Hunter X Hunter: The Last Mission Review


It’s time to look at the final HXH movie. The first one was definitely pretty fun and it was nice to see Killua take the lead. This one has a more traditional plot and more action and does pass the first film for me. I do think there are some missed opportunities here but the teasing for fights that don’t end up happening is pretty accurate to the show I suppose.

The film starts with Gon and Killua heading to the battle tower to cheer on their friend Zushi as he prepares to fight his way to the top. They meet up with Biscuit and Zushi’s trainer and the fights have apparently attracted a lot of top players as well. The royalty that Kurapika has been assigned to protect is also in the audience so naturally he has accompanied her and even Hisoka and Netero have decided to come and watch. Everything appears to be going well and nobody would dare attack with so many big shots but Leorio finds out that this is not the case. On his way to the tower he is taken down by a group of villains and then they take control of the tower. Netero is being restrained on the top floor and everyone else is being held hostage. Gon, Killua, and Kurapika are the tower’s last hope now.

Right away this movie definitely feels more on the high budget side than the last one. I think the animators definitely enjoyed the first scene of Gon dashing around and grabbing the balloon. It seemed like an animation showcase kind of moment and the colors are definitely extra bright. As a result of the smooth animation Gon and Killua also look a bit younger than usual, but they are kids so this does make sense. I definitely enjoyed the animation here and it really does stick out for the fight scenes. They’re nice and fast which is always a good thing to have.
There may not be as many fight scenes as I would like but Gon and Killua’s teamup was excellently done and the climax with the main villain was also pretty solid. It’s a clash of energy for the most part and seeing Gon in a movie exclusive form was neat as well. The villains are fortunate that this wasn’t late Chimera arc or Killua could have definitely ended them all with his Godspeed.

There aren’t really any themes here that didn’t show up in the show at some point. The show themes work pretty well though and we get to see multiple endings too. The themes work well for the scenes and are definitely solid. The film goes by pretty quick and the pacing is definitely solid. It does lead me to the film’s only weakness though and that is how the film ends before a lot of the characters actually get to do anything.

Now, this may be intentional as the series is known for teasing the fans, but the movie brings a lot of characters here to not actually do anything. Hisoka, Biscuit, and Zushi’s teacher are big examples of this. Hisoka shows up to make a lot of threats and talk tough, but by the end he is having fun just being a coach of sorts and decides not to take any direct action. Surely the film could have added one more member of the group whose purpose was to get eliminated by him right? Biscuit and the teacher can also fight so it was a bit iffy to see them just stay as hostages and not do anything. They fight some random minions at the end, but that doesn’t really count for anything. It’s not the kind of thing that ultimately hurts the film’s score, but I think the film would have been even better if they could have done something.

Meanwhile, at this point in the game Killua and Gon are way ahead of Kurapika and Leorio and I’d say that the film does acknowledge this. Kurapika’s abilities are pretty versatile, but because of the conditions he has placed he is only really deadly against the spiders. The bulk of his abilities don’t work on other enemies so at that point he has to rely on his pure hand to hand skills. He does a good job all things considered and healing is important as well, but he wouldn’t have a chance against the stronger villains. Tactics are still his strongest suit though and it was good to see him figure out to get to the control room right away. That being said, his strength against Uvogin was pretty good and I believe that wasn’t part of the chains so if he still has that level of ability I think he could have done better in the fight.

Leorio definitely doesn’t look great here. At first when he mentions his nen I thought we were going to see him actually fight, but in the end all he gets to do is block. He still helped out in his own way, but I was waiting for him to do more. He still looked better than Netero though. Netero’s fans should not be pleased as he gets caught in a really basic trap and spends the whole film being helpless. Even when he finally gets ready to fight all he can manage is a stand still. I think he was pretty nerfed in this adventure if I’m being honest and I was expecting more out of him. For all his tough talk you’d think that Gon surpassed him here.

Meanwhile Gon is definitely still pretty obsessive like in the Ant arc. He gets pretty intense about never forgiving the villains once they attack Netero and fights with a vengeance the whole time. He’s quick to embrace the darkness to try and save the others. His quick determination to do whatever it takes is good and it’s something he embodies more than a lot of the other Shonen leads. At the same time he’s also a lot more selfish and once he gets a goal he is fine with ditching his friends to accomplish it. Turning over to the darkness should have destroyed him if he was anyone but the main character. While I don’t think he thought all of this over too well, he definitely did good in a fight.

Killua is the true star as expected though. While Gon surpassed him temporarily with his real conditions mode, Killua has always been a step ahead for the most part and the film does a good job of showing this. While Gon is definitely stronger, Killua does have the speed advantage which is really useful in a fight. I felt like he could have beaten the villain pretty quickly if not for the location and the fact that the villain was only fighting with Gon for the most part. He was basically ignoring Killua the whole time. Killua is definitely the perfect ally to have around as well since he’ll do his best to protect everyone the whole time.

As for the villains, they’re not a bad bunch. While the film does give them an origin story it was pretty brief. The main villain Jed is definitely the best one. His dark powers are cool and he had a pretty solid plan. The fact that he can fight Netero on even ground is definitely not something to be taken lightly and he was holding the heroes at bay pretty well. The kid who dies early on didn’t really get to do anything so I can’t say much about her.

The other villain who got the most development here would be Geki. He likes a good fight and is one of the more honorable villains. He’s definitely got legitimate strength and does a good job hanging in there during his big fight. Zushi definitely didn’t stand a chance against this guy even without his fancy powers. Shura is more of a tactical villain, but he definitely has some moves as well. While not as cool as Geki he does round out the villain group pretty well.

