Riddick Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This film is definitely very ambitious. It actually does something that I thought was clever which I’ll get into but ultimately it’s squandered away by tons of animal violence throughout the film and another batch of super unlikable characters. Seriously there is at least one character here who really should have gotten taken out way sooner. This is a survival film through and through which doesn’t hold back.

The movie starts off with Riddick stranded on a desert planet. See, he may have been strong back in the day but he’s lost a step once he became king. He allows himself to be suckered by the most obvious traitor of all time and gets absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe this, he really just lost to a super whiny character in a situation that was obviously a trap? Well, Riddick has decided to see the silver lining here and figures he will train until he is ruthless and a super powerful beast again. The first half of the film is about him learning how each of the different wildlife acts and adapting himself in turn. It doesn’t make for a very enjoyable watch but it’s interesting. See I thought the whole film was going to be about this and it would have been an experimental film without much dialogue.

Then the two annoying groups of bounty hunters show up and I realized the angle that I liked here. See, when a group shows up on an alien planet the movie is always about them getting picked off one by one from the mysterious alien creatures and the serial killer on the loose. Well, this time we got to see all of them first and then we’re introduced to the villains. So it was sort of a reverse scenario right there. I like the idea behind it at least but the film doesn’t really make the most of it. First off the original group are basically all villains with no interests greater than their primal desires. One of them wants to assault the heroine from the second film throughout the movie, the main guy just wants the money for capturing and murdering Riddick, the other are here for money.

There isn’t much to these villains and the problem is that the personalities that we do get just aren’t that good. For example the perverted villain should have been murdered several times during the movie. Each time the girl would beat him up which is cool and all but considering his intentions he should have absolutely been murdered the second time. I was hoping Riddick really had sabotaged the equipment room so that as soon as the guy opened it, it would blow up. That would have been fantastic because this guy seriously didn’t contribute anything. Bumping him out of the movie would have been a great idea.

The main villain is your classic coward who can only make a move when everything is in his favor. Otherwise the guy just folds immediately and really isn’t much of a leader. So that leads us to the second group and at least they were decent. The leader is the father of the main villain from the first film and unlike his son he actually seems like a very capable commander. The tension here is wondering if the guy will turn evil and fold at the first sign of adversity like his son or if he will do well to the end. It works as a nice parallel even if you have a general idea of where this will go. The movie does a good job of giving you enough fake-outs and turns to keep you guessing. He was a good character though.

I also liked Dahl who was the lady who kept beating up the first punk. She was tough and could hold her own in a fight. Considering how often she was targeted Dahl did a great job of always watching her back and keeping her gun ready. I just feel like keeping the guy alive was too much of a risk considering that he had no moral compass at all. The rest of the mercenaries are mainly forgettable but in general the team of professionals were way better than the random bunch of bounty hunters.

Riddick was back to looking like a true professional after the opening scene so he was really good here. He perhaps took too many risks though once he tried bartering with the other hunters. I feel like his plan wasn’t very strong when he went off to meet them and could have been picked off at any time. He had the power cores as insurance but even so it was a really big gamble that ultimately didn’t pay off. He lost his dog as a result of his plan after all.

Horrible scene by the way and one of the many moments that doomed this film. The instant he adopted an alien dog I knew things weren’t going well and that’s always rough. It’s come to the point where you don’t want to see an animal in any film because you know that’s going to be used as easy revenge bait. Films need to resist this and yet they have not been able to so far. I need the film to surpass its limits and go away from that but it’s probably going to be a while at this rate. Beyond the dog you also have a lot of creatures getting eaten and ripped to pieces either by Riddick or by other creatures.

It’s one reason why survival films rarely end up being very good because part of the genre is seeing what the heroes are surviving and inevitably that means a bunch of animals are going to die. It’s unfortunate but that’s usually what it boils down to. This film goes back to embracing the violence on a high scale like the first film and definitely gets really excessive. Throw in the sub par cast of character and you really have a losing formula here. It’s easily the weakest of the 3 films so the movie series ends on a sour note.

Overall, There’s no real reason to watch this film. You’re better off watching the original if you want the alien plot or checking out the second one for the lore. Of course all the lore gets thrown out here as they make Riddick look super sloppy to have an excuse for the film 2 cast to beat him up. The opening just makes him look soooo bad. I also feel like it wasn’t smart to change the venue so drastically like this because it makes film 2 completely pointless but I suppose it is what it is. Maybe if we get a 4th film they’ll course correct again and go back to the sci-fi wars of the second film. That would actually be pretty funny but something tells me the 4th film will take a while.

Overall 1/10

The Chronicles of Riddick Review

This Riddick film is definitely quite a bit different from the first and the last one. It feels like it has nothing to do with the rest of the series which is what makes it interesting. Still, I can’t say that it’s a good film. It’s heads and shoulders above the other two without a doubt but the world building isn’t as interesting as it could have been and there aren’t many likable characters here. I do think the direction it was going in had some potential though but ultimately this is a sci-fi title that you will soon forget.

The movie starts with Riddick dodging bounty hunters and proving why he is still one of the most dangerous guys on the planet. Unfortunately he underestimates a galactic army known as the Necromongers who show up and quickly put him in his place. These guys have been taking down whole planets and so Riddick wasn’t much of a challenge. He escapes but then gets captured again and that’s sort of how the film goes. The movie tries to give Riddick a lot of hype while at the same time giving a lot of hype to the villains and so what happens is there’s a whole lot of back and forth the whole time. Honestly I thought it was a bit overdone and ended up just making Riddick look a little bad. At times there was nothing he could do to be sure, but it was still rough for him. Can he stop this empire?

Like I said the plot is a bit odd here because instead of this being an alien survival film suddenly you have cosmic dynasties, people with superpowers, a lot of lore, interuniversal wars, etc. It’s all rather wild but I like the idea behind it. Like Riddick is just a guy in a really massive universe so the first film was just a little pocket. Hey it’s a good way to expand the rest of the universe but the downside is that you probably won’t care for a while. This could have easily been leveraged into a huge sci-fi franchise but that didn’t happen. I’ll touch more on this in the sequel but this plot ultimately doesn’t matter much. Of course I don’t think it’s fair to judge the film in hindsight so for now we’re not going to worry about the third film.

I mentioned that you’re just not very interested in the whole cosmic plot and that’s the real underlying issue here. The movie also brings back the heroine from the first film, Jack. Jack’s completely different now though as she’s a hardened murderer who has seen and experienced a lot of rough stuff which has made her very tough. It’s a rather rough backstory for her that’s needlessly edgy and everyone looks bad in the process. Basically Riddick abandoned her for ages thinking that he was helping by keeping the heat off of her but other villains came anyway and got her so the whole thing was messed up. I do feel like you have to always take the person you want to protect with you because otherwise you really don’t know if that person is safe or not. Trusting that things will go well isn’t viable in the real world, let alone a sci-fi universe with super aliens in it.

I do like Jack’s new personality quite a bit as she’s really tough and can fight now. She definitely takes some serious risks but in a prison filled with the worst thugs in the universe you have to always emit a tough persona or you’re doomed. I’m not a big fan of films that take place in a prison ordinarily for this reason though as the characters will all be so nasty that even as antagonists they aren’t even remotely interesting.

Jack and Riddick really have to carry the film. While Riddick loses a lot and doesn’t match his film 1 portrayal, he still talks tough all the time and gets his share of wins. I always like seeing him take down some villains and kick things into the next gear. The final fight in the film gave him a lot of credit in the determination side since he was completely outgunned but never gave up. That’s not an easy thing to pull off.

Speaking of the final fight though, the power levels get a bit wonky here. So the head Marshal has super speed and strength which seem classic for a super villain. The big problem is that writers forget how overpowered super speed is. When you have that then you shouldn’t be losing to just about anyone. It’s just not going to happen and Riddick shouldn’t be landing any hits. Of course the guy gets a little overconfident and doesn’t watch his back but you still have a hard time buying into it. The actual fight is great and I liked that we were getting into the superhuman feats here but the power levels were definitely iffy.

