Transformers Beast Machines Review

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There have been a bunch of Transformer cartoons. They’ve all been pretty good as they ranged from decent to excellent. That being said, the bulk of the shows all take place during the same time period. The war between Autobots and Decepticons always rage on with neither side ever managing to achieve complete victory. That’s why it’s always cool when they changed things up a bit by having a show take place in the future. The Machinima show got the premise right there as we explored new territory. The execution may not have been the best, but I was really hyped for the new location and plot. It had some of the most potential for any Transformers show. Fast forward to Beast Machines even though it’s a lot older. This series takes place so far in the future that the original characters are mere memories at this point. There are no more Autobots and Decepticons. There are barely even any Maximals and their opponents anymore. It’s the End Game for life as we know it with the final Maximals making their final attempt to save the world.

I saw Beast Wars a while ago and it was surprisingly good. One of the areas where the show really shined was how they had an epic cliff hanger at the end of pretty much every season. Those moments are incredible. Beast Machines keeps that up. There are only 2 seasons to work with this time so it at least pulls this off for season 1. The cliffhanger is really epic and while it may seem like I’m jumping ahead in this review, that is the core of why the show is so good. Beast Machines is really epic with almost nonstop action and a desolate world as the battlefield. The heroes are outnumbered and are hunted down 24/7 until they are destroyed. They never have time to relax or regroup so their guards are always up. It’s the tense Transformers show that I’ve always wanted. It has the atmosphere of Attack on Titan with the proper execution of the DBZ Trunks timeline.

Lets back up to the plot though. Optimus Primal and the Maximals had nearly defeated Megatron once and for all, but unfortunately they didn’t see their victory through to the end. At the last possible moment something happened and they all woke up on Cybertron with their memories wiped. The mystery of how this all happened doesn’t come up for several episodes although you can probably guess what happened. The answer doesn’t matter as much as the situation. Primal quickly gets a grasp of the situation and escapes to safety with Cheetor and Rattrap. They have to stay in Beast Mode most of the time because whenever they switch to Robot mode Megatron’s armies can track them.

See, Megatron has taken over Cybertron. He murdered all of its inhabitants and is locking their Sparks (AKA Souls) inside of a chamber. He plans to absorb them into himself so he will be All Powerful and one with the spark, but first he has to purge himself of his organic Dinosaur/Dragon form. He has grown to deeply dislike anything organic and wants to be a pure robot again. The end goal is that he’ll be able to make Cybertron metal again. Meanwhile, Primal has grown to like the Organic way of life and wants to make Cybertron like Earth. To do that he will need to free all of the sparks and stop Megatron. It’ll be tough, but he’s ready to happen.

The heroes are always at a disadvantage here. In season 1 it’s only 4 of them for quite a while. By season 2 they slowly start to build up their forces and have much better odds. In Robot form the heroes are considerably stronger than Megatron’s forces one on one, but the villains make up for that in sheer numbers. They outnumber the heroes with around 1000-7 fighters. The heroes can also keep getting rebuilt while it’s game over for the Maximals if they even die once. Throw in the fact that Optimus Primal slowly seems to be turning crazy and the heroes have their work cut out for them.
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The graphics are infamous since the show is pure CGI. That being said, it’s a CGI that isn’t terrible. It looks like an old PS1 video game. You feel like you’re watching nonstop cutscenes and as a big video game fan myself, I thought it worked out well enough. It still beats out several other animation styles like Samurai Jack’s or the average Flash show for me. It’s a bit of a case by case basis as some of those likely beat this one out as well, but the character designs and Playstation look just make it all the more convincing for me. The show could also animate the energy effects and destruction quite well when it wanted too. The new design for Cybertron was really great as well.

I’ve always said that city landscapes are the absolute best backdrop for any show/movie/game/comic. Name any form of media and the city is the best. It just looks amazing and can make any scene that much more epic. I’ve always felt that way and can name a number of shows/movies that used a city and it helped the media succeed. Justice League, Index, Man of Steel, etc. It’s just so much better than being in a desert, forest, under water, in a cave, on a mountain, in The Room, or even in space. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a normal city. A metallic one like this show or a sci-fi version works as well. As long as it’s a city it’ll work well. It’s deserted of course since the show didn’t want to animate too many character models, but it just helps the apocalyptic effect get across even more. The show show feels like the heroes are devoid of hope without overplaying that card and it worked quite brilliantly.

The soundtrack is also amazing. It’s pretty limited as you’ll hear the same 2-3 themes almost every single episode but they are great so you won’t get tired of them. They help get the epicness of the show across well. There are some titles where the music makes a difference and this is one of them. I could honestly see the show dropping 2 stars if the soundtrack had been bad since it would destroy the entire illusion that the show was going for. It needs a fast soundtrack that will keep you pumped throughout all of the episodes and fights.

Lets talk about the characters. The main character is Optimus Primal and he can be a mixed bag. On one hand, I like that he’s a little more intense than in Beast Wars. He took his loss quite badly and has distanced himself from the others. He cares more about saving everyone than saving himself which is good even if he can be extreme about it. He also no longer cares about being regarded as a hero so when Megatron prepares to destroy his team, Primal decides to retaliate by destroying everyone else. Mutual destruction is the option he’ll go with now even if he would not have before. It’s an intense scene and since it’s the cliff hanger of season 1 it’s amazing. Primal maybe overthought things a lot and trusted in the Oracle way too much when it was clearly hacked, but it’s consistent with his character development. He’s no longer the leader that he used to be, but this new edgy version of Primal worked well.

Another character that changed quite a bit was Cheetor. He’s no inexperienced rookie anymore and has become a seasoned commander. Part of the drama in the show is that he has become a better leader than Primal and keeps undercutting him. This leads to quite a lot of tension between the two characters and they bicker a lot. Cheetor does really respect Primal a lot though and backs off most of the time, but feels like he has to press the point at times or Primal will lead them to their doom. I liked how his super speed was emphasized quite a lot in this show when he’s in robot mode. He can deflect many blasts at once and he became my favorite character in the title. I think the Maximals will be in a good spot as long as he’s around.

Rattrap is the same as always. He’s very weak and rather annoying. He only serves as the main comic relief character for the show although he’s not nearly as obnoxious as most. You may have guessed this, but the show isn’t what you’d call a happy one. Rattrap’s humor moments are far apart and not very frequent. He complains about everything and tries to hold the heroes back, but that’s about it. His robot form has some nice hacking abilities to make up for his lack of power at least. I personally didn’t like him, but he’s not a terrible character.
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Blackarachnia is another one of the main maximals. She’s pretty upset since her pal Silverbolt has yet to be found in the future. Something seems to have happened to him and gradually the characters find out what occurred. Unfortunately once that happens she loses interest in anything else and has a one track mind. Her persistence is impressive, but since I don’t even like Silverbolt, I can’t say that I was too thrilled at that. Her thunder abilities certainly make her a useful ally to have around.

Nightscream is a new character for this show. He’s a teenager robot so he can be a lot edgier than the others. He defies Primal at every turn and is always trying to stir up the group. He’s a nice guy super deep down of course, but rarely shows it. He’s one of the most overpowered heroes since he is super dangerous in beast mode, let alone his robot form. He can be entertaining to watch, but not the most reliable fellow. I didn’t mind him all that much. He doesn’t quite fit into the rival role, but that’s sort of the angle the show was going with him. Watch out for when his head moves to his chest, it makes him definitely look rather disturbing.

Rhinox certainly has an interesting role here. Like everyone else his personality has changed quite drastically. In his case, he’s had an ephiphany that he’s been on the wrong side all this time. Metal must live and nature must die. It’s certainly interesting and he’s not on either side. He wants Megatron and Primal to finish each other off so he can take over the planet. It’s an interesting goal and I did like having a third party at the ready. That being said, I was quite pleased when Megatron made his final mode involving the character. Lets just say that a traitor is rarely a match for the real main villain.

