SSSS.Gridman Review


Gridman is an anime from not too long ago. It deals with robots, aliens, and a whole lot of other sci-fi elements. It’s a pretty fun show and one that makes for a pretty quick watch since there are only 12 episodes at the moment. There are quite a few twists and turns as you go through the series so you can try to see if you get where the show is going early on. With solid action and an ongoing mystery type plot on the back-end what’s not to like? Either way you should definitely have a good time.

The show starts off by introducing us to Yuta. He has complete memory loss which is pretty unfortunate since he seems like he had just said something to the popular girl at school Rikka but has no idea what he said. She’s nice enough to take him to the hospital and then show him where he lives. Yuta then gets reintroduced to his best friend Sho and tries to make the best of this new life. He’s a bit weirded out by the fact that the town is surrounded by giant Kaiju. Nobody seems to notice them so only Yuta can even perceive the giant things. Yuta also dreams about a being named Gridman who is stuck in a computer. When a Kaiju attacks the city, Yuta follows his instincts and jumps into the computer. This allows him to turn into Gridman and fight off the Kaiju.

There is more to the story than this though. So Sho, Yuta, and Rikka form the Gridman alliance to stop the Kaiju. There are a few concerns. One is naturally what these Kaiju are and how they are appearing in the city. 2. Nobody remembers the Kaiju attacks once they are foiled and all of the damage to the city ends up being fixed. 3. Anyone murdered directly by a Kaiju stays dead even when the city is refreshed but now nobody remembers that character ever existing. Clearly there is a mastermind behind this and the heroes need to figure that out.

The viewers know this from the jump though as the show immediately reveals Akane as the big antagonist along with her alien friend known as Alexis. It’s one of those interesting dynamics where you are many steps ahead of the protagonists from the jump. Akane may not seem like your average villain but she is quite sinister with how willing she is to murder anyone who crosses her even if it’s just something minor like dropping her sandwich. Akane absolutely doesn’t have any sympathy for other characters.

As the show goes on you learn more and more about the city and all of your questions will be answered. Delving into any of that would be heavy spoiler territories though but needless to say it makes for a pretty fun twist. There is one supporting character who briefly appears to explain the twist and throw an info dump on Yuta but she disappears after that. I would be interested to see what she does in the future. I hope the character returns because there is a lot of potential there.

As the main character Yuta is decent. He’s a nice guy who always tries his best. Yuta does resist Akane’s attempts to seduce him which is good since you want to have a strong main character. He fights well in the mech and basically does whatever needs to get done. Yuta doesn’t have a whole lot of personality outside of just being your classic main character but there’s nothing bad to say about him either. Maybe he gets a bit jealous at times involving Rikka but that’s about it and it’s usually pretty mild.

Then you have his friend Sho who tends to panic a little more. Sho gets a bit of a mini character arc where he experiences a lot of self doubt. Aside from that period he was pretty confident the whole time though and did well as Yuta’s right hand man. The main heroine is Rikka and she’s a solid character. At times she may seem a bit desperate to be Akane’s friend despite Akane always insulting her but the show even explains this one pretty well. Rikka’s definitely a fun character so I can see why she grew pretty popular. She has more development than a lot of the other characters.

Gridman has a few allies who show up with Calibur probably getting the best role from all of them. They’re helpful to have around and each of them help out in the big fights. The fact that Calibur can fight rather well even in the human world is handy though. Gridman mostly just repeats his speech about saving the world the whole show but there is something that happens at the end which helps him a lot. It makes him a far more interesting main character so there’s a lot that season 2 can do with him. The guy has potential and I like the design.

As for the villains, Akane is naturally the main one for the season. She is constantly coming up with new Kaiju threats to use in battle. She certainly has a lot of Kaiju knowledge which is handy as well. Ultimately she really became her worst enemy as she could have had a much easier time of things if she wasn’t trying to be so commanding all the time. Her trying to make the world perfect is really what drives people away. She ultimately doesn’t seem to like people all that much despite wanting to be liked the whole time which puts her in a bit of a spot. Ultimately she may take a lot of detours in accomplishing her goals but if that’s what it takes for her to have more fun then I guess it was worth it to her. Her actions don’t always make a lot of sense but that seems intentional.

Then you have Alexis who is a blast. The entire show it feels like he is really just trolling everyone and that makes him a compelling villain. It reminds me a lot of the villain “Hero” from the Hyper Neptunia Virtual Stars game. They have similar designs and voice styles. Alexis has a plan of his own of course and he definitely looks really good by the end. This guy was definitely a scene stealer and it was always fun to see what his responses are. Despite his joking around a lot of the time, you always knew that you would have to keep your guard up around him.

Finally we have Anti who ended up being the best character in the show easy. This guy had a whole lot of character development. While he is a Kaiju who has a human body, he gradually grows more sentient as he stays human. From being one note to actually creating plans and understanding what it means to be human, Anti really manages to stand out as a result. He had some really great fight scenes as well. His ability to adapt to any opponent and keep on fighting was definitely impressive. His final form in the series is pretty great as well although my favorite form might have been 1 or 2 steps behind that one.

There’s a lot to like in Gridman with the engaging story and characters. I wouldn’t say the cast of characters is one of the strongest that I’ve seen recently as the main heroes don’t have a whole lot of personality next to others but the villains were all solid and we do get a lot of quality interactions. The writing is never in doubt and remains solid all throughout the series. For me the best episode in the series was number 6 as that is when the show really took a turn and we learned a whole lot of twists about the series. Now, I could have done without the very final twist in the closing seconds of the final episode personally since the twist could have taken a few other directions but it is a bold play either way which you can appreciate.

The animation here is very smooth indeed. The fight scenes are on point, especially when Anti was fighting Calibur or the final episode clashes. With the Kaiju there is a little less movement of course and yet the studio did a good job of making them give Gridman a good fight. Gridman often had the speed advantage of course but the Kaiju would either have enough durability to tank it or they would move pretty quickly. The weakest one was probably the giant volcano though since he couldn’t really move. Anti looks even more impressive by the end of the series considering that 1 on 1 most of these Kaiju gave Gridman a good fight while Anti was mowing through a bunch of them.

In particular aside from the excellent action scenes I also liked the eye effects. Eye effects are always a lot of fun in anime and that’s no different here. The characters had very detailed eyes which would sometimes even have more than 1 color. It’s a fun thing to see because it just makes the characters that much more memorable. It adds an extra dimension to things you can say.

On the opposite side, the series did have some fanservice here and there. Nothing really crazy, mostly it’s limited to just Akane in the show when she’s at home or messing with Yuta. The beach episode is the one exception because of course you know the Beach episode is always going to be here to try and shake things up. So on the whole I wouldn’t say the show has a big issue here. Enough where it is noticeable but it could certainly be far worse.

The soundtrack is pretty good in the show. We get some solid scenes like the insert song at the very end of the show and some good action tunes. It’s a well rounded soundtrack that works well for the show and the theme it’s going for. We even have a bit of a mysterious theme going on for when the heroes are wondering about what to do next. As much as it’s an action show this title also does focus on the mystery angle quite a bit as well.

The initial episodes of the show go for a more monster of the week kind of vibe until the end so if you’re a big Kaiju fan I imagine that may be your favorite part. Each Kaiju gets to have an episode to themselves after all and they get a good amount of hype. Being able to go up against Gridman is definitely not something that just anyone can do after all. The opening of the show is always a good way to introduce the characters as well since they get to bond while fighting off against these threats.

