Clannad Review

Clannad is one of those romance anime that you had to have heard of at some point. It got really big back in its day after all as one of those shows that would get really emotional. Well I’ve finally gotten to check it out and it’s definitely a solid title. From the big 3 I would say it beats Air but loses out to Kanon. Ultimately the ending is probably the most satisfying out of all 3 but Kanon executed the mystery elements and ominous snow the best. You always felt like something crazy could happen at any moment and it did have someone fighting off monsters so it wasn’t afraid to get supernatural. This one gets supernatural as well but in a different way.

The show starts off by introducing us to Tomoya who is your average student just trying to enjoy his life to the fullest. He suffered an injury which prevents him from playing Basketball though and this has caused a big rift with his father who was seemingly at fault for this. So Tomoya is still bitter at this whole circumstance but tries to bury this beneath his carefree personality. His best friend Sunohara is even more carefree so the two of them get along just fine. As the show goes on Tomoya befriends 5 girls at the school and helps them deal with their own personal challenges and trials. Perhaps in helping them he will be able to get past his own issues as well.

So at its core this is a bit of a slice of life. Each story arc will focus on one girl in particular as Tomoya gives her his full attention. There are overarching plots throughout these arcs though and it’s not like the girls vanish. The main story is really about helping Nagisa get the drama club up and running. It’s tough though since the Student Council is all powerful and there aren’t enough members. That’s the general focus. So there’s always a lot going on but you can clearly tell who is the focus at any given point even while the main plot is going on. I would also consider this to be part harem as well since inevitably everyone seems to like Tomoya and you have to guess which girl he ends up with. It’s done in a classy way though where they’re not all trying to seduce him or anything like that. Plus the show is very tame with the fanservice.

I would say the amount of fanservice here is close to 0. Perhaps not at absolute 0, the ultimate technique of the Cygnus, but it’s close enough. That’s definitely a good thing, the show is going for a very mature vibe where the characters actually have real interactions with them and the drama isn’t forced. The show never has to try getting really edgy or flashy to keep the audience’s attention either which helps out quite a bit. In general this is what I expected though because this company is always good with that. I also appreciate that the series isn’t quite as depressing as something like Air which would absolutely have hurt the score here. Instead while not everyone gets a happy ending, nobody gets a terrible one either.

So lets go through each character and I’ll touch on their story beats. First we should start with Tomoya. His plot is ongoing as he talks to everyone else but perhaps because of this, his plot feels the most rushed and the one that doesn’t really get to end. Of course he doesn’t get along with his father which is a big plot point but surprisingly this doesn’t really get resolved. The final scenes with them give you the hope that things will start to change but it’s not really confirmed.

We don’t really see enough to truly get why Tomoya is so upset with the father though. Not being able to play Basketball ever again is definitely rough but was the father actually a vicious person back then, was it more or less an accident? You can make some good guesses based on how we see that he’s a full alcoholic now but it doesn’t seem like Tomoya really tried to help either. My interpretation was the show used this to tell us that Tomoya was actually the unreasonable one here. The contrast would be that he’s always ready to help everyone else out and be a super nice guy but he was too bitter to solve his own issue.

It’s an interesting angle and every scene we get in the show is the father trying to reach out and rekindle their relationship while Tomoya acts out. I just wish this could have gotten more closure. It’s the only part of the show that isn’t very satisfying. It didn’t need to show more of the flashback but just give more of a final conversation between the two of them. They didn’t even have to get along, having Tomoya decide that he just can’t do it would still work. Just something more than what we got.

As a character Tomoya is otherwise very solid though. While I didn’t agree with how he handled his personal issues, he was really helpful to everyone else. Tomoya was always willing to stick his neck out and try to improve a situation. He saved a lot of lives in that way and he was also quick on the uptake and always ready with some banter. The only times he would go too far with his teasing was with Fuko. He definitely should have eased up on messing with her while she was zoned out and it felt more mean spirited than funny. So as a main character he probably loses to the other two big KEY protagonists but there are more positives to his character than negative.

His friend Sunohara is a good character to talk about next because he doesn’t get much of a character arc. He’s the comic relief character of the group so as you can imagine things tend to be rather dicey for him. Unfortunately he’s the kind of character who is obsessed with girls the whole time and so most of his scenes fall flat. He’s easily got to be the worst character here and I think he should have just been cut out. I know a lot of times you need a second guy around so all of the characters can compare him to the lead and make their choice but this guy just isn’t needed.

At best he has a bit of a character focus in that he doesn’t like when characters make up excuses not to try so hard. He takes it extremely personal and uses that as extra motivation during the Basketball game. At his core he’s not a bad person as most of his scenes are just for laughs but even then I just wouldn’t say that I was a big fan. His sister Mei also doesn’t have a lot to do here and comes across as one of the more random characters. I guess she’s nice enough but since Sunohara already doesn’t have much of an important role here, you can probably guess that her role is really small as well.

First up is Kyou and she’s probably the most selfless of the heroines. She likes Tomoya but basically buries her feelings because her sister Ryou likes him. As a result she does her best to try and ship them together at every point. Unfortunately Ryou just isn’t able to capitalize on this and I’ll get into that more on her section. Kyou is easily one of the standout characters of the series and kept on fighting with Tomoyo (Not to be confused with Tomoya) as the best character in the series. She doesn’t really have a big character arc compared to the other girls. At most you could say that she had to come to terms with her feelings more directly as the series went on but she had no inner demons to conquer.

This is part of why she is such a great character. While everyone else was dealing with things, she was just putting others first and intentionally staying in the background. She’s also a very high energy character who is always acting really confident and getting the ball rolling. Kyou adds a lot to the dynamic in every scene and so you always appreciate having her around.