Silverbolt may not be quite as changed as Rhinox, but he’s supremely annoying. He has the worst re design from all of the characters and he just comes across as rather arrogant for no good reason. He hasn’t earned the right to be overconfident like the others. He should take a back seat and try to learn from the others instead of saying what he wants. He was also the reason one of my favorite characters missed most or all of Arc 2 which was sad.

Botanica joined the team at the very end. She’s portrayed as super powerful as she can shoot lightning and manipulate the environment. I admit that I was hoping for a different character when the rocket landed. Her hype vanishes after the first episode and she gets a very random romance subplot so in the end the show was probably better off without her. You may have guessed this, but the romance in the show is not handled well and could have easily been removed. At least the Blackarachnia one had been going on since the first show, Botanica’s really came out of left field.

Lets talk about the villains. Megatron got a really cool redesign, complete with a cape and everything. He certainly stole the show from the villains for the most part. He was a lot more serious than in Beast Wars and while he didn’t get to fight all that much, his presence was felt. I also liked that he did at least have a code of honor as he kept to his part of the agreement with Rattrap. His final fight with Primal in the last episode was quite great. It’s an extended battle and the show really puts its budget to the max. It’s not rushed to make way for the rest of the episode, but came across as the main focus which is how it should be. It’s probably one of the longer fights in Transformers and was a good way to cap off the rivalry. It made up for the fact that Megatron didn’t fight much here.

Another great villain was Jetstorm. He was pretty confident and had the most charisma from Megatron’s generals. He had one liners at the ready and was extremely loyal. Unlike the others, he never had any doubts about his job and just took out any Maximal that he could find. Thrust was also pretty good. He may have gotten confused at several points, but at the end of the day he knew where his loyalties were. He may not be as powerful as Jetstorm, but he can hold his own in a fight.

Megatron added two more generals by the name of Obsidion and Strika, but they didn’t do much. They got hype for one episode as they’re master strategists, but that was it. They were then relegated to normal lackey status after that and faded away. Waspinator appears a bit and it was nostalgic to see him, but his role was really just a cameo for the fans. I appreciated the effort though. Finally, we have Noble, a werewolf esque robot that is unpredictable. I preferred him as an enemy. Once they tried to make him a sympathetic pet for Nightscream who had to be sacrificed for the greater good, it reminded you that he was only added for edge. He had a really cool design too so it’s a shame that the show couldn’t do more with him.

The show could get dark, but it was never too over the top. The Noble plot was probably the darkest if you ask me and it’s fairly brief. It keeps up the atmosphere without constantly reminding you of the fact that it’s hopeless with characters begging for their lives. (Attack on Titan) You’re reminded of this by the fact that the Maximals are always running though. They are forced to retreat in almost every single episode. The deck is definitely stacked against them, you can’t forget that part.

The team isn’t a well oiled unit either. The heroes spend a lot of time bickering amongst themselves and there is constant tension. You’ll have to eventually choose which characters to root for and then hope they win during the arguments. I’m always on Cheetor’s side for the record. Now, where do I stand on Metal vs Organic? Personally I think Cybertron should stay metal. Turning it organic just seems kind of odd to me even if the oracle claims that it was organic to start with. I have a hard time swallowing it. Of course, eradicating all of the organic elements turns the plan into villain territory so I wouldn’t roll with that, but I’m just used to a metal Cybertron. Seeing the robot monkeys at the end was surreal.

So where does this show stack up against the other Transformer shows? It’s been a while since I ranked them so I think it’s about time I did so. I’m not looking at my older reviews for reference so this is based purely on my memory. As it stands I’d say that the first place victor is Transformers Victory, 2nd is the original Transformers, 3rd is Masterforce, 4th is Headmasters, 5th is Transformers Prime, 6th is Transformers Beast Machines, 7th is Robots in Disguise, 8th is Beast Wars, 9th is Combiner Wars 10th is Animated, 11th is Rescue Bots. Beast Machines is almost perfectly halfway at this point. It may sink a little once I see the Unicron Trilogy as I expect great things from those titles, but I suppose we’ll see how it goes. It’s definitely impressive just how many shows the franchise has gotten so far. It’s definitely not slowing down either with several new titles over the horizon.
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Overall, This is definitely a really fun Transformers show. The average episode is solid and the series really steps it up further with the multi parters like End Game. If anything it’s a shame that the show was so short, but I suppose the concept could have gotten a little dragged out if the writers weren’t careful. Since the series was only 26 episodes and had an ongoing plot, there wasn’t really time for filler or a lot of padding which may not have been possible if the episode count had been doubled. It’s a very different Transformers show so it may take you some getting used too, but it’s well worth the effort. On the other hand, the beginning is very fast and epic so you may get on board right away like I did. It’s rare for a show like this to come out so I’m always up for an adventure like this one. Hopefully the Combiner War sequel that is coming out soon will be able to do a better job of executing the concept so it can be like having Beast Machines return. After all, imagine this setting but with the classic characters? The sky’s the limit. Speaking of classic characters though, watch out for the Soundwave cameo because it gets pretty intense. There’s also a Prime cameo, but with a fun twist!

Overall 7/10

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LBX: Little Battlers eXperience Review

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I’m always up for a good robot game. Mega Man and Custom Robo were always exceptional titles and so naturally LBX looked like a winner from the get go. I actually got to watch the TV show way before the game so if anything this version feels pretty nostalgic while playing through. The anime adapted the game pretty faithfully to be honest and the quality is sharp since it’s by Level 5. Those guys really do a great job of completely building a game around its concept. Layton is the perfect puzzle game and this is the optimal robot experience. You just can’t go wrong with buying this title.

The story follows a kid named Van. He’s really interested in the new game that everyone is playing. It’s called LBX and you buy a mini robot that you can use to fight with other people. Think of it like those classic Rock em Sock Em toys that used to be around, but 1000X cooler as the robots have weapons with live ammo and you control them with your phones. Unfortunately his Mom is against it for reasons unknown and Van’s Dad may have created the LBX franchise, but he died in a plane crash. A mysterious lady gives Van a one of a kind LBX one day though and after he stops some burglars from stealing it, he ends up joining a private faction who is trying to stop the villain organization from using it for their own means. They tell Van that his Dad is actually alive and being held hostage so Van quickly goes on board. His two friends Ami and Kaz agree to help as well. They’ll have to win multiple tournaments, break into enemy territory, and hone their skills. The risk is high, but there are lives on the line so the heroes put on their game faces and get ready for action.

It’s a pretty long game at 15 hours so that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plot. There are 12-13 episodes in the game and the length varies for each one. There is also a lot of replay value as you have many parts to buy and quests to complete. I did a few quests here and there and got a bunch of weapons, but getting them all would take a long while. There are also online battles that you can play so content is certainly not lacking in this title. You can have fun playing the game for a very long time and it’s worth the full price.

The soundtrack is stellar. It was pretty cool hearing the tunes from the anime even if they technically came out in this game first. It was still nostalgic and most of them are quite memorable. LBX spared no expense in this department and the same goes for the graphics. Not only are the in game graphics sharp, but there are a number of fully animated cutscenes at the ready as well. They really help you dive into the game. It used up a bunch of these cutscenes early on and I would have preferred for Jin to get more of them, but it’s how it goes. It’s really impressive that they added so much in and I feel like we got more animations than Layton. It just feels that way so I can’t confirm it, but a quick Youtube search would give you the answer to that.

