Attack on Titan: A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence Review

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It’s time for another Attack on Titan OVA. You’ll be happy to know that this one is the best yet. It approached dangerous territory when the characters decided to go hunting, but the special did a pretty good job of handling it. It wasn’t perfect, but it managed to save itself as there was no blood or anything. It would be a little dicey if this was a long show were that kept happening or a movie with repeated scenes of this, but as a one off it wasn’t fatal.

This special should really be called Attack on Jean. He’s a pretty minor character in the main series, but he effectively got his own special here. Jean wants to get a cushy job in the Interior so he won’t have to fight Titans for a living, but this is proving to be difficult. His best chance is to do well in a training exercise, but then his teammates destroy this chance by just being better fighters in general than him. Jean doesn’t take this too well and hastily accepts a cooking challenge against Sasha. If he wins, she’ll have to stop up staging him every day of his life. The battle is on, but can Jean really win?

I do have to say that the remixed opening was handled pretty much perfectly here. We see a lot of shots of Jean running around and trying to be relevant and then at the end when the music is ramping up we just have him walking around since he usually doesn’t get to do much during the climax. It’s emotional yet also very fitting for the character. The soundtrack in general is easily 5 star material as we get most of the show’s famous themes from the first season. It’s just consistently amazing. The visuals are also pretty good. You’ll recognize the green energy effects the show loves to use and all of the character designs are on point. It’s not an action this time around so it’s hard to say just how good it is in the end, but it’s certainly good enough for me.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Jean is a whole lot meaner than usual. In the main series he’s not the nicest of guys, but he’s still pretty even tempered as he just tries to get promoted to a safe job. In this special he’s mean to his Mom for no reason and even threatens to punch Sasha. He resorts to stealing/cheating and just has absolutely no moral compass. I suppose it’s part of the humor, but I can’t imagine his fans would be too thrilled about this. The Mom subplot in particular felt random since in the flashbacks Jean was actually a nice guy and I suppose we are led to believe that joining the army corrupted him. He’s just not the nice guy that he used to be anymore.

The ending is also really cheesy so I wasn’t thrilled with that. We all know who should have won the cooking contest based on the two dishes. On the other hand, we can also assume that the wrong choice was picked because the judge was incredibly drunk. At least he was in character as I’ve never liked this guy. He has some hype but never does anything with it and is content to boss everyone around from the sidelines. Not the kind of guy you really want on your side.

As I mentioned before, there was one tricky scene where the heroes decide to hunt a boar for no good reason. Unfortunately they do nab him, but it was at least not done in a violent way. It’s a nice consolation. That’s really is for negatives and minor gripes. Beyond that, the special had really good pacing along with its soundtrack and graphics. It did a good job of embracing its comedic nature without going too far. For example, a good scene was when everyone transformed into Titans and could only watch as someone started taking everyone down. It was a nice high budget action moment that was certainly one of the highlights. It was just a good amount of fun.

I also liked Eren’s cameos as he called Jean out and also didn’t let Mikasa do all of his work for him. Eren likes to contribute so he will get strong enough to stomp all of the Titans. It would have been cool if the special could have kept in the scene where Eren beat Jean up, but at least the highlight is up on Youtube so you can always pause the special and quickly watch it during the beginning where it would have been perfectly thrown in. In case it wasn’t too clear, I was on Sasha’s team for this mission as Jean just didn’t do anything that made me want to root for him. He was basically the antagonist in this one after all.

The special also added some clever homages to the main series like when Sasha hit Reiner with her elbow in the same way that Eren attacked him in the forest. It was the same exact shot and I seem to recall 1 or 2 other instances of this. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing for the people who had already read the manga. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than average viewers, but both should still enjoy it quite a bit. It’s ironic that the best Attack on Titan special would be the comedy one, but now we know what the series could have been if it was a parody.

Overall, Attack on Jean was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind if the series followed his adventures, but I have a feeling it would still suffer from the same problems as the original and a big problem would be that there would be fewer Eren scenes to try and bring it back up. The ending may be a little disappointing, but I’d still recommend checking the special out. It’s just pretty fun and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to see Attack on Titan like this. It’ll truly go down as a collector’s item.

Overall 6/10

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Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars: All Star Battle Review

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It’s time to look at a little special that LBX Wars got after the series finishes. It gives us the crossover that we had long been waiting for; the big battle between Ban and Sena. It’s a little under 10 minutes so the special really has to hurry to the fight, but we got two quality fight scenes so I’d say that it did a good job of getting right to what I wanted to see in a crossover.

The premise is a little sad for Sena though as it turns out that he never got the proper approval to leave the island at the end of the series. Luckily, this is how he meets Ban, who has stopped at the island to teach the kids. Sena challenges Ban, but the old hero quickly brings along Jin for support. Sena gets a teammate as well, but ends up getting back stabbed (accidentally) and loses. Sena isn’t totally satisfied so he gets another rematch against Ban and this time it’s one on one. Can Sena squeeze out a win?

