Our Blood Oath Review


Ready for another cancelled title from the ole Jump archives? Well, with a title like this and a plot involving Vampires I can see why it was booted out. Look, I’m not the biggest vampire fan. In fact, I would go on record to say that it’s usually a rather poor genre. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting things you can do with a vampire story but there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall into. Mainly animal violence and sucking blood since they’re both pretty bad. This one is no exception.

Literally the first page begins with a cat dying. So now the manga has my attention but in a very bad way. This doesn’t earn it any points and instead is actually just getting it on my bad side. Immediately fans were probably thinking about cancellation. So anyways the cat dies and we see this monster in the background. The opening chapter works sort of as a one shot to introduce the world as we follow a random kid who will end up being a main character.

In the world of Blood Oath, vampires are actually real and a decent amount of them live on the planet. Most humans do not know that they exist though and the vampires have actually encouraged fictional representation of them like Dracula to make this seem even more unbelievable. It’s honestly a pretty good tactic. Most vampires just want peace but there are certainly those who dislike the humans and want to destroy them all. It’s a vicious cycle where both sides have big grudges. There is also a human group that goes around slaughtering vampires but they only appear for about a chapter so you can forget about them.

If a vampire goes for too long without drinking blood though, it will turn feral and become a monster that’s more like a hollow. These monsters are mindless and also become less physical so they actually possess people. The series can’t seem to decide if they’re spirits or actual monsters at times but it’s a different take on the vampires so that part’s interesting enough.

We’re then introduced to our two main characters. Shin is the primary lead and he has taken a blood oath to protect Ko, a royal vampire kid of immense power. Shin was raised by vampires and believes that there is a chance for peaceful coexistence between both races. That’s his complete goal and he will do whatever it takes in order to make that happen. In the meantime he does his best to take down all of the violent vampires who would do their best to oppose this goal.

As someone who has undergone the blood oath, Shin has abilities beyond that of a normal human like with his super punch. In general he’s also faster and more durable than a normal human which is handy in this world. Shin’s a good lead, there’s not a whole lot to him yet but it’s a solid goal and he does his best to achieve it.

The other main character is Ko nd he’s basically a kid. I know with Vampires the ages are hard to confirm for sure but he acts like one so that’s what counts. As pseudo brothers he and Shin always look out for each other but Ko isn’t quite as forgiving as Shin is. Shin desperately wants peace but Ko doesn’t care about all of that. He just wants the two to be together and if someone attacks Shin then he takes it personally. Their dynamic is good but otherwise as a character I wouldn’t say he’s all that high up or anything.

One thing that the series struggles with right off the bat is the power levels. Sometimes Ko seems like he is the stronger main character and other times it’s Shin. Both of them lose in rather embarrassing ways early on but Ko is supposed to be a royal vampire that is way more powerful than the others so what gives? Well, it seems like he can only activate his true form after sucking Shin’s blood which is a huge weakness since that will weaken Shin in the process. Ko seems completely dependent on this.

That’s fine against the monsters but against the actual vampire villains then this gets a little more dangerous. For example we get two main villains by the names of Kaine and Haiga who show up at one point and they definitely have the edge in battle. Assuming that they aren’t the strongest out there then the heroes are going to be in big trouble. It’s not anything new for the genre as the heroes are almost always completely out of their league in vampire titles.

As a short series though, Our Blood Oath has to try and redeem these villains really quickly which is hard to buy. Take Kaine for example. This vampire loves murdering humans and even makes a big show of it. The reason is humans murdered Kaine’s whole family so that built a grudge quickly. So, how can this villain suddenly become a good guy within 10 chapters? it feels very accelerated as a result and I would have just kept Kaine as a villain. If this series had kept on going I’m sure Kaine would end up being a good rival character but it’s not as effective in a short series.

The battle with Kaine and Ko was likely the best one in the series so I have to give that a thumbs up though. The artwork here is really nice and that is certainly the highlight of the series. It’s all very clear with good progression through the attacks and you always know exactly what is going on. None of the characters look too similar so you won’t be mixing them up either. So just an aside but when the series is focusing on the battles then that’s when it is at its peak. There aren’t a whole lot of battles but enough where you know this is a Shonen right away.

Kaine’s partner Haiga seems a lot less villainous from the start but it’s not like he’s against murdering innocent humans. He does whatever Kaine wants and will do so with a smile. The guy’s loyal though and I liked him well enough. Haiga and Kaine had a good dynamic going and were fairly memorable which is important. The guy could also fight on his own very well too as he was easily overpowering Shin.

There’s a vampire elder named Alice who shows up for some lore and info dumping at different points. That seems to be her only role in the story and also to check off the classic trope of having a little girl appear who is actually hundreds of years old. She would need to fight to stand out more and so far that didn’t end up happening.

Finally you have Rangetsu who appears near the very end of the series. He’s a wild card since his motivations seem unclear. The guy has a ton of power though so everyone has to approach him cautiously. The human secret service was afraid of him and same for the vampires. The guy trained Shin at one point and seems to believe in the same kind of peace that the lead wants but he could be trolling. One thing’s for sure, Rangetsu is not nearly as merciful as the main characters and doesn’t mind torturing his opponents.

I wouldn’t trust him for an instant. His interests may align with that of the main characters at times but I can’t imagine that being anything other than temporary. If they ever have to rely on him that will really be the death of them. This is all setting up interesting seeds for the future but he doesn’t appear until the final 3 chapters or so, so you would have to hope for a sequel series for this to even mean anything.

There are a few other characters but that’s about the sum of it. Needless to say this was not a series that I liked. I would put it in the same ballpark as I Tell C but for completely different reasons. First off, throwing in the dead cat in the first chapter was just abysmal. There was no need for it. It’s only there for shock value and that’s not the kind of thing you need in chapter 1 or any other. This isn’t even a really dark series otherwise.

It maintains a classic Jump feel. It’s lighthearted but with its share of dark moments. The dark moments can be a bit much though. I mean, the main character’s family is murdered in front of him and same for one of the villain. At this point that’s old hat though and you almost expect it. Otherwise the darkest moment here is when Kaine locks a vampire child up with a human girl to the point of starvation. This ends up playing out with the human girl draining the vampire and turning into a monster.

It’s a really dark plot and one that felt out of place here. Did we really need to have a child fatality like this so soon? Additionally, this makes Kaine’s change of heart feel even more forced. If Kaine was already casually committing acts like this and bragging about it then how does a villain come back from that? There’s always the chance for redemption but within the span of a few days it’s hard to see that happening naturally.

I also dislike most of the vampire scenes. I’ve never liked the classic draining blood as they bite each other’s necks or chest as this series does. Ko needs to drain blood from Shin to fight and that happens several times. The villains do this to themselves as well, normal humans, etc. Honestly the series would be a lot better if you just stuck to the human kid trying to run away from the vampires. The guy from chapter 1 wasn’t half bad if not for the fact that he has the whole running gag with kids. That destroyed him and may be why the guy vanishes. I mean, he does appear from time to time and part of his suspicious actions were from being blackmailed but the character is at his best when the series isn’t trying to make him funny. When it does, that’s instantly game over. You can tell this series was not built for comedic dialogue.

The opening villain Kyoko did make for a decent threat though. Shape shifting is always handy in any kind of series and her plan was relatively solid. I would argue she probably should have just attacked Ko straight up instead of doing all of the planning but I suppose that’s hindsight. Getting back to the main point though, a vampire series is always limited because of the concepts that come with it. I could say to just not have any blood sucking series but then it’s probably not a vampire series anymore right?

So what would I have done differently to keep this one from being cancelled? Well, I think the lore should be cleaned up a bit. No reason you should have monsters, vampires, and humans running around right off the gate. Have it be plain Vampires vs Humans. The whole hybrid creature angle can be saved until the series is in double digit volumes or something like that. As it is there should be a ton to explore even without all of that.

I’d cut out the scene with the two girls who get locked into a room until one of them goes crazy. If the idea is to redeem Kaine and Haiga then you can’t have them do anything too disturbing or it just doesn’t work. Alternately your best bet is just to prolong the redemption arc for a long time so they have time to regret their actions and change sides.

That’ll also help keep the tone more consistent as you can’t have a super upbeat series where everyone is dying violently like this or stuck in such bad positions. This way the world won’t feel quite as hopeless. After all, the worse it gets, the more Shin’s dream will end up being seen as a weakness instead of a strength. It’s all good to want peace but if you’re watching both sides get slaughtered as this is being said, then it starts to feel empty.

I’ll at least give the series this, the bond between the two main characters as blood brothers is a good one. It’s also a nice twist here as they aren’t related by blood…but in a way they are since their blood is now linked. They do a good job of looking out for each other and that’s a fairly rare main character dynamic. We’ve seen brother and sister like in Demon Slayer but usually in Jump one of the brothers would end up being evil so this is a good twist.

It’s also at least one positive dynamic here since the series really focuses on how bad humans are as per usual. They’re shown to be traitors, sell outs, and are quick to turn murderous in the various flashbacks. It already looks like the vampires made the right move in staying secretly hidden so that’s why Shin has to think really carefully before he brings all of this out into the open. Our Blood Oath doesn’t leave you very optimistic about his odds, especially with a whole mercenary group that exists purely to destroy vampires.

Overall, There are definitely enough vampire manga as it is so it’s easy to see why this one was cancelled. The world building also just wasn’t on point. Within 10 chapters we’re already meeting royals and such when there should probably be more build up to this. How long can the series go on if the big shots are already walking around? I assume the only way is if the series went for a more dramatic/political angle rather than heavy action but that would bring along its own share of risks. Ultimately you have to be careful on striking the right blend but as long as this is a vampire series I don’t see it coming out in the green. Hope the next one fares a bit better.

Overall 4/10

Zipman!! Review


Time for another series that got cancelled before it could really get rolling. It has a cool concept and solid action so it’s a shame that it didn’t continue. I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton or anything but it was a quality title and it’s always a shame to see those go down for the count. So lets do a deep dive into the inner workings of Zipman.

The series starts by introducing us to Kaname as he attends his brother Koshiro’s funeral. It’s a somber day for everyone as Koshiro was a well known CEO who really revolutionized the world of robotics. He just had a genius that was extremely rare in any era. Kaname and Koshiro used to compete with each other to see who could make Cheena smile. She’s the main heroine of the series and unfortunately both of them fell for her at the same time so one day she will have to choose. Fortunately, she doesn’t realize that both of them like her.

Well, one day a giant robot attacks the city and Kaname is approached by another robot that claims he is actually the soul of the dead Koshiro. They can fuse in order to fight these monsters but Koshiro warns that it will be dangerous so they shouldn’t do this. Kaname is fine with the danger though and so their big era of battles finally begins. Can they stop this villain organization and ultimately get Koshiro’s body back?

The series certainly starts off quickly enough. We’re introduced to the main characters right away and get a good feel for the setting within the first chapter. This is effectively a normal world. Sure, some robots are starting to be created but nothing super advanced yet. Kaname is your average guy who enjoys anime and manga a lot. He has a very scary face so he has a hard time making friends but Cheena is all he really needs anyway so it doesn’t bother him.

The series got cancelled with 17 chapters so it didn’t last very long. Right now you may wonder how this could turn into a big action series with such a normal backdrop but by the final chapter the whole status quo has changed which would help with a sequel. There are different directions the series could go as well like if it wants to end up being a serious action title with a lot of big fights like My Hero or if it was going to be more of a slice of life comedic title.

Lets jump right into the good parts of the series. The art is solid. It’s not great or anything as it tends to get a little confusing during the fight scenes due to how similar the characters look and their big weapons but it ultimately does the job. The non combat moments are when the art is at its best and this is an easy page turner. Art is the first battle a manga has to win after all so it’s good that this was on point.

Then you have the character cast which is decent. Unfortunately like Candy Flurry the series has a bad habit of not really naming the characters though. The first villain gets a name but none of the others do. Who knows, maybe that’s a trend among titles that end up being cancelled? Without a true name it’s a lot harder to find the villains memorable and that can be an issue. After all, it makes it harder to talk about them since you always have to describe the villain first.

The first main villain is named Cutie Charm. So, how the villains work here is there is a group called Zip Down that has offered people the ability to become their favorite mascots. It’s pretty much a suit with a zipper that you walk into in order to become the character. The series even gives us a few big guest stars this way which will probably be tricky with copy right but their names aren’t used I suppose. Optimus Prime and Godzilla are two of the biggest characters to show up. Unfortunately the series ended before Prime could take a step and Godzilla was taken out in one panel so it was more like a tribute to the fan.

So back to Cutie Charm, the robot is built after the magical girl but piloting the robot is your average guy. He’s fairly insane since he looks up to all of these heroes and yet he’s working for the villains. Kaname has to give him a stern lecture. This villain may not have been great but he was the most memorable villain in part because he was the first one. It’s also a pretty interesting gimmick to have all of the villains be robots that people are piloting. I wonder about the logistics of some of the suits like the big Godzilla one but I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much about that. I guess it’s like a virtual reality simulator.

The weakness to each of the suits is to grab the zipper. If you steal the zipper then you obtain that robot’s special ability and you can attach it to your own mecha. You want to collect all of the zippers to be the absolute strongest around. The next villain was a tough fighter with a giant wrecking ball. She was reasonably tough and gave Kaname a good fight with how she could switch weapons so quickly. There was also more of a puppet master fighter but that guy wasn’t here to get any big wins.

As the chapters went on I think the author didn’t want to spend so much time climbing one tower so the next fight with the flying monster was handled off screen despite that guy’s hype of being a mastermind of sorts. The leader of the mini arc who was a fire robot got a good role. Not only was his fight probably the longest in the series but I always like a good fire move. He’s another insane guy who calls himself a hero but wants to murder everybody. These guys are not doing their favorite mascots proud I can tell you that.

Kaname had good advice for the first villain which was to rewatch the show. That’s probably good advice for all of these villains to be honest since their shows seem great but the so called fans in the suits just aren’t following it. A fun villain towards the end of the series was the guy based on Goku from the old legends. So he had more of a traditional design compared to the DBZ one but had the super strength and speed you would expect. His fight against Kaname was short but it showed the guy’s power as his punches were stronger than 1 million horsepower which is insane.

The guy may have been bluffing though but he did block Kaname’s strongest attack with his foot which is no easy feat. Finally you have the leader of the villains, the Chair Man. We don’t know a whole lot about his motivations or desires except that he wants everyone to have their own suit. I suppose he wants to rule the world or something but it’s clear that the series wasn’t ready to do a whole lot with him. It just kind of happened and he ended up being a big player because of how the series ended abruptly. His fight was even super short so it’s hard to say that he was much of a threat.

