Animal Land Review


Animal Land is a very unique series. It’s essentially going for a bit of a Tarzan vibe at first but then throws in time travel, chimeras, world ending threats, magical fruits, and more. By the end of the series it’s clear that it was able to attain a full Shounen feel and is as out there as any other series on the block. Unfortunately due to the nature of the series that means there is a ton of nonstop animal violence. Animals are taken down for the count left and right and it’s even a main part of the plot. The series has some good ideas but ultimately falls far short of its potential due to the premise itself. If this had all been done with robotic animals then things could have been different.

The series begins with a little boy named Taroza being discovered by a Tanuki named Monoko. He decides to bring Taroza into his village and take care of him. Taroza initially starts the series as a little kid which is true for a good chunk of the series until we get a time skip and he becomes more of a classic Shounen hero. He slowly learns how to talk but doesn’t have a big need of it because he can speak through the mind. Taroza has the unique ability of being able to communicate with all animals across the planet. Because of this he can also hear the voices of animals pleading not to be eaten.

Taroza has 2 main goals. The first is to find a mythical fruit which is said to be so good that even meat eaters can enjoy it. He aims to develop this fruit enough so that no animals are ever eaten again. His other goal is to stop the animals from fighting in the meantime and so he continually builds up his army to establish such a set of rules. It goes against animal nature though so this is a very difficult task to accomplish. There are also just so many animals in the world that it’s hard to keep up with all of them. How can he ever hope to meet them all?

You also can’t have a big series without some villains and we have two main villains here. The first one is Jyu and he’s certainly a standout character. He enjoys things the way that they are. The idea of a survival of the fittest concept being front and center here is exactly what he was looking for and he thrives in it. He’s a chaotic wildcard as well since he’ll still prefer to help Taroza and the others over the other villain that shows up. His little computer is also very handy and they make a good team. Jyu certainly set himself up well in this series and it’s all the more impressive because he had no allies who were there to help him aside from one trusted partner.

Then you have Giller who is the true mastermind here. He is a powerful man with science far beyond what anyone thought was possible. As a result he is easily able to cause a whole lot of damage and even builds an army of Chimera. This is one time where you can say he maybe got a little too powerful here. His Chimera are absolutely massive and it’s hard to see the animals really being able to take them down. Taroza links the minds of the animals to coordinate their attacks and it also gives a slight power boost but even then I definitely remain skeptical. Some of those chimera were absolutely huge and had so many special abilities. Giller never quite gives up even in the end and makes for a very memorable character. He was definitely a lot of fun and a really solid villain.

Capri is a human raised by lions. She’s certainly not on board with Taroza’s plan at first but makes for a solid ally when the chips are down. She plays the field a bit initially but as the Lions would have taught her to hunt other animals right away, his plan would have definitely been a foreign concept to her. Caperi is definitely a solid fighter. She doesn’t get power ups like the rest of the humans but does already know how to fight so that’s important. She’s a better fighter than Reimu who is the final main human around. Reimu is from the gorilla tribe but tends to be more of a pacifist by nature. She’s probably one of the first human allies to really help Taroza as much as possible. Reimu’s a decent character although I wouldn’t say she stands out much until the end. Then she gets a pretty big role as she’s quite critical in keeping morale up and supporting Taroza.

Finally we have Taroza and after the time skip he is a pretty solid character. He’s resolute in his goal to save the world to the point where it has definitely been breaking him on the inside. While he was super cheerful as a kid, he barely ever smiles once he is grown up. He’s just seen too many animals suffer over the years and so until his goals are fulfilled he doesn’t seem to find enjoyment in anything anymore. Taroza can’t quite fight physically with these villains anymore but with his telepathic abilities he makes for a great commander at all times. I’d definitely say that he is a solid main character and his goals are certainly good.

Quo is a mysterious character who orchestrated all of this to an extent. You certainly find out a lot of interesting things about him once he appears. The guy makes for a solid character even if he definitely makes quite a few mistakes as time goes by. He has a tendency to lower his guard. His overall master plan is pretty great though. You definitely see why he went to all the trouble of doing this even if it definitely did not work out all that well for him.

One character who showed up near the end is a lady named Elaine. Despite not appearing for very long she is very integral to the plot. Her fire abilities are also incredibly handy and she was a very memorable character as well as a powerful one. She stands out as one of the cooler characters. If she kept her guard up a little longer that would have certainly helped but even without that she was a fighter to be feared no doubt. In effect, being introduced so late into the game helped her in a power sense because she started out as a super powerful fighter and did not need to evolve into one.

Monoko is one of the main supporting characters from the early part of Animal Land even if she wasn’t quite able to keep up with the others later on. She’s a nice character and really helped kick the series off. Without her things could have been very different. Taroza’s other best friend was a cat named Kurogiri. Kuro is a solid fighter and helped Taroza out of a lot of pinches. During the initial volumes of the series he was the strongest ally to have around and came in handy many times. Things definitely would have gotten tricky without him around to help out.

There are a number of other animals that help Tarozo out over the years. You’ve got members of almost every different species helping out and they’re certainly quality characters. Some don’t do much til near the end but their presence is felt. One such character is Dougen. He’s one of the most powerful Lions in the series and he even gets a cool powered up mode near the end. His fight is a very intense one that lasts multiple chapters and the fact that he was fighting one of the Chimera basically 1 on 1 was very impressive. He was a standout character to be sure.

There are quite a few Chimeras here but the most notable ones are the members of the Babel Three. Belheim is one of these guys. He’s a fairly powerful villain with a star shaped head and takes down quite a number of the animals sent out against him. He talks a big game and certainly thrives on being a villain. It’s part of what makes these guys a big deal as a lot of them didn’t have any character prior to this. Clover was another such member who was crazy strong and hard to deal with. Each of the 3 members were pretty hype villains though and some of the best characters in the series.

