Dr. Stone: Terraforming Review


The Dr Stone manga may have ended a little while ago but the franchise lives on with the anime special, future seasons, and now this one shot. There are certainly a lot of other stories to tell here in the verse and I was glad to see that the one shot takes place after the series. It’s sort of like a speed run of readapting the first arcs but with the whole gang already around. It goes by quickly and captures the classic charm of the series.

The story starts with Senku lost at sea and no memory of how he got there. Gradually he remembers and basically the cast was on a plane when lightning struck and knocked them all down. They were able to use the revival formula to turn into stone but Senku fumbled the grab and so he revived himself by mistake. Now he is all alone in the middle of the ocean and has to try and survive now. Can he really pull this off without freezing to death? He may be the mighty Senku, but this is no easy scenario.

The reason why I say it’s sort of like a speed run version of the actual series is because from here Senku works on reviving the rest of the characters one by one and getting to safety. If not for the subplot with Dr. Xeno and the others, you could easily play this as an alternate take on chapter 1. What if Senku warped back but with his current knowledge? In a way it probably wouldn’t change a ton but he would have had an easier time of it. Sure enough, Senku does really well here and gets everyone up to speed.

I wouldn’t say any important developments happen here and that’s the norm for special chapters. This is really just a chance to get to see your favorite characters one last time. After all, there probably won’t be any other Dr. Stone manga chapters for a long while so you have to savor them as they come. It’s a fun adventure that definitely ends quickly but makes for a good all around story. We get some more inventions as well as the formulas for how to make them. For example, making sails out of fish skin definitely seems like a very obscure tactic that you probably wouldn’t think of right off the bat.

The characters are all around to help but for the most part Senku is really the one pulling the strings. Suika and Chrome get to help out with one idea though and as always Kohaku is good as actually doing the manual work. She may not succeed in getting Senku flustered but completes all of her other missions. I’d say the chapter is the author trying to really re-confirm to everyone that Senku is still a man of science who doesn’t have time for the more emotional moments. So anyone hoping that would change here probably will be in for a bit of disappointment but the series had been setting this up for a very long time at this point.

The artwork is as good as always. The series has a lot of detail and there’s just a whole lot of ways that it enhances a story like this. The oceans look good and all of the background details as well. It’s definitely the way to go. This artist certainly has a lot of skills so I look forward to him doing more stories whether it be Dr. Stone adventures or some more One Piece stories. Either way works.

In a way the story also sets up for a bunch of other sequels as well. There’s a lot of materials that the heroes need to get after all on their way to building the time machine. What I’m most interested in is how this will play out. What are the time travel rules that this series will use? Additionally, it may be easier said than done to actually prevent the whole stone event from happening. Senku has enough clout where maybe he could convince someone like Xeno to help him in the past but he would have to handle it very interesting. That could easily be enough for a full oneshot volume or something like that. I think it’s the next logical step in the Dr. Stone mythos.

Overall, This was a fun story. It just goes to show that no matter what kind of situation you put him in, Senku will be just fine. It helps that the revival fluid can help you cheat death at any time. A series about how this affects society would also be interesting. The fact that there’s a substance which can heal you indefinitely has to have had a major effect on the world right? It changes the way everyday life would be played out, particularly for risky kinds of situations that would be more standard now. If you enjoyed the main manga then you should certainly read this oneshot. It’s a very solid self contained adventure.

Overall 7/10

Black Clover Review


This has certainly been a long time coming, but it’s time to finally review the Black Clover anime. I finished this show almost a year ago at this point but it’s a really long one which meant the review would be long too so it kept on getting pushed back on the priority list. Well, now it’s time to jump in and the series certainly earns its rep as being the next big Jump title. It’s today’s version of Naruto and quickly gets you into the mix with a lot of hype characters and storylines.

The series centers around a boy named Asta who has grown up with no magical abilities. He literally has no mana and seems to be cursed as it just won’t generate no matter what he does. In this world it is difficult to function at all without magic because society will brand you as a failure. It means you will be constantly teased and picked on, additionally Asta is a commoner which is another strike against him by the masses. Asta has sworn to get around this by honing his body to its absolute limit though to the point where he can still fight with magical users.

Asta keeps on going and is eventually selected by the Black Bulls, the worst of the magic squads and known for having a bunch of crazy members. Still, they chose Asta to be one of them so he will help transform them into the greatest squad that the world has ever seen. Asta’s goal is to eventually become the Wizard King and prove himself as the strongest of all. He can then change the world to make it more just for everyone no matter their individual status. This won’t be easy but he is determined to see this goal through to the end.

When I say there is a lot to discuss in this review, trust me it’s not an understatement. I’ll talk about the technicals first now and then we’ll jump into the story arcs and characters. You don’t see too many long running action titles like this nowadays since most anime go for the seasonal route. Aside from Boruto and One Piece, this may have been the last big Shonen ongoing like this. So in a way Black Clover was around for the end of an era. Seasonal shows certainly have their advantages and it’s always a fun debate but I was glad that Clover really got to go in with so many episodes here.

Right from the jump I thought the show looked really good. It’s by Studio Pierrot after all so I wasn’t surprised. They have animated some of the absolute best shows around. They may not be Ufotable but in my earlier animation editorial I showed why they are absolutely one of the best around. Black Clover gets a good budget. I thought it may not have looked too impressive before watching it because for some reason you see it mentioned online a lot that the show doesn’t look good but clearly they haven’t seen the fights.

Even when the animators were rushed and it was tough to meet the deadlines, they made the show look epic. There was only one fight at the end of the witch arc that I thought went too far with the experimental style. Experimenting a bit is good but go too far and it starts to look like a fan animation. I understand that was one of the fights where they really had to hurry though so that’s understandable. The series can switch between a very detailed art style one moment and then go into a streamlined one the next. Each fight is really fast paced so you can feel how powerful the characters were. I can confidently say that the animation is at a great level throughout the series. There are just many standout ones throughout so you never feel like the series is lagging behind.

Then you’ve got an excellent 5 star soundtrack up next. I did an editorial ranking all of the openings a while back because one of its particular strengths is how great those were. The openings all have a lot of life to them and just sound incredible. Whenever one is played for a big battle then you know that things are going to be epic. The themes inside of the actual series are also very good. There are a ton of great battle themes and emotional ones in there. A benefit of being such a long series is that there are really a whole lot of themes to choose from. You’ll be very familiar with all of them by the end but they really don’t hold back.

On a technical level the series is just excellent and so it helps to elevate the story. Fortunately the manga is also quite awesome so then what you have is a show that’s virtually perfect. It’s always interesting and has a great cast of characters to balance out the fun stories. The series can get serious as well and you feel a sense of danger. There also isn’t too much fanservice and the anime even cut some moments out which was really nice. I won’t say that a series like this is devoid of it, but they do a good job of avoiding it for the majority of the time.

Black Clover also has a good amount of humor to it as well. There are a lot of fun scenes throughout the show and sometimes the visual gag is what really helps seal the scene like when Asta’s eyes turn into sparkles. That’s usually a whole lot of fun and each of the characters have a fun dynamic with each other. This is a very well balanced anime that you could recommend to anyone. There’s definitely no doubt on that. This wraps up the general thoughts on the series so now it’s time to dig deep and really look at the characters and story.

The show starts off with the pre arc where we get to meet each of the Black Bulls and the team starts to form some good bonds with each other. We see how the day to day missions play out and each of the characters also gets a lot stronger. The show’s got good pacing here and while most of these original villains won’t be too memorable, they do serve their purpose in the fights. They look fairly menacing and give the heroes a run for their money. At the end of the day that’s what we’re looking for here right?

Asta is a terrific main character and one of the best leads in recent history. He works really hard and doesn’t let his lack of magic get to him. Throughout the 150+ episodes, he probably only gets down about it once or twice. The rest of the time he is busy training and getting himself fired up to be stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want to see in a main character here. His anti magic would not be nearly as useful if he wasn’t constantly training it so that he could be the strongest fighter around. Asta’s just an inspirational guy and he makes everyone around him that much better.

His rivalry with Yuno also has to be the healthiest that I’ve ever seen in Shonen Jump. They constantly build each other up even as they have their friendly banter. They never say something that they would regret later on or take advantage of the other one being in a bad place. Yuno never turns evil in the show and it seems unlikely at this point. That’s because the heroes aren’t jealous of each other. They respect each other’s strengths and keep is moving. That’s what it means to have a true rivalry and I feel like the show really understands that.

Yuno is a great character too of course. He fights hard to defend his friends and prove that he deserves the 4 leaf grimoire. He never backs down from a fight and he is always improving his wind abilities. Yuno wasn’t much of a team player at first but as the series goes on he gets more and more accustomed to working with others. Gone are the days where he was purely a solo act, he’s now ready to help everyone out on his road to being the Wizard King. We’ll see who makes it there first, him or Asta.

Noelle is the main heroine of the series and she is with Asta on the Black Bulls. She is a royal but has a hard time controlling her abilities which causes the other members of the family to ridicule her at all times. As a result Noelle struggles with confidence issues throughout the series but has one of the best character development arcs around. Each arc has her learn to trust in her friends as well as herself to get the job done. So while at one point she wouldn’t even shoot a single spell straight, now she can launch finishers with ease. She’s very much a tsundere so she has a hard time expressing her feelings. Usually you can find her just beating up on Asta and friends but in a pinch they know they can count on her.

Luck is another member of the Black Bulls and he’s one of those characters that really loves a good fight. He will do anything to get the fight that he has been longing for but sometimes that does mean that he will bite off more than he can chew. Considering that Luck is the kind of guy who likes to fight a lot, I wouldn’t say that he is one of the strongest members on the crew though. He does tend to get beaten out by a few of the others but he always has fun and he’s a character that you’ll probably find to be very likable. His backstory is also rather emotional so you can definitely see how things turned out the way that they did for him.

Luck’s rival is Magna who is more of a street punk kind of character. He lacks the overall talent and abilities that some of the other Black Bulls have which can end up making him feel bad but he rarely stays down for long. You feel like Magna will never actually catch up but at least he’s trying and the guy does use fire magic which I like. The problem is that there are at least 3 other characters in the same series who are better at fire magic which is not a good sign for him. Magna’s best chance to be more relevant in the future will be for him to switch attributes or go for magic techniques that are very unique from the other fire attacks.

Then we have Yami who is the captain of the Black Bulls and naturally has a very big role here. He’s a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why because he knows how to take charge of the team at any given moment and also just has a lot of pull. When he’s on the case you know that the troops are going to fall into line right away. His dark magic attacks are solid and he always makes sure to prioritize saving his comrades over following the rules. That’s the right order to do things if you ask me so that’s a very good look. He’ll always be one of the best.

