Sword Art Online Calibur Review

As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10


Kingdom Hearts II Review

This is another manga where I got to start it a long time ago, but didn’t finish until recently. The manga needed a remake for the ending to finally make it to America. Well, it’s definitely a pretty fun adaption. It doesn’t do much to go above and beyond what it was given from the game, but still puts a good amount of effort into it, making this a solid manga to read whether you’ve played the game or not.

The plot actually begins with Roxas since due to the ending of Chain of Memories Sora is still out of commission. Roxas gets to enjoy a few days with his friends, but quickly finds out that his destiny is a sad one as he must fight his way to Sora only to give his body up and fade away as a Nobody once more. A Nobody is a character who is a literal shadow f the main body and while Roxas can keep his soul, he loses his heart. The process is rather intricate, but the long and short of it is that Roxas makes the hard decision to sacrifice his life. We then go back to Sora as he must lead Donald and Goofy on one last mission to take down the evil Organization XIII and save the world. The villains want to use Kingdom Hearts to open the gate between dimensions and I believe this will end up destroying everyone or swapping places with the Nobodies. It’s been a while so I’m not 100% concrete on the details. It doesn’t change the mission of the heroes though and Mickey/Riku, as well as many other fighters are doing their parts to stop the organization as well.

While the manga can’t get to every single world it does adapt as many of them as possible. As it’s the longest of the Kingdom Heart manga titles, I would expect no less. Kingdom Hearts 358 seemed rather long at last check though, so I’m only fairly certain that II is still the longest. It gives you a good amount of time to get used to the characters and see the universe as opposed to jumping from fight to fight like in many adaptions. Although, that is a really good tactic to use as well if we’re being honest. The manga is certainly a direct continuation to the others though so I would recommend checking them out before reading this one. I’m fairly certain that it will help you enjoy this one more.

The art isn’t bad. When the manga goes for its action scenes it can get quite detailed. Not in a convoluted way, but in a way that enhances the action. Sora’s rage mode is depicted well towards the climax when he believes that his friends were murdered. On the other side, the manga does rely a little too much on exaggerated facial expressions for the gags. A tense scene will suddenly turn into a comic relief moment at the drop of a hat. I think the game did a better job at separating the comedic and tense moments and never being too over the top with the comedy. While those artistic moments aren’t my thing, it’s not a case of the art being bad. It’s probably one of the better manga adaptions when it comes to art.

My only real negative with the series is what I mentioned in the art section right above this. The big jumps from comedy to serious to comedy again can be a bit jarring. I think the manga probably goes a little overboard on the comedy instead of being more subtle. Still, that’s basically it and when that’s your only negative you know that the title is pretty good. The series ends with a mild cliffhanger as the heroes are called away to the castle for some reason, but you could also interpret it as just the manga’s way of saying that a hero’s journey is never over. I barely count cliffhangers like that myself for this reason.

Sora is still a solid protagonist as always and I do like him more here than in the original Kingdom Hearts. Sora is a lot more confident in his abilities at this point in time and has proven himself on many occasions. He can definitely fight with the best of them now and his new costume is cool as well. His final team up battle with Riku is definitely a lot of fun and it’s a fight that the original Sora would probably have had a lot of trouble with. Riku’s role here is certainly not as shady as in the original game since by this point he has basically mastered the powers of light and dark. If you think about it, it makes sense that he would be one of the strongest characters in the series. It’s rare to wield both elements.

Most of Organization XIII shows up here and many meet their demise which basically closes this chapter of the series. They all have their own unique personalities which is good. The best member is probably Xehanort. He has a great design and can fight really well too. I also liked the member with the blue hair (Vexen I believe) and Axel isn’t bad either although he can be a little wishy washy. The group definitely has a lot of real characters in their ranks.

As far as the Disney characters are concerned, they all appear to be in character. Even though the crossover is mainly with the Disney characters, I admit that I look forward to the Final Fantasy ones more anyway. Unfortunately I don’t think they actually keep in the Cloud vs Sephiroth fight, but it’s possible that I just don’t remember it. It’s been a long time since I read the first few volumes of the series after all. It’s still hard to believe it went on for a full 9 volumes before being re released in the omnibus format. So while I don’t mention the Disney characters much, their inclusion definitely makes the series even more fun. Who doesn’t know the classic Disney characters like The Beauty and The Beast? While I can’t really take them seriously in a fight against the Organization characters, I suppose they’re tough enough for the Heartless. It’s always good to see a familiar face among the characters and hopefully for Kingdom Hearts III we finally get the big team up with all of the old Disney and FF characters for a big climactic battle.