The best Chimera of the group though is Robin. He’s the final member and easily the most powerful. He likes to have a good fight and has more honor than the rest. He gives what is probably one of the most impressive battles in the series. The final battle with Giller has to be the best one but this fight can really compete. The stakes are high and he’s just a very interesting/engaging villain to go up against. He’s also able to resist his programming to an extent which is always a good sign to me because then he’s no puppet. Same goes for Luke who was an A.I. partner to Giller who realized that things weren’t quite right.

Ultimately as mentioned earlier, what holds the film back is the nonstop animal violence. The series is certainly one of the more violent ones I’ve read with characters really being torn to shreds. It holds nothing back and then when you consider the fact that it’s the animals being crushed, it hits that much harder. It’s not something that you’d expect to have been avoided just considering the name and all, but it is the definition of a series crushing negative. No matter how strong the other aspects could be, this is something that persists in every volume and pretty much every chapter so it continued to drag the series down into the abyss time and time again. If only Taroza could have achieved his dream of world peace sooner so that no animal had to be injured.

It’s impressive how the series started out as a very realistic title and by the end of it we’re completely into planet busting abilities. I’d say the series did a good job of slowly escalating things. At first the big threat was when a fully grown Lion would show up. Later on the characters face off against a villain as tall as a building without blinking an eye. The final boss is around the size of a small city. The amount of escalation here was intense.

That said, it does mean that the power levels are very wonky throughout. No matter how you slice it, there’s no way that ordinary animals can be dealing with these kinds of threats. No matter how much teamwork they use I’m not really able to buy into it. These monsters can even regenerate and move at hyper speeds. So you do have to really just look the other way here and accept that the fights are likely not going to be all that realistic. I think the only way to make this work would be to have given Taroza the ability to turn the animals into chimera’s as well or simply powered them up to a point that would not be possible to reach. His current ability takes them up to 100% of what a body can pull off but you would need to go further than that.

Outside of the power levels the writing was pretty solid though. The characters all have a lot of great dialogue. The villains are well developed and so are the heroes. A lot of the animals also make valid points about why there’s a need for meat eaters and plant eaters. Of course I’m with Taroza on finding a fruit so that no animal ever has to be eaten again. It’s tough to get used to though and there are a lot of quality debates on this throughout the series. Ultimately until an animal is able to hear the true language of another it would always be tough to just hold back but once that bridge is crossed then there is really no limit against a world of peace. Especially as there aren’t many humans left in this world at the moment. Once more of them pop up then I suspect that things will get a lot more chaotic in the world. With regard to the time travel themes I’ll let you read more of that so you can see for yourself the impact of it. The time everyone comes from is a twist to an extent. There are multiple time periods at play and the fact that the humans are each from different eras is important because it does factor into their actions and why they all have different viewpoints.

Animal Land’s art is quite fantastic though. It’s got an incredible amount of detail and that’s absolutely necessary considering just how many big characters are running around. The fights are always intense and awe inspiring with the various zoom ins and big character spreads. You won’t be forgetting the character designs and such anytime soon. I would go as far as to say that this is the manga’s greatest strength even if it does still help to hurt the score by highlighting exactly how badly the animals are being affected. These battles can hold their own against any of the big Jump titles and then some. If you just switched out the animals for humans the whole time then this series could have really jumped up a large number of scores. It wasn’t to be I suppose. Even the character designs themselves and each member’s powered up modes are incredible. You can feel the fear of the characters as the Chimeras get more and more unbelievable with each transformation. By the end of the series you could almost say it’s part horror in some respects.

Overall, Animal Land has a lot of interesting ideas and the art is quite good but it serves as a double edged sword with all of the animal injuries that occur afterwards. If you’re a big animal fan and don’t want to see them being taken out left and right then this is definitely a series that you’ll want to pass on. That aspect of the series is just impossible to overlook and so in a sense you could say this series was doomed from the start. If you want another action series to check out which dodges this pretty well then I would say it’s time to check out Bleach instead. Now that one’s an old classic.

Overall 2/10

Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Review


A while back I would have said I hadn’t read a whole lot of slice of life adventures like this one where it’s about a girl and her companion but now I’d say I’ve got a decent amount of those at the ready. This one ended up finishing sooner than most though as it’s only 3 volumes. It’s a fun little story that even throws in some cooking. There’s a solid story to be had here with fun enough characters and so it works well as something to read on the side. The cast is quite small so it is easy to see how it could do everything it wanted within the 3 volumes although of course I’d have been game with the series going on for a while longer.

The story starts by introducing us to Nagi. She is on her own own in an apocalyptic future and often gets lonely at her cabin. One day she meets up with a giant spider monster. For a brief moment she is afraid but quickly realizes that it means no harm and invites the Spider over. She names the creature Asa and gives her some Hot Chocolate/Coffee to try out. Asa is a big fan of drinks like this and so the two of them quickly bond over food. Nagi now has someone to cook for and Asa has a safe home on the inside. Their lives would be fairly perfect here except the townsfolk aren’t thrilled about having a giant monster around. Can Nagi convince them that Asa is friendly or are they going to attack anyway?

Since Nagi lives alone in a wood cabin on the outskirts of town it’s not like the civilians play a part immediately. That said, she does need to go into town to get supplies from time to time and that’s when they start making a fuss. Asa does look pretty scary to be sure but they take things too far as you would expect. We do get to meet some supporting characters as a result though and Nagi even gets to make a few new friends.

The first main supporting character would be the Carpenter. I’m not sure if her name was ever confirmed but she owns a little cafe that’s in a boat in the wilderness. As a result nobody ever visits the shop which discourages her but she tells Nagi that she does not want to move no matter what. Even if the place completely bombs she refuses to leave. It’s certainly a determined stance to take but Nagi agrees to help her out. In a way this is perfect since Nagi gets to cook a little extra now and practice on her technique. The carpenter is also quick to accept Asa as well.