Finral is another member of the Black Bulls but he is a weaker character. The guy does start to have a character arc where he won’t be flirting with all of the ladies as much and that’s good but in the meantime it’s not like his character has really been any good. He may get his moments but ultimately I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of his. He’s just not my kind of character and the series taking that long to try and turn him into one just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps in a sequel series he will end up being really good. He’s helpful in combat at least but that still isn’t enough yet.

Vanessa is more of a support fighter on the team but she takes this to new limits as her cat of fate can allow her comrades to escape death. It’s a fate alteration technique which is incredibly helpful. It’s the kind of ability you rarely see a hero have since it can easily make it hard to write the villains into a scenario where they can win but Black Clover’s done well with this so far. She’s a fun character and while she may not stand out as much as some of the others, she gets the job done.

Gauche is a character who had some potential but his running gag sort of ruins it. He’s always talking about his sister Marie and while it’s nice that he wants to protect her, the whole thing is overplayed way too much. He’s an example of a character with a lot of comedic scenes that actually aren’t that funny. That’s not a good thing when that represents the vast majority of your character moments. He’s another character who isn’t likely to rise up all that high for me.

Finally there’s Charmy and we don’t know a whole lot about her compared to some of the other characters. She gets a lot of comedic moments as well but you can tell that she’s hiding a great power behind it all. That kind of character can work but it’s certainly a lot trickier than it would be if she was just a solid fighter all of the time. They’re always hinting at a backstory involving the elves or something similar with her but we haven’t really gotten it yet. All in all, I can’t say I’m too impressed with her.

Another character who appears early on in the pre arc is Sekke. This guy’s the Hercule/King of the series in that he’s a really big comic relief character who tends to fall upwards. Things just work out for him even though Sekke is as weak as a character can get. He does have one or two spells but just about any fighter would defeat him with ease. The only way he gets out of the situations is to be lucky. That said, I loved his character gimmick of adding a little “haha!” to the end of each of his sentences. Usually a little word at the end gets old fast but sometimes it works like in Air and now this series. So Sekke I do like in his role, he’s a better comic relief character than most.

Klaus is one of the Golden Dawn members who works with Yuno. You’ll realize early on that aside from the Black Bulls, most of the other squads don’t have a ton of characters with their own individual character designs and arcs. It’s fitting since the Bulls are the main team but at least the Dawn have a handful. Klaus is one of them and he’s not bad. At first he’s one of those classic royals who dislikes all commoners but he is quickly able to shed that opinion and that’s when I started liking him. It takes a good character to be able to get with the program that quickly and I thought he did really well. His magic may not be super helpful but it’s the thought that counts.

Then you have Mimosa who is the healer of the group. She can heal most injuries at a really rapid speed which comes in handy with how many dangerous missions the characters go on. That means she isn’t often on the front lines but when necessary she can scrounge up an attack spell or two. Mimosa is a decent enough character even if she is rather harsh to one of her brothers during the tournament. The Silva family tends to be rather crazy so she probably has a lot of justification for this but at least from what we see it feels like she is a bit too relentless there.

Of course we also have Bell who serves as Yuno’s nature spirit to further amp up his abilities. She’s not really my kind of character though. She tends to get jealous really quickly, almost instantly at every moment. So in a way she starts to get in Yuno’s way instead of helping and she reminds me of Tinker Bell a lot. If Bell could fight more on her own that would help but as it is, it never feels like she serves much of a role in the story.

I can’t forget about Sister Lily either. She is crucial to helping with Asta’s character development as one of his goals is to get together with her. The issue though is that she can never be with a man because of her job so this always leads Asta to be rather depressed. Lily doesn’t get to do a whole lot beyond her initial appearance but she’s a fun character and at least she does have a water spell as a last resort.

Now lets dive into the first story arc here which is the mission into the Diamond Kingdom dungeon. We get to see how the Black Bulls deal with a foreign squad here as both Yuno and Asta’s group fight off the invaders. This was a good way to show us how one of these battles would go and I thought the whole thing went rather smoothly. We had a big team up with Asta and Yuno as well as a future rival of sorts in Mars. Now, I do think Mars could have been used a lot more in the series. He ends up vanishing for pretty much the rest of it but he was a good antagonist.

Mars even gets his own backstory and everything. It should at least come across as pretty sad the whole time. His abilities also made him a true threat. There was another villain in this arc by the name of Lotus and I thought he was surprisingly really solid. The guy has a very laidback kind of vibe to him but it’s one that worked well. Lotus can absolutely fight as need be and was even overwhelming Luck the whole time in their battle. He doesn’t get to do much after this but he’s a villain who leaves a lasting impression on you.

After this we get to have Asta and friends invited to the capital to get their awards and recognition from the Wizard King. Pretty much all of the captains are here so they also get to really meet them. It turns out that a lot of these guys are just as bad as the random royals with how they all insult Noelle. It does have one of my favorite scenes in the series though when Asta steps in to defend her and even goes up against several fighters at once. It was one of many moments that propelled him to being so high tier for me. This then transitions into a mini invasion arc as Rades sends a bunch of undeads out to take down Asta and friends. The actual arc isn’t as exciting as the smaller event but it’s a good chance to see Asta taking more names.

Rades will end up being a reoccurring villain later on. He’s not the most threatening villain I’ve seen and he’s borderline comic relief at times but he works well enough. I don’t think you’ll remember him as being much more than an afterthought most of the time though. For the heroes, well we’re introduced to quite a few bad ones like Noelle’s siblings. Those two characters are just extremely petty and don’t have the strength to back it up so they’re just awful.

We meet Nozel who is the leader of the 2nd strongest guild but he’s one of the guys who really encourages everyone to be mean to Noelle so there’s no way to like him. You’d think that he would be more considerate of her since they’re siblings but if anything he ends up going after her even harder than the others. That’s not the kind of thing I can easily overlook. So he is strong and I can’t deny that but I just never liked him. Later on the series tries to walk it back a bit but it’s just way too late.

On the other hand, Fuegoleon gets to look really solid to start things off. He actually has a good honor code and even gives Noelle a good pep talk. This is a man of honor who also has great power and I was glad that he was able to stand on his own like that without having to step on someone. Unfortunately he gets written out of most of the series with something that happens to him later on so that was unfortunate.

Another one of the captains is Vangeance who gets a really big role here. He has tree magic but that’s never been one of the more impressive kind of spells to me. Give me fire or water any day. Trees just don’t feel as versatile. Either way I don’t like this guy though. He’s not decisive in his actions and ends up causing more trouble for everyone. He may be a part of the strongest guild but he certainly doesn’t feel like the strongest captain. You get the feeling that a whole lot of the others could mop him up if they wanted too.

Now the wizard king Julius actually lives up to his hype. That guy looks fantastic in all of his appearances. There were a lot of jokes about him basically being Naruto and they worked because this is how you imagine Naruto would be when he makes it to the top. Julius has created a world of peace and he’s so powerful that almost nobody dares to challenge him. His fight in the series is really intense and the kingdom can really feel safe with him at the top. I definitely liked the guy quite a lot.

While not a captain, Asta obtained a new rival in this arc in Leopold. I use the term a bit loosely because it feels like Leo never really got to do a whole lot. It’s like he’s set up to be a major player at some point but it never quite happened. I still think he has a lot of potential but he hasn’t really kept up with the power creep which hurts him a lot. If he is going to have a big moment it is going to need to happen soon or it’s all going to be over for him. Well, I guess he will still be likable even if he’s not one of the strongest but I would like to see more out of him. I have high expectations here.

After that there is an arc involving Gauche trying to save his sister. The arc is fairly low key and I don’t need to go into it much here but the big thing is that this directly leads into the leader of the midnight sun, Licht showing up. We then get a big fight with the heroes going up against him which then escalates further as the other members of the group appear and a few captains show up. The battles here were really high tier and Yami vs Licht is still brought up a lot to this day. This was when the series first started showing signs of the grander plan that would take us to the big Elf arc. There’s a lot of great setup here and one of the impressive bits may even be the fact that it was thrown into a story arc that felt like it was going to be very minor all the way through.

Licht appears in a very impressive way here. Not only can he attack at the speed of light which is crazy in itself but he also appears to care about his comrades. I always thought that was a solid trait for a villain since it makes them feel like more of a fleshed out character instead of some random villain wanting to destroy the world. His moveset is solid and he gets a lot of great fights here. I definitely don’t believe you will be disappointed at all when this fight is all over and done with and in the character either. He opens and finishes strong.

Vetto is then the most impressive member of the Midnight Sun. His big role is in the arc after this one as he gets to go up against pretty much the entire Black Bulls team on his own. The guy fights wave after wave of enemies and just keeps on going. It’s absolutely crazy how much stamina the guy has and while he does tend to ramble on and on about despair, the guy can back up the crazy talk. I ended up liking him quite a bit and he is really the reason why the underwater temple arc was so good.

Rhya is also a solid villain. He’s more the cold and calculating type but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. He still ends up being very helpful to the villains with how his copy ability works. There aren’t too many fighters who can stand up to him and he was also the first to realize that something was up with the devil even if it was just too late by that point. In a way he doesn’t get to cut loose as much as the other two members but he also doesn’t go crazy.

Fana is like Vetto in how much she dislikes the humans. She tends to yell a lot about the whole thing and just goes in guns blazing. She certainly isn’t conflicted about the whole situation. Fana has some solid fights here and makes for a solid all around villain. Definitely not someone that you want to mess with. From the hero side, we get to see Charlotte in action here. She’s another captain with grass type powers only hers are vines instead of trees. She’s much better than Vangeance and while her crush on Yami can mean that she is often flustered, she doesn’t let this show when she goes up against the big villains. To them she is just another really powerful captain that they have to watch out for. Charlotte commands a lot of respect in a battle and I’d say that she’s solid enough.

Then there is Jack and I do like the guy but my one issue is that I don’t feel like he’s as strong as you’re meant to believe. see, he’s Yami’s rival but it feels like the gap in power between them is absolutely massive. If they are as evenly matched as the show would have you believe, then Jack should look way better during his solo moments. He is usually portrayed as either being all talk or on Yami’s level and the two versions of him are completely mutually exclusive. You can’t be both at once no matter how much this show may try to trick you otherwise.