As you can imagine, the gameplay is really sharp. It’s in full 3D like Custom Robo and you can equip two weapons at a time. I always went with a good Machine Gun and an electric sword. Even if it’s not the strongest, I like the electric sword because it stuns the opponent so you get more hits in. More hits = More damage or at least that’s how I saw it. The gun can be safer, but the opponent can use the downtime between rounds to get in close and take you down. You have to use a lot of strategy here. You can carry health items to help yourself out as well. There are also a number of final smashes that you can equip. You can use a weaker one to try and get some damage in, but the catch is that the enemy might dodge it. You can instead use an ultra attack which is impossible to dodge, but you can’t move for around 5-8 seconds which is a long time and if an opponent deals enough damage during that time you will lose the attack. I was able to use it successfully in the final boss which was helpful. It seems to always happen that the boss gets me to my last bit of health and then I clutch it out. It’s an amazing feeling, but also super stressful. The final bosses were definitely incredibly powerful so I recommend training a lot so you’re prepared for it.

I still think the concept of LBX was borrowed heavily from Megaman Battle Network, but it certainly did a good job of making a name for itself. It had a lot of its own unique features which differentiated itself from Megaman. It’s also a good move to be like Megaman since Capcom isn’t making any new games at the moment so we can get our Megaman fix this way. Imagine a Megaman game that was 3D like this one with a bunch of hype cutscenes. Hopefully Capcom can learn a thing or two from this title and incorporate it into future titles.

The cast is basically the same from the anime, but I’ll briefly mention some of the big ones. Van is a solid hero as you’d expect. He’s always ready for a fight and is very proactive in trying to save his Dad. He has a brief lapse in confidence, but gets over it right away. At times he can almost seem too happy like when they arrive to the toy store to buy things which felt like a contrast to his rather serious self, but at the end of the day he’s still just a kid. It’s hard to say if he beats Lan Hikari or not as they’re both very similar. He’s a lead you can get behind.

His two friends aren’t bad. Kaz is always low on confidence which can be a little grating, but he still helps out when he can. Ami is always supporting Van and doing her best to get in on the action. The school friends are pretty bland and underwhelming though. I can see why they got such tiny roles in the game since they didn’t add anything to the dynamic. Jin is a great rival and his LBX has an excellent design. He’s pretty reasonable throughout and does a good job of balancing this while still acting really confident the whole time. He’s an ideal rival and his team up fights with Van at the end are a blast.

Dak and Gouda are two other characters who help out a bit. They’re a step below Jin and Van when it comes to ability, but the more allies the better right? I thought Dak was an enjoyable supporting character, but Gouda is a little too weak to be taken seriously. He was good as an opening boss though. Mr. Kaido is a solid main villain. The fact that he can actually fight goes a long way since he doesn’t have to hide when the fighting starts. His robot is also really cool and has a great design. One villain that came in towards the very end was Kirito and he was exceptionally good. Taking out almost the whole cast on his own was certainly a hype moment and the fact that his LBX had a Super Form was really cool as well.

I have to say that I liked how the super forms were incorporated in this game. When you get below 25% health you can activate it and heavily boost your attack power. It helped a lot in the final boss and just looked really cool. When an opponent would use it, it would up the stakes as you had to focus on defense a lot more. Since some fights would give them all of their health back, the game really didn’t hold anything back. You need to be pretty good at the game and be at a high level to win. It always feels fair and balanced with just the right amount of difficulty to make things interesting.

Van’s Dad is okay at best here. I still think he tends to run off too often and leave Van behind for no reason. He gets a lot of hype so he’s a good scientist, but seems like a bad father. I wasn’t impressed with the Red Haired guy and his Team Rocket homage members. They’re the only part of the cast/plot that I couldn’t take seriously. I just never liked them for some reason. The true final boss of the game was great though. His origin story was definitely pretty intense and his LBX even more so. It was a pretty nice/explosive way to end the game. It’s great to see Level 5 get to go all out with the ending here as most of their other titles are a lot more down to Earth. Now we know what they can do with a good action title. I didn’t even totally get how the final boss worked and just had to keep on buying time and using hit and run tactics. You can probably see why I just barely defeated him.

Overall, LBX is without a doubt an excellent game. There are absolutely no negatives with it. The gameplay was completely on point. It felt balanced and it was easy to lock on to an opponent. The levels were huge which was a lot of fun but you can move fast so you don’t have to worry about matches dragging out. The plot was really engaging and kept you alert with all of its twists and turns. You felt like you were playing a big RPG and I think this probably would fit in the genre considering that you do have to backtrack to various areas and you explore as you go through the game. The cast of characters was a lot of fun. It’s a little hard to get used to the American names so in this review I mainly used the ones I was familiar with but not all of them were downgrades. The main case where the English name definitely loses is with Justin though. The graphics and audio were definitely well above average and there is a lot of content in this game. It’s the definition of a AAA title and I’m convinced that Level 5 is one of the best studios of all time. It’s hard to see them churning out a game that isn’t great at this point. I highly recommend buying this game. You’ll be glad that you did.

Overall 9/10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars Review

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It’s time for the next and final series of LBX or Danball Senki. Whichever title you prefer to use for the series, it can’t be denied that it is one of the best franchises out there. Each season was consistently great and you could compare the franchise to other big names like Yugioh and Cardfight. LBX’s score range is currently 8-9, Yugioh, (8-9 excluding Capsule Monsters) Cardfight, (7-9) and that’s about it for series where I’ve seen a bunch of seasons. I could add Transformers and Slayers, but their scores aren’t quite as impressive. I am tempted to make an anime section where I divide them all by scores, but that’s a bit of a time consuming project so I’ll let it be for now. While this season of LBX doesn’t quite surpass the last one, it’s still absolutely great and I highly recommend it.

The series seems to take place a few years after the last one. The governments of the world decided to place a school on an isolated island. This school is used to fight mock wars in place of real ones where the outcomes of these battles have real world consequences. As such, each country selects the most promising students to represent them. Sena is selected and he is super excited to have gotten into this prestigious institution. He is teamed with Hikaru, Haruki, and the mechanic. They have to do their team justice and win as many battles as possible. Still, it’s a little sad that they have to crush other countries in the process right? The heroes begin to grow doubtful as to whether they are doing the right thing or not…but what can they do about it?

First off, I do have to admit that the premise is completely unbelievable right from the get go. I won’t go as far as to say that it insults our intelligence for the show to insinuate that it’s possible, but it makes every government look completely inept. Lets put this into perspective. Instead of America running into Europe and taking it over, they’ll have their kids attack the European kids in the school through the mock LBX fights. (In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, LBX robots are basically mini machines that can fight through virtual reality controls. They are quite dangerous and fight in a secure containment field as a result, but are still more dangerous than the average rocket launcher. If the main kids win and claim the territory, then the same thing happens over in the real world.

How is this logistically possible? Do soldiers just come in and tell everyone to vacate the premise? Do the countries that lose these fake battles actually accept them? That’s the main problem with the system. Lets say America lost New York in the video game battles, I could see them just laughing and telling the other country to take it by force. Considering that we lost no actual soldiers in the fight, there is no reason to actually honor the deal. There is another thing to consider here…cheating. This actually becomes a big part of the show towards the second half and it’s a possibility that should have been considered when the idea was first brought up.

The main villain is Kreisler and he acts as a terrorist, bringing along a bunch of traitors from the other countries. They just go around blowing everything up and taking over cities. They don’t play by the rules and this tips the scales quite a lot. The virtual equivalent of Russia had been winning throughout the series, but lost about 80% of their forces due to these attacks. How does the real Russia feel about this? Their virtual counterpart is now a lot weaker even though their physical country is still the strongest. This is why the game just had way too many limits and the villain was right about this.