Then you’ve got Belle and her father. Initially her father is definitely very concerned about Nagi’s pet spider but he gradually gets with the program. From all of the adults here I’d say that he was the most reasonable about this. Belle was also a tough customer to get on board but not so much because of the spider but just because Belle has a hard time just acting nice to people. By the end of the series though she’s probably Nagi’s best friend outside of Asa. She’s definitely a good ally to have.
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Then we’ve got Godot who’s the mayor of the town. After some convincing he is also on board with the heroes and someone that they can count on so that was fortunate. The only real obstacle in their way was a guy named Oleg who goes as far as to use Nagi as bait to lure out Asa and destroy him. It’s hard to ever like that guy even by the end because his steps were so drastic. if Asa was dangerous then he definitely put Nagi in harm’s way there. If Asa wasn’t dangerous then his whole plan was incredibly unnecessary as well. So no matter how you slice it, Oleg did not look very good here. Putting a kid in danger is just not the right play.

Meanwhile the cooking is always pretty fun. The manga really goes into detail on the meals that Nagi makes to the point where you could easily recreate these recipes on your own. A lot of them are classic meals you could make for lunch or dinner so you could even implement them right away. The author clearly likes Pumpkin a lot since most of the desserts use that in mind. I’m not a huge pumpkin fan but I would definitely give them a shot as well. The cooking angle is pretty fun and gives another layer to the general premise of the series.

While the term “Apocalyptic” is in the title the world doesn’t seem to be in very poor shape. We don’t see a whole lot of the world though since Nagi always stays at home or heads into town for supplies. The town looks good but it could also be that as soon as you leave the town then everything suddenly becomes bleak. The series isn’t really about this of course but it’s still a nice element to think of. After all, having your story take place during an apocalyptic time does at least subtly affect the context.

The art’s decent although I wouldn’t say it’s a standout or anything like that. It’s a little on the rough side but it’s going for a detailed look so all of the characters do look distinct. There’s a lot of effort put into the backgrounds and such. It may not make for the flashiest art to look at but you do get the gritty feel of the heroes trying to survive in a tough era. The foods also still look good. I could see the artist being really good at more of a horror title as well given that some of the visuals where Asa looks menacing tend to turn out really well. It’s also a nice way to show how scary Asa would look to an outsider.

You’ll definitely be blasting through this series pretty quick. Due to its nature of not having a big ongoing plot or many characters there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it. Asa’s design is pretty solid though. You can’t really go wrong with a giant spider like this. I definitely wouldn’t say there are even any negatives about it. The series serves its job well as a nice series in the day to day of Nagi’s life. It’s all about how a spider helped to turn things around and by the end of the series you know that she’s in good hands.

Overall, Giant Spider & Me is a fun little story. If you’re looking for a nice slice of life story to check out then this is a good one to read through. It’s a pleasant series about being able to make friends with a creature that most would find dangerous. The townsfolk are nice at the end and it’s good that Nagi has such supportive allies all around her. It reminds you that any animal can be an ally so long as you treat it right. Some pets definitely don’t seem as friendly as others of course but especially when they’re young any animal can be tamed. This doesn’t seem like the kind of story that would get a sequel but it would be fun if that ended up happening.

Overall 6/10

Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution Review


Mewtwo is pretty fortunate to not only get multiple movies/specials but even a remake. Then the remake also getting its own manga adaption is pretty interesting. Naturally it’s very close to the original story but it’s an adventure that holds up and it was executed well. The art is solid and Mewtwo makes for a good villain so at the end of the day you’ve got a good adventure here. It certainly goes by in a flash.

The manga opens up by introducing us to Mewtwo, the most powerful Pokemon in the known world. He was created as a clone of Mew and modified to be even more powerful than the original. Mewtwo didn’t understand why a powerful being such as himself should work for humans so he escaped and built a fortress. In order to truly test the limits of his abilities he decided to send invites to the world’s best trainers. This would solve the question once and for all of who was stronger, Pokemon or their trainers.

Naturally Ash and friends are invited to this. Ash has definitely earned this privilege since he has been defeating Gym Leaders left and right. Not to mention that the volume opens up with him beating someone in a Pokemon battle so we see his skills firsthand. That said, Ash isn’t thrilled when he learns that Mewtwo doesn’t just want a good fight but global domination as well. Can Ash really take Mewtwo down or will he have finally met his match?

The manga has to move fast to adapt everything of course so some areas are glossed over. That said, I feel like the movie may have done this as well. The whole crossing the ocean part is basically skipped as the manga takes you to the heroes arriving there right away. I’m pretty fine with that since the battles are the most important part but it’s also why I say the more volumes you have for an adaption the better since you get to dwell on everything more. I would call this a very solid adaption though as you hit all of the major beats of the story.

While I wouldn’t say the artwork is top tier it’s better than a lot of the other quick one shots. For example I prefer it to the Heatran arc. Some of the shots in the manga really stand out as well like Ash’s punch against Mewtwo. It was drawn really well and you could definitely feel the impact of the blow. It’s always good to see Ash right there on the front lines trying to defend the Pokemon. It’s only fitting that he would be chosen to represent the real Pokemon.

As for the battles with the clones, I suppose Mewtwo was ultimately right that cloned Pokemon are more powerful. They all won their battles rather easily. Mewtwo mentions turning off their abilities later so perhaps the clones have built in augmentations like psychic abilities that can be turned off? It’s hard to say precisely what the abilities do but at the end of the day the clones are definitely stronger than the originals by a wide enough margin where it doesn’t seem possible for an original to beat the clone.