Overall, This is definitely a fun manga. It’s got a good amount of action and a good cast of characters. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It’s probably the best of the Kingdom Heart manga titles although Chain of Memories puts up a good fight. I always really liked that game/manga. It was short, but had a bunch of fights. It’s similar to the Battle Frontier in the Pokemon anime. Still, with the extra volumes Kingdom Hearts II definitely had more time for a lot to happen. Reading all of the different titles back to back would probably be fun. It’ll be tough for 358/2 to top this one, but I’m looking forward to seeing it try its best!

Overall 7/10

Fire Emblem Heroes: Heroes’ Everyday Lives

It’s been a little while since I read an anthology manga. The 4 Koma chapters seem reasonably entertaining and certainly better than other gag titles like Rock Lee. I’ll review it when they stop coming out with the chapters, but since each installment is only 1 page I get the feeling that this could last for quite a while. I’m waiting for Roy to show up at this point.

Overall 7/10

Kitchen Princess Review

It’s time for a classic Shojo title. I read most of this series a very long time ago, but never found the last 1-2 volumes. With the recent omnibus release, I was finally able to read the series from start to finish. It’s definitely a fun title and I’m always up for a cooking title. The characters are pretty reasonable and the romance isn’t too over the top. Also, romance in Shojo can be better than in Shonen at times although it’s certainly a case by case basis. The “mean character is actually” nice kind of plot doesn’t work very well, but at least Daichi isn’t constantly mocking Najika unlike some other titles. Well, lets take more of a look at this series.

Najika is the daughter of two famous cooks. Unfortunately, they didn’t last very long so she lives at an orphanage where she helps everyone out. She finally manages to make it into a very rich cooking school and aims to succeed so she can send money back home. Unfortunately, the kids there don’t take too kindly to a girl from the sticks being allowed into their prestigious school. Najika has to try and tune the bullies out, but it’s tough when she just wants to be friends with everyone. Fortunately, the student council president, Sora, is on her side. His brother Daichi is also fine with Najika although he doesn’t like to admit it. Their father is the principal though and he doesn’t like her at all. She must constantly prove herself if she wants to stay at the school, but she is up to the task. With her perfect cooking skills, she will literally change the social caste system of the school and show them all that anyone can be a great cook if they put their heart into it.

I’ve always thought that cooking competitions looked like a lot of fun. Normal cooking is hype as well of course, but once you make it competitive then the stakes really get high. You really have to give the contest your all or defeat is inevitable. The series has a few different cooking contests and they’re always fun. While Najika sometimes gets away with a win through means that don’t seem quite legitimate, (Her food has more heart) she is a great cook as shown throughout the series so it’s not as if she’s totally winning through a fluke. Also, lets keep in mind that some of the contests were rigged against her and she still found a way to put up a good fight. You definitely have to admire her dedication.

Najika is definitely a very nice heroine. Her perfect sense recall is definitely an ability that gives her an edge over the other cooks. I mean, think about it. If you’re facing someone who can perfectly recall any food that they’ve tasted in their life, not to mention foods that they have only heard someone else taste, then they are rarely going to lose. Najika doesn’t let it go to her head though and always tries her hardest for even the smallest of dishes. Her main weakness is that she isn’t very good at dealing with bullies. She gets emotionally hurt very quickly and it happens to her quite a few times during the series. She even goes into shock after one particularly painful experience and loses her sense of taste.

Najika has to overcome some fairly big hurdles throughout the series. Not all of the resolutions are very satisfying such as when she doesn’t do very well in a big contest where everyone was counting on her thanks to her condition. She also suffers physical injuries like when she injures her wrist. Still, Najika stays strong through it all and is a character that’s hard not to like. She’s certainly earnest, even if she is rather naive and slow to notice when someone is betraying her.

We’ve also got her mentor, Fujita. He’s probably the only character that I felt the manga dropped the ball on. We know from the start that there is something more to this guy than meets the eye. We later find out that he was a pretty big chef back in his day. Yet, this plot never actually goes anywhere. I understand that the series went down the “It’s time for the next generation to shine” route, but it’s still just a little odd that he never had a big moment. I thought for sure that he would have a quick cooking battle with Najika or something, but instead he just keeps on lazing around. I suppose he’s not a bad character, but a pointless one all the same. The series wouldn’t have really changed without him.