Kreisler’s main objective was to end the mock wars as he believed that they solved nothing. They simply gave off the illusion of peace, but one that could not last. I don’t see how the game lasted this long anyway though. The government even locked the creator inside of the main engine so he could keep it running through his brainwaves indefinitely. Not a very heroic move eh? Following this, which government is in control of this? Throughout the whole series, the teachers and the principals can’t make a move because the “controllers” forbade them to do anything. The problem is that it turns out that these guys were with the villain all along. I don’t know who signed off on this rigged system, but it wasn’t a good move. The villains end up taking the Prime Minister (Or his foreign equivalent) hostage at gunpoint, but this was another odd scene. How did they get past the guards and why did this plot point never show up again? It was rather odd.
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I could go on for days about how the whole plot of the show makes absolutely no sense, but you get what I’m saying. No need to drone on about it and if you have any theories as to how this could make sense or any input in general, feel free to let me know. As I already mentioned, the show is brilliant overall so lets talk about why it was so good. For starters, the show takes on a very different approach and tone than the first seasons. It feels completely different and plays out a bit more like a shonen than the last few. The new locale actually worked out quite well and I liked the visuals for their new training environment. The team based strategies for the battles were also fun although 1 vs 1 is still the best.

The main cast was interesting from the get go. Haruki may have been a bit bland, but Sena was the typical hard working hero that you can always root for. Hikaru was a champion of LBX tournament fighting so he already had a lot of experience even if he still had a lot to learn. Having all of the countries hang out for lunch break added some intrigue and tension since there could always be traitors or people listening in on your conversations. You even had real currency that you would use for every day activities and if you didn’t budget well, you’d go hungry. Finally, you couldn’t afford to lose your LBX at any time. If it was ever broken, you would instantly be escorted off of the island and would be labeled as dead inside of the game. You could retreat with injuries before being completely destroyed and many characters had to use this.

It comes as no surprise that the show had an excellent animation budget. The visuals were top notch throughout and there was constant action. You could expect a big fight in just about every episode and some fights would go on for quite a while. The power levels did start to be an issue by the end though. The problem is that the show kept trying to make the next villain even stronger over and over again to the point where they just ran out of power scaling. It makes for great visuals since they move so fast that everything becomes a blur, but the side characters shouldn’t be able to do anything by the end if the main characters are as strong as they appear. I think the power levels were better than in W though so they certainly have improved. By the end, the only real contenders for the title of the strongest are Sena, Kreisler, and Itan. The rest get left in the dust by a wide margin.

Accompanying the great graphics are a stellar soundtrack. This show had quite a lot of epic tunes and the music helped to build up hype for future scenes and to also amplify the battle scenes. The openings may have been not quite as epic as W overall, but I really did like one of the theme songs for Wars. I forgot if it was the 2nd or third one, but it was really sharp. On a technical level, LBX certainly did not disappoint and when you add that to the cast and the story, it comes as no surprise that the show was so great.
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Sena is a great main character and there’s really no reason not to love him. He’s hot headed and always ready for a fight. While Sena is super eager, he never gets full of himself or arrogant. He’s just a really nice guy who likes LBX battles and he always does what he thinks is the right thing even if it breaks the rules. He’s a friend that you can count on to have your back and you can be sure that he’ll always give it 100%. He doesn’t back down to Hikaru and if anything, the only mistake that Sena makes is not using his special abilities whenever he can. Sena can move his robot at super speed through the same power that Hiro had in W. Only Kreisler and Itan also had this ability and you can see why they were the strongest. Without it, there is literally no way that you can win since you move in slow motion next to them.

Hikaru is the main rival of the series although you can throw Muraku in there as well. While he had great success in the tournaments, apparently it doesn’t always translate well to team battles. I don’t really buy this logic or at least not how it was implemented, but he still did good for the most part. He stayed neck and neck with Sena until the series was almost over and I really liked the design of his LBX. Hikaru was a good character and he definitely went through a lot. The villains sabotaged his capsule which nearly destroyed him and did traumatize him for a few episodes. Hikaru recovered, but it certainly made the game a little scarier than it ever would be for the others.

Muraku starts out as the first major villain, but he’s always been about honor. He gets along pretty well with Sena and while he did destroy many of Sena’s teammates over the years, it’s not as if they’re dead in real life. You should be going all out in the game and I think that’s why Sena didn’t hold it against Muraku at all. Muraku’s very skilled and is certainly one of the best operators in the game, it’s just a shame that he never got the super power. He is heavily outmatched by the end, but his fights with Sena are still some of the best in the series. Muraku’s a solid rival and one of the more interesting figures in the show.

Now let’s talk about the captains of Sena’s army. These captains are: Kaito, Catherine, Rikuya, Gendou, and Haruki. Kaito has a pretty high opinion of himself even if he isn’t that strong. His LBX just never seemed all that special and he never got a big fight to himself. He likes telling the others what they can’t do and stealing the glory whenever possible, but Kaito never earns it. He’s definitely not a very likable platoon leader. Catherine is pretty good and at least she is usually ready for a fight. She’s also not quite as tough as her banter though and desperately needed a power up throughout the series.

Rikuya is pretty important to the plot in the second half as the villains want a program inside of his mech, but he doesn’t do a great job of protecting it. He also keeps to himself a lot more than he should, which gets others to think that he’s a bad guy. He may as well be though as he gets quite a lot of people expelled from school. It was their mission though so I like to think that the government took good care of them. Gendou is a character who got a lot of hype, but ended up not doing a thing either. The show would constantly zoom the camera in on him or have everyone get worried when he’d just stare. Unfortunately, he actually wasn’t that tough or heroic. He quickly said that his group should keep the super lab even though Sena’s team put in the most effort. LBX always loves to have a character get hyped all season to no avail though so I guess it’s to be expected.

Finally, Haruki is one of the leaders and he’s actually a main character so he gets a big role. He once led his squad to complete defeat against Muraku and they were all expelled. This causes him to be a lot more cautious this time around, but that’s not a strategy that Sena and Hikaru are going to follow. They like the direct approach and I can’t really blame them when they are always way stronger than the villains. Without plot hax, a frontal assault should always be the tactic of choice for the heroes. Haruki gradually opens up and helps the heroes more. He’s a good character by the end even if he’s naturally not as charismatic as Sena or Hikaru.

Sakuya is the mechanic and he’s probably the most annoying character of the bunch. He can’t fight so he just watches (The show says that he can fight, but he retired so that’s the end of that) and fixes the mechs between battles. Honestly, that sounds a little boring and I don’t know how Sakuya doesn’t get tired of it. He’s not quite as reasonable as the others and is quick to get upset when the other characters don’t play by the rules. His episodes can’t really hold their own and his romance was also pretty bad. This guy deserves to stay in as a secondary character. Yuno was a heroine who hung out with the main group a lot despite being in another division. She never really did all that much, but she inherited a mech from one of the main characters so that gave her a pretty big power boost. She’s a nice enough character and she did save Sena at one point. Yuno’s a loyal friend at any rate and a good member of the cast. There were a lot of other supporting characters in the show who were around, but not quite enough to be mentioned. Yuno was more prevalent than them, but not quite as much as the main characters so she’s in an interesting position.
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Mito is the squad’s teacher and she has a personal stake in all of this. While she teaches by day, she searches for her father by night. She is pretty strict and by the books the whole time so she never gets quite as interesting as the others. Furthermore, she doesn’t handle the situation very well at all once the stakes are high and even faints at one point. I’d expect a little more determination considering that she wants to find her father.

Finally, we’re at the two big villains. Kreisler is the final boss and shows up with his seriously overpowered mech at the end. It basically can’t be damaged and it’s so fast that the mere thought of getting hit is out of the question anyway. He completely outclasses Itan as well as Sena during their fight. This also gives us some more brilliant battles as Itan and Sena even team up at one point while still not being able to claim the win. Kreisler was definitely a very good villain and at least he wasn’t completely loony. I also liked that he had a contingency plan for just about everything. Even while the guards were leading him off the premises when they finally caught him, Kreisler was ready. His submarine appeared out of nowhere with all of his armed troops and that was the end of that. It was really hard to keep this guy down and the show certainly got even more interesting once he showed up.

