LBX: Little Battlers Experience Review


After completing the LBX game it was definitely time to go back and check out the manga. As it’s only 6 volumes it makes for a quick read and I marathoned it all during the Cowboys vs Giants game. Watching the Cowboys drive a truck through the Giants defense was really satisfying and the manga was just as intense. It may not be a perfect adaption, but it did a really good job in the volumes that it did have and I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It also seems as if the series was only scanned in Spanish or French online so you’ll need to buy the volumes to see it in English. It’s definitely worth the purchase.

The story is divided into two arcs which are each 3 volumes long. I had read the first four volumes back in the day, but I never got around to 5 and 6 so reading those for the first time was pretty cool. The first 3 volumes’ plot you should be familiar with after my recent LBX game review but here’s a brief reminder. Van lives in a future where LBX is the hot game that everyone is playing. You grab a toy robot and fight it out with other kids. The tricky part is that all of the robots use real weapons and equipment so the stakes are always high which is why the toys are controversial. A terrorist group wants Van’s LBX since it has a code inside of it that lets you harness unlimited energy. Van must stop them and also rescue his father who has been kidnapped from the group.

Months after the first arc has ended, Van is called into action once more. A new organization is threatening the entire world and hits multiple countries with LBX attacks. The threat is wide in scale this time so Van enlists the help of a new kid called Hiro. Hiro has never had an LBX battle before, but he’s eager to learn. Hiro gets the hang of it pretty quickly so now Van has a reliable teammate to help him against the dangerous robots at the ready. Will they be able to conquer the obstacles ahead of them or is it Game Over?

The manga can feel like an abridged series at times. Not the kind of abridged series that changes the plot and makes it more comedic, but in the literal sense as it’s chopping scenes and condensing the series as much as possible. Considering that they’re trying to adapt a 15 hour game into just a few volumes, it makes sense. Some characters show up only to get wrecked and at least half of the cast from the anime/games don’t really get to do much. It’s worth it though since this allows the series to still give the fights an appropriate amount of screen time. I can definitely get behind that. In that sense this is one of those manga titles that you can more fully appreciate after you’ve seen the anime or played the game.

Meanwhile, the art isn’t exactly top tier quality. The artist reuses stances and whenever a character yells it is as if they dislocated their jaw. It can be funny, but I get the feeling that it isn’t intentional. Justin is also drawn to have long fingernails and stands in a way that looks as if his back is broken. It’s a rather odd design for him and while this may have been an intentional choice to make him appear more feminine, it didn’t work when comparing it to his game design. Fortunately the art stepped up when it came to the battle scenes. We got a lot of really good splash pages for the bigger attacks and the action scenes in general were pretty good. As such, the art is a mixed bag but at least it does have its positives. The action is what I’m focusing on anyway so that’s the most important element.

By now you’ve heard me talk about these characters quite a lot but this is the last time since we are now caught up with LBX media. Van is the main character and he’s pretty solid. He’s actually a little more hardcore than his other versions as he goes through several chapters being badly bruised and injured while still fighting to the end. He was really determined to save his Dad even if it didn’t work out. He also makes the hero move to risk his life against the final boss on his own so the others wouldn’t be in danger. Now, he claims this was just so he could fight 1 on 1, but I don’t actually think he meant that. It would be a weird jump from the rest of his character arc. I’m definitely a big Van fan at any rate.

Ami is a nice friend, but unfortunately she doesn’t get to do a whole lot in the manga. She loses her very first fight in a single hit which was a bad omen of things to come. Even when she gets her new robot she is mostly relegated to a background role. Her most impressive showing was likely when she turned evil and was able to fight Van and Hiro teaming up. That was pretty impressive. Kaz is the other friend and he’s in a similar boat as Ami. His LBX gets a little more screen time and looks reasonably good. The manga actually improved Kaz from the anime quite a bit as he didn’t randomly join the terrorists or get mind controlled by an LBX. He just stayed as a dependable friend from start to finish. I also like how he wanted to go with Van at the end for the big battle before Hiro stole his role. Technically it would have made sense for Kaz to have gone right?

Justin is a solid rival. He may have started out as a rather mean guy, but he was never evil. Once he found out that he was working for the bad guys he quickly left them and joined the heroes. He looks really good during Arc 1, but his only real role in the next saga was to lose to minions off screen and remind the audience that Van was their only hope. It’s always tragic when you go from being one of the strongest characters in the series to someone who is just here for the show.

Dak and Gouda get identical roles to the anime and games. Their roles are so set in stone that nobody wants to mess with them. Dak’s magician is certainly an impressive LBX to have and I didn’t mind him as a rival. His best scene was actually when Van walked over and ripped his card up. It was an amazing moment because usually the heroes will just watch as the villains brag and play mind games with them. Van wasn’t having any of that and set the tone from the start. Gouda is all right, but he’s fairly weak and not much of a factor.
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Professor Yamano is a decent character here. He stays on as a hero the whole time and it’s not as much his fault that he can’t be with the heroes. The villains just keep kidnapping him, but otherwise he would be here to help. It was funny how he kept creating new LBX machines that were stronger and stronger the whole time. The guy just doesn’t take a break which is fortunate for the heroes.

Hiro is one of the main characters from Arc 2, but I can’t say that I would be much of a fan from the manga. He doesn’t take the situation very seriously and comes off as a rather unlikable guy at times. I am glad he switched his character design after falling in the pond since that at least helped a bit. The anime did a better job of giving him a more complete personality. Still, he’s not a bad character, he just doesn’t feel like he had much of a reason to be here. He had his share of action scenes and all, but it easily could have been someone else.

Ran shows up as well but unlike the anime where she got a big role, she doesn’t do much here. She helps the team in their fusion fight, but mostly just watches for the rest of it. It’s still a better fate than most of the season 2 characters as a bunch of them only get one page cameos or don’t even talk. Even though it was 3 volumes long like volume 1, they weren’t able to adapt much of it in the manga. I guess they just focused on other fights and such instead, which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s a very loose adaption to the point where it feels like an original story which is pretty fun.

Lex is one of the big characters in the first three volumes and he gets pretty intense. The bonus stories try to mess with his hype a little, but they are just side stories so you shouldn’t take them too seriously. He’s definitely a very likable character and I like the design. His LBX is one of the best in the whole franchise. Kaido is also a pretty big character in the series and I thought his ending was handled better than in the anime. The guy just wouldn’t give up and his tenacity was impressive. Not even a bullet could stop this guy and we didn’t need robot thrown in. In a way, the same set of circumstances happened like last time, but the event was moved back.

Kurtis is a really fun character. He felt like a nice addition to the cast as Justin had recently become an ally instead of a rival. Kurtis is another genius whose abilities are on another level. He loves pulling off fancy JoJo poses all of the time and maybe has a little too much fun with that, but his skills are certainly the real deal. His role in the series may not be huge, but it is memorable. We also got to see Kousuke in Arc 2 who looks so similar that I often mix the two characters up. He’s another really solid character and you almost feel bad for him since he wants to be known as the greatest LBX player in the world, but Van is too strong. Van also just ducks their fight the first time and waits until he gets a stronger LBX so is it possible that the main character would have lost the first time around?

Finally, Mizel is the big final boss. There’s also the leader of the Directors (Should have kept it as Detector) but that guy was pretty bland. He’s basically just an old man after all and he is mostly around just to panic the whole time. Mizel could actually fight and his LBX was one of the strongest of all time. If anything it may have been a little cheesy the way he was taken down, but I can live with it since the set up to the fight was incredibly hype. He had a really good design and a great LBX, you can’t ask for much more than that.

It’s definitely cool that LBX got a full manga like this. It’d be nice if I could read one for Season 3 as well but it seems like that may not be in the cards. I wonder if this one sold well. If you didn’t watch the show, I can still picture the cover being enough to attract people into reading the manga. It’s a pretty easy concept to get into since it’s a lot of action and has robots. That should be a winning combination for just about everyone right? The quick pacing means that the series cuts out all filler and even slow cannon moments so something is always happening. It may not be the same experience as watching the anime, but it’s a fun adventure all the same.
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Overall, If you haven’t checked this series out yet then you need to reconsider if you’ve made the wrong move. There’s really nothing to dislike about the manga because it has no weaknesses. If anything, the only problem is that the title is too short and that the art could have been a little better. Neither one of those issues are groundbreaking though and the manga is absolutely great. Now we just need Custom Robo to get a big manga and it can join Megaman and LBX as fun titles where mini robots fight each other. Seeing as how Megaman and LBX both got at least an 8, I’m confident Custom Robo would as well.

Overall 8/10

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Pokémon + Nobunaga no Yabou ~Ranse Iroemaki Review

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It’s time for a rather odd Pokemon adventure. Do you guys remember Pokemon Conquest? It came out quite a while ago and it was always an interesting concept. The game didn’t really look like it was my style but who’d have thought that the Pokemon characters would go back to retro China. (Or Japan, one of those) Well, it got a one shot manga to bring in the hype. Unfortunately, it fails for the most part due to not having a plot or any really good fights.

There are 6 chapters and they all have some kind of story going on. One of them has Nobunaga, the famed Devil King show up because he wasn’t invited to the party. Some of the heroes get him to come anyway though and they all have a fun party. There was a story with someone being tricked into thinking that Pokemon could evolve into food and training to surpass the guy. There were some comic relief characters who went intro the mountain, etc. You get the general jist of the story.

That’s not to say that there was absolutely no action. It was just kept in the background throughout and any action we got was quite brief indeed. What also holds the manga back is the artwork. Honestly, I thought it was rather sub par. Perhaps being in color made it that much easier to notice its limitations or if we’re being honest, maybe it just wasn’t very good to begin with. That may be more likely to be honest. It doesn’t seem as if the artist wasn’t skilled though. This seems like it was some kind of style and it just didn’t work well for me. It is neat that the whole thing is in color though, most manga never really get the color treatment.

The characters were okay, but all of them were rather generic. They all had personalities and yet they were completely forgettable. It was just fun trying to see how many names I remembered from the Sengoku Basara anime. Of course this version of the characters are certainly very different from the anime so it is really just them in name only. You won’t really have much to say about any of the characters by the time you’re done. This is one of the many weaknesses of the anthology format. You barely get to really meet any of the characters since they appear and disappear so quickly. The series not having a plot doesn’t help either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a one shot right?

I don’t want to be too harsh on the title as it is pretty short so there’s not a whole lot it could have done. There’s nothing downright bad about the manga so that is actually a good start. The worst aspect is the art and even that isn’t unbearable. The main problem is just that the title is boring. That is pretty serious, but it won’t automatically make this a bad manga either. I certainly don’t see myself getting the game anytime soon though. I’ve warmed up to the Fire Emblem style of combat, but not quite enough to buy a full game just yet.

I also have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the Sengoku cast in general. The anime/main series games are the only ones that have made them interesting. As much as I like the gameplay in Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, the plots are extremely boring. I wish they had used the anime versions for this crossover as I guarantee it would have made the manga a lot more enjoyable. I almost hate to say this next part, but I would have even preferred it if the manga had added an original character to the mix. A random kid from Tokyo or New York or something who has a Pokemon and travels to the Dynasty Warrior era. That would have made for a much more enjoyable time than everyone randomly having Pokemon, but not doing a whole lot with them. It says something when Natsume’s Book of Friends is more emotional and entertaining at the same time compared to this one.

I think the series did try a little though as each chapter was over 50 pages. That means it’s roughly a 300 page series which is pretty good even if all of the “pages” are extremely small. Maybe the format was just built that way, but it feels like someone divided each page into 3 different pictures to make it look more impressive. I’ll assume this wasn’t the case as that seems just a little bit sketchy if you ask me.

Overall, This Pokemon manga is one that will likely be forgotten by everyone almost instantly. It is very short, has no plot, and the art isn’t very good. There are just no real reasons to actually sit down and read it except to add it to your collection of manga titles that you’ve read. I don’t recommend the title because it just comes across as pointless. That being said, if you do read it you can at least take solace in the fact that it didn’t really do anything wrong. It didn’t do anything right, but that’s just how it goes. I wish they’d go ahead and finish scanning the Reburst chapters. Now that was a Quality Pokemon series that even rivaled Adventures.

Overall 5/10

Rurouni Kenshin Side Story: The Ex-Con Ashitaro Review

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It’s time to take a look at the 2 chapter oneshot sequel to Kenshin that came out. This serves as a set up to the ongoing sequel coming out so you definitely want to check it out to stay current. It’s a pretty fun series and the two chapters really go by quickly. It starts off with two prisoners being released. One guy is named Ashitaro and he was arrested for dining and dashing. The other guy is Aran and I forgot exactly why he was arrested but they got him for years. A mysterious girl shows up when they are released and claims that Ashitaro has her treasure. They used to both work for the same villain organization but Ashitaro ran off. He claims not to know anything, but it could be the sword that he buried a while back. Aran decides to help Ashitaro out in retrieving the sword and living a normal life after prison, but are these two fighters strong enough to take on a villain organization?

Since Ashitaro is the lead here and will likely have a big role in the actual series, it is imperative that he is a likable character. I think he’s pretty good at any rate. He reminds me of Tyson’s counter protagonist in the Beyblade manga. Ashitaro is a pretty good fighter but he’s also rather basic and doesn’t really think about anything. He just likes having a good fight and can dish it out with the rest of uis. Second to none is food for him though. He’ll eat anything and isn’t picky. He’s certainly no Kenshin, but he is the real deal when it comes to using a sword. I’ll definitely be glad to see him return.

His partner Aran is a lot less impressive. For starters, Aran can’t even fight. That brings up a lot of red flags right from the start. I also can’t say I care too much about his half American heritage and hopefully it’s not a big plot line. I guess it could lead to something cool if it turns out that his American relatives want to take him back by force or he’s related to the villains but we don’t really need the human sidekick right now. He could certainly be much more annoying than he actually is though so I’ll stay content with that for now. The writing is sharp as always which really makes a difference for characters like this.

