Tokyo Mew Mew Olé! Review

It’s time to talk about an absolutely brutal manga that is just awful on so many levels. Man this one was bad and I had a bad feeling about it right from the jump. The original Tokyo Mew Mews may not have been fantastic manga but they at least had a lot of fun moments and cool things happening at all times. This one? It’s trying its very best to be a nonstop reverse harem at all costs while destroying all of the characters in the process. Even having some serious fights was not enough to save this one.

So the plot starts out rather similar to the main series but in reverse. Shibuya is a rather shy guy who keeps to himself. Some think he’s cool in an aloof way while others just think he’s a jerk but he doesn’t care. Unfortunately, a mad scientist (The mother of his crush Anzu) ends up firing off a powerful energy blast that transforms 5 teenage guys into cat warriors. Shibuya is now the leader of this Mew Mew group and he has to try and hide this from the world or he will be a laughing stock.

The only way to get rid of these powers is to find a bunch of “Mew Aqua” crystals. Along the way he will also have to fight off powerful Chimera monsters and a villain group led by Deep Blue who seem to want to destroy the planet. Along the way Shibuya must now try to confess his feelings for Anzu. The tough part is that the other 4 guys are in love with her as well and the same is true for the 3 big villains. Anzu loves the attention from the 8 guys but the problem is that she is slowly falling for all of them as well. Can she choose…must she choose? She will have to handle this carefully.

The original Mew Mew series was a classy affair. The cat gimmick may have been a bit much but hey it was a classic magical girl show about fighting monsters. You had a wholesome romance with the nice guy and the “bad boy” trying his best to get the lead’s attention. The romance itself may have been super weak but the show as a whole was just classic. This series just feels desperate right off the jump. The whole series is about getting in as much shipping as possible and it’s absolutely nonstop.

The plot even curves around this for no reason. Let me give you an example here real quick. One aspect of this is how the Mew Mew formula not only turns you into a cat but it also affects your personality this time. Shibuya is forced to yell stuff like “Pleased to be of service”! and every time he tries to gag himself but it’s too late. By the end of the series he stops resisting but apparently it’s something that happens to all of the characters. Part of the transformation is a mental suggestion that forces you to strike up different poses and say crazy catchphrases. This is obviously not serving any point except to try and make the characters as embarrassed as possible. It’s not a good look.

Then there is the romance which is awful. As mentioned in the intro, everybody likes Anzu. They just can’t stop thinking about her and while it’s obvious that she will choose Shibuya in the end, did we need everyone to fall for her like this? It’s just really excessive but the absolute worst part of it is that Anzu gets her own feelings confused as well. If she was just being very stoic about it the whole time or patronizing that would help but when she actually starts to think that she likes the other guys as well then it becomes an issue.

The series could have easily tried to make Anzu better by being decisive but this was just here for the drama. At the end of the day the whole series is just here for a lot of shipping. You even have the guys showing off so much that they all start to be in awe at times. At one point they’re stranded at the desert and have to make some desperate crazy calls. The plot takes a backseat all of the time and so this ends up being a horrible manga. Every single moment is weaker than its original incarnation but not by a little, it’s by a lot. There is no reason to actually read this manga in the end. There’s just no replay value here and it feels like the worst possible way to continue the franchise. I’m glad the original show got a reboot so people can check that out instead.

So as you can see, I didn’t like Anzu as the main heroine. She’s just not decisive enough and gets kidnapped a whole lot. Anzu may have been brave to enter the villain base on her own at one point but she’s captured so effortlessly that it just makes the whole decision look bad. Shibuya is also bad as the main guy because he is way too timid. He also has no control over his cat form so he will suddenly get real serious and possessive, then back to normal. These massive mood swings don’t help his character in the slightest or help you see how Anzu could have fallen for him in the first place.

Yoyogi is the smart member of the group so expect him to be talking down to everyone all the time. It isn’t very impressive though considering that his abilities aren’t even above the others and intelligence barely matters in this series. You either land your attack and destroy the enemy or you don’t. There’s no room for big fancy plans or any of that stuff. This guy’s annoying all the way through and you know he has no shot at the romance either way. While you can’t have a team without a bunch of team members, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to this guy. There’s nothing interesting or endearing about him.

Ryusei is the youngest one of the group and he’s very headstrong as a result. Usually I like that kind of character but of course it’s more to show him as the naïve character who gets some feelings for Anzu but isn’t able to express himself. He can be really wild in his cat form as well and is often a liability. I think he could have been a decent character if handled right but of course the series was not going to handle anything right like that so it was game over right from the start.

Ayato is the rich member of the group who tries to be the mature guy who keeps everyone in line. Of course that doesn’t prevent him from falling for Anzu as well. He mainly tries to stay out of the race at least so he doesn’t complicate matters but of course it would have been even better if he could have just been a mentor figure. At least he can pull his weight more than some of the other characters and actually seems to understand the stakes. I can give him some reasonable props next to the other characters but wouldn’t say that I liked him much at all.

Finally we have Taichi who is the worst member by far. It’s not even close, the guy whines a lot and is super weak so it gets to his head and he starts to think about the dark side. C’mon now, you can’t be switching up this quickly. It’s a really bad look for him and he never really rebounds from this. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to make a comeback from that because once you’re a traitor then you’ve crossed a line that must not be crossed. Getting back from that is incredibly difficult to the point of being nearly impossible. This guy got off really easy if you ask me.

Then for the 3 Wiseman group: Latte, Chai, and Mocha, none of them were all that good. Latte was another guy obsessed with Anzu the whole time and he wanted her to love him but of course that wasn’t possible. It’s an awful motivation for a character as well. Then you have Chai and Mocha whose motivations were weak enough where they were also ready to quickly jump in and help the heroes out when things got rough. If you were a villain with a lot of convictions then that surely wouldn’t happen right? I like the title since the 3 Wisemen sounds impressive but there’s nothing particularly wise about them.

Additionally, they could have murdered the heroes so many times but kept choosing not to which was a big mistake. They’re so much stronger than the Mew Mew fighters that it’s scary. They would often win in a single blow but just let the heroes live because they can. That certainly came back to bite them later on. Then you have Dark Blue who has no conviction of her own here either.

She wants to effectively reset the world as humans have messed everything up. Okay that’s great but then all it takes is a few words for her to rethink everything? That felt way too fast if you ask me, there was just no compelling points brought up beyond the obvious. So that shouldn’t have been enough to turn Dark Blue. Not at all, it just serves to show us that she really didn’t have much drive before now.

This series probably has the most reverse fanservice I’ve seen in a minute as well. One look at the costumes and you can see how they aren’t practical at all. I’ve always said that a bad costume isn’t necessarily fanservice on its own. It’s all in how the camera zooms in or how the manga panels are meant to draw your attention. Well, here they are obviously meant to be fanservice bait. It’s a little hard to take seriously compared to traditional fanservice but I’ll still dock points in the same way because it’s yet another element that is taking priority over the plot.

When you stop to think about it, there is barely a plot here. None of the characters actively work to remove their powers after the opening chapters. The 3 Wisemen want to change the planet so they send one shot monsters out once in a while but don’t do much about that until the very ending either. Even the whole environmental theme is mostly removed from the original series. The villains own a company where they talk about going green as a front which was interesting but it’s ditched almost immediately. Going more into that could have been interesting but ultimately it didn’t happen. This series just feels like a waste all the way through.

The series works to have a bit of a body count by the end and a lot of emotional scenes but they ring hollow as you don’t like any of the characters by this point. The only consolation I can give the series is that the art was actually fairly good. There is a lot of detail put into each of the pages so I can appreciate that but at the same time a series cannot survive on art alone. A bad story will be just as bad even if the art is excellent. So the fight scenes look good at least but don’t do much to salvage the overall product.