While Itan was not the final boss, he was certainly a major villain and probably had the biggest role of them all. I always felt bad for his teeth though. He always held onto a lollypop to suck on, but would end up crunching it accidentally when he got some bad news or got too stressed about something. The sudden crunch would always startle you and he would still go for another one. Lollypop aside, Itan was definitely solid. He didn’t give up like the rank and file and even after being betrayed, he vowed revenge. He lasted quite a while as he kept dodging the cops and he did his best to get back at Kreisler. He was an exceptional fighter and the fact that he could fight Sena on equal grounds is quite telling. Almost no other character can say that and he was also fun to root for. He’s probably the second best character in the series behind Sena, although Hikaru is quite close at third. I’d probably have Muraku at 4th and Kreisler at 5th. As I said, it’s a solid cast and they’re all pretty high.

One slight disappointment was that the old characters didn’t get to do anything. The big heroes like Ban/Van are mentioned and acknowledged, but they never get to appear. They get a lot of hype, but I was hoping that they’d show up to stop the main villains. After all, they do work for the government and are LBX experts, you’d think that they would have been called immediately. Jin shows up quite a lot towards the end, but he never joins in on the fights and just watches the whole time. That was a big missed opportunity and I can understand that sometimes writers want the season to stand on its own, but then why add Jin in the first place? It’s like a tease to something that will never occur so it’s better left forgotten.

I also can’t stress enough how impressive it was for the show to have constant action all the time while still introducing more and more villains. The fights started off very grounded, but gradually got as fantastic as you can imagine. Sena also got quite a few excellent rage moments where he utilized his LBX to the fullest and took care of the villains. You’ll get very invested into the show right from the get go and it never falters from there. The writing is always on point and I don’t expect that we’ll ever see another show quite like this one. It’s a shame that LBX had to end. Hopefully another long running mecha show can fill the void for this one someday, but until then at least I have the LBX game to help me remember this. The show isn’t even all that popular as finding images for this review was tough for a while. We need more people to spread the word and it all starts with this review!

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Overall, LBX Wars is definitely one of the best anime out there. The visuals are absolutely amazing and the screen caps can’t do it justice. Its decently long length will ensure that you don’t breeze through it too quickly and also gives it time to develop the characters and have a lot of things happen. There are a lot of big twists even if you’ll figure out some of them way before the characters and there are a lot of enemies to defeat. The show takes quite a lot of turns by the time you’re done with it and you’ll have to decide what you think the heroes should do. Fight and possibly allow the system to control you or stay back in an attempt of defiance, but it could be futile if nobody joins you and the villains may end up achieving their true objective. There are a lot of tough calls to make here, but Sena is always ready. If you haven’t checked this show out yet, then it’s not too late. You can still make your move now before they announce a big Hollywood film that will adapt it all!

Overall 9/10

Little Battlers Experience Review

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It’s time to review a relatively modern action show that is similar to Megaman. In the future, instead of netnavi’s, we have LBX robots. Beyond that, it’s essentially the Megaman series and you can bet that this is a good thing! I can’t say that I’ve seen many anime which had big fight scenes quite as often as this one. The plot may not have been the best, but it got the job done I suppose. Also, plot is always secondary to characters and their action scenes.

Interestingly enough, I got to watch parts of this show in Japanese and in English. One episode I saw in both versions to really see how different they were. As such, I may swap some English and Japanese names now and then, but I’ll mostly be using the original versions. I saw most of it subbed as I only watched 3-5 episodes of the English version. It was definitely fun and both versions certainly have their positives.

The plot revolved around a kid named Ban. He is into the cool new thing on the block which is the LBX fad. These mini robots are able to fight in mini arenas against each other. You can continue to customize your mech until he is the strongest in the biz. The interesting part about this is that the whole world basically runs on the assumption that people won’t use these toys for evil. The toys are actually powered with real guns and weapons. They can also operate in the real world with no limitations. With Megaman, the navis couldn’t run amok in the real world without new tech so it made a little more sense. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit right off the bat.

Again though, such things aren’t really too important. It’s all right that this plot development isn’t the greatest one out there. Ban’s father was presumed dead in a plane crash, but the heroes quickly find out that he is being held by a villainous organization. At the helm of this organization is a man named Kaido. Ban will have to team up with his school friends and the government (Or at least, a small faction within the organization) to stop them. It will involve winning many tournaments as there is a secret program within Ban’s LBX, which was made from his father, that is the key to this whole puzzle. The plot takes a lot of breaks for the tournaments, which I was glad about since the tournaments were definitely the best parts of the show. The action was great!

At 44 episodes, the show is decently long running without being as long as popular titles like Naruto and Bleach. There’s enough time for the show to introduce a lot of characters and for the heroes to get a lot of battles. Again, my only real complaint with the show would be the plot at times. I felt like the plot would actually slow the show down as I enjoyed the fillerish parts better than the main story. For example, you could say that a lot of the random fights in the tournament was filler for the real plot of stopping Mr. Kaido. Well, those were the best parts and the episodes where the heroes planned on how to stop Kaido and how to stop the world from being blown up were usually a lot more slow paced. At one point, we got about 3 episodes without any real fights as the heroes made plans after plans.

The heroes prevented an assassination and fought off an enraged employee, but those episodes were typically light on action. They were still good episodes (Well, maybe not the latter) and I like strategic episodes as much as the next guy, but I certainly enjoy the hard hitting battles from the tournaments a lot more. I’m not going to go out there and say that the plot was downright bad. After all, the tournaments are technically still part of the plot right? Still, it wasn’t quite as good as rival shows like Megaman or Cardfight.

I was a little iffy on the animation at first. Most of the show is your standard animation which was a good thing. All of the characters were drawn well and while I wouldn’t call it exceptional, I’d definitely call it solid. It would essentially be a perfect 7, the definition of good animation. For the robots, they were basically in CGI ish looking forms so they weren’t quite as smooth as possible. In that sense, I feel like the animation could have been better and it really stuck out for me a lot at first. As the battles went on, I grew used to the style. Hand drawn would have been much better, but the show really pushed the CGI to its limit. We still got a whole lot of explosions and cool looking beams. The fights were also decently long at times, which certainly helped.
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I usually don’t need to really mention this as it will occur in just about every show to an extent, but it was much more blatant than usual here. There is a lot of plot hax and power level inconsistencies riddled throughout the show. It is especially evident towards the climax of the anime as Ban goes from being one shotted and crushed along with all of his friends by the Sephiroth inspired LBX to just randomly surpassing him in the end. He was getting creamed by Kaido’s LBX, but quickly took him out with a single move when he realized the stakes. Jin was getting owned by Kaido and lost an arm (His robot lost an arm to be exact) but started to win because apparently having your speed cut in half and wobbling makes it impossible for a robot to guess your next target. While visually interesting, none of the final fights made any sense on a thematic level. Even Jin’s new super form, which came out of nowhere was more than a little dubious. It’s definitely something that will make you shake your head a little. That being said, plot hax never lower the score on a show, they’re just something to make a note of.

As for the soundtrack, I naturally heard two different versions of it. I got to hear the DUB music from the first episodes as well as the Subbed themes later on. For the dub, it is interesting to note that it essentially has the same soundtrack as Megaman NT Warrior. The waves of nostalgia hit me right to the core and I certainly won’t forget those anytime soon. That being said, the subbed themes had some really good battle themes. In particular, I really liked one theme that was typically used for tension or when something big was about to happen. For example, it played when the heroes decided to go behind the government’s back and storm the villain’s base. It was definitely an epic moment.