Of course the main 3 characters are the big ones here. First up, Kaname’s solid. His whole competition with Koshiro about trying to make Cheena smile definitely could have been worse. He doesn’t take Koshiro’s death particularly well but that makes sense since they were so close. Kaname’s your classic hero who is always ready for a fight and likes to just jump into the fray. Making him a big anime fan as well as a nice touch. He’s certainly a character you’ve seen before but the execution is done well.

Then you have his brother Koshiro who is a lot less likable. My main issue with him is that he’s always calling Kaname a “Devil Gorilla” which is supposed to be endearing I suppose but it’s a bit much. He’s constantly insulting Kaname and telling him that he just isn’t ready for this. It’s not what you’d expect considering this was their big reunion. Koshiro acts like Kaname is just a nuisance throughout the whole series until the final chapter where he finally loosens up. Throw in the fact that he gets mind controlled at one point and it’s a rough look for him.

As for Cheena, she’s a very active kind of heroine and I can see her contributing a lot if the series went on longer. Cheena was also quick to try and do some detective work of her own in order to clear Koshiro’s legacy and even kept at it when Kaname bailed. She may be a bit oblivious regarding the main two characters but that’s probably for the best so the series doesn’t get too dramatic too quickly.

That wraps up the character roster and so you have some good dynamics there. We don’t get a whole lot of school life beyond 2 chapters or so but you can see this working really well. The light tone works well for the series and if the author was going to go through with more character references for the villain group that would be a lot of fun without a doubt. The series stayed away from crude humor, fanservice, or any real negatives either. It’s just a solid and safe series.

So what could it have done to avoid being cancelled. Well, as mentioned the villain group definitely should have actually named each member. There’s no reason in this day and age for there to be a villain where I don’t know who he is. Have them announce it or just use a text box out of universe so we can see who this is. It makes the characters more memorable without a doubt.

Next up, Koshiro shouldn’t be nearly as mean as he is. The guy is just a big bundle of negativity in every scene that he is in. From how the characters describe Koshiro it seems like he was a nice guy so why the switch? Perhaps dying changed him but it’s way too sudden since we didn’t get to know the guy before he died. Giving him a better relationship with Kaname would have been a good idea and would lead to a better dynamic as well.

I think those two changes would really go a long way here. There are a lot of small things you can always change of course but those are the leading examples. I suppose a final option is you could also show some of the real world reactions to the giant robot events. Keep in mind that this is a completely normal world so when a giant robot shows up suddenly and starts breaking buildings I would expect some pretty big reactions. Kaname just goes to school like normal the next day and you’re wondering how nothing has changed. By the end of the series half of the school building has been obliterated and nobody seems to care. Part of the issue here are the sudden time jumps.

A big thing in the series is how Cheena doesn’t know about their secret identities as Zipman but then they tell her off screen so we miss the initial reaction completely. Likewise with the time skip at the end where robot suits are common place and everyone uses them now. Those are really big things to just skip all of a sudden and I think that was the wrong move. Time skips are cool and all but you don’t want to use them to skip big events like this. It should be used to skip past boring moments you don’t want to see.

I’m also not sure what the point was of using the term Jackman for a few chapters before the main characters inevitably changed their name to Zipman later on. I would have made the show called Zipman from the start and it would have been perfect. It’s a harmless little thing but I just didn’t see the purpose of it. In terms of humor the series is more low key but it has some moments like when a random construction worker decided to attack the giant robot. Yeah that’s going to work really well…..

I think one of the best things you can say for Zipman is that it’s a peaceful series. That may not be what you’re looking for in an action title but what I mean to say is that it’s very easy to just read it chapter by chapter. You’ll be engaged in what is going on and the clear art/fun script just makes it a page turner. It’s not great or anything but you won’t have any issues blasting through the series. Whether it was 17 chapters or 100, if it kept this atmosphere up you would always be able to count on it as a consistent title.

Overall, Zipman!! is a solid title. It’s certainly a series that ended just as things were getting good. The dynamic of having the brothers actually team up to fight villains sounds a lot better than the whole piloting system. After all since Koshiro was sentient, how does the piloting even work? If both of them try to move will they just short circuit? It makes a lot more sense to have them just be totally separate. Right now My Hero Academia’s got the whole superhero angle covered but maybe this one will make a comeback some day when MHA is completed. You never know I suppose.

Overall 7/10

Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade Review


All right, we have another cancelled Jump title so lets jump right into it. You can make the case that there has not been a truly definitive Baseball title yet. Tennis has Prince of Tennis, Football has Eyeshield 21, Soccer has Whistle, Basketball has two separate options in Slam Dunk or Kuroko’s Basketball, (Either will suffice) Volleyball has Haikyu, etc. For Baseball the top one would likely be Cross Game which was good to be sure but you can picture Baseball going even higher up. This one had a lot of potential and unfortunately it just didn’t last long enough. From the cancelled Jump titles I’ve read so far this would have to be one of the best so it’s a shame that it ended.

The series follows a kid named Azu who has always wanted to make it on the Baseball team. Unfortunately though he is rather scrawny and doesn’t really have the physique needed for the game. He trains his whole life and even leads his team to victory during tryouts but the coach explains that his team needs power and skill, not brains. It would appear that all is lost but that’s when Ryudo appears and asks Azu if he wants to be on a team with him. A girl named Karin shows up and says her school is even coming up with a team known as the 9 Dragons and they can use that to be the greatest in the world. Azu is reluctant but this may be the only way to achieve his dream. Can he dare hope for success?

Of course they’re going to need some more players since any Baseball team needs 9 players. Pretty much the whole series is spent on gathering these players. That seems to be part of why it was cancelled since it was moving slowly but it’s a shame since I actually liked the approach. I’ll go into my steps on how this series could have avoided being cancelled but I’m not really going to oppose the structure because I understand why you would want to have a slow burner approach.

There are two ways to doing this, 1 is to have the whole team already assembled and we learn about them as the series goes on and the other is to slowly build each one from the ground up. Ironically all of the big sport titles use option 1 while mostly it’s the action titles like Samurai 8 and One Piece that use the later option. Perhaps people feel like it doesn’t work for sports but the author was really putting a lot of care into each one of these characters until the end where you could see him starting to rush.

As far as Azu goes, I have to say that I was not a fan. My main gripe with him is how he’s reluctant to join the team with Karin and Ryudo. Why? His whole goal in life was to be on a Baseball team so it’s quite annoying to see him suddenly be hesitant and think that it’s not worth it. Who cares if they aren’t the best, at least it is a team right? Azu spends a lot of time grumbling in the opening chapters before actually getting on board. By that time he’s better but I just really didn’t like that as an intro for him.

I’ll give him props for working out and training nonstop to be Baseball ready at least. Even with that he can’t keep up with the others but dedication is certainly important. Then you have Ryudo and it’s no surprise that he’s more up my alley. Ryudo is an ace pitcher who is supremely confident and doesn’t let the odds get to him. When he has a goal he just completes it and always goes with the flow. He was all for starting this team right away and never looked back.

While Azu is the main character, you can also see Ryudo getting all of the screen time if the series had continued. At least it would be more like a Toriko dynamic going on here. Ryudo stays strong for the entire run and continues to grow even stronger. This is not a guy that you want to underestimate at any cost.

Then you have Karin who is effectively the coach of the team. It’s nice to see that she is also very dedicated to getting this team formed and all set up. She has more gusto than Azu and while she doesn’t play Baseball, she does try to learn so she can support the team a little better. Her backstory involving why she wants to form this team is emotional and all in all she’s just an inspiring character. I think she’ll do well as the coach.

The first member we meet is a guy named Tsurugi. He’s going to be the batter of the team but he retired to help his father mind the shop. Fortunately his skills have not deteriorated over time. He has a good rivalry going with Ryudo and is a really important member of the team. After all, you absolutely need to score Home Runs at the end of the day in order to win. The Runs won’t come by themselves.

Aside from Ryudo he’s my favorite member of the team. He balances well with the rest of the team. Then next you have Tsubaki who plays shortstop. This guy is supremely confident in his abilities and the only reason he isn’t already signed on to one of the established team is his attitude. The guy really ends up disagreeing with the refs and coaches to the point where he’s always being taken out of the ball game. The problem is that Tsubaki believes he is absolutely the best player ever and is always telling the others to worship him.

It’s an interesting enough gimmick but ultimately I wouldn’t say he’s as likable as the others. I do like confidence but when it’s overblown like this I feel like it loses a bit of its steam. He’ll certainly be a great asset to the Nine Dragons though since you know that the main characters will be able to handle him. Nobody’s going to stop their climb to the top.

Next up is Kido and he’s the final member to get his own story and full character arc. This guy’s a solid all around player who has never really stood out because he always played alongside a true all star. As a result every team passed him up and even Kido doesn’t think he’s all that good. Fortunately the heroes grab him and convince the guy to give their team a shot. I could see this guy being difficult to give a solid role in the future but all around characters definitely have their perks.

There isn’t a whole lot to Kido beyond just being a nice guy but sometimes that’s really the only trait that you need right? So at this point we’re around halfway through the series or maybe over it so I guess someone told the author to speed things along. Right now we’re at 5 members and we still need 4 more. Well, two guys show up out of nowhere and ask to be on the team. You’ve got Taiga who is the self proclaimed rival of Tsurugi. The guy doesn’t remember Taiga but that’s fine. Taiga seems confident but doesn’t really get a chance to do anything in the series.

Accompanying Taiga is a kid named Horaguchi who is the small & nimble member of the group. He is scared of everyone and everything though. He only trusts Taiga and otherwise he really just keeps to himself. I can see this guy getting annoying pretty fast but he also doesn’t have a chance to do much of anything. The final two spots are filled out by characters off screen who don’t get any real dialogue. Something tells me if the series ever returns with a sequel or something that they’ll be cut. Even their designs don’t feel like real designs and just background characters.

The series is able to introduce two villains before it ended. First up is Shiro who is the son of the principal from the top ranked school. The entire dynamic is ripped straight from Assassination Classroom. It’s a good dynamic though so I’m all for it. Shiro doesn’t get to do a whole lot yet but he has a brief scrimmage against Tsurugi and absolutely dominates the guy. It was a humbling moment for the team since they had seemed to be all but unbeatable prior to that. It just goes to show that there is always someone better. I think Shiro would definitely have ended up being one of the best characters in the series.

Finally you have Hibuse who calls himself the Star of the universe. So he’s another confident character but one who can back it up. Not only is he the star player on every sports team that he has ever been on but he wins the Baseball games almost single handily. If you know anything about Baseball you know that it’s a team sport so it’s hard to win on your own. The game is built in a way where that should pretty much be impossible and yet he pulls it off.

At first it may be easy to write him off as just another villain but what sealed the deal for me was when we learned that he was also the top strategist on the team. The guy acts all cocky to get his opponents to lower their guard and then he slams them. It was a really impressive performance and I actually ended up picking him as my favorite character in the series. He just dominates whenever he is on screen and I’d look forward to seeing him again in a rematch if the series were to continue.

So that’s the character roster for Nine Dragons. It’s a pretty solid cast and one benefit of the slow boil approach is that most of them already had well defined character personalities and a good amount of screen time. We also did get some Baseball action during the recruitment whether it was a 1 on 1 scrimmage or a full game.

The art is pretty solid and so you’re able to get drawn into the actual Baseball games right away. There are a lot of good speed lines and the author did his best to really give this the same intensity as something like Prince of Tennis. It nails down the concept of a Baseball game which is really good. If there weren’t so many breaks I’d be a much bigger fan of the sport myself and of course for a manga that would definitely not be an issue as we see here. The main pitch is even drawn like a Special Beam Cannon.

We do get a rather random time skip for those final two characters I mentioned but as I can see why it happened to move things along. I wouldn’t advise the series do this too often while it’s early on in the series though since you’ll miss a lot of big character moments. If there was pressure to do it though then that’s fine. As it is, it’s not like any of the characters changed in this instance. Perhaps it was purely because there was no tournament for a while and they didn’t want to waste time on a training arc. (That would definitely not have gone over well this early in the series)

The Baseball games are interesting and of course I’ve always enjoyed sport manga titles so I’m not really surprised. The writing is on point and this is really a title that had a lot of potential. Honestly this may be the one that I’m saddest to see get cancelled. It’s close with this and Candy Flurry since of course I love action as well but this would have really had a ton of potential if it could have been a full ongoing. All of the proper fundamentals were there.

So, how would I have kept this one from being cancelled? Well, this one is trickier than the rest. I think I would change the character perspective from Azu to Ryudo. Keep Azu as the main character of the first chapter similar to Manta in Shaman King but then have Ryudo take over when he shows up. He’s a much more dynamic main character and personally I prefer that character type over the analytical ones. Azu does well with his studying but as a lead he just isn’t as charismatic.

I also think there will be less ways to show off the planning and such as the game goes on while with the pitcher there is a whole lot you can do. Especially with the art direction here, making the pitches look more and more intense won’t be too hard. So definitely make him the lead and we’re in business. Again, you could change the slow burner approach to just having all of the characters there from the start and maybe introducing them via flashbacks but I wasn’t opposed to this tactic.

The other option is you could add some more stakes. Not sure you really need this in a sports title but maybe Ryudo’s parents were kidnapped and he has to win Koshien within 3 years or it’s game over for them. It may feel kind of forced but that would add immediate tension into the mix. It may be hard to do that without changing Ryudo’s character though since he probably wouldn’t be nearly as laidback anymore.

Ah well, ultimately the series just didn’t work out which is too bad. It really had quite a bit of potential. They can’t all be winner but at least this is a title that I’ll definitely remember. Who knows, maybe somehow it will return someday. Personally it’s hard to picture any of these coming back when they get cancelled so soon but you never know I suppose. In the meantime we’ll see if another Baseball title comes into play at some point or if that’s it for them for a long while.

Overall, If you like Baseball then you will definitely like this series. It’s a very basic, down to Earth story about a group of teens putting together a team to be the very best. There isn’t a whole lot of time for much else though so if you’re looking for a full season’s journey then this won’t be for you. Due to how quickly it got cancelled, the series also ends on a pretty direct cliffhanger so you will have to use your imagination to decide how it ends. Suffice to say, I have to put Shiro as the world champion for this year because it’s hard to see him being stopped.

