Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks Review

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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

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Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Review

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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.

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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

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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

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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.
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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.
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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

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On Review

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It’s time to look at Monster Hunter. An anime that may be different than what you’re expecting as it is based on a very specific game in the series that is about riders instead of hunters. The series never really manages to break out of its shell and become something too epic which is a shame. There are certainly some more interesting things they could have done here and it could have potentially opened up into something like Pokemon. Still, it’s a reasonably good show and one that lasted for a long time so the show had time for a lot of things to happen.

There are two main arcs, but lets say 3 since the pre arc was rather long. The start of the show is about Lute, Cheval, and Lilia as they journey throughout the village and into towns as they learn more about being Riders. Unlike Hunters who destroy monsters for rewards and safety, Lute and the gang grew up in a village where they live as pals. Lute aims to prove that having kinship with a monster is the right thing to do while the hunters aren’t very sure. Hijinx ensues and the cast often have to wonder if this is the right call. Even if it is, how will they convince anyone to change sides? To become a rider you have to get a special jewel and to do that you basically have to join a village so that’s a tough sell for anyone.

The next arc is the darkest of the show as Cheval’s life is forever changed when a blighted monster destroys the village. He decides to avenge his family by hunting down and destroying all blighted monsters. Lute doesn’t think that this is the way to go though and decides to purify all of the crystals instead to stop the corruption at its core. The two of them become enemies now and while Lute is convinced that they can still be friends with differing opinions, Cheval doesn’t agree. He aims to destroy Lute once and for all to prove that sometimes Kinship isn’t enough to keep two people together.

Finally, the series brings in a new group of villains known as the Black/Ebon/Dark Riders who show up and kidnap Avinia. They aim to bring the world to its knees by performing a forbidden ritual and getting unlimited power. Lute and Cheval have to try and stop these guys, but the problem is that they are outnumbered and these villains are also way too powerful. They will need some kind of power up to hold their own. The other villagers realize that they will have to get stronger as well, but can they bridge the gap in time?
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The show’s tone was all over the place, but for the most part it was rather light. Think of it as a classic slice of life series for a while as the heroes head to various towns and chat with people. That’s why in some cases the episodes could get a little boring since the cast isn’t amazing. Then the show gets really dark for the main Blighted Monsters arc. One thing the show is rarely clear about is if defeating monsters means destroying them. It seems like this is the case due to how everyone reacts and Lute always tells everyone not to defeat the monsters except for when he does. The show’s just really not consistent here. This may be more the dub than anything, but it really tried to never use the word destroy. As a result, “defeated” is the term always used even when a monster is slain.

That’s why the middle arc gets really dark as Cheval goes around destroying all monsters who have been in contact with the blight and even any other that just gets in his way. Lute and the others are unable to save any of them. Chieval even commands a Nargacuga of his own as a revenge of sorts for the main one dealing with his family. He is very mean to it of course and then abandons it. Cheval never really had to answer for all of this much and I just felt bad for the monsters. Then of course we have the hunters running around slaying them all. It’s definitely a rather brutal world that Lute and the others live in. The worst part is that Lute has his kinship stone which can purify all of the blighted monsters but he typically forgets about this and still tries to take some of them down at times. This whole part of the saga definitely brings it down quite a bit and is one of the main reasons why the Black Rider arc ended up winning. At this point the monsters started getting written out a bit although Shadow still destroys quite a few along the way as well. I guess they all need to become pals with a main character quickly before it’s too late.

Lute is your typical main character. He believes in the power of friendship (Known as Kinship here) and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s really close with Navirou so they trade insults quite a lot but all in good fun. Lute’s only real flaw at times is just how much of a pacifist he is. Even when being attacked he refuses to fight back if he is up against a fellow rider. This is at its worst during the final arc when he first fights with Gale. Considering that this guy kidnapped one of his friends and may destroy the village, Lute really has no time to keep trying to dodge the fight. You’ve got to make a stand and it’s not like simply fighting the opponent is the same as destroying him. Aside from that it is nice to have a more experienced Lute for the final arc. He is treated with a lot of respect at the end since he did help save the world and his new design does a good job of getting that across without any words. As soon as you see the design for the first time you can tell that he has gotten stronger.

Navirou is Lute’s travel companion and he is very useful for navigation in his mind at least. He is the main comic relief character of the series so you can probably guess that he isn’t very good at almost anything. He does have some thunder abilities which are really handy when Navirou actually remembers that he has such a power. Unfortunately that isn’t very often so don’t expect to see it much. Navirou’s cross armed salute is probably his best running gag but I also don’t mind his “Navi rules.” Cutting out some of his comic relief would probably have been nice though or even some of the cat episodes in genera. Overall I think he worked well as a support character and I’m glad he was around but the character could have been better.

Lilia is technically one of the 3 main characters for a while but starts to get written out by the end. Her path in the show was doomed from the start as she did t have a monster to protect her. Without a monstie in an action show like this, of course she wouldn’t ultimately stand a chance. It’s the same situation as being in a Pokémon show without catching a Pokémon. Lilia decided that she wanted to be a researcher instead which is fine but that kind of character rarely gets to do all that much. Lilia ends up being rather bland as a result.

Then we have Cheval who is the main rival. He gets a very Sasuke esque role here as he starts out by being one of the more heroic characters, but quickly starts to let the darkness consume him. He goes as far as to try and destroy Lute multiple times and nearly destroys one of his own Monsties. His whole arc gets rather dark at times. Naturally he also gets the redemption arc at the end as well. It may be a little tough to buy into as well especially since he did claim quite a few victims. Lute may accept him, but should he? Ultimately it’s hard to see Cheval as anything but a villain even by the end. It’s a shame because his character type is always nice as he becomes the rival that he always should have been by the end. The guy certainly went through a lot of character changes.

Avinia is a mysterious figure who shows up in the series from time to time before getting a big role in the final arc. She does lose this mystique almost right away but it was nice to finally have another rider who could fight. At the time Lute was the only heroic rider so he really needed an ally. Unfortunately, we never did get that Avinia vs Cheval fight I was hoping for. Once again I can say that the show dropped the ball with Avinia quite a bit. She has one of the best designs in the show and a monstie with a lot of potential. Despite this she rarely fights in the series and spends most of the final arc on the sidelines. Considering how powerful she apparently is, I would have liked to have seen her play a more active role. Still a cool character but one who wasn’t given enough to do in the show.
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Of course we can’t forget about Deb….Li. Every character in the series likes to mess up his name and it is heavily implied that this is intentional. That’s because they say his name normally when he isn’t around. We already have a handful of comic relief characters but I guess you can never have too many as this one was thrown in as well. For the most part he is about as obnoxious as you would expect. He yells quite a lot and can’t seem to do anything right. The one running gag that he does right (Aside from the whole name thing since that one is decent because of how Debli panics every time) is when he Rides on. The animation and fake sound effect that he gets for it is handled beautifully. Debli toes the line between being a sympathetic character and an annoying one and does a good job of making it ambiguous. In the end I was okay with him although I wouldn’t have been sad if he had never shown up.