Don’t expect anything decisive as the special decides to play it very safe at the end. I’ll still give it credit for having a real victor in the first set though. At the very least, we know which tag team is better. While it was written to show that the loss was really Sena’s fault for rushing in, I don’t blame him. His robot’s specs should be vastly superior to Odin’s by this point so rushing in is a good strategy. Not to mention that being aggressive in combat is usually the best approach as opposed to the “wait and see” tactic that was suggested. I’d also say that Sena did a good job of holding his own for the most part.

It’s still a little hard to get used to Ban’s new design. (Yes, the glasses count as a whole new design) At the very least, he does seem to still have his old personality in tact. He was already drifting from the LBX game in the second series and it seems to be complete here as he mentions that he hasn’t played in a long time. It’s regrettable, but sometimes you live long enough to see yourself turn into the old man of the series. I can’t say that I’d like Ban much based on this, but he was great in the first two series so he still has that going for him. The supporting cast members like Jin and friends all seemed in character, but naturally there wasn’t enough time for them to do all that much here.

One thing that’s noticeable is how the special decided to save as much budget as it could. As such, we get several scenes where it’s just a giant head floating around or a sky view of the island. It’s not bad, but you can definitely see what the special is doing. I’m guessing this was made really quickly with a limited budget so they wanted to save it for the fight. I’d say that was a smart decision and it paid off since both action scenes were quite good. The animation has aged really well as with the rest of the series. We also got to see a lot of the classic tunes return for this special which was nice and nostalgic.

Overall, This was a pretty good special. It’s a shame that it was so short, but finally getting to see the main characters fight each other was fun. If anything, it probably hints that Sena would be able to beat Ban since he didn’t even use his full synchro mode in their fight. That makes sense since Sena was never a fan of it and the world isn’t in danger this time, but it’s something to think about. LBX did about all that it could in the 10 minutes and the one thing that I would have changed was to have a decisive victor in the last fight. That would have definitely been nice to see. I’d definitely recommend this special. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve seen the show, but it could also be a nice way to get into the franchise as a whole. After all, it has the main strengths of why I like the series so much. The high quality action scenes and the solid soundtrack make for a good combo. Hopefully we get a Hollywood LBX movie or a nostalgic anime movie sequel at some point. We just need LBX to live on!

Overall 7/10

Mega Man X The Day of Σ Review

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It’s time to quickly review a short Mega Man OVA that came out a while back. This one was pretty fun and it was definitely cool how it came with the Mega Man X remake. I’ve seen it a few times over the years and it certainly holds up well. This OVA reminds me why we need more specials like this one in the future. The possibilities with Mega Man are simply endless!

The special is a little under 30 minutes and it shows how Sigma became the leader of the Mavericks. It works as an origin story and explores a time period that we never got to see much of. Mega Man X and Zero are tasked with finding out who is manipulating the reploids and turning them against their allies. The mystery takes them through a few massacres until they arrive at the deadly truth. Zero handles the shock of Sigma being a traitor pretty well while Mega Man X is a little more shocked. The special is fast paced as you would expect and the ending is open ended since you need to play the games to see how the saga really ended.

The animation is quite good. Zero’s character model at times felt a little too tall, but I’m just used to him looking a little more hunched over. The design is quite good if you look at it without thinking about the others and likewise with Megaman X. The energy blasts and effects look great. This could have easily been turned into a TV show and I’m certain that fans would have been very pleased with the results. The soundtrack is all right. It doesn’t use as many video game themes as I would have liked, but it still does sound nice and futuristic. The theme when Mega Man X was getting the charge shot ready was solid and overall it worked pretty well here.

The power levels are a little wonky as I feel like Mega Man X and Zero should be portrayed as much stronger. One Mechaniloid (I doubt that is how it is spelled, but close enough) should not last so long against a combined assault. Zero should have taken out his sword unless he acquired it later on. That would have been very handy. Mega Man X’s fully powered charge shot looked very accurate though and it is good to see. His power level should really be off the charts since he was essentially built to be the ultimate reploid. Also, Zero knew about Sigma which is how he countered the Maverick’s stab, but he looked pretty bad in that fight anyway. He should have been thinking about how to land a hit of his own instead of bragging for so long. I like his overconfidence, but landing at least one hit would have certainly helped a lot as well. Sigma is strong so it should be a good fight, but Zero’s no slouch either.

We got a cameo from Doctor Light and Doctor Cain as well. This helped to tie into the classic universe and I’m still waiting for the game where we see the events between them. I know that a popular theory is that Zero destroyed Bass and supposedly he may have destroyed Mega Man as well, but most of that is speculation. Others believe that Mega Man X was built from Mega Man’s parts. Personally, I’m hoping that this theory isn’t true since I want them to be completely separate. The special ends in a very sad way for Doctor Cain since he really underestimated the Mavericks. It seems like this was all just a game to Cain though so he may not be too distraught about his fate.