Akane serves as the first bully and ultimately Najika’s best friend. She is working towards being a model so naturally she has to be careful about what she eats. You’d think that this would make her quick friends with Najika and originally they were getting along, but then she notices that her best friend was quickly turning into Najika’s. Najika naturally didn’t notice though so that’s when Akane realized her true potential as a bully. From there her character flip flopped a bit as Najika would help her out and she’d be friends again..only to turn into a bully again. Eventually she became a permanent hero, but it took quite a while. You can’t help but feel bad for Akane though since she was always doomed to lose. Whenever you have the main character and the friend fighting over a guy, you know who will win. So much for the friend zone eh? Akane was certainly not as nice or as heroic as Najika, but she was a fun character all the same. I dare say that I may have liked her more than Najika to be honest. It’s close though but Akane’s troubles just seemed to be a lot tougher than Najika’s if you ask me.

Next up we have Sora. He’s the original guy to help Najika out. Sora was a really nice guy the whole time as well. While Daichi started out mildly antagonistic and too busy to really be bothered with Najika, Sora would put his many duties on hold to help her out. He was a great character and his plot line did have a decisive end. It’s probably not the one anyone wanted for him though but it was handled pretty well. Sometimes random stuff just happen after all. Some manga titles go overboard with the tragic elements, but as this story is usually quite light hearted, one tragic part won’t tip it over the edge. His romance plot was probably the only one that I’d say was handled really well in the series.

Then we have Daichi. He had a hard time living up to Sora’s reputation and I’m afraid he never could. He’s not quite as good as Sora at balancing his responsibilities and being around for Najika. Not to mention that you still can’t help but feel like he acts as a rebound. A rebound romance is when you start out by liking one person and after that is no longer possible you suddenly end up liking someone else. It feels like that person is simply a second round pick and that’s what I feel happened here. It’s why I definitely couldn’t get behind the romance with him and Najika. It hurts his character quite a bit, but both should be blamed equally for it. Daichi’s not a bad character, but I definitely liked Sora much more. At the very least Sora never upset Najika the way that Daichi did. Daichi was easily manipulated and tricked by the bullies while I don’t think Sora would have bought into the act so easily. Actually, I’m liking Daichi less and less as I think about the whole thing.

One character that had a bit of a personality shift was Daichi’s father. I would say that it was a complete 180 out of nowhere, but due to events that transpired during the series it is reasonable that he would change. If anything, it’s surprising that it didn’t happen sooner. He made for a good antagonist and while he is pretty ruthless, it’s not as if he’s extremely off the deep end. Depending on how you look at it he does indirectly murder someone by causing her to be overworked though. It’s a thin line that he walks, that’s for sure. He does a good job of hiding his dark side from the rest of the world. I can also give him credit for definitely making the series more enjoyable as well since he does a good job as the villain.

Finally, we have Seiya. He’s a transfer student who looks just like Sora which naturally causes a lot of tension among the main characters. It’s uncanny how identical they look, but Seiya’s personality is very different. He’s very aggressive and confident. Seiya believes that he is the best cook and his confidence makes sure that he wants to win fair and square. You can at least respect that part of his character. He definitely has quite a few unlikable characteristics, but he does make for a good rival. His romance plot is certainly the most rushed though. At least he becomes a nicer character in a much smoother transition than Akane. I was also glad that we had at least one main character who could cook on the same level as Najika. It would just be too easy if everyone else was so far beneath her.

The art is very clear so all of the food stands out. The Flan in particular has a pretty big role from all of the foods and it looks like the real thing. I like Flan quite a bit myself so it was nice to see it get a starring role. This manga is mainly about dessert so you don’t see too many real foods, but there are plenty of titles where those are featured so it’s no big loss. You’re certainly not likely to get confused during any of the scenes since this artist does a good job of making sure that none of the characters look too similar. The cast is actually fairly small so that also helps.

As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get behind most of the romance here. I’d list romance as one of the main genres, but it’s still not as frequent as it could have been. It just feels like most of the romances here are rebounds which is a little iffy. The series is at its best when it’s just focusing on the food aspect of the series. The competitions and striving to be the best. The series goes through its emotional phases, but mainly stays happy and has a good amount of replay value.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Kitchen Princess. It’s a fun manga and you’ll get to see a bunch of cooking tips between the chapters. Najika is also a good hero who manages to stop the bullies without becoming one herself. She shows them the error of their ways and gradually becomes someone who gets along with everyone. Even the Principal who tries his best time and time again to get in her way ultimately appreciates her cooking. While it may not have the optimal ending, it’s a series that still hits enough of the right notes to be considered a success.

