Power Rangers Review

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All right, it’s time for the recent Power Rangers film! I’ve always been a big fan of the franchise from the concept to the video games to the costumes. It’s just a series that is brimming with so much potential and there is something for everyone. The trailers for the film came out and while they had some potential, the film started to bring up some concerns. Would the heroes get enough screen time as the Rangers and would the Dinobots get too much screen time? I prepared myself going into the film, but unfortunately it just didn’t understand what the series is all about. It’s really not a Power Rangers film at all and merely borrows the name.

The film starts out by introducing us to a group of teenagers and trying to get us to dislike them as much as possible. First is Jason, a “misunderstod” delinquent who steals Cows and tries to evade the police. He’s caught since the authorities aren’t messing around this time and not only sabotages his entire town’s chances of winning the Football championship in the year but also doesn’t seem to regret his actions at all. This lands him in detention. Next is Kimberly. She decided to humiliate one of her former friends by sending a risky picture of her all around the school. This got that person in trouble and also destroyed Kimberly’s social life. Kimberly blames everyone else for this and winds up in detention. I forgot why Billy is in detention, but he’s good at annoying everyone so it probably wasn’t too hard and he does go around breaking the rules and blowing things up for no good reason. Trini is a kid who likes to be alone and goes to the mountains to meditate, but she is being spied on by Zack. Zack has a sick Mom so he worries her further by getting home late and hanging out in restricted areas. This group was clearly made for each other.

The heroes are busted by the cops yet again, but this time they manage to evade capture. They secured some mystical amulets from the rocks nearby and were all granted super strength and speed. The characters try to point out that they all got different powers at the beginning, but the film forgets this so they all end up with the same powers. They then fall inside a spaceship where the formerly heroic Red Ranger has now turned sinister and wants them to transform so he can come back to life and destroy Rita. Rita is an evil ranger who wants to destroy the world to grab a shard and then she’ll use that shard for her own purposes. The heroes get ready to rumble, but realize that they may be in over their heads. Can they do this!?

All right, there’s a lot of problems with this film, but also some good things. I’ll just mention them all scatter shot style so there’s no real rhyme or reason to this review. For starters, I have to say that these kids are impressively slow on the uptake half the time. After they obtained their powers and saw an actual spaceship, Trini still believes it’s all a big joke and only stops talking when the door slams. At this point, I can’t picture anyone actually saying that. It’s a common trope for the characters to constantly doubt everything, but it just comes across as rather annoying. Can’t we have a more quiet character who just takes all of this in stride and nods along? The art of bluffing is truly lost on these guys.

The heroes also do make sure to make quips every other second and they’re all pretty annoying. The writing is quite bad in this film to say the least so don’t expect any good lines. Aside from the language and everyone getting worse and worse as the film goes on, this also makes the film a little too dramatic. This may come as a surprise, but the film takes itself way too seriously at times. One such scene is when one of the Rangers seemingly dies. It’s not a spoiler because there’s no way they’d actually kill off one of the main members. It would have been a PR nightmare to do that since it would be like killing off Superman or Green Lantern right away. Film 3 could be a different story, but the first one? I don’t think so. The death scene is still around 15 minutes though as everyone carries him back and the music picks up. There are many similar scenes like the campfire where everyone starts sharing their secrets. The film tries to be incredibly somber and I just wasn’t sold.

The proper way to handle dramatic scenes is to be quick and not dwell on them. If it was a powerful enough moment, the audience will get it. Grabbing a 30 second scene and stretching it to 5 minutes doesn’t make the scene any more powerful. Usually this is where I’d bash the romance for being just as dramatic, but fortunately the film actually stayed away from that landmine. I admit that this was rather impressive.

The film also completely ruined Rita’s character. She spends most of the film as an undead zombie who loves to caress all of her opponents before finishing them off. It’s an old trope that I wish had died in the 60’s with all of the old Vampires. It doesn’t make her any more intimidating and is just hard to watch. Her design could have been cool, but they decided to make her a troll by giving her a ton of wrinkles and scars the whole time. She never even got to actually use her cool Power Ranger suit. Get this…she doesn’t even get a big fight. There is one action scene where she beats up the heroes before they turn into Power Rangers, but that’s it.

See, this is where the film forgot its origin. Power Rangers is all about the high speed hand to hand battles where they duke it out with the villains and you get amazed at the choreography. If you ask someone about Power Rangers, the first thing they’ll think of are the hand to hand fights. It’s like having a Dragon Ball Z film without the characters powering up and shooting energy blasts. The action in the film is very limited throughout as we only get a small handful of actual fights. Again, the 5 teens against Rita is the only real fight scene. The rest are against small rock golems that don’t put up any more of a fight than the NPCs in Dynasty Warriors. I think we deserved more action.

I think it’s partially because the film decided to add in the Zords. Their fight scenes aren’t particularly good either because….they’re up against a giant stone golem that is extremely slow. That’s the last thing I was hoping for from the climax, but it happened all the same. They just keep blasting it and jumping on the thing and it shakes them off. Rinse and repeat for quite a while. The only good part of that fight was when they merged into a giant mecha robot and then fought it. I could at least get behind that fight a little even if it was even slower paced. At least it felt more like a fight. I just don’t see the appeal of having giant machines fighting an even bigger opponent who can’t move. For some reason that is mainstream and people like it so it’s here to stay, but then at least give me my classic hand to hand fights.

That’s where the potential was. For example, we see that Jason has a cool energy sword as the Red Ranger. He just never gets to actually use it in a fight. What was even the point of showing it off? On that note, the effects were pretty good though. Ignoring Rita, everything looked very crisp and flashy. It felt like a good sci-fi film and you can see that they used most of the budget on it. Maybe they ran out and couldn’t use it much, but that’s still a big mistake.

I also can’t forget to mention that the soundtrack is pretty bad. Most of the songs are just really sad rap songs with no heart or the lyrics just make you wish the scene was silent. We do have some good themes like the electronic battle theme or the Power Rangers theme song. They were just outnumbered by the bad tunes. The film also heavily overused the slow mo effect which goes back to the being too dramatic thing. Once or twice is okay and more than that can be good if the film is poking fun at itself. Otherwise it’s just wasting time.

On a positive note, it was nice to see Jason just shut the bullies down right away instead of thinking about it for a while or waffling on whether it was the right thing to do or not. He just walked into detention and took names. He also made the right call in deciding to go after Rita right away even if everyone else was too scared to do anything. She would come after Trini again otherwise so not doing anything would have put her in danger. He also doesn’t care about everyone’s dark secrets and just wants them to move on. He’s the best member of the team even if it pretty much is by default. He’s like a badly written Captain Kirk from the recent movies. Similar backstory but less heroic and less sympathetic. I think he’s past most of the negatives though so he should be more likable in the next film.

Billy wasn’t too bad, but he’s more annoying than anything else. He’s the classic “Are we really heroes? I should keep on asking that so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do” character. He keeps repeating things to let the audience know that this is important. When you think about it, this film is really just filled with cliches. So, it takes Billy a long while to actually understand what’s happening, but at least he was the first one to learn how to transform. He’s the smart member of the group so he helps them find the Krispy Kreme’s. I still wonder why he was going around blowing stuff up at the beginning though. Isn’t that one of the worst things you can do when you’re at a restricted area you’re not supposed to be in? He went from being a nice guy who was getting bullied to suddenly coming out as a delinquent himself. He was quick to help trick the authorities with Jason’s home arrest button after all.