There were also cameos from other Mavericks and the legendary Vile. It would have been great to have seen Vile more since he is such an awesome character, but I suppose that I’ll have to wait a while. Maybe if the Mega Man show does well they’ll eventually introduce the X characters. It may be more of a comedy than anything, but hopefully they’re portrayed right. At least we have the Mega Man X episode from the 90’s cartoon. Mega Man X was nice and heroic here unlike his extreme cartoon version (to an extent) so that was nice to see. He definitely was not going to put the hostage at risk although he should have at least tried going for a leg or something. It was also interesting to note that Zero did hit the hostage in the training simulation, which basically proved that Mega Man X made the right call here. The hostage was grateful as well, which was a nice touch since they can be silent or condeming at times. The reploids here seemed very reasonable. The universe built around the characters definitely has a lot of room for growth and there is still a lot to explore.

Overall, Day of Sigma is a must watch for all Mega Man fans. It finally shows the story of how the Maverick war started in the first place. This war would basically not end for quite a few games so this trigger is very important. Unfortunately, it does go against canon events so it is considered to be more of an AU/non canon adventure than anything, but it still gives you a lot of context. The original version would likely be very similar as well. With solid animation and a good soundtrack, this OVA has all of the tools necessary to succeed. Mega Man X is a great main character as well and Zero is as cool as always. One day, maybe I’ll be saying the same thing about Mighty No 9, but it is unlikely.

Overall 8/10

Slayers Excellent Review

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Slayers has had some ups and downs as a franchise. Due to its unique mix of comedy and action in the main shows, it can be hit or miss. The shows are able to utilize this quite well and the movies have had success as well. For some reason, the OVAs are the ones that have a lot of problems. Just like the first OVA, this one was not very good. It focused way too much on the fanservice and comedy angle while neglecting the action that brought this series a lot of fame and fortune.

There are three episodes in this OVA. The first one involves the initial encounter between Naga and Lina, which is how their adventures ultimately began. Naga will stop at nothing to defeat Lina, which proves to be a thorn in the side of the main character. Naga may be decently powerful, but she’s also reckless and leaves a lot of damage and devastation in her wake. She claims to be Lina’s rival, but she’s really more of a tag along at this point.

It’s intriguing to see how these two met, but I can’t say that a whole lot came out of it. After the first few minutes, we are essentially back to the status quo except for the fact that Naga is trying really hard to surpass Lina when in the current days, she is already accepted as a rival. The episode had potential, but then the OVA decided to play up the fanservice angle. I’ll mostly talk about that towards the end of the review. Needless to say, of the three episodes, this was likely fell in the middle. I’m glad that Lina essentially proved that these two fighters aren’t even close, but more of a serious fight would have been nice.

The second episode involves a rich girl who has hired Lina to be her bodyguard. Lina accepts because of the huge sum of money that will be given to her as a reward, but this appears to be a rather large error in judgment. Lina has to pay for travel expenses and for the food so she quickly spends her reward. To teach the rich person a lesson, Lina arranges for some bandits to kidnap her, but this may backfire when real ones show up to take her!

The rich person seemed to be par for the course as far as these individuals tend to be in anime. Her laugh was very similar to Naga’s, which was eerie for Lina the whole time. Still, it wasn’t a bad segment at first, but the ending quickly drove it down to last place from the 3 episodes. It was simply terrible and an example of why mixing comedy with action is rarely done. Typically, the result is that both areas will fail and that’s what happens here. It’s one of those stories that was simply better off not happening.

Finally, we go to a village where two fashion designers argue about whether clothing should be classic or modern and risky. Lina and Naga naturally choose two different sides so then they argue about which one is better as they burn down each other’s bases. By the end, they start to learn the values of friendship, but I can’t say that it was a very entertaining episode. It’s actually tough to decide if this one actually beats the first episode or not, but I believe that I gave it a slight lead. At least Lina hesitates a little when asked to blow up the opponent’s base. Something that Naga certainly didn’t do!

All right, let’s look at the main reason why Slayers Excellent was doomed from the start. It all goes back to the fanservice angle. There isn’t a ton of it visually, but when you consider the chest insults directed at Lina, it gets to be a bit much. There was also a random hot springs scene thrown around and a lot of attention is given to Naga’s outfit. It’s seriously sad and I haven’t seen this much fanservice associated with Slayers since the first outfit. There’s nothing over the top, but it still happens enough to make me give it a thumbs down right away. This really just exposes the fact that the writers were not confident with their story so they felt like they had to add something to throw the viewers in at the expense of a few stars. A good Slayers story should always be a 7-8, but this one was not good.

At least the animation is decently good as can be expected. It’s rather old so J.C. Staff doesn’t look quite as good as they do nowadays. Right now, they are one of the best animation companies of all time. I would need to compare Slayers to other shows of this era to properly rank it, but it looks good enough. There aren’t many energy blasts after all so it’s a little harder to gauge. It has that 90’s feel, which is always a good nostalgia boost to any series. I consider DBZ to look great even though I have seen many say that it wasn’t very good even for its time.

