Cells at Work! Review

Fun fact on this one, while I reviewed both anime seasons a while back, I actually completed the manga before watching the shows. It just so happened that writing those reviews was a bit quicker than writing the review for the manga. In general the anime reviews can be easier sometimes but I would say it’s case by case. At the time of this writing it’s completely balanced with 5 manga and 5 anime left to review with this one out of the way. It’s kind of cool how that ended up working out. A lot of my pros and cons for the manga are similar to the anime so lets dive right in.

The story mainly revolves around 2 cells, a white blood cell and a red blood cell. Red is always getting lost around the body as she tries to deliver nutrients. Meanwhile white blood cell’s job is to go around destroying viruses and any harmful bacteria. He may seem like a very intense guy whose only thoughts are of murdering his prey but he’s a nice guy once you get to know him. The two cells hit it off as good friends and the manga follows their adventures. I would say the manga is 90% slice of life with the occasional big plot threads like when the cancer cell shows up. To date I do think it’s fitting that the cancer cell would end up being the big threat here because that is typically known as the most dangerous disease out there.

A slice of life title like this is really carried by the characters and setting. For me this is where the series is a little weaker than it could have been otherwise. For example, the characters live inside of the human body because that’s the entire premise of the series. It’s not like they could just leave it at any point, that wouldn’t really make sense. So logically they have to always be in the same kind of areas but it isn’t a very visually interesting setting. It all looks a bit bland and personally I would have liked a little more variety. Maybe make it so that some parts of the body actually do look like cities and such. It may not have been super scientific but it’s not like the series takes no liberties so this definitely could have worked.

Then for the characters, I’ll get into them more in detail in a minute. The cast is good but there aren’t a lot of exceptional characters here. Also, they just aren’t as funny as some other slice of life casts. The series is part comedic but I wouldn’t say it ever gets as funny as some of the top titles like Nisekoi or Kaguya Sama. It’s not boring or anything but these are the things that keep it from taking the jump to the next level. Cells at Work! is a good title, it’s just not a great one.

Neutrophil is definitely one of the best characters and someone who always dominates the scene that he is in. He’s really got a very focused approach towards tackling any issue and I can definitely appreciate that. The cancer cell tries to have a philosophical debate with him but Neutrophil is really built to destroy his enemies and so he can’t do that. I thought it was an interesting approach to have him be so by the books that he can’t see the gray area. Everything is black and white to him because that’s how he is designed. The very world of Cells at Work is interesting in that way because there are a lot of implications in having each cell be sentient and I would say say that the series handles them well. It’s not a constant theme and don’t mistake this for being a deep series but at least you get an inkling of how this would play out.

Then you have Red who is always fun. She doesn’t really get any big action scenes since she can’t fight but she is always striving to be better. By the end of the series she may still get lost but not as much as she once did. Red also has several scenes where she is really able to prove herself and stay strong even when everyone around her is giving up. She has a lot of determination and you definitely want to see that in the main heroine.

Another big character is Killer T and he’s fun enough. The guy definitely loves to battle but he isn’t quite as smart or nuanced as Neutrophil. The guy also doesn’t seem as strong if you ask me. He’s not as quick to Neutrohpil could probably outmaneuver him. Killer T has a decent backstory and gets a bigger role as the series progressed. It was good to have another fighter to help Neutrophil out against the enemies so his presence was certainly appreciated.

Macrophage is a helpful character. She may not appear to be too deadly at first glance but she can certainly fight with the best of them. Then you have Helper T who is more of a support role. Apparently he can fight based on his flashback but just doesn’t do that nowadays. With how the cell system works, you just have to stay in your lane at all times even if you have the ability to help. So sadly we never get to see him do much.

Regulatory T actually does get a role but unfortunately it’s a bad one. She ends up betraying the heroes to help out the cancer cell which was a really bad move. She may mean well but if following the rules means betraying your friends then it’s time to go off script a bit. The fact that she didn’t do this is ultimately what got her into a really big mess here.

Eosinophil was one of the better characters though. She could fight really well but her weakness is that it depends on the opponent so she did get mocked a lot initially. It’s got to be tough to only be able to fight against some opponents but she makes the most of her opportunities and gets a good win at the end of the day. She should only get more powerful as she goes on.

Memory Cell is one of the more annoying cells. The guy’s whole purpose here is to use memories from previous attacks to let the others know how to fight the opponents and what the best course of action is. Unfortunately he tends to forget this when it counts which is really not a good look. You’re counting on him to do something but he almost never lives up to his role. Considering that this is literally his only task, it is a really bad look for him.

Basophil is a very mysterious cell who is always talking in riddles. I think this does have some potential of course but ultimately it just doesn’t work out. Mainly the issue is because his words don’t actually amount to much. If you really pay attention to what he’s saying, it’s usually abstract things without a real meaning behind it. I like technobabble and ancient prophecy type speeches as long as there is a point but if it’s just the character trying to show off to an extent then it doesn’t work. Trying to sound smart and actually saying something which is smart are two very different things.

Then there is the normal cell and he just wants to have a good purpose. Right now the only thing that he has to do is make more clones of him. It’s a rather boring job and there just isn’t much to keep him occupied. I do sympathize but it gets to be a bit much when he’s getting in the way of the other heroes and actually teaming up with a villain at one point. Each job there is very necessary to keeping the body operational so messing around for no good reason is not a good excuse at all. It takes away from his sympathy points.

There are other supporting characters as well since there are tons of different blood types in the body. You’ve got the red blood cells in training called the platelets and then some more obscure types. You’ll probably have a hard time remembering all of the names but the series certainly doesn’t skimp out on the details. If there is a blood cell then you can bet that it’s in here somewhere.