Overall, The Last Mission is definitely a solid HXH film. It definitely feels a lot more like a classic Shonen Jump film than the last one. Getting everyone together and then bringing in the big fights is all you really need to have a quality experience. I do think the film should have given the characters more to do though. I’m also extremely skeptical that all of the floor masters would lose to these guys, dart or no dart. They should all have crazy nen abilities of their own and part of the point of Hunter X Hunter is that you never know what to expect before you fight. At least one of them should have had an ability that would have won the battle. While you might have to suspend some disbelief for the power levels, I’d argue that this is the case for most anime films. It’s a fun ride through and through so I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 8/10

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Masters of the Universe Review


It’s time to take a look at the really old He Man film. It’s definitely one of those movies where you may wonder a bit why they went the route that it did. Surely the movie could have done something else like stay in his world the whole time right? Well, it was definitely an interesting experiment even if it didn’t fully pan out. It’s engaging in its own way at times, but one of those movies that doe shave some moments where it drags.

The film starts off with Skeletor and his minions finally conquering the world. It’s all thanks to a new world hopping device that he got thanks to a little gremlin. One wrinkle in his plans is the fabled hero He Man. Now, “fabled” may not be accurate, but we’re never given a good reason why he wasn’t there from the start. He’s pretty nonchalant with his friends when they find him randomly running around in the dessert. From the intro it sounds like he’s been gone for along time so the whole thing doesn’t make sense. Still, the odds are too great even for He Man so he heads to Earth to make a new device to bring him back. He’ll have to protect two teenagers by the names of Julie and Charlie though as they have the device and Skeletor’s minions are now after him. It won’t be easy but He Man can do it!

If I may be so bold, part of the problem here is the fact that the earthlings are pretty annoying. They are slow on the uptake and all they do is hold He Man back. Think about it, some of the best scenes were the ones from the beginning. We got a lot of cool gun fights and jumped right into the thick of the action. It’s like a war was going on and we got to see the climax of it. It may have been a little weird to see He Man pull out the gun, but I guess even he knows when he needs the extra firepower. The villains look like Stormtroopers and the whole thing could have been like a scene out of Star Wars. Trust me, if the whole film had been like this then it would have been very awesome indeed. It’s the He Man film that we needed.

Also, the fight scenes do hold up pretty well. It’s nice to see He Man just throwing everyone around and dominating the cast of villains. He is basically Superman after all so he should be cleaning shop. He Man’s definitely a solid main character even if he is a bit insensitive. There’s one scene where Julie has just been through a traumatic experience but He Man and the other characters all laugh when the troll drives in on his crazy car. The movie definitely does not always know how to time its comedic moments, I’ll grant you that.

Back to the humans though, I can’t say that Julie is the most engaging character. Her relationship with Charlie is also a bit odd as the first scene sort of implies that they are on the verge of breaking up. She wants distance from him and can’t wait to leave, but that plot flies out the window once the villains attack. She’s also incredibly gullible and naive as there is a certain scene where her mother appears that will make you roll your eyes. It’s one of those moments where you just gotta shake your head. Then you’ve got Charlie who definitely doesn’t seem like the most helpful guy around. He ditches Julie to get some info on how to get rich and after that he spends most of the film complaining about the current situation. The only human who pulls his weight around here is Lubic.

He’s the classic detective who is on a power trip. He wants the device for himself and has no idea on what is going on so he calls the cops and gets ready to take everyone down. He won’t listen to you about who is on the right side so he just blasts everyone who gets in his way. It’s not necessarily a bad outlook if you want to come out on top, but as a detective you’d want him to do a little more due diligence. I do like these parody type characters though so I was definitely rooting for him. He’s just a fun guy to have around.

As for Skeletor, he was handled pretty faithfully I must say. The design is on point and he was given a lot of respect as the villain. He did manage to capture He Man’s planet and that’s no small feat. He probably should have sent all the armies to Earth to fight He Man right from the start though. Finishing him off should be top priority since I doubt anyone else can fight all that well. Instead he insists on the villains taking He Man in alive for some reason. Skeletor never was the smartest villain though.

The ending is definitely emotional I suppose. In general if you ignore all of the scenes with the troll then the film did a decent job of taking itself seriously and giving us good action scenes. The writing actually isn’t all that bad either. Really the only scenes that drag are when the humans show up or when the troll steps in. For the most part the film manages to keep itself on the right track and that’s good. The scene of the heroes fighting while inside the electronics store is pretty surreal for sure.

Overall, Masters of The Universe is a pretty reasonable film. It’s not going to win any awards, but I wouldn’t call it a bad film either. It’s definitely on the cheesy side and the effects may not hold up to the newer titles, but the film doesn’t have any game breaking negatives. It’s a fun little fantasy story that I could still recommend to fans of He Man or just to people that want an exciting little adventure. Aside from one scene where someone takes a pretty hard hit to the face and bleeds more than you’d expect, the movie is also pretty tame. I do think a modern remake of He Man will likely blow this one out of the water, but in the end I’d say that it may have even been slightly better than I had expected it to be.

Overall 6/10

Monster Tamer Girls Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure manga. I’d definitely not heard of this one before and as it was only 2 volumes it’s definitely not one that you will likely see in stores much. It’s definitely an interesting take on the monster genre. It’s sort of a mix between Yotsuba and Go Go Monster. While I can’t say that this manga was all that interesting there was certainly nothing wrong with it either. It’s a good way to spend some time, but at the end of the day it’s a manga I would recommend reading for free at the library as opposed to buying it.

