Black Clover

This series got quite a lot of buzz. For the most part anyone I’ve met irl who reads the manga likes it a lot while online you see a lot of mockery. For better or worse I am getting a lot of Fairy Tail vibes from it. If it sticks to the early days of Fairy Tail then we’re fine though. In a way, it’s about guilds and magic quite a bit, but also dips into Naruto and Bleach kind of story beats as well. It’s really a mesh of a bunch of Shonen Tropes and that’s why it could end up being amazing or very forgettable. The supporting cast doesn’t seem to have too much potential, but the main character is pretty good and I’m liking the rival. Ideally that’s all you need. There’s a lot of potential here, but it can be used for good or bad. We’ll just have to see and I’ll have a review for the series when it finishes.

Overall 6/10


My Hero Academia Season 2 Review

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.
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

Bleach Review

It’s time to take a look at Bleach. “Y You don’t just mention one of the greats like that.” That’s true. This is one of the greatest titles of all time. Honestly, Bleach didn’t make it to the top as smoothly as something like DBZ, It made more mistakes than Hitman Reborn, and it never got as intense as Megaman NT Warrior. That being said, the series kept on persevering as it churned out chapter after chapter. The pros always ended up outweighing the cons and it easily had some of the best action scenes in any title out there. That’s why it’s good to be a really long manga because as long as the negatives don’t show up constantly, they’ll eventually be swept away by all of the good scenes in the series. With only 4 real arcs, Bleach had time to develop all of them and give us a bunch of fights.

The basic premise of the series is that Ichigo Kurosaki one day sees monsters attack his home and quickly moves to stop them. He gains the abilities of a Soul Reaper by accidentally stealing Rukia’s. She tells him that it is now his duty to slay the evil demons known as Hollows and Ichigo agrees…to an extent. The first real arc starts when Rukia is kidnapped by her superiors and they decide to execute her for allowing a human to obtain her powers. This all seems rather crooked so Ichigo decides to go rescue her along with some friends that he made along the way. Still, can he really beat these Captains of the Soul Society who have been training and honing their skills for multiple centuries? It’ll be tough, but Ichigo is as brave as they come!

As there are a ton of characters throughout the series. I’ll mainly be talking about them as they arrive. So for example, I’ll now discuss all of the characters who were in Arc 1. We gotta start with Ichigo of course. He’s a very aggressive character who is always eager for a fight and very quickly became one of my favorite protagonists. He doesn’t dwell on things as much as other leads and just jumps into battle. He takes what his friends say at face value and doesn’t even fall for the usual mind games where the villains try to make him doubt the Soul Society. He gets stronger and stronger with each arc and eventually became the ultimate hybrid fighter. His Bankai has an excellent design and is still my favorite in the series. The original is certainly the best although all of the versions were pretty cool. His Hollowfication is also a very cool ability and it was handled perfectly. I would have liked to have seen it more in Arc 4, but it got a lot of screen time in the first two arcs so that was pretty satisfying.

I think one of the things that separates him from Naruto and Luffy is that he is a lot more serious. The others tend to have comic relief moments even during big fights or just have more displays of not looking all that smart. Ichigo’s not exactly a genius or anything like that, but he certainly doesn’t let his opponents know that and Ichigo always has a good bluff going on. He takes on all opponents even if he is outmatched and generally finds a way to come out on top. He adapts in battle well and just comes across as a really heroic guy. He is certainly one of the big reasons why the series was so good.

Rukia is arguably the main heroine. It’s between her and Orihime, but I’d argue that Rukia certainly appears more and gets a bigger role. She fights with ice abilities and gradually moves up the ranks of the Soul Society. I’d probably hold a bit of a grudge against them if I was her considering that they tried to murder her in the first arc, but she got over it surprisingly well. She’s a nice enough character and I’m glad that she decided to help Ichigo even though it meant defying orders. He would clearly do the same for her and has done so in the past. She was a consistent character throughout the series and was probably the most enjoyable member of the main supporting cast.

Next up is Orihime and unfortunately I can’t really say that she was a great character. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice enough person. I just feel like she didn’t stand up for herself enough. The whole series hyped up the fact that she is a reality warper who can reject events. This power has unlimited possibilities, but she only uses it a handful of times in the series and mostly just gets kidnapped, defeated, or mind controlled by the enemies. She never makes a decision to step up and fight for herself. It was a little disappointing because I had been expecting her to make a big move like that. I feel like the author never let her get a real role beyond being the damsel in distress so there just wasn’t much to like about her.

Chad is another one of Ichigo’s friends and his arms can turn into cannon arms which increase his attack power quite a lot. While his stats are still human in nature, his attack strength is enough to hurt even the strongest of enemies. It makes him a bit of a glass cannon. Ultimately he can’t really compete by the second half of the series or even after Arc 1 really. He’s a nice enough guy though, but I lost a lot of respect for him in Arc 3. Going behind Ichigo’s back and joining a really shady organization was pretty suspect. Doubting Ichigo because of his new friend was also iffy and Orihime should be blamed as well. Yeah, mind control’s tough, but if Byakuya could see through it and said that he would be on Ichigo’s side even despite his memories….then how could they not do the same? Their bonds with Ichigo should be far stronger than that. I do have to admit that Bleach had a bit of a weaker supporting cast than the average Shonen, at least from the main main cast. I’m only counting Ichigo’s inner circle of friends with that statement. Most of them cracked by the end.
The biggest character to flop was Uryu. He started out as a weak rival who Ichigo surpassed almost instantly and then helped out during the next few arcs. He wasn’t mind controlled so that was good. Unfortunately, he decided to become a big traitor in the final arc and there was no turning back from that. I knew from the start that he would have some kind of big justification but that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. It turns out that his reason for betraying everyone was more pitiful than I could have imagined. It would have made more sense to have attacked with Ichigo and friends instead of trying to murder them several times. Uryu had the help of a great deal of plot hax throughout the final arc and every scene with him was just incredibly annoying. He’s easily one of the most unlikable characters in the series by the end and you have to question just how weak the bonds were to the guy. If he can betray everyone so easily, then maybe he was never really much of a friend in the first place.

Zaraki is one of the big Captains of Soul Society and one of my personal favorite characters. He really enjoys a fight and likes to charge straight in. That doesn’t work too well against some of the more overpowered villains, but I certainly like the confidence. At one point he was my favorite character. While he was surpassed by Grimmjow, Byakuya, and Ichigo, he still remains as one of the more likable ones. He may not have looked too tough in Arc 1 since Ichigo was able to take him on, you could argue that this was plot hax or that the author hadn’t really thought the power levels through yet. Regardless, he began to look much better from there and did particularly well in Arc 3 and shined a bit in Arc 2 as well.

Byakuya is another Captain and the polar opposite of Zaraki. He’s always very calm and collected during his fights. Instead of charging in, his abilities are made for long-middle range combat as he assaults you with thousands of flower petals. He’s known as one of the more powerful Captains and potentially the strongest although the series tries to convince you that the title goes to Shunsui or Yamamoto. I was hoping to see more of him in the final arc but the cast was so big by then that everyone only got to have 1 or 2 big fights. As it is, I’m satisfied that he at least got one big fight in every arc. He really did well for himself throughout the series.

Hitsugaya is one of the youngest Captains and as such he is a little weaker than the others. Like Rukia he has ice powers and he has made it his mission to protect Momo. He gets into a rage a little easier than the others as supposedly he is still too young to control his emotions. (Not that I buy this much as all of the Captains lose control once in a while) He gets a lot of screen time so you’ll see him a lot. I liked the character well enough, he’s not my favorite character, but still beats quite a lot of them. He’s in the upper echelon at any rate. His Bankai needs some work though. I never found it to be particularly useful or strong.

Ichimaru is one of the 3 evil Captains. No worries, he has a sob story to explain why he did what he did and I didn’t buy it at all. I didn’t like him as a villain or as a “hero.” I did like the fact that he actually lied about his Bankai’s ability though. Seriously, more characters should do that as everyone takes what their opponent says at face value. A lot of people make fun of the series because the villains always explain their abilities to the heroes. Some of them would be quite dangerous if they didn’t explain it because you just couldn’t figure it out. At the very least Ichimaru is certainly one of the smartest villains. I don’t like the character, but he made for a good opponent.

If you want an unlikable villain who doesn’t even make for a good antagonist, look no further than Tousen. He is another one of the Evil Captains who fights by erasing your 5 senses while you’re within his bankai. It doesn’t work out so well for him though so then he gains the ability to turn into a fly. His whole character’s personality is meant to show that he’s a very rotten person who tries to make everyone feel as bad as possible. The series doesn’t even try to make him a likable character and it’s just hinted that his sense of justice was corrupt from the start. His fans were likely disappointed by this since the fact that he lasted over 40 volumes hinted that he would get to do something big. It just never happened.

The final one of the evil captains is Aizen. He’s the mastermind behind all of Arc 2 and gets more hype than almost any other character in manga history. He’s an incredible character and I’m always tempted to put him in as my favorite character in the series. Grimmjow has that spot wrapped up and I think it’s safe to say that Ichigo has the number 2 spot, but Aizen is 3rd. He basically planned out the entire series and used everybody. Even as a normal Captain he had already surpassed the rest and then he got to evolve into a higher level being. His illusion abilities ensured that he was 100% unbeatable. Only plot hax could help Ichigo at that point. It was just a great moment and Aizen became a DBZ level being. He has quite a few of the best moments of the series and breaking his glasses was one of them. It’s amazing how quickly his design can change. His fight scene against all of the Captains and Visored is also one of the best in manga history.

What really makes Aizen great is his incredible overconfidence throughout the series. He is always smug and knows that the events are all happening according to his plans. He doesn’t get to do much beyond Arc 2, but that was really all that he needed to be considered as one of the best Shonen Jump villains. You’ll see why he is so great once you read Bleach. He just had everything that you could possibly want in a villain, Power, and Personality. He was a very pragmatic character.

Back to the heroic captains, next up is Komomura. He’s probably one of the weakest Captains as his Bankai makes a bigger version of himself. The problem is that it’s slow and that makes injuring it easier. Komomura also takes in all of the damage that his avatar takes which makes it one that is ill suited for combat. He’s a very by the books character which is a huge red flag and it makes using him so much easier for the villains. I never got around to liking him and I have to say that the character’s ending in the series was pretty sad.
Shunsui is supposedly the Captain with the most potential and possibly the strongest current one. He is always bored during fights so he rarely ever tries. He prefers to just flirt around the whole time and comes across as a rather unlikable guy who just holds everyone back. I never actually got around to liking him and he’s definitely one of my least favorite Captains. His attacks involve games so they can change for every fight. It’s the kind of ability that can easily backfire if you ask me.

Another captain is Ukitake and he is almost always sick so he rarely gets to fight. I didn’t care much for him either. He got some random plot twists at the end and got a little relevant, but I couldn’t take him seriously by that point. I never saw anything that suggested he was worthy of the Captain title. Yamamoto is the leader and he has fire abilities. He is one of the most corrupt members of the Soul Society and decides that people should be executed for no real reason. Honestly I was rooting for Yhwach during their big battle. Yamamoto seemed to be in the wrong the whole time. The fire attacks aren’t bad, but we didn’t get to see Yamamoto fight much. He made for a decent villain, but the fact that he was allied with the “heroes” made it a little more difficult to look at him without cringing. Nothing worse than having an army of potential heroes, but then seeing that they’re being led by the biggest villain of all.

Rangiku is Hitsugaya’s second in command. Her sword can turn into smoke which is pretty useful. She’s a decent fighter even if she can’t compete with the higher members. None of the lieutenants can really fight at such a high level anyway so it’s to be expected. Unfortunately she is mainly used for fanservice so it’s hard to take her seriously. Momo is another helper but she spends most of the series getting tricked. She never actually gets to have a serious fight and her best moments were missed due to an illusion. Depending on when the illusion started, she was able to fight several Captains at once though so that was cool.

Renji gets a pretty big role like Rukia and serves as one of the main supporting characters of the series. His sword can stretch and turn into a dragon that attacks opponents. It’s another Bankai that is filled with weaknesses so Renji has to rely on fundamentals to win. He’s not a bad character. His personality may be a little weak at times as you wonder what it even is, but he’s someone that you can count on. He gets quite a few fights, but usually ends up losing them. He’s decently strong, but just not strong enough.

Hisagi and Ikkaku are other generals who get a reasonable role. Ikkaku is decently good as he also loves a good fight. He ends up holding back a little too often though even if it means losing a fight. That character trait of his can be really annoying. Hisagi is pretty bland so it’s hard to ever get around to liking him, but he’s still not bad. I think he could just use some more character development. Finally from the main generals we also have Yachiru. She’s a fun companion to have and is always helping Zaraki out. The plot takes some intriguing turns with her and while they may be a little suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that she was one of the more likable generals. She was able to help fight off one of the big Quincy opponents and there was always a lot of potential for what the author could do with her character.

Grand Fisher is the only pre arc villain that I need to talk about. In theory he should have been a major deal because he murdered Ichigo’s Mom and is what started him on this path. In the actual manga he felt a little more like a footnote though and is mainly memorable because he got his own OVA and then later returned briefly in the Hueco Mundo arc. (Which I have no idea what Kubo was thinking there since it was such a small cameo. He’s a pretty decent villain I suppose even if he doesn’t always fight fair. He’ll use any means in order to win. He’s not really my kind of enemy, but he’s not bad either. He certainly had a more menacing design than most of the other villains.