Time for two spoilers paragraphs so skip these if you haven’t seen the show yet. It deals with some of the final twists of the show so learning this ahead of time would definitely spoil the twist. So at the end of the show there’s quite a bit to think about. For example from Akane’s perspective, is she really as bad as all of that if her actions don’t actually effect anyone real? For example, when her Kaijus attack the town aside from anyone she is targeting, nobody stays dead or injured. If she is targeting someone who never truly existed and who technically doesn’t in the present either, then is she really destroying someone? It’s sort of like the next step to a VR video game. If you destroy an NPC nobody bats an eye. If the video game was drawn to scale and you were playing through it, suddenly the violence and gameplay mechanics are a lot more real so that would be more of a real attack right? Where the line gets drawn is definitely a very interesting point. That’s not what’s going on here with video games or things like that but it’s a decent analogy. My view would be she’s still the villain clearly because the instant she created all of these people as god from her bed in the real world, they did exist. Now, it’s implied that the entire series is just a dream she was having and none of it is real. In that case if it’s a pure dream then nothing is actually happening anyway right?

Well, it’s hard to say for sure because of the Gridman team who come from another planet and the Kaiju girl who appears on the train. In theory they could also be apart of the dream since if this is all happening in Akane’s mind then nothing is really happening. If you look at it from that perspective as everything being one big dream, then she was having fun playing the villain in her dream but that’s it. Alternately, she essentially manages to create a whole psyche in the dream world and then created a city. Her entire life just happened in the span of a dream and it felt longer than in the real world. The Gridman team was somehow able to get in to try and fix this or Akane’s dream managed to take over an existing world. There’s just a lot of ways you can spin this but personally in this case I think the simplest solution is the right one. The entire series is an elaborate dream including every character and lore mentioned in the series. None of it is real and when Akane goes back to sleep she will just dream about it all over again. Of course a sequel could theoretically destroy this theory but at least that’s my take on it.


Overall, SSSS.Gridman is a pretty solid anime. It’s got a lot of great action and solid pacing which is what you want to see in any show. At 12 episodes you’ll definitely be able to blast through this one in no time. Perhaps even in a day you can just speed-run through this. Any action fan or someone who likes a good ole action/mystery story should get a kick out of this. It’s just a very well rounded title that doesn’t really have any weaknesses. The whole amnesia plot does mean that Yuta isn’t really given a chance to do much for a while but he gradually just gets used to his new self and acts like one of the gang. It would definitely be fun to see the characters again and how they move forward from all of this. I imagine it will definitely be pretty tough on Yuta that’s for sure. Meanwhile Gridman seems quite similar to Ultraman so perhaps we can get a battle crossover someday. That would definitely be a blast.

Overall 7/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Review


I’ve been awaiting the Pacific Rim show for quite a while. From the start it looked like the show was doing all of the right things that the movies couldn’t quite capitalize on. I mean, I did enjoy both films pretty well to be honest and would definitely recommend them but the idea of Kaiju vs Robots has a lot of potential out of that. An animated format will always be the answer for taking something to the next level and The Black definitely pulls it off. I’d be game with them just continuing the rest of the franchise in this style.

The show starts off with introducing us to the main characters’ parents. They are trying to help with the evacuations particularly since their kids are still around but the government has declared this place as lost. The parents manage to protect everyone and then leave to go and find help. Unfortunately help never came and many years have passed. Taylor and Hayley are the two kids who couldn’t escape in time. As siblings they are quite close but have taken the loss of their parents in different ways. Taylor thinks he has to protect Hayley at all costs and wants to stay safe in the village until they return while Hayley is convinced that they are dead and thinks they need to leave. Well, their hand is forced when a Kaiju attacks. Taylor and Hayley take a test Jaeger (Giant mech suit) and escape. Their best bet is to try and find civilization but can they survive in this Kaiju wasteland?

There are 7 episodes out currently as season 1 concluded. I’m hoping we should get season 2 pretty soon. If they could fast track that and get it out quick that would be ideal. The show does manage to conclude a lot of the main plots pretty well but we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here. The show doesn’t reference the movies all that much beyond a few names you might recognize like easter eggs for the suit and the pilot. Otherwise this works as a standalone title which works for me. We’ve already got a pretty solid cast and world going on here after all. Then we can build to an eventual crossover so far. Right now we haven’t really had time for any aliens to show up for example so throwing that in will be cool.

A lot happens in these 7 episodes after all. We get a new villain faction and it’s hard to say if they are human or alien yet. My bet would be alien but it’s hard to guess. Either way they get the stinger at the end of the season and it’s a pretty hype way to get season 2 rolling. Then there is the bio form running around. Won’t get into specifics since that would definitely be a spoiler but it seems like an interesting take that’s different than what Uprising did. It’s another kind of fusion and based on the dialogue we should see some more of these soon.

Meanwhile the animation here is pretty solid. It looks like it’s straight out of a Fire Emblem cutscene. That video game kind of look works well and the animation’s pretty smooth. It may not be quite like Castlevania or a true anime look like that but it works well enough. The fights are also nice and colorful with the Kaiju and Jaegers. If you’re going to do CGI then this is the level you’ll want to be on. The soundtrack is a lot more forgettable though. I can’t say that I could really recall any themes by the end of this.

Taylor may take a little time to get going as one of the main characters but he does get better. Hayley handled the situation better initially but eventually Taylor came around. He still panics quite a bit and I see more character development incoming for him. At the end of the day he is ready to step in and help Hayley and is determined enough to reach his goal that he even goes through the solo diving process. Meanwhile Hayley is solid from the start with how she jumps into battle and always tries to have a plan. They make a good team and who knows, if Taylor had gone with her initially and helped with waking up the Jaeger then they may have had time to train a bit more.

Loa is the main A.I. for the bot and I like that she has some good personality here. The series is already hinting at an origin story for her. It’s hard to say how it’s going to play out. Is it simply that she used to be the A.I. for another Jaeger and the pilots have traumatized her or is there something more to it? A lot to explore here but she definitely helps to keep you guessing. Then you have Mei who is the best character of the season. She’s the right hand woman of Shane and so starts out as an antagonist. From the start you can see that she has a lot more humanity than the other members though. She’s not just going to destroy humans without giving them a chance.

She is also the most skilled human in the series. That doesn’t mean she will stand a chance against any of the Kaiju but it’s good to have a solid human fighter on board with how many corrupt people are out there. There’s no end to the humans trying to take them down. I imagine this will only continue as the seasons go on. Mei still has some more demons to get past since she isn’t quite 100% past them but I do think she’s at a point now where she is ready to actively participate and be a part of the team. I look forward to seeing this play out.

Then you have the main villain Shane. Effectively he’s a black arms dealer who sells things for a profit and makes sure that he always has some plan at the ready. The guy suffers a lot of losses to his troops though and doesn’t make for a great general. Just look at how he sacrificed so many brains in the experiment to try and get a pilot on the Jaeger. Not the smartest move when you already don’t have a lot of men and are living in a Kaiju wasteland. By the end of the season you’re sure he will be back but the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of resources left. You feel like it’s going to have to be a big coincidence that he ever catches up with them at this point.

Then you have Boy. Now, I think everyone will know exactly how his plot is going to go the instant you see him in the tube but I won’t say just in case. He has to be the weakest character though. Most of the time Boy is just holding the characters back. He doesn’t have much common sense so he runs off all the time picking on little animals. There’s nothing heroic about this guy for most of his screen time because a more heroic soul wouldn’t be attacking all these creatures. He gets the heroes into a lot of trouble all the time. I’m hoping he improves but his core personality is one that doesn’t usually change all that much so I admit that I am having some doubts here.

Then you have the mysterious Apex, a being that seems to be part Kaiju and part Mech. In the film we saw aliens piloting mechs by sort of infusing the two so this is like a more advanced version of that. It’s got a pretty great design and has a great role. Definitely one of the more hype characters and he gets a lot of really pivotal scenes. One of the best things about this guy is that he shows some real intelligence so I can call him a true character more than most. Whether we see an army of them soon or stick to just this one, I don’t see any passing the first. This guy will come in handy soon.