I know the whole point of a sob story is to show us that a character made a mistake and all, but Kimberly’s was pretty drastic. I don’t think we ever really got a proper reason for why she sent the picture. The bullying was also extremely tame which I was cool with, but why would she even think that she could maybe get back on the cheering squad? Once we learn why everyone isolated her, then that should have been a given. It all just seemed out of character, but the Kimberly that we do see is reasonably good.

Trini is the tough character who tries to be a loner. Honestly, if she had escaped the other Rangers and stayed a loner that could have made for a good plot point. She is probably the second best ranger though. Her origin story is the least sympathetic since she runs around with a bad attitude the whole time, but at least she doesn’t get buddy buddy with the others too quickly. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight against Rita though.

Finally, Zack is the worst ranger and supremely annoying. He spends the whole movie basically flirting which never works and is the main comic relief character. Well, everyone is comic relief at one point or another, but he tries to crack a bunch of jokes even if none of them ever actually work. He breaks the rules just because he can like when he almost squashed everyone with his robot, but no worries, he’s not apologetic about it either. That’s something that the characters always have in common.

This review has come off as rather negative and deservedly so as I would give the film under a 5, but it’s not a 2 or anything so keep in mind that the film does have its positives. As I mentioned, the effects are good and the little action that we do get isn’t bad either. Aside from the fact that the characters are unlikable, the scenes of everyone insulting each other and getting into fights aren’t bad. It makes for reasonably entertaining moments. The pacing is also good so the film never gets boring at all. It actually moves from scene to scene with ease. Jason’s Dad may not have been on the same page as him, but I thought they did a good job of not overdoing it with making him very antagonistic. He was upset with Jason’s decisions, but he should be considering what a big mistake that was. He still drove out into the battle zone to save him if necessary. I wouldn’t mind him being the down to Earth adviser for the team in the next film as he eventually gets accustomed to the whole Power Rangers thing.

On a side note, anyone else find the Rita eating teeth scene incredibly random and out of nowhere? It seemed like it was just trying to be creepy and disturbing for no reason. Honestly, it was just one of those things that makes you shake your head. The whole gold issue is one thing since she needed it for her staff, but eating it to get younger was really out of nowhere. The scene of her just eating it all and various other things while hanging out at the scrapyard just cemented the fact that she wouldn’t be a good character. At least the film is taking some cues from Teen Titans Go assuming the episode came out first.

Is it just me or were the main teens pretty bloodthirsty the whole time as well? Their first instinct when entering the alien ship is to try and murder the little robot. They mention this 2-3 times and when they are told by a giant floating head that they must destroy a girl named Rita they don’t hesitate at all. They basically just yell “No prob” without question. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though.

As a positive note, the film’s atmosphere is pretty enjoyable though. It’s light hearted so at least you will leave the film on a high note. That’s why getting through the film is easy since you won’t constantly get turned off from it. There’s no animal violence which is always important. Not that any film wants to be compared to Pixels, but that’s a good example. That was a bad film, but it’s one I could easily watch again. It’s not quality entertainment, but it is entertainment.

I did like the fact that the film included Krispy Kreme’s. That doughnut shop doesn’t get enough screen time anymore and hopefully the film paid them for the endorsement and not the other way around. I’m always up for a good doughnut scene after all and maybe that will become their base. By the way, the film does have an after credits scene. It’s pretty underwhelming and the film clearly phoned it in, but at least we see more destruction of school property. He’s going to fit right in with the rest of the gang. I won’t say who it is, but prepare yourself!

Overall, The film may not have a lot of heart, but Power Rangers can be decently fun. The effects are nice to look at and the banter can be enjoyable. The writing holds it back considerably and the lack of action is disappointing, but you can’t have it all. I think a sequel would likely be able to fix a lot of the film and would hopefully regain its identity. It needs to put the Power back into the Power Rangers. I wouldn’t really recommend this film as it just isn’t good, but at least it’s an entertaining bad film. That’s the optimal kind of bad flick to watch as it does have a reasonable amount of replay value. The issue is that most films can say “I’m you, but better” to this movie with a straight face. There isn’t much original about this one and honestly it would have been a better film if it had simply not called itself Power Rangers.

Overall 4/10

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A Silent Voice Review

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It’s time for one of the most mean spirited manga titles that I’ve ever read. Deadman Wonderland probably still takes the cake for being the meanest one around, but this one really tries to surpass it. Volumes 1-6 are all pretty dark/tragic and even half of 7 is still like that. We get a sort of happy ending, but the question you’ll be thinking the whole time is…was it all worth it? I’m afraid not so lets dive into this manga!

The manga follows the adventures of a bully named Shoya. He enjoyed his days as a delinquent and is upset when a deaf girl named Shoko is transferred to his class. Shoya decides to make her life as miserable as possible and the rest of the class including the teacher get in on the action. After enduring all of this bullying and even having Shoya rip her ear, Shoko is transferred out and fortunately her mother also threatened the school with legal action. This means that they need a scape goat so all of Shoya’s “friends” decide to turn on him. Likewise with the teacher of course so they beat him up a lot and even try to convince him to commit suicide.

Fast forward a few years. Shoya decides he’ll commit suicide after finally meeting up with Shoko again and apologizing. She has apparently forgiven him and he decides to keep on living so he’ll be her friend. The problem is that he still has a pretty bad image and Shoko hasn’t gotten over the incident as much as she claims. Her Mother naturally dislikes Shoya as well. Shoya’s old friends have mostly gotten over it but they know about his past and Shoya fears that they’ll tell his new friends about it. A lot of drama happens and by the end of it, you’ll be shaking your head.

Okay, the manga’s whole problem really just stems into the meanness of it all. You see the classic theme of someone doing something really mean or evil and then receiving a judgment just as brutal which is supposed to make you feel good. The problem is that two wrongs don’t equal a right so it just makes the whole thing feel dark. A good example of course is Sword Art Online Fairy Dance. (You can use SAO for just about any hypothetical if I’m being honest) After the main villain was messing around with Asuna and tormenting Kirito, you’re supposed to cheer when Kirito decides to very slowly and painfully execute him one piece at a time. The problem is that you’re not cheering because it is still super painful. You don’t feel bad for the villain, but you didn’t want the hero to stoop to the same level. (Attack on Titan has this same problem) You want a quick resolution. Unfortunately, this manga’s whole message is about how “You’ll get yours!” and the villains all get some intense payback at some point or other. That is, unless they’re being used for another message like how they’re misunderstood.

The series starts with Shoya thinking about ending himself and then moving on to Shoko. Finally once all of the characters are broken and have been publicly humiliated, then they can all move on. Honestly, Shoko’s depression is probably where the series really jumped the ship although the beginning was incredibly rough as well. It’s impossible to like Shoya after the start. He just went way too far in the bullying phase to the point where you absolutely cannot buy into his redemption arc. The ear rip felt especially painful and he does physically punch Shoko. That’s one of the big lines that you don’t cross and he went through with it almost immediately. Shoya also seems to make the wrong move in just about every scenario, every time. He’s just incredibly annoying and the fact that he is the main character certainly doesn’t help matters either. If he’s not blowing up at his friends or having a martyr complex then he’s typically having confidence issues or being in a coma.

Shoko is a decent heroine except for the fact that she is way too forgiving of everyone. She basically gets along with Shoya immediately and puts the whole thing behind her. Honestly she should have told him to get lost when he showed up again. Otherwise, it’s nice of her to forgive him, but then to move on to being best friends and then more than that almost immediately? No, no I can’t see that happening. It was an incredibly poor romance that I just couldn’t take from start to finish.

