Psyren Review

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It’s time for a pretty fun manga that went under the radar and had to hurry to a rushed conclusion. It’s a shame, but I can see how people never gave it a chance. Personally, I always thought it was a manga about competitive hip hop dancing. I don’t know why, but it just looked like one thanks to a screencap on Mangastream. I didn’t learn better until I got to read a few volumes from the library. It’s a series that takes a few different twists compared to your average Shonen and the series was very ambitious. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t last long enough to unleash its full potential.

The main character is Ageha and he’s your average Bully hunter for hire. He takes out the bullies as long as you can pay him. One day he notices Anamiya getting bullied by a few other girls and saves her wallet. She dashes off, but not before asking him for help. The next day she goes missing and the town goes on full alert. Ageha decides to call the number of a mysterious card that he received and solves its puzzle so he can get some answers. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away to a desolate world that is overrun by monsters. Anamiya is here, but with a completely different personality as she is very cold and antagonistic to the rest of the characters. Still, she needs Ageha to help her clear the game. If you die in the game you die in real life!

There are a few rules. One: They just have to live through it. Two: Clear the daily missions. Three: Tell nobody. As long as they follow those 3 rules, they will be allowed to leave the game in peace. Of course, this is difficult since there are monsters everywhere as well as an evil organization that is bent on taking over the Earth through any means necessary. Fortunately, this world amps up everyone’s natural psychic abilities and you can gradually learn how to use it for combat. Along the way, a kid Ageha used to bully, a rockstar, and a random joe are brought to the world as well. Technically, a bunch of people are brought in, but the rest are all slaughtered almost instantly by the monsters. Hey, you can’t save em all right?
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At first the manga plays out like a survival horror. The humans have no business fighting giant monsters and basically just have to run and hide. Anamiya is the only one who can fight them and even she can’t take on too many of them at once. If the series had stayed like this, it could have certainly gone for an Attack on Titan vibe. Honestly, it could have maybe worked, but I’m glad the manga shifted gears into full action instead. Once the characters all got powers and the monsters were phased out in place of humanoid opponents, the manga truly began to excel.

It plays out a lot like Hueco Mundo in Bleach. The heroes get in really large scale battles against the enemies. The series jumps between the present and the future a lot. As you’d probably expect, the future has all of the best scenes and fights. The technology doesn’t really change this time, but everyone is just a lot stronger so the visuals are more spectacular. This series really knew how to draw your attention the whole time. Lets quickly go through a bunch of the characters.

First up is Ageha. He’s a good protagonist even if he definitely doesn’t care about being a hero. Lets move past his childhood where he was apparently a bit of a bully. He does act like your typical main character for a while as he tries to save everyone and does his best to complete the game. What separates him from most is how absolutely ruthless Ageha is. He’s totally on board with destroying any opponent who gets in his way. Some of the villains comment on this as Ageha will go for a kill shot right off the bat. Given the stakes and all, it’s easy to see why, but not something that all main characters will go for. He embraces his dark abilities from the start and never enters into a self doubt phase. All of these elements together make him a very engaging lead. You can draw a lot of similarities to Yusuke Urameshi.

Amamiya is the main heroine and she was always rather odd. We find out the reason why by the end as she has a split personality. One side of her is very shy and timid while the other is aggressive and outgoing. She starts to lose control of her other personality by the end, but eventually gets it back. You could say that the two sides of her made a truce to share the body and each gets a turn now. It’s an intriguing concept anyway. For the most part, the more aggressive one is naturally better although the flirting can be a bit much. I’m glad that Anamiya can fight, but she’s just not a very charismatic heroine.

The same can be said for the big rival of the series. That is Asaga and he is probably the most soulless rival I’ve ever seen in a series. He barely even counts as a rival since he is never in Ageha’s league to begin with. He has a lot of brute strength and that’s how he wields his psychic powers. He just has no real personality though besides possibly liking the main heroine. Ageha’s gravity abilities are both stronger and more versatile. There’s just nothing Asaga can contribute to a fight and he was basically written out of the series for a while as he had some adventures on the alien planet by himself.

Next up is a character whose development never really got to end. Oboro is a famous pop star who got into the game and began to excel. He can heal others which is incredibly useful and his abilities began to morph into disintegration. He can also heal others too well which results in them merging with other monsters and dying. The series was really hinting that he was going to turn evil and he was beginning to fit into the rival role. Then…the series just ended and he never really got to have any closure. I think he barely even got a final fight if he did at all. I did think the character had a lot of promise though and he was probably the best supporting member.

Kirisaki’s essentially the scaredy cat of the group. Every series seems to need one and he fits the bill. His ability is that he can sense the future as long as he is in danger and this allows him to dodge any traps. Think of it like a very good Spider Sense and you get the general idea. This isn’t the kind of character that I’m typically a fan of though so I’ll have to give him a thumbs down.

Now lets talk about some of the villains. Miroku is the big villain in the series and he’s certainly a strong fighter. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and can come across as generic, but I’d say that he’s good enough. His design’s not bad. Grana is the strongest member of the main villain group so he’s second only to Miroku for most of the series. He’s sort of like Zaraki from Bleach and I like his personality. He’s always itching for a fight and he can dish it out as well as he takes it. That makes for a pretty good villain if you ask me. Unfortunately, as the story goes with most of these characters, he didn’t get to do a whole lot.

Junas was one of the most impressive villains. He went up against quite a few of the main characters and kept on rolling. His design is on point and he made good use of his abilities. WISE was very fortunate to have him on their side. There’s not much to say about Uranus. He’s another member of the group who puts up a good fight, but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Junas. Finally we’re up to a villain who did get a lot to do. Dholaki was probably Ageha’s first real challenge and the guy kept coming back for more. He would train and learn new abilities to stay relevant. He had a good work ethic for a villain. Shiner was another member of the group and he also got a good role. I’d say that he was maybe a little nerfed by the end of the fight, but he did a good job weakening the heroes.

Mithra is basically the real final boss. She’s a very imposing entity and her true form helps increase the stakes of the series. I definitely think just about all big action titles should end with a big cosmic being suddenly showing up. It makes the final battle really feel like a final stand as opposed to just another fight against the bad guys. Mithra didn’t appear all that much, but she is memorable.

Yusaka is technically a pretty minor villain as he doesn’t appear much, but he was a pretty critical traitor against the heroes so he was memorable. He takes down a lot of humans in a rather brutal action scene and proves to be a lethal opponent. He’s not really my kind of villain, but he made for a good fight scene. While his design isn’t as impressive as most of the villains, it makes sense since he is basically just a human.
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There was a group of kids in the future who were the last defenders of humanity. They were a pretty fun bunch and all of them got some good screen time. Frederica is a fire expert who’s extremely confident and she always managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d call her the strongest member despite her boasts, but she’s definitely fun to have around. She’s effectively the leader of the team. Marie is the nicest member of the team which also happens to mean that she is basically the weakest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of hers. She’s not a bad character, but rarely seemed to help out all that much. She did contribute of course, but I would have liked to have seen more action from her.

Kyle looks up to Ageha and pretty much modeled his fighting style after him. Kyle’s a hand to hand specialist who attacks with incredible power. I’d say that he is the most powerful member of the group and he sure did a good job whenever he would appear. He definitely grew a lot from his days as a kid. Shao probably got one of the best fight scenes in the series as he fights with strategy as well as power. He’s about as strong as Kyle and really helps the group have an edge over the villains. Every time you get a strong fighter like that, it really helps everyone’s odds. He’s rather quiet, but it’s not about confidence. It’s simply a choice in his case and he lets his actions speak for him.

Nemesis Q was more annoying than helpful. I still don’t understand what the point was of calling everyone to the game world, but destroying them if they told anyone. By the end of the series we learn that she is basically stuck in a wheelchair and just gets her thrills out of mocking Ageha. She got some kind of origin story, but it still seems like the best plan would just have been to tell the heroes what was going on. They could have changed the past a whole lot easier if they knew the details.

Matsuri was one of the only players who ever got out of the game alive. As such, she knows about it, but isn’t really allowed back. She can still help in the real world though. Her abilities are potent, but not quite as deadly as most of the main characters. She essentially got surpassed by everyone as the series went on, but did well in the mentor role. Kagetora is her friend and essentially a bodyguard who also got some psychic abilities. He handles psychic crime in the real world, but has a tendency to get in a little over his head at times. His regeneration ability at the end is really handy though since it fits in with his constant aggression.

Tatsuo is a friend of Asaga’s who got stuck in the game. In the real world he was super frail, but he was able to excel in this other world as a hybrid monster. At first he is evil from the experience, but gradually learns to accept the situation and becomes a hero. He’s a fairly decent character, but one that still just feels more like a trope than an individual. Asuka is Ageha’s father and he actually shows up to fight by the end of the series. His ability has a lot of drawbacks and can’t be used for too long, but it’s very powerful. He is one of the only characters in the series who is able to use a certain burning/ascendence which amps up all of his stats. The series may not have explained too much about why he knows so much about the psychic wars and all, but it was nice to see him help out. He’s not a very nice guy at times though so that hurts his likability.