Overall 7/10

I Tell C Review


I Tell C is the next in the list of cancelled titles in Jump that I wanted to check out. It’s got a unique premise here to start off with but ultimately it’s just not a good one. I’m sure there are ways you could have spun this into something interesting but it would be difficult right off the bat because this just isn’t a great idea in my opinion. The core gimmick would need to be heavily reworked to really stand a chance at being the next big thing and the series ended long before that could happen.

The series starts off by introducing us to a criminal who just murdered somebody and figures he got away. Unfortunately for him there is someone who knows what he did. Her name is Aioi and she is a detective who abuses this position in order to find out info about criminals and catch them. Thing is, she doesn’t want to arrest them but to help the criminals out. See, Aioi falls in love with anyone who commits a bad deed but is so scary with her possessive stalking that the villain then runs over to the cops and turns himself in. Can the villains out run Aioi and will the cops continue to allow her to act like this?

It’s a rather loose plot summary and the thing is…it only works for the first 3-4 chapters before the plot changes again. Unlike many titles which have an easy general plot summary, I Tell C changes its approach for each arc so it’s hard to pin down. The pilot story is effectively showing us the story from a villain’s point of view, the next arc shows this to us from a hero’s point of view, the third arc is more of a comedic tale that turns into a thriller, the next arc is a Kaito Kid adventure, and then the final arc changes gears once more into a psychological battle.

I Tell C was always changing things up which is interesting if it’s trying to go more the anthology route but those have their own weaknesses as well. One of which is that you can never expect a whole lot of consistency there since some styles will naturally be a lot weaker than others. I would frown on using this style personally because even if it can work, it’s very difficult. The easiest kind of story to adapt here would be the first and have each story be by the villain’s perspective. It may not always work but it could capture the intensity of Aioi the most.

Before I go any further, let me break down why I disliked the series. The whole thing revolves around the fact that Aioi falls in love with criminals. This is incredibly suspect especially considering she works for the police. Now, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if the villains were doing some more minor things like stealing bread from the deli or jaywalking. The problem is that almost all of Aioi’s opponents are mass murderers. These are people who are taking lives and she is talking about marrying them.

Aioi goes very far with this to the point where she defends them. One person just got done murdering at least 5 people that we know of and she explains that he was just lonely and needed someone to hold hands with. That’s just awful and the only way you could get around that would be if she was portrayed as a villain. When the series is portraying this to just be a fun quirky trait for the main character…well that’s a problem. The series missed another easy fix there which would have been to have Aioi not be a part of the police. Have her be another criminal that the police are trying to catch.

As Sakon notes in the first chapter, she may have caught the villain but she broke no less than 5 laws at the same time. So the police should really be arresting her as well but they choose to turn a blind eye. Effectively she is a villain who’s on the payroll and is tolerated because she is the best detective they’ve got. That’s just messed up and Aioi says on numerous occasions that she won’t arrest the criminals and will even help them get away if anything.

Later on she goes more into detail with her plan which is effectively that she figures if she marries a criminal then she can provide him with enough love where he will never commit a crime again. It’s just an incredibly naive goal because mass murderers aren’t going to change again. That’s yet another reason why I say the series would work better if these were just petty criminals. Then you can actually see why she would be acting like this. Reforming criminals is great and all but Aioi goes too far when she starts making excuses for them.

There’s a big difference between saying that person X deserves a fair second chance and should get a lenient sentence and saying that person X only murdered these people because he was lonely and shouldn’t have to go to prison. One is still going through the system and offering a recovery step afterwards while the other is just pure delusion. So Aioi brings the entire series down right from the jump to which I would say it never truly recovers.

The series ended with 21 chapters so there isn’t time for a lot of arcs. Lets quickly take a look at the various arcs. The series definitely had a rough beginning as the second half destroys the first chunk but I suppose it was too late for the series to properly course correct all the way. I already discussed the opening chapter for the most part but I would say it was one of the most effective ones. Seeing things from the villain’s point of view was interesting like with how demented Aioi appears the whole time. She is definitely not somebody you want to mess with.

We’re also introduced to the main two police officers Sakon and Ukon. Sakon instantly makes the most sense as he disapproves of these tactics but will never look very good. It’s just a solid pilot chapter and if the rest of the series were like this then there would be some more potential. I’ve already talked about Aioi so I’ll leave that character alone for now.

Sakon is a character who had a lot of potential. I liked him in the first chapter but after that he fades quickly. His whole gimmick is that he’s obsessed with strength so he is always lifting weights. He’s like your classic Shonen lead as he always wants to jump into action and do the right thing. These are all great traits but the problem is that he’s never helpful. He loses just about every fight he is in.

There’s on moment in particular that was embarrassing where he knocks a villain down and instead of pressing the advantage he tells everyone to run and gets out of there. If you tie up the villain at this moment then there is no danger to run from. He blew it in that arc but the main issue is that he seems to blow it in every arc which is a problem. He’s the resident strong guy but it never feels like it with how often he loses.

Then you have his brother Ukon who is more by the books. He’s with the rest of the cops in how they dislike Aioi so he doesn’t mind if she gets injured or dies on the case. As a result Ukon takes more of a backseat in these cases. He stops appearing fairly early on in the series and there’s not time for him to have a proper character moment. As a result he ends the series as a bit of an empty character.

After the opening case, we have to deal with an opponent who has been murdering a lot of girls because he’s another twisted guy. Even though he is murdering tons of people, Aioi finds this charming and wants to marry the guy. Problem #2 with this, she has no plan. She allows him to knock her out with the sleeping gas and get tied up. This was part of her plan but she had no exit strategy. This means that if Sakon doesn’t show up at the absolute perfect time then she would be dead right now.

What kind of main character is this? The story also felt unnecessarily dark with how this all played out. The heroes are able to save one victim at least but when you consider how many died that is just brutal. You don’t want to introduce a villain who is this much of a psychotic creep like this. Maybe for the final boss or something but it’s too dark too fast particularly with Aioi here. The first villain was at least rather normal and just murdered somebody.

So I really didn’t like that case and it’s probably the weakest in the series for me. The next case is the longest as the group heads to a mansion for some hot springs. Of course it turns out that the place is filled with murder. The mass murderer who destroys people and then steals their hands is in the area as well. Of course Aioi is thrilled about this but nobody else is.

It also introduces the main villain of the series Hikaru. He won’t appear in any more cases so you’ll have to savor him now. For reasons we don’t know yet, Aioi can’t stand him and he is the one villain that she wants to take down. From the context clues we do get, it seems like he pulled a Darth Vader and basically murdered himself. So the new him is now evil and the old Anakin version is no more.

Still, the old version did kidnap Aioi and cause her to get this whole Stockholm syndrome so he doesn’t seem like a great guy. I’m sure that the series would have gotten to this at some point but there’s no time. The guy’s not very interesting though. He doesn’t seem like a super mastermind with how easily they caught him. He doesn’t feel pain which is handy but it’s still really sloppy that Sakon let him get away. You should never let someone get away when you’ve defeated and disarmed them. The whole thing was embarrassing.

Lets just say that Sakon’s guard is so low he allows Hikaru to reach in his pocket and take out the gun. Ok….that’s sad. Hikaru can’t really fight either so he just takes every blow to the point where Aioi nearly murdered him. He sees the whole world as his personal novel to write so that could be an interesting trait. Him getting beaten severely by the heroes in their first appearance is hard to get back from though.

As for the hands villain, he was pretty awful. Remember once again that this is someone who has murdered a bunch of people. So it turns out that he just did need to hold somebody’s hand, in this case Aioi’s. Then he’s a changed man to the point where he even has a speech and attacks Hikaru. It’s just so disrespectful to the people he murdered that the guy could be changed so easily. He was also seconds away from murdering Aioi so it’s good that she can forgive and forget so easily.

That arc was a bit of a mess without a doubt. Next up is another big saga which introduces the Phantom Thief Mar. So this is a legendary thief that nobody knows the identity of. Mar steals a bunch of paintings of women and always returns them in a deformed state. Well, this time Aioi and the others have been asked to help. Why?

Well, after the events of the last case we got a time skip and the group was removed from the police. They’re now a shadow unit known as the I team who help out on the trickier cases and can break the rules. Of course by the same token they are also unofficial so it would be very easy to frame or shut them down. To introduce this concept there was also a pretty quick case where Aioi has to stop a bank robber and she makes her first arrest. At least now she is finally arresting people since it’s her only chance to get closer to finding Hikaru again.

Mar decides to let the heroes know her true identity though. It turns out that she is a girl who is obsessed with her own beauty. It’s not just a random character trait though as it actually ties into her backstory. Lets just say that she needs to be beautiful in order to complete her main objective. It’s an interesting plan and I’ll give the series credit for this being a unique one as well. Of course Aioi is torn because part of her wants Mar to succeed while part of her needs to catch this villain so it’s a tough call.

Sakon gets wrecked again as always though. It’s a pretty decent case even if Aioi is annoying the whole time though. Any scene of Aioi trying to pull the moves on Mar is a bit much and of course she hasn’t gotten completely past her phase of making excuses for the villain. Keep in mind that Mar is actively defacing popular paintings which are worth a ton of money and by the end this is portrayed as something almost heroic. Her father and grandfather look awful in the flashbacks though. Terrible characters through and through. Especially the father who completely lost sight of what matters. Also going back to the defacing property, lets just say that Aioi isn’t above doing such things as well.

So we got to meet Mar and interestingly it seems like she would not have been a reoccurring character. I liked the fact that she could fight but of course it did come at the expense of Sakon looking really bad again. This guy seriously could not catch a break and there’s no way I could take him seriously as a fighter after this. There was just no way. Mar’s origin story was certainly emotional although it doesn’t justify her wrecking private property like this. She easily beats a lot of the other villains we’ve seen so far though.

Then we have the chief of the I team Akiraka who is Aioi’s self proclaimed father. Technically there is no relation but that’s the role that he sees himself in which is something. There’s not much to him yet so he’s more of a bland character than the others. Finally this takes us to the last case where we meet the suicide bomber Aichi. Basically he wants to throw his life away because he has lost all hope and has stationed himself inside of a building.

There is a clear timer on the bomb so he is giving everyone a chance to leave safely. The password to deactivate the bomb is one letter long but you only get one chance to guess or the bomb will blow up right away. It makes for an interesting word game and some solving skills. It’s a fairly small case but one that works easily enough. The main issue is that afterwards Aichi joins the team which is how the series ends. You’re telling me that a suicide bomber who nearly blew the building up and caused a lot of damage is allowed to join the I team just like that? I don’t know that seems like a bit of a stretch.

Aichi seems to have a crush on Aioi but there isn’t a whole lot more that we know about his personality yet. He has a bit of a sarcastic streak to him but ultimately the series ended before we could learn more. There’s also Aioi’s informant, but we don’t know much about him beyond the fact that he likes everything to be in perfect halves. It’s an interesting quirk but right now that’s all it is so we’ll have to wait a bit to see if he’s a good character or not. Right now I’m not impressed.

Finally you have Homura who has a crush on Sakon but you already know that she is doomed since inevitably Aioi would get picked. Homura is an expert with a gun but that’s not too helpful when Mar is a bullet timer and Homura doesn’t appear for the other cases. She has a lot of potential and is one of the more likable characters. It’s just too bad that she didn’t get to appear much. So that wraps up the characters and the plot of the series. As you can see, I just can’t get past the core concept of the series.

When you start to try and make excuses for the murderers running around town I just have a hard time buying into it. Aioi’s obsession is taken way too far with all of her lines being about love and marriage with the villains. Even casually she won’t talk to characters much unless they have some kind of criminal record. It’s all meant to be very funny of course but the humor really doesn’t click.

In general the writing is okay I suppose. I found it a bit ironic that most of the arcs have no actual mysteries though even though this seems like it’s supposed to be a mystery series. The only case that would qualify are the first 2 so after the first 3 chapters that is dropped entirely. The hotel is a thriller, the phantom thief arc is really just a chase, and the final arc is a negotiation. Maybe the author got bored of doing straight mysteries.

As for the art, it’s not as great as some of the other recent titles I’ve read but it’s good. My main issue is that the character designs aren’t always very distinct. Some panels will have a lot of detail and then suddenly others won’t. It’s not super consistent but it’s still clear enough where I can always tell what is going on so ultimately I would give the series a green checkmark on this.

So, how would I prevent this series from being cancelled? Well I’m sure you know what my first change will be. Definitely completely change Aioi’s character to the core. No more falling in love with every criminal and justifying their actions. Now, if you need that to be present or this would be a different series, then instead just have her be another villain. Make this a Carmen Sandiego kind of series.

Aioi always finds the villain first and tries to marry them only for the main two cops Sakon and Ukon to appear and foil her plans. She always runs off while they catch the villain. I think that would immediately be a much better dynamic and would fix things in a pinch. That would make the series a whole lot more approachable and I just think it would be a much better core concept. As a mild aside, I would also say to make the main villain a little more threatening so he shouldn’t get completely beaten up in his first appearance. That’s not the right way to set up the villain.

Overall, You can just see why I Tell C was cancelled. You really just won’t be able to save this premise very easily and it’s a shame because we can always use a good mystery series. Aioi has to be one of the worst main characters I’ve ever seen in a manga. Hopefully if the series were to ever come back the author would be able to fix some of the issues here. Just go for a big change up and hope for the best.

Overall 4/10

Candy Flurry Review


Candy Flurry is a fairly recent Jump title that never managed to get out from the bottom of the rankings. While its cancellation always appeared imminent, it seemed to have a pretty cool gimmick going. Who doesn’t like sweets? In many ways it was going after the One Piece angle of eating a food that gives you special powers while still being different in its own right. It’s a solid series but I think its attempts at humor were ultimately its undoing.

The series begins by explaining the general lore of the series which is that Tokyo was destroyed by a bunch of giant lollipops that rained down from the sky. 5 years later nobody has actually started rebuilding yet but people are still trying to raise funds to do so. A toy company had come out with 100 snacks which gave people super powers. Each candy is unique so no two people will have the same power. As a result the government put together a special unit known as the Recette to track down these 100 power users.

Each user needs to either register with the government or be arrested. You are not allowed to use your powers against non power users and that is true even for government agents unless you’re taking down a criminal. Nobody knows much more than that about the company that released these snacks and so the world is still going ahead as normal but now there are many people who no longer like snacks.

