SSSS.Dynazenon Review


Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2! I like what they did with the title. It’s a small thing but a season 2 should always have some way to easily differentiate itself from the first and a question mark even works on a story level since the competition is starting to get trickier for the two leads. It’s definitely a great follow up to the first season. I would still give season 1 the edge as it had more standout segments for me, but it is nice to see Ishigami and Ino getting more of a role here. They do help to make the student council feel more complete.

The general plot here is that Shirogane and Kaguya are still trying to get the other person to confess their love first. Love is War after all and the first person to concede is the one to lose here. That’s the general set-up but more specifically it’s time for the election arc. The first year is over after all and that means the Student Council will be temporarily disbanded as the elections go on to elect a new student council president. Shirogane ultimately ends up running for the position again but this time he will be up against Ino. Ino is a first year student with big dreams and she wants to change the school. Thing is, if she wins then Kaguya and Shirogane might not see each other as often anymore so even if they can’t admit this, it adds extra fuel to their determination to win this.

The season is 12 episodes and a lot of those are stand alones so I won’t say the election arc lasts for very long but I would still consider it one of the major story beats here. Then we have the aftermath and the other big story event is that we finally see Ishigami’s full backstory of what happened to make everyone in the school dislike him. It’s certainly one of the more emotional parts of the story and while you may have expected that to be the season finale, there is one episode after that so that things can end on a lighter note. I still say Ishigami’s episode would have been perfect to end the whole thing on though.

So lets dive in and first off I’ll get the technicals out of the way since not much has changed since season 1. As was the case last time, the soundtrack is dynamite here. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important a soundtrack is for a comedy/slice of life kind of show. You need it to really inject a lot of energy into each scene. While strong writing would be enough to keep the show interesting without it, why turn down an advantage right? Kaguya is leaps and bounds above all other shows in these genres with the soundtrack. There are a lot of fun themes and then you even get the occasional homage like a Mission Impossible/James Bond kind of track.

Also the theme song’s pretty catchy. It even remembered that Kaguya was in the archery club and incorporated that into the song which was a nice detail. Then you have the animation which is still really good. It may be slightly calmer than season 1 so the original may have the slight edge there but it’s extremely close. Either way the animation is still very smooth and works well with the scenes. It never feels low budget and it’s a show that remembers to give everyone eyes that stand out. One of the big benefits of anime is how crazy they can make the hair and eyes so whenever a show remembers this it’s a good thing. In fact there’s a whole segment about Shirogane’s eyes and how they change when he has gotten some sleep. This would not have been as effective if they hadn’t given it as much detail earlier.

One of the reasons the franchise made it so big in the first place is how clever the writing is and this season doesn’t stop with that. One of the most effective gags in the whole series comes in the final episode as the gang play a fun Mario Party type game where you have to pump up a balloon. If it pops during your turn then you’ll lose and may also get a bit traumatized with how big the explosion will be. Each character has emotional flashbacks and inspirational montages where you’d expect them to surpass their limits and they don’t. It’s definitely a great scene and that was one of the better segments so it was a good way to end off the season.

The show is always funny without being silly. It’s got a great balance here. Another really solid part is when Kaguya has a trial against her other selves in her mind. The way each personality is represented while also being recognizable from her previous moments is solid. It’s a comedy scene for sure but at the same time you can tell that it’s not coming out of nowhere and can even be a bit of foreshadowing for her future moments. The show has quite a lot of depth which puts it apart from the average comedy.

I’ve read the manga and in a lot of ways that’s why these early adventures were my favorite part. I like the fun shenanigans before things get too serious. Serious moments are all well and good too of course but the banter between the characters and the fun games are when the show is at its peak. We definitely get a lot of moments here for that throughout the show as well so it never loses its momentum. Now lets dive into the characters although the cast is still a little on the small side.

Kaguya is still a great lead and certainly gets her share of wins here. From the main two I still think she tends to plan out her attacks a lot more thoroughly and is also willing to cross the line a bit more to get what she wants. Whenever we see how she knocks candidates out of the running through poison tea (Probably just sleepy tea or something very mild) or blackmail, it shows that she is really someone who has Shirogane’s back at all times. She can still be a bit quick to betray Chika all the time though so their friendship certainly isn’t the best but I’m sure she’ll get better at that eventually.

Kaguya’s plan of using citrus to burst the balloon at the end was also inspired. In general she definitely has quite a few good showings here and part of why the dynamic works is because she and Shirogane both get their clear cut wins from time to time. So instead of constant cop outs you have times where each one can feel proud of their complete accomplishment. She’s also very supportive of Ishigami even if he doesn’t always realize this.

As for Shirogane, it’s also a great season for him. While he may not be as thorough as Kaguya, his reaction times are always impressive as he’ll be able to think of some kind of excuse to save his bacon all the time. His most impressive win here had to be tricking Kaguya into being the one to beg him to stay on the council. His plan here was solid in a few different ways because if she hadn’t done that then he probably wouldn’t have re-submitted the application so it was a win-win. He created a scenario where he couldn’t lose.

Shirogane is also able to take the high road many times. He helped Ino when he saw she was in a jam and he’s the kind of guy who will accept a personal loss if it means helping someone out. I’d say that’s his humble beginnings showing here as he had to work his way to the top and knows what it’s like to lose. He’s just a very nice guy and probably one of the nicest characters in the series. You can always count on him in the end.

Ishigami has a lot of character development here and getting his own arc was impressive. He definitely had a rough string of luck. I would say he didn’t handle some parts amazingly like trying to convince the girl of why he was beating up the cheater but in the spur of the moment it’s not always easy to make the right call. I’m glad he didn’t end up writing the apology because that would have definitely been unfortunate. In the end he did not have to compromise on his ideals and now he can finally move on from the past.

He may not have gotten the perfect ending to his arc that he would have wanted but ultimately he’s still in a much better place than he was. You can see how he’s gotten more confidence over time as well. He’s not always perfect and can speak his mind a bit too much but at least now he has a positive relationship with just about everyone. Ino is really the only exception with how she’s constantly attacking the guy for no real reason. At least right now she always appears to be the instigator.

Then we have Chika who is still the fun comic relief character here. She does well in that role and is always ready to brighten up everyone’s spirits. She enjoys her role as the love detective as well and is always ready with some good advice. Chika also still has the sub plot where she will occasionally train Shirogane on a task that he’s really bad at. That continues here as well and you have to applaud her dedication of not giving up. She even ends up having a bit of a rivalry with Kaguya this time around while poor Shirogane is stuck in the middle.

Chika’s role may not feel as big as the others in a sense since the serious story parts never involve her but she is always around. You don’t feel like her role is small while watching the episodes since she is constantly around. Next up is Ino who has now joined the ranks as a main character. She makes for a solid antagonist in the election arc. Ultimately her points and ideas may not have been particularly valid in a lot of ways which explains why she would have a tough time getting votes but she tries hard.