There aren’t really any other big characters at the moment. I suspect that the girl may become a big character at some point, but we’ll see. The one shot villains here are fairly generic, but serve their roles well. I have to give some props to the first villain for still being able to talk even with a sword through his head. That guy definitely has nerves of steel. The other villain with the oil weapon was pretty strong as well, at least when put up against the main characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how much fun the real big villains are.

If you were worried about not seeing Kenshin or the rest of the old cast, don’t worry about it. They show up briefly and Kenshin definitely has a great role. It’s nice to know how much time has passed since the end of the main series and it is mentioned here. It hasn’t been too long of a gap so fortunately everyone should still be able to fight at a high level. The ending shows us that the whole cast is getting ready to go to Hokkaido so that’s sure to be a pretty epic arc. I’m expecting a lot of big things there.

The art is exceptional, but that almost goes without saying. I’ve really missed the Kenshin style. The action has a lot of depth and the speed lines really make it look extra impressive. The action scenes were great and as I mentioned the writing is pretty sharp. I can easily see the sequel being a top tier threat to all of the other manga titles once it actually comes out or is scanned.

While Ashitaro’s sword is cool, I think he’s going to need another one almost immediately. In the story it is bent out of shape and badly burned so unless he makes this some really unique combo starter where the shape actually helps him, I can’t see the big villains being very threatened by the kid. I could also see him getting it repaired and if so, Kenshin’s master needs to appear. He never got much closure so this could definitely help. I wouldn’t mind if the sequel also has a brief timeskip so that we can gloss over that part and also have Aran learn some fighting off screen. Then the series will be set.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. After all these years, we finally have Kenshin back in business. Hopefully the series really lasts for a long while and that it doesn’t jump the shark. Sequels don’t always have the best of reps, but I think this one is going to be one of the best sequels on the block. Hopefully these chapters come out with volume one once the series is licensed so fans don’t have to try and track these chapters down. How I see it, the set up/prequel to the sequel should always be included.

Overall 8/10

Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha Review

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The manga trilogy has finally ended so it’s time for the review. This mini series only got three chapters so it’s pretty short. That’s too bad because the premise just had a whole lot of potential in it. The basic plot is that a kid in the human world is a big fan of Dragon Ball. Unfortunately in the real world he’s just a really unlikable guy who has no redeeming qualities. One day, he decides to fall even lower on the moral totem pole when he falls down a flight of stairs and breaks his neck. It’s surprisingly a happy moment since he felt like the main antagonist. Instead of dying, the kid wakes up as Yamcha in the Dragon Ball series. He must now find a way to become a better character and avoid dying. Since he knows the events in advance he has a real shot here, but can he do it?

You can probably see why the premise has potential. There’s so much you can do with this kind of story since you know what is going to happen and can take steps to avoid it. Yamcha may not be able to do much against the final threats like Cell and Buu but even those are things that he can get past if he knows the origins. For Buu, just eliminate Spopovich and the other ally before they can get Gohan. For Cell, attack him in his first form or tell everyone where he is and that should be easy enough. You can escape almost any scenario.

The main character actually does do quite a bit of this at first. He trains hard so he is able to actually help against Frieza and the foes before him. He basically gives up on doing this by the Cell arc and decides to just watch which is fine I suppose. He knows he’ll come back to life anyway. You just can’t explore this concept as much as you could have if this was an ongoing series. Additionally, the series throws in the twist of having another human being warped into the series and the lead has to find out who he is. Naturally, this character is evil so they have a fight but the power of being a DBZ fan wins him over. This is all so rushed and unnatural that you have to wonder exactly why it was added.

Again, this could be a really interesting concept especially when you find out that if you die you get to retry your time in the universe. It could have been like a Groundhog Day where they explore many different avenues. Instead the whole second human plot is finished in one chapter. The ending was certainly an interesting twist as we at least get a reason why the human got into the world. Unfortunately, even the ending is wrecked as the main character immediately goes back to his old shady ways of being a creep. I thought the whole point was that he was going to learn a lesson…not that he would use his newfound abilities to be even worse in the real world.

Really, this manga is only held back by the main character. Otherwise, it’s pretty solid. The art is quite good and really does resemble DBZ at some points. It isn’t as consistent and has some flaws in that respect, but I would say that the art is quite good. It’s certainly a lot better than I would have anticipated from a short title like this one. I wonder how many people even know that this manga exists.

Overall, it’s a fun concept but you can only do so much with it. I’d recommend checking it out as many fans have always wanted a fun little alternate universe story like this one. You can even argue that the story could be cannon and wouldn’t make a difference. It would raise a lot of questions of course, but it could work. Hopefully we get more Dragon Ball spinoff mangas. Despite its overwhelming popularity we haven’t gotten as many titles as I’d like. We need to keep it rolling and get the Saiyans in a bunch of different adventures. Just resist the urge to add a human original character to the mix and then we’re golden. If you do add one, just keep in the death from the first chapter without actually bringing him back, now That would be funny.

Overall 5/10

Fairy Girls Review

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It’s time for another Fairy Tail spinoff. Unfortunately this is the worst of the spinoffs and is basically as bad as the main series. If anything it’s worse because we don’t have any of the hype fights of good plot lines to follow as this series is completely centered around the fanservice. It’s only 4 volumes long but since every chapter can have a lot of these brutal moments, the series goes downhill very quickly.

The crazy thing is that the first volume wasn’t half bad. I mean, it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible either. The series kept itself in check and had some decent stories. After that the series decided to go off the deep end as especially in volumes 3 and 4 the series didn’t even bother to try and have a plot. There’s just nothing to really like about the series. It barely matters by this point, but there isn’t even a plot. There are just a bunch of self contained stories each chapter where the heroes encounter a bunch of crazy situations where they must get humiliated.

Lets check out a few of the plots for lols. In one story, a bunch of villains decide to dress up as the Fairy Girl members to beat people up and soil their good name. The heroes promptly show up to beat them black and blue. There’s also a longer story arc where a king is attacked by a giant teddy bear so the heroes show up to beat him up. The fight is actually a little longer this time and the bear is actually formidable. As you might have guessed, these stories were from the first volume which is why they actually sound semi decent. At least there were actually villains with special abilities who could be a bit of a threat.

When we get to the later volumes we get chapters where the heroes have to infiltrate a school and pretend to be transfer students. One where Wendy has to go on a fake date with some random guy. Another one were they are all hypnotized by a villain. A story where they decide to become models for a little while, etc. The point of these stories is just to get them on tricky situations, that’s the only reason for them. It’s all just quite sad. The guys show up once in a while, but as you’d probably guess they are rarely ever helpful and just show up as glorified cameos.

I suppose the art is pretty decent. It’s not great or anything though and the characters definitely tend to be off model some times. The fights can be rather chaotic as well. The series couldn’t even score a clear win in this category. One positive for the series is that it’s only 4 volumes so you don’t have to endure it for too long. It’s an odd positive but I can live with it.

As for the negatives, well I don’t want to sound like too much of a broken record. The obvious negative is that there is fanservice on almost literally every page. Even the covers are in on the action and it’s just pretty sad the whole time. There was really nothing the series could do to save it after a while since the fanservice was just so extensive. Even the main series had more breaks from it than this one. In my head canon, I like to think that the series was cancelled which is why it’s only 4 volumes. Surely this manga couldn’t have been getting good ratings and reviews after this. People need at least some semblance of a plot and I think everyone can agree that the series had none.

There’s not really much else to talk about with the series. I’m almost at a loss for words here because since the series doesn’t have much of a plot, that takes away a big chunk of what I usually write for these reviews. There’s also not much to say about the characters because at the end of the day most of them act in almost the same way and are just extreme versions of their Fairy Tail selves. Erza is more naive than usual, Lucy lets herself get used by everyone in their crazy schemes, Wendy is intimidated by everyone else, etc. None of them are really likable characters and they barely even have personalities since they just go along with everything. It’d be nice if they could have instead just turned down all of the crazy plans and kept the series classy. At least Gray is always fun when he shows up once in a blue moon.

I suppose one thing to talk about is why there was such a glaring change between the first half of the series and the last. Why was the fanservice suddenly ramped up while the action vanished? I shudder to think about this possibility but maybe the series wasn’t doing too well so the author decided to take the easy way out? If so, then I really hope the strategy didn’t succeed as that would just be really sad. It’s hard to even remember the first two volumes since they were well over a year ago (Not that it would affect the score though) so I may be remembering them a little better than they actually were. Still, the difference is night and day so if you ever absolutely had to read this series, just stick to the first two volumes. At least they put up an effort to be good.

I’ve read just about all of the Fairy Tail spinoffs now so that’s pretty cool. I think I just have one more left which is about Gajeel. Maybe Jellal got one as well, I can’t remember though. I have a feeling that both of them will be quite a bit better than this one though. The spinoffs had actually had a pretty good track record up til now as Zero was quite good along with Ice Trails. The Wendy manga has also been pretty fun. It’s sad that the streak had to come to an end, but it was always sort of expected with this franchise.

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Overall, Fairy Girls is one of the worst manga titles of all time. The sooner we all move on from it the better. Black Bird is still worse even though there is less fanservice there, it gets way too suspect for my taste. As for comparing this series to the actual Fairy Tail, it gets very interesting. On one hand, the worst Fairy Tail moments are way worse than this one. The series can also get darker and has more torture moments. On the other hand, this series is just nonstop fanservice so even if the series is very light toned and a quick read…it’s just not a good read. I suppose in the end I’ll say that Fairy Tail is slightly better although they’re both so low that it barely matters at that point. I’d heavily recommend avoiding this series as best you can and reading just about anything else instead. Just go read Dragon Ball Z for the 100th time or check out something more obscure like Pichy Pichy Pitch. At least that title has heart.

Overall 1/10

A Silent Voice Review

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It’s time for one of the most mean spirited manga titles that I’ve ever read. Deadman Wonderland probably still takes the cake for being the meanest one around, but this one really tries to surpass it. Volumes 1-6 are all pretty dark/tragic and even half of 7 is still like that. We get a sort of happy ending, but the question you’ll be thinking the whole time is…was it all worth it? I’m afraid not so lets dive into this manga!

The manga follows the adventures of a bully named Shoya. He enjoyed his days as a delinquent and is upset when a deaf girl named Shoko is transferred to his class. Shoya decides to make her life as miserable as possible and the rest of the class including the teacher get in on the action. After enduring all of this bullying and even having Shoya rip her ear, Shoko is transferred out and fortunately her mother also threatened the school with legal action. This means that they need a scape goat so all of Shoya’s “friends” decide to turn on him. Likewise with the teacher of course so they beat him up a lot and even try to convince him to commit suicide.

Fast forward a few years. Shoya decides he’ll commit suicide after finally meeting up with Shoko again and apologizing. She has apparently forgiven him and he decides to keep on living so he’ll be her friend. The problem is that he still has a pretty bad image and Shoko hasn’t gotten over the incident as much as she claims. Her Mother naturally dislikes Shoya as well. Shoya’s old friends have mostly gotten over it but they know about his past and Shoya fears that they’ll tell his new friends about it. A lot of drama happens and by the end of it, you’ll be shaking your head.

Okay, the manga’s whole problem really just stems into the meanness of it all. You see the classic theme of someone doing something really mean or evil and then receiving a judgment just as brutal which is supposed to make you feel good. The problem is that two wrongs don’t equal a right so it just makes the whole thing feel dark. A good example of course is Sword Art Online Fairy Dance. (You can use SAO for just about any hypothetical if I’m being honest) After the main villain was messing around with Asuna and tormenting Kirito, you’re supposed to cheer when Kirito decides to very slowly and painfully execute him one piece at a time. The problem is that you’re not cheering because it is still super painful. You don’t feel bad for the villain, but you didn’t want the hero to stoop to the same level. (Attack on Titan has this same problem) You want a quick resolution. Unfortunately, this manga’s whole message is about how “You’ll get yours!” and the villains all get some intense payback at some point or other. That is, unless they’re being used for another message like how they’re misunderstood.

The series starts with Shoya thinking about ending himself and then moving on to Shoko. Finally once all of the characters are broken and have been publicly humiliated, then they can all move on. Honestly, Shoko’s depression is probably where the series really jumped the ship although the beginning was incredibly rough as well. It’s impossible to like Shoya after the start. He just went way too far in the bullying phase to the point where you absolutely cannot buy into his redemption arc. The ear rip felt especially painful and he does physically punch Shoko. That’s one of the big lines that you don’t cross and he went through with it almost immediately. Shoya also seems to make the wrong move in just about every scenario, every time. He’s just incredibly annoying and the fact that he is the main character certainly doesn’t help matters either. If he’s not blowing up at his friends or having a martyr complex then he’s typically having confidence issues or being in a coma.

Shoko is a decent heroine except for the fact that she is way too forgiving of everyone. She basically gets along with Shoya immediately and puts the whole thing behind her. Honestly she should have told him to get lost when he showed up again. Otherwise, it’s nice of her to forgive him, but then to move on to being best friends and then more than that almost immediately? No, no I can’t see that happening. It was an incredibly poor romance that I just couldn’t take from start to finish.

Naoka is the other heroine. She actually liked being a bully and is mean to everyone throughout the series. She decides to change her ways because of Shoya, but never actually changes. She still talks bad about everyone and while it is supposed to be endearing, you have to wonder how much she has actually changed. She is quick to hit everyone and definitely causes a lot of drama. The one quality she has that is quite good is how she gets over everything pretty quick. The rest of the characters are constantly making mountains of molehills while she just forgets about it all the next day and is back to normal. It may be a little iffy as she’ll just stir up more chaos, but it beats the alternative.