Lets quickly talk about the comic relief squad. Keigo is Ichigo’s main friend and he’s annoying. Orihime’s friend is Tatsuki and she’s a little better as she knows how to fight and is always ready to give Orihime a pep talk. Next up is Chizuru and this is where things start to go downhill. She just can’t hold her own scenes at all and definitely wasn’t needed in the manga. I can’t think of a single scene where she contributed. Then there’s also Kon. He’s a pretty pointless character if you ask me and one with a terrible personality. The verdict is out and I have to say that the human friends were absolutely terrible. Tatsuki is the only bearable one and even then she’s not all that memorable. Ichigo also has two sisters who get some mild hype and all, but never actually get to do anything. The series had hinted that the plot would go somewhere, but it was another red herring. Fortunately, the humans don’t appear much since Ichigo is never actually home.
Back to the soul society characters, we have Yoruichi. Unfortunately she is used for fanservice at all time and is a flirt by nature, but she does have some good fight scenes. Unlike the rest of the characters, she fights with athletics and hand to hand combat rather than use a weapon. She is similar to Chad in this respect except she is actually powerful and can fight with Captain level opponents. Yoruichi serves as a mentor to Ichigo as well. Overall she’s a fun enough character to have around and it would have been neat if she could have had some more fights. Her Arc 4 fight didn’t feel real since the series kind of messed it up a bit.

Soi Fon is another ninja and unlike Yoruichi, she didn’t defect from the Soul Society. (Wrong move) She can be a little too obsessed with Yoruichi, but at least she is also overconfident which is always a very nice trait to have. She can hold her own in a fight reasonably well which allows her to get past the fact that she has one of the worst Bankai abilities. Just about everyone can dodge a bullet that moves in a straight line after all. Her general is pretty bad though so she has to hold the fort for her division.

Mayuri is easily the most evil of all the Captains. It’s played for humor to a large extent which seriously doesn’t work and it’s going to come as no surprise that I do not like Mayuri at all. Few things are worse than villains who stay in the company of the good guys and get to wear that flag at the end of the day. Mayuri would have been better if he was a pure villain and joined the Espada or something. Otherwise his emotional moments don’t work at all and basically any fight that he was in felt like a waste by the end. Unfortunately he did get a bit of a big role in the series. His assistant is Nemu and she’s nice enough. She has to put up with quite a lot throughout the series. Nemu gets a really random power up at the end of the series which was nice as it skyrocketed her power level even if it didn’t make all that much sense. She’ll give you a good fight or two, but overall doesn’t appear very much.

Urahara is one of the mysterious ex captains of Soul Society. You don’t find out why he had to go on the run for quite a while, but I didn’t like him at all. He’s one of those classic comic relief characters who only acts serious once in a while and by then it’s way too late. It’s impossible to take him seriously in the slightest and grates on your nerves constantly. You can go for about a dozen volumes or more without seeing him at times though so that works for me. Finally we have Unohana. She is a mysterious Captain who only gets one fight during the entire series. It involves a pretty sharp change in her personality and I wish we could have seen her actually fight a villain. The way she gets written out of the series is like something out of Fairy Tail’s last arc and doesn’t make much sense. Why didn’t she help during Arc 2? She didn’t really have a great excuse for that considering that the worlds were at stake and this is a character who just took too long to live up to the hype.

It’s pretty nostalgic to go through the first arc because you can see how the art and the characters have changed. It was a great way to get the series started because the plot was simple so you just got to see everyone fight each other. This helped to build character dynamics and such for the future arcs. Ichigo got really strong in a short period of time so this helped the fight scenes since it meant that the author could really go all out. The pacing was on point and while it had lower highs than Arcs 2 and 4, it probably had the fewest lows. It’s a very consistent arc.

Next up was the Hueco Mundo arc. You can split it up into multiple arcs but for the sake of the review it’s just one big one. It starts immediately after the first arc as Aizen turns out to be a traitor. It’s a pretty amazing way to end the arc and I have to admit that the anime handled it perfectly. Seeing Aizen handle everyone with ease was some good foreshadowing for what you can expect in this arc. Aizen has kidnapped Orihime and now commands all of the Hollows. He lives in their domain which is known as Hueco Mundo. He commands 10 Espada, which are Ultimate Hollows that are now sentient and humanoid. Ichigo heads over there to rescue her along with his friends and several members of the Soul Society. The battle also takes place in the human world as the rest of the Captains do battle with Aizen and the Espada that he took with him. Will Ichigo be able to defeat the Hueco Mundo members and return to Earth in time or is it all over? This arc is the best part of the series so you won’t want to miss a beat here!

Lets dive into the Espada. Stark is number 1, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is the strongest. Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, and possibly Harribel all seemed a little more impressive. I’d possibly stretch it and mention Nnoitra, but I do think he’d have a problem with all of the potentials. Stark is a pretty laid back guy which makes for a reasonable villain. He thinks things out strategically so you don’t have to worry about him panicking and falling into traps. He did a good job of understanding Shunsui’s complicated bankai and countering it. He certainly put up a very good fight.
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Baraggan is another high ranking Espada and anything that he touches crumbles into dust. It’s actually a very useful ability since he can also emit dust that damages the opponent. You can’t get anywhere close to him as a result or you’ll be in mortal danger. He used to be the king of Hueco Mundo as well so he is used to calling the shots. You almost couldn’t help but feel bad for him when Aizen showed up because his whole life was flipped upside down in an instant. There just wasn’t really anything he could do at that point.

Harribel is a fun water type Espada whose abilities are straight forward. She is fast and can attack from long range with her water towers. She was actually doing well in her fight and may have even claimed victory if Aizen had not stepped in. I can see why her fans wouldn’t be too satisfied with how her story ended. It was even more disheartening when she showed up in the final arc. Honestly there was no point there since she only appeared for one panel and was then never brought up again. It was a rather disappointing return, but the same for Grimmjow as well. Most of these characters just shouldn’t have returned in the final arc if they weren’t going to do anything. Being cancelled isn’t much of an excuse either since Kubo had a bunch of time.

Grimmjow is the best character in the series and I liked him right from the start. He’s a headstrong Espada who decided to challenge Ichigo right from the start. He doesn’t have any fancy powers and just overwhelms his opponents with pure speed and power. He doesn’t like to take orders from anyone and that even includes the mighty Aizen. He gets quite a few good rounds against Ichigo and I would probably consider him to be the 2nd strongest Espada at the very least. I just don’t think any of the Captains would have lasted very long against him.

Nnoitra is another powerful fighter. I don’t think he could have beaten Grimmjow if the latter hadn’t been so weakened, but he does live up to his rank rather well. He’s another close combat fighter who makes use of his extra arms in battle. His durability is so high that even Zaraki’s slices had a hard time of actually piercing him. His personality may leave something to be desired, but you can’t really ask for a better match up for Zaraki. Power vs Defense, a classic standoff.

Ulquiorra is the only Espada who is likely stronger than Grimmjow. He has two resurrection forms which increase his strength exponentially. Considering that he was overpowering Ichigo in his base form, the two power ups just made the difference even more drastic. He was a very likable villain and certainly one of the best in the series. He also gave us some of the best moments in the series. It’s almost a shame that he didn’t return in the final arc, but since everyone who did show up looked pretty bad…it’s probably for the best.

Nel is a former Espada who ended up being turned into a kid. Now she fights on the side of the heroes and can change back into her adult form once in a while. She’s a pretty fun fighter. I think her role could have been a little bigger as she never ended up actually winning a big fight since the effects didn’t last long enough. She did come through for the team when it counted though as she bought enough time for Ichigo to regroup and for Zaraki to arrive.

Yammy is the 0 rank Espada so he is technically pretty tough. The trouble for him is the fact that raw size and power are basically the only things that are on his side here. He doesn’t have much speed so his opponents can speed blitz him all day. Surprisingly, he did have some of the best fights in the series though. His first fight with Ichigo and Yoruichi was a lot of fun and then his rematch with Ichigo was one of the most epic moments in the whole series. Ichigo was making a big speech and he still managed to stop him. He ended up being a more well rounded character than I had expected.
Aaroniero is definitely the weakest member of the Espada. He isn’t even remotely tough and can only win battles through mind games. It’s quite telling that some of the Espada subordinates seem like they’d put up a better fight. Naturally Aaroniero is supposed to be one of the main thinkers of the group. He needed to be since he can’t fight, but he doesn’t even have any engaging dialogue so he completely struck out. Just as underwhelming is Zommari. He’s the most boring member of the group as he barely has any personality. He has a lot of eyes which can paralyze his opponent. He’s also supposed to be very fast, but Zommari’s not even the fastest so it’s not a huge asset. I think Kubo was running out of ideas by now so he just had to slap some Espada ideas together.

Szayelaporro is the final Espada and he’s another thinker. His abilities are pretty overpowered since he can destroy your bones by destroying little stick figures of yourself. Classic Voodoo abilities. He is countered by Mayuri in the end who can move his bones and take them out anyway. It was an odd explanation for what ended up being a very twisted battle. Certainly one that wasn’t my cup of tea. There’s nothing to really like about this guy but I’ll give him some props for being another smart villain. He was pretty well prepared.

Isshin is Ichigo’s Dad and he got a lot of hype during the series. Unfortunately he is comic relief for most of it and only gets serious a handful of times. It’s hard to even say how strong he is since his only real fight was a decisive loss against Aizen. The series may make the case that he is a little stronger than Ichigo, but was then surpassed by the Final Getsuga mode. This is another one of those times where the author went a little too far in trying to make Isshin unlikable the whole time. There’s just no way you can like him after all of his early scenes. Sure, he’s stronger now, but just because he’s strong doesn’t mean that he is actually a good character now. Uryu’s Dad also gets a lot of hype, but doesn’t actually get to do anything which is even more mind boggling. He’s better than Isshin, but you also couldn’t say what his personality is.

Enter the Visored. Shinji is the leader but he’s pretty annoying the whole time. His ability to alter your senses is pretty good, but it is effectively a weaker version of Aizen’s illusions. I bet Shinji wishes he had gone for a lethal slice right away instead of messing around eh? Shinji’s the kind of guy who likes to be vague and just annoy you for a while. He gets a lot of hype, but it’s mostly all unfounded when you consider that he doesn’t really win any fights. Hiyori is the only other member to really get a role. She talks a good game and yells at Ichigo quite a bit. She is reasonably strong, but Ichigo surpasses her pretty quickly.

We should also talk about Zangetsu and Hichigo. The series is pretty vague about them for a while and there are a bunch of twists. Ultimately, Hichigo is Zangetsu and just didn’t want Ichigo to know that so they could train a little harder. It was a pretty good twist since admittedly I like Hichigo a lot more anyway. The person that Ichigo thought was Zangetsu was actually just a shadow of Yhwach which was…interesting I suppose. I can’t say that I ever cared for him so that’s fine, but Hichigo should have appeared more. The filler seasons in the anime gave him some extra fights and I suppose the manga gave him an ample amount of screen time. He was just a blast!

This arc was easily the height of Bleach and one of the best arcs in manga history. This is where introducing all of the Captains in Arc 1 paid off. We got to see them go up against this new team of Espada. Ichigo got to use his newfound abilities against the Espada and gradually grew stronger during the adventure. The climax in Hueco Mundo with Ichigo taking on Ulquiorra was spectacular and yet it was topped with the Aizen battle against the whole cast. Just when you thought the arc was at its height, it would raise the ceiling once again. Most of the villains were really strong as well so it was fun to imagine hypothetical fights and see who really should win. Could Ulquiorra beat Aizen? Could Grimmjow beat Stark? Just about any fight was on the table. This series pulled off the villain round table meeting cliche to perfection and you really can’t help but give the series some props for doing such a good job.

After that big arc, the manga decided to finally let the heroes rest a bit with a mini arc. Ichigo has lost his powers after pouring everything he had into defeating Aizen and is now a normal human again. The problem is that he can’t even see Hollows anymore so he certainly can’t protect anyone. He decides to gain his powers again as a group called Xcution decides to help him, but they turn out to be traitors and steal his powers. They mind control his friends as well but fortunately the Soul Society returns to aid Ichigo. With his strength restored, Ichigo may just have what it takes to come out of this battle on top.

Tsukishima is really the standout character of the Xcution group. He serves as the main antagonist for the most part and his abilities are really useful. If he hits you with his sword even once, then he can insert himself into your memories. This causes you to believe him to be an ally. If he strikes your weapon then he’ll be its friend as well and will know what it can do in advance. Add in his super speed and technique and you have a very formidable adversary. He was a lot of fun and had a really good fight with Byakuya in the end. I was reasonably satisfied with how they countered his ability as well. Without him the arc wouldn’t have been nearly as hype.
Riruka is probably the nicest member of the group, but she’s still evil for most of it as she knows about the sinister plan. It’s another “appearances can be deceptive” kind of moment. She may not be the strongest opponent in combat and her fight scene wasn’t even all that serious, but she’s all right I guess. Not really a bad character, but not one that you can take seriously. At least she had more of a role than Giriko though. He is a bar tender who can turn into a really strong monster. He goes down in a single hit though and barely gets any lines at all so he’s completely forgettable. He’s only worth mentioning because I thought the character had a lot of potential until that moment. Talk about giving a character the short end of the stick eh?

Jackie was one of the first members to fight and I actually did like her. Her Dirty Boots ability was fun and there certainly aren’t many fighters who use their legs instead of hands. I mean, I’m sure hardcore anime fans could probably name a bunch, but it’s still considerably less than fist fighters. She was able to give Ichigo a good fight even if he was weakened at the time and she was just a fun fighter to have around. It’s too bad she never really got to do much after this arc, but all of Xcution basically vanished.