Now we get to the underwater temple arc which is one of the highlights of the series. The heroes are finally making a move to try and get a step ahead of the Midnight Sun, but naturally those guys were ready for this. So we get to have a bunch of big fights against Vetto. This time the heroes are not leaving without taking him down for good and it’s a very tense fight all the way through. The animation is really excellent and it’s just a super memorable experience. For a lot of people this was the turning point and while the series was already amazing for me prior to this, it certainly kept on raising the bar.

We got to meet the singer Kahano who quickly hit it off with Noelle. Kahano was a very nice character along with Kiato as the two of them did their best to help out. Unfortunately the burden of trying to help out the main characters while not being a part of them is that you tend to get absolutely crushed into the dust. These two really did their best but ultimately they weren’t ready. I liked them well enough and they actually remained relevant to a much larger extent than I expected.

Also, I didn’t talk about her much before but Grey is another member of the Black Bulls and she’s around the whole time too. Her ability is seemingly to shapeshift which isn’t too handy though. As of now you could say that her role is still very minimal so she hasn’t done a whole lot yet. Grey can be way too timid for me though which keeps her from being one of the top characters. Gordon is another Black Bull member and his gimmick is that he talks so silently that nobody can hear what he is saying. It definitely gets old rather quickly. His powers are all poison based which is handy at least but that’s still not quite enough to turn him into a good character. For now he’s just too gimmicky but I’d like to see him develop into a really solid character down the line.

Then we have a small filler arc or at least it felt like filler to me where Asta helps his (novel exclusive) mentor find Dominate after she has vanished. The heroes have to deal with the traitor Mariella and figure out what’s going on. I’d say the main issue with this one is that the villains feel way too weak so the heroes should be absolutely stomping them the whole time. Instead Fanzell just doesn’t feel very impressive at all. You get the vibe that Asta surpassed him a very long time ago. It was a decent little story saga but nothing to write home about.

Same for the characters. Fanzell is okay but he’s not making my top 20 list any time soon. Dominate doesn’t appear long enough to leave much of an impression either and of course Mariella didn’t really make the best calls. All in all I would be fine if they never appear again. It’s not like they were super bad or anything but they just don’t add anything to the dynamic so you could just give their scenes to someone else.

Now the next big arc is the Witch queen one. The heroes needs to find a way to heal Asta’s arms after the events of the temple saga and this is the best place to do it. The Witch Queen is supposed to have abilities far beyond that of anyone else when it comes to reversing curses and such. Naturally she isn’t super nice though so that won’t be easy. Additionally, the diamond kingdom and midnight sun are attacking again so the heroes have to deal with that too. It’ll be a busy time for them but they’re ready for this.

The Witch Queen herself is about as shady and nefarious as you would expect. She would absolutely murder all the heroes at the drop of a hat if she got her way. I do think she’s a bit shortsighted in this since the villains would then be able to take her out really quick though. She’s confident in her defenses but shouldn’t be because they just wouldn’t hold up. So I wouldn’t really say I’m a big fan of hers at the moment. She could turn out to be good down the road but for now I’m not impressed.

Likewise, the big villain here is Ladros and there’s just not much to him. He’s super strong so he’s absolutely a threat in combat but that doesn’t translate to him being a great villain. He can absolutely decimate his opponents in combat but there’s more to being a villain than that. He doesn’t have much personality or any super likable traits so that’s game over for him.

Mereoleona gets to appear after the climax as she gets ready to train the heroes and go with them to the elf invasion. Now here’s a top tier character who has a lot of great moments throughout. Whenever she is on screen you know that the heroes are finally going to learn a lot and will be able to push their skills to the next level. She loves fighting even more than Luck and has the skills to back it up so that’s good enough for me. Any scene with her is always fun.

After that we get to the big tournament and I’d been waiting for this. After all, tournaments are always super hype. All of the big characters are in this including some that we hadn’t gotten to see much of before now. It’s mostly a friendly tournament but Langris starts to go a bit crazy here so you can expect him to make some noise. It leads into one of the most intense scenes in the series though when the Black Bulls come close to ending him. They certainly weren’t about to let anything happen and I love to see teamwork like that. You gotta look out for each other in a moment like this.

Suffice it to say, Langris never really went very high for me. Sure, mind control played a part in some of the scenes, but not all of them and that’s an important distinction to make. By and large he is still responsible for what he was doing the whole time. He just had a bad attitude, there’s no two ways about it. The guy has a tremendous amount of power too so you would think that he would be more content with what he’s got instead of always looking around. That’s definitely a lesson that he needs to learn sooner than later.

Zora is a new member to the Black Bulls and right away he becomes one of the best members. I like how this guy openly takes on the royals and doesn’t put up with any of their nonsense. To an extent he acts like a vigilante at first and never really loses his edge but by the end he’s also a team player. His trap style of magic is also very effective although I feel like by its own nature it will never make him quite as powerful as some of the other fighters. It just inherently has some limits to it but he’s shown that he can work with those so far.

Sol is Charlotte’s right hand woman and she’s a decent enough character. I like that she’s always got a fiery spirit. Unfortunately she never gets to fight all that much but I see her having some potential as a strong side character. Sol is someone who could probably shine if the series ever got a true spinoff manga. Then you have Kirsch who is Mimosa’s brother. He’s the one where I feel like she’s too harsh at times. The guy is rather vain but compared to the rest of the nobles he is a decently nice guy. His abilities are also handy especially in a team format. He’s not really my kind of character but the guy does well enough.

In the tournament Rill gets to enter and I always thought that was a bit odd since he is a captain. Well, I suppose he’s one of the younger ones but even so I would have expected him to not have been allowed. His fight against Yuno is one of the highlights of the arc and it was great to see one of the main characters finally going up against a captain. To me this cemented what I had known for a very long time which is that Yuno and Asta were already captain level. Rill’s abilities are cool but his overall personality isn’t really my thing. He tends to space out and not be as focused as he should be.

Finally you have Alecdora who was trying to be a rival to Yuno for a long while. Unfortunately for him, his abilities aren’t nearly at a level that would cause Yuno to sweat at all. Seriously, this guy just doesn’t stand any kind of chance against him. Alecdora’s also rather stuck up so it takes a while for him to acknowledge Yuno’s overall abilities. Once he does then he becomes a much better character.

This leads us to the Elf arc which is widely known as the best saga in the series. I would absolutely agree with this too. Part of what makes the arc work so well is because it was being built up since near the beginning of the series. It’s also a very long arc much like Hueco Mundo where every character gets their own fight. Even the supporting characters finally get some action and there are a lot of villains to go around. The arc also has two parts to it as you have the initial invasion where the heroes try to take the Elves out and then the counterstrike where a bunch of people end up getting mind controlled.

There are so many iconic moments in this like Yuno using his strength of will to overcome the brainwashing or actually seeing the previous wizard king get to fight. There were just so many amazing scenes here and of course the battles were all top notch. The amount of replay value here is also incredibly high. You just don’t want to peel yourself away from the episodes and can probably blast through the entire thing in an instant. That’s when you know that you’ve got a really elite show by your side.

One villain in this arc is Sally who technically has been appearing here and there but this seemed like a good time to bring her up. She’s not really my kind of villain though as she’s one of those crazy scientists who runs a ton of twisted experiments but it feels like the heroes let it slide to an extent. At this point she is practically here as an anti-hero but she should be getting big jail time right away. She’s not someone you could ever hope to trust.

Then we have another Black Bull named Henry and his gimmick is that he talks really slowly. Unfortunately that destroyed the character for me. Gimmicks like that where you talk too slowly or too quietly just hurt because then it takes forever for the character to make any points. So any scene with Henry was more on the painful side than being emotional which is really not a good idea. His ability to absorb mana is cool at least.

Next up is Dorothy who is one of the captains but unfortunately for her fans she doesn’t get to do a whole lot. Her dream powers are incredibly powerful but she always happens to fight opponents who can hard counter it. Put it this way, she should be able to beat over 80% of the cast easily but she always goes up against the final 20%. She’s a fun character though who is always relaxing because deep down she knows how strong she is. Dorothy is quirky but not in an annoying way so there’s a lot to enjoy about her.

Secre is another Black Bull and you can tell how the series keeps adding new members as it goes along. Technically she was around since the start of the series as a bird but only gets to use her human form later on. Secre is another solid character who keeps all of the others on their toes with her quick wit. Her ability to unseal things is a very specific power but one that certainly has her uses. I enjoy what she brings to the table in terms of the character dynamics.

Of course a big character in this arc is Zagred as the first devil to fight the heroes. The show goes all out with this guy as he pretty much takes on the entire cast at once. If the show was trying to prove why this guy is an absolutely huge threat then it completely succeeded. He definitely strikes fear into his opponents and it’s all well deserved. Anything he says comes true which is a really scary power to go up against. Also as a Devil he just wants to cause chaos and misfortune to everyone around him. Not exactly the kind of villain you can reason with.

Finally there is Lumiere and I liked him a lot. He’s not quite as cool as the current Wizard King but you can see how this guy once had the rank and did a lot of good with it. His abilities have a lot of versatility to them and his raw power is exceptional. Put him up against almost any other character in the series and it would be an easy win for him. I also liked his bond with Secre, they were definitely good friends.

Finally we head to the final saga in the series. First there is a bit of a court drama as the people want Asta executed for being a devil host but the Black Bulls put a stop to that really quick. I was glad that they did not entertain this notion at all and just broke in. It was another great scene to show how much unity the Black Bulls have and how they will do whatever it takes to protect each other. Of course the real final saga comes after this and we even get a time skip.

The characters now have new designs although the one that stands out the most is certainly Asta. The devils are finally making their move as the Spade Kingdom sends the Dark Triad to capture 3 fighters while also invading the Heart Kingdom. Asta and friends have to go to each of the spots to defend their allies but these villains are far more powerful than any that they have encountered before. The Elf arc previously showed how powerful one devil was so you can imagine how taking on 3 would be an incredibly difficult task. The only thing that helps the heroes a bit is that the devils are using human hosts and can’t fully manifest the way that the last one did. If they could do that then the heroes would absolutely have no shot at taking the win. It would just be completely impossible at that point.

While not quite as long or ambitious as the Elf Arc, this one certainly comes close. Once we get a sequel anime to adapt the rest of the arc it’ll get even closer as it still is a super long arc with a lot of great fights. I also always enjoy a good timeskip and getting to see how all of the heroes have grown stronger with their techniques. The new opening theme song for this saga was also excellent to the point where I put this as the best intro in the series.

Damnatio is the judge who wanted Asta executed and he certainly gets a solid role here. I liked the guy, he may not be a big fighter or some kind of super villain but his abilities are cool. I don’t think he would have lasted long against the Black Bulls in an even fight but this guy is not meant for the front lines anyway. He’s a good way to represent what the general public of the Clover Kingdom think and how they are always very ungrateful. So he’s a fun antagonist here.