As for the villains, most of them are rather nameless. You do have the coronavirus, flu, and a bunch of bacteria but for the most part they just get a quick appearance before being shredded. The Cancer Cell is the only exception to this. He’s a very smart cell who tries to think outside of the framework. It makes him an interesting villain because he’s someone who brings up a lot of valid points. Why does he have to be destroyed just for existing? After all, he didn’t choose to be born a cancer cell and it’s an interesting dynamic because this is a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier with the implications of each cell being alive.

A cancer cell by definition has to be destroyed even if he wasn’t doing anything. It’s not like the heroes can just spare him because as long as he’s alive then the system won’t work. In almost any other series you could see him being the sympathetic hero with that case or more of a moral discussion but Neutrophil has to end him because he recognizes that there is no way around this. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the manga even if they aren’t able to delve into this too much. It’s just nice food for thought.

I thought he made for an excellent antagonist and someone who couldn’t be brushed aside so easily. His abilities were also handy, he fought like a symbiote with how he could stretch his arms and turn them into shapes. That’s not something you could see a lot of other characters do. This title also didn’t have too many prolonged fights like this so it was definitely cool to see. You’ll certainly be satisfied with the fight as a whole.

In general I would also say that the artwork here was solid. It may not be amazing or anything but you can certainly follow the action without getting lost at any point. It’s easy to read through the pages and get to the end so I have no complaints here. The characters also have very different designs so you aren’t likely to mix them up. I still thought at first that each chapter would have a different white blood cell and red blood cell since there are billions or trillions of them running around and looking the same. Would have made sense in a way because the odds of the two cells meeting each other again seems slim at best. I assume it didn’t happen because the author would either have to think of an excuse to have them get along each time or just drop the dynamic entirely which would have made for a very different series. Ultimately this was the only way to keep their bond all the way through.

Another plus for the series is definitely that you may be able to learn a thing or two as you read through it. The series does use the science name for each of the cells and so you may learn some things about the body. Biology was definitely never my thing so I can’t say that I remember too much of the science but it’s a nice element to throw in there. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything.

In general it’s not like the manga makes any big mistakes either. It’s biggest weakness to me is that you never get super invested. It’s a fun read but I wouldn’t exactly call it a page turner. The characters just don’t have enough energy to really keep every moment dynamic and since the series is more of a slice of life style, the characters are needed to kick things up a notch. It’s still fun but you are less likely to re read the adventure. I think that’s the biggest difference between a 6 like this and a higher 7.

Overall, Cells at Work! is a very unique manga. I wouldn’t say this is a premise that most people would think of right off the bat. Usually dealing with the body like this could be a recipe for disaster as it could get a bit gross but this series never takes it like that. The areas also don’t look like parts of the body which I think is a good thing. I still would have liked more variety in the corridors but this’ll get the job done. If you’re looking for a manga to spend some time on, this will still get the job done. At less than 10 volumes it makes for a quick read.

Overall 6/10

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Jeepers Creepers 2 Review

This is a review of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Looks like the Creeper has returned! The first film was not exactly my kind of tea and I wouldn’t say that the sequel is much better. The setting of being trapped in a bus is better than being in the middle of nowhere but we don’t have the big police vs Creeper fight this time around. The Creeper also seems a little less durable with how easy it is to stab him here but I suppose he tends to resurrect quicker which maybe balances things out. Either way if you’re in the mood for a slasher title then this will fit the bill, but otherwise you may want to give it a timeout for now.

The movie starts with a family farming as they have some lighthearted bickering. This gets serious though when the Creeper shows up and kidnaps one of the kids, who ultimately ends up getting murdered. The father (Jack) decides to take vengeance and prepares himself for war. We then cut to the actual main characters with is comprised of a basketball team and some cheerleaders. Their standard trip home runs into trouble when the bus tires start giving way. The issue is that this doesn’t appear to be an accident as throwing stars pierced the two tires. Minxie gets thrown into the dream realm where she talks with the guy who died in the first film and the one from the intro. They explain that the Creeper is here to eat them all.

See, the Creeper vanishes for 23 years, then he comes back and has 23 days to murder as many people as possible before restarting the process. The good news is the heroes just have to make it to the next day and he’ll go away since this is the final day he has left, but the bad news is that they are only human while this guy has super strength, speed, regeneration, and flight. The team will have to try and band together to beat this guy, but they don’t have as much unity as they may have once thought.

Naturally with a film like this you can bet that the characters aren’t very smart or likable. They’re constantly bickering and fighting among themselves instead of actually focusing on the Creeper. This puts them in a really bad spot right from the jump. Also, there is one action they keep on doing which made me cringe because it is a textbook bad decision all around.

So the Creeper punches a hole through the top of the bus and he can now grab people through it. Sometimes he just pulls their head off or he’ll kidnap them entirely. So…don’t go under the hole right? I mean, he could probably punch more holes through but either way you should avoid the one that is already there. Well, that sounds logical but the characters don’t actually pull this off. One kid in particular constantly walks under the hole and gets caught twice as a result. The second time proves to be fatal, but what was he doing?

It’s pretty easy to make sure you’re not standing directly underneath the hole and yet that keeps on happening with various characters. The Creeper doesn’t always take them out, but regardless it’s not a good idea. It stands out the most because while the situation is pretty much unwinnable the whole time, that’s still got to be the absolute worst decision you could possibly make. Beyond that I don’t mind if you decide to stay in the bus or make a run for it. Both options have their weak points.

It’s more important about trying to stay with a partner as you make a decision so you can watch each other’s back. The Creeper seemingly can be overpowered to an extent if you have enough people but a lot of times the body being grabbed may not hold up anyway. Jack is the best character by far because he actually gives the Creeper a good run for his money. The guy came prepared with some really solid weapons and I thought the movie actually had some good effects here with how the shots played out. You see just how fast the hook fires and how it hits the Creeper before he has time to dodge. It may not have been fatal hits with the first two attacks, but it did show that Jack was able to catch him off guard and deal some serious damage.

