Toy Story 2 Review

It’s time to look at the manga version for the sequel. Much like the first one, the manga for Toy Story 2 does a good job of adapting everything and tying the story together well. The art is still clear and the writing is good even if the editor needs to check the text more closely for a proofread. It’s always good to see some new characters here like how we got Jessie into the mix. That definitely helps widen the character roster and I always thought she was a fun character. So you’ve got another quality character into the mix.

Things are finally going well enough with the toys when the manga starts off. They’re all getting along now while Woody and Buzz have become best friends. Unfortunately Woody is getting older now and is more prone to breaking. One day a collector happens to see Woody outside and figures that he can make big bucks by completing his Wild West set. So he steals Woody and now Buzz and the others have to find the guy before it’s too late. Meanwhile Woody meets the Prospector and Jessie, the two toys that he goes along with in the set. They really want him to stay because then they can all live forever in the museum. It is a rather tempting offer for the main character. Should he go with them or stay with his old friends?

This story has a bit more of a sense of danger about it thanks to the involvement of the Prospector. He makes for a solid villain because the guy is absolutely crazy with how badly he wants to be in the museum. It’s also more of a personal threat than the human because this time it’s a toy trying to mess Woody up. Woody isn’t exactly much of a fighter either so you can’t see him fighting the guy off without the team. If only he had chosen the old toys a little sooner, then he may have ended up getting out easier.

Woody is conflicted for parts of the manga and that makes sense to a degree. That said, I can’t imagine anyone being happy being trapped in glass at the museum for all eternity. If the case is secure he won’t even be able to move around. So he can talk but imagine not being able to move for the rest of your life? Now that would have to be really hard to deal with after a while. Don’t underestimate just how long a period of time the rest of his life would be. So if I’m Woody I still would have been going back with the main characters right away.

Meanwhile Buzz is the one who really has all of the answers in his sub plot but unfortunately for him he is taken out pretty early. The scene where he is stuffed in the toy box is pretty emotional because there was definitely a chance that he might not have gotten out. It was a nice excuse to see more of the classic Buzz though who still thinks that he is a toy. The fight with Zurg may be a bit on the anti climactic side but since they’re both toys that does make sense. It’s not like they could suddenly develop powers or anything.

Jessie also gets her character arc here as she was nervous the whole time about not being played with or being abandoned again. She’s already had a rough ride as it was but fortunately things work out for her. She adds to the character dynamics within the roster and will stay on as a good character for future movies. The Prospector is out of options but that’s what he gets for turning evil right?

Toy Story 2 does a good job of keeping in what made the first film good and then upping the ante with the stakes and villains. Seeing all of the toys getting along is also good since it shows how far we’ve come from the days where Woody and Buzz would fight all the time. It’s definitely been a long time since then and the toys need to stick together after all. Considering all the dangers out there, teamwork is really what keeps them together. Buzz deserves most of the credit for the gang being able to find Woody in the first place.

The art is also good like in the first one. Not amazing or anything but it’s all clear and the character designs are on point so you can’t ask for much more than that. For these adaptions I find that the art is usually clear and not too detailed or it tries too hard with the details and gets very messy. If I had to choose between the two options then I would certainly go with the former. You’ll end up blasting through this adventure really quickly that’s for sure.

While he’s not the main villain, I did like the toy collector though. He’s the kind of villain you can have fun with because at the end of the day he’s trying to get rich. It’s a classic motivation and from his perspective he’s stealing a broken toy and turning it into thousands. That’s quite crazy when you think about it. Even if this is what you would call a “petty” crime of course you are still hoping the heroes stop him. It’s so petty that it goes across the bend into being humorous though which is what really makes this villain work in the story.

Overall, Toy Story 2 is a good story. Like with the first manga adaption you still feel like it can’t quite match up to the film but all in all it does a good job of translating this over to the manga format. If you haven’t seen the film yet or are torn on if you should see it, then you’ll want to check this manga out. It’ll give you a good idea of the story and adapts all of the big moments but then you can always watch the movie afterwards if you liked this one. It could be a little while before I’m back into the Toy Story world so this is a good send off in the meantime.

Overall 6/10

Toy Story Review

It’s time to take a look at the manga adaption of Toy Story. It’s pretty fun to relive the film as a manga. This always seems like a good idea for someone who has no time to watch the movie or in general for manga readers to check out and then be inspired to watch the movie. I’d say the manga does a good job of adapting all of the events. Of course if you can only pick one way to experience the story then I’d probably say to go for the movie but all in all it’s a pretty enjoyable experience.

The story starts with Andy getting a new toy so all of his existing ones are very nervous. Up until now Woody has always been Andy’s favorite toy but what if that changes? Well, the odds of his fears coming true seem high as Andy’s new toy is Buzz Lightyear. The hottest toy on the market and this guy has a lot of cool gadgets like a button that has some snappy voice recordings and he can even glides thanks to his wings. That’s an awful lot for Woody to compete with. One day Buzz ends up falling out of the house and it seems like Woody may have done this intentionally so he has to bring Buzz back to clear his name. Can he pull this off or are the other toys going to forever think that Woody is very petty?

Describing the plot for a quick adventure is always tricky because you have to think about what the perfect cut off point is. I think that’s a fair description personally even if the story does change quite a bit as it goes on. You definitely understand why Woody is so jealous although at the same time it really doesn’t look great for his character. The guy doesn’t have much confidence to be intimidated like this on day 1. You’d expect him to hold down the fort for a week or so at least but playing with Andy is just too important to him. Woody would ultimately continue to improve as a character in the future films but just by this adventure you would probably put Buzz as the MVP.

