Persona 5: The Animation: Stars and Ours Review


It’s time to end the main journey of the Persona 5 cast. With just about everyone down for the count you’d think that this is all over right? Well not quite as a new villain shows up and the heroes have to quickly try to save the world last time. This time they are not fighting merely as thieves but as protectors to stop corrupt cosmic beings. It’s all in their hands now!

After stopping Shido things should have gone well but instead humanity has started to forget about the Phantom Thieves. That wouldn’t be so bad except that the Holy Grail has decided to end these guys once and for all and is turning this into reality. The heroes will cease to exist if they aren’t remembered soon and Joker is thrown back into his metaphysical cage. Can he get the band together one last time to stop this god or will he be taken down for good?

This special really gets out there with how powerful the villain is but Persona usually does like to get crazy by the end so it was nice to raise the stakes here. It’s hard to say exactly what the Grail’s goals are beyond just messing with everyone though. Perhaps that is it as it’s the negative feelings of everyone brought forth into life. It seems like the Grail tends to be evil in most shows where it appears and this one’s no exception. The fact that it can actually talk and has a cool super form is pretty near though. It makes its presence known right from the start as a fighter who should not be trifled with. There may not be a lot to him but he made for a solid final boss.

It was also nice to see the old jail cell appear again because this was one plot that never really got resolved. The whole time they’ve been telling Joker how he needed to be rehabilitated and all of that but he seemed like a nice guy from the start so it was always odd to him. Well, it turns out that the whole thing was a farce at least for a while now. Fortunately the two jailers had enough strength of will not to make a big mistake. I still wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of them considering how close they came to ending it all but despite their vow but better late than never.

Joker manages to save everyone pretty quickly so it doesn’t become a full adventure or anything but it was a nice side journey. We also get to peer into Mementos for part of the climax and you get cameos from all of the other villains. The idea of a shared dungeon where everyone interacts was pretty interesting when they first showed it in the anime and it’s still cool here. It does make you feel like most people need to watch their backs though because all it would take is one really strong soul to overpower the others.

Joker and friends are strong enough to resist but they have powers of their own which helps a lot. The average person would not be quite so lucky. This leads into the main battle with the Grail as it is so the whole dungeon really was dangerous from the start. Now we find out by the end that destroying Mementos would also remove the powers that the lead has or at least that’s a main part of it. Presumably everyone else loses their powers as well so there will be no more dimension hopping but I have to wonder how that’s possible.

In theory shouldn’t everyone still have a dark side at some point or another? Did the heroes really cleanse the whole world of negative thoughts in one shot or was it just the city? I’m not a big fan of the whole losing powers thing because while it may be a common type of ending, I don’t think it made much sense here. I don’t see how the realm would go away or why the powers would fade. Furthermore, it also hurts the chances of a true sequel. yeah you could say the heroes just got their powers back or it was just a temporary loss but doing that from the beginning would be preferable.

It’s also a shame because the heroes had been doing so much good work throughout the city. They stopped a bunch of the corrupt adults and were making the world a better place one step at a time. Having to lose their abilities is just a really rough fate should they decide to stop the Grail. The way the ending plays out is decent. It’s happy enough and all but I don’t think it’s quite as complete an ending as it could have been otherwise. At least you don’t have to worry about cliffhangers I suppose.

The animation is pretty standard here. We get a pretty intense face off near the end but this one doesn’t have as much action as the last special. It’s definitely more of a dialogue based adventure this time around as the heroes get their closure. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the fun Persona themes so that’s always a thumbs up. Persona did not hold back when it came to the musical tracks that play the whole time.

One of the most memorable parts here is definitely when the people forget the thieves and they start to fade away. It’s like something out of Infinity War and I thought it was really impressive at least. Fortunately Joker had the demons and parallel world looking out so the jail prevented him from losing it all but it was still close. I also thought it was just intense how the Grail could make that possible and cause people to forget so quickly. The Thieves weren’t exactly private figures after all so that was an impressive feat.

Overall, Persona 5 may have ended in a different direction than how I would have done things but it’s still good in the end. The story is interesting from start to finish which is always the important thing. The main cast was solid here and everyone got to help out. In these two specials I wouldn’t say that any member got a big role in particular aside from Joker but just being there to help out in general is always appreciated. Teamwork through unity right? The Grail made for a solid final boss so in the end the special made the right moves here and I look forward to seeing what Persona experience is next. This is definitely a good title to check out now if you haven’t already seen it.

Overall 7/10

Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter 3: Elysion Review


It’s time to wrap up the Saint Seiya saga. Chapter 3 closes out the Hades arc. It took 3 OVAs to knock out the arc but I’m glad that they persisted and kept churning these out until it was over. The arc ends in an epic fashion and is certainly not an adventure you are likely to forget. It’s been an emotional ride with the Saints from start to finish but every adventure has to end at some point. With great fights, story, soundtrack, and animation, you are in for a very solid time here.

The OVA picks up immediately where the last one ended. The heroes are finally closing in on Elysion, but are confronted by some more spectres. Shiryu stays behind to fight them while the other Saints arrive to take down Hades and the other two gods who serve him. Meanwhile Phoenix Ikki is getting ready to make his own move but what secrets of the past bind him together with Pandora? Her assistance could be the critical point of the war or if she stays evil, that could signal the final defeat of the Saints. Will Athena’s awful plan look any better in hindsight? Time to find out!

With only 6 episodes the OVA has to move quickly but we still get a good amount of time for the fights which is the important thing. There are a lot of characters running around at this point but the OVA juggles them well. At this point the only plot you probably won’t care about is with the other bronze and silver saints at home. They have a crucial moment where they protect against Hades’ attacks but otherwise you’re ready to go back to the Saints where all the battles are taking place.

Shiryu gets a big role to start things off with his fight against 3 spectres at the same time. I always thought that was a really impressive moment in the manga and it definitely keeps that same intensity in the OVA. Each spectre is no joke power-wise so beating 3 is impressive. You don’t expect the Saints to get a whole lot to do now that we’re near the end so it’s cool that Shiryu got to have one last hurrah. He is around during the climax fight as well but this is a match he can say that he won completely on his own.

For example, Andromeda and Hyoga get moments of their own of course but not in quite the same way. Hyoga takes on one of the top 3 Spectres and even manages to win on a technicality that they can’t exist in the void since they have no god blood while Hyoga does. Then you have Andromeda who is closely tied to Hades with a lot of twists there. This was a good way for Andromeda to finally be relevant though so I was all for it. In a power sense he’ll never be one of the top Saints but he at least did well in trying to hold Hades back the whole time. Ultimately Ikki was never going to sacrifice him though.

Phoenix Ikki looks great here as always. You have to give him a lot of props, right up through the final arc he is holding his own with Seiya and getting involved in the battles. He actually gets to go up against Hades and is the final Saint left standing with the main character. I like Ikki’s confidence and he also tends to be the most perceptive of the Saints. He was able to get here on his own after all which is impressive and he officially took down the final Spectres as he swore to avenge Pandora.

Even the scenes of him as a kid protecting Andromeda are really intense since most kids would have folded at that point. Ikki really did the rest of the Saints proud and I would expect no less from such a true fighter. He always reminds me why he is my favorite Saint Seiya character although Kanon and Aiolos are both very close. Saint Seiya really has a stacked cast here. Then of course you can’t forget Seiya himself who does well here as always. He really has to put up with a lot of punishment but always manages to get up.

He embodies the saint saying that no attack will work on him twice. He may go down after the first hit but once he gets up then you know that there is no chance left for the villains. Seiya’s an inspiring character who leaves his defeated opponents to trail behind him. Ultimately he steps up when it counts at the end of this OVA as well and does well in his golden mode. I would say he tanked the ending and made it back safely but there are definitely different ways to interpret the ending as you see the credits start to roll. Either way it makes for an emotional end to Seiya’s character arc.

