Invisible Woman Review

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It’s time to look at an old sequel. Everyone knows about the Invisible Man, but who knows about the Invisible Woman? The film seems to have fallen under the radar although I can see why. It’s not exactly a masterpiece and can be rather forgettable but at the same time I thought it was decently fun. The film goes by quickly and there’s not too much to dislike here. Granted, the characters can be annoying which I guess it fairly major, but they’re not extremely bad or anything like that.

The film starts off with a crazed scientist finally coming up with a good invention. He can now make people invisible. His benefactor, Mr. Russell isn’t too pleased with Gibbs for wasting money on such an experiment but the old man is sure it will work. He writes an ad in the paper but since he isn’t willing to pay the test subject only one letter comes through. Kitty is willing to take the serum as there’s a lot she can do with being invisible. Then scientist agrees, but only barely because he tries to stay away from girls. The experiment is a success but instead of waiting for Russell to come in Kitty decides to get revenge on her boss. A lot of shenanigans occur but then a gang breaks in and they decide to kidnap Gibbs. Can the Invisible Woman save him or are they all doomed?

The gang is honestly very out of place here. The whole film is really a light hearted comedy with Kitty just having fun with her powers. As such, the villains are about as serious as the kidnappers in every Air Bud movie. They aren’t exactly a threat and we even get a long scene where Kitty knocks out every member. Being invisible is honestly an incredible ability to have for every day life and you would be almost unstoppable in many situations. The villains are even driven to tears at times. Given that they are used for comedy I suppose they weren’t that bad, but I was still surprised when they showed up at all. It’s not like they really affected the outcome much at all.

Kitty was a fun lead though even if she was a little too rebellious at times. She makes sure to drink as lot even when keeping a low profile and should probably be a little more harsh with the professor if she wants to stay consistent. She did a decent job of getting back at the boss even if she may have let him off a little easy there. At least he did have a change of heart so she certainly made the working environment a lot better for the rest of the models. It does seem like a pretty bad job though so they should probably just have left a long time ago.

Gibbs may be a scientist but he isn’t very smart. He doesn’t realize when villains are around and holds a grudge even when you save his life. He’s exactly the kind of ingrate you would typically want to avoid to be honest and I never felt sympathetic to him. Sure, Russell doesn’t believe him, but I wouldn’t either since this guy has apparently been wasting money for many years. We can’t forget that little detail and have the guy slip it under the rug. He better product results and until then it makes sense that his funding is cut. Russell went from being rich to apparently having no money now.

Of course, I won’t bring out the violin for him either. Apparently he’s one of those guys who plays the field and goes for a lot of rebounds. A bunch of characters sued him for a bunch of things and apparently they keep winning since he’s losing money. He never seems like a particularly great guy. The banter between him and Kitty is all right at best, but it’s a little generic and doesn’t make him any better. After all, Russell is insulting her looks just so he can goad her into becoming visible again. The film didn’t go for any easy pitfalls like having her appear at inconvenient times at least. That would probably happen if this film were newer so it’s another good reason to stay retro.

When you think about it, not a lot happens in the film though. Act 1 is just Kitty messing with everyone, then the villains arrive and she beats them up. The film is over an hour, but it doesn’t feel like that. Of course, this is a good thing since it means the pacing was on point and the movie never dragged on but at the same time you could also make the argument that most of the film could be cut out and nothing would actually change. That’s just how it goes I guess, at least she didn’t go crazy like the last Invisible Man though. She kept her sanity through and through.

One thing I’d do to improve the film would be to have a few scenes of Kitty messing with Russell. She scares the boss and spooks Russell’s assistant but she never actually gets him. Knocking him out or giving him a startle would at least give her a leg to stand on during their verbal confrontations. Meanwhile, I forgot to mention the butler. I thought he was a well written character and easily the most likable character in the film. He gives Russell some good advice and while he is always retiring you can tell that the guy really wants to be helpful. He does his best to always be there for Russell during the tough times. A fun ending would have for him to have become rich by placing some stocks in the right place or something and then leaving on a high note where Russell and Gibbs wonder where they went wrong. A sequel could then be about them turning to a life of crime with the invisibility serum.

Overall, The film is a little generic and doesn’t do anything noteworthy, but it doesn’t really do anything wrong either. The writing isn’t particularly good and the characters can be one dimensional, but they are still working with a good script. Cutting out the villains may be a good idea, but they didn’t really hurt anything either. If you’re looking for a fun film where the heroine gets to use some super powers and overall look more impressive than the main guy this is a good film to check out. Especially since the guy doesn’t even seem like nice person. Just don’t go in expecting a serious film, that’d be your first mistake.

Overall 6/10

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Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Review

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It’s time for another Dracula film. This series has never been particularly good and this one is no exception. Dracula’s a joke and everyone knows it. Even the poster knows this. Look at his facial expression above and tell me that this is a serious villain. He died from falling in a pool of water in the last film! This guy is played for laughs at times and if he is meant to be completely serious then that’s almost sad. Anyway, this film does nothing unique and instead just goes through the motions without doing anything cool or interesting. It’s definitely a very forgettable film and one that will soon blend in with the rest. There’s just nothing to really like here but it is always surreal to see some of the choices that the main characters make. Needless to say they were not prepared for a fight like this.

The film starts off with Dracula murdering someone and we then cut to the present where Ernest walks into that town. Everyone is still afraid of Dracula because while he may be dead at the moment, his aura is still enough to corrupt everything that it reaches. It apparently even gets into the Church so everyone just hangs around the bar now. Ernest laughs at them and runs over to Dracula’s castle which he seals with the Cross. Unfortunately, the drunk pastor who had been following him trips and breaks Dracula out of his tomb of ice. Dracula then decides to team up with this guy so they can get revenge on Ernest by getting his nephew, Maria. Will their nefarious plan succeed?

Dracula has just never been a good concept for a film. I still stand by that today. The writing is often terrible for these films and they just heavily rely on shock value the entire time. The heroes also never manage to stop him before he bites the main heroine so they’re simply too late. The fact that his victims all crumble into quivering children when faced with his power is also annoying. They’ll just start fainting and running away while in his presence which is not really the kind of thing you want to see from characters who are supposed to have strong wills. The pastor guy was drunk and apparently spineless from the start though so I suppose I shouldn’t use him as a base to judge anything.

Still, the characters are really annoying. First off we’ve got our lead Paul. He wants to leave a good impression with Maria’s folks since he is supposedly serious about her, but that doesn’t stop him from passing through the bar and deciding to drink a little. Naturally this doesn’t end well and he messes up the Uncle’s big return by ruining the mood. He decides to sulk by getting even more drunk and allowing himself to be ensnared by the waitress named Zena. He hardly resists her actions and just shrugs it off. Then when Maria actually needs his help he gets one shotted by Dracula several times. He missed with the fire shovel and then runs right into Dracula’s arms. Paul’s a terrible main character and I certainly couldn’t support him during the movie. He makes all of the wrong decisions and doesn’t come off as genuine. How do you lose so many battles in one film?

Unfortunately, Maria is just as bad. She gets mind controlled by Dracula and gets thrown into a dungeon by the waitress. The heroes get to her in time before anything drastic occurs and ask her what happened. Her response is to faint multiple times and to explain in the most cryptic and misleading ways possible. She doesn’t mention any of the people who were there, which puts the heroes at a disadvantage. Thanks to her weak mind, Dracula can also enter the house as she opens the windows for him. While not everyone can agree with me that mind control only works on the weak that quickly, we can all agree that she should have at least told everyone what happened the first time.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Ernest. He’s probably the only quality character in the film and even then he makes some of the same mistakes as the others. He is betrayed and knocked out to the point of death by the drunk. Later, we see the drunk arrive at his house with Paul (Paul invited him because he’s helpful like that) and instead of warning everyone that the guy is evil, Ernest faints from fright. It’s almost amusing since you Never see the old, experienced tough guy faint in a film like this one. It’s unheard of and also incredibly hard to wrap your head around this. It doesn’t make any sense and it feels like a lazy way for the writers to get Maria kidnapped. Otherwise there’s no way Dracula could have broken in.