Excellent’s soundtrack is decent although very generic at this point. The series needs to try and add in some new tunes at this point. Relying on the same classics is all well and good, but more variety is always a good thing. The new tunes may not be instant classics, but you’ll never know how good they can be if you didn’t give them a chance. These tunes are decent, but they certainly aren’t very thrilling or memorable at this point.

Lina is a good character as always. She may not be a hero, but you can still root for her as she typically only beats up opponents who get in her way. Getting rich is a noble goal and she typically doesn’t take any short cuts. Unfortunate things just tend to happen to her so that she never ends up with any money in the long run. She seriously has no luck when it comes to anything financial so it is a good thing that Lina is one of the strongest sorceresses on the planet.

Naga is really the only other recurring character and she still isn’t a good supporting character. She has some good traits like being overconfident and constantly trying to one up Lina, but that’s just not good enough to overshadow her negative qualities like the fanservice and chest comments. She also gets the duo into a lot of trouble by not thinking things through and just being very reckless. I like when characters are reckless, but when it is intentional, not accidental.

Overall, Slayers Excellent is a trilogy that you should just skip. It doesn’t add anything worthwhile to the Slayers mythos and you can essentially say that it is just poorly written filler. The actual filler in the series is better than these episodes, which really says something. The animation and soundtrack are decent, but that’s not enough to save this one. I’d advise you to skip this and just watch Slayers Next if you’re looking for a nice fantasy adventure. Slayers has a lot of different shows and movies so you just want to memorize the full titles. Next>>Try>>Gorgeous>>Whatever else the others were>>>Excellent. I do like the fact that all of the movie/OVA titles are basically synonyms. It’s a fun trend, even if the OVAs can’t live up to their titles.

Overall 4/10

Pokemon XY The Strongest Mega Evolution Act II Review

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Well, the Mega specials continue here as Alain carries on in his journey to defeat all of the Mega evolved Pokemon. Unfortunately, this is a goal that is even more difficult than Ash’s dream of being a Pokemon Master so it shall never happen. Still, Alain can just try to defeat all of the Mega Pokemon that he encounters. That would be a nice start to his goal. This special is pretty good, but it’s not quite as engaging as the first special. There simply isn’t as much action to be found here.

Alain was looking for more people to fight when his sidekick ended up falling down only to be helped up by the Pokemon Champion, Steven. Alain quickly challenges Steven to a fight that the champion cannot refuse and Alain’s big fight is here. His Charizard is powerful, but he’s up against a champion right now so you can bet that it won’t be an easy fight. That’s the meat of the episode and after that the heroes use some ruins that they have found to locate a large energy source. It could be the ultimate Mega Stone…let’s hope that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands!

Speaking of which, Lysandre has a pretty big role in the special. There will be no drama for the kids who played Pokemon X/Y, but for those of you who do not play the games, you’ll still realize that something is fishy with this guy. I didn’t care for him anyway as Lysandre interrupted a good fight and he seems a little condescending. His hairstyle is pretty good though since it stands out. Hopefully Alain turns against him quickly and uses his good ole Charizard to take his boss down!

Steven is a pretty likable character and you can tell that his skills are worthy of being a Pokemon Master. I don’t like the fact that his Metagross is not blue, but I suppose that making it a shiny version makes the kid look even more impressive. Suffice to say, I was rooting for Alain, but it definitely makes sense that he was being crushed in the fight. One simply does not defeat a Pokemon Champion and especially someone with Alain’s track record. See, Alain talks a good game, but he has a habit of losing when the going gets tough.

Alain’s goal is to defeat all of the Mega Pokemon, but he’s already been defeated twice if I recall correctly and he suffered a tie that would have been a loss in this special as well. Alain is a nice guy and he’s finally getting used to the power of friendship, but he’s still going to have to improve his fighting skills if he wants to stay relevant in the Pokemon world. He’s definitely no Ash Ketchum, but he’s a cool lead.

I still can’t wait until the anime starts to use Mega Evolutions more as it is certainly a good step in the Pokemon universe. Imagine seeing Pikachu having a Mega Stone and gradually mastering his new form as the series goes on! It would add a Shonen Twist to keep Pokemon going and the visuals are always great once that happens. The Mega energy that envelops the Pokemon and causes many cool destruction scenes is something that we need to see more of.

The animation is naturally very good for this special. The fight scenes are a lot of fun to watch and the energy attacks all have a lot of detail. The character designs are easy to look at and it’s a win all around. Pokemon definitely proves that it can still hold up with the best mon shows. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is another story. It wrecks the tension and excitement that the fights have because the music is so slow and happy. It’s simply not well suited to accompany these action scenes and I have to wonder what the channel was thinking. Throw in some rock themes from GX or rip some music from Pokemon Advanced, but just about anything would have been an improvement over what we got. Music is a key ingredient in anything and especially an anime so they need to get that fixed before act III comes out.