I like her enthusiasm and confidence but do think she could work to be a bit nicer. It does appear to be true that she doesn’t really incorporate feedback most of the time or she could have done better and of course her baseless attacks on Ishigami don’t help her case. Ino’s timing can also be rather rough most of the time so she ends up not getting a very good opinion of the whole student council for a while there.

Hayasaka is more of a supporting character but one who’s always a lot of fun to have around. She plays a lot of roles here like being a student and Kaguya’s maid. She is expected to help out on the field and subtlety find out intel for Kaguya as well. There is no break for her and there’s a whole segment about Kaguya bugging her constantly when she is just trying to relax. It’s quite the thankless job for her but ultimately Hayasaka always pulls the mission off without a hitch. It’s why she is the ultimate bodyguard.

Finally there’s also Kei, while she did appear a little in season 1, her role has gotten a bit bigger here. As Shirogane’s sister you would expect her to have a role since it’s a common practice to win over someone’s family members so you can get closer to your actual target. This doesn’t tend to work out very well for Kaguya in this season though. Kei’s a fun enough character even if she always seems a bit rude to Shirogane when he’s just trying to help. Imagine getting mad at him for trying to get you a present for your birthday right? The show did good in also giving her eyes a distinct design too. No detail was left out for this anime that’s for sure.

Now with the amount of segments that the show has (2-3 per episode) you’re not likely going to find all of them top tier. The reason why the show still manage to be great though is because the vast majority of the segments are really excellent. The weaker segments for example can be when the two randoms are always asking for love advice from the main characters when they’re just trying to flex. I’d like to see the council call them out on it although still being more low key than Ishigami’s reaction. It’s always tough when your rep is on the line though.

Still, the show avoids the easy pitfalls of romance/slice of life titles like fanservice. The show has been very good about staying sophisticated so this doesn’t become an issue. There can be some small moments here and there but never any scene that stays into focus for very long or an extended situation that would make this an issue. The romance still plays a backseat to the comedy as well so things don’t get too dramatic. It’s a little more serious than in season 1 as you can tell the characters are weakening but it’s still not quite there yet. The two characters are best as rivals so it’ll be sad to see the dynamic go away once that changes.

The pacing is also really fast with how many segments are in every episode so things are always happening. You’ll never be bored in any episode that’s for sure. Whether the characters are playing a game or going for one of their many schemes, it’s always moving quickly. You’ll laugh at the funny scenes and get emotional during the triumphant ones. We even got a whole tragic plot with Kaguya’s phone getting damaged. I know it can definitely be rough losing out on all of your data like that. It’s why my important photos are backed up through social media or this site so if my phone were to ever be destroyed I’d still be okay. It’s still a hard loss though so you can feel the sadness of the scenes before the heroes are able to help her out. The show really knows how to handle every genre and we even get a lyrical song to close out the final episode as it transitions well into the opening. We’ll see if season 3 can keep up this momentum but I have no doubt that it can even if passing season 2 can be another story.

Overall, Season 2 is a solid follow up here. If you liked season 1 then you will certainly like this one because it really keeps the same energy and focus that the first season had. It’s really just as strong in most ways. I still give season 1 the edge because I felt like the climax was more emotional and the segments would beat out the season 2 counterparts on average but it’s a very close battle to be sure as I still gave them the same score. If you’re in the market for a fun rom-com then this is definitely the title to check out. With season 3 having started recently you also know right off the bat that there are a lot of episodes to check out so it makes jumping into the franchise that much more appealing.

Overall 8/10

Komi Can’t Communicate


This series definitely seemed to get pretty big once it became an anime. It’s got an interesting premise about making 100 friends although I can’t say that the main heroine is very solid and the near anthology style of the manga holds it back for now. We’ll see if the friends amp this title up as their numbers grow and I’ll have a review up for this series once it’s over.

Overall 6/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


Kaguya is definitely a title that took the romance genre to new heights. It has to be up there with Nisekoi as one of the all time greats. The manga has definitely been a lot of fun with how crazy it is and season 1 of the anime manages to capture that same energy. The premise is excellent and the show really manages to capitalize on this. So in the end you’re bound to have a good time with this one and you’ll definitely be really hyped for the next season.

The show starts by introducing us to the 2 main characters, Kaguya and Shirogane. They are members of the Student Council and are considered to be elites in a school that is already comprised of only the rich and influential. Shirogane has earned his way to the top as the student council president through good grades and being a general genius. It’s something he is quite proud of since there is otherwise no way he could possibly be in the school. Then you have Kaguya who is a member of the most powerful family in the world, the Shinomiya family. She is a natural prodigy at just about any skill she picks up.

With such talents comes a great ego on both sides though. Shirogane and Kaguya both like each other but refuse to make the first move. That is where “Love is War” comes into play as the anime uses a lot of battle analogies for this. The way to win this battle is to get the other person to confess first. If you can do this then you will have won the match but on the other hand is you break down and confess then it will be an eternal loss. So who will end up conquering the other? That is the basis for each episode as they use their impressive intellects to try and get the other person into a tight spot where they have to confess.

Right from the start I thought this was really a great plot. It’s also a fairly big departure from the usual rom-com setup where it would be one character obviously chasing after the other. Here we actually get to see into their heads as they come up with all kinds of crazy plans. It’s safe to say that Kaguya tends to be better at planning things out long-term as her plans usually involve a lot of research from before the day has even started. Meanwhile I would say that Shirogane is quicker at thinking in the moment like when he has to counter her various plans and come up with some strategies of his own. He’s never on the back foot for long.

You may wonder how this premise could go on for so long but it’s really easy as the show comes up with all kinds of fun scenarios throughout the 12 episodes. Additionally there are other characters here as well and I’ll get into them in a moment. First off, as an adaption the anime really does a great job. The soundtrack is a 5 star title. There are so many great themes that fit each of the various moments in the show. You’ve got action themes, comedic ones, emotional tracks, etc. Whatever scene is happening, the show is able to amp it up with some well placed music. You’ll definitely want to listen to a lot of those tunes again. As for the theme song itself, it’s fairly decent. I wouldn’t call it high tier or anything but the song is catchy enough. I think the visuals can feel a bit too lazy with how so many scenes are reused over and over again.

It’s a stylistic choice but one that didn’t land for me. Otherwise the general animation in the show is really quite good. There’s always a lot happening in every scene from background effects to things happening in the character’s eyes. The show is never taking a break with the animation and it helps keep everything as interesting as possible. The story is engaging enough where it would still be good but that’s why this ends up being a great adaption as it makes everything even better.

You can feel the tension in the episodes as the characters have to try and get each other to crack. In that sense the Umbrella segment is one of the best ones because almost the whole thing is the two characters casually hinting that the other one is lying about not bringing an umbrella. There isn’t a lot technically happening so the scene has to carry itself with pure dialogue and music. It does so quite well. On average my favorite segments tend to be the game themed ones though. Whether the characters are playing a card game, board game, or a mental game, I like the competitive fire it brings out in the cast. Chika tends to do surprisingly well at some of these too even if she doesn’t always win.