The only aspect that isn’t very satisfying is how Seika reappears. So throughout the entire series Seiya has been looking for her but she was nowhere to be found. Even Saori with her vast resources and wealth could not locate her and we find out that Seika just had amnesia and was wandering around for a while. That’s really not a very satisfying resolution, certainly not the one you would expect to see after such a big build up. She comes in clutch with motivating Seiya to fight on but it just felt like this was a forgotten plot point that was thrown in at the last second.

As for the villains, in general I liked all of the important ones. The throwaway Spectres were mainly forgettable but the three judges and then the two gods were on point. The only exception to this would have to be Hades himself. I just never cared much for the villain and seeing as how I didn’t like Poseidon much I guess you could say that Saint Seiya has a bit of a main villain problem. It’s not that Hades is weak or anything but his goals and motivations aren’t super interesting.

So he wants to create a great eclipse so that the underworld will rise and he will rule over all. Athena tries to talk him out of the plan a few times and he refuses but it’s hard to even get a gauge on the guy’s character. He seems to be annoyed when anyone attacks him since the guy sees himself as being above everyone. He has the arrogance of a god type villain but none of the usual charisma that you need with it. I like his character design at least. Hades looks the part and appears as a very intimidating threat. He’s just not interesting and always lets things escalate until it’s far too late for him to stop the heroes. Even in the Lost Canvass he didn’t get to do much and that series went out of its way to develop everyone a whole lot.

For a main villain who improved here, I have to say that Poseidon was impressive. I didn’t like him in the last arc but it was cool to see him pitch in a bit here to help out when the chips were down. It shows that at the end of the day he will protect the planet and that makes sense since if Hades wins that will be the end for everyone. The oceans won’t be exempt from such a fate. It’s a very small cameo but I thought it was an effective one.

As for the gods Thanatos and Hypnos, both of them were fun. Hypnos certainly seems to be the wiser one and also a little more powerful. He warns Thanatos time and time again not to get too overconfident and yet the guy does so anyway. This is often the folly of any fighter who goes up against Athena’s saints. Lost Canvass retroactively makes this look even worse for Thanatos since he never learns his lessons. In this case, I prefer Thanatos’ confidence to Hades though. Thanatos has the charisma that Hades was lacking and I just like to see him talk a good game. He was able to back it up for a while as well with how his fight against Seiya went. Ultimately he gave it his best effort but he just wasn’t strong enough. Hypnos also gets a good fight but it is quite a bit shorter.

Then we have Pandora who I always thought was a very interesting character. At first glance she is just the evil version of Athena only in her case, Pandora was pretty much forced into this life. Her whole family was murdered and two gods threatened to make things quite rough for her if she didn’t help them out. While you can’t really throw out excuses for her since Pandora still acted as a villain, there’s not much stronger coercion than that. Unlike Athena she can actually fight as well. The Spectres are actively afraid of Pandora and she ends up being rather helpful in the arc. Without her, Ikki wouldn’t have made it to the end and without Ikki, Seiya would have certainly been defeated. So it’s no exaggeration to say that she saved the day here. That’s why she is a very memorable character and also a solid villain. Ultimately you know that things won’t end very happily for her but that’s just how it goes.

Finally, to answer the question on if Athena’s mission/plan looks any better in hindsight….it doesn’t. So lets look at the plan here. Athena decided to destroy herself and allowed the evil Saints to murder almost all of her guards so she could go to the Underworld. From there she would travel to meet Hades and ask him nicely to stop his plan of destroying the world. She would let him murder her and in exchange he would stop and allow the world to continue. I have so many problems with this plan but the biggest one is that there’s no reason to assume this would ever succeed. I don’t think Hades has any problems with lying so he could just say “Sure, I’ll be good” and then after murdering Athena he goes through with the plan.

Alternately he doesn’t even need to lie. He could just wink and say he’s going to destroy the world anyway. Athena is far too weak to stop him and she has helped decimate her own forces. Athena is probably one of the worst rulers I’ve ever seen. She is consistently attacking her own members by proxy like when she refused to let Seiya help out and her plans are poorly thought out. At no point in this entire scheme did she do something that made sense. Stopping the Spectres from the start would have been the absolute best plan of hers. Given how powerful the Gold Saints are shown to be, they likely would have won the battle.

The villains can regenerate which is true, but not when Shaka uses his beads so there is a counter. It’s not full proof but the odds of victory would have still been terrific. Athena’s Saints are simply stronger and that’s all you really need to know in such a battle. I never quite forgave Athena’s plan here. At the end of the day it just resulted in countless deaths that were completely needless. None of the characters call her out on this which is probably the worst part.

As expected, the animation is solid here. Considering how much newer it is than the show, it may not look as spectacular as you would hope but it does the job. The character designs are on point and the fights are good. The armors are really shiny which is always cool. If anything that’s the first part that always catches your attention for any Saint Seiya product so you want to make sure that it looks on point. The OVA did well here so I was satisfied.

As for the soundtrack, it’s got all the usual tunes you would expect from the show so that’s good. The battle theme and every other song are just iconic by this point. Eventually I’d like to see the series experiment with some more songs but considering that this was the end of an era, I really don’t see an issue with bringing the same tracks back. It can work as a very nostalgic kind of thing.

Overall, This was a great way to end the Hades arc. It really ended up being a blast and it’s good to have made it to the end. It’s easy to see why the Saint Seiya franchise has expanded so far. The characters are fun and the battles are always intense. The plots are easy to follow so it’s the kind of title you can pick up and watch at any time. The fights are dramatic and the stakes are always super high. Sometimes pride will keep the characters from making the right decisions but you know that the bronze saints will always be around to reign in the Gold fighters if they go too far off the path. If you haven’t seen this OVA yet, then you will want to change that so you can say that you’ve ended the saga once and for all. It’s only 6 episodes so it won’t take long and it’s almost all nonstop battles. After all, this is the climax now so there’s no time to rest.

Overall 8/10

Alien Nine Review


Alien Nine has definitely got a handle on the strange atmosphere that only a few shows I’ve seen like Serial Experiments Lain have pulled off. There’s always a sense that something’s about to happen no matter how happy the scene is and so you’ve got a full sense of danger there right off the bat. That said, as a darker magical girl show, this one doesn’t quite reach the hype and levels of intrigue as Madoka. It ends up being rather twisted for the heroines but not always in a cool way.

The 4 part show introduces us to a world where alien invaders are common place. They crash on the school all the time and the local alien defense force takes them out. The defense force is made up of 3 girls from their respective classes. It’s a job that most of the girls don’t want but some don’t mind doing it. Basically each class holds a vote like for a student president and then they send their representative off to go and fight the alien monsters. This year the 3 girls selected are Otani, Kasumi, and Kuni. Otani is really not happy about this while Kasumi is thrilled and Kumi is more ambivalent. In order to fight off the aliens, the girls have to wear symbiotes which protect them as automatic defense weapons and shields. Now since these are symbiotes that at least hints that there is some give and take here. Is this really all above board and why do the aliens constantly attack this school?

I feel like the show drops the pretense of this being your classic magical girl adventure almost immediately. The symbiotes look creepy from the start and the OVA always has a lot of moody music and a dark color scheme. It’s all for that spooky atmosphere I mentioned earlier. Of course, it still does have its share of happy scenes, you’re just always waiting for the catch. Things continue to get more serious as we delve into the show and see more of what makes this school tick. As a short OVA, it does end on a big cliffhanger and doesn’t exactly cover the whole thing but that does make for a hype ending.

You could say the main plot is when the giant alien known as Yellow Knife appears. He claims to be Kasumi’s brother but this is likely mind games on his part. This was an easy way to get Kasumi on his side to fight against the other two. It’s a rather intense climax filled with dreams and inner visions that aren’t real as the teachers try to get control of the situation. You’ll want to stick around to the end as that’s when we get to some of the big cliffhangers. Lets just say that the body count is rising here, one character just can’t catch a break.

