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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Strobe Edge

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It’s time for a new Shojo series. I have only read the first volume so far, but it’s off to a reasonable start. The main character is handling the romance drama at school remarkably well so far and making all of the right choices. We’ll see how long that can last though. On the flip side, the art is quite bad so hopefully that improves. I’ll have a review up for the series when I have completed it.

Overall 6/10

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 Blue Mistral

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It’s always funny when a series is consistently defeated by its spinoffs, but this happens to Fairy Tail once again. Blue Mistral is actually pretty decent and I can already tell that it’s going to leave the main title behind. Wendy isn’t much of a fighter yet, but ideally she will grow into the role of the main character as the series goes on. It’s worth checking out and I’ll have a review for the series when I finish it.

Overall 6/10

A Silent Voice

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Well, it’s time for a new manga series. I’ve read the first 2 volumes of the series and while volume 2 is infinitely better than 1, the series will have to work hard to overcome its incredibly rocky start. The main heroine seems a little too forgiving at the moment while the main guy went way too far. Can he redeem himself? Once I’m done with the series I’ll have a review up for it.

Overall 3/10

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