The characters aren’t as opportunistic as in the first film though with kicking the Creeper while he was down. In the first film they kept running him over which I thought was a really good idea even if he ultimately regenerated but here when he seemingly dies on the roof they waste so much time bickering again. He just wakes up and by then it’s too late. This group really couldn’t get it together. While I didn’t like any of them all that much, I will give a special shoutout to the main jock for being the worst. I believe his name was Jake but basically he was jealous about not getting to play a lot and thinks he’s better than the other players around.

The reason he’s pretty bad is because he is the one to first suggest sacrificing some of the other kids. That’ always a really bad point to me because it escalates the tensions for no good reason. He’s basically turning the team against themselves. Jake puts a lot of stock into the dreams and prioritizing his own safety when they should just fight as a team. Look at how good Jack did against the Creeper. Surely the teens could do even better if they all paired up so betraying them all was an awful idea.

As for the Creeper, I still can’t say he’s a particularly interesting or good villain. The guy definitely goes for the creepy vibes as he even sticks his tongue out at the group but there’s nothing cool about him. Scenes like that just make you shake your head. In general this film wasn’t quite as out there and over the top gritty as the first one though. You don’t have as many body horror kind of scenes even if they are mentioned. The film still does get very violent for sure but it’s all a bit toned down from the first. It’s also not nearly as scary since the film is going more for thriller moments than horror ones at times so it balances out.

I was glad that we got very solid continuity nods to the first film. I always think a sequel needs to fully acknowledge the original because that’s how you build a strong continuity and I was satisfied with how that was handled here. I also thought the film really had a good ending here. It was really satisfying for one character at least. While the odds may not be in his favor going forward, you like to think that maybe he can secure the win at least for the next cycle. He’ll need a new plan for the one after that but fortunately there is plenty of time to do so.

Overall, Jeepers Creepers 2 is a step up from the first film but it’s in no way a good film or even approaching that level though. It still has a whole lot of weaknesses. The film deserves some credit for actually giving the Creeper some weaknesses so the heroes have a way to win. Even if you know a bunch of them are probably not going to make it, at least there is a path to victory so the whole adventure doesn’t feel pointless right from the jump. If anything it makes me think that the characters from the first film could have both survived if they kept running the Creeper over instead of the guy telling the main heroine to stop for some reason….he wasn’t very smart throughout the movie though so it lines up.

Overall 2/10

The Killer is Loose Review

With a title like this you know that the killer is going to break out of jail so you’re waiting to see how that plays out. This is a solid thriller film and I’d say that it did a good job of keeping you entertained all the while. It’s a bit hard to see how this guy got so far, particularly since he’s not a master criminal or anything like that. I guess it just came naturally to him.

So the movie starts with a classic bank robbery. One of the employees named Leon tried to stop the crooks but he got served up. Well, it turns out that was all an act so when Sam and the other cops show up to arrest him, Leon fights back. In the skirmish Leon’s wife is shot and he loses the will to fight back but promises that he will be back to destroy Sam some day. Fast forward a few years and Leon suckers everyone into letting him onto a vehicle where he murders the cop and starts his trail of revenge. Will he be stopped in time or is it all over for them?

Now Leon is playing the blame game from the start but it’s all his fault when you think about it. The cops were going to go in without firing their guns, but of course Leon had to shoot first which forced them to respond in kind. They understood that the room was empty and didn’t know his wife was present. Again, Leon should have been the one to either let her know to stay back or yell to the cops that he wasn’t alone. It’s possible that even he didn’t realize that she was there but even then that’s just another point against him. Either way, to say it was Sam’s fault at all is a huge stretch. I suppose villains tend to be insane though and that works out for this guy.

Leon isn’t a very intimidating villain though. While that is partially the point, it also means that you have a hard time believing that the cops haven’t taken him out yet. He’s just a mild mannered guy with glasses on the run from a whole country of cops. This should be an open and shut case right away but he manages to finesse them at every turn. They really need to work on their trapping skills in order to stop this guy, that’s for sure.

As for Sam, he’s a solid main character He’s done his best in each case and has to put his life on the line again for this one. I think he could have been a little more up front with his wife Lila on the plans though. Sure, she tends to panic a lot but in theory she’ll panic more when she hears things second hand instead of direct. I’d argue that this is exactly what happened here if anything. She doesn’t look good in a lot of the scenes because she is always panicking but a big chunk of that is also because she had to find things out the long way.

Sam still did take a lot of risks though and I liked him as the lead. As for Lila, while things ended well with her, I do wish she could have been a little more reasonable at the start though. That wouldn’t have been too much to ask for and it would have been beneficial to both of them to have been on the same page. I liked seeing all of the unity between Sam and the other officers too. Everyone was trying to catch this guy and nobody was giving this a half effort. They were all the way in with this plan.

It’s a rather direct film story wise as you know the villain is coming closer and closer as the film goes on. There aren’t really any twists and turns here, what you expect is what you’ll get. So the execution is important and I would say that was good as well. The writing was solid as expected and the pacing was good. The film never gets boring and the cast was solid. You do feel bad for any character that runs into the main villain though as you know they’re doomed.

There was one guy who was kind of friends with him but always used a nickname that Leon didn’t really appreciate. It didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of bad blood there but Leon is definitely the type of guy to take things extremely seriously. So as soon as Leon enters the house you know things aren’t going to go very well. It’s why I have to say that you need to make the first move if you’re held at gunpoint. Lunging at the gun is likely a better idea than just standing there. If you let the owner of the gun have all of the initiative then you’re basically dead already unless they decide to spare you. That’s not something you want to wager your life on though so a better idea is to make your play. Either you get the gun or you don’t but that’s it in an instant.