That helps support why I believe Mewtwo to be stronger than Mew. They have a good fight here but Mew spends a lot of it just running away and dodging. Mewtwo is the one on the attack the whole time. I also find Mewtwo to be one of the most interesting Pokemon fighters. The fact that he won’t just sit back and allow the humans to control him is definitely a big deal. He has his own honor code and sense of justice so he isn’t going to just roll over and allow himself to be beaten. His ability to talk also allows him to explain his case a lot better than most could.

Outside of the main plot you’ve got Team Rocket of course but their plot is absolutely tiny. They barely have any real relevance to the story so there’s not much to say about them. Even Misty and Brock don’t get to do much here. Brock mostly just embarrasses himself while Misty looks good but isn’t really here to battle in the first place. The other trainers who were invited to the island don’t get to do much aside from be quickly defeated. Their Pokemon do look strong of course, just not strong enough to tackle Mewtwo.

This was back when Legendary Pokemon really lived up to their name. There was a huge gap between someone like Mewtwo and even the strongest of ordinary Pokemon like Dragonite. It just made a lot of sense even if it’s almost inevitable that someday the Legendary Pokemon would not be able to keep up and got power scaled straight out of there. The writing is solid and the adventure is pretty fun. As the story is only volume there isn’t a ton more to say about it. I guess as a miscellaneous note I do think this was Giovanni’s worst appearance in some ways. Mainly because he had a great situation going for him with Mewtwo as a willing worker and then he blew it by calling Mewtwo a tool and mocking him. What happened to subtlety? I know Giovanni has a ton of confidence but it felt a little out of character for him to antagonize Mewtwo like that. I feel like he had to know that this would not end well.

Overall, Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is a pretty fun remake. I still say the original story beats the remake but I suppose in manga format it’s super close. One thing that i do think looks cooler is Mewtwo’s new armor with the spikes. It’s a much busier design but it’s one that works well. The armor is something that would quickly put fear into any Pokemon trying to deal with this guy and it looks one of a kind so you know that an ordinary Pokemon would not be wearing it. I suppose soon will be the manga for the new Jungle film. We’ll see how that one holds up in the end. Whether you’ve seen the Mewteo story already or not I would recommend checking the manga out. It’s a pretty faithful adaption and the story’s a lot of fun.

Overall 7/10

Detective Conan: Wild Police Story Review


Detective Conan may be one of those never ending stories with tons of volumes but that doesn’t mean that a spinoff can’t eventually conclude. The Wild Police Story is one such spinoff and at only 13 chapters it had a really brief run. I enjoyed it well enough. It’s always nice to see Zero in his various jobs. While this title doesn’t quite have the same charm as Zero’s Tea Time, it’s definitely a solid adventure. The ending is also pretty intense for setting up Zero’s role in the main series. It goes without saying that the final chapter will spoil a ton of his development and plot twists from Detective Conan if you haven’t read that yet so you wouldn’t want to read this one until you’re deep into the Conan series.

The series starts off with Zero and a few new cadets getting to the police academy. They all have their own dreams and aspirations for joining the core and naturally that tends to put them at odds with each other. Jinpei joined in order to punch out the boss while Zero has very secretive reasons for joining. The two of them get into fights quite a bit as Jinpei is more of a rival to him. They’ve got a pretty solid amount of banter going on for them and definitely stand out the most from the crew members. All of them are solid characters though.

Wild Police Story is effectively like having more detail to Zero’s origin story but having it as a separate spinoff rather than throwing it into Detective Conan. It’s a pretty interesting approach and I definitely would say it’s a good one. I always like to see a franchise continue to expand and that’s exactly what this series does for the Conan franchise. There isn’t time for a whole lot to happen of course so we get a few one shot stories a mini arc and then a final arc to end things off on. The final chapter is also a nice epilogue where you see what has happened to each character in the present.

Zero is the best character of course. As always he’s pretty much an expert at everything he does and additionally he’s just a pretty nice guy who always does the proper thing. Zero’s confident but not arrogant. He’s always willing to lend a hand and he’s a bit younger here so he’s not completely all powerful the way he tends to be in the later appearances. So you really couldn’t ask for much more out of the main character if you ask me.

Then we’ve got Jinpei who is also very solid. I like his hot headed approach to things. He’s a nice foil to Zero’s cool and calm persona. This guy doesn’t just wait around to see what happens next. He’s always right there on the front lines dictating how things are going to play out. He’s certainly pretty rash with his decision making but it tends to work out all right and that’s the kind of energy you want to see in your unit. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Wataru has a pretty solid character arc where he learned more about his father. Initially he didn’t quite understand why his father took some of the actions he did so when a bank robbery occurs then he and Zero are able to talk things out while figuring out how to escape the situation. One of the cases had a pretty nice resolution where the cops just walk in low key in civilian gear and quickly subdue the villains. It really pays to have a bunch of close friends who are all expert fighters that’s for sure. Wataru doesn’t stand out as much as Jinpei or Zero but he’s still solid.

Hiromitsu definitely has one of the biggest character arcs here. He doesn’t do a whole lot for a while but he gets the final case which is pretty big. He finally has a lead on the guy who murdered his parents and wants to get revenge after all these years. So it took a long while to find him but that’s why you’ve always got to stay on the case because you never know what can happen. The rest of the gang are quick to pitch in and help him out here which was good. It’s definitely a very intense case next to the other adventures which typically had a happier tone. It’s also interesting because if you re-read the very first chapter of the series there were already a few hints about what would happen with his character so it was nice foreshadowing. Clearly the author already had a vision of how this would play out.

There are 2-3 other characters but that’s about it. The cast is fairly small and that makes sense since their wouldn’t have been much time to really develop everyone else otherwise. This series isn’t really about the depth at the end of the day. It’s just about having a fun story with some quick adventures. It’s all about team bonding and it works out really well. A little Conan cameo would have been fun too but I suppose the series doesn’t want to get too obvious. It would be odd to see him just walking around and also depending on how long ago this was maybe Conan wasn’t born yet. Zero definitely looks a lot younger but it could have just been a few years I suppose.