Zena is the waitress and she’s certainly not a good character. She only exists to flirt with everyone and to get Paul on the wrong path. You know that she is doomed immediately since that always happens to these characters in horror films. Staying in the friend zone is typically the only way you’re safe. Zena didn’t and ultimately ended up paying the price. As for Dracula himself, he’s not really a cool villain at all. He blames all of his failings on Zena and doesn’t even look very good in combat. He shrinks away in fear whenever someone holds some fire or the cross. He trips over his own feet in the climax as he lands in his doom. He even sleeps in a coffin that’s in the basement of a busy bread shop so it’s easy for someone to murder him during the day. It’s almost hard to see why everyone fears him so much when the guy just isn’t very smart.

This film is also pretty violent as you would expect from a Hammer production. It really does its best to show blood whenever possible and lots of it. Everyone gushes blood as if we’re back in Bleach whenever they’re stabbed and you can tell that they’re just doing it because they can. The Vampire bites are still as iffy as ever and since the characters take so long so stop Dracula it can barely be counted as a win. The actual body count actually isn’t all that big in this film but the movie makes sure that each one gets enough screen time for two.

Overall, Dracula Returns is a pretty terrible film. The writing is lousy and the cast of characters are completely uninspired. There is nobody to root for and that is always a problem if you ask me. You won’t be able to stay invested in the film and the best way to get through it is to take a shot of water every time a character makes the worst move possible. Anything stronger than water and you’ll likely faint so try and stay safe. Still, I’d recommend watching many other films before I’d ever even consider this one. If you have to pick a Dracula film, at least pick the modern one from the new cinematic universe that Universal has been putting together. At least that one tries to stay classy.

Overall 1/10

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

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There are a few games that you see as a kid but simply weren’t able to get because they were too pricey or simply lost out to other games at the moment. This is one of them and I decided that it had simply been enough time of not owning the game. It’s a solid Pokémon adventure but one that keeps the negatives of Colosseum without embracing its positives making this a rather lackluster title compared to the others in the franchise. It’s a relatively weak Pokémon installment but certainly still a solid entry overall.

The game takes place 5 years after Colosseum. Terry has seemingly retired or something as he is nowhere to be found. However a new protagonist has arrived, Terry. I’ll put the older version in bold to differentiate them. Terry is a nice kid who helps out a professor when performing his crazy experiments. This Professor has hit the jackpot though as he has figured out a way to purify Pokémon through your PC. It takes a little longer but this way you don’t have to personally fight alongside each Shadow Pokémon for a while. Of course, buying Perfume is still the easiest way to go about it but it’s only viable if you have a lot of money. The villains over at Cipher hear about this and steal the device. The organization had seemingly been destroyed in the last game but they have regrouped and are stronger than ever. They now want to make the ultimate Shadow Pokémon who cannot be purified. Terry decides to stop them but as the professionals would say, “What can some kid do!”

Terry is a good main character. He gets the job done and is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately he also doesn’t have a shred of character personality. I’m serious here, he doesn’t do anything. He saves the day and beats all of his opponents but he doesn’t really have any expressions beyond his neutral face so it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. Ah well, he’s still a good lead who doesn’t mess around so I’ll roll with it. You just can’t compare him to Terry as that guy really stole the show with his cool motorcycle and trench coat. The character was more of a rebel and was always making the tough calls.

The blame may also lie in part with how low key this story is compared to the last one. It’s fairly short as it ends in only 13 hours so you feel like they could have done more with it. It’s mostly just a matter of showing up to each location and winning. Their big plan of creating a bunch of Shadow Pokémon to take over the world is solid I suppose. It just never felt like as big of an adventure as it really should have. More like a sequel dlc than anything else. It’s not as if it’s a slice of life adventure or anything as it’s still about action but it just doesn’t come across as all that dramatic.

Further supporting this is the fact that the game feels rather low budget. Almost all of the stages in the game are taken straight from Colosseum. I somehow doubt that they were rebuilt from the ground up either. The budget just begins to show itself. Just about every character has the same fall animation and even the length is artificial. If you didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again in battles that are basically 10 minutes long each time, it would be a lot shorter. Honestly if we just look at the plot moments then the game would probably be half its length.

Now Colosseum has this problem as well so it’s not XD exclusive but the long loading times for each battle need to be mentioned as it’s an issue that has plagued the home console Pokémon games for a long time. Even Battle Revolution has this to an extent and Yugioh is another offender. On the portable consoles the battles go by very quickly which is why they’re fun. On the big consoles I guess they want to show off the graphics as every Pokémon gets a big animation for attacking and getting hit. There is no way to turn this off which is why every battle takes forever. I actually ended up marathoning Detective Conan while playing this game. Just pick the two attacks you want to use and read in the meantime. You’ll be surprised (Or not really) at how many chapters you are able to read while waiting.

As a result, I knew from the start that leveling all of my 6 Pokemon was not going to be a good idea. Instead what I did was I just picked two of them and focused on them exclusively. I basically didn’t even use the other Pokemon and if my main 2 died I just knew that it was game over. It was a risky strategy sure, but it saved me a lot of time. I’m definitely glad that I started out with Espeon as well since Psychic attacks are good against just about everyone and Espeon even knows Bite so he can shut down other Psychic types. It’s the perfect starter and I highly recommend using that strategy if you ever play this game.

The soundtrack is decent. A lot of classic themes are in here so those are nostalgic, but not much in the way of new ones. I believe the final boss theme may have been new but since it appears whenever the trio of villains shows up it may have been in the first game as well. Hard to say, but if so then it loses some points for originality. The graphics are pretty good. They haven’t really changed at all since the first one, but I guess in this case you don’t really need to change things up. As long as it looks clear enough where I can tell what I’m doing and enjoy the backgrounds, then it’s all good. The game definitely gets a passing score there.

As far as replay value goes, there is certainly a lot of it. The main game is around 13 hours so that’s already a good length and throwing in all of the Shadow Pokemon that you can catch just makes it all the more impressive. You could stick with this game for a Very long time and still have more to do. With how long the Pokemon battles take I wonder how long it would be to complete the Tower of 100 Pokemon battles. I think the most devastating part would be making it into the 90s and then losing though. Now that would just be tragic and I don’t plan on tackling that challenge. After all, I’d have to level up all 6 of my Pokemon to stand a chance and we know that would take a while. Still, for those who really enjoy this game there’s definitely a bunch to do.

Definitely don’t get the wrong idea, Pokemon XD is a solid game. It may not fare well against the original in any category, but it’s a good game when standing on its own. The plot is decent, there are a variety of levels, and there are a bunch of fights. The gameplay is slow, but it’s smooth and it looks/sounds good as well. The game will breeze by as long as you have something to do during the fights, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Purifying a Shadow Pokemon may seem tedious at first, but once you buy perfume and unlock the second way to purify them then it gets very easy. I’m not sure about some of the extra features like leaving Pokemon some food to try and capture them since it adds luck to the equation and stretches the game out even further, but maybe it’s handy to have around. All I know is that I’m really glad I stopped to read the email and went back to the lab to grab my Master Ball. Without it the Lugia fight could have actually been difficult as opposed to just catching him on my first turn.

Overall, I have finally gotten to play the sequel to one of my favorite Pokemon games of all time. I definitely recommend the game. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you haven’t played Colosseum and if you played it when you were a kid then you’ll also enjoy this game for all of the nostalgia. Just don’t play both games back to back as that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Sequels can’t always beat the original and I’ll have to accept that, but this is one big game that I can check off my list. My Gamecube collection is one step closer to being completed as well as I have just about every interesting game for the console. More are still on the way for someday though, but the next game I review will be a newer title. It involves the iconic Pac-Man in one of his startling adventures!