At the end of the day, if the series wanted to be anywhere close to the original then it should have grabbed the stronger elements from the first title and built upon them. For example, the main girls there were all friends by the end and had solid banter. These guys? Well, they’re all jealous of each other because of Anzu so there’s a lot of fighting but it’s more personal and not as bantery like with the old cast. You don’t really have any scenes of the characters getting to know each other and having a good time because they have one track minds. The characters don’t have great development and again there are no big story beats or deeper themes to keep track of. It’s like the series just grabbed the concept but didn’t actually read the original series.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew Olé! is a really awful series. The romance here is probably some of the worst that I’ve seen since Black Bird and that one was historically bad. The whole series is really focused on the romance as everyone tries for Anzu but at the end of the day there isn’t any substance here for it. The series tries to bring you back every month with the shipping but it’s just not enough. I mean that’s probably one of the worst ways you can try to promote a series. By the time things get serious in the final chapters it is way too late. This is really a series that never needed to be made. The concept itself isn’t awful automatically of making the guys the magical fighters for a change but it feels like the series never intended to take its own premise seriously and that’s the most disappointing thing here. Definitely skip this series if you can, it’s not worth checking out.

Overall 1/10

Doron Dororon Review

I remember when Doron Dororon first came out that my first reaction was to shake my head at the name. It’s a little too hard to spell or remember and that started the series off on the wrong foot. Still, it somehow manages to keep on surviving over and over again to the point where I was rooting for it on the sidelines. I wanted it to succeed…no, I needed it to succeed! It carried the hopes and dreams of a whole new era of manga readers but alas it was not enough. After finishing the series, I can say that Jump made a mistake in cancelling it. Sure, it hadn’t really come into its own yet, but it was a fun series and I think it could have been pretty good. It’s just not the most memorable title.

The series takes place in a world where Mononoke are monsters that terrorize everyone. They’re beings of pure evil with a lot of fantastical abilities and the only ones that can stop them are the Samurai. “Samurai” are people who have been recruited because of their incredible abilities or synergy with the cursed energy to stop them. Dora wants to be a samurai because these creatures murdered his mother so he lives for revenge. It won’t be easy but he is prepared to do whatever it takes to win. Unfortunately there is one problem.

Dora has no magical energy. Yes, he is completely doomed to be unable to use it at all. It’s not something you can just develop either so that means he is really out of luck and the samurai will not allow him to join. He still tries to help when a girl is attacked by a monster though and that’s when he is saved by Kusanagi. This creature is a Mononoke as well but he wants to spread friendship and harmony to the world. He believes that making the world kinder is his mission and so Dora agrees to help him. Kusanagi can turn into any object including a sword and with Dora’s impressive physical abilities, they may end up being the strongest powerhouses out there!

So there’s a lot of elements that will sound really familiar here. It’s a classic demon hunting manga with a main character who can’t use the energies of the world. Fortunately with his new monster buddy he is already one of the stronger fighters. So it’s rather textbook stuff but this is the kind of story that I always enjoy so I can’t say that it’s really a bad thing. Put it this way, the series is trying to be like Black Clover which is one of the greatest titles of all time so I’m not sad about that. If it could be even half as good as Clover then we’re in for a treat.

I will say right off the bat that the manga’s biggest weakness is how forgettable it is. The art is good, the fights are good, and the story is good. It’s just not even trying to do anything different so you’ll just forget about it fairly quickly. For example, I write down the names of the various characters ahead of time when I’m reading a series that has already ended. This way I don’t have to look through various chapters in case I forget a name so it saves me a lot of time. In this case, even with the names I couldn’t place a few of the characters which is not good.

This is the kind of series that could really benefit from an anime because often times that is what helps make a title more memorable. Of course that’s also a decent reason not to make an anime because the manga should be able to hold its own. This is still a pretty solid manga but I can see why it was cancelled. Ultimately my advice to the series on a way it could have stayed alive would have been to not have expanded the cast as soon as it did. Keep things small for a while and that could have let things get built up naturally. Instead I think it was just a bit of character overload.

Also, this tends to happen a lot lately with the cancelled titles but a bunch of new characters appear at the very end as the series is ending. By then it’s just way too late for any of them to be all that memorable. I suppose the author may not have known that it was ending by then but that’s just unfortunate. Lets talk about some of the characters though.

First up was Dora who is the main character here. He’s a solid main character and he just wants to avenge his parents and stop all of the monsters. Always a good goal and he does well in living up to it. Kusanagi gradually helps Dora stop thinking about revenge all the time. It’s a classic character arc and I like Dora well enough. He’s not quite as ultra heroic as other leads since he finds it all to be a bit cheesy but at the end of the day he makes the right calls. I don’t get why he gets so embarrassed when Kusanagi is just talking about basic hero things though.

Kusanagi is not very good though. One of my main problems with him is that he is way too naïve. At one point we get a villain who shows up and used to be his friend but has obviously turned to the dark side. All it takes is a word or two and Kusanagi is willing to help him out. It’s great to be heroic but it’s never an excuse to be gullible as well. You have to be able to tell what is going on and stay out of trouble. Otherwise you’re just creating a lot more toruble for everyone instead of just resolving it on your own. That’s not a good look for any character. Kusanagi never really grew on me and his dynamic with Dora is definitely one of the weaker ones that I’ve seen.

Then we have the main heroine Yagyu but she falls into the Rukia trap a bit where she is technically a strong fighter but loses almost immediately to a random minion. From there she works on slowly becoming more of a hype character and regaining her honor. I do like her confidence even if it isn’t always properly placed. I think the series could have handled her character better but I still did like the character type they were going for. Down the road I’m sure she would have kept getting a lot of good fights.

Then you had Heisuke who was another one of the hype characters. He reminds me a lot of Levi as he’s on the shorter side and is one of those prodigy types. He tends to speak his mind and doesn’t get along with most of the characters but his skills speak for themselves. He’s a fun character and I appreciate that he could fight really well. This is one of those series where the heroes seem to have quite a lot of powerful fighters at their disposal which is definitely important.

Yet another hype character here was Naotora. She’s one of the strongest in the business, a prodigy, etc. Her main gimmick though is that she’s super shy and acts like a stalker as a result. She tends to try and follow Dora around all the time from a distance. She can fight so at least that explains why everyone tolerates her acting so weird all the time but it’s not a very endearing character trait. I can’t say that I ever became a big fan of hers.

Of course we can’t forget the first big villain in Hidehisa. He’s a fun fighter and once he got into his super form then he could really hold his own without any problem. I thought his fight with Heisuke was really good and was the first big definitive fight of the series. It was when the manga started to really live up to the hype with its action scenes and showed me the promise of what it could have ultimately turned out to be if it didn’t end so quickly.

The most annoying villain in the series has to be Dosan. Again, this guy isn’t as tactical or smart as he thinks he is so when the guy is tricking Kusanagi you can’t help but cringe a little. I haven’t seen a fighter look that obviously evil in a long time and yet the trick still worked. That’s just a bad look for the main monster and Dosan isn’t a super good fighter by the end of it all. Take away the tricks and that’s it for him so the quicker he was out the better.

There’s a scientist named Asahi but there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to her character. She’s someone who probably would have benefited from the series being a whole lot longer. She can help examine monsters and provide equipment but that’s about it. She’s always pestering Yagyu and is like Kuroko from Index, but without abilities to fight with, you know that she is doomed from the start. If you can’t fight in an action manga then you’re going to be in for a tough time.

As for the story, the first 11 chapters is basically the pre arc which leads to Dora having to confront the monster that murdered his mother. So you get all of the character introductions and Dora beats up his first monsters. I will say that I thought the series moved with good pacing here. He fights off quite a few monsters and this helps readers get a chance to be acquainted with the series before moving on to the big plots. So I wouldn’t say the series made any mistakes by this point. The approach actually made a whole lot of sense. Then the big fight at the end as we got our first humanoid villain was a blast. It was fairly high scale for the series and was a good preview of what we could expect down the road.

As Dora trains to get stronger we meet up with Toda who used to get beaten up by Dora all the time. He’s a nice enough character and this way we finally got another good ally who wasn’t already one of the big shots in the organization. He seems to be meant as Dora’s rival. I’d say it doesn’t work perfectly since it feels like Dora has already surpassed him by the time they meet up but Toda’s still cool enough. I can’t say that I had any real major issues with the guy.