We’re then introduced to our main character Tsumugi. She has the ability to use Lollipops in combat but is not the one who attacked the system. This is dangerous because as the world knows, no two people can have the same power. So nobody will believe her if she tries to say anything and since she knows this is a lie, is it also a lie that there are only 100 power users out there? She aims to find the true culprit and live a normal life in the meantime but it’s difficult with criminals running everywhere.

Her life is changed forever when she meets a guy named Misaki. He’s a young member of the Recette who is determined to be a great agent but lacks real ability. She saves him from a punk so now he is the only one who knows her identity. Together they must catch the criminals while making sure she isn’t detected but that will be difficult. Can Tsumugi pull this off?

At its core this is a classic Shonen Jump title. It’s a very light hearted adventure that is part school comedy and part action. It reminds me a bit of the opening act for Seraph of the End but without the violent beginning. This doesn’t really seem like the kind of series that will go that far. It’s early on of course but definitely happier than most titles and you can get a feel for that from the art style as well. Perhaps World Trigger would be the best comparison.

One of the strongest positives for the series is the artwork. It’s way clearer than you would expect from a new series. Unlike the Ghostwriter, I don’t believe this is from an already established artist either which only serves to increase how impressive this is. The powers are very clear when they’re in use and the fights are on point. The action scenes are always pretty fast though with Tsumugi typically defeating her opponents in a single shot.

I’d like some longer fights but I’m sure the author was trying to cover as much ground as possible so I can see why the pacing is so fast. The fights are good and I do like the overall atmosphere. The school combat routine lends itself well to these kinds of adventures. Many memorable titles started out like this such as Bleach, Buzo Renkin, Seraph of the End and more. There are so many different ways you could take this and there is a lot of groundwork laid out for a lot of extra lore.

You’ve got different classes of fighters and a whole government structure. The toy group will clearly have a nefarious agenda and with 100 power users, that may not sound like a lot but it’s still enough to last for a few arcs until we get more villains. Presumably the Recette isn’t completely useless so lets say they’ve already apprehended about 30 power users. The government probably employs around 30 agents so when you throw in Tsumugi then there should be at least 30+ on the loose. If they’re all strong then that will work out well.

You’ve also got the steroid pills that anyone can use so you can have human villains as well. I do think it was a mistake to show us some of the most powerful government workers this early though. Irie and Amanai are both members of the top 5 agents in the whole government and they are struggling against the villain group right away. That’s why you usually keep the strongest fighters hidden until later. Jujutsu Kaisen pulled it off by showing Gojo right away…but he wasn’t struggling in his first fights. That would be anti climactic and so Candy Flurry should have made these guys maybe Top 30 or Top 20. Going straight to Top 5 is too fast.

Still, it’s all good so far so where does the series struggle? Personally I think the writing is the biggest problem that Candy Flurry has. It’s not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. One of Tsumugi’s gimmicks is commenting on how cute she is so the guys will always buy her snacks and be nice to her. That’s a rather…narcissistic trait for a main character. I was rather taken aback when she talked like that. We learn that she has been asked out like 30 times or so which I guess has bolstered her confidence every time she declines.

Then she accuses one of the villains of sexual harassment when he pointed out that his gum might get stuck in her hair when he’s shooting his attacks (He has gum powers) so maybe she should cut it. That’s….a very big stretch on her part. It just makes Tsumugi a little more unlikable than anything else because that’s a very out of place line and destroys any chance at bantering.

I like Tsumugi’s confidence when in battle but as a character I actually didn’t like her all that much. She has her share of comedic moments that are solid and she is serious in battle but her personality just doesn’t mesh well with the character. If anything you just feel bad for Misaki when Tsumugi is using him or framing him to higher expectations than he can ever hope to achieve. He is rather slow on the uptake though so a lot of it is his fault.

Not to pile onto her character too much but she also has some of the worst comebacks to the villains. One of them mentions how he wants to make everyone a power user so he can be the strongest with his lollipops at which point Tsumugi says that sweets are for eating not fighting. Keep in mind that she’s saying this after smashing people in the head with her Lollipop and defeating numerous opponents. Her speech about how anything connected to a stick can be a lollipop also felt incredibly random.

So, Tsumugi has her charms but I think the writing hurts her character. Ideally as the series went on she would get a lot better though. Not every character is amazing out of the gate like Bam, Yoh, or Yugi but if a series goes on long enough usually you will improve. So I don’t doubt that she would get better. One step to doing that would be to stop holding back even when you’re about to die but that’s mostly on the series being abruptly ended so I think she wasn’t meant to be as powerful as she was in the final chapter.

Continuing on the writing angle though, it’s not like this only hurts Tsumugi. Irie is another character in the series and one of the Top 5 fighters that I mentioned. She has some of the same iffy dialogue. She accuses another villain of harassment and what I did like is that he calls her out on it. He asks why she has a double standard between him and another villain who’s traditionally more good looking and she struggles for a response. When she accuses him a second time he flat out denies it and she admits that she made a mistake.

This in no way makes Irie even slightly likable. Now, she was stalling for time in the second instance so you could say this was to that end, but it has to be one of the worst ways to stall for time. Additionally she is very one note. Her personality is that she can be really smart at times and really dumb at other moments. She’ll make a great deduction and then fall for the simplest trick in the book. Or she’ll land a great combat technique and then remember that she left her books at home.

Thing is, this happens in every single one of her appearances. This goes back to Candy Flurry trying to move really fast even to its own detriment. Each character has a gimmick and the author wants you to remember this so it is brought up every time. Irie has her forgetfulness, Misaki always follows the rules, Amanai is a tough coach, Tsumugi’s teammate is super in love with Irie and always crying, etc.

Now I get that there is pressure to move fast or you’ll be cancelled but this does end up hurting Flurry a bit. I think to a large extent the series was trying to also be a commentary on Shonen Jump titles like Medaka Box but doesn’t have nearly the same level of writing ability. You have Tsumugi criticizing the trope of just jumping into battle without a plan, a villain getting insulted for wearing a uniform that just so happens to have an image that looks like him, etc. The dialogue can feel really meta a lot of the time but it’s just not executed very well.

You know how when meta dialogue is very well done you don’t think twice and just grin because of how true the critique is? That’s not the case here as you’ll just pause and think, would the characters actually say that? It’s entertaining though even if not very realistic. To underscore, the series is still a lot of fun. There are plenty of humor moments that do land like the dialogue with the Popcorn user and Tsumugi. The debates about which candy is best can be good as well. What truly counts as a Lollipop and what doesn’t. Things like that are interesting and I also like that the characters don’t have exaggerated reactions to the humor. They take things personally and keep joking around while trying to hurt the other one. The moments like this are really good so I think the series is at its best when the humor is being direct like that. So it has its flaws but I do want to underscore that you should still get some good chuckles out of this.

Lets talk about the rest of the characters now. I already talked about Tsumugi quite a bit and also started on Irie. Not much more to say about her but Irie’s ice cream ability seems like it would be really useful. It’s just a shame that she isn’t immune to her own power and can only fight for 3 minutes after activation which is a huge weakness. I also found it a little funny how she disregards Tsumugi as a suspect for being too weak since Irie was stomping her and nearly murdered the heroine but later on we find out that Tsumugi was holding back and is actually way stronger than Irie….

Misaki is the main guy here and while he may be powerless, he has a heart of justice. It would be nice if he were a bit stronger though as he loses to random minions on the street. Additionally, he gets beaten up by the bullies because he refuses to harm a civilian. Sorry but this is taking things wayyyy too far. If someone’s beating you up then you better defend yourself. There’s nothing heroic about being pounded into the dirt so that hurts him quite a lot.

As for Amanai, he doesn’t appear nearly long enough to get much of a read on him. They’re definitely going for an Eraser feel for him as the guy has a similar costume, is sleepy/bored all the time but gets really serious about the rules. He doesn’t get to have a proper fight though as it is interrupted by the main villain and he’s sidelined real quickly. I could see him being a fun character if the series had kept going though.

Umino is the son of the boss of the Recette so he’s a fairly big shot but his opening appearance is him crying a lot. Now, this is a character I can maybe get behind. If you can get around the fact that he is constantly trying to impress Irie even if it means dying in the process and his lack of confidence, and you’ve got a good character. He has enough power to defeat several fighters at once after all and even gives the Popcorn user a good piece of advice.

I dare say that he is probably my favorite hero in the series. I’d have to think about it some more but off the top I’d say that’s true. I also think there were a lot of things he would probably do in the future. My actual favorite character is the pop corn user. What’s his name? Well, this is a slight nitpick for the series but they rarely use names so that makes it difficult to find them. Even for Umino, they only say his name once in his debut appearance chapters on a little tablet when you’re looking at the tournament bracket. Otherwise you just don’t know who he is. Seriously, in the first three chapters where this guy appears they don’t say his name once so I’m just going to have to call him the Popcorn guy.

But yeah Popcorn guy is pretty great. He’s clearly modeled off of Bakugo’s character design to the point where one panel almost seems ripped straight out of MHA. Same costume from that angle and the same pose. I like that this guy is your classic “Really wants to fight” character while also having some original traits. When Tsumugi calls him a loser he refuses to tell her anything about the villains which is reasonable. A lot of times you see the villain still tell everything but he took that insult rather personally.

In fact, he takes every insult she dishes out (And there are a lot) personally and even tries to change himself as a result. Umino points out that this would actually make him a loser if he changes upon request so you feel bad for the guy because everyone is taking shots at him. Still, as a villain he has a lot of personality and just really sticks out. Which I quickly skimmed through the chapters and it looks like none of the villain members aside from the leader gets a power so they’re just off handily referred to my their snacks. I guess like a hero name? Hmmm…..well I’ll go with that for the review too then.

Another villain member is Gum and he’s another good villain. He’s the one who called out Irie’s double standard and he is fairly creative with his ability. Even once the gum is frozen he is able to quickly figure out how to fight with it. The guy is even crying during the battle because of how hurt he is. Candy Flurry really loves its emotional characters that’s for sure. It works well for this guy.

Then you have Gummy who is one of those villains that acts like a hero the whole time. He doesn’t believe in cheap shots and just wants to have a clean fight. He doesn’t like hostages either. Yet…he does use cheap shots and take hostages so the guy is absolutely all talk. He seems to want to help Misaki keep his secret identity though. It’s hard to get a read on him so ultimately I’d say he’s just insane or heavily misguided. We have a quick flashback where all of the villains actually wanted to be heroes the whole time but it never worked out due to off screen events we’ll never know about.

I think it’s an interesting idea to have a villain who feels like he’s a hero. You can do a lot with that but this guy betrays his ideals within the span of a chapter so I can’t take him seriously. Meanwhile there are about 4-5 other members who show up briefly in the third last chapter but they’re all taken out off screen and only appear in one more panel. I guess they were about to have some big fights before the author was told that the series was about to be abruptly ended. They looked like they had potential but we don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. The third member would be cookie I think but he didn’t even get a line so there’s not much to say about him.

It is uncanny how each member of the villain group looks so similar to other characters. You have Bakugo from MHA, Yuji and Megumi from JJK, Zora from Black Clover, etc. I suppose it’s tough to come up with new character designs after a while but with so many characters it’s hard not to notice.

Finally you have the main villain Amato. This guy took out an entire city so he’s definitely a threat and he does take out most of the heroes really quickly. His goal of turning everyone into power users is a pretty interesting one although we don’t know how he would go about doing this yet. I do like that he’s very loyal to the rest of his group though and even sets out to save them.

Based on the flashback we see that he’s a rather caring guy as well. I definitely expect he would be turning good at some point since the series already laid the seeds for that along with the rest of the group. Ultimately he only gets to fight for 2 chapters at which point the series ends but he was impressive. I liked his personality and abilities so he could have gone far.

The snacks lend itself well to the fight scenes because of how much variety they had. They were very different from your average fights and I imagine the creativity would have only continued to increase if the series was given more time. The giant robot at the end felt extremely random to the point where it became a bit of a meme but I think that only happened because the series was cancelled. Otherwise it makes no sense because no matter how Tsumugi tries to explain it…that robot was not a Lollipop in any shape or form.

I did appreciate the twist that Tsumugi was actually the most powerful sweets user around and was just holding back the whole time. I’m all up for having an overpowered protagonist and it also explains her absolute confidence the whole time. I do suspect that she was not meant to be this powerful and had to be boosted since she needed to beat the main villain in one chapter but maybe not. It was hinted in one chapter that she was super powerful when she “barely” defeated one villain only to suddenly be at full strength when fighting another. Even the villain commented that she had seemed tired just a moment ago.

As you can see by the size of the review, there was a lot to discuss here. I think that speaks volumes about the potential of the manga. It was only 19 chapters and yet there is so much to talk about. It really was a unique experience even if a lot of the overall fundamentals were on the generic side. After all, a lot of battle Shonens will have similarities and it’s that extra element you add to it that determines if you will be an all star or not. If this could have gone on for many more chapters maybe it could have been the next big thing.

As a final note, here’s what I would have done differently to keep the series from being cancelled. The first thing is to make Tsumugi more of a likable character. Just don’t make her the kind of character who is too into herself and take away the accusations from the villains. It seems like the author wanted to make her a very confident character based on most of her portrayal so just focus on that.

Maybe throw in some bragging about her abilities or trash talking during combat. Give her the kind of lines you would see Yusuke, Ichigo, or Ryoma have since it seems like she should be that kind of protagonist. That’s a quick fix and I think it would be a good one since Tsumugi does have a lot of instances where she is very likable. Just a tiny tweak here and there and you would stick the landing.

Work on improving the writing as well. Get rid of the dialogue that feels extremely out of place. If you want to keep the humor up, keep doing it with the meta dialogue and all but try to make it feel more natural. A key thing to remember here is also that the heroes should be likable so don’t make them create false claims to buy time or give the villains any chance to make it seem like they are the sympathetic ones. With the government being as extreme as they are here and the lab doing live human experiments on kids…it makes it very easy to be rooting for the villains more than you should. Especially when they’re the ones using the power of friendship while the heroes are fighting among themselves.

Beyond that, I’d say just take it slow and keep introducing everyone. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a really long running series. There’s not much more to say as those are really the only two things I would change. Writing and Tsumugi. With those two areas improved I think you’ll have a real winner here.

Overall, Candy Flurry is a fun title. It’s certainly got its flaws but nothing super drastic. I would still call this a pretty good title through and through. At only 19 chapters this makes for a very quick read. It seems like most cancelled titles tend to get a bonus chapter when the volume comes out as an epilogue of sorts so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that to give it a read when this becomes available. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with Candy Flurry. At the very least it’ll be tough to top the fights and artwork since both were quite solid. Who knows, maybe in 20 years this will get a sequel or something.

