Battle of Giant Dragons Review

It’s time to look at a game that I’ve passed by in stores on many occasions. The game has been dirty cheap practically since it first came out. The reason why I didn’t get it was because the gameplay didn’t look particularly engaging. Still, there was a lot of good games on sale and I needed an extra one for the 4 for 2 deal so I finally took the plunge. The game is about what you expect. The gameplay is actually pretty fun but the game is quite bare in terms of content. There’s not enough to keep you busy for very long and I would say that it is a weakness for the title.

The basic plot seems to be involving humans taking on dragons and such. There is a short prologue to this effect but there are no more real cutscenes after that so the story itself ends up fading away. Even when you beat the game there is absolutely no ceremony. The game just tells you to pick another dragon and beat the game again. Perhaps after beating the game with the main 4 dragons you would get some kind of extra ending or something but that shouldn’t really be necessary if you ask me. You deserve at least a normal ending for clearing the game.

It’s a pretty short game so you should have it completed within a few hours easy. There are 4 worlds and each one has 3 levels. The objective in each level is to collect 2 gems. 1 gem is obtained by beating a dragon located somewhere on the map with a dragon head symbol. The other one is achieved by defeating a dragon that can only be fought after completing a lot of different objectives. Usually this includes tasks like melting a bunch of gem stones, and navigating a maze. Once you have obtained both gems you tap on a device that gets you out of the level. These levels can be pretty quick as long as you don’t bump into any random dragons by mistake. They all trigger fights that are exactly the same as the boss fights. They’re extremely easy but it will take more time.

The gameplay style is a turn based combat style to an extent but it’s all based on speed. You tap on one of the squares to choose which attack you want to use and then flick forward. You can also block and dodge. After you attack you are given the option to absorb some energy from the opponent to power up your next move or use a quick super attack. Personally I usually just pick to absorb an attack once so you can use your final smash on the second round. Then absorb two more turns and another final smash on the third round is guaranteed to beat the opponent. I naturally chose the fire dragon and went on a rampage with his powerful attacks. The fire dragon seems to be the best one in my opinion since all his attacks boost his attack power even further so the odds of you not taking down your opponent in a few turns is slim at best.

The gameplay isn’t particularly balanced though. You never need to actually block or dodge. Just keep swiping up and the opponent will never be able to attack before you do. Even if they block it just delays the inevitable since they can’t counter attack. I assume this wouldn’t work quite so well in a multiplayer match or something like that but 1 on 1 it’s quite easy to take the win. The game is extremely easy as a result with no real challenge to be had. You’ll dominate the game without any real effort. That’s also part of why the game is so short I suppose. If you never lose then it’s like you’re playing the game full steam ahead.

In terms of graphics they aren’t bad but you can see how the game is pretty lazy. Almost all of the dragons are re-used assets. The lord of the first world has the same exact design as all of the minions you fought earlier after all. That’s just sloppy and it makes the boss feel a whole lot less special since he could be just about anyone. The game had a little fun with some random side bosses at least which was fun. One such boss was a cop car that came out of nowhere and another was a drum set. You don’t have to fight these guys but they’re super weak so you might as well. The game should have embraced this part a little more and it would have made the game a lot more memorable.

Overall, Battle of Giant Dragons is a pretty forgettable game. It’s incredibly short and the gameplay is 1 dimensional. These two things could have been forgiven if the story was really good, but that’s not the case either. When you’ve got nothing going for you other than a fairly enjoyable gameplay style it’s going to heavily limit your potential. The game is still fun enough for what it is I suppose and it’s cheap which means you can get a good value here. Gameplay is the most important factor so I’d still put this one in the green in the end, but just barely. I don’t really see myself seeking out the other games in this franchise but I suppose if I happen to be in store you never know. I may pick up a game like this at some point. If you want a good game with big enemies to topple though, I recommend checking out Budokai Tenkaichi 3 instead.

Overall 6/10

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Review

It’s time to look at a Monster Hunter manga. This one made it all the way to 10 volumes and has some cool cover arts so how does it rank? Well, it’s a pretty good premise and I wouldn’t fault its pacing, but the manga does fall short in some areas. Mainly the art and the characters are what brings it down. Salvaging the manga though is the amount of fights we have on deck and the fact that it’s still interesting. It pales in comparison to many other titles but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It just takes a while to get going and by then it’s basically over.

The series starts with Raiga as a kid. He looked up to his local Monster Hunter (A guy who hunts monsters) but unfortunately this guy got scarred after a tough quest and changed into a violent person. He is now bent on getting revenge and ditched Raiga’s village. The hero and some townspeople survived, but Raiga swore that he would find this hunter one day and get payback. He decides to be a hunter and a few years later he has finally attained his goal. The problem is that his bark is bigger than his actual skill. He teams up with Keres, an arrogant archer who panics quite often and Torche, a navigator who isn’t particularly skilled. Can these three heroes become legendary Flash Hunters?

Lets address the elephant in the room. That is to say, the terrible character known as Raiga. It’s obvious what the series is going for from the start. Raiga’s the hot headed main character who jumps into action and thinks about the consequences later. That’s fine, I’d actually consider that to be a positive trait most of the time. A lot of my favorite characters are like that as with Vegeta and Ichigo. The problem is that Raiga never improves enough where he can afford to act this way. All he ends up doing is putting everyone in harm’s way. Time after time he rushes at an enemy and nearly gets the group destroyed. It always works out one way or the other, but always because someone saves him and not because he ends up beating the monster. Raiga doesn’t care about teamwork and will always choose to pursue the monster.

You’d expect some kind of character arc for him somewhere down the line but it never, ever comes up. Even in literally the last volume he makes the same mistake. A monster has been forced back into the ocean and the town is calling in a bunch of hunters. Once there are enough of them then the team will go in to finish the monster. The problem is that Raiga wants to prove that he has surpassed Bexel (The rogue hunter who betrayed his village) and goes in alone. Naturally he gets beat up as always and Bexel is forced to save him. Then the rest of the team arrives and Raiga is saved, but our young hero ends up taking most of the credit. What he did was completely unnecessary. He does something like this in every volume and you can see why Keres kept ditching him. Raiga is a man who puts his own adrenaline needs above the lives of his teammates. Such a character won’t go far.

Raiga was just annoying the entire time and I’m still shocked by how he never got better. Unfortunately his teammate Torche is almost as bad. Her personality quirk is that she’s pretty clutsy and isn’t good at anything besides being a scout. She can pick out monster weak points, but this almost never comes in handy. She defends Raiga a lot which isn’t good either. The worst part is that she never really becomes a fighter. I get that not all team members need to know how to fight, but at least getting better armor and superior weapons would help her case a lot. She just ends up being more of a non character than anything.

Finally we have Keres. He’s a mixed bag because on one hand his constant need to run away is annoying. He gets nervous a lot to the point where he even retires for a while and is forced back into the hunt. On the other hand, he is often right when Raiga is involved. Why go to hunt a monster that isn’t bothering anyone when they can wait for reinforcements? He isn’t constantly addicted to fighting the way Raiga is. Still, he can be annoying in general so since all 3 main characters are annoying you can see why the characters is an angle which holds the manga back.

I also think the art may have something to do with this. The artist isn’t great at drawing facial expressions so everyone tends to have the same grins, frowns, etc. They all look the same after a while. Different character designs, but the same postures and expressions. Then the artist gets completely lost with regard to the fight scenes. You really can’t tell what is happening half of the time because it is too chaotic. Everyone is using a huge attack and the same goes for the monster so all of the action lines intersect to the point where it’s too muddled to make anything out. The art never gets better unfortunately and this would certainly be one of the weakest art that I have seen for a series.

Then we’ve got the main rival character Bexel. You could also call him an antagonist I suppose, but Raiga definitely exaggerates when talking about him. If you think about it, Bexel never actually hurt everyone. He decided to distance himself from everyone, that’s certainly true. At the same time I think it’s a little iffy for Raiga to basically act like he’s a monster. Bexel single handily saves many villages because of how crazy strong he has gotten. He may not be a hero, but he certainly is the best hunter in the series so just let him do his thing. Even by the end of the series nobody is even close to being as strong as he is. That’s pretty impressive.

There are also a few supporting characters, but given the series we are talking about none of them are all that memorable. You have another pair of hunters who do their best to support the main 3, but they aren’t all that powerful. One of them has his big hero moment which is basically Raiga’s fault so when he doesn’t return from his fatal battle we have the lead to thank. Then there is another heroine who shows up from time to time. She’s way better than Torche, but never feels too important. Honestly, nobody feels that important aside from the main 3 and you could basically just call them a distraction if anything.

I will give the manga a lot of credit for how it handles the monsters. This could have easily gone the animal violence route, but the manga is very classy with how it treats the battles. The monsters don’t get all that injured or when they die it isn’t super graphic. So while I do think the title failed in a lot of ways, this was a very important element and it handled this part very well. After all, better a 6/10 then getting the rest right and still dropping to a 4/10 with all of the creatures getting wrecked right?

I still think Bexel didn’t really get a fair shake, but I’ve already spoken a lot about the characters to lets start to wrap this up. Why is this manga still good when everything before this in the review was pretty negative? Well, as I mentioned before the premise of the manga is still good. I like a good adventure title as much as the next guy and the Monster Hunter world has always been pretty interesting. I liked the armors that the characters wore and while the fight scenes could be hard to read at least they were present. They were also rather long the whole time so you can’t say that the manga forgot that part. It does a good job of making the danger feel pretty real to the heroes.

Overall, Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter could and should have been a lot better than it was. The characters should have been more interesting and likable. I can also dig the concept of the main 3 constantly bickering and all that, but even that isn’t handled well. We also get some random time skips, but the status quo didn’t change much so they ultimately feel pointless. You go from having the whole cast feeling outmatched against one monster to suddenly nothing can stop them in the ending. I’m fine with the main characters being the best since that’s inevitable, but you’re telling me that the whole region is basically out of hunters so without the main 3 they are doomed? How did they all live for so long then? Read this manga if you want a good action/fantasy title but prepare to get a little irritated.

Overall 6/10

Seventh Son Review

It’s time to look at your classic fantasy adventure film. The chosen hero of legend who cannot be defeated has arrived to show the world his true power and end the reigning darkness. The story thinks it is a lot more emotional than it actually is and the problem here is that the main characters just don’t make for good leads. Ah well, I suppose the film tried its best, but it certainly won’t be surviving the test of time.