The next arc was the first real serious one for the heroes I’d say. We get to meet the villain group led by Kanbei and they decide to lure the samurai into a trap. Fortunately the squad consists of Dora, Toda, some scrubs, and Heisuke. They’re ready to take on these villains and it’s a good way for Dora to start improving his technique and for all of the fighters to get a little stronger. It’s a very classic kind of arc with the heroes splitting up to fight their opponents. One thing that was a bit different was Heisuke fighting 3 on 1. It reminded me of Gojo in Shibuya.

This was probably the series at its peak with a lot of big fights and all so it was hard to recapture that hype in the same way later on. Still, by this point you had to assume that people were really on board with the series. The first of the villains was Yoshihime and she is one of those villains who is rarely serious. She’s super sinister but does her murdering with a smile. In a way that makes her one of the cruelest fighters right? I thought Yoshihime was okay and a fairly decent villain.

Then you have Tameemon who was one of the stronger ones but he’s not very smart. We’ve all seen the type before. It works well for when the hero is still inexperienced as he has to try and dodge while getting stronger and landing a good attack. It was a good team up fight without a doubt and one of the better fights in the series. Finally there was Kanbei as the tactical leader. He is good with plans and has a solid amount of ability but I can’t say he was super solid for me. This kind of strategic villain who can’t usually fight as well as the others is always up for a tough time. He’s not bad or anything by any means but he wasn’t going to win a championship anytime soon. He does appear a lot though so there is plenty of time for you to become a fan as you read through. Being the leader by itself is a pretty good role if you think about it.

After that we get to the weakest arc with Naotora. Her gimmick just isn’t super entertaining so a whole arc of fighting with her just couldn’t match up to the others. There is still a lot of action so it’s not like it’s a bad arc or anything but it certainly wasn’t going to make any waves for the series. Of course we also had the worst villain for this arc so you could say the series hit a bit of a speedbump. It’s relative of course since it’s not like it was a big drop but if fans started to weaken on the series then I would have guessed this would be the reason why.

Now we enter the final arc where the heroes get ready to fight Hanzo. So Hanzo is the most powerful villain out there and he’s so good that if you defeat him the Momonoke will vanish. It’s clear by this point that the author was speeding things along so it’s safe to say that the series had already been cancelled. That didn’t stop him from introducing a bunch of new characters as the senior fighters among the samurai. They are fun with some hype characters like Rui and Namishiro. They just didn’t get to do enough to really make a name for themselves yet. For example, Rui is the sassy kind of character who is always a lot of fun but she barely gets a full fight before the series is over. Likewise Namishiro is a very determined character who gets the job done and has a hype fight but the series is over by then.

It’s a shame that the more interesting characters were the final ones rather than the early ones. If we had these guys from the start then that would have been a whole lot of fun. Still, the final arc gives us a lot of fight scenes and Hanzo makes for a good villain. In fact I would say he was the best villain easily. He just wants to get super strong as his gimmick. It’s not the most impressive motivation to be sure but it’s a start and I still like that as a goal. It’s very direct and to the point.

So that basically wraps up the series. If you’re looking for a classic action story then this should still be a good title for you to check out. It’s not doing much different or unique all the way through but it’s still a really fun watch. I had a good time with it at least. It could have been better and I think it deserved the chance to do so. With another arc or two perhaps it would have finally been able to break out into its own. It would have solved the issue of the series being a little on the forgettable side. Even my advice to the series on how to not be cancelled wasn’t very extensive because I didn’t think it made a lot of mistakes.

I guess cutting out the stalker plot would have been a good idea but that’s about it. It had a lot of nonstop action and the training arc was brief at only 2-3 chapters so it’s not like it slowed down the pacing much. I also thought that the art was pretty good. Not great or anything but it was easy to follow the action at all times without getting confused. The fundamentals of the manga were sound. It just needed better characters and it could have been great off the bat. Perhaps the main dynamic doomed it since Kusanagi was a very weak character and you usually want your main duo to be great.

Overall, Doron Dororon is a pretty good series and I would recommend checking it out. It may be very generic and nothing that you haven’t seen before but it still does justice to the classic tropes. I’m always up for more combat manga after all and the series tried hard. That’s why it was able to last over 30 chapters. It’s still a decent run for a cancelled title and not everything can be the next success. I doubt we’ll see this series get a revival so this will have to be the end of it. It does have a real ending though so even if it was rushed, you’ll feel like you got the whole conclusion here. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with this one.

Overall 7/10

Tiger & Bunny Review

Now that I’ve reviewed the show, it’s time to look at the Tiger & Bunny manga. It’s fairly similar to the show but end a bit sooner and so it instead expands on the Jake arc. Some characters also get a bigger role like Cyclone and his old friend. All in all, you should like it about as well in terms of story as the show. The changes hold up and I wouldn’t say either version is weaker there. What helps the manga though is that the art is better than the show’s animation. I’m not saying that the art is amazing or anything like that as it can still feel like a tie-in at times and the suits tend to look the same but it’s easy enough to follow the action scenes. In the end, it works as a bit of an advantage compared to the show.

In case you haven’t seen the show though, here’s the general plot. We now live in a society where heroes are a very hot commodity. Most people are born with some level of super powers. They aren’t very strong but as a result you have a lot of people running around and using their powers for good and evil. There is a TV media company which thrives on this as they recruited various heroes to go around saving the day. You get points based on the civilians you save and other heroic conquests.

Tiger is an old school hero who believes that a true hero should defend the innocent and stop criminals. Not because of some kind of cash award or prestige but because it’s the right thing to do. This is definitely not the common mindset nowadays and Tiger is getting old so the bosses get him a partner. He’ll now be working with Bunny, a up and coming hero who has the same power set as Tiger. They both get super strength and speed for a limited time but it seems to be coincidental that they have the same power. They don’t really get along at all as their personalities are completely different but they will have to try and make it work. Bunny is haunted by the murder of his parents and Tiger needs to try and make some time to go and visit his daughter every once in a while. Can they really find time to also do their hero work while accomplishing their objective?

I always like the superhero stories so that was already a good point for this title. Tiger & Bunny isn’t trying to do anything super fancy with the plot, it’s just really embracing the heroics of the whole thing. As the series goes on Tiger gets Bunny to really be heroic as well. I wouldn’t say Bunny was a villain or anything but he was definitely obsessed with revenge and he had to be a top ranking hero in order to find out who the murderer was. So as a result he had to “play ball” and listen to the execs even when it wasn’t the most heroic thing to do. Tiger gradually gets Bunny to be just as headstrong as he is in saving people.

The two really have a solid dynamic going on the whole time. Tiger does test his partner by calling him Bunny a lot (His real name is Barnaby and he can’t stand the animal nickname) but at the end of the day it shows how they’re close. Tiger may be falling off in terms of power level a bit but he’s definitely a great team player and I could see him leading the heroes some day. He has a knack for always being in the right place at the right time and knows what each hero needs to hear in order to get back into the zone. Also, until his powers completely fall off, he is still stronger than the rest of the heroes by far so it’s still important to recognize that he’s a power hitter here.

Tiger just makes for a really solid main character. I also like Bunny quite a lot. His serious plot is always interesting to read and he’s a good foil to Tiger’s character. The series wouldn’t be the same without these two at the top. As with the show, there isn’t a lot of time for the other heroes but the series does its best to give them each at least one big moment. For example, Rock Bison actually gets a solid moment against Jake here. He holds off the villains long enough for Tiger to escape and even comes close to death at one point.

Rock actually got to show off his super strength which was really great because otherwise it felt like his reputation was just for show the whole time. I was pleased with this. Fire Emblem is still a character that can’t really be saved. I felt like the manga did reduce his screen time a bit though and he got to mess with Rock less but it still happens and each scene is still awful. I don’t know how this guy managed to become a pro hero.