Reverto is probably one of her biggest unintentional jokes in the series. He gets a lot of hype throughout the series as being one of the world’s greatest hunters. If that really is the case then that doesn’t bode well for the hunters in general. He can barely handle any legitimately strong monsters and forget about taking down a plot important villain. In this show all hunters can do is swing their sword around and hope to land some good hits. They have no special abilities or even any enhanced physical ones. They are just guys with swords. Of course one of the main themes of the show is that the Riders are right and the Hunters are wrong so I wouldn’t expect them to look that good but they look downright horrible by the end. Hundreds of hunters can accomplish what a single rider can because they have no special abilities. Why would they possibly not want to become riders then? How have they not all been wiped out by this point? Anyway, there isn’t anything actually wrong with Reverto as he is a decent character but you just can’t take him seriously when he is fighting because despite all of the tough talk you know that he won’t end up coming out on top. He is just there to buy time for Lute.

Simone would fall into the same issue except from the start she is portrayed as a researcher rather than a fighter. Her intel is rarely useful and barely goes beyond the realm of common knowledge but I guess her role isn’t all that bad. She’s just not a very interesting character and none of her scenes really leave an impact. Cut her out from the show entirely and nothing really changes at all. That’s never a good sign.

Dan is one of those comic relief characters where you aren’t sure if it is intentional or not for a while. Technically you would think that he is rather skilled since he is rather old and teaches the kids, but they end up surpassing him very quickly. Part of the issue is the fact that he chose a very weak monster to be his monstie. He never explains why he doesn’t just pick a different creature. Perhaps it has sentimental value or perhaps he just isn’t the smartest rider in the group. Either way, his character doesn’t work too well and his “In top Form” battle cry is so half hearted that you will wonder why they built a whole character around the line. As you can tell, many of the supporting characters just aren’t very interesting. I won’t even get into the various elders who never do anything or the riddle master who is just annoying.
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Mille is one of the side characters who is actually good. She can fight and in the final arc is probably the strongest rider aside from the main 2. (Lute and Chevall) O would have liked her to have gotten more of a role though. From the start of the show you got the impression that she may turn out to be a bit of a rival or at the very least would remain as one of the main fighters for a while. Instead she is effectively kept to the background for most of the show. Still a good character but she could have been even better.

Instead a lot of screen time is wasted on Hyoro as he tries to overcome his timid nature. The plot does not go well and he even sides with the villainous Chevall to take on the village. Yes, Mille does this as well but at least she was already a quality character. Hyoro never ends up becoming a good character and even after he gets stronger off screen for the final arc it’s hard to ever gain respect for the guy. He just never had a big moment where he got past his fears and did something amazing. Instead he essentially proved his doubts right as he never got to be all that strong. Genie is Hyoro’s older brother and the main reason why the kid turned out the way that he did. Genie can be overly critical of Hyoro but of course he says it is only to make Hyoro better. I didn’t mind Genie, but he was a rather half hearted bully who couldn’t back up his tough talk. Ultimately he was about as weak as the other side characters and Hyoro likely surpassed him in the end.

Gale is the Shadow Rider with the biggest role in the series. He gets to fight Lute quite a few times and his skills are the real deal. He is also the strongest member I’d say although Shadow would give him some competition for that title. He gets quite a few plot twists. While his plan may not have been amazing and he probably should have tried doing something a little earlier, he did make for a good rival. He just kept getting stuck in rather bad situations. While he was also unable to make the hero move at the end which nearly caught him, it’s a mistake that I could sympathize with since he was so close to finally accomplishing his goal. It was an intense moment and he’s in my top 3 characters in the series. I’d say that he is second only to Lute.

Next is Shadow who is certainly the 2nd coolest member of the group. Her speed is astounding to the point where the heroes can’t even keep track of where she is. There is a plot twist about this that I was a little mixed on. It is essentially a nerf, but I didn’t see it coming so I’ll give the show that. I also think Shadow’s rage mode should have kicked in instantly after what Anvis ends up doing to someone instead of waiting til their next meeting. It’s not as if anything would have changed in the outcome though.

Then we have Mad who is one of the villains that you can’t take seriously. I guess in the end the Riders could only score a 50 as 2 of their members were good and the others weren’t. Mad is just one of those guys who only cares about his looks and as a result he can be defeated if you simply get some dirt on him. Even his monster’s design isn’t all that good. It’s basically just a huge worm so that’s not too impressive. Same goes for Wrath but to an even bigger extent. Wrath is the strong but not smart type, but he isn’t even all that tough. There’s nothing original or interesting about him as a character.

Finally we have Anvis, the leader of these guys. Somehow he was able to gain control over an Elder Dragon even before undergoing the complete power up ceremony. Considering this, he does earn the title of being the strongest rider in existence. He makes for a solid final boss and a solid character all around. He definitely thought things through and stayed one step ahead of Gale and the heroes for a while. He’s a considerable improvement over the doctor who was the main villain of the first few arcs. He is reduced to comic relief for the final arc and was never much of a threat anyway. His episodes had a tendency to simply be rather boring so I was fine with him being gone.

There are also the Numbers, but they never had much of a point in the story. They are really just around to get their long piece of recycled animation over and over again. The show certainly loved doing that to save on the budget. The animation for the show is fairly decent. It does take a lot of shortcuts by using recycled animation constantly though. This becomes a bigger issue in season 2 as we even get little scenes of the characters reaching out when calling their monsties. It feels really forced and I could have done without that. I’m happy they all got armor but it just feels like another way to save on animation. It also uses quite a bit of CGI. We do get some real animation whenever a big fight happens though. Some of the special abilities also look really good like Chevall’s energy disc. Overall, the animation wouldn’t hurt the show, but it wouldn’t really help it either.

The soundtrack is rather bland as well unfortunately. You will definitely start to remember the tunes after a while since they keep on popping up, but that’s because the soundtrack is just really limited. I would have loved to have had some really great tunes to amp up the fight scenes, but alas it was simply not to be. This title could not deliver.

Finally I have to say that the show’s ride on mechanic seems rather odd. Basically the monstie that is summoned shows up when a character strikes the pose. The show portrays this as the monsters are just hiding nearby until they are needed but what are they doing in the meantime? Shouldn’t they just be with the heroes then? Lute has over 6 monsties in the show, but only uses his main one for basically the whole series. What is even the point of everyone having up to 6 if they only use one for all of the fights? They should have just had Pokeballs of some kind to keep the others in as that would make more sense if you ask me. I think the show dropped the ball a little on the collect them all aspect of the series.

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Overall, This isn’t a bad show. I’d say that Monster Hunter is fairly decent. The problem is that it’s only average or below average in most areas. There isn’t a single section that I could point to and say that the series was amazing. On the contrary, the series could be a little boring at times. The characters just aren’t strong enough to hold the show as well as others could. It got a little more exciting towards the end but the show also amped up the crude humor and comedy to match. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you need a good fantasy show, but there are many others that I would suggest seeing before this one. At least there is a lot of content here since the show managed to make it to around 70 episodes. That was actually pretty impressive.

Overall 6/10

Dinosaurus! Review

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It’s time to look at an old Dinosaur film that probably has one of the most creative names I’ve ever seen in the genre. Unfortunately the actual film is rather bad and you’ll just be wondering where it went wrong the whole time. The premise is decently good but the execution is pitifully bad and so you can understand why the film was forgotten.

The film starts off with a team of diggers/construction guys trying to finish a project in time but are being held up by the government. Bart is rather irritated because he had gotten the governor’s approval for the project but the second on command doesn’t want to help. He doesn’t have much of a reason for the resistance so I’m assuming that the guy just likes to be a nuisance. After all, despite the tough talk the heroes are basically powerless without him as the guy is the only one who can get mail off the island. The villain is sure to burn the letter before it can be read of course. Things get a little crazy when a Cave Man and two Dinosaurs break out of the ice and things start to get wild. Can the Bart stop the madness before the governor hears about it or will he simply be eaten!?

