SSSS.Dynazenon Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

The Mummy’s Curse review


The Mummy adventures continue in this one. I wouldn’t say its as strong as the second installment but is very close with the third. I was impressed at the heroine showing up again from the last film as I just had the feeling that she wasn’t going to be brought up. Instead the film actually finishes up her plotline. It may not be in a very satisfying way but at least its acknowledged.

So there are a bunch of engineers working on a swamp but they’re all very scared of the whole Mummy rumors. Legends say that a Mummy is still buried under here somewhere and it doesn’t help that a bunch of guys from the nearby museum show up to try and find the Mummy as well. The boss is outraged at the whole thing but his secretary has fallen in love and won’t support him in throwing these men out. Perhaps that will be for the best though as the Mummy is very real and has started his rampage once more. Can the heroes take him down before it’s too late?

I said some of the earlier main characters were bland but this one may take the cake. The main character James has no real character to speak of. He wants to get to the Mummy for the museum but it’s hard to say much more about him than that. He seems like a nice enough person but certainly gets crushed rather easily when it comes time for a fight. He just didn’t fair too well in the climax and got off easy with Kharis really doing all of the work here.

As for Ananka, well she looks pretty bad here. Whenever someone is in trouble she runs off so that they will be doomed against Kharis. You can actively blame her for most of the deaths in this film. I mean Kharis should take the direct blame but she is really not being a good character in leaving them to their deaths. It was not a wise move. The new villain Ilzor is just like the others who follow Kharis. At first he is commanding the Mummy but then gets greedy in going after the heroine so Kharis does not like that. The villain made a big mistake in running to the prison though. That’s just not a good idea here. Why lock yourself in against a monster like this?

If you try to run you at least have a shot since the Mummy is so slow. Just don’t faint, if you do that then you’re really in for a bad time. The Mummy itself doesn’t do a whole lot here. It still flails around and chokes people but that’s about it. You’ve seen it all before and it’s why I say that he desperately needs a power up. Something that will really help him turn the tables and be more of a threat.

Beyond that, the movie really plays out how you would expect it too. Kharis takes out a bunch of fighters here and there until they eventually catch up to him. The whole place caving in and burying him is quite the way to go. It may not be the most exciting climax but it does the job. You’ll be entertained from start to finish and a good reason for that is really the solid writing. I dare say that if the writing was not up to par then this movie would not work.

It’s one of those titles that only works because it’s so old and the writing was so solid back then. If you remade this in the modern day it would absolutely need to compensate with a lot more action to keep things interesting. This one can afford to be more of a slow boil film with not much happening because those fundamentals are on point. The movie is short and never drags on either so I would even say that it has a decent amount of replay value. If you just want to turn your brain off and watch something entertaining then this is a good film to pick up. That said, you could certainly do better so you may not give it the re watch.

I still say the main thing to take these films to the next level would be to make the Mummy itself a little fiercer. Alternately what you can do is give him an enemy to fight. Throw in another Mummy, wouldn’t that be a nice wrinkle? Kharis wakes up but another Mummy like Imhotep says this is his domain so they have to duke it out. That would be excellent and I’m always surprised that we don’t get more fighting among the monsters. It would make for a very compelling story and as long as they don’t cop out on who the winner is, it would also be a good way to get both fanbases engaged and eager to watch the solo follow ups to track the power-ups. I have to imagine there were still a lot of vs debaters back in the day.

Overall, The Mummy’s Curse is a good film. There’s nothing all that unique about it though. Aside from the setting being different it plays out in almost the same way as the last film. I did like the engineering boss though. At least that guy didn’t buy into the whole Mummy thing from start to finish as he kept making jokes and insulting everyone. You feel bad for him because he definitely lost a lot of time on this whole adventure. Hopefully he can make it all up now that people shouldn’t be worried about the Mummy anymore. He’ll need a new secretary but as he pointed out in the ending, she hadn’t been helping him much throughout the entire film anyway so it wouldn’t change much.

Overall 6/10

Earthworm Jim 2 Review


This is one of those games where I can’t say that I knew a whole lot about it but I definitely knew the name. Earthworm Jim is one of those names that just sticks around in your mind from start to finish. You can’t forget it because it’s just way too intense. The game lives up to the hype and is definitely a blast even if the ending starts to get a little on the crazy side. Certainly a very difficult game as well.