Naoka is the other heroine. She actually liked being a bully and is mean to everyone throughout the series. She decides to change her ways because of Shoya, but never actually changes. She still talks bad about everyone and while it is supposed to be endearing, you have to wonder how much she has actually changed. She is quick to hit everyone and definitely causes a lot of drama. The one quality she has that is quite good is how she gets over everything pretty quick. The rest of the characters are constantly making mountains of molehills while she just forgets about it all the next day and is back to normal. It may be a little iffy as she’ll just stir up more chaos, but it beats the alternative.

Miki is a character that I think the author didn’t know what to do with. She was one of the big bullies in the first volume, but always denies this and blames others. She purposely tells everyone that Shoya was the big bully and gets everyone to retreat from him again. (He helped quite a lot though) She lies to everyone and is generally very fake throughout the whole series. The issue is that nobody calls her out on this and she effectively gets away with everything by the end. I’m glad the series didn’t go overboard with the payback on her, but she didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. She got away completely scot free and since I didn’t like her at all, that was annoying. If the author never meant for her to be one of the main villains, then he/she should read the series again.

Miyoka was the only character who was nice to Shoko at the start. Unfortunately, since she is the nice character she is also the timid one and a single insult caused her to stop coming to classes. She now wants to be a model but is very self conscious of her looks. Naturally the others are ready with the insults. She can be a little annoying as well and while it’s great that she got along with Shoko as well, I’d be a little sore with how quickly she ran off. She’s not a dependable friend that you can count on.

Yuzuru is probably the only real good character. She made it her mission to beat up the bullies who messed with Shoko back in the day, but unfortunately she was too young to really track them all down. Still, she managed to grow up as a tom boy to protect her sister as best she could and even took up whole hobbies like taking pictures of dead things to try and get Shoko to distance herself away from thoughts of suicide. Her only iffy moment is probably not stepping in to help Shoko when she was getting beaten up by Naoka. I can see why she was upset since Shoko tried to jump off a roof, but you still can’t let one of the old bullies beat your sister up. Isn’t that the whole reason for why she got strong in the first place?

Tomohiro is Shoya’s first friend at the new school. He’s a nice guy and all. He may not have any friends and pretends that he does all the time, but he gives Shoya someone to talk too. He has his iffy moments for sure but the series would have been a lot darker without him. I’d say that he’s really here just to lighten the mood. I’m not so much a fan of him as he just beats most of the other cast by default. His movie gets tragically panned though which was another moment where the manga decided to just be really depressing again. I mean really..was it necessary to also have the critics mock each and every one of them for the movie? The heroes quickly acted as if they didn’t care, but couldn’t they have had at least one happy ending as a team? It’s like the author didn’t want any of them to have something nice happen for a change.

Satoshi is the final main character and he’s the anti bully guy who shows up to subtly threaten Shoya the whole series. It’s actually portrayed as a bad thing that he’s against bullies. The scene were he throws away everyone’s backpacks honestly didn’t seem like a big deal to me since those actually were bullies. Him throwing water at the teachers and going overboard after that was a bit much though. Again, it’s a little hard to have him come back into the fold so easily again. It’s great to be against bullies, but he came off as a rather violent guy himself and I didn’t get the whole subplot about how he loves kids. This character should honestly have just not shown up.

Shoko’s Mom is another character who should have been good, but they went overboard with how mean she is. Are you honestly telling me that she would have an objection with Shoko using sign language at the table? She wants Shoko to be tough so I understand the haircut. That was fine since Shoko was clearly not defending herself so the Mom had to do it for her, but breaking her confidence at home as well was just random. I give her some props for deciding to beat up the bully who was attacking Shoko though. That was easily her best scene.

The art was below average. It tries for a very gritty down to earth feel which sets the vibe in rather quickly. In a sense that’s a good thing as the art is atmospheric but since it’s a dark and gloomy atmosphere it doesn’t really help matters. I just couldn’t get into the art and while it’s clearly not the worst I’ve seen, it’s quite low in the charts. Since this is a “realistic” manga there is also an unfortunate amount of language. This will always depend on who is translating it of course, but unfortunately the original one decided to add quite a bit. It’s just another unnecessary addition.

At the end of the day, the manga’s issue is that it’s just very moody and depressing the whole time. It’s not fun to read. You’ll keep reading until the end and you’ll be reasonably invested, but then every volume has another tragic scene within it. The amount of times someone is beaten up or bullies is uncanny in this series. If the series wanted to be good, the first volume should have been shorter and the bullying should have been less intense. We shouldn’t have had Shoko suddenly break down by the end and we certainly shouldn’t have had to have Shoko get beaten up yet again.

Also, why did the blond kid just randomly show up a few times? Considering that he beat up Shoya, stole his shoes, and bullies him quite extensively for a while…why does Shoya have to patch things up? I don’t get how nobody acts like the other kid did anything wrong. He was just as bad as Shoya and also got away scot free. The most annoying thing is that he’s apparently still friends with some of Shoya’s old contacts so while I guess they are cool with Shoya now, they’re not sorry enough to actually regret it.

I’m trying to think of some positives for the series…but it’s hard. When a series leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, it sours the whole experience. The scenes were they’re all having fun can be good except that they instantly go sideways and you always know that something is going to happen. It’s just inevitable but I suppose you should savor those scenes while you can.

Overall, This series was pretty brutal. It started out on a really low note, got semi decent for a bit and then crashed again. I also didn’t like the ending, but what else is new right? It’s essentially inevitable after a while because if you don’t like the characters and aren’t engaged by them, then there’s not much that the ending can do to change that. You’re just way too annoyed by everyone by that point. Manga should always be fun and enjoyable to read throughout. They can go through rough patches and have serious themes of course as just about all of them do, but it should still be a pleasant experience. You can’t use that phrase to describe this manga. I’d highly advise checking something else out instead. If you want a good realistic manga title to read, how about Zodiac P.I.? It has some supernatural elements, but is mostly down to Earth and is up beat despite some rather serious cases.

Overall 3/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

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All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.
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Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.
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The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.
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Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

A Silent Voice

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Well, it’s time for a new manga series. I’ve read the first 2 volumes of the series and while volume 2 is infinitely better than 1, the series will have to work hard to overcome its incredibly rocky start. The main heroine seems a little too forgiving at the moment while the main guy went way too far. Can he redeem himself? Once I’m done with the series I’ll have a review up for it.

Overall 3/10

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Review


I’ve been a casual big My Little Pony fan for ages now, but I had yet to get into the Equestria Girls part of the franchise. When I saw that my library had ordered this comic I knew it was time to jump in. It’s a pretty fun spinoff from the main series. I definitely prefer the main title as you can argue that the whole point of My Little Pony is seeing the ponies show us values of friendship and harmony which we can then apply to everyday life. Seeing fellow humans use these messages can still be effective, but it loses the extra intensity that the main comics have since there are no dark overlords trying to murder everybody here.

There are really two main comics here. The first one deals with how the main characters met up and became friends in the first place. All of the ponies get a lot of screen time here, but Rarity may have looked the worst. So, Applejack has moved to the school and is hoping to make friends. Unfortunately her mean cousin is around and takes it upon herself to bully Applejack. Applejack tries her best to fit in with the “cool” crowd, but they won’t have any of it. Fortunately, Pinkie Pie has a plan to make everyone smile by cheering at the local soccer game. Rainbow Dash is too busy winning awards and stomping people into the dirt to help Applejack. Usually this is where Rarity would step up, but she enjoys the attention and decides to turn a blind eye to the bullies. Fluttershy would speak up, but she’s a little too intimidated by all of the other characters at the moment.