As for the Kaiju, we get to see quite a few as the series goes on. The Rippers which are like little dog Kaiju. I was a bit on the cuff with these guys. They were a little close to looking like real dogs. I would say there was just enough Kaiju where they weren’t, maybe in part because the blood is blue or they just didn’t show a whole lot of animal type mannerisms and mechanics compared to others. If any of them had been taken in as a pet or something it could have changed things entirely since the viewpoint shifts but it’s hard to say for this kind of thing. They are fairly weak though and only good against humans. Then you have the Eel who goes down awful quick. The best Kaiju personally is Acidquill. The two tendrills it shoots out are very impressive and I liked the fightstyle. That’s a good way for a Kaiju to stand out among its peers and this worked out quite well for it.

The Kaiju with the biggest role here is definitely Copperhead. He follows the heroes around quite a lot and is a very determined Kaiju. He gave us some solid fight scenes and made for a good opponent. Most of these Kaiju likely won’t be returning for the second season so we’ll see who the replacements are next time. As long as their are mechs, Kaiju will continue to show. Right now the humans are definitely on the back foot since the aliens can seemingly summon an infinite number of Kaiju to keep on bumping up the ranks. No wonder the humans are always running.

All right, time for a spoiler paragraph so skip this if you haven’t seen the show. It won’t be in depth spoilers but just my quick theories on things. So for the parents, I’m thinking right now that the Dad is dead but the Mom escaped. The reason for this is based on what we saw, the Dad definitely seemed to be crushed in the ship while the Mom did run out of the hatch in time. Now, why is the father’s body not there? Well, someone took it so perhaps the Sisters will turn him into a Kaiju or something like that. There’s a lot of possibilities so it’s hard to say for sure but it’s definitely going to be a pretty interesting path to watch.

Rim: The Black definitely has quite the body count at times. Someone’s head gets blown off, a village is blown up, etc. This is definitely not a world that has worked out very well for the humans. The show can have some violent moments on occasion like this but usually they are either mostly off screen or stylized quite a bit. The show has an intense atmosphere but at the same time by and large I wouldn’t call this a violent series all that much. Again, if the dogs had been more like real dogs then we may have had some real problems but as it is the show has stayed the course.

Part of what makes The Black so much fun is really just boiled down to the premise. Giant robots vs Giant monsters and the characters keep this working well. The main suit is Atlas Destroyer and I definitely like the design of this Jaeger. I also like that it becomes more of a hybrid later on which enhances the design anymore. I expect the main characters will be fighting a little more in the second season now that they are more experienced so that will be fun to see. There’s a lot of adventure and action throughout the show so you should be on the edge of your seat. The writing is also quite solid so the show ends up being really balanced and makes for good marathon watching. I saw all 7 episodes back to back after all and it definitely didn’t drag on.

As a final note, am I the only person who thinks Hayley completely looks like Link from Breath of the Wild? I think it’s due to using a similar shading system but you would really mistake her for Link easy. I’d also say she has a strong resemblance to Samus from Metroid. I guess you could say that some similarities can be drawn from Link to Samus by extension and I would say that is true at least in Breath of the Wild. Maybe it’s just a character design that is easy to make you think of other characters but the instant the trailers came out I remember thinking that right away and that never changed during the show. It’s just a random observation but it was interesting.

Overall, Pacific Rim: The Black is a great show. I had been pretty hyped for this ever since the trailer since it looked so dynamic and the show did not disappoint. It definitely ends up finishing in the blink of an eye but it really delivered on everything the show promised. The characters are a lot of fun and the fights are dynamic. The water type effects when trading out blows or when they are used in place of the blood is an interesting one. It could have been hit or miss but it works well in this one. The show opens up a lot of plot lines to be completed at some point in the future. I’ll be looking forward to how that goes. I’m sure there will be a lot of theories on everything going on right now. Lets see if Rim keeps going strong and finally re-establishing Rim as one of the premiere mech titles.

Overall 8/10

Sakura Wars: New York Review


This Sakura Wars OVA definitely feels a lot different from the previous ones. On one hand it easily has a lot more action than any of the others to come before it as well as an ongoing plot instead of being episodic. On the other hand it decides to engage in more harem antics as everyone fights over the main character. It basically evens out so this ends up being on par with the other OVAs but it could have otherwise had potential to be the very best. I suppose that just wasn’t in the cards this time around. I will say the posters for this OVA are easily the best ones I’ve seen compared to the others though.

The story starts off with Shinjiro in high spirits after taking out the Samurai Warriors villain, Nobunaga. When he goes into work he is in for a shock though as it turns out that the troupe is starting a new play for Cleopatra. The worst part is that they want him to be the main heroine in it. Shinjiro never performs in the plays and to be placed into this role is not something he’s looking forward to. Unfortunately the group won’t hear any objections. Meanwhile, a mysterious pair of individuals have appeared. They are targeting various landmarks in New York and seem to want to resurrect Cleopatra or do something with the Egyptian artifacts. Can the New York team of fighters stop them?

First off, I do have to say that the actual premise of the OVA is quite forced. Bare in mind that the Star Division is completely made up of young women with the exception of Shinjiro. So naturally one of them should be playing the main female part right? Instead they play the male roles and you’re left shaking your head. Clearly the whole point of this story is to put Shinjiro in a tricky spot. Then to market the play (Because you do that apparently) he has to run around in his Cleopatra outfit for the entire OVA.

Fortunately for Shinjiro he is oblivious to basically everything but even so, you know that the characters are intentionally messing with him for no real reason. Each episode tends to follow a formula where he hangs out with one of the girls who teases him a lot and then they team up to stop the villains. Sometimes they succeed in protecting the artifact and sometimes they fail. Shinjiro’s costume is also so realistic that the villain actually mistakes him for Cleopatra as well so there’s also that.

On the positive side, as I mentioned we do get some real fights. This is due in part to the fact that these villains have actual powers. The main villain can use his energies to summon monsters and his sidekick can fly. We get a solid hand to hand fight with Subaru even if you could tell that the budget wasn’t entirely ready at that moment. On the whole I would say the animation is good though. The final fight looks really solid for sure and on the whole the character models are on point. That fight just felt like there was less going on despite it being a close quarters encounter. The soundtrack is more on the bland side but we do get the intro song near the end so that was fun. Adding a lyrical song at the end is always a good move.

In true harem style each episode focuses on a different character. Shinjiro gets to hang out with almost everyone although at 6 episodes there isn’t quite enough time for everyone with the plot also taking time to shine as well as Shinjiro’s mother showing up. The episode with his mother was definitely pretty fun. It was definitely nice to see her clowning on the team. It makes sense that she would be quite powerful since she’s related to Ogami. Clearly even though she is not on the front lines her fighting ability hasn’t decreased.

For the rest of the characters, Gemini is still the best heroine of the group like in the games. Admittedly she doesn’t get a huge role here but she does always try to support Shinjiro and doesn’t mess with him the way that some of the others do. She’s also always up for a fight which I think is important. When all of the characters brought Shinjiro various meals to cheer him up, her idea of steak had to be one of the best options. I’ll take that over the other meals which were pancakes, chicken n rice, fish, and some more that I’m probably not remembering.

Shinjiro Sagitta helps get Shinjiro out of a jam when he’s being peppered with questions from his Mom but otherwise doesn’t get quite as big a role as the other heroines here. Then you have Diana who is still the worst member of the group. She never has Shinjiro’s back when it counts and isn’t as decisive as the others. I didn’t care for her much in the game either. Rikaritta’s really a kid compared to the others so you can’t take her quite as seriously in a fight. She’s a gun character with her twin gun style but sometimes they’re fake guns anyway so it’s not quite the same as a real weapon. While it’s a comedy plot she does always threaten to eat her pet as well which is a big no no.