We also meet the leader of the Heart Kingdom in Loropechika, but I definitely can’t say that I was really a fan of hers. She cries way too much and being a klutz is part of her whole character personality. That’s never too endearing for me, I wish she would be able to get serious a lot quicker. If you commander can’t really fight, what does that do for morale? Maybe she’ll look better right now but so far she’s one of the weakest characters for sure.

She has a group of warriors who fight below her but the only one with actual development is Gaja. The others are around but you can’t take them too seriously and feel like they are going to get absolutely dominated the whole time. At least Gaja can actually fight the whole time and his abilities are the real deal. He gets to train the heroes and he is very devoted to protecting the queen. So I’d give that guy a thumbs up even while the rest of the group did not seem very impressive.

Then we get to the Dark Triad and they are all powerful fighters. That said, Dante is not really my kind of character. For starters, the guy is one of those villains who is obsessed with women and distracts him from the actual fight at hand. He’s also one of those proud villains who feels like he shouldn’t have to fight commoners and all that. He’s the kind of villain you’ve seen a million times before but who doesn’t really leave an impact. As a villain to be fought he lives up to the hype and looks great but as a character he wasn’t my kind of villain.

The second member Vanica was a lot more interesting. She is on the insane side at times which isn’t always my thing but at least she loves a good fight and is all about the action. Vanica likes to insult her opponents while fighting them as well but isn’t getting distracted from her core purpose. Now she’s a villain who you don’t want to mess with at all and she has personal ties to Noelle and the queen which adds a personal dynamic to the whole mix.

Finally there is Zenon who is easily the best member of the trio. This guy is very serious and down to business as he attacks Yuno and the squad. His bone magic is cool to watch and the guy just feels unbeatable. It’s clear from the jump that he is the strongest member of the triad by far. He doesn’t show any moments of weakness or even come close to appearing to be on the losing side. He dominates his fights from start to finish and that’s the kind of villain you want to see the heroes go up against.

Then as we end the series and get the setup for the next arc, two more characters show up. First is Liebe who is the devil that has been residing inside of Asta. We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up for so long that it was surreal to finally see him appear. Of course as luck would have it, he’s considerably weaker than all of the other devils who have appeared. So don’t expect him to be showing up to take names immediately but he does have a lot of character development. We even get to see his backstory which was very emotional. I’m excited to have him become a main character now since his dynamic with Asta is really going to be intense. Their battle was also a fitting way to end the series because of how emotional it was and all of the callbacks that got to be included.

Finally there is Nacht, the final Black Bull. He’s not as happy go lucky as the rest and even tends to insult Yami which is something that Asta and the others don’t like. He has several devils at his disposal though and is currently a very mysterious character. We don’t know a lot about him yet but I can say that he is starting the series off strong. I would say the mystique works really well here and you definitely want to see what he can do in a fight.

Overall, Well there’s always more to say about a series like this but I’d say that’s good for now. Naturally there are more characters and events out there but you should watch the series yourself to see all the extra details. Black Clover is a super all around show and I definitely recommend checking it out when you have the time. It is over 150 episodes long so you will need a lot of time but the episodes really blend together with how quick the pacing is. Hopefully they hurry up with the movie and the sequel show because it feels like we’ve been waiting for a long while. The post time skip events were just getting started after all so we need to see how it all ends. It’ll be tough for another title to top this one but we’ll see how it goes.

Overall 9/10

Red Lights Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Red Lights is a bit of a trippy film that has a lot of good ideas but the execution isn’t as good as it should have been. It gives you a lot to think about though and I like the concept. You’d probably never guess the actual story of the film just based on the title though, it’s not one of those titles that makes it obvious or anything. There aren’t a ton of magic films like this one out there either so that adds a little more reason to check this one out.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Margaret and her assistant Tom. Their job is to discredit people who call themselves magicians by uncovering their tips and tricks. They’re quite good at this and Margaret really commands the field. In her day she was only defeated once by the magician known as Simon who was the best of the best. He retired rather suddenly when one of his critics died during a performance. Well, now he’s back but for some reason Margaret refuses to go after him. She even tells Tom not to try because they are hopelessly outmatched and outgunned. Tom doesn’t listen though and wants to take this guy down as the ultimate triumph.

Red Lights shifts gears rather quickly so don’t expect this plot to remain static but right off the bat I like the premise here. The idea of a movie about people busting magicians is really interesting. Particularly if you don’t believe in magic then you’re rooting for them to claim the win. Margaret is also a very solid character with how confident and prepared she is. Of course she isn’t unbeatable and we get a flashback showing how she lost to Simon. It’s not easy to prove the others are a phony, particularly on the spot. Part of her regret though is that it should have been easy for her in that moment.

He claimed that her son’s ghost was around as if he was dead, but only Margaret knew that he was still alive. If she had called him out there then her career would have been perfect but ultimately she hesitated and just didn’t think of it in time. That’s her only loss in the film though. While Tom gives her a hard time during an interview later on, I wouldn’t say that she was actually losing that one. Personally I thought she did fine and I suppose it’s how you look at the interview but what did he really want her to say? I thought he was unreasonable the whole time.

That’s one of the weaker parts of the film since Tom is really the main character here and he’s just annoying all the time. He constantly loses his cool and falls into every trap imaginable. There’s a scene where he keeps on threatening the head researcher so that he can get in and the whole time I’m just thinking that they really shouldn’t let him in now. It’s clear that the guy isn’t stable at all and the film really goes out of its way to show this. He’s just way too obsessed with Silver.

Tom also just isn’t as talented as Margaret is. Intensity and youth can only get you so far, ultimately you also need the technique to go along with that. He’s also rather mean to one of the assistants. He doesn’t even let the guy talk and just keeps on brushing off the guy’s ideas. Tom’s girlfriend acts the same way towards the guy so you start to feel bad for him. He’s the one trying to help out and staying up late trying to crack the case too. He deserves a little more respect there.

During the film you’re also supposed to ask yourself the whole time if Simon’s powers are real as well. It’s a nice angle to the film since it gives you a reason to really think about each scene a lot. Fantastical things do seem to happen a lot when he’s on stage like lights breaking or people dying for seemingly no reason. Of course part of you will think that may be a little too easy in that case. Either way it should give you a lot to think about and Simon makes for a solid villain. He’s definitely not someone that the characters can really afford to take too lightly.

There is a big twist near the end of the film which answers all of the questions and should make or break the experience for you. The twist itself I’m fairly cool with although I wouldn’t say it’s handled super well. One scene is dragged out a bit too much which lowers the impact of the moment. I also feel like this raises some extra questions throughout the movie which don’t do it any favors. It also leads to a rather bad ending so in the end the film starts off a lot better than it ended. It had some good humor and a fun cast but it just made some really big mistakes in the second half that erase a lot of the good that the first half pulled in. I’ll jump into that now so skip the next two paragraphs if you haven’t seen the film yet.

All right so here we go into spoiler land. First off, Margaret gets bumped off early on which is a shame since she was the best character here. Tom isn’t able to fill in for her effectively at all. Then the other big twist is that Simon was a phony but Tom is a real psychic. Yes, all the crazy stuff that happened during the movie was his doing. It seems like he didn’t actually know he was doing this to himself. Towards the end of the film he says he regrets how he didn’t tell Margaret sooner so she could have some closure though.

So that means he knew he had powers but just didn’t know he was using it at those moments? It’s rather sloppy. His whole motivation seemed to be to find some other people like him with psychic powers and he had started giving up on this dream. It’s too bad he couldn’t have confided in her though or at least been less desperate about things. At least the movie didn’t cop out with powers not existing but it just should have been so much better. Also, at the end Tom takes Margaret’s son off of life support so he can die now but that was a very iffy way of ending things. He snuck in there without any consent and just turned it off? Even if it’s meant to be a helpful/hopeful kind of thing, it didn’t turn out that way.

Well that’s it for the spoilers. There’s also an action scene we get in the bathroom that really doesn’t go very well for Tom. The scene is super random and shows up out of nowhere though. On a plot level you get to piece it together real quick on how this happened but the ending of the fight felt really convenient. If you’re going to start a fight and take a huge risk on someone seeing you, then shouldn’t you make sure that the fight is won? Stopping at the end just doesn’t work and makes the whole thing futile.

Overall, Red Lights is a film with a lot of ups and downs for me. The concept is sound and there are some interesting visuals here. On the other hand the ending is no good and it felt like the movie should have trusted its own premise more. The more interesting scenes in the film where about the heroes trying to prove that the magicians are a fraud as opposed to Tom’s obsession. If we focused on that then this would have been pretty good.

Overall 5/10

Mashle: Magic and Muscles


Mashle’s one of the next gen Shonen Jump titles and it’s definitely off to a good start. It’s essentially a Black Clover meets One Punch Man title so far. I can see a lot of potential here with great fight scenes and humor so hopefully this ends up being one of the really long running titles. I’ll have a review up for this one as soon as I have completed the series.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Zelda Gaiden: Quark and the Fairy Queen Review


Now this is a very unique oneshot because this time Link isn’t the main character. Or I guess he technically is in a sense but they call him Quark here. I found that a bit odd myself but I figured I shouldn’t question it. It’s a fun story, I don’t see what the point of not calling the lead Link was, but this would fit in well with the LoZ mythos for his younger days.

The story starts with Link walking around when he meets a fairy and an old man in the forest. Whoops…I meant “Quark”. So Quark is on a quest to grab the 3 legendary artifacts so that he can awaken the Master Sword. Once he has that then he will be able to save Zelda from Agahnim, a powerful sorcerer who has taken over Hyrule. Unfortunately Quark isn’t able to pull the Master Sword out yet and literally cries to these two people about it. The guy is introduced as Lepton and the fairy is called Ellie. They explain that there’s another villain on the loose named Graviton. Perhaps Quark could practice his skills by defeating that guy and saving a great deal of lives? Lepton will even throw in some free lessons so Quark agrees to the terms.

Right off the bat you can tell that this Quark is a little whinier than the others. Of course he is still a rookie here but even so it’s just odd to see Quark not be more of a leader kind of guy. At one point Lepton asks Quark why he’s fighting and the hero responds with “For myself” which was not the right answer. After getting beaten up by the villains for a bit, Quark remembers that he’s fighting for Zelda and the kingdom. Better late than never I guess?…..and Quark’s sword skills aren’t great yet either as he has to be saved by Lepton. By the end of the oneshot it’s safe to say that he’s back to being more courageous.