Ginjo is the big mastermind behind the group and his plan was pretty bold. He had to actually lose his memories for it to work which is clearly risky because of all the variables that it brings. He became a bit of a generic villain once he turned evil with a lot of yelling, but at least the foreshadowing was always there. Honestly if I was Ichigo, I would have suspected something was up after he slashed his eyes. Seriously that was going way too far for a simple training exercise. Ginjo’s super form was really cool though and the plan to steal Ichigo’s powers was certainly one that could have a lot of payoff. Due to his low screen time compared to Aizen and Ywach I can’t say that he’s quite as cool as those two and it would be hard to make it up there anyway (At least Aizen would be unobtainable anyway) but I did like him. Ginjo was a serious threat and worked really well as the main villain.

Moe didn’t do a whole lot next to the other members since he barely appeared until he got his powers, but I did like his fight with Ikkaku. It may have been a little cheesy, but it was reasonable. His luck based abilities are certainly fun to have even if I’d never want that to be my super power. It’s one that can really come in handy if you’re very lucky. He’s the kind of lackey who was created just to have a good fight and not really to become an actual character. Yukio can send people into a video game which is pretty neat. Naturally that power is pretty much a crutch though as he can’t fight at all if you get past that. Once you’re in the game he is pretty OP, but it’s definitely not a very combat ready kind of technique. He was okay I guess, but not too memorable or exciting to watch. I wouldn’t have minded if he was replaced with another character.

This was a fun enough arc. While it is probably the weakest one in the series, it did a good job in the few volumes that it had. It was certainly more low key than the others, but depowering Ichigo was a nice way to bring back some classic hand to hand kind of battles. Ichigo’s fight with Jackie was fun as despite being a more low tier event, captured the early Shonen feel that the series no longer had. Instead of watching two city busters going at it, it was more of a street level affair. While some of Ichigo’s friends fell into the gutter in this arc, it was worth it to see Ichigo mess up the XCution group with both his newfound powers and his restored ones.

Finally we enter the last arc. The Quincy have decided to rule the world and destroy the Soul Society. They actually did not go extinct as we were told and have been hiding in a shadow dimension all these years. They have decided to strike now and their target is the Soul Society’s leader, the Soul King. They have amassed a large army and are poised to take the win. Ichigo hurries over to help, but his friend Uryu has joined the other side. This leads to a lot of tension and it appears that Ichigo is also a quincy in addition to his Shinigami and Hollow forms. He has to come to terms with this and save the world, but it’ll be his toughest fight yet.

Yhwach is the big bad of this arc and Kubo did his best to make him the most threatening villain yet. His plan was so detailed that he knew everything that would happen in the next 1000 years including Aizen’s whole plan. If you take that into account then that makes this villain one of the most brilliant masterminds in history. He’s pretty strong as well and has a good design so I can roll with this. He may be a tad bit generic next to the others and the fact that he is omnipotent and all powerful may have been a bit much. After all, that basically confirmed early on that plot hax would be necessary to defeat him right? Still, he gave us some pretty good fights and his design was on point.
Bazz B is essentially this arc’s version of Grimmjow. He just has a little less personality and doesn’t get as big of a role as Grimmjow. His abilities are impressive though as he was defeating Hitsugaya with minimal effort and at least tried to defy the villains after he was portrayed. He’s probably my favorite Quincy villain even if he can’t match up to most of the Arc 2 guys. He made the arc more fun.

BG 9 wasn’t really a big villain, but he had a really cool design. He also put up a really good fight against Soi Fon and could have been a major villain if the higher ups weren’t so impatient. It was a bit of a running gag that the Quincies ended up destroying as many of their members as the heroes. It’s why you shouldn’t work for villains, you’ll always end up getting back stabbed. As Nodt is another villain with a creepy design and his fights against Rukia and Byakuya were pretty intense. The author has always shown that he is pretty good at drawing horror designs as well as action and it worked out pretty well in this case. As Nodt was definitely a powerful Quincy.

Mask is one of those villains who I feel is created just to irritate the fans so I have to admit that I became a big fan. He’s just so out of place next to the other villains as he loves having a good time and boasting about his strength. He was also incredibly strong and lasted quite a while during the series. It must have had some of the most negative reception in all of Bleach week after week but he pressed on. I was rooting for him the whole time and so it was good that he put up such a fight.

Askin is one of the big Quincy generals and he was a fun character. His poison abilities are quite formidable and he wasn’t quite as loud or aggressive as the other characters. It worked well as a contrast and he sure did a lot of damage to the heroes before finally being taken down for the count. His design also reminded me of Aizen the whole time even if they don’t necessarily look all that alike. It may have been the cunning disposition. There was also the Thor homage by the name of Gerard. He was a fun character who had a similar personality as Zaraki. He just wants a good fight and is always eager to jump into a brawl. His damage reflection/absorption ability was pretty handy and I was glad to have another straight forward fighter. While guys like Askin are great because they’re exceptions to the rule, there’s always room for another brawler.

Pernida is the Hand of the Soul King or something like that. He was completely insane so it was hard to believe anything at the moment. His nerve attacks were pretty interesting even if they also felt rather weird. I guess you have to make use of the attacks you develop right? He wasn’t my favorite villain, but he was pretty tough. Gremmy is a reality warper who should have been 100% invincible but plot hax led to his defeat. He could literally do anything that he believed he could, but decided to squander this ability by making comets and portals instead of just instantly destroying his opponents. In the hands of a more confident character like Grimmjow or Ichigo, this ability would have really been something else.

Lille is another hype fighter from the Quincy and he is a long range specialist. His bullets can hit opponents from anywhere even if they miss. It’s a fun ability to have, but his super form is even better, the arrival of the Chicken. It was one of the funniest parts in the whole series and I just love how it was executed. It may not have been intentional, but cmon…can we really take this villain seriously after such a transformation? He was really powerful anyway so you just can’t let appearances deceive you. It was certainly one of the most fun power ups in Shonen Jump.

Jugram is the right hand main of Yhwach and his powers are pretty good. He becomes omnipotent and all powerful at night when his master is asleep. Otherwise, his abilities revolve around balance so he can reflect all damage that he has taken to his opponent. Naturally this leads to him fighting an opponent with the exact same ability which was the perfect loophole against him. I don’t actually like Jugram and he messed up so many times when it would have been easy to squash Uryu’s plans and stop the heroes. You don’t have many excuses when you’re all powerful. Still, the infinite fight of swapping damage was fun enough.
Bambietta and her posse were interesting. I didn’t care for her partners much since they were typically a little more disturbing than anything, but I liked Bambietta’s can do spirit. She was always ready for a fight and her explosives were quite handy. It’s like Bakugo’s ability from Hero Academia but a little more potent. She didn’t get to appear as much as I would have liked, but she did well with what she was given.

We also can’t forget Squad 0 and the Soul King. The Soul King was a big joke and lived up to his One Above All reputation. He may be all powerful, but he can’t talk or even move so it is easy for villains to take him down. I can see why Aizen wanted to terminate him right from the get go. The guy is the ultimate definition of a figure head and can’t actually do much. Meanwhile, Squad 0 got a ton of hype and supposedly they could beat the Captains with ease. Their hype may have been intense, but that didn’t stop them from getting destroyed pretty easily by Yhwach’s squad. The funny thing was that you knew Squad 0 was doomed from the start despite the hype and that’s what made it all the funnier. They were also pretty corrupt and evil much like the actual Soul Society so it’s not like you even felt bad for them.

Arc 4 was definitely a mixed bag. On one hand it had a lot of hype moments like always. The silent chapter of Ichigo noticing the ruined Soul Society was handled incredibly well and there is just something about being the last arc that helps to draw you in. At this point in the series, Ichigo is already so powerful so when the new villains come into the picture you can’t help but get excited at the battles that are coming up. The fights delivered as always. On the negative side, it feels like the author started to give up a little here. Some of the villains felt very random like the Mask guy. The Chicken power up came out of nowhere and the random characters got so much screen time that in the end Yhwach didn’t actually get to have the big climactic fight that everyone was waiting for. The series ended very abruptly without tying up many loose ends. A lot of plot lines the fandom will just have to end on their own with a bunch of theories.

The ending is also pretty lackluster as it’s about as generic as you can get. We have a big timeskip as always with the next generation possibly being even stronger than the last one. It’s just not all that inspired at all and we certainly could have done a little better than that. The final arc also started going for more creepy factor effects which were okay in some aspects, but didn’t work in others. The villain who was actually a guy and constantly smelled of something vile was just a little over the top.

By now you get why I like the series a lot. There’s constant action and a lot of powerful fighters. The author does a great job of delivering hype for all of the battles and the trash talking among the characters was beautiful. You never knew what to expect and constantly powering up and explaining your abilities to the enemy was a fun trope by the end. The series could also be unintentionally hilarious which is the main reason that I like reading the chapters and then checking out the feedback. It was so negative at the end with everyone poking fun at it, but that just made Bleach all the more enjoyable.

There are some considerable negatives with the series though. First of all, there is a degree of fanservice here. It’s nothing major as it is pretty much forgotten for all of the climaxes. It really only pops up occasionally when characters like Yoruichi, Chizuru, or Rangiku show up. It’s enough where it can be noticeable. There is also the creepy factor like when a villain essentially forces one of the heroes to give birth to him as a form of regeneration or other moments where shady things seem to happen. Bleach is definitely darker than some of the other Shonen titles like Naruto and One Piece. It doesn’t go too far for the most part and as I mentioned, it is 74 volumes so the positives typically outweigh these negatives considerably. I’m sure you could fill in 69 volumes with the positives and leave the other 5 for the negatives or some similar fashion. If the series had been shorter or the negatives more frequent then it would have lowered the series regardless.

One thing that was always a very strong aspect of Bleach was the artwork. It is easily one of the best series of all time in that regard as the simple, but smooth art style makes it easy to follow the action. The author is also able to raise the stakes in various scenes by applying more ink. The only series that is really ahead of Bleach would be One Punch Man. I dare say that Bleach is the second best series after that and the author really put in the work. I don’t know if I could have enjoyed the series quite as much if the art had been a step down. The high quality of the art is what really allows you to appreciate the manga to its full potential.

With a title like this, there is just so much to say, but where to start right? I mainly spent time on the cast, but through that I also explained why I like the series so much. I’m a huge action fan through and through. You don’t get to see huge titles like this one too often anymore where you get to enjoy the cast for over a decade with an array of fights at every corner. I suppose that what makes this title elite is simply that it lasted so long without seriously jumping the shark or losing sight of the genre. Imagine how awesome it would have been if DBZ had lasted this long? A large part of Bleach’s success also has to come down to Ichigo being the main character. A title is only as good as its lead after all. Hopefully Arc 4 of Bleach gets animated someday because that’ll help it be more memorable. Part of why its section is the smallest is that since it was so rushed a lot of villains weren’t iconic. If they’re in the anime, that’ll help their influence quite a bit and hopefully it can expand upon some of the things that were skipped.
Overall, Bleach is definitely a legendary series and one of the most famous ones of all time. I’m glad that it had such a long run. It would have been great if it could have kept on going a while longer, but at 70+ it is hard to actually say that you weren’t satisfied with it. I’d definitely recommend jumping on board with the series and marathoning it would certainly be a blast. I got to do that with Prince of Tennis when I first started it and I have to say that it is one positive of discovering a series so late. Of course, sticking with a series while it’s live is also awesome since you see the audience talk back after every chapter. With Bleach and Naruto gone, I do have to admit that Shonen Jump is a shell of its former self. Still, as the current titles get longer and longer, perhaps we will eventually get a new Bleach. Hero Academia can be the new Naruto in a sense, but I don’t think there is anything that has gotten close to matching Bleach’s spot yet. It left big shoes to fill but I’m sure something can rise up to it eventually.

Overall 9/10

Toriko Review

It’s time to look at one of the more recent Shonen Jump titles. Toriko got pretty big in its prime and arguably became known as one of Shonen Jump’s top 3 ongoing titles. It even got to play a role in a crossover episode featuring Luffy and Goku as well. The series has a fairly unique premise and I like the focus on food. That being said, the premise is also what ends up hurting it quite a lot as there is a considerable amount of animal violence and the series took a long while to actually get any traction going. I wouldn’t call this one a success although it had one of the best Shonen Jump climaxes of all time. At least it ended with a bang!

The story follows Toriko, a legendary Gourmet hunter. He is known as one of the very best and has taken down just about every animal out there. Gourmet Hunters hunt down food but a lot of that food comes from animals of course. Alternately, they find things like rare honey in volcanoes and underwater foods. It’s a rough job. Komatsu is a local cook and he wants to be the greatest cook in the world. When Toriko offers to take him around as a cooking partner, Komatsu leaps at the chance. The two of them go on many adventures and bond by the end. They’ll have to deal with significant gourmet threats though like Midora, Aliens, and Starjun. Whatever happens though, they’re ready for it!

Lets get this out of the way. One of the huge problems with Toriko is the nonstop action violence. It’s a series about hunting animals after all so you can bet that the series does this constantly. A positive score was out of the question right away from this, but at least the series played its cards right to at least get itself a spot at the middle of the rankings. That will have to do I suppose. The animal stuff is such a downer though.