Sky High doesn’t do a ton here but he is the top ranked hero so you have to give him his props. I still think his character holds a lot of untapped potential if the series ever wants to get into it. After all he’s a nice guy with good powers. That’s already some really solid stepping stones into being a major character with a full plot to himself right? Dragon Kid has the whole plot with her parents and gets to actively help in the Blue Angel plot where they are babysitting a kid. That mini arc was fun enough and they each got to have a decent role. Blue Angel doesn’t stand out a whole lot as the heroine but her plot of having to choose between being a singer or a hero is decent. I can also totally understand why the parents would be concerned about her being a hero since it is fairly dangerous.

Now for Origami Cyclone, he gets a fairly big role like in the show. Additionally we actually get a little more to this in the manga as his friend Edward get a full redemption arc. While in the show he was mostly just a one off character to show Cyclone the darker path, here we get a lot more of his inner thoughts and goals. It was nice to see because I did like Edward back when he was a full hero. He just had a really rough break and it ended up completely destroying him. So at least this way there is still something of him left to keep on going. Then for Cyclone, I think this should be a good boost to his confidence as well.

I’d like Edward to become a main character for a future installment. It’s perfect if you ask me since the series needs another big hero. This guy could really hold his own in that role. The odds may not be amazing but I think it would be a really good option for the series to try and pull off. He’s a lot more interesting than the next generation cadets with their weak powers. Edward has at least proven himself in a real fight already.

As for the Jake arc, it’s definitely a solid one through and through. It’s fun to see him basically taking on the entire group of heroes tournament style. That’s a good way to not only test your own abilities but to also put the world on notice. It’s a lot easier to scare the world into thinking they can’t fight back against you if you take out all of their heroes first. After all, they were counting on the heroes to protect them so this is sort of like a wakeup call. Jake may not have been the most interesting villain but his powers were very dangerous and so he worked as an obstacle.

His sidekick Kriem was also good and stayed loyal to her duties throughout the series. Lunatic gets a bit of a smaller role here than in the anime or at leas it felt that way but he’s still the standout character. He’s doing his best to punish the villains for good and remove any heroes who are only in it for the fame and glory. He’s the kind of villain that’s easy to root for because he has an honor code and his own view of justice. It’s better than having a villain who is aimless.

It’s also easy to see why this kind of villain tends to be really popular. After all, he is making the world a safer place. Certainly in an unethical way which is why he has to be stopped but put yourself in the shoes of the average joe in this world. People with powers are always going around and throwing their weight but at the end of the day when someone breaks out of jail, you’re the one who feels the fear and takes in the damage. So when the villains are being destroyed, you know that you’re safer than you were before.

Objectively there are less murderers running around now so your quality of life improves. It’s why these villains are tough to stop as well since public opinion can quickly get behind them. There’s still a whole lot they can do with the Lunatic plot so I hope that continues. As it is, the world building was already really on point. This is the kind of title that could become a really big franchise if it wanted to.

I imagine most people who read the manga will have already watched the show but either way this stands up on its own. It may not cover everything but the series still did a good job of getting all of the critical moment. You’ll be able to follow the story all the way through. Hopefully they make the suits a little more different for a sequel though so it’s easier to follow each individual action. There’s never any real good reason for having multiple suits look the same. It’s the only real issue you can have with the Ultraman manga at times and at least there you could make the case that it’s because they all have designated costumes due to the crossover nature of the manga.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny is a fun manga adventure. It doesn’t go as far as the anime does but if you’re a manga only fan I would still say that the ending is fairly satisfying. Are there still open plot points? Yes, but what superhero story doesn’t have more things lined up for the future? The idea is that the adventure will always continue and from that point of view I thought it all worked out really nicely. You won’t regret checking this one out as it’s just a fun read.

Overall 7/10

Secret Reverse Review

It’s always fun to see a manga creator make a story with the superheroes. This one’s sorta a manga but sorta a comic so I had to choose carefully what category to put it in. Ultimately I went with a comic since it does read left to right and it’s all in color. It’s a pretty fun story with a good amount of action and the artwork is naturally very high quality. Ultimately there’s a lot to like here and it would be cool if we could get a sequel or more stories in this continuity.

The story starts with Ironman heading to a big video game convention. It’s not really his thing as he prefers tech expos but he was invited and a big deal is that Kaioh has something which will change the industry forever. It’s an invention similar to Duel Monsters which makes solidified holograms with unlimited potential. Ironman is intrigued but unfortunately something has caused Kaioh to go crazy with power. Ironman will have to team up with the spectacular Spiderman in order to stop him. But is there someone pulling the strings behind Kaioh?

It’s fortunate that Spiderman was around to help because this probably would have been difficult for any one hero. Kaioh’s tech has a lot of versatility to it but for the most part he uses it like Doc Ock. He has the tendrils behind him to back him up during the fight and since they’re hologram based they can keep on changing. It makes for some really flashy battles and if this was a long running series instead of a oneshot, I suspect we would have seen a lot more monsters summoned.

Kaioh cracks pretty quickly so I wouldn’t say that I was a fan of the guy at all. He has no great ambitions and is pretty shortsighted with how he’s thinking about things. He has a cool design and is really smart but at the end of the day he lacks strength of will. The name is a nice homage to Kaiba but he lacks that guy’s cool points. If this had been allowed to be a true crossover and Kaiba was around I suppose they would have had to drastically change the plot.

Spiderman looks good here as he’s an experienced pro who gets the job done. The author does a good job of giving both Peter Parker and Spider-Man their due respect here. He’s not quite in the adult phase yet but you can tell that he’s no beginner. He gets his share of good quips and moments as well in there. Then you have Ironman who’s more of the main character here and he looks really good.

As Tony Stark he did well in bearing with the pain to hold onto the card for a full minute. That was impressive and he was able to stay in control so he didn’t attack any innocent civilians with his blast. Then as Ironman he quickly gets the job done with his attacks. This was a solid pair to choose for the two superheroes without a doubt. There are also some original characters here like Kaioh’s daughter but there isn’t really a lot of time for that. She was brave in getting the heroes to arrive and trying to talk him down though.

Then you have the actual alien and I thought the design here was really good. As for the being’s overall plans, it probably could have handled things a bit better. Shouldn’t you keep the tech on the downlow until you have everything in place? Showing it off at an expo just seems like you’re courting disaster here. That was his biggest undoing so I guess overconfidence got him in the end.

This is a oneshot so there’s no big cliffhanger or anything like that but that could have been a fun way to end things. Have different stories with each hero fighting more of these creatures which would eventually tie into some kind of big event. Or maybe you could do the reverse next time and have some Yugioh characters going up against a Marvel villain. That may even be a more interesting turn of events although it’ll be difficult to pick a villain strong enough to give those duelists a run for their money.

The art was really good as I mentioned earlier so the whole adventure really ends in the blink of an eye. It’s why we need more superhero stories like this with a manga touch to them. There are countless heroes and villains to choose from and all kinds of fun adventures to put them in. Hopefully this one ended up doing really well so we can get more of them.

Overall, Secret Reverse is a fun story. It’s a very direct superhero story with two heroes taking down the villain. Feels like a classic Marvel Team Up issue. Whether you’re a fan of the comics or just want to see an alternate reality of Yugioh in a way, then this is the title to check out. I do think Yami Yugi would make for a really solid hero if he was ever transported to Marvel/DC. There are tons of ways he could use his monsters for justice.

Overall 7/10

Shokugeki no Sanji Review

One Piece is one of those titles that’s so huge you’d expect there to be more spinoffs than there actually are. Still, it was about time that Sanji got his own and with a full 6 chapters, that ended up being a fairly decent run. We get to see a day in the life of Sanji across several different arcs and fans of his character will be thrilled about all of his extra screen time. It helps that he looks pretty great in all of the stories. You can definitely expect him to come out on top with his expert cooking skills. Each story is stand alone so it’s an easy one to just pick up at any time.