Overall 6/10

RWBY Review

It’s definitely pretty interesting to review the manga before the show right? Now that season 5 has ended I will start working on a RWBY review very soon. It’s going to be massive though so it won’t be up for a long time. The show rose out of nowhere and suddenly became one of the all time greats. Now you see the franchise everywhere so it makes sense that the manga has come to America. Unfortunately, it does feel a little like a cash grab, but it does give some of the earlier shorts some more context and even changes a few things for kicks. It’s a fun enough volume since I’m a huge fan of the franchise, but I still can’t call it a great manga. Perhaps we will get a new ongoing RWBY series soon which will work a little better.

The volume starts off with 4 individual stories. They each adapt the original RWBY character shorts. The Ruby one is naturally a lot of fun since it’s just her beating up the Grimm for an entire chapter. That’s still a very iconic RWBY short and the manga adapts it well. While I’m not a huge fan of the artwork, the artist does show up for the fight scenes. Weiss’ story also shows up and we learn that the giant Knight from her special was actually a suit of armor that a Grimm was possessing. It was a test to see if Weiss would be allowed to leave and she passed it with flying colors. It had more dialogue and more of a plot than the Ruby short so I would consider this chapter to be better.

Next up we had the Blake story. Adam doesn’t look quite as good as in the show since Blake needs to save him and in general he doesn’t look as skilled, but I’m used to most of the community not liking Adam. He’s still one of the best characters in RWBY, but more on that in the show review. It’s another fun story with a bunch of action. Finally we have the Yang chapter. It’s the best of the shorts and also the best prequel chapter here. It’s basically nonstop action with Yang beating everyone up and reminding us why she is the power hitter of the group. This all leads into the main arc for the manga volume.

Team JNPR is sent off on a mission to stop a giant Grimm and they leave early to show off. Team RWBY catches up to them and the teams take on the 8 Headed Dragon. It’s a pretty hype fight with a lot of teamwork and we’ve never really gotten to see all 8 heroes fight a big creature like this. We did have a similar fight in season 1 against two monsters though which is likely the approach the story was going for. It’s another solid action story and then it basically ends with a small tease for all the events that would happen in the show. The manga is essentially just a quick spinoff story so you can see the characters in a new situation and the prequels were adapted perhaps for any manga reader who didn’t watch the show. This way they would know who the characters are.

I do wonder if the manga was originally going to be one volume or not. It just seemed like it would be an ongoing title while reading it. The first 4 chapters set up the various characters and their subplots. Torchwick showed up a few times during the original story which felt like obvious foreshadowing as well. I feel like the author was either planning to start adapting the show again after the original story and it just didn’t happen or he was going to do his own thing. Either way, the ending was so abrupt that it just feels like something is missing. It’s a shame that it was only 1 volume because there are so many more scenes that could have been made. Since RWBY only gives us about 3-4 hours of content per year, there’s not a whole lot of time for bonus fights and extra plots. Having an ongoing manga/comic/anime series to run alongside it would be really cool. I guess this manga just isn’t the way that was going to happen.

Perhaps the artwork ended up hurting it a bit in the long run. The art is actually quite bad. Most of the characters are off model the whole time and their designs are not on point. Nobody really looks like how they should and the art is just rather cluttered. There doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of effort put behind the manga. Again, I feel like this manga was really just made for some quick cash or to get more awareness out on the series. If it had been given real art then this could have ended up being known as one of the all time greats. Instead, it limits the series.

It’s still a good volume though and I don’t regret pre ordering it. What the series lacks in artwork it makes up for in fights. Every chapter has a bunch of action and the fights just don’t stop in this volume. The action just keeps on going and going as you would expect it too. The characters are still likable although that’s likely just because I know their personalities from the show. It’s not as if there is really any time for development in this volume before it just ends. It’s simply building off of the show’s legacy. There’s not too much more to say without regurgitating the same points over and over again.