Finally there is Subaru who may get the biggest role here and I dare say the OVA was shipping her the most. She’s relatively emotionless next to the other characters but also turns out to be the strongest one. She’s the only character to actually try to attack the main villain on her own and she was doing pretty well in the fight. Without any outside interference she very well could have won the battle and ended the OVA just like that.

As for Shinjiro, I can’t say he’s the best character. He spends a whole lot of the OVA yelling and being pushed around. Almost every episode ends with him yelling as the other characters tease him. He never stands up for himself. The only thing Shinjiro has going for him is the fact that he’s a solid fighter. While Ogami is likely still stronger, we see Shinjiro fighting outside the mech with his twin blade style more which is important. He’s not afraid to get out there and start fighting. He definitely should have declined the play position though if everyone was just going to make fun of him the whole time though.

While I was glad to have a real villain here, the villain was pretty bad. I don’t even remember his name and the wiki doesn’t bother to list his name on the OVA page as it is. That’s how forgettable the poor guy is. My main issue here is how he keeps on thinking that Shinjiro is the reincarnation of Cleopatra somehow and constantly suffers from huge headaches whenever he uses his ability. There’s no way you can get intimidated by someone who can’t even control his ability right? No matter how you slice it, this guy just isn’t impressive in the slightest. His sidekick was more interesting and she didn’t get to do much.

So at its core this OVA has quite a lot to make fun of. It’s clear that it was just thrown together without a ton of effort or anything. That said, it is nostalgic to see the cast from the game. Despite the crazy plots, the episodes all do flow together well and are over in a blast. The episodes can be ironically funny and I would say the writing is good. The villains may not be very solid but we do still get real fight scenes. It also can’t be understated how having a real ongoing plot is a nice change of pace as well. There’s a lot more you could have done with the New York cast to be honest but this is a start.

Overall, Sakura Wars: New York is going for a very different direction than the specials before this. I guess New York would have to be a little different right? It’s not perfect and the story is so incredibly forced, but it’ll keep your attention. If you liked the Sakura Wars video game based in this location then you’ll like the OVA even more. It’s pretty fun and at the end of the day that is important. I wouldn’t say there are any negatives that really end up hurting the OVA. SO it may not rise up to great territory but it’s pretty good and a consistent watch. I wonder if these characters will ever return.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Le Nouveau Paris Review


Sakura Wars returns with the Paris troupe once more. Like the last adventure we’ve got a 3 episode OVA here. The stories are all pretty solid so this one holds its own with the last batch. I’d say there’s a little less action in this case and the first batch had the team’s origin which is always nice to see but we get some good character dynamics here. I would ultimately say that the third episode was the best one and that’s good since it means that things end off on a high note just as you’d hope.

The first episode focuses on Hanabi which is nice for her fans since she had a pretty small role in the last adventure. Her father is coming to town and he doesn’t know about Hanabi working on stage as part of the troupe or of her secret role in protecting France. Hanabi decides to make things a little difficult on herself by explaining that she is in a circus. Honestly the easiest thing here would have been to have just told him she was part of the theater and that would have worked a lot better. Still, misunderstandings happen awfully quick and so she lost her window of opportunity right away.

Hanabi was just a little too stressed out so even though her father turned out to be a reasonable guy who probably would have heard her out either way she ended up going through these elaborate measures. Give the rest of the team props for quickly having her back though. They are certainly quick thinkers as always which was really important here since Hanabi would have pretty much been out of luck otherwise. It’s a fun way to open up the saga. It may not be one of the more high stakes missions but we do get some danger towards the end of the episode. Mainly this was for Hanabi’s development and I would say it was handled well. Her father was also reasonable which is nice to see since sometimes parents in these things tend to be quite extreme.

The second episode gives us a mystery and this time the main characters are two of the assistants at the troupe rather than any of the main characters so that was also a twist in itself. Basically someone’s clock gets stolen and the issue is that he is an ambassador from another country. They want to use this as an excuse in order to infiltrate the troupe and find evidence that they are actually related to the secret defense force. It’s actually not a bad plan, especially considering that they didn’t fake the theft. It actually happened so they really were thinking on their feet here.

Lobelia looks really good in the subplot as she actually tracks down the thief. We also get a James Bond homage there as M16 appears along with their star agent. In his defense, the agent actually tried to hold his own even if you knew there was no chance he could beat someone with advanced fire magic. Those kinds of special abilities just give you a big advantage that can’t be solved without some kind of extra edge.

The main plot is still with the attendants though who are put in a pretty tough situation. The episode actually gets rather intense here while they are being interrogated and zapped since they won’t relinquish the information. It takes the heroes a while to get there so it’s impressive that they stood strong. I didn’t really recall their names but in honor of their efforts I figured I’d look it up so the two attendants are Ci and Mell. They ultimately make the heroic move to spare the villains at the end as well so give them points for not murdering those guys. Honestly I think the Paris group should try for harder punishments on the foreign groups after this incident though. It went rather far so the heroes should be able to get something out of this. From the 3 episodes this one had the most going on for sure. The idea of several intelligence agencies all getting involved along with a random criminal trying to pull the moves on everyone was fun to see.

Finally the third episode ends one of the subplots that had been going on throughout the first two episodes. When Ogami left he didn’t really get to choose who would take over as leader. He deserves full blame for this by the way as a quick line would have been enough to have gotten everybody on the same page. Instead he kind of waffled on this and gave every character a cryptic message making them think they would be leader. Naturally this hasn’t gone over well. Now there’s an old man who has taken over the Paris tower and is basically threatening to blow up the island. The Paris group has to finally choose a leader so they can unite and fight.

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise who they pick as leader. The choice makes a lot of sense although I would argue that Glycine is the most qualified for the position. This is a fitting way to end the OVA because the leader plot was a big one and also because this special did allow Erica to get back in her robot so we got some big action scenes here. The second special had some good action too of course but no mech suits were involved so this one got more of the full Sakura Wars experience. It also felt rather grand due to the tower takeover because now the stakes were high. The old man and his abilities/tech may feel a bit random but in a world of aliens and mechs everywhere there are bound to be a lot of characters around who get their hands on things. Additionally I wouldn’t be surprised if he was from the game or a previous media because with the dialogue between him and Erica it’s clear that he’s not just some average joe. Based on his high position he’s in a good place to disrupt everything.

So while I wouldn’t say this beat the last Sakura Wars OVA, it’s a pretty well balanced one. The first episode would probably be the weakest for me with the final one being the best. The second one is in the middle. The Lobelia plot was definitely the best part since it’s always nice to see one of the team go rogue to an extent and just solve things on her own. Ci and Mell deserve credit as well of course. Meanwhile Coquelicot definitely gets the smallest role here. She doesn’t really get to do anything this time around while the other characters all got their big moments here and there. The cast works well together and there are a lot of different personalities so the contrast is effective. It would have been fun if Ogami had gotten to show up a bit but I suppose he can’t come rushing in to save the day every time. This way the group was able to stop the villains without any outside help.

The writing is solid here as you would expect and the animation is solid. It might not be anything breath taking but there isn’t a whole lot of action or anything so it’s not like the animators are really trying to stretch their limits. This is more of a little bonus adventure for fans who played through the video game and in that sense it succeeds quite well. The episodes all flow together well and you’ll have a good time with it. The soundtrack is a little less on the memorable side but it works well enough while you’re watching it so I’d definitely have no complaints there.