He is a fun character after all. Buzz may not realize that he is a toy but partially due to that he does have a ton of confidence. There is no challenge that Buzz doesn’t think he can tackle and he does help the other toys out when they’re in a jam. The next door neighbor makes for a fairly imposing threat since the guy is absolutely brutal when it comes to the toys. It’s really fortunate that the toys don’t seem to properly feel pain like most beings because otherwise that would be really rough for them. It seems more like they just find the sensations odd at most like then the guy merges different toys together.

To think, if Buzz didn’t show up then Woody and friends might never have made a move against him. So Buzz was definitely a net positive for the whole team at large. I’d also say he gives us the best humor moments throughout the volume although Woody deserves credit there as well since the dynamic between the two of them is really part of the selling point for Toy Story in general. The other toys are nice enough like the Piggybank and Bo Peep but their role here is fairly minimal. After all the volume has to go through the events rather quickly so if you aren’t one of the main two then you’re basically out of luck.

As for the art, it’s fairly good. Nothing spectacular or anything as it’s really just going through the motions. It’s always very clear so you know what’s going on. You definitely would not say that the art ever gets cluttered or anything like that. The artist has fun with the expressions and the whole time you do feel like it all looks appropriate based on how the film was. So I don’t really have any issues there, it accomplishes what it set out to do.

The story is also fun enough like with the movie. It’s a pretty interesting concept about how the toys are alive. Naturally you’ll have a lot of questions about this because the implications are huge. Of course you’ll have to think about that on your own since this manga isn’t about to get into all of that. There’s really just not enough time for it but I’ll always give the film credit for really putting in a unique concept here. Perhaps the toys should go around from door to door to rescue other toys and make sure they’re all being taken care of. I suppose the world of Toy Story is likely a pleasant one but just like how they had a mean next door neighbor, I wouldn’t be surprised if other people are being mean to their toys. You could probably do a whole spinoff series about the toys trying to save everyone.

Overall, There isn’t a ton to say about this one. In part because I already reviewed the movie and also in part because it’s just so short. The volume is fairly small and it’s not like there’s a huge cast or anything. There’s no big topic that I have to spend a few paragraphs discussing or some kind of subplot I want to address. It’s a fairly straight forward adventure from start to finish and one that is executed well enough. It’s like a quietly good story that you had fun with. It wasn’t super or anything but you didn’t really have any big issues with it. That’s how I see the Toy Story manga. I probably wouldn’t read it again but it wasn’t bad or boring. It kept my attention and had good characters so you can’t really go wrong there. In the back of your mind though you can’t help but compare it to the movie the whole time though.

Overall 6/10

Mega Man & Bass Review

It’s been a little bit but it’s time to finally check out the next Mega Man manga. It’s based on the & Bass game which was a lot of fun on the GBA. I remember sinking a ton of time into that one since it’s also really difficult as you would expect from any Mega title. At 10 chapters, it’s a pretty solid adaption. It does have to skip through some of the robots due to the end arriving so soon but it’s got a good amount of action and story so I was on board. I just wish Bass could have looked a bit better.

The manga starts a chapter 0 that introduces us to the characters. Mega Man is hanging out at a museum when a robot appears and mind controls all of the old robots who are being held there. The mind control signal that is sent out is unable to control Mega Man or Bass though as they are made of sterner stuff. Mega Man takes down the robots in the museum while Bass shows up to help since he doesn’t like the idea of anyone trying to mind control him. It may not be the most selfless reason to help, but it’s a reason I suppose so that’ll have to do. They take this guy down but was it really just a rogue robot trying to mind control people?

That leads into the true chapter 1 where a robot named King appears on TV and declares that from this point forward the robots will rule over the humans. Mega Man doesn’t like the sound of that and his fears are realized when Dr. Light and Wily realize that all of their data has vanished. They’re forced to band together to stop King now. To do that, Mega Man is sent into the field. Bass also wants to take King out to prove that he is the strongest robot of all. King aims to control all of the robots in the planet and Bass can’t let that stand. Will this powerful duo be able to save the day?

The art is definitely really solid here. It’s not quite at the Megamix level but the characters are all on point and the action scenes are very clear. It’s always easy to see what is happening at a glance and this is really an ideal kind of art style. It’s not quite as detailed as some others but this more basic approach worked really well here. Everything just pops out as a result.

The pacing is very quick as you can imagine. Of the 10 chapters, the first one is a prologue that doesn’t have much to do with the story and the next chapter is the intro so really you have 8 chapters to tell the story of the whole game. I’d say it handles this really well. Now, if your favorite Robot Master is one of the ones that doesn’t get a lot of action then you may be in a pickle but most of them get solid fights. It’s also been a while since I played the game so I’m not sure if these are the same 8 from the game but I’d assume so.

Bass gets a lot of hype moments but he will remind you a lot of Vegeta. He always goes in talking tough but ends up losing most of his fights. He was losing to the hand in chapter 1 before Mega Man stepped in, he was losing to Ground Man as well, then he lost to Tengu Man, and of course he lost to King at the end. The only fight he won was against the 3 guardians when Bass speed blitzed them all. Considering that Bass is in the title and everything, you just feel like he would have been more effective in combat. At least, I was certainly expecting that this would be the case.

I get that he was never as powerful as Bass EXE but he is still meant to be Mega Man’s rival after all so you would expect a level of hype there. Ah well, he may not get the wins but I still like his absolute confidence so he would be my favorite character in the story. Hopefully we get more classic Mega Man manga titles with Bass in them at some point. I know there are a bunch of other titles that have never been scanned so those are his best bet.