Miki is a character that I think the author didn’t know what to do with. She was one of the big bullies in the first volume, but always denies this and blames others. She purposely tells everyone that Shoya was the big bully and gets everyone to retreat from him again. (He helped quite a lot though) She lies to everyone and is generally very fake throughout the whole series. The issue is that nobody calls her out on this and she effectively gets away with everything by the end. I’m glad the series didn’t go overboard with the payback on her, but she didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. She got away completely scot free and since I didn’t like her at all, that was annoying. If the author never meant for her to be one of the main villains, then he/she should read the series again.

Miyoka was the only character who was nice to Shoko at the start. Unfortunately, since she is the nice character she is also the timid one and a single insult caused her to stop coming to classes. She now wants to be a model but is very self conscious of her looks. Naturally the others are ready with the insults. She can be a little annoying as well and while it’s great that she got along with Shoko as well, I’d be a little sore with how quickly she ran off. She’s not a dependable friend that you can count on.

Yuzuru is probably the only real good character. She made it her mission to beat up the bullies who messed with Shoko back in the day, but unfortunately she was too young to really track them all down. Still, she managed to grow up as a tom boy to protect her sister as best she could and even took up whole hobbies like taking pictures of dead things to try and get Shoko to distance herself away from thoughts of suicide. Her only iffy moment is probably not stepping in to help Shoko when she was getting beaten up by Naoka. I can see why she was upset since Shoko tried to jump off a roof, but you still can’t let one of the old bullies beat your sister up. Isn’t that the whole reason for why she got strong in the first place?

Tomohiro is Shoya’s first friend at the new school. He’s a nice guy and all. He may not have any friends and pretends that he does all the time, but he gives Shoya someone to talk too. He has his iffy moments for sure but the series would have been a lot darker without him. I’d say that he’s really here just to lighten the mood. I’m not so much a fan of him as he just beats most of the other cast by default. His movie gets tragically panned though which was another moment where the manga decided to just be really depressing again. I mean really..was it necessary to also have the critics mock each and every one of them for the movie? The heroes quickly acted as if they didn’t care, but couldn’t they have had at least one happy ending as a team? It’s like the author didn’t want any of them to have something nice happen for a change.

Satoshi is the final main character and he’s the anti bully guy who shows up to subtly threaten Shoya the whole series. It’s actually portrayed as a bad thing that he’s against bullies. The scene were he throws away everyone’s backpacks honestly didn’t seem like a big deal to me since those actually were bullies. Him throwing water at the teachers and going overboard after that was a bit much though. Again, it’s a little hard to have him come back into the fold so easily again. It’s great to be against bullies, but he came off as a rather violent guy himself and I didn’t get the whole subplot about how he loves kids. This character should honestly have just not shown up.

Shoko’s Mom is another character who should have been good, but they went overboard with how mean she is. Are you honestly telling me that she would have an objection with Shoko using sign language at the table? She wants Shoko to be tough so I understand the haircut. That was fine since Shoko was clearly not defending herself so the Mom had to do it for her, but breaking her confidence at home as well was just random. I give her some props for deciding to beat up the bully who was attacking Shoko though. That was easily her best scene.

The art was below average. It tries for a very gritty down to earth feel which sets the vibe in rather quickly. In a sense that’s a good thing as the art is atmospheric but since it’s a dark and gloomy atmosphere it doesn’t really help matters. I just couldn’t get into the art and while it’s clearly not the worst I’ve seen, it’s quite low in the charts. Since this is a “realistic” manga there is also an unfortunate amount of language. This will always depend on who is translating it of course, but unfortunately the original one decided to add quite a bit. It’s just another unnecessary addition.

At the end of the day, the manga’s issue is that it’s just very moody and depressing the whole time. It’s not fun to read. You’ll keep reading until the end and you’ll be reasonably invested, but then every volume has another tragic scene within it. The amount of times someone is beaten up or bullies is uncanny in this series. If the series wanted to be good, the first volume should have been shorter and the bullying should have been less intense. We shouldn’t have had Shoko suddenly break down by the end and we certainly shouldn’t have had to have Shoko get beaten up yet again.

Also, why did the blond kid just randomly show up a few times? Considering that he beat up Shoya, stole his shoes, and bullies him quite extensively for a while…why does Shoya have to patch things up? I don’t get how nobody acts like the other kid did anything wrong. He was just as bad as Shoya and also got away scot free. The most annoying thing is that he’s apparently still friends with some of Shoya’s old contacts so while I guess they are cool with Shoya now, they’re not sorry enough to actually regret it.

I’m trying to think of some positives for the series…but it’s hard. When a series leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, it sours the whole experience. The scenes were they’re all having fun can be good except that they instantly go sideways and you always know that something is going to happen. It’s just inevitable but I suppose you should savor those scenes while you can.

Overall, This series was pretty brutal. It started out on a really low note, got semi decent for a bit and then crashed again. I also didn’t like the ending, but what else is new right? It’s essentially inevitable after a while because if you don’t like the characters and aren’t engaged by them, then there’s not much that the ending can do to change that. You’re just way too annoyed by everyone by that point. Manga should always be fun and enjoyable to read throughout. They can go through rough patches and have serious themes of course as just about all of them do, but it should still be a pleasant experience. You can’t use that phrase to describe this manga. I’d highly advise checking something else out instead. If you want a good realistic manga title to read, how about Zodiac P.I.? It has some supernatural elements, but is mostly down to Earth and is up beat despite some rather serious cases.

Overall 3/10

Fairy Tail Review

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It’s time to review another really long running manga. Unfortunately, this one is a far cry from the brilliance of Bleach. It’s almost the polar reverse if we’re being honest. While Fairy Tail originally wasn’t half bad, it slowly devolved into pure fanservice which completely overrode all of the positives. In an alternate dimension, Fairy Tail could have been an awesome manga series with action scenes that were up there with the best of them. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be and it ended as one of the biggest train wrecks in manga history!

You know, since Fairy Tail always put fanservice over plot, I’ll do the same thing and discuss this big negative before I even get into the synopsis. Lets face it, if you know Fairy Tail, you only know about it because of the fanservice. Its entire reputation is built on it and that’s why it has such a negative fan following. I’ pretty glad to see that since the series absolutely deserves it. As I mentioned, it didn’t have much fanservice at first. The series played it straight. Then sometime around the tournament arc or maybe a bit sooner, it just started being more and more frequent. Characters were constantly getting stripped or even strip tortured for added grimace effect. It just got quite extreme to the point where you couldn’t go a single chapter without some kind of fanservice moment. By the end I knew that it was so much that no positive could over ride it. For the majority of the final arc and then some, the series was guaranteed a 1. It didn’t matter how great the climax could have been, its fate was sealed. The climax wasn’t even good anyway so that did not help matters.

So the general plot of the series is that there are various guilds. They’re essentially teams of bounty hunters who accept requests to beat monsters, stop robbers, and other day to day stuff for a reward. The main group is Fairy Tail as you might imagine and they are known as a pretty crazy group who will take on any mission. They are legendary as everyone knows them and yet they apparently are still outgunned by all of the big groups. Fortunately, Fairy Tail has one thing that the other groups do not possess- Friendship! Natsu and friends will use this overwhelming advantage to completely dominate the opposition.

There are a bunch of arcs and plots throughout the series but we’ll just look at a few of them. The first really big arc was the Phantom Lord one. The gang arrived home only to find out that their Guild had been destroyed and their teammates were completely beaten up. Natsu and the others decided to take the other guild down as payback and that led to a bit brawl between the guilds. Phantom Lord built himself a pretty strong team so stopping him was no easy task. This was slightly before the fanservice started getting too bad if I’m remembering right so it was a decently solid arc.

Edolas was an interesting arc since the heroes found themselves in a parallel dimension where they all had doppelgangers. That’s always been a pretty classic setup so I was all for that. The other dimension didn’t really have magic and everyone was super weak so I think they dropped the ball on that one quite a bit. The Promotion trial arc was also pretty solid since a bunch of enemies showed up to interrupt this big festival and it was the first time we got to see big guns like Gildarts and the other big shots get in on the action. The Grand Magic Games was a similar arc as the team decided to enter a big tournament to test their skills and restore Fairy Tail’s honor. The arc may have taken itself a little too seriously at times as they were all humiliated and didn’t take it well, but who actually likes losing anyway right? The battles were pretty fierce, but the arc was very fanservicey which hurt. All of the arcs suffer from this by the end so take it as a given.

Then we would finally enter the final two big arcs. The first one had the big demons come from Zeref’s book to try and destroy the heroes. All of these villains were extremely tough so defeating them wasn’t easy. By this point we started to see old characters show up to help out and it became more of a big crossover title. This arc was easily one of the most epic ones with high stakes. Finally you had the big war arc. Zeref decides to destroy everyone once and for all which makes for a very explosive arc. Every character in the series joins up so it gets quite chaotic. A very intense way to end the series even if the author seemed not to care anymore by this point. The hype and epic scenes really added up here. I can’t really say what my favorite arc is, but it’d probably be one of the early ones. Maybe the promotion exam.

Surprisingly, friendship is actually a big part of the manga. It leads to a bunch of plot holes as well though. See, the heroes are constantly put up against opponents who vastly outrank them. They are stronger, faster, and have better abilities. Rather than have the characters train and stuff, they simply just harness the power of friendship and win. It happens on many, many occasions. Erza had all of her bones broken during one fight, but with the power of friendship she jumped up and broke a meteor anyway. The villains get so moved during the fights that they either turn good or literally destroy themselves. Almost no villain stays evil by the end of the series and they manage to turn over a new leaf. That part is fun even if it is a little hard to swallow. Some of these guys were so pure evil that when they smile and talk about friendship it’s hard to take seriously. Like are these guys really buying into the whole ordeal so enthusiastically or are they messing with everyone?

At one point people made a bingo board for the final arc because of over the top it all was. Just about everything came true except for Happy saving everyone at the end. I admit that Fairy Tail was usually pretty funny even if it was certainly unintentional. Don’t expect any character to die either. Characters get the death flags constantly but always manage to survive. If they die it is usually just for a few chapters and then it is quickly reversed. The manga is always very dramatic, but the stakes rarely feel too real. The biggest cop out was when Natsu had to make a decision between being a dragon, human, or demon and basically just didn’t decide because he had friendship on his side. The friendship was enough to cure him so he could be all 3 if he wanted too. That was a little hard to buy and that’s just one example of many. Still, the series does take itself seriously, it’s just that it’s hard to believe the writing sometimes. It’s just pretty bad a lot of the time.

At least the art is really good. I mean, that’s actually kind of bad considering that the series uses it for all of the wrong reasons, but at least it also makes the fight scenes look really good. It’s a shame because it actually is high tier art. It really helps you feel the energy blasts and physical attacks from the various characters. It worked quite smoothly and it also helps you remember the characters right away. The author did a good job of not reusing character designs.

Natsu is your classic protagonist who is always up for a fight and tries to be heroic. The main problem with him is that he takes the worst qualities from characters like Luffy and Goku without getting enough of their positive ones. He’s not very smart and is quick to give the OK to Happy’s crazy schemes. He doesn’t mind using Lucy if it’ll help the mission and his motion sickness causes him to be a comic relief character quite a lot. He does have his serious moments too of course and they are handled rather well. Breaking into Sting’s base and taking on the boss was one of the most intense moments in the series. Still, Natsu could be far better. He never really escapes his generic self and while you can root for him in a fight, he’s just not in the same ballpark as someone like Ichigo or Goku. I do like the fact that he has fire abilities though since a lot of protagonists actually don’t have that. His super forms are all pretty sharp as well and I suppose I can get behind the fact that he makes some good friendship speeches during his fights.
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Happy is Natsu’s sidekick and one of the weaker characters in the series. He’s always messing with Lucy and trying to get her into very suspect schemes just for the thrills. He seems to just like irritating her so he’s not in the same vein as someone like Master Roshi, but it’s all still very extreme so I just didn’t like him at all. By the time he tries to get serious it is way too late and he can’t even fight so it’s not like he is ever very helpful.

Lucy is the main heroine. She’s a nice enough person, but Lucy definitely puts up with way too much harassment from the rest of the cast. It seems like everyone is after her at times and unfortunately she barely even feels like a character at times since the series uses her for fanservice so often. Theoretically that shouldn’t affect her personality but since she never makes a real effort to tell everyone to back off I have to say that she is just not strong willed enough to be likable. Lucy also can’t really fight, but she can summon spirits which help her in combat. The ability is quite limited though so she can’t really compete as the series goes on.

Lets talk about the better supporting characters for a minute. Erza is one of the best in the series and was known as one of the stronger characters from the start. She managed to stay ahead of Natsu and Gray for a very long time which is quite impressive. She is a master swordswoman with incredible stamina and defense. She can endure a lot of injuries like getting all of her bones broken and probably takes more punishment than any of the others. She has a variety of different swords and armors which grant her different abilities. Erza is always eager for a fight and managed to make a difference in all of the arcs. She never got overshadowed even at the very end.

My favorite character in the whole series is definitely Gray as he manages to edge out Erza and Acnologia for that spot. He’s an ice type user so as you’d guess he is Natsu’s rival. He is always fighting with Natsu as they exchange insults and all, but it’s in good fun. Gray’s gimmick of constantly taking off his shirt could have been dicey, but it was handled fairly well. (As well as that kind of plot can be handled I suppose) He does have a habit of trying to use his suicide ice attack which destroys him and the opponent, but since this is Fairy Tail it never works out for him. Gray probably gets a little too desperate at times, but he does always try to make sure he protects his friends. He gets a lot of really hype moments and just really stole the show. If anything, I wish he could have fought a little more in the final arc. He never actually got to match up against Acnologia which is a huge missed opportunity if you ask me.