At the end of the day, it’s just a fun manga. Maybe part of this was intentionally trying to recapture what made RWBY popular in the first place. It was just a series of shorts with great, tightly choreographed fight scenes. There wasn’t much of a plot, but the specials still had a lot of character. You could learn a lot from the characters by their design, facial expressions, and movements. They didn’t need dialogue and much in the same way, the manga doesn’t build on the characters. You just know that they mean business from the way that they fight while also having carefree attitudes outside of combat. The manga decided that you don’t need to know any more than that and just launches you into fights from there. Jaune fans will likely be saddened by the fact that he doesn’t do much here, but at least he got to appear. A bunch of characters couldn’t make it in before the volume ended.
Overall, Watching RWBY before reading this manga will allow you to enjoy it a lot more. If you haven’t seen RWBY, then I will still recommend this volume, but it’ll come off as extremely bland and rushed. Just look at the image above. You can see how much the manga foreshadowed, but I suppose it’s just an advertisement for the show. You’ll essentially not be reading this for the plot and you’ll just want to focus on the action. You may have some questions on what is happening and why it’s happening, but the book has a little guide at the beginning to help newcomers and at the end of the day you shouldn’t overthink it. The concept of a school training people to fight monsters is pretty basic and even if you don’t know the technicalities you should be able to get the manga’s drift. So, without the RWBY factor then you can drop this review one star. It’s still a positive score though and I eagerly await whatever RWBY product is next.

Overall 7/10

Handa Kun

It’s time for another spinoff although this one is a direct prequel. It’s about Handa back in his school days and as always he is having a tough time fitting in. As someone who was never the biggest fan of the village setting I can definitely see this one passing the main series. Of course, it will be a little limited in what it can do without causing issues in the main title, but there’s still a lot of room to explore here. I’ll have a review for the series when I finish it.

Overall 7/10

Magic Kaito

I’ve finally started the Detective Conan spinoff, Magic Kaito. This series follows the adventures of the mysterious Kaito Kid, except he isn’t as mysterious as he seems. I never cared all that much for him, but he’s actually a pretty bad character here. Still, the art is pretty solid and I’m hoping for some Conan appearances. It’s off to a decent start though and the fact that there are people here with actual powers is interesting. I’ll give it a review when the series finishes.

Overall 7/10

Accel World Review

Accel World has always been a series with a good premise. A fighting game with total VR is always something that I like to see and the combat designs are on point. However, The main character often holds the series back with how bad he is and that is likely always going to happen no matter the medium. Well, the manga decides to play out like an abridged version of the manga. It adapts a book, skips a book, adapts, etc. I can understand why they would skip an arc that was already animated and all but as a result the manga ends with an arc that doesn’t really have any fights. Ah well, it’s still a decent adaptation.

The series follows a kid named Haruyuki. He is down on his luck as everyone bullies him. He has two friends, Taku and Chiyu. The dynamic between the three of them has grown awkward as the other two got together. Fortunately for Haru it appears that Taku is evil so Haru will now be able to beat him up. Haruyuki also befriends the school club president Kuroyukihime who introduces him to the real vr game known as Brain Burst. Essentially you fight other players to get points and level up. With these points you can stop time in the real world and use it in all sorts of ways to get through life. The downside is that the pain you feel in the game is very real and you may be targeted in the real world by other players. Will Haruyuki be able to get through all of this or is it over for him?

Accel World does a good job of not feeling like a cash in when it comes to the art at least. It looks pretty sharp and the character designs are on point. The fight scenes look good as well so there was definitely some real effort put into it. It’s not even a case of the series starting out rocky and then hitting its stride as the first fights in volume 1 already look good. At most, the humans can look a little chibi at first, but the designs look more like the anime by the end. It naturally can’t look quite as impressive as the anime which really takes advantage of Silver Crow’s flight speed and all of the energy effects going on but the manga does a really good job regardless.

Another thing in the manga’s favor is that it adapted the short story from one of the Accel World novels where Haruyuki gets to meet up with Kirito. Kirito is definitely the fighter that I would put my money on, but Haru does a good job of keeping the fight close. Seeing as how both series are still ongoing I would definitely be up for a full crossover arc that continues across both series. Even if it’s just one novel from each that would make for a pretty epic story. The crossover chapters were certainly very intense and did a good job of giving Kirito his due respect. I think we both know who would win this fight.

One of the negatives for the series is Haruyuki. He’s still as unlikable as ever to the point where you feel it’s intentional. Most main characters just stumble into awkward situations while Haruyuki actually tries for them. He really can’t handle talking to most of the supporting characters and gets intimidated by everyone. He let’s dark power consume him with ease. There aren’t really any redeemable qualities about him and it’s just tough to have a main character like that.