The film starts out with an evil Dragon witch by the name of Malkin wrecking everybody. She destroyed all of the famous knights and now Gregory is the only one left. He defeated her and she lay dormant for many years. Gregory used this time to go to his local bar and get drunk while his apprentice urged others not to fight him. Gregory has a history of murdering his opponents based on his apprentice’s desperation. A swordsman tries to get Gregory to save a little girl who is being possessed, but Gregory wants his beer instead and beats the guy up. It was definitely one of the saddest moments in the film since the guy was just trying to help. Gregory heads over and it turns out that Malkin is back. He defeats her again, but she murders his apprentice so Gregory heads over to a nearby shack and recruits Tom. Tom decides that he has to go since he’s been having dreams about this for a long time now and that means he can ignore logic. He heads out and is ready to take Malkin down.

Thing is, he meets up with another witch named Alice who claims that witches aren’t so bad. Tom agrees since he instantly sees the romantic implications of this and agrees to keep her a secret from Gregory. Knowing that this can’t go wrong and Gregory has been risking Tom’s life needlessly anyway, there’s no harm done. Will they be able to take Malkin and her army of hyped up generals down or is it all for naught? Time to find out!

So, as you can probably tell from the tone of the intro, I don’t like Gregory. He just comes off as a rather mean guy who is only a protagonist because he happens to be a decent fighter. He didn’t care about saving the girl and didn’t seem to care much when his old disciple died as his first line after that was to complain about the time he wasted on the kid. He’s also not very smart of just likes to lie as he constantly gives Tom the wrong advice (Like “Trolls are scared of water and won’t chase you to it”) throughout the movie. He’s also not even that strong as a classic net can beat him and once his scepter is gone he has no power. The guy is just very annoying throughout and also proves to be pretty gullible as he lets his feelings of love get in the way of his fighting. This works against him whenever Malkin shows up.

She likes to flirt with everyone and is quite successful at it. She ensnared Gregory and got his first disciple to lower his guard. Tom was too good for these tricks but since he was getting suckered by Alice the whole time, maybe the writers felt bad for him. I don’t really remember why Alice wants to rule the world, but I supose it’ll make things easier on witches since humans hunt them no matter where they go. She should have won the war pretty easily since the heroes can’t really fight and she can decimate whole cities. Her mistake was to recruit the only fighter capable of beating her as the 2nd in command and then targeting her daughter. I like to think that Malkin was trying to lose at this point. She had a cool costume and a pretty neat dragon form, but certainly lacked tactical awareness when on the battlefield. She should be overocnfident since she was supposed to be way stronger than the others, but I guess she wasn’t quite as powerful as we were all led to believe.

Tom isn’t a good main character. I knew this the second that he abandoned his family to join Gregory for no reason even after learning that all of Gregory’s understudies mysteriously die right after they join. Naturally, his Mom ended up dying after he left. She put up a pretty decent fight though and it was nice to see that she kept up her magical abilities. She actually took out the Kratos lookalike in one shot which was pretty impressive. A pity she couldn’t put up a better fight against the head honcho. Tom’s premonitions aren’t too useful either as they are always very vague and he ends up fainting after them. Even Gregory has to point this out. Tom has some basic skill with a sword, but he can’t hurt the villains with that so it’s all moot. His necklace is pretty handy since it can repel magical attacks and shoot out fire, but he never learns how to wield it. Honestly, he just can’t fight at this point so he’s very fortunate that the villains decide to destroy themselves.

Finally we have Alice, but she’s not a good heroine. Her romance with Tom is pretty bad from the start and despite all her tough bravado, she was almost murdered by random humans in her very first appearance. It wasn’t an impressive way to start out her career. She claimed to have visions as well but we never saw any so I’m not buying it. She is a littkle gullible as well to think that the villains would spare Tom if she asked nicely. She did good in grabbing the pendant back at one point when the villains were distracted, but quite a lot of luck had to be on her side to pull that off.

There were some other supporting characters like a troll that helped the main characters and Malkin’s army of monsters. The monster generals were actually pretty cool and had nice designs, but they were wasted. There was only about 30 minutes left in the film and they still hadn’t gotten to fight. As a result, most of them were effectively one shotted and the others lost to plot hax. One of them was a really powerful dragon hybrid who could use some good weapons, but he was goaded into turning human by Gregory and was then destroyed. Alice’s Mom was a pretty good villain, but the interactions between her and Alice felt weird the whole time. They didn’t interact like parent and child and more like strangers the whole time. The film tries to say that they are pretty close based on their actions and history though so it doesn’t add up. Alice’s Mom certainly came through when it counted though.

The fight scenes are definitely on point and hold up well. That’s one area where the film definitely doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed Gregory’s fight with the Dragon and the clash of the two dragons as well. Mostly those were the only big fight scenes as the rest were chases and such. The special effects are pretty good. You can tell that the visual style is pretty engaging just from the posters. It’s quite telling that this film looked a whole lot more impressive than other titles like LOTR and World of Warcraft despite those being known as experts at the genre. I can’t say much for the soundtrack as it’s all fairly generic. I would have liked an extra good tune or two.

I think something that would have helped the film a lot would have been if the main characters were more likable. Gregory is consistently shown as borderline evil as he burns opponents alive and without remorse. He believes that you have to be as ruthless as they are to win and in the end he convinces Tom to follow suit. Tom even dresses in all black at the end to signify that he won’t show mercy anymore. It’s certainly not the typical message that you expect to see and it’s a tough world for all of the characters involved. If we ever got a sequel, I’m sure they would have to start reversing that a bit as I just don’t think it was the film’s intention to make Tom seem like a villain at the end. The lore around the film certainly has potential, it just needs to be crafted better.

The biggest negative here is certainly the romance. It’s pretty underdeveloped as expected and the characters just skip first base immediately. Fortunately, the film avoided animal violence, excessive violence/language, and the other tropes that you’d expect in a fantasy film. It did have one gross humor part where the characters eat some kind of squid thing, but it played it by the books for the most part. It’s because this film is more of a happy fantasy with lots of adventure than the more serious and dramatic style that others go for.

There aren’t any real deep messages about saving the environment or Oscar bait moments here. It’s just a classic fantasy adventure that tries to be a little cheesy and action packed throughout. I’d say that it succeeds for the most part. The characters all tend to act like jerks, but the fact that they’re so exaggerated just makes you want to root for the villains even more. It’s interesting how you find yourself rooting for the villains more in a film like this one than in those where the villains are the main characters. Either they’re just more convincing or since the film isn’t too violent, they don’t have a chance to go too far. The main villain destroys maybe 2 characters on screen. The body count isn’t as high as you’d expect despite the epic moment where all of the villains fly across the battlefield and attack Tom’s home. (Not it’s personal) The film just had enough epic moments like that to stay afloat. You can say that the film survives in spite of its characters as opposed to it being the other way around.

Overall, Seventh Son is one of those films that feels like it’s on 2X speed the whole time. The film rapidly goes from place to place and event to event without dwelling on the plot much. It seems like the writers wanted it to be a really long film, but were told they had a limited run time and then crammed everything in. Some scenes could have been explored more and we could have gotten more action scenes. Cutting out some of the romance would have definitely helped a great deal in that regard. The series borrows from pretty much every fantasy cliche in the book, but at least handles most of them reasonably well. It’s certainly an entertaining film as you’ll have fun mocking the characters quite a bit. It’s the kind of film you want to watch with friends to make wisecracks with. It had its faults, but I’d still call it a decently good film. It has a good degree of replay value since it avoided most of the usual negatives.

Overall 6/10

The Vision of Escaflowne Review

It’s time to look at a recent anime that I saw. This one’s an old school action fantasy romance (Wait…what’s romance doing here?) with lots of danger and dragons. It’s a pretty solid show that may have an annoying main character and a lackluster ending, but hits most of the right notes with the plot and action scenes. The animation has aged pretty well and the music is very memorable. The most important part though is that I can add this title to my mecha list alongside Heroic Age, IGPX, and Transformers. (Probably another one or two somewhere in there)

The plot follows a girl named Hitomi who is on a search for true love, but only finds rebound guys and people who want to use her powers to save their kingdom. So…Hitomi runs. She runs and runs and ultimately becomes one of the best track and field athletes at her school. The main guy from school decides to move away so Hitomi confronts him and wants to prove that she can run really fast. Her big moment is interrupted when a giant laser shows up from the sky and brings her to another world along with a kid named Van. They slay a dragon and Hitomi realizes that she is now on another planet.

Van’s kingdom was exterminated by the Zaibach empire and so he is now the King by default. He intends to exact his revenge, but it’ll be tough since their technology is centuries ahead of the other kingdoms. While people from the hero side still fight with sticks and stones (With a few low tech robots as well) Zaibach has electronic assassins, people with shape shifting abilities, and robots that can burn whole cities to the ground. Luckily, Van finds a robot named Escaflowne. This robot is the strongest robot in history and it is the one thing that can tip the scales of this one sided war. Together with Hitomi’s ability to see the future (Wait, when’d this happen?) they will save the world!

Hitomi may have just been an ordinary runner at first, but travelling to the other world strengthened her pre cog abilities. She was already good at reading fortunes, but now she was the real deal. Hitomi can sense dangers before they occur and her predictions are 100% accurate. They can be changed of course, if she uses this knowledge to warn people ahead of time. Her very existence also works to nullify fate alteration weapons and if she becomes strong enough, she can heavily influence destiny as well. After all, any future that she sees will be in jeopardy since Hitomi can change it if she wants. If she were a strong main character, this ability could have really helped the heroes even more.

Unfortunately, being strong willed is not one of Hitomi’s abilities. She consistently makes the wrong decisions and is certainly one of the weaker characters in the show. For starters, she is really the symbol of the rebound character. She starts off liking one guy, then goes to a second, and finally a third. She goes back and forth between these guys throughout the whole show and simply cannot make up her mind. By the very end of the show, she finally makes a choice and everyone else made theirs anyway, but it was hard to sympathize with her plight. She also lied to one of her friends, which doomed that person to a failed marriage. Hitomi only deserves half of the blame since nobody should ever leave their marriage up to a fortune reading though.

The worst strike against her is that Hitomi ultimately decides not to use her powers to help everyone. She doesn’t want to see the terrible visions and would prefer the armies to just destroy each other than to end the war quickly. The joke’s on her since the visions come true regardless and will keep on popping up, but Hitomi does help to increase the body count dramatically. Yeah, I definitely didn’t like Hitomi and it felt like she just kept making things worse. A pet peeve of mine is that when she returns to the past…Hitomi decides to do everything in the same exact way. It defeats the purpose of getting a second chance if you’re not going to do anything about it right? It’s like if I could go back in time to my first Super Smash tournament. You can bet that I’d wreck everyone since I’d be ready for the attacks that they’d throw out.