Overall 7/10

Time Paradox Ghostwriter Review


It’s time to start looking at some of the Shonen Jump titles that were cancelled early. The Ghostwriter is a good place to start since it ended extremely quick with only 14 chapters. The author does a good job of still closing it out in a normal way though. You could easily read this like a normal one shot and it actually flows together pretty easily. You could definitely make this into a movie so long as the audience can get around the main character’s plagiarism.

The series starts by introducing us to the hapless Sasaki. Sasaki has always wanted to be a great manga author/artist and he actually started out well when he was a kid. He won the rookie award and everything but since then his editor has shot down every idea he has thought of. The problem is that Sasaki wants to make a manga that everyone will enjoy and as a result his manga has no soul. Just when he is about to give up, a bolt of lightning strikes his microwave and it spits out a copy of Shonen Jump from 10 years in the future. Now Sasaki finally knows exactly what he has to do in order to claim victory in the rankings. Still, is it really okay to became an amazing manga writer by stealing someone else’s work?

Now, we do get a half hearted excuse for Sasaki at first since he actually thinks it was all an hallucination since he loses track of where the magazine was. Once he finds it though, then he is still going through with the plan. His rationale is that if he doesn’t draw the manga, then he’s effectively removed it from this universe’s timeline since the true author will never get to write it now. It’s definitely an excuse to be sure but Sasaki is running with it.

Complicating the issue is that a girl named Itsuki appears and she is the one who would have created the title in 10 years. Fortunately for Sasaki it’s impossible for anyone to guess what is going on with the time travel so while she does think it’s a huge coincidence, they do become friends. She aims to create an even better manga than what Sasaki has created as her true goal is also to make a manga that everyone can enjoy but that still seems like an impossible task. How can you possibly make something that everyone will enjoy?

The first half of the manga is really setting all of this up and it’s a fun slice of life title. Right away the art jumps out at you for being really advanced. This is not the kind of art you would expect for a brand new series. There is a lot of detail throughout and it helps the whole adventure flow really well. It’s also fun to have a manga based on the overall writing process since there aren’t a lot like that.

Perhaps the author figured that would be too low key though because the second half ups the stakes. It turns out that this wasn’t a random lightning bolt that hit Sasaki’s house. It was actually created by a time travelling robot who claims he is a being from another universe’s story. (The story hints that he may be Itsuki’s father or something though) He explains that his mission is to prevent her death but in every timeline he travels to, she dies anyway. Fortunately he has not lost his drive to try and save her anyway unlike a certain speedster..

Sasaki is his last hope. The only way to save Itsuki is to defeat her upcoming manga (Anima) with his current blue knight series. This will be difficult though because she is a complete genius who succeeds in drawing the best manga in every timeline. Why would this prevent her death? There are no time for questions and now Sasaki just has to try his absolute best!

Later on we get the reason for her death but that’s definitely more of a spoiler kind of area. Needless to say the series definitely gets a lot more emotional at this point and also gets rather out there. The time travel aspect plays a big role in the climax and it was all pretty interesting. Sasaki had to go through a whole lot of trials here. Now, I assume if the series wasn’t axed then some events would have gone a little differently but I do wonder how different the plot would have been. The whole story arc about saving Itsuki starts out rather early.

My main guess is that if this was a long ongoing Sasaki would have tried to save her in many different timelines before ultimately being defeated and going for the final trick we see in the ending here. Sort of like an Edge of Tomorrow kind of plot. It definitely could have been interesting although at this point we are far removed from the original plot of the manga. The whole process of becoming a big author felt like a big deal for a few chapters and then vanished as we got time skip after time skip.

Maybe the author saw the low ratings and just decided to go for a big genre shift? It’s another interesting aspect of reading a manga that got axed as you try to just piece together what is going on here. From the start the cast seems extremely small as the duo are the only big characters. You have Sasaki’s two editors and his assistants I suppose who could have been big but they’re pretty much non factors here.

So how is Sasaki himself? Well, he’s not one of the more likable leads but he’s okay I guess. He does start out as a really earnest guy with a solid dream. It’s nice that he wants to make the best manga ever and he does have a lot of drive and dedication. That being said, he definitely should have walked away from the microwave instead of starting that series. I do cut him some slack for the one shot since he somehow thought it wasn’t real but starting the ongoing was the point of no return for him.

Sasaki is immediately guilty but he’s constantly bashing himself which isn’t really an endearing trait in a main character. He is also as obvious as he can be that something is wrong about how he is making the manga. People may not be able to guess time travel but this gives them a reason to suspect something is up for no real reason. Sasaki either needed to stop drawing or just keep going with confidence, but his half hearted attempts can be annoying.

Meanwhile Itsuki is a solid heroine even if she isn’t always very reasonable. When we find out the cause of death for her, it’s tragic but you’re also shaking your head quite a bit. Obsession is definitely a dangerous trait to have and that’s unfortunately a word that fits her quite a bit. While I don’t believe the robot tried nearly enough if she couldn’t be saved in any timeline, it also shows that she won’t give up.

I would say she definitely does beat Sasaki as a character but it would have been good if she was a little nicer towards the end. She started out as a very cheerful person who was always nice to everyone so her transformation into someone who is rude to everyone was very sudden. It also doesn’t mesh well with her dream of creating a manga that everyone will love. Wouldn’t that mean she should be nice in real life as well?

As for the editors, well Sasaki’s first editor was definitely rather mean spirited. Telling the main character that he would never be good and that he should go home was definitely out of bounds. No wonder he didn’t last long. The second editor was a lot better. He doesn’t know the context of why Sasaki doesn’t want to draw so it makes sense that he would take such a hard stance on why the series must go on. This guy was earnest so he was a fun enough character. He definitely tried his best to help all the authors under him.

As for Sasaki’s assistants, they seriously didn’t appear enough to get much of a personality. One of them seemed rather hyper while the other was the calm and collected type. I’m sure at some point they could have become rivals like in Bakuman but it was too late. I think part of the issue here is that the series was rushing a lot compared to Bakuman. You can’t skip ahead months to years so quickly without ruining the chances of having some great opening rivalries. Part of the fun in these series is seeing how things go early on since that’s when the main character will be learning the ropes.

Still, we got some fun concepts here. I certainly will never turn down a good time travel element either. The ending is very satisfying and is really a good way of escaping this time loop. When you’re given a chance to change the past then you’ve definitely got to go for it as soon as possible. It’s too bad the series was cancelled since I don’t really see the plagiarism angle as being such a big deal. Yeah the main character made a mistake and continues to double down on it but there are a lot of ways it could have developed around that. Maybe have a new main character enter later who will be the real hero of the story if need be or have Sasaki see the error of his ways. Time travel and defeat himself with a better story.

So, what are some things I’d have changed to hopefully keep the series from being cancelled? Well, I guess the biggest way to address the plagiarism angle would have been to have Sasaki continue thinking that he was hallucinating. Have him see the magazine in his dreams every night as the robot beams the chapters directly into his brain. That way when Itsuki shows up, Sasaki has some doubts but has no reason to believe that he is stealing her work. You can still keep in his self doubt and lack of confidence so it doesn’t dramatically change the story but it would make him less unambiguously antagonistic.

Next, I think you can’t just change Itsuki’s personality completely. There’s no reason why she should go from being the nicest character in the series to the meanest. It just doesn’t make sense and you could still handle her whole character arc including the death without having to go this far. Now if you want the personality shift, then I think the way to do that would be to have her find out that Sasaki is stealing her ideas. Have her find the robot and happen to see when it blasts the magazine into his mind or if we still go with the paper versions, have her see it at his house.

That would at least solve some of the weaker areas in the series. Beyond that, I did think it was quite good so it’s not like I would change a whole lot. Not every series can be the next big thing so more often than not you just have to be ready to part with any of the titles. Who knows, maybe the series will come back someday, you never know when something will get a revival after all.

Overall, Time Paradox Ghostwriter is a good series. It’s one that moves at a very rapid pace but when you have to end this quickly it makes sense why that would be the case. There are a lot of good concepts in here and while it isn’t a battle manga, it was a good addition to Jump. The writing and art were on point and this was a true page turner. I blasted through all of the chapters in a single day after all. I’d definitely recommend this one if you want to read a rather low key title about the dedication you need in order to save a life.

Overall 7/10

Saint Seiya Review


Saint Seiya is one of the all time greats. When you hear the name “Saint Seiya” you can’t help but freeze and look around. That’s how big this title is. It’s effectively like an old school DBZ and is probably one of the older manga titles that I’ve completed. In some ways you can feel the age like with how the arcs tend to have very repetitive events going on like the classic JLA comics, but the battles are always hype. Even if you can see how things are going to go, the execution is so amazing that you have to tip your cap to this one. Saint Seiya is a masterpiece that will not be forgotten.

The series starts off by introducing us to Seiya. He grew up with a lot of orphans who were being raised by Saori’s estate in order to become powerful warriors. He heads off to gain one of the legendary cloths of Athena but then his sister goes missing. Seiya continues to search for her but is unable to turn up any leads. Saori’s father makes him a deal, if he is able to win the upcoming tournament and establish himself as the greatest Bronze Saint, then he will use the family resources to find her. Seiya will have to deal with some very powerful opponents in order to achieve his end of the bargain but this is highly personal so he is going to give it his all.

This arc was fairly small to the point where I hesitate to call it a full arc. Maybe saying it’s the pre arc would be more accurate. Either way it’s a good way to kick things off as we get a nice little tournament and meet most of the characters who will ultimately stay with the main cast. Unfortunately Unicorn is one of the few characters who doesn’t stick around. I liked his little rivalry with Seiya at the beginning but it is true that Seiya far outranked him even after just a volume or two. Unicorn is at the proper level of a Bronze Saint while Seiya goes beyond that with ease.

The battles are all cool and this is really the only time you will be seeing other Bronze saints doing anything so that’s a novelty in itself. The battle between Seiya and Shiryu is really the highlight of the arc as Shiryu definitely started out with the highest base stats aside from Ikki. Seiya’s the underdog in the fight although he is the main character so you could make the case that this evens things up really quickly.

Then we have the big arc that made the series famous. So in the background there have been some shady dealings with the Pope. Well, he’s taken it a step further as Athena has been kidnapped and stabbed with a sacred arrow. Seiya and his new friends Shiryu, Andromeda, Hyoga, and a reluctant Ikki must invade Sanctuary in order to save her. To do this, they will have to get past the 12 Gold Saints, powerful warriors of legend. These guys are known to be unbeatable and protect Athena from any manner of opponent. So you might be wondering, why are these chumps not saving her themselves?

Well, to be a gold saint you must throw your logic out the window. You no longer use critical thinking but simply do as you’re told and listen to whoever calls himself the Pope. You also have a Gold Saint who is downright evil and one who doesn’t care about Athena. When you mix this all together, you’ve got a group that will not be lifting a finger to help Athena. Two Saints who even know about the situation refuse to help because they’re just too old or aren’t active anymore. That’s just great……good thing Seiya is here on the job.

Since there are 5 Bronze Saints and 12 Gold Saints to be defeated, you can see how there are a ton of battles in this arc. None of the Gold Saints will go down easy after all and the heroes often have to split up. There is a 12 hour time limit too so the heroes can’t afford to slow down either. Going full speed is absolutely the way to go here. If Athena (Who is Saori’s alter ego) is destroyed, then Seiya may never get to see his sister again.

It’s easy to see why this is know as the best arc although I’m really tempted to say that the Hades arc may be the best since it has my favorite moment in the series. It’s really tough to decide either way and it’s one of those things I’ll probably flip flop on a few times as the years go on but for now I will say that the Sanctuary arc is the best. The battles are pretty much nonstop and it’s great to see everyone getting a battle. It is a shame that the Gold Saints only tend to show up as antagonists the whole time but it’s what happens when you let honor dictate your every move.

Saint Seiya is a series that is heavily rooted in honor and always making sure you do the right thing as the group would recommend as opposed to striking off on your own. It’s why none of the Gold Saints are ever able to do anything since they are just content to watch. It’s why the Bronze Saints are causing such an uproar but it’s a good thing that they stepped up when needed. It’s a very satisfying arc and sets the stage well for the next one.

Following up on that arc was the Poseidon adventures. King Poseidon has finally reincarnated and he intends to bring the entire world under water. Athena asks him to stop the madness but forgot to bring her guards so she is locked up in a room where she will drown. She can only hold out as long as she can pray so now the Bronze Saints have to break into Atlantis and take care of business. Can they defeat all of the Mariners and Poseidon before the world is destroyed?

Saint Seiya is not a manga that minds having some casualties. Right in the beginning of the arc we see that a large portion of the world has already been destroyed. So even if the heroes do end up winning in the end, a lot of damage has been done. It’s quite the sobering thought but it definitely appears to be the case. It follows a very similar structure as the Sanctuary arc only instead of passing through each temple, the heroes have to destroy a series of pillars before the 12 hours are up and each one is guarded by a Mariner which is the equivalent of a Gold Saint. (Or so they say, but I feel like the Gold Saints would crush them)

It’s another great arc but my main gripe here is that there is literally no reason why the Gold Saints can’t come and assist. Their entire reason for existence is to protect Athena. This is mentioned numerous times in the series and yet when she is in danger they refuse to leave Sanctuary because they have to guard the temples. Really? What’s the point of the temples if your goddess is about to be murdered and the Earth destroyed? You definitely have to shake your head at the logic going on. As always, you can only root for the Bronze Saints. With nonstop fights and new characters, there is definitely no reason to dislike the arc.

Finally, that takes us to the big Hades arc. Every 250 years there is a holy war between Hades and Athena. He tries to take over the world while her knights stand in defiance of him. Well, this time things are a bit different. His forces have awoken a few years early and are immediately trying to take down her castle. The Gold Saints must try to protect her for 12 hours or all will be lost. Additionally, they refuse to have the help of the bronze saints and even say they will murder those guys if they try to help. Looks like Seiya and pals might need to try taking down both Hades’ forces as well as the gold saints.

I liked this arc for a lot of reasons. Of course you have the obvious ones like the nonstop fights and hype characters, but it’s also the first arc to really switch things up. This time you don’t have the usual battle format with the Bronze Saints doing all the work. In fact, they miss out on a good chunk of the intro as the Gold Saints actually get to do battle as heroes for the first time in the series. It’s quite extraordinary to actually see them in combat. They may get folded in quite a few of the fights as always but they get a good amount of hype.