Okay, now’s a good time to talk about the characters. No show can be truly excellent with a bad cast right? Luckily, the cast of character is good, perhaps not great as some of the main characters are lacking a little, but most of them are interesting and fun to root for. Let’s start off with good ole Ban. Ban’s essentially your average main character. He’s a little generic, but mostly just in good ways and you definitely wouldn’t call him a bad character. He wants to help his friends and be one of the best LBX players out there. One thing that separates him from other leads is his big commitment to saving his father at any cost. He defies the government and attacks the villain’s base on several occasions. It typically does not pay off, but I always appreciated the attempt. Ban also takes the loss of one of his comrades particularly hard, which sidelines him for a few episodes. Lan had a similar experience involving Megaman, but that was more personal. I don’t think he would have taken this quite as hard.

Ban stands up for heroic ideals whenever he is on screen and he’s certainly committed to that path. He never gets tempted to join the dark side or anything like that. Seeing him continue to improve and level up during his fights is always nice. I would have liked for him to have been a little more competitive or rage induced for some of the matches as he can be a little too laid back. Still, Ban’s definitely a good main character and a likable guy to root for.

Ami’s the main heroine in the show and unlike a lot of her counterparts, she can fight and isn’t forgotten in the latter parts of the show. At around the halfway mark, she gets a major power up in the form of the robot Pandora, which actually kept her above Kazu for the rest of the show. Sure, she’ll never be as strong as Ban or Jin, but that’s just the way things go. She was a likable character and I’m glad that she was always ready for a fight.

Kazu was a lot more conservative and never picked a fight unless he thought there was a chance of victory. While Ami’s robots specialized in close range combat, he was a sniper. This was a little bad for him as being a sniper meant that his physical capabilities were always rather limited. I wasn’t a huge fan of him and he doubted Ban a whole lot, but he was still a decent main character. At least he could fight and he got a big confidence boost whenever he would win a match. The show could have done more with his character, but being a likable character with minimal development is better than being an unlikable one with a lot of screen time.

Jin is Ban’s rival and at first I wasn’t sure if I could take him seriously. His entrance was decently cool though and it was almost entirely ripped/borrowed from Chaud’s. Like Chaud, he would beat his opponent in seconds and even had a similar design. By the end, Jin continued to make the best choices possible. His sideplot was typically good and his personality made him a much more likable character than Ban by the end. I certainly liked his confidence and as I constantly mention, I love to see characters to really put their focus on speed. His speedy LBX was just the ticket that he needed. He may not have been quite as cool as some of the other rivals that I’ve seen, but he would certainly rank pretty high up in the rankings by the end. Jin was easily the best character in the series and likewise, the franchise. I really don’t see any character matching up to him and things will only continue to look up for him from here now that he is an established character who will likely continue to get hype along with Ban. After all, the final battles were exclusively used for Ban and Jin battles. None of the other characters could keep up, but I suspect that Jin will always be relevant.

Mr. Kaido was the main villain for almost the entire series. He was one of the reasons why I didn’t really care for the plot. He’s just not very interesting and is about as generic as you can get. I respect his LBX skills and he is certainly very powerful. That being said, he could have been more interesting. He was always talking about his big goals and feigning ignorance for all of his evil deeds, but it got old after a while. Of course, there is a twist about his personality and it will certainly make you look a little closer at one of the episodes. Back to his LBX, it was cool to see it copy the heroes’ abilities and its raw specs were already impressive on its own. Kaido is certainly not someone to take lightly. I’ll take power over personality in this case, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t have both.
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Gouda was Ban’s first big opponent and his LBX was tough to get by. It was a sturdy close range combatant whose overwhelming power made up for his lackluster speed. Gouda was designed in a way that made him look very similar to Kamina from Gurren Lagann. That was always interesting and I’d say that he was a fairly good character. He felt a little outmatched towards the end because while his LBX got some upgrades, his robot never got any faster. That’s definitely dicey for him. Still, Gouda’s automatically one of the best supporting characters in the show.

Daiki’s also another good character who started out as a bit of an antagonist, but eventually became one of the main heroes. He always loved to look at his tarot cards before a match. Despite his calm demeanor, he definitely gets into the heat of battle and is very confident of his skills. Why not, considering that he is easily one of the strongest heroes. At one point, he effectively caught up to Jin and nearly surpassed him. While Jin and Ban inevitably surpassed him once again, Daiki would be in third amongst the heroes and his LBX is incredibly fast. I always like a good speed character and Daiki definitely fit the bill. Mix in his illusions and this guy was definitely very powerful.

Takuya was the main government liason who helped the main characters a lot. I actually ended up liking him much more than I had expected. He’s not the stuffy official that you would expect and he actually engages in fisticuffs on multiple occasions. It is regrettable that he has no LBX to fight with since you would expect him to have some way to fight, but he prefers to do things the old fashioned way. Sadly, it seems like he won’t be participating in the field that much anymore now that he got promoted to a higher position, but he had a good run while he lasted. Yuusuke was also involved with the government, but preferred to keep a low profile. He had a pretty powerful LBX, but he ended up giving it to Ami, which put him at a competitive disadvantage. Yuusuke’s role was decently big as a supporting character and he was decently likable. For the most part, he was just around, but that’ll do.

Lex is known as the strongest player in the world and he definitely lives up to his hype. He didn’t really do anything for a very large part of the series so I was worried about whether or not he would end up fighting at all. There is a fairly big twist involving the character in the end. We never really got to know the guy so you’re not really sure what to feel when it all goes down. I ended up thinking of him as a good character. He made some random decisions at the end though and seemed to have broken down a bit. I felt like all of his efforts were very half hearted and Lex was a very indecisive character in general. Nevertheless, his LBX was very cool and had a great design. He was a superb LBX and was great at close quarters combat. The final episodes really had a lot of epic battles with high stakes and the tournament battles were a lot of fun as well.

Mika is a character that the writers clearly had no idea how to handle. She was portrayed as the mysterious girl who was probably an expert fighter for a while, but after the first 20 episodes passed, I knew that something was up. Turns out that all of the hype was fake and she just spends her time crushing on one of Ban’s rivals. I’d give the anime points for tricking me…if this wasn’t such a downright terrible twist. She’s a really bad character and I’m still irritated at just how bad she was. Ryuu’s even worse as he’s the average bully type character who likes the main heroine and likes to pretend that he’s really tough. Turns out, he’s actually very weak and Dex from Megaman NT Warrior is much more likable.

Kousuke is one of the final bosses in the show and easily one of the most powerful characters in the series. How good is he? Well, since I’d say that he’s still much stronger than Ban and Jin, his only competition would be Lex. Both of them seem to consider themselves to be the best LBX player on the planet and both of them have super forms. For now, I’m going to say that Lex is possibly a little stronger, but it’s very close and I definitely liked Kousuke a lot. He got quite a lot of hype when he debuted and his entrance was very well done. He also wasn’t afraid of the other villains and I wish that he could have fought some more. Either way, he was definitely an epic character and I hope to see him appear more in the future.

Yagami is a villain who defected to the hero side after realizing the truth about Mr. Kaido. It’s still a little iffy with how he worked for the villain for so long without realizing anything, but better late than never right? His LBX was always surprisingly weak considering his high position in the organization. He came in handy a little in the end, but Yagami never managed to make himself stand out amidst the other characters in the show.
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Overall, It took me about a year, but I finally finished the classic LBX show. The characters were solid, the animation was nice to look at, and the soundtrack was quite good. While the plot could have used a little work at times, I’m satisfied with how the show turned out. I would certainly call it a great one and highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good action show. This show has a lot of fight scenes and we get a lot of unique fighters even if the power levels are verrrry wonky. We’re talking Xros Wars levels here folks. I look forward to seeing how the sequels stack up. I have high expectations from them and am expecting another 8 or higher from the sequel. I’ll see you then and until that time, I should have begun wrapping up some manga titles to fill the void.