The first chapter is fairly straight forward to introduce Sanji to the general audience. A world class food critic appears on the restaurant ship and she threatens to shut the place down with her reviews if the food isn’t top notch. She seems to have a lot of contempt for the place so Sanji is eager to change her mind with his top tier cooking. We get to see how bold Sanji can be when it comes to the food and he isn’t going to back down here. Sanji lives by a lot of rules of honor regarding food which is that it must not be wasted and he will feed anyone, even if that person is a villain.

Of course his food turns out great and she ends up being conquered by the excellent taste. The chapter really goes into detail showing us just how good the food looks and all of the preparation involved. This artist’s really detailed style definitely works well for that. I feel like it must take a lot longer than usual to draw like this but either way you have to give the artist a ton of credit here. Give a bunch of people any amount of time and they could not possibly match this style. It’s just super impressive.

The second chapter actually has the Strawhats be around a little more. A guy shows up with a super hard animal to cook, some kind of advanced eel. It’s so tricky that no ordinary blade will do so Sanji is forced to ask Zoro for help by borrowing his blades. I thought it was a nice teamwork moment and also showed that Zoro would help him out. At the end of the day they may be rivals but they are still on the same side and Zoro hypes him up a lot. It’s a very wholesome chapter for that reason and Zoro even says that Sanji’s a good cook. I also thought it was nice how Zoro endured the food explosion so his clothes didn’t blow up the way that everyone else’s always does. That’s why Zoro is the power hitter of the group. The stakes aren’t as high as the other chapters but it was just a nice chapter.

In the following chapter, Sanji and friends are preparing for their big banquet after stopping Crocodile but some petty bandits prevent the supplies from getting there in time. Ultimately the cooks are kind of doomed so Sanji steps in to save the day because he’s a true trooper. He is able to make the best use of the rations in order to make some great dishes and doesn’t even ask for thanks. It’s one of those times where Sanji is just being a really good guy and that’s reward enough for him. Again, you can see why I like Sanji here because he’s just one of those ultimate heroes who helps everybody out.

The 4th chapter is definitely one of the more crazy ones. Sanji is stuck on the island with Ivankov’s gang and the only way to get out is to get a bunch of recipes. If they catch him then it’s game over so he has to try and make the best recipes possible. It’s difficult but not impossible for someone like him. So the big challenge this time is trying to make recipes on the go while constantly moving. It’s got to be the toughest battle in this mini series and also the highest stakes because losing would be really rough for the guy. It’s not nearly as solid as the other chapters in the end. The villains aren’t really my kind of characters.

Then we have the 5th chapter where Sanji heads to Wano. Unfortunately there is a ramen villain who is cheating everyone with his ramen and not letting other people make their own. Sanji challenges him to put this guy out of business but the deck is stacked against him so it won’t be easy. It’s always nice to see Wano show up. This chapter was fun because we finally had one of those corrupt villains to beat up. Perhaps not physically but we get to see Sanji humiliate him in a food contest and that’s just as good. Never mess with an honest chef! Yeah this was a satisfying read.

In the final chapter, we get to go back in time to Sanji’s origin. The first time he was able to make a dish for a customer. Basically some ladies thought he was a really nice guy and asked if they could eat something he prepared personally. He’s thrilled to do this but his colleagues aren’t as happy and decide to sabotage him by hiding the ingredients. Will Sanji still be able to make it or is this game over for him? I feel like those guys got off really light here because messing with food like that is a huge taboo. Especially since they would be costing this place a lot of money.

Fortunately Sanji is a pro no matter what dish you get him. He never gives up and is always thinking of ways to get by. It’s clear that he earned his way to being the top chef on merit and he takes it all very seriously. This spinoff manga really got to let him shine because his usual vice of being obsessed with the ladies doesn’t get to be much of a factor here. Instead his cooking skills are played up which is good because that’s the best part of his character. It’s exactly what you want to focus on.

Now the manga isn’t perfect on this, we still do have some fanservice issues. You’ll probably have expected that since this is by the Food Wars guy but at least one time per chapter you have someone’s clothes exploding because the food was so good. It’s definitely not needed and if you take that away it would be a good thing for the manga. It’s not too excessive at least but it would have kept on adding up if the series kept going. Once a chapter may not sound like a lot but to have it show up every time like clockwork is a bit much. It doesn’t add anything to the story after all.

If you take out the fanservice then the manga is really the perfect Sanji experience. Of course battle manga are always the best but sometimes it’s nice to see what I would call a laidback experience for the hero. Put him in a setting where he is the strongest and just has to handle more day to day stuff. That’s the appeal of a title like this or Zero’s Tea Time and it works really well. The hero should be allowed to have some downtime once in a while right? As opposed to just being in battle against battle getting dealt painful injuries all the time with no moment to savor the fact that you’ve gotten really strong. This at least gets to show Sanji having a lot of fun all the time and just being the people’s hero. None of these kingdoms will forget how Sanji saved them.

Overall, This was a fun manga experience. I would like it if everyone could have their own spinoff manga. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few chapters like this one and that’s all that you need. Plus each chapter was fairly long so it still felt like a lot happened here. Seeing Sanji just get to do his own thing is nice because you get to really see how he acts as a character. I’m really not the biggest Sanji fan at all but at least in this chapter he’s pretty cool. He has an answer for everything and is just so skilled at cooking that he can turn anything into a meal. Now that’s talent.

Overall 7/10

Deadpool: Samurai Review

This manga is definitely a pretty unique one that really takes advantage of how crazy Deadpool is. It breaks the fourth wall consistently and we even have some guest stars show up like All Might. It’s a fun read all the way through and it’s also neat to try and see if you can catch all of the references. It’s fairly short but is a fun and memorable ride all the way through. I guarantee that you won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon which shows that the series definitely did something right there.

The series starts with Deadpool being recruited by Iron Man into the Avengers. Now keep in mind that Tony was against this but Captain America felt that it was necessary. Apparently the crime rate across the entire planet has gotten super high and so there aren’t enough heroes to deal with it. That leads to the tough choice of putting a known murderer like Deadpool in on the action. Keep in mind that in this version Deadpool is murdering people on screen while the Avengers debate about recruiting him. It’s all really bonkers the whole time but I guess it shows how desperate they are. They are willing to take him no matter what.

Deadpool’s not really a team player but his services can be bought out so that’s an option there. The main villain of the story is Loki. He’s assembled a team of all star villains that are going to unite their talents to take over the world. Deadpool will need to be the one to stop them along with his Samurai Force but it won’t be easy. Deadpool recruits two girls for the task, Sakura and Neiro. Can the 3 of them really make the difference and save the world?

Right off the bat the series is already throwing in a bunch of references and such as early as chapter 1 so it sets the tone early. I like how Deadpool even mentions how long it can take to draw a page while readers go through it in an instant. It’s true, I can finish a chapter really quick even when it’s very detailed with the artwork. That’s just the way it goes even if it can be a little tragic there.

The humor lands really well which is important. I think a series like this would absolutely fail if the humor was no good but fortunately it never gets annoying or anything like that. I would say instead the manga just feels surreal the whole time and in a very good way. Perhaps if there were a lot of manga like this then it would get old but it feels very unique which is part of the charm. I can’t say I remember another manga that goes as far out as this one.

It can be quite violent but all the scenes tend to be played for laughs. I wouldn’t say that makes the violence itself nonexistent as it can still be extensive but thanks to the context it doesn’t feel as bad as it could have been. It helps that Deadpool is fully immortal as well so no matter how many times he get sliced, the guy just keeps on coming back. He jokes about this a lot as well of course. It’s also interesting having a villain like Deadpool as the main character because he certainly murders a ton of people in his way. He may be working for the heroes but he hasn’t changed his standards at all. He still does what he wants whenever he wants.

Deadpool’s art is also very strong here. The character designs are on point and every character is on model. The style works for both the action and humor scenes. Whoever drew this series put in a ton of effort. It holds up a lot better than you may expect and isn’t some simple franchise-tie in. The art is legitimately great.