There’s also the general named Vaako whose wife keeps telling him to overthrow the leader and rule the place but I never liked him. He was completely indecisive for the entirety of the film so she had to keep on goading him. Honestly she made for the much better villain because at least she was scheming and cackling throughout the whole movie. She had actual ambitions and was doing whatever she could to secure the win. That’s what you want to see in a villain and she was even threatening the wind elemental. The lady knew no fear! (Yes there are wind elementals here but this doesn’t really add anything to the plot. I guess it’s cool to have spirits running around but you could cut her out of the film and not much would change)

I would have liked Vaako more if he had ambitions of his own. Instead he hesitates so much that he squanders his opportunity. Even Toombs was better as the bounty hunter villain here even though he wasn’t very smart either. The guy definitely got too greedy and it cost him which is a running theme for the villains. The film isn’t as violent as the first one but still gets rather intense. The film can often focus on the violence more than it needs to which doesn’t do it any favors. At least there isn’t much time for romance here. The film isn’t devoid of it completely but for the most part it stays focused and on task.

Overall, The main problem with this film is that while it is very ambitious in introducing a ton of factions, armies, and new concepts, it doesn’t do much with them. It feels like they are retroactively trying to make this the next Star Wars and failing epicly. The only real benefit of this approach was that we got to really see the future technology more this way. The final fight was a great visual spectacle and Riddick is still a solid main character. It can’t get over the issues so I would recommend watching the Star Trek movie instead but if they keep this storyline up (….we’ll see) then there is potential here. I’ll have the review for the third film up soon.

Overall 4/10

Asdivine Menace Review

Whenever there is an Asdivine game that is a direct sequel it’s really cool to see. It’s not everyday that you get to see what happens after the heroes have saved the day. It has certainly happened like in Golden Sun but I would argue that it is still more on the rare side. Of course the whole Asdivine series is interconnected by the two goddesses from the first game and it’s cool to wonder where everyone is at these days. We do see a cameo of the cat but since Zack and the heroine took over the roles later on maybe this takes place early in the continuity. It could also be a multiverse setting. Either way that’s not important to this game but it’s fun to think about.

The game starts with Izayoi waking up after the 100 years slumber he had to take from the first game. He saved the universe though so things should be good but unfortunately that isn’t the case when he wakes up. His powers still haven’t fully returned for some reason and the Murk (Shadow energy that corrupts all) is still around. Then a goddess from another universe arrives and explains that things are getting worse across all of the dimensions. Izayoi decides to go and tells the other gods to watch over the universe while he’s gone. This writes out the cast from the first game so don’t expect them to do much aside from quick appearances here and there. Instead the main cast is this goddess, a shrine maiden, and a mysterious little girl who accompany Izayoi. He must check in on all 4 of the universes and take down the main villain.

It’s a pretty fun plot because this was also foreshadowed back in the first game. It had that creepy ending with a girl appearing and she’s the main villain here. Her backstory is also kinda tragic so you can see why she got this demented. Of course it’s another cast of “Sad story but you’re still evil bro” moment but I appreciate the game giving her such a tragic backstory where you can really see why she went the way that she did. It would have been tough to have been on her own for so long. The story evolves quite a lot as you play through it and we have a pretty big cast here. Izayoi is as oblivious as ever and one of the characters is also super oblivious in nature which makes for some fun dialogue. On the whole this game does lean more into the shipping than some of the other Asdivine games but the core story will tide you over. It’s a good premise here and the game takes advantage of the fact that you are playing as a super powerful god this time around. You aren’t going to back down when the villains show up and that’s how it should be.

Of course the whole “I’m depowered!” trope is a bit annoying since at full power this would all be trivial but you do understand why they went in this direction since ordinarily Izayoi could just wipe everyone out. My counter would just be to make the enemies all scale up to gods though. It would be interesting to just make this a big fight between gods of all sorts of dimensions. There is still a human villain here as well but he looks really bad the whole time. Yeah he is being suckered for a good portion of the game but he was suckered too easily and it doesn’t take away from what he was doing. The guy doesn’t have a lot of strength of heart and do I don’t cut him any slack here.

The graphics are really good here as expected. I really like the way that the cosmic realm looks and of course it has one of the best tracks in the game as well. You really feel like this is a big battle to end them all. The fights are also really tough and the game notches the difficulty level a few layers higher to really make the whole thing feel authentic. No expense is spared for this game and you appreciate that. All of the tracks are excellent as you would expect too so the game really has no weak points. You definitely feel like going for the true ending as a result. I went for that right away and even with all of my level ups it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I’ll try getting the rest of the true endings at some point.

The length is fairly standard for an Asdivine game at around 15-20 hours. You shouldn’t have a problem really diving through the game and by the time you get the platinum as well we’re definitely looking at closer to 30 hours. It’s a fun experience all the way through and well worth the price. The gameplay is top tier as always with Asdivine. The game doesn’t have some of the quality of life features that the others have but it’s got the ones that matter like battle effects and reducing enemy encounters in the wild. Then when you want to grind you can increase the encounters.

The only mechanic I never really used was Unison here. You could merge magic attacks so you do them all in one turn but then the other characters did not get a turn so I never felt like it was worth it. To me it just seemed like using your normal attacks but with more steps so why would I really need to do that? I’m sure there is some benefit but I couldn’t really figure out what it is. Just focus on leveling up and buying all of the EXP upgrades. Do that and you should be good and ready to take on any challenger. Some bosses may still take you more than one attempt but that’s normal so fight hard and just keep pressing forward!

Overall, Asdivine Menace does a great job of following up Dios and it’s a blast to see the old cast again. It would have been nice if more of the old characters could have participated as well. Maybe in a third game we would get to see the extended cast of both games team up. That would be a blast and to this day I’m waiting for an Asdivine game where the protagonists of all the games get to team up. Now there would be a game for the ages! Trust me, it would be incredible and probably a 9 star game right out of the gate. The longer we wait on doing this, the more leads there will be to crossover so I suppose that’s a plus. I definitely recommend picking up this RPG.

Overall 8/10

Missing Review

The first film in the kidnapping series was pretty good so the question was definitely if this sequel would also be solid or would it just sort of do the same things all over again? Well it should feel rather similar in a lot of ways but the actual mystery is very different. I also think the approach of only having the characters appear through phone cameras and computer cams is such a good idea that you could do a lot of these without it getting old.

The movie starts with showing us June’s past and how her father died a while back. Grace has done her best to raise June but is now looking to rebound with another guy named Kevin and so the two of them are going on a trip for a while. June will stay at home with the neighbor as a caretaker. June figures she’ll just throw a huge party in protest but when she gets to the airport to await her mom’s return, Grace never appears. June starts to dig deeper into this and it would appear that her mother may have been kidnapped. The problem is that this took place in a different country and June can’t speak Spanish. Additionally her funds are low and it’s hard to dig up any leads. How can she find her mom?

As this is a mystery film the plot will continue to adapt and evolve as June finds out more pieces to the puzzle. The less you know about the actual story, the more you will enjoy the experience. In that way mystery films do tend to have less replay value than other genres since the main hook is finding out what’s going on. In a rewatch you will of course know all of this right from the jump. The execution is good enough where it’ll be a pretty good watch either way though. The movie does a good job of slowly increasing the tension with each scene and the more June finds out, the deeper the mystery goes. There are a lot of red herrings and misdirects along the way but none that leave you shaking your head. Everything here makes sense.

Sure you can probably find some little things that you can drill into or nitpicks here and there but on the whole it all makes sense. The only scene that did stretch things a bit involved opening the door in a very shady circumstance. So to keep this very vague, if someone knocks on the door and asks you to let him in….the first thing you should do is not let him in and then call the cops. If you want to play it safe you can say that you’re coming to the door or something to stall for time and make it sound like you will open while you call the cops. All very valid strategies here but under no circumstances do you open the door. Yes, that includes if it’s a friend you recognize or a distant family member.