Gajeel is another rival to Natsu, but one that I couldn’t take seriously. For starters, he was completely evil when he was in the other guild, but “turned good” in the blink of an eye and nobody seemed to care. He strung up some of Natsu’s friends crucifixion style at their base, but it was yesterday’s news. I wasn’t thrilled at how quickly he became one of the gang with comic relief moments and everything. From there, I just never felt like he caught up to Natsu either or that he was even in the same ballpark. I suppose he is meant to be, but I just wasn’t seeing it. From Natsu’s rivals (Gray, Sting, etc) he is definitely the weakest one. He has metal powers so he can make himself more durable and it can also be used as a projectile. It’s not a bad power to have.

Juvia is one of the main heroines of the series and she is a water type user. Her attacks are quite potent as you’d expect since she can drown her opponents and affect the weather itself. Once she is a hero she doesn’t get to fight quite as much, but Juvia is always around. She’s another character who is always willing to make the tough calls to help someone out and really helps Gray out in some of his tougher battles.

Wendy is one of the legendary dragon slayers like Natsu and Gajeel. She looks like a kid because she never got her growth spurt which leads to her always getting annoyed at everyone for pointing this out. She’s typically a chipper character though who is always upbeat and willing to find a peaceful solution to a problem. She has wind powers and more importantly she can heal injuries as well. There are very few healers in the series so the others are lucky to have her. She got a Super Saiyan esque form towards the end of the series which was immensely valuable and helped her catch up to the others in the power department. Like Natsu, Wendy has a partner named Carla. Carla is much better than Happy as she actually does a good job of being a partner by offering sound battle strategies and tips to Wendy. She is also a lot more serious and would have absolutely down voted all of Happy’s plans if he tried them on Wendy.

Mavis is the original leader of Fairy Tail and quite a historic figure in the series. She gets a lot of hype, but can’t really fight. Technically she is dead (Frozen solid so maybe not totally dead) before the series even starts, but she is effectively immortalized as a spirit. She comes and goes as she pleases and still retains her illusion magic. It’s pretty powerful stuff and since she is the best tactician in the series the heroes use her plans quite a bit. I just wish she could have had more offensive magic. She’s a fun character and partially thanks to her well done spinoff manga, I can say that she is one of the better characters in the series.
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Makarov is the current leader of Fairy Tail. He retires pretty often if you ask me, but usually finds himself back in the chair at some point or other. He can be annoying at times as he follows the rules quite a lot. He is definitely ready for a fight when one of the team is kidnapped, but on the whole he is too laid back. He rarely gets into fights and he has one of the worst fights in the final arc. He gets to go up against nameless minions. How impressive for the group leader eh? I expect better from this guy. He is seen as one of the strongest members and all, but I was never too impressed with him. It helps that I never liked the whole “I can turn into a giant!” ability. He could have used more speed if you ask me.

Hades is one of the first big villains. He’s fairly generic as far as personality goes, but I suppose he was all right. He had a decent design I guess and he did give us a good fight scene. He was very overshadowed by the villains who would arrive later on, but as a first big boss he wasn’t bad. He reminded me of Zabuza in the sense that it was the first time the kids got to fight a boss on the level of their sensei. This is almost the same situation as the team has to fight someone who is on par with Makarov. With a name like Hades, you certainly do expect great things.

Zeref is the big villain of the whole series. He seems to show up in every arc as he says ominous things and walk away. He’s the big mastermind behind just about everything and his ability is fierce. Everything around him dies. If he is standing next to you, then you’ll just suddenly die. If you have a strong life force it’ll happen a little slower as you accelerate through the years, but there is just no defense against it aside from the power of friendship. Zeref essentially wants someone to destroy him because otherwise he’ll end up destroying the world. It’s actually a pretty tragic plot if you think about it as Zeref keeps on creating extremely powerful demons and weapons, but none of them are strong enough to defeat him. The strongest of these monsters are Natsu and the Book of END demons, but even they are too weak. Only Acnologia stands a chance and by then Zeref has given up. Instead, his big plan is to become all powerful so he can go back in time and destroy himself so he’ll never have had the chance to hurt so many people. At the same time, Natsu and friends can’t let this happen because then their current memories would disappear. Also, no matter the reason, they can’t just let him die that way. Zeref’s definitely still a villain through and through as his plan involves destroying a ton of people even if he plans to bring them back someday. He did a good job of avoiding people for decades, but I suppose he couldn’t hide out forever. It really is a sad existence.

Laxus is one of the big hype members of Fairy Tail. He has electric abilities and his status got to his head at one point so he became one of the big antagonists of the series. He doesn’t do much after turning good, but he’s a reasonably solid character I suppose. The betrayal still felt so random at the beginning. This is one of those characters that I think the author could have done a little more with to be honest. Same with Gildarts. Gildarts is known as the strongest Fairy Tail member and he got some insane hype. Then he only got a small handful of battles during the series and none of them were against the big threats. His fight against August was fairly good I suppose, but even then he was basically losing. I don’t think he ever quite lived up to his own hype and that’s the problem about waiting so long to have the character to anything. Enough’s enough after a while and the extra hype just starts to get you worried about when the character will actually do anything. Gildarts is also a big flirt who is irresponsible the whole time so that also hurt my opinion of him quite a lot. He’s a bad character.

Mirajane is a Fairy Tail member who can turn into a demon. She’s usually a really nice person, but gets a lot meaner and more aggressive once she transforms. Her demon modes are pretty cool and each of them come with cool stat upgrades. She’s a character who never got a lot of screen time compared to the main characters, but she actually did well when she got a chance. I can’t really recall her losing a major fight. She was likely defeated at some point, but for the most part she did a great job of always coming through when it counted.

Jellal is one of the mysterious figures of the series. He starts out kind of evil as he wants revenge on everybody and eventually becomes an anti hero before becoming a total hero. He also has an alternate universe version of himself that starts out as a hero. He’s a reasonable character for the most part although his romance with Erza is pretty bad from the start. He was also another character who was lost in the shuffle as he assembled a big team of hype characters for the final arc, but they were all taken out off screen. He likes to work alone so that he didn’t cause any trouble for the heroes, but it felt like he never really accomplished anything. He did his best to stop Acnologia and bought a little time, but it didn’t really help much. His super speed Meteor attack and the ones that he can shoot make him a fairly powerful opponent so he’s got that going for him. I also thought he had a pretty good design. While he’s not the best of characters, I didn’t really mind him as a rival.
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Cana is the drunk of Fairy Tail and that’s her main character. She doesn’t do much besides that for most of the series. She helps out in the fight against August and has a big moment near the end where she learns some of the Ancient Fairy magic, but boy does she get the shaft in this series. I’m pretty okay with that since her running gag of fanservice with Lucy was pretty bad and she never has on much of a costume to begin with. She did help the series give us a lot of “It’s Miller Time” moments though so there’s that.

Elfman is probably the blandest member of Fairy Tail and it’s easy to forget that he exists. His whole character is that he’s really strong, but also a nice guy deep down. He comes through for his friends and basically manages to beat much stronger opponents just because he believes in friendship. Sure, you could say the same for many characters, but he’s just so weak that it’s really hard to take him seriously. He stretches the credibility of the moment every time he appears and I just never ended up liking him at all. He doesn’t even have any real bad qualities, there just isn’t anything cool about him.

Jose was a big villain of one of the early arcs, but I can’t really remember him much. What I do remember I can’t really differentiate from Hades so there’s not much to say about this guy. I can’t even say if I like him or not, but if you’re called the Phantom Lord you’ve got to be good right? Cobra is one of the dragon slayers, but not only does he not get a lot of hype, but he never seemed particularly powerful next to the others. He’s such a minor character that I forgot he even existed for a while. He technically has some decent stats and all, but the other slayers are just in another league and he doesn’t get to do much against Acnologia. The series practically breaks the third wall with him as he states that he also has friends to protect, but doesn’t even get a flashback. Meanwhile the rest of the characters are talking about friendship and we’ve seen their bonds throughout the whole series. It’s kind of sad for Cobra.

Ultear is a pretty good villain. She gets into quite a few fights with Gray thanks to their backstory. She’s pretty confident at all times and is capable in a fight. She can control time and even unlock the true abilities that a person possesses within them. This makes her a good fighter as well as a good support member to have at the ready. Her jump from villain to hero was more believable than most of the others and was also handled a lot smoother. Meredy is another strong warrior who can link two people’s senses. This is unfortunately an ability that rarely guarantees victory as it just brings about mutual destruction. If one person feels pain than so does the other so it becomes a battle of who is more durable. The injuries are also linked and this makes for a battle that both combatants won’t enjoy. Honestly, it’s a power that I’d never want to have to be honest, but it’s nice to have when you’re a hero. There are so many great applications for it like being able to feel like you’re eating two different things at once.

Mard Geer was one of the strongest villains in the entire series. Gray and Natsu had to team up to take him on and even then they were just barely able to overpower him. He had a pretty fun personality and his arrogance made the battle more enjoyable. He has thorn abilities so he can hit you with plants and then his demon mode made him a very fierce physical fighter. It had a nice design and just felt like a final boss. In that respect, only Zeref and Acnologia could match him which makes sense since they were the only two big bosses after him.

Kyoka is one of the big members of the END Demons, but she’s not a good villain. She likes torturing her opponents and revels in the pain that she causes. It makes for a terrible sequence with Erza that was one of the low points of the series. She can fight decently well aside from all of that and had a decent design, but just doesn’t make for a good villain. It’s not like you ever end up hoping for her fight to come. Jackal was a good villain though. He was essentially the vanguard of his villain grouip as he attacked first and took on Natsu in an epic fight. While he was seemingly nerfed later on, it was a very impressive opening scene. It started the arc out with a bang and may have been one of the first big fights of the series. He reminded me of Grimmjow a little and I was definitely impressed with him throughout. He was a surprise hit.

Silver is Gray’s father and appears out of nowhere towards the end of the series. There are a lot of plot twists during that fight, but suffice it to say, Silver made for a good villain. His reasoning by the end was pretty wonky, but I suppose when you have everyone jumping from villain to hero, some of the occasions will end up being a little sketchy. This was one of those, but as long as we get the fight I’m good.

Finally we’ve made it to Acnologia, the big bad of the series. You knew he was serious from the start when he managed to take out the whole cast in a single shot. They only survived thanks to a bunch of convenient things occurring at the same time. The characters never quite got up to his level and Acnologia was just in another class. He was able to take on all of the Dragon Slayers teaming up without any effort at all. His conversion to the good side was probably the most cheesy though. He went from talking about bathing in blood and murdering everyone to friendship in the very next chapter. He also ended up going down in one punch which was extremely plot haxy. I think the author just made him way too strong and didn’t think about what to do afterwards. This is a running theme throughout the series. Acnologia is definitely the best villain in Fairy Tail despite this and you always knew that things were going to get real when he showed up.
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August is one of the big fighters in the final arc. He gets a lot of hype and is strong enough to even take on Gildarts. That being said, he has one of the worst ends as he ends up destroying himself. He had a slightly better reason than Irene at least as he finally learned who his mother was and had to destroy himself to stop his spell from destroying the planet. He didn’t completely turn good or anything like that, but it was a good enough reason for him to stop the attack. It was just completely anticlimactic and not how you want to see a big villain go down.

Irene is Erza’s mother and another villain who got a bunch of hype. She was easily overwhelming both Wendy and Erza during the fight. Unfortunately, she also ended up destroying herself instead of finishing the job. She saw the power of friendship and was inspired so she had to end her wicked ways. This is one of the main reasons why the final arc became a joke. If the villains are all destroying themselves or any other villains in their path…then what’s even the point? The heroes couldn’t stop them and the author had to choose one of the worst ways to end it. Irene’s origin story is also unnecessarily dark to the extreme.

Larcade was an okay villain. He never really gets to fight Natsu which is unfortunate, but he has a pretty good fight with Sting. There are a lot of plot hax with his fight but that’s to be expected. His powers are also pretty iffy as he can essentially make you feel great joy to the max during a fight which makes you distracted and unable to fight. It’s a pretty creepy power to be honest but fortunately it wouldn’t work on many main characters due to its limitation. I didn’t really mind him as I liked the lore and his character design, but the power was certainly a let down.

Serena is another big villain who has the power of 8 Dragon Slayers. I actually mixed him up with Larcade quite a bit because their character designs are way too similar. He couldn’t live up to the hype too well since he had the misfortune of going up against Acnologia, but the series did make it clear that he was a formidable threat. I believe that the main Fairy Tail squad of Natsu and friends would have certainly had a lot of trouble with him and maybe they would have even been defeated. For what it’s worth I did think he was a pretty good villain.

Brandish is able to alter the size of her opponents and herself. These kinds of abilities are usually not seen as a threat so kudos to Fairy Tail for using it in a way where she was able to be one of the big threats. It loses that credit almost instantly though as she quickly becomes an ally who is extremely weak and can’t even stand up to her subordinates. Ah well, I suppose the series made an attempt. Invel is essentially Zeref’s right hand man although his role isn’t nearly as big as you might expect. It’s a fairly small role and I don’t recall him doing anything of importance. His ice abilities are certainly powerful though as he was able to give Gray a good fight. Not just anybody can pull off such a feast. Invel may be a little generic as a tactician, but he performs the role well so I have no complaints.

Ajeel is a sand user who is incredibly powerful as he had the upper hand against Natsu and Erza. Having sand abilities always seemed pretty useful to me since they are so versatile and Ajeel supports that argument. It’s just really tough to even land a hit on him thanks to his impressive speed. He was one of the first guys to fight in the final arc and you can draw a lot of similarities between him and Jackal.

Lyon was one of Gray’s original rivals. He never quite kept up though so he doesn’t do much for the second half of the series. His ice abilities are solid, but after a while everyone’s ice abilities just feel more or less like the same thing. Lyon needed some kind of edge to surpass the others and he just never got it. Sting was one of Natsu’s rivals and he did a better job of staying relevant. At the very least, he was around to help against Mad Geer and while he started out antagonistic, he eventually became one of the allies. His turn around wasn’t too cheesy as he never seemed all that ruthless and he was very strong. The scene where he almost took on the whole Fairy Tail squad at once was hype. Too bad the power of friendship brought him to his knees without a single punch being thrown. Sting may never get to surpass Natsu, but I can respect his abilities.