Cardfight Vanguard G: NEXT Review

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It’s time to take a look at the next Cardfight season! The show has already solidified itself in the Top 5 shows of all time and these extra seasons just continue to cement it there. It’s going to be just about impossible for the series to step down at this rate and it has earned itself a spot as a true rival to the Yu-Gi-Oh series. Both franchises have titles that are above and below the others. The best Yu-Gi-Oh season is above the best Cardfight one, but they’re all pretty neck and neck as they fight for the top spots. This G season is the best installment and it’s definitely up there with the classic seasons now. With G already getting another season that’s currently airing, there’s just no slowing down for this title. If it can even manage to pass NEXT, then G really could pass some of the classic seasons.

This season has a bit of a timeskip. I forgot the details on how long it was, but the three main characters have split up. Chrono has grown bored of dueling to an extent. It’s probably because he is so much better than his current competition, but it’s also because he just doesn’t know why he’s dueling. He’s lost his purpose. This all changes when a mysterious guy walks into the shop and challenges Chrono. Chrono is soundly defeated and the man then tells him to enter the Under 20 competition. Chrono vows to enter to try and take his revenge on this guy, but he’ll need to find 2 new partners. He chooses Taiyou and Kazuma. These three will have to quickly develop into a team if they want to win because there’s some tough competition ahead.

Shion is still trying to balance being a company head and a Vanguard fighter. The latter has been losing out lately. Then he comes across a Cardfight club at his school which is going to be demolished by the school board. He pulls some connections and convinces them not to shut it down until after the Under 20 tournament. If they win then the club gets to stay open. The board agrees and Shion quickly recruits the scrawny club president. They’ll still need a third member so Shion recruits a reluctant Rin into the fray. This team has even less camaraderie than Chrono’s so they’ll have to bond fast.

Finally, Tokoha moved to France to get away from Japan and dueling. There she meets a guy named Miguel and the two hit it off right away. Unfortunately, he is run over by a car and dies instantly. He had been going to enter the Under 20 so Tokoha decides to fulfill his dream for him. She heads back to Japan and decides to team up with her best friend Kumi and the ex sub-leader of the villains from the last arc. He’s a changed man now and decides to help her out in order to pay back his crimes from last time.

As they all enter the tournament, they are unaware of the true threat lurking in the background. The Diffriders are using this tournament to end Cardfight once and for all. A Diffride is when a monster possesses a human. So, three powerful monsters inhabit 3 powerful players including the legendary champion Kazumi Onimaru. They believe that Cardfight forces monsters to be shackled to destiny so eliminating the game is their way out. Kouji calls in some old characters like Aichi and Kai to help out, but at the end of the day the new generation is going to have to handle this. Can Chrono, Shion, and Tokoha take these guys down or is it already too late?
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It feels good to have a Cardfight season with 50+ episodes again. That’s always a good sign since it gives the show a lot of time for all of the duels. Considering how many big characters there are here it’s certainly for the best. After all you want to see all 3 of the main characters take on Kazumi. I was worried at first since Shion’s first fight with him was off screen but they had a proper fight after that. This season tries to bill Chrono, Shion, and Tokoha as three equal main characters and they do a pretty good job with it. All of them get pretty large roles in this season, but at the end of the day we all know that Chrono will have to be the one to step up. He’s still a bigger obstacle for the villains than the others because of his unique time deck.

The animation style is very different from the last seasons and takes a little getting used too. Although, it may be more the character designs than the animation that feels rather different. Shion’s in particular doesn’t work too well I have to admit as he just looks extremely overconfident and like the kind of character that you can’t take seriously. It’s not really the personality that’s the issue, but the design just makes it a bad mix. Tokoha’s also doesn’t mix well with her new voice since she sounds really old instead of being the same age as the others. I think her VA gradually gets better as the show goes on. The animation brings its A game when the duels begin and they always look flashy as you would want them to be. The action scenes can be high budget when they happen although the first half prefers to skip most of the actual duel in favor of the talking. I do miss seeing the battles in more depth from the original series but I’ve grown used to the fact that the show has moved on from that. It’s still showing a lot more than it used too. I would certainly give the animation a passing grade here. It may not be quite as catchy as some of the other seasons, but it’s still consistent as always. You can still take one look at the anime and deduce that it is a very modern title.

I appreciate what they did for the soundtrack in this season. Each major character has his/her own theme as opposed to a standard battle theme being applied for everyone. I’ve always been a fan of characters getting their own theme since it makes the duels more personal. There can still be standard themes for when there isn’t a big moment or something and that happens as well. The soundtrack here is easily 5 star material. Unfortunately, Chrono’s theme may be the weakest from the main characters which is ironic, but it happens. The villains tend to have the best themes here, but Tokoha likely has the best hero theme. It’s a nice balance of intensity/emotion to fit her character arc.

I think it goes without saying why this season is one of the best. It’s essentially all just a huge tournament. Right up until the last episode which is the aftermath, the 51 episodes before that are all from the tournament arc. Of course, it doesn’t start immediately though. First the show builds up to it by showing the 3 main characters assemble their teams. Each team gets a few episodes and then they have to deal with their personal issues. There are quite a lot of those and they pop up between tournament rounds. Don’t be mistaken though, the tournament is still quite long and just about every duel is given a full episode. That results in a lot of duels and it was one of the best handled tournaments in the series. It’s a battle royale style like Battle City where you just fight whoever you bump into. The logistics and rules of it could be a little intriguing at times, but it’s handled well and it’s always fun since you never know who you’ll bump into. Plus, you can keep going even if your teammates lose which is a nice touch since I never liked being defeated by default.

It was a wise move from the show since it doesn’t have as many rivals as the original Cardfight. You can’t really compare the two when it comes to threats to the hero team. The only team that could fight well against any of the 3 main characters would be Onimaru’s team or maybe the 3 kids, but everyone else consists of no names. In the old Cardfight we had Ren’s team, Shion’s, the Celebrities, and a few other high tier teams. There are many other characters that G could have pulled out, but since the rules specify that you have to be under 20, most of them couldn’t enter by default. I still think we should have had an Aichi team since he shouldn’t be 20 yet, but maybe he is. It’s certainly possible since even Kamui was getting close to the age limit but still made it in the tourney at least. As a result, the Battle Royale method is good because then the main characters can take on Onimaru’s team without actually getting eliminated yet. It was certainly really hype how he took out all 3 main characters on his own. That’s pretty unheard of and it’s why he’s one of the best villains of the series.

This whole season is also build up for the upcoming Z installment since the real villains are about to make up their move. It’s similar to the last two G seasons where the first was set up for the climax arc. In that case the season was essentially split into two half seasons so this one had even more build up since it was 52 here to lead into what could be another 50+ installment. Unlike the other set up season though, this one was still really exciting and had a lot of epic duels throughout. The stakes were still pretty high as well and that’s because the overall level of dueling has been kept pretty high. Having to deal with actual monsters and former champs makes the road rather tough for the heroes. I do feel like the older ones are being left in the dust like Ibuki and the rest of the Dragon Branch managers, but it had to happen sometime. I definitely have really high hopes for Z as a result but passing this one will be tough.
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Chrono is a solid main character as always. He’s certainly more experienced than he used to be and is treated like a pro. His jacket/jersey is pretty cool and he’s just very calm and collected. He’s not as hot headed as he used to be, but will certainly act quickly to protect someone when necessary. His challenge to Onimaru after Kazuma was taken down was definitely one of his best moments. Even if it wasn’t an authorized tournament duel, Chrono wasn’t going to let him get away without a fight. I’d actually say that he is considerably better than Aichi back when Aichi was a main character. Evil Aichi is still the best, but comparing their heroic selves, you want someone like Chrono on your side.