Overall, The Paris adventures end on a solid note. It’s been fun hanging with this group. With the New York group coming up we’ll see how those guys hold up. Personally I would consider them to be the best group but of course that’s the first one I was introduced to so they will always be rather nostalgic. At the same time the Sakura branch is the one I’ve seen for the longest period of time so they’re hard to beat as well. In a sense the deck was stacked against the Paris group so they’ve really done well in spite of that. It’d definitely be nice to see them get a full anime someday or something like that.

Overall 7/10

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Earthrise Review


All right, we’ve made it to season 2 of the War for Cybertron trilogy. The first season started things on a high note as we had some good debates between Prime and Megatron. Both characters were written really well so you could legitimately choose which side you were on. Both of them made moves that even their own sides questioned. This season adds in a lot of extra elements. Both teams have their own plots for most of the season before converging at the end. It’s really hard to say how things will play out from here but one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this ends.

The season starts off with Megatron’s plot. Since Prime stole the All Spark, Cybertron is slowly dying. Megatron has been stalling the inevitable by using the sparks of robots to power up his rocket ship. He intends to find Prime once and for all to bring the All Spark back or at least avenge his planet. However, this is one of those times where the end doesn’t justify the means. He’s effectively slaughtering many members of his own people as Elita points out and this causes a lot of friction even among the Decepticons. Can Elita stop him or is Cybertron really doomed?

Meanwhile, Prime and his crew exit stasis but find that they have been taken prisoner by a group of bounty hunters. These hunters are going to sell them off to the Quintessons. The Autobots will have to find a way out of this predicament and soon but the issue is that these villains are actually quite powerful. Both Autobots and Decepticons are at their wits end here which ends up leading into the solid climax. It’s clear from the start of the series that there are more Decepticons than Autobots so they have the edge there but they are consistently a lot weaker so it helps balance things out in the end.

I feel like there was more action here than in season 1 although it’s close. We got to actually see Shockwave get his own fight which was really nice. Additionally, we have a guest star show up from the future or another dimension. That’s easily the most intriguing plot for me right now. When this character jumps out of a portal and starts fighting Megatron it’s just really interesting. It’s also rare to see Megatron be dominated so completely but it makes sense that he wouldn’t be able to defeat this opponent. This fighter is one of the stronger Transformer characters out there and he really lives up to the hype. He leaves as suddenly as he appeared but not before leaving something. Personally I take this to be a warning from a possible future as opposed to the present. It would work out well with all the distortions taking place.

Of course, the ending of the season is pretty open at the moment. You can have a lot of different theories on what just happened here. Personally I’m going to assume time travel once more. That’s pretty much always my default response but I feel like it just makes a whole lot of sense. Then there’s an equal debate on if the characters are going to the future or the past. I would say past personally. Of course we should know pretty soon once season 3 starts. There’s so much going on that it’s almost a bit hard to picture the series already coming to a close. Maybe we’ll get a sequel series or something.

There’s one part of the show where the characters enter another dimension where willpower is how you fight. This was pretty neat and reminds me a bit of Accel World’s Incarnate system or even the one SAO invented later on. Megatron really adapted to it quite well. At the same time I was really underwhelmed by another character who was in this universe for a very long time and claimed to have mastered his mind. Despite this, he was easily dispatched in a single move. You’d think that in a world where mental power is absolute experience would be vital. I guess the difference in their abilities was just that drastic though.

The animation here is definitely solid as expected. The designs are very full and detailed so the robots really feel sturdy. You can feel the power behind all of the blows. We get another solid Prime vs Megatron fight here as well as a whole group battle with Scorponok. If we ever get the mental world again, I’d like to see more of the energy effects there. The colors were pretty striking so it worked out quite well. The soundtrack is a little less memorable but it works well enough for the scenes that are present. I certainly had no complaints at least.

There are quite a few character arcs at play here as well. Naturally for Megatron we’re seeing him go on a darker path. He’s slowly going from more of a misunderstood anti-hero to full villain. The instant he decided to destroy an entire factory worth of Cybertronians you knew there was no turning back for him. He doesn’t yet realize it but Megatron is now a villain simply justifying his every move. He is a very interesting villain though and the character arc’s been handled well. As always he is still quite confident and self assured in his own power.

For Prime, his arc is a little different from what you may expect. He’s had to live with the fact that a lot of Autobots don’t support his decision to remove the All Spark and then to search for it, including Elita. These feelings of guilt seem to have made him even more obsessive now such as when he was beating up on Megatron. Prime was really losing control there to the point of going crazy, even begging Megatron to forgive him before murdering the guy. Prime is done taking prisoners although circumstances ensured he didn’t finish things off yet. I’m assuming in the next season Prime will regain control of himself although if he doesn’t then things are really going to get crazy around here.

Naturally we have a lot of other characters on both sides. Some characters like Bumblebee and Soundwave don’t get a whole lot to do this time. Bumblebee already had a good amount of screen time in season 1 though so that’s fair. He is also around in every episode so it’s not like he goes missing. I would say the Autobot with the biggest role after Prime would have to be Elita. Not only does she get her own big fight scene but with Prime gone she is effectively the Autobot leader on Cybertron. She’s also doing a good job in this role as well. She does her best to be fair to everyone and take the villains down without hurting anyone in the middle. Perhaps she can be too trusting in these times of war, but she is focused on not losing her ideals even if it means her defeat and I can certainly respect that.

Jetfire also has a sizable role here. As a former Decepticon he’s definitely not as quick to offer mercy as Elita. He makes a lot of good strategic points. Technically his methods are correct if you simply wish to win the war. Particularly with how the Autobots are totally outgunned in terms of energon and numbers they do need every advantage they can get. Continuing to hit every base to free Decepticons does truthfully sound like a task that will backfire horribly. He continues to help though and never turns away so this guy is quite good.

Naturally Starscream gets quite the role here as always. You’ll probably think he gets off a bit easy and that’s exactly why Starscream continues to pull these stunts. He knows that nobody is going to mess with him. This confidence is part of what makes him such a solid villain. His abilities know no bounds. Then you have Shockwave in what’s his best appearance in a long time. We get to see him using his tech in the field of battle instead of in the lab for a change. He has to be one of the most fearsome opponents to have to face here because of the fact that he has no emotions. He will do whatever it takes in order to claim victory and doesn’t care what the price is. There is no negotiating with this guy.

Quick shoutout to Scorponok as well for being a very interesting villain. He even got his own origin story where we find out that things didn’t go well for his people and then he goes right on the attack. He’s not the kind of villain to get overly sentimental or anything like that. His sheer defenses are also pretty crazy considering just how many opponents he was taking on at once. Right now you would have to put him as the strongest fighter in the series. The Quintessons get a solid mention for being powerful as well. Although in their case it’s more due to prep time and tech than sheer fighting ability. Don’t underestimate them though. There’s a pretty intense scene involving in-fighting among the group and lets just say we definitely know the hierarchy of the group now.

Naturally with so many spoiler filled events here I had to keep things vague. Still, there’s a ton to unpack here and most importantly, the story is just very engaging. Transformers has a lot of lore and characters within the franchise so it’s nice to see the show taking advantage of this. It’s also cool to have a different kind of story line here as opposed to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons story on Earth. That one’s a classic too of course, but with a space setting you’re free to branch out a whole lot. There are enough villains and plots going on now where it’s hard to say who the next opponent will be. The heroes may need some kind of power up to come out on top though.

At most the only thing I would say against the show is that the Decepticons look a little too weak most of the time. Aside from the named bots like Megatron and pals, the rest are treated quite poorly. A single Autobot will beat half a dozen Decepticons with ease. I don’t see why the gap would be so large. It explains why a group of a dozen or so Autobots who are all almost out of energon are beating 5-7 times that amount of fighters on the Decepticon side but I just don’t think it adds up all that well. Particularly since the Decepticons have more energon which powers up most functions. In a way I think this was the easiest way to keep the Autobots in the fight as otherwise they all should have been taken out a long time ago. The show paints a very drastic picture of just how massive a disadvantage the heroes are at. It’s a fairly minor thing in the grand scheme of things though but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Decepticons make a comeback in the third volume.