Rogue is essentially Sting’s counter part. Instead of light blasts he uses the shadows. He’s slightly weaker than Sting, but still a really powerful warrior in his own right. The two fighters can even combine their powers to make themselves even stronger. He never had as much personality though and can be hard to trust since his future self ended up turning evil at some point. No worries, his present self will not go down that dark path.

There are several dragons in the series, but Igneel is the only one who really got a role. As far as mentor figures go, I was never too impressed with him. He had a pretty decent fight with Acnologia and he is certainly strong, but he stayed away from the action for way too long. The whole series you’re wondering when he’s going to do something and it takes him too long. I wasn’t too satisfied with the reason for why all of the dragons seemingly died many years ago either. It was an odd decision and the many plot twists that followed made the situation more complicated than necessary.
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Minerva is a skilled fighter who started out as one of the meanest Sabertooth members, but eventually grew to be an ally. She was able to get between Natsu and Jiemma which is no small feat and consistently hid her abilities until the time was right. In close quarters combat she proved to be a match for Kagura and Erza as well so throw in her projectiles and you really have a versatile fighter on your hands. She made for a pretty good villain. Jiemma is a fairly minor villain in comparison, but he gave us one of the most epic batch of fight scenes in the manga so that was cool. As a character he is definitely pretty bad though and is just another “Everyone needs to be strong!” character as he values power above all else. Too bad he didn’t realize that three of his subordinates had already surpassed him.

That was a bunch of characters, but in a series this long that is to be expected right? It managed to get over 60 volumes of course so that was plenty of time for a bunch of different arcs. You really get used to all of the characters during that stretch of time as well. It may be a meme to say that you read Fairy Tail for the plot, but honestly it was pretty good. As I mentioned, there were a ton of really hype moments. Take away the fanservice and this is easily a 9 star manga title. The art was downright amazing and one of the best in the business. The fact that Natsu is a close up fighter makes his fights more engaging since they’re like those that you find in Reborn!. I always like seeing a character who can move at super speeds and virtually fly by the end. It’s a lot more fun than projectile fighters even if their battles can be fun as well.

Since you get used to the characters and there is a lot of foreshadowing for some villains, it also makes the payoff seem that much more grand. After seeing Zeref get hyped up for over 50 volumes, it was really cool to see him fight at last. There are also so many volumes that it lends itself well to a re read since I can barely even remember most of the early arcs to be honest. The tournament and the final arc are easily the most memorable ones to me. Even considering the fact that plot hax was constant and that the villains all kept turning good or destroying themselves, it was easy to stay invested in the story. While it could be cheesy, the whole power of friendship thing was just a lot of fun.

The author built up a very detailed universe with cool power standings and a lot of guilds all over the place. By the end of the series, there were enough pieces on the board to properly do a good invasion arc. You can’t really pull something like that off without being a series that has run for at least 40 volumes. It’s why Naruto and Bleach were able to do it so well since they had also developed everyone by then. One Piece did a reasonably sized one as well in Marineford, but much smaller in scope. That’s a series that could certainly do a big war arc and I’d love to see that be the finale. Hopefully they make the power levels a bit better for those though so there’s less plot hax.

That’s what really makes the manga so disappointing. It’s one thing for a title like Black Bird to sink its own grave because even if you take away the terrible romance and such, the series wasn’t going to be very good anyway. I doubt it would even reach a 5. So to have a series that is actually really good with a lot of effort behind it get completely destroyed because of all the fanservice, now that’s a tragic shame. Especially since it had such a modest beginning. What’s done is done though.

Finally, how was the ending? Well, it’s basically what you’d expect. It goes with a generic time skip, we get pairings for just about everyone (Romance always was a priority for the series) and you probably could have accurately predicted the ending quite a while ago. It’s not as bad as it could have been honestly. It was a fitting way to end and I’m sure that nobody is really going to be walking about it. People will remember the series, but the ending has nothing that will really wow you.

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Overall, It’s really a shame, but Fairy Tail dug its own grave. There was just no way the manga could redeem itself. It prioritized fanservice and that led to its destruction. I certainly can’t recommend this manga since there are plenty of epic titles that don’t resort to such tricks. Stick to classic titles like Dragon Ball Z or Bleach if you want a lot of epic scenes without the negatives that surround Fairy Tail. You’ll be all the better for it and if necessary, there are Fairy Tail spinoffs like the Mavis one which are better than the main title. This one can just fade from our memories.

Overall 1/10

Tegami Bachi Review

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Tegami Bachi is one of those titles that took a big risk as it has a very original plot. It’s about mailmen who deliver letters in an apocalyptic world where giant monsters run wild. Nobody dares leave their house because of these monsters and there really isn’t an army or police to speak of. The Mailmen are known as the last defense and their method of attacking the monsters is to use guns that are fueled by their hearts and the hearts of others. As such, the mail that they deliver carries the feelings of the person who wrote them and that is what allows them to fight the monsters. Otherwise, they have to use their own heart and if they use too much, they’ll die as well.

The series follows a kid named Lag. He cries a lot and isn’t really as tough as you’d expect a mailman to be. That being said, being a mailman has always been his dream ever since he saw one in person a while back. He soon finds out that the group may not be as heroic as the stories say and everyone has an agenda. He also learns the startling truth that the Sun is actually being powered by humans around the world. They are kidnapped and fed into the Sun to keep it bright. The hearts that the Mailmen are using also seem to have permanent effects on the humans so while they are helping the world….they’re dooming its inhabitants at the same time. There are others who know this and call themselves the Revolutionary army. At first I thought they were trying to black out the Sun, but they just went crazy at the end so I’ll assume that they are Twitch commentors. It seems like a simple solution though right? Just blow up the Sun. The Problem is that the embodiment of the Sun is actually Lag’s mother, who was kidnapped and forced to be the vessel. Lag can try to save her and keep the Sun alive, murdering millions in the process, or save the humans but end up destroying his Mom. Alternately he can do nothing and the Mom will turn into a giant monster and destroy the Earth on her own. He has some tough calls to make.

Honestly, one of the reasons why the series wasn’t very good is that the characters just aren’t very interesting. Lag is our protagonist, but it’s hard to like the guy. He spends over half of the series crying. It becomes such a huge part of his character that it’s how he is recognized by the others. After he spent a year training in the wilderness, everyone thought he was an imposter because he didn’t cry anymore. Honestly, that could have saved his character if it didn’t only happen for the final 2 volumes. He essentially sealed off his emotions in exchange for great powers. It was so complete that he couldn’t even shed a tear when his sister died. Was it really worth the power? Well, it gave him enough of a boost where he was able to take down the evil Insect Queen so I suppose, but I can see why the others would be completely alienated. Especially since Lag had absolutely no intention of cluing any of the others in. So, I liked Lag in the final 2 volumes, but considering that the series was a full 20, it was wayyyy too late for any of that.

His Dingo (Essentially it means partner in this series) is Niche. She has an unfortunate habit of constantly taking her pants off since she doesn’t like them and it’s one of those running gags that was never funny even at the start. I do like the fact that Niche has actual powers. She can use her hair as a barrier or as a means of attack so she doesn’t have to worry about carrying mail around. She even has a pet although she claims it is just in case she gets hungry. Again…not a very funny joke. Niche just wasn’t all that likable. She’s all right at best and is a slight improvement over Lag, but not a big one.

Gauche is one of those intriguing characters. He starts out as a great character. He’s the expert that everybody looks up to and manages to stay rather mysterious as well. Then he decided to betray everyone and joined the villain organization…then he became a hero again. By the end he has decided to stick to the path of the hero but he sure did flip flop a lot. He also lost his memories in the process so so much for that. He was a pretty good villain and I suppose he is still one of the most interesting characters in the series, but I wondered what the point of his role was.

Zazie is sort of like a sub rival. He’s a fairly good fighter, but a considerable step below Gauche. He is fairly confident and likes to talk a big game, but his weakness is that his shots lack power so he can’t take down the bigger monsters. He also looks up to Jiggy Pepper a lot. Jiggy gets a considerable amount of hype, but he never actually does much. He only appears once in a while and while it seems like he is a pretty good Letter Bee (Mailman) he just can’t be bothered to help out. You’d think with the fate of the world at stake that he’d make more of an effort.

Connor is Lag’s best friend. He’s the comic relief, overweight member of the Letter Bee police. He can’t really fight much, but he likes eating so that’s what motivates him. He’ll eat anything at any time of the day so I suppose you have to admire the dedication. That being said, it doesn’t really make him a compelling character.

Largo is one of the main leaders of the Letter Bee and naturally he also ended up being a big traitor. As with Gauche though, he seemed rather conflicted about this so after sticking with the villains for a while, he decided to become a hero again. I suppose it’s lightly hinted that he only joined to trick the villains into heading for the final boss room to provide more hearts for the heroes. He also got a really rushed/dark origin story as we find out that his Mom was experimented on and his Dad was a villain. It really had nothing to do with anything, just like this character as a whole.

Roda is Gauche’s Dingo and it’s nice to see one who really knows what she is doing. The obvious parallels between her combat ability and Gauche’s vs the pair of Lag and Niche makes you wish the series would consider trading main characters. Roda is definitely pretty good and is a little more committed to being heroic. Then there’s also Lawrence who is the main leader of the villains. Thing is, since the villains had no plan, I have to put most of the blame on this guy. Whatever he was trying to do didn’t work so clearly he should have thought it through more.
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We also meet the Head Letter Bee at the very end of the series. Essentially he went insane upon finding out that the government was using massive amounts of slaves to fuel the Sun and went crazy. Instead of trying to save them, he decided to help since “what’s done is done.” After reminding us of how he is still evil, he decided to run away, but under the guise of a giant teddy bear. Even though he ran off he still has enough authority to boss around the whole cast. He claims that he has transcended gender as well so he only talks with hearts now. I also don’t know what point this character had, but that’s a running theme in the series.

When you really break this series down, you realize that the story had a really good premise. It really could and should have been a great series. One issue is that there are no real fight scenes. Every action scene is just the main characters firing their guns and hoping for the best. The monsters never really fight back or do anything. They are portrayed as being completley mindless. The final Insect which hovers over the whole sun seems to be as abstract as it is physical. It barely matters since it is taken down in one shot as well. I’m all for mindless monsters attacking, but then that’s why you also need humanoid opponents. However, the villains never directly fought the heroes because they were too busy.

At least the art is pretty decent. It’s not great or anything, but it works well for the somber atmosphere that the series is going for. The characters can look rather similar at times which is a little iffy, but it’s not too bad or anything. Unfortunately, the series does have some fanservice at times. It’s nothing too frequent, but there is some actual nudity in it. The volumes may blur it out as I don’t remember coming across it although a panel in the final two volumes may have had a moment like it, but fortunately it seems like a stain got in the way. Basically stuff like this only happens when Niche’s sister is in town, but that’s still pretty terrible. I am reviewing the title from the volumes that I read though which is why I’m not bumping it down to an instant 0. If you decide to read it online though, be warned. There aren’t a lot of positives to go around as it is so it’s tougher to fight the negatives.

The plot is fairly confusing like Pandora Hearts, but it isn’t interesting in the way that Hearts was. You’re never interested in learning more about Letter Bee because there isn’t much more to learn. Even if you re read the series, it’s not as if you missed a whole lot. It’s just that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense anyway. Here’s one big issue with the series, at the end they say that they can only send one person to the capital to stop the giant monster. Why? The whole world is going to end anyway so why not send everybody? After a lot of drama, they decide to send 2 Letter Bees, but then the whole cast follows them anyway. There was never any reason whatsoever not to send the whole gang in. While they’re bickering and wasting time on side missions to decide who is worthy to go, whole cities are being wiped off of the planet. Yes, the aliens can take out whole cities in a single flash from the Sun but nobody seems to care. Even the manga doesn’t really treat it like a big deal. It’s just a city after all.

This is just one example of how the author didn’t think things through. I also think that he went too far in making every character act like a villain. I know many titles like to make the government evil, but you need to have some good characters. The only two groups are the evil government who kidnaps and tortures its subjects for no real reason and the terrorists who want to either take control of the Sun or blow it up. No matter who you pick, they don’t have your best interests at heart. There was no reason to go to this extreme. The government could have been shady without being evil. Did the Sun really have to be Lag’s Mom so he would be forced to destroy her in the end? Of course, it’s seen as more like he was setting her free, but it’s still rather dark.

Even the ending is rather dark to be honest. I won’t spoil that since it would be a bit much, but part of the whole point of the final journey was to try and save everyone. That’s the whole reason why Lag sacrificed his emotions and tried to get stronger. Unfortunately while it wasn’t futile, the body count was pretty high by the end. Some characters won’t even be thrilled to get their hearts back because they have already lost everyone they cared about. Nobody’s bringing the various cities back. The ending’s a little vague on a certain character, but I’d say that he’s probably dead. It tries to be an inspirational ending, but I certainly wouldn’t call it one. It’s not a classic time skip though so I’ll give it that.

If only the series could have done more with its premise instead of worrying about a terribly conceived plot. I like the idea of people being unable to travel anymore so they have to rely on messages for communication. It’s retro and still gets the apocalyptic feel across. Mailmen being the ones to travel is a nice exaggeration of what really goes on as the famous saying that Mailmen deliver no matter how the weather is. It’s a fun concept and could have made for a really good series. It could have tackled some other themes like if they should deliver messages from villains and the like since they shouldn’t read it, but can read emotions so they typically know what kind of message it is. This was all far too nuanced for Letter Bee though so it simply wasn’t to be.
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Overall, Letter Bee’s not a very fun series. It’s too bad as the series was trying to get back on track by the end. Lag’s new personality was certainly a positive although the Teddy Bear at the end and all of the random twists didn’t help matters. Lag’s friend was going to sacrifice her whole city even though Lag said he had a plan just because she could. (Her plan didn’t work anyway) The series never really seems all that dark except it just is. The manga just doesn’t portray the events as being too serious. There’s not a lot of action and the cast is rather weak. There aren’t a bunch of negatives though so that’s a good thing but they weren’t needed when there isn’t much positive to fight it off. There isn’t much reason to ever revisit the series, but I suppose if you want a title with mailmen and giant monsters, then this one’s a good pick for you. That’s rather specific, but it’s the best I got.