So the character cast is fairly decent. I like Ageha and the Actor worked fairly well as a shady rival. I don’t think the author initially planned for that subplot to just end like it did, but you never know. The rest of the heroes were rather weak compared to most titles though, but fortunately the villains held their own. They were all pretty cool for the most part even if I started to mix them up. It’s important that Ageha was good since if the main character had also only been standard, it might have had more of an effect on the series. What helped to compensate for this was the solid artwork throughout. The artist has a nice clear style that works well with the series. It’s also nice since Ageha’s powers could have easily turned into something very wavy and chaotic. With a lesser artist It would have been easy to get lost during the action scenes.

The series could get pretty intense like the massacre inside the government base. You couldn’t help but feel bad for the government the whole time since they were just so out of their league but they kept on trying anyway. At the very least, you have to admire their commitment. We even got the cops involved at one point as they try to arrest Ageha, that was fun. There’s a lot to like in this series which is why it’s a shame that it never hit 20 volumes.
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Overall, Psyren is a fun action series. It won’t go down as an all star like Dragon Ball Z or Kenshin, but I’d say that it did a really good job. The idea of fighting in the future is always a good one. Reborn! probably did the best job with it, but many titles have pulled it off. The action was large in scale and Ageha readily embracing his dark abilities was nice as well. It’s a shame that the series ended so suddenly since it still had quite a lot of potential left in it. Sometimes we just don’t get to see it all though. That’s just the way it goes. I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. It’s pretty epic and I’m confident you’ll like it if action is your genre of choice.

Overall 8/10

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Nisekoi Review

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It’s time to review a very different manga series. Seriously, it’s not one that you’d have expected me to read. It’s my first complete harem manga. There are some titles that can act a bit like a harem at times like Sword Art Online, but this is a full blown one with comedy hi-jinx around every corner and a lot of situations that will make you suspend your disbelief. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this series at all. Luckily it plays up the comedy angle first and foremost. There isn’t a great deal of fanservice here as it’s pretty mild for the most part. There are some tricky moments though and it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s likely the best adaptation of this genre. I can’t imagine another one handling it quite as well.

The protagonist is Raku and he is the heir to a local Yakuza organization. He doesn’t want to lead the group though as his passion is to be a civil servant who lives in a very fair and balanced way. It’s an honorable aspiration and the gang members don’t mind this as they figure that he’ll grow bored and decide to lead the gang in the end anyway. His life changes forever when a girl named Chitoge moves into town. She is in a very similar situation and her gang does not get along with Raku’s at all. The two gangs decide to form a peace treaty by convincing Chitoge and Raku to pretend to be dating. Only the top executive of each gang knows that it is fake so the rest believe that it is legitimate and do their best not to get into fights. Naturally, this has serious social repercussions for both characters since they have to keep the act going 24/7. Raku was hoping to live a normal high school life and Chitoge wanted a great start to her school year, but neither were to be.

Quite a few more complications would enter the fray though. The main characters are all in the same class and it just so happens that most of them know Raku in some way or other from the past. Onodera was one of Raku’s best friends back in the day and Raku secretly admires her. Unfortunately for him, the Chitoge situation has shut the door on any hopes for him since he is officially taken and Chitoge has to find a way around that as well. Her best friend Ruri has decided that overcoming your rivals is necessary in a case like this and tries to push the two of them together. Meanwhile, Chitoge has a bodyguard named Tsugami who is forced to come to class as well to protect her mistress. She believes that Raku is not fit to protect Chitoge but gradually realizes that he is tougher than he looks. A rich transfer student also shows up who is a pre-arranged fiance for Raku. This hurts his reputation even more and she is the most overt with her constant advances towards Raku. Not to be out done, a transfer teacher also shows up named Yui. She grew up with Raku as she learned how to be an effective mob boss and then went her own way. Well, now she is also back to claim Raku. Finally, we also have Onodera’s younger sister. She doesn’t want to get in Onodera’s way but that becomes more difficult as her friend tries to push her into some tricky situations.

So, we’ve got quite the cast and you can see how this is clearly a harem title. There are 6 different girls going after Raku and he has to try to stop all of their advances while he chooses one over the others. While the reverse harem title Gentleman’s Alliance (I believe that’s the right name) did a cop-out by having the heroine choose 2 guys to alternate with, I can safely say that there is none here. The series wraps up with each girl getting her own story arc and one by one Raku completely rejects them tournament style. It’s pretty interesting and at least he was direct about the whole thing. Of course, the series is 25 volumes long and those arcs don’t really start til around volume 19. The first 18 are for good ole comedy shenanigans along with a plot about Raku’s pendant. See, he has this pendent which can only be opened by a girl that he promised to marry when he was a kid. The problem is that from the 7 girls, 4-5 of them have their own keys. They can’t try them out either since Raku conveniently breaks his pendent. Oh well, they’ve got a lot of time to figure it out right?
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For a story like this, the two most important aspects are the characters and the writing. Those two things are handled pretty well and the art also helps a lot. You may notice that all of the pictures in this review are from the same fight. That’s because the art for this fight was just so good and it came out of nowhere. This was the only serious fight in the whole series or at least the only one that was of a decent length. It shows what the series could have been like if the author had decided to pursue Nisekoi as an action series. It would have had quite a lot of potential. The art is consistently good throughout and I’d consider it to be fairly high end even counting all other manga titles.

If there’s any part of the art that’s weak, it’s that parts of it can seem recycled. So that’s not a quality thing, but just a byproduct of the genre. It’s something that you tend to see in comedy titles a lot since the characters always have exaggerated expressions. You’ll see what I mean if you flip through a volume. The characters make the same faces constantly. You can’t go through a single chapter without someone yelling or panicking. At least not until you’re in the climax of the series. The overreactions can definitely get old pretty quick.

All right, lets talk about the characters. First off is Raku, our lead. He’s a nice guy who wants to help everyone out, but just has a lot of natural charm so everyone wants to hang out with him. Raku does his best not to lead anyone on and is pretty oblivious to the situation as you probably would expect. I can’t say that I’m really a fan of Raku though. While he handles most of the situations fairly well, he can also make them worse at times. Other times he’s a little slow on the uptake and tends to insult other characters at inopportune times. He calls Chitoge a gorilla as a joke while she calls him a bean sprout, but often times Raku will use this insult quite randomly and it makes you wonder what he was thinking.

Chitoge is the main heroine and one of the better characters. She’s probably my second favorite behind Tsugami. Chitoge is outgoing and does her best to make a lot of friends during her school days. She helped to bring the whole gang together and is always ready to help the others out like Raku. She’s pretty selfless as well and tries not to get in the way of the other character’s goals. Chitoge can also fight to a mild extent which helps quite a bit as well. Next up is Onodera, one of the other major characters of the series. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of hers. She’s a really shy character who has a hard time talking to Raku and her friends often have to push her into action. She means well though and is also a very nice character, but the shy character type has never been my favorite. Just about all of my favorite characters are outgoing or have generally tough personalities. I feel like it makes the character more interesting.

Next up is the worst character in the series, Shu. This character had no point being in the series and it feels like he is just here to make Raku look even better. After all, Raku is heroic, noble, and treats everyone with respect. Shu flirts with everyone and is always thinking very sketchy thoughts as he tries to get everyone into sticky situations. His romance plot was also the worst since it basically exonerated everything he does. The series ends with him refusing to change his ways and his partner just deciding that she can live with that. It’s just terrible all around and I’d wince whenever he was on screen. Bad things were always sure to follow.
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Ruri is Onodera’s friend so she never really counted as one of the people interested in Raku. Things get tricky for a second, but her bond with Onodera is a lot stronger and another guy ends up appearing for her. Ruri was a pretty decent character until her romance plot started wrapping up. The series kept hinting at it whenever she would appear, but I just hoped that the title wouldn’t go down that route. Unfortunately it did and Ruri got the worst pairing possible. Anyway, she’s a nice friend who helped Onodera a lot, but the latter was just too timid to really make use of the assistance.

Another supporting character is Claude. He doesn’t like Raku and constantly makes plans to humiliate the kid or get some dirt on him that could be used as blackmail. Naturally he’ll never find any dirt on the perfect main character though and most of his plans backfire because his subordinate Tsugami breaks it by mistake. Claude gets a pretty decent action scene towards the end and he is one of the best characters. While he is really bias against Raku, he does ultimately mean well since he just wants to protect Chitoge. He makes his share of mistakes, but I can sympathize with this guy.

Back to the main characters, we have Chitoge’s bodyguard up next. Tsugami was the best character by a long shot as she’s a great fighter and makes all of the right choices. She puts her feelings behind Chitoge’s happiness and safety consistently. She can be a little too naive at times to be honest and the series really exaggerates this character trait of hers, but when it comes to being a bodyguard she is prepared for every contingency. She saves the day on multiple occasions and Raku definitely wouldn’t have lasted so long without her. She gave the series quite a few of its best scenes so it’s safe to say that the manga as a whole would have dropped without her as well.

Tachibana’s personality is one that you probably wouldn’t assume would work well but she’s actually one of the better characters. She’s the most direct and upfront about her plans for the future and she lets Raku know about this constantly. It’s a little refreshing when you compare her to everyone else who constantly ducks the questions with the classic “Don’t get the wrong idea!” lines. Her story is probably the most tragic of the bunch, but it has a fairly happy ending. Tachibana also did have the absolute best arc of the series so that was pretty cool. She also came out to help in the last part of the final arc. I’d place her as the third best character and she definitely made the series a whole lot livelier.