The game starts off with Jim on another adventure to save the princess or at least I think she’s a princess. Along the way he has to fight with a lot of different creatures. Get ready for some big plot twists by the end too. This is not a game that spells everything out for you. At times you will really have to connect the dots on your own and also decide how real the ending is. Personally I like to think the whole ending is completely real and just how it appears to be. It’s an ambitious way to end the game and I can definitely approve of that.

As for the gameplay, it’s Fairley standard for a shooter. You blast away at your enemies and keep on moving. Your ammo may not always be great but you slowly recover some if you’re ever totally out. I recommend not wasting your ammo though as it is extremely useful for every part of the game. You don’t want to be running low against a boss or you’re really in trouble. You have different kinds of guns around here too so try and learn how each one looks and feels. The best one is the machine gun style but all of the guns are useful for something or another. Mainly you also just can’t to be good at jumping and dodging so you don’t just eat every attack. Do that and then you’ll really be in a jam.

One level that gave me a lot of trouble is the final level so here’s something to keep in mind about that. You have to stay ahead of your opponent at all times here or you lose. If you make it to the end of the level but he was first then the level just ends with you being stuck until you run out of health. So you have to move really quickly here and it cost me a ton of tries to get that far. Trust me, it definitely was not easy at all especially because you’re never given any indication that the rules around this level were different than the rest. Seriously it just comes out of nowhere which makes the whole thing a bit surprising.

Aside from the gameplay, the soundtrack and graphics are all solid. This is what I would call the complete package because it looks and sounds good while also being a very satisfying play. It’s hard to go wrong here. It’s aged incredibly well for the SNES, you could probably get away with thinking this could even look like an N64 title. Throw in the fact that it had more of a real story than the others and it really seemed to be ahead of its time.

I’m a little surprised there weren’t more 2D platformer shooters back in the day. I suppose Mega Man cornered the market there but they always tend to be a lot of fun and satisfying. This one just proves that even more. It’s probably the last Switch Online game for a bit but I was definitely thrilled to get a chance to play this one. Hopefully the console keeps on updating with more and more solid games. Who knows what other gems are hiding out there just waiting to be played!

Overall, Earthworm Jim 2 is definitely a solid game. I had a lot of fun with it at least and the title really embraced how crazy the whole thing was. It was definitely not trying to be your average shooter game. I’d really be down with a remake of this game at some point. There’s a whole lot you can do here for the future. Some of the gameplay mechanics should be explained better so you aren’t walking around in circles or anything like that but those are easy fixes to make. (Finding out how to open up the flowers to throw around took me forever!) Pull that off and you’re in a good spot!

Overall 7/10

Persona 5: The Animation: Stars and Ours Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Persona 5: The Animation: Dark Sun… Review


After the show ended things off on a rather intense note, it was time for this special to continue the story along. It’s fair to say that the show’s ending was never going to stick but it was fun to entertain that notion in the meanwhile. This one brings things together to a pretty decent end although it’s fair to say that it’s still another cliffhanger, just a different one. It picks up right where the show left off so it’s nostalgic to see the whole cast here. Since we’re pretty deep into the adventure, there is no downtime and the heroes just get right to work. Naturally this post will have spoilers for the show so proceed with that in mind.

After Akechi murdered Joker he played it up as a suicide and went about his way. It turns out that he’s been working for Shido this whole time and all of the incidents have helped get Shido up to the world stage. The guy is very close to becoming the prime minister now and naturally needed everyone out of the picture. Well, it turns out that Joker faked his death through a clever trick involving switching the two worlds so that Akechi murdered a virtual version of him. Now the team has to saddle up and take Shido down but can they really keep Akechi off their backs long enough to pull this off?

The special goes pretty fast from this point. The intro where they have to explain how the trick worked take some time but then it’s off to the races. I thought the trick was pretty solid although I have my doubts on how well this would work. It really all comes down to two things I have an issue with. The first being that when you switch worlds there is no indication of this happening. Can it really be so smooth? Usually there is an effect where the world itself distorts and the characters all seem to notice this so how is it possible that it didn’t alert Akechi?