With very few exceptions should you open that door and considering all of the circumstances here I thought it was crazy that the door was opened. It’s the only part where it felt like the film got a little sloppy and should have come up with another scenario. It does lead us to a rather intense climax though. In the climax my only note is what I say for all action films. If you finally get the upper hand on your attacker and knock him down, you really got to finish him off. Yeah you may have some mixed feelings about this but keep in mind that if you’re in a life or death situation, turning your back to an opponent who is only stunned will lead to disaster every time. I’m not saying you have to go lethal here but at least put the opponent in a position where he can’t get up. Break a leg or something but a quick extra blow to the head is probably easier and quicker since you’re not going to be in the best state to calculate your next move. Every time a hero knocks the villain down and turns to run instead I just have to shake my head.

Meanwhile June is a solid main character here. She definitely doesn’t start off as being particularly likable so her character arc is about being more grateful and voicing her concerns instead of bottling everything up. As a result she is good by the end but for the first chunk of the film you just feel bad for Grace the whole time. Well you still feel bad for her by the end too but you aren’t blaming it on June by then. Grace is a good character as well but she definitely kept too many things to herself. Depending on what she had told June earlier she could have avoided large parts of the film.

We could have the whole rebound conversation here as well but I’m going to go for a different tact here instead. Now, I still say the rebound’s not a good idea and going off on a trip and leaving your daughter behind is even more sketchy. No, what I’m going to focus on here is online dating. Yeahhhhhhhh that’s never a good idea. I’m just going to come out strong here and say that you should never even try online dating. It may be a bit jaded of me but as it is you can barely really know someone in real life. Trying to know someone online just adds a whole other layer to it. You have absolutely no idea what the person on the other side is even like.

There’s also already the idea that if someone has resorted to online dating then dating in person hasn’t been working out so well so you’re probably dealing with some issues here. You just can’t believe anything you hear over the computer and when she vanishes Kevin would be my first suspect too. Sure he has an emotional sob story he explains over the computer and he’s been through a tough time but what would make me believe any of it? I’m telling you I’m just too jaded for online dating and a film like this one sort of just underscores the point even more. Whether he ends up being the villain or not, you just think about what could have been.

Actually that does remind me of one more scene that was a bit plot convenient. It involves a shootout that seems to escalate a little too quickly. Especially with the stakes involves you figure that this just wouldn’t happen. It still can and does happen at times in real life so it’s not a big thing, just a small thought. It felt a little convenient and I would have bought into the person tripping a little more readily.

The film is fairly serious the whole time so the brief bouts of humor from Javier and Veena are nice little icebreakers here. Javier is someone June hires to help her find some clues and he really does a good job. The guy is trying really hard and you like his determination because he clearly doesn’t have a ton of money and is trying to earn a little extra on the side. He’s got an old fashioned bike while everyone has a moped so he’s definitely at a disadvantage but doesn’t give up. Then you have June’s friend Veena who is good for moral support. She can maybe be a bit oblivious to context clues like treating the case as if it was a TV episode though.

Overall, Missing is a very solid movie. The mystery will definitely have you engaged and invested from start to finish. There are a lot of twists and turns here and I can safely say that I didn’t guess the whole mystery. It’s a fairly small cast so statistically you have a decent chance of picking out who the villain is but picking it out through logic as opposed to by chance will likely be difficult. The film does give you a fair amount of clues though so the whole thing feels fair. My main gripe with mystery films can be when they just make it up and so this film dodges that completely. You’ll end up being satisfied with the reveal as well as the conclusion. Missing is really a complete package all the way around. I’ll definitely be up for more films in this style. I feel like the next logical step is to have the main character be kidnapped this time but she has her phone or laptop with her and so she can communicate but her gps has been deactivated somehow. So she has to try and find someone to help her but of course it’s tough when you don’t know where you are. Who knows, maybe the studio will consider this idea!

Overall 7/10

Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – Battle for Sanctuary Review

It’s time to jump back into the world of Saint Seiya. It’s definitely impressive how many times we get to see the classic arc of the Bronze Saints running through the temples. This one does a good job of redoing the saga. Ultimately while the CG will always have its limits against the classic hand drawn style, it does a good job with the colors and action. It’s also setting up some original storylines for this version which is a good way to differentiate itself from the original story. All in all, whether you’re a fan of Saint Seiya or not you should still have a great time here.

Well last time things ended on a rather intense note as Athena was stabbed with an arrow. Basically this was no ordinary arrow and any attempt to pull it out of her would destroy the goddess immediately. The only one who can take this out is the Pope but he is the one trying to murder Athena. Seiya and friends have no choice but to go and invade the 12 castles and reach the Pope in Sanctuary. To do this they will have to defeat the 12 Gold Saints, the strongest fighters in history. Can they pull this off or are they already doomed? They won’t know until they try and as they are true heroes they won’t back down until they have made this a reality. It is time for their ultimate battle.

One of the fun things about this arc is how it’s basically nonstop action. The heroes go from one fight to the next without much in the way of breaks. It’s also what makes their victories even more impressive because they are fighting the strongest foes in existence and they are doing this without stopping to catch their breath or anything like that. Of course you know that Seiya is ready for such a challenge but what about the others? They haven’t had a chance to do much of anything in the Netflix version up to now. Well, you will be glad to know that they look better here even if Seiya is still the one doing most of the work.

One of the original storylines I mentioned involves Genet who didn’t just get written out of the story this time. Instead she continues to act as a knight and has been added to the Marin subplot. She gets an original scene involving confronting her master and at the rate we’re going she may get even more screen time in season 3. This change works pretty well as it’s a very natural way of expanding the cast and I think she has a lot of potential here. Hopefully she really gets to show her stuff and even takes down a strong opponent. I’m not asking for a gold saint in particular but beating a silver saint for example would be great.

One addition that didn’t work as well was Virgo Shaka’s skeleton minions. I didn’t really see the point of these guys. I suppose they were there to temporarily split up the saints again but it felt more like the show was stalling for time than anything. Like they were just here so that the season could end at a specific point. Perhaps that is exactly the case but they weren’t very interesting villains and of course one turned huge. That’s the CG dream after all, to throw in a giant boss. Even the movie did that but there was just no point for these guys and I couldn’t take them seriously. Since it didn’t come at the expense of the main story though I was okay with this.

Tauros looks impressive here as he takes out all of the saints aside from Seiya in one shot. Those guys were definitely found lacking when it counted but they did a good job of showing Seiya overcoming the odds. One thing I’ve really liked here is how he grows wings of energy when he powers up. It’s a really nice touch as the Pegasus saint and also makes him stand out. So I thought that was a really good idea right off the bat. I also like the way the cosmos is portrayed visually. When Seiya powers up you can really tell if he’s burning the cosmos at a higher level or if he can go even further based on if it’s just blue or blue and red. So the fight was satisfying.

The show also gave a better reason for why he and Mu aren’t helping out more. Because in this show they actually are helping out but then they get taken out by the Pope. It’s little details like this which the show executes well. It’s effectively looking at some of the criticisms of the arc and making changes to make things work a little better. Even the whole prophecy angle about how Athena will cause everyone to die is better than them blindly following the Pope. Not by a large margin mind you since I still blame them a whole lot but it’s still something. Every bit counts here.

Then we have the Gemini armor who crushed Hyoga rather quickly (This is a really bad season for Hyoga I have to say. He got wrecked by Aldebaran, then he got wrecked by Gemini, and then he got destroyed by Camus. The guy could not catch a break here) and then we get the good fight with Andromeda. It was certainly Andromeda’s stand out moment in the season so far as she made the most of her chain. I may not be the biggest fan of the chain in general but it still does turn up when it counts. The Gemini armor is also fun with how he makes the illusions and changes the fights up. You can’t approach him the way you would an ordinary foe.