Moving on, Van is a pretty good hero. For a while there, he was losing to Allen but ended up passing him due to a whole host of reasons. Van’s your typical action hero. He’s pretty head strong and is always ready for a fight. He craves battle even more than some leads since the whole matter is pretty personal. Once he unlocks the true power of Escaflowne, he really reigns down chaos on all of the villains. He becomes so powerful that they simply can’t hold a candle to him anymore. While the romance isn’t really handled all that well, it doesn’t become much of a factor for most of the series. For the most part, Van is just focused on taking everyone down. Even with the emotions machine making everyone a little more upset, it was odd to see Van and Allen go all out in the final episode. It was a good fight though and Van was definitely doing well. I didn’t care for Van too much in the first half as he was just mean for no reason and was surprisingly weak considering all of his tough talk. Gradually, Van did prove that he was a nice guy when out of his shell though and he became a good fighter. He’s definitely the best character in the series by the end.

Allen’s a good rival and for a wile there he was easily the best character in the show. Unfortunately, his character took a bit of a nosedive by the end as the show had to prove that Van was the only acceptable answer. For starters, Allen couldn’t make up his mind on whether or not he actually liked Hitomi or not. Once he decided, Allen was very heavy handed about the whole thing and seemed to just treat the whole thing as a contest where he could one up Van. He never seemed all that serious and since he would still be flirting around Millerna and had another affair in the past…it’s sort of hard to like him by the end. He never turns evil or anything so there’s always that.

Folken is one of the big villains who has one of the most unbelievable turnarounds out there. He’s behind the wheel, destroying all cities and villages to try and get to the goal. His own homeland is one of the first to go and he never looks back. See, Folken’s a pacifist who didn’t like that his village forced you to destroy a dragon at one point so he decided to become a mass murderer to end war. You know, it’s the classic “Take over the world and murder all the leaders so they can never start a war again” train of thought. It ultimately won’t work and will just make a lot more conflicts in the mean time and Folken eventually sees this. So….he becomes a good guy who is all about peace. Lets just say that this doesn’t end well for him, but he 180 turnaround was extremely sudden and I can see why Van wasn’t very accepting of this. Hitomi was way too accepting of this if you ask me as she instantly jumped on his side. I can’t say that I ever liked Folken, he was constantly using everyone so I can’t believe the turn around.

Dilandau was easily the more interesting villain. He likes to cause carnage and picks fights everywhere. He does get an identity/gender crisis by the end which is really weird and out of left field. I can’t say that I was thrilled about the twist at all. It was a little humorous with how sudden it was, but did nothing for the character and just felt unnecessary. Side stepping that land mine, Dilandau worked perfectly as the main rival for Van. He got completely outclassed once Van learned of Escaflowne’s true power and never put up a good fight again, but he had a solid run. I guess you can say that he’s like Allen as they both started out very strong and ended on a whimper. He’s still the best villain in the series though.

Finally, we have Zaibach’s leader, Dornkirk. He’s a really old man who can’t move anymore so he just sits down and looks at everyone through a telescope. He has McDonalds Wifi so the connection is always very distorted and blurry. No matter, he wants to build a Utopia where everyone is in a dream and living in harmony. He’s mad at the fact that Hitomi’s existence makes this just about impossible. The way that he goes out is definitely laughable as it’s how I picture The One Above All getting wrecked in a fight. It was rather clever to make sure that he met his end at the site of the reverse fate manipulation weapon though since that means that his death is flipped around. It was ultimately pointless though since he stayed in a ghost like state though. There’s nothing really interesting about Dornkirk, but he’s probably the funniest villain of the bunch since he literally cannot move. It’s hard to take a villain like that seriously. Especially considering that Dornkirk panics at least once an episode since fate cannot see through love and this is a romance series so that happens a lot.

Millerna was a decent supporting character. She’s a princess who is also a little confused in matters of the heart. She goes for the rebound character because everyone expects her to do so and naturally it leads to one of the quickest divorces in anime. That part definitely made her look bad since she was just lying to herself the whole time, but at least she’s not the one who broke it all off. Then again…maybe it would have been better if she had made the decision. She can’t really fight since Van and Allen are the only ones with mechs, but she’s always around to encourage Hitomi. Merle is another heroine who is always around and she’s a cat creature who’s very loyal to Van. She makes sure to insult Hitomi all of the time and is one of the main comic relief characters of the series. She’s not all that bad although her “romance” with Van doesn’t really add anything to her show. All of Merle’s scenes are basically filler although at least she called the guards when Hitomi was kidnapped for the 4th or 5th time.
Eriya and Nariya were two villains who showed up towards the second half of the series. They’re skilled generals who work for Folken. Their mechs are pretty speedy and they make for good opponents. They only got to battle Van in a fair fight once, but that round didn’t go well for them at all. Choosing to fight a rage mode Van is definitely not the best call. Their luck enhancements were seriously powerful and made them the toughest threats of all, but in the end the weaknesses of it were a little too grand. They were good villains, but mainly because of their mechs. Their roles were a little too small to do much other than that. They do beat a lot of the other villains like Folken though.

Dryden is a prince who shows up to get married and remind the characters that having a lot of money is handy in this series. He’s pretty annoying and while the show tries to present him as a likable guy by the end, I wasn’t buying it. He definitely doesn’t seem genuine and maybe I just don’t trust rich salesmen in these kinds of things all that much. I mean, who doesn’t remember the happy salesman from Majora’s Mask? There’s also a Mole Man who is very annoying throughout the series. He breaks into people’s rooms, steals things, and is generally just a bad guy. Despite this, the heroes never do anything about him because they just figure that he could never do anything too terrible. They don’t take him seriously, but if you ask me, he should still be brought to justice. The guy gets away with wayyyy too much. I do like the fact that none of the characters ever bothered to ask his name though. He literally doesn’t have a name, which is fitting.

The screenshots here don’t really do the animation justice. It’s definitely held up really well and the fight scenes are excellent. The colors stand out and you can feel the blows. There aren’t many energy blasts or weapons to be found here, but Escaflowne’s energy jewel stands out. The character designs are all solid and while I haven’t actually seen the movie, I can already tell you that the designs here are many times better. The best design is probably Allen’s robot, it always looked very regal and majestic.

The music makes sure to keep up as well. I can still remember most of the soundtrack clearly, which is something that I can’t say for other shows. The themes were also very good. We had an epic opera theme, a really good villain theme, a good thinking theme, and a whole bunch of others. The overall soundtrack is definitely a lot better than I had been anticipating. It has an old feel compared to most of my favorite soundtracks, like the techno Cardfight Vanguard, but it works really well with the show. It’s old, but it’s not boring and that’s an important distinction to make.

Escaflowne’s fight scenes are definitely pretty good. We get a few hand to hand battles, but most of the action scenes are with the mechs. Any battle with Dilandau is sure to be entertaining and I also liked Allen’s fight style. Since he is a great sword fighter outside of the mech, it makes sense that it would translate well to the robot. It’s a shame that his robot couldn’t fly or use any projectiles though. That would have helped him a lot. As it stands, he was still beating Van most of the times that they fought. Right now, Van would easily defeat Allen thanks to the fact that his robot is 100x better, but Allen still has the better fundamental skills.

Escaflowne is also pretty unique with how long it takes for the heroes to do anything. The first 3-4 villages that they go to are all destroyed by Zaibach. Each time, Van and Hitomi try to warn the locals, but they don’t listen and as a result, they’re all destroyed. This happens to them over and over and over again. Finally, they are able to make a counter offensive by the end. The whole dynamic goes from the situation being hopeless for the heroes to them being overpowered by the end. Without Van’s robot, there is definitely no way that they can win. The villains are more prepared in every area and also have the large advantage in numbers. By the end, Van’s so powerful that he can basically take on the whole army on his own, but all of his teammates are still in trouble.

That’s why the villains could have easily won so many times had they not made the mistake of listening to their old leader. They were winning drastically, but he told them not to make a move. Well, it cost him since one of the heroes decided to fire a nuke. The scene was super unexpected, but also pretty interesting. Once again, it was just not something that an anime would typically do. Usually, you have the heroes win the big final battle or something, but the main heroes didn’t actually do much this time around. They actually would have been overwhelmed if not for the nuke, although it was a rather sour ending to the alliance and got everyone fighting again. The ending showed everyone’s true colors after the dust was settled.

Escaflowne’s one weakness is definitely the romance. It plays a rather large role in the show, but none of the characters even know what they want. Hitomi chases after several guys, but loses them all. Millerna goes after one, but winds up with another. Allen goes after one, but it doesn’t end well so he leads on a second while he tries for a third and eventually comes away with none. Van tries for one, but loses her in the end. Two villains aim for one, but they lose their lives first. One guy gets his girl, but then breaks it off because he’s not ready for this. It goes on and on with these guys and none of the romances really matter in the end. Everyone just keeps on spinning their wheels and hurting the others emotionally while also getting hurt by someone else. It feels like the romance is just a distraction and should be treated as such instead of being the main plot for a while. Trust me, it does become the main plot as the main villain’s plan involves pairing up Hitomi with her second choice as it will let him take over the world. His plan was too vague to work anyway, but the fact that he has to help encourage a romance is also rather strange.

There’s no need to talk about the ending much since it’s hard to discuss without spoilers. Needless to say, I was not thrilled with it. It would work if someone had pulled the friend zone card before leaving, but since the character made the opposite move…it makes no sense. It’s one of those head scratchers where you just have to wonder what the writers were thinking. I certainly thought that it was a bad ending at any rate. One more thing you will question during the film is why the friends and the Mom don’t care about Hitomi being missing for months as much as they should? Hitomi gets one text/fax from the guy she was trying to impress and that’s it. Maybe they tried to send more and they didn’t get through the dimensional firewalls, but since one did I have to believe that others could. The Mom’s only reaction is that she’s sure Hitomi will be fine. That’s not the best reaction. There’s a plot twist about Hitomi’s grand mother which may have helped to bring this reaction out, but it was still rather unrealistic.

Overall, The Vision of Escaflowne is a solid anime. In its 26 episodes, the show managed to cover a great deal. We had several big villains, one shot villains, etc. The heroes got to visit a lot of different landscapes and even went into a portal where they met vague high above beings who built Escaflowne. It has a good amount of action and the plot is solid as well. While the cast may not seem all that great from the character profiles, they can hold the show with ease. Most of them may be unlikable individually, but at least they’re interesting. Boring characters are worse for a show than unlikable ones and while Dunkirk may have not been threatening in the slightest, he was a memorable main villain. (For all the wrong reasons) The show even got to try out several tones as we had a few dark and intense episodes, but also several light hearted ones. The pacing was always nice and fast and you could never tell when the next tragedy would occur. Be prepared for a lot of it though as the villains leave no stone unturned. They make sure to get to everyone by the end. I definitely recommend this anime and don’t let the romance scare you off. It’s definitely the weakest part of the show and it’s omission would have made the whole thing better, but it doesn’t drag it down all that much. Now you can safely compare it to titles like Transformers and Gundam. Winning that battle is another story though!

