Whistle Review


At this point it’s been around 10 years since I started Whistle but I’ve now reached the end of the series. It was certainly an emotional journey filled with a lot of great matches and character moments. I would not put it in the same league as the more intense sport titles like Prince of Tennis, Haikyu, or Kuroko but it’s definitely a solid title in its own right. We even get a physical fight at the end of the series.

The manga is about a kid named Sho who really wants to be a great soccer player. It’s his favorite sport in the world and the guy is always living and breathing soccer 24/7. Unfortunately he’s fairly small which makes it difficult to power his way through against the bigger kids and he’s just not super gifted at the sport. He’ll have to train and practice much harder than the other kids in order to catch up to them but he’s not afraid of the effort. Sho needs to first make it on the team and then he needs to earn his way into a starting position.

The opening volumes of the series really showcase how much distance Sho needs to cross in order to be one of the very best. He does train quite hard each day so it’s not like he’s slacking off but it’s just hard to keep up with the others. Just look at the range for example, they can kick the ball from double the length which is naturally a big advantage. Additionally, it’s harder to body slam someone who’s a lot bigger than you are and while you shouldn’t target players in Soccer, there is a lot of physical contact.

What Sho has for advantages is his speed and determination. It is a little easier for him to maneuver throughout the field and steal the ball if someone lowers their guard. Additionally his stamina is quite good and he’s usually the last player to go down. That works as a good morale boost to the other players when they are starting to weaken a bit. By the end of the series Sho is surprisingly still one of the weaker players. Whistle is definitely going for a higher level of realism than most of the other sport titles and while Sho kept training, so did the rest of the cast. So in the end he didn’t make nearly as much progress as you would have assumed otherwise relative to the others.

The best character in the series was Shigeki though. He’s one of Sho’s rivals and you could also call him the final boss of sorts. He’s one of the guys who helped get Sho into soccer and continued to inspire the lead. He ends up leaving the series for a few volumes but returns better than ever. He’s got a very confident demeanor to him which is important and the guy is an ace in soccer.

Additionally, he is able to fight physically. This comes in handy as he has to save someone from getting bullied. Even when he was outnumbered 8 to 1 the guy held his own. Shigeki never ran from a challenge and only continued to get better and better at the series went on. That’s why he was my favorite character, he left a real impact here.

Tatsuya is the other rival but he doesn’t hold his own quite as well as Shigeki. The main reason for that he that Tatsuya tends to lose sight of what’s really important a few times. He gets jealous of Sho and tries to show up Shigeki on a few occasions. Things never work out for him so he inevitably gets upset and starts playing rather sloppy. It’s not a trait that’s good for the rival since you can’t take him nearly as serious after that. It also happens to Tatsuya more than once which is always a bit worrisome.

I still liked him in the end but those scenes really did a number on the guy. Now that he’s more confident in his own abilities I expect he would look a lot better in the sequel. Then there’s Tsubasa who has a run rivalry with Daichi. Both of them are goalie/keepers for the team so naturally each one wants to be the starter. Interestingly even by the end of the series it’s hard to say who the better player is. I would give the edge to Tsubasa because I found him to be more consistent but it’s really close.

It’s not as decisive as you would expect and due to that both of them get big roles in the final match as they alternate. Tsubasa did start for more periods in the match though so take that as you will. Tsubasa is a very fiery character who is very loud and outspoken. Daichi is more of a quiet guy who tends to speak his mind rather than mincing words. So in their own ways they are both very confident in their abilities but go about showing it in different ways.

Technically Whistle’s cast is a fairly large one but it’s also large to the point where it’s hard to develop them all as much as in other titles. For example Haikyu is the sport title with the closest comparable cast I would say but the series really took the time to develop all of them. Granted, Haikyu is almost double Whistle’s size but by volume 20 I would say they already had more personality.

In Whistle if you weren’t one of the two keepers or rivals then you were most likely not a very notable player. The other kids were good enough to keep Sho out of the starting roster for a while but that’s about it. You wouldn’t really expect them to do much in an actual match though aside from yelling at Tatsuya at times when he would steal the spotlight. Usually they’d start losing points for the team which is when Sho would have to be called back in.

There are some supporting characters outside the team though like the various coaches in the series. They tended to be solid even if they didn’t make too much of an impact outside of the main one. The main coach always chose to believe in Sho and support him when it counted. She did take a bit of a risk near the end of the series but when it’s the main character it’s never a bad idea to try and let him surpass his limits. There was a pro player who happened to be in Sho’s neighborhood. That guy was nice he always helped give Sho some quality advice and told the kid not to give up.

Then you have Sho’s brother Ko who doesn’t do much for most of the series but he does come through when it counts at the end. Whistle goes for a rather emotional ending to be sure but one that has a satisfying ending. If the ending had been fully sad with no recovery at the end then that would have been more on the fishy side. As it stands, it works pretty well as a way to close things out.

Whistle’s artwork does look fairly old. It reminds you of something like Saint Seiya only without the fight scenes of course. It doesn’t hold up to a lot of newer titles but it isn’t bad. You can still recognize all of the characters pretty easily and the soccer games have a proper amount of intensity. The manga isn’t actually as old as it looks but it could be an intentional style choice I suppose or it’s from an artist who grew up drawing in that style so he just stayed in that style.

With 24 volumes at the ready you can expect a whole lot of matches throughout the series. It also gives the author time to let the characters just have some fun and dialogue outside of the matches too. We have time for the heroes to enjoy some good food and hang out. Some titles don’t have a whole lot of time for that so it’s a pretty balanced set up. With this many volumes over 10 years it can be easy to forget some of the early opponents though but the you won’t forget Sho’s struggles.

Part of why the main characters are all so memorable is because they got such strong character arcs. Each of them had to deal with something. Sho had to deal with his lack of skills, Daichi had to deal with improving his skills and not relying on only hunches, Tsubasa had to deal with everyone always underestimating him, Tatsuya had to deal with self confidence, and Shigeki had to deal with his rich father who owned another soccer club. There was definitely a lot going on here so even if you don’t remember some of the specific matches it was a lot of fun.

Overall, Whistle is definitely a very good series that I would recommend. It’s a very easy read and like with most sport titles there is a ton of replay value here. There may not be anything super deep or genre breaking going on here but you know that in each volume you can expect some high quality soccer content. It would have been nice to perhaps have seen a time skip where Sho is now one of the best players out there but I guess that will be a job for the sequel series. It would be nice to see Sho’s hard work pay off at some point since so far he has only made some progress. If you like sports or a good story then you should definitely check this one out, the writing is always consistent.

Overall 7/10

Jujutsu Kaisen Review


Jujutsu Kaisen has quickly become one of the big names on Shonen Jump. It’s quickly approaching the big 3 and hunting demons is always a good concept for a show. This one’s off to a very solid start so I hope to see it continue down this path. With a movie already on the way and a season 2 probably coming pretty quick, this franchise is well on its way.

The story starts with introducing us to Yuji. He’s a nice kid who was born with physical abilities far exceeding that of a normal person. He can run extremely fast and casually match world records on throwing and things like that. He’s a part of an occult club at his school since it gives him a place to just hang out. One day he meets a sorcerer who tells him that Yuji’s friends are in great danger. Yuji manages to save the friends from the demon by teaming up with this guy and swallowing the magical item that was putting them in danger.

The item turned out to be one of Sukuna’s fingers. Yuji is now the vessel for the most powerful curse to ever walk the planet. He has 2 choices, be murdered or locate the rest of the fingers and after eating them all he will be murdered. Yuji chooses the second option so that he can at least save people in the meantime. He is placed into Gojo’s squad along with Nobara and Megumi. Gojo will help his squad get very powerful and perhaps one day he can convince the elders not to murder Yuji.

I’d say that’s the general premise at least. Naturally it’s the kind of series that should have a ton of arcs by the end so the plots will change but it works well as a general story scope. There’s already a lot of lore within the series such as ranking the curses as well as the sorcerers from Grade 3 to Special Grade. The lower you go, the more powerful you are. You don’t need to pay too much attention to it though because as Gojo points out early on, these rankings aren’t super reliable anyway. Special Grade comes too soon so as a ranking it’s incredibly broad.

Right away you can definitely tell that a whole lot of effort was put into the animation here. Mappa didn’t hold anything back and so the show can keep up with just about any other. In particular the show got pretty big for the hand to hand choreography which lives up to the hype. You’ll see characters actually go for wrestling throws and other pretty impressive moves the whole time.

Yuji’s fighting style even feels like that of a boxer at times. He definitely knows how to both land and take a hit. Every fight has really quick movements and nice contrasts with the hits. This one definitely holds up with the animation. I wasn’t a big fan of the opening but maybe it’s one of those that will land more later on.

In terms of music the show is top notch as well. “Looming Threat” is probably the best theme in the show. It only plays very briefly when Yuji nearly gets sniped by the traitors on the other team but the full version even transitions to more of a rock tune by the end which is pretty cool. There’s a lyrical song Megumi gets during one of his fights as well and a pretty inspirational theme for the end of the series.