So this isn’t the best portrayal of Link I’ve seen, but Quark’s an okay main character. I wasn’t a big fan of Lepton for most of this story because it felt like the guy was making things hard on Link for no reason. He already explained that Graviton is quite powerful but then tells Quark that he has to fight on his own against him? Why? This inevitably leads to Lepton getting stabbed and things could have been different otherwise. There’s a plot twist at the end that makes all of this meaningless anyway but it’s still not a good look for him regardless.

The idea of the character’s not bad though and if Lepton would just let go of his ego a bit more then I think he’d be a much better character. Ellie’s nice enough as the sidekick. She is looking out for Lepton and tries to make Quark polite at all times which is good. As for the villain, there’s not a whole lot to say about Graviton. He has a really solid design but the guy is partially comic relief so I wouldn’t say that you can take him all that seriously. The guy even wants to go to sleep at one point because the wait to get his power up was too long.

The humor is done well enough in the story though. It all flows together pretty well and the fights are good when they happen. There is a lot more dialogue than I was expecting initially though. The oneshot really makes sure that you have on your reading glasses at all times. If you take them off then that’ll definitely be game over for you right off the bat. It’s not boring at any point though and the oneshot is of a decent length at 30+ pages. There’s enough time for the plot to settle and this feels like a legitimate sidequest. Something that would help Quark in the long run.

The art is solid here and it’s a quality story so there’s not much more you could ask for. Quark feels out of character but I know there are a lot of different Link incarnations. I am completely used to the more serious version from Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess at this point so it’s hard to go back to the spunky, younger versions. Still, I will say that Quark stepped up when he had too which is the important thing. I’m surprised Ganondorf didn’t appear but I suppose he can’t show up every time.

Overall, This was a fun story. Graviton had a cool design even if his personality wasn’t quite up to par. It’s always nice to see Link (I’ll just call him Link at this point. Quark just doesn’t feel right) having some help along his quest. It always feels like he has to do just about everything by himself when you hope that someone will step in to help him eventually. This was finally that moment even if Lepton didn’t want to directly help too much. I think there’s a time for training and a time for action but Lepton messed this up. If you want to see a fun little story about Link as he prepares to save the day, this is a good one to check out. You’ll definitely be blasting through it in no time.

Overall 7/10

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review


After all of these years I have finally gotten to experience the hype of Xenoblade Chronicles 2! It’s one of those games that I’ve had an eye on for a while but never really got around to playing. I was certainly missing out as this game did the unthinkable. It beat out Final Fantasy XIII and Kingdom Hearts II as my favorite RPG of all time. This game is now the king of its genre which is absolutely not something I was expecting going in. The game just delivers with so much content and fun all the way through.

The game starts out by introducing us to the world which is not in a good spot. Everyone lives in the clouds and the only “land” around are giant monsters. People live on them as continents but as you can imagine the space is very limited so the world has a population issue. Rex is a scavenger who goes around trying to salvage some spare parts to make money. One day he is recruited to help a group called Torna out in a rather dangerous expedition. Rex agrees to help out but the group double crosses him and murders the poor guy when they come into contact with the Aegis.

So in this world everyone uses a humanoid weapon to fight. The Aegis is the ultimate weapon and so they seem to want her for nefarious ends. Fortunately Rex was quickly able to make a contract with her so their lives are now linked. The Aegis’ name is Pyra and she asks Rex to take her to Elysium. He is happy about this as well because with a new land, perhaps he can help the world find some new space to live. The two will meet many companions and have to fight against a ton of enemies to get up there but neither one plans on giving up.

The game’s story took me almost 60 hours to complete so you can bet that there are a lot of other things going on here. The story is always changing dynamically and does a good job of really getting you invested. There are several factions so even the various villain groups are always trying to get in each other’s way. One of the elements that really got me on board was how likable all of the characters are. We have a bunch of really fun villains running around and of course the heroes are solid too.

Then the game spared no expense in having a bunch of fights during the cutscenes. I always like to see the characters going at it even outside of gameplay and this title delivers there. The battles are always very intense like when we fought Morag and then fighting against Jin later. The guy being able to go past the speed of light was an incredible moment because it showed how the heroes were badly out of their league. Every time they would get stronger, so would the villains. There was always a ton of suspense at every moment.

The soundtrack was also absolutely top tier. There are so many great themes throughout the game. You have solid battle themes, emotional themes, and victorious themes. These really went in during those battle cutscenes as well. It goes without saying that the graphics here are also really good. It definitely feels like a modern game through and through. You’d never mistake the graphics for anything older than current gen. No chance of that.

The game is already long as I mentioned and there is a ton of post game content to go through. You’ve got the friendship events, side missions, leveling up further, etc. There’s also a whole paid DLC story but I don’t count that directly as replay value since it’s not actually on the disc. If it was then that would be a different matter. So if the game takes you 60 hours then you’ll have spent 1 dollar per hour which is a really good deal. How can you go wrong there right?

Rex had big shoes to fill in since Shulk was the main character of the first game but I would say he did a great job in this role. Rex has a lot of confidence and ends up being a character who will really inspire you the whole time. He never gives up on his dreams and fights hard. He does lose confidence at one point but for the most part he is always ready to get in on the action. Then you have Pyra who is a fun heroine and of course she can fight really well as the Argis. The two of them have a fun dynamic as friends.

Then there’s Mythra who is the more confident version of Pyra who has unimaginable power. When she appears this is a really big tipping point in the game. I had a lot of fun playing with her in the party but the game does give her a big limitation which is that you can’t use her final smash while you’re indoors. A lot of bosses are indoors so that does hurt a bit.

One of our main companions is Nia who was a member of Torna but fortunately joined up with us. She’s always a fun character and liked to mess with Rex and Pyra. There is a twist regarding her character which does hurt quite a bit near the end of the game but all in all she is definitely someone you can trust to have your back. Zeke started out as someone who didn’t seem all that impressive but by the end he looks rather good. It was also good to have him on the squad although by the time he joined up the villains were so powerful that he didn’t seem to get a lot of wins.

Morag has one of the best entrances in the whole game. She appears as the most powerful driver in the land and gives the heroes their first real big battle. It was also a solid moment where Rex chose to trust Pyra instead of delving into her past. Morag would go on to become a very reliable ally for the heroes throughout the adventure. Then we have Poppy who is a fun android. The fact that she is an artificial blade comes in handy on more than one occasion.

There are quite a number of villains in Torna. Some of the members don’t even appear until you’re deep into the game but once they show up, they make their presence known. The two most impressive villains would be Jin and Malos. Both of them have detailed backstories to explain what is going on here. For Jin, he’s extremely fast and determined which makes for a solid villain. He’s also got an honor code so you couldn’t ask for a much more impressive guy. He steals the show for the villains. Malos is also solid though, I like his confidence and he makes things tough on the heroes many times over as the game goes on.

Of course there are many more characters and events going on but you’ll want to play the game for yourself to see how that plays out. Now, what is the gameplay like? Well, that’s the only part of the game that I wasn’t all that impressed with. It’s sort of a turn based RPG, but one that operates in closer to real time and is part auto battle. So you try to stay close to the villain and your character will start automatically attacking. You can then choose special attacks and combos but a large part of the game is pretty much 100% automated.

I’m more used to seeing that on the mobile and not in a console experience so it took me for a bit of a loop. There is still a lot of strategy to it and I want to underscore that the game can still be quite challenging. That said, it just wasn’t my ideal gameplay style. I’d have preferred to have gone with traditional turn based or more of a fully real time style like Kingdom Hearts. If the game had gone in either of those routes then I think it would have ended up being quite a lot better for it.

Seeing as how this is the gameplay we’ve got though, then the next step is that you need to master it as soon as possible or the final bosses will really take you down a few pegs. I delayed learning about the orb system until the final chapters but then I had to use it. It’s difficult to describe so pay a lot of attention during the tutorials in the game. Effectively, you have to launch a combo of a level 1, level 2, and then level 3 special in the correct order to plant an orb on an opponent. Then when your team combo gauge is maxed out, you can use a unity attack. If you break an orb then you get to attack again and this goes on for up to 3 orbs. You can have more but they don’t seem to trigger extra attacks.

One big tip I’d give here is to constantly have your blades out on scouting assignments. It’s a great way to always be building up some funds and extra XP. You’ll need every bit of that in order to beat the final bosses who really jump up in terms of difficulty level. You won’t be breezing through them the way that you would have done so against the earlier villains. When the game’s difficulty jumps up, it is always very sudden as opposed to being gradual. So one minute you’ll be dominating and in the next you will be getting wrecked.

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game that will take a while to beat. You really have to fully understand the gameplay style and how to make the best out of every character. You will be engaged with the story right from the jump though. It’s just extremely solid from start to finish and the ending was also the perfect way to end things. With Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on the rise, I can now say that I’m ready for what comes next. I don’t see how it can beat 2 though. If you haven’t played this game yet, I would say that you should change that as soon as possible!

Overall 9/10

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 Review


Slime season 2 feels like the biggest glow up I’ve seen between seasons since Mob Psycho. Now it may not seem nearly as drastic just looking at the score but I would say it can take a whole lot of effort to go up from being a 7 which is pretty good to being an 8 which is truly great. Additionally I was tempted to push this all the way up to a 9 but I told myself I needed to calm down. The entire last chunk of the season was incredible but I had to carefully factor in what I would consider to be a very rough start. Ultimately the series was able to pull itself up rather well and I’m definitely looking forward to season 3 more than I would have been before.

I would say there are really 2 main arcs here. The second arc is really the highlight but the first one is solid too. It’s just the opening episodes before that which get tricky. So life is good and Rimuru is still building up his alliance in Tempest. At this point he already has a Demon Lord on his side as well as the incredibly powerful Vendora and hundreds of powerful warriors. Perhaps he will be the one to achieve world peace. In the meantime though he has to meet with powerful politicians and share drinks and such.

So this arc was pretty weak….but I consider this to be pre arc. For around 3-4 episodes it just feels like not much is happening. Rimuru is socializing I suppose but it feels like an excuse for just lots of fanservice and not much else. It was a weaker start than season 1 so I was a bit nervous here. I mean the production values are still great and all but where was the fun story? I would even say there wasn’t a ton of world building here. Fortunately that changes when the outside kingdoms decide to attack Tempest which is what really sets off Arc 1 for real. The Kingdom of Falmuth hatches a plan along with the holy Church. They will send 3 humans to frame the monsters for an attack which will give justification for these guys to murder everyone. Meanwhile Rimuru will be held at bay by Hinata, one of the Church’s most powerful fighters. Can Rimuru get back in time to win?