The best thing I can think of is they opened it up as such a large territory that he was not in the blast radius but that doesn’t seem to have been something they could really do. My other issue is with the virtual bodies themselves. So we know that a virtual body will die in the same way as a real one based on the previous castles only the body will then disintegrate into a pile of black smoke. How did they prevent Joker’s body from vanishing until after Akechi left? Furthermore, how did the security guard’s body not vanish after Akechi took him down? Akechi monologued for quite a bit so the guy should have been long gone.

In short, I don’t think their plan actually should/could have worked here. At least not with the info we get here, perhaps the video game was more detailed about it. Ah well, then we cut to the heart of the adventure which is to try and take Shido down but of course Akechi will still try to stand in their way. He gets a lot of props here as he was taking on the whole team at once. At one point they ask how he can use more than one persona but Joker’s been doing that since the very start of the show so they should be asking him that. I suppose Akechi is just super talented since he never actually explains how it’s possible.

The various mysteries throughout the show are all wrapped up pretty well here. Akechi does start to go off the deep end a bit but all in all the guy’s still my favorite character. He was usually one step ahead of everyone else and his plans were really on point. The guy was certainly crazy and a total villain but he executed this well. He’s the kind of villain you enjoy watching because his goals make sense and he’s just charismatic.

Shido is a little less interesting in that respect but he makes for a good final boss here. The guy actually knows a little bit about the mental abilities and alternate world. While this is something unknown to most, it makes sense that the big boss should be in on the loop. It even opens the door to some interesting storylines like if they trained a bunch of government assassins to pull this off as well. Perhaps in a sequel or something like that.

The animation is good here. It’s still nothing top notch or anything but works well enough for the fights. Persona isn’t always a very action packed title but this one had a good amount of fighting. With Akechi here that makes sense since the whole show was building up to this and you wouldn’t want to have an underwhelming climax at the end of the road. For the soundtrack we don’t get the big lyrical songs this time around but the beats still work. I’ve always liked the Persona soundtrack and this one’s no exception.

For the main characters they all get their chance to help out. Joker takes most of the credit here as he was strong enough to go up against Akechi and also took most of the risks in the plan. It’s just clear from the start that he’s the most powerful. The rest of the gang helps out as best they can as well. Without them Joker would have definitely been doomed either way. Even Sae gets to help out quite a bit and her role as a cop/investigator is always coming in handy.

If this did end up being the ending to Persona 5 I dare say that it would still work out pretty well. Sure, the heroes are still in a dangerous spot and not all of the villains are down for the count but for the most part things would be going well. It would also be open ended just enough where there could be a sequel. Of course there was a sequel and I’ll be reviewing it pretty soon. I would have liked Akechi to have done more but I am still satisfied in the end and I can see why he’s a fan favorite.

Overall, Dark Sun is a solid follow up to the main show. We get to see the updated version of the opening song here which is fittingly called Dark Sun so that’s nice. If you liked the show then you should definitely like the special. In some ways the special even beats the show as it’s able to focus on just one case and give it the full attention of around an hour. It does a lot within that time and it’s nice to just see the gang back in action. It might not make a whole lot of sense if you haven’t seen the show though so you won’t want to check this out as a stand alone title.

Overall 7/10

The King of Fighters XV Review


Reaching 15 games is a great accomplishment for any series. Of course when you count spinoffs then this series already passed that number but 15 in just the main-line is even more impressive. While the story isn’t as big as in some of the other games, everyone has their classic Arcade Mode here so you’ll be playing a lot of stories. With solid gameplay at the ready you can bet that this game is a full success.

The story is that the next tournament has been announced so everybody is invited. Most of the characters share the same intro this time around so you might not know the reason they are all entering but you can make good guesses based on the endings. The main teams here are the ones led by Isla and Shun’ei. They both still need to work on mastering their psychic abilities and there may be something more to this tournament. When a mysterious cosmic being known as Re-Verse appears, the teams will have to fight hard to stop her. What if she is even more powerful than Verse from the last game? The heroes can’t let their guard down for a moment!