The show avoids fanservice entirely which is great. I dare say the modern Shonens have all been rather impressive with this so if that’s a trend that will continue I’m definitely on board with it. Black Clover, My Hero, Dr. Stone, and now Jujutsu Kaisen are all modern titles that really don’t have any fanservice which is great to see.

Due in part to the very nature of demon hunting the show can get violent at times though. Definitely be ready for things like a character ripping his heart out or characters basically being blown up/deformed by the villainous Mahito. You certainly get some rather crazy visuals in the world of JJK. It’s also rough for the heroes since they can’t exactly heal someone who has gone through the process. Once you become a demon there’s no way back.

Yuji is the main character and a very solid hero. He wants to ultimately make the city safer and becoming a sorcerer was the easiest way to pull this off. It’s definitely shady how the sorcerer government keeps wanting to bump him off but Yuji doesn’t take it too seriously. I didn’t really have any issues with how he acts throughout the story. He’s always making the right moves and also does a good job of always getting right back up again even when he has to power through a bunch of attacks. Now that’s some solid dedication right there.

He’s sort of like a good mix of Naruto and Ichigo. Then you have Sukuna who is always waiting for his chance to emerge. So far the series is playing him off as a full villain who won’t be turning good. We’ll see about that since it usually feels inevitable in these things but he definitely leaves a strong impression. Whenever the guy appears you can feel his strength and that’s considering that he’s not even at 50% yet. If the guy ever fully awakens then the heroes are going to have a lot of trouble.

Megumi is definitely one of the biggest characters in the series and he looks good here. While it’s one of those unique cases where you could argue that the main character has already surpassed him, Megumi is tough in his own right. Hey, not every rival can be stronger than the lead right? Megumi talks tough and knows how to effectively fight along with his summons as needed. I do think that summons will always limit you in the end so I’d like to see him focus on hand to hand going forward.

he’s a rock solid character though so I see a good future for him. Then you have Nobara as the main heroine. Her fighting style may be the most unique in the series since you almost always see Voodoo as more of a villain technique. She uses her hammer to punch nails through her opponents and as long as she has a piece of DNA she’s good. It’s really a difficult combat style to get past although her weakness would naturally be against long range foes or close range ones who can get around that. Her skills aren’t up to par with Megumi or Yuji’s yet but she has solidified herself as a tough fighter through and through. Her tag team battle with Yuji was pretty great.

Then you have Gojo, the most powerful fighter in the series. His inclusion is really a big part of what makes JJK so much fun. He’s just a fun guy even without his abilities. He’s very laidback and really allows the students to express themselves. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Kakashi and I suppose he fits that mentor role. On the other hand, he just feels a lot younger and more confident. His absolute confidence is one of the most enjoyable things about him. A lot of characters are strong but will act oblivious or be modest. Gojo’s not modest in the slightest. He’ll tell people to their faces that he’s the strongest and can back it up.

His ability is the Infinity. Nothing can hit him because the distance to infinity will always be just beyond your grasp. It’s a really great ability and you can see how versatile it is right off the bat. He can use it for offense, defense, and even just for speed. There are probably limits to the ability that he hasn’t yet explained but even with those it’s just really hard to get around. Effectively you need to just be able to purely overpower him and break through infinity itself or at least to whatever Gojo’s limit is since true infinity cannot exist.

It’s also a fun dynamic with the villains since they acknowledge from the start that they cannot defeat him. That’s the whole point of why they want to trap him instead. The only other time I’ve seen this is with RWBY where Salem and her cabal have to be careful of approaching Ruby since her Silver Eyes can one shot them. Of course, they overthought it since nobody helped teach Ruby about her abilities which was a cool subversion in itself. Here though Gojo’s power is very much the real deal.

Now, this is part of why I see Gojo turning evil. There have yet to be any signs of this happening yet in the series but it sort of adds up. He’s already mentioned the idea out loud about murdering all of the elders in the Kaisen world. Those guys are so corrupt that they’re practically villains anyway but of course the instant Gojo uses his abilities on someone like that there would be no going back. Gojo continues to be frustrated with the way things are going and I just see him snapping. Who better as the final boss than the man who commands Infinity? Of course it will need to be handled carefully since right now he is easily the best character in the series. You don’t want to mess that up by having him turn evil in the wrong way.

Meanwhile you have the principal Yaga. He has the power to make cursed spirit objects but beyond that he hasn’t really gotten to fight yet. He seems like a good enough supporting character but there really isn’t a whole lot to say about him. We already know he’s much better than the Jujutsu leader though. That guy wants to murder Yuji immediately just for being a vessel. He seemingly has no logical comebacks to Gojo’s arguments on why they should keep Yuji around so the guy already lost the battle. His guitar skills have been shown only off screen so we don’t know how tough he is yet.

Mai is one of the fighters from the other sorcerer division and she’s certainly rather ruthless. She has no problems with the murdering Yuji plan although I guess none of them have any issues there. Her gun skills are really sharp but you do feel like she will need a better weapon if Maki can already catch those bullets. Using a gun against curse spirits also feels like a dead end. I can’t possibly see any special grades having trouble with such a weapon. I do like her confident façade even if she starts losing hype when she starts complaining about the past. In short, Mai made for a good villain but I’d like to see her grow stronger.

Then we have Toudou who is easily the most impressive fighter. He’s so powerful that he is able to take on Yuji in a proper fight. His teleportation ability is also very sharp and makes for some good strategic moments. He has a rather odd tradition of finding out if someone can be worthy to fight him though. It seems to be related to an origin story that hasn’t actually happened yet.

Right now I’d say he’s definitely a standout character. He’s certainly quite obsessed with an idol but at the same time I wouldn’t say Toudouu acts creepy about it or anything. It’s not something I’d deduct points for yet at least and he was also nice enough to give Mai his ticket to one of the concerts at one point which was nice of him.

Mechamaru would be one of the lower members of the team for me so far. Mainly because this guy was absolutely trying to murder Panda and was throwing a pity party for himself from the start. Now, I think its fair to say that he has had a rough time of things to be sure, but it’s still no excuse for going all in like this. His battle with Panda was definitely a highlight in the show though. No doubt about that.

Noritoshi seems like the group’s leader and he does a good job in the role. His skills are impressive and it’s implied that he would have probably beaten Megumi if he was actually going in with 100% of his skills. He isn’t able to do much against Hanami but to be fair, pretty much nobody could do anything at that point. His blood arts seem quite versatile so I’d like to see more of him.

Momo has one of the smaller roles from the team. She can fly rather quickly with her broom and that makes her a tricky opponent to catch. In a fight though? She’s not going to be able to do much at all. She’s also on board with Mai feeling bad for herself. Honestly at that point half the team are feeling sorry for themselves, you definitely can’t compare these guys to the main team. I hope she’s hiding some extra skill beyond her broom.

Then you have Kasumi who’s a lot of fun. She goes down fairly quick against Mai but from the team her moveset might be my favorite. It’s simple but I like her little en field which serves as an attack range and her sword. She is lacking in experience right now but if she can improve her base skills then she should definitely be ready for the big time. Hopefully this loss doesn’t discourage her too much.

Now lets talk about Yuji’s senior teammates. First up you have Maki who may not be able to use curse energy like the others but she’s a master at close quarters combat. Way I see it, you can never go wrong there because when all else fails, you can always count on the abilities you learned on your own. She takes down several opponents on her own and even has a good fight with Hanami so she’s proven herself to be one of the most powerful fighters here. Catching the bullet with her bare hand was also very impressive. She’s off to a great start.

Panda is another fun character. He may be a cursed object technically but at this point he has a will of his own and emotions so you may as well consider him a sentient being like any other. In a way he is a special object in that sense because he is truly alive at this point in time. His battle style is sort of like Yuji’s as well with the various combos he throws out. If he hadn’t been so injured I’m sure he would have contributed a lot to the Hanami fight.

Finally you have Toge. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of his yet. He has the ability to turn his words into power which is really handy. Effectively he can tell you to go away and a blast of sonic energy will accomplish that task. He has fairly low durability though and can only talk for a little bit before being taken down for the count. Additionally, the amount of words he can say goes down further based on the strength of the opponent. So that’s all things to keep in mind. He means well but I really think he needs another ability on top of that to really make it here.

Now lets talk about some of the villains. First up is Jougo. As the first big villain to attack you know he’s doomed from the start. Still, I do appreciate his confidence since he’s the only villain to just flat out attack Gojo. He wanted to see what this fighter was all about and got his wish. Jougo’s fire abilities look really fierce and against anyone other than Gojo he may have really had a fair shot at winning.

The anime does a good job of showing that he’s clearly in a different league compared to most of the other villains. So he may not have gotten to do as whole lot in the grand scheme of things but I definitely liked Jougo. Then there’s Hanami who is my favorite villain from the show. Effectively she can manipulate the planet itself for a lot of great combos. She can also absorb energy through spores and has terrific hand to hand combat.

Group fights are always a lot of fun with everyone jumping in and out of the fray. This one pretty much goes in that direction as she takes a lot of foes down. The battle with the heroes is one of the most memorable and her defenses were enough to survive Purple as well. That’s no easy feat. The villain group’s off to a pretty solid start all things considered.