Overall, The Killer Is Loose is a good film about teamwork on the heroes’ side. They all used every method and asset possible to take this guy down. Even then it was ultimately super close and Lila got to play a much bigger and more dangerous role than Sam would have wanted. So if they didn’t all jump on this right away and get set, that would have made the situation even easier for Leon. Hopefully the town rethought their good behavior policy a bit. Of course you want to have one but at the same time you gotta use it within reason or villains will just pretend to have a change of heart like this guy and we see how that went. The whole fields area was a bit too relaxed the whole time.

Overall 7/10

They Drive by Night Review

This was definitely a solid film all the way through. It almost feels like 2 movies with how the plot changes quite dramatically mid-way through but as long as you like driving and a solid drama then this is the title to check out. You won’t be bored at any point in the film since something is always happening and it’s just a solid all around title.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe and Paul who are in the trucking business. It’s a rather difficult job that always has you on the go since the deliveries have to get to their spots without a delay. That means driving through all of the elements and even in the dead of night. Their boss ends to squeeze their profits away though and Joe has finally had enough. He aims to get in ahead of this with his brother Paul by having them own their own trucking business instead. To do this they will have to go and find items that people will need to instead of waiting for someone else to give them the things to ship, they’ll cut out the middle man.

Of course this isn’t easy. If it was then everyone would be doing it right? You’ve got the loan shark Farnsworth who is running around trying to get their truck. In fairness to him, the law is on his side at this point since the brothers are so behind on payments. Meanwhile you have Ed’s wife Lana who keeps trying to mess with Joe even though she is married to his friend Ed. Finally you have Paul’s wife Pearl who has been trying to get him out of the trucking business for years. Can she pull it off?

It’s hard to disagree with Pearl here as you see what the drivers have to put up with. You drive super long hours and even then you may end up getting the rug pulled up from under you. Some drivers end up crashing because they have to drive so late at night and get tired. It’s a very high risk job that ultimately seems to be low reward. Now if Joe can get his way and have them own the company then it could work out but it’s clear that this is a longshot so Pearl isn’t holding her breath there.

She does her best to support Paul all the while and is a solid heroine. She doesn’t make a fuss about it even when he disagrees. Paul is a solid character for the most part. He does go through quite a lot though and it does hurt him a bit in the second half as he doesn’t always take things too well. Paul is a very emotional kind of character, there’s no doubt about that.

As for Joe, well he is a very solid main character all the way through. He knows how to stick up for himself and puts up a good defense when someone tries to take him out. Throughout the movie you have Lana trying to seduce him but Joe stops that from happening at each turn. So in the end he’s a classy guy who did his best to make his dreams come true. Even with the deck stacked against him, Joe didn’t waver.

Then you have the main heroine Cassie who ends up getting roped into all of this. Joe can be a bit desperate the whole time so you couldn’t blame her if she decided to ditch him though. The romance is all rather fast so I wouldn’t say it works all that well. The real standout character here is Farnsworth though. The guy knows the law and his rights so he isn’t afraid to talk tough to the truck drivers. You actually feel a little bad for him the whole time because everyone gangs up on him.

Being a loan shark is absolutely not a popular job and the characters consistently let him know this. At one point he is even thrown out of a bar just for trying to do his job. Ultimately he does get his money but nobody makes him feel good about it. It’s a shame to be doing your job well like that and everyone’s still attacking you. I was rooting for him all the while because the circumstances aren’t really something he should need to consider. He’s just gotta get the funds.

Another character I liked a lot was Ed. So in a way my favorite characters weren’t even from the main pairs. Ed probably put up with way too much from Lana and their relationship was never going to be great but he’s really amusing to have on screen at all times. No matter how many insults she threw his way, Ed never backed down. He would just keep on laughing and taking it all in stride. It’s nice to see a character like that who was just unshakeable. He unfortunately just wasn’t very smart.

Lana is rather desperate as an antagonist so I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of her. For the antagonist you need to have a very strong motive after all and good ole jealousy doesn’t work so well in that arena. She also really fumbled the bag in the end since she really had a shot to do some major damage. Ah well, better luck next time and all but she’s not going to get the drop on Joe. He’s just too solid all the way through.

As I mentioned earlier, you’ve almost got two films here. You have the first bunch which is about the dangers of driving at night and you have a lot of solid drama here. Then in the second half it becomes a little more intense as Lana keeps trying plan after plan to get at Joe. I definitely enjoyed seeing the courtroom scenes that came in since that’s always fun. It’s a fairly quick plot point but still appreciated.

A film like this has to have really good writing in order to succeed and that was not an issue here. The writing was balanced from start to finish and I had no issues with it. The story was interesting and the characters were good so that was enough for me. It’s a film where the story naturally changes and adapts as you go through it so it makes for a fun watch with a good amount of replay value.

Overall, They Drive by Night is definitely a pretty good movie and one that I would recommend checking out. Whether you want a more low key film or just enjoy some solid drama, there’s a lot to like here and very few negatives. I wish things could have gone better for Ed since he’s a lot of fun but that’s why it’s always important to keep your guard up 24/7.

Overall 7/10

Dark of the Sun Review

Dark of the Sun is a pretty terrible movie and you want to get that out in front as soon as possible. It goes for the ultra dark/gritty vibe right out of the gate and it succeeds but at the expense of being a solid movie. Early on you figure this could be a rather classic adventure film with a group of guys being recruited to do a solid job. There are some red flags but it seems all right. Then the film gradually begins to fall off of the rails before self destructing entirely.

The movie starts with President Ubi of the Congo hiring Bruce as a mercenary to get a bunch of diamonds that are currently stranded in a town behind enemy lines. Of course officially the mission is to save the people there but unofficially they all know that the diamonds are what is important. They need them in order to get more weapons and back-up to fight off the other side. This mission must be completed within 3 days or the Congo will fall. Bruce and his friend Ruffo will have to grab some of the best people for the job but options are limited. So they end up with a drunk doctor Wreid and the nazi Henlein. Will they be able to get the diamonds and save the town?