Honda is Tachibana’s bodyguard. She isn’t quite as skilled as Tsugami, but she comes close. The images that I’ve attached in the review are of her fighting Tsugami so you can see how she put up a really good fight. That being said, I definitely don’t like Honda. She is the opposite of Tsugami who knows when to disobey an order and where her priorities lie. Honda follows the orders no matter what and is very strict when it comes to the rules. This leads to her making a lot of the wrong choices throughout.

Haru is Onodera’s sister. She wasn’t a bad character, but I can’t say that she really added anything to the series either. You could cut her out and nothing would really change. Haru starts out as the most antagonistic character to Raku, but gradually warms up to him since he’s such a nice guy. She knows that Onodera is trying for him though and steps aside which is pretty self less of her. She wants to be a pro baker but goes through many adversities along the way. I was glad for that subplot though because I do like seeing snacks. I could use a good Chocolate Chip Cookie myself right about now.
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Finally we have Yui. She is the leader of a gang and used to live at Raku’s gang base when she was a kid. She doesn’t have any family left so she looks to Raku as a brother. We get a pretty iffy subplot where her admiration morphs into something else, but by the end they agree that this would be a mistake so they keep the status quo as it is. It’s certainly a weird dynamic when you have her as the teacher though. Fortunately she got out of the arranged marriage thing so now she has time to rethink about what she wants to do. She was also a little unnecessary to the series and didn’t bring much to the table. I think I prefer Haru so the question is who was the worst heroine….her or Onodera? I’m probably going to give Onodera the slight edge here, but it’s reasonably close.

There are a few other supporting characters of course. Chitoge’s Mom shows up a few times during the series and she’s a good character. She lets her business get in the way of family time for a while, but Raku shows her how to balance it so she can hang out with Onodera more. The gang leaders show up a few times like Raku’s Dad, but they never really do much. There are ninja, classmates, friends of friends, and more characters but we covered all of the major ones.

This goes without saying, but one of the negatives of the series is the fanservice. It’s not all that excessive or frequent, but it is around enough where it still needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that most titles just can’t seem to get away from completely. Another issue is naturally the constant romance. As I mentioned earlier, the series is at its best during the normal adventures where the characters are just having fun and hanging out. The cast is actually better than some of the Shonen action casts. Perhaps it’s because we see them hang out more so getting used to the characters happens a lot quicker than when they are fighting and we don’t get to see the development for a while. Titles like DBZ throw that theory out of the water though.
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The romance is handled well for what it is. I’d say that it’s probably better than most main stream films in that regard. The characters don’t immediately get to the next level for no reason and it’s not like a CW show where you’re rebounding from one character to the next. Since Raku is unsure about what to do for most of the series, he makes sure not to actually get together with anybody. Of course, he has to pretend to be with Chitoge, but he keeps it in pretend mode.

Since a great deal of chapters are standalone, it also stands to reason that for all of the hits there are some misses as well. For example, pretty much any chapter where all of the heroines drink a love potion and decide to chase Raku are fairly weak. On the other side, pretty much any athletic competition…or simply any competition at all are typically a lot of fun. Since the series is so long, the cast gets to go on quite a lot of adventures so pretty much every kind of situation happens. We get haunted houses, School against School competitions, trips to other states, island survival tests, etc.

I read most of the series in batches of 2-4 volumes so I can also safely say that the series is a page turner. It never gets remotely boring and I think that can be accredited equally to the interesting cast and the exceptional art. Both really help to complement each other for any series really. If a series has bad art, then it’ll be hard to marathon no matter how engaging the plot is. It was just fortunate to have both factors in its favor.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but what else is new? Manga rarely have satisfying endings for me and this one had a big time skip as per usual. My main issue with it was the heroine’s final decision after being selected by the main character. It’s a choice that seems to happen a little more often now and I still don’t really get the logic behind it. It dampens what is otherwise a happy ending. There are also a few random pairings that I’m pretty iffy at, but the ending certainly could have been a whole lot worse.

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Overall, Nisekoi is a pretty fun series. If I were to rate the series based just on how enjoyable it is, it would easily get an 8. However, just being fun isn’t enough to get a high ranking since I still do have to count the negatives. It’s in the same boat as Medaka Box although less extreme in both the positives and negatives. The author definitely did a really good job of mixing up the various arcs by the end and giving each character time to shine. All of the main characters got a lot of development through the series. I can safely say that Nisekoi was a lot better than I had anticipated. At least now if anyone asks me to recommend a good romance series I can bring this one up. Tsubasa is probably still my go to example though since it was pretty much perfect, but this one can definitely be seen as more of a traditional romance. Now I can only hope that it really does get a battle spinoff manga someday.

Overall 6/10

Mobilize!! Pokemon Ranger Review

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You may remember that I started this series about a month ago. I ended up finishing it about a day or two later, but I didn’t get a chance to put up the review til now. It’s only 12 chapters long so it makes for a very fast read. The chapters are also small so it’s considerably shorter than the average manga volume. It basically adapts the first game, but think of it as an abridged version.

A Pokemon Ranger wants to be the very best. He’s at a pretty low rank at the moment, but his heart’s in the right place. He completes several missions and then becomes aware of a new danger lurking over the horizon. They are essentially the anti Pokemon Rangers as they use their capture nodes to control Pokemon and bring them over to the dark side. Is there anything that our young hero can do to stop them? Luckily he is not alone as he has two main comrades who help him when they feel like it. They are far more experienced so typically they’re busy on other tasks.

Grabbing this series was pretty tough since Deviantart is really the only place that has it all. It’s so obscure that websites even say that it has 12 volumes as opposed to chapters. I suppose the chapters may have been called volumes or something, but I think that’s just because it was labeled that way on the site. I read it all in one batch and I’m glad that I did because finding it again would be a bit of a hassle. It’s mostly due to the fact that the site doesn’t load well and the same goes for the pages so it takes a while. That’s the main reason why I didn’t go back to grab the names. You don’t really need them here anyway since the personalities are what’s important.

The main hero isn’t bad. He’s a nice kid who is very determined. In effect, he’s a generic Shonen kind of character who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. Luckily, he’s just got a lot of natural skills and Pokemon just want to work with him. He’s courageous and can definitely hold his own story. His more experienced partner is a good character as well. As I mentioned earlier, she doesn’t get a whole lot to do though. For the most part, she pitches in once in a while along with the boss, but it’s all up to the main character. Without him everyone would have been doomed anyway.

The art is a little basic, but it works just fine. It’s certainly clear at the very least so you always know what is happening. It’s nothing that’ll win awards, but it gets the job done. With each chapter being so short, I imagine that the artist had a lot of time to make sure that each page looked just right. As this story is essentially a one shot, you don’t really need to know anything about Pokemon to jump in and enjoy this one. The title gives you the basic premise and explains what is happening.

I played the first Pokemon Ranger game a while back. It’s been a while, but I’d say that the volume felt pretty faithful for what is adapted. Either that or the pre-arc and the main villain were just very similar. One thing that was a little sudden was how the main character jumped from around rank 1 all the way to the max in the final chapter. I guess he did save the world and all, but it seemed a little sudden and out of left field. Well, at least he can boldly proclaim how he got to his goal a lot faster than most other heroes. It didn’t take him almost 6 years to be the Hokage or 10+ years to finally unlock Super Saiyan 4.

Overall, This is a nice little title. It’s a bit of a fluff piece as you’ll read and enjoy it, but then never come back to the title. There isn’t really a need to ever re read this piece, but it’s still good. It didn’t really make any mistakes and it was just a pleasant little tale to read. There’s a lot you can do with the Pokemon universe and I’d like to see more manga titles like this. A longer one would be nice as well, but this is better than nothing. I’d recommend checking it out if you can find it. Maybe it’ll convince you to buy the game since that’s the whole point of this. I aim to buy the next few titles at some point, but it could be a while.

Overall 7/10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura’s Revenge! Review

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It’s time to check out another Madoka Magica manga title. I wasn’t crazy about the first two because the art wasn’t so good and the plot wasn’t the best. This one has a much better premise and the artwork has certainly improved, but it feels like the author is worried about doing anything too drastic. The series ends up feeling like a cop-out for several reasons and while the ending is mostly satisfying, there is one element that holds it back. That’s enough foreshadowing though, lets get into the review.

The series starts with Homura failing to save Madoka yet again. She’s been through this point in time on many occasions, but no matter what Homura does differently, it all ends up being futile. This time, she decides to take Madoka back in time with her. This way Madoka will remember everything that is going to happen as well as Homura so their chances to change the future should be drastically increased. Theoretically, this plan should be foolproof right? Unfortunately, Homura made the mistake of also bringing Kyubey into the past so he knows what is going to happen as well. It’ll be a battle of wits between them and being witty has always been one of Kyubey’s strengths.

Honestly I don’t think that Kyubey should have come along for the ride. This is where the cop-out part happens. The whole point of the series is that Homura and Madoka are going to try and change things so that they can save the future this time right? Well, they fail at every turn. Mami is still murdered by the demon, Sayaka is still turned to a witch, etc. They really didn’t change anything except for at the very end with Kyoko. They did beat the monster which at least made the future a bright one, but it wasn’t good enough for Homura or for myself. What’s the point of a what if story where only the ending is changed? I was expecting more drastic changes all around, but the heroes let Kyubey mess with them the whole time.

He was constantly messing with them and tricking all of the side characters. Everyone was unreasonable which ensured that nobody listened to Madoka or Homura. I also find it a little suspect how Mami was beaten twice. Surely she would have kept her guard up after almost being eaten the first time right? Mami is supposed to be super tough and all so she really shouldn’t have lost this battle. The manga even gave her some hype as usual by giving her the edge over Homura. I still say that Homura should be able to defeat her with time hax, but Mami’s abilities are certainly better when in close quarters combat.