Overall 4/10

Bleach Review

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It’s time to take a look at Bleach. “Y You don’t just mention one of the greats like that.” That’s true. This is one of the greatest titles of all time. Honestly, Bleach didn’t make it to the top as smoothly as something like DBZ, It made more mistakes than Hitman Reborn, and it never got as intense as Megaman NT Warrior. That being said, the series kept on persevering as it churned out chapter after chapter. The pros always ended up outweighing the cons and it easily had some of the best action scenes in any title out there. That’s why it’s good to be a really long manga because as long as the negatives don’t show up constantly, they’ll eventually be swept away by all of the good scenes in the series. With only 4 real arcs, Bleach had time to develop all of them and give us a bunch of fights.

The basic premise of the series is that Ichigo Kurosaki one day sees monsters attack his home and quickly moves to stop them. He gains the abilities of a Soul Reaper by accidentally stealing Rukia’s. She tells him that it is now his duty to slay the evil demons known as Hollows and Ichigo agrees…to an extent. The first real arc starts when Rukia is kidnapped by her superiors and they decide to execute her for allowing a human to obtain her powers. This all seems rather crooked so Ichigo decides to go rescue her along with some friends that he made along the way. Still, can he really beat these Captains of the Soul Society who have been training and honing their skills for multiple centuries? It’ll be tough, but Ichigo is as brave as they come!

As there are a ton of characters throughout the series. I’ll mainly be talking about them as they arrive. So for example, I’ll now discuss all of the characters who were in Arc 1. We gotta start with Ichigo of course. He’s a very aggressive character who is always eager for a fight and very quickly became one of my favorite protagonists. He doesn’t dwell on things as much as other leads and just jumps into battle. He takes what his friends say at face value and doesn’t even fall for the usual mind games where the villains try to make him doubt the Soul Society. He gets stronger and stronger with each arc and eventually became the ultimate hybrid fighter. His Bankai has an excellent design and is still my favorite in the series. The original is certainly the best although all of the versions were pretty cool. His Hollowfication is also a very cool ability and it was handled perfectly. I would have liked to have seen it more in Arc 4, but it got a lot of screen time in the first two arcs so that was pretty satisfying.

I think one of the things that separates him from Naruto and Luffy is that he is a lot more serious. The others tend to have comic relief moments even during big fights or just have more displays of not looking all that smart. Ichigo’s not exactly a genius or anything like that, but he certainly doesn’t let his opponents know that and Ichigo always has a good bluff going on. He takes on all opponents even if he is outmatched and generally finds a way to come out on top. He adapts in battle well and just comes across as a really heroic guy. He is certainly one of the big reasons why the series was so good.

Rukia is arguably the main heroine. It’s between her and Orihime, but I’d argue that Rukia certainly appears more and gets a bigger role. She fights with ice abilities and gradually moves up the ranks of the Soul Society. I’d probably hold a bit of a grudge against them if I was her considering that they tried to murder her in the first arc, but she got over it surprisingly well. She’s a nice enough character and I’m glad that she decided to help Ichigo even though it meant defying orders. He would clearly do the same for her and has done so in the past. She was a consistent character throughout the series and was probably the most enjoyable member of the main supporting cast.

Next up is Orihime and unfortunately I can’t really say that she was a great character. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice enough person. I just feel like she didn’t stand up for herself enough. The whole series hyped up the fact that she is a reality warper who can reject events. This power has unlimited possibilities, but she only uses it a handful of times in the series and mostly just gets kidnapped, defeated, or mind controlled by the enemies. She never makes a decision to step up and fight for herself. It was a little disappointing because I had been expecting her to make a big move like that. I feel like the author never let her get a real role beyond being the damsel in distress so there just wasn’t much to like about her.

Chad is another one of Ichigo’s friends and his arms can turn into cannon arms which increase his attack power quite a lot. While his stats are still human in nature, his attack strength is enough to hurt even the strongest of enemies. It makes him a bit of a glass cannon. Ultimately he can’t really compete by the second half of the series or even after Arc 1 really. He’s a nice enough guy though, but I lost a lot of respect for him in Arc 3. Going behind Ichigo’s back and joining a really shady organization was pretty suspect. Doubting Ichigo because of his new friend was also iffy and Orihime should be blamed as well. Yeah, mind control’s tough, but if Byakuya could see through it and said that he would be on Ichigo’s side even despite his memories….then how could they not do the same? Their bonds with Ichigo should be far stronger than that. I do have to admit that Bleach had a bit of a weaker supporting cast than the average Shonen, at least from the main main cast. I’m only counting Ichigo’s inner circle of friends with that statement. Most of them cracked by the end.
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The biggest character to flop was Uryu. He started out as a weak rival who Ichigo surpassed almost instantly and then helped out during the next few arcs. He wasn’t mind controlled so that was good. Unfortunately, he decided to become a big traitor in the final arc and there was no turning back from that. I knew from the start that he would have some kind of big justification but that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. It turns out that his reason for betraying everyone was more pitiful than I could have imagined. It would have made more sense to have attacked with Ichigo and friends instead of trying to murder them several times. Uryu had the help of a great deal of plot hax throughout the final arc and every scene with him was just incredibly annoying. He’s easily one of the most unlikable characters in the series by the end and you have to question just how weak the bonds were to the guy. If he can betray everyone so easily, then maybe he was never really much of a friend in the first place.

Zaraki is one of the big Captains of Soul Society and one of my personal favorite characters. He really enjoys a fight and likes to charge straight in. That doesn’t work too well against some of the more overpowered villains, but I certainly like the confidence. At one point he was my favorite character. While he was surpassed by Grimmjow, Byakuya, and Ichigo, he still remains as one of the more likable ones. He may not have looked too tough in Arc 1 since Ichigo was able to take him on, you could argue that this was plot hax or that the author hadn’t really thought the power levels through yet. Regardless, he began to look much better from there and did particularly well in Arc 3 and shined a bit in Arc 2 as well.

Byakuya is another Captain and the polar opposite of Zaraki. He’s always very calm and collected during his fights. Instead of charging in, his abilities are made for long-middle range combat as he assaults you with thousands of flower petals. He’s known as one of the more powerful Captains and potentially the strongest although the series tries to convince you that the title goes to Shunsui or Yamamoto. I was hoping to see more of him in the final arc but the cast was so big by then that everyone only got to have 1 or 2 big fights. As it is, I’m satisfied that he at least got one big fight in every arc. He really did well for himself throughout the series.

Hitsugaya is one of the youngest Captains and as such he is a little weaker than the others. Like Rukia he has ice powers and he has made it his mission to protect Momo. He gets into a rage a little easier than the others as supposedly he is still too young to control his emotions. (Not that I buy this much as all of the Captains lose control once in a while) He gets a lot of screen time so you’ll see him a lot. I liked the character well enough, he’s not my favorite character, but still beats quite a lot of them. He’s in the upper echelon at any rate. His Bankai needs some work though. I never found it to be particularly useful or strong.

Ichimaru is one of the 3 evil Captains. No worries, he has a sob story to explain why he did what he did and I didn’t buy it at all. I didn’t like him as a villain or as a “hero.” I did like the fact that he actually lied about his Bankai’s ability though. Seriously, more characters should do that as everyone takes what their opponent says at face value. A lot of people make fun of the series because the villains always explain their abilities to the heroes. Some of them would be quite dangerous if they didn’t explain it because you just couldn’t figure it out. At the very least Ichimaru is certainly one of the smartest villains. I don’t like the character, but he made for a good opponent.

If you want an unlikable villain who doesn’t even make for a good antagonist, look no further than Tousen. He is another one of the Evil Captains who fights by erasing your 5 senses while you’re within his bankai. It doesn’t work out so well for him though so then he gains the ability to turn into a fly. His whole character’s personality is meant to show that he’s a very rotten person who tries to make everyone feel as bad as possible. The series doesn’t even try to make him a likable character and it’s just hinted that his sense of justice was corrupt from the start. His fans were likely disappointed by this since the fact that he lasted over 40 volumes hinted that he would get to do something big. It just never happened.

The final one of the evil captains is Aizen. He’s the mastermind behind all of Arc 2 and gets more hype than almost any other character in manga history. He’s an incredible character and I’m always tempted to put him in as my favorite character in the series. Grimmjow has that spot wrapped up and I think it’s safe to say that Ichigo has the number 2 spot, but Aizen is 3rd. He basically planned out the entire series and used everybody. Even as a normal Captain he had already surpassed the rest and then he got to evolve into a higher level being. His illusion abilities ensured that he was 100% unbeatable. Only plot hax could help Ichigo at that point. It was just a great moment and Aizen became a DBZ level being. He has quite a few of the best moments of the series and breaking his glasses was one of them. It’s amazing how quickly his design can change. His fight scene against all of the Captains and Visored is also one of the best in manga history.

What really makes Aizen great is his incredible overconfidence throughout the series. He is always smug and knows that the events are all happening according to his plans. He doesn’t get to do much beyond Arc 2, but that was really all that he needed to be considered as one of the best Shonen Jump villains. You’ll see why he is so great once you read Bleach. He just had everything that you could possibly want in a villain, Power, and Personality. He was a very pragmatic character.

Back to the heroic captains, next up is Komomura. He’s probably one of the weakest Captains as his Bankai makes a bigger version of himself. The problem is that it’s slow and that makes injuring it easier. Komomura also takes in all of the damage that his avatar takes which makes it one that is ill suited for combat. He’s a very by the books character which is a huge red flag and it makes using him so much easier for the villains. I never got around to liking him and I have to say that the character’s ending in the series was pretty sad.
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Shunsui is supposedly the Captain with the most potential and possibly the strongest current one. He is always bored during fights so he rarely ever tries. He prefers to just flirt around the whole time and comes across as a rather unlikable guy who just holds everyone back. I never actually got around to liking him and he’s definitely one of my least favorite Captains. His attacks involve games so they can change for every fight. It’s the kind of ability that can easily backfire if you ask me.

Another captain is Ukitake and he is almost always sick so he rarely gets to fight. I didn’t care much for him either. He got some random plot twists at the end and got a little relevant, but I couldn’t take him seriously by that point. I never saw anything that suggested he was worthy of the Captain title. Yamamoto is the leader and he has fire abilities. He is one of the most corrupt members of the Soul Society and decides that people should be executed for no real reason. Honestly I was rooting for Yhwach during their big battle. Yamamoto seemed to be in the wrong the whole time. The fire attacks aren’t bad, but we didn’t get to see Yamamoto fight much. He made for a decent villain, but the fact that he was allied with the “heroes” made it a little more difficult to look at him without cringing. Nothing worse than having an army of potential heroes, but then seeing that they’re being led by the biggest villain of all.

Rangiku is Hitsugaya’s second in command. Her sword can turn into smoke which is pretty useful. She’s a decent fighter even if she can’t compete with the higher members. None of the lieutenants can really fight at such a high level anyway so it’s to be expected. Unfortunately she is mainly used for fanservice so it’s hard to take her seriously. Momo is another helper but she spends most of the series getting tricked. She never actually gets to have a serious fight and her best moments were missed due to an illusion. Depending on when the illusion started, she was able to fight several Captains at once though so that was cool.

Renji gets a pretty big role like Rukia and serves as one of the main supporting characters of the series. His sword can stretch and turn into a dragon that attacks opponents. It’s another Bankai that is filled with weaknesses so Renji has to rely on fundamentals to win. He’s not a bad character. His personality may be a little weak at times as you wonder what it even is, but he’s someone that you can count on. He gets quite a few fights, but usually ends up losing them. He’s decently strong, but just not strong enough.

Hisagi and Ikkaku are other generals who get a reasonable role. Ikkaku is decently good as he also loves a good fight. He ends up holding back a little too often though even if it means losing a fight. That character trait of his can be really annoying. Hisagi is pretty bland so it’s hard to ever get around to liking him, but he’s still not bad. I think he could just use some more character development. Finally from the main generals we also have Yachiru. She’s a fun companion to have and is always helping Zaraki out. The plot takes some intriguing turns with her and while they may be a little suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that she was one of the more likable generals. She was able to help fight off one of the big Quincy opponents and there was always a lot of potential for what the author could do with her character.

Grand Fisher is the only pre arc villain that I need to talk about. In theory he should have been a major deal because he murdered Ichigo’s Mom and is what started him on this path. In the actual manga he felt a little more like a footnote though and is mainly memorable because he got his own OVA and then later returned briefly in the Hueco Mundo arc. (Which I have no idea what Kubo was thinking there since it was such a small cameo. He’s a pretty decent villain I suppose even if he doesn’t always fight fair. He’ll use any means in order to win. He’s not really my kind of enemy, but he’s not bad either. He certainly had a more menacing design than most of the other villains.