Not much to say about Camus since he shows up and takes care of business immediately but I like how cold and calculating he is. The guy may not be heroic but you can imagine him protecting his temple with ease. Deathmask is still the biggest disgrace to the Saints. I can’t believe this guy was ever allowed to be a Gold Saint because you’d expect them not to employ actual mass murderers right? It would have been nice if they threw in a line about how the Pope only recently brought him in as a gold saint. That would have done wonders for the saints in general. Of course it was nice to see Shiryu crush him either way.

Then we got the really big fight with Aiolia which was always a standout battle. This guy’s light speed punches are incredible and he just keeps making them faster and faster. It’s a fight where Seiya has to keep on getting stronger and it’s fair to say that Aiolia has to be one of the most powerful Gold Saints. He at least does his brother proud in deciding to finally question the Pope and seek out answers. Unfortunately it doesn’t go great but the attempt was nice. He’s one of the few Gold Saints who is actually likable as a person rather than just as a villain to be defeated. We also get to see Aiolia take on Milo and considering how weakened Aiolia is, it was impressive to see him going toe to toe like that. I doubt many other Saints could have pulled that off.

Of course then we get to Virgo Shaka who is always very impressive with his power level. Many consider him to be the most powerful Golden Saint and those who don’t say he is second to Gemini Saga. You can make good arguments either way although I always do give Gemini Saga the edge here. His raw power is just so incredible but Virgo Shaka is clearly giving everyone a good fight. Fortunately Phoenix Ikki shows up for his big fight in the season. (Yeah I’m not going to call him Nero) Definitely one of the standout fights in the whole season with a lot of back and forth as we see exactly why Phoenix’s cloth is so legendary. No other cloth can regenerate like his and Ikki is basically immortal due to being the Phoenix saint. It’s a very potent combo to be sure and keeps him in the fight at all times.

Then we end with Seiya taking on Milo which was a cool way to end the season. Basically once again Seiya is the last one able to fight and you can bet that he won’t be going down easy. His dedication has earned him a spot as one of Jump’s top heroes. Meanwhile the other old bronze saints get to show up to protect Athena but in general that subplot does feel a bit out of place. The randoms of Sanctuary are treated as pure comic relief and it was a bit off putting just how extreme they were. It was like the show was trying a little too hard to be funny. I think Saint Seiya can certainly inject some humor into the mix if they want to but you have to be a little more subtle than this. You’re more likely to roll your eyes than actually chuckle at the characters. They are also insultingly weak so there is no salvaging them there.

Now with the animation the CG here is pretty good as I mentioned above. The colors are sharp and so the fights work well. There is more actual choreography and movement here than last time so the fights feel like they have a lot more substance. The theme song is still great here and so the show flows well on a technical level. The 12 episodes really fly by and I don’t really have any big negatives for the show. It adapts the source material pretty well and for the most part the additions only serve to enhance the story. The one exception would be the skull knights under Virgo Shaka and the comic relief soldiers who attack Athena. Those still aren’t bad enough to really hurt the series either.

It’s only natural that this beats season 1 also because it’s adapting source material that’s a lot more hype. 1 had a lot of great content to be sure but the Gold Saint fights are legendary for good reason. There are so many engaging moments here so each episode is a blast and a half. The cliffhanger here is also super effective and really works well to end things off. You can already recognize the formula to the fights so you sort of know how it’ll play out but that doesn’t take away from it being an emotional moment. Saint Seiya pretty much invented the classic format of being knocked down but getting back up again. It’s all about determination and these characters have that in spades.

Throughout the show all of the bronze saints are great. Andromeda can fight when she needs to, Hyoga always has his confidence even if he gets stomped a lot, and Shiryu is always fighting at a high level. He probably starts on a higher base level than Seiya. The difference is that Seiya has the best durability and continues to get stronger as the fight goes on so by the end he is always super powerful. His confidence feels the most earned from the group and he also takes this the most personally in protecting Athena so he just refuses to go down. Of course we saw a lot of that in season 1 already so I’m focusing more on Ikki here.

This is the first time we get to see Ikki as a hero and it’s really an incredible moment. Ikki can always be trusted to show up and protect Andromeda when it counts. He may have lost his way for a while there but now he is back to being the very dependable big brother that he always was. His fighting style is also noticeably different from the other Saints which helps him stand out. He’s all about outlasting the opponent and trading blows while Seiya tries to go for speed. Ikki just knows that the longer the fight goes on the more the advantage is on his side and it’s a smart strategy considering his abilities.

Overall, Saint Seiya is a franchise that keeps on expanding and you love to see it. I definitely won’t be forgetting this series anytime soon. Hopefully season 3 doesn’t take too much longer to come out but in the meantime you should definitely check this one out either way. It’s got a lot of top tier fights and a solid story so there is no reason to miss out on it. The show has no weaknesses which is rare to say about a show and the only sad thing is that it’s only 12 episodes. They cover a lot of ground here though. Hard to say what my next Saint Seiya review will be at this point but stay tuned as there is always something else on the horizon!

Overall 8/10

F9 Review

Fast and the Furious has had quite a lot of solid films throughout the series. It started out a bit slow but kept on getting better by the 5th film. By this point we’re back on the way down a bit since there aren’t any Hobbs or Shaw characters to help keep things going. I think after you’ve been with those characters for so long it’s hard to go back to not having them around anymore. This is still a good film but you don’t feel like it’s quite on the level that they used to be at.

The movie starts off with a flashback about Dom and his brother Jakob as they were watching his father in a race before he was unfortunately obliterated in a big explosion. Dom find out that Jakob seemingly sabotaged the car and banishes him from the family. Jakob then went on to become one of the world’s greatest intelligence agents and works for many different villains on really difficult missions. Now he has captured Cipher and has access to some of the most powerful weapons imaginable. The gang are forced to call Dominick Toretto back into action but he refuses since he’s retired. The choice is taken out of his hands when his wife Letty agrees to help though so he tags along. Can they take Jakob down or has this man grown too powerful to be stopped?

I like the idea of Jakob more than the actual character. So you’ve got the long lost brother who is super skilled in a car and can match Toretto blow for blow. I mean that’s pretty cool right off the bat and I can even overlook how he just wasn’t mentioned all these years even if that is rather odd. No my main problem is that his character arc felt really rushed by the end and we didn’t get the satisfying clash with Toretto that I was waiting for. When Hobbs first showed up we had a great confrontation with Toretto that absolutely lived up to everything you could have hoped for. When Shaw appeared he also got a great clash. Jakob though? Nah not really. They get to talk and we learn more about the past but outside of a quick race and confrontation later on it isn’t nearly as grand. I feel like they fumbled this character a bit.

If anything Jakob’s best scene was when he was talking tough to Cipher. She tried to psycho analyze him and he just wasn’t having it. He had good comebacks for all her insults and just walked off. That’s exactly how you have to handle these manipulative villains or else you will always be in trouble. They could have probably shortened the flashbacks to when they were kids as well to be honest since those scenes weren’t as exciting. I think you could have condensed that really easily.

Now lets go back to the positives for a moment. One thing the series has always done well and continues to do well is delivering on a ton of nonstop action. The fights just keep on coming here and there are explosions around every corner. I think it’s safe to say that all action fans should be really satisfied while watching the movie. While the story may be more forgettable, all of the characters get their moments and that’s impressive because the cast is absolutely massive here! That also means the group splits up real fast so they aren’t all united until the end of the film.

The after credits scene here is also a lot of fun. A character that I had been wanting to show up at least gets a small cameo this way. I would have still liked more content out of him but I’ll take what I can get. He’s still a very powerful fighter after all so I expect he can beat anyone who gets in his way so the group is lucky that he’s basically a hero now. Perhaps one who is still very extreme and will crush anyone in his way but an ally all the same. The series continues its streak of great endings with this.