The other iffy part was the ending. Homura explained that even though she saved the world and Madoka this time, she would go back in time because Madoka turned into a magical girl. That seems a little extreme since she actually managed to save the day after such a long period of trying. It seems to me like she would have been content to stay this time. Ah well, it was still a good ending though. For a while there is looked like the ending would have been another failed attempt and then Homura would have to head home by her lonesome.

As mentioned earlier, the art is definitely a lot sharper this time around. It feels more like how you’d expect the show to look in manga format. The fight scenes are a lot more engaging and it was fun to see some fights that never happened in the show like Kyoko and Sayaka vs Homura. Both of their battles were pretty fun and their plan actually wasn’t half bad. Overwhelming Homura with speed is the only way to really neutralize her time stop ability and preventing her from leaving is another good strategy. Of course, Homura could have stopped them easily if she was using fatal methods, but she couldn’t since she is technically a hero. The others never gave her much of a chance to explain herself though.

I have to say that Homura and Madoka’s plan wasn’t really well thought out. They should have approached Mami together as allies instead of allowing Mami to see Homura as an enemy. Their reasoning was that they should try to get everything to happen the same way so it’ll be easier to know when to diverge, but this reasoning didn’t make sense. It was an excuse for the author not to go down a very different path. The whole point of this manga is to try and go a different path so the series should have embraced this.

You can probably tell that I was less than pleased with how this was executed. Still, missed opportunities don’t make up the whole story in this adventure. It’s still a well written title on its own and the plot is engaging. It has some pretty good action scenes and the characters are likable enough. At the very least, I’d say that Homura and Kyoko are good. Mami comes across as a little arrogant and Sayaka is just gullible. Madoka isn’t all that helpful either the whole time and Kyubey makes for a good villain with how he pushes everyone around. At only 2 volumes long, the series goes by in a flash. The pacing is never a problem and the series gets from point to point with ease.

I also just enjoy the Madoka universe so seeing the characters was fun. The atmosphere was pretty tense and the characters were all pretty serious. I could definitely see this being turned into an anime or maybe some kind of OVA. I’d take it, even if just to see Homura wreck Kyoko and Sayaka. We really needed that fight in the anime, but there’s only so much you can do in 12 episodes.

After reading the manga, it’s safe to say that the power levels are: Madoka>Homura>Mami>Kyoko>Sayaka. Now, Homura and Mami are debatable I suppose since Mami does have a lot of experience and her abilities are a nice counter to Homura’s, but they only work if she is able to land a hit before time is stopped. I don’t see that happening. Meanwhile, Kyoko’s abilities are just a poor match up for Mami’s to start with and Sayaka is just the weakest by far. She doesn’t have a lot of experience and while her regeneration is great, it does consume energy so she can’t keep it up. Each member is pretty strong in her own way though which is what makes the team so formidable. What I really want is a series where we can see the whole group team up against an enemy. That’s what I need to see and that’s why we need a manga that introduces Dark Magical Girls. The other manga title came close, but didn’t go all the way. (I’m sensing a trend here eh?) Bringing that in could make for a definitive Madoka Magica series someday.
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Overall, It’s a clear improvement over the last manga. There aren’t any new characters this time around, but the TV show was already interesting enough where a What If story is certainly welcome. There are many ways that the show could have gone after all even if this one didn’t actually step into any of those paths. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you want to read a nice little action story. If you haven’t watched the TV show then you may not really get what is happening at some points, but you should be able to understand enough. If anything, the added mystery could help make the series more enticing to you. At this point, we just need a season 2 so there will be more material and these spinoffs can think up more adventures for the main cast. It’s been quite a while so there is no excuse not to have a second season by now.

Overall 7/10

Assassination Classroom Review

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So, I started this manga around April back in 2013. It lasted for a decent amount of time I suppose and the concept was certainly original. That being said, the series gradually got worse as it went on. It started out okay and I had actually given it a 6 after the initial volume or so. Maybe it was the premise that got old or the author just was not prepared to keep the series going. Whatever the case, Classroom ends on a whimper and ends up losing another point for mainstream manga.

The series is about an alien who destroyed most of the Moon. He then decided that he wanted to teach a class. Koro chose Class E, a class that is shunned by the rest of the school and treated pretty poorly. The government agrees to this deal in exchange for being able to try and destroy Koro whenever they like. The students are also encouraged to try and destroy him and they could get rich doing so. As the series progresses, the kids grow attached to Koro and decide that he may not be all that bad. Should they still destroy him or have the kids finally learned that murder is wrong. Spoiler alert, they do not.

So, this series is really a comedy first and foremost. There are some action scenes during the series as this is technically still a Shonen, but the vast majority of it is pure slice of life. You could compare the series to Nisekoi except replace the occasional plot chapter with an action one. Unfortunately, this ends up hurting the series. Mainly that’s because the cast isn’t all that good. This ensures that you’re never too invested into the series. Furthermore, the author just isn’t very good at writing a comedy. It’s rarely all that funny or engaging. I was actually pretty bored for almost the entirety of the second half of the series. It felt like nothing was happening for a very long time and I was waiting for the plot to return.

The author also doesn’t even try after a certain point and just starts including fanservice for no real reason. The fanservice is really the only main problem in the series, but it is a significant one. Naturally, being a rather boring series in general is bad as well, but it’s not something that will take too many stars off. Coupling that with recurring fanservice is another issue entirely. It’s almost as if the author is admitting that the series can’t stand on its own and that it needs this element to keep people reading. I wouldn’t be too surprised since most of the comments on the online discussion boards would always focus on this and the Nagisa cross dressing subplot. I don’t think people ever really cared about the plot and most people like it for the comedy and the drama. So if the comedy style works for you, then you’ll like the series. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a long ride.

Surprisingly, the series never really deals with one of its main themes. These kids are being told to murder Koro throughout the series and they naturally accept since they’ll be making a lot of money. The students never really ask themselves if this is the right thing to do. They wonder if they shouldn’t at times since they grow to like the teacher, but never because the act of murdering someone is wrong in itself. It seems like they just don’t really care since Koro’s an alien anyway. It’s rather alarming that they’re all so quick to accept this deal. Having a few kids decide that this just isn’t right would have been a good way to advance the plot and maybe have some characters get kicked out of the class because they refuse to sacrifice their morals. That would have made for an engaging premise if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the series never went in that direction and just continues to do its best to justify why murder is necessary in this case. There will be spoilers coming up in this paragraph so skip it if you haven’t finished the series yet. I’m gonna keep all of the spoilers confined to this paragraph to make it easier to read the rest of the review. Are you out of this paragraph yet? You have been warned! From the start, the kids are told that murdering Koro will make the world a safer place and the money seals the deal. Capturing Koro would be difficult, but it is clearly achievable as several villains do it during the course of the series. Already murder is not completely necessary. Then the end of the series takes it a step further. There is a .001% chance that Koro will blow up and take the Earth with him. It’s simply a flaw in his DNA. Even so, the people decree that Koro must die and after an extended fight, Koro lies on the ground. He is unable to move and cannot do anything. So…the “heroes” wouldn’t destroy him after all that right. The kids have been through a lot with their teacher and they should be friends at this point….nah. Nagisa plunges his knife into Koro and ends him for good. Nothing personal of course, but Nagisa was goaded into doing it and everyone was practically egging him on with their moral support. It was a terrible ending and really brought about the wrong message in the series. It tried to say that destroying Koro was the right thing to do, but that could never be the case. It goes without saying that I lost all respect for the characters and I didn’t really have much to start with. I’d say that was the final nail in the coffin for this title.

All right, lets talk about the characters. Karasuma is the government contact who teaches the kids how to effectively destroy people. He has more of a heart than the rest of the government and is known as one of the best fighters on the planet. He does a good job of pulling his weight, but does tend to let red tape stand in his way. He’s not someone that I would count on in times of trouble, but he is one of the more likable characters in the series. At the very least, he isn’t all talk. Irina is another professional who joined the group, but unfortunately the series gives her absolutely no respect. She is only used for fanservice during about 99% of her screen time and another subplot that’s not even remotely humorous is that the kids always curse her out when she appears. It’s a very mean spirited nickname. She’s able to get past them since all of the kids fall for her feminine wiles, but all that does is degrade her character further while taking the kids with her.

Koro is the big alien in the series and one of the worst written leads that I’ve seen. He’s a very perverted character similar to someone like Master Roshi. This is bad since he appears so often, this personality gets to appear constantly. He is always being tricked through this weakness and uses his super human abilities to make it all the worse. There’s not a whole lot you can do when you’re up against an invincible alien so it’s not like anyone can stop these habits of him. Any time Koro is on screen is usually going to be a cringe worthy moment.
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Karma is the big rival of the series and he’s the best character in the series. It may not be saying a whole lot, but at the very least he checks most of the boxes for qualities that a rival should have. He talks a good game even if he loses most of his fights. While Karma is surpassed by Nagisa rather easily, he tries to cover up his humiliation by dishing out a lot of burns. He has a lot of confidence and doesn’t put up with a lot of the stuff that Nagisa has to go through. It would have been nice if he could have gotten a power up or something, but the series was having none of that.