I have to admit that I would have liked a bit more of a story though. Even the classic opening and ending routine would have felt a bit better since everyone gets two shots. With most of the teams only getting the ending it felt like the story may have been rushed a bit. Make sure you check the gallery before playing though as it will let you know which characters get different versions of the cutscenes aside from the ending. Usually you will have your character rival cutscene during the story as well so be on the lookout for those.

Re-Verse makes for a cool villain and she even has a super form. The battle is also quite difficult in her final form when you’re playing on standard mode. I always start with standard mode but for the rest of the stories I made the settings as quick as possible to get through them. If you are fighting her, make sure you block a lot. It’s a 3 vs 1 fight against the boss so it may sound easy but her attacks hit like a truck. You can’t underestimate her or it’ll all be over. You get unlimited continues but you still want to win as soon as you can.

Isla’s group makes for a solid rival team. Isla herself is a good rival and she even gets some solid development in her own story. She isn’t quite ready to take the main character spot away from the others but I’d like to see her appear more in the sequel. Shun’ei is also a good lead even if he’s no Kyo. I like his confidence and he is getting better at mastering his abilities so he is no longer a novice at this point. Kyo and Terry are still the two big powerhouses to watch out for though.

Aside from the story mode you’ve got a lot of other content like the tutorials, vs modes, online battles, etc. Multiplayer automatically gives a game unlimited replay value as far as I’m concerned because you can always have fun playing more rounds. Without PS+ the online option may not be applicable but there’s always local in that case. The gameplay is also very solid and I started to get the hang of the combos by the end. I had to learn a lot of the different techniques to obtain the PS4 trophies which was handy for the matches.

Obtaining the Platinum would take a while here but it’s certainly something else you can shoot for. Especially if you have PS+, then a lot of these trophies will be more obtainable. Naturally the graphics here are really quite solid. Everything is in HD and the attacks are all very bright. It definitely feels good landing big attacks for that reason. The soundtrack is solid and we get a new main theme which plays during all of the endings. I’d say that it’s pretty good. It’s got a catchy beat to it and raises the tension since it’s the perfect cliffhanger kind of theme. The lyrical song from the last game also returns and of course I like Re-Verse’s themes that play during the game.

There is an album feature here so you can go back and listen to the songs at any time. There’s even an option where you can pick what song plays for each stage like in Super Smash Bros. It may seem like a little thing but I’m really glad that you can do that. This way you make sure that the best song is playing at all times which is always a good idea. When you can choose like this, why would you choose anything but the best right?

For the combat I would recommend playing through the tutorials. Not only is it good because of the trophies that you get but there are a lot of different concepts here and you want to know them all. Gone are the days where you would just punch and kick your way to victory. Now you’ve got a bunch of other techniques up your sleeve and you won’t even know the names or how to use them if you haven’t properly learned how to do it. Button mashing and spacing can only get you so far after all. Find your 3 main characters and then you’ll be all set. For me that would be Kyo, Terry, and Shun’ei, the 3 main characters across generations in a sense. Perhaps the obvious picks but their gameplays were all very solid to me.

Overall, The King of Fighters XV is definitely a great follow up to the series. It brings back everything you like about the series like the great gameplay and a solid story mode. I think the story could have been more expansive/included more unique cutscenes but at the end of the day it’s more like a bonus than the focus here. The character roster is a good size so no issues there and I’m sure the game will be getting DLC for a while to include some bonus fighters. It’s always fun to see what the cast will look like by the end since if we get enough waves it can almost double.

Overall 8/10

RWBY: Before the Dawn Review


At long last I have finished the second RWBY novel and am one step closer to being caught up with the novels. It feels like a big accomplishment to me at least since I’ve had them checked out since forever. I thought this one improved upon the first book too. It expanded the cast so we got to see more of the classic characters and we also got more fights. That’s a win/win in my book.

In this adventure Team SSSN is not having a good time. The various members are upset at Sun for always ditching them to do his own thing. In particular Scarlet is super upset about this and keeps on taking shots at Sun. Meanwhile there are a lot of people vanishing from Vacuo so Team CFVY is on the case. They also have to find out more about the Crown, a mysterious villain group. Sun has been investigating the vanishings too so he volunteers his team to help….without telling them first. With all of the drama and disagreements that this team brings to the equation, should Coco even let them join in? Also, can they possibly save the world while they’re all fighting each other like this?