Taiyou is Chrono’s right hand man on the team. He’s still improving a lot and is the most enthusiastic of the team. I like him well enough and consider the kid to be underratted. He’s certainly not one of the strongest yet, but he’s getting there. His personality isn’t as interesting as some of the other characters but he always gives it his 100%. Definitely someone you can root for. Kazuma is the new kid in the group and he starts off as being very unreliable. He’ll quit games in the middle and tends to run off when things get tough. He gets better, but it does take him a while. I always thought he had potential because his design is pretty good, but of course that’s not the best reason to root for a character. His ritual deck is very unique for Cardfight and he’ll definitely go pretty far as long as he keeps appearing. In some ways he’s a lot like Naoki although certainly not in personality. Either way I liked him well enough by the end. He’s not quite top tier yet power-wise, but like Taiyou he is improving very quickly. He’s likely surpassed Taiyou by this point as well.

Next is the rival team. Shion isn’t quite as good as in the last few seasons, but it would be tough to pass that. Gone are the days of breaking into villain hideouts and beating the information out of the minions there. Still, he does a good job of saving the card club and does his best in the fights during the tournament. He’s still one of the strongest cardfighters although he is no longer a match for Chrono. His Paladins are always fun since they remind you of Aichi’s deck. His design works against him, but Shion is still a good rival as always.

Unfortunately, he has the worst teammate in Henri. Heri’s always very nervous and he isn’t a particularly good cardfighter. He holds the team back and none of his scenes are funny, they’re just annoying. He never really improves as the series goes on so he’s the only new character that is actually bad. He’s not a terrible character who would hurt the show or anything, but he simply doesn’t contribute anything. It’s fun to see Rin return since she had a pretty big role in the older episodes. She’s done a pretty good job of keeping up with the newer characters, but I’m not sure about her going pro. I just don’t think she’s quite That good to keep on fighting at that level. Still, I suppose she’ll keep improving as long as she stays with the main characters. She’s a better character than she used to be.

Tokoha gets the biggest character arc from the main leads. It starts out pretty badly for her since she’s in mourning and it heavily affects her dueling. I was wondering why she kept losing at first, but I suppose it was all build up for her to finally get over it. She’s still a strong duelist, but taking a break for a few months certainly did hurt her in comparison to the others. Of course, everyone had breaks for not dueling as much lately so she didn’t fall as far behind as she could have. It’s nice to have her back in Japan and hopefully she is here to stay this time. Tokoha’s definitely a nice character to have around and is a good main heroine. A shame she couldn’t get better teammates though.

Her best friend Kumi is around to help, but she can’t really help. There’s no realistic way she can contribute to the team although she helps get Satoru into his rage modes when he has to avenge her. Onimaru in particular did a number on her in the duel as he defeated her so completely that Satoru had to step in. Naturally he was no match as well but at least he put up a good fight. I still don’t like Satoru since there’s no way to get around how evil he was last time. The whole season is about atonement though so at least he’s working to get past it. I dunno, I should give him a second chance, but it’s still hard to root for him in any of the duels. So as a compromise I still root against him all the time, but at least I tolerate him on the team. Maybe one day he’ll be a more likable character but in this season he technically doesn’t do anything wrong.

Kazumi is the big main villain of the season and certainly excels in the role. He might be the second best villain in the franchise behind Ren. The cliffhanger in episode 15 helped cement this as he took out Shion and Tokoha with ease. It’s one of the best cliffhangers in all of Cardfight G for that matter and it really set the tone for his character. He’s always very confident and his skills can back that up as he took so many fighters down. Clearing the first stage of the tournament in a single day was completely unheard of, but he still managed to do it. The character is really handled perfectly so I’m definitely going to miss having him around. He’s a major part of why the season was so good and he’s likely in my top 10 characters for the series. I can’t stress enough just how hype he was.
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To counter that hype, Verno absorbed a lot of the losses in the series. I felt bad for her since she’s one of the big hype characters, but tends to lose a lot so other characters can get some hype. She’s not evil like the other two so that’s likely the reason as she has fun with her fights and doesn’t take them as seriously. She’s not a bad character, but it was a little hard to take her seriously as a result. It’s all well and good to have fun, but this tournament probably wasn’t the best place for it. It would have been nice if she could have gotten more big fights before leaving.

Finally, there’s Saori who has the best musical theme in the entire show. It’s a nice rock song that fits in very well with his very aggressive fire deck. He’ll also be appearing quite a bit in the next season so that’s certainly going to be exciting. I definitely liked him a lot and he was the 2nd best villain in the show. He’s good at messing with the opponents by throwing insults around and he’s certainly a formidable foe. Only Chrono could do well against him at first and then he had a big fight with Kazuma at the end. Hopefully he keeps his confident edge though as he seemed rather nervous at the end of the series. The loss may have broken him and if not, the hype of the new villains may do him in first. Either way his theme should definitely return.

There are naturally other characters around, but only a few more need to be mentioned. Team New Nippon shows up and they admire Chrono’s Dad and his old team. They’re nice kids who want to be good duelists in the future. Surprisingly they will actually be getting a role soon as one of their members, Noa has been possessed and looks to be a big antagonist in the next season. He is with the Link Joker deck and I’m sure everyone remembers how tough those guys were. I can’t speak to his character much yet since he hasn’t really started to appear much yet, but I’m expecting big things. He has a lot of potential.

Some of the old guard like Mamoru are still around, but they aren’t very helpful anymore. I’ve never been a Mamoru fan and it’s not like this season helped with that. He talks a lot, but rarely takes an active role in stopping the villains. The same can be said for Kouji as well by this point. He still doubts Chrono’s ability even after getting consistently wrecked by the kid. Any mystery and intrigue his character may have had is long gone by now. He needs a big scene to bring back the hype, but it may be too late by this point. I feel like the heroes just don’t need him all that much. Kamui doesn’t get any big duels compared to the last season, but his character arcs have all already ended by this point so it makes sense. At this point it’s just nice to see him as a cameo for the fans. He does duel as well, but vanishes whenever the going gets tough.

One annoying thing about the season is that they always hype up Aichi and the other old characters, but they still don’t do anything. I want a big Cardfight G climax with the old characters being around to help out. Aichi does duel Chrono in a practice duel but then vanishes after that. One episode preview hinted that he would fight, but it was clickbait. Since the villains are looking for more hosts, I’m hoping they possess Chrono and then Aichi becomes the main character for a few episodes. It’d be a hype twist and I just want to see how much stronger he is. The old characters are appearing more and more now so I can only assume that the show is building up to something with them. That’s my hope at any rate.

As I mentioned earlier, the show does seem to be going for a more Shonen angle. It feels more like Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist then the classic G episodes for example. The villains are aiming for end of the world type situations now and there’s less time for fun and games. There are episodes dedicated to reminding the heroes not to lose sight of why they play and all, but they can’t mess around either. Even the final episode ends with a very classic villains meeting moment. That’s always fun whether it be the Akatsuki in Naruto or the Espada in Bleach. The new villains definitely have a lot of potential and I want to see them bring the fight to Chrono right away. One of my favorite tropes is when a new villain suddenly shows up to take on the main character in a new arc once the main character has just beaten the old main villain and is seemingly untouchable. Win or lose, it sets a high bar for the rest of the season and then the main goal is simply to keep the pacing up. Yu-Gi-Oh Zexla II had a fantastic season opener in that regard as it followed the trope perfectly, but then the plot vanished for a while. That’s the downside, you don’t want to go back to slice of life after a very intense season opener, but I’m confident Cardfight won’t fall into that trap if previous seasons are anything to go by.
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Overall, This is another great season, but I expected no less. I went into this one with high hopes and was not disappointed. While I was cautiously wary about the new animation style at first, I got used to it really quickly. The taller, more shonen character designs work well to make the series feel more battle ready. It’s an effect that I am always enthusiastic about. The character designs may not have been optimal, but they’re not bad. The soundtrack has certainly improved and as we’ve been with these characters for so long it’s easy to get invested with what is going on now. If you haven’t seen any Cardfight shows yet you can still jump into this one pretty easily since it’s a new status quo and isn’t too reliant on the older seasons. Of course you’ll appreciate it more if you’ve seen the other shows though. Either way, it’s a great all around show with no real weaknesses and definitely one of the best.

