he should absolutely be grabbing the beam right? No, each time he’ll just throw her back into the beam, just stand there with a stunned expression on his face, or he’ll destroy her but then she’ll regenerate and just pick up the beam again. Kuro’s win conditions aren’t too hard here. Just keep the steel beam out of reach since she can’t summon it remotely and then get her in a choke hold. He successfully did this and murdered her once but then ran off. Instead keep holding onto her as she regenerates and wait for Iwanaga to solve the case.

I feel like they made Kuro fight super poorly the whole time so that her solutions would work completely but it would have been more impressive if he was just holding her in place the whole time. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as visually interesting but then just keep the focus on the inside world with the texts and the virtual selves. I think that would have worked out quite well if you ask me. That fight just didn’t make sense the whole time and since the climax is so long, it just makes this impossible not to notice.

So lets talk about the characters. First off you have Kuro who works well as the main guy. You feel bad for him to an extent as he clearly doesn’t want to get back into a relationship but Iwanaga is quite persistent. Even now when they are together you feel like he’s just there to protect her but doesn’t really return her feelings just yet. They work better as just being friends but I think we know that’s likely off the table right away. Kuro is never quite as mysterious as he was in the first episode but you always get the sense that he could crack at any second.

He does have some character weaknesses though like how he runs off to take care of the Rikka element by himself and that ultimately comes back to bite him. The whole plot with Rikka does no favors for Kuro either. They are still cousins after all so I don’t care how big the family is, that means Kuro needs to stay out of that arena. At least he’s finally starting to get over that but in the meantime it does hold him back as a character.

As for Iwanaga, her detective skills are on point. When solving cases she is second to none and I do like how quickly she is able to pivot from one story to the next when they are proven to be incorrect. She’s quick on her feet in that respect and is also willing to jump into danger as needed. On the minus side, she can be rather crude at times. That’s almost her whole gimmick with how she obsessively chases after Kuro and tries to keep his ex Saki at a distance. Iwanaga is always calculating and that includes when she is talking to her friends. I’d like for her to be a little more dignified at times though. So like Kuro I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of her so far.

Saku is the ex girlfriend who gets a big role in the Nanase case. Her first appearance in that arc is quite good as she charges Nanase and tries to fight. Of course it doesn’t work since Nanase is a ghost but I did like her enthusiasm there. She really went for a big punch and since she is usually scared of the occult that was a big character moment. I was surprised when it happened but very much in a good way. You’ve probably noticed a trend with the characters so far though which is that they all have a weak point as well. Saki is no different and my issue is with how she ditched Kuro so easily.

Mainly the show points to the incident with the Kappa as why she ran off. When she noticed that the Kappa was scared and not Kuro, she had to dash out of there because it was all too scary. If she broke up with Kuro because he was emotionless I could buy into that. Or if he started acting evil and edgy, sure that makes sense. Running off because of that? I think that’s a real stretch and even in the present it doesn’t make much sense to me. Later on we see that she knew about his regeneration after witnessing it at one point so I don’t see why this was so much of a shock to her.

At the very least I would have expected them to sit down and talk about it a bit. So that really hurt her character since it makes her look bad. At least it looks like there won’t be a “Take Two” so they will just stay as friends now. One minor character who stole the show for me was Terada. He’s Saki’s superior in the office and while he doesn’t believe in the supernatural he keeps his mind open about it. I was glad that he was trying to crack the case and didn’t just say Saki was crazy or something like that. Unfortunately, going up against a spirit will usually be the end of you and that’s how things went here. At least he was a lot of fun while he was around and that’s how you develop a good one shot character.

Finally we have the villain Rikka. Eh, I’m not a fan of hers either although we don’t really know her full goals yet. It appears that ultimately she wants to die since immortality is a bit of a curse for her. So, perhaps by figuring out how to make spirits come to life, she is trying to find a way to reverse her own immortality. I don’t really know why she was trolling at the hospital for a few years though as with her immortality she seems to have been okay. When the hospital discharges her eventually she just walks off. Maybe she just liked scaring Saki. (Yeah Saki’s also scared of her which isn’t a great look) I’ll need to see what Rikka’s real motivations are but in the meantime she’s just not a very interesting villain. It is fun to picture her typing on the keyboard as the enemy troll in the final debates though.

I doubt she really knows what she wants to do at this point but it would be hard for the heroes to stop her if she got serious. Put it this way, there’s nothing stopping her from creating a lot of myths around the world and summoning more monsters. Maybe they wouldn’t be as powerful if she doesn’t get the circumstances just right but the heroes can’t be in more than one place. Just summon a bunch of them and watch the world burn. It’s not like the humans can do anything against Yokai so that’s game set and match. Her goal isn’t to destroy the world but if she needs the spirits for her goal…well that’s how you do it.

That about covers it for the characters. There are a bunch of random yokai running around too of course but they’re not quite big enough to go in depth on. As you can see I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cast but they hold their scenes well enough. You’ll still be entertained while going through it mainly because the detective angle is a blast. The series is at its best when the characters are debating viewpoints and trying to find flaws in each other’s arguments. Since Iwanaga is creating lies each time, it makes sense that there will usually be a hole to exploit somewhere.

It does have a bit of a fanservice issue in the final case with Nanase. The fanservice is effectively built into her reputation which is why it’s emphasized and mentioned so much but it’s not really needed. Kuro doesn’t miss a chance to tease Iwanaga on her appearance with this and they mess around a bit but it ultimately felt like a bit of an excuse to use Nanase for fanservice. The rest of the show is pretty much devoid of this so I like to think it won’t be an issue for season 2.