This was great and for another show you might have expected this to be the climax of the season. First off, we now know that there are more humans in the world which is a really big deal. We do know that humans are summoned and saw two of them in season 1 but now you have a fighting force of evil ones. Each human is also shown to be exceptionally powerful as they are treated as a powerful race in this world. As a sidenote, it is nice to see humans actually looking really tough as opposed to just being fodder in these fantasy settings. This also helps make the world feel even bigger as these 3 could be twisted leads in their own isekai adventures and now Rimuru has to take care of them. All 3 of these humans are complete villains of course so Rimnuru does have to hurry.

Another reason why the arc stands out is because Rimuru faces his first true challenge in quite a while. Due to the double barrier in place, all of his abilities have been greatly sealed while Hinata is at full power. This does tell me that Rimuru is already much stronger but of course excuses won’t matter if he’s dead. This was a great plan from Hinata from start to finish and I appreciated her confidence. This was absolutely a great fight as well and by this point in the show (Which is still fairly early) I knew that season 2 was going to rebound quite well from those opening episodes. You can almost skip those and not miss much tbh.

Hinata’s skill is something of a mystery though. By the end of the season we see her scaring opponents who are potentially even stronger than a demon lord or at least one with the rank but true power is more of a pseudo demon lord. So in theory Hinata wouldn’t even need Rimuru’s powers to be limited to stop him unless Rimuru had already passed that level. I’m inclined to say he had not at the time but his Gluttony ability bypasses defense so maybe that’s something she knew she had to avoid. Either way this is an arc with a lot of action and an incredible climax which even involves Diablo showing up. Rimuru also gets a big power up which will certainly be handy for later on.

After that we get a break in the action for a while as the next episodes are all meetings after meetings. I actually liked these episodes quite a lot though compared to the non action ones from before. For starters these are all serious meetings and not just an excuse to have a lot of fanservice the whole time. Additionally, I’m always up for a good strategy meeting so it’s nice to see everyone hanging out. It certainly could have been sped up but it’s fine either way. We also get a quick villain meeting which is a lot of fun and sets up the new characters as everyone gets ready for the main meeting.

See, the demon lords have a meeting for Walpurgis whenever there is something big to discuss. Clayman has summoned everyone for important news and now that Rimuru is so powerful and has the rank, he will be in attendance as well. Clayman has been the mastermind for pretty much every event in season 1 and 2 so Rimuru needs to be there to see his future plans and also to throw some threat around. Each demon lord can bring up to 2 attendants as well in case any funny business happens. That said, the attendants would likely be out of luck anyway though.

Meanwhile, Rimuru wants to take the initiative against Clayman and his forces this time so he’s having his army attack Clayman’s while they are both at the meeting. That means they are all sent to different areas to take down Clayman’s Five Fingers, a group of elite fighters. Given how powerful Rimuru’s guys are this is as much of a stomp as you can imagine but we do get a lot of great fights as a result. Even some of Rimuru’s fighters who don’t seem like offensive specialists show what they’ve got when it counts.

I would say this arc even beat the first one. It’s just the perfect climax to everything the series was building up to. Clayman may have looked really bad to the point where I wrote an editorial about one mistake that he made but it was still good to have him as the final boss. It made sense to get him out of the way and now every demon lord has to respect Rimuru and his abilities. You certainly can’t trust any of these demon lords either so that sets up a lot of interesting paths for the future. It’s really hard to say how things will play out as a result since everyone is keeping their cards close to the chest.

I have an eventual editorial coming up about the power levels in the series and discussing how powerful the heroes are so I won’t go into too much detail here. I will say that this is one of the most interesting parts of the series though. There are an absolute ton of factions running around and there are so many big shots that you will be curious how they all stack up to each other. You have the Demon Lords, Elder Demon Lords, Hinata, Diablo, Rimuru, Veldora, etc. Each of these guys have claims to be some of the strongest in the verse but who really outranks each other? Throw in the Clowns who seem to be exceptionally powerful with the fact that Hinata likely has her own bosses and it makes things very interesting. Veldora also isn’t the only dragon. So I won’t start ranking them here based on what I believe to be the correct ladder, but it’s something that Slime does quite well.

I dare say that only perhaps One Piece has more active factions and power level discussions that come from it. Otherwise it’s hard to top Slime with how many moving parts there are and it makes all the fight scenes even more interesting. Another reason why this show is so great is because you are always wondering what is going to happen next. Who will make their move and how will the world change as a result of it? While the Slime show loves its peaceful talks you know that eventually battles are going to break out.

At the same time you are never worried for the main characters though. Rimuru’s army is far too powerful to be endangered by anyone or at least it seems that way. Perhaps before he got a power up but in this season Rimuru gets a massive one which means that he greatly outranks almost every character in the series. While that may be a wrap for most of the tension here, you can still get some similar to One Punch Man by keeping Rimuru out of it. Much like that series I think this one was effective at pulling that off by giving the other characters their own big fights.

It doesn’t hurt that the animation is exceptional. There is a great deal of budget behind each fight with a lot of quick moves and solid special effects. Each battle stands out with the sharp colors and you will be on board right from the start. At no point in the season do you feel like the animation falters at all. Then you have the soundtrack which is also greatly improved from the first season. Surprisingly it feels like a lot of the season 1 battle themes have been completely discarded and replaced. I’m cool with that because these themes are just better. “Going Forward and Backward” for example is my favorite track in the show and it fortunately plays for almost all of the battles. It’s a great theme that immediately increases the tempo and gets you ready for a top notch battle.

I also greatly enjoyed the new theme song that plays for the second half of the show. (First is good too but not in the same league) Now this is a top tier opening with incredible visuals and a really catchy song. I’ve certainly listened to it a fair number of times. It’s also a good first look at Rimuru’s new costume even if he doesn’t wear it much in the season. I wish he would stick to that one because it’s easily his best one. It’s also fun that we’ve finally gotten to the Hinata fight since it felt like it was in the first 3 openings because they never knew when the fight was going to be adapted. Still feels off with how long it took but I guess the animators were really looking forward to that moment.

Rimuru continues to look good in this season and works well as the main character I think sometimes he doesn’t trust his own abilities as well as he should though and gets nervous over nothing. Still, gone are the days when he wasn’t really sure what to do. He’s now learned well how to be a true leader and takes command when needed. It’s hard to believe that the guy was just an ordinary joe not too long ago. Now Rimuru isn’t trying to be a hero but he is doing his best to be a leader who watches out for the people.

For example at one point he has to destroy I think it’s 100,000 people in order to bring back a few hundred. It was a no brainer for him since these guys were on the villain’s side and he needed to get his people back. Perhaps not what a hero would do there as this is the definition of trading lives for lives but it is something you would expect your king or leader to do for you. Rimuru set a strong example for his fighters that he will defend them at all times without exception. You also may feel like he didn’t need another power boost, but why not right? At this point it feels like Rimuru has to be top 10 in the verse at the minimum and I would argue he is likely stronger than that. We probably won’t know for a while.

Either way, Rimuru is able to hold his own seasons really well and had a good rage moment at Clayman when he struck Milim. That was a good way to know that Rimuru was for real. Meanwhile Great Sage is also fun. At this point it’s fair to say that she’s basically a character as she can take control of Rimuru’s body if he allows it so she can fight. Additionally she is always giving out helpful information and is almost like a sidekick that Rimuru can count on. She has a lot of attitude but that just helps for the banter.

After what feels like ages we finally get to see Veldora in his human form in this season. It’s nice to have him out of the prison for a change and his human form has a lot of fun with the cast. He is incredibly powerful as you would expect and certainly doesn’t back down to anybody. He gets a brief fight at the end which will cause you to really wonder about where he stacks up as well. Either way Rimuru has another good friend now and I think Veldora will fit in with everyone really well. He had a great first impression on them after all.

I’m still not a big fan of Gobta but I will give him credit for immediately believing his friend when the humans tried to frame him. Gobta wasn’t having any of that and that’s good because your friend should always have your back when it counts. So he may not be a great fighter but he’s a good friend. Meanwhile Benimaru gets a chance to show what he’s got as well. As always he seems to be the most impressive from his family of fighters and hasn’t really had to break a sweat. He even takes down a very powerful villain from season 1 in an instant which is very impressive. I don’t think he’s demon lord level but this guy can hold his own against anyone under that.

Shuna has her very best appearance in this season. Usually she just appears as the rather quiet and timid princess but here we get to see what she can do on the battlefield. Sure enough, she doesn’t need backup or for other fighters to protect her. She takes one on of Clayman’s leaders and shows him just how outclassed he is against her. Shuna’s magical spells are very impressive and she can be ruthless in combat. Now whenever she stays at the village we know that it’s in good hands.

Shion also looks great here and had one of the biggest improvements from season 1. She has really settled into her role as being Rimuru’s right hand woman and makes sure that nobody slanders him. When the villains start being sassy she quickly takes them out. While she mainly seemed evenly matched with Suphia, I think we all know that she would have won in the end with her big energy attack. Shion even takes a demon lord near the end which is further evidence of her power. In a true one on one fight she will not be going down easy that’s for sure. Her loyalty is also just great and she’s a fun character through and through.

Souei is the ninja of the group and his speed is always very impressive. He doesn’t look quite as powerful as the others but he gets less opportunity to fight like that. When he does join the fray you can usually count on him to get a win or look pretty good either way. The mentor of the group Hakuro gets a pair of fights to himself. The first fight doesn’t go very well for him but the deck was stacked against the guy. Once he is able to fight at full power then everything changes immediately.

Ranga is still around and while he doesn’t really get anything super big to do, he is always a loyal fighter for Rimuru. His ability to hide within shadows is handy and he gets a fight at the end but it’s mostly off screen. Now Milim is a character who gets a whole lot to do. I’m not sure about some of the twists with her though. There is a particularly big one near the end that will reframe all of her actions throughout the season but I’m just not sure that I buy it at all. Seems like a really convoluted way to go about things and it just doesn’t seem to make sense with the flashbacks of around when her plan would have started.

Either way it does show that she has great self restraint though. The characters rightfully do call her out on how this was rather irresponsible but I don’t think she seems too apologetic by the end of this. She is powerful enough where nobody would want to mess with her anyway though. She is one of the 3 top level demon lords after all so there’s almost nobody in the verse who could hope to beat her anyway. It’s why Rimuru got so lucky in having her as an ally.