The artwork is really solid here as you would expect. The panels are all very clean and the character proportions are on point. You really will have an easy time following the action at all times. There’s nothing confusing to be said here and that’s always an important part with the artwork. You shouldn’t have to squint to see what’s happening.

Overall, Wild Police Story is pretty fun. It’s definitely over in the blink of an eye but you’ll have a good time reading it. Seeing the gang slowly bond as they’re all on the same missions is pretty nice. They really become a unit by the end to the point where they’re able to save lives without anybody even noticing. One of the most intense cases was definitely when they took the car on the highway and managed to stop a truck by jumping across. It was a pretty nice maneuver and one that definitely required a whole lot of teamwork on each character’s part. I also really liked the first arc since it literally opens up with a quick fight between Zero and Jinpei. That’s how you get the ball rolling right away! If you’ve ever wanted to see the Conan cast in a different setting then this is a great title to check out. I also highly recommend Zero’s Tea Time but note that it has not finished yet.

Overall 7/10

Megaman X Review


I read another manga adaption of the original Megaman X game recently so it was interesting to see how different this one would be.. Well, the two authors did nice jobs of taking very different approaches. The Irregular Hunter manga took a lot of creative liberties from the game’s story with around half of the reploids staying as heroes instead of all 8 joining Sigma. Additionally you had some more creative matchups as a result with maverick against maverick battles. This one goes for a much straighter adaption of events but also giving the robots more of a backstory and reasons for what they’re doing. It’s hard to say which approach is better although I would give the other adaption the slight edge in a head to head.

The manga starts really fast as X brings down a maverick only to find out that Sigma is now leading an army of Mavericks to take over the world. He wants humans to work underneath the reploids and intends to rule with violence. It’s interesting actually seeing a lot of humans running around here. Since X is out on the field when the announcement comes out it’s all the more shocking. Zero is on X’s side and wants to stop the mavericks so the two of them head out. X is initially a pretty low ranking fighter so there isn’t a whole lot he can do but as the story goes on he finds more and more power ups that evens the score with these powerful mavericks. If he can just hang in there for a little bit longer then he has a chance to win this.

This adventure does go for a lot more emotional beets compared to the first one though. For example in one adventure X heads to a city to save as many people who are evacuating as possible but isn’t able to save all of them. He consoles some of the survivors through his tears but it’s all very tragic. Then you’ve got another case where his mentor is murdered, a girl he just met gets bumped off, and he is unable to save Zero’s best friend. The body count in this series is absolutely massive. It’s all to really illustrate how X has a lot of emotions while the average reploid does not. I would argue that all of the reploids seem to feel emotion though but X clearly takes things harder than most. As a result he also gets a lot of rage moments throughout the series since these mavericks really take him to the breaking point.

Fortunately the series doesn’t dwell on this too much as it came very close to sabotaging itself. For example it’s mentioned that one of the animals didn’t make it. If we had actually seen this first hand that would have been very rough. In this world it’s clear that the heroes are playing catch up for most of the adventure. The world is really ruined and almost beyond repair due to Sigma’s plans. You do get that feeling of danger throughout though and each maverick encounter feels meaningful. You see which mavericks are sympathetic and which ones are just pure evil from the start. For example, X encounters one maverick at a facility where he’s murdered a bunch of robots and kept others in a near death state where they are stuck for eternity.

X is unable to save anyone here in what’s probably the toughest adventure for him. Each adventure has casualties though so it’s pretty crazy. The nicest maverick was likely Storm Eagle. There’s a whole lot of development with him and he blames Zero for the death of his fiance. It was a bad situation but certainly not Zero’s fault. The villains had just been too quick and had too many plans. X’s battle with him is pretty fierce. There are some twists and extra details in that fight which change things a bit too. Not sure I agree with their decision though. Let’s just say that the whole situation could have been avoided and it really should have. I never like the idea of holding onto a secret to test someone when just saying it could defuse things. You really can’t blame X for how things turned out.

Throughout the adventure we’re also given clear ties to the original Mega Man series as Dr Light appears a few times through holograms. We’re given a few recordings as he talks about Mega Man X as a last ditch hero who can save us all. It’s a pretty important speech but you always have to wonder how things got to this point. I’d love to see a series that takes place in the gap between Mega Man and the X series. Of course, this was probably a gradual change and the gap between the series is massive so maybe there was no exciting jumping on point. We know there was between X and Zero with the cool Elf Wars but no such thing exists in this gap as far as we know.

X is a great main character. He definitely gets very emotional and cries a lot but this series really justifies why he is so emotional. Every time he arrives onto the battlefield he is just too late. It’s one of his biggest predicaments here because he wants to be a hero who arrives in time to save everyone. Not someone who arrives in time to avenge the fallen. Throughout the series he is always too slow or too weak and it’s something that haunts him. By the end of the series he has finally attained his true power and believes that he can save everyone. It’ll be interesting to see how that’s continued in the next adventure.

Naturally you also have Zero here as a great rival character. He gets a pretty decent role and is shown as a strong ally to X. The guy always has a lot of confidence and ability so it’s always great to see him. Vile looks good as well and gets himself some solid wins. His ride armor always makes him hard to deal with. Naturally Sigma is a pretty great villain although he doesn’t get to appear nearly as much here as in the last adaption. He’s mostly just saved as an end game boss. The rest of the mavericks with the exception of Storm Eagle just seem to be crazy or sadistic. It’s easy to see why they joined Sigma’s army. A lot of them didn’t seem to like humans from the start. In this case the manga doesn’t try to play the sympathy card with them as the humans appear reasonable enough. You can definitely see how a society built around sentient robots working for the humans would go wrong though. The instant they became sentient there’s no way they would work under humans. With them? Perhaps, but certainly not below.