So lets talk about what didn’t work first and then get to the positives. Well, Otani is a really bad main character, there’s just no way around that. She is constantly crying and just doesn’t want to be an alien hunter. It is a dangerous job so that’s understandable but if she’s going to be forced to do this you’d like to see her really get tough. That said, she’s so young that it seems awfully mean of the parents to allow this to continue. We know the teachers will try to keep her in it as part of their nefarious schemes but unless the parents are in on the take, I’d like to see them try to help her get out of this a bit more. It’s really like Otani is being tortured by staying here. With one host getting eaten and another one murdered, you feel like Otani can only survive for so long.

With the main characters being so young, they’re effectively trapped in a lot of these decisions because they just aren’t old enough to get out of it. Having a character as reluctant as Otani is more tragic than funny the whole time. She really has to put up with a lot and will almost certainly be traumatized by the time she’s an adult at this rate. Otani has to see creatures get blown up right in front of her on multiple occasions after all.

The symbiotes themselves don’t really seem good or evil so much as they’re just there to help their owner. They’ll destroy any threats as they deem necessary although the teachers ask the heroines not to let that happen. Their having to lick the characters after the mission seems completely unnecessary though and just another creepy part of being an alien fighter in this world. It definitely gives Otani even more of a reason to want to quit right away. There are no noticeable upsides to being an alien fighter, especially when it seems like the group never actually makes any progress on this.

Kasumi is the only member of the 3 who actually enjoys the role and she is the most entertaining character as a result. All of the skills come naturally to her and she can even fight off opponents personally without having to rely on her symbiote. I like that at least someone came ready to fight here and so it’s a shame that she has to miss out on most of the climax.

She is rather obsessed with her brother who moved away though which starts to get to some almost disturbing territory with Yellow Knife manipulating her and some of the visuals that we get. It’s not cut and dry like Wixoss so you could make the case that it’s normal but it did feel like the OVA was getting there. Either way, the whole alien merging into her like a Chest Burster was one of those weird scenes that isn’t weird in a good way. The show even squeezes in a chest burster scene early on as the characters watch some kind of alien film.

The creatures get blown to smithereens during each of the fights. It’s monster blood so it isn’t quite as drastic as if they were normal creatures. It’s green and all although it can be a bit excessive, reminded me of Planet Hulk in a lot of ways. It’s less of an action context when Otani is going around slaughtering them all when she’s being mind controlled which may be why it feels more intense but it’s just another check on the list of reasons on why Otani would like to get away from this job as soon as possible. At least no real animals appear here which is always a good thing.

Now on the plus side, the main theme song here is catchy. It’s definitely got a more classic magical girl feel to it. From the theme song at least this appears to be your standard adventure. The rest of the themes within the show aren’t quite as memorable but it’s a decent soundtrack that works well enough in the moment. The animation’s definitely not as high budget but you do get some cool scenes like when the characters block attacks using the symbiote. Having an automatic defense which can also transform into anything is incredibly handy.

In a lot of ways it should remind you of the symbiote from Marvel. These guys can do pretty much everything that Venom can and can also talk. They allow you to resist illusions and generally seem helpful. Now, like Venom it may be hard to trust them at times but since the girls have to put their lives in the symbiote’s hands every day I guess you have to hope for the best. If it’s a true symbiotic relationship where the creature needs them too then it should balance out and they’ll keep you alive.

The final girl from the trio is Kumi and she’s nice enough. She’s always been helping students who couldn’t keep up or just helping everyone at large as student president. It’s why she wanted to join the group so she wouldn’t have that burden anymore but it ended up not working out perfectly well for her. She’s too nice for her own good and still tries to help Otani out. It makes her a well balanced character and definitely the natural leader of the squad. She may not be as powerful as Kasumi, but Kumi is definitely the person you would want to have at your back.

Hisakawa is the main teacher here and she’s as corrupt as they come. As one of the people in charge of the whole alien situation to trap these kids, she is really the main villain if you think about it. The disturbing part is how nonchalant she is about the whole thing. She doesn’t really seem to care for the girls’ safety at all so when she appears you always know she’s about to make some more unreasonable demands. She even wanted Kasumi and Kumi to leave Otani alone. Fortunately they realized this wasn’t quite right and stayed to back her up.

Naturally the Principal is another big villain here since she’s one of the head honchos. You certainly can’t trust her and will want to keep your distance as much as possible. Interestingly, the adults seem to have the symbiotes perfectly merged within them. We see that their hair can turn into drills which is how the symbiotes fight. So either they mastered the control as part of the symbiote bonding or the symbiote just took control. Either way it doesn’t spell a great picture for the kids who have to wear these symbiotes every day.

So lets talk a little more about the setup here. What seems to be the case is that the teachers raise a bunch of aliens in their labs and also create the symbiotes out of some kind of water substance. They then pick a few kids every year to wear these symbiotes. Aliens are strategically let loose within the school to be summarily captured by the kids although they sometimes end up being slaughtered. Rinse and repeat so of course this begs the question of why the teachers are doing this. It has to be for an evil reason or they would just let the kids know that the aliens are being manufactured to test their skills or something.

I think we can read into it based on the adults who have merged with their symbiotes. Most likely what this means is that they are feeding the Symbiotes. So I think the best explanation here is that the symbiotes did take over the principal and by extension they also took control of all the teachers. My only question would be why they don’t take over the whole school. Just have every kid wear the symbiote. With Otani it’s mentioned that some kids have better fusion rates than others so perhaps most people don’t mesh well with the symbiote. I suppose that would work and either way they’ll continue to spread even if it’s slower.

The whole Yellow Knife appearance is what threw a wrinkle into everyone’s plans since this wasn’t something the teachers predicted. They respond incredibly slow to the new threat though so it doesn’t seem to concern them a whole lot. I thought at least the teacher would be super concerned since she already failed once and can’t afford to lose the kids but you never see much of a sense of urgency. Not like the teacher is all that tough though as she was still overwhelmed by the alien’s illusions. Only Kumi really seemed to be able to break through the illusions quickly thanks to her symbiote.

The OVA has a twist ending at the very end so make sure you stay all the way through. It should raise a lot of questions while also leading you into the next act if you ever check out the manga. As mentioned earlier, the body count rises as someone dies but the problem is there are too many suspects to really figure out on who did it. It could be anyone who is being mind controlled, any of the symbiotes, teachers, principals, aliens, etc. Part of the danger in this school is how anybody can be an enemy. You can’t trust anyone, Otani probably can’t even trust her parents since they could be aliens.

In a way it’s like the Secret Invasion in Marvel. If fully realized symbiotes like the teachers don’t even appear anymore and just merge into your hair (Similar to what Otani did during her rage mode) then there’s no way to track them at this point. Any person can be part alien and you would never know it. I think this would have a lot of potential if you wanted to turn this into a mystery thriller or something as a group of humans try to stop the alien invasion. Thing is, it’s probably already too late to stop them. The feats that the symbiotes perform would make it a simple matter to destroy dozens of opponents in an instant. They can block any attacks including bullets and wouldn’t break a sweat. Not that the symbiotes can probably sweat but the point is that there are no threats to them. Humans wouldn’t stand a chance.

Overall, Alien Nine is not an OVA you are likely to forget. It’s got a very spooky aura right from the get go and the fact that the main girls are so young means there aren’t a whole lot of ways to escape. In effect that’s part of why the show can be so unnerving because most Shonen Leads can punch their way out of this but the girls can’t realistically do much. By the same token, that’s what holds the OVA back. The characters can only passively follow along with what is happening. They’re effectively all victims of a much grander scheme. It’s like they’re strapped into a rollercoaster that they can’t get out of. It can all be rather tragic at times and it’s sinister enough where you won’t have a great time here. Almost every scene is someone crying or yelling because of all the trauma. I’d like to see a sequel to this with older main characters trying to fight back against the aliens. Time to uproot the society they’ve built here and turn this into a Shonen. This is the kind of show where there is always a lot to talk about and theorize though. Still, if you’re looking for a very creepy alien invasion story, it would be hard to beat this one. I’d say it’s even spookier than Lain in some ways.