So, here’s why Rarity is probably the worst character of the story. She basically just ignores Applejack’s plight the whole time which felt a little out of character. Maybe it was the only way that the writers could get the story across, but it still felt a little iffy to be honest. She made the right call in the end though so I suppose that’s what counts. Rainbow Dash was probably the best character this time. Sure, she may have been a little overconfident, but lets face it, that’s why she’s such a great character. While the rest of the characters were getting messed up by the drama, Rainbow Dash was focusing on the win. Fluttershy was…Fluttershy. She was a little too nervous to confront the bullies, but at least she let them know that the dog was sick. That was definitely a good move. She’s a nice character, I just wish Fluttershy would put the others in their place a little more. Especially when they started subtly insulting her by calling her names like Flustershy or Flutterbye. She does quite a bit of crying in the story but it also shows that she has heart!

It’s always nice to see the characters meet up though so this was a great way to start the comic. I’m assuming they all know each other already in the movie then or this is some kind of alternate retelling of the origin. The bullies got put in their place, but surprisingly I don’t recall them being truly converted. I’ll assume that they turned good off screen since the heroes never leave anyone behind. They must all embrace friendship at some point.

The second tale is about the main characters hanging out with Sunset. She was shunned in Pony world and escaped to the human one so she can finally have some friends. (I’m pretending that I don’t know what happened in the main series. If you just read from this comic, this is the vibe you get) Twilight Sparkle has essentially banished Sunset to the human world so she can be a better person and must keep up a diary chronicling what happens each day. Sunset hasn’t gotten to enjoy the holidays since she had no friends, but Applejack and friends decide to help her out. After an intense Avengers esque scene where all of the friends are brought in to help with the party, they invite Sunset over. The party goes great, but then pictures of it start leaking out to the school and Applejack suspects that Sunset is guilty. Sunset pleads her case, but the main six will hear none of it. They are now getting bullied by the entire school and blame Sunset for it. Meanwhile Sunset is friendless once again, but has decided that she’s going to solve this case.

As you can probably guess, Sunset didn’t sell out her friends. Honestly that would have been quite the plot twist, but it’s probably a good thing that the comic didn’t go there. It may have been hard to have been a Sunset fan after something like that. She’s a pretty fun character and it’s cool to have one of the humans actually be a Pony. It seems like everyone knows, but she still tries to act like a human anyway as she quickly stops herself from saying phrases like “Everypony.” I’d probably just keep using it personally since it’s pretty unique and all, but I guess whatever works.

The rest of the main characters didn’t look quite as good this time around. They were a little quick to doubt one of their friends and Sunset’s denial should have been enough for them. Rainbow Dash’s battle against Fluttershy in the video game was pretty intense and I’m glad that Dash took the win. It was nice that Fluttershy was a little more pro-active in the game though and really got into it. The characters have definitely been through a lot by now so I’d expect some character development.

I could also sympathize with the villain of this story a bit since once again, Rarity was being a little iffy. The villain was clearly getting along pretty well with her friends so they could have let her stick around. I don’t think she would have gotten in the way or anything. The villain still made the wrong move, but at least it also reminded Rarity of an important message. I kind of wish they would have a letter at the end explaining the message for those who didn’t get it, but it’s clear enough so that shouldn’t be a problem.

As far as the art goes, it’s not amazing, but it’s pretty good. The character designs are all on point and the only part that is a little iffy are the tears. They end up creating large puddles which can be a bit much. The scenes of the characters all crying and still fighting each other were also intense. The best panel in the comic is definitely when Rainbow Dash tripped someone up and then jumped on his head as she passed him in the soccer game. A bit brutal sure, but this is Rainbow Dash we’re talking about. She’s always ready to go for the win.

The writing is also pretty solid. The whole point of the series is its 5 star writing after all so it doesn’t disappoint here. As mentioned earlier, my only gripe is that the Main 6 doubted Sunset a little too easily, but it does help you sympathize with her. It feels like everyone is always doubting her because of her past and it shows that even the main characters aren’t exempt from that. Still, she’ll stick around as one of the heroes and eventually they’ll all really accept her.

Now, there is one huge plot hole here that I have to address. Don’t be alarmed but I picked up on this instantly. (Humble brag) There is one scene where Rarity orders 16 pizza pies, but the stack looked a little too large so I decided to count them all. There were 17 pies that the character was holding. Where did the extra one come from? The quality checkers slacked off on that one a bit to be honest. It happens to the best of us though right?

Overall, This was a fun comic. Rainbow Dash was the MVP with Sunset being the runner up so Pinkie Pie lost out for a change, but she got a small role this time around. It’s too bad that Equestria Girls didn’t get its own ongoing like the main My Little Pony series. I’m sure that there are a bunch of stories that you can tell in this setting. Still, the main title is the one that I’m the most interested in so hopefully the library can get more volumes soon. If you’re a big fan of the franchise then you’ve gotta check this one out. If you’ve never taken the plunge before, then now’s a good time to start. You’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy My Little Pony during the adventure and one day you’ll be bold enough to call yourself a fan in public. Small steps first.

Overall 7/10

Dreamgirls Review

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It’s time for the first musical that I’ve seen in quite a while. I don’t think it’ll ever get old seeing people debate and fire comebacks through song instead of talking about it. It’s just an interesting way to make your comeback you know? It’s definitely not my kind of film and suffers from the usual problems that come with being a musical, but the film gave it a good effort and I suppose that’s what counts.

Effie, Deena, and a third girl have been trying to make it big for a long time now. They just haven’t gotten the chance to show that their singing abilities are the real deal. This changes when a slick car dealsman named Curtis tells them that he can get them a gig as Jimmy’s backup singers. Effie is worried that they’ll stay backup forever, but Curtis knows a way to shove Jimmy out of the picture at some point. Soon he gets them their own gig, but decides to slowly phase Effie out. Eventually he phases the third girl out as well and makes it all about Deena. Thing is….will Curtis also phase her out once Deena starts to decline in popularity? She’s going to have to do something and fast!

Usually this is where you’d chat with your friends to try and think about what you should do next. The problem is that all of the main characters are too busy keeping secrets from each other and playing the rebound game. There’s a lot to keep up with as Jimmy tries to use the moves on the main characters. 2 of them don’t fall for it, but then Curtis gets together with Effie. After he’s had his fun, Curtis moves on to Deena and while all of the characters know about this merry go round, none of them really care since they all think that they’re the special one. It leads to quite a lot of drama the whole time and so I can’t say that the romance was handled well. It felt really fake on all sides. Lets face it, if someone is cheating to be with you, then they’re also probably cheating on you. It’s an iron clad rule that has been around for generations and it doesn’t just go away in a flash. It was also hard to sympathize with any of the characters when they were betrayed because it was just so expected. They were all a little too easy as well as they basically skipped the dating phase.

As a result, none of the characters are all that good. Jimmy was bad from the start as he immediately tried to fool around with the main characters. He ended up getting into drugs and hitting the Game Over moment in life. Curtis may have been a fast talker, but you always knew that about him. It helped the audience not get tricked by his shenanigans and it was just annoying that none of the others could figure it out. He went from being manipulative to totally being a villain by the end. Deena was an all right main character as she stuck up for Effie for a while, but got pretty naive by the end. It turned out to be true that she was cheating with Curtis for a while so that’s certainly not very heroic of her. Curtis even admitted at one point that he had always loved her and not Effie so that should have rang some warning bells since he still stuck around long enough to have a kid. Deena made the right move in the end, but it took her a little too long.