Overall 8/10

LBX Little Battlers Experience

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All right, it looks like we have another solid manga series to add to the current lineup. The LBX show is good, but it’s been very slow paced and the animation can be better. The manga improves on just about all of its faults and volume 1 was a pretty great start. It reminds me of Megaman in many ways. Keep it up and this series could go down as one of the big toy based manga. I shall have a review for it when the series finishes.

Overall 7/10

Transformers Classified The Complete Mission Review

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It’s time to review the Transformers trilogy that came out a while back. These three books all take place in the film continuity, which can make longtime fans groan. Not to worry, you wouldn’t even notice if not for a few key references. None of the characters are quite as bad as the movie counterparts and the writing is certainly a lot better. This feels like a real Transformers adventure and it was a pretty fun ride from start to finish.

The first book is mostly the set up as we meet the Autobots and get to see them take down a few Decepticons. After that, we shift to Kevin’s point of view. He can’t get any homework done at his friend’s place due to a party that is going on so he heads off. He meets up with an Autobot named Gears who is currently looking for a special location to protect it from Decepticons. It ends up being hidden under a real government base so Kevin agrees to tag along so that he can finally get in on some action. Things get tricky when a Decepticon named Reverb tricks Ratchet into believing that he’s an Autobot and that they have to destroy Gears. This will definitely test the bonds of friendship between Autobots and Kevin will have to move quickly if he wants to survive this!

The second book gives Duane a bigger focus as he realizes that he needs to get closer to the heroes. He plans for his minions to steal some super tanks that a company has developed so he leads the heroes on a wild goose chase onto the next special facility. It actually turns out to be pretty useful and he works on earning Kevin’s trust while Reverb and the Decepticons attack the tanks and the Autobots. Can the heroes save the tanks or will they have to go back and make sure the Kevin and the scientists are okay. Meanwhile…when are they going to find Douglas?

Book 3 concludes the trilogy and I wish that I could say how it ended on a bang, but I really did prefer book 2. Duane places all of his cards on the table as he attacks with his tanks. The Autobots naturally counter, but a scientist decides to destroy all of the Transformers as he launches a satellite that will emit a code that will wipe them all out. Kevin and Gears decide that the satellite is the true priority and Reverb wants to live as well so a race against the clock starts. Meanwhile, we have insect worms that have invaded Earth and they are also attacking Douglas on the other planet. (Which actually gets a decent amount of screentime here as a subplot) One way or another…it all ends here!

Optimus Prime may not get a huge role in this trilogy, but it still may be a little bigger than you may have expected. He is guaranteed to get a fight in each of the three books and that’s always pretty fun. He takes down his the first Decepticon rather easily in book one and he also crushes the worms in the final book of the trilogy. (During the re match anyway) The only fight where Prime is on the losing side is when he faces off against Reverb and it’s mostly due to the fact that none of the Autobots or Decepticons are very athletic or quick, but I shall talk about that more in a bit. This is a pretty accurate depiction of Prime and he’s awarded the respect that he really deserves at this point. He seems to be a little more eager to convert Decepticons into Autobots here than usual, but he does ultimately want the war to be over. He can just be a little too naive in this when a single blast can change the course of a battle. He risks his spark with this decision more than once.

Gears is the main Autobot in this trilogy since he’s always hanging out with Kevin. His personality is pretty similar to Bulkhead’s or the green robot in Rescue Bots. He doesn’t really understand all of the Earth customs and such yet, but he still tries to help Kevin through his many hardships. Gears can be pretty cheesy though and he’s not the greatest fighter. He can definitely fight if he has too, but his leg is almost always injured. He beats Ratchet and Bumble Bee, but he’s not going to stand out after the trilogy ends.

Bumblebee looks pretty bad here. He doesn’t fall into any character holes, but the author must think that he’s the weakest Autobot of all time. Bumblebee doesn’t get to win any fights here and he is constantly crushed by random Decepticons. He always “talks” tough, but Bumblebee is the first one to hit the ground. He’ll charge at the villain, but they always seem to be quicker and stronger than him. It’s true that Bumblebee isn’t the toughest Autobot around, but he’s still a tough warrior and he gets the job done. I at least expect Bumblebee to put up a decent fight. That never happens here and Bumblebee’s role is very small, which doesn’t help either.

The only Autobot who may appear less than Bumblebee is Ratchet. Ratchet doesn’t look very good either since he can be worse than Prime when it comes to falling for Decepticon traps. The odds of Reverb actually being a hero are slim to none and he was very suspicious the entire time. Ratchet should have been prepared for such a course of action and he rarely helps during fight scenes. He has a cool buzzsaw, but you have to actually land attacks with it to make a difference. He gets to take down some of the worms and a Decepticon somewhere down the line, but he could have been a lot better. We need more fighters and less medics for the heroes!

Typically, I don’t like Ironhide, but he was actually pretty good here. He is always bragging or putting up a tough front. That can get old fast, but it’s good to see that at least one Autobot is always ready to fight. Considering how many Decepticons are around, The heroes definitely need more Ironhides. Despite his claims, Ironhide still isn’t that much tougher than the others. He has a lot of weapons, but he still struggles to beat a human tank and he is also quickly shut down by Reverb. He’s not a bad character, but he’s going to have to get stronger if he really wants to earn a rep. I am glad that he didn’t fall for Douglas’ tricks though.

Reverb is the main Decepticon and he’s really the only one to actually get a role here. He’s not ultimately powerful, but he can give Gears’ a good fight. He certainly knows how to get back on his feet though since he appears in all three books. He gets an energy shield, which immediately makes him stronger than the rest of the Autobots. It’s a little sad for the heroes, but it certainly gives Reverb bragging rights. He’s pretty generic, but as far as villains go, Reverb was all right. I should remember his name for a while now and he doesn’t let the humans boss him around.

Kevin is basically what you may expect from your average main character. The book does a good job of keeping him away from the romance angle and he just wants to have a good time. He does come with a tragic backstory though since his parents were taken out by Decepticons. Things get even worse for him after the first book as his brother is also taken away. Kevin manages to be pretty likable when he’s on screen although he can be a little wishy washy sometimes. He talks back to government officials as well as Autobots and Decepticons. Nothing can faze him and it’s pretty intense. He blew up at his friend in book 1 rather quickly though, which may make you doubt whether he makes for a good friend or not. All things considered, he’s a lot better than he could have been.

Duane is the main human villain of the trilogy. It’s not really a spoiler to say this because we find out pretty early on that he’s the main villain. He is rich and he just wants his Dad’s big inventions to fail so that he can prove to his father just how good he is. He’s willing to destroy just about anyone to further these ambitions and he’s very good at controlling technology. He can definitely be a handful for the heroes, but he definitely has the skills to prove why he can be useful to both sides. I think his character development in book 3 is very rushed though since an accident forces him to do a complete 180 on his plans. I don’t know…the whole thing happened without a lot of foreshadowing. It’s just hard to picture him changing so drastically because of the one event. I think the series may have been planned to be longer than 3 books or the author just lost track of time there. Still, Duane may be the best human villain that we’ve seen in Transformers since the Hunter in the original show.

Douglas is Kevin’s brother and he’s a pretty noble character. The author tries to portray him as the ultimate hero. He’s a tough commander, but he still makes time to joke around and become buddies with all of his subordinates. His will to survive never wavers and he’s firmly planted on the side of justice. He can be a little too strict at times though and Douglas tends to be very slow on the uptake. The author really tries to force you to like him, but that’s more or less okay since he’s a solid character. (Of course…that’s the point of the plan…) I wouldn’t have minded a book about his journeys on the planet.