The manga takes place in a world where Kaiju are now commonplace. They are numerous and run around across the planet. Fortunately they are all basically mindless but the bad side of this is that they cause trouble without meaning to. As a result the world has started opening up schools for kids to train on how to tame these creatures. The Tamers will take the Kaiju to safe spaces where they can relax without disturbing people. That’s the way it’s always been and how it must remain in order to build a stable society. The manga follows the adventures of 2 girls who are tamers in training. They’ll soon learn that this job is easier than it looks.

There’s not really much of a plot once you get beyond the initial synopsis which I dare say is a problem. So many cool things you can do with a Kaiju defense force! Most of the manga is introducing you to the cast and then by that point the series is basically over. There are several main humans, but only one main Kaiju who is around for the whole adventure. His name is Blue and he’s a huge Kaiju who just wants a friend. The Monster tamers are fortunate to have him as he helps give them a boost when needed. He definitely makes travelling a lot more convenient for sure.

There are 4 main characters with 2 supporting ones thrown in there. One of these characters is Koto. She is a professional but doesn’t care much for the monsters. She thinks they’re all mindless and the job seems to bore her, but by the end she learns that the monsters have a little heart at least. Then there is Sora who is the co-main character along with Ion. Sora likes messing around and hitting people with the water horse while Ion is just focused on being the best tamer she can be. Tsukiko is the quiet one who doesn’t like to admit that she likes the Kaiju. She has a reputation to uphold after all and she’s always been proud of it. Still, pride comes before a fall and eventually she learns to play nice with the monsters.

None of the characters are bad, however there isn’t much to any of them. They’re all just going through the motions and enjoying their daily adventures, but nothing really comes of this. They get some basic character development like Tsukiko learning to be more open, but that’s about it. There’s really no time for anything else. Length isn’t an issue as you can have a great series in 2 volumes, but I think this is one title that could have used a bit more time. As it stands it is over before you can properly identify with any of the characters and that’s a bit of a problem.

The art is pretty solid, but the problem that the artist has is how similar all of the characters look. It’s easy to mix up Sora and Ion as well as Koto and another one of the characters. Some characters share the same hairstyles and others share the same personalities. Their ages are all pretty close as well so after a while you’ll just find yourself mixing them up. I had to dig up one of the volumes just to remind myself of their names.

I think one thing that could have added some more interesting elements to the story would have been to have some actual monster action in the series. I don’t think that would be unreasonable as surely some of the monsters would try attacking the planet right? The series hints at this and develops a world that should have many interesting elements, but we are stuck at the school with the nice monsters the whole time. You’ll very quickly find yourself wishing to see the outside world. The closest thing we get to these discussions is one kick from Blue to another Kaiju, a flashback where there’s some kind of battle going on and a Kaiju saves someone from a burning window, and a ghost. Beyond that the series is mainly just the kids learning how to feed animals and have fun.

Overall, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t exactly for me. I dare say that Yotsuba has a little more depth and excitement contained within. You really need some sort of gimmick to take the manga to the next level. A slice of life series can live on for quite some time with a good character cast, but you need them to have real personalities. You don’t really get that vibe from this series and even the monster designs aren’t all that great. This doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of options and as a result I’ve got to give this one a middle grade. I wouldn’t say to stick away from it, but I would hardly recommend it either. It’s a manga where you’ll finish it and not have much of an opinion on it. The series isn’t hurting anyone, but you could always find something else to read.

Overall 5/10

Valley of The Dragons Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a pretty misleading title. The beginning had a good premise but once the time travel occurred it quickly fell out the window. Now, I do like time travel but I prefer to go forward in time rather than backwards. If you ask me it’s just a lot more fun that way. There’s not much in the past that interests me, at least not when you get into the caveman era.

The film starts with two guys about to have a duel to the death. Apparently, they seem to like the same maiden and naturally one of them has to die for this. They ready their guns and move a few paces to take their shot but that’s when an earthquake occurs and scatters them to the winds. When they get back up they appear to be on a new planet. They’ve done their first dimension jump and are in the distant past where “dragons” currently roam. Now, you can make the case that it’s past Earth or another planet but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a scene where they notice that the stars don’t match so it’s probably a new world. They each end up going to different cave factions that have been warring with each other for eons. Can they help the two teams make peace or will they all die against the monsters?

As far as the dragons are concerned you shouldn’t get your hopes too high. Their appearances are few and far between. If we’re being honest the big one doesn’t appear til the end. Most of the little creatures running around are the kimono dragons which are basically just lizards. They aren’t exactly all that scary. The big one is fun enough but definitely pretty mindless and lets the heroes attack him over and over again until they eventually take him down. If he had done just about anything else then he could have won. The monster still did rack up a decent body count I suppose.

One weakness with the film is definitely the whole caveman element. I’ve never cared much for the trope of having the main guy try to teach English to these guys. For one thing, Hector isn’t all that understanding and gets frustrated pretty quick. Does he really expect them to learn English overnight? His voice can also be a bit annoying but that part’s not bad as it fits the character. He’s supposed to be annoying.

The other guy (Michael) is a lot more patient with the cave people and becomes the leader real quick. I suppose I would probably say that he is the better character of the two as he had more personality. He also became a leader real quick and did most of the hard work in the climax. I wouldn’t say either character was all that great, but he got the job done.