At least the supporting cast is better. While Taku starts off as a very iffy character and it’s hard to go back from that, at least he ends up being an interesting character. A shame that he is stuck in a very slow avatar that basically never gets to win an important fight. Chiyu is another of the main supporting characters and she is good although Chiyu can be iffy at times. She practically states that she only went with Taku so as not to break up the band and once they split she seems to be flirting with Haru at times. It may just be her chipper attitude mixed with Haru always acting in the worst way possible for each exchange but you can’t help but feel that she was never interested in Taku. I didn’t agree with most of her decisions in the arc that was skipped, but since it was skipped it doesn’t even matter all that much.

On that note, it makes sense that the manga would have to skip parts because the pacing can be rather slow. Not in a dragged out way, but the manga really wants to be as detailed as the anime so each chapter won’t adapt a whole lot. This is one of those series that works best when you marathon it in volume format. I can barely believe that it was 8 whole volumes as it just feels a lot shorter, but it has been a very long time since I started the series so I suppose it makes sense. By skipping around, the manga could still adapt later parts while giving the early ones a lot of screen time as well.
Back to the characters. Kuroyukihime is a solid character and I’d say that she is still the best character in the series. She also happens to be one of the very strongest as she is at Level 9 and just needs one more level up to clear the game. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Her Black Lotus avatar is definitely a really cool one and at the moment she has yet to lose a serious fight although we’ve seen a few opponents who could give her a run for her money. She definitely helps the series out quite a bit.

Scarlet Rain also has a decently large role in the series. She’s a good fighter but when pretending to be Haru’s sister you have to wonder if she could have come up with a better plan. That one is extremely risky and if it was any other character who was a bit smarter it simply would have worked. The strategy probably would have worked just as well if she just cornered him after school and forced him into a battle. She was really just testing his combat abilities after all.

The Chrome Disaster armor/entity is as cool as ever. You definitely have to appreciate the design and since he works like a symbiotic it leaves a lot of potential for future arcs. I’d like to see him use the power more and try to master it since it would be really handy against the stronger villains in the series. It lets you use Override techniques a lot easier and can even heal so it doesn’t get much better than that.

The series does have a few hiccups as it falls into the trap of fan service. It’s not too excessive but present enough to be noted. What the series prefers to focus on is throwing Haruyuki in awkward positions that may not exactly be fan service moments but with his terrible reactions and everyone constantly flirting with him, it can be just as forced and unnecessary. Considering that Haruyuki seems to want to be with Kuroyukihime, you’d think that he could control his thoughts better with the others, but he just isn’t quite that good.

As the manga ends early you can’t help but think that we never really got to get to the “good” part. Not necessarily stuff from the novels but imagining that this manga wasn’t based on anything you would have to assume that these early volumes were building up to the 5 Kings actually appearing and Haruyuki eventually getting to fight them. A high level battle of that caliber would definitely be a blast to watch. There’s just so much left to do when the series ends but at least it’s not as if the title is only 3-4 volumes. 8’s not a bad number to end on and the series certainly still got to do a lot. I’m sure to an extent it’s not like the author had much of a choice on where to end it.

Overall, Accel World is a good action manga. The fights are good and the art also holds up well. It suffers from some fan service issues and an iffy main character which holds it back from being a considerably better title. It’s not a very long series so you’ll be through it pretty quick but it’ll be a fun read nonetheless. The ending may not feel too epic or climactic but that’s basically because the series had to come to an abrupt end. The author still did a good job of picking a decent place to end for those who don’t like cliffhangers. I would have liked it to end in the middle of a fight with the tag line “Read the book to find out what happens” myself but it is what it is. So I’d lightly recommend the title. I’d certainly be interested in seeing what someone who has not read the novels or seen the anime would think about it. It may feel pretty random but it’s still an action title so as long as you get engaged into the story then you’ll be fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up getting another manga series if we ever get another season or the light novels really take off in America.

Overall 7/10

Black Clover

This series got quite a lot of buzz. For the most part anyone I’ve met irl who reads the manga likes it a lot while online you see a lot of mockery. For better or worse I am getting a lot of Fairy Tail vibes from it. If it sticks to the early days of Fairy Tail then we’re fine though. In a way, it’s about guilds and magic quite a bit, but also dips into Naruto and Bleach kind of story beats as well. It’s really a mesh of a bunch of Shonen Tropes and that’s why it could end up being amazing or very forgettable. The supporting cast doesn’t seem to have too much potential, but the main character is pretty good and I’m liking the rival. Ideally that’s all you need. There’s a lot of potential here, but it can be used for good or bad. We’ll just have to see and I’ll have a review for the series when it finishes.

Overall 6/10

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.
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.
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