Effie was also not so good. She wasn’t exactly blameless in this affair as she didn’t take moving to the back row very well instead of being happy for her friend. It’s also pretty understandable that a replacement would be hired for her during the Vegas New Year’s Celebration since she abruptly vanished and skipped all of the rehearsals. You can see why she was bitter, but surely she can see how the others had to move on. She was causing a bunch of problems. The song recorder that helped the gang was all right I suppose. He was a little slow on the draw as well, but ended up pretty well off. He didn’t agree with how his music was used at times, but he did get the money. Deena’s Mom was pretty fun considering that she didn’t appear much. I wouldn’t have minded her as more of a main character since she seemed to suspect that something was off from the start.

This isn’t usually much of a problem outside of some old black and white films, but I had a tough time telling each character apart once in a while. They all kept switching their wigs and then the film would constantly jump into the future by a few months or even years at time. It just made it hard to keep them all straight and that’s why I never even learned the third girl’s name. She technically had a reasonably sized role, but the characters never said it all that much since the focus was on the other two. This is why instead of coordinated costumes where everyone wears the same thing, you should always have something different.

There are a lot of songs as you’d expect. The beet for them is usually pretty catchy, but I can’t say that the lyrics were very good. They aren’t exactly something I’d play while at home. I’m not really a big music person to be honest, but when I play music it’s typically extremely epic anime/video game songs. If I play the occasional lyrical song, it’s typically one from those mediums. Instrumental is still the best bet as you get the cool beats without having to worry about the lyrics, but both sides can be good. I think this soundtrack could have been a little better considering that it was a musical, but ironically the fact that it was a musical meant that the music was very mainstream and not quite as epic as it could have been. Look up the Attack on Titan themes and you’ll see what I mean.

I also can’t say that I care much for the competitive/professional dancing that usually accompanies the music. If anything it just makes the music feel more objectionable as they’re trying to hook the audience on them rather than the music. It doesn’t feel quite as legitimite which is why I never bought into music videos. The audience certainly ate it up, but that’s also why you’ll attract a specific crowd based on what you sing and how you sing it.

Overall, Dreamgirls may have tried its best to be an intense musical with a lot of drama, but it didn’t work too well for me. Without likable characters or a stronger plot, you just can’t sing your way out of the tough situations. I do like how the characters banter with songs though as it was extended more than in most films and they had whole conversations. It just wasn’t enough to block out all of the drama and rebounds. I can’t really say that I’ve ever loved a live action musical film though so it’s possibly just a really hard genre to succeed in. Hopefully they can pull it off someday. They just need to take some cues from Frozen. Get some better songs, cut out the dances, and build a better plot. If you can get those aspects of the film together, then I think you’ll end up with a winner on your hands. By the way, if you’re wondering who the standout character of the film was, it was certainly the lawyer. I like how he just showed up out of nowhere and took down the main villain. He probably cost a lot of money, but it was well worth it since a lawyer can save you millions!

Overall 3/10

Tegami Bachi Review

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Tegami Bachi is one of those titles that took a big risk as it has a very original plot. It’s about mailmen who deliver letters in an apocalyptic world where giant monsters run wild. Nobody dares leave their house because of these monsters and there really isn’t an army or police to speak of. The Mailmen are known as the last defense and their method of attacking the monsters is to use guns that are fueled by their hearts and the hearts of others. As such, the mail that they deliver carries the feelings of the person who wrote them and that is what allows them to fight the monsters. Otherwise, they have to use their own heart and if they use too much, they’ll die as well.

The series follows a kid named Lag. He cries a lot and isn’t really as tough as you’d expect a mailman to be. That being said, being a mailman has always been his dream ever since he saw one in person a while back. He soon finds out that the group may not be as heroic as the stories say and everyone has an agenda. He also learns the startling truth that the Sun is actually being powered by humans around the world. They are kidnapped and fed into the Sun to keep it bright. The hearts that the Mailmen are using also seem to have permanent effects on the humans so while they are helping the world….they’re dooming its inhabitants at the same time. There are others who know this and call themselves the Revolutionary army. At first I thought they were trying to black out the Sun, but they just went crazy at the end so I’ll assume that they are Twitch commentors. It seems like a simple solution though right? Just blow up the Sun. The Problem is that the embodiment of the Sun is actually Lag’s mother, who was kidnapped and forced to be the vessel. Lag can try to save her and keep the Sun alive, murdering millions in the process, or save the humans but end up destroying his Mom. Alternately he can do nothing and the Mom will turn into a giant monster and destroy the Earth on her own. He has some tough calls to make.

Honestly, one of the reasons why the series wasn’t very good is that the characters just aren’t very interesting. Lag is our protagonist, but it’s hard to like the guy. He spends over half of the series crying. It becomes such a huge part of his character that it’s how he is recognized by the others. After he spent a year training in the wilderness, everyone thought he was an imposter because he didn’t cry anymore. Honestly, that could have saved his character if it didn’t only happen for the final 2 volumes. He essentially sealed off his emotions in exchange for great powers. It was so complete that he couldn’t even shed a tear when his sister died. Was it really worth the power? Well, it gave him enough of a boost where he was able to take down the evil Insect Queen so I suppose, but I can see why the others would be completely alienated. Especially since Lag had absolutely no intention of cluing any of the others in. So, I liked Lag in the final 2 volumes, but considering that the series was a full 20, it was wayyyy too late for any of that.

His Dingo (Essentially it means partner in this series) is Niche. She has an unfortunate habit of constantly taking her pants off since she doesn’t like them and it’s one of those running gags that was never funny even at the start. I do like the fact that Niche has actual powers. She can use her hair as a barrier or as a means of attack so she doesn’t have to worry about carrying mail around. She even has a pet although she claims it is just in case she gets hungry. Again…not a very funny joke. Niche just wasn’t all that likable. She’s all right at best and is a slight improvement over Lag, but not a big one.

Gauche is one of those intriguing characters. He starts out as a great character. He’s the expert that everybody looks up to and manages to stay rather mysterious as well. Then he decided to betray everyone and joined the villain organization…then he became a hero again. By the end he has decided to stick to the path of the hero but he sure did flip flop a lot. He also lost his memories in the process so so much for that. He was a pretty good villain and I suppose he is still one of the most interesting characters in the series, but I wondered what the point of his role was.

Zazie is sort of like a sub rival. He’s a fairly good fighter, but a considerable step below Gauche. He is fairly confident and likes to talk a big game, but his weakness is that his shots lack power so he can’t take down the bigger monsters. He also looks up to Jiggy Pepper a lot. Jiggy gets a considerable amount of hype, but he never actually does much. He only appears once in a while and while it seems like he is a pretty good Letter Bee (Mailman) he just can’t be bothered to help out. You’d think with the fate of the world at stake that he’d make more of an effort.

Connor is Lag’s best friend. He’s the comic relief, overweight member of the Letter Bee police. He can’t really fight much, but he likes eating so that’s what motivates him. He’ll eat anything at any time of the day so I suppose you have to admire the dedication. That being said, it doesn’t really make him a compelling character.

Largo is one of the main leaders of the Letter Bee and naturally he also ended up being a big traitor. As with Gauche though, he seemed rather conflicted about this so after sticking with the villains for a while, he decided to become a hero again. I suppose it’s lightly hinted that he only joined to trick the villains into heading for the final boss room to provide more hearts for the heroes. He also got a really rushed/dark origin story as we find out that his Mom was experimented on and his Dad was a villain. It really had nothing to do with anything, just like this character as a whole.