The writing was reasonably solid I suppose. The scenes with the ancient people weren’t that good but the banter with the two leads was pretty decent. It’s always god to have a dynamic where the two characters initially want to destroy each other but are then forced to work together. It is a bit clichéd I’ll admit but as this was back in the 60s it pulls this off unironically.

Then it almost goes without saying that the romance element is very weak here. The cave women basically throw themselves at the main two guys since they dominate the pack so easily but it’s all so fast and doesn’t feel real. We even get jealousy plots and also see why the two factions are warring from the start. Without the main two guys keeping them in line it is pretty clear that the two factions can’t control themselves and would be picking fights constantly. Having one “strong but not smart” character is enough for most films, make that the majority of the cast and then the movie has really got a big problem to deal with.

I can’t really say that the pacing was all that good either. While it almost goes without saying that a boring plot will drag on, this one really goes as slowly as possible. One scene in particular that really takes forever is when the heroes are trying to stab the giant monster. It’s the same action over and over again for at least 10-20 minutes with no variation. After a point it just comes across as having no real meaning and the scenes are complete filler. The action isn’t filler, but redoing it over and over certainly is. You could tell that the writers had run out of material by the end.

Overall, Valley of the Dragons is a film that was pretty decent for the most part but the actual plot holds it back quite a bit. It should have been a film about the leads getting trapped in some kind of vicious world for sure, but not one this far back in the past. If it was more modern we could have gotten around all of the scenes of them trying to teach the people everything and more banter instead. Of course by this point I am describing an entirely different film, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. If you don’t mind the past element then I think you’ll reasonably like this movie since it’s the main thing holding it back. Just don’t go in expecting a lot of actual dragons.

Overall 4/10

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review


It’s time to look at the second Fantastic Beasts film. I’m really still not sold on this series. Try as it might, this title just isn’t nearly as fun or interesting as Harry Potter. I can’t think of a single way in which it matches up. The title doesn’t even make any big mistakes like animal violence or being super violent. There isn’t even any fanservice to speak of. The main problem with Fantastic Beasts is just the fact that there currently aren’t any real likable characters. Everyone’s just fairly annoying and so without anyone to root for the film becomes less engaging than it should be.

The film starts off with a flashback as Grindlewald escapes confinement along with one of his henchman and begins to amass his army of followers. We cut to the present where Newt refuses to join the Wizarding army and has his VISA denied. He makes contact with Dumbledore who tells the kid that he must do one of two things. He needs to either take down Grindlewald (HA!) or he can find Credence and prevent him from turning to the dark side. Newt agrees to do this, but quickly gets sidetracked by a romance plot involving Jacob and Queenie which takes up a large chunk of the film. Meanwhile Grindlewald has to get Credence to he can destroy Dumbledore. To accomplish this he prepares to unleash some spectacles on the world which will wow the people with low will power to his side.

Quickly we’re gonna jump way out of order and talk about the ending. The film had the perfect chance to salvage the whole 2 hour experience with a single line. Grindlewald is explaining to one character what his true name. The final line of the film should have been “I now dub you…VOLDEMORT!!!” and then have the film end with an extremely loud guitar solo followed by some fast paced rock music. The revelation would have shocked everyone to the core because of how little sense it would make but it would have been absolutely amazing. I would have gained so much respect for the film. It would have finally tied into Harry Potter.

See, that’s one of the big problems here. This spinoff is like Attack of Titan Before The Fall. It really has almost nothing to do with the real series. Sure, Dumbledore is here and Nagini finally gets to appear, but their roles are pretty small so far and it’s not like they were huge characters in the main series. I want to see Harry or Snape! Too bad the prequel takes place so far in the past right? So, really the prequels need to try and develop their own series so they can be a solid entry in their own right without tying into the present. the problem is that the story’s just not interesting.

It’s a shame because at the same time I do appreciate the ambitious nature of the film. It may sound contradictory, but I think the overall plan for the film wasn’t bad, it’s just that the execution was painful. This film is clearly trying to throw in a bunch of plot threads which will all get wrapped up in the future. It can work out really well like in the old Spider-Man comics where at one point you had almost 10 different subplots going on in the background. When handled right it makes each issue a whole lot more exciting or in this case it would help the future films. There would be so many characters running around in the background that it would keep you really hyped. The problem is that this only works if you really enjoy the characters or find the plots engaging which is what the film fails to do. It’s more focused on the plot than the characters and you gotta have both. I do think huge fans of the Harry Potter lore may still be excited about all this, but it really wasn’t doing much for me.

The Ministry of Magic is really stuffy and antiquated. There’s no reason to root for them because their rules aren’t very sound. They are determined to keep the magic and human worlds separated to keep the balance so it’s no wonder why people are betraying them. They are trying to rule over everyone and that never goes well. All they do is hold each other back like when they shackled Dumbledore. The cabinet leader admitted that the principal was the only one who stood a chance against Grindlewald and even then he did this. The group makes no sense so I agree with Newt on not joining them. Still, they are the lesser of two evils so lets keep that in mind.

Then we have DUMBledore. All right, maybe not all of this is his fault, but we can blame him for quite a lot. That bloodpact he made a long time ago is really causing him trouble here. Even if he can’t attack Grindlewald directly he can still attack his troops. After all, Grindlewald has absolutely had no problems attacking Newt and every other hero here. Seems to me like Dumbledore is hiding when everyone was counting on him the most. He gets a tremendous amount of hype here, but he has yet to do anything of note. All he does is teleport and run around a lot. He also needed help getting the cuffs off. At this point in his career Gandalf had done more to prove himself so Dumbledore better shape up.