All right, lets talk about the characters now. I think it’s a strong testament to how good the cast is that I can remember the names of the main 4 immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while to really know the characters. Kaguya is a solid lead for all the reasons I mentioned before. She’s a genius, always has a lot of plans at the ready and knows what she wants. Kaguya does well in this war of love and is also just a good person beyond that. She will put aside her competition to help someone out in need, whether it be a child who needs to cross the street or Ishigami flunking a class. So her role as a member of the student council never really takes a back seat and that makes sense.

Kaguya is someone who certainly values honor and duty so she doesn’t let go of those things. Then you have Shirogane who is also a blast. He’s someone who is always under a lot of stress since he has no family connections or money to fall back on. As a result the guy is constantly doing a million things but he always has time to compete with Kaguya and the others. He really comes through in the climax of the season and definitely helps to put everyone in a better place. At the end of the day he’ll also stop to do the right thing even if it might hurt him in his battles with Kaguya.

The two have a really solid balance going in part because of how different they are. They each have similar goals but you’ll see how they tackle this in different ways. I’d also say Shirogane tends to overthink things a little more than Kaguya does. He imagines things going in the worst possible way all the time. While this may happen to Kaguya once in a while, it’s almost constant for him.

The next biggest character here would be Chika. She’s the main comic relief character of the series and fulfills her role very well. She doesn’t notice any of the tension between the main two characters and just likes to have a lot of fun. She’s often the character who will bring in the games to play with. She has less of an honor code than the other two and doesn’t mind cheating at times though. Chika can often be a bit of a space case and mess things up for the others but at times you also figure she’s a lot smarter than she lets on.

Chika is one of those characters who just doesn’t let anything really get to her and has a lot of fun all of the time. She’s another very strong character as a result. The main two still win but she’s still an extremely solid character and probably one of the best you could hope for to slot in as the comic relief character. Often times those characters don’t seem to contribute a whole lot to the plot or can get annoying but that never happens with her. She’s just consistent through it all and the series would lose a lot in the dynamic if she wasn’t around. Just having her here as a third party to mess up Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans is great.

Ishigami is the final member of the student council and doesn’t really get to do much until fairly deep into season 1. I liked how the anime would keep him out of frame or have him facing the wrong way until it was time for his debut. It was a good way to acknowledge/foreshadow that he would be appearing soon without actually spoiling that part yet. While I don’t think he’s as strong as the main 3, he’s still a solid member. His gimmick is that he’s super afraid of Kaguya and loves playing video games so he doesn’t take the school as seriously as the others. It’s to the point where he nearly flunks so the guy definitely likes to live life on the edge.

Ishigami tends to get in trouble a lot but most of the time it’s through situations of his own creating so you don’t feel super bad for him. The guy needs to work on reading the room which is not one of his strengths right now. He does add to the dynamic though and so I’d say he didn’t arrive too late or anything. With these 4 the student council is in good hands and they’re all quite different so it’s not like they’re stealing a lot of screen time away from each other or anything.

That’s it for the main characters and right now there aren’t too many supporting characters. A few like Shirogane’s sister do appear but haven’t had much to do yet. I’d say the two main ones to show up would be Hayasaka and Nagisa. Nagisa and her boyfriend have a bit of a running sub plot where they will show up to separately ask the main 2 for advice since they assume Kaguya and Shirogane would have a lot of experience even if that is not the case. There’s not a whole lot to say about them beyond that but they seem like nice enough characters.

Hayasaka is a much more entertaining character though. She is forced to live a double life so that nobody suspects that she is actually Kaguya’s maid. Her role is really to keep Kaguya safe and so she does this really well by also being at school so she can help out as needed. Hayasaka is more old school on the romance angle and just thinks Kaguya should confess but of course that’s not going to happen. Hayasaka really goes the extra mile in her duties to help Kaguya out so she’s a very solid ally to have.

That about wraps up the characters. Each episode tends to have 2-3 adventures in it so the episodes really breeze by. It shows how quick some of the adventures are but also that the show isn’t really going to drag them out which is good. The pacing is always on point here. While the series eventually gets more plot driven I would largely say that season 1 is episodic. Some development and events do carry over of course but for the most part you can pop in any episode and understand what’s going on right away.

There really aren’t any negatives to speak of for this show. With any comedic title there are bound to be some segments that you won’t find quite as funny as others but with multiple segments per episode I doubt there will be any episode where you don’t like any of them. The weakest segments for me would be Kaguya getting sick and Kaguya being unable to laugh. Then the best ones would be the Umbrella and all of the game episodes I mentioned earlier. The series also avoids some of the potential pitfalls of the rom-com genre like random fanservice and lots of rivals popping up out of the wood work. Not to say that the show is completely devoid of fanservice but it’s fortunately just about nonexistent.

Finally, the writing just feels very sophisticated. It’s the kind of show that will randomly drop lots of different scientific theories at you. The characters are always showing off in one way or another so it makes sense and works naturally. This helps to enhance the script all around and the line between the characters stating facts or just bluffing gets really blurry which is always nice. You don’t want to necessarily believe whatever you hear them say but it’s always nice to see them invoking all of the theories anyway. The show is really a comedy first and a romance second but balances the two to perfection and never gets overly dramatic. It is just a great all around title.

Overall, If you’re looking for a solid rom-com then look no further. Even if you’re not big on romance I could still recommend it entirely because at its core the series is about the mind games that come from this. The romance is always around but it’s not a dramatic romance or anything. Often times the characters will just seem more like friends anyway and you might even hope that this could be the end game instead of getting together. It’s just season 1 though so it’s too early to be thinking about the end game. Just enjoy all the laughs and fun and the 12 episodes will go by in a breeze. You’ll also be looking forward to Chika’s continued assault against the Ramen Kings. It’s a small subplot that begins in this season and is just a lot of fun with how seriously they take their food. I’m more of a “Stuff my face” kind of eater personally but I understand that some like to really savor the experience. It’ll also make you hungry for some good pasta even if you don’t have a ramen on hand.

Overall 8/10

Paris Blues Review


Paris Blues is one of those films that is very dramatic the whole time with each character really making the wrong moves here. Be careful who you choose to go out with because it could come back to bite you. That’s the lesson that the characters here desperately needed to learn. It would have made them all quite a bit happier in the end. I wouldn’t say the movie succeeds because I didn’t really care for most of the cast but you do get some fairly decent tunes to listen to which is always important.

The movie starts with Connie and Lillian arriving in France for their big trip. They only plan to stay here for a few weeks but they know that it’s going to be a magical place. A guy named Ram shows up to flirt with Connie immediately who is less than impressed. Unfortunately her friend Lillian insists that they go check out the guy’s little band setup in the cafe. So they go and Lillian is desperate for a relationship and goes after Ram the whole time. Meanwhile Ram’s partner Eddie ends up falling for Connie and so they start to get close. I guess that wraps up the film right? We’ve got the two pairings and everything’s going just swell.