The film is rather loaded with plots as you see but the writers don’t know how to handle any of them. The first we should look at is the villain’s plot. It’s actually rather dark as he uses his power and influence to bend everyone to his will. The characters look the other way when the villain attempts to have his way with the maid and we also see that he is rather tough on the kid. At least the main character was in the room for the latter scene but doesn’t even land a hit on the main villain as the guy gets off with a simple warning. The villain even puts up a fake act about worrying for Julio’s safety which Bart actually buys. Bart is a whole lot more gullible than I would have suspected. As you can guess, I didn’t like the main villain and his entire character was unneeded when the dinosaur should have been the focus. Why should there be a gang of corrupt bandits on the island?

Then we have Bart. I guess the character is good at face value as he is a nice guy who wants to help out and make a difference but he is a pale imitation of any other heroic main character. There just isn’t much to him although he is probably the best character by default. Then there is the main heroine who is also fairly generic but in this case that is a bad thing as most of the old female leads weren’t exactly known for their bravery. She faints 3-5 times here and usually over nothing. We can’t forget the tripping either. This character is really just annoying.

Then we have the Cave Man who definitely isn’t a fun character. He is more heroic than the rest which is a great start but of course they play up his base desires a bit as no film can seem to keep it classy with this kind of character. I think the Cave Man should have sat this film out. The same goes for Julio who is a main character here. Despite the kid having a pretty tragic childhood this far, he doesn’t seem to have learned anything. Surely by this point he knows to stay away from the main villain right? He doesn’t seem to get this fact at all. The kid also isn’t very useful during the dinosaur fight and if anything he just holds the Brontosaurus back.

Of course the victor was never really in doubt if we are being honest. Nothing can stop the T Rex. While their role was rather small, it was still nice to see him the Dinos. Their role was rather small though and the fight was definitely brutal. That should have been toned down quite a bit to make the fight more enjoyable but in general the film should probably just avoid them fighting at all. Even with stop motion, you gotta be careful with animal fights.

I have to also point out that the roar in the film was rather odd. At first I thought it was a sound that the block added to the film but then it kept on happening so I figured out that it was real. It was a good roar, just an unexpected one. Finally, I will say that I didn’t buy into the climax. No way a T Rex is going to lose out to a little tractor machine. That’s just not happening. I was hoping the T Rex would pick up the tractor and throw it into the ravine.

Overall, Dinosaurus is not a particularly good movie. It isn’t very fun or entertaining. None of the characters were all that good and a weak cast is the first step towards a film falling down with the score. I don’t see why the film decided to add a Caveman to the mix either. I guess they really weren’t confident in their actual premise about dinosaurs. Pretty much everyone dies by the end so the heroes end up going back to the status quo. The ending would have been 100% more hype if we had heard one last roar at the end. I’ll give the film a tiny bit of credit for adding a question mark at the end.

Overall 3/10

Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosario Review

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Time to look at another Sword Art Online manga. The last one didn’t go very well so of course you may be a little skeptical about this one. Fortunately this is adapting one of the better arcs of the series and the manga didn’t try to add any iffy scenes to mess with it. It’s a solid arc but also one of the more somber ones so prepare yourself for an SAO story like no other.

The series starts with Kirito and the crew hanging out at his (and Asuna’s) cabin. Kirito fell asleep of course and everyone else starts feeling sleepy as well. To stay awake, Lizbeth tells Asuna about a new swordsman who has been destroying opponents left and right. He goes by the name “Absolute Sword” and seems to be the strongest fighter ever. Even Kirito was (yeah right) soundly defeated by him. Asuna decides that she wants a crack at this fighter and heads over to fight him. The big twist is that Absolute Sword is a girl with the same first name as Asuna’s last name. Asuna puts up a good fight so Yuuki asks for her help in defeating a boss with Yuuki’s crew. Asuna is thrilled at the opportunity but will she be strong enough?

Meanwhile Asuna has human world troubles as well. Her Mother wants her to go to a different school since the current one is rather lackluster. Asuna doesn’t want this because she has already decided to support Kirito in her future path. Naturally this is very upsetting for the Mother since that doesn’t really even count as a career path. Asuna’s video game hobby has also started to turn into an obsession as she loses track of the time and starts to prefer being there than in the real world. Asuna’s Mom has to put an end to this, but how?

I already went into this for the anime version but I’ll quickly touch on the plot here as well. Asuna’s Mom is absolutely right here. The only chink in her argument of always looking out for Asuna is that she has set her up with potential marriage options one or two times. This seemingly goes against the rest of her message about being independent. Still, she has no problem with dropping that tactic when Asuna brings it up and I’m inclined to believe that Asuna had never expressed her disapproval for it before. Asuna seems like someone who won’t mention any objections to something in the moment and will just use it as ammo in the future which is definitely no good. Beyond that, Asuna is the one who is losing every argument. She could have brought up valid reasons for wanting to stay at a sub standard school but I wouldn’t say that hanging out with friends is one of them. The Mom was also willing to let her keep using the NerveGear but then Asuna started getting increasingly irresponsible with it so of course the Mom wouldn’t be a fan. So in the end, Asuna’s plot is definitely not as engaging as the Yuuki one.

As for Yuuki, she’s a fun character to add to the mix. It is good to finally have another high level fighter who can battle at Kirito’s level. At this point there really aren’t any heroes who can give him a good fight. At best Asuna can maybe be good for sparring practice, but with Yuuki Kirito can’t afford to hold back. Wanting to win one last big battle before going away is definitely a solid goal and one that I can get behind. The rest of her crew are fairly generic and not very memorable so I can’t say quite as much in their favor, but ultimately Yuuki is the only one who matters. They are just there to fill in the ranks. It’s a shame Yuuki doesn’t stick around since she would really give the main cast a boost.

Kirito mostly gets the shaft in this trilogy since it is all about Asuna and her development, but he still gets his share of hype moments. One such scene is when he rushes into the boss area and holds off hundreds of other players on his own. It’s an amazing scene that was extremely intense in all 3 mediums. (Book, Anime, Manga) It may not be Kirito’s adventure, but at the same time I am not surprised that he got the best scene in the adventure. His fight against Yuuki was a lot of fun as well of course and the series did a good job of playing up how smart Kirito was as well. He figured out Yuuki’s secret immediately and then even found out where she was in the real world all in a very short amount of time. It is almost scary just how good he is.
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As for Asuna, she is fairly good here. I never disliked Asuna before this as she was solid in Arc 1, didn’t do much in arcs 2-3, so she was about the same now as she was in the past. She had lost some confidence as you might expect thanks to recent events, but regains it by the end of this adventure. She is still a strong fighter and I have to agree with the peanut gallery that it was odd how Asuna went for a mage role instead of a front line fighter. It seems like she enjoys the latter a whole lot more. Yuuki gave Asuna a valuable lesson on how being polite and talking things out won’t always work so sometimes you have to just jump in and start fighting. The sky’s the limit from there.