As for Newt, I still don’t like the guy. He’s constantly acting petty and being a downer in every single situation. He never explains himself and always has a sulking expression on his face. The guy’s too timid to be the lead and his magic skills don’t seem terribly advanced. He seems like a nice enough guy, but someone who should really be a member of the supporting cast and not trying to be Harry’s successor. Tina is the main heroine (Well, debateably. In the first film it was unquestionably her, but her role is reduced here) and she is a lot more interesting. At least she is actually being very pro active in trying to stop the villains even if her progress is quite slow like the others.

Then you have Jacob who gets mind controlled in his first scene. Don’t worry, he’s not being used as a hostage or anything, but he might as well be since he was nearly forced into marriage. By the time the spell breaks he tries to recover, but I think he could have been a little stricter with Queenie about not doing that again. He’s just not safe as she can dominate his mind at any point. Meanwhile, Queenie makes no sense here. Why show up at Newt’s place when he would obviously know that a spell was active? She should have gotten married first if she actually wanted to get away with the plan. She also has low will power and makes all of the worst decisions in the film. She definitely had a very different character arc than what I was expecting. It’s handled pretty well, but there’s no way I’ll be a fan of hers after this.

Then we have another plot with Credence and Nagini. Credence is one of those characters that everyone is hunting for different reasons. That can go down an interesting path of course as it’s always interesting seeing what side the character will choose. Unfortunately Credence has about as much agency as a pawn in Chess and just goes where the flashy colors are. In this case they belonged to Grindlewald so that’s it for him. He seems like the type of character who will be manipulated with ease. Nagini’s certainly a lot more interesting although I can see this being the start point for her descent into darkness.

Then we have the main villain Grindlewald himself. The film sets him up as being the big villain right away as even children aren’t safe from his terrors. He’s certainly got big goals, but is taking his time in going about them. Since he’s apparently the strongest sorcerer out there I’d like to see him make some more direct moves soon. I know that with magic there are a lot of convoluted reasons on why they must wait, but he needs to take the stage more. Just look at the climax. He murdered a bunch of spell casters with ease just with a single spell. He nearly took down all of Paris! If it’s that easy he should just keep blasting away. I get the feeling that he’s going to have some pretty big fights coming up.

The effects here definitely look really good. The magic spells are on point and the aerial fight with the lightning bolts coming down was definitely handled really well. More fights like that and the film definitely would have went up. The movie is at its best when we’re getting magical battles like that. Unfortunately they are few and far between. It does show the potential of the series though as we could potentially get more moments like that which would be very cool. It’s definitely jumped up visually from the last film. That’s a good thing since the average scenery in this film isn’t all that fun to look at. It does take place in the 1970s I believe though so that’s likely intentional. The effects are what you’ll be looking forward to.

Overall, I would have liked the film to have had some court scenes given that the title is literally referencing Grindelwald’s crimes. Instead he doesn’t do a whole lot after he escapes. The big climax at the end is pretty great and certainly the best part of the film. The characters all have to make a choice and it does set the stage for the third film to be the big payoff moment for a lot of characters. At the same time, this title really dragged its feet the whole time and still hasn’t given us a reason to root for most of the cast. I dare say that most of the Harry Potter characters had more personality after 1 film than these guys have after 2. I’ll stop comparing the two titles now, but Fantastic Beasts really needs to step it up. The review probably sounds pretty negative, but I’d still give this one a positive score. It just feels like empty world building right now and so there’s very low replay value. It still makes for a good initial watch though. I’d recommend checking it out if you like fantasy titles or are a big Harry Potter fan. That’ll let you really get the most enjoyment out of this title.

Overall 6/10

Dragalia Lost


I may not have stuck with the Dragalia Lost game for very long but the plot was definitely pretty interesting. The manga is actually very impressive with how good the art is. It looks like this one will be taking a very detailed look at the story so if all goes well it’s going to be an excellent title. I’ll have a review for it when the series ends.

Overall 7/10

Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks Review


Looks like it’s time to take a look at the next Equestria Girls film. The first one was pretty fun and it’s always nice to see the Mane 6 in new adventures. I don’t know nearly as much about this human spinoff series as the Pony one, but I am slowly becoming quite knowledgeable on the subject. While this film dials down the stakes and such from the first film, it’s a pretty solid adventure as well. The film’s also quite short, but still manages to give us quite a few songs. I would have liked it to have been a little longer though so we could have seen some of the other teams.

The film starts off with Twilight stopping Sunset Shimmer from destroying the world and the effects are felt even as far as a little cafe on the mainland. There we see 3 villains who realize that magic has now entered the human world. They decide that this is the perfect opportunity to take over the world and so they enter the local school singing competition as transfer students. Sunset Shimmer quickly realizes that this characters have some kind of mysterious ability so she gathers the Mane 6 and even brings in Twilight Sparkle from Ponyville. Can these fighters stop this trio of danger or will their friendships be lost to the wind?

Right away I did like the opening credits/song that was used to start the movie off. Coupled with the opening scene of the villains it made for a pretty nice way to start the film. It felt cinematic and there was a sense of danger. You always want to start a film off like this even if it was a little misleading compared to where the film would go from there. I always think you need to add something extra when you’re making a TV show into a movie. Something that immediately lets you know that you’re watching a feature film like an amazing animation upgrade (DBZ Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan) or a catchy theme. Rainbow Rocks pulled this off.