Well, that’s not exactly how it plays out. For starters, Ram seems seems to like Connie more initially and doesn’t really give Lillian a second chance but ultimately goes with her because he wants to be with someone. The whole time Ram keeps letting her know that this won’t be serious though and it’s just a fling but she wants to change his mind on that. Meanwhile Eddie and Connie take it slow here. The dilemma in this pairing is that Eddie wants to stay in France. The people treat him well and he has a successful gig going as a musician. Unfortunately Connie wants to go back to America so they can help to change the world socially. At the time there was still a lot of racial division and Eddie just doesn’t want to have to go back to that. Defending himself left and right and having to prove himself each time while apparently that’s not an issue here in Paris.

So there are our two conflicts here and they stretch for the entirety of the movie. In both cases I’ve definitely got my stance here. With Eddie, I think he should stay in Paris. If Connie is ready to make this serious then she should definitely be sticking with him. He’s got his whole life here and would need to make serious changes to adapt to America. Connie certainly wants to change the world but I’d say it would have to come at the expense of losing Eddie. The advantages don’t outweigh the risks here. It’s relatively easier for her to talk tough about this when he’s the one who is going to have to get out there and try to get a whole new setup.

The romance definitely felt doomed here. Then you have Ram and Lillian. Well, I think Lillian shouldn’t even be trying for this guy so hard. Ram’s been a free spirit who messes around a lot from the start and even told her that he didn’t want to get serious. Then on Ram’s side, Lillian keeps throwing herself at him to the point where it seems a little suspicious. Perhaps she isn’t doing well financially and needs someone to support her? It would be hard not to start thinking that a bit since Ram even made it clear that he was not interested in her several times. So when she ignores that and keeps after him, it feels more suspicious than endearing.

Ultimately Ram doesn’t seem like the type who will ultimately commit to anyone. Music is his passion and he will stay true to that but that’s where the buck stops. Beyond that you have to decide if this could ever work and I don’t think that it could. He’s only just barely gotten over being with someone else so that shows how quickly he changes and moves on to the next thing.

I didn’t care for the guy as one of the main characters. He’s never portrayed as being all that likable. At best you just feel sympathetic when he is being shot down as the guy tries to get his music published. Then you have Lillian and I didn’t like her mainly because of how desperate she was the whole time. Like Ram she seems like someone who plays the field and again I don’t see how this would end up working very well.

Eddie and Connie are more likable than the first pair. Part of the problem is really just that Connie wants him to come to her side. I dare say that he has more to lose than she does so she should have stayed. Hopefully she does well in her quest to make the world a better place though. Then Eddie’s a fun character and someone who stays classy. He isn’t always thrilled at Connie’s conversations but still answers her questions and keeps things as civilized as possible. He helps to keep Ram grounded when that guy’s getting to be a bit much and he also takes things slower. You don’t see him just jumping into bed the way that Ram does.

Paris definitely looks really nice throughout the film and I’d say it did a good job with the location sets. The place is quite big and the heroes take in the sights. We also get to see how their music gig really works and it reminds you that they are not always in the best of company though. Everyone here seems to be a bit down on their luck or a little desperate. The lady Ram has a relationship with seems a bit too open to the fact that he is messing around all over the place so I wouldn’t have been able to root for them anyway. Then you have the one guy who is addicted to drugs and can’t break out of it.

The characters certainly had their share of issues. Mainly we just see what Ram and Eddie have to deal with but that’s because the others are on vacation so we don’t really see into their lives. That’s another thing to consider, the main guys really don’t know a whole lot about the girls as a result. They can only guess but the whole thing is too fast for this to be a true relationship. The girls have only been here for less than 2 weeks as it is. You probably just shouldn’t be starting a relationship while you’re on vacation. The odds of it working out successfully seems really slim to me.

Overall, Paris Blues is a film about two doomed romances where the characters are just never on the same page. While Eddie’s a good guy, Ram is hard to root for right from the start. He also plays a really big role in why the ending is the way that it is. Ram was just never going to work things out and in the process he may have stopped the rest too. He did make it clear from the start that music was his only priority but then he should have stuck with that all the way through instead of waffling. The movie’s fairly serious and could have used a little humor to it in the end. I think that would have only served to have helped the dynamic a bit. All in al, you can do better with romance films and you can do better with dramas. This one won’t end up being very satisfying and I think it could have used some more music to take the film to the next level. Focus on the goal and give us some competitions or challenges that Ram has to overcome. Maybe that could have helped him be a decent character.

Overall 4/10

Forever, Darling Review


Forever, Darling is definitely one of those old school comedy films which isn’t afraid to get really crazy. It feels like the movie just keeps on changing the scenery and having the characters go from adventure to adventure. As a result it’s a film that’s very busy in a good way so you won’t get bored or stop being entertained. I had a good time with it. I won’t say it’s a game changer in the genre but sometimes you just want a classic comedy film and this one will do the trick there.

When the movie starts the two leads are not in a great spot. Their marriage used to be incredibly strong but over the years they’ve grown tired and each person is doing their own thing. I would say they’re still in a fairly decent spot but the main disagreements come from the fact that Lorenzo does not get along with any of Susan’s friends and he tends to take shots at them causing a bit of a rift with Susan. Unfortunately Lorenzo’s job causes him to not be at home very often and it deals with bugs so it’s not really Susan’s cup of tea. That’s when a guardian angel shows up to put the fear into Susan and help get them together again. Will he end up being helpful or just get in the way?

The summary may make it sound like this guy’s the main character but honestly he doesn’t do as much as you would expect. In fact I dare say that he does get in the way most of the time. Seriously his stares and popping in randomly only serve to create more misunderstandings. After all, only Susan can see him and she is not very good at being subtle on this. In fact she is extremely slow on the uptake I would say as she puts herself in so many bad situations. Eventually she stops calling attention to herself but that takes a long while. I still think the Guardian Angel could have helped out more. The only message he really gives is that Susan needs to follow Lorenzo through thick and thin instead of going on her own path.

In fairness, I do think Lorenzo tended to be on the right in these things. Susan’s friends would always be badmouthing him right from the start. From how the film picks up it certainly seems like they tend to start the fights so I can see why Lorenzo would resent them. They are always giving Susan a lot of bad ideas and the problem is that they are always at home so they have hours to trick her while he is away. Getting away from those guys is the best decision he could have made. Perhaps he could have been more subtle in his insults but isn’t it better to say something directly than to beat around the bush? I’d say that’s true in many instances at least.