As for the characters, I’ve already talked about Deadpool a bit. If you liked him in the comics then you’ll like him here. He’s always very confident and likes to throw jokes around 24/7. It’s fair to say that he never gets serious here. Even when he is trying to play the part, you know that he’s faking deep down. Things just don’t phase him the way that they do for everyone else and I figure it’s a side effect of being an immortal.

Then you have Sakura who is the first hero recruited to the cause. Her hero name is Sakura Spider and she’s a fun character. Sakura is super optimistic and always really happy so she tries to help make Deadpool a real hero as well. Of course that doesn’t work but it’s a nice attempt. Her humor scenes work really well too and she’s a nice foil to Deadpool who is a lot more jaded which is partially why he jokes around a lot. Having a true hero like her on board is a nice way to keep him honest.

Then you have Neiro as the final member of the big 3. She is the current Venom host and is a popular idol on the side. She and the symbiote have a very good partnership going. She feeds him snacks and he eats up any bad people that approach her. Neiro doesn’t care about murder so much but wants to make sure the symbiote doesn’t eat too many fans so that at least keeps him from eating a bunch. Her role never gets as big as Sakura’s and she ends up missing the climax but I had fun with her. The series did good with the two original characters for the series since they were both fun. The writer was really solid here.

As for Captain America, he’s definitely quite naïve here as that part of him is played up a whole lot. It’s part of the humor of course but his choosing Deadpool was not a smart move if you look at just about any aspect of it. It could also hurt the Avengers’ reputation. Iron Man’s role is smaller but he does get to land a petty attack on Deadpool near the end and openly voices how he doesn’t like the guy. So I like how bold Iron Man is, he speaks his mind and doesn’t care what the others think.

As for the villains, the only real big one is Loki. Sure he summons a bunch of others but they’re basically mindless minions. Deadpool and friends make quick work out of them. For Loki it was fun to find out the true reason behind why he’s causing so much chaos. In true Deadpool fashion the reason will come out of nowhere and be a little crazy. You can count on that. Loki does his best to be really serious the whole time so I’ll give him props there. Deadpool is always trying to psyche him out but it doesn’t work.

While his role is fairly small, Thanos shows up too which is fun. It leads to his famous battle against All Might which was a big thing back then. It’s probably the most memorable scene in the whole manga because of how out of the blue it was. I’m glad to see All Might getting his props here. It also showed just how much effort the series was putting in to really make it break the fourth wall all the time. Thanos and All Might fans should be pleased at how it all turns out.

We also get double Deadpool action later on and even a reference to the Wolverine prequel. That was pretty neat. I can still remember how everyone was outraged at his role there. Look, the design was definitely not very good but at least his abilities were impressive and he worked as the final boss kind of threat. I suppose at this point he will always be known as the worst incarnation of the character though.

If we do get more Marvel manga, I hope they can take place in the same continuity. Build up some kind of mega Marvel multiverse for the manga. That would be a lot of fun. Whether you’re here for the action or comedy you’ll want to check this one out. I dare say it’s one of the funnier manga I’ve read as of late along with Mieruko-Chan. Humor is something that can always be hard to land so I have to give the manga a good shout-out for pulling it off. It ain’t easy!

Then the action scenes are legitimately cool. Even while Deadpool is joking around, you have solid choreography and the fights aren’t too short. You have time for the characters to really trade blows and go all out. It also goes back to how the art here is really good. I’m still surprised at the level of detail that went to it. Choosing Loki as the main villain may have been a little overdone since the guy is constantly the main villain everywhere but he works out well enough. His powerset always makes him a good choice as the villain.

Overall, Deadpool: Samurai is a lot of fun. It’s a shame that so many series end early like this, I think this had potential to be a really solid, long running series. Certainly there are more things they could have done with this premise instead of just ending it all. Give us more references, fights, and all the hype. Hopefully they continue making more Marvel manga in the future. There are so many heroes and stories you could tell in this format. Either way I would definitely recommend this one. It can get a little violent but as long as you read it in a comedy context you should be good.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars Rebels Review

Star Wars has returned for a quick manga adaption of the Rebels show. It didn’t end up making it that far but is a fun little read. Ideally this will get you interested in watching the show which was probably the objective from the start. It’s a classic space type adventure and you can see how this premise could be turned into a long running show as needed. The Star Wars universe is vast after all so you could definitely do a lot in there and that’s why spinoffs to the franchise can really be unlimited as needed.

The series starts off by introducing us to Ezra who is a kid that runs around stealing and doing whatever he has to in order to survive. He lives in a rough district and there aren’t exactly a lot of options for him right now. One day he bumps into the Jedi known as Kanon and that ends up being a rough twist of fate for the kid since he can’t hope to beat this guy. He eventually finds out that Kanon isn’t so bad though and reluctantly joins his group along with Hera, Zeb, and Sabine. The group of them help the poor and restore justice to the world but they do so in a very low key way. You could sort of call them scavengers or bounty hunter types. They have to be careful though because Darth Vader and the Inquisitor would like nothing more than to find and shut these guys down.

This takes place after Order 66 went out so most of the Jedi are long since dead. Kanon was able to survive but that could easily change. He has pretty much stopped being a Jedi in all respects as while he still uses the lightsaber, he isn’t going around training or any of that. To an extent he’s just too nervous now and the series delves into this more later on. This is a good era for storytelling since a lot should have happened in this period. I still find it odd how all the Jedi got wrecked by Troopers so I wouldn’t mind a retcon one day where they were all beaten by Sith Lords or Inquisitors. Would make a lot more sense.

The series is fairly short with 15 chapters but that’s still enough time to get in some quality adventures here. I’d say the most impactful one is when Kanon takes Ezra over to meet his former master Luminara. Unfortunately it turns out that she was already murdered and this was a trap laid by the Inquisitor. It works really well as a big mission here by really introducing us to the villain and also helping Kanon get over his doubts. Before then he was constantly deflecting Ezra’s requests to train by saying that Luminara would do it.

Ezra didn’t want her to train him, he wanted Kanon since that’s the guy he looks up to as his teacher. This was a tough concept for Kanon to grasp for a while but this adventure at least gave him his confidence back. The action scene here was also really good as the Inquisitor could absolutely fight with the best of them. His lightsaber style was very good and I would like to see him more in future stories.

While the art can sometimes be a bit on the “Tie-In” side where it doesn’t feel great, the artist does know how to handle the dramatic scenes really well. You’ll suddenly get a lot of ink for important moments that makes the villains look absolutely fierce. Darth Vader’s appearance at the end for example is a great example of this. You certainly won’t forget that scene for quite a while. It really pops out at you and reminds you why he’s going to be a big threat if he ever catches up to the heroes.

Hera, Zeb, and Sabine don’t get a whole lot to do here before the series ends but they all seem like fun members of the crew. I think the ship has a nice dynamic with all of these characters running around. They may not have Jedi abilities but they can still use their blasters and help out that way. With more time I’m sure they all would have gotten their own mini arcs at some point or another.

Ezra was a solid character right from the start. I liked that he was fairly tough and could look out for himself. He didn’t need anyone to protect him and surviving like that took a lot of skill. In a way you’ll probably miss this part of his character once he is a part of the crew but once he’s with the team he’s still fun. He’s slowly learning how to use more of the Force and his lightsaber so after the time skip he’s probably really strong. The series ends real quick at that point so we don’t really get to see what he can do yet. Perhaps a sequel will come out some day.

Kanon doesn’t look great at first due to those confidence issues that I mentioned but by the end he’s good. Once he has finally embraced his calling as a Jedi and a teacher then he is ready for the big leagues. I am also glad that the heroes have at least one Jedi Master on board because I can say that a big reason as to why Star Wars is cool is due to the lightsaber battles. If your whole cast couldn’t really fight all that much then that would have been disappointing.