So remember I was talking about those red flags? Yeah the biggest one was the fact that a Nazi would be on the team. One who still proudly wears the insignia and all that so he is clearly evil and insane. Why even let this guy on? I feel like they should have taken him out early on or something because this could only possibly come back to haunt them. In no way would this ever end up working out and sure enough he causes a lot of problems down the road.

It certainly works as shock value to have a character like this in the mix but I’d rather they have just bypassed this guy altogether. As I mentioned though, the first half isn’t bad. It’s like the Magnificent Seven as Bruce rounds up his team only this time we only have a few real characters and the rest are mostly unnamed soldiers. They need a full battalion to fight off the enemy after all and even use a train to get to the town. It’s rather defenseless against planes though and they lose a lot of men just trying to fight one off. It seemed like a rather petty move by the UN since Bruce explained their mission but they wouldn’t hear of it.

There is some decent banter here and the characters keep it moving but then they run into a lady named Claire who is one of the only survivors from another attack. She is let on the ship so she can be safe there but naturally Henlein is still around and trying to make things difficult. He keeps on trying to attack her and fortunately Bruce was around to stop him but the guy still gets off easy.

Heinlein is actually the one who attacks Bruce and very nearly murders him but when Bruce finally turns the tables he is interrupted by his friend Ruffo right before he can finish the job. Of course murdering the guy is going too far but they should at least have arrested him or tied him to a tree until they got back. Not sure if they have handcuffs so tying him up would be best. We now know that he is willing to murder and assault his comrades so why keep him free at all? There’s no way he will actually be someone that you can trust and the argument that they need him is outweighed by these facts.

Every scene with Henlein is annoying and the characters just give him way too much freedom. This really comes back to bite them too. It’s not even a hindsight thing because even in the moment you feel like they’re making a massive mistake. This just ends up getting worse and worse as the film goes on. Sure none of these guys are big heroes but there’s a big difference between being rough around the edges and actually trying to murder everybody.

It’s too bad we didn’t focus more on the political part because President Ubi seemed like a quality character. A lot of the best dialogue was between him, Bruce, and the rich guy. I could have a lot of fun with that being the main plot and there’s a lot of ways to keep that interesting all the way through. Instead we cut to the adventure and all the grit. The film really goes overboard when the heroes are unable to save the village and we see them all get tormented to death. The whole scene is definitely very disturbing and goes on for quite a while. Some people off themselves to escape this before it happens while others don’t get off so quickly.

While you understand the gravity of being caught by the enemy side and the suffering that it entails, you never want to actually have that on screen. If anything you don’t want it to be implied either since you already know it. The film is all about its shock value and being rather violent but all it does is weaken the movie as a whole. Even to the end the final fights here are really brutal. You can definitely see why Bruce did what he did, but it could have been handled in a lot of ways to have been less savage.

Bruce is a solid lead for the most part who knows how to command a crew and stay alive but he definitely didn’t handle this situation as well as possible. Likewise Ruffo is a good friend and ally the whole time but he also should have handled the Henlein situation a lot better. Some things shouldn’t be waved away especially when you don’t know the context like how he handled Henlein. I didn’t care for the doctor much though. Wreid was always drunk and while his big moment helped try to make him heroic, it also felt like it was too little too late. Hopefully things worked out for him but he put himself in a rough spot too.

Claire is good and you feel bad for her because she went from one life threatening situation to another. She’s really had a rough time of it but does her best and doesn’t complain. There’s a bit of a romance that the film starts to set up there but there isn’t really any time for that so the movie puts it on hold. I would have actually preferred we get a romance plot instead of how it all unfolded. This could have been a classic adventure film which may have been a bit generic but still executed well.

Overall, This film is just way too gruesome the whole time. The second half destroys all the goodwill that the first half brought. The characters also aren’t smart at all in letting a Nazi join the group. Full stop. If they had not done that then the film could have been completely different so they only have themselves to blame for that one. Next time you command a team you want to make sure you don’t have any clearly evil guys on your squad from the start. Sure there could be traitors but at least reduce your odds of that being the case from the jump. Either way you definitely want to stay far away from this film. It’s got a lot going on, but a lot that you can afford to miss.

Overall 1/10

Toys in the Attic Review

This film doesn’t actually have a bunch of toys running around so if you thought that was going to happen then you can dispel that notion right now. It’s definitely a rather serious drama film with a bunch of characters making the wrong decisions all the time. The ending isn’t very satisfying and so while this movie could have ended up being good otherwise, it wasn’t quite able to make it across the finish line.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Carrie and Anna who have received word that their brother Julian is heading home along with his wife Lily. They are a bit concerned since Julian only ever seems to come home when he is in serious financial troubles. Carrie seems to almost be happy about this though while Anna figures she’ll play it by ear and see what happens. Well, Julian seems to be rich somehow as he starts spending a ton of money and getting them all kinds of new things. He is rather dodgy about how he got this money too. Should the sisters be concerned or maybe this is actually a good thing?

It’s no surprise that the characters are concerned with the amount of money that Julian has. After all even his wife Lily doesn’t know anything about it, but she has her own suspicions. Her parents are rich and so she has had this feeling in the back of her mind that Julian only married her because her parents paid him off. This feeling now starts to get a lot more serious with how much money he has. Her lack of self confidence really gets her into a lot of trouble time and time again. Ultimately you have to press on and believe in yourself because if you don’t then other characters will take advantage.

As a result I can’t say that I liked Lily. She was portrayed as not being very smart and this backfired on her several times. If she had just thought things through then it would have helped out a lot. Meanwhile I didn’t care for Julian much either. There are so many ways he could have made the situation easier on everybody. For example, letting Lily know what he was up to would have been a whole lot better than constantly holding secrets. If he felt that he couldn’t trust her then that’s a massive issue since you have to be able to trust your wife.