Nagisa is the kind of main character that I don’t like. He’s comic relief 90% of the time, but then he’ll suddenly get serious and unlikable. When he’s in assassin mode he turns into a try-hard rather than a hardcore character. He does manage to score a win against an actual villain, which is one more than just about anyone from the students so I’ll give him that. Still, the contrast between him as a pushover who lets people dress him as a girl and his assassin mode is way too drastic. The ending of the series doesn’t help his case at all either.

There are a lot of other students in the class, but only hardcore fans will bother to learn their names. Even the author probably came close to forgetting them because some don’t actually get introduced until you’re past volume 10. That’s a long time to wait to learn about someone who is in the background since day 1 right? Aside from Karma and Nagisa, some of them are important though. Ritsu is notable because she is actually a computer program who is just allowed to be in the class for kicks. She acts like a student at the very least and while she ultimately doesn’t help out much, she ensures that the group can always communicate with each other. Kayano is the main heroine I suppose. Her role is extremely small until the series gets close to the end, but that’s good enough. Even if she tends to jump the gun and come to hasty conclusions, she actually plans things out well. She’s definitely the best student behind Karma even if a lot of her potential was wasted by the end. Her plot could have been so much more epic if it wasn’t shut down as soon as it began.

Itona was one of the early villains, but he was quickly defeated and turned into a good guy. This is one of those characters who was completely ditched as soon as he turned good. Suddenly he became completely powerless and never did anything again. It was a shame because he could have brought something new to the table. Instead he just ended up as a personality-less student who had no real stake in the whole business. To think that he started out as a mysterious villain who was actually a threat.

Gakusho is the big rival of the series and especially likes to compete with Karma. He’s in class A so he always has a lot to prove. His father is the principal so he is always in a lot of pressure. He actually does a good job of living up to it and excelling though. He’s a little more fair than his father and will honor his agreements even if he doesn’t like them. He made for a fun antagonist and helped make some of the events more fun like the athletics competition and the test arcs. Gakuho was also a good villain. He looks a little like Aizen and is as exaggerated as a principal can get. He’s supposed to be purely human, but he can mind control people and even knocked out three really strong guys with no real effort. It was 3 against 1 and they were pros, but he downed them with ease. The author never gave him powers or added anything extra to it as expected, but he was still a great character. Honestly, he should have kept on appearing. Giving him powers or something would have been awesome.

The God of Death is one of the big villains in the series. He’s definitely the most likable villain even if he does come across as rather petty in his origin. He’s very good at what he does and his plan was basically fool proof. His design is really cool and while his abilities are a bit of a stretch, it showed that he wasn’t like your average human. You definitely don’t want to mess around with this guy. It’s a shame that he never got to appear much. I don’t even count his final appearance because he cracked by the end and was nothing like the character that I got to see the first time. Takaoka is a relatively minor villain who showed up from the government. He overworked everyone and was basically a bully who always got his way. The students had to take care of him since everyone else kept turning the other way. It was definitely one of those subplots that was annoying to watch since nobody would help at all. You’d think Koro would have been a little more vigilant right?

Finally, we have Shiro. He’s the main villain of the series and wears a cloak to hide his true form until the very end. The true form is a little underwhelming as is the character in general. He was portrayed as a very mysterious individual, but after getting thwarted several times in a row, it was hard to take him as seriously. You could go whole volumes without seeing this guy appear and I don’t get why he was waiting so long. His master plan just didn’t make a whole lot of sense and without his constant hostages, the guy wouldn’t even be all that tough. He could have been a cool villain, but squandered his opportunity.

Another problem with the series has to be the power levels. It’s always annoying to see the main characters because none of them can fight for beans. They’re all just kids so whenever an actual villain shows up, they just have to hide. They can’t hold their own because all of the big villains have super powers and could beat the kids in an instant. At first I was waiting for a time skip or some kind of power up, but gradually I realized that this wasn’t that kind of series. It actually tries to be very realistic for the most part which means that the kids just stay as kids the whole time. They never really get any development or improve at all in combat. Maybe you won’t mind that, but I found it extremely annoying by the end. I mean, what’s the point of having them around if they’re never gonna help? I haven’t seen a group of main characters as helpless as these guys.

As mentioned earlier, I think this series just lasted too long. I believe the author just couldn’t come up with enough ideas which is why some plots were stretched to oblivion and why the series had a noticeable dip in quality in the second half. Some characters were basically ditched and others never got a whole lot of development. The series was just all over the place and made sure to mess up its opportunities whenever possible. It’s a shame, but I guess they can’t all be winners in Shonen Jump.

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Overall, There’s a reason why nobody really talks about Classroom anymore. It was a huge thing when the first anime was airing and everyone was talking about the manga. It still sells well, but people just don’t talk about it anymore. The series just went downhill and should have quite while it was ahead. As it is, the series was at a 4 for a very long time, but then the author just had to go through with the terrible ending and lower it even further. A bad ending can go a long way and this was one of the worst endings that I’ve seen in a manga. Another title that I’ll be reviewing soon also had a dicey ending, but at least he was so bad that it was played for laughs which worked to an extent. This one played it serious and seriously giving out bad morals is a good way for me to shave off some points. I’d recommend skipping this series. It simply doesn’t live up to the hype and you’re better off just reading DBZZZZzzzzz yet another time.

Overall 3/10

Deadman Wonderland Review

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It’s time for a manga that’s so dark, it makes Black Butler look light at times. What makes this series even more extreme than Black Butler is that the dark plots never stop. There’s never a moment of happiness for any of the characters as they just move from tragedy to tragedy without a break. Plot twists continue to occur to make things even worse. You can’t trust anyone in the series and the only certainty is a world of pain for the characters. Lets get started.

The story starts with Ganta going to school as usual. Everything was nice until a man ran into the classroom and blew everyone up. He left Ganta alive on purpose to stick the crime on him and Ganta was sent to a max level prison where they store people with powers. Unfortunately, Ganta has no experience using his powers so he gets bullied all of the time. All powered individuals manipulate their blood in one way or another so they have to be careful not to let the fights drag on for too long or they’ll get dizzy. This prison is also run as an amusement park by night and they have prisoners fight each other to the death or just til limbs start flying. Ganta wants to get out of here, but it’ll be tough. The general public doesn’t even know that the prison exists and the cops have all been paid off. Everyone in this arena is evil for some reason or other so if Ganta wants to get out, he’ll have to get stronger.

One thing you’l notice about the series right away is that the deck is stacked against the main character. There is a plot twist by the end which explains this. The mastermind has a personal vendetta against Ganta so the kid is always placed in a rough spot. Usually you only have to survive seeing your friends get destroyed once right? it happens to Ganta twice and he still had to put up with a lot of trouble after that. His allies aren’t exactly the typical friends that you would expect. His team includes a liar, a delusional old man, a girl who likes inflicting pain, and a few other suspicious fellows. None of them are actually good guys and it just so happens that their goals coincide with Ganta’s at the moment. It’s not guaranteed that this status quo will stay either so Ganta has to always be careful.

Naturally, death isn’t the thing to fear in this series. The villains always opt for fates worse than death to make the whole thing even more dark than it already was. It’s just a very toxic atmosphere throughout the prison and while that may make some feel as if the series did a good job for making it so “realistic” it also means that the series is no fun to read through. It’s just incredibly violent and sinister all around with no light at the end of a tunnel. After a while, you can only read so many tragic backstories until you start wondering what’s for supper or when your next exercise coupon will come in the mail.

Ganta is the main character of this series. He starts out as an ordinary kid who is blown away by how crazy the world is. Gradually, Ganta “realizes” that he has to allow himself to be corrupted to an extent in order to survive. He becomes willing to murder and do what he has to in order to win. For the most part, he’s still considerably more heroic than the other characters though and at least tries to find a positive way out of the situation. He’s just placed into a lot of futile situations. You can’t help but feel bad for him most of the time because his adventures are extremely painful. He did somehow get a decently happy ending so that’s more than you can say for a good chunk of the cast. He’s still essentially broken by the end based on how many traumatizing events he went through though.

Shiro is the main heroine and she’s one of the most twisted characters in the series. The audience becomes aware of the twists right away even if Ganta doesn’t so I wouldn’t really consider this a spoiler. If you do, skip this paragraph as I am about to explain her true form. When Shiro was a kid, she hung out with Ganta a lot of the time. Unfortunately, she was then used for experiments and after a lot of gruesome operations, she developed a split personality and turned evil. She is now two people. One of them is still Ganta’s best friend and tries to protect him. The other one just wants to make his life as bad as possible. She destroys all of his friends twice and really makes the situation as bad as she possibly can. So, you have to decide whether she is truly evil or not. Shiro was clearly brought to this point by the scientists, but it doesn’t change the fact that she is now a person who hungers for violence. Shiro is completely insane by the end, but luckily we do have a big of friendship power left in the series. I know, it’s hard to imagine that in this title of all things, but it managed to survive.