The arc even has different sections to it so you get a lot of background changes and even story changes. The plot goes in various directions and always keeps you guessing. By the end of it you really have to give the series a thumbs up for ending on a really high note. It’s a series that ends really suddenly too so get ready for that but it’s a pretty satisfying ending and you can choose how it all went down. Naturally I think a certain someone lived and everyone just goes back home after the credits roll but there’s a few ways you can take it.

The art is very solid. It’s got a simple style like DBZ but you feel the impact behind each blow. These are absolute titans who are facing each other and the manga does a good job of illustrating that. While you may find it hard to believe they are throwing hundreds of millions of blows in a second as they say in the text, you can see how they are all moving very rapidly. You’ll never be lost during a fight and I really like how the artist draws the armors. It flows very well with the battle scenes.

As more of an old school title, prepare to see the heroes not taking any prisoners this time around. Most of the villains they face are promptly destroyed when they show up. It probably would be hard to hold most of these guys in a jail since they’re casual planet busters as well. The series can also get a bit violent with how badly each character is wounded. The Saints always take an incredible beating before they are able to get back up. One character even has his ear ripped off.

Saint Seiya also introduced the idea of never getting hit by the same attack twice. In fact, it’s mentioned in almost every battle as the Saint brags that the same move won’t work on him twice. In 99% of those instances the character is right and ends up blocking the move. This doesn’t apply to the main Saints when they are attacking though as Seiya spams the Pegasus Meteor Fist a lot and it always works eventually. He just has to use it enough times to get through the enemy defenses since it never works the first time.

The series also has basically no fanservice at all which is always worth noting. It just seems fairly rare for that to be the case and while you can certainly name some off the bat, on average you would usually expect some. This was definitely a good thing and another feather in its cap. It really makes this a series that is easy to recommend to anyone due to how inviting it is. It’s down to business as a great action title and really delivers on that front.

If anything, I just wish that it could have gone on longer so we could have had Athena actually fight. She’s a goddess and so you would expect her to be on the same level as Poseidon and Hades. Yet, those two have insane amounts of power while she seems to not even be strong enough to stop a Silver Saint. She never gets to do anything beyond the occasional block and it doesn’t really make sense. It seems to always be the case that the heroic goddess is weaker than the evil ones but it would have been nice if she could have at least been in the same league as the others.

Athena even gives direct orders to Gold Saints that they just ignore at times. You wouldn’t catch anyone talking back to Poseidon or Hades unless they wanted to be turned into fish fillet. That’s why she needed more power so that she could strike down these guys. I also find it odd that there is a complete villain among the Gold Saints who murders women and children for sport. Shiryu promptly murders him but how did anyone at Sanctuary allow this to be the case? Surely Aiolia, one of the only good Gold Saints around would have done anything. Presumably the other Gold Saints would have covered for the guy or Aiolia felt bound by the law but it’s still annoying to see a villain get high in the ranks like that.

All right, lets take a look at the various characters here. First up is Seiya of course since he’s the main character. He’s a very classic kind of main character who always stands up for what’s right and has a lot of determination. Initially he’s even got a bit of a punk attitude about him like when he’s picking fights with Unicorn but he matures really fast. Undergoing constant life or death battles will definitely do that to a person.

Seiya continually shatters expectations and is always the last fighter to go down so it’s impossible not to like the guy. He’s definitely a blast to root and if the Gold Saints would provide him even the slightest bit of support he probably could have ended the series a bit early.

Then you have Ikki who is the best character in the series. He’s an old school rival who started out as a villain but eventually realizes that this isn’t the right way to go about it. It’s hard to blame him at first though since Saori’s father was incredibly corrupt. Sending little kids to places like Death Island is incredibly traumatic and by all accounts Ikki shouldn’t have survived that experience. He managed to stay alive though and even thrived but he had to put up with a whole lot. As an ally, he’s the best ally you could ask for though.

Ikki really takes down some incredibly powerful opponents during the series. His fight with Virgo Shaka is definitely still one of the more memorable fights. That guy was incredibly broken and yet Ikki could fight him blow for blow. The fact that Ikki can continue to revive even after being destroyed also makes him incredibly difficult to fight since Ikki also gets stronger with each revival.

As for Hyoga, he’s got a tough disposition like Ikki but never actually went down the evil route. His ice abilities are solid and he has a tragic backstory as well with his Mom getting encased in ice. The Gold Saints were also petty enough to throw her to the bottom of the ocean which was definitely a low blow. Hyoga’s another solid companion to have around and I like his confident demeanor.

Then you have Andromeda who is often known to get the short end of the stick. I can’t deny that as he tends to lose a lot of fights and has a habit of getting saved by Ikki. There’s no shame in getting saved by the best in the biz of course but it happens enough times where it overshadows his own achievements. Andromeda’s Nebula Chains should be one of the strongest weapons in the series and yet it always fails. These chains can stretch across universes and dimensions and are said to be unbreakable.

The problem is that several characters break them. The chains can also sense danger and activate on their own but even with that the enemies are able to trick the chains and speed blitz Andromeda. Maybe he would have been better off without the chains if this was how it was all going to go down.

As a side note, several characters seem to get stronger after taking off their Cloths. Logically this shouldn’t make sense since the armor is what protects them from universe ending lows. It increases your defense but shouldn’t lower your offense. Still, Andromeda and Shiryu often take off their cloths to fight with no protection and that’s when they end up coming out on top. The feeling of danger excites their cosmos as they burn their way to the top. In this series your power level is highly dependent on your feelings at the moment yet it does still feel odd whenever they toss away one of their big advantages.

Next up is Shiryu who patented that technique. It seems like he would take off the armor constantly and he suffered the same issue as Andromeda with his weapon not doing so well. Shiryu’s arm always served him well but his shield would often get overpowered even though it is said to be unbreakable. It’s fortunate that Shiryu is such a powerful fighter that he doesn’t need to rely on it.

Shiryu may be a bit more of a stickler for the rules than some of the other Saints but unlike the Golds he does still step up when needed. He also may have the best durability as he gets the most punishment in each battle but always stands back up. He has a particularly impressive moment near the end of the series when he takes on 3 high ranking spectres at once. That has to be one of his best scenes.

I already talked about Athena a bit. She’s an okay character for the most part but really starts to drop off as the series goes on. In Arc 1 you can’t blame her since she hadn’t fully realized her position yet. In the Poseidon arc she definitely should have ordered some Gold Saints to help her out or had more of a plan than simply drowning. Then in the Hades arc she should never have allowed the enemies to murder her or ordered that the Bronze Saints stay home. Her long string of questionable decisions definitely ended up hurting her character in the end.

As for Poseidon, I wasn’t a big fan of his human form. He’s pretty much just a rich flirt which is not what I expect to see when I hear the word “Poseidon”. Still, as a fighter he can hold his own. He has a cool design and it’s always fun to meet one of the big bosses. He may not be the most impactful villain but he serves his role well.

Then there is Hades who is a lot more interesting. Between the fact that he has to effectively body hop each time and that he is always the same Hades across all the timelines is interesting. It makes him a very layered character in comparison to most. I would argue he is probably not the best strategist since I feel like he should easily win the war due to all the advantages that the Underworld has like infinite regeneration. If he had attacked with everyone right off the bat instead of allowing the others to seal this ability, things could have gone really well for his army. He makes for a solid end boss either way.

Pandora was a fun character. She got a lot of hype in her opening appearance even if she didn’t do a whole lot after that. Her ability to inflict any of Hades’ minions with absolute pain when she plays the harp was a cool trick. I would have liked to have seen a little more of her in action but having an Athena type figure who could actually fight was nice in and of itself.

Rhadymanthys is one of the more memorable fighters in the Hades arc. As one of the 3 Judges, his power is so considerable that he believed he could stop multiple Gold Saints on his own. He did accomplish that fact but it was in Hades’ castle so you have to question if the Gold Saints were at full power. Lost Canvas states that Hades Castle limits the power of all Athena’s saints. Now that series isn’t fully canon but I do like all of the lore it introduced so I like to include it as head canon.

If not, then we do have to acknowledge this guy as easily one of the strongest characters in the franchise which is probably true either way. This guy was cool and definitely very memorable. Then we have Hypnos who is one of the gods that works for Hades. The fact that he is a god would suggest that he is supremely powerful and that is true. Both Hypnos and Thanatos have very impressive stats and one of the better fights at the end of the series. They’re quite solid as well and it’s always nice having “High above” characters who can actually fight as opposed to just talking a good game throughout. Power over dreams and power over reality are both very tough things to overcome.

Aiolos is my favorite Gold Saint but unfortunately he dies prior to the start of the series. We only know him through a brief flashback when he saved Athena and his character is fleshed out further in spinoffs. The guy was a masterful fighter and the only saint to have as much potential as Saga. It’s a shame that he could not appear more but he stole every page that he was in.

Then we have Gemini Saga who is a very interesting character. Naturally he does have a massive role in the Sanctuary arc where he fights Seiya and friends and then he also gets a big role in the Hades arc. In both arcs I thought he was on the wrong side. He’s certainly a powerful adversary though. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Anakin Skywalker in that he was the chosen one who was meant to be the strongest saint of all but then he succumbed to the dark side. It’s a shame that he just could’t stay strong and in the light but power tends to corrupt way too quickly for that.

His Galactian Explosion is really an incredible attack and one of the most memorable techniques in the series. It’s easy to see why the characters fear him so much. He’s got to be the best villlain in the series but if you count him as a hero then he’d have to be somewhere in the Top 5. Either way he leaves quite the impact and feels a lot more prepared than most of the other Saints.

Aiolia is not to be confused with Aiolos but he is certainly following in that guy’s footsteps. Not only does he have similar powers but he also has a much stronger sense of justice than most of the Gold Saints. The only way he helps the Pope is when he is mind controlled and otherwise he wasn’t being suckered like the others. I just wish he would push aside the people stopping him when he wants to help Seiya on several occasions. They certainly could have used the help.

Taurus is the first Gold Saint that you have to pass in order to get to Athena’s chamber so you can see him as the weakest one but often times the series gives him a lot of hype. He’s an honorable man who likes a fair fight. It would be nice if he had more fighting moves than his shoulder tackle though as that one seems very limited. I like him, but never found Taurus to be nearly as powerful as everyone claims.

Virgo Shaka has the title of “The Man Closest to God” so as you can imagine he is extremely powerful. He is one of the only Saints to unlock the mythical 8th sense and consistently proves himself to be very powerful. His ability to remove your 5 senses is also cool. That said, since he knows immediately what is going on during the Sanctuary arc, it’s hard to call him a hero. He willingly stood against Athena unlike some of the others who could claim to be tricked. That is really hard to ignore.

He has a great final fight in the series but he’s not really someone you can trust. In a sense perhaps he just knows too much and that prevents him from acting. I do like him quite a bit but more as an antagonist than me accepting him as a hero. If you want to talk about someone who prefers inaction, Roshi is your best bet. The guy just stands in front of a waterfall for almost the entire series.

His only job in life is to let people know when the seal has broken and he is so slow to react that the main ivnasion happens before he can arrive. I didn’t care for him much at all during the series but he finally looks good when he transforms into his true form, Dohko. In that form he actually has a decent fight even if he ends up watching from there. He certainly does almost nothing considering that the guy has a lot of screen time. Theoretically he is one of the strongest Gold Saints but it’s really hard to say that with any confidence since he didn’t fight much.

Going away from the Gold Saints for a moment, Cassios is one of the original Bronze Saints who fights Seiya. I was not really a fan of him but he does have a bit of a redemption arc as he appears in the background as a hero. It just goes to show that even the minor characters could improve a bit but as the first guy to get crushed by Seiya, he never ends up being a true big shot.

Then you have Seika, Seiya’s sister. Throughout the series they hint that she may be Marin or that she really is missing. It’s a plot point that the series teases every now and again but doesn’t really get much of a satisfying ending. The way it concludes is definitely unexpected since I thought the series was going in a different direction but I thought the whole handling of the sub plot was a bit sloppy. It almost didn’t need to be around if this was how it was going to end up. I’m sure she’s a decent character but she doesn’t really get to do anything.

Next is Marin who is one of the Silver Saints. Due to some really outdated customs among the Saints, all female Saints are Silver level and they are not allowed to take off their mask except in front of their true love. If someone else sees them, then they must dedicate their lives to murdering that guy. It reminds you why Sanctuary isn’t as happy a place as it may sound at first.

Marin is a very tough character so none of this bothers her all that much. She has a decent supporting role and even gets a few fights on occasion. She isn’t very powerful but as a lot of the Saints have a tough time hitting a girl, it does help even the playing field a bit. Then you have Shaina who is effectively a much meaner version of Marin. I actually preferred Shaina though as she would also see reason a lot quicker and really did contribute to the team on multiple occasions. Shaina was quick to fight and that won her a lot of points in my book.

Back to the Gold Saints, we have Mu who effectively retired from the business. He spends his life recreating armors and fixing things up. He acts like a scholar but he still has the power of a Gold Saint. My main issue with him is that he looks absolutely dreadful in the Hades arc. You could also say he looks bad in Sanctuary since he doesn’t lift a finger to help. It would have been nice if he could have done something more aside from just watching in the Bleachers.

He openly gets in the way of the heroes and that has to be the worst part. By the end he was easily one of my least favorite Saints. Then there is Shion who is also in the running as one of the worst ones. First he allows himself to easily be defeated by Saga and then he joins Hades. Yes, he has a convoluted plan on why this is for the best but I never bought it. It just resulted in more dead soldiers and even then he leaves most of the work to his subordinates so he doesn’t actually do a whole lot on his own. So much for being the Pope and having a ton of power right? In the end he would falter every time.

Gemini Kanon is a character I liked quite a lot though. He starts out as a random Mariner but he actually has some strong ambitions just like Saga. He has similar abilities which makes sense since they’re family and goes from being an interesting villain to a very complex character overall. Needless to say, he’s not someone that you want to mess with as a hero or a villain. He has to go through a lot for the Saints to trust him but ultimately he does earn their trust.

Deathmask is really the Saint to watch out for. He’s pure evil as the manga goes out of its way to say that he would target a lot of women and children. Again, how is this guy allowed in Sanctuary? Well, Shiryu showed him what was up and he’s really the only Saint who they didn’t even try to redeem. He was dispatched and never looked back. He had some interesting abilities and made for a decent, psychotic villain. You won’t soon forget him.