I also thought he was out of bounds in getting his sisters fired since he didn’t want them to work anymore. That’s absolutely their choice and it should remain that way. Even I thought Julian was going to be the big villain here for a while because of how he was acting. The guy just didn’t think anything through and when you mix that in with the suspicious circumstances of becoming rich then it’s hard not to connect the dots.

Carrie is a pretty bad character all the way through too. She really wants Julian to be dependent on her to the point where she is basically rooting for him to fail at every turn. No matter how you slice it, that’s not something that a truly supportive person would think. We also find out that she is rather twisted and crazy by the end of the film with her warped desires and so there’s no way to like her. She is just around to get in everyone’s way the whole time.

While most may like Anna as the more reasonable character, I didn’t care for her either. The big tipping point for me is how she is not brave enough to take a stand near the end. She knows the truth of a certain incident and then opts not to make a single move. Fortunately one character figures it out at the end but she was just going to stay silent all the way through to the ending. I thought that was very regrettable because someone was almost let off scot free. Now that would have been a true tragedy and it’s hard to just let a scene like that go.

In a way that means I didn’t really like any of the characters here. Well, I liked some of the supporting characters. Lily’s parents seemed reasonable. You could tell they meant well even if they weren’t very great at explaining their feelings. It seems clear that they just aren’t used to having to discuss things and explain what they mean since they’re so rich. At the very least they tried setting Lily straight but ultimately they weren’t convincing enough for her.

For the most part this is a very mild mannered slice of life kind of drama but there is one surprisingly violent scene near the end. The stakes definitely rose quite a bit in an instant and the whole thing is rather tragic. You’d almost think this turned into a different film for a minute there. The actual act itself isn’t surprising as the heroes were worried about a gang leader for a while but you just figure it’s not going to happen or it’ll be more of an off screen moment. It makes things all the more annoying with how passive some of the characters were.

While the ending tries to go for a satisfying conclusion where everyone has a good ending, I feel like it’s a little too late. It’s definitely not going to be a very happy ending no matter how it plays out. It could certainly have been worse for them no doubt and they’ll be grateful to get this far but it just wasn’t the ending I had in mind. The film in general wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. The writing is good and some of the story ideas are interesting but the villain gets away with way too much. The villain’s motivation is also extremely weak and I’d take almost any other motivation over that one.

Overall, Toys in the Attic is not a film that I would recommend. To be a good film you really need at least one likable character but all of the main characters had big character faults that hold them back. Julian at least could have been a good character but he handled the situation poorly at almost every step of the way. The film doesn’t go into this but once we learn how he got all of this money, it makes him look even worse. He really should not be flaunting it everywhere and acting like he’s super rich since evidently that would put someone else in big trouble. It’s definitely a good reminder to be careful on how you act once you become rich all of a sudden.

Overall 4/10

Top Gun Review

Top Gun is a film that came out a long while ago and by this point just about everyone’s heard of it. With the new film out it was the perfect time to give it a re-watch. It’s a solid film that has aged well. I remember I expected a little more action when I saw it originally but it’s probably best to go in expecting more of a drama that contains action rather than the other way around. It has its weak points to be sure but ultimately it’s a solid film that you could check out at any time.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Maverick and Goose who are one of the top airplane pilot teams around. However, as skilled as they are they also tend to be rather unpredictable as Maverick in particular loves to be a rebel. He’ll prioritize thrills over doing things by the book. As luck would have it, the guy ahead of him ends up cracking so now Maverick and Goose have been selected to go to Top Gun, a school where only the best of the best qualify. Can they prove that they are the best duo in the sky once and for all?

Of course the purpose of Top Gun isn’t merely to see who is the best but to keep America strong and ready for any kind of dogfight. Towards the beginning of the movie they mention how America’s aerial supremacy has been weakening as of late as people have gotten used to just using tech and auto aiming so this should help them stay in peak condition. Maverick isn’t particularly concerned but he will find that Iceman is a tough rival when it comes to claiming the top spot in the school. Will he be able to get the win here?

Right off the bat one of the film’s strengths is that it has a very memorable soundtrack. The Danger Zone song that plays really is quite good so you never get tired of it when that track plays. The opening scene with the planes is certainly iconic with that song in the background. It really gives the film a lot of personality and also makes the scene feel that much bolder. If you take the song away then the scene wouldn’t hold up as well and it’s a perfect example of why the songs are so important.

The effects throughout the film are also really good. They spared no expense on this one and as a result it holds up well. The movie is a bit long but it doesn’t feel that way as it’s always interesting. When we finally do get to the action scenes near the end it is worth the wait. The battles are solid and while of course I would like to have had more action, it works well as the climax regardless.

Now as for the weak points of the film, there are 2 in particular. The first is that the romance is very weak here. Maverick needs to try and be the best so you’d think there would be no time for romance right away. Particularly once he finds out that she is the teacher you’d expect that he would pump the brakes a bit. Instead he really lets this get to him and can’t even take constructive criticism after that. If you cut out the romance entirely then I think the film would be a lot stronger.

On Charlie’s side as well you feel like she wouldn’t have fallen for him so easily after she has seen the usual pick up lines a million times before. She’s here on a very serious job to train these pilots so there’s no time for distractions like that. It also wouldn’t really change the film much at all if you cut out the romance so it always begs the question of why include it in the first place right?

The other weak point is surprisingly Maverick. I actually wasn’t a big fan of him at times. He does have his good qualities of course like his confidence and the fact that he always has a comeback. That’s good and something I want my lead to have. Where he falters aside from the romance is how he loses his nerve towards the end. Now there is an important story reason as to why that happens which really shakes Maverick up, but it’s a little too much. So I’d have been fine with it if Maverick quit or something right off the jump. My issue was later on in the climax when Maverick is able to get into the air but then loses his nerve again and ditches Iceman when it was 5-1.