Overall 7/10

Billy the Wizard: Rocket Broomstick Racing Review

Only 14 reviews onto the blog will have reached 1000 reviews total. Not too shabby if I do say so myself! What better way to keep the ball rolling than by bringing in another Wii game with a very dubious reputation. I’m talking about none other than Billy the Wizard. While the game may not be able to keep his name straight, I have to give it some major kudos for actually being fairly original. The parts that aren’t an obvious Harry Potter rip off anyway. The idea of 3D races while on broomsticks is actually quite impressive. It’s just a shame that the gameplay mechanics weren’t quite up to the challenge.

There is no story mode here so don’t get your hopes up too high. Honestly, you should always go into a Wii review with very low hopes since I have played most of the good ones by this point in time. You have 4 different modes to choose from and each one has 6 stages in it. That’s not a bad start right? Well, the first mode is tutorial. It’s actually fairly challenging to beat one of the final levels in that one, but I pulled through. Not a bad way to start off the game I guess, but by then I had already realized that the controls were completely and utterly terrible. Unlike Super Kart GP, this one insists on using the nunchuk as well. Big mistake. Just about everyone who owns a Wii likely remembers how sad and insulting the Nunchuk was to fellow gamers. It was basically Nintendo’s way of hitting us while we were down because the motion controls weren’t emphasized as much, but it didn’t matter because the nunchuk was still a bad controller.

In this case, the nunchuk is still mainly used as a motion controller, but you still have to use the Wii Remote as well. They both help with turning, but it’s awful confusing and you’ll be scratching your head by the end. Racing is virtually impossible and from the 4 modes, that was the only one that I couldn’t beat. Forget about beating all 6 races, I couldn’t even handle the first one. It’s insane just how difficult it is. You can’t simply race to the finish line. You have to also go through every ring in the level and missing one is fatal so you can’t go too fast. The problem is that the other racers are travelling at full speed at all times, which gets rather dicey. They won’t just pass you, these kids want to watch you squirm. What I mean by that, is that they will blast you with energy attacks. You can fire back as well by waving the Wii remote, but that doesn’t always work so well while racing. You can imagine how easy it is to run off the track when something like that occurs. I ultimately had to choose not to fire anything, but then I’d lose regardless. The races are definitely the worst part about the game and the irony is that this is technically a racing game.

The third mode has you flying around to collect books. You merely need to pass through all of the books scattered in the level in order to complete it. With a compass and how well lit the stages are, this is a breeze. It may have been on the easy side, but at least it was fun and not tedious. Billy finally scored and the final mode was also fairly decent. This one was about blasting Dragons away. You just had to spam your energy blasts and hope that they landed on the dragons. It beat a few levels with only seconds to spare so this one was definitely quite tricky. Just keep on blasting and when in doubt, blast some more. It will ultimately help you out and the dragons won’t stand a chance.

The cover art is really misleading so I feel like I should warn you about that. The back hints that you get to have a really cool totally 3D race that looks like something out of a Mario Party minigame. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The picture is actually taken from one of the loading screens and cropped appropriately to trick the audience. It’s what the game does…and it does it well. I guess the developers were willing to do just about anything in order to sell a few more copies.

Graphically, this game will fail to impress you. The dragon doesn’t really look like a dragon. I’ll give the landscape some mild props I suppose as it doesn’t look all that bad. It needs some work, but it’s not as bad as it could be. The soundtrack is terrible though as the main theme is officially overused. It’s quite telling when games like Madden…which aren’t exactly known for their great musical selections, have a more energetic song list. Most of the songs are quite sad so you need to definitely take this on a case by case basis, but at least they put in some effort over there. I couldn’t feel any effort with Billy the Wizard.

I suppose you could say that there is a reasonable amount of replay value here thanks to multiplayer mode. Playing with a friend is always better than playing by yourself in a game like this. It won’t make the game worth 20 dollars or anything like that, but it can slightly help the game out in the long run I suppose. It’ll have to do at any rate as this game won’t really be offering you anything else.

Overall, Billy the Wizard is exactly what you would expect when you check to see who made the game. The company has always set the bar low and then they crawl under it. While the gameplay is fairly unique, there’s nothing really positive to say about it. The execution simply wasn’t handled all that well at all and you’ll be done with most of the game’s content in roughly an hour or so…probably much sooner. If you want to play a racing game, go and play F Zero GX. That game had hype, presentation, and good controls. Billy could learn a thing or two from that title.

Overall 4/10

Reign of Fire Review

It’s time to look at an old Game Boy Advance game that I’ve had for a very long time. I finally managed to complete it the other day as I just barreled through the game from start to finish in 2 batches. It’s a game that definitely feels like a cash in and even embraces this, but still has some potential. There are fun aspects to the gameplay, but the overall product definitely needed more polish. In the end, this didn’t end up being a surprise hit or anything like that, but if you’re looking for a fun way to spend 2-4 hours, this is your ticket!

The story of the game roughly follows the movie, but it only contains the bare minimum requirements of a plot. The game starts off with characters yelling about supplies and that dragons are dangerous. You spend a few missions growing crops, destroying Dragon Eggs and adding more people to your crew. Rinse and Repeat for 9 missions. I was fully expecting one of the groups to betray the heroes since I feel like that happened in the film, but instead they all jump into the alliance wholeheartedly and say the exact same things. “Why fight each other when we can fight dragons?” They all seem so sincere that you will naturally be very suspicious the entire time. I know that I was! Still, you probably aren’t playing this game for the plot.

Instead you are playing this for the gameplay. It uses an overhead style similar to Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance. You have an unlimited ammo of missilles that work just like bullets as you mow down the legions of dragons that chase you down. You don’t have to worry about the flying ones as they will rarely even fire a single shot, but the ones on the ground are the tricky ones. The Red Dinos can fire off multiple fire blasts and your allies will typically get hit every time, leaving you to fend off the armies on your own. You can find health supplies along the route so use them whenever necessary. Most of the missions will involve you searching for something so follow the compass and you’ll hopefully be fine.

The core mechanics of this game don’t seem all that bad. Walking and shooting can work well as a decent, linear experience. Think Super Mario or Pac Man, the games are simple, but effective. The problem is the technical limitations of the game. For starters, you can’t run. The characters move very slowly while the environments are incredibly large and sparse. This makes for a bad combination since you can be walking for several minutes in a row. There’s a reason why they give you a full 30 minutes to complete each level after all. Furthermore, the compass is rarely accurate. As I just said, the levels are huge and there are mountains blocking off several paths.

Let’s say the compass is pointing straight down. You’ll start heading that way only to be stopped by a long row of mountains as far as the eye can see. You must now guess whether the path to get lower is right or left. Choose incorrectly and you won’t make it back within 30 minutes. You can literally spend that entire time just walking around. This is partially due to the fact that all of the levels seem to share the same map and each level covers a different part of town. If you make a wrong turn in level 6, you may wander into the level 1 area and that journey takes a very long amount of time. Personally, I’d say that each level should have had its own stage. At the very least, you shouldn’t be able to walk between them by mistake, that doesn’t seem right.

That part was easily the most frustrating aspect. It’s not as bad as a bad puzzle or anything like that, but it really does slow your momentum down. The game isn’t very difficult once you understand what to do, but the game really does leave you to your own devices right from the start. For example, I died in level 1 many times because I didn’t know how to enter the Harvestor vehicle. Once I found that out, it was smooth sailing and the rest of the levels were pretty easy. There actually is a final boss so that’s neat. You have to fight against a giant dragon. The anticlimactic part is the fact that this dragon isn’t really any stronger than the minions. It has a lot more health, but it won’t even try attacking you since it just burns houses in the meantime.

After completing the human’s campaign, you unlock Dragon Mode. I wish this had been around from the start since it is certainly a lot more fun than the first mode. Granted, I probably would have started with the humans anyway. The gameplay is similar except you play as a dragon so you can fly and you also have super speed while walking. That really fixes one of the big negatives that I had with the gameplay. It is a little lazy that all of the dragons have the same emoticon/facial picture though. It’s interesting to see things from their point of view. I only completed two of their levels and probably won’t go and beat the others anytime soon. It would be fun, but I have other games to play and spent enough time on this one.

It does help the replay value though. Make sure that you jot down the password saves after each level because you likely won’t be able to find them online and then you’d have to start all the way from the beginning again. I do wish that the game had a save feature and I’m glad that it has become the standard for games nowadays. It really can make a world of difference. I would like to quickly point out that one of the pictures used for one of the characters instantly reminded me of a twitch emote. I dunno, the resemblence may not be all that striking from this angle, but go to Twitch chats for a while and it will all start to make sense.

The graphics aren’t bad, but they’re not great either. The title didn’t put a whole lot of effort into the character models. Everything is clear in the sense that you can distinguish between all of the objects, but they do tend to be a little blurry and unrefined. The soundtrack is fairly limited although I did play most of the game on mute. I made sure to listen to it a little afterwards though. It’s just not all that special or spectacular and you may want to keep it off as the constant sound effects from shooting and all of the explosions make it a very loud experience.

Overall, It feels good to be done with this game once and for all. The first level had be worried that the game would be quite terrible, but it picked up quite a bit from there. It’s still not a great game or even a very good one, but it can at least hold its own now. I think you’ll enjoy playing it and the game should be up for sale at less than 5 dollars online. For that price, it’s a bargain to snag. There are around 18 levels if you play both campaigns so that should buy you enough time to make the purchase worth it. With this game gone, I’ll have to see which game takes the top priority spot next time. It may be time for Yugioh to make a comeback.

Overall 6/10

Future Card Buddyfight 100 Review

Buddyfight 100 started off really great and it was looking like it would easily be the hype replacement for the original show that I was hoping for. The first few episodes were loaded with high stakes and awesome fights. Unfortunately, the middle of the show is bogged down by an incredibly large amount of day to day monster filler. It doesn’t really get great again until we start nearing the end and by then there was no way that it could catch the original Buddyfight. It’s still a fun show and one that I’d recommend, but it’s a step down.

The immensely powerful Yamigedo has arrived on Earth. He has already devoured many planets and even the universe is not safe from this beast. Gao Mikado and his friends must stop him, but the only way is to find the 8 Omni Lords so that they can seal them. Yamigedo’s human partner is Ikazuchi and he has the 100 Demons on his side so the heroes will have to fend those fighters off as well. It’s going to be tough, but Gao has a lot of friends on his side and together, they can do just about anything!

Right from the get go, Buddyfight 100 tried to have more tension. Gao’s first big duel with Tenbu was great and Ikazuchi has a great design. Yamigedo’s an imposing villain and even the intro before the theme song was epic for once as it has Tasuku and Gao talk about how they’re probably doomed and that they might not be able to save everyone this time. Considering the fact that Yamigedo can literally eat planets as well, this should have been awesome. Let’s tackle the main issue with the series right off the bat.