As always Toretto is a good main character. I really don’t blame him for wanting to get out of the business either. It’s a dangerous line of work to be taking on countries and such and now that he has a kid to think about he shouldn’t be taking extra risks. Once he’s on the mission he does use all of his resources to get to the bottom of it though. He does nothing halfhearted and that’s what I like about him. Letty also looks really good here as she was the one who was proactive about helping out from the start. She’s always ready to fight and isn’t afraid of taking the lead on these missions.

Roman and Tej mainly get the comic relief plots here. Roman does tend to really take down a lot of enemies when it counts though so you have to give him a lot of props there. He always pulls through and then Tej has the tech aspects on point. Ramsey is also important for helping on that end so the hero group really has a whole lot of talent now. Even Mia steps in to help out and it’s been a while since that happened. Now a big controversy before the film came out was Han showing up since we saw him die rather clearly. I will say that the explanation they gave here wasn’t very good at all. Like almost anything else would have been a better explanation. What would I have done? I would have had the cops run to the wreck and find Han alive in the explosion because he had some kind of sci-fi suit materialize over him at the last instant. That would have absolutely been more convincing if you ask me.

It is nice to see Han back of course but they could have tried a bit harder there. As for Cipher, it was nice to see her return. She’s easily the most personal villain of the group with what she did to Toretto in the past and I actually wasn’t expecting to see her again so that was a welcome surprise. The films are great at expanding the cast a whole lot but even then this one went the extra mile with a bunch of other characters showing up too. I actually don’t think Cipher is getting a redemption arc anytime soon so this is one character who is going to stay bad to the bone the whole time.

The film has a lot of music going on as the characters run around the planet and it works pretty well. The variety of the songs is good and most of these did land. I appreciated the throwbacks to Tokyo Drift as well. I would have liked it if the old protagonist there could have actually fought a bit more with the team though. He was a solid racer in that movie after all so I feel like he could have really contributed even though he hasn’t been in the game for a while. That’s just how good he should be when he’s behind the wheel since you never really lose those skills. They just stick with you through thick and thin.

Overall, F9 is a pretty good movie. It just feels a bit more forgettable than the others. Maybe it needed to pick a plot and focus on it more like the rivalry with Jakob. There’s a whole lot of untapped potential there. We find out some twists about the past of course but at the end of the day I wouldn’t say it makes Jakob look all that great anyway. Maybe the next film will help me like him more but with how his character arc went he’s already going to be rather different this time around. If you’ve watched the previous titles then you definitely need to check this out and I would still recommend it to the average movie viewer who isn’t into the series yet. It may not be the best one but it’s pretty fun and at the end of the day what more do you need than that right?

Overall 7/10

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist Review

This review is of the TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Wait we’re back to the Exorcist again? Not to be outdone by the third film, this one adds animal violence, nazi’s, and an evil tribe here to cause some trouble. Now I would say that the third film is nothing if not competitive when going to the bottom and still does end up surpassing this one as being worse but Dominion put up a good fight and nobody can take that away from it. There aren’t many exorcisms here at all as we’ve come to expect from the series since that was mainly focused on in the first but we still get a dramatic finish with a lot of yelling.

So the movie starts with the Nazi’s rushing in to terrorize a small village. First they make sure to break father Merrin by having him choose 10 sacrifices and it was all a cruel test to break his spirit and resolve. Merrin changed paths to being a travelling architect as he digs around in ruins that may have some religious ties. Well this time he is accompanied by Father Francis as the group is worried about Merrin. Turns out that they should have been worried about the whole village. See the temple was protecting them from the devil demon and now he’s here to destroy them all. He decides to inhabit Cheche, a guy who can’t really talk much and suffered a grave injury but is healing really quickly. The heroes are going to need to watch out now.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this one. Almost immediately when the film starts up we see a bunch of people torturing an animal to weaken him up for being a sacrifice and it reminds you of what a cruel practice that is. Any cruelty to animals is always awful and so right away you’re not really rooting for the village at all. Merrin and the translator Chuma try to defend the practice but to no avail. It’s definitely something that should be completely outlawed by force if necessary. There are animals dying and being injured throughout the film and that definitely serves to ensure that the film never gains any momentum. It is quickly stripped away whenever that may be close to happening.

There also aren’t many likable characters here at all. The only one who seemed decent was father francis but of course he is powerless to stop the demon. The holy water doesn’t do much and when he tries to read the scriptures he is promptly taken down. You would think that he would have moved faster with the water when the demon was waking up though. Just push his head into the water or something, don’t want and dramatically drop a few driplets on him. I always thought this is something the heroes should do more of, forget the small sprinkling and just chug a gallon of the stuff at him. It would be way more effective in theory.

Unfortunately a big part of the movie is about how the demon’s influence eventually catches up to everyone and that happens here as well. Basically just by existing the demon turns people evil and so the humans start to turn on each other. There’s this whole subplot where the British come in with an army and start shooting the tribe members to enact revenge on them. The divide between the two gets worse as the film goes on and then at one point a tribe member murders a bunch of kids so that they can’t learn from Father Francis anymore.

There aren’t really any winners here. By the end of the film everyone is really broken. There’s the main heroine Rachel who stays strong for a while but then also gets corrupted. One of the worst scenes for Merrin is when she shows up and effortlessly seduces him while he was on the trail of the demon. Not the best time to be tempted and you’d think that he would have held strong here. Well, actually I’m not sure how much confidence I really had in the guy to be honest but he still disappointed me there.

Merrin gets to sort of relive the past thanks to the demon and try some other things out but ultimately there was no easy way to get out of the situation. He definitely shouldn’t have sold the 10 people out though. It was a really bad situation but honestly the best thing to do there is make a play for the gun and hope for the best. Sometimes there are no perfect ways out of a scenario and you just have to try your best. By the end of the film Merrin gets his confidence back at least.

The character you probably feel the most sorry for here is Chuma the whole time. It’s rough being a translator because half the time you are having to translate messages that are no fun for anybody and as a result you’re in the line of fire now. If I was him I definitely would have gotten out of there real fast after a while. Unfortunately there probably aren’t many opportunities in the area so leaving is a risk all on its own but anything surely has to be better than staying there right? At least it feels like that would be the case.

This film does remember that it’s supernatural and isn’t trying to hide it most of the time like in III so we do get some decent visuals at times. The green light as everything got trippy near the end was pretty intense. I also liked the clock that appeared in one scene but I have to admit that the effects were so bad that the scene was unintentionally a bit funny. Just a bit mind you but I was starting to crack up. It just made for a really funny visual even if that was not the intent.

The demon’s final form was also the opposite of intimidating even when his face would turn pale like a true demon’s. It’s just not easy to take him seriously as a great villain but they never are in these films. If the characters would just grab some guns and rock the guy you feel like he would go down. Temporarily I suppose since you can never seem to truly get rid of them.

There just isn’t much to enjoy here as with the other Exorcist films. The whole thing is so dark, dreary, and relentless. The heroes don’t have much of a chance at stopping the demon for a while because they don’t even know that they’re fighting one. By the time they do there are so many dead bodies that the heart of the village is gone.

Overall, This is another film to avoid for sure. An exorcist prequel just didn’t need to exist, much less two of them. At least this one has a decent ending, in fact I would say it easily beats the rest since it’s actually happy if anything. I suppose that’s the benefit of being a prequel since you can’t just bump everyone off or ends things rather grimly. I suppose they could have and suddenly the film wouldn’t be canon but that’s a very risky move at best. In theory it’s all uphill from here but we’ll see if that’s actually the case or not for the series.

Overall 0/10

The Exorcist III Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

We’re back into the world of the Exorcist…oh nooooooo! Yeah that means we’re in for quite the ride here as the film mainly drags on endlessly with the villain giving a lot of ramblings about not much at all. You’ll quickly realize that the film’s not going to be a satisfying watch except the knowledge that it’s over. There are no more sequels….yet.