Overall, Season 2 of the War for Cybertron trilogy continues to take things in the right direction. I would say it even beats the first season. With the introductions and world setting out of the way, this season was able to jump right into the action. Seeing the Quintessons again was fun and the bounty hunters were also pretty interesting even if they didn’t look great in the end. This is exactly why you must never underestimate your opponent and keep your guard up at all times. Scorponok was given a ton of hype here being able to take on the combined forces of Autobots and Decepticons for so long. Now with the ending we can look forward to more characters being introduced to the action. Again, I’m not sure how everything can be addressed in the next season but I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Overall 8/10

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

Armored Core 2 Review


This is a game that I’ve owned for an incredibly long time. I made it pretty deep into the game a while around 10 years ago but I could never make it to the end. The game was just so difficult and the way it always moves forward added another wrinkle to the whole thing. Well, I finally started the game over and managed to conquer the game in the last instant. That final level is crazy tough. I think the game had a lot of promise but the gameplay mechanics end up really holding it back in the long term.

The plot involves a group of bounty hunters known as Ravens. You are one of these guys and your suit is pretty powerful. You accomplish missions on behalf of your benefactors and it is a pretty good gig to be honest with money coming in like crazy. Still, there’s something shady about the group and you become less and less sure about your goals as the game goes on. Perhaps its time to just get out of this job while you still can? Only time will tell if you are able to make the right move in time or if it will be game over by then.

The gameplay is that of a 3D Shooter. You can equip your robot with all kinds of weaponry and supporting weapons as well. Money doesn’t grow on trees here and there is no way to go back and earn money so that means you have to decide what to buy very carefully. You’ll want to have good weapons of course but also fundamental parts that will let your robot jump and move around without consuming too much energy. Naturally it can be difficult to balance all of this together so that’s definitely something to keep in mind. If you buy the wrong item then you’re definitely going to end up regretting it. The toughest thing to get used to is probably aiming. You have to use the L2 and R2 buttons to do this instead of looking around as you usually would. There is also no lock on feature which is unfortunate. Only missiles will lock on by themselves. Everything else requires you to do the ground work.

There are a decent amount of levels here so the game should take you 7-10 hours I would expect. There is also the Arena Mode you can play to have fun with. The objective there is to take down robots in 1 on 1 battles. Each win moves you up a spot and it also helps you unlock new weapons and such. Now this would have been a great way to earn money but you only get money the first time you complete a level. That part’s definitely unfortunate but I will admit that it’s a fun bonus mode.

I’ve already referenced this, but my main issue with the game is how restricted you are. As you lose you will end up in the final stretch of levels. The issue is that you will also be out of money so there is no real way to earn more. If you’ve got a bad loadout then that means you are basically stuck with nowhere to go. There should always be a way to earn money or replay old levels to continue improving. Locking that mechanic away just strikes me as being a bad idea right from the jump. It makes the game feel a lot more like a grind since you can’t even lose in peace. You have to quickly load the old file up again since otherwise you’re stuck in a worse position. The one thing you never want a game to do is lose the fun factor and unfortunately that’s something that Armored Core 2 is definitely guilty of.

At least the graphics are really good. The cutscenes are really ahead of their time. The story also seems pretty engaging. The final bosses were really intense as the final guy even had more than one form. It made for a very intense boss battle. Some of the levels could be a bit too ambiguous on what you were supposed to do and ironically the best option is sometimes to skip the enemies and just rush to the goal. Not really something you would expect from this game but battling minions only depletes your health and there is no way to gain any back during a level so why bother with them in the first place right? This is definitely a game where you learn as you play.

Overall, Armored Core 2 has a nice premise but really ended up underperforming in every area. While the gameplay is okay, it’s definitely weaker than all of the other big mech series if you ask me. Then you’ve got the level mechanics where they keep going even if you lose and there’s no way to earn money. That’s the part that really bites. At least in most games you could play older levels to get better but in this one you’re just stuck. That just seems like such a bad mechanic to me. I don’t understand what’s going on there. It’s a mechanic that has never worked and I really don’t expect that to change anytime soon. It’s unfortunately just the way that it is. If the game could have fixed this and given you a way to grind it would have easily jumped 2 stars. In a way that’s the most tragic thing about this one. If you’re looking for a fun PS2 game to play then I would recommend almost anything else. You’re bound to have a better time rolling with a different title like the Transformers PS2 game or one of the many Gundam adventures.

Overall 5/10

Sakura Wars Review


Looks like it’s time to finally review the original Sakura Wars anime. This one has definitely been waiting its turn for quite a while now so it’s time I get right to it. Ultimately I would consider this to be the definitive Sakura Wars experience at the moment from what I’ve seen. While the OVAs may have more energy to them, this is a complete 26 episode anime so it gives us a full plot complete with an array of enemies. You also get a lot of interactions with the cast and natural character development as a result of it. I’d classify this as a slice of life that transitions slowly into more of an action series for the second half. Lets take a deeper look at one of the classic mech franchises!

The show starts off by introducing us to the Flower Division. This is a group of undercover fighters who use mech suits to take down the alien/robotic creatures that attack the capital. In order to not draw too much attention to themselves the group operates a theater by day. It’s a pretty detailed disguise as the group actually performs quite a few plays throughout the show. It’s a career they have dedicated themselves too. Then when the enemies strike they get into their uniforms and get ready to strike the opponents down. Well, one day Commander Yoneda is finally able to recruit the final member of the team. Her name is Sakura and part of the reason why he is eager to recruit her is because she is related to one of his old partners who saved the world a while back. There’s a decent chance that she would have inherited those abilities plus her own maiden ones.

See, in this world maidens are able to use a sort of energy that powers their mechs and allows them to unleash super moves. Guys aren’t able to draw out this energy with the exception of Sakura’s father as well as a man named Ogami. This suggests that men can use the energy but it is an extremely rare occurrence. How the energy manifests will differ from person to person. Of course at its most basic level it will move your mech but after that you can do so much more. For example, Iris can teleport and Sumire seems to amp up her spear’s attacks with this. Sakura channels the power into her sword and Kanna may use it with her fists although she may just be naturally strong. That’s a real possibility as well to be honest. The show doesn’t go into the energy abilities all that much to be honest as the OVAs show more of that like with the elemental abilities. Still, the process of controlling it is a big part of the show.

The Flower Division is definitely not a big fan of Sakura’s when she first shows up so the heroine gets a very cold reception. Eventually she wins them over but it takes a while so you may not even like them for a while there. At the very least you feel like they showed their true colors initially. I can’t imagine Sakura giving other characters a hard time like that although she is by far the nicest character of the group. By the end of the series they are a close knit group even if you feel like Sumire will continue to give Sakura a tough time as long as they are teammates. Some things never change after all.

Sakura Wars goes for a pretty interesting tone here. The whole time the villains keep on invading and being pushed back and yet this often feels like an after thought. A lot of times the main plots for the episodes will be about the theater which leads to a lot of character development. You’ll have an episode where Sumire wants to be the star over Sakura or one where Kohran has another crisis of confidence and runs off. The villains don’t become more of a major factor until near the end of the series. You should think of this as more of a slice of life and then it’ll all feel pretty natural. Just don’t think of it as an action series despite the mechs.