Overall 9/10

Insidious: Chapter 3 Review

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It’s time to step into the final part of the Insidious Trilogy. This prequel helps fill in the gaps from the first two and leads into the first one. It’s a pretty solid horror film and still sets a nice bar for others to follow. It’s a shame that most horror films still manage to mess it up and stumble down the finish line. As long as this series continues, there is hope for the genre though.

So, Quinn visits an old psychic’s house because she wants to talk to her mom. The psychic is named Elise and the old lady warns Quinn not to do this. Elise breaks down and decides a few minutes couldn’t hurt though. Unfortunately she was wrong and instead of the mother, a demon answers. Quinn is now being haunted by it. Unless the spirit is defeated quickly, it would appear that Quinn’s days are numbered.

Quinn is essentially the main character but you can also say that she shares the role with Elise. She seems like a nice enough person even if her plan to talk to her dead Mother is probably not a good idea. We do have the phrase “rest in peace” for a reason after all. Quinn does her best to help around the house as well while also making time for her singing career. Naturally once the spirit is after her this all gets a little tricky. I didn’t really have any qualms with her.

Her Dad Sean is also all right. He probably gives Quinn too many responsibilities which stresses her out, but I don’t feel like he was being malicious about it. He’s also being overwhelmed at the moment and trying to cope with raising two kids on his own. He certainly could do a better job of it and listen to Quinn more though. He has more faults than Quinn but at the end of the day he is a lot better than he could have been. I am glad that the film let him find out that the demon was real very quickly instead of just doubting Quinn the whole time since that gets old fast.

Elise has been a big character during all of the Insidious movies. Naturally this one was no exception but as it took place before the others she isn’t as powerful initially as you may expect. She is plagued by doubts and a lot of hesitation but gradually gets back to being on top of things. Re learning that being alive gives you a good advantage over the dead was definitely something that makes a lot of sense. While the fight scenes weren’t heavily stylized like an action film or anything, it was cool to see her throw some of the demons around.

You rarely see the humans do much of anything against the spirits so it is always satisfying. She uses trapdoors to her advantage and resists the choke hold that the demons have at their disposal. At this point Elise quickly became the strongest human in the series and basically feels untouchable. At least until the ending of course. As with most horror films this one has a twist ending. Let’s just say that one of the future villains decides to pay his respects and remind her of the pecking order. It was definitely a little unfortunate for Elise since she had just gone through a whole character arc of getting her confidence back along with a boost in strength but it was all negated in an instant. It’s good hype for the villain of course, but you can definitely see how it’s tragic for her.

The villains from the past films also completely overshadow the main one the instant that they appear. I really couldn’t take this villain too seriously because of his underwhelming design. He just doesn’t look like he can put up any kind of fight and the weak design prevents him from being scary as well. You just can’t imagine this guy taking anyone down in a fight, especially since he can barely breath without his mask. The guy just doesn’t stand a chance against any of the real opponents in his path. While I don’t like the old lady villain, it was interesting to see him make a cameo. He definitely got some hype since it didn’t really seem like Elise could take him down even in her prime here. She is definitely lucky that they didn’t have to fight. The Red Mask villain also looked pretty good in his appearance and it’s safe to say that she wouldn’t have been able to beat him either. It’s definitely impressive how formidable the series has made its villains.

As always, the effects for the spirit dimension are really solid. The rules that are established for the place are thought over pretty well. If I have any gripes, it’s that all of the normal ghosts seem pretty powerless while only the evil ones stay strong. Why can’t we have a hero who died and then decided to be a heroic ghost? That’d be a neat twist and even if the films suddenly became action thrillers instead, I could roll with that. As it stands, the idea of demons camping the spawn points of the humans for the rituals is a cool idea too though. Elise stayed away from it for years, but the instant she went back the villains were still ready. That’s definitely a lot of determination there.

There aren’t a bunch of jump scares or anything, but we get a reasonable amount. The only real weakness for the film would probably be some of the supporting characters. The random guy who waited until Quinn broke her leg to unleash his pun felt like filler. Quinn’s best friend also didn’t have much of a role. Giving these characters quick cameos instead of drawn out scenes is the best bet I suppose, but they didn’t really need to appear. All of the human scenes just don’t feel eventful next to the hype supernatural stuff.

The two comic relief supernatural experts are always interesting to have around. In a sense it’s impressive how they can suddenly make the whole atmosphere light and happy when it was super serious just a moment ago. It’s hard to feel scared when they’re around. After all, the guys may be incompetent, but at least they can still serve as shields if the demons come along. Moreover, it’s just hard to imagine the comic relief characters being destroyed so it lightens the atmosphere.

Overall, Insidious 3 was better than I thought it would be. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised since the series was always more memorable than other horror films and rarely went for the low hanging fruit. Give the film some extra credit for having a dog appear in various scenes, but nothing happens to him. Now that’s quality. This is a horror film that I would actually recommend and you know how rare that is so it says a lot about the film.

Overall 6/10

My Hero Academia Season 2 Review

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All right, it’s time for the second season to the hit show Hero Academia! The first season really took off and this one naturally followed it with the same excitement. I especially recall seeing it get a lot of buzz when the season first started and I’m sure it held on throughout. On the whole I’d definitely consider this season to beat the first one. It had time for more intense fight scenes and both halves of the season were really solid. I’d argue that the first half beat the second but they both had their share of good scenes.

We start off the season with a bang as the tournament starts. First we get some random events in Olympic style as various teams clash. The episodes are a lot of fun and we get introduced to some new characters like Neito who are extremely good. Once the real 1 on 1 phase of the tournament starts, then things get real. The main highlights of the tournament are Bakugo vs Todoroki and Deku vs Todoroki. Those two fights were leagues better than any of the others in the bracket although that’s not to say that the others were bad. These are just the matches that I had been waiting for. Deku’s had less action than Bakugo’s so it would come in second, but I was glad to finally see him using his powers more.

The dynamic between the characters is also good since any of the 3 can make a claim for being the strongest in the school. I’d say that Deku should easily beat both of them once he gets Full Cowl, but the tourney ended right before that so I was fine with him not being able to match the other two. If Bakugo and Todoroki both fight at full power my money would be on Todoroki, but if Bakugo can use his speed a little more it could definitely go either way.

Then we get to the plot heavy part of the season where the League of Villains attacks again and Stain is around as well. It was the best part of the season to be sure as we got to see Deku, Iida, and Todoroki take on Stain. It’s known as one of the best parts of the season and it’s easy to see why. It stays exciting throughout the whole event and it’s almost hard to go back to the happy days after that. Still, the show manages to pull it off since the directing is quite good and even normal scenes usually feel pretty hype here.

I do think that the season should have ended on a more exciting note though. We get the big teacher vs student battles with All Might taking on Deku and Bakugo towards the end. He certainly wasn’t pulling his punches as much as you’d expect and it made for a really good showdown between them. That should have been the final episode as opposed to ending with Shigaraki getting in some threats and Deku being humiliated again. It could have been a worse ending as we at least got to see new villains, but maybe it just didn’t help that I’m not too impressed with them yet. There’s plenty of time for them to change my mind in the next season. I’m confident that season 3 will continue to improve the series as it’s going to be adapting my favorite arc in the series. Prepare yourself since it may even manage a 9/10 for that one if it plays its cards right.