So the film kicks off with introducing us to Kinderman who will be the main character this time. He’s a police lieutenant and he’s seen a lot of things over the years. The world has fallen to ruin and evil seems to run rampant at this time. His friend Dyer tries to help him see that things aren’t so bad but fails completely due to a new serial murderer showing up. He claims to be the original Gemini killer from long ago and he is possessing the body of Damien. Not the same Damian from a certain other horror series but I had fun treating this as a bit of a crossover tbh. Kinderman knows this can’t be Gemini but at the same time how is this guy pulling off all of these murders from his cell? Is he getting someone to let him out at night? It’s time to crack this mystery!

Now if the film wasn’t called “The Exorcist” then you may figure the main character has a chance. Grab all of the clues and just find out whoever the main villain is. Find the method of attack and stop it. This had all the bearings of a cop case like that but because you see the title you know that it’s all a ruse and clearly something supernatural is going on here. Yeah that’s unfortunate because now he has absolutely no chance of claiming victory and you just have to watch a lot of grisly murders with no reason behind them.

Part of the issue with films like the Exorcist is that the heroes have no way of stopping this guy. They’re fighting an immortal demon who can possess anybody at will and will never truly die since he can just fly somewhere else. The whole thing seems incredibly futile and what’s worse is that there is no way to prove that the villain is a demon so at any point he can just hop into another body and frame the heroes. It’s all just so hopeless and that takes a lot of the fun away from the chase. Why bother getting invested here when victory is impossible?

It’s why even in action shows I much prefer when the hero or villain has at least a slim shot of putting up a fight. A one sided massacre on either side can become boring if it carries on for too long. Give me at least a glimmer of hope even if you’re going to yank it away. The reason there is none here is because in every film the heroes start yelling scriptures at the demons and taking out the cross but always die in the end. At best sometimes they can temporarily take the demon down with them but the human stays dead for good while the demon eventually regenerates.

While it’s not the best series, at least Blue Exorcist has clear rules on how you permanently destroy a spirit. Then you have the all stars like Twin Star Exorcists where you just need to destroy a villain with holy weapons and they stay dead. Give me clear rules for engagement and you’re set but otherwise you just turn into another Jeeper’s Creepers where the villain is completely invincible the whole time.

Another reason this film is so bad is because way too much time is spent on Damien’s ramblings. He just goes on and on and on and as the viewer you have absolutely no interest in anything that he has to say. It’s just a serial killer’s crazed ramblings and you’re constantly checking the clock to see if the speech is really as long as you think it is. It doesn’t service the plot because we know it is crazy and all this does is remind us of that. If I wanted to watch some crazed ramblings there are plenty of Youtube videos for it but to sit there and have to listen to that is mind boggling. Any scene with him in the cell is just awful.

It goes without saying that the film is super violent and disturbing the whole time as well. Everyone is getting murdered by this guy and to add some extra edge to the mix he makes sure to at least bump someone off while they are in a church. There is just no protection from the demon inhabiting Damien and as always the dark side seems way more powerful than the light. This is not a film you watch for the heroes to take the lead.

Kinderman is also portrayed as extremely old in this one. I’m not sure if the actor was sick during filming or something but he has a really hard time breathing during the film and it’s noticeable as he has to take a deep breath after every few lines which doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the villains. Nobody is going to be scared of a guy like this, why should they be? The heroes are on the defensive the whole time and then you also have the doctors who appear corrupt at times. At least one of them was being blackmailed and another was being so unhelpful that she may as well have been in on it.

We do get the classic scene of someone crawling on the ceiling but there’s not much point to it at all. I mean in context I guess the demon is taunting Kinderman but that doesn’t work because the main guy doesn’t notice and all that would have done was alert him to the body hopping earlier. Yeah I’m telling you this is a big skip for sure. It’s not like this even adds all that much to the lore of the verse so skipping it won’t have you missing anything. I mean if you liked the first film than you may like this one as well but there just isn’t much to salvage here at all.

Overall, the only slight positive I can give here is that there was one catchy tune that played earlier. Yeah that’s about it. The film quickly drops off a cliff after that. It may succeed in trying to have a sinister atmosphere that basically feels evil the whole time but as a result there are no fun moments here or times where you can cheer along with the movie. This isn’t that kind of movie and any movie where you don’t smile at least once during it is one that didn’t understand the assignment. A good film should leave you feeling good afterwards and this one is just so cruel and mean spirited that it won’t succeed. It has the rare distinction of hitting rock bottom so you definitely need to avoid it.

Overall 0/10

Kill Bill Volume 2 Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

All right, it’s time for the next Kill Bill. It’s pretty similar to the last one but we have a bit less action this time around. The Bride is wrapping up her revenge tour after all and there are only a few targets left. Not to mention that these targets are mainly weaker than the last film’s so the movie has to throw in elements like her getting sloppy and being buried alive to buy time until the end. It does beat the first film because we don’t get anything quite as dreadful as the whole hospital part from the first film. It’s still way excessive on the violence which keeps it from really reaching its potential but any improvement is always good.

So a good chunk of the film is about Bride taking on Budd which lasts longer than you would expect. The guy can’t fight for beans but he does have a gun and she seems to underestimate him which is what makes things tricky. If not for the surprise attack then she would have definitely taken him out pretty quick. I suppose he deserves some credit for that. I’d say the other two big aspects of the film is finally seeing the truth of what happened that day in the chapel when everyone jumped her and then the climax where she finally gets to take on Bill.

The confrontation with Bill is what we’re all here for after all so I’ll leave that for the end. For the intro with the wedding, well it definitely makes Bill look really crazy. It’s clear that he planned to shoot everyone up from the start with the way his gang showed up. We learn that he’s the Bride’s father and yeah it’s really not a good look for him. The guy just seems super petty especially considering that the bride and groom seemed nice enough the whole time. Nobody was antagonizing him or anything. He just is the big villain and sometimes that’s all you need.

Now for the final villains, first up we have Budd and I can’t say that I liked him much at all. I guess he’s got brute strength but that’s about it and he wasn’t very smart in how he handled himself with the boss at his day job. He was almost making the argument that he didn’t need the job by saying that there is nobody around to bounce and I thought it was clever of the boss to bring that up. He really just gets lucky the whole time with the Bride being surprisingly clumsy with her approach and then he lets his guard down with the snake. It was definitely not a very smart move since he should know that all of these villains mean business.

We also have Elle who is sort of like a rival to Bride. She was definitely really jealous of her the whole time. Their skills are fairly close although I do think Bride has the decisive advantage here when you really think about it. She got to learn more from the master and just seems more experienced. Elle is still very good in combat though.

Now she did get a big moment where she takes down the master Pai Mei, but that guy was also an extreme jerk to the point of being a villain. I mean his training was so drastic that he did nearly murder Bride on a few occasions which I always think is way too excessive for any training. Sure, it always works out so you look the other way but you have to think about if it didn’t work out. Then you just murdered a pupil and while Pai Mei wouldn’t be broken up about it, it makes you double think everyone who actually allowed this to happen. It’s just not a smart play and so when Elle murders him you just aren’t too surprised. It seemed inevitable that he would push someone too far.

As in the last film the Bride is good here although she maybe holds back a little too much against Bill in the end. Look, you’ve come this far so I think you need to end him really quick. This isn’t one of those times where you can just talk things out and hope for the best. It worked with the neighbor in the first film because it wasn’t as personal and you still knew she was going to finish the job but with Bill it should have been time to take him out on sight. By waiting she put herself in a whole lot of danger the whole time.

Bill is also a very annoying character in part because I feel like the film isn’t really acknowledging just how evil he is. In a way it’s just part of the absurdness of it all as he just shows up trying to appear as a nice guy and calling Bride’s bluff but she should have just taken him out and then kept moving. I think there are a lot of ways she could have handled that better because this way could have really backfired.