After the initial attack and the villains retreat for a while, Ikazuchi decides to send one of the 100 demons each episode. We have around 20+ episodes of that being the plot. He sends a monster, Gao defeats it, rinse and repeat. It doesn’t help that Shido is typically the host for the monster so it’s like watching the same duel over and over and over again. Once in a while the formula is changed a little as a friend gets mind controller or something, but it doesn’t help. I don’t mind seeing the same duel a few times, but it gets really stale after a while. The episodes may hold up well against the average show, but certainly not one that I had such high hopes for like Buddyfight. The plot would move at a snail’s pace as a result. A similar formula was used for finding the 8 Omni Lords and it definitely took a while.
The Omni Lords plot was infinitely more interesting and satisfying, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was very formulaic. You knew everything that was going to happen in the episode before it ever did. There were twists and surprises regarding the identities of the Omni Lords though and most of the true forms were satisfying. The only disappointing part is that Kazane was not an Omni Lord, nor was her buddy even though there was a lot of foreshadowing for her to get a big role. In the end, the twist was that someone she barely knew was an Omni Lord. That twist fell flat if you ask me.

By the end of the series, Buddyfight regained its stride. It was definitely too late to boost it to the original Buddyfight’s level, but it was great to see the show end on a high note. We got back to the high stakes battles and there was even a celebrity guest star who dueled Gao and helped him get back to dueling with his heart. The final episodes involved a lot of big duels against Yamigedo including one where the beast had a super ability that was basically unbeatable. You have to defeat him 20 times for the monster to stay down and that’s never going to happen. Luckily, Gao had a deux ex machina card that is just as crazy strong. Lucky eh?

Gao remains as one of the cooler main characters out there. He’s not quite as awesome as he was in the first show though. He went around wrecking everyone there and managed to go and defeat everyone who stood in his way. Here, he finally goes through the “shaken confidence” phase that most heroes seem to go on at some point or another. It gets to the point where he can’t hold a card without getting severely burned, which puts him in a pretty rough spot. You can’t duel if you can’t hold onto a card right? Once he gets over that he goes back to being the hero that I remember though. The good news is that this likely won’t affect him in the third show since most of the time this just happens to someone once. He’s easily still the best character in the show even if that was a bit of a set back.

Drum makes for a decent partner. He isn’t quite as charasmatic or likable as most toyetic partners like Megaman or Pikachu, but he’s not bad. Drum’s matured a lot since the first show so he’s no longer running away from Gao or being rebellious the whole time. By now, his bond with Gao is quite strong. He’s done well in preparing to be the leader of the Dragon Clan someday. At least he gets a role unlike Gao’s two friends. They never quite became big and that’s the problem with not being able to duel. You end up getting written out of the plot right away.

Tasuku still gets a large focus in this season as with the last one. Jack gets damaged at one point so he goes on a quest to find someone who can fix him. It involves a lot of time travel and traitors, but Tasuku always gets down to the bottom of a mystery. He’s always pretty serious about how to handle a situation and it’s good to have a pro on the team. Due to Jack not being around as much as usual, he doesn’t get a whole lot of duels this time around. Still, you can always count on Tasuku in a pinch and he makes for a solid rival to Gao. I dare say that he has been surpassed by Noboru so he would be my third favorite character in the show now. Still pretty high though and he appears a lot more than Noboru so it’s always good to see him.

As with Drum, Jack has gone through a lot and he’s had many different forms. I wouldn’t say that his personality has changed all that much since he’s always been reasonable. His quest for vengeance on Variable Cord at the end never really went anywhere and came out of nowhere, but I suppose he really doesn’t like traitors. Who does right? I definitely prefer Jack to Drum and he is the best Buddy Monster in the show.

Noboru finally comes back to town and I’m instantly reminded how much I’ve missed the guy while he was away. Noboru made for another good rival to Gao and his overwhelming confidence is always good to see. He immediately challenged Ikazuchi and nearly defeated him which was definitely impressive. Having him as a big villain for a while was also cool. His evil personality was just as likable and I’m just disappointed that he never got to have a big fight with Gao in the end. I was waiting for that since it’s been ages since they’ve gotten to fight. Speaking of which, while there were a lot of throwaway duels as a result, one good thing about the episode count being so long is that every character got to have his/her share of fights. Pretty much everyone from season 1 got to Buddyfight and Noboru eventually turned almost everyone evil so they could fight the heroes again. It may not have been the most thrilling thing in the world since I can’t take most of the season 1 friends seriously, but it’s good for their fans. Having the 8 Inverse Omni Lords was definitely quite the stretch though.

Tetsuya’s about the same as last season. He’s a nice enough guy who always dances and sings while he duels. It’s an intriguing way to fight, but not any more so than wearing actual bananas on his head. He gets a medium sized role as he gets a few episodes to himself and gets one of the big final duels. His skills aren’t that bad and he gets a lot of character development, but he really should take the duels a little more seriously. It’s easy to see why Zanya gets so annoyed with him. Tetsuya could get away with his antics more if he was one of the greatest duelists out there, but that’s not really the case. It’s good that he’s forgiving though since Asmodai constantly tries to keep secrets from him. The two of them need to work as a team more since trust shouldn’t be an issue at this point. It’s a little sad for Asmodai since most of his plans don’t work out so well, but he does come through quite a few times for the heroes.

Zanya gets a new ninja in addition to his normal one for this season. The ninja’s gimmick is that he’s super chatty so now Zanya won’t have to always be so silent all the time. The talkative one is actually pretty decent though and he is certainly cooler than the silent ninja. Zanya helps the heroes out and gets quite a few episodes of his own during the adventures. His “must avoid girls at all costs” shtick can get a little tiresome, but this running gag isn’t used quite as much as it was in season 1 so that’s a good thing. He’s one of the more skilled supporting characters, but I don’t see him ever getting a huge role again. He has basically been replaced by the newer fighters to an extent although him and Tetsuya still had the biggest roles this time.
Rouga was a big rival in the first season and keeps that role here. He is still always eager to enter a fight and plays by his own rules. The show makes it a point to show off his advanced skills, but Rouga’s role was still very small in the end. He never got to fight Ikazuchi and only had a few battles in the entire series. I was expecting more of a reaction when Kyoya appeared as well since he wants to be friends again someday. Rouga’s my kind of character and I hope he gets more of a role in the next season. At worst, he can be a little generic, but for the most part he performs his role quite well. He just needs a cool new monster since he hasn’t gotten a power up since season 1.

Kiri gets a huge role here. In season 1, his personality did a 180 towards the end as he became a hardcore fighter instead of the little kid who looked up to Gao a lot. That happens here once again as he realizes his destiny of being one of the big Omni Lords. As a result, Kiri becomes a pacifist and prefers not to use his super powers. His new form has a cool design, but my favorite version of Kiri was probably his hardcore one from the end of the first series. This is still a big improvement over his initial form though. I’m assuming that he is one of the people to decide to stay on Earth, but if he did leave, then I guess he may return as a guest star someday.

Sofia has always had a lot of hype and is always making plans in the background. Her teleporation ability is incredibly useful and makes her a dangerous character to have as an enemy. That being said, she does get intimidated by Gratos and playing all of the sides was a very dangerous way to go about things. The show still hasn’t really discussed what her motivations are for working with the villains yet. After two seasons she is still as mysterious as ever. Sofia’s a solid character, but I want to see the heroes directly challenge her a little more. It’s the opposite with Shido as he gets completely wrecked numerous times throughout the series. He rarely ever wins although he does get one serious fight at the end where he proves that he is actually a very good duelist when he is trying. I thought that it was actually a very solid episodes and it occurred during the final 4 of the series so he got some major props there. Shido is a likable character. He’s typically used for comic relief and doesn’t mind being a villain if it’ll help him out in any way, but he’s ultimately not going to try and destroy the world or anything like that. Now that the villains are gone, he may be able to finally have some peace and quiet for a change.

Kazane was one of Gao’s rivals to an extent, but that’s not really her role this time. She has to prove to the Count that she can protect herself and helps the rest of the heroes in the final battles. Ultimately, her role was not as big as I had anticipated it to be. She still had a pivotal role in the end I suppose. Cracking under pressure when fighting the frog guy was not great though. Between her and Gao, we had a lot of cracking in this season. She still should have gotten some kind of twist after all of the foreshadowing. Jin and his fellow season 1 fighters deserve a quick shoutout here, but that’s about it. They all returned for some quick fights, but they don’t really do anything here. They’re really meant to be cool guest stars, but these guys were never all that great so it doesn’t work too well. Jin and the others aren’t bad characters, but to be a cool guest star you need to be someone a little better like Noboru. Now having him return works a lot better as a guest star.

Ban Enma is one of the new characters in Buddyfight and he’s definitely cool. He’s a good fighter like Gao and it’s always fun to have some hand to hand fighters around. His true form is just as cool and I’m glad that his personality didn’t change. In another series, he easily could have been the fan favorite character or the big rival. This series has enough rivals at this point so I’ll just call him a friend, but Ban is definitely a likable guy. I would definitely love to see him have a big role again next time. His followers are definitely some of the more loyal ones around and that’s because of Ban’s charismatic personality.

Mukuro is a character that I actually mixed up with Variable Cord the first time around. I just figured that they were the same character. Mukuro’s big plot twist in the end about how he’s actually a hero was definitely out of the blue and felt a little off, but he’s a cool character anyway. All of his appearances signified that something epic was about to happen. His deck was really cool as well and in the end he proved just how heroic he can be. His role wasn’t huge, but he made his presence known. I’d say that he’s even a little cooler than Ban.
Tenbu is one of the 8 Omni Lords and he is unfortunately a pretty bad character. Just think of Brock from Pokemon or a similar character like that. He flirts quite a lot and spends most of the time getting beaten up or knocked out. He even lost his memories of why he was trying to warn the heroes in the first place, which ends up making him a huge liability. If the heroes had known what was going to happen a little earlier, it’s safe to say that things may have turned out very differently. He never got better as the series went on.

Ikazuchi was a really cool villain in his debut. I didn’t care for the plot twist that he used to be a hero though and ultimately that’s the route he took. Ikazuchi made the right move of course, but it also resulted in random hijinx of him trying to live a normal life and then getting wrecked by Yamigedo for a while. He was cool as a villain, but we rarely got to see him actually do anything. His first duel with Gao was still the highlight of this character’s career. That being said, I like him more for the design than for his personality so it barely counts in the end I suppose. If handled right, he could make for another good rival in the next season though. He is apparently skilled enough to win 99 games against Gao after all, although I find that hard to believe.