Well, lets look at the characters. Deku is still a good main character. He was quick to divert from his main mission to go save Iida when he suspected something was wrong. A hero should always be ready to take the initiative like that after all. In his fight with Todoroki he also did a good job of talking sense to him. I don’t care much for his quirk of muttering to himself but it’s not overdone to the point of annoyance so it’s easy to overlook. Deku really just had two problems in this season. One was when he let Shigaraki get the drop on him and just threaten him for a while. It’s moments like those where you have to use Full Cowl and just blast him off. Especially once he started to get choked. That scene was just brutal for Deku fans because you’d expect him to at least do something. Anything is better than just losing like that.
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The other iffy moment is when he is teamed up with Bakugo against All Might and keeps saying that they should run away. Running is never the answer and against an opponent whose main ability is super speed and strength…just doesn’t seem like a good option. I was completely with Bakugo there as the best defense is a good offense. Just fight All Might and claim victory. As the heroes always say, it doesn’t matter who your opponent is as your mission still doesn’t change. You just have to win, that’s the end goal. If they had fought together from the start they probably would have done a lot better.

Todoroki finally gets a lot of development here and he’s still my favorite character. He did a really good job in all of his fights and finally knows that he should always be willing to use his fire. He was the only student smart enough to find Deku in time and does a good job of living up to his rep as a genius. It’s a shame that he doesn’t do much in the future arcs since he has such a nice role here. He’s extremely powerful and dependable. You can’t ask for much more from a character.

Bakugo is also a fun character. In season 1 his bullying could be a little intense, but now that Deku has learned to stand up for himself at least Bakugo doesn’t even try anymore. He still lashes out at everyone all the time and is constantly growling about something, but he’s a solid rival. His attack strategy is very versatile and he’s almost as combat smart as Todoroki. His ego probably isn’t thrilled with how Deku keeps surpassing him, but at least he still just focuses on winning. His only issue at one point was saying that he’d rather lose than fight with Deku since that’s a little too drastic. Beyond that, he’s probably still my second favorite character behind Todoroki and the two of them are pretty close. Todoroki is just still a cooler rival. (Pun intended)

One issue with the heroes taking on villains though is that the main 3 are really the only ones who can fight. I suppose Iida has some combat ability as well, but the kids are just so far behind right now. Uraraka is a fun heroine, but her gravity ability doesn’t really have a whole lot of combat potential. That’s why I’m glad she’s at least learning some hand to hand skills from her mentor. That should make up for her powers and maybe she can find a way to use the two as a combo. Light gravity on herself should allow Uraraka to engage in faster hand to hand combat battles potentially. Hopefully they can do something like that for her.

This is Iida’s final big moment before his character falls down the tubes so I recommend enjoying it. His quest to stop Stain was pretty good, it’s a shame that he just didn’t have the power to back it up. Stain’s simply too fast and Iida is bad at changing directions. It also admittedly wasn’t his best moment as a hero since he didn’t even think about saving the other guy in the crossfire. I would give him a passing grade for the season though since he at least had a good plan for telling Stain. I probably wouldn’t have told the other students either since they would really be in danger at that point.

Tsu gets her own episode but it’s probably one of the weakest in the season. It’s about her helping out on a boat which isn’t bad…but pretty much the definition of filler. It’s definitely fun for her fans and all, but the “veterans” on the ship looked like chumps when they were just thrown overboard like that. They really didn’t expect the villains to try and pull a fast one? That’s a little sad for them if that’s the case. Tsu also can’t really fight so hopefully she’ll get a second power soon.

Momo gets some more development as her battle with self confidence happens during her match against the teacher. She’s a cool character and I think the series can do a lot with her ability. Being able to create anything that she understands is certainly handy. It’s surprising how often she just never gets to appear but maybe that’ll change soon. Kirishima doesn’t have an especially large role here or anything, but he’s still a fun character. His armor ability just has too many limitations at the moment so he really needs to improve it. What’s the point of super strength and durability if it’s only to a mild degree? At least he has enthusiasm.

Kyoka also has a mild role, but she looked really good. At least she’s always ready for a fight and is a capable strategist. She contributed in her battle against Mic with her cool ear drum abilities even if the self damage is a little too high for it to be worth using very often. Tokoyami is also another solid fighter who uses his dark hawk ability and his mind to outsmart the enemy. He’s treated as one of the strongest students and I guess he would be top 5. He’s a cool character that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of as well.

Finally from the main students there is also Mineta, but he is the worst by far. There’s just nothing cool to say about him and he is only here to try and bring in some fanservice. The show is really good about avoiding that trap for the moment so getting rid of him and Midnight would make the show completely stay away from it. Mineta has his own big scene which is terrible and unnecessary so hopefully we don’t go through that again.
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The other classes have some pretty interesting students as well. Neito is easily one of the best as his character exists only to make fun of the main students as he reminds them that talents, not quirks win battles. He actually does really good during the opening events. Considering that he has no powers, the guy really makes an impact. I hope to see a lot more of him as he’s the kind of comic relief character that I can get behind. Mei is a tech student who invents a bunch of stuff. She seems to be a fun enough character although none of her inventions seem like they’ll be enough to help her in a real fight. She’ll definitely have to stick to the support role for a little while longer.

Hitoshi can control people if they talk to him which is certainly a very good ability. After all, as long as he doesn’t let everyone know about that, most villains will automatically talk to him for trash talking and the like. How useful this ability is will directly correlate to how well he can keep a secret. Just keep releasing fake truths to how it works through the news and such and he could be a secret weapon. It’s just a shame that this kind of ability never seems to work on the stronger opponents.

There’s not much to say about the teachers. Aizawa still serves as the Kakashi of the series and reminds the kids that you can’t mess with the adults. I don’t buy into him doing well against Todoroki at all, but being able to turn off a person’s quirk is really handy. The no blinking rule isn’t nearly as useful though since it should be easy to make him blink during a scuffle. He needs a stun gun or something. Principal Nezu is pretty cheap as per usual. I still hold onto my pet theory that he’s a traitor as it would at least give his character a purpose.

I actually like Mic. He made for a pretty good opponent during the battle and had a lot of fun with his exam. His ability is a little overpowered for how the test was structured though. Ectoplasm has a really cool design even if he hasn’t done much yet. Having Shadow Clones is always handy as well for dealing with multiple opponents. I hope he is either really fast or has some hand to hand techniques though. Snipe has a gun and he knows how to fire it. The guy didn’t get to do much in this season though. Midnight’s hormone abilities definitely make for one of the most underwhelming quirks. It’s almost as bad as just having a tail, it’s not going to help against a serious villain.

All Might’s fight is pretty good and while that’s basically the extent of his role here, it’s a pretty good one. It’s good that he didn’t go too easy on the kids because then there wouldn’t have been much of a point to the exercise. I still really like his super hero design even if the frail human mode isn’t nearly as exciting or fun to watch. He embodies what it means to be a super hero and that’s why it’s easy to see All Might as the symbol of hope. He’s starting to keep some secrets from Deku, but nothing massive yet so it’s all good for now.

One thing that’s always annoying though is how the grown ups tell the kids not to make the hero call. The heroes being in trouble for helping stop Stain is pretty awful no matter how you look at it. Sure, they weren’t given permission to use their quirks and such but I thought you were allowed to do that if it was an emergency. I feel like that was mentioned in season 1 and this would count. Now they have to pretend that they never helped in the first place which is pretty bad. I’ve seen similar speeches in many shows and I never agree with them. If you’re in a position to help someone but don’t have a license, you still have to act. There’s no time to go and find someone and being a hero means saving lives over following the rules. The heroes need to work on a better system so they encourage other heroes to help instead of stopping them. Considering that most of humanity has quirks in this series, they’d be a force to be reckoned with if they united instead of being forced to hide their quirks.