Toto is the big boss of this series and his backstory is also very twisted. Needless to say, he enters into a twisted partnership with another villain. She’ll destroy him at some point so he can’t destroy her until she finished the job and he’ll destroy her some day. Needles to say, he gets the last laugh since he’s the main villain, but it was a very weird dynamic. It’s hard to call him the meanest villain in the series because after a while, they’re all so evil that it’s hard to say who is the worst. Regardless, he takes down as many characters as possible. He has quite a lot of abilities at his disposal so it’s very hard to defeat him. He’s memorable, but certainly not likable. I barely even need to add that last part though because none of the villains are likable since they’re so over the top insane. From all of the characters, the only one who is actually likable is Senji. Ganta’s on the brink of being likable I suppose. I just didn’t care much for him by the end. It didn’t help that in one of the twists, he knew what happened to Shiro and just blocked it out of his mind which caused him to forget. That’s convenient for Ganta since he can sleep well at night again, but it didn’t help Shiro get out of her jam.
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Senji is the closest you’ll get to a main rival in this series. He starts out as a mini boss and after Ganta beats him, he decides to be more heroic. It’s not as if he ever became a hero, but he does like fighting and doesn’t care for the plans that the villains have. Unfortunately, this is all after he already lost an eye so he is a little weakened for the rest of the series. Nonetheless, he is crucial in taking down the villains and it’s safe to say that Ganta would have been completely doomed without his help. Senji is very experienced in fighting and his blood abilities are well suited for combat. His eager personality is also perfect for a rival character. He’s still a little more intense than other rivals, but that comes with the territory. At least he aimed his aggression at the villains.

Then you have the rest of the peanut gallery. These guys talked a good game and were good at beating up Ganta, but didn’t do much besides that. Minatsuki uses sharp blood abilities to stab at her opponents for a while before finishing them off. She’s not all that powerful next to some of the other foes, but she makes up for that by being the most sarcastic member of the whole group. She is always ready with the insults and keeps it going for as long as she can. Her brother started out as a pretty corrupt guy who eventually realized that he was no match for the Deadmen and pretended to become a good guy. Everyone bought into it so that worked out for him.

I got to give a shout out to the Deadman wiki for being so terrible. It does a good job of being accurate to the series because it’s hard to navigate it at all. Seriously, you’re just going to wonder what’s happening the more you browse. Either way, those were most of the main characters. You’ve also got the old man who has an identity crisis, but he never really does much. There was the leader of the resistance, but he certainly didn’t last long. Ganta’s only friend met the same fate as she simply wasn’t going to last long in such a mean spirited series. Aside from the main boss, there was also the director, but he spent too much time rolling heads across the bowling alley and not enough time preparing himself for the inevitable threats.

This series is also one of those titles that tries to convince you that humanity as a race is inherently evil. Just about everyone can be bribed or corrupted in this series. As mentioned, there are no heroes. You can’t really trust anyone and the fact that nobody knows what is happening in this prison is pretty sketchy. It’s all to further the narrative that this author is going for

There is quite a bit of fanservice in the series as well. (As if the title needed any more negatives right?) One character’s design was made only with that purpose in mind and in case you don’t figure it out, the author has everyone comment on it nonstop. Another one has a costume that is made to look as if it’s just skin and other characters comment on that as well. Some of the sob stories involve pretty iffy plots and just picture the darkest plots you can think of. Since every character has a dark origin, they really start to add up by the end and the series covers all of the bases. It just gets darker and darker as the series goes on. I can’t stress enough just how over the top violent and dark this series is. You just want to avoid it at all costs. I don’t even remember if there is any animal violence here although almost definitely. I think at least a bird probably dies. The series is already at a 0 so it’s not as if it hurts it any more, but at least it throws some insult to injury.

The art isn’t all that bad although it can be really cluttered when the fights start. A lot of stuff is always happening on screen and the author just isn’t able to fully capture it on screen most of the time. You can follow what’s happening well enough though especially considering that most of the fights in the series are one sided massacres or have a lot of splash pages for shock value.
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Overall, This is pretty much the definition of a series that you want to avoid. Who wants to read a dark and dreary title like this when you can just pick up a volume of Dinosaur King or Prince of Tennis and be thrown into a world of excitement? It’s rare to have manga titles that are a 0, but it’s not completely unheard of. Black Bird certainly earned that rank and Skip Beat was the latest to achieve it after jumping the shark. Ideally Deadman will be the last series for a while to get a 0 because it is really hard to get that score. There was just nothing redeeming about this adventure though so it couldn’t go any higher. At least the volume covers and the title are pretty good giveaways that this title’s not going to be good though so I like to think that a lot of people never started in the first place. Avoid the series and you’re gonna be golden.

Overall 0/10

Sherlock Bones Review

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I started this series back in 2014 so it’s cool to have finally taken it down for the count. It’s a pretty unique mystery series that did some things pretty well. That being said, it is held back quite a bit by the unnecessary fanservice that pops up throughout. Seriously, whyyyyyy? Fanservice is always a bad thing, but it’s even worse when it’s just thrown in for no reason like in Fairy Tail. Even the poor dead victims in this series are used for fanservice, which is pretty sad.

Takeru was just an ordinary kid when he ran into a magical dog. It turns out that Sherlock Holmes has been reincarnated as a dog for some reason. He doesn’t know exactly why this happened and the viewers won’t either since the series ended before we could have a resolution to that plot. Regardless, he tells Takeru that they should solve a bunch of crimes and this inspired Takeru to be a junior detective and then to eventually join the police force. He’ll have to catch a lot of criminals but with the help of the greatest detective in the world, it’ll be easy right?

One major switch that this series does instead of the conventional detective titles if you always know who the culprit is from the start. The chapters typically start off with us seeing the murder and then seeing the victim hide the evidence and create the alibi. It’s a rather interesting look at the crime because in other titles you only see these things through flashbacks or testimony like in Detective Conan. We then have to see how Takeru will put the pieces together and prove it. It’s a very unique method of showing a murder mystery and I thought that the series did a really good job of it.

Unfortunately, that couldn’t save the series from its biggest issue of all, fanservice. The series had a habit of throwing it in just about every volume. Victims would have their clothes tattered a little, Takeru would walk in on people still changing, and others would just strip because Sherlock couldn’t control himself. There is a plot twist at the end about how Sherlock actually could control himself though so that makes things even worse. Regardless, it was always added just for sales and more views I suppose, but it made the series a little more low-brow than it should have been. You never see Detective Conan using tricks like that now do you? It’s really just the author admitting that he/she needs fanservice in order for the volumes to sell and that’s sad.

Takeru is a pretty good main character. He gradually gets smarter as the series goes on and never loses his nerve. He does a good job of putting on the pressure and manages to solve quite a lot of cases. Sherlock does a lot of the work, but Takeru is still tasked with most of the hard jobs. That makes their partnership pretty equal. Takeru may not be Conan, but he’s still a fun lead to have around and the series would dip quite a bit without him. After all, Sherlock Holmes actually isn’t all that great as a main character. The running gag of him turning into a regular dog at times is really annoying and always leads to crude humor. As a dog, he talks a good game, but still manages to lose to his animal instincts after a while. He was needed as a character to get Takeru invested in the mysteries I suppose, but since his plot never actually went anywhere, it ultimately felt pointless. I’d have just preferred Takeru be a solo act by the end. Maybe Sherlock’s plot would have been cooler by the end if it had been resolved, but since it was not..the character wasn’t as impactful as you would have hoped.

Miki is Takeru’s friend and she shows up once in a while. As a reporter in training, she helps give Takeru an excuse to interrogate suspects at times and she loves being a part of the sleuthing process. She certainly came to Takeru’s aid quite a few times to save him from jams. Miki’s a nice enough character, but as she rarely got to appear, it is hard to say much else for her. That’s a nice start though. Airin is Takeru’s sister and she makes most of the actual arrests. After all, Takeru isn’t exactly authorized to do much once he finds the suspect so her police skills come in handy. She tends to underestimate him a lot though, but I suppose it’s warranted since he was never much of a detective before Sherlock came around.

Finally, we have Kento. He’s the hardcore rival from America and one of the more enjoyable characters. That being said, he is very extreme when he first shows up. He wants to spite Takeru so much that he actively tries to help criminals by giving them a good cover story and trying to poke holes in Takeru’s logic. Naturally, this doesn’t work since the truth can’t be covered up, but it does make him look bad. Still, Kento is supposed to be a genius in his own right and he does help solve some cases. By the end of the series, he does get along with Takeru and their partnership should be very effective in stopping crimes.

Sherlock Bones had good artwork. The characters are all very detailed and the art makes it easy to look at a page and see everything at once. It uses a lot of ink for dramatic moments and all of the villains have true faces which pop up. They end up looking pretty demonic and sinister which always adds a nice touch. The heroes are really the only characters who don’t suddenly turn crazy as everyone else goes bonkers once their plans are foiled.
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Overall, Sherlock Bones didn’t last all that long. It had the makings of a good mystery series and without the fanservice, I’d probably have given it a 6. It was fun enough, but could have done more with the plot. Detective Conan can get away with having its plot move at a snail’s pace because the individual cases are always interesting and very well written. The cases here are also thought out fairly well, but they aren’t nearly as detailed and since you always know who did it, part of the mystery is solved for you. It’s a great change of pace and I wouldn’t mind Conan doing it sometimes, but I also want mysteries where you have to figure out who did it. Part of the fun in a case is figuring out who did it right? If you can get past the fanservice then this is a decent series to read, but at the same time you should probably just read a better detective series like Detective Conan or Zodiac P.I. Those have the mysteries without the dicey parts so that’s a plus.

Overall 4/10

Ouran High School Host Club Review

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It’s time to look at a long running comedy/slice of life/romance series that I finished a while back. The plot took quite a few volumes to actually start, but it did give us a glimpse of what the series could have been like. Unfortunately, the pre arc was completely terrible and doomed the series to a failing grade regardless of its improvement by the end. It’s a lesson to all other titles to not drag out your introductions too long or you’ll miss the boat.