Yamigedo was the big hyped monster and he got a big role. He even got to talk quite a bit in the end during his final form. There’s definitely no reason not to like this fighter. He’s huge and is one of the more impressive giant monsters that I’ve seen in a while. His ability to petrify anything that he touches is quite the lethal ability as well. His best deputy, Gratos was also pretty cool. Gratos was actually treated like The main villain for a while and he was certainly very imposing. He never backed down from a fight and he handled the situation very well the entire time. He even seemed to figure out that Sofia was hiding something, although he never really made any moves to stop her. He relied on scare tactics and they were effective to an extent. He even came with his own throne. It’s hard not to recognize this guy as the best villain. If we don’t count Kyoya since his role was small and he is supposed to be more of a hero nowadays, then Gratos definitely takes that honor.

Count Dawn is an all right character I suppose. His gimmick of constantly turning to dust can be a little repetitive though. He also goes a little power crazy in my opinion. He’s a relatively new character and yet he quickly assumes command and acts like a big shot. I don’t think that it has been earned. So, maybe I’ll downgrade him from all right so slightly sub-par. Captain Answer finally gets to fight here which was pretty neat. He had one fight in the first show as well I believe. My main problem with him is that his human alias is completely unlikable. I can’t believe that the guy was ever a big hero based on how he acts. It’s too extreme and he never got to do anything cool since he was mind controlled almost immediately. It’s a shame since I love Answer himself.

Variable Cord is an intriguing character. While he may not have had his memories for a while, I can’t say that it really excuses him from being a total villain for most of the series only to let us know that he was a hero all along. I didn’t buy it and I feel like he was just playing all of the sides until a victor was near. He has a really cool design and he’s definitely a very powerful foe, but I feel like you’ve got to count him as a villain. Regardless, his episodes were always fun and the subplot with him and Tasuku’s future adventures was always enjoyable as well.

Kyoya was the big boss of season 1 so it makes sense that he would show up here. I’m glad that he didn’t deny being the hero by the end even if it wasn’t true. Still, I feel like the writers dind’t think his plot through all that much. His big plan is hyped up for many, many episodes. Yet, when he finally goes through with the plan, it fails miserably. It wasn’t even close to succeeding and it has to be one of the worst attempts that I’ve ever seen. Even his cool monster which made a lot of big threats back in the day got one shotted by Yamigedo. I think Kyoya was squeezed into the plot for no real reason and ultimately his plot never actually went anywhere. He’s still a cool character though and easily one of the most charismatic figures in the series. I think it’s safe to say that he’s still the best villain since I find it hard to believe that he’s really turned over a new leaf.

Well, one thing’s for sure, the moment where Gao lost his first duel was a pivotal moment in the series. It was treated as a major event which is what should happen. Gao has never lost a duel before and he’s dueled all of the strongest fighters in the world. This showed just how much of a threat Ikazuchi and Yamigedo were to have such a feat. Instead of the episodic One Hundred Demons and Omni Lord finding episodes, I would have continued that with a big training montage. Maybe send Gao to the future where he is trained by himself or something like that. I think it would have made for a very epic adventure.

The animation is solid as expected. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is a big step up from the original Buddyfight show, but it is a little better. You can see the difference if you watch an episode from both titles, but it’s a subtle one. It’s probably just because the series came out afterwards by a week so it had about a year’s worth of time to beat the respective episode from the first series. Regardless, it’s definitely solid. When it comes to the soundtrack, it is a huge improvement over the first series. Most of the themes are catchy, but there are 3 that stand out above the rest. One is a “hope is lost” theme that plays whenever something super tragic just happened or when the villain is winning. The cool thing is that the theme only consists of a single sound for the most part that keeps on repeating. It has some background elements after that, but it’s quite effective for being so simple. A second really good theme is another despair one that pops up quite a bit for the villains. A third one is your average battle theme. There were probably a few others in there as well.

It’s also worth noting that the openings for this show have been much better than the first one. The main one with the Giant Monster running around and Gao vs Tasuku the mini fight is the best one. It feels more like an anime opening than the first Buddyfight show, where it was a little too unfocused and just about showing off the visuals. This show remembered that foreshadowing and a good amount of action can go a long way in an opening.
Overall, Buddyfight 100 was a good sequel to Buddyfight. Considering how many great new characters were introduced, you’d think that this series would have beaten the original. Unfortunately, the bad pacing ended up hurting the series quite a bit. Still, with its length and solid replay value, Buddyfight 100 is still a series that I’d recommend to anyone. It’s one of the weaker card shows overall and I’d say that it may be the weakest unless we count Capsule Monsters, but that just shows how high the bar is set for these kind of titles. I’m confident that the next series for Buddyfight will reclaim its former glory even if it’s not off to the greatest of starts. It feels a little like a soft reboot and the characters are certainly a lot more expressive than they used to be. It’s very odd and I’m waiting for the twist that this is actually a parallel universe. Well until then, wait and see what other anime reviews I’ve got in store for you all soon.

Overall 7/10

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen Review

After watching all of the Slayer seasons, it was time for a slightly more serious take on the fantasy genre. By “slightly” more serious, I mean that this one is very somber and dramatic for the entirety of its run. (Ignoring the sequel series/season) You can tell that this is the tone that it is going for as soon as the first opening plays. It’s catchy, but the images are also quite sad. It depicts a barren wasteland and a solitary hero who must wander through life on his own even when his friends are near. His mission is a fire one and the stakes are high. It’s a fun series even if one of the characters goes through a personality shift a little too quickly at the end. (Azalie)

A long time ago, Orphen was taught magic at the Tower of Fang. Things went well for a while and Orphen became one of the strongest magicians in the world, but his mentor (Azalie) became greedy with power and used a mystical sword to stab herself which transformed her into the dragon, Bloody August. The Tower of Fang decided that she must be eliminated which caused Orphen to leave on a mission to save her and to defeat the Tower of Fang if necessary. On his travels, he ended up meeting up with a kid named Majic and a rich lady named Cleao. Majic gets involved in the quest because Orphen decides to take him in as an apprentice (For a good amount of money of course) As for Cleao, her family owns the legendary sword that transformed Azalie in the first place so Orphen decides to take it back. Cleao follows him so that she can take the sword back once he’s done with it.

The sword isn’t powerful enough to change Azalie back to her human form though so Orphen needs to find a few relics to amp up its power and allow him to cast the spell. Is it that easy though? A lot of complications occur and naturally the Tower of Fang aims to stand in his way. Along the way, Orphen softens up a little with the group, but for the majority of the series, he’s serious business through and through. He can’t relax until the mission is complete.

Orphen’s plot is pretty engaging and this first series builds up a lot of the universe as we learn about the current status quo. The Tower of Fang seems to be the only ruling body in the world or at least the main one by which all others look to for advice. I wonder how they got such a high rank since the group doesn’t seem all that tough. If I could change one thing about the show’s plot, it would be that I’d like a better resolution at the end, fight-wise. There wasn’t really a big fight to end the series surprisingly and Orphen never got to have a big fight with Childman. Even fighting Azalie in her final form would have been a blast to see as the student surpassed the mentor. Unfortunately, all of these fights never got to happen which was a little disappointing. The series had a good amount of action in its run, but I feel like all anime should end off with a big fight. End on a high note right?

Orphen’s the lead of course and he makes for a good one. He’s completely focused on the mission so he rarely humors his comrades on their comic relief subplots. He’s an excellent mage so he rarely ever loses a fight. He reminds me a little of Train Heartnet although he is typically in denial a little more. Azalie isn’t quite as selfless and nice as Saya was in Black Cat. It’s still a noble goal to save her of course, but he certainly bites off a lot more than he can chew here. Regardless, Orphen’s tough personality and ace combat skills make him a great lead.

Cleao’s the main heroine and she always means well. Unfortunately, she’s not much of a fighter. She gets into arguments with Orphen quite a lot, which ultimately help him not get too focused on the mission to the point where he’ll lose everything else. When a fight starts, Cleao’s glad to try and help even if it’s only a little. It’d be great if she could learn a spell or two, but Cleao is certainly charasmatic so she’s got that going in her favor. The group needed an energetic character in the mix for the good banter and contrast that it brings. She owns Leki, a magical dog of immense power who comes in handy quite a bit. This also ended up helping Cleao a lot since Leki is immensely powerful and can blow away most opponents with ease. When Leki grows up, he could even end up being stronger than Orphen if the bigger versions of him are any indication.

Then…we have Majic. Unfortunately, he’s a bad character. He’s one of the main comic relief characters of the series and a running gag is that his magical abilities are terrible and seem to never actually improve no matter how far the series ends up progressing. One scene towards the very beginning of the series doomed him though even if it was meant as a quick comic relief scene. Majic uses his spells to make a mirror next to where Cleao was bathing so he could watch. It’s a pretty despicable act and while Orphen put an end to it, it shows that Majic definitely has no standards. It’s a quick scene and Majic never does anything like it again, but there’s no way that he could be a likable character after that. When you’re in a small group on the road, you have to be able to trust your partners. After an act like that, there’s no way you can really trust Majic so it’s good to see him fail at performing spells for the rest of the series.

Volkan and Dortin are the other comic relief characters. Volkan always acts as the voice of reason against Dortin while Dortin forces him to come along anyway. Dortin is like Hercule or other comic relief characters who always talk a great game before getting wrecked. It works really well for Dortin though and he is easily one of the best comic relief characters of this type out there. He gets most of the best lines in the entire show and the banter between him and Orphen helps to make the series so enjoyable. Typically, any scene with the two of them is going to be pretty good and a lot of Dortin’s schemes are fun even if they’re doomed to fail. I don’t really care for Volkan, but then again, I typically don’t care for the “straight man” in jokes or the serious comic relief character. It just doesn’t work for me at all and destroys the point of a comic relief character.
The whole show is really about saving Azalie so she has a big role in this. For the first half of the series she’s essentially mindless. Not completely as seen when the dragon turns into Childman and he still has control, but it is hard to see what her plan is. Later on, we find out a lot of startling plot twists about her. The sword transformation may have not been how she planned it to go, but she was aiming for power for all the wrong reasons. She always wanted Childman, but as he was a reasonable mentor, he placed the friend zone card. That’s what Azalie wanted vengeance and she ultimately ends up taking over Childman’s body.

From there, she freezes one of the Fang members, tries to destroy Childman, and also breaks the mind of one of the Elders. She is a complete villain through and through, there’s no way to get around that. Despite all of this, everyone treats her as a likable hero by the end who just went a little off course. You can make a plot like that work such as Cardfight Vanguard where Kai went around doing quite a few evil things before being taken down, but it has to be gradual. In Orphen, this turnaround is just about instant as soon as she is essentially defeated and Childman is turned back into a baby. Also, we learn that she essentially becomes the boss of the Tower of Fang in the sequel series. She never gets to pay for her crimes of murder and assault in the slightest.