The opening song is very solid here. It’s quite catchy and I particularly like the guitar strum at the beginning. It’s the kind of opening you can listen to a whole lot. Within the show the ost isn’t quite as memorable but it’s hard to top that intro. As for the animation, it’s pretty solid. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly memorable but works well enough for a more mystery based show. The action scenes aren’t quite the focus after all and everything is still clear enough. There are good contrasts with the colors and you can’t mistake the fact that this is a newer anime.

As this is a mystery show you can also expect some of the backstories to be a little dark. Usually with murders that’s how things go but I would say the show never goes too dark with the backstories. At times things can get a little violent as the show exploits how Rikka and Kuro can keep regenerating anyway. Rikka keeps destroying herself to grab onto fate and I would say Kuro is sandbagging to an extent to keep grabbing fate as well. As a result they do die a lot and quite brutally in some ways. It certainly can be a bit much at times and they could tone down the violence in season 2 but for the most part it’s usually not excessive like that. Certainly none of the other cases aside from Nanase were that violent so I wouldn’t expect it to be a trend.

Overall, In/Spectre is definitely a fun show. It may not have gone the route I was expecting with the dynamic between Kuro and Iwanaga but ultimately down the road you always expect a two man show for the detectives. The one solving the cases and then the muscle to back the detective up. (Alternately the second person would be comic relief like with some variations of Watson) The show maintains really solid dialogue throughout with the cases and I like how unique the whole thing is. To get to the next level I’d like the characters to get a little more likable and then we’re really in business. If you’re looking for a good mystery show then this is one to check out. The first episode will almost certainly have you hooked.

Overall 7/10

Night Moves Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Oh boy, this is one of those films that starts out on a rather dicey note and then just gets worse and worse as it goes on. The movie is really going for pure shock value half the time and with nobody to root for you are in for a very grueling 99 minutes. I also wonder why they couldn’t just stretch this movie by one minute to be a perfect 100. If you’re that close…why not do it right? Not like it would have helped the movie or anything but you might as well.

So the movie is about a private investigator named Harry. He specializes in divorce cases and a lot of little cases like that which his wife Ellen mocks him about. Still, he enjoys the work but one day he finds out she is cheating with a guy named Marty. Does this matter to the plot? No….but did it shock you?? From there Harry heads back to his main case where Arlene asks him to find her daughter who has gone missing. Harry looks around and finds her fairly quick but it will be difficult to bring her back. She certainly doesn’t want to go home.

Right away we learn that Delly is quite the free spirit who goes around having affairs with everyone despite only being 16. Unfortunately, she has really gone off the wall crazy and everyone around her is the same way. She’s currently staying with her stepfather Tom and Paula. The less said about this part of the plot the better but needless to say, nobody here is a good person. They’re all engaged in very serious crimes and have no sense of moral decency anymore.

This is the kind of movie that is very jaded and believes that everyone is a villain or will turn to the dark side if given the chance. Harry isn’t exactly exempt from that as he makes his share of mistakes as well. He’s not a very nice guy which does make him a strong investigator as the guy won’t be pushed around. That said, it’s very difficult to have a candid conversation with him as a result and everyone takes shots at how hard he is trying to be an iconic investigator or like one out of the movies. In terms of investigating he does a good job though so I don’t think you can slam him too hard on that.

His personality and decision making? Sure that’s fair game. When he finds out that Ellen is cheating I don’t see why he was so desperate to get her back the whole time. Note that he catches her twice and he cheats on her with someone else later on. Perhaps he figures if they’re both cheating on each other then it doesn’t really matter. That just feels really twisted though. Ellen’s no better as her excuses don’t hold any weight. Being lonely is never an excuse to be cheating at all. Marty doesn’t have any personality except to be threatened by Harry every time.

As for Delly, well there’s not much to say about her. She is as immoral as can be and never makes the right life choices. Ultimately this doesn’t end well and I can’t even say that she has a happy ending. This was a really rough film for her. Her stepfather Tom is horrendous and you feel like he got off extremely easy here. With everyone dying left and right you’d have thought that he would be one of the prime targets to be bumped off. Where’s the justice in this film?

Paula feels bad for herself a lot as the world around her goes to oblivion but you feel like she needs to get out of this environment first thing. She’s just sticking around to see the violence and crimes being committed but only assists in this instead of doing anything about it. She’s as guilty as the rest of the characters. It’s clear that Arlene isn’t innocent either. She beats some of the other characters almost by default but I still would consider her to be a bad character. She’s just interested in herself and getting rich.

The atmosphere is suitably depressing and without a whole lot of color during the movie. It really has that classic 70s feel to it where everything is really grimy. You can make a good thriller or noir film our of that but you can’t rely on overt shock value. There are so many aspects of this film that really don’t need to be here. You can absolutely nail this plot without the extra aspects. Take away Delly’s character traits as constantly stripping, being desperate for men, etc. Remove all implications of her and Tom, lets remove the cheating subplot with Harry, lets remove his affair as well.

I suppose by this time you’ve got a completely different movie but it shows just how much of this film really needed to change. It’s just not a fun watch and you can’t be a good film without being enjoyable in some sense. Whether it’s having a good soundtrack, an engaging plot, or good characters; every movie needs to have something. If you have nothing then you’re really in a very tough spot that is hard to get out of.

Overall , Night Moves is a film I highly recommend avoiding at all costs. It’s just a terrible movie on all accounts. Any semblance of interest you may have had in the film is completely destroyed once Harry gets to the Florida Keyes and finds out just how depraved the whole situation is. This is a movie of shock value where terrible things keep on happening to everyone. There is really no way to save the film at that point so I would even say this should not get a remake. At that point you’re better off just making a whole new experience so lets just put this film back on the shelf and pretend it never existed.

Overall 1/10

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