The art looks fairly good here. It’s the character designs that are a little off. In particular Kirito and Asuna look a little chibi or maybe just younger than usual. Aside from that, the artist does a good job with the fight scenes and it doesn’t look like a cash in. The trilogy has quite a few different fights and they are all visually engaging. Unfortunately while the trilogy does manage to stick away from fanservice, we do get one such bath scene as even on its best day it appears that the series can’t play it straight here.

There’s not a whole lot to say here since this is basically identical to the anime version so in a sense I already reviewed this saga. As long as the medium did it justice then there is no reason why it would be weaker than the anime version. If anything the pacing is better here since you can read faster than characters can talk so the exposition goes by at a nice pace. We already understand that Yuuki’s situation is rather tragic so you don’t need to know a whole lot about it beyond that. It will be nice to see Asuna use the new combo that Yuuki gave her in one of the anime seasons someday. We have the movie, but that wasn’t exactly a one on one fight and I’d like to see it in more of a traditional combat setting.
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Overall, Mother’s Rosario is definitely the most serious of the SAO arcs. It’s certainly pretty sad to have a character who is doomed to die from the start since there’s no way that could end up being a happy ending. At least the series never tries to give you any false hope that she might survive as that would have made everything turn out badly. As it stands, Yuuki’s backstory is definitely very tragic but at least the trilogy handles it well. The series is actually light hearted for about 80% of the chapters and Yuuki isn’t too mopey about her future either. She takes it all in stride. I’d recommend checking out this manga, especially if you usually don’t like the series since this one takes it in a very different direction.

Overall 7/10

RWBY Review

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It’s time to take a look at the greatest TV show of all time. For a long while Yugioh GX held that spot and I never thought that it would be surpassed or even that it could. Then one day I happened to notice the twitch marathon channel tuning into RWBY. They were in season 2 and I saw the hype battle between team RWBY and Torchwick. I stuck around for about 4 episodes before deciding this was a show that I needed to watch and so I went back to the beginning and marathoned it. I’ve since seen most of the episodes 3 times thanks to various reaction videos and the fights more times than that. It’s certainly a title that I imagine will stay in 1st for a very long time.

There are 5 volumes so let’s go through them all from the beginning. The premise of the series is that the planet has been overrun by the Grimm. These are shadow creatures who destroy at random and thanks to their sheer numbers humanity has had a very hard time dealing with them. Fortunately they found out how to harness aura. Aura allows you to shield yourself from injury and also lets you augment your attacks. 4 kingdoms arose and various little villages sprang up as well although those tend to be destroyed by bandits or Grimm monsters. The people who fight back against the Grimm and defend our borders are known as Huntsman. They are our last defense.

The series focuses on team RWBY who are comprised of Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. They don’t actually form until midway through the season though. The first volume is mainly set up with the heroes having their first real confrontation with the enemy near the end of the volume. It’s definitely a really fun volume and one that has aged pretty well. It got the ball rolling for the series after all and did a good job with everyone’s personalities.

I should also mention that part of how the series built up a lot of hype before even airing was through the 4 character shorts they released before the series even started. Each of the main 4 characters got their own and the shorts were all about the action. If we count them as episodes then they are all likely still in the top half for me. All 4 of them are excellent but if I had to pick a favorite then it would be the Yang special. It’s the longest which leads to the most action, but she is also the most enjoyable character of the 4. You may have expected the show to be a little different than it was if you saw the 4 shorts and then went into the show, but ultimately the fights do come so it’s not as if they were cut off entirely. It was a wise move to make the shorts about the fights as a glimpse of what was to come.

Volume 1’s soundtrack is also amazing and some of the best tunes in the series are in this volume like the theme song. This Will Be The Day is a song that I have heard well over 100 times at this point and it certainly never gets old. It’s very fast paced and gets you psyched up. Then we also have Red Like Roses II and even just the normal instrumental tunes that show up. The animation was pretty simple and not too detailed here, but it really showed up whenever an action scene would pop up. It’s a really balanced volume.
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Next up was Volume 2. Now that the heroes had scored their first win against the villains they were ready to try again. The first half of the season follows their attempts to shut Torchwick and his cronies for good. We also start to get some set up towards events in season 3 like the villains big move and the tournament. They also squeeze in a school dance and even an invasion. Season 2 throws in a bunch of new characters and has a lot of fights so it’s definitely the logical next step from volume 1. It’s essentially better in every way which is always how you want a show to be. It should get better with each season.

The animation has noticeably improved from season 1 as everything just looks more modern. This translates really well into the fight scenes as well. We get some of the best fights in the series here like Yang vs Neo or the team against Torchwick. Each half of the season has a nice climax and there are no bad episodes here. Well, the whole series has never had a bad episode so that goes without saying. We got some new tunes to write home about here as well like the great opening, Die, and Sacrifice. Little did I know that the series would get even better.

Season 3 is the absolute peak for RWBY and a major part of why it is the best show. The tournament finally starts up and lasts for the majority of the season. Then the villains finally make their big move which leads to a lot of fights. Almost every big character who was referenced or introduced earlier gets to have a nice role here as well. The episodes also start to get longer in this season which is good since the ongoing plot starts to take root here. We are introduced to the concept of the 4 maidens and the relics which is what the rest of the series will likely be about. At the very least the next 2 volumes are about this plot and it stands to reason that volume 6 will follow suit.

The animation is at its best here for the fights as my personal favorite match happens. (Yang vs Mercury) Divide is really a highlight song for this volume as well and it works perfectly for the end credits. The climax of volume 3 is also the most ambitious yet as we finally get to see what some high level fights look like. By high level I’m not necessarily referring to animation as they’re all high level up to this point, but in universe what some of the stronger fighters can do.

Then we move on to volume 4 which definitely gets pretty interesting for the series. Unfortunately I’d say that this is around the same where the series got really mainstream. This one decided to go for an even more plot based approach with minimal action. The animation style was also completely overhauled and so we lost 2/3 of what made the original seasons so amazing. We still did keep the solid soundtrack though and while we lost the pacing, things do get intense when they finally happen. Volume 4 is easily the weakest season for me, but theoretically it is meant to help Volume 5 be even better since the whole volume is set up.

Volume 4 isn’t completely devoid of fights either. We get Qrow vs Tyrian which is known as one of the best fights in the series and I would absolutely agree with the consensus. Then there is also the season finale fight against the Nuckle which isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but it is certainly a fight. I’d say that the season had 4 real fights which isn’t half bad. The actual animation does look sharp so it’s not as if the overhaul was a strict downgrade. On the contrary, the character models are on point. Everyone basically looks the same except for Ruby and now they’re in HD. The real problems with the animation is the facts that the animators don’t seem to know how to use it.
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There were a lot of behind the scene issues here and I also suspect that the show was trying to nerf all of the characters a bit to mask their animation inexperience. The characters go from being incredibly fast powerhouses who felt like DBZ characters to suddenly being very mortal. Their attacks lack any actual impact anymore and they seem to have trouble with monsters that wouldn’t have stood a chance back in the day. As big a deal as it was in volume 4, I’m afraid that these issues would rear their head even more in volume 5. 4 also made sure to cram in as much exposition as possible to the point where it would take them 5 minutes to say something that you would figure out in 1. This may be my least favorite volume, but it’s still good on its own. It would probably just be a 7 as opposed to a 9 much less a 10. As far as the soundtrack goes we were introduced to Qrow’s new theme which is definitely very solid and Yang’s theme from the end credits which still ranks as my favorite song. A close second is the first volume’s intro with Divide being third. This is the End could end up passing those once the full version is released though. I also liked Weiss’ song “This Life Is Mine” which was another standout hit. The franchise has never had a season go by without some new epic songs.