Overall 5/10

Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter 2: Inferno Review


It’s time to return to the world of Saint Seiya. The first OVA was a solid start to the Hades saga. I really liked the creative use of CGI which helped to mask the lack of animation at times. It also gave the OVA a very grand feel. Well, that is gone from this special but the animation is much better so it feels like we’re back to the original show in a good way. I would say this OVA improves on the first one even considering that the amazing clash of Athena Exclamations has already passed.

The OVA starts off with with the saints making it into the heart of the Underworld. Their mission is clear, they need to take Hades down and bring Athena back to the world of the living. It won’t be easy though as the Underworld has many castles and specters at the ready to foil their every move. Seiya and Shun are the characters in one plot while Shiryu and Andromeda work with Gemini Kanon in the other. Will the divide and conquer tactic work (Not like it’s really their choice though) or will they now be picked off. Also, where is the man known as Phoenix Ikki?

Maybe part of why this OVA feels like we’re going back to the roots of the show is because we’re going through the whole “Take down each Specter at each castle” routine that each arc of the show always went through. It’s nice and nostalgic to see the characters going through the motions. The big difference here is that we actually have a Gold Saint who can hold his own this time. Kanon really does well in each of the fights and reminds me why he is one of the best Saints in the show. The guy seems more reasonable than most and gets several fights in this OVA.

Before going further, I have to say that it’s still such a cool move when the heroes start taking their opponents down while keeping their eyes closed. It’s probably more of a stylistic approach then their literally closing their eyes at key moments but the animations have always kept this detail and I appreciate it. What’s more hype than letting a villain know that you don’t even have to keep your eyes open to win a fight right?

All right, so back to the plot. Most of the episodes are focused on the Seiya and Shun plot. They make quite a lot of progress through the temples. There is a time limit though so they have to beat these specters quickly. It’s just good nostalgic fun to see them going from place to place. They also make for a good duo with Shun as a support type while Seiya is all about offense. Meanwhile Shun and Shiryu are also on the case but are having trouble defeating any of the specters. It’s a rough stretch for them but up til now they’ve never seemed to be so out of their depth so it’s kind of interesting to see them like this. Then you have Athena and Shaka moving forward with their own plan to defeat Hades which takes a while for any pay off but it’s always fun to have their cameos.

As always Seiya is a great character here. He’s always the last one to give up and keeps on fighting until he gets the edge. It takes a lot of resolve to always be getting up with the ways that the opponents disrespect his Meteor Punch all the time. It never works the first time and yet Seiya keeps at it. You also see a lot more of his personality here as he trolls the judge specter who wanted everyone to keep it down. I haven’t seen Seiya like that since the pre arc.

He has a mischievous side to him after all but rarely gets to show this given that he is in nonstop fights all of the time. This arc actually have him a little time to slow down and have fun with this which was cool. Then there is Shun who still manages to lose all of the time but at least he gives Seiya a lot of moral support. His chains also do save him on more than one occasion so this is far from Shun’s worst appearance. I wish he could get some more clear cut wins but this OVA does throw him a bone so you can expect him to contribute.

Probably for the first time Shun actually does a lot more than Shiryu and Hyoga. I almost don’t need to mention them because these two get one shotted by one of the 3 Judges and then don’t do anything for the rest of the ova. Kanon hard carries them through this arc and they would have been dead many times otherwise. At this point it feels like the gap between them and Seiya is massive. Not so much in pure cosmos but in terms of drive as Seiya gets up while these two stay down. They will have to prove themselves in the next ova.

Ikki takes a while to appear but when he does show up it is certainly worth the wait. He comes in as if he is one of the most powerful Gold Saints. That’s the kind of ability he has and Ikki can really shake the whole battlefield to its core. He even has an expanded origin story that includes Pandora. It feels a bit out of the blue but makes for one of the more suspenseful flashbacks in the series. Ikki was really tough even as a kid.

Part of why Ikki is my favorite character in the series is due to his grand entrances and this one doesn’t disappoint either. He just seems to be a few steps ahead of the other Bronze Saints at all times and knew just when to show up. The villains get lucky that he is summoned away later on or the Specters would have kept taking some heavy hits. Additionally while Ikki is the tough member of the crew and makes the tough calls, he will always put Shun above everything else. Ultimately he makes the right decisions here and it’s a great moment.

The only Saint who deals out as much damage would be Kanon who steals the show as I mentioned earlier. He talks tough to all of the Specters including the 3 powerful Judges. He overpowers their techniques and is even able to fight without his armor. As someone who was not one of the original 12 Gold Saints, Kanon has to deal with not being given the same level of respect as the others and handled it well. It never feels like he will turn to the dark side again and has instead become one of Athena’s most reliable fighters. He has really come a long way here and while he may not do much more for the rest of the series, you can be really satisfied with his role. The guy beat up a whole army of Specters like it was nothing and the judges even have to tell them to leave Kanon alone.

Dohko is still around but he really doesn’t do as much as you would expect in this special. He provides some weapons which are useful during the climax which will have to do. All of the Gold Saints get one last hurrah here before leaving things to the bronze saints. Virgo Shaka’s is the most memorable though as the guy actually did well against Hades. I liked that he didn’t entertain the idea of stabbing Athena for an instant and just went straight for Hades. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like breaking the rules so it’s a powerful moment.

Honestly this is why I still really don’t like Athena’s plan. It just seems like an awful way to waste most of her own men. Shaka would have done a lot better if Athena wasn’t getting in his way. Her plan to effectively beg for mercy is awful. What’s to stop Hades from claiming he will save the world before murdering her? By the time Athena realizes the flaw in this plan it’s too late because she’s already stabbed. From the start I had major reservations about this plan and this ova did not help matters at all. If anything it just makes every traitor gold saint and Athena look even worse. I’ll probably go more into this after the final ova since we’ll see her complete plan but it’s not looking promising.

Now as for the villains, first up we have Charon who may just be the guy that drives the boat but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he is weak because that is far from the case. He can fight really well and even gives Seiya some trouble. If not for some cheap shots I think the fight would have been over quicker but I give Charon some credit for being a little honorable. That’s more than you can say for most Specters and I thought he was really entertaining.

Then you have Rene who is mostly memorable for all the scenes with Seiya trolling him. It really was one of the funniest episodes in the franchise. The guy’s abilities are good too with how he can toss you around dimensions and use that whip of his. It ties into one of Kanon’s better scenes but without the illusion he may have even beaten Seiya and Shun. Never underestimate the powers of a good illusion.

Pandora is a memorable villain with how much hype she gets. She really does have the specters on a short leash but it seems more like a respect thing than actual power. Unlike Lost Canvass where she can really fight, here she seems to be the ultimate glass cannon. If she can hit you with the harp then she has the edge but otherwise even a normal attack from a Bronze saint can take her down. She spends a good chunk of this special looking shocked or trying to land a sneak attack.

Pandora is a nice change of pace within the villains and I like her well enough but I do think the series could have done more with her as the counterpart to Athena. She is ruthless though and has a lot more agency so that’s still an improvement. In any continuity Pandora is always better than Athena. I doubt Athena would have stabbed the suspicious package the way Pandora did. The tactic may not have worked but it was worth a shot.

A fairly minor villain was Sphinx who did have a good ability to rend the opponents unconscious. If not for Lyra being around he would have been difficult to defeat. You may not remember him for long but Sphinx was reasonable. I had more issues with Lyra in the end. The guy has a tragic backstory but you mean to tell me that he never suspected that the whole thing may not have been an accident? Basically he and his girlfriend had to leave the underworld without looking back but sure enough she did by mistake and turned into stone. This was due to a random bright light.