As expected the soundtrack is top notch as well. The songs are pretty fun although the villains definitely out shined the Mane 6 at least during the concert. Their songs just seemed to be better but the heroes were dealing with a lot of grief that likely held them back. Also you do have to account for the fact that we’ve heard a lot of friendship type songs already so hearing the opposite is always fun. Even in the main MLP movie the villain song ended up being one of the best. There are a bunch of solid songs in the film which are likely the highlight.

The animation’s fairly good. In this respect I don’t think it looks a whole lot different from the show or the Youtube shorts, but the animation isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It gets the job done which is the important thing. The transformation forms of the heroes are still a blast even if they didn’t really get to fight here. The character designs are on point as well.

If the film falters a little, it’s in the climax just as with the last film. We see the villains transform and you prepare for a big fight as the heroes decide to transform as well. Then the power of music beats the villains so we don’t get a proper fight. I wouldn’t call it disappointing since I think a part of you will maybe even find this to be the expected outcome, but it’s still a little unfortunate. I would have liked to have seen the characters throw down. If anything it would probably be a stomp since Sunset and Twilight can really fight well. The others can sit back and watch the experts at work.

Now lets talk about the characters. The three villains are brand new so I’ll start with them. Adagio is the leader of the 3 and typically takes charge. She’s a reasonable villain who tries to stay serious despite one of her lackeys not being particularly competent which always harshes her vibe. Adagio’s plan was well thought out and seemed like it had a great chance at working. I don’t think there were any flaws to her character. Despite this, my favorite member of the villains was Aria. She’s fairly defiant and hints several times that she has ambitions of becoming the leader. She seems to be the most confident as well as the meanest member of the group. I would have liked to have seen her get more of a role.

Unfortunately the third character falls flat. She is Sonata and is the token comic relief character of the group. She can’t really comprehend basic english at times and is always getting upstaged by everyone. She never ultimately helps the group out and I can see why the others would constantly get upset at her. She’s likely here to ensure the villain plot never gets too serious or dark but I think cutting her out of the equation entirely would have probably been a good idea.

Now lets look at the Mane 6. They are all fighting because of the band and tensions are pretty high. Most of it can be directed at Rainbow Dash as she has decided to be a one person show. She goes on random guitar solos and never lets the others have any creative input. While she is definitely going too far, you can’t put all of the blame on her either. It is Rainbow Dash’s band after all and she was probably hurt that her friends were so quick to replace her as the leader with Twilight. There’s no reason she should have to give up the spot right? Also, the friends were forced to stop her from sweeping the floor with the other contestants during the semi’s since she was playing too good. That’s usually not a problem but in this case it would reveal the Mane 6’s true identities to the villains. All in all, Rainbow Dash was still one of the best characters here as always. She just dances to her own beat and everyone else has to try and keep up.

Rarity and Applejack don’t get to do much here but of course they aren’t happy either. Applejack doesn’t like Rarity’s designs and Rarity doesn’t like not having the designs. Pinkie Pie doesn’t do much here aside from constantly complaining that everyone is taking the competition too seriously. If I were the other characters I would agree and then cut Pinkie Pie from the team. Then of course we have Fluttershy who is sad because she’s written a few songs but Rainbow Dash never uses them. I can see why she’s a little upset there, but she should have pressed the issue more. If she mentioned the songs while everyone was around that probably would have forced Rainbow Dash to use them or to at least confront the issue.

Twilight Sparkle looks a lot better here than in the last film. That’s because her terrible romance doesn’t pop up quite as often here. I do have to list that subplot as a negative though. Whenever that guy shows up Twilight seems to go crazy and it’s weird since she is usually above such emotions. Twilight is the hardened Princess of Friendship. She oversees it without getting involved with such things. I’m hoping that for the third film this subplot finally dies out. Beyond that Twilight’s plot is about dealing with the high expectations everyone has of her. She gets past it reasonably well. I do have to call her out for another scene though and I’ll include the rest of the Mane 6.

So of course Sunset is dealing with a lot of apprehension from the other students since she used to be a bully and almost blew up the planet. It makes sense that the students would take a while to warm up to her, but the Mane 6 are past that right? Well, they constantly bring up the fact that Sunset was evil and like bragging about how they crushed her. It happens a number of times from several of the ponies to the point where it becomes a running gag. Sunset has to constantly say that she’s okay with it, but none of the ponies seem to have any social awareness. They put her in a lot of awkward situations. Then when she calls in Twilight to help and the two had made up from the first film…Twilight acts very stern/uncertain with Sunset. Why would she not take Sunset’s hand when she was trying to help her up? The long hesitation felt really forced since they were on good terms.

As for Sunset, she was a great character as expected. She is really the heart of the team. While the Mane 6 are constantly fighting and being meant to each other Sunset tries to be a shining light to them all. She always takes the hero’s route out of a problem and ultimately reminds the team why they are together. Not inviting her to sing with the band was definitely shallow of the team, but Sunset overlooked this for the greater good. I can see why she is generally accepted as the Mane 6’s leader in this part of the franchise. So far she’s done a great job of it and I’d still like to see her fight with the Ponies in the main series at some point.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters who get to appear for a bit through cameos and guest star roles. The DJ character certainly played a pivotal role at the end. Trixie also got a big role although it certainly wasn’t her most heroic role. I can see why she would be upset though since there was a lot of cheating going on during the competition which almost robbed her of the hard work she had put into it. In general I also liked seeing everyone get competitive over the competition even if it was due to a lot of mind control shenanigans at play. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?