As for the Inquisitor, he makes for a very imposing villain. I like how determined he is to destroy the heroes and really doesn’t give up no matter how far away they get. His trap using the dead master was a very smart one as well. He reminds me a bit of Darth Maul with his design. I assume this guy is probably not ready to go up against Sith Lords like that but his skills are still good enough to be worthy of fear. You don’t want to mess with this guy unless you have to.

There is a mini arc here about Teebo, an alien who knows what happened to Ezra’s family. It’s definitely one of the most emotional parts of the series because of course Ezra blames Teebo for running off. The characters all try to help him get past this and even he knows that it’s unreasonable, he just has a hard time getting around that anyway. Realistically Teebo couldn’t have done anything, it’s not like he’s a fighter. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of Teebo myself but you still couldn’t blame him for this.

It does help lead to the rest of Ezra’s character development though from being a loner who wasn’t very forgiving of others to someone who can lead the whole team like a capable leader. I wouldn’t be surprised if he totally took over as leader eventually because it comes naturally to him. So I did like Ezra quite a bit here, he’s a fun main character.

The series ends in one of those ways where the adventures continue and you can imagine how it all plays out. We still got a good amount of adventures on our end to have fun with in the meantime. The emotional stuff is handled well and works to make the action even better. If the show is really like this then I can see why it was a hit. Usually I see more fans of the Clone Wars but there are a good amount of Rebels supporters too. I never really see people talking bad about it at least. I’m sure the show would have more time to really show off the characters too since the manga didn’t have too much time for that.

In a way I would say the whole manga version really works as an origin story for Ezra. It’s not really going too much farther beyond that and this succeeds well as an origin since there was a good amount of action. It’s not one of those slow boils where you’re waiting for the main character to step up to the plate. Of course you have to assume these guys ultimately get bumped off or something since we don’t see them in the main films but that’s what also helps to enhance the stakes here. They could die at any moment so every mission suddenly becomes a lot more dire.

Overall, Star Wars Rebels is a pretty good manga. You’ll have a fun time with it. It’s well balanced with the action and adventure while also just being fun to read. It may not be super memorable at the end of the day but it’s a good story and makes for a fun read. At the end of the day the objective of any title is to be enjoyable and this one fits the bill. It never drags on and it’s just a good story for any time with a lot of replay value. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good sci-fi action.

Overall 7/10

King of Fighters Gaiden: Origin of the Flame Review

King of Fighters seems to get a whole lot of manga titles. I haven’t been able to finish most of them yet though so interestingly one of our starters gets to be a time travel story. You can’t really go wrong with that though and it’s a fun adventure. I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of the main character but we’ve got a good story here with some action and adventure before it all ends.

The series starts with Shingo still being really weak and wishing that he could compete with the big shots like Kyo and Iori. His family is a big mixed on his chances but he knows that one day he will be the best. Unfortunately he falls into a portal that leads him into the distant path in the days of Orochi and the original ancestors of Kyo and Iori. Now Shingo realizes this is a unique opportunity to learn from them but unfortunately nobody trusts him. When the villains start to make their move, Shingo will need to step up or all hope is lost.

It is an interesting way to have Shingo get stronger by fighting people who are just like the ones he aspires to be like. I can see why they’re all a bit suspicious too since Shingo isn’t great at actually conveying all of this. He’s a bit slow on the uptake in regards to his having travelled back in time but eventually he gets it. This feels like a classic Isekai adventure because now he’s in the wilderness with mysterious creatures/monsters and it all takes place in the old times. Of course I do prefer a more modern backdrop but it works out well enough.

The series is only 10 chapters long, however some chapters are split into 3 parts so you could say that this is closer to about 25 chapters. It’s enough time to quickly get Shingo some skills and then throw him back out. I wouldn’t say this one feels rushed or anything like that which is good. The story is balanced all the way through and the art is really solid. At least, the art for the fight scenes is great. I like how the flames are handled and the action scenes have a lot of weight to them. That’s important because there is a lot of hand to hand here so if the animation wasn’t up to par then that would be really bad.

My only issue is that some characters look way too similar. In particular Yasakani and Kusanagi are almost identical at times. They have almost the same uniform and hairstyle as well. The only difference is usually that Kusanagi tends to be smiling while the other guy is always frowning. With the context in the show you’ll usually be able to tell them apart but it’s a little close for comfort if you ask me. So the artist could have done a little better there.

As the main character, I never thought Shingo really rose up for me. I do want to underscore that he’s not really bad or anything like that but at the end of the day he’s a comic relief character trying to quickly transition into being a full fledged hero which is a tough road. It’s not something you can just say that you’ll do and then it’ll be accomplished. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. When he has his serious moments, I can’t always take them seriously and usually he doesn’t either as he’ll go back to yelling after that.

In a power levels sense it also hurts the final fight just a bit because you have a hard time believing that Shingo could pull this off. This is probably the only area where being so short hurts the series because there wasn’t enough time to properly show him getting stronger. We do have a little montage where he remembers the opponent’s skills and starts to adapt to them but it’s a little rushed. Particularly since he was fighting someone with Orochi abilities. I feel like Shingo should have gotten wrecked there.

Kusanagi was a lot more interesting. He’s a guy who likes to fight and protects the villages as best he can. His role grows bigger in the second half once Yasakani is kidnapped and he has to fight off the Orochi opponents. The guy has a lot of confidence and style, both things that I appreciate out of my main characters. His skills were the real deal and he didn’t have to act as gruff as Yasakani the whole time. He just went with the flow.

Yasakani is a good character who is actually a nice guy even if he can’t show it. My only issue with him is that it ultimately feels like he goes down real quick and he doesn’t have a ton of willpower. The way his plot ends was also rather unexpected if you ask me. I didn’t think it had to go that way. He basically decides that he can’t defeat the power within him and runs off in a complete retreat. This dooms everyone to go through the cycle of violence which lasts through to the present. Why not fight against that and control the darkness? Sure, that may be easier said than done but you have to at least try.

Kaya is Yasakani’s wife and she has a solid role here as she can see into the future. Unfortunately this also makes her act rather complacent about the future since she thinks that it can’t be changed but it’s not as egregious as Yasakani because she can’t really fight. Her two opponents would have been too much for her either way. She helps to give Shingo more confidence which is always appreciated though and I would say that she was a good character.

Finally we have the main villain Yakumo. He gets quite a lot to do near the end with all of his scheming. The guy can fight too beyond just being a mastermind which is really good. You always want someone who can do a little of both. Ultimately he doesn’t even let defeat get him down and I appreciated that he took everything with a lot of dignity. To the end he was still really amused and he also helped to raise the stakes of the series as soon as he appeared. Now that’s a good way to make an entrance.

There are two other fighters who appear that are controlled by Orochi but they are almost literally dead bodies that are reanimated with his power. They have some character but appear super briefly. It does remind you that seeing Orochi bring together 8 warriors would have been really awesome but it just wasn’t in the cards this time. I guess the series wouldn’t have been quite long enough for all of that but it would have been a great battle.

I would say the biggest strength of the series is that it’s engaging all the way through. Even though the past isn’t always my thing, the series had a good plot right from the jump. The small character cast allowed everyone to be built up really quick and you could expect a fight in virtually every chapter. Some of them would be training fights of course but the hand to hand was always good. While Shingo wasn’t my favorite lead, I did like that he always had a positive attitude about things.

This was a short series that always felt like it was going to be short so it wraps everything up and does have a very definitive beginning, middle, and end. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not I think you would be able to appreciate the series on this basis. It’s just good storytelling even if again, Shingo probably should have gotten wrecked in the final fight.

Overall, This is a solid King of Fighters title and worth checking out. The story itself may feel random but that’s the fun thing about spinoffs. You can pick a character and just drop them into any setting or situation that you want. I imagine Shingo fans in particular would get an extra kick out of this. Why not go all out if you’re going to make a story right? I feel like that’s what this series did and it worked really well. I look forward to finishing some of the other KoF titles as well.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard Gaiden: Shining Swordsman Review

Cardfight Vanguard is a massive franchise at this point with lots of shows, video games, manga, and more. It’s good to see it excel because I’d consider it to be a true rival to Yugioh. It absolutely holds its own in the comparison and now this would be a manga to focus on the card world which is always a fun angle. The series is really short at 2 volumes though and feels a bit incomplete. It’s almost like taking a glimpse into the world but not really seeing the beginning or ending. Still a fun journey but I hope we get a sequel series at some point.