It felt like there was always a lot happening in this book which was nice. After all we have the vanishings going around, the Crown mind controlling people, and the school acting really shady. The Beacon students have even opened up a little counseling session where they all talk about how badly they feel. Now some characters like Sun take shots at this and have fun names for it like the Baby room but it was a nice bit of world building. We see how this move to Shade Academy has not been easy for them. Apparently they’ve even been excluded and bullied to an extent.

Now, when it comes to the counseling room I can see why Sun finds this to be a bad idea. The group all huddling together does seem like this will further widen the gap with the other students. At the same time, it seems like they wouldn’t be included either way so it gets tricky. I would say they don’t need this room to be honest. It doesn’t hurt anything but I’d probably be skipping to do more training and everything. Got to keep on getting stronger and stronger after all.

The school environment is something that does limit what the heroes can do for a while. Unfortunately they are still students so there isn’t a whole lot that they can do outside of the rules. They could try to escape but then they may have pro huntsmen after them. I’m sure the heroes could beat them up but after a point you start doing more good to the very people you are trying to protect. I was glad when the heroes finally make a stand but it certainly takes a while since the school is so bad most of the time. Forcing the heroes to change teams, not doing any investigating, etc.

Now, there are some twists and dynamics here but in the end I would not say that the school looked good. For example I did not like the principal Theodore all that much. Sure, he talked really tough and was ready to fight at all times but you have to do a whole lot more than that if you want to score a big win. When the going got tough and the villains attacked, he didn’t beat a single strong fighter. That’s a really bad look for a headmaster. He’s better than Lionheart but that’s really all that I can say for him here. Bravado without anything to back it up is basically pointless.

His secretary Rumpole also doesn’t look good. She’s at a high rank but doesn’t really know how to balance her time and lets her guard down too easily. She is skilled to be sure but ultimately tends to just get in the way the whole time. Some events later on help her make a bit of a recovery but ultimately she’s got some work to do for me to consider her to be a very strong character. Shade Academy loves to hype itself up as everyone in Vacuo is a resident tough guy but they don’t seem to be on the front lines when it counts.

As for Team CFVY, they are still the main characters even if they have to share with Sun’s team at times. So they get a lot to do and are reasonably solid. Coco has to go through a lot with her new team as not being the leader anymore is quite the experience. You can tell that she likes being leader and won’t take orders very well. She gets some solid fights here and ultimately takes control when necessary so I would give her a lot of credit here. She may not be my favorite RWBY character but I would say she did better here than in the first book.

Fox’s role is greatly reduced here but he still gets to have some action scenes here. Being blind is a great advantage in battles where everyone’s vision is gone due to the sandstorm always around. Fox ends up coming through for his team more than once so he’s still the MVP here. Without him the heroes would really be in trouble. He’s got more of a mean streak than the others and that’s always entertaining.

Velvet still has some issues with not being the leader and so she’s always trying to prove herself as a big fighter. Unfortunately this does lead to her being defeated multiple times but she does always get up. Velvet is a strong fighter after all so you won’t be keeping her down for very long. I’m glad about her enthusiasm but I would like to see her get a big win soon. In Volume 3 she was able to take down the Atlas robot because of how good her copy abilities were. She needs to tune into that and just take out her opponents.

Finally you have Yatsuhashi and he gets a big role here. After all, his ability to alter memories is really the perfect counter to mind control if you think about it. Just rewind to before they were controlled. It’s even easier in the book since just making contact with someone allows him to overwrite the control. He was definitely crucial here, no doubt about that. He’s often very quiet but I appreciate his loyalty towards helping Velvet. You can always count on him to show up.

As for Team SSSN, Sun gets a really big role here. As always he is dodging his responsibilities and tackling things solo the whole time. It’s always tended to work out for him like helping Blake and stopping Torchwick but his teammates still aren’t thrilled. This means he has no real time for them and doesn’t really want to talk about it either. Ultimately I was cool with that as Sun is more of a loner. He shouldn’t be the leader for sure but Ozpin’s the one who made that decision. I don’t think Sun would think twice about it if he was kicked out. He barely cared when they switched teams after all.