It’s a shame because the series ends on such a high note. The last arc is essentially just nonstop fights involving all of the big characters of the series. The 8 Kings, Midora, Toriko, Starjun, Jiro, The Nitro, etc. Everyone gets a piece of the pie and here is where the 40-50 volumes of hyping up the characters all paid off. It was everything that I could want in a climax and it could possibly be the best one for a Shonen. It may not have necessarily been my favorite cast, but it was just so ambitious and it was almost half a year of nonstop epicness. The main series that could rival this one would be Reborn! as that also had a really epic climax.

Unlike Reborn! Toriko wasn’t consistent up until that part though. A lot of the arcs actually weren’t that great. We had a whole arc about trying to steal someone’s balls after all. I mean that literally by the way and the series reveled in weird plots like that. The humor can also be gross as part of the plot was that they had to…well I’m not even going to go there. Just remember that the hunters will eat anything. One of the big plot points of the series is that eating rare foods makes the main characters stronger. Their hair sticks up and they get on edge while yelling a lot. These people take their food seriously and practically explode every time as we’ll have whole pages of them barely being able to stay conscious from the pure joy of it all. It’s all so extreme that you have to wonder how they’d react to a good slice of pizza. The main characters also have demons inside of them which like food and take control sometimes. Toriko’s even turn real at times and show up to help. It’s fairly meta, but the author never actually finishes this plot up. I guess it’s up to the fans to pick up the pieces.

The Century Soup arc was probably the first time where the villains finally popped up and it felt like a plot was brewing. That one was handled well. I also enjoyed the 4 vs 4 Beasts arc as Toriko and friends fought some giant monsters that were actually all part of the same monster. Of course, the stronger heroes could have ended those arc in an instant if they wanted too, but I suppose they just wanted to see how Toriko would handle it.

By the end of the series, I like how the author tried to cram in as many feats as possible. I feel like he was making it as exaggerated as possible on purpose just to try and show up the other titles. Characters surviving millions of years going by in an instant, breaking planets and going massively FTL? These feats basically start to throw them ahead of DBZ with ease, but it all feels too easy. It also invites a lot of plot hax by the end though with the inclusion of Neo who can eat anything and Food Luck.

Food Luck is basically a plot button that allows any character to survive any situation because they were destined too. Food Luck can nullify attacks and nullify attacks which makes it very handy to use and it has no limits. It can run out, but that just depends on how lucky you are. I could have done without this part to be honest.
The series is pretty good about not having much fanservice. It’s pretty much nonexistent for the most part. Even when we get some tired tropes like Toriko getting turned into a girl, it’s not played up too much. This is good since the series already has more than enough problems at its plate (See what I did there?) without adding any more. Take away the animal violence and this would be an easy 8. Take away a lot of the gross humor and it could jump up to a 9. It has enough positives and epic scenes to pull it off, but to be a 9 you certainly can’t have a bunch of negatives either.

Lets talk about the characters. There are quite a lot of important ones so this section is going to be very long. Toriko is the main character and he’s a fairly good one although he can be annoying at times. It’s a little hard to hold the fact that he’s a hunter against him and he makes sure to eat whatever he hunts….but it does make it hard to like the guy. He also prioritizes eating over everything which can be extreme. At one point the world is literally being destroyed around him, but he doesn’t care since he’s going to have a feast. He takes the most annoying traits from Goku and Luffy and places them together. Granted, he does have a lot of hype moments as well and can be serious when necessary. He’s the kind of charismatic guy that would be easy to be friends with, but would be a lot harder to be with long term. He does put everyone in danger constantly. Going on a journey with him like Komatsu did for several years would be way too stressful. As it stands, he’s not the best main character. He’s good enough where he doesn’t hold the series back, but just isn’t downright great. By the way, Toriko’s powers are effectively that he’s really strong. He can use his muscles for incredible punches and even turns them into projectiles. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

Komatsu is the main sidekick and unfortunately I can’t really say that he is a likable character. He is very annoying at all times. He can’t fight, but he has a lot of food luck so he can survive just about anything. His knife is so sharp that it can cut foods so well that they are ready centuries ahead of when they’re supposed too. He gets a lot of hype for sure, but it’s like having Usopp as a main character. It just doesn’t work and to be honest, I prefer Usopp. I dunno, Komatsu isn’t very funny and he’s certainly not all that useful. It’s good that Toriko and friends have a cook of course, but they’re cool with eating things raw so they probably would have survived anyway. I was actually waiting for Komatsu to get a super form or something, but it never happened. Ah well, that’s the way it goes I suppose.

Sunny is another one of the 4 Kings along with Toriko. His hair is his special ability as it can turn into a fairly unbreakable barrier or be used as a very versatile attack. His hairs can move at incredible speeds after all so they are difficult to properly evade or block. Add to that the fact that he has monster strength and speed like every other character and you have a tough contender. I’d consider him to be the 2nd most dangerous member in the group. He’s a decent character. His gimmick about not liking ugly things and avoiding them isn’t half bad. It’s one that I can get behind at any rate and I wouldn’t say that it’s overplayed.

Zebra gets a lot of hype and is supposed to be the strongest of the 4 Kings. I dunno, for some reason I just couldn’t buy into it. It was hard to ever really consider Zebra as a threat either since Toriko always appeared to be even stronger than him. His sound abilities are nice though as Zebra can make barriers with them or let his voice travel across large areas to help others out. It has a lot of versatile applications to the ability to be sure. He’s not a bad character, but he just ends up lagging behind the others.

Coco is the final member and he is arguably the weakest. He makes up for this with his useful poison abilities that get around the whole strength angle. After all, it doesn’t matter how strong or weak you are against him. If you’re in range of his poison you’ll be dropping dead very quickly. It’s a very handy ability and it surprisingly continues to work even towards the end of the series. Naturally it can’t do anything against the 8 Beasts or any of the final bosses, but it serves Coco well in just about all of his fights. He’s a nice enough guy.
Rin is the main heroine, but she surprisingly doesn’t appear much at all. You know that she is the main heroine based on the ending and she is always going after Toriko, but she rarely ever contributes to the plot. I don’t even know why the author added her at all. Maybe just to have some kind of romance just to tick off the box. Regardless she has to be one of the most bland heroines out there and I was not a fan.

Ichiryu was a great character and ended up being one of the best in the series. He’s also one of the strongest characters without a doubt as he was able to hold his own against opponents like Midora without even using his spirit animal. In this universe that’s essentially like going into a battle without any weapons or special abilities. His physical abilities and stats were insanely off the charts. His Minority World ability is what makes him even more dangerous as it reverses anything. This allows him to fly by reversing gravity and he can make a full recovery from any injury by reversing it. Moreover, he can reverse the injury over to his opponent and this ability has absolutely no limits. Ichiryu can reverse anything, life, a battle’s outcome, etc. He only ends up losing because he fights someone who also has Minority World so it’s a battle of who can reverse at the last possible instant. The series got pretty high tier for sure and again it’s worth mentioning that Ichiryu fought without his monster the whole time and never ended up getting serious. He’s a pretty stand up guy even if he didn’t take the stakes seriously enough.

Starjun is another one of the big villains of the series. Gradually he becomes more of a rival though and he works as one a lot better than Zebra. He is actually a threat for a while. Naturally he starts to get surpassed once he stops being a full villain, but that always seems to happen. His flame abilities are good and beyond that his physical abilities are on par with Toriko. He’s a pretty solid character and is probably the second best villain. I’m glad he got to have a final with of his own as many of the supporting characters weren’t so lucky. Starjun earned his.

Grinpatch is a bloodsucking villain who is pretty strong. One good hit from his straw and you’ll be missing a fatal amount of blood. It’s a very unique weapon since I can’t think of anyone else who uses straws. That being said, it’s a little tough to take the power seriously. Grinpatch is super tough so underestimate him at your own peril, but he wasn’t exactly my favorite villain. Especially since his ability was usually used for animal violence scenes.

Tommyrod is one of the first big villains to show up in Toriko. He attacks using a lot of bugs and sort of is a bug as well. It made for a very intense fight between him and Toriko and he later fought Sunny as well I believe. I don’t care much for his powers since using insects means that some will always be injured in the process. His personality is fine though and he’s an interesting villain. He’s certainly lethal and quite memorable. I also liked his design and the super forms that came with him. The series was always particularly strong in the villains department.

The Nitro started off as a one time villain monster, but gradually we learned of a secret Illuminati version of them. There are 8 and they essentially want to roast the planet. Given the heavy influence on food in this series it was definitely a fitting plan. Most of them never ended up getting much in the way of personality and it’s one of those cases where the anime would need to flesh them out a bit more. That being said, they made for really good villains. I liked the designs and these guys were immensely powerful. It was just their bad luck that they had to go up against Jiro. They may have had a good shot against Toriko, fighting all 8 of them probably would have been too much for him.
Midora is my favorite character in the whole series. He’s just awesome and the character kept on getting cooler and cooler as the series went on. He’s one of the big villains, but he never really gets to fight Toriko. That part was interesting as the two just don’t cross paths much. He ends up holding a larger group against the Nitro monsters and turns his attention to them. He definitely has the saddest origin story from the cast. While he is a villain, he’s not being evil just to get a good meal like Acacia or doing it just to rile everyone up like Joie. It’s all about getting people to appreciate good food and if they won’t do so willingly, he’ll have to destroy them. His ability is also very similar to Bass.exe’s which is an extra bonus. He can copy any ability after seeing it or being hit by it. He is virtually invincible and really cannot be defeated. Of course nothing is absolute in a series like Toriko. Midora just stole the show and it’s amazing how much character development he got. You could argue that he was the main cast at the end of the series instead of Toriko. He got fight after fight after fight.

Chiyo was one of the big villains in Toriko before the final arcs. She may be an old lady, but she can certainly fight. She had an epic battle with Setsuno and she is certainly very aggressive. Her fighting style reovlves around continuous attacks and simply overpowering her opponents. She’s incredibly powerful and a very cool enemy. Setsuno is essentially her heroic counterpart. The two of them are extremely similar, but Setsuno has the slight edge in combat. Who would have thought that two old ladies would give us such amazing fights. A third old timer is Chin Chinchin who can’t quite compete with the other two, but he never goes down without a fight. His battle with Chiyo was definitely very emotional even if you probably could guess the outcome from the beginning.

Froese didn’t get to appear much as she died prior to the series beginning, but her legacy plays a huge role throughout the series. Her death was a sad one and it set quite a few characters off on their paths. She believed that once everyone had a good meal, all war and strife would end. The problem is that some didn’t appreciate her cooking and Midora made it his mission to strike them all down. Her body wouldn’t be able to rest either as she ended up being possessed by Joie. Joie is one of the major villains in the series and she is incredibly powerful. She has a significant amount of food luck and also has a jar that can capture virtually any opponent. She is skilled at using mind games to aid her position as well. Her design was good and she always had a lot of confidence. Joie is definitely a fun villain and is certainly one of the most sinister ones in the whole series. Of course, provoking the characters who can ruin planets and solar systems with ease probably wasn’t a good idea in the end.

Tengu Brunch isn’t a major character, but he got a surprising amount of screen time at the end so I figured he was worth mentioning. He has some thunder abilities. He never really gets to use them in combat, but it’s still useful I guess. I dunno why this character was created to be honest. Takimaru is a nice character. He’s a young Gourmet Knight who does his best to gain more experience and become a useful part of the organization. He’s pretty genuine and also knows how to fight. The guy never became one of my favorite characters or anything, but I didn’t mind him.

Match was a gangster of sorts and he keeps to himself. He really just cares about protecting his friends and colleagues and isn’t the kind of guy who goes out of his way to save the world. I actually liked him a lot, but I can see why he was written out of the series by the end. There just wasn’t any way he could compete with all of these ultra powerful characters who kept popping up by the end. It’s just something that inevitably happens after a while when you’re only human. Still, he did a good job while his power level was still high enough to make a difference.

Melk is very skilled at repairing weapons. She gets a fairly small role, but was influential in helping Komatsu. We also got to see Melk The First who is incredibly strong, but not too smart and got lost for a very long time. The fact that he can also whisper is a little strange. The two were fun characters though so it would have been nice if they could have actually gotten to fight a little. I suppose it just wasn’t to be this time though, but the fact that they were memorable already puts them above a lot of other characters.

Teppei was one of the stronger heroes until he got brainwashed. Then he attempted to destroy Komatsu and invited Toriko’s wrath. His abilities are quite impressive as he can stun characters with a single hit and even held his own against Toriko. I didn’t care for a certain twist he got about the whole mind control thing though. Perhaps it would make some more sense next time I read it, but the plan seemed extremely risky and not all that smart. He made for a much better villain than a hero I’ll admit though. He was a good threat.
Lets talk about the 8 Kings. These are the animals who rule the world at the moment and their abilities are incredibly overpowered. They get so much hype that they don’t get a serious fight until the very end of the series. Whenever Toriko challenges one, he typically loses in one hit. It’s definitely pretty humbling for him. The Monkey King gets the largest role from all of the Kings as he gets a whole arc to himself. He can throw rocks around the planet in a second and has a lot of crazy physical feats like that. He doesn’t need any special abilities because of this as he overwhelms all opponents with his pure power. He even has a true form which makes him even stronger.

The Horse King is another big one and her power is so great that she developed a special ability out of it. Just by breathing she can generate a whole ecosystem. If she breaths in, then all the oxygen is sucked out of the area and everyone dies in an instant. By breathing out she can rip people in half as she even ripped Toriko in two and can blow the planet up as well. It’s fun how comically overpowered these guys are. There’s also the Dragon King who can harness extra dimensions into one energy blast which can destroy multiple planets in a single shot and still have enough momentum to keep on going. The blast is instantaneous so it is virtually impossible to dodge. The Wolf King can uses its senses to find out everything about you from it and can also mess with your soul. Aside from that its strength and speed are uncanny as per usual.