Simon Clay is another villain whose character development goes through a radical change between books 1 and 2. You can even argue that it started towards the end of book 1. He was a capable villain at first and then he is completely used for comic relief in the final two books. He’s terrified of the Decepticons and he’s even scared of a kid. (He doesn’t know that his boss is a kid of course, but it’s still pretty embarrassing) He’s always running away or stuttering when Reverb is around and it’s pretty sad. I liked him a lot in book 1 and after that you can only like him in a comic relief way. I actually don’t mind that form of him, but you simply cannot try to be both serious and comic relief. You have to choose one or the other or you will fail at both. That’s what happens to Clay.

Let’s address the power levels of the Transformers. This is the movie continuity so it explains why they’re so weak, but it can be a little sad to fans who only watch the shows. The government’s tech is already almost up to par with the Transformers’ and it’s heavily implied that it is superior. The 1 on 1 battle between Ironhide and a tank ends with the Autobot’s victory, but Duane was holding back so throw away any suspicions that the heroes may have gotten. The scientist was also able to create a ray that could destroy all of the Autobots, but the heroes admit that it may not have worked anyway. Basically, a simple missile can deal critical damage to a Transformer and the government also has liquid metal that can instantly KO them. The Transformers are in a very dangerous pickle here.

What can also be a little annoying is that all of the Transformers seem to be more or less equal power wise. A good shot from a blade or a gun can KO just about anyone. The Autobots typically win because they attack first or land the opening blow, but the Decepticons really seem to have an even chance if they would only land a blow. I think there should be more of a gap between someone like Prime as opposed to the average Autobot.

One of the great positives about the trilogy is the fact that the books just go very quickly. They are a little on the short side (Around 130-160 pages a book and the print is fairly large) but I’m not really referring to length. The plot is very engaging and the dialogue between the characters is interesting enough to just keep you reading. The very first scene in the trilogy can start off a little too quickly since you’re just picking up the book, but it’s clear sailings from there. I typically finished off large portions of the trilogy in a single batch because of how fun they were. (Maximum Ride still holds the record in that regard as I would read a complete book in one sitting. I read a whole Transformers book in one batch as well, but Maximum Ride is about three times bigger)

Overall, This is a pretty great trilogy. We get some nice fight scenes and the human characters are actually pretty interesting. My only warning is that you should not expect the Transformers to operate under many tiers as mentioned earlier. There isn’t much that separates someone like Optimus Prime from someone like Ratchet. They’re more or less equal when it comes down to a fight, which makes things dicey against Reverb. The second book is actually the highlight of the trilogy, but the third still does have some fun action with Douglas and his party as they try to survive on the blue planet. Drama, Suspense, Action…this trilogy has it all!

Overall 8/10

Voltron Force Volume 2 Tournament of Lions Review

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It’s been quite a while since I read a Voltron Force comic. Voltron has always seemed like a fun franchise, but let’s face it..it will never be able to reach the levels of popularity that Transformers and Gundam have achieved. I would say that it is almost impossible at this point. Still, the comic was pretty fun and it seems like a decent action series. Maybe the comics will one day be as long as the Sonic series. It will be tough, but this is a pretty strong second volume as we get a lot of action.

The Voltron crew fall into a trap when they listen to a fake distress signal. After fighting a lot of enemy spaceships, they land on a planet where the inhabitants deem the main characters to be unworthy of inheireting the Voltron. So, they shall have a tournament to decide who should pilot it. Keith objects, but he can’t really do anything about it. The games are on now and Daniel will have to prove that he has what it takes. Vince and Larmina are there to help too of course…

The series already has its identity, which is good. I will admit that it’s ultra generic as everyone fits nicely into their “character shells.” Most of their lines are pretty predictable and you almost know what they will say before they even say it. Luckily, this means that we don’t need to lose any time on explanations and backstory as we skip all of that. The whole volume is basically just the tournament as the heroes fight to survive. Our cast is pretty good for the most part.

Keith serves as the leader to the current Voltron force. He always knows what to do and he’s pretty tactical. He keeps up a tough front, but he actually believes in the new main characters and their will to succeed. He actually looks pretty bad in this volume when it comes to hand to hand fighting. He almost got to redeem himself, but someone else stole the glory. That being said, I wish he got to be the main character instead of Daniel. Lance is basically Keith’s rival. At least, I assume so from the one scene where they compete. Lance seems thoroughly outmatched, but he is a decent rival. He reminds me of a main character from the Transformers Rescue Bots TV show. (Kade) Maybe he’ll get some kind of power up soon.

The other members of the original team don’t really get a huge role. Hunk and Pidge are basically nonexistent as they always stay behind to tend to Voltron’s injuries. One of them is the timid tech guy and the other one is the guy who’s tough, but actually likes tech as well. They make a good team, but they aren’t terribly interesting. Allura is the tough princess who likes to show up the main characters. She takes out a whole squadron of opponents in an instant when Keith and Lance were debating about how to take them out. She’s definitely the muscle of the group and the best fighter as well. Her arrows are pretty similar to Uryu’s in design. Hopefully she gets some more action scenes like that!

Daniel is the main character and he’s one of the three kids who shall inherit the Voltron. I can’t say that he’s a great character, but he does talk pretty tough the whole itme. That can be a little frustrating too though since he continues to fire off the insults when he’s about to die. On the verge of death, I expect the main character to say something a little more heartwarming than a random insult. He lacks the skills needed to be the next leader so Daniel’s going to have to try a lot. Still, his endless enthusiasm will definitely make him a likable character. At the very least, Daniel never backs down from a fight.

Vince is the smart member of the group and he’s the one character from the trio who I really didn’t care for. It’s not entirely his fault I suppose, but he just looks so bad. It’s the price that comes with being the reasonable person in a group full of fighters who are eager to head to the next challenge. He doesn’t have the ability to make a weapon so he can just control technology. That should be almost as good though since he can just make a sword made out of tech. He gets a lot of props in this comic though so show that tech powers can actually be pretty cool someitmes. I can’t say that I’ve warmed up to him yet, but I’m sure that he’ll become better over time.

Larmina hasn’t really had a whole lot of character development yet, but she’s a pretty good fighter. She likely inherited this from her predecessor. She wields an energy sword and she was the first to realize that the heroes would have to fight to prove their superiority. While the other two members were sleeping, Larmina was already setting up plans. She’s definitely the muscle of the group and she holds her own for a while in the fight. She definitely seems like she’ll end up being another solid character.

The art is pretty good. It’s not going to be winning any awards anytime soon, but it works for the action scenes. The comic is pretty easy to read and it’s fairly colorful. Tie ins may not look so great in video games, but their artwork is usually pretty good in comics. Maybe it’s just easier to make things look good in a comic than in a video game.

You should be warned that this comic is very short. The actual plot takes a few pages to start and it’s over before you know it. It can really be read in a few minutes so breezing through it is a real possibility. It’s just how it goes I suppose, but it could be part of why the comic is so fun. They just dive straight into the action and there are no boring scenes to be found.

Voltron doesn’t look very good in this volume. He gets a lot of hype as the characters explain that he’s the strongest hero in the galaxy. Unfortunately, that’s still not enough to go up against an energy blast. I’m sure that the blast was tough, but that was a little humiliating. If only Voltron was just a little tougher right? Maybe he’ll get an upgrade in the next volume.

Overall, This is a pretty solid comic. You should definitely enjoy it if you like a good action scene or if you’re a fan of robots. Be warned that Voltron doesn’t appear a whole lot. This volume is more about the humans as they participate in the tournament. Their physical abilities should definitely not be underestimated. I’ll be looking forward to the next Voltron force since I can always count on it to deliver the action that I need!

Overall 7/10