As for Mega Man, he’s a solid hero as always. He may have lost his confidence rather quickly when King showed up, but after a pep talk from Proto Man he was definitely ready to jump right back into action. He certainly seems to be a lot more powerful than Proto Man or Bass in this version so Mega Man really gets his props. His ability to copy weapons/abilities is still as useful as it ever was. Mix it all together and it’s easy to see why he is called Mega Man.

Meanwhile Dr. Light and Dr. Wily also get roles here. Wily looks pretty bad in all of his screen time though. The guy forgets his pants a few times and is shown to be super lazy. Throughout the adventure he is played purely for comic relief and naturally gets betrayed at one point. It’s nothing new for him of course, but you almost feel bad for the guy. He is not portrayed as being anywhere near as smart as Light here as his robots have a lot of clear flaws while Light’s appear to be perfect.

Dr. Light definitely looks a lot better. Ultimately it’s not like he will fight a lot or anything but he actually does go into the field at one point which is cool. Likewise for Roll and the rest of Mega Man’s friends. There’s even a little Mettaur in the series who acts as an ally. He wants to be big and strong one day but gradually comes to terms with the fact that he is a Mettaur.

Proto Man gets a small but important role here. It’s definitely intense to see him get sliced apart here. It’s got to be the most violent moment in the series but of course he is a robot so it’s not as if it’s all that violent compared to anything else. It’s a good way to establish King as a threat. It may not be a great look for Proto Man but he was never meant to be quite as powerful as Mega Man. It shows where his limitations are, but the guy is always ready to throw out some cool sounding lines. I’ve got a lot of respect for the guy and he gets a good amount of justice here.

As for King, he’s the big villain here of course and I thought he was really solid. His idea of making the robots rulers of the world is nothing new but it’s a solid plan overall. The humans definitely don’t seem to give them a fair shake. Even in this series the government is super quick to decide that they have to bomb the city to destroy King even if it means destroying Mega Man, Proto Man, and Bass. Light has to step in to try and stop this but the robots do appear expendable as King mentions.

So King makes for a very interesting villain. He’s also a very powerful one seeing as how he is able to take on guys like Mega, Proto, and Bass. He has to do the heavy lifting here since none of his minions are nearly as powerful. One of the big minions to show up is Tengu Man who looks pretty solid. He can fly with great speed and has to deal with both Mega Man and Bass. You’d think that these odds would be way too much for him but the whole thing is a lot closer than you would think.

Ground Man is another robot who gets a decent role. His drills are hard to stop since they have enough power to even temporarily overpower Mega Man and Bass. It’s always interesting just how powerful these guys are since our two heroes are built for combat while these minions presumably weren’t. It just goes to show that Light is always building these robots with top of the line equipment no matter what they are used for.

Cold Man is another robot who gets a decent role. It’s a little funny how everyone tries to think of a weakness and then Wily admits that “heat” is the weakness. I mean…it makes sense, but it’s also so basic that you have to take a step back. The rest of the robots don’t really get solo roles as the final 3 just rush Bass. It was a cool group fight though since to that point Bass hadn’t gotten to look too impressive. At least this way he had some opponents he could blast as he went for the win.

The series is definitely very by the books but it also shows how many cool stories you can tell in this universe. In particular the two stars and Proto Man are just a blast. More screen time for them would be an absolute win. Gigamix still stands as my all time favorite Mega Man story because of how well it used the characters. We got top notch fights and end of the world stakes. Typically X and the other titles are more known for that but Classic can definitely rise to the occasion as needed. This one does have a good degree of humor as well but the fights are played straight.

Additionally, the villains often bring up good points here. Light may have built a ton of robots but it isn’t exactly a utopia for them either. The robots aren’t really treated fairly and are tossed as soon as they aren’t useful here. The manga even touches on how some of the humans don’t even trust Mega Man. You could absolutely have a great ongoing about this someday.

Finally, a quick shoutout to the fun banter that Mega Man and Bass have. I like the dynamic they have going for them like when Bass just walks into his house and grabs a few power gems. Bass is quite at home no matter where he is and that’s the kind of confidence you would like to see from him. There isn’t time for more slice of life type moments like this but it does help flesh out the verse even more. Little scenes like that are fun to get some character moments between the battles. Of course if you have to choose, then the manga still makes the right call in focusing on battles above all else. With limited time you have to move as fast as possible.

Overall, Mega Man & Bass is a fun manga. It’s really straight to the point as you see the heroes jump in and start fighting the villains. There’s not a lot more to it than that but at the same time, do you need more than that with these guys? The classic robot action is what you came to see and the adventure does a good job of it. With a good balance between action and humor, this is a winner and definitely a title I would recommend. It just has no flaws and you’ll be blasting through it. It’s a very fast but satisfying read. Maybe one day Bass can get a spinoff manga of his own.

Overall 7/10

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train Review

Demon Slayer certainly became a global sensation. When the anime launched it was appearing everywhere and so it’s only natural that a movie sequel by UFotable would continue to get a ton of press and box office. This movie adapts the train arc which is certainly one of the strongest parts of the series. It’s the first time we get to see a Hashira fight seriously which is a pretty big deal. It also works really well as a movie so it was a good pick by the company.

Picking up where the series left off, Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu are boarding the Mugen Train. They are to team up with the Hashira known as Rengoku to stop the demons that are on the train. People have been going missing left and right on the train and the slayers sent previously have all been vanquished. Tanjiro and the others may still be newcomers to the organization but they have proven themselves in battle. They are ready to conquer this train.

Unsurprisingly Rengoku is the one doing most of the heavy lifting though. He is a Hashira for a reason and Demon Slayer has a pretty solid power level setup going for it. In fact, when paired up with most of its Shonen Jump companions you could make a strong case for this being one of the best in terms of the power levels making a lot of sense. It’s a strong point for Demon Slayer and never for a moment does it looks like the rest of the characters are competing with Rengoku. He is definitely the star of the show here.