Then you have Mahito who is one of the main villains. He isn’t the leader or anything but has a big enough role where you could see him growing into that role. He has a lot of similarities to Shigaraki both in terms of personality and design. Mahito’s ability to alter his soul is also not something you really want to underestimate since it makes attacks really difficult to land. How do you hit someone who’s always something else right?

The guy’s pretty twisted so I don’t see a redemption arc for him or anything like that. He likes to fight which is a plus and the guy gets very active no matter what the situation is. I’ll need him to score some wins or just look more impressive though before I like him more. I have a hard time taking him too seriously since it seems like he’s always getting absolutely pummeled no matter where he goes. Technically the guy is tough though.

Then you have Junpei and I was not a fan of this guy either. Now granted he did get a pretty bad shake. He gets bullied at school for no real reason and no matter where he goes he always runs into jerks. However, this doesn’t give him a free pass to turn evil and do whatever he wants. What really hurt his character for me is when he goes home and sees the murder, he doesn’t come to the obvious conclusion. Why didn’t he stop to think for a moment that the evil curse he was working with may have done this?

The person who died…died to a curse. If you ask me that can really only mean one thing. That should have been the natural train of logic but instead he went in a different direction. Even by the end he’s really slow on the uptake. So I can see why he is a bit of a sympathetic character but he made way too many mistakes throughout the show. It made the task of liking him too hard and ultimately I just never got behind the guy. He needed to be smarter.

Finally you have Nanami who is another senior exorcist. He’s more on the level of Gojo in that he’s a sensei. His ability is naturally not as strong as Gojo’s but he’s still very tough in his own right. His cuts have a lot of power to them and he can even increase his strength in short bursts when necessary. He doesn’t exactly love being a sorcerer but he does what’s needed. His origin story where he helps the cafe owner was definitely pretty fun. Allowing her to keep the curse would have been very suspect. So this guy’s a fun character to have around.

There’s not much to say about Getoh yet since he’s mostly still planning in the shadows. He’ll certainly get a pretty big role in season 2 and going forward though. The guy’s not going to hide forever after all. It is pretty surreal how you see the villains just having fun and goofing off in the little specials after each episode though. Not that you should take those too seriously but it would be something if they do actually just hang out and have fun when they’re not messing with the heroes.

The highlight of the anime for me is definitely the tournament arc. After all that’s basically what it is as the two schools fight each other in the Exchange event. We first see how the Kyoto team are all tools who are willing to murder people aside from Toudou and it adds some stakes to the event. Yuji also gets a chance to show what he can do after perfecting his skills. The fact that he was taking on an entire team at once is crazy impressive.

The climax with Hanami is also really hard to beat. Now that’s how you end the story arc in a big way. There are technically 2-3 other arcs in the show but this was definitely the biggest one. You’ve also got Junpei’s arc which is a pretty solid one. It’s the arc that gives Yuji his resolve to fight on as well as his motivation for the rest of the series in stopping Mahito. The tag team battle with Nanami was also on point and it was the first time Yuji really got to cut loose.

Then you have the final arc with Megumi and Nobara. Megumi’s power up was a good way to end his arc although you definitely feel like he should have used the ability a little sooner since he almost died a bunch of times. It is a last resort and he goes kind of crazy after using it, but it’s still worth it. Yuji and Nobara’s combo attacks against the twins was also really solid. While the two villains weren’t very memorable, it was just a great showcase of the heroes’ abilities.

There was definitely a lot to cover here that’s for sure. The show has pretty nice pacing so there’s always another adventure around the corner. The writing is on point so the show is really good about not having any big weaknesses. Hopefully the heroes do something to keep the elders at bay though because it’s always annoying when the heroes are effectively working for the villains but can’t do anything about it. Even in Naruto and Bleach you always had the bosses basically act like villains the whole time. Yuji is a lot stronger now so he can defend himself, but he really can’t let his guard down.

Overall, Jujutsu Kaisen definitely started off strong with this show. It’s clear that Mappa put in a ton of effort as I can’t overstate how good each episode looked. There were constantly top notch fights that got a big budget and it helps to enhance the overall quality of the show. The story is good and the character cast is on point right now. If you’re up for checking out the next big Shonen title then this is a pretty good one to check out. It’s got all the classic action elements you could want.

Overall 8/10

Hunter X Hunter (2011) Review


All right it’s time to look at the second anime adaption of the Hunter X Hunter show. The original anime ended quite early as the OVAs had to continue the arcs and even then it didn’t make it all the way. Since the manga is still going this series wasn’t able to finish either, but this time it did make it through the Chimera and Election arcs so it’s getting closer and closer. The series has a lot of dynamic scenes and has some of the best strategic battles in all of Shounen Jump. While the series has a few jump the shark episodes in the Chimera arc the series is still solid as a whole.

The world of HXH centers around professional hunters. In this world this is the most lucrative position as you can get rich just for selling your license. Of course if you went to all the trouble of passing the exam it is very unlikely that you would ever do such a thing. The hunters keep their licenses as a matter of pride and serve as body guards or go on quests. The options are endless. There are quite a few main characters who each have their own goals and ambitions which lead to the various story arcs. Unlike most other series you can get arcs where the main characters shift more than once. Otherwise I think the only other series I can think of where this happened is Naruto where Sasuke got his own arc. Potentially Dr. Stone will count as well if the other guy ever gets his own arc.

The first arc follows Gon in his quest to become a hunter. He is finally old enough to take the Exam and dashes on over. He meets up with a few other applicants known as Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio. The tests are quite rigorous though as you have to go through a forest of death, run for miles, escape a death zone, and then engage in one on one battles with other fighters. This won’t be easy, but Gon has trained quite a lot to be in shape so he would be ready for this. Unfortunately for him this happens to be the exam where a villain has entered the ring as well. His name is Hisoka and his goal is to cause quite a lot of chaos.

It’s a pretty good introduction to the series. We get to meet the main cast and there’s even a tournament. While the Chunin Exams from Naruto do still take the cake for this format you can see how similar these two are. Adding Hisoka into the mix also adds a good level of tension. It would have been interesting to have had Killua and Hisoka meet up early on here, but realistically that probably would not have gone well for the kid. At this point Hisoka already had nen which means he is effectively invincible here.

The next big arc was the Heavens Arena which is another big tournament. Now this arc isn’t very large compared to the others, but it’s a lot of fun. Gon and Killua learn about nen which will be crucial later on and Gon gets to have his rematch with Hisoka. That’s basically his motivation here and Killua works to keep everyone out of Gon’s hair. I don’t think this arc is remembered quite as well as some of the others, but it was another solid way to build more character development. I’ll also take any excuse to have a bunch of extra fights. HXH does a lot of “about to fight, but then doesn’t” moments so it was nice to enjoy these days while you could when every fight did happen.

Next up is the arc considered to be the best in the series and I would agree with that. Yorknew brings Kurapika into the center stage this time. His goal in life is to destroy the Spiders since they murdered his entire clan. It’s his whole reason for becoming a professional hunter and he never lost sight of this goal. This is his chance to take them down, but these guys are world class threats for a good reason. It won’t be easy for Kurapika to bump them off. Meanwhile Gon and Killua wander into the fray, but at their current level they sometimes prove to be more of a liability than a help. We also get the government involved and a bunch of other characters.

Yorknew is just a very packed arc with cool moments around every corner. Kurapika vs Uvogin is still a very iconic fight and seeing Chrollo take on Killua’s father and grand father was epic as well. At this point in the series there are also a lot of fun dream match-ups. For example while Killua may not have much nen yet he still does have a lot of strength and speed. Would he have been able to at least take one of them down if Gon wasn’t around? Kurapika also did good in taking on Uvogin, but would he be able to take down the others? Most of the Spiders have fairly broken abilities so in a sense Uvogin was the easiest to beat because he’s all about strength. His strength was certainly crazy though.

Then we have Greed Island which is more of a peaceful arc in comparison. Gon and Killua enter a video game to find Gon’s father an instead they wind up stuck in the video game. To escape they have to clear it, but in the meanwhile there are a bunch of bombers running around in there as well. Their goal is to clear the game first and they’re willing to murder all of the other players to get their way. They don’t appear to be quite as tough as the Spiders, but the ability to blow someone up with a single point of contact is always helpful. The arc is fun enough and we meet more characters like Biscuit. It’s never quite able to capture the same level of energy and excitement as the earlier arcs though.

Next is the Chimera Ant arc which was certainly anticipated because it had never been animated before. It’s the author’s shot at a DBZ type arc. If you’ve noticed each of the arcs seem to switch genres time and time again. Well this arc focuses more on power levels and the whole alien invasion even makes it part horror. This arc is very long and it feels like the longest in the series although I don’t know if that’s accurate. Basically these insect creatures have taken over a kingdom. They are slowly growing more and more powerful as well as intelligent because of the humans they eat. When they eat someone with nen they start to grow nen as well. The government is trying to hide this, but as a result the situation is quickly growing out of hand. Hunters are sent in to handle this. Gon and Killua will have to prove themselves against professional hunters as well if they want to make the cut. This time they will need to master Nen and have special abilities to help out.