Then we have volume 5. Here we finally get the big payoff as the heroes and villains have their first confrontation since volume 3. The battle for the next kingdom finally begins and we have our first Maiden battle. Naturally the big hype for this volume is that team RWBY is finally together. Maybe that’s another area that hurt the last volume. Seeing Mercury and Emerald get to fight again was pretty fun as well and as a whole the volume was just a lot more epic than the last one. If we had the same level of fight quality as volume 3 then 5 would have had a real shot at being the best.

The problem here is that the lack of fights is even more glaring than in volume 4 and likewise with the nerfs. Everyone seems to fight in slow motion for the most part. Compare Yang’s fight against the bandits to her fight against the gang members in the original Yellow trailer. The volume 5 fight just doesn’t look impressive at all. The choreography may look nice, but there’s nothing impressive about how quickly she is taking them down. In the time it takes her to beat one guy she has probably steam rolled 2-3 in the yellow trailer with a flurry of more powerful blows. This may have all been to make the Maidens look more impressive. I heard that the big fight at the end took 6 months to animate. I am really hoping that this isn’t true. While it does give a concrete reason for why the fights have come to a halt in the later volumes, it would just be a bad sign for future seasons. We need every fight to look like the final one, not just one per volume.

I also do have to admit that volume 5 wrecked the climax. “The More The Merrier” is definitely one of my favorite episodes in the franchise as it perfectly set up all of the fights. Yang vs Mercury, Qrow vs Raven, Ruby vs Weiss, etc. When the episode ended we even got a conclusion to one of the fights so you expect the rest to continue. The problem is that they don’t. None of the fights ever actually happen as it cuts away every time and we just see the aftermath. It doesn’t even make sense half the time as in one scene the heroes are basically out of energy and getting obliterated and in the next cut it is the exact opposite. The power levels also got quite wonky by the end and the way Raven’s plot ended in volume 5 was actually terrible. Volume 5 was still a lot of fun regardless and it was certainly hype, but it could have ended on a much better note. The soundtrack was great as always though. I did enjoy the new opening quite a lot and the song for Raven vs Cinder is definitely one of the best in the series. I think volume 5 may have introduced the largest amount of epic tunes out of all the volumes since we also got From Shadows Part II and the theme from Yang’s new trailer. Raven vs Cinder is also one of the best fights in the series so it shows that the animation is still on point. Volume 5 has a lot of replay value and you can definitely see the episodes quite a few times.

All right, it’s time for the bulk of the review which is looking at the large cast in the series. Brace yourself as I will talk about almost every character who had a reasonably large role or has survived and thrived as a meme like Pilot Boi. Naturally we should start off with the main character Ruby. From the first trailer you may have expected her to be a very intense character of few words who viciously finishes off her opponents, but she’s actually rather timid and mild mannered around others at first. This doesn’t apply when she is fighting off villains though as she eagerly jumps into battle in episode one against Torchwick and his cronies. That scene alone had me convinced that she would be a great character. She doesn’t back off when bickering with Weiss and always does her best to help everyone out. She didn’t blame Pyrrha for what happened to Penny which is good since that would have been an annoying plot and she put up a great fight against Neo and Torchwick. At the end of the day she is also a smart tactician and that is really what makes her a dangerous fighter. Once she finally masters her white eyes then she could be the strongest in the series or at least top 5.
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Next up is Yang who is the best character of the four. She can turn Super Saiyan when taking damage and tends to have the best themes as well. Yang has always been known as the power hitter of the group and tends to be trusted to take on the strongest opponents. In volume 2 she is left to face off against Neo while she takes on Mercury in volume 3. While she isn’t quite the strongest character in the series, I’d say that she is definitely the most powerful student. She wasn’t able to train much during volume 4 and it’s unknown if her robot arm will be as good as her old one (I’m inclined to say that it isn’t as good) but it’s safe to say that she has retained her rank among the other fighters. Yang didn’t look good during volume 4 with her depression subplot but by volume 5 she is over it and finally back into the fight. I’m looking forward to seeing her get some more fight scenes as Yang is still my favorite hero in the series and 3rd favorite character overall.

Weiss was Ruby’s rival for a little while and definitely was the meanest of the group. It basically comes with the territory of being rich and gifted with immense power. She eventually learns how to be a team player though and probably has the best synergy with Ruby. They tend to pull off some really good combo attacks like the one against the Nevermore or their overall strategy against Torchwick’s robot. She has transformed from a close range fighter to more of a long range summoning specialist over the course of the volumes. We haven’t gotten to see Weiss fight all that much compared to the others, but it’s fair to say that she has the potential to be the strongest member. Her elemental abilities and glyphs already make her a dangerous opponent so throwing in the summons makes her a fighter who can be lethal at any range. I’m still a little upset that she was defeated so handily against Vernal, but since she wasn’t really able to practice or spar at all for a very long time, I can buy into the excuse that she was rusty and out of practice. All of team RWBY (minus Ruby) have had really extensive character arcs so it’s a little bold to say that Weiss has had the most development out of all of them but a case can be made in her defense. Either way she is definitely a great character and the 2nd best member of Team RWBY.

Finally we have Blake. She’s probably dealt with the most issues out of the team as she had a tough childhood and basically now has to assume command of an army at a young age. As she is a Faunus she has superhuman levels of ability but at the same time she has to deal with all of the social stigmas of being part animal. Blake is my least favorite member of the cast since she ditched everyone to run away from the villains in order to save herself. Sun eventually talked her out of it, but I was never really able to get around that. I can understand why Yang was so upset at her even if the two eventually made up. Hopefully that’s the end of that plot so in volume 6 we can skip ahead to the epic fights. Blake was hit with the nerf hammer the hardest though along with everyone in her plot like Adam but more on that later. I think what hurt Blake a little as well was her incredibly long subplot that took up a big chunk of seasons 4 and 5 with a bunch of characters that I didn’t care about either. She’s a good character overall, but was definitely at her best in volume 2 if you ask me as she desperately kept searching the city to destroy Torchwick. She had a tangible goal there and really worked to get to it. Here she now has an army and can cross large distances in impossible times to help foil an invasion but she still doesn’t seem to have the same drive and intensity that she used to have. Now if she could get a little stronger for volume 6 that could help her. It will be very tough to pass any of the other 3, but that’s not really a bad thing since they are all very solid characters. Someone has to be last after all.

We looked at team RWBY so now it’s time to look at JNPR. Pyrrha may not have been the leader of the team, but she was their best fighter so I’ll discuss her character first. For many series there is a character that I place as my favorite before properly watching the series like Gaara in Naruto, Piccolo in DBZ, etc. Pyrrha was the character that I chose in RWBY and while she did get surpassed by quite a few characters she is still certainly one of the best ones. Her fighting abilities are on such a high level that she was considered to be a prodigy. Pyrrha is also one of the nicest characters in the series and tries to defend Jaune when people make fun of him. Her big fight at the end was great and she never really had a bad moment in the series. It’s just a shame that she couldn’t have appeared more than she had.