Unfortunately, this special is still really short and it’s basically equivalent to watching a normal episode of Pokemon. To an extent, it does feel like a normal episode and you would probably just call this filler if it was occurring alongside Ash’s adventures. That would have actually been interesting, but this way is better since we get to have both. Hopefully this series gets many acts although I hope that they make it bi weekly or at least monthly soon since the wait can be pretty bad. It will certainly help with the pacing since nothing really happened in this episode, but it wouldn’t feel as bad if we had the next one coming in a few weeks.

Overall, Act II may not be as intense as Act I, but it’s still a pretty fun Pokemon special. It’s really everything that you would expect from the classic franchise as we get some cool action scenes and some world building for the future. It’s almost inevitable that Alain will have to fight his boss so that should be a pretty intense fight. I hope that we get to see some more game characters like Red and Blue as the special series goes on. The most important thing is for the specials to fix the soundtrack. That negative really needs to be addressed before the third Act arrives since it really limits the special’s potential. It’s only about 20 minutes so I’ll expect all of my blog followers to give it a shot by then unless you plan to watch all of the acts as a film once they end. Otherwise, see you then!

Overall 7/10

Slayers Special Review

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Looks like it’s time for the next Slayers adventure. This one also takes place in the past so Lina is with Naga instead of the other fighters. This special is basically an OVA that consists of 3 episodes so you can also think of it as a mini series. Each episode has a stand alone plot, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the series. It doesn’t work this time though as this is probably the worst Slayers product yet. It’s not awful, but it just doesn’t have most of the qualities that makes Slayers a likable franchise in the first place.

The first episode involves a deal that Lina almost made with a mad scientist. Ultimately, she decided not to team up with him since he wanted to turn her into a giant monster. Years later, he has finally hunted her down with clones of Naga. Their laughter overwhelms Lina and she is brought to the enemy’s lair. Naga will now have to get past her clones to save Lina before she is turned into a Chimera. This could be her toughest mission yet!

This was definitely the weakest of the three episodes. The villain wasn’t very interesting and having the clones beat Lina so easily was pretty anticlimatic. It was unique to have Naga be the one to save her, but the actual episode just wasn’t that funny. It would have been cooler if they had just played it seriously since the actual plot could have been good otherwise. The dream sequence at the beginning is good though.

Next up, Lina and Naga are hired to protect a boy named Jeffrey. His mom wants him to get more confidence and experience in the real world so she hired some fake bandits to go on a mountain. Lina and Naga are to escort Jeffrey up the mountain so that he can vanquish these hooligans. Unfortunately, real bandits have defeated the fakes and Jeffrey turns out to be an incredibly weak fighter. Lina and Naga must defeat the villains while making it look like Jeffrey has done this on his own…which could be harder than expected.

This was the best episode of the three although that may not be saying a whole lot. The running gag of Jeffrey’s mom beating up the heroes starts to get old pretty quickly. The final boss was pretty intense until the plot twist that we had (not) been waiting for occurred. While the episodes try to start off on a serious note, they quickly go back to their comedy ways. It’s one of the things that typically makes Slayers a fun franchise, but this OVA just didn’t know how to transition from serious moments to happy times. As a result, it basically destroys the episode. At least Jeffrey has good intentions…he’ll need them since he has nothing else at his disposal.

Finally, Lina and Naga chase after a sorcerer who has stolen a mysterious mirror. He uses it to make shadow clones of the two heroines and they are opposites in every way. This means that the clone of Naga is really shy and Lina’s is a humanitarian who’s always ready for peace. Lina and Naga must get past these clones if they ever want to break the mirror once and for all. They can’t let these clones tarnish their reputations!

Using the clones plot two times in three episodes? You can tell that the writers were getting pretty desperate by now. It is certainly more entertaining than the first episode and the actual concept is pretty fun. That being said, I would have preferred a serious battle with the fakes than just watching them humiliate themselves. It’s also a bit much since I like to think that an opposite Lina would still know how to use self defense. The villain was better than the one in the first episode, but he still wasn’t a very good character.

Lina still has her accent, but she doesn’t seem as tough as in the film set around this period. She is overwhelmed by the laughing of the clones and she just doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to prove herself since there are no real villains to be found. She’s still a good main character and she’s still adventuring for riches and glory, but Lina is only a shell of her former self. We have her personality from the previous installments, but she is just there. Lina doesn’t get any big moments or fights.

Naga definitely looks a lot worse here than in the film. She may have done a good job against her clones, but she really seems to serve no purpose. When she’s not teasing Lina, she’s taking sides with the villains who fight her. She also gets blasted quite a few times by Lina when she stops paying attention to her surroundings. We know that Naga can fight, but as with Lina, she doesn’t get a chance to show this.