Don’t get me wrong, Azalie makes for a great villain, but it’s incredibly hard to buy the fact that she is now a “hero.” It’s not that easy and quick to switch sides and especially not when we see her being evil for quite so long. All it took was for Childman to remove the friendzone card from the table, but it’s way too late for that. So, while Azalie is cool, I think that the end plot development simply did not make any sense by the end. It could have been handled better.

Childman is Azalie’s mentor and seems to be generally considered as the strongest magician in the world. His abilities are quite high and it is revealed at the end that he could even have defeated the Bloody August if he had wished to do so. I don’t like this guy though because he is supremely annoying. All along he wanted to save Azalie as well, but he just decided not to tell anyone and as a result, he made no real progress in his quest. Either way, he would need some artifacts if he wanted to do anything, but he never got any of them and then Azalie took his body with ease while Childman was in awe of her. He really could have handled the situation 100x better than he actually did. I respect his power, but that’s about all.

Hartia is Orphen’s childhood friend, although you could barely tell from this season. Hartia acts like a friend and tries to act as a mediator between Childman and Orphen, but it’s tough since Orphen wants nothing to do with him. It also doesn’t help that while Azalie was in Childman’s body, she kept incriminating herself and Hartia intentionally to further widen the wedge between the friends. By the end, Orphen and Hartia had some all out battles with each other. Hartia could certainly have done a better job of explaining things at different points, but in the end the fact of the matter is that he chose the tower over Orphen and that’s probably at the heart of Orphen’s grudge. I like Hartia’s superhero identity even if it certainly doesn’t help to smooth things over with Orphen. He’s actually a lot stronger than he lets on.

Flameheart is one of the main villains and he is the first opponent to flat out defeat Orphen before the fight was interrupted. He may not be the coolest villain around, but he is quite powerful. He meets with a bit of an anticlimactic end though as he made the same mistake as Azalie as he tried to grab the sword. I suppose that the sword is just hard to resist. I’m not really a fan of this guy though and he does do a lot of whining when things don’t go his way. Good villains have to keep their calm and activate a backup plan when things don’t go well.

The show has some mild fanservice towards the beginning and the end. For the end it’s mainly through the astral projection of Azalie appearing for no real reason. It’s her astral form, but it is still overused quite a bit and Cleao also gets some towards the beginning, but by and large Orphen manages to dodge this trap for the most part. There are definitely a few filler esque episodes, but they’re typically not bad. At the very least, filler helps you appreciate the real episodes a whole lot more.

Power Level wise, I’d place Orphen the character above several magicians like Dr. Strange and Lina Inverse (Definitely a close fight though and composite Lina could be another story with her Sword of Light) but physically he is around human level which can hurt him against fast opponents. As a series, Orphen is fairly realistic despite the magic so it wouldn’t rank too high next to other anime titles, but I’m sure that we’ll be getting some power ups as the franchise goes on.

The soundtrack for the show is pretty good. We have a solid opera theme that plays for the big moments like when the Bloody August attacked the Tower of Fang. It was a great scene I have to add as it came out of nowhere and was pretty unexpected. Who would have thought that the big villain organization would be taken down so suddenly and in the span of around 2 minutes? These guys talked such a big game, but they crumbled in the end. There are quite a few other good battle themes in the series as well. Both of the openings are also quite good with the second one having better action scenes, but the first one probably encapsulating the themes of the show a little better. In the end, I will actually choose that one as my favorite for this series.

As for the animation, it looks pretty solid. Especially when the high budget scenes show up, there is a noticeable difference. The colors are nice and vibrant and this is especially useful for the action scenes. Even when the budget is normal though, the show looks very clear. Naturally, the sequel series looks a lot richer with detail, but this one is definitely solid. There are even some illustration type shots towards the beginning of the series which are always fun. As long as they aren’t spammed of course, but that’s not the case here.

Overall, Sorcerous Stabber Orphen is a solid show. It’s definitely one of the more somber anime that I’ve seen in a while at times, but there is no shortage of comic relief characters, which keeps the atmosphere fairly light at well. The animation and soundtrack hold up very well and fight scenes are solid as well. It’s an all around solid show and one I’d recommend to all fantasy or action fans. If you like good banter a lot, but are not necessarily an action fan, I think you can still enjoy this show quite a bit as well. I’m just about done with the sequel series so you can expect a review for that as well fairly soon. It opts to drop the serious angle so it’s more of a lighthearted adventure which works well enough in its own right, but it is definitely different.

Overall 7/10

Future Card Buddyfight Review

Buddyfight really started out strong. It came out of the gate swinging and I liked the new battle style a lot. It didn’t revolutionize the card fighting genre like Cardfight, but it was a fun approach to the new style of play. The characters were likable, which made for some good intro duels. The middle of the series is where Buddyfight began to lose some of its steam as the show started to get a little repetitive. Luckily, the final tournament showed up and helped to break the cycle. We had a lot of fun duels towards the end, which was intense. Buddyfight ended as it started, a very fun show with lots of excitement.

Gao Mikado is the main character and one day he decides to start Buddy Fighting competitively when he draws a good Buddy. His Buddy is Drum and he comes from Dragon World. Let’s take a step back quickly and look at the universe. Drawing a Buddy opens a portal between dimensions and the monster inside of the card actually appears. Luckily, all monsters (for now) are friendly so this is safe for all people. Even villains enjoy having their buddies so that they can improve their abilities and really break the law. Gao and Drum bicker a lot, but they ultimately become close friends who help each other when the going gets tough.

The series starts off cautiously and Gao duels many opponents who become his friends and rivals. Then a tournament is announced and Gao decides to enter to show the world how great he is. The tournament will be tough to win as many new faces show up, but they don’t scare Gao. Gao thinks of himself as the Mighty Sunfighter so he never backs down from a fight or from a challenge.

Part 2 of the series is where the stakes start to get higher. A villain group known as Disaster has shown up and they want to rid the world of adults. By opening a portal to the dark part of the monster world, they can end everything! A betrayal also rocks Gao’s world and the heroes will never be the same again. Gao will have to brace himself as he tackles this overwhelming challenge!

Let’s start off with how to play the game. The gameplay is unique in the sense that it is all about offense. Each turn involves you attacking the other player and you don’t have to take time to defend. Each turn, you can summon monsters until their combined level is three. Then, you attack the other player and try to get his life down from 10 to 0. There are naturally spells and traps to augment the gameplay as well. It results in a very fast moving duel, which makes it difficult to stretch into multi parters. Even the final fight of the series is barely more than one part and if you cut out the subplots, it probably could be one episode.

The clan that you choose will determine what your fighting style is like. Gao uses a Dragon deck so he focuses on attacking until his opponents finally go down. Katana World is about misdirection and fooling your opponent and Magic World is totally for defense and gimmicks. Naturally, Dragon World is easily my favorite since offense is definitely my style, but they all have their merits and weaknesses.

Gao is the main character of the series and also one of the main highlights. He’s one of the better main characters as he is determined and always wins the right way. He doesn’t use any stall tactics or overpowered cards to win as he chooses to talk with his skills. He’s one of the only main characters to ever go from the premiere to the finale without losing once. I doubt that many characters could hope to pull that off and the series isn’t exactly short. There are over 50 episodes to be found in Buddyfight. “The strongest deck in history” is his catchphrase and it shows how tough he is. Gao’s modest at times, but he knows just how good he is.

His partner is Drum and they definitely had a lot of banter during the older episodes. Towards the end of the series, they definitely became close, but still had some banter at times. Drum’s not bad, but he’s surprisingly weak considering that he’s the classic partner of the series. Not a problem though, he has some super forms to help him out in that area. He’s not the best monster, but certainly not the worst one and at least Drum has character.

Zanya is the calm and collected member of the group. He uses ninja cards to defeat his enemies and he has a trap card, which can be used to stop just about any opponent when used correctly. While he is very tough and the characters always acknowledge that, he’s not quite as good as Gao or Tesuku. He’s better than guys like Tetsuya and Shido, but he still needs a game changer if he wants to be among the best. I’m confident that his skills will be at that level at some point and we just have to give the guy some time. The only thing stopping him from being a really cool character is his gimmick, which gets old quickly. Zanya is deathly afraid of girls and he can’t talk or duel when in front of them. You can see how this becomes a problem and it is brought up constantly. I still like Zanya a lot, but this does take away from his coolness factor. Zanya is a big believer in honor and justice so you can see why I like the guy. He has some pretty emotional duels during the series. His buddy has a really cool design, but is almost always silent so he doesn’t get to have much of a personality. Ah well, at least Zanya’s a cool fighter. The next ally of Gao’s is decidedly less quiet and fierce.
Tetsuya’s whole gimmick is that he loves dancing. His friends fear that it takes up too much of his time and that he’s not totally devoting his energy to Buddyfighting. They’re not wrong, but Tetsuya is still a good duelist. While he is decidedly weaker than Gao or Zanya, Tetsuya always gives it his all and comes through when the team needs him. His jingle is surprisingly catchy and you may find yourself dancing to the tune when he begins the duel. The fact that he mixes in Banana’s with his hair is brilliant and one of the reasons why you shouldn’t underestimate the guy. While he is rarely solemn, Tetsuya knows when it’s time to be serious. His buddy probably has more personality than all of the other monsters. The demon has his own TV show and actually does some undercover work to help the heroes find the location of the villain’s base. He is also a whole species in and of himself, which saves a lot of time for when he has to check out multiple locations at the same time.

Tasuku is the boy genius of the series and it feels like the show heavily considered making him the main character. The show’s endings are always about him and even the opening gave him a decently big role. The show may have also just been trying to make him a fan favorite from the start. It wasn’t hard since Tasuku is a great character from start to finish. He goes through a similar character arc that Kai went through in Cardfight. The series seems to really love using the redemption plot device as a character will get a taste of darkness and the terrifying power that comes with it, but ultimately returns to the light for good. This happened to Rouga, Kiri, and Tasuku in the show and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens to more characters. (To a lesser extent, you could say the same for the final villain of the show)

Tasuku is a nice guy and he always has fun when he is in a Buddyfight. He helps Gao enjoy the game and encourages younger players as well. He gets frustrated when the police force is corrupted and goes too far in his attempts to make everything all right on his own. Luckily, that’s where his Buddy comes in. Jack is a dragon and like Drum, he gets a lot of development. Jack is a buddy who really cares about what is going on in the human world and he plays a pivotal role in getting Tasuku back to the side of the heroes and he refused to become a villain. Having a good friend is always important and the bond between Tasuku and Jack is a strong one. These two will certainly continue to be some of the highlights of the show and Tasuku is easily my favorite character aside from Gao.