This arc gives the heroes the biggest power upgrades they’ve ever gotten in the series. That’s why it’s a shame that neither Gon or Killua have really gotten to fight after this arc. Not only have they likely surpassed Kurapika now but they’re possibly Spider/Pro hunter level at this point. I’d say certainly since they were taking on Ants that the pros were having a lot of trouble with. There are a ton of fights in this arc and the heroes even have to split up at one point to take down a lot of enemies. That’s why it’s a shame that this is ultimately the arc that really holds the series back. On the one hand, it’s easily the most epic arc in the series. It has a lot of the best battles and the set-up is really solid. This is basically an alien invasion and it’s the most ambitious arc yet. We even see the Hunter association chairman Netero fight for once.

What hurts this arc is how the violence steps up and also covers animals. The insects murder a bunch of animals in this arc. They take down kids and in general the arc gets really dark. We even have a human villain out of nowhere who is basically doing trafficking amidst the chaos in a plot that has no point. The author also started to get a little more experimental around this point so we get an episode about nothing much as a guy with a terrible past is wondering what’s going on. He had an abusive father or something and while I’m sure the episode tied in to something, it feels like half an hour of nothing. The new characters here weren’t all hits so when they get a lot of focus it takes away from the main characters.

That’s why this arc is a mixed bag. It has the largest amount of great moments and the animation is also stunning. The Nen affects and how they affect everyone is handled very well. One character ages many years in an instant which is a dramatic but effective way or showing just how fierce these enemies are. After all, the heroes know that if they’re caught then they’ll definitely be dead. Put it this way, this arc would get the lowest score in the series at a 4 or a 5. Everything just adds up, but it is the most interesting arc. It does get the same atmosphere you’d expect from something like Attack on Titan or Fate/Zero which always does keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s just a shame that usually in creating that atmosphere the series usually has to go into some pretty dark places. You could take away those scenes and the arc would be fantastic. It’s rare to get a series to such an interesting place with so many pieces so you always hope it’ll be the next big thing.

Finally we have the Election arc. This one is more of a return to form as it feels like the first arcs. The Hunter Association is going to pick a new chairman and naturally there are a lot of candidates to choose from. They’ve all got their own motives and agendas so the people have to vote carefully. There are a lot of rules here to prevent anyone from being chosen too easily and I always enjoy this complexity. In the sub-plot Killua has to go back home to rescue another family member and then try to help out Gon. This leads to a lot of chase scenes and clashes of brawn and brain. It’s a pretty fun adventure arc and a nice little adventure to cap off the anime. You definitely feel how there are a ton of loose ends left, but hopefully the manga ends someday so we can get a sequel show. There’s almost no point in making another season yet because there isn’t a ton of content available at the moment.

So lets look at the characters. Gon is our lead here and he certainly goes through a lot of development. He’s a pretty happy kid at first, but as the series goes on we see more of his serious side. I dare say that he showed glimpses of being a little unhinged near the beginning though. All good main characters get upset when their friends are put in danger or threatened and Gon’s no exception. However, mix that in with his stubborn nature to never back down and he completely loses it. Gon tends to lose himself in his emotions which is good for building up his Nen, but it does mean he’ll often do anything for a quick boost of power. He gets the job done, but by the end he does tend to push people away.

Then you have Killua who sort of has the reverse character arc of Gon. At first he’s a deadly assassin who has a hard time fitting in. Eventually he learns to believe in teamwork more and even talks about friendship. He makes some close bonds with Gon and the others and really has come a long way from when he first started. He gets a lot of character development and is the best ally you can ask for. He’s always got your back and balances out his impressive fighting abilities with a strategic mind. Killua’s my favorite character in the series.

Then you have Kurapika who is also a big focus in the series. His origin story is similar to Sasuke’s and his goal of revenge is certainly the same. He’s put everything on the line to stop the spiders including giving himself an ability that is only useful against them. As a result he’s permanently limited himself against any other kind of enemy. He’s the smartest of the main characters and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. It’s a shame that he misses the final half of the series because he’s a very interesting character. Well if the next arc ever gets animated he’ll be the main character of that one.

Then we have Leorio who quickly gets left in the dust by the other characters. He used to be reasonably skilled, but he never learned a lot of Nen so he quickly fell out of the picture. Nen is something that you absolutely need to have or you just won’t stand a chance as the series goes on. He was never as serious or determined as the other characters though so maybe it’s for the best that he was written out. He can be a fun character, but you won’t really miss him while he’s gone.

Hisoka is one of the biggest villains in the series. He’s a constant thorn in the heroes’ path and the guy’s talents also ensure that it is hard to get past him. He’s incredibly powerful and right now it’s hard to say who in the series could really beat him. He’s at least around the level of the leader Chrollo and that would put him at the very top. His obsession with Gon can border on being a character wrecking trait, but so long as that never goes anywhere dicey we should be good. He’s definitely a wild card for all characters in the series.

As for the Spiders, Chrollo is their experienced leader. His ability to copy other powers is always something really hard to defend against. Mix that in with the fact that he is a tactical genius (Isn’t everyone in this series a genius?) and you’ve got a solid threat. One thing that makes the Spiders especially dangerous is the fact that they’re all reluctant friends and will go to war to help one of their own. They’re a unit so mess with one of them and you mess with all of them. Feitan is one of the stronger members of the group. He’s pretty quiet but beneath that are the abilities of the strongest member of the group. Next to Chrollo I just can’t see anyone else challenging him in a fight. Feitan is incredibly fast and strong and his heat abilities mean that escape is basically impossible.

Machi is the most enjoyable member of the group. She has a lot of fun while doing her job and while that doesn’t take away from her being evil, she’s just a nice contrast to the others. Her thin wires are also a tough ability to fight against for sure. It won’t be an easy match for any of the other Spiders against her. Nobunaga hasn’t done much yet and his abilities are pretty straight forward. If you get close to him then he’ll slice you to ribbons. That being said, just because the technique is simple doesn’t mean that beating him will be easy. His idea to get Gon and Killua to join the Spiders was interesting, but quite far fetched so I guess he doesn’t mind going for long shot plans.

Shalnark is probably the most cheerful member of the group though. He just likes hanging out with the group and seems to think of them as just a group of people hanging out. His ability to mind control people is definitely a scary ability to fight though. You never know when you’ll actually be taking on an ally. Then there is Shizuku who is one of the more inexperienced members of the group. Her vacuum does most of the work but her physical strength is in the higher end from the Spider members. All she needs is one good hit to possibly win a fight. She’s one of my least favorite Spider members but she’s not bad. Her personality just doesn’t click with me.

Uvogin is a fun member. He’s all about beating people with raw strength. The guy did allow himself to get captured pretty quick which didn’t work out well for him, but he always knew that the other Spiders would come to help him out. Had he fought almost anyone other than Kurapika in Yorknew he would probably still be around. He certainly had the best fight out of all the Spiders. As for other villains, Illumi is another big name in the series. He’s always messing with Killua and it can be hard to tell what his ultimate goal is. I believe it is just to break Killua down so he recognizes Illumi as his boss and everything else is to get to that point. He certainly doesn’t want anyone murdering Killua before that happens and is willing to fight for him. I’ts a pretty twisted state of affairs. He does seem pretty powerful so I hope he fights someday.

Genthru is the big villain from Greed Island. He’s probably one of the pettier villains though. He just wants a lot of money and to blow people up along the way. There isn’t much to him beyond that. He’s an okay villain, but not one you will remember. Biscuit left a much bigger impact in that arc and she was a fun coach to have. I do feel like she was surpassed in strength pretty quickly though. I don’t think she would be able to hold her own so well if she were to return.

As for the ants, Meruem is their leader so he should go first. He’s like a DBZ character who was thrown into HXH. He’s way too strong for everybody else. Even when he isn’t fighting seriously he’s able to handle the strongest hunter of them all. I like hie design and skill set. He gets a big character arc with a Go player. Mereum started out as a total villain, but was quickly getting redeemed. He’s an interesting character and by the end of the arc it’s quite telling that you’re almost rooting for his side over the humans.

His three generals were also great. Youpi is the weakest of the group (In terms of personality) He starts out as one of those guys who only wants to fight, but quickly begins to learn strategy. He actually outsmarts the heroes a few times which was cool and his final form would have been really tough to deal with in a fight. Pouf is the strategist of the group. He may not be as strong as the other two, but his abilities ensure that it is difficult to trap him. His voice actor did an excellent job with the character. He’s just a lot of fun whenever he is on screen. Finally we have Pitou who I consider to be the strongest of the 3. She took down Kite like it was nothing and was brave enough to make a move on Netero. If not for power level stuff and overthinking she should have been able to take everyone down.

As a quick aside, that’s another issue with the second half of the Chimera arc. I think the author wrote the heroes into too big of a hole. They were heavily outnumbered already and then he added the 3 generals who were stronger than all of the Hunters. There was no way they were going to mount a real comeback here and it shows. The heroes were so far out of their depth that the arc basically got cancelled and had a sudden ending that was not satisfying in the slightest. The power levels had just started to get out of hand so maybe it was a good idea to suddenly stop it, but as a result there are a ton of battles that should have happened, but ultimately didn’t. It was a very anti climactic end to the arc considering how much build up there was. I think the arc could have used another 20 or so episodes which would have been enough to cash-in on all the anticipation built up throughout the saga.