The Bird King can use shadows to trap you in them next to a fake sun so you boil to death. Beyond that it is also crazy strong. The Snake King is so large that it covers the entire planet yet it is also faster than the speed of light. It can destroy you before your mind knows it is destroyed. This is one of the more overpowered opponents once again. The Deer King may be the strongest of the 8 Kings. It can activate a back channel when its opponent is near. It’s larger than an island so the range is pretty good. It can then speed time up so that millions of years pass by every second for its opponent which means that unless you are totally immortal you’ll die instantly. Even if you are immortal you’ll be weakened from not having eaten or drank anything in that time. It is immune to its effect of course and will attack in the meantime. Finally, we have the Whale King. This one is supposed to be the strongest and I suppose it does have a good ability. Anything near it dies instantly. It’s an automatic ability and one that has no counter. Of course, the multi planet buster laser from the dragon king was able to take him on so I guess striking from afar is your best bet. Still, get anywhere near the huge Moon sized whale and you’re doomed!

Acacia is essentially the final boss of the series and he gets a lot of hype. He taught Jiro, Midora, Ichiryu, and the others after all. One common theme of the series is that the older you are the stronger you’ll be. Toriko and friends are actually quite young so they start the series at the bottom. Then you have guys like Setsuno and Chinchin and higher up are Ichiryu, Jiro, and Midora. Then at the top is Acacia. The series goes out of its way to make the guy as unlikable as possible as he’s extremely mean and gives negative twist after twist. He definitely got a lot of hate at that point and it’s hard to be a fan of this guy. He’s definitely a very powerful figure and has some great battles, but I can’t really say that I like the guy. There were a ton of twists back and forth, but ultimately he was just a little too far gone for me. He had some cool super forms though.

Neo is the monster inside of Acacia and his whole purpose is to eat. His very existence is only there to consume things. Think Galactus but on a larger scale. He plans to eat all of reality and gets stronger with each thing that he eats. He is virtually unstoppable and takes on an onslaught of attacks from the 8 Kings. Neo isn’t made to be sympathetic or anything which is certainly good since I wouldn’t be able to buy it. Sadly his scenes almost always involve animal violence. I would have preferred for Acacia to have just been the main villain so we wouldn’t need Neo, but the latter ended up being the real threat. It also involves the Nitro’s real mission that also doesn’t stop them from being villains. Murder billions to save trillions. I dunno, at that point you’re still murdering so many people that it becomes moot.

Jiro is one of the strongest characters of the series and a good ally to have. From the big 3 he is my least favorite, but that’s more of a compliment to Ichiryu and Midora then it is a slight against him. Jiro gets a lot of hype and delivers on it with his great fight against the Nitro. He also puts up a good fight against Acacia and Neo. His “knocking” ability is essentially like Ki in DBZ or Haki in One Piece. He can punch something which “knocks” it out of existence or knocks it into place. It effectively paralyzes opponents and is almost impossible to recover from. His true form is also very intense.
Zongeh is the comic relief character of the series, but he didn’t work very well. King from One Punch Man and Hercule from DBZ are two examples of characters who actually served their roles quite nicely. The problem with Zongeh is that he is never funny and also never contributes to the plot. The other two characters actually have their moments and help out when possible. This guy’s just wasting pages whenever he appears and I don’t think the author used him very well.

Terry, Kiss, Quinn are monsters that the main characters use. Terry is the only one who ever gets personality though. Toriko bonds with him near the beginning of the series and Terry really grows by the end and got to be very powerful. I like him a lot and he’s definitely one of the best characters in the series, but I was also sad to see him since the villains naturally go after him quite a bit. Terry is destined to grow up as one of the strongest animals so that is definitely nice, but I’m glad we didn’t get to have too many fights with him. That would have been a little brutal to watch. Terry really is awesome though and I have to say that the name is actually amazing.

I do enjoy Toriko’s art. It feels like Dragon Ball Z a lot of the time. The fights are really intense and the character designs are simple, but effective. It’s always easy to understand everything on the page in an instant and that’s a real credit to the series. I’d consider the art to be very high tier and it helped make the climax that much more exciting. It affects the whole series.

I should warn you that the manga can be incredibly violent though. Throughout the series it is a lot more intense than the average Shonen and gets to Hunter X Hunter levels with people getting ripped apart constantly. The characters are also cannibals for the most part so the final battles involve eating each other. Especially since Neo is the big villain and that’s his whole thing. He eats quite a few characters by the time it’s all over. Tommyrod’s fight with Toriko is certainly brutal and basically any fight with Midora. After all, one of Midora’s big attacks is that he stabs you repeatedly with his tongue. This can also lead to some rather gross characters like Neo. He gets more and more deranged as he fights and just looks like a lot of bumps. While the characters are always bleeding and being filled with holes, the simplistic style of the manga helps it not get too graphic. It’s definitely a full step over something like Bleach, but I definitely wouldn’t say we’re at the point of something like Berserk yet. The anime did a real good job of toning this down considerably while still keeping the fights epic so that’s another alternative for you. If they did the same for the animal violence then I have a feeling I’ll certainly like that version more. Of course, that’d be a review for another day if I ever start that show. So just bear this in mind, the series is pretty intense and that helps it complete its image as a retro Shonen. From the character developments to the fight scenes, it’s like a return to the more brutal days of Shonen Jump.

Overall, Toriko was a fun manga although it ended up shooting itself in the foot far too often. In the end, a manga about hunting animals is never going to go very far. They should have played up the natural ingredients part and have the heroes just go after foods like Jello and such. That would have been a lot safer. The series inevitably started going after animals less as the plot began and humanoids appeared anyway. The series should have just accelerated the early stuff. After all, when the series got intense, boy did it go all the way. It’s one of the most hype titles I have ever read. It’s really exhilarating. Despite that, I can’t really recommend it all that much. You’ll be better off with just about any other Shonen Jump title. This one’s just pretty weak and as a whole it wasn’t constructed as well as most of the others. I do appreciate the author’s attention to detail though and how he planned everything out. It was very ambitious and there were certainly a lot of concepts thrown around. Ultimately, it just couldn’t pull enough of them off.

Overall 5/10

Ultimo Review

Ultimo is one of those manga titles where the concept should write itself. Giant robots running around fighting each other should be pretty awesome. Add in a cosmic threat and you’re set. Unfortunately, the manga gets unnecessarily complex, throws in time travel which really hurts the story and just goes in a lot of odd directions. As a result, it wasted a bunch of time so then when it was effectively cancelled it had to rush everything to the end. The ending is very original and will remind you a lot of Madoka Rebellion, but it’s not exactly the ending that many of us were hoping for. It’s just a very odd story.

Yamato is a guy who is fairly down on his luck. He is always caught in awkward situations by his friends and he can’t work up the nerve to talk to Sayama…especially after these incidents. One day he notices a robotic kid called Ultimo or Ulti for short. Ultimo seems to be an antique, but he randomly wakes up one day and takes on a giant robot named Vice in the middle of the street. Both of them are severely damaged, but then Yamato finds out that he is Ultimo’s master. There is apparently a war going on between Doji (That’s the official robot name) of good and evil. I believe there are 12 total with 6 on each side. A mysterious being named Dustan created these Doji so he could see once and for all which side will ultimately emerge victorious. Yamato doesn’t totally understand all of this, but he can’t let the Earth be destroyed so along with Ultimo he gets to work on stopping these guys.

That plot actually isn’t half bad. The first few volumes were pretty good as well as Yamato gradually meets his allies and enemies. The fights are good and I thought the series would be fun. Then the Rune plot happens which I’ll delve into later. Then the low point of the series happened…the time travel. Time travel is typically a really good thing, but this one completely wrecked it. Yamato gets taken to early Japan where we find out he was a Yakuza or something. Every character is doomed to infinite reincarnation by Dunstan and the heroes and villains were deadlocked there. Not only is this a complete waste of time that doesn’t go anywhere, but it is immensely boring.

Yamato finally makes it back to the present, but he arrived too soon so we have to relive a few fights and action scenes again. They’re a little different of course, but not enough so that it really matters. Also, Yamato has control over time so he can just rewind it whenever something happens that he doesn’t like. As a result, it was a little hard to get interested in the plot. That and the fact that the rest of the cast weren’t too interesting despite their overpowered abilities.

Lets talk about the characters. Yamato is the lead and I suppose he isn’t too bad. He’s not quite as tough as you’d imagine despite his punkish design, but he does his best. He learns the abilities after a little while and is then able to fight with the best of them. From there on he did good and at least he always shut Rune down. He does have a tendency to get kidnapped and placed into awkward positions though. Ultimo is a better character even if he can be a little confusing. He is meant to be the ultimate hero, but is actually the shadiest of them all. He lets rage consume him quite a lot and acts like Optimus Prime in the Michael Bay movies. He just wants to completely eradicate all evil and is consumed by this desire. He starts to turn evil during the middle of the series although Yamato has a talk with him about that. He can be real intense, but that’s part of why I like Ultimo. He’s a cool hero and I like the confidence that he has. He may not be too strong without an operator, but shows that he still has a nice degree of skill. The series did a good job of showing why he deserves to be the lead.
K is the human operator of Vice, the ultimate villain counterpart to Ultimo. Unfortunately, he is a really bad character. He just likes eating instant ramen and is always being ordered around by Vice. He’s a total comic relief character, but is also pure evil. It’s a really weird combo and I’m not totally sure what they were going for with his character. Either way, I don’t think it really worked. I did like Vice though. He had a really good design and at times he reminded me of Bass. He’s naturally not as cool as the latter, but he is definitely in my top 3 favorite characters of the series. He super forms are all really good and he was a very persistent enemy. Vice just kept getting back up over and over again for as many times as needed. He was one guy that would never give up and also didn’t like being a pawn which was a good motivation for trying to go after Dunstan. Too bad that guy was just a little too strong.

Rune is one of the characters that makes the series a little dicey. After Yamato got to experience his original self along with everyone else since they are endlessly reincarnated, Rune also kept her memories. The problem for her is that she was reincarnated into a male body this time, but still wants Yamato to herself. So her female soul is literally trapped in a male body. I don’t think we needed this plot and I know that I definitely didn’t want it included. It gets a lot of screen time and creates some awkward situations that have nothing to do with the plot. I never cared for Rune as a hero, but she isn’t much better as a villain either. This is Jealousy

Dunstan is the big villain of the series but he is comically overpowered. He is made to look just like Stan Lee which is pretty interesting since the guy helped to write this series. He has the powers of all 12 Doji and can use them all at once. The guy can alter time as a result and his physical stats are off the charts. The main cast can’t do anything against him even if they all team up. It’s a rather odd twist to the whole thing since that means their goal of stopping him is unattainable from the start. Either they’ll have to win him over to their side which is possible since he claims to be impartial, but that would also mean that he wouldn’t pay for his crimes. It is a direct result of Dunstan’s actions that a ton of people died after all. Alternately, they can fight him, but they’re doomed. Despite the fact that Dunstan is probably too strong, he makes for a pretty fun villain. He rarely ever gets to appear, but he seems like a nice enough guy. That’s probably meant to help us not look at him in a poor light which doesn’t work, but I’m at least glad that he is a likable villain.
Musashi is a space cop who travels time. He sounds a lot cooler than he actually is. Despite running through time, he doesn’t really seem to have a clear idea of what to do and he’s also not that tough. He looks good during his initial appearance, but fades into the background after that. We did see a brief glimpse of the future I believe which was fun, but the series could have done more with him. However, like the rest of the humans, he was ditched by the end. His Doji Sophia is pretty useful since she can mess with the 5 senses and even affect the 6th one. It’s hard to hit anything when she’s around since she’ll have you seeing double or everything in reverse. It’s a great ability to have for sure but since every Doji has great abilities it doesn’t necessarily mean that she is the best.

Sayama is the main heroine and it’s definitely hard to get a read on her. She acts nice enough at first but seems less innocent and oblivious than most. She has a pretty big twist at the end and gets some good fight scenes. Her motivations may not make a lot of sense at times, but she seemed like a reasonable character. The twist actually works pretty well if you ask me and makes her more of a deep character, she’s no longer just here for the school scenes.

I keep mentioning how strong the Doji are so lets quickly talk about their abilities. Here are the hero abilities. First off you already know Ultimos. He has complete control of time. This allows him to weave in and out to the past and future to dodge attacks. Unlike other series this does not create alternate dimensions so it can be spammed as much as you like. Unfortunately, Yamato is typically distracted and rarely uses it. When he does, Ultimo is unbeatable which is why he commands the hero group. Service is also a powerful hero. She can manipulate a Doji’s power which includes the time stop. She can simply nullify its abilities along with any other. In a sense, she could be the ultimate fighter as long as she can defeat the enemy. Some of the villains are still more powerful than her even without their abilities after all. Regula’s ability is complete memory manipulation. It can erase all of your memories in an instant and replace them with others. Since he is a hero he doesn’t do this, but you can see how it would be useful in a fight. If your opponent forgets how to fight and thinks you are now an ally, then the match is already won. There are some counters to this though like the emotion Doji as a person can fight with their emotions rather than memories. Pardonner is a healer that can heal any injury in an instant. It can also place illusions within the soul of your mind so that it fools all 5 senses. He’s a great support fighter as he can keep healing all of his allies at any time. Slow has the classic Fate Alteration ability. She can simply alter fate so that an attack which landed actually missed. Altering fate has no real limits, but it takes up a lot of energy so Slow can’t afford to have a long drawn out battle. It’s really hard to counter this, but if you keep attacking without letting up, Slow can run out of energy. Of course, your fate could be to miss and stab yourself by mistake. Finally we have Goge. He manipulates emotions to prevent you from battling or to make you erratic. It’s very similar to the memory manipulation so getting hit by both at the same time would be intense. It’s another very valuable ability to have.