Then we’ve got Jaune who is basically the polar opposite of Pyrrha. He isn’t particularly talented at anything and as a fighter he is one of the worst in the series. He isn’t very fast or strong and is basically a human fighting among heroes. Surprisingly he has yet to get a power up at the moment, but as a result he also wasn’t nerfed when everyone else was so that has helped him close the gap a bit. His speed now seems to be on roughly the same level as everyone else. He does have a healing ability in his back pocket which is sure to be helpful as well. He was a really solid comic relief character for the first 3 volumes. Now he is more of a quiet rage character who blows up when the villains appear. He definitely works well in both roles but he desperately needs a power up at some point.
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Nora and Ren had a high bar to get over since Jaune and Pyrrha were so solid. They never quite make it up there, but they aren’t bad characters. I guess they just don’t add much to the story. Nora is always fairly cheerful and is low key known as one of the stronger fighters in the school. She has a lot of raw power at any rate and while she doesn’t tend to take anything too seriously she does know when to turn the comedy switch off when necessary. I do think she is basically irrelevant at this point as far as the power levels are concerned, but her fans will be happy that she gets her moment in volume 5. Then we have Ren who suffers from the same issues as Nora. In his case he isn’t the super cheerful character, but the quiet one. As a result he tends to be a little slow on the uptake and gives the characters obvious exposition or just acts as a nuisance. His past traumatized him quite a bit so he was ready to desert Ruby and Jaune just to get out of the area. Later on he gives a big speech on what the meaning of character development is. Maybe if Ren gets more screen time that isn’t him just talking that would help as he had some potential when he briefly fought against Tyrian. In theory he has more proper hand to hand training and warrior skills than some of the other characters, but it never seems to be all that important. He’s not my kind of character, but he’s not bad.

It’s time to look at the first big villain of the series, Torchwick. Torchwick is a great villain and certainly one of the best ones. He manages to balance out his sarcastic humor with his more intense scenes to become the great villain that he is today. Considering that he seems to be a normal crook with no aura or anything, it’s actually very impressive how well he fights. He was holding his own against Blake and Sun. Later on he was even giving Ruby a good run for her money. He’s definitely a villain who steals the show during every appearance that he is in and Torchwick will not be forgotten.

Neo was Torchwick’s right hand woman and she is definitely one of the strongest villains. She defeated Yang with absolute ease as she was just toying with the hero during the whole confrontation. After that she went on to overwhelm Ruby in their fight although it wasn’t as one sided as you would expect. Perhaps Ruby’s fighting style would be tougher to counter since she isn’t a hand to hand combatant, but the fight was too brief to really speculate on all that much. The show actually did a good job of balancing Team RWBY for a while there as they were all about equal overall but with different fighting styles so the matchups were very important. Despite being one of the best villains as well as one of the most powerful Neo surprisingly hasn’t done all that much in the series. She’s had 2 fights and that has been it. Hopefully she will return in volume 6.

Salem is the big bad. She’s the leader of the villain organization but hasn’t gotten to fight yet. She talks tough in the background though and it can be very reasonably inferred that her abilities are considerable. Honestly I find it hard to believe that she can keep up with some of the faster opponents while in that cloak and she always walks around as if she is very old. These can all just be red herrings though and I expect big things for when she actually fights. Salem’s definitely a very good leader for the villains though as her design and voice are perfect for the character. She feels about as intimidating as the embodiment of darkness should be.

Cinder isn’t the leader of the villains, but she is the figure head. She carries out all of Salem’s orders and is the face of the villains to the general populace. Her plans started very early on in the first volume even as we slowly learned the chain of command. She was a considerable fighter from the start and only grew stronger once she obtained the Maiden abilities. It’s easy to see why she is a fan favorite and I definitely like Cinder a lot as well. She is powerful and intelligent which is the ultimate combo as a villain. She even outsmarted Raven even if she wasn’t quite as powerful in the end. If her character arc has finally ended then it was still a very satisfying adventure. That being said, I would certainly like for her to return so we can get some more Maiden battles.
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Mercury is a really great villain who is certainly one of my favorites. Honestly the villain ranks are stacked with awesome characters like him, Neo, Torchwick, Emerald, Cinder, and Adam. So…pretty much all of the main villains from the early part of the series. Mercury actually ranks above all of them as my number 1 favorite character in the series. It’s hard to say exactly when that happened, but I just love that smug arrogance that he has. He looks and sounds like Sasuke as well which fits the character. It’s hard to say exactly how strong he is since he threw the fight with Yang, but at the very least he is quite high tier. It’s hard to say at this point if he is still stronger than each of the members of Team RWBY, but I’m inclined to say that they haven’t quite caught up to him. I feel like his role in the story is almost over though so hopefully he at least gets one more fight.

Emerald is Mercury’s partner and definitely doesn’t seem to like working with him all that much. They’ve been teaming up for quite a while though and usually have some fun banter going back and forth. What makes Emerald really shine is that she’s not only a great villain, but also performs very well as a fake hero. She’s really over the top with how cheerful she can be and would fit right in with the heroes if it wasn’t an act. Her illusion abilities are very hard to deal with and her close combat skills are also top notch. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her fight again.

Pilot Boi got to appear for a cameo in volume 4, but didn’t really get huge til volume 5. He was voted as the greatest RWBY character in the Reddit poll and I can definitely sympathize with them. He’s an incredible character and to say that he is just a meme would be doing the character a great disservice. Every line uttered by the Pilot Boi is gritty and to the point, but not in a bad way. He just lays out the facts honestly. He only cares about himself and his money so everything else isn’t his concern. Even Weiss knows better than to mess with the guy. There are a lot of fans who hope he survived the crash and I do as well. He needs to return and to get an action scene to prove that he is more than just a fad. Just listen to his lines and you’ll see why he is such an iconic character.

Then we’ve got Ozpin who is the head of the school and later inhabits the body of Oscar Pine. He is always very shady and likes to keep a lot of secrets. We’ve certainly seen this kind of character many times before and I’m typically not a fan. He is no exception either. Ozpin doesn’t think anything through. The whole point of the school he built was to defend the Relic that was hidden there from Salem by essentially having an army of powerful students there at all times. The problem is that he didn’t tell them about this or even how to fight since they all tries to run away when the villains showed up. He doesn’t tell Ruby how to use her powers and doesn’t even tell his teammates when they are heading into a trap. He is definitely a “The ends justify the means” character who would fit right in with the villains. He can’t be trusted if you ask me.

Oscart is an interesting character as I thought his name was Oscar, but the credits of volume 5 corrected me. I guess I’ll spell it the easier way anyway though. He’s a rather annoying character for many reasons. One of those reasons is that he doesn’t know anything so the show has to waste time explaining basic concepts to him like aura and how to fight. He has never trained before, but suddenly he is on the level of the other heroes thanks to Ozpin hax? I don’t like that one bit and he does quite a bit of whining and panicking throughout the show. He never develops into a good character and it’s taking him way too long as it is. Hopefully he is better for volume 6 as right now he just exists to make the power levels wonky and to be the Chris (Sonic X) of RWBY.