Ikalgo is a chimera who gets a big role as he eventually joins the heroes. He means well and while the guy was a total villain initially, his redemption arc is handled quite well. Ikalgo contributes quite a lot during the arc and while he may not be the strongest guy on the block, he is pretty sneaky. Then you’ve got Cheetu who is just a fun villain. He’s incredibly fast so it’s hard to tag him and he causes a lot of damage. If anything it’s just too bad that we couldn’t see him fight a bit more. It’s hard to really see anyone taking him down in a straight fight. He can destroy most opponents before they even notice he is around. Cheetu also continued to improve more and more as he developed new powers mid-fight. Rammot’s role isn’t nearly as big but he’s also a fun villain. The guy was really the first Nen chimera. Of course that means he isn’t quite ready to take on any of the commanders, but he still gives a good fight. I think his design is what really made him interesting. It’s a cool hybrid type look.

Then we’ve got Netero. This guy likes trolling everyone and by the time he is ready to act in the Chimera war it’s a little too late. The guy is definitely powerful and is probably still one of the strongest characters in the series. He couldn’t quite match up to Mereum but otherwise there are probably just a handful of characters who could give him a good fight. I wasn’t a big fan of his, but he beats most other old mentor type characters. As for Ging, he’s definitely one of the worst parents you’ll see around. He still has no good reason for ditching Gon and his wife. The guy just likes adventures and doesn’t want any responsibility that comes along with it. I want to see him fight because the guy gets to much hype, but at this rate it’ll be a long time before that ever happens.

A real standout character was Pariston. He really stole the show in the election arc. The guy has a charismatic presence so it’s easy to see why he was a front runner to be the next chairman. He destroys the opposing arguments with ease and is always one step ahead of the other characters. Everything goes according to his plans and it’s safe to say that he is still in control. I wonder if he’ll ever get a big role again, but even if he does not he left a great impression. Morel is a pro hunter who can manipulate smoke. He’s a very calm and calculated guy who knows not to bite off more than he can chew. He’s definitely a solid ally to have around and was a fun supporting character. His partner Knov may have cracked, but I liked that guy a lot as well. Ultimately he wasn’t able to press on with the rest of the heroes, but he was inches close to death. His older design also worked pretty well. It was really surreal to see that.

Knuckle is like an old school brawler character from an 80s anime. His power is pretty good because unless you have broken levels of Nen it’ll seal you off very quickly. Calling his attack Bankruptcy was also pretty neat. I do think Killua surpassed him a while back though and at this point Gon should be able to take him down. The guy was a good coach though and he was always nice to the local animals. In comparison Shoot never left as much of an impact. He did fight hard to the end though. Even while dying he wanted Knuckle to continue the fight. It’s always good to have that level of determination in battle.

Then there is Palm who is an odd heroine. She’s very unhinged and is always throwing threats around. Fortunately the heroes are tough enough where they don’t need to worry too much, but she is not an ally you’d want to have on hand. She wasn’t really my kind of character. Then you have Kite who is nice enough. He seems a lot more reasonable than Ging at any rate. He wasn’t terribly interesting either, but I did like his weapon. It’s pretty unique and the fact that even he doesn’t know what it’ll do next makes it a very interesting weapon to see in action.

Zeno is Killua’s grandfather and we can see why he was such a big threat back in the day. Even now he has some powerful moves and the fight with Chrollo was a lot of fun. We also saw what a large range his attack had in the Chimera arc. Pretty much everyone got affected by that. Then Silva is also a powerful fighter. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him either (Such is the fate of many characters in this series) but you can tell that he is the real deal. Killua’s family is just stacked with great fighters. Just take a look at Alluka. Alluka has never even trained before, but was born with a great ability to grant wishes. There is no wish that Alluka can’t feasibly grant in some way or another. I wouldn’t want to have that ability since I couldn’t grant my own wishes though. Seems like a big downside to me.

This likely won’t come as a surprise but the animation is definitely top notch. The colors are very strong and the battle animations are smooth. Everything about the shows looks quite modern. It’s got that sleek new look while still having a good color contrast for the dark nen abilities. Meanwhile the soundtrack is great as well. It’s a shame that my favorite track was never officially released but you’ll hear it quite a few times like when Killua fought the darts guy. There are many other great themes that you’ll be hearing as you go through the series as well.

One big factor in why the show is so good is the writing. Every character is written to be pretty intelligent and three dimensional. The narrator in the chimera arc also adds to the hype by building up each scene. A good narrator goes a long way and this guy definitely succeeded. The play by play enhanced each of the scenes as opposed to slowing things down too much.

Overall, Hunter X Hunter is definitely a fun show. If you’re looking for a good action/adventure anime then this is the one to check out. In some ways it is still one of the most ambitious titles out there. The mind games are incredible and the universe built around the characters is very interesting. There are so many complexities and various characters running around that the series could last for many years even without all the breaks. Once you watch this show you’ll likely want to go read the manga to see what happens next. It may have had a rough patch with the Chimera arc, but the series is long enough where it was able to survive this. Just dive in and enjoy the ride.

Overall 7/10

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba


Demon Slayer is definitely a title that’s been making a lot of waves lately. The fire fight in the forest sure got popular and in general it seems to have hit the mainstream. The manga’s off to a good start, the art style may not be great but I’ve only read the first volume so far so we’ll see how well it improves. I’ll have a review up for the series once it finishes.

Overall 6/10

Kuroko’s Basketball Review


I haven’t read a whole lot of sport titles before now so it’s always good to start a new one. Kuroko’s Basketball was getting a ton of hype back in the day and I can definitely say that it is well deserved. I don’t see this one being surpassed as the definitive Basketball title. That means that for sports we now have definitive titles for Tennis, (Prince of Tennis) Football, (Eyeshield 21) and Basketball. (Kuroko’s Basketball) While I have read titles for other sports I am hesitant to say that any of the others are the definitive versions yet. I think Whistle does have a strong case for Soccer though. Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely an excellent title either way and one that I highly recommend.

The series starts off by introducing us to the concept of the Miracle Generation. This was a legendary group of Basketball players who were seen as invincible throughout middle school. However, they disbanded after that with every member going to a different high school. One such member is named Kuroko and he decides to finally re-enter Basketball. He ends up getting on a team that has been pretty good over the last few years while at the same time not being in the same league as the top high schools. He figures this is a pretty good time to step out of the shadow of the more experienced members and finally prove himself. The other main character is Kagami who comes from America. He doesn’t know much about the Miracle Generation and doesn’t really care anyway. He just wants to be the best and leading this high school to the championship is his chance to test his skills. Can Kuroko and Kagami raise the school to new heights?

Kuroko may be one of the miracle generation but in terms of shooting ability he is easily the weakest member of the team. That’s because his specialty is passing and he focused on this completely to the point where he became the best passer of all time. It’s also an interesting trade off because his vanish passes only work because of his lack of talent. He is able to erase his presence on the court and to everyone else it’s like he appears out of thin air. If he were to get better at the game then he wouldn’t be able to pull this off since people would notice him. The whole plot is actually handled extremely well.

Throughout the series you wonder why he doesn’t just practice more to work on his shooting. Of course getting better isn’t that easy, but he’s got a super supportive team so it makes sense. The answer is pretty obvious, but still delivered well and makes for a good twist. It’s something you know in the back of your head, but it still comes across as a surprise which in my mind means the execution was spot on. It’s a little tough for Kuroko since he is not able to get back at the other members directly, but through Kagami he is able to get wins and that’s the big picture goal anyway.

Kagami is basically sharing the main character status with Kuroko and is a really good lead. He’s more of a classic main character type who is always ready for a game and strives to be the best. He’s super competitive and is filled with confidence. I think he plays a large part in why the manga is so good. In general the cast is pretty strong in this series, but even among them Kagami is one of the standout characters. His duels with Aomine in particular are really solid and I’m also glad that he doesn’t back down even when the villains decide to get physical. One such moment is when he steps up to the main villain and manages to dodge the stab attempt from point blank range. Without Kagami the team would be doomed and he brings the fiery energy that you need on the team.

He also gets quite a few arcs during the series as well. As the best player he naturally has a lot of unique burdens on himself as well. One is that if he is losing the 1 on 1 battle the whole team loses motivation and he knows it. That adds a lot of extra stress. Another part is where it starts to get to his head and he just wants to beat the whole team on his own. I think the tough part there is that there’s some truth to this approach. If he doesn’t take on the whole team then they may lose, but at the same time it stops the other players from growing. There isn’t really an easy answer here. Still, ultimately he recognizes his status as the ace while also being a team player.