Naturally it was one of the villains but really Lyra? No suspicions on that? I feel like he should have realized and made a move a lot sooner. His plan was actually not that bad but ultimately it just didn’t work the way he wanted it to. As a silver saint the guy is really impressive, I dare say that he would beat some of the Gold Saints in a battle.

The final one of the normal specters is Valentine who gave Seiya a really good fight. Now granted that Seiya was super weakened and in enemy territory but I think it’s still worth mentioning. You have to have great physical stats to even do that much and you can see why Valentine is such a trusted fighter in the army.

That takes us to the big 3 Judges. Of the 3, Minos hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet but his puppet techniques are really lethal. Even Gold Saints are unable to break through his strings. Aiacos has his burning techniques like the Garuda wing and then Rhadamanthys really feels like the strongest member of the 3. He’s also the best one as the guy gets real development and even a true rivalry with Kanon. I like the idea of having a big 3 among the Specters because it really builds up the hype well.

Aiacos has his own rivalry with Ikki and it was a solid fight with a lot of back and forth. Unlike most Specters these guys won’t go down to a single counter attack. As for Rhadamanthys, I liked that he just wanted a good fight and he takes great offense to Kanon saying that the Gold Saints would have wrecked him if their powers weren’t limited. It’s the whole reason he wants to fight Kanon and that’s always a great motivation for me. I was absolutely on board with this.

Finally we have Hades who is the big bad of this saga. He finally shows himself in the second half of the special. I would say it’s worth the wait but he’s not particularly memorable just yet. The guy speaks in a very grand fashion and has a divine aura that forces opponents to back off but we haven’t seen him fight yet. As a god in the series he doesn’t really need to I suppose but he better keep his guard up. I just wish Athena would look tough like this since theoretically she should be about as powerful as he is.

Hades has a great fake out involving a dream which was cool. Ultimately he may get lucky on more than one occasion but you don’t get to be King without having some good luck at times right? I look forward to seeing more of him in the next special. He may not match the 3 Judges but it’s always good to finally meet the big bad and see what his plan is. An eclipse is a fairly original way to cause death and destruction.

There are some meanwhile scenes back on Earth but I haven’t mentioned them much because they don’t really add anything. It’s nice to see that they’re still alive and all but trust me, they won’t be impacting the story in any real way. They’re mainly just here to remind you that they’re around. The best scene on Earth is really the flashbacks with Ikki and Pandora. Those scenes are almost like something out of a horror with how dark the city was that night and how creepy Pandora can be. Ikki having to deal with such painful attacks as a kid is still something else, that kid had grit!

As mentioned earlier, the animation is much better here than last time. We finally have a lot of really good hand to hand battles like the old days and good movement with the energy blasts. It feels like the TV show has come back for real and that definitely feels good. The attacks look solid and the characters’ desperation is really illustrated well. Saint Seiya is a series that really relies on characters giving each other a lot of motivation and pep talks and so you can expect them here as well. They’re handled very effectively.

As for the soundtrack, it’s mostly a lot of classic tunes so they should sound familiar. The opening though really stands out. It’s incredibly high energy and works really well. In general this ova has a lot of energy and helps excel the series. When I say that this ova is near perfect it’s because it shines in all aspects. The Hades are really was quite excellent. Part of what makes it so great is again because it isn’t purely about the Bronze Saints this time. You’ve got the Gold Saints making moves, Athena, Hades, even the Specters get their own development and character moments. It makes this feel like a really complete adventure.

Overall, This will definitely leave you hyped for the third ova to conclude the Saint Seiya saga. I’m ready to see how exciting that one will be. You should probably watch the first ova to really get what is happening here. It won’t make Athena’s decisions look any better but at least you’ll have the context. The ending to this ova is quite striking, Athena’s last scene in particular may take you by surprise. Things aren’t looking great for the heroes but as long as they keep trying there’s always a chance. This ova is just a blast.

Overall 9/10

Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter Sanctuary Review


It’s time to take a look at the first Seiya OVA. I debated back and forth about how to style the title since there seem to be a ton of ways to put it out there, but I figured modeling it more after how the recent Transformer trilogy went down made sense. I’d keep the Hades chapter structure and then add the sub title after that. It makes for a busy title but works well enough.

The story starts with a lot of dead Saints reviving. It turns out that the time for the next Holy War has commenced. Usually it is every 250 years but for some reason it has started early. A mysterious man appears along with two Gold Saints and tells Mu that he needs to murder Athena. Mu doesn’t want to obey but this man is hard to deny. Seiya showed up to help but Mu doesn’t want any of that so he beats the hero up and sends him off. Now Mu will have to try and defeat multiple opponents on his own.

On a grander scale, the heroes have to try and protect Athena for 12 hours. If they can do that, then the danger will be passed. The issue is that this will be quite difficult since Hades is not only sending his loyal spectres but also several traitors from Athena’s own squad. Seiya and friends murdered a great deal of her followers back in the day and it looks like they want revenge. Looks like Seiya and friends will need to help out one last time. Although if the heroes continue to get in their way, Seiya may have to take them down first.

Right off the bat you can tell that although the OVA is newer than the show, the animation went downhill. For almost half of the OVA, there is virtually no animation. Characters barely move during the fights and it’s all very disjointed. I was puzzled because you’d expect everything to just look really amazing in an OVA. I mean, that’s not always the case but that’s still how you go in.

That said, I thought the director did a good job of making the most with what he had. Since the animation wasn’t up to snuff, we had some solid CGI cuts. Now, the CGI does look obvious but it’s styled as a very fancy thing. We often get CGI visuals when the characters are preparing to walk up some stairs or go to the next temple. The show cuts away to Athena’s statue numerous times as well. So while this may not be considered top tier animation or anything, the CGI is used in a way to make you feel just how grand this whole thing is. It’s like you’re stepping into a battle of the gods here.

So if we did have top tier animation it would be even better but at least this way you don’t feel bad. Also, the last few episodes actually do give us some solid cuts and fights so things do pickup. The whole OVA has a fairly sinister feeling of dread since it feels like the heroes can’t possibly win. Everyone is turning traitor and the heroes that do remain are all pretty stuck up so it’s hard to assist them even if you wanted to.

Saint Seiya has always made a big deal about honor and true friendship. Like in the original series when Hyoga is beaten near to death and Ikki doesn’t even look back to help Hyoga as he declares that he will conquer the next enemy. Hyoga then explains to the other characters that this was the correct decision since it allowed him to keep his honor. It’s not a system I agree with but they are big on pride.

Unfortunately that comes back to bite the Gold Saints a lot. Take Mu for example, he’s easily the worst character in this OVA. He has great respect for his mentor and so he must obey the guy even if it means doing something that will put Sanctuary in danger. By the time he does actually start standing up for himself, he’s already badly beaten. Beating up on Seiya was also the wrong move since the guy was here to help. Not only did it seem like Seiya was holding his own against one of the villains but he probably would have won.

By this point in the series Seiya is incredibly strong so the whole scene made no sense at all. Throughout the OVA Mu continues to make the wrong decisions. He always either sides with the villains or holds the other heroes back. It was the same thing in the original series, just not to the same effect. So any respect I had left for the character definitely vanished in this one. His crystal wall technique is still good but ultimately can’t stop the villains anymore. He needed Seiya and just didn’t want to admit it.

You can’t help but think that the arc would have been over a lot quicker if either the traitors had stayed on Athena’s side or the heroes had accepted the help of the Bronze Saints. That would have really changed a whole lot, that’s for sure. Now, there is a lot to be said that the destiny of the dead Saints is a bleak one so you can see how they would change sides, but it’s still disappointing in the end.

The soundtrack is pretty nostalgic. You’ve got some of the classic tunes from the main series as well as some new ones. The opening song is very emotional which is odd for the series. You’d expect something a lot more action packed but it does work with how this OVA is being so dramatic though. It’s a sad song I guess since everyone’s dying and there isn’t really a way to win in this Holy War. Since it’s a cycle that happens every 250 years, deep down everyone probably sees how it feels a bit futile the whole time. I prefer the classic theme song, but this one did grow on me as I heard it more.