One of the problems that Slayers has always had is the fanservice. Typically, it is limited to chest comments, but it goes a little farther here. Naga seems to primarily appear for fanservice, which means that she doesn’t get a whole lot of character this time. Since all of her appearances involve fanservice with the usual chest comments still around, it doesn’t make for a good combo. This certainly drags down the OVA as it definitely would have gotten around a 6 without this unnecessary addition. The fantasy aspect can hold its own so the animators definitely didn’t need to resort to cheap tricks.

I never thought that I’d say this, but another one of the problems is what usually gives Slayers its greatest strength. I’m talking about the writing. It just was not up to par with what I’m used to seeing in the series and it really showed. The jokes typically relied on fanservice or overused tropes that have been played out. The banter between Gourry and Lina is gone since he isn’t here right now and Naga just doesn’t complement Lina’s character very well. It’s one of the reasons why the prequel continuity will never be as good as the main one. The supporting cast just isn’t very good. (The lack of action compared to the real deal is also a factor to be considered of course)

The animation is pretty decent. It’s definitely not what you’d call high budget, but it doesn’t look bad either. You could just call it standard or average, which will suffice. There are no real fights so that makes it hard to gauge the animation anyway. As long as the talking scenes look good and the backgrounds are clear, then the OVA is doing well. I have no qualms with it in this area. The soundtrack is pretty plain though. You will quickly forget that there is one and it may work well with the scenes as you are watching the episodes, but it is instantly forgettable. Again, that’s better than not having a soundtrack or having a bad one, but the OVA could definitely do better.

Overall, Slayers Special is not quite as special as it seems. Slayers Perfect did a better job of being good and I would still recommend the normal TV shows over both of them. At 3 episodes, you’ll be done with Slayers Special before you know it, but it’s still an OVA that you’d be better off skipping. At most, I would recommend it to ultimate Slayers fans who want to watch everything related to the main series, but it’s essentially three filler episodes so it’s not like it’s going to develop the characters at this point. The OVA just makes too many mistakes and a switch in writers may be called for at this point. At the very least, you’ll like the design for the main villain of the second episode.

Overall 4/10

Chunin Exam on Fire! Naruto vs Konohamaru! Review

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It’s time for a review a pretty short OVA. This is probably the shortest thing that I’ve reviewed since the Superman shorts! It’s only about 13 minutes, but that’s still decent I suppose since it’s mostly about a fight. (30 minutes is still the minimum length that is acceptable for an OVA though) This OVA is pretty good and it definitely beats most of the other Naruto shorts…even if the ending is a little predictable.

After all these years, Naruto has finally decided to retake the Chunin Exams. This will help him to finally move past the Genin handle that has haunted him for so long. Unfortunately for our proud shinobi, Naruto is faced off against Konohamaru in the first round. This will certainly be a fight to be remembered and Naruto is going to have to use all of his techniques. After all, Konohamaru has been waiting for this day for over 3 years!

It’s cool to see Naruto actually take the Exams again, but that’s even more of a reason for this short to have been longer. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see Naruto participate in all of the trials up to the fight? That would have been pretty fun, but I guess they didn’t want to squeeze all of that in. I’m not sure if you guessed the ending yet, but you should realize that Naruto was still a genin in the manga at the time….so it would be hard to move up.

Nevertheless, Konohamaru puts up a fight and I’m happy to say that Naruto takes the fight a little seriously as well. He says that he can’t hold back since it would make Konohamaru feel bad. To an extent, Naruto has to be holding back since his first punch didn’t shatter Konohamaru, but we get the overall message of what he is trying to say. Konohamaru tries a lot of different jutsu and apparently he even knows the Giant Rasengan. That’s pretty cool for his fans since he is definitely learning at a quicker rate than Naruto. Technically, this means that he should be able to surpass Naruto at some point, but I don’t see it.

One thing (There is Always one thing) that I found the writers to have made a mistake on was Naruto’s Rasengan barrage. We get that he’s not holding back, but attacking Konohamaru with dozens of Rasengans is a little much. If any of those hit the poor kid..he’d be dead. There’s no way he could survive a full encounter with one of those devastating attacks. It looks cool to see Konohamaru dodging them the whole time, but that was definitely a bit much.

The animation is decently good for this OVA. It’s basically TV show quality, but considering some of the episodes during the War arc, I guess this is still an improvement. At this point, we’ll take what we can get. Also, it’s not like the OVA had a big budget to back it up so I’m sure that they did what they could with it. As long as the animation doesn’t look bad, I’m fine.

Overall, Naruto vs Konohamaru is a pretty fun special. It’s certainly not something that is going to keep you talking for a while, but who doesn’t like to see a fight scene? Naruto got to prove that he may be a Genin, but he can still hold his own against anyone. The ending is pretty cheesy and a little sad, but it’s unfortunately one of the only paths for the writers to go. I would have gone with the “I surrender” route, but that wasn’t in the cards. I recommend checking this out one of these days when you have the time. It’s brief and fun, which is all that you would expect from this. After that, check out Shippuden film 3!