Hyuga is one of the main members of the team and effectively he serves as the captain. His deal is that he’s usually nice, but sometimes a switch gets flipped and he becomes super rude which also makes him a better shot. It’s an unique dynamic although I never really became a fan of his. He’s pretty useful since he can land the 3 point shots consistently and keeps the team together. Hyuga is the “mostly” calm mind you need on the team to keep everyone balanced even if it doesn’t allow him to become one of the more exciting characters.

Izuki is the eagle eye of the team who has his eye on the ball at all times. He’s good at landing the steals, but in comparison to the other members I wouldn’t say his role is massive. You do feel his presence though and as most of the characters get a rival on different teams, Izuki does have his big moments. Izuki’s a very balanced member of the team and I’d say that he rounds out the cast pretty well. He’s a fun character.

Kiyoshi joins the cast a little later on, but makes a good difference once he is in. He’s a good bodyguard that the team needed and definitely goes through quite a lot. I dare say that he has the most painful journey from all of the heroes and certainly experienced loss more as well. He’s another solid character and while he never became the all star, he keeps up with Kagami a lot better than anyone else on the team.

Riko is the team coach and has a special ability where she can look at everyone’s stats. It’s a fun enough ability although it never becomes too handy. The reason for this is because even when she knows that their team is outclassed it doesn’t seem to matter much. She just tells them to play harder, but almost never goes into the strategy of it. Her more useful skill is the accelerated healing which allows a player to go back in even after surpassing his limits. That one’s definitely real handy.

Then we have the other members of the miracle generation. First up is Kise who is the copycat of the group. He can learn and stela anyone’s finisher move and use it against them. He’s probably the least intimidating member of the OP players, but by the end of the series he’s definitely top 3. I’d still put Aomine and Akashi above him, but I think he could take down any of the others. He’s easily one of my favorite antagonists and is a good rival character. He seems to have the quickest growth out of the main characters so in a sequel I could see him claiming the top spot.

Midorima is another top member and his big skill is that he can hit 3 point shots from any range with 100% accuracy. In theory I feel like that should make him the most deadly member, but I suppose you need the all around skills to really succeed. The other members just tend to overwhelm him with pure power. Perhaps if this was a 1 on 1 he would have better luck but at the same time the others would probably steal the ball a lot. Midorima is fun, but not nearly as solid as the other big villains.

Aomine is my favorite character in the series and really steals the show in every scene he’s in. He’s the original rival but somehow manages to still be one of the strongest characters in the series. By the end he is arguably the third strongest Basketball player still and I like to think that he could still beat Kagami and Akashi. He really knows how to go into the Zone which basically becomes a mandatory skill by the end of the series. Without his coaching Kagami definitely wouldn’t have been ready for the end. His plot is also the most sympathetic since he got so good that the games became boring and nobody wanted to even play with him. It’s tough being the best and naturally he took that to mean that maybe he should stop practicing. That does make sense to stop growing stronger and the fact that Aomine is still one of the best shows just how dangerously good he is.

Murasakibara probably gets the least amount of screen time from the miracle generation. He’s also got the worst attitude of the group and doesn’t even enjoy Basketball the way that the others do. The gang shows him the light here, but he really only played basketball because he was so good at it. He’s really tall which helps a lot for fundamentals and from there his natural skills just helped him jump to victory. I can’t say that I ever became a fan of his. I was definitely rooting for Akashi when they had their big fight. Murasakibara’s skills are the real deal, but in a series where you have so many great characters he just can’t keep up.

Akashi is the main villain of the series so you can definitely guess that his ability is going to be more OP than the others. For the most part the series tries to stay reasonably realistic. Even the various super powers like the vanish throw try to at least throw some logic into the mix to explain how Kuroko is able to accomplish such a feat. I dare say that the author barely tried with Akashi’s though. He’s got 2 personalities and with a glance he can knock you to the ground. Then he is also able to see through all techniques and is pretty close to unstoppable. He does make for a good villain though and is another figure who was ultimately overcome by the pressure that was placed on him. You definitely need a villain like him around to make the game more exciting even if he isn’t quite as cool as Kise or Aomine. The dual identity thing reminded me of Sensui though and was handled pretty well.

Koganei steps up to the plate towards the end of the series for the main characters. He’s not terribly talented, but he does have a big drive to win. This helps make up for the talent and win or lose he always tries his best. He even went up against the main villain and while you knew he was doomed from the start it was a pretty worthy effort. I also liked the idea of getting him in the mix. Even if you aren’t amazing in general every game is different so being able to do some damage makes sense. I could see him getting more of a role in a sequel.

Takao is a fun character from one of the opposing squads. Similar to how Kuroko has Kagami in his corner, most of the other Miracle Generation fighters have a second in command as well. Takao is good at blocking Kuroko’s surprise passes and is definitely a very competent player in his own right. He may not be on the level of the Miracle Generation, but he can hold his own. Imayoshi is one of the craftier opponents. He’s always got a plan and knows when to take a support role instead of trying to be one of the main characters. This guy helps fill out the team pretty well.

Then you’ve got Himuro who used to be rivals with Kagami back in the day. That made his team pretty unique in that it had two members who were able to keep up with the main guy. That being said, I didn’t like him nearly as much as the other players. I feel like the issue with him is that he loses the mental game the whole time. He blows up at his old coach and throughout his game with Kagami he feels pretty petty. If he was able to bring in a good fight without doing all the extra tricks then that’d be good, but otherwise you just feel like he isn’t quite dedicated enough for this level yet.

Now it’s time to look at the rest of Akashi’s team. Unlike the others every member of his group is a heavy hitter. First up is Reo, an intimidating three point shooter. He doesn’t miss and has a variety of moves which makes it very difficult to block or evade his shots. He’s definitely not one of the more interesting villains, but he makes for a good rival. Then you’ve got Kotaro who is able to dribble very quickly. It’s definitely a less impressive ability than most, but it does mean that stealing the ball from him is really hard. Moreover, he is actually able to even overwhelm Kagami with this ability briefly which is no small feat. Usually the backup members don’t get to mess with Kagami, but this guy welcomed the challenge.

Then you have Nebuya who is the power hitter of the group. He is able to hold his own physically against Kiyoshi and if we’re being honest he is definitely stronger than that guy. In a one on one fight he won’t be losing to him and his raw power also makes it difficult for Kagami to stop him as well. The guy has a lot of pride in his play and is definitely one of the more enjoyable members of the group. Finally you have Mayuzumi. He’s not very interested in Basketball but is manipulated by Akashi into joining the fray anyway. He wants to be a good player in his own right, but Akashi’s plan is for him to effectively be just like Kuroko. The cost of this would be that he can never stand out though so you can see why he wouldn’t want that to be the case.

There are definitely more characters of course, but these are the main standouts so check out the manga to take a look at the ones I skipped. It’s an excellent read from start to finish. One factor that really helps is how good the artwork looks. The artist is really able to illustrate just how intense these games get. All of the characters are drawn consistently and the art only gets better and better as the series goes on. While there are a small handful of characters who look a little too similar the artist does a good job of differentiating the characters otherwise.

One of the best parts of the series is when we’re first introduced to “The Zone” as well as when Kagami is first able to enter it. It’s a pretty great super form that makes the game even more intense. It also has solid limitations like only being able to use it for a few minutes to prevent this from being completely broken. The way it is implemented is pretty fair if you ask me. It’s naturally also veering away from the more realistic aspects of the other series, but that’s fine.

I think another impressive part of the series is just how much time is spent on the court while still developing the characters. The only other series I’ve seen with such an amazing balance would be Prince of Tennis and while that is still my favorite sport title, I would have to admit that this one has the stronger supporting cast. It’s actually fairly tough to make all of the main characters likable. Even titles like Black Clover and DBZ run into some trouble there. You can’t make every character great, but since on the field the main 5 characters will constantly be around it was important that the series made sure they were good.

One thing that I’m sure everyone was waiting to see from the start was how the Miracle Generation used to be. Honestly it would make for a fun prequel, but as it is we did see some of their wins through flashbacks near the end of the series. They are every bit as overwhelming as you would expect and are absolutely merciless. It makes sense that they wanted to split up after that since it’s a lot more fun to fight people on the same level than to just steamroll everyone in your path.

Overall, Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely a great title to read. It works both as an amazing sports title as well as a great story of comradery. The basketball games are pretty long so there’s a lot of time for proper character development and team adaption during the games. There’s a lot to love about this title and there are really no negatives. Whenever the next volume would arrive I’d dash through the whole thing. The series never has any slow moments and if anything it’s all just gone too quickly. I highly recommend checking this title out. You’ll definitely be glad that you took the plunge. Now I’m ready to read the quick sequel, it’ll be fun to see the characters one last time.

Overall 9/10

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2 of Phi Brain. The first season was definitely a rock solid show. We got a bunch of great puzzles and in general it was a pretty unique show. I haven’t seen many like it so it was good to have the title return. While season 2 does retread some ground from the first season it’s definitely a great follow up. It’s not quite as good as the first season of course, but the quality is very close to that of the original.