The artwork is very good here. It’s a very detailed style that really lets you appreciate the battle scenes. All of the character designs are on point and the whole thing looks nice. I also appreciate the good writing here with the characters acting very professional and the lore being on point. It’s a series that really sucks you in. You may understand the general format of taking out the enemies one by one but with how much depth is in each story it doesn’t feel super formulaic. It’s an adventure where you’re eager to see what happens next. Since this just adapts the first game there is naturally a lot of loose ends to continue the second game with as well.

Overall, This series definitely benefits from having 2 volumes. I always think it’s pretty hard to really adapt a complete game like this in one volume without rushing through things. If anything it would probably be even better with three. The more volumes you have the more you can pace things out and give a lot of development to everyone. Part of what makes this series so serious is that it’s able to take time to show how much damage the mavericks are doing and exactly why X is so invested in stopping them. It really shows why the other robots don’t understand X either as he sees this from an emotional perspective instead of just the data behind it. Something even Zero has trouble with although I thought he was plenty emotional in his backstory with Storm Eagle. The characters have a lot of personality and the world is well constructed. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how good the next manga title is. I’m certainly less familiar with X2 and since I haven’t seen another adaption of that one yet, I’ll be in for more of a totally new experience this time around. If you like action stories then I definitely recommend checking this one out. You may be surprised at just how emotional it is.

Overall 7/10

Irregular Hunter X Review


Mega Man X has had quite a few different manga titles over the years. This one seems to be one of the less popular adaptions but it’s definitely a very strong manga. I liked that we actually got to see a matchup of two Reploids fighting each other who weren’t X, Zero, Axl, Sigma, Vile, or someone big like that. It makes for a pretty fun outside the box matchup. In general the manga is just very strong with solid artwork, a good story, and solid pacing. It’s a great adaption of the first game and it’ll definitely keep you wanting for more.

The story starts by introducing us to the world of Mega Man X. Reploids are now used to help in just about every area of life. There are some who have gone crazy though and believe that Reploids should be at the top of the food chain. They become Mavericks and are put down by the Maverick Hunters. The Hunters are led by Commander Sigma and his top warriors are the S Class hunters like Zero and Vile. X is the main character and he’s solid but at a lower ranking. His physical abilities aren’t quite as good as the others but he wants to be S rank someday. More and more mavericks have been popping up every day so this is X’s chance to prove himself.

In a lot of ways X is very similar to the classic Mega Man. He’s all about peace for the future and only taking down villains when there are no other options. Mega Man has been through many incarnations over the years and the same goes for X but the main constant is that he is usually the most emotional one. He is known to cry as he slays the enemies because he values life so much. It pains him to take down the Mavericks but he knows that not doing so would lead to even more casualties long term. So he does what he has to.

X is also very loyal to his friends. Even once Zero is stated to be a maverick X refuses to believe this and opts to let himself be destroyed instead of going and taking Zero down himself. Of course it would have been even better if he suspected Sigma but part of X’s character is that he believes in the best for every character. Naturally that includes Sigma as well. X is shown to be a very capable fighter here though and he consistently improves throughout the manga. I think fans will definitely be satisfied with how he looks here.

Zero definitely looks great here. He is definitely known as one of the strongest hunters of all time for good reason. With his Z Saber at the ready he just goes ahead and lays waste to all of the enemies in his way. He’s very quick to notice Mavericks causing trouble even when they weren’t on the official list to watch out for. Zero’s a very pro-active hero and one who always stays alert. He’s definitely the best character here. Vile’s also a fun S rank Hunter although of course he is one of the big villains here. In a fair fight it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t stand a chance against Zero though. He’s more of a ranged fighter which doesn’t match up so well against Zero’s up close and personal fighting style.

Sigma is also a pretty fun villain. The guy definitely has a lot of plans for the future. This was all really just the opening gambit for him but either way it was a solid plan. He’s an iconic Megaman character and I would consider him to be an improvement over Wily. This guy just feels like a huge threat in part because of how powerful he is. We get to see that briefly when he fights with Storm Eagle and easily dispatches him. I really liked that fight as Sigma did a good job of maintaining his cover this way. It just fleshes out the events of the game a lot. That’s really one of the big things that the manga did so well. It just takes the story of Mega Man X1 and really adds a lot of detail to everything. All of the mavericks are given some extra character development here like the rivalry with Snow Penguin and his fire counterpart as well as Storm Eagle’s absolute confidence. You like to see that because it changes them from just being another robot to be defeated. The Mega Man X games already did have extra detail compared to the classic games and this just took that to the next level.

Whenever you go through a Mega Man X adventure it always makes you wonder how we got to this point from the classic days. A lot certainly happened and this is far enough in the future where Dr Light and the others are long gone by this point. In a lot of ways the world feels like it’s at peace more compared to the classic one but then the Mavericks keep on spreading more and more until by X8 it feels like the world isn’t doing so well. It’ll be interesting if the manga titles also give off this feel. In this game at least I feel like things are still pretty hopeful right now.

The artwork is definitely really good here. The character designs are on point and the action is really solid. You really feel the weight of each battle and it all just flows together really nicely. I also liked seeing X with Zero’s buster even if it was brief. Zero was definitely right that this wasn’t a good idea though. You can’t just switch out weapons and expect everything to go over very well. It does seem like Zero’s weapon was a lot stronger though so no wonder he is always winning matches. X started to even things out with his various upgrades though. Once he has all of those he probably is the strongest Maverick Hunter. The adapting tech Dr. Light gave him certainly paid off quite nicely.