Roda is Gauche’s Dingo and it’s nice to see one who really knows what she is doing. The obvious parallels between her combat ability and Gauche’s vs the pair of Lag and Niche makes you wish the series would consider trading main characters. Roda is definitely pretty good and is a little more committed to being heroic. Then there’s also Lawrence who is the main leader of the villains. Thing is, since the villains had no plan, I have to put most of the blame on this guy. Whatever he was trying to do didn’t work so clearly he should have thought it through more.
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We also meet the Head Letter Bee at the very end of the series. Essentially he went insane upon finding out that the government was using massive amounts of slaves to fuel the Sun and went crazy. Instead of trying to save them, he decided to help since “what’s done is done.” After reminding us of how he is still evil, he decided to run away, but under the guise of a giant teddy bear. Even though he ran off he still has enough authority to boss around the whole cast. He claims that he has transcended gender as well so he only talks with hearts now. I also don’t know what point this character had, but that’s a running theme in the series.

When you really break this series down, you realize that the story had a really good premise. It really could and should have been a great series. One issue is that there are no real fight scenes. Every action scene is just the main characters firing their guns and hoping for the best. The monsters never really fight back or do anything. They are portrayed as being completley mindless. The final Insect which hovers over the whole sun seems to be as abstract as it is physical. It barely matters since it is taken down in one shot as well. I’m all for mindless monsters attacking, but then that’s why you also need humanoid opponents. However, the villains never directly fought the heroes because they were too busy.

At least the art is pretty decent. It’s not great or anything, but it works well for the somber atmosphere that the series is going for. The characters can look rather similar at times which is a little iffy, but it’s not too bad or anything. Unfortunately, the series does have some fanservice at times. It’s nothing too frequent, but there is some actual nudity in it. The volumes may blur it out as I don’t remember coming across it although a panel in the final two volumes may have had a moment like it, but fortunately it seems like a stain got in the way. Basically stuff like this only happens when Niche’s sister is in town, but that’s still pretty terrible. I am reviewing the title from the volumes that I read though which is why I’m not bumping it down to an instant 0. If you decide to read it online though, be warned. There aren’t a lot of positives to go around as it is so it’s tougher to fight the negatives.

The plot is fairly confusing like Pandora Hearts, but it isn’t interesting in the way that Hearts was. You’re never interested in learning more about Letter Bee because there isn’t much more to learn. Even if you re read the series, it’s not as if you missed a whole lot. It’s just that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense anyway. Here’s one big issue with the series, at the end they say that they can only send one person to the capital to stop the giant monster. Why? The whole world is going to end anyway so why not send everybody? After a lot of drama, they decide to send 2 Letter Bees, but then the whole cast follows them anyway. There was never any reason whatsoever not to send the whole gang in. While they’re bickering and wasting time on side missions to decide who is worthy to go, whole cities are being wiped off of the planet. Yes, the aliens can take out whole cities in a single flash from the Sun but nobody seems to care. Even the manga doesn’t really treat it like a big deal. It’s just a city after all.

This is just one example of how the author didn’t think things through. I also think that he went too far in making every character act like a villain. I know many titles like to make the government evil, but you need to have some good characters. The only two groups are the evil government who kidnaps and tortures its subjects for no real reason and the terrorists who want to either take control of the Sun or blow it up. No matter who you pick, they don’t have your best interests at heart. There was no reason to go to this extreme. The government could have been shady without being evil. Did the Sun really have to be Lag’s Mom so he would be forced to destroy her in the end? Of course, it’s seen as more like he was setting her free, but it’s still rather dark.

Even the ending is rather dark to be honest. I won’t spoil that since it would be a bit much, but part of the whole point of the final journey was to try and save everyone. That’s the whole reason why Lag sacrificed his emotions and tried to get stronger. Unfortunately while it wasn’t futile, the body count was pretty high by the end. Some characters won’t even be thrilled to get their hearts back because they have already lost everyone they cared about. Nobody’s bringing the various cities back. The ending’s a little vague on a certain character, but I’d say that he’s probably dead. It tries to be an inspirational ending, but I certainly wouldn’t call it one. It’s not a classic time skip though so I’ll give it that.

If only the series could have done more with its premise instead of worrying about a terribly conceived plot. I like the idea of people being unable to travel anymore so they have to rely on messages for communication. It’s retro and still gets the apocalyptic feel across. Mailmen being the ones to travel is a nice exaggeration of what really goes on as the famous saying that Mailmen deliver no matter how the weather is. It’s a fun concept and could have made for a really good series. It could have tackled some other themes like if they should deliver messages from villains and the like since they shouldn’t read it, but can read emotions so they typically know what kind of message it is. This was all far too nuanced for Letter Bee though so it simply wasn’t to be.
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Overall, Letter Bee’s not a very fun series. It’s too bad as the series was trying to get back on track by the end. Lag’s new personality was certainly a positive although the Teddy Bear at the end and all of the random twists didn’t help matters. Lag’s friend was going to sacrifice her whole city even though Lag said he had a plan just because she could. (Her plan didn’t work anyway) The series never really seems all that dark except it just is. The manga just doesn’t portray the events as being too serious. There’s not a lot of action and the cast is rather weak. There aren’t a bunch of negatives though so that’s a good thing but they weren’t needed when there isn’t much positive to fight it off. There isn’t much reason to ever revisit the series, but I suppose if you want a title with mailmen and giant monsters, then this one’s a good pick for you. That’s rather specific, but it’s the best I got.

Overall 4/10

Dead Again Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be a lot more negative
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Uh oh, it’s time for one of “Those” thrillers. This is a pretty bad film and honestly it sets the tone from the start as an actor struggles to sing, but quickly finds that he doesn’t have the talent for it. I like to think that the film was trying to confuse you from the start so you wouldn’t think about the plot much. Just in case they threw in a lot of red herrings though and scenes that didn’t actually happen for plot convenience. The film’s plot had more holes in it than the Colossal and Armored Titan’s plan to wipe out humanity.

So the film starts off with a lady who is unable to speak and has nightmares every night. She locks her door so that nobody can break in and murder her. You see, she had a dream where a guy runs in with scissors and murders her. This is validated by the fact that around 40 years ago there was a case of a guy murdering a lookalike to her with them. The intro spends a long time showing us newsclip after newsclip of this although they all basically just lead to the conclusion that he was guilty of the crime. The Church decides to call in Mike to dig into her past. Seeing as how their may be a crazed killer after her, Mike does what any reasonable person would do….he puts her picture in the newspaper along with his phone number so the world can know where he is….Uh oh!

As you’d expect, this attracts a lot of the kooks from their hiding places. The first guy to walk in is an old man who acts rather sinister and takes a little too much interest in everything. He immediately starts to get very touchy with the heroine (Amanda) so Mike tells him to back off. He responds by telling Mike to back off and hypnotizes Amanda so we find out that she is a reincarnated person. The trouble is that she used to be the guy from the past while Mike is actually the girl who was murdered. Funny how this all happens isn’t it? The film spends a lot of time on the whole reincarnation nonsense so try not to groan at the explanations. I’m sure they spent a lot of time on them.