Overall, Rainbow Rocks was definitely a solid sequel to the first film. I think it’s hard to say if it beats the first one because I always like seeing the group get together for the first time, but at the end of the day we can’t have ties. I’ll say that Rainbow Rocks was an improvement and I look forward to seeing how the next film goes as well. It’ll be tough for the next movie to have as many quality songs as this one since the plot revolved around music here, but I’m sure that the series will think of a good plot. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend it. It’s a pretty fun story about friendship and music. At the end of the day those things are crucial to a good movie. We even have the trope of the big cosmic characters (Luna and Celestia) looking terrible as the new villain shows them up which is always important.

Overall 7/10

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 6/10

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter


I’ve now started the Monster Hunter series! The first volume was pretty solid. It had a good array of action. It will have to be careful with how it handles the monsters, but the series definitely shows promise. I’ll have a review for it when I finish the series.

.Hack//Sign Review


It’s time to look at what I’d consider to be a fairly iconic anime. It’s not so much that it’s known as one of the greatest anime of all time like DBZ or that it’s super long like One Piece, but it’s just an anime that you’ve likely heard of over the years. The .Hack franchise is also pretty popular in its own right and this is certainly the most well known show. It’s definitely a fun adventure that takes a pretty deep look into the online gaming genre.

The show takes place in the future where online games are finally on the rise once more. In particular a fully immersive game known as The World has gotten incredibly popular because of how realistic it is. Just pop on the helmet and you are inside the game. A player named Mimiru was exploring a cave like normal when she bumps into a player named Tsukasa. He runs off and she thinks nothing of it at the moment. However, it turns out that Tsukasa is unable to log out of the game and can’t even recall what is happening in the real world. The other players suspect that he is a hacker while others are worried about what has happened to his real world body. The secrets can be found with the Key to the Twilight. It’s an object of immense power can can change the game itself. Of course, finding it will be tough since the heroes don’t even know if it exists at all or if it’s merely a legend.

A big part of the anime is about exploration as the characters look around for a dungeon that isn’t in any of the official guidebooks. Effectively, they are really getting into the game now since it’s like going back to the days before the internet. Of course the stakes are high since Tsukasa’s life hangs in the balance. The heroes have to decide if helping like this is worth it or if the game is starting to take up too much of their time.

Despite being the main character, Tsukasa is actually pretty annoying. He is constantly snapping at everyone and feeling sorry for himself. From the start things would have been better for him if he had talked to the Crimson Knights instead of making a break for it and acting all suspicious all of the time. From his actions he basically told them that he was a cheater so of course they would try to arrest him at that point. Then Tsukasa actually destroys a few players. He never turns into a total villain or anything though and his actions are not malicious. He attacks in self defense but naturally the Crimson Knights won’t believe it. Tsukasa doesn’t have an easy time of it at all, but the reason why he is annoying is that you feel like the lead is making the situation a lot worse on himself.

Mimiru is the main heroine here and in a sense you could say that she represents the average player. She is intelligent but not a pondering philosopher like the rest of the characters. She is just here to enjoy the game at first but gradually gets pulled into Tsukasa’s web. I’d say that she definitely has a pretty tough experience here since the wavemaster is hard to be friends with and tends to panic or run away when the going gets tough. Mimiru’s definitely a fun character throughout and was certainly crucial in Tsukasa’s personality change. I dare say even more than Subaru as she got him to take the initial steps out of his shell.

Subaru is the leader of the Crimson Knights but she tends to disagree with their methods. She wants them to just go around talking with people as opposed to actively keeping the world safe. I rather disagree with her on this one at the very least on the idea that they should be so lenient on cheaters. They should report them to the admin right away and in the meantime locking them up makes sense. It would be like locking someone’s account for a little while. The knights naturally did take it a little far by the end, but I felt she was too far in the other direction. Subaru is a nice character though even if she isn’t the best fighter. She can just be rather naive at times like when she actually expected the Crimson Knight to tell her if the friends that he disliked leave her a message. I don’t think anyone expected him to actually do that.

Bear is another one of the main characters. He hangs out with Mimiru a lot as well as BT. Inside the game he is probably the deepest thinker and is also the most pro active in trying to find out the truth behind Tsukasa’s predicament. He has to make a lot of tough calls on his own and ultimately ends up making the right ones. It would have been rather tough on the kid without him. Bear can always hold his own against the other characters in a verbal battle and is good at planning as well. He’s just a very solid all around character.

BT is a character who really doesn’t care for lettuce since it erodes the taste of whatever it touches despite society telling her that it has no taste. It’s a pretty interesting backstory. In the game she likes to play as a very tricky character who will betray the heroes for a good item. She plays both sides quite a lot throughout the series before finally choosing the right side. As a result she is rather annoying though and it was too little too late when she came to aid the heroes. She also tries to go after Crim in the real world even though he’s pretty decisive in rejecting her. Of course it’s always tough to move on immediately.

Crim is essentially the “Top Player” character of the game. He has a considerable amount of skill and vows to use it for justice. He role plays as a Superman type figure who is always around to help those in need. He definitely ended up being the best character in the game. For starters he is the only one who didn’t really bring any drama with him to The World. He likes to keep the real world and the video game separate and completely gets absorbed into his role. That’s definitely the way to play and he is able to do this while still appreciating the stakes that the game now holds.

Sora plays a big role in the series as he likes to manipulate all of the characters and hatch plans of his own. As he is one of the strongest characters in the series there typically isn’t much that the heroes can do to oppose him. Only Crim is able to properly stand up to the guy. He can be fun to have around, but I definitely wouldn’t say that he is a likable character. At least he ends up trolling both the heroes and villains which is always nice for a wild card. At most you might feel bad for him during the end of the series since he tries one last betrayal which doesn’t even matter and ends up getting himself a little too deep into The World.