Overall 7/10

Tsubasa Spring Thunder Review

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It’s time to review the second Tsubasa OVA, which is also the final one to ever be created. For better or worse, the franchise ended (On TV anyway) with this installment so does it provide us with a lot of closure and such? No….not quite. Luckily, this turns out well for us in the sense that it is basically nonstop action. This OVA raises the stakes from the last one and we have less exposition so more time for fights. As you can tell, this one easily defeated the last OVA!

The plot continues after the heroes saved Fai from the sorcerer….is that really how the last OVA ended? Wellllll…maybe not, but they assume that you guys read the manga so it’s okay to jump a lot! Kurogane loses his arm and someone goes to get him a replacement when an old foe appears. Remember Seishiro, Syaoran’s mentor? Well, he’s back to keep on searching for the vampire twins and he also decides to intimidate the heroes as a consolation prize. Syaoran isn’t having any of that and he attack the man. He shall get the feather at any cost! Unbeknownst to the heroes..the other Syaoran also approaches! (The original Syaoran who was with us for the whole series before turning evil…that Syaoran)

Now, this OVA can be a little cruel to longtime fans of the series who didn’t read the manga since it skips a whole bunch of story arcs while including flashbacks that reference them. It’s an intriguing strategy and one that many will not really appreciate. It’s probably a lot more fun if you’ve never seen Tsubasa before since it’ll be a mystery. (I said something similar for the last OVA) Starting off with the heroes escaping from a dying world after murdering the magician who had been hyped as one of the ultimate villains since the very first episode is rather anticlimatic as well. I’d be pretty disheartened if Frieza or Aizen had been taken out off screen like that. We also don’t really hear the plot twist about Fai’s name. (Tsubasa loves its name twists…..just wait for Kurogane’s!)

So, the continuity of this OVA is definitely a little dicey, but if you read the manga everything will still make a lot of sense. At first, I was pretty skeptical about Kurogane losing his arm since it seemed to be counterproductive at the time. It would just reduce his chances of escape right? Luckily, we just find out that he had to sacrifice his arm to save Fai and escape. (Fai’s always getting rescued now and that’s a trend that won’t end anytime soon) Tsubasa saved itself from that small stumble.

This OVA is only two episodes so it’s extremely short. Luckily, it tries to make up for this with all of the action and its a winning strategy. The first episode mainly deals with Syaoran’s fight against Seishiro and it’s nice to see how Syaoran’s improved since their last encounter. (Different Syaoran, but same fighting techniques) However, Syaoran has not improved nearly as much as you would have thought and he’s still losing pretty badly in this fight. I love his determination, but it’s disappointing to see him so outmatched here. Things get even dicier for him in the second episode since he goes up against Dark Syaoran. (I’m going to just say Dark before his name to make it easier to tell them apart) Dark Syaoran is much stronger than Seishiro in my opinion although I’m sure that many would disagree on that. Syaoran puts up a brave fight, but I seriously don’t see him posing much of a threat for the experienced villain. The fight scene is fun and it’s nice to see the contrast of fire vs thunder.

I definitely enjoyed the action scenes in this OVA more than the last one’s. They weren’t rushing and the fights were allowed to really develop. The energy attacks from Seishiro’s blade as well as the two Syaorans also helped since energy attacks tend to look pretty great when they’re used in such a high budget OVA. One area where this OVA lost to the last one is the theme song. The last one was lacking in images, but the overall atmosphere helped it and the green circle was ominous. There really isn’t anything redeeming in this opening and it’s just very boring. I don’t know what happened, but it feels like it was created as an afterthought. There’s no action scenes or anything and it just shows all of the characters a bunch of times. Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z has openings over 20 years ago that were better than these. There’s no excuse for a bad opening these days since so many anime produce great ones every year!

Aside from the opening, the soundtrack is pretty good. Naturally, most of the selections are from the show so they are tried and true. They never get old and it’s very well rounded. I’m pretty sure that my favorite theme didn’t play this time, but I suppose that it can’t make the cut every time. (Even though it is the best theme….)

I would almost say that Syaoran is a 5 star protagonist in this OVA. (5 out of 5 of course) However, there is one scene that holds him back and it is near the beginning. Seishiro starts to intimidate the heroes and he beats up on Fai for a while…and nobody helps. This is actually worse for Kurogane (Since he does nothing, but Syaoran should have done something. Syaoran does challenge Seishiro to a match, but it’s only because he wants the feather. He seemed to not care about what was happening to Fai, which was pretty out of character. Aside from that brief moment, Syaoran was basically perfect.

At this point, Sakura is basically avoiding him (As seen in a new flashback) so he is basically alone. He’s still intent on getting the feathers so that Sakura can have her memories back, but he’s going to have the short end of the stick either way. He’s still very resolute in this decision and he’ll face anyone to get the feathers. He never backs down and Syaoran is just a great hero. He’s certainly more heroic than your average fighter and he doesn’t even need any comic relief scenes to balance his personality out. He’s completely serious and stone faced the entire OVA and it works for his character.