The series starts with Prince Alfred deciding to surprise his troops by showing up during a normal battle. His top warrior Ahmes isn’t thrilled about this as he points out that Alfred is a ruler and shouldn’t be throwing himself into reckless danger like this. Alfred shrugs it off but then wounded soldiers begin turning into giant monsters. In an instant the clan is surrounded and their fighters across the kingdom are being assaulted by this mysterious force. Nobody knows how these creatures started appearing or what triggers them but they must be removed at once. The heroes may even need to rely on some experimental weapons in order to fight back but the risk may be greater than the actual enemies.

The enemy creatures may not have elaborate designs but they do the trick. You understand right away that these are mindless monsters that want nothing but destruction. It means that negotiation is off the table right away and the heroes must just try to survive. The villains do a lot of damage though particularly because they appear out of nowhere and have the element of surprise on their side. Additionally their defenses are quite good, only a handful of fighters seem to be able to go up against them.

The stakes are high here too as the series isn’t afraid to throw in a body count. So many characters are blown away and it can get surprisingly intense as they are ripped in half. Ultimately it’s easy to see why the extra power from the risky swords would be tempting but most characters can’t hold this power for long. In the end I would say there are 4 really important characters here among the crowd.

First is the creator of the swords, Blastid. This guy appears shady from the start but his swords are the real deal. They can cut through just about anything but if they don’t like their wielder, they will cut through him first. Blastid is protected all the while as the swords cannot harm him. I do think the heroes didn’t take him seriously enough as a threat though. When his swords murder one of their comrades he’s locked up but Blastid just breaks free and arrives later on to talk to the heroes about using another one.

They don’t seem to react to the fact that he’s no longer in jail and just take it in stride. I guess during a war you can be distracted but I was expecting some kind of reaction. “You can’t be here!” or something like that. I mean this guy appears to just be a villain flat out so go take him back to jail right? It may be hard to hold him but this guy is clearly shifty. Towards the end we get a twist about him so he’ll be back if we ever get a sequel.

Then we have Junos who is one of Alfred’s top soldiers and you feel bad for the guy. He trained all his life but was ultimately never able to match Ahmes in term of skill. Now with the swords he feels like he can finally contribute. Unfortunately he is given 0 support as Ahmes believes Junos won’t be ready and tries to talk him down. It’s sad because Junos was handling the power well enough at first but after the questioning started then he began to falter. That seemed to just suck the confidence right out of him. Ultimately Junos still has his big moment but I think Ahmes is to blame there because Junos may have done all right otherwise. Now it’s too late for him.

Ahmes is a very down to business character and outside of the Junos situation I thought he handled everything else pretty well. At the end of the day he is here to guard Prince Alfred and that guy makes it really hard on him. I don’t blame him for wanting Alfred to stay in the rear because it’s a lot easier to protect someone who isn’t constantly in battle. You figure from the start that he will become Blaster Blade so this works as a good origin story for him. He did well and earns his rep as the top guard.

Finally you have Prince Alfred. I think he’s a good character but I wish he was a little stronger. It’s a good morale boost for the soldiers to see your prince out on the battlefield but you need to be fairly powerful to ensure you don’t die. In any series when the king steps on the battlefield, it’s because he is a true fighter. It seems like Alfred never trained all that much so it comes off as a bit of an arrogant move on his part to think he could just walk in here and deal damage. It doesn’t quite work like that and so he is mainly ineffective for the whole adventure.

His father the King could at least fight well as we see in a bonus chapter at the end of the volume. Back in the day he was a lot like Alfred in that he would travel around looking for fights to help the kingdom. The difference there is that he was already known as a well regarded fighter who could look after himself. He clearly put in the work and that’s key for fulfilling that kind of role. I’d say it’s something that you have to do in order to be a ruler.

The series ends with a lot of open plot lines like the start of the Blaster Dark group, where did the monsters even come from, and what about those mysterious swords? It seems like an intentional cliffhanger to set up the status quo in the original series but I would be up for a sequel to show things in more depth. It was also a little convenient how the monsters all just decided to flee. Otherwise things were looking bad for the heroes. Potentially with the new sword Blaster Blade could have taken them all down but I wonder about that. The sheer numbers were going to be difficult to deal with either way.

As for the artwork, it is a little unrefined but looks good. I would put it more at tie-in level than a full fledged manga personally. It can be a little hard to follow the action scenes and it just rough around the edges. It does have its good moments during the action scenes too but I wouldn’t consider this a real strength to the series so it could improve a bit there.

At the end of the day I would say this series just lacks a hook to take it to the next level. The adventure is fun and all but it doesn’t feel like there is a ton of substance to the adventure. Like I said earlier, it feels like we’re jumping into the story midway through and leaving before the ending so it’s like a sneak preview. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but in the end it feels like a fairly standard adventure that you won’t remember much in the end. There also weren’t any true standout characters to help elevate this to the next level either.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard Gaiden is a fun look into the world of Kray and how dangerous it can be. The heroes really have to go all out in order to stand a chance against the monsters. If every threat appears as suddenly as this one, I dare say that the heroes can never afford to rest in peace. If you’re a Cardfight fan then I’d say to check this one out. If you’re a standard fantasy fan then this one probably won’t impress you but it’s still not bad by any means. You’ll get your share of action and adventure. It’s also such a quick read that it’s definitely worth checking out.

Overall 6/10

Mortal Kombat Review

Mortal Kombat is still one of the best video game adaptions to the big screen of all time. It is a spectacular movie all around with crazy amounts of replay value. It’s cool that they made a manga based on it. Granted, it’s a complete one shot so it’s only about 7-8 pages long but it still manages to get through most of the adventure. Just picture everything being sped up quite a lot in order to cover the distance. No time to slow things down that’s for sure.

So the manga starts with Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, and Sonya Blade being recruited to the tournament. They come for several reasons including fame, revenge, and honor. Standing in their way are the most dangerous fighters to ever exist. Creatures and beings with powers far beyond those of mortal men. It’s enough to get you rather excited isn’t it? From there we jump into the battles and then the manga ends by telling you to watch the movie if you want to see how the final fight plays out. I was low key expecting the manga not to adapt the whole movie in 8 pages but at the same time it got so close that they may as well have shown the ending of the fight right?

It does its job as being a good promotional tool for the movie though. I think you’d be hyped to see how it plays out on the big screen and I wholly recommend it. For the manga itself it is definitely a good idea to check it out since it won’t take you longer than 5 minutes anyway. That said there is only so much that you could do in such a small space of time. You probably won’t be remembering it for very long afterwards either.

The artwork is good though. It’s not your typical movie-tie in kind of deal. The character designs are on point and there’s a good amount of action to be had here. It reads pretty cleanly and the plot is solid. I definitely had no issues with it aside from the fact that it should have been a lot longer. That part dashes a quick star out from under it only because you do need to at least be a little longer to tell a full story. This is like having an appetizer but only 1/10 of it.

Hopefully Mortal Kombat gets more titles at some point. It’s one of those franchises that can be difficult to adapt because a lot like to go overboard on the violence angle when the original movie showed the exact tone and level of intensity that you should strive for. To this day that has never been topped and I don’t think it will in the future either. It was pretty much perfection in the series after all.

Overall, Mortal Kombat is a nice nostalgia trip down memory lane. I should probably go to Youtube and rewatch some of the fights one of these days. It’s a really iconic title and the manga will hopefully get more people to watch it. If you’re on the fence about checking the movie out then I hope this manga will do a good job of convincing you. The 3 main characters all have a lot of personality and the manga gets to show that off in their brief screen time. They’ve all got different approaches to the tournament but at the end of the day they all know how to fight.

Overall 6/10