The League of Villains didn’t do much yet. One of the few weaknesses to the series is that the villains aren’t very interesting. Stain is really good and Kurogiri/Noumu have cool designs. Beyond that, the rest of basically throwaways. It’s hard to take Shigaraki seriously when he’s always grabbing his face to calm himself down. His power is actually very useful but his personality just doesn’t work as the big leader of the villains. He needs some self confidence or a better design at the very least. Kurogiri looks cool and his power is great. He should just overthrow Shigaraki at this point since he seems more qualified to be leader. I’d definitely like to see more of him since he is easily the most interesting villain right now.

Since there are many Noumu running around now, they are far weaker than the one that fought All Might. It’s too bad that they got nerfed but at least they are still a credible threat to an extent. We get quick cameos for Dabi and Himiko at the end. They will do more in season 3. Considering that they seemed threatened by Shigaraki at the end, their hype is basically gone by this point. I can see why Himiko is a fan favorite since she’s totally crazy, but it’s just not in a cool way. Dabi is fine though and I expect good things from him.

Stain is the big villain of the series and he is certainly as cool as you’d expect. He has a great design and his ability is also very handy. Being able to paralyze someone for a few minutes is downright amazing. In a 1 on 1 fight that is an instant game over for basically anyone. No matter what your quirk is, you’re not going to be able to survive for long if you can’t move. I’m pretty sure you can’t even use your quirk while paralyzed although I’m sure there are probably some exceptions to this rule. Since Stain is still alive, I’m definitely expecting him to return at some point.

Whoever the show has hired as the director definitely needs to stay on. I take a lot of shots at Naruto Shippuden, but that’s because I wish it was a show like this one. Basically every scene is interesting and the characters are mostly all fun. Each episode is over in the blink of an eye since nothing drags on and you don’t keep seeing the same flashbacks. Even though the manga starts to go downhill a little after where season 3 should end, I’m hoping the anime can save it somehow. With this team at the helm I do think there is a chance. It’s one thing to adapt the source material and another to make it even better. This show is one of the latter and this is basically the prime of the series so continue to enjoy it now while the going is good.

As you’d expect the animation is really solid for this season. The colors really stand out and everything is very sharp. You can especially see this in the high budget episodes. I’m glad the show got a good budget since just about every character has some kind of energy element to their abilities and you need to be able to show that off. One look at the episodes and you know this is a modern show. The soundtrack is basically the same as in the first season. It can be kind of nostalgic but I hope they add some new tunes for season 3. It’s a good soundtrack, but you should never be satisfied by just reusing old themes and should always incorporate new ones as the series progresses. I wasn’t too impressed with the new openings visually, but I did like how they sounded. The very first opening is still the best by far though. That one’s iconic at this point and is one of the best no matter what opening you put against it.
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Overall, This was a great followup to the original season. It worked out well that we got another big villain arc here like in the first season. The first season may have done a better job of being really tense since the kids still hadn’t really mastered their powers yet. It went from happy to serious in the blink of an eye there and it was one of the best moments in the series. On the other hand, this season embraced its nature as an action series more and really stepped it up with the fights. For example, the Stain fight here beats anything that was in season 1. The characters were already developed a lot so now getting to see them fight is even more satisfying. It’s a really solid action show that I can recommend to anyone and it’s not complicated or anything so it’s very easy to start.

Overall 8/10

Dracula: Prince of Darkness Review

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Time for more Dracula! This film actually had the best beginning out of all the Dracula films which was quite impressive. For a little while there, I actually began to think that this film could actually be good. The second half falls back down the rails into terrible territory but at least it actually tried this time. If only the film had stuck to being a slice of life with a few jump scares instead of a nitty gritty vampire film. Don’t we have enough of those anyway?

The film starts off with a bunch of savages about to impale a girl who’s already dead. They want to make sure she stays that way. A passing preacher/evangelist stops them with his pocket gun and tough negotiating skills. He then heads to a cabin where we meet the Kents. 4 people are going on a big tour of the world and are having fun stopping at all of the various bars. He warns them not to go to a castle coming up since it’s evil. To their credit, half of the party listens. The 4 people are Alan, Helen, Charles, and Diana. Helen really doesn’t want to go inside and Diana isn’t fond of doing so either. Luckily a carriage comes along so Charles proposes that they get on it and head for the next town. Unfortunately the Horses are uncontrollable and quickly take the heroes to the castle. It appears to be empty, but a butler remains.

Helen continues to believe that something bad is going to happen and her fears are put to rest as Alan is destroyed and she goes next. Unlike Alan, she is at least given the pleasure of becoming a fellow vampire who will serve Dracula. Dracula wants Diana next, but Charles intends to put up a fight to save her. Charles and Diana head to the old guy from the intro and hide in his church, but the Church has a traitor who works for Dracula and the guy invites him in. It’s now a desperate battle for time, can Dracula be stopped!?

I really did like the intro. The first 30-40 minutes are basically the heroes bickering among themselves and just enjoying the hospitality once they get into the castle. You know that it’s not going to end well for them but at least they are having fun in the meantime. Charles is a pretty good character as he’s not a nervous wreck like the rest of the heroes and doesn’t mind taking charge. Diana may not be as brave, but she always stands by Charles. Alan and Helen aren’t quite as good. Helen is extremely nervous of everything to the point of paranoia which gets old fast and Alan just barely seems like a character. He’s just along for the ride for the most part. Still, it’s a fun group dynamic. These are actually characters that I can get behind and it’s just an entertaining intro.

Then Dracula shows up and things get messy. First of all, the film is quite violent. The Hammer films in general are always a little more intense and this one is no exception. One character basically bleeds to death which takes a while and it’s on screen. Another character gets impaled with a stake on screen. Ironically, Dracula’s death at the end is the least violent since he simply slips on some ice and freezes to his doom. Not exactly the way you’d imagine the famous Prince of Darkness to go out. I’m aware of the Garlic and the Cross as counters to Dracula even if the former never works. I never heard about Vampires drowning in clear water though. I never assumed they could breath underwater, but it’s actually a weakness now? The deck is really stacked against Dracula since he is quite slow and is weak to just about everything under the sun. Good luck beating any more humans at this rate count.

The traitor inside of the Church was annoying as well. He’s a prisoner as they even say to take him back to his cell, but people still take orders from him? Clearly the guy isn’t the only crazy in the place. It’s also awfully convenient how many empty rooms are in the Church so it’s easy for Dracula to sneak around. I was hoping there would be more people running around trying to stop him. It’s also annoying how quick the hypnosis works on Diana. It’s essentially instantaneous which isn’t surprising, but still not all that great. Where is the will power in all of this?

As a side note, this is probably the worst Dracula design. The red eyes just make him look super weak and then the actual movie certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade you of that notion. Anyone can out run him and while he has super strength, he tends to let his opponents go. He’s also lucky that Alan was quite naive and not too smart as he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten resurrected in the first place. The heroes make a bunch of bad calls throughout the movie. In another scene they see the butler with a baseball bat or some kind of knife, but just shrug. All 4 of them agree that the butler seems crazy and likely dangerous, but they are still fine with sleeping in the manor. At worst they should have just overpowered him and then gone to sleep. They could have woke up the next day with a “Nothing personal” story and that would have worked. Well, I suppose at least some of them got the last laugh in the end so that’s a start.

Overall, This film is really just more of the same. Once Dracula shows up you can switch the footage with any other Dracula film and it’s basically the same. The film goes through the same beats as he takes the heroes down one by one but then plot armor comes to help the heroes. Dracula gets Charles in his grasp at one point, but then throws him away. He completely had the victory sealed up there, but lets him get away. Why would he do that? Seems like it was a bad move to me. Ah well, I’d recommend staying away from this film. You can watch other Dracula films that aren’t as over the top violent and at the end of the day, vampires are past their prime anyway. If you don’t mind stopping early, then the film is quite good if you just watch right up til Alan says he is going to check downstairs. Stop the film right there and it’s a solid 7/10 with a good cast and solid writing. If every film ended as well as it started, a lot of scores would be quite different in the horror genre.