Speaking of allies, Geld gets to have his first bit of action now that he is a part of Rimuru’s army and he looks good. His raw power is able to overwhelm his opponent’s regeneration. It’s a really intense fight to be sure as he just keeps pounding away at his opponent until the guy just can’t get up anymore. If not for outside help he would have ended things right there. As a power type I’m usually not going to think Geld will win much but he did really well here that’s for sure.

Unfortunately Diablo has not done much yet but he’s certainly a character that you will want to keep a real close eye on. He gets one fight in the season and it’s a really impressive one because he is able to easily overwhelm his opponent who is supposed to be incredibly powerful. In fact, we know he is based on previous appearances so the fact that Diablo is basically able to dumpster the guy is crazy. I have really high hopes for what Diablo will be doing in the future.

Yohm is an adventurer who gets a much bigger role here. He’s a nice guy who may not be extremely powerful but does rather well for himself with a sword. He has a bit of a romance with Myulan going. There is a rival in Grucius but you know that Yohm is the only one with a chance from the start. They three of them have a good dynamic though. I do think Yohm doesn’t handle the situation with Myulan very well though. As soon as things started to get fishy I would have liked for him to have been yelling for backup or trying to interrupt her technique. That would have made a world of difference for Tempest.

Of course things go well for Tempest but otherwise a whole lot of blame would be on Yohm. The most blame would be on Myulan though…you know for being the actual traitor. Ultimately she was under a bad circumstance here but still went through with all of this. Grucius gets some credit for trying to stop this from happening even if he wasn’t successful. I like his confidence but Grucius really doesn’t get any big wins here.

Then we get to good ole Clayman. The man with the worst plan possible and he makes mistakes at every turn. He really was in a good position initially but showed his cards too early and it cost him. Due to some twists it is even worse for him as we learn that Clayman was doomed for the start. He tries for some sympathy points at the end but Clayman was way too far gone by this point. No way you would really sympathize with that guy much. The situation is entirely of his making and now he has to live it.

Meanwhile the Jesters are interesting wild cards right now. They seem to work for Clayman’s boss and are really confident in their skills. It seems like they might all be Demon Lord level and if that’s the case then the heroes could really be in some trouble now. We’ll see how that plays out. Carrion doesn’t look great as far as demon lords go but to his defense, everyone would lose to Milim really. Or at least most of them would but when you factor in that she was sandbagging a bit then it gets really tricky for him. Ultimately it’s probably a good idea that he has decided to work for her though.

Ramiris might be the weakest demon lord here but she works well in the comic relief role. I like to think that she must have a crazy support ability to have become a demon lord though. Surely you can’t make it to that rank without having some kind of ability right? So I’m skeptical at how weak she is and figure she must be hiding something. All of the Demon Lords show up of course and while some are more impressive than others, they all seem like they can fight so something has to be going on here.

Leon is another one of the demon lords and he looks impressive. The guy hasn’t fought yet or anything but he has a confident atmosphere about him and doesn’t back down from a fight. Even Crimson who seems to be at the top regards him with a good amount of respect. While Crimon is always joking around you can tell that he does mean it when he says he would help Leon out if he was in a jam. I like the comradery between the demon lords. I’m sure some of them would backstab the others in a second but for others I do think they would be good friends. take Demon Lord Frey and Milim. They seem like good friends and Frey isn’t really the ambitious type so I don’t think she would have much motive to go around seeking more power. After all they’ve been demon lords for a while so I doubt they want anything to disrupt the balance of power. It’s why things should get crazy once that breaks down.

For miscellaneous characters first we have Suphia. She is one of the beast warriors and fights rather well. I like how aggressive she is and that makes the fight with Shion really good. Then you have the mysterious Yuuki. Remember that he did block Rimuru’s full powered punch when they first met so he can certainly fight. As a bit of a secret mastermind I could see him being a huge focus in season 3 unless he is truly the end game goal. Then there is Hinata who is a bit of a wild card since we don’t really know how the Holy Church will play into things. They seem corrupt already but at the same time I would assume that they won’t openly team up with the demon lords. I would love to see them as a true third party that causes trouble for both sides. Hinata has the raw power to pull this off after all.

The Church is manipulating her but I don’t think that’ll last forever. The question will be if she ends up joining the Tempest Federation or not. Personally I think she will just to make Rimuru’s army of unbeatable fighters even more impressive. Yamza is definitely Clayman’s most impressive minion. The guy can fight really well with a sword and while he was never a threat to the heroes, he looked way better than the other fingers. I wouldn’t have minded seeing him more that’s for sure, but I should be satisfied with his appearances here.

Middray and Hermes are fun characters who serve Milim even if she doesn’t seem to know about the Dragon Faithful group. Hermes is more of a rookie so he tends to lose his cool a bit. I don’t blame him for wanting to fight off Yamza though especially if he believes he could win. The whole arrangement seems one sided for Clayman’s army. Once again, the twist about Milim doesn’t help for scenes like this where they are only standing down because she has cosigned all of this. Not a great move that’s for sure.

I don’t agree with Middray allowing all of this disrespect though. He definitely has to defend himself when the villains are going in like this. It would go a long way to building up the kingdom’s credibility. Especially since he does seem very powerful. Not as strong as Benimaru or anything like that but he can take on many other fighters. Then we have Albis who is one of the stronger beast warriors. She has a full super form and everything which is always tough to defeat. She was the one fighting Yamza too who is an impressive opponent to be going up against.

Then we have the 3 otherworlders. They’re all total villains but made for entertaining characters. First up is Kirara who has the ability to hypnotize people so they agree with her. This doesn’t work in the wonderful realm of Tempest though since the demons can block that ability from working. She can also heal though which is very handy. Things don’t end very well for her though and it’s why you never want to be in a group of villains for very long. They will always turn on you.

Then you have Kyoya who is always acting very polite but it seems to be an act as he is just as crazy as the others. It only comes out during a fight when he’s winning though. Otherwise the guy stays quiet and tries not to make a scene. His sword skills are impressive as is his future sight. With that he can dodge attacks easily. His abilities feel like something an isekai lead could have too so it helps with the whole image of these guys being reverse leads. The otherworlders give us some of the top fights in the season too so credit there.

Finally you have Shogo who is effectively the leader here. He can punch really hard and his berserk skill improves his stats even more. That really makes him hard to stop. He ends up taking a whole lot of punishment as the fights go on though. He can dish it out but he certainly can’t take it. I like how the guy is always yelling but he’s definitely not a villain you can count on. Ultimately Razen gets the best of him but things don’t even go very well for that guy either. I liked Razen’s confidence though. I thought his arc was going to be a lot longer and that he would show up later but it just wasn’t in the cards for him.

That wraps up most of the characters in this season. Of course there are a considerable amount of other characters that I haven’t mentioned like the various kings, other members of Tempest, etc but the cast is exceptionally large so mentioning them all would take quite a while. It’s really an excellent cast and that’s part of what makes the show work so well. No matter what plot they go to you can bet that something interesting will be happening. Season 2 is quite busy with all of the plots and sub plots going on.

The show is really a blast and it’s also a very calming title. For most of the show you never feel like the heroes are in danger so you enjoy the spectacle of all the fights without worrying about the heroes much. There is a tense moment in arc 1 to be sure before Rimuru gets his power up but it’s safe to say that after that you don’t get a very serious moment like that again where you think this might get ugly for the heroes. It probably wouldn’t work if every show started making things too easy on the heroes but it’s just rare enough where it works as a change of pace. You’ll be having a good time throughout.

Even when the fights are not ongoing the show has a good amount of humor and solid writing to carry it at all times. Really the only problem with the show here that keeps it from being a 9 is that the fanservice can be quite excessive. Particularly in the opening episodes there is a lot of fanservice and it just keeps on coming. After that the show dials it back to more of a normal amount. Slime isn’t really the kind of series that ever totally gets past this issue but at least it’s mild enough where it takes a decisive back seat to everything else going on. It’s Rimuru’s primary concern when meeting one of the demon lords which is unfortunate for his character. I did say he is improved from season 1 a lot with experience and all but this is still an unfortunate trait of his.

Overall, You’ll definitely have a really good time with this season. Slime has certainly improved since its days in season 1. The animation and soundtrack have never been better. The story is also at an all time high and the pacing is good. The fights are on point and you’ll just be having a great time here. There is just so much action and no matter who is fighting you know you’re in for a treat. The power levels being mysterious is also good since it allows the series to go in a lot of different directions for the next season. Once we know that Rimuru really is the strongest then that’ll probably limit what it can do to an extent. Either way you’ll want to check this one out.

Overall 8/10

The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Review


Red Hood was a really big deal when it first came out. People got really hyped after the first chapter but then the hype slowly started to disappear. By the time it was cancelled at 18 chapters, a lot of people were disappointed but it seemed to have already fallen off the top. Well, I’ve finally checked it out and the manga had some fun ideas but is really held back by the art. Manga’s such a visual medium where if the art is bad I think it will be extremely difficult to succeed. Effectively the manga is starting itself off at a disadvantage. It’s not a bad title by the end but I can certainly see why it was cancelled. It goes without saying that this review will have complete spoilers so if you have not read the chapters yet, you will want to do so before checking this review out.

The manga starts off by explaining that the hunters have exterminated all dragons off the face of the Earth. Now they aim to destroy all of the werewolves next. We then cut to the main character Velou who is a kid that just wants to protect his village. Unfortunately Werewolves are quite powerful, can shapeshift, and even regenerate. There’s no way Velou can win on his own so the village spends all of their money to call in a hunter to help. Her name is Grimm and while she appears to be a small child herself, she has never failed a mission before.

This intro mission lasts for almost half the series with around 7 so it’s a bit longer than you would expect. Usually in something like this you have 1 or 2 chapters for the intro and then you keep it moving. This slower pacing is different but not necessarily bad. We get to see what a big threat the wolves are to the average person and there’s a lot of lore thrown right at you this way. You get to really learn about the world and that’s never a bad thing.

You also get some Promised Neverland vibes here. Velou looks just like Emma from that series even down to the hairstyle and with Wolves lurking around every corner, the series is going for a bit of a horror theme. You can’t trust anyone and despair is right around the corner. It could also just be that the art gives this effect as the drawings never look complete and everything’s so convoluted. Regardless we even meet some of the big villains from the Red List and at the end of the intro Velou decides to become a hunter. The exam lasts the rest of the series with the exception of the final 3 chapters where we hit the climax. So as you can see, the series didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much here.

Lets break this down into sections though as I’m jumping around a lot here. For starters, I’m not a big fan of Velou being such a little kid. To me that rarely ends up working because for a series like this you need the main character to be able to fight. While Grimm could have looked better (More on that later) she can at least fight and has 100 different tools. The other fighters we see can all fight as well, Velou is the only exception. The series is going for a World Trigger vibe where Velou has to get used to being the strategist but I don’t think that works very often. It can be hard to root for a main character who can’t actively fight himself and has to hide behind his friends. Velou does have a gun but tends to miss his shots at point blank.