Lorenzo’s also just a fun character. Naturally he and Susan have their share of issues but most of the time you’ll just see Lorenzo laughing and having a good time. He tends to see the bright side of things and it takes a lot to get him upset. Susan definitely pushes him to that level but I thought he was really patient up until that point. It just so happened that even he had a limit by the end and when your whole experiment is ruined and things have been going wrong nonstop, it’s easy to see how that would happen.

Meanwhile for Susan, I’ll give her points for trying her best to take an interest in what Lorenzo does. She may not really understand a lot of it but the attempt was certainly made. Additionally she did go with him on the trip and left her friends behind. Unfortunately she just tends to make a lot of mistakes and this was all amped up with how comedic the film was so she tended to make a big mess of everything. It certainly did not help her bond with Lorenzo more. If she had just ignored her guardian angel when he was in the background she could have made this film a whole lot shorter.

Ultimately Susan’s still a good character but she just made things really hard on herself. There weren’t too many supporting characters to note. Of course you had Susan’s friend who was always being very dramatic. She works well as an antagonist I suppose. Susan’s father was at least always on hand to try and help Susan explain her side of the situation. I thought he was a good character who at least meant well the whole time even if his explanations didn’t always serve to help matters at all.

I’d say the biggest positive for the film is that its so chaotic the whole time. You’re in for a roller coaster experience and while the movie may not be very realistic or anything, it’s the kind of light hearted comedy that makes for a good watch. The movie is interesting from start to finish and you go through the story beats quickly. I personally wouldn’t have minded if the characters stayed around the house instead of heading to the great outdoors but that’s just how the plot went. I would even say the dynamic is strong enough where the plot could have gone in many different ways while still being effective. That’s when you know that you have two solid characters here.

Overall, Forever, Darling is a fun film. It’s a fundamentally sound movie that doesn’t have any real weaknesses. The characters are good and the writing is on point. The humor tends to land more than it does not. Sometimes the jokes can be a little stretched out but when you’re running with a quick pace like this film you’ll likely forget all about it in the next scene. The long jokes are more the exception than the standard, most of the jokes are quick so we can jump onto the next one. The main characters are put through a lot but ultimately the ending is satisfying and you’ll have a good time with this one.

Overall 7/10

High Sierra Review


High Sierra is a film about a criminal who takes his journey to its logical conclusion. From the start you have a general feeling for how this will play out. The main character is an unrepentant criminal who has stayed in the game for too long. At this point your criminal career doesn’t tend to end until death so he just keeps on going until he can’t anymore. I thought the movie was good but the particularly weak cast keeps it from going to the next level.

The movie starts with Roy being able to leave jail at last. It pays to know criminals in high places after all and Big Mac asks Roy to do one more heist for him. The guy desperately wants his riches and Roy agrees but the one thing the lead doesn’t like is that he will have to team up with two rookies, Red and Babe. These two are amateurs in absolutely every area of the business and they’ve even brought along a lady named Marie for the ride. These two choke under pressure and are always talking tough so Roy’s going to have a hard time on his hands> Can he still pull off the heist and what’s this about bringing a dog along for the ride as well?

Throughout the movie you can see how Roy gets frustrated at the rest of the cast because they do have a habit of making things more difficult on him. When you can’t trust your partners in a life or death situation then that makes things a lot tougher right off the bat. Sure enough, they do get into trouble. Red and Babe are the worst characters in the film by far and the sooner they were written out of the film the better.

The dynamic with Roy and Marie was much better even if she was not quite ready to be a big time criminal either. She has been around the block long enough not to make any big mistakes or get in the way but at the same time this isn’t completely her scene. She is part of why the main characters keep Pard (the dog) around and I am glad that she is so nice to him the whole time. I don’t think Pard should be in such a dangerous environment though. One wrong shot or step and it could be too dangerous so the sooner he wasn’t on screen the better.

Pard was a really great dog of course and knew a lot of tricks but I don’t think he would really want to be a criminal. Pard seems like an upstanding citizen to me. While Marie is good, she does get a bit jealous at one point and I think she focuses too much on romance. Romance is probably something you shouldn’t pursue when you’re in the company of criminals. Not the best batch of options after all.

As for Roy, well I liked him in a lot of ways but also not in others. His positive qualities boil down to the fact that he is confident and efficient. He is also a decent guy compared to the rest as he quickly steps in to help Marie and isn’t about to let these criminals do whatever they want. Nobody pushes Roy around and it’s easy to see how he became such a respected figure where nobody wants to mess with him anymore. Now as to why he was not particularly good. He ends up falling for a lady named Velma who can no longer walk.

Roy agrees to fix this for her and even calls in a surgeon. Keep in mind that the family is very poor and could not afford such an operation so Roy agrees to do it. Velma’s grandfather lets Roy know that she is taken but he doesn’t care. So the surgery is a success and then he asks her to marry him and sulks when she says no. My main problem with this is that the operation going well should have been the best day of her life and yet Roy had to ruin it by bringing this up.

He couldn’t take a hint either and just as bad was the fact that he didn’t try to hide his disappointment. So he goes out of his way to make Velma feel absolutely terrible on her big day and then he also insults the guy she intends to marry right away. Not only was his infatuation really rushed as it came out of nowhere but it just hurts him as a man. The instant he said he would pay for the surgery he should have been able to put on a brave face no mater what happened. You just end up feeling bad for Velma and the family by the end of it all.

As to the actual plot, well the heist is fairly quick but doesn’t go all that smoothly for the main characters. The two guys ended up holding Roy back quite a bit and the whole thing also just took too long. They should have definitely been out of there before the final interruption so I don’t get how it was taking them so long. The time they went wasn’t even that bad and the plan was decent but nothing works forever and that’s why time was of the essence.

The writing in the film was pretty solid. The pacing is good too and so the movie is always keeping your interest from start to finish. I thought the ending was effective and so you get a complete package here. The film is fundamentally sound so even if I think it could have been better, it’s one that I could recommend. Personally I just would have either removed the Velma subplot or made Roy handle it a little better. I just didn’t think it made sense how much the whole experience broke him since he seems like a guy with a lot of experience who would have been in this situation before.

Overall, High Sierra should have skipped the romance but even with it, this is still a solid title. I guess you could call it a heist film but that doesn’t seem right and calling it a thriller makes it sound more action packed than it is. I almost think drama would be the best genre for it, but either way just think of it as a low key film where the lead is trying to pull off a really big crime. It also serves as a reminder on why you shouldn’t drink too many beers as that can end up having a heavy cost.

Overall 7/10

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Review


Time to check out a manga about voice acting. It’s a fairly unique premise to build the series around and works well with your classic rom-com setup. If anything I thought this series really could have been quite a bit longer. I’d have liked to see Hime get to progress more so we could see her in the bigger productions. The series really seems to end just when she has broken out of her shell with the inevitable big time skip. 12 volumes is nothing to sneeze at but something like 16-20 would have been good. All in all, this is a fun series with a satisfying conclusion.