Okay, those were the heroes. Did you memorize all of the abilities? They’re all extremely great and overpowered so the villains have to have really good powers to match. Fortunately they do so lets dive right into them. Vice is the leader so he’s got some good powers. He can steal and copy an opponent Doji ability so he can potentially gather any. He has incredible speed and power and can fire omnidirectional spikes that hit in all directions and can also block any attack. His overall ability is called incompetence which is absolute destruction, but the ability is rather vague and even the wiki doesn’t seem to totally know what it means. Taking it at face value, maybe his opponents will be unable to use their full strength since they’ll be incompetent. Desir is another ability nullification type who can shut down all abilities in decently sized radius. This includes allies though and Ultimo’s time travel seems to be immune. It doesn’t seem as useful as the hero version. Edile has super strength. It’s actually pretty laughable next to everyone else since all Doji have a measure of super strength. Lets move on. Avaro can duplicate himself. He claims that he can fill the whole planet with copies of himself but take that claim lightly. It’s not a bad ability, but not great either. Paresse has a lot of spikes to stab people with. It’s another really weak villain. Wait…the villains must have some good members right? Rage has electrical abilities and was even able to overwhelm Ultimo in a fight. It may not sound very impressive on its own, but I suppose manipulating electricity always has a lot of uses. He can move with that level of speed after all and since the Doji are all robots in a sense, his attacks can be super effective. Jealousy can read the hearts of his opponents. This allows him to know what they will do next with 100% accuracy. This is actually a very good power since it is effectively knowing the future and unlike the mind reading strategy where a character can fight without thinking, your heart always knows what’s up. Finally, Orgullo has fire abilities. Eh…that’s not too impressive although I like fire.
After writing all of those powers down I think it’s safe to say that the heroes should have a massive advantage. However, they end up dying most of the time so Yamato has to retry the battle. It’s like a video game in that sense. The villains surprisingly have better teamwork at times and it is easier to power up their Doji. That’s because it’s easy to be evil while it’s hard to be good. That’s actually a pretty interesting concept that they decided to tackle and it was actually handled relatively well.

The whole series has a lot of discussion on good vs evil. The characters try to blur the lines between these two and even Yamato starts to be unsure of whether or not there is really a good side. He starts to think that everyone is part good and part evil which is probably the wrong conclusion to have. It’s hard for anyone to switch sides for this reason. The heroes are still trying to destroy the villains after all rather than taking them hostage and they’re doing it all effectively because Dunstan is forcing them into this situation. It’s definitely pretty interesting and the fact that Ultimo keeps acting evil doesn’t help matters. I believe more in the rationale that there is a clear line between good and evil and that line isn’t hard to see. I believe that’s a superhero quote that I saw in a recent article, possibly by Destroyer14 but I can’t remember which.

Now the ending is certainly one that we should talk about. There are some spoilers….to put it lightly, in this paragraph so skip now if you don’t want to see. Are you out? Here we go! In the end, Dunstan wins. Yamato got all of the heroes and villains to unite, but Dunstan just one shotted them all and laughed a bit. He then rewinded time so everyone was still alive and decided to try it in a different setting. He’s going to continue the games, but this time with everyone being friends and we’ll see how it turns out. Yamato can finally hang out with Sayama so he doesn’t seem to care. It’s very similar to Madoka Rebellion where Homura won in the end and everyone is content to live in her world. The difference being that most of them didn’t know about it there. Yamato certainly realizes it here and I believe Sayama does as well. It’s possible that the others did have their memories wiped though. It’s just a very odd and somewhat depressing ending based on how you look at it. Dunstan showed that his power is leagues above the rest of the cast so they never even had a prayer of beating him. The fact that the character looks exactly like Stan Lee is also interesting. He effectively wrote himself into the series as the strongest being ever. Stay humble.

The manga can get a little crazy, but one thing it is good at is bringing in a lot of nonstop action. You can make a lot of comparisons to the Bayformers movies, but this one is certainly better than those. The plot just takes a backburner at times as we get fight after fight and then the plot is given through exposition as opposed to actually telling us about it. Honestly without the time travel nonsense which basically introduced the Rune plot (Since she wouldn’t have regained her memories without them) this series could have actually been real good. It’s futile to look at hypotheticals like that, but interesting to think about nonetheless.
The fact that each of the characters are so powerful and made to be unbeatable also helps make the series a little more entertaining. I still think the heroes should win and having time control is way too overpowered for Yamato, but that helps us bring in the plot hax. Also, the power levels matter a little more since virtually anyone can beat another in one hit. It just depends on who strikes first. Yamato limiting his own power reminds me of Angelic Layer which I’ll talk more about when I get to that review. I suppose it would be too easy otherwise though as Yamato could just stop time and finish everyone off.

Each Ultimo was already strong so the introduction of the God Ultimo forms and then their second modes was cool as well. They just kept on getting stronger and stronger to the point of no return. Again, it’s a shame that parts of the manga were so weak like the characters (I basically liked all of the Doji, but none of the humans were particularly good. If I had to pick a favorite human it would probably be Musashi or Yamato, but that’s not saying much) and the time travel since otherwise parts of it felt like Hunter X Hunter level writing. There was a lot of strategy during the fights to counter the abilities and a lot of potential for directions which the series could go in. Since it was a full war of 7 vs 7 and players could keep on changing sides there were just so many interesting variables.

I’m glad that the pre arc phase ended early on though. As I mentioned, most of the human characters aren’t so good. There are a bunch of them running around, but most are either unlikable, bland, or forgettable. The last two are similar I suppose. The school friends never actually contributed anything and the heroic Doji owners made it hard to root for them at times. One thing I like is how everyone is bloated with self importance as they never give Yamato straight answers, but while amusing, that doesn’t help make them likable. The villains aren’t either although they’re not supposed to be. As I mentioned, you’re really reading this for the action and feats more than anything else.

The art is really good for the most part. The characters look good and I like the designs of the Doji. Their ultimate modes look quite good as well and you can tell that the artist has a lot of experience. What does bring the art down a bit though is the fact that it gets a little too chaotic during the fight scenes. Each page gets very cluttered to the point where it is hard to follow the fight scenes. You will need to spend a long time with some panels to actually see anything. One positive is that each volume takes a lot longer, but I feel like the fights could have been scaled better. I think the author had a problem with showing the scale of the fights while still making them small enough to fit in the actual scene. The trick to that is messing with the background, but I am sure it is difficult. In the end this lowered the art’s ranking overall, but most scenes still look good.

Overall, It really has been a long time since I read the series. I read volume one almost a decade ago and all of the volumes were separated by very long waits. It took ages to finally read the final volume so you can imagine that my recollection on the early parts is rather iffy. It’s definitely better to read something like this in a marathon batch like with Pandora Hearts. I remember not enjoying it all that much more than I remember why I didn’t enjoy it much. That’s the tricky part since other parts of my memory seem to remember the series being rather dynamic and interesting. I think it’s probably because the concept was cooler than the execution so I still think about what it could have been. For all I know there could be animal violence scenes that I’m forgetting or a bunch of hype moments that I can’t remember. It’s a tricky case and I may re read it someday, but certainly not in the near future. What I can say is that if you’re looking for a mecha series with fighters who are comically overpowered then this may be the title for you. It gets chaotic, but that helps it feel like a summer blockbuster. On the other hand, most action titles just handle all aspects of themselves better than this one does. You’d be better off reading DBZ, Kenshin, Black Cat, or any of those other titles. I’d slightly recommend this one and the positives are a little better than the negatives, at least as far as I can recall. It’s certainly nostalgic looking at this title since it’s been such a long time, too bad it never got an anime. At the very least I’m sure the visuals would have been really cool.

Overall 6/10

Psyren Review

It’s time for a pretty fun manga that went under the radar and had to hurry to a rushed conclusion. It’s a shame, but I can see how people never gave it a chance. Personally, I always thought it was a manga about competitive hip hop dancing. I don’t know why, but it just looked like one thanks to a screencap on Mangastream. I didn’t learn better until I got to read a few volumes from the library. It’s a series that takes a few different twists compared to your average Shonen and the series was very ambitious. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t last long enough to unleash its full potential.

The main character is Ageha and he’s your average Bully hunter for hire. He takes out the bullies as long as you can pay him. One day he notices Anamiya getting bullied by a few other girls and saves her wallet. She dashes off, but not before asking him for help. The next day she goes missing and the town goes on full alert. Ageha decides to call the number of a mysterious card that he received and solves its puzzle so he can get some answers. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away to a desolate world that is overrun by monsters. Anamiya is here, but with a completely different personality as she is very cold and antagonistic to the rest of the characters. Still, she needs Ageha to help her clear the game. If you die in the game you die in real life!

There are a few rules. One: They just have to live through it. Two: Clear the daily missions. Three: Tell nobody. As long as they follow those 3 rules, they will be allowed to leave the game in peace. Of course, this is difficult since there are monsters everywhere as well as an evil organization that is bent on taking over the Earth through any means necessary. Fortunately, this world amps up everyone’s natural psychic abilities and you can gradually learn how to use it for combat. Along the way, a kid Ageha used to bully, a rockstar, and a random joe are brought to the world as well. Technically, a bunch of people are brought in, but the rest are all slaughtered almost instantly by the monsters. Hey, you can’t save em all right?
At first the manga plays out like a survival horror. The humans have no business fighting giant monsters and basically just have to run and hide. Anamiya is the only one who can fight them and even she can’t take on too many of them at once. If the series had stayed like this, it could have certainly gone for an Attack on Titan vibe. Honestly, it could have maybe worked, but I’m glad the manga shifted gears into full action instead. Once the characters all got powers and the monsters were phased out in place of humanoid opponents, the manga truly began to excel.

It plays out a lot like Hueco Mundo in Bleach. The heroes get in really large scale battles against the enemies. The series jumps between the present and the future a lot. As you’d probably expect, the future has all of the best scenes and fights. The technology doesn’t really change this time, but everyone is just a lot stronger so the visuals are more spectacular. This series really knew how to draw your attention the whole time. Lets quickly go through a bunch of the characters.

First up is Ageha. He’s a good protagonist even if he definitely doesn’t care about being a hero. Lets move past his childhood where he was apparently a bit of a bully. He does act like your typical main character for a while as he tries to save everyone and does his best to complete the game. What separates him from most is how absolutely ruthless Ageha is. He’s totally on board with destroying any opponent who gets in his way. Some of the villains comment on this as Ageha will go for a kill shot right off the bat. Given the stakes and all, it’s easy to see why, but not something that all main characters will go for. He embraces his dark abilities from the start and never enters into a self doubt phase. All of these elements together make him a very engaging lead. You can draw a lot of similarities to Yusuke Urameshi.

Amamiya is the main heroine and she was always rather odd. We find out the reason why by the end as she has a split personality. One side of her is very shy and timid while the other is aggressive and outgoing. She starts to lose control of her other personality by the end, but eventually gets it back. You could say that the two sides of her made a truce to share the body and each gets a turn now. It’s an intriguing concept anyway. For the most part, the more aggressive one is naturally better although the flirting can be a bit much. I’m glad that Anamiya can fight, but she’s just not a very charismatic heroine.

The same can be said for the big rival of the series. That is Asaga and he is probably the most soulless rival I’ve ever seen in a series. He barely even counts as a rival since he is never in Ageha’s league to begin with. He has a lot of brute strength and that’s how he wields his psychic powers. He just has no real personality though besides possibly liking the main heroine. Ageha’s gravity abilities are both stronger and more versatile. There’s just nothing Asaga can contribute to a fight and he was basically written out of the series for a while as he had some adventures on the alien planet by himself.

Next up is a character whose development never really got to end. Oboro is a famous pop star who got into the game and began to excel. He can heal others which is incredibly useful and his abilities began to morph into disintegration. He can also heal others too well which results in them merging with other monsters and dying. The series was really hinting that he was going to turn evil and he was beginning to fit into the rival role. Then…the series just ended and he never really got to have any closure. I think he barely even got a final fight if he did at all. I did think the character had a lot of promise though and he was probably the best supporting member.

Kirisaki’s essentially the scaredy cat of the group. Every series seems to need one and he fits the bill. His ability is that he can sense the future as long as he is in danger and this allows him to dodge any traps. Think of it like a very good Spider Sense and you get the general idea. This isn’t the kind of character that I’m typically a fan of though so I’ll have to give him a thumbs down.

Now lets talk about some of the villains. Miroku is the big villain in the series and he’s certainly a strong fighter. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and can come across as generic, but I’d say that he’s good enough. His design’s not bad. Grana is the strongest member of the main villain group so he’s second only to Miroku for most of the series. He’s sort of like Zaraki from Bleach and I like his personality. He’s always itching for a fight and he can dish it out as well as he takes it. That makes for a pretty good villain if you ask me. Unfortunately, as the story goes with most of these characters, he didn’t get to do a whole lot.