Lets quickly talk about the comic relief squad. Keigo is Ichigo’s main friend and he’s annoying. Orihime’s friend is Tatsuki and she’s a little better as she knows how to fight and is always ready to give Orihime a pep talk. Next up is Chizuru and this is where things start to go downhill. She just can’t hold her own scenes at all and definitely wasn’t needed in the manga. I can’t think of a single scene where she contributed. Then there’s also Kon. He’s a pretty pointless character if you ask me and one with a terrible personality. The verdict is out and I have to say that the human friends were absolutely terrible. Tatsuki is the only bearable one and even then she’s not all that memorable. Ichigo also has two sisters who get some mild hype and all, but never actually get to do anything. The series had hinted that the plot would go somewhere, but it was another red herring. Fortunately, the humans don’t appear much since Ichigo is never actually home.
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Back to the soul society characters, we have Yoruichi. Unfortunately she is used for fanservice at all time and is a flirt by nature, but she does have some good fight scenes. Unlike the rest of the characters, she fights with athletics and hand to hand combat rather than use a weapon. She is similar to Chad in this respect except she is actually powerful and can fight with Captain level opponents. Yoruichi serves as a mentor to Ichigo as well. Overall she’s a fun enough character to have around and it would have been neat if she could have had some more fights. Her Arc 4 fight didn’t feel real since the series kind of messed it up a bit.

Soi Fon is another ninja and unlike Yoruichi, she didn’t defect from the Soul Society. (Wrong move) She can be a little too obsessed with Yoruichi, but at least she is also overconfident which is always a very nice trait to have. She can hold her own in a fight reasonably well which allows her to get past the fact that she has one of the worst Bankai abilities. Just about everyone can dodge a bullet that moves in a straight line after all. Her general is pretty bad though so she has to hold the fort for her division.

Mayuri is easily the most evil of all the Captains. It’s played for humor to a large extent which seriously doesn’t work and it’s going to come as no surprise that I do not like Mayuri at all. Few things are worse than villains who stay in the company of the good guys and get to wear that flag at the end of the day. Mayuri would have been better if he was a pure villain and joined the Espada or something. Otherwise his emotional moments don’t work at all and basically any fight that he was in felt like a waste by the end. Unfortunately he did get a bit of a big role in the series. His assistant is Nemu and she’s nice enough. She has to put up with quite a lot throughout the series. Nemu gets a really random power up at the end of the series which was nice as it skyrocketed her power level even if it didn’t make all that much sense. She’ll give you a good fight or two, but overall doesn’t appear very much.

Urahara is one of the mysterious ex captains of Soul Society. You don’t find out why he had to go on the run for quite a while, but I didn’t like him at all. He’s one of those classic comic relief characters who only acts serious once in a while and by then it’s way too late. It’s impossible to take him seriously in the slightest and grates on your nerves constantly. You can go for about a dozen volumes or more without seeing him at times though so that works for me. Finally we have Unohana. She is a mysterious Captain who only gets one fight during the entire series. It involves a pretty sharp change in her personality and I wish we could have seen her actually fight a villain. The way she gets written out of the series is like something out of Fairy Tail’s last arc and doesn’t make much sense. Why didn’t she help during Arc 2? She didn’t really have a great excuse for that considering that the worlds were at stake and this is a character who just took too long to live up to the hype.

It’s pretty nostalgic to go through the first arc because you can see how the art and the characters have changed. It was a great way to get the series started because the plot was simple so you just got to see everyone fight each other. This helped to build character dynamics and such for the future arcs. Ichigo got really strong in a short period of time so this helped the fight scenes since it meant that the author could really go all out. The pacing was on point and while it had lower highs than Arcs 2 and 4, it probably had the fewest lows. It’s a very consistent arc.

Next up was the Hueco Mundo arc. You can split it up into multiple arcs but for the sake of the review it’s just one big one. It starts immediately after the first arc as Aizen turns out to be a traitor. It’s a pretty amazing way to end the arc and I have to admit that the anime handled it perfectly. Seeing Aizen handle everyone with ease was some good foreshadowing for what you can expect in this arc. Aizen has kidnapped Orihime and now commands all of the Hollows. He lives in their domain which is known as Hueco Mundo. He commands 10 Espada, which are Ultimate Hollows that are now sentient and humanoid. Ichigo heads over there to rescue her along with his friends and several members of the Soul Society. The battle also takes place in the human world as the rest of the Captains do battle with Aizen and the Espada that he took with him. Will Ichigo be able to defeat the Hueco Mundo members and return to Earth in time or is it all over? This arc is the best part of the series so you won’t want to miss a beat here!

Lets dive into the Espada. Stark is number 1, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is the strongest. Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, and possibly Harribel all seemed a little more impressive. I’d possibly stretch it and mention Nnoitra, but I do think he’d have a problem with all of the potentials. Stark is a pretty laid back guy which makes for a reasonable villain. He thinks things out strategically so you don’t have to worry about him panicking and falling into traps. He did a good job of understanding Shunsui’s complicated bankai and countering it. He certainly put up a very good fight.
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Baraggan is another high ranking Espada and anything that he touches crumbles into dust. It’s actually a very useful ability since he can also emit dust that damages the opponent. You can’t get anywhere close to him as a result or you’ll be in mortal danger. He used to be the king of Hueco Mundo as well so he is used to calling the shots. You almost couldn’t help but feel bad for him when Aizen showed up because his whole life was flipped upside down in an instant. There just wasn’t really anything he could do at that point.

Harribel is a fun water type Espada whose abilities are straight forward. She is fast and can attack from long range with her water towers. She was actually doing well in her fight and may have even claimed victory if Aizen had not stepped in. I can see why her fans wouldn’t be too satisfied with how her story ended. It was even more disheartening when she showed up in the final arc. Honestly there was no point there since she only appeared for one panel and was then never brought up again. It was a rather disappointing return, but the same for Grimmjow as well. Most of these characters just shouldn’t have returned in the final arc if they weren’t going to do anything. Being cancelled isn’t much of an excuse either since Kubo had a bunch of time.

Grimmjow is the best character in the series and I liked him right from the start. He’s a headstrong Espada who decided to challenge Ichigo right from the start. He doesn’t have any fancy powers and just overwhelms his opponents with pure speed and power. He doesn’t like to take orders from anyone and that even includes the mighty Aizen. He gets quite a few good rounds against Ichigo and I would probably consider him to be the 2nd strongest Espada at the very least. I just don’t think any of the Captains would have lasted very long against him.

Nnoitra is another powerful fighter. I don’t think he could have beaten Grimmjow if the latter hadn’t been so weakened, but he does live up to his rank rather well. He’s another close combat fighter who makes use of his extra arms in battle. His durability is so high that even Zaraki’s slices had a hard time of actually piercing him. His personality may leave something to be desired, but you can’t really ask for a better match up for Zaraki. Power vs Defense, a classic standoff.

Ulquiorra is the only Espada who is likely stronger than Grimmjow. He has two resurrection forms which increase his strength exponentially. Considering that he was overpowering Ichigo in his base form, the two power ups just made the difference even more drastic. He was a very likable villain and certainly one of the best in the series. He also gave us some of the best moments in the series. It’s almost a shame that he didn’t return in the final arc, but since everyone who did show up looked pretty bad…it’s probably for the best.

Nel is a former Espada who ended up being turned into a kid. Now she fights on the side of the heroes and can change back into her adult form once in a while. She’s a pretty fun fighter. I think her role could have been a little bigger as she never ended up actually winning a big fight since the effects didn’t last long enough. She did come through for the team when it counted though as she bought enough time for Ichigo to regroup and for Zaraki to arrive.

Yammy is the 0 rank Espada so he is technically pretty tough. The trouble for him is the fact that raw size and power are basically the only things that are on his side here. He doesn’t have much speed so his opponents can speed blitz him all day. Surprisingly, he did have some of the best fights in the series though. His first fight with Ichigo and Yoruichi was a lot of fun and then his rematch with Ichigo was one of the most epic moments in the whole series. Ichigo was making a big speech and he still managed to stop him. He ended up being a more well rounded character than I had expected.
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Aaroniero is definitely the weakest member of the Espada. He isn’t even remotely tough and can only win battles through mind games. It’s quite telling that some of the Espada subordinates seem like they’d put up a better fight. Naturally Aaroniero is supposed to be one of the main thinkers of the group. He needed to be since he can’t fight, but he doesn’t even have any engaging dialogue so he completely struck out. Just as underwhelming is Zommari. He’s the most boring member of the group as he barely has any personality. He has a lot of eyes which can paralyze his opponent. He’s also supposed to be very fast, but Zommari’s not even the fastest so it’s not a huge asset. I think Kubo was running out of ideas by now so he just had to slap some Espada ideas together.

Szayelaporro is the final Espada and he’s another thinker. His abilities are pretty overpowered since he can destroy your bones by destroying little stick figures of yourself. Classic Voodoo abilities. He is countered by Mayuri in the end who can move his bones and take them out anyway. It was an odd explanation for what ended up being a very twisted battle. Certainly one that wasn’t my cup of tea. There’s nothing to really like about this guy but I’ll give him some props for being another smart villain. He was pretty well prepared.

Isshin is Ichigo’s Dad and he got a lot of hype during the series. Unfortunately he is comic relief for most of it and only gets serious a handful of times. It’s hard to even say how strong he is since his only real fight was a decisive loss against Aizen. The series may make the case that he is a little stronger than Ichigo, but was then surpassed by the Final Getsuga mode. This is another one of those times where the author went a little too far in trying to make Isshin unlikable the whole time. There’s just no way you can like him after all of his early scenes. Sure, he’s stronger now, but just because he’s strong doesn’t mean that he is actually a good character now. Uryu’s Dad also gets a lot of hype, but doesn’t actually get to do anything which is even more mind boggling. He’s better than Isshin, but you also couldn’t say what his personality is.

Enter the Visored. Shinji is the leader but he’s pretty annoying the whole time. His ability to alter your senses is pretty good, but it is effectively a weaker version of Aizen’s illusions. I bet Shinji wishes he had gone for a lethal slice right away instead of messing around eh? Shinji’s the kind of guy who likes to be vague and just annoy you for a while. He gets a lot of hype, but it’s mostly all unfounded when you consider that he doesn’t really win any fights. Hiyori is the only other member to really get a role. She talks a good game and yells at Ichigo quite a bit. She is reasonably strong, but Ichigo surpasses her pretty quickly.

We should also talk about Zangetsu and Hichigo. The series is pretty vague about them for a while and there are a bunch of twists. Ultimately, Hichigo is Zangetsu and just didn’t want Ichigo to know that so they could train a little harder. It was a pretty good twist since admittedly I like Hichigo a lot more anyway. The person that Ichigo thought was Zangetsu was actually just a shadow of Yhwach which was…interesting I suppose. I can’t say that I ever cared for him so that’s fine, but Hichigo should have appeared more. The filler seasons in the anime gave him some extra fights and I suppose the manga gave him an ample amount of screen time. He was just a blast!

This arc was easily the height of Bleach and one of the best arcs in manga history. This is where introducing all of the Captains in Arc 1 paid off. We got to see them go up against this new team of Espada. Ichigo got to use his newfound abilities against the Espada and gradually grew stronger during the adventure. The climax in Hueco Mundo with Ichigo taking on Ulquiorra was spectacular and yet it was topped with the Aizen battle against the whole cast. Just when you thought the arc was at its height, it would raise the ceiling once again. Most of the villains were really strong as well so it was fun to imagine hypothetical fights and see who really should win. Could Ulquiorra beat Aizen? Could Grimmjow beat Stark? Just about any fight was on the table. This series pulled off the villain round table meeting cliche to perfection and you really can’t help but give the series some props for doing such a good job.

After that big arc, the manga decided to finally let the heroes rest a bit with a mini arc. Ichigo has lost his powers after pouring everything he had into defeating Aizen and is now a normal human again. The problem is that he can’t even see Hollows anymore so he certainly can’t protect anyone. He decides to gain his powers again as a group called Xcution decides to help him, but they turn out to be traitors and steal his powers. They mind control his friends as well but fortunately the Soul Society returns to aid Ichigo. With his strength restored, Ichigo may just have what it takes to come out of this battle on top.

Tsukishima is really the standout character of the Xcution group. He serves as the main antagonist for the most part and his abilities are really useful. If he hits you with his sword even once, then he can insert himself into your memories. This causes you to believe him to be an ally. If he strikes your weapon then he’ll be its friend as well and will know what it can do in advance. Add in his super speed and technique and you have a very formidable adversary. He was a lot of fun and had a really good fight with Byakuya in the end. I was reasonably satisfied with how they countered his ability as well. Without him the arc wouldn’t have been nearly as hype.
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Riruka is probably the nicest member of the group, but she’s still evil for most of it as she knows about the sinister plan. It’s another “appearances can be deceptive” kind of moment. She may not be the strongest opponent in combat and her fight scene wasn’t even all that serious, but she’s all right I guess. Not really a bad character, but not one that you can take seriously. At least she had more of a role than Giriko though. He is a bar tender who can turn into a really strong monster. He goes down in a single hit though and barely gets any lines at all so he’s completely forgettable. He’s only worth mentioning because I thought the character had a lot of potential until that moment. Talk about giving a character the short end of the stick eh?

Jackie was one of the first members to fight and I actually did like her. Her Dirty Boots ability was fun and there certainly aren’t many fighters who use their legs instead of hands. I mean, I’m sure hardcore anime fans could probably name a bunch, but it’s still considerably less than fist fighters. She was able to give Ichigo a good fight even if he was weakened at the time and she was just a fun fighter to have around. It’s too bad she never really got to do much after this arc, but all of Xcution basically vanished.

Ginjo is the big mastermind behind the group and his plan was pretty bold. He had to actually lose his memories for it to work which is clearly risky because of all the variables that it brings. He became a bit of a generic villain once he turned evil with a lot of yelling, but at least the foreshadowing was always there. Honestly if I was Ichigo, I would have suspected something was up after he slashed his eyes. Seriously that was going way too far for a simple training exercise. Ginjo’s super form was really cool though and the plan to steal Ichigo’s powers was certainly one that could have a lot of payoff. Due to his low screen time compared to Aizen and Ywach I can’t say that he’s quite as cool as those two and it would be hard to make it up there anyway (At least Aizen would be unobtainable anyway) but I did like him. Ginjo was a serious threat and worked really well as the main villain.