I wouldn’t have minded the action part coming in a bit sooner but the slice of life stuff is fun enough as well. It’s a pretty good cast. Perhaps not the strongest out there but most of the characters are good which is important. The heroes are also a bit lucky that the villains don’t use much in the way of teamwork because just one villain is enough to put the heroes on edge so if they had all attacked initially then that would have been game over for the heroes. As it was, the heroes should blame Commander Yoneda for not leaving them more prepared. Sakura had a meeting with one of the villains and had no idea of his true identity until later on since so many secrets were being kept.

I’m not a big fan of the robot designs because they are so old school and don’t feel very streamlined. It’s going for a very steam type design here which does match the rest of the era. It’s to the point though where you feel like the heroes would be better off fighting without them some times. I don’t think the show did a great job of making them appear to be stronger than the heroes individually. Meanwhile the villains go down like butter except for the high ranking members of the cabal who seem to easily crush the robots. Those guys definitely can’t be defeated 1 on 1 at all. You really want to have the whole group ready for them.

The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side but I’d say that it works out well enough. It’s a pretty peaceful ost that never feels repetitive. It isn’t the easiest bit to remember by heart but as soon as it plays during the scene you’ll immediately be able to recall it. Likewise the animation isn’t anything special but it gets the job done. I’d consider it to be standard animation so it’s good and I have no complaints. In a lot of ways that is how the show is in general. It’s not about to become the next Railgun or Madoka but it’s a quality adventure where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’ll have fun with the case before very long and this is the kind of series where I feel like an anniversary OVA/TV show reboot would probably do pretty well.

Lets quickly take a look at the characters. Sakura is the lead so it makes sense to start with her. She can be a bit of a timid character so at first she definitely gets steam rolled by the others. I wouldn’t say that her character has any negative qualities though. I’m not usually a fan of timid characters though so I was ready for her to regain her confidence. Fortunately that happened sooner than later. She begins to stand up for herself more by the middle of the series and since by then she was awakening her abilities it’s not like the other characters could say a whole lot about it. Once the hazing period was over she was able to make a good connection with the other characters. I wouldn’t say that Sakura has a ton of personality, but she’s a good character and definitely a nice person. She brings a good contrast to the group.

Then you have Sumire who is always pretty entertaining. At first she may come across as overly mean spirited though since she is pretty unrelenting in how she hounds Sakura. As the show goes on you learn that she is like that with everyone so her character will be hit or miss. I ended up liking her by the end although at first she wasn’t quite my favorite character. By the end you can see how Sumire really enhances the character dynamics though and the show wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s also a lot more eager to just jump into the fray and let the chips fall where they may. That’s definitely the kind of character that you need in a group. Sumire pretty much took down one of the enemy commanders on her own and then also won in the rematch.

Kanna is next and she’s a lot of fun as well. Her deal is that she’s very good in hand to hand combat and sensitive to changes in nature. She’s the only character who can really stand up to Sumire on an even playing field in part because she has a lot of confidence as well. Kanna is unquestionably a much nicer character than Sumire while still having that absolute confidence which makes for a lot of banter between the characters. These two definitely have the best dynamic to be sure. Kanna doesn’t really get to show off her strength quite as much as in the OVAs but you still know she is the power hitter here.

Then we have Iris who is one of the weaker members. I’m talking in terms of character as power-wise she should be the best. She has much greater amounts of spirit energy than the other characters but she is also a lot younger so she is unable to control it. As a result what tends to happen is she’ll panic and teleport away from the characters rather than actively using her abilities to help out. That bit is unfortunate because she would have been a great asset to the team. She never quite gets her confidence even by the end of the series. Sure, Iris has her big moments on occasion but it’s more like Luigi or Scooby having a quick brave moment. It doesn’t exactly stick which is unfortunate.

The worst member of the Flower Force is Kohran though. It’s hard to know where to start with her. I guess the main thing is that she ultimately ends up running out on the team when the going gets tough. I understand (very slightly) that there would be some shock upon learning that the inventor of the legendary robots is evil, but it should be very mild. Certainly not enough to run away and hide while the heroes are fighting for their lives. It was a terrible moment and every other character handled it better. She had not even met the guy before so why is there such a strong connection just from reading his notes? I also felt like Kohhran never really did much in the way of improvements for the mechs. She would repair them a lot but that’s about it.

Finally we have Maria. She’s a very serious member of the group who is effectively the leader of the team when Ogami, Yoneda, and Ayame aren’t around. She’s a Russian fighter who specializes in gunplay to take down her opponents until she gets into her mech suit. One thing I hadn’t mentioned up til now is the series has the Flower Division be a global group of sorts. All of the girls are from different cultures which also helps to make this a pretty interesting dynamic since they have different ideas on everything. One episode had Iris throw a fit because French parties are different from how they celebrate in Japan where it’s about festivals. That episode still came across as very petty on Iris’ side though which is another reason why I wasn’t a big fan of hers. The whole group went out of their way to make her birthday exciting and that’s how she reacts? Yeah, definitely not a good look.

Back to Maria though, she’s a solid character. I’d say that she’s one of the better ones. Her serious nature means she doesn’t have as much fun with the group for the most part but by the end I’d say that they have started to chip away at her. She is a solid tactical fighter and never backs out on the team the way that others (Iris and Kohran) do so I’ll give her points for that. She also acts as a mentor to Sakura at times and is easily the most supportive member of the group.

That covers the Division but then you have Ogami who is effectively the captain. It’s pretty tough for him because he doesn’t have the same level of ability that they do. At times he tries to compensate by having the drills run very strictly which tends to backfire. He goes through his own sets of issues during the series like struggling with confidence and such so he never has an easy road. I liked Ogami well enough. He may not be the most exciting character but he did a good job of hanging out with the team. He took some key steps in improving their unity like when he made everyone have dinner together. That was definitely a pretty good move.

Then you have the higher ranking Yoneda who didn’t do a very good job. For one thing he tends to get drunk quite often. It’s mainly played for laughs of course, but even so this isn’t someone I would trust to have my back. He also decides to go up against the villain completely on his own which was a really bad idea. I understand not wanting to get everyone involved but he should have at least left some kind of letter in case he was defeated so people would know what was going on. As it stood, to them it looked like he just vanished without a trace when they needed him most. Then he also took the bomb and hinted that he would have used it if the heroes had failed. You can assume that it was a bluff, but I’d have liked to see him throw it away later on or something to show that he wasn’t serious. As it stands, I just wasn’t impressed with Yoneda.

Ayame was his right hand woman. She didn’t really get much of a role although we can assume she used to have a much more active role within the group before the series started. Maria and Yoneda both trust her guidance quite a bit although now she tends to decline on giving her thoughts so the others can grow. The last hero to really talk about would be Kazuma. He died before the series started so we only see him in flashbacks but it’s easy to see why Yoneda believed there was so much promise to Sakura’s future with the group. Kazuma was an incredible fighter who could harness spirit energy better than anyone else in the series. He really did a good job of making his last stand count. At most maybe you could say that if he kept fighting with his sword he could have won without sacrificing himself but there were still a ton of monsters at the end so his sacrifice felt pretty justified. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of him, the guy was definitely cool. A prequel TV show about the guy would definitely work well I’d say. Since they had to fight without the robots I can see those fights being pretty tense. Additionally, it seems like this is a case where the previous generation may have been stronger than the current one so I’d like to see what other abilities they had. Although if like in the games every character should have special moves, maybe the TV show just toned down the super abilities a bit.

Yamazaki is the main villain of the series and makes for an interesting guy in general. He’s easily my favorite villain of the series. His motivations for being evil are a little on the weak side to be honest as the guy just totally cracked but since he does completely remember how things used to be it makes him a pretty deadly opponent. For the most part the enemy forces tend to be rather mindless so when they finally got a leading figure I was happy about that. He made for some good fights with Sakura and the team as well. Between a solid character design and impressive abilities, I would definitely say that Yamazaki is a winner in my books.