Winter is Weiss’ older sister and a very accomplished fighter. She has had a very minimal amount of screen time so far, but has still managed to become quite the fan favorite character over the years. Her fight with Qrow was very impressive and I would like to see her fight more in the next volume. Like Weiss she has quite a lot of confidence. Having her around to teach Weiss more would be good and she is just a solid character to have around. She will also help to keep Qrow in line and her presence would force him not to slack off. After all Qrow was clearly losing his touch in volume 5 as he got humiliated by Hazel. He looked so terrible in the whole volume that I have to wonder what the writers were thinking. Qrow is a very powerful huntsman who is fast and strong. He was able to compete with Tyrian after all. How is he too weak to even injure Hazel? His sword should absolutely leave a dent and then he is also too slow to dodge any of Hazel’s attacks either. Their mini spars were always just annoying and it’s been tough for Qrow. Don’t worry, he’s still a pretty awesome character though. His first scenes are still classic as he is always drinking and insulting everyone. He’s quite smug and knows how strong he is. Volume 3 was certainly his best volume.
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Next to Cinder, Tyrian is probably the most impressive of the enemy fighters. I would like to see him go up against Neo, but at the moment I would give him the edge in a fight. He’s definitely a very psychotic villain as he laughs a lot and certainly enjoys inflicting pain. His fight in volume 4 was really good and you have to appreciate how he likes to skip the talking and go right into the action. He’s vicious as you would expect a villain to be and from the cabal he is definitely the best member. Lets contrast that with Hazel who is the worst one. He wasn’t necessarily a bad villain during his early phase as he always talked with a soft voice and didn’t like violence. Then we learn about his sob story where his sister died and suddenly he turns into the Hulk with a mechanical edge to his voice. As soon as he became super bulky and slow I knew that he didn’t stand a chance here. Not only is his reasoning quite poor since it makes no sense, but turning him into the “strong but not smart” trope is never a good idea. Even his ability to block out pain isn’t a very useful one to have if you ask me as it can serve as more of a liability than anything else.

Back to the heroes we have Penny who is an android with super strength. She befriends Ruby and the gang and is also a pretty nice character. She can be a little naive being a robot and all though which doesn’t quite help her to rank with the other characters. Still, she pulls out all of the stops when it comes to the fights though and her battle with Pyrrha was also quite impressive. She may not have done a whole lot during the series but was a nice character to have around.

Raven is definitely one of the best villains in the series. It’s fair to call her a villain since she does murder a bunch of innocents even if I wasn’t too consistent in counting her as one during the review. She doesn’t really get to do anything until volume 5, but stopping Neo in her tracks just by appearing was a great way to debut. She looked terrific in volume 5 as she won every fight that she took part in and may very well be the strongest character in the series at the moment. Her ability to teleport is definitely a very potent one. Giving up the relic still makes absolutely no sense, and Raven’s plan to deal with Cinder was bad as well, but she’s still a great character. Raven may not be a great tactician, but she is a superb character and that’s what counts. She could potentially be top 5 as well, but there are probably 10 characters who are top 5 material which is why it gets tough.

Adam is another one of those characters and he looked great in the first volumes. He appeared to be a hype rival type character in the Black trailer and then ended season 2 on the most epic note possible. In season 3 he looked spectacular with how easily he defeated Yang and Blake. In Volume 5 I liked his new costume, but that was about it. He went from being Maiden level to going down to a single blow from Blake. It’s really hard to get back up from such a disgraceful performance. No matter, either way he is still a personal favorite character of mine and I would still say that he is one of the strongest in the series. You just have to ignore the plot armor/convenience of many moments during the V5 climax.

Vernal is one of the newest characters to show up, but she has already become quite solid. I gained a lot of respect for her during the fight scene with Weiss. Her choice of weapon is definitely quite good as it is basically a Tron disc like the one Tyrian uses. It can also shoot out laser blasts which is really handy. Her skills are the real deal for sure and I would like to see more of her in action although that doesn’t look likely at all. Her role may not have been huge, but it was memorable.

It’s time to look at the characters from Blake’s plot. First up is Sun who is the best of these characters. His best role was certainly in season 1 as he decided to help Blake out by fighting Torchwick. Right from the start he was a loyal partner to have at the ready. The romance angle started getting played up a little more in future seasons which wasn’t great, but at least he is always a solid character. He still seems to be quite a bit stronger than her and it’s impressive that he’s managed to keep up so well. He’s just a very solid character.

Then we’ve got Blake’s parents Kali and Ghira. They’re pretty reasonable characters and are much better than Weiss’ parents. They are pretty understanding about Blake’s running away and have totally forgiven her. They do a good job of managing their country and affairs while remaining grounded. Then you have the childhood traitor Ilia who decided to team up with Adam to destroy Blake. Well, you know how I typically don’t forgive traitors. Ilia falls into this same hole as the heroes forgive her almost instantly, but I can’t. She was perfectly willing to destroy everyone and would have done so if she wasn’t stopped. You can’t just shake your head and allow her back into the fold so easily. She’ll have to really prove herself to become a better character. There were also a bunch of random villains in this mini arc who forked for the two fox brothers, but they were all very weak and expendable. One of the hype villains got one shotted by Kali who was holding a tray! That’s when you know that the villain can’t be taken seriously.

Finally I’ll mention some of the more minor characters that I almost skipped. We have Glynda who is the first huntsman that we see in the series. Her abilities haven’t really been explained in universe yet, but I’m sure someone has figured them out by now. They seem like transmutation or time alteration, but either way she always looked impressive. That’s why I am hoping we see her fight an actual opponent at some point since surprisingly that hasn’t happened yet. We’ve also got Ironwood who has seen a little more action than her. He seems to be a bit of a Superman figure with how he talks and the design. However, the series is hinting that he could become a bit of a villain as he gets more and more desperate to protect his kingdom. He also has 2 seats on the council and may get corrupt with power. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but at the very least I am definitely a fan of his at the moment. Neptune deserves a quick mention, but honestly he never contributed much except towards the dance plot. He’s not a good character honestly and would probably rank as one of the worst in the series. He’s not funny and we don’t need one of those characters who is always flirting in this show. I can see why he was written out so quickly.

Oobleck is one of the teachers at Beacon and he has super speed along with a close range fire gun of sorts. It’s a pretty interesting weapon. He’s not a bad character, but never really does all that much as he makes sure to vanish before the real enemies show up. Port is another teacher and he gives some decent life lessons. He can be a little annoying though as his scenes drag on so fortunately he doesn’t appear much. Then we have Taiyang who is Ruby and Yang’s father. He seems like a decent fighter, but he will probably be more impressive when we actually see him get to take on a villain. I’m expecting big things from him since he was on the same team as Raven and Spring. Considering how good a fighter Yang was back in the day I don’t agree with Taiyang’s analysis that she uses her Super Saiyan mode too much, but I guess as long as he snapped her out of her depression I’ll let it slide.

Then we’ve got Cardin who was the big bully for season 1. He never really shows up again after that, but he was an entertaining guy. Cardin was certainly clever though and manipulated Jaune and the others like a champ. Flynt was a pretty good fighter from the tournament who actually managed to take down Weiss. His fighting abilities are nothing to scoff at and I liked his theme music as well. I was less impressed with his partner Neon, but I suppose she had fun during the fight so that’s nice. Maybe if she trash talked a little better or just didn’t talk much then I would have been more of a fan.
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Then we’ve got Junior who was humiliated by Yang. He’s not a great character at all, but he is surprisingly brave as he stood up to Yang after she demolished all of his men. His two subordinates were great though as the twin dancers really gave Yang a run for her money. Then we have the original Spring Maiden Amber. She was clearly not a great fighter as she was beaten rather easily even though a Maiden is supposed to be crazy strong. She should have practiced more and I question what she was doing all by herself anyway.