He ultimately still gets more done than the others because he is always running towards the action and doing his best to fight. What does hurt is that he looks so weak here. Remember that in the show he was overwhelming Torchwick who had been crushing Blake. Then he effortlessly defeated Ilya who had been going even with Blake. In the show Sun is shown to be a true powerhouse that people put on Yang’s level for a while there. In the book he looks like a complete weakling which also ends up making the rest of his moments look worse. That’s where the book made a mistake if you ask me. He should have been a lot more impressive and that would have helped make him more reasonable.

As for the other members, well Sage barely talks at all. You could write him out of the adventure entirely and barely notice the difference. He’s not happy about what Sun’s doing either but doesn’t really talk about it. Neptune’s with Scarlet on this but is more of a pushover so he just lets Sun toss him around. He has a sad moment where Team CFVY jumps him and then beats the poor guy up. Losing isn’t bad in itself but he was humiliated and threatened a lot. The guy even sold Sun out in the end. This book did not help Neptune’s case at all.

As for Scarlet, I thought he went out of his way to attack Sun a lot. He clearly took the whole thing the hardest so you do feel bad for him but he probably could have rebelled in a better way. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them fight, that could have been interesting. Ultimately Sun would usually let the insult slide though. Their dynamic should be interesting when they return in the show if there is still any tension between the characters.

As for the villains, there are two main ones here in Jax and Gillian. So Jax wants to rule Vacuo because he believes that it’s his birthright so he should rule over everyone. His semblance is pretty good since he can mind control people. He can’t fight very well directly though and that’s where his sister comes in. Gillian can use her abilities to drain someone’s aura or give it to someone else. So together they can mind control people and then give them extra abilities. With extra aura you remain invincible from opposing attacks for a longer period of time which is really handy. As a result they make for a very dynamic duo in combat here.

Gillian appears as the more reasonable character the whole time. Ultimately she will follow whatever Jax says but she knows when to run away. Then you have Jax who figures that he can just keep on fighting and lose like a hero but it’s far better to escape and fight another day than to just lose like that. He wasn’t the best villain but I did think that this plot made for a more urgent one than in the first book. After all this is a full invasion this time with a ton of villains taking part. It wasn’t just your average fight and it was also a good way to finish up the plotline with the characters wondering if they could have done more in the first invasion. This was their chance to save a kingdom instead of letting it fall. (Not that there’s more that they could have done the first time. They’re just really hard on themselves about it)

Aside from the two main villains you’ve also got Umber who was a solid foot soldier. Her ability to freeze her opponents in place was extremely handy. After all if you can’t move then you can’t fight back. There aren’t many fighters who have a semblance that can counter this. I assume if you are strong enough then you may be able to break free but there’s no guarantee.

Then you have the villains from the last book. Carmine is still running around and causing as much trouble as always. You have to respect her dedication here, she just never gives up and always looks good in a fight. She crushes Coco here and shows that she is one of the more versatile villains around. Bertilak shows up as well but since he was betrayed last time, he isn’t really doing very well when the heroes see him here. He never lost his confidence though and heads off for revenge so maybe he will appear again at some point. There’s certainly more that you can do with this guy.

Ultimately these two books may not have made Team CFVY jump up the charts all that much but it’s nice for their fans that they got these two adventures. Additionally, a lot of random students from the background got some roles here like Olivia. Good luck remembering all of their names but if they ever get big roles in the TV show, now you will have more context on their abilities and personalities which is always handy. It helps expand the universe which is always good. There was also just a lot of action in this book and I’m always up for that. Maybe one day we’ll get an animated adaption of the novels, that would certainly be cool.

Overall, Before the Dawn is a solid follow up to the first novel. It felt like every plot line was addressed and the characters are all in a better place now. They’ve finally been able to come to terms with everything that happened and got to hone their skills. Everyone should get along a lot better at Shade Academy now and they will be ready for the future adventures. I’m definitely ready for the third book now. It might be a little while before I get to check that one out since the library doesn’t have it yet but I’ll be waiting. I definitely recommend reading this one in the meantime.

Overall 7/10