Then you’ve got Miroku who was the first big villain to make a move. She gave Sumire a solid fight and the two almost became rivals in a sense. It definitely got personal there and was one of the first moments where you really saw what a great character Sumire was. I’m not sure if the others would have fared so well in this battle. Miroku is a fun villain. She doesn’t have quite as much personality as Yamazaki but she is dedicated to the cause and doing what she needed to. She represented a shift in the series from mindless drones to an opposing army so she was effective in that respect.

Then you have Jade who looks like a kid but can actually be a pretty dangerous opponent. It’s hard to land a hit on him because moves tend to go right through him. He definitely has his way with Ogami’s friend for a while there before they learn how to counter him. I wouldn’t even say that his physical power is anything to be afraid of, but his abilities are tricky. You’ve got Silver to compensate for that though. This guy is rather slow but has a lot of super strength. He’s like a Frankenstein of sorts who just barrels into his opponents. This guy’s the definition of a mindless opponent though and is my least favorite member of the group. At least Jade gave us the closest thing to a horror episode here and was a thorn in the heroes side. Silver would have been doomed without backup.

There are other characters but I think I’ve covered most of them. The show definitely has a lot of events happen during its run. In part because of how stand alone a lot of the episodes are it lets the show cover a lot more with all of the characters and their personalities. I’d say it’s a pretty organic way of adapting the game if it’s anything like the Wii installment I played where you focus on improving your bonds with the other members while also defending the capital at the end of each chapter. That format lends itself really well to a show like this. At the end of the day what is really key here is the writing and characters. So long as those are strong then the show will be a success and that’s exactly what happened here.

Overall, Sakura Wars is a pretty fun show. It’s definitely going for a different angle than other mech series like Gundam or Transformers. It’s really balancing the action element with more slice of life themes like the girls all trying to get alone despite having such different personalities. Sakura Wars can definitely handle the action elements really well though as you can probably tell from some of the images I chose. The stakes do get pretty high and the series definitely picks up the action at the end with the quick onslaught of fights but I expect you should enjoy the series before then for the strong writing and pacing. I’d definitely recommend this series no matter what genre you like. It’s a fun title that should satisfy you with action, adventure, and comedy.

Overall 7/10

Danball Senki Wars Review


It’s time to look at the manga adaption to the Wars series. It’s a pretty short one which makes for a pretty easy review. While you can tell that this is one of those adaptions that’s more of a tie-in than anything it still has a good story and I thought the art did step up whenever a fight scene would occur. It’s not exactly going for top tier, but I’d still say it’s pretty solid and that’s how I would describe the manga in general. It’s not something you may particularly remember but it doesn’t really do anything wrong either.

The manga starts with Sena finally making it into the elite LBX school. Now he can finally play the game as much as he wants and it even counts as part of the curriculum. The battles are for teams of 3 so he is paired with a former 1 on 1 champ named Hikaru and a strategist named Haruki. Together the 3 of them will do their best to win the big tournament and become the best in all of the land. To do this they will need to get past the legendary fighter known as Muraku. That guy is known for being pretty much impossible to stop in a fight due to the fact that he can beat most opponents in a single instant before they have a chance to react. Hopefully Sena knows what he is getting into.

Sena is your standard protagonist. He loves to eat and fight. Sena also believes that you can become friends with just about anyone just by having a friendly battle. He certainly isn’t afraid of Muraku and why should he be? Sena came here to fight and naturally that means he wants to go up against the strongest fighters that this school has to offer. His confidence also isn’t without justification as the guy does manage to win most of his fights. The only part about Sena that can be a bit much is in the climax when one guy’s trying to explain how he grew up in a war zone and had to fight to survive. Sena barely seems to care and just points out that they’re friends now.

In general the climax felt a bit rushed. You throw in the big antagonist in the form of Kouji who hints at a greater plot but there’s no time to really go into any of this. The show had time because of how long it is, but in this series almost the entire thing is the tournament. We get a quick fight near the end but that’s about it. At that point it’s all over so Sena just has to beat this guy and keep it moving. I like the concept of how he handles it though. All of the characters pool their resources together and create an ultimate LBX of sorts. If you’re going to win against a strong opponent like that then this is definitely the most logical way to do so. I just would have liked for this plot to have been a little longer but Kouji was a solid villain.

As for Sena’s partners, they don’t get to do a lot. Haruki never did much in the show either so it’s not too surprising. He’s not bad, but definitely comes across as super nervous next to someone as brave as Sena. The guy is never ready to just jump in and try his best. It’s why he ends up staying behind the others. Then you have Hikaru who is an LBX expert. I remember being really disappointed with this guy in the show because a big deal is made about his strength during his intro and then that vanishes completely. The guy doesn’t get to do much of anything so…..he shouldn’t have had any hype. It’s hard to believe this guy was the champion of anything and in the manga he really gets nothing to do so that doesn’t help matters.

Muraku is still pretty cool here though. He’s definitely a very solid rival and one who pushes Sena to the brink. He reminds me of Chaud and Protoman. This guy’s a classic rival and he has the confidence down. At the same time, he’s not super antagonistic or anything like that. The guy still enjoys a good fight and if anything is glad that Sena is around. It gets lonely at the top. It would have been nice if he could have gotten a rematch against Kouji since their first scuffle had a cheap shot involved. Still, Muraku makes his presence known.

Then you have the other rival Gendou and you may feel bad for him. The guy is actually incredibly strong but ultimately just gets held back because his partners are so weak. The manga even addresses this with Sena surprisingly targeting them. It’s a very effective strategy in combat of course but it’s not something you typically see the main character do. If this guy had solid partners then I dare say that the main characters would have been doomed. Gendou is definitely a good sport about all of this though so I’ll give him props for that. I always appreciate it when a character can take a loss since that’s pretty important.

As I mentioned, the art isn’t anything particularly impressive but during the action scenes I feel like a real effort was made. The LBX designs are solid and you do feel a good amount of weight behind each of the swings. It’s definitely important to have that in a fighting manga so this title delivers. The series may be short but that’s why it’s good that we kept the character roster small. You’ll remember the characters more than in some other titles even if it naturally isn’t as impactful as the main title.

Part of the issue when it comes to stakes is that this adaption basically ended while the series was still in pre arc. It would have been a lot of fun to have seen the series keep going and adapt a lot of the bigger fights that were coming up. Of course, here the power creep happened a whole lot quicker than in the show so it’s hard to see how the supporting characters would have been able to do much of anything. They’d definitely need new LBX machines at their disposal and very quickly if they would want to remain relevant in the battles. There are a lot of ways to write around that though.

Also, the series ends with Kouji possibly having some valid points. At the end of the day he still comes across as a villain because he is so he undermines the points themselves. Still, if apparently LBX are being used for war outside this facility then maybe the kids should be doing something about it. In the show this actually does become a main focus so the manga was certainly heading in that direction. This works great as a preview to the show itself. Sort of something to get you interested and then have you check out the full anime. If anything you can skip the first few episodes and start near the end of this one if you want to directly continue although the reason you should start near the end is because the manga does diverge a bit.


Overall, Danball Senki Wars is a solid title. I do think everything should get a quick manga tie-in so even if it’s short it’s always nice to see this one. How I see it, a franchise should expand as much as it can. It may not get a ton of fans but as long as you get some then it’s a win. If you like action titles or Megaman in general then this is a good one to check out. It’s really quick so you’ll finish it in a flash but that doesn’t take away from the quality here. We get quite a few battles since the series goes full blast into them. The fights all have some strategy to them and as I mentioned, they’re drawn pretty well. I look forward to getting more manga for Danball Senki in the future. It’s a series that really shouldn’t end because there’s so much more you can do with it.

Overall 7/10