Moe didn’t do a whole lot next to the other members since he barely appeared until he got his powers, but I did like his fight with Ikkaku. It may have been a little cheesy, but it was reasonable. His luck based abilities are certainly fun to have even if I’d never want that to be my super power. It’s one that can really come in handy if you’re very lucky. He’s the kind of lackey who was created just to have a good fight and not really to become an actual character. Yukio can send people into a video game which is pretty neat. Naturally that power is pretty much a crutch though as he can’t fight at all if you get past that. Once you’re in the game he is pretty OP, but it’s definitely not a very combat ready kind of technique. He was okay I guess, but not too memorable or exciting to watch. I wouldn’t have minded if he was replaced with another character.

This was a fun enough arc. While it is probably the weakest one in the series, it did a good job in the few volumes that it had. It was certainly more low key than the others, but depowering Ichigo was a nice way to bring back some classic hand to hand kind of battles. Ichigo’s fight with Jackie was fun as despite being a more low tier event, captured the early Shonen feel that the series no longer had. Instead of watching two city busters going at it, it was more of a street level affair. While some of Ichigo’s friends fell into the gutter in this arc, it was worth it to see Ichigo mess up the XCution group with both his newfound powers and his restored ones.

Finally we enter the last arc. The Quincy have decided to rule the world and destroy the Soul Society. They actually did not go extinct as we were told and have been hiding in a shadow dimension all these years. They have decided to strike now and their target is the Soul Society’s leader, the Soul King. They have amassed a large army and are poised to take the win. Ichigo hurries over to help, but his friend Uryu has joined the other side. This leads to a lot of tension and it appears that Ichigo is also a quincy in addition to his Shinigami and Hollow forms. He has to come to terms with this and save the world, but it’ll be his toughest fight yet.

Yhwach is the big bad of this arc and Kubo did his best to make him the most threatening villain yet. His plan was so detailed that he knew everything that would happen in the next 1000 years including Aizen’s whole plan. If you take that into account then that makes this villain one of the most brilliant masterminds in history. He’s pretty strong as well and has a good design so I can roll with this. He may be a tad bit generic next to the others and the fact that he is omnipotent and all powerful may have been a bit much. After all, that basically confirmed early on that plot hax would be necessary to defeat him right? Still, he gave us some pretty good fights and his design was on point.
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Bazz B is essentially this arc’s version of Grimmjow. He just has a little less personality and doesn’t get as big of a role as Grimmjow. His abilities are impressive though as he was defeating Hitsugaya with minimal effort and at least tried to defy the villains after he was portrayed. He’s probably my favorite Quincy villain even if he can’t match up to most of the Arc 2 guys. He made the arc more fun.

BG 9 wasn’t really a big villain, but he had a really cool design. He also put up a really good fight against Soi Fon and could have been a major villain if the higher ups weren’t so impatient. It was a bit of a running gag that the Quincies ended up destroying as many of their members as the heroes. It’s why you shouldn’t work for villains, you’ll always end up getting back stabbed. As Nodt is another villain with a creepy design and his fights against Rukia and Byakuya were pretty intense. The author has always shown that he is pretty good at drawing horror designs as well as action and it worked out pretty well in this case. As Nodt was definitely a powerful Quincy.

Mask is one of those villains who I feel is created just to irritate the fans so I have to admit that I became a big fan. He’s just so out of place next to the other villains as he loves having a good time and boasting about his strength. He was also incredibly strong and lasted quite a while during the series. It must have had some of the most negative reception in all of Bleach week after week but he pressed on. I was rooting for him the whole time and so it was good that he put up such a fight.

Askin is one of the big Quincy generals and he was a fun character. His poison abilities are quite formidable and he wasn’t quite as loud or aggressive as the other characters. It worked well as a contrast and he sure did a lot of damage to the heroes before finally being taken down for the count. His design also reminded me of Aizen the whole time even if they don’t necessarily look all that alike. It may have been the cunning disposition. There was also the Thor homage by the name of Gerard. He was a fun character who had a similar personality as Zaraki. He just wants a good fight and is always eager to jump into a brawl. His damage reflection/absorption ability was pretty handy and I was glad to have another straight forward fighter. While guys like Askin are great because they’re exceptions to the rule, there’s always room for another brawler.

Pernida is the Hand of the Soul King or something like that. He was completely insane so it was hard to believe anything at the moment. His nerve attacks were pretty interesting even if they also felt rather weird. I guess you have to make use of the attacks you develop right? He wasn’t my favorite villain, but he was pretty tough. Gremmy is a reality warper who should have been 100% invincible but plot hax led to his defeat. He could literally do anything that he believed he could, but decided to squander this ability by making comets and portals instead of just instantly destroying his opponents. In the hands of a more confident character like Grimmjow or Ichigo, this ability would have really been something else.

Lille is another hype fighter from the Quincy and he is a long range specialist. His bullets can hit opponents from anywhere even if they miss. It’s a fun ability to have, but his super form is even better, the arrival of the Chicken. It was one of the funniest parts in the whole series and I just love how it was executed. It may not have been intentional, but cmon…can we really take this villain seriously after such a transformation? He was really powerful anyway so you just can’t let appearances deceive you. It was certainly one of the most fun power ups in Shonen Jump.

Jugram is the right hand main of Yhwach and his powers are pretty good. He becomes omnipotent and all powerful at night when his master is asleep. Otherwise, his abilities revolve around balance so he can reflect all damage that he has taken to his opponent. Naturally this leads to him fighting an opponent with the exact same ability which was the perfect loophole against him. I don’t actually like Jugram and he messed up so many times when it would have been easy to squash Uryu’s plans and stop the heroes. You don’t have many excuses when you’re all powerful. Still, the infinite fight of swapping damage was fun enough.
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Bambietta and her posse were interesting. I didn’t care for her partners much since they were typically a little more disturbing than anything, but I liked Bambietta’s can do spirit. She was always ready for a fight and her explosives were quite handy. It’s like Bakugo’s ability from Hero Academia but a little more potent. She didn’t get to appear as much as I would have liked, but she did well with what she was given.

We also can’t forget Squad 0 and the Soul King. The Soul King was a big joke and lived up to his One Above All reputation. He may be all powerful, but he can’t talk or even move so it is easy for villains to take him down. I can see why Aizen wanted to terminate him right from the get go. The guy is the ultimate definition of a figure head and can’t actually do much. Meanwhile, Squad 0 got a ton of hype and supposedly they could beat the Captains with ease. Their hype may have been intense, but that didn’t stop them from getting destroyed pretty easily by Yhwach’s squad. The funny thing was that you knew Squad 0 was doomed from the start despite the hype and that’s what made it all the funnier. They were also pretty corrupt and evil much like the actual Soul Society so it’s not like you even felt bad for them.

Arc 4 was definitely a mixed bag. On one hand it had a lot of hype moments like always. The silent chapter of Ichigo noticing the ruined Soul Society was handled incredibly well and there is just something about being the last arc that helps to draw you in. At this point in the series, Ichigo is already so powerful so when the new villains come into the picture you can’t help but get excited at the battles that are coming up. The fights delivered as always. On the negative side, it feels like the author started to give up a little here. Some of the villains felt very random like the Mask guy. The Chicken power up came out of nowhere and the random characters got so much screen time that in the end Yhwach didn’t actually get to have the big climactic fight that everyone was waiting for. The series ended very abruptly without tying up many loose ends. A lot of plot lines the fandom will just have to end on their own with a bunch of theories.

The ending is also pretty lackluster as it’s about as generic as you can get. We have a big timeskip as always with the next generation possibly being even stronger than the last one. It’s just not all that inspired at all and we certainly could have done a little better than that. The final arc also started going for more creepy factor effects which were okay in some aspects, but didn’t work in others. The villain who was actually a guy and constantly smelled of something vile was just a little over the top.

By now you get why I like the series a lot. There’s constant action and a lot of powerful fighters. The author does a great job of delivering hype for all of the battles and the trash talking among the characters was beautiful. You never knew what to expect and constantly powering up and explaining your abilities to the enemy was a fun trope by the end. The series could also be unintentionally hilarious which is the main reason that I like reading the chapters and then checking out the feedback. It was so negative at the end with everyone poking fun at it, but that just made Bleach all the more enjoyable.

There are some considerable negatives with the series though. First of all, there is a degree of fanservice here. It’s nothing major as it is pretty much forgotten for all of the climaxes. It really only pops up occasionally when characters like Yoruichi, Chizuru, or Rangiku show up. It’s enough where it can be noticeable. There is also the creepy factor like when a villain essentially forces one of the heroes to give birth to him as a form of regeneration or other moments where shady things seem to happen. Bleach is definitely darker than some of the other Shonen titles like Naruto and One Piece. It doesn’t go too far for the most part and as I mentioned, it is 74 volumes so the positives typically outweigh these negatives considerably. I’m sure you could fill in 69 volumes with the positives and leave the other 5 for the negatives or some similar fashion. If the series had been shorter or the negatives more frequent then it would have lowered the series regardless.

One thing that was always a very strong aspect of Bleach was the artwork. It is easily one of the best series of all time in that regard as the simple, but smooth art style makes it easy to follow the action. The author is also able to raise the stakes in various scenes by applying more ink. The only series that is really ahead of Bleach would be One Punch Man. I dare say that Bleach is the second best series after that and the author really put in the work. I don’t know if I could have enjoyed the series quite as much if the art had been a step down. The high quality of the art is what really allows you to appreciate the manga to its full potential.

With a title like this, there is just so much to say, but where to start right? I mainly spent time on the cast, but through that I also explained why I like the series so much. I’m a huge action fan through and through. You don’t get to see huge titles like this one too often anymore where you get to enjoy the cast for over a decade with an array of fights at every corner. I suppose that what makes this title elite is simply that it lasted so long without seriously jumping the shark or losing sight of the genre. Imagine how awesome it would have been if DBZ had lasted this long? A large part of Bleach’s success also has to come down to Ichigo being the main character. A title is only as good as its lead after all. Hopefully Arc 4 of Bleach gets animated someday because that’ll help it be more memorable. Part of why its section is the smallest is that since it was so rushed a lot of villains weren’t iconic. If they’re in the anime, that’ll help their influence quite a bit and hopefully it can expand upon some of the things that were skipped.
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Overall, Bleach is definitely a legendary series and one of the most famous ones of all time. I’m glad that it had such a long run. It would have been great if it could have kept on going a while longer, but at 70+ it is hard to actually say that you weren’t satisfied with it. I’d definitely recommend jumping on board with the series and marathoning it would certainly be a blast. I got to do that with Prince of Tennis when I first started it and I have to say that it is one positive of discovering a series so late. Of course, sticking with a series while it’s live is also awesome since you see the audience talk back after every chapter. With Bleach and Naruto gone, I do have to admit that Shonen Jump is a shell of its former self. Still, as the current titles get longer and longer, perhaps we will eventually get a new Bleach. Hero Academia can be the new Naruto in a sense, but I don’t think there is anything that has gotten close to matching Bleach’s spot yet. It left big shoes to fill but I’m sure something can rise up to it eventually.

Overall 9/10

Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! Review

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It’s time for a one shot manga that helps get you ready for the latest Pokemon movie. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that one get dubbed since it’s going to bring back all of the old Pokemon nostalgia. The manga takes the interesting choice of making it a flashback that Alola Ash is having. It would sure be some twist if the movie is just a dream that Ash is having, but fans would certainly not like that. It’s a fun enough story and does what it can with the 20 pages that it was allotted.

Lets start with the story in the current timeline. Ash is still a little too happy and comic relief esque in the new region if you ask me. He doesn’t have a lot of time for his shenanigans, but still manages to get consistently wrecked by the Totem guardian. It seems like these Pokemon are effectively the gym leaders of the region. Still, Pikachu doesn’t go down so easily and manages to take the opponent down in one hit. This is how I picture every fight with Pikachu to go down by the way as he isn’t known as one of the strongest Pokemon of all time for nothing. He’s in a whole other league and has certainly been trained long enough to be ready for this. I’m not sure about the whole Z move thing that the heroes spam nowadays though. The pose isn’t really necessary and seems like it’ll just leave you open during a fight. I also don’t think Pikachu should even need it.

In the flashback, the chapter plays it pretty straight regarding Ash’s origin. He wakes up real late and after struggling to get out of bed finds out that all of the Pokemon have already been taken. Pikachu is still here though so Ash decides to take him, but the Thunder Mouse doesn’t like Pokeballs. Honestly, I can totally understand the sentiment since it takes away your freedom. Ash allows this since he doesn’t have much of a choice and picks a fight with a Spearow by accident. Ash gets wrecked again, but fortunately Pikachu saves him just like in the modern day timeline. Pikachu was always the MVP of the Pokemon anime and it’s good to be reminded of this. Where would we be now without the little guy eh? It’s a fun story and while they didn’t change anything, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this so that’s cool. I definitely wouldn’t mind a faithful manga adaption of the anime that follows Ash and pals. That would have a lot of potential.

The art is all right. You can tell that this is a tie in as it isn’t anything all that special or detailed. The characters are easily recognizable and the art is simple which helps with the fights. That’s about all that I can say for it though. It just doesn’t feel like there was a whole lot of effort behind it. I have a feeling that this chapter was churned out really quick to make it in time fr the movie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I’m glad that we have it, but I always feel like they should at least make this into a full volume as opposed to just one chapter.

Overall, If you’re a big Pokemon fan then you should check this out. It’s a good way to get you hyped for the movie. It’s essentially your standard Pokemon story so it’s not going to change your world or anything, but just seeing the familiar faces and environment again should be enough. I’m ready for a big Pokemon manga as the Adventure chapters only come out once in a while and most of the other titles are either finished or in the same boat. I want a weekly Pokemon manga that I can look forward to every week. Considering how popular the franchise is, I’m surprised that we don’t have one yet. Ah well, maybe one day.

Overall 7/10