Lionheart is one of the more recent villains and he’s definitely no good. He’s not meant to be an interesting villain anyway though as you’re supposed to notice how cowardly he is and then shake your head. There aren’t really any good qualities about this villain and it doesn’t help that he is also super weak. Watts is one of the members of the villain group, but he has yet to fight. Still, he is a solid villain so far as he really likes taking shots at Cinder. He always knows just what to say and that’s why he also needs to be a good fighter just to make sure that he can back up the tough talk. Sienna was the leader of the White Fang who was hyped for quite a while so it was rather funny how her plot ended. She was a good character, but definitely not a particularly smart one since she didn’t seem to see any of the events coming before they happened. Finally, there is also Adam’s right hand man who fought Weiss during season 2. He never got to get a final fight to finish up his character arc, but from how decisively he was able to defeat Weiss we can tell that he is very powerful. It would be great to see him fight again, especially since the character has no name at the moment.

You can probably accurately surmise how I rank all of the volumes at this point, but I’ll spell it out anyway. Volume 3 is still definitely the best one. It had a large tournament which I am a huge fan of and the best climax. Volume 2 would be my next pick as the fights were top notch as always while still embarking on more of a plot. The third highest is the toughest pick as I go back and forth with them at times. I think I would actually go with Volume 5. Whether it is recency bias or volume 5 having more of a plot and a lot of epic scenes, I have to give it the edge here. Missed opportunities aside, they don’t take away what the show actually did right and it certainly still held up the proud standard of quality that RWBY stands for. Volume 1 is close behind. It’s still very nostalgic with the retro animation and Blake’s battle against Torchwick holds up really well. Finally we have Volume 4. A good volume, but one that could have certainly benefited from better pacing.
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Overall, Now you see why I say that RWBY is the greatest show of all time. I don’t have to go over the soundtrack and animation again like in most reviews since I already touched upon it in each of the volume sections. They are absolutely top notch and it’s hard to imagine that it used to be more of a fan project. I’ll have a review for RWBY volume 6 when it finishes so you don’t have to worry about waiting for another 5 volumes before I churn one out. I’m definitely expecting big things from volume 6 and won’t be satisfied unless it is able to at least crack the top 3 from the volumes. At this point the action should be coming fast and hard with enough subplots and loose ends to keep the pacing quite frantic. Naturally in a show this long it’s hard to express everything about it, but I feel like I’ve gotten all of the major points. I definitely went from not knowing about the franchise to being obsessed with it in a short time. Ah well, only about 6 months until RWBY returns so that’s not so long. That’s not the end for my reviews on the franchise though. In the mean time, I’ll also be reviewing RWBY Chibi once the latest season ends and RWBY manga that should be coming out soon.

Overall 10/10

Sword Art Online Calibur Review

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As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10

Mary Poppins Review

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Mary Poppins is definitely a classic film that I’m sure most of us have heard of at some point or another. It’s a light hearted musical/comedy with a punch of supernatural elements to keep things fresh. It’s definitely held up well and can certainly be considered as the definitive musical. I suppose it depends on how literal you take the term since some films are right on the edge of being counted.

The film starts off with yet another Nanny running away from her responsibilities. She simply can’t handle the two rebellious kids and their constant running away. The father is forced to run an advertisement for a new nanny. That’s when the Professional Reality Warper, Mary Poppins shows up for her first attack. She summons a tornado to (fatally?) take down the competition and hires herself. Will she be able to make the kids be more responsible or will this be beyond her abilities?

The father is definitely the best character in the movie. He sets the tone early on when he bursts through the door at exactly 6:01 and bursts into song. Clearly this is a man of culture and finesse. He isn’t one to be trifled with and commands a very strict home. He reminds his wife that a classic British House is run as tightly as the bank. His song has quite a few great lyrics like that and once the kids return from their brief escapade he is firm but not mean. He comes up with an advertisement in the mail that is quite good. While he may be on the back foot against Mary Poppins, he is always quick to recover. He may have cracked by the end and suddenly become a very happy person but even that role he plays with discipline. He is just the perfect character and certainly the one that I was rooting for.

Mary Poppins is an interesting character. Based on the advertisement that the kids left you would assume that she is a very nice person. Well, that actually isn’t the case. She takes everything personally and does seem to hold a grudge. She seems to have a thing against having fun and always has to be goaded into using her abilities. Mary Poppins completely shuts down when anyone asks her a personal question or just anything about her magic and tries to make everyone look bad by denying its existence. It’s hard to get a bead on her and it just seems like she didn’t really want the position at first and only warms up to the kids by the end. Her abilities are definitely as impressive as they ever were though. She has advanced reality warping abilities which are quite handy in any kind of situation.

There are also the two kids but they don’t seem to be very good characters. For starters they make the Dad seem like the bad guy but if we’re being honest they deserve most of the blame. Since numerous baby sitters have run off over the years we have to assume that running away is nothing new for them. They don’t have any good reason for running away either and cleaning their rooms is apparently too much to ask. While they get some character development over the course of the movie I just couldn’t find myself being able to like the kids. They even sabotaged their father’s career by making a big scene at the bank and tackling an old man. Any respect I may have gained for the kids before this was certainly lost during this moment. The kids have to learn to control themselves. Even singing their advertisement was not a good move as the only thing it did was really push the father away from accepting it.

There is also Mary Poppins friend who knows about her powers. If sounds like they have gone on quite a few adventures so I’m assuming that he follows her around. After all, Mary Poppins seems to travel around quite a bit for each of her cases so I doubt she has been in this town before. Since the guy doesn’t even have a classic job, he probably just gets an occupation at whatever destination she goes too next. He’s a good friend for Mary since she takes everything too seriously while he is the opposite. He may make it harder to cure his uncle from the laughing flu since he is always laughing as well, but that’s his one main weakness.

The film’s actual plot is fairly direct and concise so the film does go on some tangents do but time. Fortunately these tangents are actually good do a change. One such scene is with the laughing uncle which I mentioned earlier. I don’t have any sympathy for the Uncle by the way since he can easily stop floating if he really wants too, but it’s fun to see the friend trolling Mary by getting everyone to laugh. Again, the guy is a pretty solid character. There is also a rather long, but fun Looney Tunes esque skit where Mary suckers a few jockeys into letting her win and the characters mess with the animal Olympics. The scenes would probably not be too good if the music was not in point so this is one of those times where the music really amplified the experience.

A musical lives or dies on the music after all and these songs hold up very well. The tempo/beat of the music is always very fast and lively which is a good thing. The lyrics aren’t bad either as the characters talk quickly and get a lot of messages in a short amount of time. You’ll just find yourself paying more attention to the musical sounds than the lyrics and that’s not a bad thing. The made up word in the film certainly got popular as well and has enough syllables to be in a song as well.

Overall, Mary Poppins is a lot of fun. It’s a film you can enjoy at any time. It’s one of those light hearted films that surprisingly doesn’t get serious or dramatic at the end. It stays whimsical all the way through which is quite rare. It has a lot of replay value and being enjoyable is always the first goal of any film so this one really succeeded. The film doesn’t drag on and the music is on point. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you should definitely correct that. It’s a movie that actually does live up to the hype and that is really rare to be honest. Now I’m ready for that sequel coming up but I have my doubts on if it can be as good as this one. Maybe if she has to fight a dark Mary Poppins in a cool CG fight though.

Overall 7/10