In particular the moment where she falls down and closes her eyes to play dead while Bill is right in front of her. He easily could have gone for the shot for all she knows and then that would have been it. There just wouldn’t be any coming back from that. He also needs to own the fact that he put her in such a terrible position all these years and there is no coming back from that either. The whole climax with Bill was just rather odd and I didn’t think it landed nearly as well as the film thought it did. Mainly because it didn’t land at all. This was a fire and a miss. The climax may not be very satisfying as a whole but at least the very end is good and that’s what you will remember the most in the end.

The film keeps a lot of the fun technical elements that made the first one good like the music and choreography although there are much less chances to show that here since the film isn’t as action heavy. It’s not quite as dark as the first film but it’s still very over the top violent that’s for sure. Everyone is still getting slaughtered on all sides and taking away from the fun fights that you want to get to. It’s still as shocking and gruesome as ever.

Overall, Kill Bill ends here and while it’s a slight improvement over the first film because it doesn’t get as extreme, it’s relative when you think about how extreme it still is the whole time. This is not a fun popcorn film that you plug in and have a good time with. Instead this is a title where you turn it on but have to be ready to wince and shake your head whenever a villain shows up because you know that someone’s about to go down the hard way. You don’t really need a sequel to this but one more to finish the trilogy would be nice and if things keep improving a bit then who knows. Maybe the third will end up being the big one but until then you can stick to other revenge films like One Piece Film: Red or Dragon Ball: Super Broly the Movie.

Overall 2/10

Clannad: After Story Review

Clannad: After Story is one of those shows that will start to stress you out near the end. It starts to go towards an ending that you know would absolutely wreck it and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t go that way but a small part of you knows that it could be possible. Well, it doesn’t happen and so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The show does stick the landing and ultimately it’s a good show. I do think it lags behind the original which managed to balance the drama and comedy a lot better. As the After Story this one is a lot more serious throughout with less time for light hearted humor. As expected from this franchise though the emotional scenes definitely do land and this will be a show where you get emotionally invested.

The show starts off with some final school adventures. Enjoy this part of the show while you can because once they leave the school then that’s it. The first episode is sort of the introduction episode for new fans that you often see for season 2s. It’s a chance to get the whole cast hanging out and having fun. It’s a Baseball episode so you’ve also got the sport bonus. It’s a fun way to start up the season and is probably the happiest episode in the saga. Nothing goes wrong, it’s just everyone having a good time bonding over the game. Definitely one of the best executions of the “intro” episode that I’ve seen.

The first real arc involves Tomoya’s friend Youhei as he finally gets his time to shine. Or falter as is the case this time. His sister Mei is really concerned about him because Youhei is still a big troublemaker and doesn’t seem to have matured at all. A lot of time has passed over the years so she was hoping to see some improvement. Youhei figures that he will need a fake girlfriend to trick Mei into thinking that he can look out for himself. None of his female classmates want to help out with this though so the only candidate left is Nagisa’s mom Sanae who doesn’t mind helping out.

The only tricky part is that Youhei doesn’t actually realize that she is the Mom and actually thinks he has a chance. Meanwhile Mei sees through this fairly quick and is discouraged again so she pretends to be going out with Tomoya to test Youhei’s bond but unfortunately he fails at this one because since he’s Tomoya’s best friend he figures that he will look the other way. Everything pretty much blows up at this point and it doesn’t help that Mei wants Tomoya to help her get Youhei back on the soccer team since everything seemed to go wrong as soon as he was kicked off of that club.

Part of the problem though is that the club is as corrupt as they come. The actual members of the club just aren’t good people so there isn’t much benefit in trying to warm up to them. It would have been better if they didn’t even try to help but of course once Mei says she will go Tomoya has to accompany her because these guys can’t be trusted. We do get a big fight there though and then another fight later on between Tomoya and Youhei.

This arc definitely had a lot of serious moments and a lot of dramatic ones as well. The reason I thought that Youhei didn’t look good though is because all of the plans were just bad. For starters, getting a fake girlfriend to convince Mei that he is mature now is just going to have the opposite effect when she inevitably finds out the truth. Even if he could keep the secret, well now he’s living out a lie. His best bet would be to get an actual girlfriend but of course that wasn’t quite in the cards for him either.

He’s always been the most unintelligent member of the cast and so Tomoya ends up tricking him a whole lot but if there was ever a time to rise above that then this would have been it. Instead Youhei makes the wrong call in not speaking up when he knows Mei is way too young for Tomoya. Honestly if the explanation was that he thought it was another prank that would have been way better than his nonreaction here. I would at least have been able to buy that a bit but otherwise he had to make a stand here and shut this down.

Youhei never really came back from that since he doesn’t get much of a role after this. Ultimately he was a good friend to Tomoya and kept him in check over the years but as the resident punching bag of the series it would have been nice if he could have at least looked really good during his big serious arc. That was his chance and he blew it.

Meanwhile I’d also say Mei didn’t look very good here. She could be a bit too forceful in trying to make sure that Youhei matured. At the end of the day it’s something that he has to do on his own and it’s not like you can really force it to happen. Her decision to get him back on the soccer team just ended up causing a whole lot of issues instead of really helping anything out.

It is unfortunate that Tomoyo and the others don’t get much of a role this time but it does work as the after story. It’s a bold approach for sure but when you think of this as the story taking place after the main story has concluded then it makes sense that most of the old characters would be completely written out. Their time in the sun has ended after all.

That said, we do get an alternate reality saga real quick with Kyou and Ryou. So of course Ryou has always liked Tomoya but was way too timid to actually say anything. Well, this time she does say something and he agrees to go out with her basically because he would agree to go out with any girl who worked up the courage to ask him out. That’s how it seems to be at least given how many alternate paths there are. Thing is…he quickly realizes that he actually likes her twin sister Kyou more which makes things complicated.

Kyou’s always liked Tomoya as well but tries to bury these feelings. Having her twin sister going out with him just makes it even harder to hide. Ultimately she wins out and Ryou gets wrecked again but I feel like having both of these involved in the same alternate path made things a little extra tragic. It would have been better if either Ryou got her own alternate universe episode or didn’t do much here. It just makes Tomoya look bad for jumping around so quickly.

Additionally Kyou owed it to her sister not to make a move in that case. Teasing Tomoya on the bench and messing with him was really just a way to get him to fall for her even if she wouldn’t admit it. It’s only natural that she would defeat Ryou once she got serious because she’s more outgoing and attractive while also being able to hold a normal conversation with Tomoya way more than Ryou ever could. But it’s like the bro code, you have to have the sister code as well where you won’t just steal the man like that.

The instant it happened everything was all over because if Tomoya stayed with Ryou then she’d know it was out of pity so the relationship was destroyed right off the bat. This at least allowed them to get more of a role in the season though. Kyou appears a bit anyway as a teacher in the future but Ryou mainly vanishes. Fuuko also appears a bit in the future but her role is really small and I wouldn’t say that it’s too pivotal. It was mostly just a reason to have her around but I miss her supernatural abilities as a ghost. Surprisingly the ghost never got to appear again but I guess that’s because she was back in the world of the living.

We get a mini arc for Misae who is sort of the dorm mother for a bunch of the kids. She was around a bit in season 1 as well so I suppose this was her chance to finally get some real development. It’s a pretty emotional arc that even has some supernatural elements to it. Basically she likes one guy who already has a boyfriend and then a magic guy named Katsuki likes her but it’s hard for him to confess now since Misae was already crushed.

As you can see this is one of those very dramatic arcs. I do think getting together with Katsuki wouldn’t have really worked because the rebound would have been way too quick there. You need time to get over the first love since things didn’t really work out there. It’s interesting to know more about her past but at the end of the day it’s not like she ever ends up being a main character. Think of it as extra world building. Katsuki did the right thing in not confessing initially though. I would defend that as there are times where you shouldn’t “Shoot your shot” and confessing right after someone had a big break up or was rejected is certainly one of those times.