Mike continues to let the guy hypnotize her and then he gets hypnotized as well. Surely the guy is okay though right? Nothing suspect here. Meanwhile, a random guy named Doug shows up and announces that Amanda is his. He begins to run off with her as Mike buys this story, but fortunately Mike realizes that the guy is a phony because he brought the wrong glove. This leads to the most random scene in the whole film. Doug is actually a professional fighter and beats the stuffing out of Mike as he unleashes a really cool Tekken 7 combo that ends with a jumping double kick. Honestly I almost fell out of my chair at the sheer hype of this. Doug…if that’s even his name, never appears again and simply vanishes into the night.

As much fun as this plot can be…why is this film so bad. Well, for starters it’s pretty mean spirited. An old lady is murdered by the main villain here and she only got to appear for about a minute. Mike coerced her into revealing who the murderer was and then she was murdered. There should really be a witness protection program for all of the one shot characters who help the main lead and are then murdered as soon as he leaves. This seems to happen quite frequently.

The original murder case is also rather dark as well and everyone looks pretty bad as you’d expect. The couple get into some fights because the lady allows a guy to get overly friendly with her. He was clearly flirting, but she didn’t seem to mind. Then the guy was just as bad as he invited a kid and a lady to stay with them in his house even after they started robbing the wife. It’s pretty obvious that they’re crooks, but they haven’t murdered anyone right? Well, actually they do murder someone and the guy doesn’t even try to avenge his wife. He decides to take the fall for them (Unless he actually bought into the suicide angle which if so…he’s even dumber than I thought) and gets hanged/electrocuted/whatever death the government gave him.

A big theme in the film though is the Karma Credit plan. See, if you murder someone in the past, they’ll be reincarnated in the future to murder you. It’s a never ending cycle of violence and one that a retired psychiatrist buys into quite eagerly. The kid is worried about this and that sets up the modern plot. By the way, there aren’t really any nice characters here either. Even the retired guy tells Mike to just shoot the main heroine because he’s too far into the conspiracy. Talk about bad advice eh?

I do have to give the film some props for being rather unique though. This has got to be the only time in a movie where a pizza delivery man showed up during the climax to take names. The guy shows up with a pizza box just as the main hero is about to take the villain down and then he grabs the gun. In that one second, he moved quicker than most leads do. Naturally, he tackled the wrong person, but he meant well. After that, the climax turns into a Youtube parody.

The camera shifts every other second as it turns full slow mo and every character starts to lunge for a weapon. It shifts so many times that the actors forget where they are at times and I felt like there were a few plot holes there with characters being in the wrong spots. There’s opera music and I was even expecting the screen to start spinning or the colors to invert. It was so bad that it was so good for a second there. It also gets rather dark for someone who ends with a rather painful end. That’s the way it goes there. The hero did a good job fighting with a bullet wound near the heart the whole time. Props for that.

Back to the film being rather iffy though, the romance is also handled horribly. It doesn’t matter whether you chose the past or the present. In the present, Amanda may not have her memories, but she decides that she can have a fling anyway. After that, some guy she doesn’t even know claims they do know each other so she moves to him as the rebound guy. Okay, that didn’t work since he was lying so back to the starter. There are a lot of shifts here and it’s all a little too sudden. They should at least wait until she has her memories or until they’ve known each other a little longer right? The film gives these scenes a lot of screen time to try and show how madly in love with each other they are, but it just makes them seem rather shallow the whole time.

This film’s just a little too dark and gritty the whole time. The characters aren’t likable and the plot is just poorly handled. In case you couldn’t tell, I just didn’t like the whole cast. Mike panics quite a lot and doesn’t actually put much effort into finding Amanda’s family. He lets his assistant do that while he slacks off and visits the ocean. Amanda panics a lot and is too trusting of everyone which leads her to make bad move after bad move. The two mental characters only know how to give bad advice and the old character who lives to the present time has a bad smoking problem. There really isn’t anyone to root for. Back to the plot though, that’s the final aspect that we need to tackle. So, Amanda lost her memory. This has nothing to do with reincarnation or destiny, she just happened to lose her memory and wander all the way to the Church where Mike found her. The villain found out through the newspaper and he was able to give her fake memories. Okay, how’d he do it? Mike was there the whole time. If the memories were real…then this is awfully convenient once again. Then the villain’s plan of giving her a gun only works if she actually buys into his story and she has even less reason to trust him than Mike. The fact that she had a dream where Mike is evil is just there so she’ll turn against him even though that dream really shouldn’t be happening. Everything was just really convenient and worked in the villain’s favor. He was one step ahead of Mike from the start somehow as he even knew that Mike would visit his Mother and when he would do it. I dunno, he got too much credit if you ask me. I also think the heroes should have considered an option although it is admittedly a very bold one for a horror protagonist to make…Call The Cops! I mean, as soon as Mike knew what was going to happen, that might not have been a bad idea. Of course, he leaves his front door open so strangers including the main villain just pop in whenever they want so I don’t think safety is the first thing on his mind.

One thing that the film did well was the soundtrack. I can at least give it some points for that as it was all extremely dramatic and hype. The music would have fit well in a comic book movie or something of that nature. It just didn’t work here since the rest of the film just wasn’t good. Ah well, at least it gave us something interesting to listen too as the chaos unfolded on screen.

Overall, Dead Again is an underwhelming film. It should have ended when the Pizza man showed up and told the cast that Amanda actually lived somewhere else and the whole story was fake. That was an epic scene and the film should have just ended there. It would have been amazing and one of the most legendary endings of all time. Unfortunately, the film just didn’t have the guts to go for that and resorted to sticking with the reincarnation gibberish for a little longer. At least all the characters fall for every trap in the book to ensure that the villain has a fighting chance. If you want a film with less forced drama and everyone dying along the way, I’d suggest you go for a more classic film. Something like the Mega Man X OVA, Day of Sigma. Look it up, it’s pretty hype. On a final note, this film reminds us that putting a chair in front of the door doesn’t do much. Amanda tries this and people just burst in with no effort anyway so what was even the point again?

Overall 2/10

Bambi Review

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It’s time for a timeless classic. Unfortunately, being a classic doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be a good move. Bambi deals with one of the classic themes of cinema, death in the family. This theme can be handled pretty well, but mainly with humans. When it comes to animals it is a whole different story. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know that I always take off points for animal violence. Well, this film has a whole lot of that so you could say that it was doomed from the start. It’s quite tragic, but Bambi simply won’t be going places in the cinema world.

The film starts off with Bambi being born and making a lot of friends among the other animals. They call him Prince Bambi and they are all pretty friendly. The only real obstacle for him is that he has a tough time walking with his really long legs. He keeps on tripping and losing his balance, but Bambi presses on. He goes to a forest to meet his father but then poachers attack and things get sticky. Can Bambi survive or is this the end of the road for him?

I definitely had nothing against the first chunk of the movie. I liked the Rabbit who helped Bambi learn how to hop and use his legs. He may have unleashed a lot of burns but his Mother always called him out on them. Even then the Rabbit would really drag out the response to at least try and save some of his dignity. He was a good character to have around, that’s for sure. I also liked the Owl and his cool facial expressions as he would glare at the little animals while preventing them from eavesdropping on the heroes. He didn’t get to do much, but was still fun.

Unfortunately, Bambi isn’t really a great main character. He panics a lot and is a little too scared of the female Bambi for the most part. It takes him a long while to get used to her and he doesn’t really become a good main character until he learns how to fight and takes on a pack of dogs along with an evil Bambi. Those scenes were good as the hero finally learned to fight and everything, but it took him quite a while. As everyone kept pointing out as we were watching the film, he’s no Rudolph. I still remember Godzilla Meets Bambi the film and I guess I can see why people put those 2 in a fight. It’s not to say that Bambi is a bad character, but he is one of Disney’s worst leads.