The series focuses around Hime who is a girl that really wants to be a talented voice actress. She attends Seiyu Academy for that one goal but she does have a big weakness. The problem is that her voice…makes her sound like a gorilla. The higher pitch she tries to use, the deeper and rougher the voice comes out. It’s all frustrating for Hime because she has been practicing for so long but has not even come close to her goal. Ultimately she wants to be a “Lovely Blazer” which is what the fighters in a popular anime/music group/vocal group are called. Meeting one in person was what inspired her as a kid.

Still, dreams are only dreams until she can get close. At the school she meets up with the popular boy at school known as Senri. Senri is the opposite as he is extremely talented in any role and is seen as a prodigy. Unfortunately they don’t get off on the right foot so he really dislikes her now. (His fault because he starts off by insulting her) When a play reading for Snow White goes wrong, Hime discovers that she does have exceptional voice acting talent…for male characters. This isn’t exactly her dream though and she wants to keep it a secret. She meets up with a voice coach who makes a deal with her. She has to keep performing as a guy in secret by dressing up as a guy and living a double life. If she can pull this off for a while then he promises to make her a big star as a girl too. Hime’s double life has now begun, but how long can she keep up the act!?

Double lives tend to be fun because it just opens up so many possibilities for story telling. It’s part of what makes superheroes fun as well. Hime has to keep on deceiving everyone as she pulls off her skills to the point where she has to even live at a different place temporarily so nobody knows what’s going on. She has some family issues at home though so this is easy. (Everyone has family issues in this series) Ironically enough, she gets along with Senri really well in her alter ego but the longer she keeps up the secret, the harder it will be to tell him the truth.

So there’s a ton going on here which is part of why I said it could have been longer. For starters, she’s in her boy form so long that “Hime” can vanish for whole volumes. It becomes very rare to see her at all sometimes to the point where you get used to her other design more. Each plot also has its own set of characters. As Hime she hangs out with the dropout group where the voice actors/actresses were just not big enough to be popular. At school they all help each other to be better. As “Shiro” she hangs out with the expert music stars and directors and also meets Mizuki, a guy who ends up liking her and is quite possibly the worst character in the series although I do not think this was intentional by the series.

So lets go through each side here. I would say the Shiro plot was the strongest one since it’s really the meat of the series. Having to assume a whole new identity and keep the bluff going allows for a lot of shenanigans to occur but also shows how versatile Shiro is. She is still able to make friends quickly and everyone respects her work ethic. She is still a newbie to all of this after all but begins to improve very quickly. Even the tough director gives her a pass after a while.

While I don’t like him, Mizuki will also stick up for her. This storyline also allows us to learn more about Senri’s situation which is certainly complicated. You know that this alter ego will have to end at some point but it’s fun for the duration of the series. I think Hime should even have kept that as something to use if she’s ever in a tough spot trying to find roles as herself. Or maybe reveal it by being in a show where she plays both roles but I’m not sure how feasible that would be long-term. The more the years go by the more her Shiro disguise likely wouldn’t work. It’s the kind of thing that mainly works because she’s still a kid, well I guess teenager at this point but still on the younger side.

As mentioned, Mizuki is just a character I didn’t like at all. The guy’s a big star who is really timid after things didn’t work out with the first girl he liked. He tried his best to help her out at every corner but ultimately this caused her to think he was stifling her development and she had an outburst before dashing off. Honestly I wouldn’t say he did anything wrong there and the girl just should have spoken up. Regardless this traumatized Mizuki so with Hime he is really trying to have a balance where he helps out but lets her do her own thing.

So that’s good but then he ends up trying to make some moves on her and this is where he faltered badly. He’s the kind of character who is nice one second and then quite rude the next. You were never rooting for him to win with her at any point. His origin was sad so you want to cut him some slack but he didn’t make the double life any easier on her when he starts up with the drama. At least he gave her the glasses which could help her get into the prince voice easier.

Senri gets a big role in both sides of the plot. While he doesn’t get along with Hime at all, he does form a quick bond with “Shiro”. After all, for him it’s just easier to hang out with another guy since he at least has some experience there. Senri easily has the biggest character arc in the series and it’s one that was handled well. He slowly breaks out of his shell and learns how to live normally. I thought his plot was usually the most engaging so I was always ready to see what was going on with him.

He also has the most tragic backstory of the group. So his mother Sakura is the world’s greatest actress. She didn’t start out that skilled but had a drive like no other. She ultimately had Senri as a kid but had stopped being an ordinary person long ago. So she raised him as if they were in a movie. Every action and moment was according to the characters they played and so she didn’t see him as her son. Senri grew up with this rather twisted view of the world where everyone was faking their actions and playing roles. This led to a lot of friendships being broken and his becoming a loner.

It’s easy to see how he doesn’t know how to connect with anyone in the present. It’s not like you pick up social skills automatically. How you’re raised plays a big role there and so he was completely broken since he was raised in a way where he didn’t know what was an emotion and what was the role. In the present it makes for an interesting character trait since he really can’t tell if he is in a role or not. That’s definitely a high level of trauma.

So while Sakura’s skills are very good, this hurts her as a character quite a bit. You like to think that she would have been able to raise Senri a little better than she did but he never ended up becoming her top priority. She would always choose work first and of course work is important but Senri’s life was very nearly ruined as a young age. Without Shiro he would have only grown worse.

Shuuma is Mizuki’s friend and he wasn’t very good right from the start. He jumps right towards bullying Shiro from the start to drive him away from Mizuki. It’s the kind of petty tactic that you can’t really come back from. So while this was short lived, it’s not like he had any great moments after this to improve his character further. Fujimori is another character from the agency plot and he’s much better. The guy is rivals with Mizuki but doesn’t randomly go after Shiro to make himself feel better.

In fact, he quickly learns that teamwork is good and is very supportive the whole time. He does end up getting caught in the romance crossfire between the other characters so they’ll randomly attack him but the guy meant well. He’s a rather minor character overall but he was always entertaining.

That’s about all of the characters from the Shiro plot. Before going over to Hime’s story, just a quick reminder that Hime = Shiro. Shiro is just the cover for Hime when she has to work as a guy for a while and using the separate terms in the review is an easy way to keep the two plots separate. For the most part the storylines and characters don’t interact nearly as much as you would expect. There is some overlap like how Senri is at school and in the business but for the most part he’s more of an exception.

Hime and Shiro have the same personality so there’s no sense in talking about the character twice. Hime is a solid main character. She may not be particularly talented at the start but she doesn’t let this get her down and just keeps at it until she can be the best. We actually do get to see a lot of chapters where Hime is training and practicing various steps. I would say it’s very rare that we see this level of training so the author really did a good job in showing just how much drive she had. If any character deserved to get good then it was her.

This is also what helped Haruka to be a likable character. So in the Hime plot, he has given her the mission to pretend to be a guy for a while to get her networking experience, connections, and basically because that’s the only kind of voice she can use at the moment. He acts tough on the outside but he really does this to help her out. So when she gets bullied or talked down to, he always has her back. There was one scene in particular where they go to Hime’s house because they needed permission from her mother for something.