The season also does start off with a bang. Kaito and the rest of the Phi Brains are hanging out at school when they are challenged by a new villain group. They call themselves the Orpheus Order and right off the bat they challenge the heroes to a group battle. Kaito and Gammon can handle themselves well enough but can the rest hold their own? The leader of the Orpheus Order is named Freecell (Or is he the leader?) and he seems to have some ties to Kaito from the past. Kaito doesn’t remember this guy or the promise he supposedly made. Either way Kaito has to stop these guys, but the Orpheus Order is more expansive than they can imagine. Kaito may need to call on his old friends from the POG for assistance.

I always like it when the villains make a move right away. Why bother waiting 20+ episodes to appear when you can storm the hero stronghold in under 10 minutes? It’s really impressive just how quickly they move. I also really like the idea of a team battle. It’s basically a 5 on 5 match as everyone plays a square related game. It’d be even cooler to have everyone moving at once, but logistically that’d probably be a nightmare so this makes sense. It’s still super tense because even if Kaito wins his round there is no guarantee that the whole team will win.

One advantage the season immediately has over the last one is that Kaito isn’t sidelined for every other puzzle. In season 1 there kept being a ton of different circumstances that would keep him out of a fight. First we had Cubik come out with something that prevented Kaito’s brain from activating, then he went through an emotional breakdown where he forgot how to do puzzles, etc. There were so many episodes where Kaito could have solved the puzzle easily but then something happened and he had a hard time. Here the only times Kaito is having a difficult experience solving the puzzle is because his opponent is that good. In season 1 a lot of the puzzles were 1 player, most of the ones in season 2 are vs puzzles so you’re actively fighting someone. It makes a huge difference on how you go about solving it this way. Even Nonoha gets to duel in one puzzle which was definitely interesting. Her photographic memory unfortunately isn’t too helpful in most cases, but she always tries which is good.

The Orpheus Order has quite a few members so lets quickly talk about them. First up is Freecell who serves as the main antagonist here. He blames Kaito for the death of his mother, but gradually we learn more and more about his full backstory. He makes for a good villain, but typically he’s at his best when Kaito isn’t around. For example, his confrontation with Klondike is his best scene. It’s awesome and one of the best moments in the whole show. When he’s with Kaito he gets a little more delusional and in some ways is just Rook 2.0. Overall I did think he made for a pretty great villain though. He may not have been the most original villain in the series, but the execution was on point. If anything it’s too bad we didn’t get to see him fight more. I wanted to see his new powers in action.

Then we have Pinochle who is definitely the worst of the group. He’s the kind of guy who goes for mindgames and intimidation right off the bat, but can’t pull it off. As a result he seems more like a try hard and never becomes all that interesting. It’s a shame since he gets some of the most development out of the characters. Next is Mizerka who also isn’t too great, but she’s a step up from Pinochle. She needs to have a use and so that probably makes her the most loyal out of all the members. So long as the leader gives her a task she is happy to complete it. Her character is tied pretty closely to Melancholy so you can probably expect that things don’t go too well for her. She also tends to get psyched out by Ana as Mizerka takes everything very seriously.

Next up is Doubt and since he’s Gammon’s rival you can imagine that he’s pretty solid. (For the most part all of the Orpheus Order members have a natural rival) He can fight which is handy and he always struck me as the strongest main member behind Freecell. By the end of the series it is strongly implied that this isn’t the case. Things actually get pretty dicey for Doubt in general in the second half. Still, I liked his confidence and as the tough guy of the group he served in his role pretty well. It took a while for me to realize that his name was literally “Doubt” though.

Then we have Melancholy who is pretty young compared to the other characters. Still, that isn’t to say that her talent is lacking in any way next to the others. She’s always confident and sarcastic aside from her final scene. I don’t think she really got any closure compared to the rest of the group so it’s a shame that Melancholy couldn’t have gotten one more puzzle battle. Likewise, Whist gets a lot of hype throughout but ultimately doesn’t really get to do anything at the end. He does have a lot of hype moments in between, but at the end of the day he didn’t have the breakout duel that you’d expect. The butler from season 1 was definitely more impressive in that regard.

Klondike is the head of the Orpheus Order so you definitely expect a lot out of him. His role is pretty small, but definitely very powerful. He instantly became one of my favorite villains in the series. The guy’s so good at puzzles that he reached Kaito’s level during his first time even trying one out. The guy’s potential is nearly limitless. He’s another character that I would have liked to spend more time with. I suppose there are just too many characters for them all to keep on appearing, but it’d be nice if he could appear again. I suspect this was probably it for him.

That wraps up the new villains here. Well, we have Ana’s sister, but she really didn’t add anything to the show. I didn’t even realize Ana still needed a backstory although I suppose maybe it was hinted in season 1? She has her big moment at the end of course, but for the most part she’s pretty forgettable. We do see the return of an old villain from the POG arc. I won’t say who, but his role here is pretty fun. Despite the fact that this guy is always whining, he can apparently fight as he actually takes down Doubt. It was definitely intense to see him again even if I don’t really get why the villains humored him for so long anyway. I suppose testing the villains’ loyalty and Kaito’s progression is always good, but I feel like there were other ways to do this.

Rook and Bishop may be on a quest to destroy all the puzzles of fools, but they do take the time to quickly show up here when Kaito is in trouble. Bishop never really gets to duel, but Rook has some nice moments. His tag team duel with Kaito was definitely pretty cool. It’s always fun seeing the old villain show up as more of a rival in the present. It’s a nice character development moment. It would have been nice to see Rook fight with Freecell, but I think that may have ultimately been too much for him. The other POG members show up, but only the celebrity member really gets to do anything. The rest just panic a whole lot.

From the supporting characters, Tamaki probably gets the biggest role. She has to step in as student body president and naturally the villains make a move. The season is long enough where there are several sections in the plot. At one point what the villains would do is go around mind controlling people. Tamaki ends up being one of those targets. Jikukawa as well, although his was a lot more epic. It made for an excellent cliffhanger when he showed up and challenged Kaito. The guy always had an interesting history as he was close to being a Phi Brain, but decided not to do so. I guess this was his chance to test all of that. I do think his plan to put on the ring was a little sloppy, but it all worked out in the end which is what counts.

From the Phi Brain children they mostly just get a role in the first half of the season. By the end they aren’t really able to help out at all and just stay on the sidelines. Ana’s role near the beginning is to annoy Mizerka and of course the whole thing with her sister. Cubik is heavily involved with trying to figure out how the rings work and Gammon tries to teach Doubt a lesson for involving his sister. They’re all pretty consistent with how they were in the first season. In that respect, Gammon’s the only disappointing one here just because he had such a big role in season 1. He was Kaito’s rival while now he is treated more like an underling. It’s clear that they are no longer on the same level. I suppose it was inevitable to an extent but it’s still a shame.

Nonoha still gets a big role of course as she is always ready to support Kaito. She also helps get Freecell to sort through his emotions in time for the final boss. She’s definitely an integral part of the story. Finally we have Kaito. As always he’s definitely a great main character. He doesn’t really suffer from the same levels of doubt he had in season 1. The mindgames still shake him up a bit from time to time, but for the most part he’s gotten past all of that. He’s now in a spot where he can just enjoy puzzles again. He’s definitely a fun main character and his aggressive nature towards solving puzzles has served him well. I’m glad he chose to do the puzzles without the armlet as well. In season 1 he basically surpassed it so that would have felt like a step back.

Naturally the soundtrack is still great as we have a lot of old themes that return. I do miss the classic samba type music that played though. I don’t even know what style of music it was, maybe Mexican? It fit really well for the tombs, but I guess with the change of scenery for season 2 the directors thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. Still, on the whole we get the rest of the epic tunes. Then for the animation it’s pretty consistent with season 1. The visuals are still nice and shiny. It doesn’t stand out too much in particular, but it all looks good I’d say. Most of these puzzles aren’t exactly made to look super flashy anyway.

I think one difference here compared to the first season which does hurt a bit is that it’s more up and down. I feel like season 1 was consistently excellent with high stakes while this one could fluctuate. At its best the hype moments were even better than season 1’s. The Klondike duel, Jikukawa turning evil, the big duels with Freecell, Rook jumping in, etc. These are all show stopping moments with how amazing they are. At the same time, then we have the episodes that feel like they’re just trying to buy time. These include moments like: Ana’s sister, Tamaki turning evil, the puzzle adventures on the island, etc. Not to say that any of these episodes are bad. They just feel like filler thrown in the middle to buy some for the villains to make another serious move. Since season 1’s episodes were mostly all introducing the characters and getting us to know them even the “filler” felt important. It’s a perk that season 1 has which is supposed to be countered by the fact that season 2 can just jump right in. It’s a good balance and as I mentioned before, the seasons are still very close.

Overall, Season 2 is definitely quite solid. I do like the idea of a villain group of geniuses. We do get some cop outs in terms of the whole group being Phi Brains, but the higher ups still delivered with the fights. Phi Brain will continue to succeed as long as they keep thinking of fun puzzles. Season 1’s were still more creative, but this season definitely had enough hype scenes to match 1. I look forward to seeing how season 3 stacks up. Who can possibly challenge Kaito and friends now right? Maybe there’ll be a super Armlet of Orpheus or something like that.