Velou means well and has a lot of the usual hero dialogue but there’s nothing that really draws you to the character. I don’t see a lot that would end up making him very interesting and so this doesn’t help his case in the long run. As for Grimm, she’s the real character that got a lot of attention at first. Her story is that she is cursed to be trapped in the body of a child and can only go back to her adult form for 3 hours a day. Sort of like an All Might situation there. Thing is, while she gets a ton of hype, she doesn’t look great. She lets her guard down against villains multiple times and is completely helpless against the Red List. Grimm doesn’t even get a true final fight at the end.

In this case, it would have been better for her to have just not fought yet. It would be like Kakashi meeting his match immediately in Naruto. This is more like Rukia losing in episode 1 of Bleach which was still sketchy when it happened. Grimm has a lot of confidence in herself though and loves to fight so you can probably guess that I enjoyed her character quite a bit. I just think she should have looked stronger.

I’ll give the series credit for being aware of this though. This is actually turned into a bit of a sub plot as a character realizes that Grimm isn’t looking so good. It turns out that there is some reality warping in effect so that is a very reasonable in-universe explanation as to what’s going on here. Trust me, I’ll definitely talk about the reality warping coming up since that’s a big factor here.

One character we meet during the exams later on is a guy called “Bonkers”. Bonkers is you classic strong guy with a bad attitude who doesn’t even care about entering the exams. He has a tragic backstory and has just given up. Fortunately Velou is able to talk him out of it so he can learn how to be a team player. This is so successful that Bonkers is the one giving a speech in the next chapter. I could see him being a decent character as time goes on but for now there isn’t a whole lot that is interesting about him.

There are tons of trainees introduced in the long exam arc but most of them won’t leave a big impression on you just yet. There just isn’t time to really learn about them. You have Tylty who doesn’t trust people anymore and wants to win the exam on his terms. You have an older scientist who wants to prove that his inventions will be useful in combat. Then there’s a girl who believes in being very practical so she will betray you or stay on the team depending on which option makes more sense. She’s not going to choose an option just because it’s the right thing to do. It seems like most of these characters were meant to become main characters eventually so it’s a shame that the series ended before they could return.

Then you have Debonair who is one of the more experienced hunters. She’s actually teamed up with Grimm on the field back in the day so she knows her stuff. She was cursed to always have a high body temperature so she uses that in her attacks. It’s a creative way to take control of her curse so I’ll give her credit there. She was definitely one of the more enjoyable characters here. She adds a lot of energy to the series and always just jumps into action. She doesn’t hesitate to attack anyone whether they are friend or foe.

Then we have some villains in here like Cinderella. She is one of the highest ranking villains of the Red List and I’m very interested in how she turned evil in this continuity. Of course as the series goes on we see that her faction may be the good ones. I’ll break down the two sides later on. Cinderella is a lot of fun though and would have been a solid reoccurring villain if this series had kept on going. She has a partner in Lycaon, the king of the beasts. This guy is huge and immensely powerful so even though these two villains appeared almost immediately, I wonder if they were planned to be end game type bosses.

Aside from a few minions, the only other big villain we met was the mysterious mayor. It was a pretty big twist to have this guy end up being with the villains. I’ll talk about his goals in a second but it’s a very interesting direction to place this guy in. He looks good. His last second character 180 I can ignore since it was the last chapter and that’s likely the only reason this happened. Otherwise I doubt that would have happened at all.

Before getting into that I’ll quickly talk about the 3 arcs. So the pre arc where we were introduced to the main characters is the weakest one. It’s hard to get all that engaged in reading about this village filled with expendable characters when the 3 wolves attack. It also lasts pretty long even though Grimm should have just ended all of the werewolves in an instant. Of course she was testing Velou but she also did promise to save everyone. A bunch of people really could have died every minute that she was messing around instead of helping out. The only really solid part of the arc was the ending when Cinderella showed up to style on everyone. It was also an interesting way to get Velou to join the her since he only relented since there was no longer a village to save. It was the fact that Grimm failed the mission which ended up making him join. Not the greatest reason to get in on the action.

For the exam arc, well it’s a cool concept for a test but it is just too soon. So you’ve got a bunch of random characters who have to put aside their difference to win the test. If the main character could fight that would work better but since he can’t, it just doesn’t work as well. The whole exam also makes no sense because there’s no way a bunch of random cadets could hope to beat the top 2 hunters. Even if they are holding back so they don’t murder the kids, I don’t buy for a second that the heroes were able to outsmart them every time. It ended up being a complete loss for the hunters as they couldn’t capture a single cadet. That’s going beyond lucky to just being unreasonable.

Then we enter the final 3 chapters with reality warping and such. It’s hard to get super engaged here either since it’s all happening so fast. We get a super gun that can destroy everything and an onslaught of twists. The plot twists are interesting and put the series on what would have been a very interesting path but we don’t get to explore it. Throw in the cheesy ending and that doesn’t help matters a whole lot. At least we did get some action though.

So, what is going on here? It turns out that the entire world has been destroyed many times. See, humans and werewolves have been locked in war with each other for millions of years. The issue is that the werewolves cannot be destroyed because any human can turn into one randomly, without warning or reason. So the only way to destroy the werewolves is to destroy the human population. Apparently the hunters have tried this before and destroyed all the humans but then everything got reset each time. See, there is a powerful high above being working on this…The Readers. Yes, in this series the reader is a concept.

So the characters are all locked in a twisted fate of never being able to escape. Then you have the Red Hood who is in charge of writing in the master book, events of what is to come. Whatever is written ultimately ends up happening and so he writes good and bad events to occur. Villages getting burned down? The guy wrote all of that. So destiny has complete control over everyone because their results were already written in.

This is where the Red Line comes in. Their group is made up of other powerful fighters who don’t want to be trapped by Destiny. So their goal is to take down the hunter alliance and seize control of the book. That way they can stop anyone from writing in it and people can make their own choices. Based on that intel, I would argue the Red List are the good guys right? Yes, but then you remember the first chapters and how they’re going around burning down villages and eating people. So…they lost all credibility in an instant.

This is clearly a series where both sides are going to be evil. Well, this is where the Mayor steps in as a third faction. He pretends to be a part of the Red List but has his own goals. He wants to destroy the book entirely and end reality. I should mention as part of the Red Hunter’s duties, they write in the book to appeal to the readers. Well, the Mayor believes that writing to appease a bunch of violent gods isn’t a good thing to do. Humans are not puppets and so he plans to end all of reality. To that end he created Velou, who isn’t truly real. Velou is an anti destiny, sentient bomb. Just by existing he causes the characters to break away from their script and regain free will.

If the Mayor can get Velou near the book for a long enough period of time, then the book will blow up and the Mayor will have gotten his wish. In the meantime the Mayor stole two pages of the book so he can fill them with anything to change destiny. It’s a very overpowered ability that’s for sure. The series ends with him turning good as he’s blown up and the heroes are all finally freed from destiny to do their own thing. As the series was cancelled, the readers are gone so nobody can dictate how their series will go. It’s very meta that’s for sure.

Some interesting concepts there but I think it would put the series in a hole rather quickly. Once you get this meta and are breaking the fourth wall all the time, it’s hard to tell more stories. Once the characters know that they are characters and that everything’s a manga, it just seems like it would be hard to actually tell any stories. There were some hinting about proper scripts and characters acting in line early on in the series so I think this was originally meant to play some kind of role and it wasn’t just because the series was cancelled. I’m guessing the twists wouldn’t have happened so quickly otherwise though.

Personally I think the series was cancelled in large part because the art’s just not that good. It’s very cluttered and it can be hard to tell that is happening half the time. There’s one scene where a hero kisses a villain just to annoy her but you don’t even realize that happened for a few panels because the art’s so bad. It seemed more like a hug initially. Forget about the fights, it becomes 10 times harder to follow along once that happens. It doesn’t help that each of the werewolves are huge. Even experienced artists can have a hard time with big opponents, much less a new series artist. Should have stuck to street fights even though those don’t look great here either.

The series could have been saved if the art was better. I also would have pushed back the exam and shortened the intro. Have the characters go straight into another mission first and learn about the world. Maybe the test could happen as part of arc 3 or arc 4. That would also give Velou some time to get better as it’s hard to see him being ready to be a hunter this early on. I’d also say it’s probably best to get rid of the meta aspect of the series since I don’t think it works in a serious context. That said, if it’s the main point of the series then I won’t ask to remove it since that would change the core story. Velou being an anti destiny bomb was interesting at least. If he had been a main character who could fight I also think that would have been an upgrade.

I won’t say the series is bad though. It’s certainly not something I would be very interested in reading again but it does avoid fanservice (Due in part to the art being so bad so even all of the exaggerated designs and costumes don’t register) well and there’s no real wince worthy moments here. In an anime version we’d have to see how the Werewolves are drawn. Having them as opponents would have been very dangerous for the series as a whole unless it was stylized. At 18 chapters the series is just gone in the blink of an eye so I’d say you might as well check it out. It’s a decent adventure but one that was more positive for potential than what it actually did on the screen.

The writing was good and there were some good tactical elements in here. Since the series was definitely going for the strategic kind of main character, I think it would have pulled this off well enough. The plans in the manga were good although I call major hax on the cops and robbers plan. There’s just no way that would work against the hunters so hopefully the future plans would be better. It’s an entertaining read, there are just enough issues where it’s hard to see this ever surpassing a 7 at best. There isn’t a true hook that would have ever kept this going for very long.

Overall, Red Hood could have been the next big thing if it played its cards right. A Shonen Jump action story about fairy tales and folklore could have really been something. We get quite a few references to Little Red Riding Hood of course and with Cinderella as a villain, I’m sure the series had a lot of ideas. Of course the tragic part of being cancelled is that you will never get to see those moments. It’s considerably better than some of the cancelled manga that I’ve read but that does seem a bit like a back handed complement when you think about it. We’ll see which cancelled manga is next but in the meantime I would definitely recommend checking this out. At least you can see what all the hype was about.

Overall 6/10

Yona of the Dawn


I’m fairly early in here as I’ve just finished Volume 1 but we’ve got a fun start so far. Betrayal, adventure, all the works. I’m ready to see the main heroine pick up a sword and become a big fighter as well. We’ll see how that goes of course and I’ll have a review up for the series when I’ve completed it.

Overall 7/10