It was for a short time and Maverick ultimately turns back to help out but he easily could have died in that time. 5 against 1 is absolutely crazy odds in a dogfight after all. So Maverick has all of the potential to be a great character and on paper I would expect to like this character but he didn’t actually work out for me. Instead it was Iceman who stole the show. He has great confidence as well but never loses his cool. The nickname is very deserved and while he may do things by the book, it doesn’t make him any less skilled than Maverick. If anything he is more dependable.

Is Maverick probably a little more skilled as a pilot? It’s very debatable but sure I would give him the slight edge. Iceman is still the guy I’d want as my wingman the whole time though because I know where he would be at every moment. He had a really good handle on things and he was always willing to be the bigger man too. He’s the one who approached Maverick to pay his respects and if you notice he never tended to instigate any of the issues without a valid reason. He was certainly legitimized in trying to explain to Maverick why you can’t abandon your partner even in a training exercise.

In general the writing is really solid though so you’ll get a lot of fun exchanges there. Goose is another big character in the film and he’s a good character too. He’s definitely got a good friendship with Maverick going here and he has skills of his own as well. Then you have Viper who shows off his skills during the simulations as the instructor too. He runs a tight ship and has the skills to back it up.

As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a lot of real action until the end of the film but there is a lot of airplane battles throughout. The simulations are handled really well so you’ll have a fun time with that too. Writing is what ultimately puts a film like this over the top and so I had a good time with it. It’s a solid all around movie that has a good amount of replay value because of how fast paced it is.

Overall, Top Gun is a pretty good movie. It has some areas where it can be better but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives and it’s a fairly safe recommendation to anyone that wants to watch a solid film about teamwork. I’ll have a review up for the sequel shortly and I can confirm that it makes the most out of this one as a base. A good sequel should use the tools that it has from the first film after all and this one makes the most of it.

Overall 7/10

SSSS.Dynazenon Review

Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2 Review

The Black certainly took a break for a long while but at long last we got season 2. I was pretty much blown away by how good season 1 was. It had a great premise and really executed on it. The solid cast brought this to completion and I was eager to see how season 2 would play things out. Season 2 is a very different show in a lot of ways and while the first one had me gushing about everything, I would say that this season had more weaknesses. It’s still pretty good but I had some issues which wasn’t the case with the first season.

Last time Boy transformed into a Kaiju and saved the day but now the group has to decide what to do with him. Taylor thinks its way too dangerous to stick with him and Mei agrees but Hayley says they will not abandon him under any circumstances. The Sisters of the Kaiju are after him as well which complicates things. Protecting Boy could end up costing all of them their lives. Taylor will be faced with a tough decision there and this could even cost him the trust of his allies. Will he make the right move? Also, does this group have ties to their parents?

There’s a lot going on here of course but the Sisters are definitely the main threat now. Not to say that the Kaijus aren’t a threat but at this point it’s fairly easy to outmaneuver them and to stay safe. The sisters can control Kaiju which is the real danger here since that means they can utilize strategy and all kinds of tactics to keep the upper hand. I wasn’t able to take them very seriously though which is part of what made this season a bit weaker. This group isn’t all that strong individually. They can be shot like normal or just overpowered. Their ability to use Kaiju is impressive but it’s not enough to make the group as a whole very scary.

You feel like the heroes probably could just storm the base and blow them up a few times. I like the concept of the group for sure and I remember being intrigued in season 1 but they just didn’t live up to the hype. Giving them some slight super abilities or a more charismatic leader would have gone a long way towards helping the group out. It did at least give us a fairly satisfying plot with the mother though. The episode of jumping into her mind and trying to bring her back was cool. It was like something out of X-Men with the whole exploring the mental realm part.

So this is around the point where Shane shows up and he’s definitely changed quite a bit. The guy was the big antagonist last time but here he is played up more like someone who deep down cares for Mei a lot the whole time and has just made a lot of tough calls. He walks back some of his more nefarious moves from last season with revelations like him storing up the memories and now he’s ready to risk his life to save the main characters’ mother. It’s impressive that he didn’t walk away from the challenge and just went for it. It feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect here but either way he makes for one of the better characters in this season.

The scene of him casually taking out a few of the sisters just made him look that much more impressive even if it had the opposite effect for them. His partner was also decent but more of a tech guy so there wasn’t a lot for him to do in the field. Shane’s group should live on rather well with their new commander who knew how to fight and lead the group. He ends up bumping off one member of the group but she was handling everything in a really awful way. Why shoot at a monster that’s not even going towards you? The scene was meant to show how she cracked but man was that a bad time for it.

The season is only 7 episodes so by this point we’re already about halfway and then we get the climax with the sisters launching their final assault and Apex even showing up. The government also appears to mostly get in the way by the end. I felt they were unreasonable the whole time but the kids did not help their case at all. We’ll get into that more later on. The fights are good as always with a lot of solid back and forth. There aren’t as many robot vs kaiju battles here but the ones that we do get always deliver when it counts.

There are also our share of human battles against the smaller creatures which is good. I did think that the main wolf type Kaiju looked way too weak though. You couldn’t go one episode without them getting wrecked by someone. They would lose to humans, Boy, random villains, etc. Seriously, it’s almost each and every one of those 7 episodes where they lose and it felt like they were complete fodder now. Losing to Boy is fine of course but when they were losing to Mei and the others it could be a little harder to buy because of how ferocious these things are supposed to be. It’s mostly just a power levels issue but they went down too easily.