Junas was one of the most impressive villains. He went up against quite a few of the main characters and kept on rolling. His design is on point and he made good use of his abilities. WISE was very fortunate to have him on their side. There’s not much to say about Uranus. He’s another member of the group who puts up a good fight, but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Junas. Finally we’re up to a villain who did get a lot to do. Dholaki was probably Ageha’s first real challenge and the guy kept coming back for more. He would train and learn new abilities to stay relevant. He had a good work ethic for a villain. Shiner was another member of the group and he also got a good role. I’d say that he was maybe a little nerfed by the end of the fight, but he did a good job weakening the heroes.

Mithra is basically the real final boss. She’s a very imposing entity and her true form helps increase the stakes of the series. I definitely think just about all big action titles should end with a big cosmic being suddenly showing up. It makes the final battle really feel like a final stand as opposed to just another fight against the bad guys. Mithra didn’t appear all that much, but she is memorable.

Yusaka is technically a pretty minor villain as he doesn’t appear much, but he was a pretty critical traitor against the heroes so he was memorable. He takes down a lot of humans in a rather brutal action scene and proves to be a lethal opponent. He’s not really my kind of villain, but he made for a good fight scene. While his design isn’t as impressive as most of the villains, it makes sense since he is basically just a human.
There was a group of kids in the future who were the last defenders of humanity. They were a pretty fun bunch and all of them got some good screen time. Frederica is a fire expert who’s extremely confident and she always managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d call her the strongest member despite her boasts, but she’s definitely fun to have around. She’s effectively the leader of the team. Marie is the nicest member of the team which also happens to mean that she is basically the weakest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of hers. She’s not a bad character, but rarely seemed to help out all that much. She did contribute of course, but I would have liked to have seen more action from her.

Kyle looks up to Ageha and pretty much modeled his fighting style after him. Kyle’s a hand to hand specialist who attacks with incredible power. I’d say that he is the most powerful member of the group and he sure did a good job whenever he would appear. He definitely grew a lot from his days as a kid. Shao probably got one of the best fight scenes in the series as he fights with strategy as well as power. He’s about as strong as Kyle and really helps the group have an edge over the villains. Every time you get a strong fighter like that, it really helps everyone’s odds. He’s rather quiet, but it’s not about confidence. It’s simply a choice in his case and he lets his actions speak for him.

Nemesis Q was more annoying than helpful. I still don’t understand what the point was of calling everyone to the game world, but destroying them if they told anyone. By the end of the series we learn that she is basically stuck in a wheelchair and just gets her thrills out of mocking Ageha. She got some kind of origin story, but it still seems like the best plan would just have been to tell the heroes what was going on. They could have changed the past a whole lot easier if they knew the details.

Matsuri was one of the only players who ever got out of the game alive. As such, she knows about it, but isn’t really allowed back. She can still help in the real world though. Her abilities are potent, but not quite as deadly as most of the main characters. She essentially got surpassed by everyone as the series went on, but did well in the mentor role. Kagetora is her friend and essentially a bodyguard who also got some psychic abilities. He handles psychic crime in the real world, but has a tendency to get in a little over his head at times. His regeneration ability at the end is really handy though since it fits in with his constant aggression.

Tatsuo is a friend of Asaga’s who got stuck in the game. In the real world he was super frail, but he was able to excel in this other world as a hybrid monster. At first he is evil from the experience, but gradually learns to accept the situation and becomes a hero. He’s a fairly decent character, but one that still just feels more like a trope than an individual. Asuka is Ageha’s father and he actually shows up to fight by the end of the series. His ability has a lot of drawbacks and can’t be used for too long, but it’s very powerful. He is one of the only characters in the series who is able to use a certain burning/ascendence which amps up all of his stats. The series may not have explained too much about why he knows so much about the psychic wars and all, but it was nice to see him help out. He’s not a very nice guy at times though so that hurts his likability.

So the character cast is fairly decent. I like Ageha and the Actor worked fairly well as a shady rival. I don’t think the author initially planned for that subplot to just end like it did, but you never know. The rest of the heroes were rather weak compared to most titles though, but fortunately the villains held their own. They were all pretty cool for the most part even if I started to mix them up. It’s important that Ageha was good since if the main character had also only been standard, it might have had more of an effect on the series. What helped to compensate for this was the solid artwork throughout. The artist has a nice clear style that works well with the series. It’s also nice since Ageha’s powers could have easily turned into something very wavy and chaotic. With a lesser artist It would have been easy to get lost during the action scenes.

The series could get pretty intense like the massacre inside the government base. You couldn’t help but feel bad for the government the whole time since they were just so out of their league but they kept on trying anyway. At the very least, you have to admire their commitment. We even got the cops involved at one point as they try to arrest Ageha, that was fun. There’s a lot to like in this series which is why it’s a shame that it never hit 20 volumes.
Overall, Psyren is a fun action series. It won’t go down as an all star like Dragon Ball Z or Kenshin, but I’d say that it did a really good job. The idea of fighting in the future is always a good one. Reborn! probably did the best job with it, but many titles have pulled it off. The action was large in scale and Ageha readily embracing his dark abilities was nice as well. It’s a shame that the series ended so suddenly since it still had quite a lot of potential left in it. Sometimes we just don’t get to see it all though. That’s just the way it goes. I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. It’s pretty epic and I’m confident you’ll like it if action is your genre of choice.

Overall 8/10

Assassination Classroom Review

So, I started this manga around April back in 2013. It lasted for a decent amount of time I suppose and the concept was certainly original. That being said, the series gradually got worse as it went on. It started out okay and I had actually given it a 6 after the initial volume or so. Maybe it was the premise that got old or the author just was not prepared to keep the series going. Whatever the case, Classroom ends on a whimper and ends up losing another point for mainstream manga.

The series is about an alien who destroyed most of the Moon. He then decided that he wanted to teach a class. Koro chose Class E, a class that is shunned by the rest of the school and treated pretty poorly. The government agrees to this deal in exchange for being able to try and destroy Koro whenever they like. The students are also encouraged to try and destroy him and they could get rich doing so. As the series progresses, the kids grow attached to Koro and decide that he may not be all that bad. Should they still destroy him or have the kids finally learned that murder is wrong. Spoiler alert, they do not.

So, this series is really a comedy first and foremost. There are some action scenes during the series as this is technically still a Shonen, but the vast majority of it is pure slice of life. You could compare the series to Nisekoi except replace the occasional plot chapter with an action one. Unfortunately, this ends up hurting the series. Mainly that’s because the cast isn’t all that good. This ensures that you’re never too invested into the series. Furthermore, the author just isn’t very good at writing a comedy. It’s rarely all that funny or engaging. I was actually pretty bored for almost the entirety of the second half of the series. It felt like nothing was happening for a very long time and I was waiting for the plot to return.

The author also doesn’t even try after a certain point and just starts including fanservice for no real reason. The fanservice is really the only main problem in the series, but it is a significant one. Naturally, being a rather boring series in general is bad as well, but it’s not something that will take too many stars off. Coupling that with recurring fanservice is another issue entirely. It’s almost as if the author is admitting that the series can’t stand on its own and that it needs this element to keep people reading. I wouldn’t be too surprised since most of the comments on the online discussion boards would always focus on this and the Nagisa cross dressing subplot. I don’t think people ever really cared about the plot and most people like it for the comedy and the drama. So if the comedy style works for you, then you’ll like the series. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a long ride.

Surprisingly, the series never really deals with one of its main themes. These kids are being told to murder Koro throughout the series and they naturally accept since they’ll be making a lot of money. The students never really ask themselves if this is the right thing to do. They wonder if they shouldn’t at times since they grow to like the teacher, but never because the act of murdering someone is wrong in itself. It seems like they just don’t really care since Koro’s an alien anyway. It’s rather alarming that they’re all so quick to accept this deal. Having a few kids decide that this just isn’t right would have been a good way to advance the plot and maybe have some characters get kicked out of the class because they refuse to sacrifice their morals. That would have made for an engaging premise if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the series never went in that direction and just continues to do its best to justify why murder is necessary in this case. There will be spoilers coming up in this paragraph so skip it if you haven’t finished the series yet. I’m gonna keep all of the spoilers confined to this paragraph to make it easier to read the rest of the review. Are you out of this paragraph yet? You have been warned! From the start, the kids are told that murdering Koro will make the world a safer place and the money seals the deal. Capturing Koro would be difficult, but it is clearly achievable as several villains do it during the course of the series. Already murder is not completely necessary. Then the end of the series takes it a step further. There is a .001% chance that Koro will blow up and take the Earth with him. It’s simply a flaw in his DNA. Even so, the people decree that Koro must die and after an extended fight, Koro lies on the ground. He is unable to move and cannot do anything. So…the “heroes” wouldn’t destroy him after all that right. The kids have been through a lot with their teacher and they should be friends at this point….nah. Nagisa plunges his knife into Koro and ends him for good. Nothing personal of course, but Nagisa was goaded into doing it and everyone was practically egging him on with their moral support. It was a terrible ending and really brought about the wrong message in the series. It tried to say that destroying Koro was the right thing to do, but that could never be the case. It goes without saying that I lost all respect for the characters and I didn’t really have much to start with. I’d say that was the final nail in the coffin for this title.

All right, lets talk about the characters. Karasuma is the government contact who teaches the kids how to effectively destroy people. He has more of a heart than the rest of the government and is known as one of the best fighters on the planet. He does a good job of pulling his weight, but does tend to let red tape stand in his way. He’s not someone that I would count on in times of trouble, but he is one of the more likable characters in the series. At the very least, he isn’t all talk. Irina is another professional who joined the group, but unfortunately the series gives her absolutely no respect. She is only used for fanservice during about 99% of her screen time and another subplot that’s not even remotely humorous is that the kids always curse her out when she appears. It’s a very mean spirited nickname. She’s able to get past them since all of the kids fall for her feminine wiles, but all that does is degrade her character further while taking the kids with her.

Koro is the big alien in the series and one of the worst written leads that I’ve seen. He’s a very perverted character similar to someone like Master Roshi. This is bad since he appears so often, this personality gets to appear constantly. He is always being tricked through this weakness and uses his super human abilities to make it all the worse. There’s not a whole lot you can do when you’re up against an invincible alien so it’s not like anyone can stop these habits of him. Any time Koro is on screen is usually going to be a cringe worthy moment.
Karma is the big rival of the series and he’s the best character in the series. It may not be saying a whole lot, but at the very least he checks most of the boxes for qualities that a rival should have. He talks a good game even if he loses most of his fights. While Karma is surpassed by Nagisa rather easily, he tries to cover up his humiliation by dishing out a lot of burns. He has a lot of confidence and doesn’t put up with a lot of the stuff that Nagisa has to go through. It would have been nice if he could have gotten a power up or something, but the series was having none of that.

Nagisa is the kind of main character that I don’t like. He’s comic relief 90% of the time, but then he’ll suddenly get serious and unlikable. When he’s in assassin mode he turns into a try-hard rather than a hardcore character. He does manage to score a win against an actual villain, which is one more than just about anyone from the students so I’ll give him that. Still, the contrast between him as a pushover who lets people dress him as a girl and his assassin mode is way too drastic. The ending of the series doesn’t help his case at all either.

There are a lot of other students in the class, but only hardcore fans will bother to learn their names. Even the author probably came close to forgetting them because some don’t actually get introduced until you’re past volume 10. That’s a long time to wait to learn about someone who is in the background since day 1 right? Aside from Karma and Nagisa, some of them are important though. Ritsu is notable because she is actually a computer program who is just allowed to be in the class for kicks. She acts like a student at the very least and while she ultimately doesn’t help out much, she ensures that the group can always communicate with each other. Kayano is the main heroine I suppose. Her role is extremely small until the series gets close to the end, but that’s good enough. Even if she tends to jump the gun and come to hasty conclusions, she actually plans things out well. She’s definitely the best student behind Karma even if a lot of her potential was wasted by the end. Her plot could have been so much more epic if it wasn’t shut down as soon as it began.

Itona was one of the early villains, but he was quickly defeated and turned into a good guy. This is one of those characters who was completely ditched as soon as he turned good. Suddenly he became completely powerless and never did anything again. It was a shame because he could have brought something new to the table. Instead he just ended up as a personality-less student who had no real stake in the whole business. To think that he started out as a mysterious villain who was actually a threat.

Gakusho is the big rival of the series and especially likes to compete with Karma. He’s in class A so he always has a lot to prove. His father is the principal so he is always in a lot of pressure. He actually does a good job of living up to it and excelling though. He’s a little more fair than his father and will honor his agreements even if he doesn’t like them. He made for a fun antagonist and helped make some of the events more fun like the athletics competition and the test arcs. Gakuho was also a good villain. He looks a little like Aizen and is as exaggerated as a principal can get. He’s supposed to be purely human, but he can mind control people and even knocked out three really strong guys with no real effort. It was 3 against 1 and they were pros, but he downed them with ease. The author never gave him powers or added anything extra to it as expected, but he was still a great character. Honestly, he should have kept on appearing. Giving him powers or something would have been awesome.

The God of Death is one of the big villains in the series. He’s definitely the most likable villain even if he does come across as rather petty in his origin. He’s very good at what he does and his plan was basically fool proof. His design is really cool and while his abilities are a bit of a stretch, it showed that he wasn’t like your average human. You definitely don’t want to mess around with this guy. It’s a shame that he never got to appear much. I don’t even count his final appearance because he cracked by the end and was nothing like the character that I got to see the first time. Takaoka is a relatively minor villain who showed up from the government. He overworked everyone and was basically a bully who always got his way. The students had to take care of him since everyone else kept turning the other way. It was definitely one of those subplots that was annoying to watch since nobody would help at all. You’d think Koro would have been a little more vigilant right?