I like Giyu a lot and he’s the only rival to Rengoku in terms of being my favorite Hashira but ultimately I would say Rengoku definitely wins this. He’s a very earnest guy and his flame abilities are incredible. I would go as far as to say he’s the strongest member of the group in terms of base abilities, so no red swords. He has tremendous speed and in the movie we see how difficult it is to protect one car and yet he was protecting 5. He has a pretty emotional backstory and never gets tempted by the demons.

Still, while Rengoku has a lot of screen time I would say this is still Tanjiro’s movie. He is forced to confront his past and the idea of an alternate reality. It’s never easy to leave such a dream but he does it rather well. It’s also just pretty painful in general to leave even knowing how you do it but the guy is resolute. Tanjiro’s always had a lot of determination after all. His fight with the demon may be quick but it’s a solid action scene all the same.

Then you have Inosuke who looks good as expected. He’s confident in his abilities and gets a good tag team with Tanjiro. His inner dream is also the most amusing out of the 3 which reflects his inner mind rather well. Zenitsu gets the shaft from the 3 which may surprise some fans since you would figure that a movie where the heroes are constantly in a dream-like state would be to his advantage. In some ways it is as he couldn’t protect Nezuko nearly as well while awake but his action is mainly off screen.

Enmu is the main villain here. He’s not really much of a fighter in close quarters combat which is why he has the whole train scheme. If you put everyone to sleep then perhaps you can end up winning without having to go through all of the trouble of fighting. I do think he overthinks it to an extent though. Due to how it’s hard to wake up in general and it takes a while, I think the easiest thing to do would just be to stab the slayers as soon as they’re asleep. The plan with the kids was decent and apparently it works a lot but it feels like a lot of work.

Enmu isn’t quite as solid as a lot of the other demons in Muzan’s ranks though. I never became a big fan of his personally. His abilities are unique to be sure and he does have some quality dialogue but that’s about all I can say for him. In true movie fashion his super form is pretty much just a giant blob that can’t fight back. So those action scenes while well animated don’t quite hold up to the rest. Give me the opening action scenes against the random demons anytime. Akaza also looks great in his appearance and already cemented himself as the greatest villain in the series by this point. The guy really enjoys battling and even has a bit of an honor code about him as he tries to get the heroes to his level as well. You definitely have to respect the commitment.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Ufotable film without some kind of insane action sequence. The fun part is that pretty much any chunk of the film could be used as a great display of animation. Even the “standard” fights of the movie look great which is to be expected. I still have Ufotable as the best pure animation company in the biz right now. Their shows just look incredible. My favorite will always be Pierot but in a 1 on 1 contest the smart money would be on Ufotable to win. The final battle looks incredible. The colors are striking and you can tell it’ll be years before anime are able to churn out fights like this on the regular.

It was just an excellent way to wrap up the adventure. Mugen Train is one of those films that is fairly long but certainly doesn’t feel like it. The movie just keeps going from scene to scene with an engaging story so it never drags. There are some pretty tense moments as well like the conductor punching in all of the tickets which works really well. The soundtrack is very good. It’s definitely got a Fate vibe to it which always works really well with the animation style. It’s got a grand feel to it and ups the anticipation/hype of every moment. There are some themes from the show but also some new ones to be sure so there’s a good mix there.

The movie isn’t nearly as violent as the show which also works well for making this a big theater experience. The most blood is probably when the characters are slashing at the blobs which is certainly the weakest part of the film since these blobs can’t do anything but for the most part the film is ready to just jump straight into the action. I wouldn’t say there are any real weaknesses to the title. I suppose if this had been the true climax that would have been really underwhelming but fortunately we got to end with something spectacular.

Overall, Mugen Train is definitely a great film. It’s got top tier animation and music at the ready along with a great cast of characters. Every scene with Rengoku is really a great moment. His self preservation instinct is really on point and the guy also feels like a natural leader. His very presence instills confidence in anyone who’s around him. Most likely you’ll already know about the true final act by the time you watch the film but if you don’t that’s probably a good thing because it’s one of the best cinematic twists of all time. It’s something that really pushes the film to the next level and I would consider this part of the movie an absolute necessity. Whether you’ve watched the anime or not you should be able to jump into this film and have a good time with it. I’d definitely recommend giving it whirl and now we’ll see when the next film comes out.

Overall 8/10

Devil Survivor Review

A while back I saw the anime adaption of one of the Devil Survivor games. Now it’s time to check out the manga for the very first Devil Survivor title. It’s a pretty intense series to be sure and adapts the content rather well. The plot also ties in perfectly well with the title because it really does feel like a full survival story even more than the anime plot. I like the idea of everyone being trapped as they get more and more desperate.

The series starts with Kazuya and his friends enjoying a normal day at Shibuya. However, the day is about to be anything but normal. Kazuya’s cousin Naoya shows up with some rather cryptic words about the day of reckoning coming close. He gives Kazuya, Yuzu, and Atsuro a mini computer each and walks away. Suddenly the city goes into lockdown and demons start flooding the streets. The heroes are able to summon demons out of their computers to defend themselves but it’s a dangerous gamble since the demons can also attack you if your heart isn’t strong enough.

The heroes needs to find the answers to a few question. Why is the lockdown in place and how do the heroes escape the city. Is the city the only place being attacked or is the whole world under siege? Does Naoya hold the answers and why is the government shooting anyone who attempts to leave the city? There are a lot of mysteries and not a whole lot of time to solve them. Additionally, a message is received each day which predicts the future. The future usually involves some deaths but maybe the heroes can defy destiny.