Overall, Irregular Hunter X is a very solid manga and I would highly recommend it. It’s over pretty quick so you’ll feel like the adventure ended as soon as it began. Still, you couldn’t ask for much more than what you got in these two volumes. Every character is given their chance to shine. The writing is on point and this should definitely get you interested in the original Mega Man X story. Soon I’ll be checking out a bunch of other Mega Man X manga adaptions so it’ll be interesting to compare them directly. It’s hard to picture them beating this one but they do have the advantage of having some bigger scale stories coming up. This one set the ball rolling for all of the other stories so they can just jump right into the action instead of introducing the characters.

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War


This series has to have the most misleading volume 1 cover of all time. I always assumed this was either a horror series or some kind of vampire title. How else would that cover look? Kaguya definitely has a memorable design. The series is actually more of a psychological thriller as the characters try to one up each other similar to Liar Game. It’s off to a brilliant start so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll have a review up for the series when I finish it.

Overall 8/10

Haikyu!


I started this series a little while back and it’s definitely been a pretty hype title. I’ll have a review up for when I finish it but you really can’t go wrong with Volleyball so I don’t see this title taking a dip. Every sport should have a definitive manga title and with this one in the books that’s one more sport complete to join Basketball (Kuroko), Football (Eyeshield 21) and Tennis. (Prince of Tennis)

Overall 8/10

All You Need is Kill Review


It’s time to look at a pretty interesting story about time travel. What if you could keep on redoing a day until you had perfected it? It’s an interesting idea for sure and if you could master the concept then I could see why anyone would want to do it. Keep replaying the day where you took a test to get the right answered or entering a tournament until you won. There are no limits to what time travel can help you do and that’s why it has always been such an amazing concept. One difference here compared to most that it isn’t exactly all fun and games for the main character. The time travel is quite serious.

We open up the story by being introduced to a very different world. We have been at war with aliens for decades now. They’ve always been one step ahead of us so no matter how many improvements we make to our mechs they always win. There is only one soldier who has been doing well against them lately and her name is Rita. She is able to take down dozens of attackers with the greatest of ease. The rest of the soldiers just watch in awe. Well our lead here is Keiji and he is promptly murdered as soon as he sets foot on the battlefield. The only issue is that he then wakes up back to the start of the day. He then repeats the day and dies again, which sends him to the beginning of the loop. He can’t find any reason as to why this started or how to get out but he suspects that it has happened for a reason. Can he now find a way to win this war and save humanity?

Of course you gotta take it one fight at a time but winning this battle would be huge. Keiji quickly realizes that every action that he takes a little differently affects quite a lot. The only worrisome part is that the aliens never act the same way so it seems like they are aware of what he is doing. Well, no matter. Keiji still aims to win this fight and he may need Rita’s help for that. It’s effectively Groundhog Day but in the middle of a war so the stakes are pretty high and it’s not like he can just have fun. Of course, living the same day over and over again for too long in any circumstance would get old quickly.

Keiji definitely makes for a good main character. He may not be thrilled at what’s going on but what I liked is that Keiji gets with the program right away. He quickly sees the benefit of this and trains as hard as he can to be the perfect soldier. He’s a very determined main character and doesn’t get distracted so easily. At one point in one of the timelines someone offers to “console” him and Keiji quickly turns down the random 1 night affair. Even though he could have done so and just went back to business the next day he kept his eye on the prize. Keiji wasn’t going to walk away without getting more knowledge on the enemy. It seems like he went through the loop hundreds if not thousands of times and never lost his sanity. For sure it did take an emotional toll as he would look terrible but he always said and did the right things anyway.

When a plan would fail Keiji would try the next best option. I definitely had no issues with him here. He fought til the end. There isn’t really much of a cast here. There are supporting characters of course but the only other important one would be Rita. She’s definitely a very solid character as well. As the ace fighter of the whole army her abilities greatly exceed those of anyone else. The only one who is able to keep up with her later on is Keiji thanks to all of the looping. Rita is a very no nonsense character who is always ready to fight. Even when the aliens try surprise attacks she doesn’t fall to those and just regroups. At the same time, she would like to have someone she could talk too, but just doesn’t see the point. It’s not like anyone can keep up and most are too scared to even talk to her. Her quiet confidence and overwhelming talent makes her quite memorable. If the army did not have her around then even with all the resets in the world I wonder if Keiji would have ever been able to make any real progress here. Perhaps, but it would take such a long time that his psyche would be in even worse shape.

The idea behind the story is just excellent. The idea of being able to keep on trying over and over again until you can solve things is brilliant. The manga also touches on other aspects of this. For example, even if you can figure out how to win that’s not enough. You then have to keep on going until you find a method that can save the most lives. If you assume that you have endless tries then you don’t need to worry as much but that’s also a big assumption. You have to ultimately figure things out as fast as possible so you don’t risk too much. Make the wrong call and it could blow up in your face. The writing will definitely remind you of something like Death Note where you have to consider all the implications that a single action can have.

The artwork is definitely excellent. There’s a lot of detail put into each of the pages. The characters really stand out and the artist does a good job of helping you feel the dread they experience when they get out into the field. This isn’t the kind of series where you can expect everyone to have a happy ending. There’s a war going on after all and the humans are just trying to survive as best they can. The ending is very solid though and you could reasonably continue with a sequel at some point. I would say that there is still as lot more you can do with the concept although I suppose the series was trying not to be redundant. It’s the kind of ending where you can easily picture how things will go either way. Whether the heroes or aliens win the war is up to you.

Overall, All You Need is Kill is definitely one of those titles that you’ll probably need to take a second look at to make sure you read it properly. The grammar might not really make sense but you’ll still get the idea right away. At the end of the day the kill is really the important part to the characters here. This is a very well crafted story with a fun premise that the writer takes advantage of. Everything is executed well and it’s a title I could recommend to anyone. It can get a bit violent as it’s in a war with aliens stabbing people to death but it’s nothing too crazy I’d say. The alien designs were definitely intense and the manga did a good job of showing how fierce they could be while highlighting that there is no room for hesitation there. You either land the first blow or you won’t be around to see the next one.