Overall 2/10

Rurouni Kenshin Side Story: The Ex-Con Ashitaro Review

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It’s time to take a look at the 2 chapter oneshot sequel to Kenshin that came out. This serves as a set up to the ongoing sequel coming out so you definitely want to check it out to stay current. It’s a pretty fun series and the two chapters really go by quickly. It starts off with two prisoners being released. One guy is named Ashitaro and he was arrested for dining and dashing. The other guy is Aran and I forgot exactly why he was arrested but they got him for years. A mysterious girl shows up when they are released and claims that Ashitaro has her treasure. They used to both work for the same villain organization but Ashitaro ran off. He claims not to know anything, but it could be the sword that he buried a while back. Aran decides to help Ashitaro out in retrieving the sword and living a normal life after prison, but are these two fighters strong enough to take on a villain organization?

Since Ashitaro is the lead here and will likely have a big role in the actual series, it is imperative that he is a likable character. I think he’s pretty good at any rate. He reminds me of Tyson’s counter protagonist in the Beyblade manga. Ashitaro is a pretty good fighter but he’s also rather basic and doesn’t really think about anything. He just likes having a good fight and can dish it out with the rest of uis. Second to none is food for him though. He’ll eat anything and isn’t picky. He’s certainly no Kenshin, but he is the real deal when it comes to using a sword. I’ll definitely be glad to see him return.

His partner Aran is a lot less impressive. For starters, Aran can’t even fight. That brings up a lot of red flags right from the start. I also can’t say I care too much about his half American heritage and hopefully it’s not a big plot line. I guess it could lead to something cool if it turns out that his American relatives want to take him back by force or he’s related to the villains but we don’t really need the human sidekick right now. He could certainly be much more annoying than he actually is though so I’ll stay content with that for now. The writing is sharp as always which really makes a difference for characters like this.

There aren’t really any other big characters at the moment. I suspect that the girl may become a big character at some point, but we’ll see. The one shot villains here are fairly generic, but serve their roles well. I have to give some props to the first villain for still being able to talk even with a sword through his head. That guy definitely has nerves of steel. The other villain with the oil weapon was pretty strong as well, at least when put up against the main characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how much fun the real big villains are.

If you were worried about not seeing Kenshin or the rest of the old cast, don’t worry about it. They show up briefly and Kenshin definitely has a great role. It’s nice to know how much time has passed since the end of the main series and it is mentioned here. It hasn’t been too long of a gap so fortunately everyone should still be able to fight at a high level. The ending shows us that the whole cast is getting ready to go to Hokkaido so that’s sure to be a pretty epic arc. I’m expecting a lot of big things there.

The art is exceptional, but that almost goes without saying. I’ve really missed the Kenshin style. The action has a lot of depth and the speed lines really make it look extra impressive. The action scenes were great and as I mentioned the writing is pretty sharp. I can easily see the sequel being a top tier threat to all of the other manga titles once it actually comes out or is scanned.

While Ashitaro’s sword is cool, I think he’s going to need another one almost immediately. In the story it is bent out of shape and badly burned so unless he makes this some really unique combo starter where the shape actually helps him, I can’t see the big villains being very threatened by the kid. I could also see him getting it repaired and if so, Kenshin’s master needs to appear. He never got much closure so this could definitely help. I wouldn’t mind if the sequel also has a brief timeskip so that we can gloss over that part and also have Aran learn some fighting off screen. Then the series will be set.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. After all these years, we finally have Kenshin back in business. Hopefully the series really lasts for a long while and that it doesn’t jump the shark. Sequels don’t always have the best of reps, but I think this one is going to be one of the best sequels on the block. Hopefully these chapters come out with volume one once the series is licensed so fans don’t have to try and track these chapters down. How I see it, the set up/prequel to the sequel should always be included.

Overall 8/10

Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier Review

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The first three Jak and Daxter games were pretty great so I was always looking forward to finally playing the 4th one. Unfortunately it is a noticeable step down in terms of quality and ends up feeling a lot more like a cash-in title than a main game. It’s a little disappointing although the game is still fairly decent. You’ll just keep being reminded of what it could have been.

The first warning bell is the extremely light plot. Jak and Keira are flying around when pirates shoot them down. They are led by Phoenix who apparently knows Keira from way back in the day. She decides to help him and Jak comes along for the ride even though Phoenix is really mean the whole time. One thing leads to another and the fate of the world depends on Jak stopping these other pirates from using Eco to power themselves up and destroying the world. Jak has his mastery over light and dark but his powers are still too strong so he could blow up the world if he tries anything. He’ll have to be satisfied with simply using hand to hand combat. As you can tell, the plot is extremely forgettable so I may have missed a few details and nothing happens.

The game is pretty short so you can beat it in a day or two. That being said, what will help stretch the game out is the terrible map and lack of clear directions. The symbols on the map aren’t labeled so you’ll rarely know where to go. I got lost a bunch of times and wasted quite a bit of effort not actually going anywhere. There are also not many levels, only 4-5 I think so you just keep on going back there over and over again. You can even feel how the game was originally for PSP and not PS2 because the game stops as an unskippable cutscene shows up every time a door opens. This happens for every door which really slows down the pace of the game. If it’s lagging, then you have to wait a little while for the door to open..great.

Technically the gameplay isn’t too bad. It’s the usual 3D shooter/brawler gameplay but with less of a budget than usual. Instead of the really smooth running and running from Ratchet and Clank or the older Jak games, you have a little trouble aiming and switching weapons. You only get 4 weapons I believe and while they’re all decently strong, none are amazing. Some of the enemies sure can last a bit. Fortunately you have ECO abilities like stopping time and can also upgrade everything in the menu. The combat is the game’s most impressive aspect even if it’s not amazing. I can at least get behind it and compared to even lower budgets like the M&Ms or the Ninjabread Man it is actually good.

There is naturally no real replay value to this game because if you beat the game you’ll just want to move on to a better title. If you actually do like the game then I think there are a bunch of collectibles to grab so that’s something. There’s also the Hero Mode that you’ll unlock which should really test your skills. Considering that you can get the game for a pretty cheap price, it’s all pretty reasonable if you ask me.

The graphics also aren’t bad. I’d say they look comparable to the original games. What I really can count as a big positive is the soundtrack. There are quite a few opera themes which are really good and at least make the boss fights feel more grand. It gives you something nice to listen to during some of the tougher segments of the game. Very few bits are legitimately tough as the quick time events are either too extreme or you basically have to die at least once and then allow the checkpoint to give you a quick boost by giving you back all of your health even though you’re further in.

I can’t stress enough how poorly designed some of the interactive moments are. For example, when you jump on the rocket as Daxter, you’ll end up getting shocked a lot even though you’re using L1 and R1. It’s just not good and was probably the most annoying part of the game. The background characters are also annoying with their constant yelling and you have to wonder why they were programmed to have such bad lines.

I think a big part of what hurt the game was how boring the story was. It’s quite telling that I found SpRay’s story to be more engaging. At least this one did have cutscenes though which I suppose should be an instant improvement. At the end of the day, the game is good but just barely. Watch out for the lackluster plot, the bad level designs, the broken compass, and the clunky combat system. As long as you can get past all of that, then you’ll have a good time. Also, try not to jump much since the game clearly did not know how to handle that. Even simple jumps forward end up being a lot tougher than they should be.

Overall, The Lost Frontier got lost for a reason. It’s kind of sad that the Jak series had to end on such a sad note. The first three games were just so good. This game was ambitious in its own way, but it just needed more quality control. The air levels could be fun and were actually better than the ground combat ones. They also weren’t very balanced at times, but they gave it a good attempt. Just play this game slow and steady and you’ll be okay. At least you keep your parts whenever you lose so you’ll have a lot of upgrades to buy when you land. I’d sooner recommend buying the original three, but if you already have them then you should probably buy this one. It’ll at least be good for a few hours of entertainment.

Overall 6/10