Haruhi was ready for a nice high school adventure when she accidentally broke a very expensive vase.The Host Club wanted her to pay them back for this, but she doesn’t have that kind of money. She found her way into this extremely prestigious school somehow, but she is rather out of her depth. Everyone here is obscenely rich and that goes for the objects like the vase as well. She couldn’t hope to pay it off in a life time so the club gives her an alternative. She can spend her high school years pretending to be a guy so she can work in the club and pay off her debt that way. It doesn’t sound too promising, but it’s not as if Haruhi has much of a choice. So begins her time at the club.

Most of the early volumes are just about Haruhi experiencing how crazy the club is. The concept of the Host Club itself is rather demeaning. Essentially, they pretend to be various characters and spend their time flirting with everyone. You go to their club so you can be flirted with and it supposedly makes the girls who go there feel special. The whole thing seems rather fake though and I don’t see why people would keep on going back. It’s something that should get old quick, but the club continues to have a lot of support and so we get whole volumes to seeing this done. This plot in particular is what destroyed the series.

The fact that the club exists to give out fake love confessions and messing with people is pretty sinister. To an extent the customers know that it’s all fake of course, but they still have over the top reactions throughout and totally act as if they don’t know this. One of the “acts” that the club puts on also features Hikaru and Kaoru as a forbidden pair. Keep in mind that they’re twin brothers so this plot is the diciest of all the Host Club plays. They have to keep the act going consistently throughout the entire series. It’s pretty wince worthy to watch and the fact that it is supposed to be a funny subplot is really something. The whole pre arc was rather distasteful.

As I mentioned earlier, the series does get a little better once the plot starts. It also turns into a full blown romance drama though so you have to take the pros with the cons. Just about everyone falls for Haruhi at some point or other. Eventually, it whittles down to Tamaki, Hikaru, Kaoru, and Kyoya. Kyoya just decides that a romance isn’t worth it and Kaoru steps aside for Hikaru. Finally it is Tamaki and Hikaru and this drama goes on for many volumes.

It’s a shame because the Host Club had been very close for a long time. As always, romance is one of the only things that can drive close friends apart. Hikaru and Tamaki end up bickering quite a bit and while Tamaki always takes the high road and tries to keep their friendship alive, Hikaru doesn’t make it easy. Haruhi doesn’t make it easy either by basically playing the field by never making many decisions and being half hearted about everything. She makes a choice by the end of course, but certainly took a while.

While the romance wasn’t great, it did give us a break from the Host Club. It doesn’t get to appear almost at all during the second half of the series and that meant we didn’t need to see the Hikaru/Kaoru plays or the endless flirting in general. The school was definitely better off without the club and I actually agreed with Tamaki’s father the whole time about how it should have been disbanded ages ago. We had different reasons for it of course, but the end goal was the same. Also, actually having a plot is almost always an improvement. It at least gives the characters something to do besides the same old same old.

The art is fairly good and the author certainly had a lot of experience drawing everyone by the end. There are rarely any action scenes so that also helps ensure that the author doesn’t have to worry about the pages getting cluttered. At the most, we just had a few action scenes with Honey as a running gag is that he’s actually a top notch fighter. He’s shown to be the toughest guy in the whole series and his rival is never really able to match him. The fights were handled well enough.

Haruhi is the lead character in this series and unfortunately she is not all that good. Not only does she have a very bland design (It’s intentional, but that doesn’t exactly help her character) but her personality is more of the same. She’s not energetic, outgoing, witty, or likable in general. She’s meant to be a very quiet, but sarcastic character who gets a lot of burns in, but I feel like she takes more Ls than most leads. She’s one of the most uninteresting leads in recent memory and never got all that much better. I think pretending to be a guy for so long ended up hurting her quite a bit.

Tamaki is the main guy and is easily the most reasonable member of the host club. He just wants everyone to be together and for the status quo to never change. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option and eventually he is forced to move on. He does make a pretty bad decision towards the end of the series though as he betrays everyone and falls into the 9-5 work life. There’s no real reason for his sudden betrayal and even after he joins up with the gang again it’s hard to just forgive and forget. He was pretty extreme for a little while there, but at least he did grant Haruhi her freedom from the big debt before leaving.

His father is one of those fake characters though. One character type I don’t like is when someone’s fairly laid back and nice for the most part except when they suddenly get serious and mean. You’re meant to overlook this and remember the good ole times, but it’s not so simply. Tamaki’s Dad showed his true colors even if he’s meant to be a good guy by the end. I will admit that his plan was really well thought out though, even if it was pretty ruthless. IT was probably the most unexpected part in the whole series. Tamaki’s grandmother was even more annoying. Honestly, it was hard to sympathize with her even after the Dad made his move.

Kyoya was the next big member of the Host Club and he’s supposed to be the smart member of the group. He makes a lot of plans and always acts as if he doesn’t care about the others all that much. He’s supposed to be a nice guy deep down though and while his motives are selfish, he does stick around with the main cast. He’s a good character and the second best in the club.

Hikaru and Kaoru are pretty annoying. Their Host Club gimmick aside, they both end up going after Haruhi which was another sad subplot. Hikaru’s more unreasonable about it though as he’s willing to damage friendships and overturn everything just to prove a point. He really wanted to change the status quo if you ask me. Kaoru was mostly just around, but wasn’t all that much better. Especially since he realized that he wasn’t 100% serious about the romance, it makes the whole thing look more petty.

Honey’s all right, but I never found him particularly funny. His fight scenes did help though and I was always glad to have them around. This title could have definitely used more action as that can help any title. His partner Mori is one of the worst members of the club. He has absolutely nothing to do in the series and is just around as a side character the whole time. His role is easily the smallest and he never adds anything to the series. I certainly could have done without him.

Tamaki has a pet dog so that guy’s always fun to see. He brought a little joy into the series. One of the tricky parts for comedy titles is they have to get you invested into the series or just be hilarious in general. This series was never all that funny or humorous so then it really needed to have a fun cast of characters. Unfortunately, that never happened either. To put it into perspective, Nisekoi and School Rumble had far superior casts than this series. That ends up helping a lot because you need to have a good cast for a comedy title. An action series can get away with an unlikable cast because it doesn’t matter as much while they’re fighting. A series that’s all about talking doesn’t have the same luxury. Even more so when the romance kicks in because if you’re seeing two really unlikable characters get together, you start to wonder what the point of it all is.
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Overall, Ouran High School Host Club doomed itself with its own premise. I don’t think a series about a Host Club can ever be successful if this series is a good example of how they operate. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the club on principle. Without it, I suppose this title could have been a decent romance series, but it’s not as if those rank all that highly for me anyway. You’re better off reading a series with a little more heart like Tsubasa or Liar Game. Those titles will help you understand what a proper romance is or at least brush up your analytical skills. On a side note, this series is pretty close with Fruits Basket in terms of quality so I can see how they both got really popular. At any rate, it’s another big hit that I can’t really be a part of. If you see a bunch of guys who’ve been forcing you to act as a guy for so long show up at your door as your new neighbors, follow Haruhi’s example above of how to deal with this.

Overall 2/10

Gun Blaze West Review

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Gun Blaze West was a short series that was abruptly ended before it could get past 3 volumes. It was a reasonably fun series so that’s too bad, but it didn’t really do anything to separate itself from the pack. The series probably should have also started with the post time skip plot and then had a flashback for Viu’s origin once the series had gotten popular. That’s the safer method I’d say. We don’t have a whole lot of Wild West manga titles so this does still help to fill that need. (Is it really a need though?

Viu has always wanted to be an awesome gunman. Unfortunately, he simply didn’t have the skills for it as a kid. A wanderer named Marcus showed up one day and said that he’d train Viu if he could run to a mountain and back before the sun set. It was the only way to prove that Viu could physically handle the rigors of being such a fighter. After all, having great aim is good, but it’s not enough to win tournaments if that’s all that he has. Unfortunately, Marcus is then seemingly murdered by a villain named William and Viu’s life is changed forever. After avenging Marcus, Viu trained for several years until he could pull off the run. Now it was time to go enter the legendary Gun Blaze West and prove that he is the greatest gunman in the world.

The actual plot is rather generic, but we’ve seen many great action titles come out of a standard plot. Viu’s mentor dying and the long time skip are rather reminiscent of Beet, but the latter also had 5 star fights and writing to back it up. Not to mention that Beet also had superior art. I was a little worried at first because if Viu had not grown up there was no way that I could accept him beating professional fighters. After the time skip, it was at least a little believable.

Viu is a reasonably good character. He likes engaging in fair fights and never backs down from a challenge. He’s pretty noble and will defend others if they aren’t strong enough to do so. He doesn’t overthink the situation like his partner Will does and that helps him a lot. He’s a good character and hits all of the right notes, but that was where the buck stopped. He did have a good rage mode though so the author squeezed that in before the series ended. Will is the main partner during the series and he’s usually more annoying than helpful. He’s the kind of guy who sees a villain pick a fight with the heroes and then call both parties out for being disruptive when it’s obvious who is at fault in the moment. He hesitates a lot and doesn’t really like fighting all that much at first. He does get better at that, but I still don’t think he’ll last too long using a rope in a gun fight. It’s just not going to work.