The Bronze Saints don’t get a whole lot to do, but it’s nice to see them. Ikki in particular only gets a scene or two and yet he does steal the show in those moments. He seems to at least know a bit of what’s going on and has plans of his own. It’ll definitely be a blast to see him jump into the fray. The rest of the team eventually get to match up against Rhadymanthis. He’s not exactly an easy opponent to defeat but they still put up a good fight. This season’s more about getting them prepared for what is to come.

Seiya gets the biggest role as expected though. When the other Saints begin to give up, he’s still fighting as hard as he ever did. Nobody’s keeping him down and his Pegasus punch always gets stronger with each use. I also liked how he went to Sanctuary immediately when Athena told him to stay away. She historically has pretty bad judgement and sure enough, this was the right move. If not for being backstabbed, Seiya was really starting to cook there.

As for Athena, she does have to share in some of the blame. Mainly I said Mu did everything wrong, but she is not without fault since she also put in the order to keep the Bronze Saints out. That was just such a bad move. Did she forget how they already beat all of the Gold Saints back in Arc 1? If there is anyone you want to have by your side here, it would definitely be them. I also heavily disagreed with Athena’s final act in the OVA. It’s never good to just give him and stab yourself. I’m sure we’ll see more of her plan soon but I was definitely not impressed.

Virgo Shaka looks pretty good here. He’s always been known as one of the most powerful saints and may even be the strongest depending on where you put Gemini Saga. He has unlocked the deeper senses that most Saints struggle with and the fact that he is taking on 3 Gold Saints combined in this OVA is incredibly impressive. It’s got to be the best fight here and Shaka really shows them a thing or two. It would have been nice if he was just a second quicker on the draw but ultimately his effort was second to none. It also seems like he may not be done yet.

Tauros gets some hype as well but it’s a lot emptier to me. Lets just say that his fight involves the most delayed counter I have ever seen. Usually when someone gets sliced a minute after someone slashed I’m already calling foul. This one is several magnitudes greater than that so you already know what I’m thinking. That just doesn’t work but at least he got some dignity as a result.

Scorpio Miro gets a role here too but the guy is also doing a lot of in-fighting. One thing about the Gold Saints is they love picking on fellow heroes. Perhaps the villains just aren’t strong enough to be worth their time? Whatever the reason is, Miro spends a good amount of time beating up on someone who won’t even fight back which will make you shake your head. The guy talks tough but there was just no reason for that. Athena also isn’t able to command enough respect among her subordinates in order to put a stop to this either which is unfortunate.

Finally, we can’t forget about Aiolia. That guy is easily the best Gold Saint here. He acts quickly and without hesitation. One of the best moments in the entire OVA is when he shoves Mu out of the way and speed blitzes all 3 of the traitor saints. They couldn’t even see him coming as Aiolia just pounds them into the dirt. It was amazing and that’s the kind of response you would expect when someone just murdered one of your friends. Aiolia is a credit to the gold saints that’s for sure.

As for the villains, well Hades does not actually appear yet so don’t expect to see him. Instead, Pandora is acting as the leader of the villains. She’s also pretty tough here as just playing her harp is enough to bring one of the 3 judges to his knees. It’s hard to say how powerful this Pandora is without her weapon but at least she is confident enough to talk tough to the heroes and villains so we can assume she is fairly high up there.

Interestingly though, Hades army itself doesn’t really do a lot of the heavy lifting. The 3 traitor knights handle most of Athena’s men. It’s heavily implied that the Gold Saints would have wrecked all of the spectres with ease. Only the Judges or Celestial Stars would have been able to do much. One of them volunteers to go and fight but Pandora says it is not part of the plan.

That’s all well and good but take away the traitors and I have to say that Hades is at an absolute disadvantage. In fact, if not for Seiya and friends murdering about half of them, this could have been a landslide win for Athena’s group. So far at least, Hades army just isn’t nearly as impressive as you would expect. The only powerful member we have met thus far is Rhadymanthis who to his credit is very powerful.

He was able to take on multiple gold saints at once but granted, this was at their castle. This series hasn’t said anything yet but usually the castle heavily decreases a Gold Saint’s abilities so we can’t say for certain if he could have done that in a level playing field. Perhaps since he is so high ranked but then again, Aiolia is definitely no pushover.

As for the evil saints, Gemini Saga carries the team quite a bit. Not only is he the one with the big plans the whole time but he’s also shown to easily be the strongest. It’s not surprising since he has always been a whole lot more impressive than most. I don’t think any Saint aside from Shaka would be able to stop him. So here when the other two saints are getting rocked, Saga is always able to get up and keep fighting. He seems to have far more drive and determination than the other two, not to mention that he can see through the tricks as well. Twice, fighters try to use illusions and the other two fall for it while Saga is able to break the spell.

It’s just a shame that he’s on the wrong side. It does lead to a fun confrontation with Kanon who used to be evil as well. The sides have been reversed now with Kanon serving Athena loyally while Saga is trying to murder her. The irony in this is certainly not lost. This is Kanon’s best appearance to be sure and it’s really when I started to be a big fan of the guy. This is really a good redemption story and when you see him, it’s a pretty great reveal. That’s why he didn’t deserve to be beaten up so much by Miro.

As for Camus, he’s another one of the 3 big Saints but the guy doesn’t do a whole lot. Same with the owner of Excalibur. They’re mainly there as backup for Saga but they don’t tend to do a whole lot. I didn’t realize the gap between Gold Saints could be so large but evidently the Saints are not nearly as close in power as I would have assumed.

We also get to see Roshi finally fight in his true form as the Saint known as Dohko. He battles the previous Pope known as Shion. It’s cool to see them after checking out the Lost Canvass since they were such good friends there. Shion has certainly fallen since then in order to help the Dark Saints out. Granted, personalities tend to shift a bit with such a big franchise and it’s hard to see the old Shion acting that way, but I would have said the same for Camus and Saga. Their plan better be amazing to be worth murdering so many people everywhere.

I was never a big fan of Roshi so seeing him actually fight is cool. It at least gives him a purpose to watching the waterfall for so long even if he was not quick enough to actually warn anyone of what was coming. The entire point of his staying there was to let Athena know that something was coming so what was this guy doing? The whole task seemed a bit pointless in that respect.

This OVA includes one of my favorite moments in the franchise which is the Double Athema Exclamation. I remember reading that in the manga and thinking it was so hype when Aiolia and the other two Saints quickly assumed the pose and told the villains that they weren’t the only one capable of this kind of power. There is something about two groups using the power of a big bang against each other that just gets you hyped. I was certainly feeling good when seeing that.

Even the first use of the technique against Shaka was really hype too. It’s really an incredible attack although I don’t see why Athena banned it. Sure, it’s powerful but sometimes you need that kind of power. If it’s another honor thing…and it’s implied that it is, then it’s even less of a reason to ban the technique. You really need to use everything at your disposal whenever possible and this fight is no exception.

Now, this is less about this OVA in particular, but I think Athena should have attacked Hades before he woke up. We learn here that when a Saint dies he is thrown into the Underworld which is ruled by Hades. He can torment their souls for all eternity unless they join him in his mission. Shouldn’t Athena just dismantle the place then and either rule it or destroy the system? Even if the soul is then wiped out for good, at least it will be at peace and not forced to attack you.

The very existence of the Underworld is just a really somber thought for the Saints because it means that the only goal at the end of their eternal struggle is to be inflicted with more pain. There just isn’t a big grand prize or any reason to celebrate. I wonder if Athena has even thought of that. There may be a plot reason why this isn’t possible but I’d like to see someone mention it.