Lets also quickly talk about the big bombshell in the film, the animal violence. All right, so you probably know the main strife from the Bambi film as Bambi’s Mom ends up biting the big one. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only scene that comes into play here. We also get scenes of poachers shooting down birds, rabbits, and other animals that are in the way. It’s a pretty brutal array of scenes to be honest and I was wincing the whole time. “Now that I think about it, the writer’s big plan had a lot of holes from the start. Wanna eradicate the animals? Maybe next time don’t make a film in the first place!” Now, I may have slightly borrowed that phrase which is why it may feel out of place, but it works here. If you really feel like you have to add animal violence to tell a story, then it’s clearly not a good story. The same goes for romance, fanservice, excessive violence and language. If you have to force those elements into a story to get the message across, then it’s a message that didn’t deserve to be told in the first place. These scenes just absolutely destroyed the film beyond recognition. The evil Bambi showing up was even a Guilty Crown or Sword Art Online esque moment and I wasn’t exactly expecting to see that in a Disney film. Good thing Bambi was around.

It kind of sours the whole film, but if we ignore that for a minute, the animation isn’t bad. The techniques they used were fairly original as the colors started shifting during Bambi’s big fight and there were a lot of epic zoom ins. The animation has aged pretty well over the years and that is definitely an area where Disney has been consistent through the years. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is rather underwhelming. None of the songs are good and the opening theme has to be one of the weakest. I just can’t think of any good tunes here which is unfortunate. That always makes the film go by a little faster.

To make up for that, Bambi has one thing that most films don’t have, a hype character. Bambi’s Dad gets a lot of hype in the forest and he actually looks pretty good the whole time. The animals can definitely use him since the rest appeared to be doomed the whole time. It’s a pretty sad message for them in the end as the humans continue to gain ground and there really isn’t anything that they can do about it. They are simply outranked and outgunned by these people. The humans never actually get to appear so you just have to focus on the bullets.

As a whole, Bambi just seemed to be a step down from all of the Disney films in just about every category. The characters weren’t very good, the writing wasn’t very on point, the music was lack luster, etc. The animation is really the only aspect where it felt like Disney put in a lot of effort. It got a sequel which I like to think is better than the first, but we’ll see if that actually means a whole lot or not. It’ll probably be a while before I see that one though.

Overall, Bambi is one of those films that you should absolutely avoid at all costs. It may seem like a happy little animal film at first glance, but it sure isn’t. The animal violence just doesn’t stop and it completely overshadows the rest of the film. By the end you’ll be wondering why Disney is always murdering their animals. I fear for the Lion King’s safety. I don’t remember this one having quite as many animal deaths as Bambi, but it has been a while. This film is just not in good taste and I don’t know what they were thinking. Bambi can keep its legacy, I’ll take something a little more intense like All Star Superman any day.

Overall 2/10

How the West Was Won Review

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It’s time for a perfect example of why only some films deserve to be 3 hours. Granted, you can chop off around 30 minutes or maybe even more if you take out the credits and the intermission, but it’s still way too long. This has got to be one of the most boring, uneventful films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s right up there with The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. If you are even a little sleepy when you start this film, you’ll be knocked out in minutes. When you mix all of the sad elements this film has: Wild West setting, Boring Main Characters, Old Gender roles, Slow Pacing, Long Filler scenes, it results in a plain bad film all around. It’s just not my cup of tea and while the film could have probably earned an extra star or 2 if it was an hour shorter…it wasn’t so it’s a moot point.

The film tries to play itself out as a really low budget documentary for the most part. It starts off with some early settlers who head to the Wild West. It isn’t really developed yet so they have to plot their own land and such. Lets ignore the fact that there already are a bunch of people here though like the guys who sucker the heroes and steal their stuff, but fortunately the villains are shot before this can end badly. Did you understand that really convoluted sentence? Okay, lets start again. A longer walks into a village and the country girl tells him that she wants to show him someone they captured. He agrees because he’s hoping to score, but she throws him into a pit and runs off. The guy…gets out of the pit and shoots them all dead. During this part, the people who suckered him were trying to sucker the main settlers next and then the shooting battle starts. It’s one of the only action scenes you’ll see until the very, very end so savor it now.

We get a pretty big jump later on as someone’s Dad dies and two sons get back to the farm. One wants to work the land and the other doesn’t. I was wondering what the point of this all was, but apparently the characters were the grown up forms of two characters from near the beginning of the film. Well, good to see everyone returning with all of the time jumps happening, but this is exactly why 99% of the film felt like filler. The problem is that you can only talk about building America before it turns into memes and repetition. Honestly, you’ll be thinking of memes constantly during the film.

The only semi exciting part would be the final act. A retired sheriff is enjoying life with his family, but then notices that some fierce outlaws are back in town. The current cops claim that they have gone over a new leaf and aren’t planning to steal the large gold train that’s about to leave town. The ex-Sheriff doesn’t believe this hogwash for a second and goes after them. Not to mention that the outlaws were basically harassing him earlier and threatened his family. He can’t let them walk away after that. A shootout happens and the Sheriff is victorious. He was right about those rascals and showed them what’s up. Hopefully the cops will remember to actually carry guns next time they protect a train and to hire better security. They must not care about their gold if it’s so loosely protected eh?

The film also had one of the worst romances. So, one of the girls became a successful singer, but then gets a message that someone died and she can inherit a gold mill. She drops everything (big mistake) to go there. Since these were the olden days, it takes a long time to get there. Along the way she meets an old lady who flirts with everyone and a guy who just wants her for her money. (And she knows it) She still falls for the guy and then they get to the mill. The problem is that the gold ran out and the workers paid themselves first so there was no money left. The girl heads back to her dancing career while the guy continues his successful gambling. It all works out and they get together…booooooo. It’s pretty cheesy and just not all that interesting. It was something to see the girl get old and sell all of her stuff though. Just goes to show that nothing goes with you to the grave. From there is transformed into the ex-sheriff story. It’s pretty surreal to have the characters start the film off as little kids and then be quite old by the time the film ends. It could have been great if it was handled delicately like DBZ with big fights happening constantly to keep you engaged. Wrong kind of film though.

There’s not much of a soundtrack here although I trust that you wouldn’t expect one. Also, the visuals are never any fun. The characters head to a civilized kind of city once which is where all the singing/dancing is, but for the most part they’re in the wild west. That doesn’t make for a fun backdrop. The film also feels really ancient. I get that this film is from the 60s, but it plays out more like a film from the 50s with how poor the sound quality can be at times and how old everything looks. The oldness is probably just the Wild West effect I suppose though.

Overall, How The West Was Won is not a story that we ever needed to know. It’s rather obvious and self explanatory after all as everyone knows the story. The Americans rode in, murdered everybody, and then “Discovered” the land and made it our own. We then used good ole American muscle power to build all of the buildings and establishments that we have today. It’s a story of determination and good work ethic, but one that doesn’t make for an entertaining film in the slightest. There’s nothing to smile about or anything to keep your interest in the film. Now imagine that going on for almost 3 hours. I dare say that the first act was the worst as well so it started the film out on a less than optimal note. I can’t decide on what the worst part there was. The father insisting that the daughter sing to entertain some random blokes, or another daughter wanting to run away with a random guy who flirts with everyone and then saying no once he finally says yes because she likes the country life. We definitely got a lot of drama here….just not the good kind. Wait…there’s a good kind? It’s in your best interest to avoid this film.

Overall 2/10