As with last time I really enjoyed the animation. I still say it looks like something out of Nintendo with Hayley looking like a cross between Link and Samus. The style suits the series well and takes 0 time to get used to. It just works right from the jump even when there are no action scenes. It’s really colorful and striking so each scene has a big impact on you. The soundtrack or lack thereof isn’t impressive though. I couldn’t tell you any big themes from the show which is a shame because I think you could have had a lot of really cool sci-fi themes going the whole time. It seems like that wasn’t meant to be this time though.

Now we do meet a crazy guy named Bunyip who actually manages to keep the Kaiju at bay to an extent. I thought he was pretty interesting because he has managed to live all these years but he definitely didn’t think things through by the end. His system was never going to work forever though with how it relied on the food like that. One moment of sabotage and it’s all over. I did find it interesting that they had to do the whole sabotage thing instead of controlling the Kaiju outright. Maybe that would have been too much for them or their hunger for food would supersede the orders.

Now the most controversial character here would be Taylor and for good reason. This guy makes a whole lot of mistakes in this season and they are rather large ones that you can’t walk back from. He argues with Hayley in basically every episode about Boy and what they ought to do with him. Naturally he wants to cut ties with Boy the whole time because Taylor thinks the situation is too dangerous while Hayley says they should keep looking after him since they’re all a family. Taylor then does the unthinkable in brokering a deal with the villains to take Boy off their hands and it’s a move that you can’t come back from.

You can’t just give Boy over to an insane cult like this. Who knows what could have happened to him and then the fact that he did this in the dead of night so the others wouldn’t realize just makes the whole thing even worse. It wasn’t a brave thing to do but a cowardly one. I wouldn’t blame Haley if she decided to never speak to him again after that. Then in another scene has her take the tough job of helping talk to someone as they’re dying so it can be peaceful. Hayley has to go through a lot here and a good chunk of it is Taylor’s fault.

No matter how he rationalizes it, he made a terrible choice here. You can’t just betray your allies like this no matter how tough the situation gets. It was very disappointing since he was pretty good in the first season. It may have sown the seeds for their future disagreements but at least they were talking it out rather than him just making a big move like this. At least Hayley was still a very good character. She did advocate for helping Boy a whole lot in the season and never backed down. She proved herself to be more of a hero than the other 2 who certainly had a lot of doubts about the whole thing. Hayley just doesn’t give up the way that the others do and has managed to keep her optimism the whole way through.

She is also able to keep a better control of her emotions at times. Perhaps not all of the time as she’s under a lot of stress to but when the going gets tough she steps up. That’s exactly how it should be. As for Boy, he doesn’t get a ton to do here since he is being mind controlled half the time but he means well. He’s just too young to have much of a character yet though so he’s mainly just around as a plot point more than a character.

Mei is still the most hardened member of the group and she’s always talking about leaving but deep down you know that she’s here for the full ride. She has some history with the sisters which can cause her to freeze up but it doesn’t stop her from going in and helping with the whole attack on the base. Ultimately she does the best during this operation which is not surprising. The show always gave her the respect and poise that is due of such a good fighter. She was more on Taylor’s side the whole time but unlike him she wasn’t going to try anything sneaky in the dead of night so she’s way better than he is.

One character who shows up briefly here is Apex but you feel like his character was wasted. This guy still has the best design in the show and is one of the fiercer characters but he doesn’t get a true fight this time. He shows up to help with the Boy situation and that’s it. Ultimately it wasn’t much in the way or closure for this guy and they could have done better. I was happy to see this guy and so to have his role be so small just didn’t feel right. He deserved a big battle if nothing else.

Finally you have their mother Brina who is a solid character. It’s definitely a shame that she got brainwashed so thoroughly but it’s hard to imagine someone. holding out against the sisters for so long on their own anyway. They’re a professional cult with a ton of experience in this domain so that makes sense. Ultimately it’s hard to remove their influence and she has a tough time throughout the season. I was glad that she got to appear and have some conversations with the main characters at least. It was definitely a long time coming there.

As for the government stepping in, so here’s why I blame this on the heroes a bit. They should have yelled right away that they were the children of the two legendary pilots. After that have the A.I. try talking and just keep saying trivia and fun facts that establish their identity. Instead they were a little too curt and down to business on the liens which didn’t give the government a lot to work with. Of course I do think the government wasn’t very reasonable here either as they immediately started firing the whole time. At lest look at the situation and see what’s happening here. These guys were way too gung ho and if the barrage was successful then the robot would have been taken out too. You feel like they could use every suit they can so breaking it would be a huge waste for them.

It ended up making the final fight a whole lot closer than it needed to be. I’m also not convinced their assault would have done much to stop the real Kaiju enemies so being here may not be the safest thing anyway. Well, the season works as an open and shut ending to the series which most of the important things wrapped up. The Black does well in feeling like its own stand alone story while acknowledging that things are going on around the planet as a whole. I’d like to see this continued and incorporate them into the main plot to stop the Kaiju once and for all. That would make for a great season 3.

One of the things that helps the show excel so much is the very solid writing here. It’s a very advanced writing style here where the characters debate and talk each path through. They don’t always see eye to eye by the end and sometimes the plans are no good but the dialogue is quite strong. Writing plays a key part in any show and this one was definitely in a good spot as a result. Mixing in the fun action and graphics is an extra bonus to take this even further. So what I’m saying in the end here is that you’ll have a lot of fun here and you should be satisfied with the ending. It may have had its weak points but at the end of the day it’s still a well rounded show with a lot of fun moments. The action scenes are all a lot of fun and while this is a show for the story first and action second, they give each fight a good amount of time and effort.

Overall, Pacific Rim The Black has been a really fun ride. Watching the two seasons back to back would definitely make for a really solid watch. A lot of franchises would be desperate to get a show this good so it’s really fortunate for Pacific Rim to get something like this. There was a lot of effort put into it and there’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If you’re looking for a solid action/adventure show then you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Overall 7/10