Meanwhile, another point in the OVA’s favor is that it’s just so good to see the Gold Saints actually fighting. They really didn’t get to do anything outside of fighting the heroes in the first two arcs. This is the first time we get to see them actually fighting the villains on their own. It sure took a while but ultimately it happened which is the important part. It’s definitely something to look forward to. These are the best of the best or that’s what we’re led to believe so lets see how they defend themselves.

Again, the Spectres themselves are mostly unimpressive though so I think they would go down pretty fast. You have the Beetle who doesn’t seem very tough and was getting the hands quickly. You have the guy whose back seems perpetually broken and just likes gossiping the whole time. When it comes time for a fight he goes down extremely quickly. Of course most of the really powerful ones will probably show up in the Underworld but be that as it may, the Spectres who were around were definitely no match for Sanctuary.

Overall, This was a great start to the Hades saga. I look forward to seeing the Bronze Saints get a more active role in the next one. It would also be good if the animation could take at least a bit of a step up. It should definitely keep in the selective CGI shots. I’m usually not all in for CGI but you can’t deny that it really increased the intensity and emotional moments here. It feels like a true war where there are big losses on both sides and in part that’s because we see what a grand place this is. Fighting in the temples really feels sacred. The OVA jumps you right into the action so you’ll probably want to have checked out the show first, but granted you can also leap into action and get what’s going on since it’s clear who the good guys and bad guys are. The villains are all in black/purple while the heroes are in gold. It’s tapping into classic Greek mythology like Athena vs Hades as well. Get ready for the cliffhanger though as the saga isn’t quite over yet. It’s an epic cliffhanger to end on though.

Overall 8/10

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Rimuru’s Glamorous Life as a Teacher Review


That title’s definitely a mouthful isn’t it? In theory I could have taken out the franchise title since you don’t always need to have that as part of the intro but in this case it did make sense. This one’s a 3 episode special about Rimuru’s days as a teacher. It’s a fun little adventure and works well in this universe where Rimuru already does get to have a lot of down time between battles. You can picture him hanging out at the school for a while to flex and show why he’s a better teacher than the rest. It’s a solid adventure that goes by in a flash.

The special starts with Rimuru slacking off at school as per usual when Jeff shows up. This teacher has always had something against Rimuru. Rimuru doesn’t know if it’s because he’s always slacking off or the guy is just jealous that he transformed the most problematic class into the most powerful one. Either way Jeff lets him know that a big protection test is coming up at the school and as always Rimuru’s class won’t be invited since they don’t have equipment. Rimuru quickly changes that so now his class can in fact enter. The rules are simple, the kids will drive a van/wagon past the mountain plains and into town where they will drop off the teacher unharmed. They will all then participate in a cave challenge fighting monsters.

To keep things fair, the students will be guarding different teachers. So for example Jeff’s students will be guarding Rimuru and his students will be guarding another teacher named Tiss. Your points are based on how quickly you make it to the castle along with how smooth a ride it was. Rimuru’s not particularly concerned since his kids are far more powerful than your average class. They each have spirit animals and basic offensive magic skills at the ready. Still, this trip may be more dangerous than they had expected.

The special does deliver on the action as the kids are inevitably attacked by bandits. They handle them rather well and then even have to fight off an actual demon. They don’t look quite as good in that battle but I don’t think anyone would have been quite prepared to handle this guy. Not only does he have regeneration but he is also very fast and powerful. Such a foe is completely outside the limits of a usual school test. Fortunately we had Diablo show up to clean things up by the end. The guy continues to prove why he is one of the best characters in the series which is why it’s almost a bit funny that he hasn’t technically appeared in the main show yet outside of a cliffhanger, a prequel episode, and now an extra episode.

You can tell he will definitely make a splash when he gets a proper role. There’s also a bit of an epilogue as Rimuru helps cure a fatal illness because he’s just that good. One thing you figure out very quickly while watching the slime adventures is that there isn’t much that Rimuru can’t do. Thanks to Great Sage he is a super genius and he has so many extra abilities that he is also a whiz at combat. This makes him pretty much untouchable to at least 90% of the cast which is no small feat. He’s a fun character and definitely looks good in these episodes.

Then you have the rival Jeff who is fun. I mean, you know he is completely and utterly out of his league in the fight but it doesn’t take away from his being a rather amusing character. It’s always fun seeing these characters give the lead a hard time, particularly when like here it isn’t overdone. He’s not trying to frame Rimuru or do anything drastic, he just throws out a lot of insults.

Then you have the third teacher Tiss. She’s a nice person but you feel like she should be a lot stronger than she is. My main issue is that she looked up to Shizu as a great role model and aspires to be as powerful as her. You would expect that she would have started training then right? Unfortunately she acts like she has never held a sword a day in her life. How does that work out? It just doesn’t make any sense no matter how you slice it. I’m hoping when she next appears she would have gotten a lot stronger.

Meanwhile the kids are good, they continue to defy expectations and actually appear as very solid characters. I would say the weakest of the group is Gale mainly because the guy barely seems to have any character next to the others. Kenya is a blast though and is always ready to charge the enemy. With his sword and design he looks like someone out of Dragon Quest. Then you have Chloe who is also always ready for battle. Her chosen weapon may not be the best one but she makes up for it in hidden talent. Then you have Alice who is quite possibly the most powerful of the kids. She is a little more on the timid side but definitely fights when it counts. Ryota is also a fairly quiet kid so you won’t see him make a name for himself, but he is there ready and willing to help at all times.

While the special is a fairly light hearted endeavor, the action scenes are pretty serious. Kenya actually sliced off one guy’s arm which was unexpected but of course the guy had a potion to regenerate it. I’m glad Kenya had been prepared for this though. The kids put up a brave stand against the demon as well which was nice to see and of course this led to Diablo stealing the show as always. It was a great climax and the perfect way to end the special. If you merge the three parts this works quite well as a mini movie. It’s got a complete plot and while Rimuru doesn’t get to do a whole lot in terms of fighting here, he’ll have plenty of chances in the main series anyway. This one really focuses on why he is known as such a great teacher. He may be rather hands off in his approach but his sheer genius makes up the difference.

The animation is on par with the main show. It’s a very solid display for the character designs and backdrops. I definitely have no complaints with how anything looked. The soundtrack is also taken from the show so this is good as well. It is able to really capture the feeling of just being another pair of episodes which is good. It’s a seamless transition. The pacing is on point so this will also keep your interest all the way through.

Overall, This was a fun trilogy of episodes. I wouldn’t say there is a ton more to discuss since it’s a rather straight forward plot. It’s a quick challenge to see which class is best and we all know that Rimuru’s absolutely destroyed the others no matter what Jeff says. Of course, they all have super powers and spirit boosters so it may not be super fair, but that’s neither here nor there. I’d be cool with Jeff returning in the main series for more of a rivalry with Rimuru from time to time. The kids also still want to visit Rimuru’s village so I assume that is probably going to happen soon. If you want a fun little adventure to see the old characters again this is definitely a good special to check out.

Overall 7/10

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

Sakura Wars: School of Paris Review


The Sakura Wars marathon continues as we now focus completely on the France division. Aside from Ogami that means it’s time for a completely new team to shake things up. The OVA has 3 episodes so it’s definitely a pretty quick experience but that’s enough time to get all of the characters introduced. It looks like the team will have a fun dynamic. I certainly wouldn’t put these guys above the original Flower Division or the hype New York Branch quite yet but it’s definitely early as I’ve been with those guys for many hours while this group only about an hour so far.

The first episode focuses on Erica and Glycine meeting up for the first time. Glycine has royal heritage from her Viking ancestors so she believes in always holding her ground and behaving in a prim and proper fashion. Meanwhile Erica is more of a spacey person who gets distracted easily. She is a little more capable than she lets on though as Erica is actually a member of the Paris division. A group of secret fighters who protect the country from alien monsters who would attack it. Unlike Japan, Paris isn’t attacked very often but the government wants to be ready as they fear the attacks will soon increase in intensity. It’s why they are looking to bring Ogami in but at the moment their group is pretty small. In fact, Erica may have been the only member.