Yukine gets a mini arc as well and if you don’t remember her that’s fine. Her role was eve smaller in season 1 but basically she is always in a small room in the school with some coffee. It turns out that she works as the resident nurse for a bunch of gangs in the area and patches them up whenever they get hurt. As a result everyone likes her because she doesn’t interfere in the fights. Still, her brother was the only one strong enough to stop the fighting entirely and things are getting dicey without him. This leads our hero Tomoya to have to jump in and try fighting.

There are some fun moments here especially the big moment where the brother seemingly appears. This one is less of an emotional arc I’d say and more of a quick action one. The fight is actually played totally straight and has a good amount of tension. It’s clear that Tomoya won’t be able t win with his busted arm but it’s always impressive just how long he lasts considering what he has to deal with. He does well in every sport and challenge even when he can only use one arm.
Now we enter the big part of the series which is the climax to Tomoya and Nagisa’s plot. Well, she is sick once again which is rough because that means that she will have to miss school once again which could prevent her from graduating. Her condition has always been a bit of a mystery as the doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with her. This naturally makes things rather tough on Tomoya who can’t possibly enjoy graduation without her. Also if she has to start a whole new year again then that means she will be all by herself this time. He also has to move on and get a job which is where Yoshino comes in handy.

I always thought Yoshino was a good guy and he really comes in handy when it counts here. The guy does his best to show Tomoya the ropes and has his back at every turn. It’s not every day that you find a good friend like that. Yoshino’s speeches also may be a bit on the cheesy side but he does mean every word of them. I was glad that Tomoya never laughed at them because he does owe this guy a lot.

Akio and Sanae are fun supporting characters here as always. Sanae definitely likes to have fun and act as one of the kids along with the main characters. She’s good at alternating between being a motherly figure and a friend and helps quite a lot of the characters in the show. She really came in clutch with helping Tomoya when he was down in the dumps during the show. He really had a rough stretch and during that period she kept going after him until she was able to get him into the clear. It’s not something most characters could have done.

Akio also helps out a lot too of course both verbally and economically. He wants Tomoya to know that he’s here for him and the message is definitely received. I’d say a good part of why Nagisa is able to remain so hopeful throughout everything going on is because she had such supportive parents. It just wouldn’t have been possible without them.

The show definitely goes farther in the timeline than you’d expect but it’s why around half of the show takes place after school. We get to see Tomoya out in the real world working a job and how each character has went on to pursue their dreams. It does mean that the show takes on a much more serious tone for those moments though. There isn’t a whole lot of comedy after the school part is over and things can even get rather dark. It’s why everything was riding on the ending which ultimately is what keeps the show afloat.

You are super invested in everything going on and it’s all emotional but of course that is also why a bad ending would really doom the whole thing. The animation is solid here as expected. I would say it maybe doesn’t feel quite as high budget as the first season which had some really stylish moments for the occasional fight scenes and Chun Li combos. This one has moments like that as well but they tend to be rare and not quite as flashy. Still, it all looks good enough to me. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the classic tunes. The emotional songs definitely fit in with the scenes really well and help to really amp up the atmosphere. I’d definitely give the full soundtrack a thumbs up for sure.

Now I’m going to dive into the more spoilery aspects of the show so skip the next 5 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. After all with a big emotional show like this you don’t want to know any of the big events before they happen. It would soften the impact of every scene in a big way since you can only experience them once.

All right so here we go. Nagisa is unable to overcome her illness and ends up dying. It was definitely a real tragic moment because you really thought that she would get better this time. She does end up delivering her baby Ushio first though and asks Tomoya to watch out for him. Unfortunately Tomoya gets super depressed to the point where he can’t even interact with the baby and so for several years Nagisa’s parents take care of him instead. I have to say that this made Tomoya look really awful though. You can’t just shut down like that and he basically became his father even though he swore that he never would.

Well, eventually Sanae tricks Tomoya into spending time with his daughter Ushio and the two of them grow close. Tomoya finally reconnects with all of his old friends and becomes a good father…only for Ushio to get the same illness and die. So now Tomoya has lost everything. See, this is where the show would have immediately gone down the tubes for me if it ended like that. There would just be no coming back from this because it would all be way too mean spirited and empty. It would be like the whole adventure was a waste and it was a cruel twist of fate. Tomoya had a theory that Nagisa and Ushio’s lives were dependent on the town so it being changed was what destroyed them.
Well, that wasn’t quite it. It turns out that instead there is an Earth Prime of sorts with the robot and the girl. By sacrificing her life the girl is able to give everyone a fresh start and resets things to the happy timeline where everyone lives and is happily ever after. Every part from Nagisa dying onwards just didn’t happen. It’s a little rough for the robot since he wanted to have fun with her but in a way he is reincarnated to the human world too. It’s all a bit trippy there for sure bit I was a big fan of this one without a doubt. We needed a happy ending and it finally justified that whole plot so I was glad about it.

Otherwise that arc was quickly becoming a train wreck. Tomoya would have lost all my respect in ditching his daughter like that. It would have been such a horrible look for him. Meanwhile his father committed a crime and went to jail which I thought was unexpected but maybe it would at least remind Tomoya not to make the same mistakes. So seeing him go to the dark side anyway was just really off. Even though the timeline reset it still happened so I can’t forget that but at least he got a shot at a second chance.

Meanwhile Ushio was a good character. She had to live without her father for a very long time but she kept a positive attitude about the whole thing and didn’t hold it against Tomoya. She just rode the waves of life and kept it moving. We don’t get to see her too long since the series was nearly ending by the time she showed up but she made an impact in that time.

I didn’t really talk about Nagisa much but I’d say that she’s a good heroine. It’s certainly not her fault that she gets sick a lot and she tries to stay strong throughout all of the sad things happening to her. Having to repeat a year again for the third time just because she was sick probably felt really unfair. Then she does her best to work and support Tomoya during his tough job as well. She never complains and always tries to do the right thing so there’s nothing to really dislike here.

Meanwhile Tomoya definitely made more mistakes this time around. Even in season 1 he wasn’t perfect as I thought some of his pranks could be a bit on the mean side but at least that was more of a humor plot. Here he tends to make more serious mistakes as the show goes on, ones that are a whole lot harder to just wave away. To in the end I have to say that I didn’t like Tomoya, he erased most of the goodwill around his character.

At least I can say something for this show that I rarely say and it’s that the romance here was actually rather solid. At least for the main pairing since Tomoya and Nagisa got a lot of time to interact and build this romance up. It’s certainly way better than the usual rushed type of romances where you feel like it just happened out of nowhere. In context this one took months to develop and at this point they’ve known each other for well over a year. When a show that is part romance manages to execute the romance well you know that it’s going to be in good shape.

In a way the show benefits from not trying to squeeze in a bunch of side romances. That would ultimately just distract from the main one where you want as much development as possible. Since this is the after story we also don’t have to worry about any of the other heroines trying to make a move because at this point they have all accepted that Nagisa and Tomoya are together. So there’s no funny business. It’s just everyone being good supportive friends as the adventures go on. The show is also long enough where you feel like you’ve known the characters a long while and got to see them on their journey. Not all of the characters get a big conclusion but since it’s from Tomoya’s view it makes sense that he wouldn’t see them all complete their dreams. We do get quick glimpses to see where they are at though.
Overall, Clannad: After Story really lives up to its name as being the post game in a way. The characters get to go through their epilogues while you watch. It’s something you almost never see since usually the end of the story is just that…the end. It’s very rare that you get the cast back for a whole other season like this. Maybe a big movie or something but not a full show. In the end the first show still wins just because it is a lot more fun and the school setting just works better but if you saw the original show then you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Even if just to see how the whole robot plot ends since in season 1 it still felt rather pointless by the end. At least now in this season you really see why it was included.

Overall 6/10