Next up is Milo whose little stingers can be quite troublesome. If he lands 12 hits on you then it’s game over. I always liked that kind of technique since it is really hard to counter and means you have to fight very carefully. It’s also possible to die before the final blow due to how strong his moves are. He may not be one of the best Saints but his abilities are unique which makes him stand out.

Shura is another Saint who is very unreasonable while declaring himself to be absolute justice. You’d think that guys like him would listen a bit more since they want to protect Athena so much but he’s not willing to learn which is his downfall. I like his Excalibur swing though as his arm is as powerful as a sword. It’s a good way to hype up his battle with Shiryu since they have a lot of similarities.

The final Gold Saint is Aphrodite who is obsessed with his appearance. It’s fitting for his name sake but it doesn’t help make him a very interesting character either. Clearly he has his priorities mixed up and it’s no wonder that he’s not stronger. He could have used all that time to train instead.

Thetis was Poseidon’s right hand woman. She had decent abilities and performed well in her fight with Shaina. She may not have lasted very long but Thetis was a loyal soldier to the end and definitely had Poseidon’s back at all times. Then you have Baian who was one of Poseidon’s pillars. He had a lot of confidence and I liked his water abilities. He could really send you far in a fight and had a lot of confidence in his techniques.

Io is one of those characters who would do better if he wasn’t obsessed with using all of his attacks. Remember that an attack doesn’t work twice on a Saint so you want to be careful about using them all at once since the Saint will remember them now. I felt like he had the edge on Andromeda throughout but threw away his advantage by doing this.

Krishna’s a fun member of the group who is extremely confident in his own weapons being more powerful than Shiryu’s. He may have ultimately been defeated but he put up a good fight and his weapons were quite powerful. It’s just hard to match up to the Saints. Caca is more of a mental guy who fights the Saints with illusions and transformations.

He actually ended up doing a lot better than I would have expected but Ikki put an end to that. One weakness most of the Saints have does seem to be in their emotions. They don’t conceal them as much as they try to make you believe. Even Ikki has a weakness to that but he was able to power through. Caca isn’t nearly as likable as the other Pillars though as they still tried fighting with honor to the end.

Isaac really comes out of nowhere but he has a whole sob story about actually trying to be a Saint back in the day. It didn’t go well for him and he wrongly blames Hyoga. The guy felt a bit whiny to me although I liked him in the flashback. He just ended up being a far cry from his old self as the bitterness took him over. I guess that’s what happens when you go on the path of darkness.

Sorrento gets a bigger role than most of Poseidon’s men. He has some nice musical abilities which are always hard to counter and even has some suspicions about the treachery going on in the area. That said, he is extremely slow to act so maybe it doesn’t even matter that he knew something was going on. I liked him though, it’s always nice to see a villain who’s quite loyal even if unfortunately he chose the wrong side.

Minos is another one of the Judges and has a solid amount of power but doesn’t look quite as impressive as Rhadymanthys. Ultimately his arrogance is his undoing as is the case with so many other villains in the series. It’s a common theme to the point where I would even call it a moral. Underestimating your opponent will always lead to doom and destruction.

Charon has a big role as the guy who operates the ferry. I have to give him some props as he even gives Seiya a run for his money. It’s a cushy job for him since he has home field advantage and is powerful in his own right. The guy was amusing even if he was ultimately doomed in the end. He just felt like a guy who was doing his own thing. He may have served Hades but he wasn’t super loyal about it, he just also wanted his money.

Pharaoh is another villain who uses a musical instrument and once again it is shown as being incredibly difficult to counter. I suppose it’s because music pierces right through any obstacles in front of it. Regardless, he really had his way with the Saints for a while before going out and even had a bit of a tragic past. Mainly it was amplified by this guy getting jealous quick but he made for an interesting villain.

Gigant is one of the first true Spectres that we meet in the series but he is effortlessly beaten by Shaka. It further reinforces why I think the Saints are stronger than the Spectres on average. This guy was supposed to be reasonably strong but couldn’t even last for an instant. You have to admire his confidence but ultimately it was completely empty and unjustified.

Papillon is an interesting Spectre because he isn’t even humanoid anymore. The guy’s like a big pile of Jello that can transform at will. It makes him a dangerous villain since he also has psychic powers but I just couldn’t take him seriously. It was nice to have some variety in the ranks though. He stands out more than Niobe for that reason. Niobe has the famous moment where he loses to an attack but is still able to fight for an extremely long time after that before it sinks in. It’s almost like Toon Force except it is handled extremely seriously. There is no comedy to be found here.

Raimi is another Spectre who overestimated his abilities and paid the price for it. He’s only good when in a pack but one on one it was easy for Aiolia to defeat him. At least he could fight more than Zelos who loves mocking people but can’t fight for beans. He loses almost as an after thought in the series. I like to think even Unicorn could beat him but maybe that’s going too far.

Yeah Saint Seiya is definitely a series you don’t forget. There are many more fighters in the series, particularly the Hades arc which had 108 Spectres running around but a bunch of them are shortly dispatched after saying their name. You had 3 Spectres for example who ganged up on Shiryu but still ended up being clobbered in the end. Hades prefers quantity over quality which isn’t a bad bet in his circumstances. It just wasn’t enough.

Overall, Saint Seiya is definitely a masterful title and I would consider it an elite among manga. There’s just so much that happens and the series never takes a break. When 1 arc ends, the next one begins almost immediately. You’ll even feel bad for the characters as it feels like every other day they’re being beaten half to death and then have to regroup for the next fight. Athena definitely gets kidnapped a lot that’s for sure. If you like quality action then you’ll love this series because it really never rests. This isn’t the end for Saint Seiya reviews though so you can expect more soon. This review just took a while because the series is so long so there were a lot of characters to get through.

Overall 9/10

Dr Stone Season 2: Stone Wars Review


It feels like it’s been a while since Season 1 but now it’s finally time to enter the Stone Wars. Dr Stone has certainly been rising up the ranks quite a bit. It feels like it’s quietly begun to catch up to titles like Clover and MHA but maybe it only seems quiet because the other titles seem to be a lot bigger in America while I guess Stone has Japan at the ready since it keeps claiming the #1 spot in the magazine rankings. The Stone Wars have been hyped up since the beginning of season 1 and this season delivers by wrapping this up.

Well, Tsukasa has built his army of powerful warriors. He also has command over the revival cave so Senku is unable to call for any more reinforcements. Worse yet is the fact that their chief backup scientist Chrome has been abducted. Senku’s army of science is going to need to find a way to break Chrome out and stop Tsukasa all while keeping fatalities to 0. It’ll be the toughest objective he’s ever had to face and yet this kind of thing won’t phase Senku. He’s ready to do whatever it takes in order to claim victory.

As this season is throwing us more into the climax there is less time for the food recipes we got in season 1. There still is 2-3 hovering around like the cup ramen but nothing quite like the Senku Cola which I got the pleasure of making at home one day. Now that was a blast. This time the group has to get some more combat ready equipment on hand so that includes a tank, gunpowder, flash bombs, sonic weapons, etc. They definitely aren’t messing around here since one failure could very well equal death.

The season is only 11 episodes which feels really short but that does mean there’s always something happening in each episode. No time to waste. Tsukasa’s army also gets a chance to shine here as there are quite a few named fighters. Tsukasa and Hyoga aren’t the only ones running around after all. When the power gap is this wide it could be easy to assume that plot hax is the only way for the heroes to win but the difference in science is drastic enough where I’d say it makes sense. Science can easily tip the scales in a battle of humans. This is also all considering that Senku is effectively holding back because he doesn’t want to seriously injure or murder anybody.

If the Stone anime series has any weakness, it’s that the animators still haven’t really gotten used to the action scenes yet. While the animation in general is very solid, the action scenes are quite weak. There’s no impact to any of the blows so even powerful fighters like Tsukasa and Hyoga don’t look as impressive as they otherwise would. To try and get around this sometimes the show will use stills instead to at least have a more detailed shot which works well but I’d like to see the animation take a step up for some of the future fights. Dr Stone isn’t primarily an action series but that doesn’t mean you can’t have great fights right?

The subtitle “Stone Wars” and the excellent promotional artwork can also give you the wrong idea if you haven’t read the manga already. Don’t go in expecting a giant war season where everyone is fighting it out with nonstop action each episode. Keep in mind that at its core this is still a science based adventure where Senku is proving that science can always beat raw power. It would go against the show’s whole message if they were just punching everyone out…although I wouldn’t complain if that were the case because that would be hype. Maybe in a future arc Senku will build them all mecha suits or something.

As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely solid as always. You should recognize a lot of the tunes from season 1. The opening’s pretty solid too so you’ve got a good selection of tunes here. Mecha Senku doesn’t appear much this time but he still gets his moments and usually the music accompanying him is on point as well.

Now the question is, does season 2 beat season 1? It’s very close because season 1 had the big meetings with the characters as well as the tournament. The opening 3 or so episodes of the season may be the series at its peak. Ultimately, I would probably give season 1 the edge but it’s close enough where I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal. They’re both neck and neck and excel in different areas over each other.

Now lets take a look at the characters. Senku is the main character of course and he continues to show why he is the genius of the village. He always has a plan and then a backup option in case that one doesn’t work. He doesn’t always have time to explain things to the others but because of that he is able to even surprise the villains. Now that’s some next level prep work.

Then there’s Chrome who continues to be a great supporting character. He’s nowhere near Senku’s level at the moment but he’s a quick study. Also you have to consider the fact that he had no formal training the way Senku did. Chrome was studying in the stone age the whole time and didn’t have any access to textbooks or things like that. This season also gave him a chance to learn on his own and contribute without Senku being around. In a lot of ways this was Chrome’s season and he didn’t drop the ball when it counted.

Kohaku’s role is smaller than that of season 1 but she still makes her presence felt. She gains a rival of sorts in the gymnast who works for Tsukasa. Finally Kohaku had a worthy rival in close quarters combat. It was a pretty fun battle and Kohaku always adds a lot of energy to the team dynamic. You definitely need to have her around to complete the team.

Gen’s another important member even if he can’t keep up with the main 3. He uses his powers of persuasion to help the heroes when they’re trying to scam the villains. He’s definitely a hero who is very useful to the team. He may not be a fighter but his intellect is close to Senku’s, just not in a science sense. Gen is more about manipulation and is another memorable member of the cast.

Magma surprisingly gets quite a bit to do here. You could say he’s officially one of the supporting characters now although I suppose in season 1 he kept up a steady amount of activity. He’s still not all that impressive though since strength is his only thing and Taiju is stronger than him. So at the end of the day that means he is doomed here. As a character Magma still needs to do a lot more for me to like him.

Meanwhile it’s good to see Taiju and Yuzuriha back. It sure felt like a while since they got to appear and both of them look good here. Taiju is able to put his raw power to good use. He’s still a pacifist so he won’t actually punch anyone in the face or anything like that but he has other ways of showing off his power which really makes him have a commanding presence here. He’s also just very genuine in a fun way. Meanwhile Yuzuriha is a bit of a silent MVP as she singlehandedly saved many lives in this season with her sewing skills. With a lot of people being broken into pieces you can probably see how her sewing skills would be really handy.

Kaseki is still around but there’s a bit less for him to do. He’s one of those guys who is supremely helpful behind the scenes though. Suika is also good for surveillance but is a little too young to be super helpful in the field. Her agility is on point so she can always get away though. These two don’t stack up with the other characters but are pretty reasonable.

That brings us up to the villains. First is Homura and she’s a lot of fun. The fact that she was able to transition her gymnastics into a combat field is already impressive. Outrunning Kohaku who grew up in the jungle while dashing across trees is even more so. Their quick skirmishes are always a lot of fun and Homura does a good job of evading capture even when she was outnumbered around 10-1.

Then you have Ukyo who is one of Tsukasa’s most dangerous subordinates. The guy has super hearing to the point where he’s like a human sub. While the series is still pretty realistic there are slight exaggerations to character abilities to keep things interesting. We saw that with Tsukasa and Taiju’s super strength back in season 1 after all so why not apply that to agility and hearing as well right?

Ukyo’s a pretty interesting character but you could probably guess that from his first appearance in the show. There’s clearly more than meets the eye with this guy and he delivers. Nikki is another member of Tsukasa’s group. Her role is a bit smaller than the others but she comes in handy. She’s another power fighter like Magma, Taiju, and Tsukasa. She hasn’t gotten a big fight yet but I expect that will change eventually.

Then there’s Yo who’s role is also pretty small. His backstory as a cop is pretty entertaining though. The guy is right at home in the cave era with how much he likes to be in control. Yo also has a good backup plan for when things go south so you also have to give him some credit in an intelligence angle as well. Yo’s a fairly all around guy and I like his confidence. From all the villains he’s already top 3.

Finally you have the main two. First up is Tsukasa who already had stolen the show in season 1 and continues to be very strong here. He’s a villain without a doubt but one of those interesting villains who at least has a rational goal. We learn more about it as the season goes on too. It gives some extra depth to his mission and also answers some questions from season 1. Needless to say, the guy puts on a good show and his fight in the climax of the season is a lot of fun. There’s no character even close to passing him as the best in the series.

Finally there is Hyoga and immediately you can tell that he’s a lot more ruthless than Tsukasa. While Tsukasa prefers to avoid bloodshed whenever possible, Hyuga has no such reservations. He does what he wants whenever he wants and is willing to sacrifice other members of the team if it’ll keep him safe. So even if he’s on your side, he’s not someone you want to trust at all. He’s absolutely one of the more dangerous characters here though and makes for a good villain.

Those are all of the main characters I’d say. You’ve got others like Ginro and Kinro running around but they really don’t do much at all here. The show already has a fairly big cast so you can’t have everyone running around the battlefield or it’ll get a bit crazy. The cast is quite solid though which is good, they definitely hold their scenes. The season ends with quite a few direct cliffhangers that’ll help you get psyched up for season 3. Ideally the break won’t be too long since I think the date may already be out too although I forget when it is.

It’s definitely hard to match the war arc since you could say the stakes had never been higher. Tsukasa is the one who was trying to prevent scientific process and was willing to murder to get that across. In theory the heroes shouldn’t be facing any more opposition like that as long as they’re careful who they revive and in this case they already have the numbers advantage. Each arc brings with it new elements though so I won’t talk about what’s to come.