It’s a pretty fun way to start the OVA. Erica is a fun enough lead and her banter with Glycine is good. We also get a solid action scene in the museum which gets pretty intense. The monster was actually giving them a pretty good fight here. It’s why I always advise not having a gun as your main weapon because it will always be limited in how much damage the bullets can deal unless you are somehow able to augment their abilities. Otherwise you’re just not going to win the big battles. Fortunately for Erica, Glycine was able to use her super strength to turn the tides.

The second episode is more of an elaborate chase. So there is a villain known as Lobelia who seems to have the same spirit energy as the main heroines. Unfortunately she uses it for evil though as she is a burglar although the government says she performs just about every kind of crime. They’ve decided to take her down alive so they can force her to join the other heroes. It won’t be easy though so the two political leaders decide to have a chess match while waiting. The episode has a lot of subtext going on here as the chess battle mimics the actual events. It’s also pretty interesting to see onw of the future Sakura War members actually be a villain. She may be forced into helping them out but it doesn’t mean that she’s happy about it.

While not as solid as the first episode this is still a pretty reasonable follow up. I always like being able to see the actual powers on display since that gets a lot more focus in the game than in the actual OVAs and shows. Lobelia’s abilities are definitely the real deal with her master over fire. It’s pretty impressive how long she is able to elude the heroes and even to the end her reaction times served her well. I may not really be a fan of the character but she would definitely add quite a lot to the overall dynamic.

Then we’ve got the final episode which probably does end up having the most action. So the team is finally all united with the various members. Ogami is running them through a typical practice session when the robot ends up being corrupted by the clown villain. The Team has to then try and team up to take it down but this robot’s actually pretty tough and most of the members don’t have their robots ready. As a result it’s really Erica and Ogami doing their best to take it down. The fight switches between hand drawn and CGI a lot which makes for a pretty interesting action sequence. You definitely couldn’t have ended with a more fitting episode. You’ve now got the team assembled and also got to see what they’ve got against a true villain even if most of them were caught resting on their laurels here.

With only 3 episodes not all of the characters get a lot of development quite yet though. Coquelicot for example joined the group later on but doesn’t have much to do yet. We know that she likes animals but haven’t gotten to see much more than that. I can only assume that she is able to fight pretty well with the spirit power but we’ll have to wait and see that. Then you’ve got Hanabi who seems rather timid and trying to get over a recent death. She’s very polite and seems like a pretty kind hearted soul who’s a little in over her head. She doesn’t get a focus yet either.

Mainly the OVA is trying to give the screen time to the main 3 plus Ogami. Ogami definitely looks pretty good here even if it does seem like he’s not ready to handle this group yet. They’ve already started driving him crazy and he’s brand new there. I can only imagine how it’ll be for him soon. He probably just misses the gang but maybe he’ll warm up to these guys soon. In the meantime his sword skills are as good as ever.

As mentioned, Erica is a fun enough lead. She can maybe be a bit too oblivious at times and doesn’t have her priorities straight at times but at least she is good when it comes time to fight. She’s definitely experienced there. Glycine was definitely my favorite character here. I like her confidence and she was ready to jump right into the action when needed. She also doesn’t put up with Lobelia’s attitude the way the rest of the characters do. One thing she definitely does not tolerate is disrespect.

As for Lobelia, I do typically like when the characters show a lot of attitude and are rebellious. Lobelia fits those qualifications but at the same time her bar adventures are pretty suspect at best. She definitely goes all in on keeping her edge as she refuses to help even when her teammates are in trouble and about to be blown up. At least they definitely know where they stand with her. I imagine she’ll soften up a little more with the rest of the group eventually but for now even Sumire would have to be impressed with how antagonistic she is.

The animation is pretty solid here. You can definitely tell that it’s a bit newer than the last few. The colors are sharp and it’s all smooth. For the fight scenes it is interesting that they’re using more CGI. It’s definitely noticeable but CGI can work well. I’ll never put it quite above the classic hand drawn but it’s still good enough where I’d say the fight scene with the robots was pretty solid. It’s nice to see the mechs looking pretty fast now and having some real fight scenes here.

The OVA definitely leaves you with a good amount of questions to wonder about for the future. The villain appears briefly here as a clown but other than that we don’t really know anything about him. Most of this you’re not supposed to figure out as this is a supplementary OVA to the game as opposed to adapting the whole thing. It’s a pretty fun thing about these materials because if you own the game you can really pop these episodes in and have the complete experience. I’d definitely be down with more series doing this where you get to see the characters a little more in different scenarios.

Overall, The Paris Division is off to a pretty solid start. The Sakura Wars series is still in good hands here. The group dynamic may be a bit weaker but it’s always hard to catch up to the original bunch. I definitely hope we can have a crossover with the original cast from the Japan branch someday. After all we know without a doubt that these guys are in the same universe so I don’t think it’s too far fetched or anything like that. They just need to go ahead and do it. I think it would definitely be a pretty big hit. Hopefully we can also get more Sakura War titles licensed in the U.S.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Sumire Review


Sumire has definitely been a pretty key figure in the Sakura Wars franchise. She’s always around to help the heroes out whether it be directly in a fight or by pushing the rest of her team to perform even better with her tough love approach. She quickly became one of the best members on the team so it’s fitting that she would be one of the only people in the series to get her own special. Next to Sakura you probably could say that she had the biggest role in the series.

The basic plot of the special is that Sumire has decided to retire from the Flower Division. She’s getting older now and has realize that her powers have started to wane. While she could theoretically try to stay in a support role, you need your powers to be able to use the mechs and I doubt she would be satisfied on the sidelines. This also means she will have to retire from the stage performances. None of the other members are happy about this but try to see her off with a smile as she has her final show. The special’s more of an emotional epilogue so there aren’t any big fight scenes or anything. It’s really here to give Sumire some closure.

So there isn’t a ton to say about this one because it’s only about 20 minutes and it’s not like there is a whole lot going on here. Sumire continues to look really good. She noticed her powers beginning to go away before anyone else and made the retirement decision on her own terms which is important. Sumire takes the whole thing in stride as well and already knows what to do now that her career is over. Building mechs with the company is a good way to keep fighting against the forces of evil. Also, her powers are not completely drained so if there’s an emergency I’d like to still see her get into the action. Maybe if we ever get a sequel movie she could have a quick scene where she gets into the mech one last time.

The rest of the division doesn’t get to do a lot here beyond saying goodbye to Sumire. Kanna takes it the hardest since she always had a lot of good banter with Sumire. Even to the end she isn’t quite able to keep up a game face the way that the others did. Of course that’s definitely a lot easier said than done so it’s nothing to fault her for. Sakura is finally able to gain some confidence after coaching from Sumire so she will be ready to be leader now. Technically Maria was the leader but everyone on the team knew it was secretly Sumire and now that role will be Sakura’s.

We get a clip show at the end of Sumire’s adventures with the team as the OVA finishes. So it was a pretty fun little adventure from start to finish. It’s the kind of special you can probably only appreciate if you saw the rest of the series. It’s all pretty low key after all but definitely worth the watch. The animation is good, the writing is solid, and there are no real mistakes here. It’s just a fun special and it’ll be tough for the Flower Division to really continue going on without her. I feel like a new character may need to be added just to help with bringing in more banter. To an extent I feel like that was Orihime’s purpose originally but she didn’t really end up sparring much so you still need another piece.

Overall, Sakura Wars: Sumire is a very direct epilogue. It accomplishes what it set out to do with concluding Sumire’s story and definitely ends this part of the franchise. There are a lot of ways you could still write in her return of course so if the writers are desperate she can return but otherwise it’s definitely a nice end to her character. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you’ve been going through the Sakura Wars series and don’t know that this special exists. If you haven’t started the series yet then you should probably at least check out the main anime before watching the special so that you’ll really know the characters first.

Overall 7/10