So there’s a lot to take in right off the bat. I definitely enjoyed the whole mystery angle quite a bit since we don’t really know anything so you’re going in blind the whole time. You find out the answers along with the characters but there is always a lot of tension since being stuck in a city with a bunch of powerful demons isn’t exactly the most peaceful thing in the world. Additionally, the people in the city are quickly becoming more and more corrupt which is only making things worse.

As the main character Kazuya is pretty solid. By the end I would even call him a great character because he really makes all of the right decisions. You can always count on him to step in and save the day as needed. He has a lot of determination to get to the bottom of things and tends to keep himself together more than the rest. Most of the other characters tend to panic or crack a little as things go on but Kazuya rarely even bats an eye. He also has more natural talent than the others which certainly comes in handy. Kazuya slowly improves more and more as the series progresses.

Then you have the main heroine Yuzu. She’s a nice character but in a way may have been the least ready to deal with this. Yuzu tends to get stressed out a lot and also ends up worrying for Kazuya quite a bit. At times the characters even talk about trying to keep up a strong front when around her so as not to make her worry even more. She really needed a powerful monster to help her out which would have also made her braver.

Atsuro is the tech guy which does come in handy here since he may be able to crack Naoya’s computer codes and figure out what’s going on here. Naoya’s always been impressively difficult to defeat in anything but Atsuro won’t give up. Atsuro does encounter a lot of difficult emotional obstacles during the series though since he takes it pretty hard when other characters fall away.

Midori is a character who always believes in the goodness inside people’s hearts. As a result she uses her demon partner to fight off the evil ones and protect as many people as possible. The problem is with the demons attacking everyone, the tamers aren’t trusted a whole lot as it is. The main characters even warn Midori about how things are going to get a little dicey since one of the predictions said that she will be murdered by humans going forward. Midori is not someone who listens to such things all that much and ultimately can’t risk anyone getting hurt.

That said, I do think she didn’t look great in the final scenes. I always think you have to do things within reason. So she wants to be a great hero who always protects the humans? Fine that’s great, but you also have to defend yourself. Where you draw the line is when they’re attacking you but you still stand down. Her demon partner Jack Frost could have handled those guys but she told him not to fight back. It’s hard to applaud her as being super just and unwavering when she is being unrealistic like that. You do have a right to defend yourself after all and if anything it’s something you absolutely need to do since now there will be people that aren’t saved since she isn’t there.

Keisuke is another pretty interesting character. He’s very timid and isn’t as gung ho as the other characters. That said, the demon world absolutely takes its toll on him and he becomes a bit more extreme. A character who believes in absolute justice and punishes anyone who opposes him. The issue with this is of course the cycle of violence. Even the worst criminals have some allies somewhere and as they all line up to fight Keisuke, this eventually includes heroes as well.

It’s a rather difficult thing about trying to enact such measures when the whole city is in lockdown. It’s not like you can arrest any criminals but of course destroying them takes away any moral high ground you might have had. Ultimately this puts Keisuke at odds with the other characters. I thought his character was handled really well though.

Then you have Kaido who’s on the other side. He was a part of a gang but he always tells the characters they have to do things the right way. They’re not going to be a mob that goes around murdering everyone. Unfortunately his gang wasn’t full of the nicest guys in the first place so once they were all lined up in a tricky spot then things ended up getting messy. It’s always rough when you are allies with a villain because you may feel honor bound to avenge them but then are you going to even take on the good guys? Kaido is a man who evens up all his debts so it doesn’t matter what side you’re on.

Ultimately he was my favorite character in the series. There is no defending what his gang did though so it was hard to be with him on that one but of course he probably figures that the whole gang shouldn’t pay for one member’s demise which makes sense. It’s just too bad he wasn’t a part of a better group.

Yoshino is a singer whose songs are able to summon demons. It’s not exactly an ability you want to have when the demons are always around just waiting to spring into action. It also attracts a lot of unwanted attention which puts her in a tough spot. She’s a solid character but she probably should have stopped singing a lot earlier than when she actually did put this on pause. The bartender Gin does his best to assist her as needed too. He’s reasonably tough with his demon although his role is pretty small.

Mari is a local teacher who is possessed by an angel. Hey, if there are demons around then why not angels right? Unfortunately there is also a demon trying to take her over so her psyche is quite busy. She’s an interesting character to be sure as she has ties to just about every character in the series. she may not usually be a big fighter but she is useful in finding out more about what happened.

Amane is one of the chief members of a religious organization founded by Kuzuryu as they try to liberate the city from the demons. While that all sounds good, the organization is quite distorted. Amane uses her demon to help people out and convert them to the group but of course that isn’t necessarily a good thing. She’s definitely a quality character who is doing her best throughout all of this but it’s not like she has a ton of options. Additionally, Amane is constantly fighting with an angel/demon who her thoughts aren’t always her own. Her character arc has a good conclusion.

Kuzuryu is definitely crazy but he did a good job of building his organization up. Effectively he chooses to sacrifice his soul to the demons so they can wipe out the humans and angels. Definitely a bold play but it’s not like he’ll be around to see it even if it would work. So probably not the most satisfying plan out there.

Finally we have Naoya who is a very mysterious figure in the series. He’s fun and reminds me a lot of the brother in Spiral. This guy is always one step ahead of all the other characters in the series and clearly has big plans for everyone. He doesn’t appear much until the final volumes but still has a big influence the whole time.