As a final note, I think a lot of Dr. Stone’s strength really comes from the writing. The show is always interesting whether it’s with the war going on or Gen and Senku just trying to scam people into joining their army. The show is able to balance out the humor and action pretty well and you couldn’t do that without a good character cast or solid writing. You can’t really have one without the other and that’s why the series is so effective.

Overall, Dr. Stone Season 2 is definitely a solid follow up to the original. With this arc completed we’ve really made it through all of the set up from the first season so you could say that a big chunk of the story is now complete. Of course we still need to know why everyone got turned to stone though and of course the manga is still going so you can bet that there will be a lot more characters and plots coming up. If you like a good adventure series with fun action and characters then this is a good title to check out. Naturally if you’re someone who enjoyed season 1 then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

Overall 8/10

The Law of Ueki Review


The Law of Ueki is a manga that was a lot of fun back in the day. It tends to be overlooked when talking about some of the top action titles but it can certainly hold its own. The series had a lot of fun characters and engaging fights. It’s no surprise that the anime really handles this quite well too. You can really divide the anime into two sagas even though it’s all the same tournament. Pre Celestials and Post. Either way you should have a blast with both versions and with a satisfying conclusion you can put this away as a very complete anime.

Law of Ueki opens up with a premise about a big tournament about to be held by the Celestial King. The winner of this tournament will receive the Talent of *Blank* meaning that you can write down whatever is there. Naturally that’s a very enticing prize for most. Each Celestial is able to choose one human to represent them in the tournament as this is a battle through proxy as the celestials would be too overpowered. You are allowed to give your candidate one power that you currently possess.

The candidates then have to seek each other out and defeat their opponents. Each time you defeat an opponent you also gain a personal skill like the talent to dance or things like that. Defeat them all and you will presumably win the tournament. Injuring non ability users is a strict no no though as you will lose a talent for each person you injure. Lose them all and you will cease to exist.

That brings us to the main celestial Mr. K who is thinking about having Ueki be his candidate. Mr. K is determined to see if the boy has an air of righteousness about him though and gives a lot of tests. Ueki completes each one as the guy is just a nice kid by default so Mr. K selects him. Ueki makes the rather interesting decision to take the power of turning trash into trees. Will he really be able to win this tournament with such an ability? His best friend Mori isn’t so sure so she decides to tail him everywhere to keep him safe.

Mori’s definitely a great friend to have. She really has nothing to do with this battle and prior to the series it’s hard to say if they really were true best friends. Still, she knew he was in danger so she jumped in to help which is definitely a heroic thing to do. Throughout the series she always has his back. She may not be the biggest fighter but she does participate in the tournament and does well when needed. Mori is quite determined and doesn’t go down easy. I would go as far as to say she is one of the better Shonen heroines.

The opening episodes of the show are mostly about introducing us to Ueki’s opponents, future rivals, and how the fights will go down. Ueki will typically end up going against a power user not because he really wants to win but because he realizes that it will be a bad thing if these guys get the talent of blank. Let’s just say that they don’t exactly have an air of righteousness about them after all so they would definitely end up leading the world into ruin. Sometimes their wishes aren’t super crazy evil but they’re always very selfish.

Ueki shows these guys what’s up by taking them out and he also gets more familiar with his ability. He doesn’t mind using it on humans when he sees anyone acting with evil intentions though. Due to this Ueki quickly starts losing a whole lot of talents. It’s a good thing Mori is here or he would probably go down to 0. Still, aside from one episode about track and field where he wasted talents for no real reason, each of the other times it felt necessary for him to use his ability or people would really get hurt.

The power to change trash into trees is a unique one so I give the series credit there. In general I thought the author was very creative with the abilities. Being able to turn towels into iron is another unique one for example or being able to put a portrait of someone’s face to simulate their voice. They aren’t abilities I’ve seen anywhere else or that I expect I’ll see in the future.

Ueki’s power system is also pretty well thought out. Each ability has a limiting condition that must be applied in order for it to work and also to negate it. That means there is a lot of strategy here instead of going for the I win button each time. Every character has to watch their actions closely which makes for a lot of nice back and forth battles.

Then the second half of the series I’d say is when the Robert’s 10 shows up although you could also make the case it should be when the tournament’s next round starts so they all go to the Celestial World. If we go with the latter, a big change is this is now a team tournament to Ueki teams up with Ai, Sano, Rinko, and Hideyoshi to form their 5 man team. Additionally, Ueki starts to learn some new abilities thanks to being a celestial and the concept of a grade 2 weapon is introduced as well.

Ueki getting some twists and a power up was pretty good because it does explain why he survives some absolutely brutal attacks throughout the course of the show. They are moves you wouldn’t expect a normal human to walk away from but taking a beating in anime isn’t exactly a new concept. So even without the twist I don’t think it would be a big deal but it is part of what makes this knowledge effective.

The major change here though are Ueki’s new abilities. Now that he has celestial weapons, super speed, and a bunch of ranged weapons, the whole tree power grows less and less helpful. It makes sense because such an ability had huge limitations from the start but you do feel to an extent like it changes all battles going forward. Now instead of strategy it was more about spamming your celestial weapons so for better or worse it completely changes how all of the fights go.

Personally I was a fan of it though. No matter how you slice it, it would have been a little cheesy for Ueki to have caught up to the others without some kind of big boost. Most of the other characters still have to rely on their natural talent so for their battles you still have the strategy. Ueki also does his best to mix and match weapons so it’s still unique.

Ueki’s just a pretty great character. At times they definitely use him to parody some of the usual moments. One such scene is when a guy he barely knew gets super injured so Ueki goes into a rage mode to fight Robert. The next episode Ueki doesn’t even remember who the guy was though which is super random but he did barely know the guy so maybe it actually makes sense. Ueki’s all about winning the right way and saving everyone he can. He’s a classic main character who always stays very heroic.

You could say the main rival of the series is Sano although Li-Ho could make a case for that as well. Sano’s another heroic guy and his ability of turning towels into iron may not sound impressive but he makes it work. Sano is a master strategist so coming up with plans on the fly like that is really what makes him stand out. He ended up easily being my favorite character in the series due to how impressive he was.

Sano makes up for his lack of pure strength with plans and this is something that comes in handy right through the final episode as well. Whenever you need a hand, Sano is your man. Rinko is another one of the main allies and while she is also a strategist, her methods differ greatly from Sano’s. She prefers to think everything through before making a move while Sano acts as he goes to test out his theories and troubleshoot. While neither approach is objectively better I would go with Sano’s in a fight.

Both of them have issues thanks to this during their team fight and in that case I thought Sano was right since you can’t just hide. Rinko’s power is to turn beads into bombs which is handy but since it’s not the most mobile technique the opponents tend to use that against her. She gets a glove near the end of the series that amps up her powers to a great degree but it’s so late in the game that she doesn’t get to use it a whole lot. She’s a fun character though.

Finally you have Hideyoshi who was added so late in the game that I don’t really think there was a reason for him to be included. He doesn’t really add anything to the dynamic that wasn’t already there and he can’t fight for beans. I won’t take any shots at the guy because he’s okay, but he just didn’t feel necessary is what I’m trying to say here. His power needs a lot of work.

Mr. K gets a fairly big role of course but I admit that he tended to be more annoying than anything. I liked him when he was alive. Despite his tough talk he did come to help Ueki when it counted. Where he got more annoying was once he was dead. The guy went out of his way to try and not hear about how Ueki was doing. It’s all just an act of course but he goes to such extremes that he just ends up being unlikable. So…yeah I wasn’t a fan by the end.

Tenko’s a much better ally for Ueki. He’s willing to make a lot of sacrifices to help him out and isn’t ashamed to be helping him. Now that’s a true ally. Then you have Yodogawa who is not the most loyal guy around to say the least but he gets a lot of fun scenes. There’s a certain track from the OST that plays for all of his scenes and it’s really great. So this guy worked rather well as a comedy character.

Now lets check out some of the villains. First off is the main villain Hanon. I guess I should say final villain as opposed to main since he doesn’t appear for quite a while. The guy is very powerful and really sets his own plans. I like that he’s not just someone who simply follows orders. He also likes a good fight and even entertains Li-Ho on this for a while. That said, he did try going after a random dog so it was lucky that Ueki was there. It could have gotten very dicey. I like his combat energy but going after a dog is just plain petty.

The other big villain is Robert and he really serves as the first huge obstacle in Ueki’s way. His bubbles ability is actually a lot cooler than it sounds with how it can raise and drop objects. Once he takes out the celestial weapons don’t expect that you’ll see a lot of this again though. He served as a good benchmark for how you could measure the rest of the characters. Robert is quite twisted to be sure and the show executes this well. He’s quite the intimidating villain.

Li Ho isn’t really a villain per say but he is a powerful obstacle in Ueki’s way. Part of this guy’s hype is he is so strong in martial arts that he doesn’t even use his super power. The show really milks this since the whole time you are waiting for him to use his abilities. The guy is very determined not to do so which means you can certainly appreciate his resolve even if you feel like he should put his pride aside to just win the fight. His battles against Ueki and Hanon are most excellent and he is definitely one of the best characters in the show.

Onimon is one of the earlier opponents but worth noting as he’s a fun character. He’s really powerful with his whole cannonballs attack and he has a good honor code in place. He’s definitely determined not to win his fights with cheap shots or anything like that and I always like characters like that. Winning isn’t enough, you have to win the right way.

I should also mention the King. He doesn’t get to do a whole lot but as the Celestial King his abilities are absolutely top caliber. There are very few opponents who can take him on. You feel like he probably should have acted a bit sooner though as his plan was very shaky and full of holes from the start. If he had a better plan or thought things through a little more then things would have been very different here. He’s a charismatic guy but there’s no excuse for not acting so I’d give him a thumbs down.

Each of the Robert’s 10 gets a role of course but lets talk about some of the biggest members. First has to be Don as the guy had a big grudge against Ueki from the start. His power to turn rings into rockets was also very impressive. His raw power was absolutely insane and he’s a good example of someone who just isn’t very compatible with the trees ability. Ueki needed something more to take that guy down.

Then you have Marco with his lava ability. Honestly if not for being with Rinko and then trapping Ueki in a tough spot, he would have gone down quick. The guy is good at playing dirty though so he’s pretty memorable. Then you have Taro who is the strongest member of the group. With his lasers and saws it’s tough to take him down. Of course that’s against the rules but it’s not like the Celestial King is paying any attention right? People break the rules constantly in this tournament. Taro was a solid villain though.

Kabara is another tough member. While the guy got humiliated in the end, he did look good in his fight with Mori. A fight that was quite original I might add and really stood out. Then you have Carpaccio who is more like a street gang guy but a very tough one to be sure. His ability to copy powers was already tricky to deal with and then when you combine it with all of his other abilities the guy was a true menace. Definitely not someone who could be taken down easily.

Margarette is a villain who doesn’t appear until near the end of the series but he was also impressive. His grand master plan is certainly ambitious and even end of series Ueki would have a tough time with him. (Ueki would probably still win though) This guy was fun and I wouldn’t have minded seeing him appear a little more just so we could learn more about the guy.

Team Marilyn was certainly one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. Mainly due to their leader, Marilyn herself. Her super speed ability is so broken that even by the end of the fight there was no way for Ueki to beat her. It’s why you have to wonder where she was during the climax as she could have actually given Hanon a good fight. The celestial weapons are all too slow to hit her after all so maybe she could have even won.

Her fight against Ueki is probably the best battle in the series as well. It’s just really good and it fits in well with the rest of the fights because the team battle was also the best in the series. Each member was very dangerous so everyone on Ueki’s team had their work cut out for them. It also helps that nobody on Marilyn’s team was even evil so at times you aren’t sure who to root for. You can just enjoy a battle between two elite teams.

In comparison, Team Barrow at the end isn’t quite as impressive. Sure, maybe they could beat Team Marilyn but I think it would be close and not a guarantee. They have no single member stronger than Marilyn, however as a whole their members are way stronger than her teammates so it does even out. Barrow’s members are all solid. They have Celestial weapons that have different gimmicks so each one has to be handled in a different way. Underestimate them at your own peril.

Law of Ueki has a lot of great humor which is worth noting. The characters lend themselves well to the humor such as Yodogawa being foiled in his plans or Ueki trolling his music friend. Mori’s antics as she tries to use her powers can be a great bit of fun as well. The show also subverts your expectations at times like when one character is gearing up to use some kind of super ultimate attack only to be foiled in the end before he can even do it. Scenes like that really land.

The show has a solid balance of being serious, funny, emotional, and dramatic. To an extent this is true for any good show of course. I’d say where this show really hit the next level and got big was the Robert’s 10 arc. Now I think Ueki took a huge risk that he didn’t need to in trying to join but he was definitely determined. The challenge where he had to lift a block up for several days without moving was crazy. Especially with the characters beating him up and jumping on the rock during the process.

That has to be one of the most intense scenes in the whole show. I’m sure Ueki was definitely ready to take them out after all of that. Even while being undercover Ueki made sure that nobody was going to push him around which I appreciated as well. He matched them blow for blow. That’s also the arc where we started getting a lyrical song before the episode would end which was a great way to end the fights.

The theme song just sounds really epic and it’s part of why you should always choose an opening with that in mind. A similar scene is when Ueki shows up near the end of the series with another inspirational track. The show puts the heroes in some really tight corners so when they get out it definitely feels pretty hype.

The animation is definitely very nice here. The battle scenes are on point and there are a lot of nice effects. Each attack looks good and the hand to hand battles have a lot of smooth transitions. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. I wouldn’t say most of the tunes seem to stand their ground when listened to on Youtube but when you mix them into the scenes with context I thought they were quite impressive. Both of the openings are also really good. The first one in particular stands out and really works well when the heroes have a big moment to end the episode.

Overall, The Law of Ueki is a great anime. It’s a show built around a tournament which is always a lot of fun and they are able to develop each character really well. The 50+ episodes all flow by really quickly. Before you know it they’re gone and that’s always the hallmark of a solid title. I can easily recommend this to anyone who likes a good action anime. It’s written well and every aspect of the show holds up well. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a Plus anime someday to see the characters return.

Overall 8/10

Jujutsu Kaisen


I’ve now started the Shonen Jump title that’s been the talk of the town as of late. Demon hunting tends to be a pretty popular genre among Jump with titles like Yu Yu Hakusho, Demon Slayer, Bleach, and a whole lot more. We’ll see if this one is able to tangle with those guys as it goes on. The series is off to a solid start and it’s definitely one of those series that could and should go on for a super long time since there’s a lot you can do with this. I’ll have a review up once the series finishes.

Overall 7/10