In the scene Hime’s mother keeps talking about her other daughter and dissing Hime the whole time. Haruka was quick to take Hime’s defense and publicly support her there. I thought it was a really pivotal moment and you always want to have an ally like that. When Hime gets sick, Haruka helps make sure she gets peace and quiet. He ends up feeling like the parental figure that Hime never had.

While Hime’s mother looks bad the whole time, none of the blame can be put on Hime’s younger sister Akane. Akane is still just a kid and while she is super talented and successful, she is never mean about it. I get the feeling she’d like to be closer to Hime but it just isn’t possible in this toxic household. Between Hime and Senri’s mothers, the series certainly has a lot of broken households where the characters weren’t raised well. At least you’re glad that Akane was able to have a successful life so far.

Then you have Hime’s friends at school who are all in the delinquent/lower class because they struggle with one form of voicework or another. First is Tsukino and her issue is that her voice is just really low. It’s hard for her to use her voice more since she got bullied for it a whole lot. Part of Hime’s role in this group is to get everyone past their fears though and gradually Tsukino gets past hers. I wouldn’t say she gets a lot of moments in the series but everyone got something to do and this was a nice enough plot.

In general I just liked how close knit the group was and how they would all have each other’s backs during the tough times. Shou is the tough punk of the group and basically isn’t doing well because he can seem like a bit of a delinquent. This comes in handy though because he doesn’t let anyone mess with them. Additionally he’s able to be friends with Ume who had a tough time being with others. Ume could be a little stuck up at times and with her talent for writing scripts, she wouldn’t take the voice actors/actresses into account. Gradually she is able to fix this.

That really wraps up both sides of the adventures here. The cast is fairly large here and they’re all balanced well. It does go back to what I was saying about the series being a little short though. With all of these characters I really think it could have been really good to have just had a few more volumes. It feels like there is still so much to do when the series ends. We didn’t really get to see everyone’s reactions to finding out about Hime, her journey into being more successful, etc. You just have to try your best to fit in the pieces when the time skip jumps in.

The artwork here is good. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the stronger Shojo titles that I’ve read in that area but the writing is able to hold it up. You’ll be blasting through each volume because it just ends up being a real page turner. The humor works well enough and balances out the more serious moments here. I suppose the romance wasn’t bad. Any scene with Mizuki in it was always annoying but the rest wasn’t super dramatic nor was it usually the focus so that helped. This way the title got to be more about the various friendships with the characters and how they all help each other to succeed. An academy where you train to be a professional should be a place like that where you can count on others to have your back.

Overall, Voice Over is a series that I would certainly recommend. It’s a fairly unique premise and it’s always fun to see the inner workings of how the voices go. Changing up your voice and doing a lot of roles always seems like something that would be difficult to do. Naturally it’s best when people just like your default voice so you can keep using that but I want to say that most won’t be so lucky. You’ll need to be able to play many different roles. So if you’re up for a light hearted adventure then this is a fun one to check out. Where else will you get a fun comedy with the main character living two lives right?

Overall 7/10

Left Behind II: Tribulation Force


In Left Behind 2 the situation continues to grow more dangerous for the heroes. Nicolae has gotten even more support so he now effectively runs the free world and has full access over the media. This makes it more difficult to stop him and the heroes also have the knowledge that they can’t stop him. How should they proceed now and will this cause tensions among the group? They will have to pray that they make the right decisions or their Tribulation Force will be over before it has truly begun.

The first film ended with the heroes having some hope here because they did manage to get a moral victory with Buck becoming a Christian so he can not be deceived by Nicolae’s persuasive abilities. This film also has a similar kind of tone to it as the heroes know they cannot win the war so they have to secure smaller victories in the meantime. Every life they save is a big accomplishment in itself so they have to keep on trying their best and taking as many risks as needed.

Why have they accepted defeat in terms of stopping Nicolae? Well, the reason actually makes sense. The events are playing out exactly as they were foretold in the Bible which is what helped get the main characters into becoming Christians. As such, they know that what is written has to come true which means that the Anti Christ will come to power and the temple will be rebuilt. The main characters then know that these events have to happen but it’s possible they can at least slow things down or convert more people in the meantime. It comes down to the classic debate where if you know what the future holds and can’t change it, are your other actions all predestined as well so no matter what you choose, the end result is the same?

Well to keep it brief, while the future will happen as foreseen by God, there’s no way for anyone to actually know the future. (You can safely ignore fortune tellers and such for that reason) Not to say God can’t enhance someone with future sight as done in the past but there’s no way to tell if someone is scamming you or not. If they say they know when he is coming back then you know it’s a scam because the Bible makes it clear that nobody would know. As for any other predictions, I would still ignore them since it’s safer to just accept that the future is unknown outside of what’s written in the Bible.

So going back to the characters, they still have to try their best because regardless of how the future will play out, they don’t know what’s going to happen so going in half heartedly is not the way to do it. You do understand why Rayford doesn’t want to be driving Nicolae around though. Being the personal driver for the Anti-Christ is not something you want on your resume but ultimately I was on Bruce’s side here. Now if Nicolae starts asking Rayford to commit some actual crimes then it’s time to draw the line. This connection comes in handy almost right away too.

Rayford takes some rather extreme risks the whole time though. He has no real subtlety when going around and downloading files from the computer. It works out but you do feel like he should have done a smoother job of the whole thing. In general Rayford looked good here. He helped to patch things up with Chloe and Buck while also doing on all kinds of missions so he was really busy here.

Buck’s the other main hero and things are also tough for him the whole time. Being a reporter and having to be at the front lines every time with Nicolae watching his every move has to be unnerving. There was a really random scene though where there’s a new boss at his company who wants to give him a hard time. Fortunately his old assistant showed up in time to defend him but the whole thing felt random. Nicolae really wants Buck on his side so you feel like the company would have gotten the memo. Imagine if Buck was fired there? That would have thrown Nicolae’s plans for a loop and it just seemed odd that this would even come close to happening.

That’s the one scene that felt really out of place in the movie. As always Buck fought through it though and keeps having a critical role throughout the movie. Then we have Chloe who has a much bigger role in this film but unfortunately it’s not a good one. She is mainly used to add a big romance/drama subplot which wasn’t needed. She gets jealous quickly, doesn’t listen or give Buck a chance to explain and hurts the team’s morale. It feels like she took the longest to really get on board with what’s going on and you would have thought she would have made more progress by now. At least things are squared away by the ending so she should be good in the third film but I’d definitely be cool with the subplot vanishing. I don’t think this is the perfect time for romance with the end of the world going on.

Bruce doesn’t get as much to do in the field but he’s effectively the group’s field commander so he helps with coordinating everything and making sure that the characters are all on the same page. He is the one giving the sermons at Church to help convert more people so his role is definitely pivotal either way. It probably would have been tough to balance another subplot too.