The art for the series is really good although it can also be chaotic. It’s the kind of manga that takes you a bit longer to read than the average volume because you have to spend some time deciphering the panels. Still, it’s worth doing as the attacks are fun to watch. As the characters are based on famous myths and such you may even recognize all of the demons. It’s fun when you know who they’re talking about but if not, the series gives most of the notable demons a write up between chapters so you can learn about them.

Now based on the atmosphere of the series and with the demons around you may be surprised that there’s less of a body count than you might think. Personally I actually thought a few more characters were going to die along the way. I wonder if they died in the game or if it was more or less the same. I know there are quite a few different ways to end Devil Survivor after all. A lot of side characters still die of course like the poor old lady and other people running around. Either way the city certainly wasn’t save.

Now it’s time for some spoiler territory to talk about the climax of the series and a little more about the battles. If you haven’t read the series yet you can skip to the final paragraph since we’ve pretty much wrapped up all of the non spoiler items. If you like the concept then this is definitely a good one to pick up. All right, so lets talk about what the actual situation is then.

The Angels have enclosed the city supposedly on orders from their god that humanity needs to be tested. They allowed the demons to run rampant here and are giving the citizens 7 days to eradicate all of the demons. The governments have decided to take this place out entirely with some bombs if needed but the main characters will be given some time to clear things out before such drastic steps are needed.

Kazuya was chosen to participate in a tournament of sorts since he possesses one part of a legendary demon. Whoever gains all of the parts will have power comparable to the god and can potentially rewrite the universe. Kazuya isn’t thrilled about this but doesn’t really have a way out. Additionally, it turns out that Kazuya is the reincarnation of Abel while Naoya is actual Cain from the original days of humanity. Naoya was cursed to forever reincarnate along with Abel and now he wants to dethrone the current status quo as a result.

You can actually see why Naoya is frustrated because the angels are presented as being absolutely evil the whole time. They want to murder the humans just for kicks pretty much and don’t really seem to be helping anyone. The angels and demons are really presented as just being two sides of the same coin. It’s definitely a rather different interpretation of them to be sure. Neither side is really Kazuya’s ally so he has to be careful.

A lot of interesting angles here to be sure. Loki even steps in as part of the demon side while Kazuya summons Cu, the legendary spearman of legend who is a main character in most of the Fate titles. It’s part of what makes the title so ambitious. There is just so much happening in the city at all times as the heroes fend off the demons and now have to worry about the angels as well. It certainly gets really high tier by the end since Kazuya effectively becomes a god as well.

The ending was also very satisfying. There’s a lot of ways this could go after all but the route it choose was really satisfying. Not only is there some sequel bait but Kazuya really got to dictate his terms. A lot of times you have to accept a rather bittersweet ending as the main character couldn’t get things the way that he wanted them but this time it did work out at least for now. It may be hard to believe how the whole incident seems to have been swept aside but that’s just how it goes I suppose.

Overall, Devil Survivor was a very interesting series. It dabbled with a lot of cool concepts and the idea of everyone effectively being locked in a cage as they try to survive was executed very well. It’s easy to see how the franchise has gotten so big since the suspense is very impressive. It’s also easy to replicate this in sequels with different circumstances just due to the nature of the series. Either way if you like a good action title with a lot of tension and thriller aspects along with some undertones of horror then this is the title for you.

Overall 8/10

The Earl and the Fairy Review

This is one of those manga titles that I certainly had not heard about before reading. It’s sort of like an old school Sherlock Holmes title only with a lot of supernatural fairies running around. It’s a quick 4 volume read that roughly covers two arcs. There’s always a lot going on and there’s a rather big cast of characters running around although I suppose not all of them get a super big focus or anything like that.

The series starts by introducing us to Lydia. She is a Fairy Doctor. Unfortunately, most people don’t believe in fairies so she has a reputation for being rather crazy. She doesn’t let this bother her though and just continues about her business as usual. Lydia is tricked into getting onto a ship where there are a lot of different factions after her. There’s a gentleman who says he needs her help since a bunch of troublemakers are on the ship and they may even have her father captive. Then you have a guy called Edgar who was getting beaten up but admits he is actually the Legendary Blue Knight, Earl Edgar. Lydia doesn’t know who to trust.

Both of these guys seem extremely suspect and her father never really shows up in time as it is. If she chooses the wrong side she will likely end up dead. Hopefully her fairy abilities will lead her in the right direction. She does have a fairy cat named Nico but unfortunately he isn’t much of a fighter so if the humans attack there isn’t really much that he can do. The first arc is mainly about this quest which is around 2-2.5 volumes. Ultimately she does side with Edgar who goes on to become the main guy of the series.

Then you have the second arc which is a little more low key. The heroes make it to a more formal part of society where a girl is really after Edgar. His flirty nature takes over so Lydia runs off to sulk. Unfortunately she ends up losing in a battle against one of the fairies and gets her soul stolen. Edgar must now find her before it’s too late. Her body can’t live for long without a soul after all so if he is too slow then she will cease to exist. The stakes are naturally quite high here but on more of a personal level.

While the final chapter feels like it has to move quite rapidly there was enough time to tell both stories here. The second one feels a lot smaller but it’s still pretty solid. Edgar finally starts acting a little more like a good guy since even by the end of the first adventure you’ll probably be quite skeptical. Even here I wouldn’t buy into his excuses about needing to be flirty to stay in character. If he likes Lydia then he should stop messing around.

Due to that, I wouldn’t say I ever ended up liking the guy. He can be a bit rough also and was willing to sacrifice Lydia on several occasions. Those aren’t the kind of things you can just look over so you feel like there should be no way they can possibly end up together. Surely she will remember all of that clear as day right?