Kiri was once one of Gao’s best friends until he changed. He was very timid and also weak when it came to Buddyfighting. As a result, Kiri got bullied all the time and decided that he needed more power. The villains were glad to give him that and now Kiri was able to use his powers in the real world like Rouga, Gao, and Tasuku. He instantly became one of the strongest fighters in the series and he was pretty hardcore as the Grim Reaper. To quickly specify, the monsters are already real for all of the players. The only difference with Disaster Force/Future Force is that you can also make spell and equip cards real. This is still really good as Kiri has his Winter Wonderland (Not the exact name) card that can make a blizzard appear out of the blue.

Kiri was a decent friend at first, but certainly not my kind of character and he was a lot like Syrus. I was glad to see his character go through a mini arc and he ultimately became a hero again. The only difference is that he now has a lot of power. I’m confident that he will be able to help Gao out a lot in future arcs. His power up certainly helped him as a character even if I don’t care for his buddy. He just doesn’t do anything for me at the moment and needs some more personality.

Shido is one of the worst villains in the series. Apparently, he is still one of the better duelists in the school, but I can’t take him seriously. He is typically used for comic relief and isn’t much of a threat to someone like Gao. He is constantly being humiliated and appears far too often if you ask me. His partner is Sofia and she is portrayed as the serious member of the group. The problem is that she’s not much better than Shido and I have not been impressed with her either. She gets nonstop hype, but the hype never seems to transform into something more than that. I feel like the writers really don’t know what to do with her at the moment and it shows. I’m sure that she will start fighting more at some point, but for now…she is simply biding her time.

Rouga was the first real villain to show up and he stays as a supporting character throughout the series. He goes from being a true villain to a misunderstood rival who is just looking out for his friend. The turnabout certainly is cheesy and he looks really bad when he lets the main villain get under his skin. When taken seriously, Rouga is a good opponent for Gao. The problem is that he doesn’t know whether he is a villain or a rival most of the time. It’s safe to say that he’ll just be a rival in the sequel series and that will mean that Gao has yet another on. Depending on how many guys you count (Tasuku, Noboru, Kazane, Zanya, Genma, Tasuku……) it’s a long list. I suppose that a lot of people will be gunning for you once you’re at the top. Rouga’s buddy is pretty cool as he is one of the only monsters to have a decent amount of personality and Cerberus never backs down from a fight.
He’s decently tough and doesn’t feel like an average monster, which is a good thing. I don’t think that Rouga has been handled particularly well in this series. I still like him as a rival for Gao, but he has certainly dropped in the ranks from his first appearance and it will take a while for me to be able to take him seriously. At this point, he just seems to be a little out of his league.

Genma is another rival of Gao…in a sense. He has less of a role than the others, but he’s a decently strong Buddyfighter. I’ve never been a huge fan of his though and he comes off as very arrogant at times. He also takes it very personally when his friend uses a counter card against his iconic monster. That would be like me getting upset if someone counter picked to Olimar to defeat my Captain Falcon in Smash Bros. It’s a strategically sound move so I can’t really agree with him here. Genma’s tough, but his whole strategy does revolve around his dragon so once it is defeated, he is essentially doomed. I do love his recycled footage yells though and he really gets fired up when dueling. He can certainly be better, but a lack of screen time probably didn’t help his case either.

Jin is a sneaky member who is always hard to pin down. Is he helping the heroes or on the side of the villains? The answers to these questions are eventually answered and he does play a decent role in the series, but he is a bit of a lightweight. I’ve never considered him to be very tough and he gets himself into some pretty tight pickles during the series. He needs a new deck as stealth doesn’t work out so well in this game. He’s not really my kind of supporting character, but he’s not bad.

Noboru is Goa’s original rival. At the very least, I would consider him to be Gao’s main rival as they actually got some trash talking in and Noboru really wants to defeat Gao. I don’t see that happening anytime soon as the gap between them continues to grow, but it’s still good that Noboru is trying to get on top of the situation. Surpassing Gao is just tricky for any opponent. Noboru’s buddy is a little on the dull side though as it is an old man who doesn’t have any cool special abilities. It’s impressive that Noboru can still win with his current deck as it is just a really watered down version of Gao’s. Nonetheless, I do really like Noboru’s character and he should go far in the series. He even gave Tasuku a good fight!

Terumi works for Disaster and she probably has the toughest time out of all the members since she starts to see the light and is quickly thrown out of the picture. The heroes never did give her a happy ending and it doesn’t seem like that is going to change in the sequel series. She was never a very likable character for me as she was infatuated with the leader of the villains even though she should know that he didn’t actually care for her. She was used from the start and never did anything about it.

Elf was another member of Disaster and he was not very good. Elf rarely ever fought and it was hard to gauge out good a fighter he was. It barely even mattered though since he was more interested in talking a good game than actually backing it up. His design was meant to be his whole gimmick and that will never be enough to actually be a very compelling villain. He also didn’t get any real character development unlike the other characters and I wonder if he will return soon.

Gremlin is one of the members of Disaster and he’s a decent fighter. While not quite as impressive as some of the other fighters, his legendary deck building skills are why he is feared by so many. He built the decks for all of the other fighters after all and that takes dedication. By the end, he has essentially seen the light and remembers how the game should be played. I can’t say that I really bought his sob story though as it seems like he just jumped off the deep end for the lolz.

Kazane was Gao’s final rival of the series and she just popped out from nowhere during one of the episodes. She helped Gao to remember what it was like to really enjoy the game and Kazane’s a fun character. She’s easy to root for and while her deck isn’t particularly impressive, her skills are certainly real. Her role has stayed small so far, but I’m sure that the writers have big plans for her at some point although she’s quickly fading away from being a main supporting character in the sequel series. Big plans or not, she’s a fun new rival for Gao to have. He certainly has a lot of them now!

Kemura is one of the weaker supporting characters, but I’m not too surprised since he debuted alongside a group of fighters who were essentially filler. His gimmick is that he’s constantly trying to eat his buddy and it is reused way too often. It wasn’t even funny the first time so you can imagine how tedious it gets by the 5th or 20th time. The only reason why the group was ultimately a good idea was because we got to meet one good character. Kirisame is a swordsman and his skills are about on par with Zanya’s. He’s a strong fighter all right and he even shows that he could give Gao a good challenge.
Kyoya is the big villain of the second arc and he is certainly powerful. He took out Tasuku when they fought and he actually stood up to Gao. Granted, Kyoya didn’t stand a chance against the world’s greatest Buddyfighter, but he still tried hard and gave it his all. His goals didn’t make all that much sense though and it is hard to relate to the guy. His voice also wasn’t that good, which may have helped to prevent me frombeing a fan of his. His super form looked cool though and he is a powerful villain. He just wasn’t very good or interesting.

Azi Dahaka got a ton of hype throughout the series and fans of his were likely disappointed that he was used as an after thought in the series. After being shown to be the big mastermind behind Disaster, he didn’t do anything until he was summoned and then Gao still managed to take him out in a single hit. He did have a very ominous speech where he mentioned how Gao and the others have sealed their fate by defeating him, but that hasn’t gone anywhere at the moment. Still, the hype is real and it’s safe to say that defeating him a second time will not be so easy.

Baku and Kuguru are essentially Gao’s best friends. Baku makes the decks for Gao while Kuguru gives him the necessary intel for the fights. It’s too bad that they never got into the game as they could have been good Buddyfighters. They aren’t bad characters and are all right I suppose, but they definitely don’t add much to the series. Baku had his subplot with the Gremlin, but that’s about it. They aren’t bad though and every hero has to have a few friends. They help Gao when he’s down.

Buddyfight’s animation is quite good. I remember thinking that it looked solid from the start and the sequel series managed to improve the series even more. This title can hold its own against just about any other show. It’s still not going to be in your top 3 of all time or anything like that, but the animation is still great. Certainly well above average to say the least. The fights certainly look good and likewise with the overall animation. It’s just like Cardfight Vanguard in that every part of the animation stays consistently bright and solid throughout. The character designs and backgrounds never falter.

The soundtrack doesn’t get overshadowed as it is also quite good. The villain theme is certainly my favorite piece of music in the series. It is definitely dramatic and does a good job of building up hype for a fight. The openings are pretty lackluster though and a little worse than average. Again, the sequel series managed to improve in that area. Still, the overall soundtrack is good. I won’t call it great like the animation, but you’ll enjoy the themes and the villain music really makes up for the rest of the tracks.

Buddyfight is a great series through and through. I remember being properly hyped for the fact that Cardfight was getting a spinoff. The Cardfight cast even appears for an episode as a little cameo before getting written out. I hope to see a crossover between these two series at some point. They are certainly some of the best anime titles to have come out in the last few years and have helped to bring card game shows into the light once again. With those two going on alongside Yugioh Arc V, it’s a good time to be a trading card fan. Now, we just need Buddyfight to get its first film.

Buddyfight is a very light toned show for the most part. For a while, there isn’t much danger so the characters just have fun dueling. As expected, things began to get serious during the second half of the series and Buddyfight was able to bring us some thrilling and emotional battles by the end. Some of the fights between Tasuku and Gao at the end were amazing along with Tasuku’s battle against the enemy. The scene where the Reverse Dragonic Punisher first appears is one that you won’t forget in a hurry and it was certainly one of the best animated scenes of the series. The show really had some good variety when it came time for the duels.

As I mentioned in the intro, the pacing can be a little iffy sometimes. Buddyfight is the kind of show that doesn’t mind having several rematches and seeing the same characters fight too often can take away from the excitement. It’s similar to how I never like to see someone duel twice in a row in Cardfight because we will have just seen the deck. That happens quite a bit here, but luckily the duels are so fast paced that it is typically okay. I think that the show slowed down considerably towards the middle of the series, but the strong beginning and ending kept it in the great category. Buddyfight 100 is starting to make the same mistake though except that it has a weak beginning so far. I’m confident that it will be able to get past this issue.

In the end though, where does Buddyfight rank among the other card shows? Welllll…it would have to be in last by default. It loses to Cardfight and all of the various Yugioh Series that I’ve seen. I’m confident that it would beat the original Yugioh though and if we count it, Capsule Monsters as well. Considering the fact that Buddyfight is still a great show, you can see how steep the competition is in this genre.
Overall, Buddyfight was a really fun watch from start to finish. Finally, we had another original franchise that was introduced to the market and ended up being a big success. It’s hard to state just how excited I was so see a new series on the air. I was confident from the start that it would be really good and I got to watch it weekly from day one thanks to the official Youtube site. Nowadays, it’s hard to create a new franchise out of the blue that still ends up being so good. Buddyfight was over 50 episodes, which gave it a lot of time to flesh out the characters and give us some good stories to go along with the fights. The animation was very good and the soundtrack was good enough to make sure that it was an epic anime in all categories. Even if Buddyfight temporarily faltered at some points, It’s a show that excelled so much that this is barely noticeable. The sequel will have a very tough time taking it down. I highly recommend this series to all fans and you won’t be disappointed upon checking it out!

Overall 8/10