Finally, we have Shiro. He’s the main villain of the series and wears a cloak to hide his true form until the very end. The true form is a little underwhelming as is the character in general. He was portrayed as a very mysterious individual, but after getting thwarted several times in a row, it was hard to take him as seriously. You could go whole volumes without seeing this guy appear and I don’t get why he was waiting so long. His master plan just didn’t make a whole lot of sense and without his constant hostages, the guy wouldn’t even be all that tough. He could have been a cool villain, but squandered his opportunity.

Another problem with the series has to be the power levels. It’s always annoying to see the main characters because none of them can fight for beans. They’re all just kids so whenever an actual villain shows up, they just have to hide. They can’t hold their own because all of the big villains have super powers and could beat the kids in an instant. At first I was waiting for a time skip or some kind of power up, but gradually I realized that this wasn’t that kind of series. It actually tries to be very realistic for the most part which means that the kids just stay as kids the whole time. They never really get any development or improve at all in combat. Maybe you won’t mind that, but I found it extremely annoying by the end. I mean, what’s the point of having them around if they’re never gonna help? I haven’t seen a group of main characters as helpless as these guys.

As mentioned earlier, I think this series just lasted too long. I believe the author just couldn’t come up with enough ideas which is why some plots were stretched to oblivion and why the series had a noticeable dip in quality in the second half. Some characters were basically ditched and others never got a whole lot of development. The series was just all over the place and made sure to mess up its opportunities whenever possible. It’s a shame, but I guess they can’t all be winners in Shonen Jump.

Overall, There’s a reason why nobody really talks about Classroom anymore. It was a huge thing when the first anime was airing and everyone was talking about the manga. It still sells well, but people just don’t talk about it anymore. The series just went downhill and should have quite while it was ahead. As it is, the series was at a 4 for a very long time, but then the author just had to go through with the terrible ending and lower it even further. A bad ending can go a long way and this was one of the worst endings that I’ve seen in a manga. Another title that I’ll be reviewing soon also had a dicey ending, but at least he was so bad that it was played for laughs which worked to an extent. This one played it serious and seriously giving out bad morals is a good way for me to shave off some points. I’d recommend skipping this series. It simply doesn’t live up to the hype and you’re better off just reading DBZZZZzzzzz yet another time.

Overall 3/10

My Hero Academia Review

It’s time to review one of the most popular anime from a year or so ago. This show was talked about quite a lot and was compared to One Punch Man constantly since both shows came out at around the same time and dealt with superheroes. I’m not going to prolong the drama this time though, One Punch Man wins this fight. Both of these titles are great shows, but there is a big gap between incredibly amazing and great. My Hero Academia is a great show, but it’s not stellar to the point where I could easily rewatch the whole show again. One Punch Man has a better cast, universe, animation, soundtrack, fights, potential, and just hype in general. The two shows can’t really be compared as it stands now, but OPM did have a really fast start. Season 2 will likely not be quite as hype although there are some big scenes coming up while Hero Academia’s season 2 should be leaps and bounds above the first if handled right. Perhaps that is when the comeback will happen so either way, we’ll be comparing both of these when the season 2’s come out.

The story follows a kid named Deku. In this planet, almost all people are born with quirks. Typically you’ll gain one that is similar to your parents. Unfortunately, Deku is one of the few who is quirkless. He has no powers, but Deku has always looked up to superheroes and wants to be one anyway. Fortunately, he meets up with All Might, the world’s number one hero. All Might decides to give Deku a portion of his powers. Deku can now join up with the other students at the most prestigious school in the world, but will he be able to keep up with these borrowed powers? He also has to be careful since he is now one of the world’s strongest beings and he could easily destroy one of his classmates by accident if he were to go all out.

As this is just season 1, most of the episodes are for world building and character introductions. They do manage to squeeze in one fight with the villain group during the final few episodes though. That is definitely the best part of the season although I also liked the hero vs villain mock battles that occurred a little before that. The only part that gets annoying is Deku’s narration during the episodes where he foreshadows events. It usually ends up just being clickbait and the show doesn’t really need it since the actual content is interesting enough to get you to check in anyway. Of course, I believe that it was in the manga as well, so it’s not as if the show just randomly added it.

My Hero Academia has a lot of energy and instantly feels like a modern show. All current shows should feel like this and the same thing applies to a video game. If it doesn’t feel new and modern, then something is wrong. My Hero Academia definitely had a pretty good budget. The colors stand out and the characters are streamlined. The show did a good job with this since some of the designs could have easily been a little clunky. Kaachan’s in particular stands out since the design is very convoluted when he’s in his superhero form.

That about covers the animation. The best animated scenes are typically when Deku is about to throw a huge punch. The energy effect through his arm came out well. Naturally, the soundtrack is also really good. The theme song is still one of my favorites in anime and I listened to it quite a few times. There’s a lot of competition nowadays though so it could easily drop off of the top 10 given time. The villain theme is also very good and brings the hype when the villains make their move. There’s also a decent hero theme and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a pretty diverse set of themes, but there are only 13 episodes so some don’t get to appear too much. Between the opening, fight themes, and the villain themes, My Hero Academia is definitely set and has a great soundtrack that can hold its own with the best of them.

Deku’s a reasonable lead. Standing up to Bakugou near the middle definitely helped his character a lot. If he had been super timid and just run away the whole time, it would have been annoying. Even if they ultimately decide to make Bakugou nicer so he can be one of the main heroes, at this point he is just a bully. The only way to deal with those is to teach them a lesson and claim the win. The sad part is that Deku could easily beat Bakugou with a single hit, but such a blow could easily kill him so Deku has to try and win with strategy. Deku just kept making the right calls throughout the anime and they were ones that other leads might have hesitated for. For example, Deku jumped in with a 100% shot at Shigaraki when All Might was cancelled. The attempt didn’t work, but at least Deku was willing to blow his arm off to help. He kept on jumping back into the fray even when the teachers and other kids told him not too. Deku’s definitely one of the bravest guys here and now that he also has more self confidence, I look forward to him continuing to improve in the next season. Having a main character who is extremely powerful and smart without being arrogant is also very unique. There aren’t many characters like that around.
Bakugou is the rival in the show and he’s certainly a little more extreme than some others. He’s not as bad as Gajeel from Fairy Tail since he doesn’t go around crucifying all of Deku’s friends before immediately turning good, but it is still impossible to sympathize with him. He threatens Deku constantly and even burns a notebook that Deku spent years filling up with data. He’s never remorseful about this either and still has the gall to be upset at Deku for actually defending himself. This plot line will continue for a while and the whole time it’s just hard to even remotely see Bakugou’s side of the story. He’s a solid character when he’s not around Deku though and he does help out a lot in the final battles. He’s one of the few characters with a combat quirk so he really needs to put it to good use. Bakugou’s a good character as an antagonist, but if he’s meant to be more like Sasuke from pre Shippuden or Mika from Seraph in the sense that we should empathize with their goals and motivations…then it’s not working so far.

Uraraka is the main heroine, but she surprisingly hasn’t gotten to do much yet. She’s a nice enough character and she went out of her way to save Deku from what could have been a very embarrassing entrance into the school. She can be rather oblivious and unfortunately her power is one of the worst in the series, but at least she’s a good friend to have around. I am hoping that she gets a power up at some point though. Iida is another one of the supporting characters. He’ll get a major role in the second season (or 3rd) so stay tuned for that. He’s a good character at the moment. Iida’s an ultra “Follow the rules” kind of character, but he pulls off the role well. Abandoning the others to go and get reinforcements was a bit risky though. I’m not saying that it was totally the wrong call, but this is where you separate the champs from the supporting characters. True, getting reinforcements is good to secure a win, but you’ll likely lose some friends along the way. Staying can be dangerous, but then you’ll all live or die together. I think a true hero has got to stay and if anything, act as a decoy or a sacrifice to let the others get away. I think that would have been the right move here.

Todoroki is another rival for Deku and he’s my favorite character in the series. He hasn’t done much yet, but he’s the strongest student at the school (Aside from Deku) and he has a very cool and calm demeanor. He’s the kind of character who would really stand out in just about any show and you can never have too many rivals. His personality will get heavily nerfed in the future so enjoy him while you can. Having elemental powers is always really handy as well since what you can do is really only limited by your imagination. Another student who is around is Asui. She’s also not much of a fighter, but she gives Deku a lot of support at well and is really good in that kind of role. Her frog-like athletics allow her to cross large areas with a large bound so she can get teammates out of harm’s way.

There are a lot of students and it’s going to take a while for the show to really introduce them all. I suppose that more of them will show up in season 2, but in the manga some of them never got to really do anything. That’s the problem with such a large cast, but at least it means that every supporting character is actually a real character and not just a nameless individual. The others are good so far and they’ll make for a decent supporting cast. It’s hard to say where they stack up against Naruto’s. One day I’ll have to compare them more. The only bad one is Mineta, but man….he is a terrible character. He’s the one bad aspect of the show. The show really has virtually no fanservice, but Mineta always has to have the sketchy lines and his running gag of going after the female characters to grab them is just unnecessary and terrible. Even if the characters try drowning him afterwards, it’s a little too late and the problem is that none of the characters seem to even care. I hope he’s written out of the show at some point.

As with the students, there are a lot of pro heroes, but most of them haven’t done much yet. All Might is the main hero of course and while he is a homage to Superman, he’s not quite as transparent. As he appears more and more, you get glimpses into the fact that he has to keep a lot of secrets from the rest of the world. He believes that he is a symbol of peace to he has to seem invincible so villains won’t try to make a move. I can understand the logic, but people are going to find out about his weakness so he needs to tell more of the heroes as soon as possible or they’re going to be in a lot of danger. I also think All Might could have let the other heroes help out a bit more. Surely Todoroki would have been some help against Noumu. He did save All Might after all and the fact that his abilities are long range means that it’ll be tougher for the villains to hit him. From All Might’s point of view though, he made the right call. No need to put the others in danger, but I would have liked to have seen the kids defy him more.
Aizawa is the other hero to get a big role. He’s a cool enough hero and basically plays the Kakashi role here. He’s very strict and pushes the students to their limits. He’s also a fairly good fighter although his powers are really only good for one on one fights. The fact that he can nullify powers means that he can potentially take down some of the strongest villains in the series, but unless he can improve his physical abilities, he’ll inevitably hit a wall when the foes become faster and stronger than mortal levels. We already see that here to an extent, although most villains won’t be quite as strong as Noumu. The principal also appears and I like to think that he’s the spy within the hero ranks. I don’t like him so that’d be a double bonus.

Shigaraki is the figurehead of the villains. We don’t know much about him yet, but he wants to destroy All Might and bring the world to chaos. His ability to destroy whatever he touches is certainly very dangerous. It’s not instantaneous, but it will cause severe damage. His ability is a good counter to Deku since he just needs one good hit to make up for the fact that he would die to a single hit as well. He nearly defeats Deku several times and they’ll definitely meet up more soon. His costume involves multiple hands grabbing him, which is a little odd. He’s definitely a strange villain and not quite as interesting as his partner, but he’s not bad. At least he can fight, which is a good start.

Kurogiri is Shigaraki’s partner and definitely a cooler villain. His shadows ability is actually very overpowered and makes him one of the most dangerous threats in the series. He can appear just about anywhere at any time and the only place where you can hit him is his neck. I’m still a little skeptical on how the heroes missed him the first time if there is a real guy underneath the shadows so I’m going to assume that there’s another trick to his powers. (Or plot hax) He has a very intimidating voice and he’s the main reason why the villain’s plan could work at all. He may not be the leader, but he’s very deadly.

Noumu is a mindless monster with a lot of attack power and durability. This makes him a good match-up for All Might. The design is okay, but it would score more cool points if the brain wasn’t always showing. He’s good as an opponent and isn’t a bad villain. He’s clearly not as interesting as some of the others, but he’s fast, strong, and nimble. He doesn’t suffer from the strong, but slow curse and I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

The show has a good character cast and that definitely goes a long way. The actual universe isn’t quite as interesting as other titles since there isn’t much to explore or other areas to be interested in. As far as we know, it’s just a pretty happy world with heroes. To make up for that, it was essential that there were a lot of likable characters, solid animation, and just good all around writing. Luckily, My Hero Academia does all of this well and the big fight at the end was a nice, epic way to wrap up season 1. Hopefully the series can continue to go on for a long time so one day it’ll be long enough to actually have us compare it to flagship titles like Naruto and Bleach. It’s a solid start to the next generation and it just needs to keep up the momentum.

Overall, I definitely recommend this show. It has a lot of action and likable characters. The producers, writers, and staff involved definitely put a lot of effort into the show. The 13 episodes will fly by before you know it, but luckily season 2 is already on the way. It’s definitely going to be an exciting sequel and the OVA that came out also looks really great. I don’t believe that they ever fix Deku’s costume either, which is good since I much prefer the blue suit that he ended up using for most of the series anyway. This is one mainstream, popular anime that really lived up to the hype. Between this, One Punch Man, and Madoka, that helps to counter Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan. I’ll be reviewing another super hyped show soon so we’ll see if I can say the same about that one.

Overall 8/10

My Hero Academia

I’ve finally started one of the new big hits. This series definitely looks like it’ll be a fun one even if one of the plot twists shouldn’t have happened. The fire/ice kid is definitely the best character so far so we’ll see if he can hold this place for the entire series or if he will be surpassed. I’ll have a review for the title when it is all done.

Overall 7/10