Overall 7/10

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale Review


It’s time to look at the manga based on the Sword Art Online movie. It’s always fun to read manga based on previous media to see if it’ll follow things 100% or change things up. Other times you have to worry about the quality of artwork since they typicallydon’t put quite as much effort into it compared to brand new manga. Fortunately this one was definitely in a good position and really gave a satisfying recap of the events. I think the movie is still the definitive way to experience this story but the manga is a solid alternative. It’s reasonably long so you really feel like they kept everything in.

The plot begins with Asuna and friends trying to get Kirito to play the Ordinal Scale game. He’s not a big fan of it since Kirito has always preferred VR to AR. The main difference is that in VR it’s all in your head while in AR you have to actually move around and perform the actions. I guess it’s like thinking about Pokemon Go which is AR vs one of those VR Megaman games. It all depends on your preference. Once both styles are perfected I’d definitely say that I’ll prefer VR no question. Still, AR is a lot of fun too and since you actually feel the action it should benefit some genres more than others. A racing game would definitely feel exhilarating although I wonder how they will be able to handle the recoil effects. In my mind AR will always be more dangerous than VR.

Back to the plot though, Kirito isn’t particularly impressed with the game. He’s just not buying into the hype at all. He’s forced to take it more seriously though when Asuna is defeated in a battle and loses her memories. It seems that a man by the name of Eiji is behind this. He wants to take the memories of all the SAO survivors and aims to do it through this game. Kirito will have to take him down but while he may be the world’s greatest gamer, he’s not exactly known for being super fit. He’ll train with Suguha a bit and then go back in the ring. Time’s not on Kirito’s side but there’s no person more reliable to have your back.

Pretty much everyone gets a little something to do here which is always nice. Klein may have gotten stomped but we briefly got to see how his team was able to fight and do well in SAO. Klein, Leafa, Lizbeth, and the others also get to come in. None of them have particularly big roles though except for maybe Sinon who was able to back Kirito up when everyone was out of commission and landed a good hit on the final boss. She’s definitely more of a fighter than most of Kirito’s crew so it’s certainly not very surprising. Her gun skills also make her a very good partner to have since Kirito likes to get up close so this way she has his back.

Asuna looks good here as well. She’s definitely ready to re-enter the fray despite being in a pretty tough spot with her memories gone. The film really tests her courage a lot and she always passes with flying colors. I was also glad she remembered Yuuki’s final combo move and used it to great effect. It works as a very solid power up to be sure. Then you have Kirito who is pretty awesome as always. He may not take things too seriously at first but that’s because there’s no danger. How do you get back into the groove of things for a game with no stakes when you’re used to fighting for your life? Well, that certainly changes once Asuna is in trouble. After that Kirito just takes care of work and puts everyone down. He’s definitely one of the greatest main characters out there and continues to improve with each arc.

As for the villains, I’d say that mileage will vary on this. Eiji is a pretty solid one. At least he has good motivations which makes sense and he can fight. He regrets his inaction in the past which caused his best friend to die so now he’s working on fixing things. This fix would murder a lot of people in the present so it shouldn’t be forgotten that tihs guy is a big villain. He’s not a hero by any stretch of the imagination. The guy is just looking out for himself and at the end of the day that’s really all there is to it. He has a cool design and solid fighting skills. At the end of the day when you mix that together with his character motivation then that’s why I will end up giving him some props. He made for a good foil to Kirito since they were both fighting for the person most important to them.

Yuna is a fun character. She may not really know or agree with what is going on for the most part but she does her best to have fun. There are effectively two Yunas at this point anyway. You’ll see the context of that once you watch the movie or read the manga. I definitely have no qualms with her and in the past she definitely appeared to be a very selfless fighter who always did her best to continue improving her abilities. She may not have been a great fighter but she never let that stop her from doing the right thing and helping where she could.

There’s also a scientist villain but he’s not nearly as memorable as Kayaba. Here’s my problem with the guy, based on how we just need the memories to fulfill his goal, wouldn’t it have been possible to do so without straight up murdering everyone? With how advanced the Sci-Fi mechanics are here, I find it hard to believe that he couldn’t just do that very easily. Maybe it would take longer and he just didn’t want to risk it. Usually I would also question if this was even possible or if it would work but based on the fact that her soul is clearly still around, I think there would be a great shot at success. She just hasn’t moved on yet and that’s a very good sign for the plan. It’s too bad that the plan will basically eliminate the game though since that’s the second controversy in a row related to online gaming in Sword Art Online.

As I mentioned earlier, the art is excellent here. The fight scenes are very detailed and the character designs are on point. You can tell that a good amount of effort went into every bit of the adaption. You could easily not even know that this was a movie first and just assume that it was a really solid spinoff story. The quality is certainly there so I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a few volumes long so it definitely works well as a mini series. It’s 100% accurate to the movie so the experience should be very similar.

Overall, Just like how the movie was pretty close to being perfect I would say the same for the manga. The story itself is just very compelling. Kirito and Asuna have always made for very solid partners and this story shows how nothing will be able to keep them apart. They both do their best to stay strong around each other and keep on pressing forward. Whether you’ve seen the original Sword Art Online or not you should be able to quickly tell what’s going on here and get invested into the story. It never gets slow and there is quite a lot of action. Being able to see the final boss of the original SAO for the first time is also great and all of the guest stars at the end make this feel like a great wrap up to the series. The War of Underworld would ultimately go on to pass it with how huge the cast got, but at the time this really couldn’t be beat.

Overall 9/10