As you can guess, I didn’t buy into the romance here between Lydia and Edgar. There’s also Ermine who likes Edgar as well but you know from the start that she is absolutely doomed. While Lydia’s skills as a fairy doctor are good, she does make quite a few mistakes when dealing with Edgar. It’s a shame that Nico can’t fight since that would at least even up the odds. Lydia’s a nice character who means well but ends up being completely out of her depth.

The best character would probably be Raven. He’s rather emotionless so he doesn’t always know how to act but he is the best fighter in the series. When needed he can take down as many opponents as required to give Lydia and Edgar safe passage into the next room. He’s a trained assassin from when he was a kid so he’s borderline super-human in the present.

Ermine doesn’t get a huge role but she was a good character as well. Things just never really seem to go her way but from Edgar’s main team she certainly had more compassion than the others right from the start. She actually felt human while the others would focus on just doing the most logical thing at the time.

Then from the second arc you have the main princess who chased after Edgar and was cursing her friend with the fairy. Of course she pulls the whole “I didn’t mean it tho” speech but she was easily the weakest character of the second arc. You can’t just put your friend in mortal danger and then not do anything about it. Even by the end she didn’t want to go and help since it would hurt her reputation. Yeah, you definitely can’t come back from a string of scenes like that. I was surprised that even by the end she wouldn’t do the right thing. If she said it was because she was scared that would be (a tiny bit) better.

As for the art, I’d say it looked pretty good. Edgar and the other guy from the first story do look rather similar but that may have been intentional to make it a little more difficult to determine who Lydia should go with. This is hardly an action series so don’t expect a lot of fights but the action scenes we do get are pretty solid. Whenever a character brings out a gun you can bet that there are going to be a lot of intense panels around that.

The series really flies by since it’s so fast. On one hand that means we don’t really get to finish a lot of the lore and concepts brought up in the series. Don’t expect to really get to any truths behind the Blue Knight lore or meeting up with the King of the Fairies. In general the manga feels more like an introduction to the series which makes sense since there are many more novels than there are manga volumes. In theory I suppose this would help you go to read them next.

I could see this going for a Natsume’s Book of Friends kind of vibe long term once the characters mellow out. Perhaps not quite as laidback as all that but with episodic stories about the fairies and such it could have that kind of vibe. We’ve seen an evil fairy that could fight so next I want to see a heroic one that can flaunt his powers. Giving Nico a huge power up would also be great.

The writing for the series is on point even if none of Edgar’s inner monologues really help me sympathize with the guy. We do learn a lot about his past as well as Raven’s and Ermine’s. The trio definitely didn’t have a great time of it and had to commit a lot of crimes in order to get out of there. It’s part of why they won’t hesitate very much in the present either since they’ve really been hardened at this point.

Overall, The Earl and the Fairy is a good manga. It’s one of those titles where I definitely couldn’t buy into the romance though. As the “mean” guy, Edgar goes a little too far so you just can’t root for him. The art is good though and the base stories are on point. The heroes definitely live in a very corrupt world but fortunately they don’t dwell on it compared to something like Black Butler or things could get dicey. If I were Lydia I would have just gone home after the first arc but hopefully as she goes on more missions she will be able to gain more fairies and maybe even get some power ups along the way. That would definitely help her in future situations like this. If you end up reading the series and liking it then you’ll probably want to try and find an English scanned version of the novels to continue the saga.

Overall 6/10

Pokemon Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel Review

It’s time to take a look at one of the latest Pokemon movie manga. This one brings back memories as it had the real Ash and not the reboot version we’ve gotten for the last few films. It’s nice to have the veteran that I’m so used to. This isn’t the most exciting story out there, but it’s pretty solid and I dare say that the pacing is better than in the movie. It’s a solid title with some good action scenes and you’ll get to learn more about the new Pokemon.

So the story starts with Ash bumping into a Pokemon named Volcanion. This guy is pretty upset because his pal was kidnapped by a villain and his thugs. They plan to use the metal Pokemon Magearna in their plans. Magearna is a Pokemon that was created by humans much in the same way as Mewtwo and this makes her highly valued among the villains. Volcanion wants to save her, but he spends the majority of the manga getting beaten black and blue by the various Mega Pokemon. Fortunately Ash is here to help. Can Volcanion get over his distrust of humans long enough to join forced with Ash and save the day?

Volcanion can be a bit annoying with how much he doesn’t like humans but I’ll cut him some slack since most humans are pretty dicey. At least Ash is good, but he has no way of knowing that. My real problem is just how weak he is. Ash has to save his bacon many times in this adventure so when the guy still keeps on talking tough it’s impossible to take him seriously. He’s losing to the random villains of the movie and their Pokemon. That’s unacceptable, especially for a Pokemon who is supposed to be super powerful. Volcanion didn’t really leave a good impression on me.

He still looked better than Magearna though. My issue with her is that she has no character. She sort of just stands around as everything happens. I think part of the point is that she doesn’t have full emotions yet or has a hard time expressing them, but I needed her to show a little more agency in the meanwhile. Even just a quick scene where she fights back against the villains when they show up to capture her would have gone a long way. Mewtwo definitely doesn’t let himself get trapped like that.

Meanwhile Ash looked great though. While being stuck to Volcanion is a big inconvenience Ash takes it in stride and gets right into the action. Nobody’s going to stop him from saving the day and Pikachu also gets some good hits on the Mega Pokemon. If not for Volcanion being unable to keep up Ash probably would have taken them all down. This is really Ash at his peak and its one of his best portrayals in a long time. It’s always good to see him getting his props.