Colice is the final member of the trio, but ironically she doesn’t get to appear all that much since she was introduced so late. She was clearly meant to be a main character in the long run. She’s fairly skilled and is confident of her skills. Luckily Colice got to have her own fight before the series ended so she was able to back up her tough talk. She probably has the most personality out of the three main characters and I believe she would have helped the series out quite a bit. I was a little surprised when Marcus died so early on, but apparently the author was going to bring him back anyway. There’s a lot of hinting for it at the end of the series so much that they basically say it in the final page. Honestly, I don’t see how he would be all that relevant later on since he wasn’t very strong, but maybe he was going to turn evil for that added emotional value.

The Baron is the final boss of the series even though you never would have guessed it at first. It was just the series getting cancelled that suddenly made him the big boss. He’s fairly powerful and should have easily beaten Viu. The good thing about this is that he probably would have appeared again later on and this way he would still be relevant as far as his power level is concerned. He was the final boss, but acted as an instructor and can’t be counted as one of the villains. Those guys are coming up.

I feel like the author completely didn’t care about the villains and just added them because he felt that he had too. The first major villain was William and that’s not a name that will strike fear into your heart. William is not event that tough since Viu in his kid days was able to take him on. Next is Kevin. Wait…Kevin? Yes, I’m serious and the less said about this guy the better. He’s simply not that interesting and is another generic gun fighter. Honestly, this is what would have been a tricky part for the series. With so many gun villains running around, the author has to put a lot of effort into them so that they don’t all end up being the same. Giving them generic names like William and Kevin sure isn’t helping.

The only villain in the series that I actually liked was Thunderarm. He’s a cool Android/Cyborg who wants to obtain Gun Blaze West and will do anything that he can towards this goal. He has a pretty good fight with the Baron and it’s probably the best fight scene in the series. His electrical attacks were very potent and he was a nice change of pace from the other fighters. It’s a shame that he probably would not have appeared again, but it was nice while it lasted.

This series was cancelled so fast that the plot had barely started. The first two volumes are mainly pre arc shenanigans and then the 3rd was for explaining how things would work. We only got to wrap up the very first challenge and then the series ends with the heroes heading off for the next mission. It was probably pretty sad for the author to see it all end like this without a proper conclusion. I suppose the author probably could have tried to rush it all into that last chapter, but felt like the ending would have been cheaper than having them just get ready to roll out. At the very least, the ending that was chosen does leave room for a sequel series if the author ever wants another attempt at this.

Gun Blaze West’s artwork was pretty decent. It’s not amazing, but it’s not quite as rough as you would expect. You can follow the fight scenes just fine and the character models don’t get all crazy during the fight scenes. It’s not exactly Bleach, but it’ll work well enough. At most, some of the characters do look unintentionally silly, but that would have likely corrected itself over time. The Wild West setting is hardly my favorite though so I can’t say that the scenery is all that fun to look at. I like to think that a gun series in NYC would have done a little better and could have had a grander scale.
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Overall, I had fun reading this series. It’s nothing great, but it’s not bad either. It didn’t really make any mistakes and while the specifics of the series can be forgettable, I doubt you’ll forget the premise or the main characters. It’s a shame that the series was cancelled, but I suppose if they never cancelled any titles, we would have missed out on a lot of great ones over the years right? I’d recommend checking it out and since the series is only 3 volumes, it’s not as if it’s a great time commitment. Just watch for volume 3 and you’ll be able to tell that the series was cancelled. It just abruptly ends. At least the author still has Kenshin and its spinoffs.

Overall 7/10

Yugioh Zexal Review


Time to look at the final Yu-Gi-Oh spinoff manga for now. It was fun to have GX, 5Ds, and Zexal all going at one point. I’ll finally be able to start the Arc V manga soon so that’ll be cool since not having any Yugioh titles for a little while it rough. While the Zexal manga was not quite able to defeat the GX or 5Ds anime, it surprisingly had the best manga adaption. It made the risky decision of adding two new characters for the manga, but it actually worked really well as the new characters were excellent. I dare say that this manga just had more stakes and overall epicness than the former. As they were all 9 volumes, this helped clinch it.

Yuma was not a great duelist, but then he met Astral. Astral was an alien from another planet who had been stripped of his memories and most of his skills. The one thing that he remembers is that he is a master duelist. Yuma now needs to collect all of the Number Cards to get Astral’s memories back, but it’ll be difficult since several factions are after it. Yuma’s group is Team 1 and he has several friends helping him out. Team 2 is Shark’s group. The mysterious Luna is helping him gather the cards so he can defeat Kyoji, a guy who has obtained dark powers and may not be fully human anymore. The third group is Team Kite. He needs the Numbers to help bring his brother back from a crazed state and is essentially being blackmailed through that. Finally, we have Kyoji. His motivations are unknown, but he intends to get in everyone’s way.

What helps a lot here is that I like virtually all of the main characters. Yuma’s friends aren’t all that great, but they never do all that much and are stuck in the background. Yuma is a fun lead character. He may not be quite as charismatic as Jaden or as serious as Yusei, but he’s a good guy. He gradually gets better at dueling as the series goes on and has to make a lot of tough decisions. He always tries to find a way out for everyone. His Super Saiyan form is also really awesome even if it doesn’t technically do all that much. It does help for the space battles though and the Shining Draw shouldn’t be underestimated.

Astral is not nearly as interesting or likable. He typically makes all the wrong decisions and is willing to sacrifice many lives if it will help fulfill his mission. He’s the kind of guy that you really just can’t trust. His dueling skills are exceptional and he is one of the strongest fighters so it is hard to get past him. He probably would be more likable if he had all of his memories, but it would be a very different series if that was the case.

Shark is one of the main rivals in the series and he is a lot more reasonable than how he was towards the end of the anime. He is actively trying to protect the world here as he fights to stop Kyoji. It’s also rather personal due to them growing up together. Shark’s cards may not be as fancy as Kite’s or Yuma’s, but he gets the job done with pure skills. Luna is essentially his adviser in this series as she helps him become aware of what is happening and even gives him some cards to give Shark a boost. She’s a pretty powerful duelist in her own right and works well as one of the mysterious characters of the series. Luna was necessary to ensure that Shark had at least one ally on his team and to widen the gap between him and Yuma.

Kite is always a cool rival and that doesn’t change in the manga. His Galaxy Photon Dragons are always a treat to watch and his “Destroy Them All” deck is my favorite kind. It’s similar to how Kaiba duels which makes sense since you expect the rival to be like that. Zexal is similar to GX in that sense as both titles had two rivals. Aster and Zane vs Shark and Kite. Kite is the best rival as Zane was in GX, but they’re both pretty solid. Kite really does a good job of staying tough right up til the very end.

Time for the two made up villains of the series. Luna was the third of the 3 Original characters and the author did a really good job of making them all good. Kyoji has a great design and his spider abilities are very versatile. He has a really good deck and has his own motivations for doing all of this. His backstory is surprisingly dark though and makes a lot of characters look really bad. So, his brother was murdered by a random guy who assumed the brother’s identity and nobody ever realized. Kyoji took care of this guy, but couldn’t really cope with the tragedy as a whole and surrendered to the powers of darkness. He cracked from there. Kyoji was definitely a very imposing villain and while you would be sympathetic enough to root for him, he’s not completely crazy to the point where you wince whenever he’s on screen. He’s pretty cool and works well as the big boss.

Zexal decided to pull a Naruto and randomly added a cosmic villain of ultimate power by the name of E’Rah. She is the Goddess of Despair and all of her cards as pretty over the top. She’s very powerful and I actually like it when big villains suddenly show up like that. Kaguya, Tabuu, Nightshroud, etc. Unfortunately, it sometimes comes at the expense of a better villain like in this example and Naruto, but I suppose it’s worth the price. The climax just kept on escalating with each chapter. There’s no reason not to like E’Rah as she talks a really good game and has a solid design. She gives off a cosmic vibe throughout the duel.

Zexal never stepped on the brakes and just kept on going full speed ahead towards the end. There is constantly a duel going on and I’m not sure if we ever got a chapter without one. I feel like we must have, but at the very least it would have been a very rare occurrence. I am glad that the manga diverged from the anime early on as I always think that the manga titles should be very different. There really isn’t much point in adapting the anime faithfully since you’ll have ideally already seen what is going to happen. All of the Yugioh spinoffs did their own story and it’s worked out well so far. The plot with Kyoji started off right away and that’s when the series really took off.

The art was very good for Zexal. I’d say that it was better than GX, but maybe slightly worse than 5Ds. It’s close and I guess you could say they’re about equal. The pages will get quite busy during the duels as some monsters can take up half of the page and with all of the spells and traps being activated left and right, you have to really take a good look at each page to see everything. Not to mention that there is a lot of text on each page so it takes longer than the average volume as a result. This does help give you some more value for your money though right?

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Overall, Yugioh Zexal was a great way to end off the current Yugioh spinoffs that I was reading. It’s very action packed with a great cast of characters. The duels are a lot of fun as always and they cover a whole lot in the 9 volumes. You’ll certainly never be bored as you’re reading the series and it sets a high bar for all of the other titles. You don’t always need to be a long running series to get a high score as long as you cut to the chase right away. This will also help me get all set for the upcoming Yugioh film and the Arc V manga. Both are bound to be great as Yugioh never disappoints. I recommend reading this manga ASAP and then hurrying off to the theater to help support the Yugioh nation!

Overall 9/10