Dark Syaoran mainly appears for the second episode, but he does get a pretty epic cliffhanger for the first episode. He definitely means business and to be honest…I’m basically rooting for him. I try to root for both Syaorans equally, but Dark Syaoran is technically the character that I’m more used too and if you didn’t see the last OVA, you wouldn’t know just how evil he is. From this perspective, he seems more like an anti-hero, although a strong case can be made that he’s the villain since he’s willing to destroy the other Syaoran. Regardless, his goal is to help Sakura get her feathers back and the main difference is that he doesn’t take no for an answer. His design is epic and you can tell that he’s more on the dark side than the regular Syaoran. Dark Syaoran definitely helped the series excel to new heights!
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Sakura is a lot better here than in the last OVA. She is typically awake…well, she’s awake inside of her dream anyway. It’s an interesting moment since she has a meta conversation with Watanuki and it’s all very deep. (Literally since they’re basically underwater) It can be a little upsetting to see her avoid Syaoran, but we do find out the reason for it at the very end and it’s explained more at the end of the manga. It makes sense to an extent since we wouldn’t want Syaoran to get any false hopes. Her final moment is not that great though since it’s something that we’ve seen a lot of characters do in the past and it’s always a clock stopper. (Not in a good way…I want my action scenes to keep on going!) She doesn’t fight in this OVA, but we can always hope that she’ll grab her gun and take on a villain someday.

As mentioned earlier, Kurogane looks really bad here. Not only does he freeze up when Fai is attacked, but he has been reduced to sitting on the sideline for all of the battles. Gone are the days when he was a big fighter. (He does get a big fight soon, but it is not animated at this point in time) He does have some scenes with the princess where we find out new twists and such, but it’s not really going to help him rise up the ranks. I like him as a character, but I just didn’t care for him here. Just counting this OVA and not the previous one + TV show, Kurogane just wouldn’t be that great.

Although, Kurogane would still be better than Fai. Now that Fai is basically powerless, he’s really no help to the team. He tags along and gets beat up by the enemies, but that’s about it. We know that he’s a very good hand to hand fighter from the TV show…unless he was just amping up his abilities with magic. Still, I would expect him to do better and I’m sure that he would have some good moments in the future. This OVA just happens to take place at a time where he doesn’t really have a role to speak of. It’s a sad time for him and Kurogane.

It’s good to see Seishiro appear after being gone for so long. He’s easily one of the best characters in the franchise and his character is still a mystery. He seems to have joined the side of the heroes in this OVA sine he’s a lot friendlier then he once was, but you still have to question his goal. What will he do with the vampires once he finds them? It’s too bad that Seishiro won’t stick around to help since he could definitely do a lot of good. He may be the strongest hero at the moment and that’s saying something! I guess he’ll just have to let the main characters do their thing, but it would have been nice if he had stayed with the party.

The tone of this OVA is a little more like the show. There are still a lot of twists, but it’s a little lighter. The stakes haven’t gone down, but these two episodes feel like they could have been in the animated series. Maybe the director changed or it’s just a coincidence in the story. The Kamui arc was likely darker in the manga as well. This one had more nostalgia for me in that sense and that’s always a nice plus.

The ending may be more than a little dicey for Tsubasa fans and for those who just picked this OVA up on the fly. The ending gives us a huge cliffhanger with the heroes deciding to take out the main villain once and for all as they make another dimension jump. After all of the adventures, we are finally at the final battle! Only to find out that the series was not going to be continued and that you would have to read the manga and try to decipher the fight scenes to see it! On one hand, it’s not cool since you’ll never see the ending, but I do have to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cliffhanger. That type of ending really makes me jump on the hype train! It’s just so intense and it’s one of the ultimate cliffhangers! (Another example of an ultimate cliffhanger is Goku finally arriving to his allies’ aid against Frieza or Sasuke preparing to fight Gaara after some intense training. Shonen Jump is full of these scenes and it’s one of the reasons why they are awesome!)

Overall, Tsubasa definitely ended on a high note with this OVA! It’s a mixed bag since it doesn’t really tie up most of the loose ends and it doesn’t really end, but it was still a very fun ride. We had a lot of action and the soundtrack/animation will hold up very well for many years. Bringing back Seishiro and Dark Syaoran was a good way to bring in most of the villains and Fei Wong got his little cameo. Kurogane and Fai looked really underwhelming and this is their last animated appearance to that could be a little disheartening to their fans. (Not quite as bad as being a fan of the evil sorcerer though…) I definitely recommend this OVA to Tsubasa fans and to anyone who enjoys a nice anime fight! It doesn’t really have any negative qualities and it fixes the mild issues that I had with the first OVA. (I’ll miss the Angelic Layer crossover from the manga, but I suppose that this was how it had to be. Hopefully it’ll get animated someday) This is something that you’ll be glad you saw!

Overall 8/10