Then we have the main villain Nicolae who still makes for an imposing figure. He’s got a fairly strong chokehold on the world and uses his powers effectively to break everyone down. The guy rarely breaks down but that does make it satisfying when the heroes do finally get one up over him. In a way these films are definitely about a lot of strategic battles. There are a lot of rules by which Nicolae can use his power, for example he can use telepathy to an extent but he’s not seemingly allowed to just use this on the whole planet and be done with it which does give the heroes a chance here.

One character who was annoying the whole time was Chris though. So this guy didn’t take the rapture very well and refuses to believe in God. He storms out of the church and then nearly commits suicide. He even pointed a gun at Rayford and nearly took it all out on him which would have really been crazy. The heroes do have a scene where they try to talk him down right outside of the Church btu that doesn’t end up working out so well. Only Rayford is able to turn him by the end. So Chris ends up in a good spot but I certainly wouldn’t have minded if he was cut out.

Overall, Left Behind II is a solid sequel. While it doesn’t quite match up to the original with the intense rapture scene and setting the board for each of the characters it is a good sequel. Each of the characters gets to continue their journey and get closer to God. The journey is quite early though to the point where you could say they are still at the very beginning and will need to steel themselves for what is to come. Buck will certainly have to be extremely careful now since Nicolae will likely know that he has been betrayed. It’s possible that he won’t know but I’m pretty sure he figured it out. By extension Rayford should be careful as well since they are seen together a lot. All it takes is one traitor in the congregation to put everyone at risk. Next up is the final of the original Left Behind trilogy movies so we’ll see how that one goes.

The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days Review


Next up on the Seven Deadly Sins spinoff list is more of a romance title. Yes, Seven Days is a title that I would consider to be a romance first and foremost which is a first for this series. The main manga certainly had its share of romance plots but it was always an action/adventure as the main genre. Well, this title is exclusively about the romance between Ban and Elaine which is a change of pace right away. I’m not a big fan of the romance myself but the story is told well. We get some action and the characters are nice enough so that ends up being a win.

The story starts off by explaining that Elaine is one of the fairies tasked with protecting the fountain of eternal youth from any who should go into the forest. Fortunately she is not alone, her brother is the fairy king and he is incredibly strong. There are many powerful fairies within the forest and even the trees automatically protect against intruders. Unfortunately a bunch of the fairies were suckered by a corrupt human who kidnapped them and the King went off to save them. The rest of the fairies quickly ran away back to the Fairy Realm so Elaine is tasked as the only fairy left who must protect the whole kingdom on her own. The King said he would return shortly but now 700 years have passed. One day a mysterious traveler named Ban appears and he is in search of the fountain of Eternal Youth. Elaine must stop him but he seems different from the rest.

Elaine has good reasons to be really jaded at humanity. She has the ability to read minds and so far everyone who has come to the fountain to gain eternal youth has been a complete criminal. They all end up being liars and try to attack her right away. Fortunately she has been strong enough to defeat them all with ease but between that and a lot of the fairies being kidnapped, the humans do not look very trustworthy at all. Ban’s really shown to be the only good human here.

It is unfortunate that the rest of the fairies look so weak though. Losing to random humans like this isn’t a good look for them. If these were higher ranked villains then that would be different but the way they lost was sad. Even Elaine who looks impressive against the humans ends up faltering when an actual monster shows up. The Fairies definitely need some good power ups so they can alter the balance of power because this is really not working out for them.

Yes, a monster does show up in the second volume to add a little danger to the equation. Of course if you’ve read the main series then you know how this adventure has to end. In case you haven’t, I can say that this definitely changes the dynamic of the series and ties into Ban’s role in the main title. The ending is definitely an emotional one but with enough hope left where you know the characters can still have a chance.

The battle scene was also solid. It’s cool to see Ban fighting back in the day before he got his powers. He was still a strong fighter but of course not on the same level that he is currently. He fights more carefully than in the main series since he really can’t afford to be getting hit like normal but in the end he still can’t quite go up against the really strong opponents without his abilities.

Ban’s a likable character here. He’s quick to give up on his journey when he learns that it will hurt the forest and from then on just tries to help Elaine get through her boredom. I’m still not a fan of the romance angle here but at least through the series we take 7 days before they start to be together instead of right away. Still not a whole lot of time but since they’re both bored with absolutely nothing to do, it’s 7 days where they’re hanging out 24/7 instead of some hours at a time.

I also think the artist did a better job of drawing Elaine to look a little older at least. We know she’s 1000+ years old and all but when she looks too young it just doesn’t feel right. Still not a perfect scenario but better than it could have been. As for Elaine, she’s a good lead. She did well to protect the forest for 700 years without any real backup. (She has a demon dog but he vanishes whenever villains appear) If I was her I would be sore at how everyone just vanished though. The fairies completely ditched her so maybe she should have ditched the forest and left as well. The task just feels completely unreasonable.

It’s also a shame that she doesn’t have more ways to fight off this monster. I feel like she should have some kind of special abilities that would aid her here but she wasn’t really able to do much against this beast. If Ban were not here then she would have gone down in an instant. Ultimately she stayed heroic through to the end though and did not complain as she looked through the forest. It was certainly a relief for her to read Ban’s mind and finally find an honest human for the first time. Having the ability to read someone’s mind has got to be a very comforting feeling since you know for a fact that you aren’t being tricked.

This series (2 volumes, but that’s enough to be called a series I suppose) has a very small cast but I think that’s intentional to show how alone Elaine is. The other fairies appear briefly in volume 1 but after that it’s really just her and Ban the whole time. It’s hard to imagine how she didn’t go crazy just wandering around the forest for 700 years with nothing to do aside from murdering the occasional trespasser. There is some dialogue about how the passage of time feels different for immortals because of just how long it is but that’s still just a really long amount of time.

Also from just reading this series, you have to be mad at the King. He told her he’d be right back and then vanishes for 700 years? Aside from his death or complete memory erasure there is really no excuse for that. I also think there’s no excuse for other Fairies not arriving to work in shifts or to try and get her some intel. They sure show up very quickly in the epilogue when Ban’s around so where were they until then? These are the kinds of allies that you absolutely do not want.


Overall, Seven Days was a fun spinoff. It does show that you can have a quality romance adventure even if you’re not on board with the actual romance. The story’s very low key with lots of scenes of Ban just reading a book about beer labels to Elaine as he wows her with his adventures. The fact that this book is so low key is the point as she’s desperate for any activity that will erase her boredom and it’s a good way to connect the two characters. Elaine was always a fun enough character in the main series while Ban could be hit or miss. He was at his best in this story though and the author understood his character well. The ending is also solid and ties into the main series smoothly. As the story is stand alone you can read this without context of the main series and maybe it’ll even help you to give it a read. Either way, you’ll have a good time reading these two volumes.

Overall 7/10