For a while the Crimson Knight was easily the best character in the show. He’s one of the big antagonists of the series who believes in hunting down the hackers so everyone will have a fair gaming experience. He isn’t pleased when Subaru tells him that they are just a fan group with no real power. At this point he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s not as if he goes crazy and starts trying to destroy everyone though. He merely stays in his quest to stop the cheaters and it’s a shame that by the end of the show he didn’t get to do as much as I would have hoped. His fight scene with Tsukasa early on was cool though. I think that may have even been the first episode. Even there he wasn’t in the wrong you’d think since Tsukasa was obstructing Justice. On the other hand, since the Crimson Knights are a fake group with no authority then are they outside their jurisdiction? I’d say no.

As the characters mention from time to time, they are all role playing inside of The World. Why not role play as a police officer? While the Crimson Knight gets a little extreme towards the end, he is not unreasonable at the start. If someone is hacking the game then they must be stopped before other players are hurt right? Especially since this game does seem to give you some level of pain feedback in the real world. In the video games a lot of the characters also don’t like the hackers since they mess with the game so much. The Crimson Knight does get distracted by the romance angle quite a bit, but otherwise he had a pretty interesting mission throughout the show.

The show is very dialogue heavy of course so don’t go in expecting constant fight scenes. Fortunately the writing is really good so the dialogue works. The show never feels dull or boring despite all of the talking because the show is just very interesting. You’re engaged with what they are talking about. The characters may go in circles at times but it won’t dampen your enthusiasm as they will at least gain some kind of new clue which alters the conversation. I think the voice acting deserves a lot of credit here as well. Every character sounds rather monotone and robotic but that makes sense since they’re all role playing within the game. It adds to the effect pretty well and makes them easy to listen to.

.Hack also manages to avoid some of the negatives that typically go hand in hand with anime as well like fanservice. The show avoids this which seems to be pretty tricky for video game anime like this or at least that’s the impression you get from titles like Sword Art Online. It was tough deciding whether this show would be a 7 or an 8 because it is fun, but is it great? It was very interesting throughout and while the show lacked action the mystery was fun. It’s not the kind of mystery that would lose much replay value on the second watch since it’s not about a culprit that you are finding, but secrets of the world. Everything is very meta so I think it would hold up well enough on a second viewing.

I also liked the soundtrack quite a lot. We get many different operatic themes which help get across the show’s mysterious tone. “Come with me to the Twilight” works well for all of Tsukasa’s moping scenes where he’s wondering what to do next. The show is constantly throwing in both lyrical and instrumental themes at you which fit in well. They are epic but can also be interpreted as sad depending on the scene. The only theme that I really didn’t like for epic scenes was Sora’s. It’s a really happy theme that seems completely out of place whenever it pops up. For example, it pops up during the final battle between Crim and Sora which is a hype scene but the music doesn’t fit at all.

It’s not a theme that pops up too often though so it’s fine. Also, as we don’t get too many fights during the series it’s always fun when they do pop up. The Sora bouts are always enjoyable and the invincible monsters were also cool. Each fight is fairly short so enjoy what you get from them. The thing is that most of the characters aren’t too strong here as they want to enjoy the game and aren’t grinding their stats. Only Sora and Crim decided to grind their way to level 100 and at that point it all comes down to their skill level when wielding their weapons. Since The World is so glitchy, it’s probably for the best that they don’t take that part too seriously.

The animation is also pretty good and holds up well. It’s a classic 90s-early 2000s aesthetic. The colors are bright and the backgrounds have a lot of detail. I liked how they animated Skeith as well. He certainly comes across as a very intimidating figure. The gray, faded out look for the real world also did a good job of showing that aside from The World, Earth hasn’t changed much and that’s why everyone wants to be playing the game instead of just going through the same motions as always. It would be cool to see more of the human world, but this way it does keep more of a mysterious vibe.

How much you enjoy the show will depend on what extent the vibe works for you. The first half can be rather slow as all of the characters keep heir secrets and don’t really do a lot to shed light on the situation for anyone else. It’s not til we enter the second half where the characters all start to team up and realize that an enemy is near. Then we get the fun dungeon exploration and battles against the mysterious being. As it is the show basically just ends around this point as the clean up is left to the characters of the original 4 video games. It’s not like these characters can fight a being who is a part of the game like this so I wonder how often they would log on after this or if they began to take a more cautious approach. Either way as long as you find the show interesting like I expect you will then the lack of activity at times won’t really be an issue.

One thing that would have been nice would have been to include more of the video game characters. Several of them got cameos here which was cool, but having them around more would have been even more exciting. I suppose they could have stolen the show since they were so OP though. By not having them around, it also showed that while the situation was huge for the main characters, it wasn’t necessarily an end of the world event where everyone had to show up. Even by the end of the show a lot of people probably didn’t even realize what was happening since they would probably just ignore the forums.

Overall, .Hack//Sign is definitely a fun show. It’s the kind of title that has a lot of replay value since the dialogue is engaging from the start. It’s very solid across the board so I wouldn’t say that it had any specific weaknesses. At most I do think it could have used some more fight scenes but the characters do stress that this isn’t really that kind of game. Combat is a feature though so it’s always an option. The show is also better in batches than weekly since the show likes to progress at a slow pace in order to allow all of the characters to process what is going on and discuss it. If you haven’t seen a really solid video game adventure yet then this is a great way to start. Now I just need to go back and play .Hack part 4.

Overall 7/10