Overall 8/10

My Hero Academia Season 3 Review


It’s time to look at the third season of My Hero Academy. This is the best one yet and finally adapts my favorite arc of the series, the Bakugou rescue arc. Now granted, I consider this arc to start when the villains arrive in the forest and that it doesn’t conclude until after the All Might vs One For All fight. That may not officially be the case as it’s possible that these are actually 3 different arcs. If that is the case…well, it’s still my favorite chunk at any rate.

This season pretty much starts with that plot right off the bat. The heroes have gone to a secluded mountain to train since the villains keep infiltrating the school. The problem is that there still seems to be a mole within the school so this tactic doesn’t fare any better than the last one. The villains have arrived once again and aim to injure as many of the students as possible in order to further weaken trust in the heroes. Can Deku and the others stop these guys despite the professional heroes getting in their way at every turn?

It’s a great arc because there’s a lot of action right from the start and it never stops. Even though Deku and a few other select students have fought with real villains before, most of the class still isn’t ready for this. There are those who can fight and those who have to flee. It’s pretty tense all around and as expected Deku steps up to the plate. His fight with Muscular is quite epic and certainly one of the better fights. It does ultimately end up getting beat out by the All Might fight, but it certainly won’t be forgotten. It’s also always fun to see larger scale free for all fights as there are a bunch of villains and heroes in the area so it’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen next.

This also leads to one of Bakugou’s best scenes as he refuses to be tainted by the villains and prepares to fight them all off. The series has managed to completely avoid the trope of the rival turning evil and I’m glad to see him staying strong. That classic trope can be used really well and has been in many occasions but sometimes it’s nice to see the tough rival stay heroic throughout it all. While he didn’t stand much of a chance, Bakugou certainly wasn’t doing half bad for himself. His powers are pretty well equipped for a group fight, I like to think that he would have done some damage before going down.

Finally that leads to the big climax where we finally get to see All Might take on One For All. It’s definitely a battle that lived up to the hype. We’ve been waiting to see this match up since season 1 after all. All Might is as strong as a person can get and One For All has as many powers as he could find. It’s the ole quality vs quantity debate and as always the latter does tend to look quite impressive. I think it’s a case by case basis but I’m inclined to go for the latter at times myself. Still, it’s a very even match up.

I guess that leads to the only tough part for the season which is the fact that you really can’t top that. The fight almost should have been the final part of the season. Instead we get the start of the next arc right after it. The students are back to training and now they are going to meet some of the senior students. I’ll give the author some credit here, no matter how big the arc, he always brings the students back to the training grounds right afterwards. Even if it may seem a little anticlimactic, it’s consistent. It’s also not as if it gets boring or anything, you may just have a tough time taking the school seriously after a while. The series still tries to paint the other students as also being on roughly the same level and all, but you can’t help but feel that Deku and the rest of the strike squad have completely left them in the dust. Nothing beats real life experience after all.

The animation is basically the same as the last season. It’s very polished and all of the colors are very vibrant. It really looks like a new anime and I don’t think the animators took any shortcuts. It all feels like it’s at the level where the series should be right now. It’s actually fun to take a look at season 1 and you’ll see how the animation has really improved. It’s not something that you’ll notice week to week but it’s more noticeable if you look at it from such a big time gap. There are also a few new themes here including one that plays for the big All Might fight. It’s definitely a great track and continues the series on a high note there as well. None of the openings are quite able to beat the first one as of yet with the music, but the final opening of the season probably has the best visuals yet. With the next season bringing a lot of fights with it I’m also expecting a lot of fun visuals there as well.

Most of the characters are unchanged so I’ll mainly talk about the ones who had a big role here for better or worse. While most characters look pretty good here, I’m afraid that Ida was not one of them. In the last season he had his big run in with Stain which unfortunately gave him the wrong lesson. He now believes that the law is absolute and he has to obey it without question. While this is portrayed as being the right attitude for the most part I disagree with it as much now as I did back in the manga. It’s the same issue as in the movie. Ida is willing to let people’s lives be in danger as long as the rules are followed. As the students are now technically allowed to engage villains even in self defense, he believes they should stay at the hospital while the pros try to rescue Bakugou. It just shows where the limits of his friendship are and the others should definitely remember that. He spends the whole arc grumbling and holding everyone back. So, this is where I stopped liking Ida completely and he never managed to make it back. His character appears to be irrevocably ruined.

Meanwhile Deku is at his best here. He refuses to simply wait and quickly decides to go along with the others to save Bakugou. For something like this you can’t just wait and I’m glad that he went with the others. Deciding to go definitely helps show me which characters to root for in the future. It also certainly was good that the heroes went as things would have likely gotten very messy without them. Deku and Bakugou certainly stole the show in this arc. Meanwhile other characters like Kirishima and Todoroki continue to look good. They’re both around to help as needed and continue to keep up with the others in terms of ability. Others are doomed from the start with their quirks and will need to try and find a way around them.

This is also All for One’s big debut for the most part as he finally gets a role. He’s definitely a fun villain to have. He doesn’t waste much time trying to get the audience to sympathize with him. He just wants to throw the world into chaos and is going to do whatever he can for that purpose. He’s the complete opposite of All Might’s symbol of hope for the heroes. He sparks confidence in the villains. While he will likely be on the sidelines for quite a while, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns at some point. Unlike All Might you get the feeling that he’s still got a lot more energy in the tank and probably has some contingency plans to put himself in a good spot.

Tomura’s allies also get some more screen time here. Dabi gets to use his blue flames and he seems like one of the stronger villains. He was even able to get the jump on Eraserhead. Then we have Toga whose shape shifting abilities are incredibly useful. The split personality guy definitely seems more crazy than being a real threat, but I guess just having him around will help a bit. We also get a tease on the villain for the next arc. This gangster is just as tough as he appears and his group will be appearing quite a lot in the next season. We also can’t forget about Muscular who is pretty much everything you could want in a villain. He’s very powerful and he’s got a lot to prove. The guy has a lot of determination and while he isn’t anything more than just a villain, he perfectly achieves his role in the story. He’s a real fun villain. My favorite one in the series will finally be showing up in the next season.

Mirio also appears at the very end. He gets a lot of hype and as he is a third year student you can see how he should be very skilled. His powers are a lot of fun and he definitely outshines the other students with ease. He seems like a fun character. I’m going to restrain myself on talking about the next season for him. I should only judge him on how he appears here after all. While I can’t say that I’m hyped for the next season it makes the ending to this one that much better. It got in as much as it could without going too far and holding the season back and that’s a very good thing.

As always the writing is top notch. As I mentioned, the season ends on a much calmer note than the first half as it’s about being at the school festival with class B and trying to save civilians. It’s fun to see the guy who voiced Kirito play a role as one of the new students. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing more of him. It also makes sense that the author would throw the heroes in some missions like this one rather than classic beat the villain type ones since class A would be way overqualified here. There’s just no way that the others could keep up. That’s why I feel bad for Deku at times though. It’s tough to be constantly holding back around everyone. He’s just almost too strong.

Of course, we do get the big rematch between Bakugou and Deku in this season which really shows off my point to its fullest extent. Bakugou is very strong and aside from Deku I think he’s probably the strongest student in their class right now. The problem for Deku is that he has to try and keep up with Bakugou’s speed and power without going too far above it and actually hurting him. I remember in the manga a lot of people thought he would accidentally cause a serious injury to Bakugou by being goaded into using too much power at once. Fortunately that didn’t happen but that’s why win or lose it is definitely tough for Deku. Once everyone else begins to catch up to his level then it’ll be easier for him to fight normally.


Overall, This was definitely an epic season of My Hero Academy. As always the series continues to be super interesting and the world around the characters is just so vast and well developed. I also don’t think this season shall be surpassed since the next arc is my least favorite of the series. I don’t doubt that the anime will do the best it can with the adaption, but when the source material is no good then there is only so much you can do. Still, once it gets past that hump then we’ll be back in business. Although, we’ve only really had one true arc since then so we’ll have to see where it goes from there. As this is season 3 I’m thinking by now you’re either watching My Hero or not. If you aren’t, I guess you could start with season 3 but it probably won’t feel quite as much fun as it would be if you start with season 1 instead. This series does have a pretty tight continuity after all. As long as the production values continue to stay at this high level I don’t see MHA’s popularity declining anytime soon.

Overall 8/10

Astra Lost in Space


This is definitely a fairly obscure manga. It’s off to a reasonable start. I wouldn’t say that it is particularly exciting compared to most of the other big titles but it’s not bad either. I think the manga just needs its stride and then it can go to the next level. The question is whether it will find that stride in time. I’ll have a review for the series up when I have finished it.

Overall 6/10

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter


I’ve now started the Monster Hunter series! The first volume was pretty solid. It had a good array of action. It will have to be careful with how it handles the monsters, but the series definitely shows promise. I’ll have a review for it when I finish the series.

Black Clover


Well, I have started the Black Clover anime alongside the Toonami viewers. It had a pretty solid start with the first episode. The animation and music appear to be on point and as the series goes on we should get many more fights and characters added to the mix. It’ll be a while before this series finishes, but I shall have a review up when it does.

Overall 7/10