Meanwhile the art is pretty solid. At times Ash looks a little out of character and is a bit inconsistent with how he’s drawn, but that’s about it. The most egregious example of this is definitely the back cover of the manga. Where the artist really shines is when the action scenes come in though. The Mega Pokemon all look quite fierce and the attacks are also pretty impressive as well. The scenes are easy to read so they aren’t convoluted but still have a good amount of scale to them. You can tell that the Pokemon here really know how to fight.

I guess there isn’t a whole lot to this title beyond what I’ve said, but that’s part of its charm. It’s not a grand tale or one of the more ambitious Pokemon movies turned into a manga. Effectively it’s just a fun little Pokemon story with Ash showing more Pokemon why hunmans are decently good at times. I doubt we’ll ever see Volcanion or Magearna again, but if we do that would certainly be pretty cool. I also thought the villain was a step up over some of the other villains. Not saying he’s super memorable or anything, but at least he actually had a good army of Pokemon.

Overall, Volcanion and Magearna are probably the weakest points of this manga but as far as legendary Pokemon go I’ve certainly seen worse. Volcanion took a while to come around, but by the end he sees why everyone loves Ash. Ash always manages to get the job done and that’s really the key takeaway here. Pikachu is fun as always the artwork is good so it all flows together pretty well. Whether you’ve seen the movie or not I would recommend checking out the manga. It’s a good way to spend 20 minutes or so and it’s one of the last times you will get to see the main Ash in the manga so it has that going for it as well.

Overall 7/10

Gravity Rush 2: Juuryoku-teki Memai Tsuisoutan Review

It’s time to look at a really quick manga that adapts part of the Gravity Rush 2 manga. It seems to be about 2 volumes long based on the chapter count. I remember playing Gravity Rush a long time ago so it’s pretty nostalgic to see the characters back in action. Interestingly the series doesn’t cover all of game 2 when I thought it would have. Usually you don’t do that if you’re a one shot or one volume, but 2? I suppose either this series was cancelled or the author just wanted to go in depth on what could be adapted. Either way it’s a fun series although you won’t remember it much after a little while.

Sometime after the events of the first film Kat and Raven get attacked by some monsters. While the monsters don’t prove to be much of a problem they fall into a black hole along with Syd and the three of them get transported to a new world. Kat loses her gravity abilities and Raven goes missing. Kat must now find her friends and prove that her powers aren’t imaginary. In the meanwhile she will have to get along with the civilians of this world and the harsh working conditions that they all have to endure. It certainly won’t be easy but it’s something that she is ready and willing to do. Meanwhile we have some mysterious new villains on the rise who are aiming to sabotage Kat and possibly take over the world.

We don’t really learn what the villains’ plans are in this series. They don’t get time to have any concrete goals and just show up for a quick fight or two. I like their designs though as the main ones seem to be robotic in nature. It’s also good to have some actual enemies for Kat and Raven to fight beyond the little monsters that they always beat up anyway. I’m guessing most of the confrontations with them are probably in the second half of the game which is why we didn’t see them. The bulk of the villain group don’t even appear until the final chapter which is only around 10 pages or so. The cliffhanger ending does help build up a lot of hype for the sequel game though. You really think about checking it out someday.

When Raven shows up again in the series she quickly goes back to being the best character. She’s a fun rival to have around and is the Shadow to Kat’s Sonic. Her abilities may not seem to be quite on par with Kat’s but she does her best against the opponents. We get one nice team up fight with the duo. Admittedly they are fighting a robot who can barely fight back, but I’ll take that over nothing. At least it’s still an action scene to have some fun with. Kat is also a pretty solid character. She’s always optimistic and does her best to help out the town. Once she got her powers back I would have liked to see her stand up to the miners a little more. Surprisingly she doesn’t really do much to resist the villains and just uses her powers to mine more efficiently. I get the feeling that by the end of the game she probably does more about it because it would just strike me as a little odd that she is just going to wait around and watch the whole time.

Meanwhile Syd is a little annoying here. He acts really shady during the game but I don’t think he’s evil. He seems to have some kind of plan that he doesn’t want to share just yet and ends up being more of an obstacle than a help. In general I’ve never been the biggest Syd fan but at least in the first game he would actively help out. Perhaps he would end up doing more as the series progressed though. I suppose there is no rule that you have to help out right away.

The artwork is pretty enjoyable. It can get a little chaotic at times with a lot of things happening all at once, but the calmer pages allow the artist to show off a bit more. Kat and Raven’s designs are very intricate so I imagine that they aren’t the easiest to draw. When you take all of that into account then the series really did an admirable job here. The writing is good as well. The series ends up being pretty vague and distant, but that’s probably hard to avoid given that it is adapting part of a story. You aren’t really given time to care about any of the characters Kat meets in town so the title is at its best when we are getting fight scenes. I do think the writing being better could have let it take off anyway, but as it stands this is still a pretty enjoyable experience.

Overall, Gravity Rush 2 seems like it would be a good game and the manga works as a good intro for if you end up playing the game. I suppose you don’t really need it if you are going to play the game right away though because then you would just be doing some of the same events twice in a row which may get old. I’d like to have an ongoing Gravity Rush manga since that would really allow us to explore the universe more. There’s only so much you can do in a mini series like this one. Nothing really gets accomplished so you have to enjoy the ride. I don’t believe this would have a lot of replay value as a result. There’s nothing negative about the series so it keeps a solid score at the ready, but it’s unlikely you would ever need to read this with how many others there are to check out.

Star Wars Lost Stars

This manga is off to a great start. I hear that the original novel is also quite excellent so that’ll be fun to read at some point as well. The main character is already so much better than Luke, Rey, and Anakin from the films. I look forward to seeing where the manga goes from here and I’ll review it once the series finishes.

Overall 8/10