Now her sister Ryou just isn’t as solid. Of course you probably know that I’m not really big on the very shy characters. They just aren’t as entertaining and Kyou basically set her up with the bases loaded several times and Ryou messed it up every time. Even if Ryou is super shy, you’d think that she would at least honor Kyou’s constant sacrifices and try to talk to Tomoyo right? This is the main reason why I could never root for her. You’ve just got to give me at least an inch here. If Ryou isn’t willing to work towards her goal at all then it’s game over.

Just about any scene with Ryou is one where she is getting saved by Kyou. So I give Kyou full credit and top marks here but I have to give Ryou the big 0 if this was a test. She’s easily the least interesting of the heroines as well because there isn’t anything more to her than being timid. You could have her missing from an episode and I wouldn’t even notice.

Back to the high quality characters though, next up is Tomoyo and she aspires to be the student council president. She will help make a difference in the school and the current school council isn’t very good anyway so they really need to be bumped out. She’s a straight A student and top of her class but unfortunately her association with Tomoya may start affecting her reputation. She doesn’t care though and still brings in her best effort to not just be a guiding light to the best students but to the worst ones as well.

I liked her drive and she definitely went the extra mile. I think part of what makes her a good character is that she wasn’t just helping Tomoya because she liked him. I think she would have done the same thing for a number of other characters. I also appreciated her putting Sunohara in his place time and time again. That guy was definitely asking for it. She also gets more of a backstory than the others as she used to be a school delinquent which is where she learned to fight. This reputation has followed Tomoyo around to the point where it is hurting her future prospects as well.

So she has to try and get away from her past. The tough part is choosing between following her ideals or worrying about her self image. Of course she’s also got the romance plot to consider as well. I thought the show did a good job of making her a very well rounded character and someone that you could root for. She doesn’t hang out with the rest of the cast quite as much so in terms of full screen time she may have a bit less than the others but she does get a full epilogue episode in the what if scenario so that’s impressive.

Yes, past the final episode there is a what if episode about a different timeline and she’s one of the main characters there. That has to be fun for the fans since it seems rare that you would actually go far enough to check out another route like that. I’d say she earned it though, like I said she was always in the mix for being the best character here.

Another really good character was Kotomi. She probably has the toughest backstory to get around. Basically she was a child genius but the problem is that her parents were geniuses too and always had to balance a very difficult career. They were never home and so she was often neglected. One day they died in a plane crash and it really stunted her emotional growth to the point where she can’t really talk to people normally. That’s Tomoya’s queue to step in and talk to her. Gradually she learns to open up more and also confronts her past which she had been intentionally avoiding.

Now as a kid she did make some pretty big mistakes like a certain burning scene but as she was a kid it’s hard to blame her too much there. The oblivious character type isn’t often my favorite but the show doesn’t go too far with it. There’s also a twist about her knowing Tomoya back in the day which didn’t really help her recovery either. It’s easy to sympathize with Kotomi which is part of what helps her be a strong character her. I’d also say that being oblivious also helps a bit in the romance sense as she isn’t really trying for Tomoya. You can still sense the romantic undertones but it was nice to have someone who was really more of a friend the whole time.

Then there is Fuko who feels younger the whole time so it’s hard to see her as a romantic rival either way. Now she’s close to being dead so in a way you could say that she had it hard as well but living in a spirit body isn’t so bad. I’d say that the show doesn’t play this up as a super sad affair the whole time and the emotional parts are really about people not remembering her at times. It makes a case for being the saddest arc in the series. To counter that, Fuko is also the most cheerful member of the cast. Her arc is all about getting starfish to people and that gets tricky.

See, people don’t tend to remember her after a while. The rules of the supernatural follow the same ones as in Noragami where you need to constantly be around or have a powerful tie to the world or you will be forgotten. This arc definitely does get emotional with that because in a way you feel like there’s no way she can win in the end. In fact, the arc is even sadder in hindsight as the show goes on and the characters actually do forget her.

Again, the show doesn’t dwell on this so it’s not played up as a big tearjerker moment whenever she’s around but it’s definitely sad when you think about it. Until her real body wakes up, she is doomed to just wander the town for eternity with nobody recognizing or acknowledging her in any way. Only once a while when she charges up enough energy can she quickly catch someone’s attention but it’s always a very fleeting moment. It was always fun to see her although I think the show could have done a little more with her cameos down the road.

I wouldn’t say the show completely dropped the ball but there’s a lot of fun they could have had with this but all of her scenes basically end up being filler each time. That’s part of the gag but I think having a good heart to heart moment or something would have been nice there. Or maybe have the show end with her showing up and saying hey to the cast in her real body. Perhaps it would have taken some of the focus away but it would be worth it since I’d say that she earned her moment.

Finally we have the main heroine Nagisa. Now there’s a lot of pressure on being the main heroine. I’d say that goes without saying and it’s definitely the case here. Nagisa is a good character even if I would only put her 4th among the 6 girls. Nagisa really wants to be in a drama club but as for why that is, the show takes a little bit to build up to it. She can be a bit spacey and really likes the big Dango family. It tends to distract her and of course Tomoya is always distracted in helping the other girls so I guess they have that in common.

As the show goes on we naturally get a big backstory for Nagisa and it’s a sad one although not as sad as Kotomi or Fuko’s. Nagisa always feels like she did something wrong back in the day and as a result she is always acting very cautiously. Nagisa thinks her parents are hiding this so she never really confronts them. (They are hiding some secrets but nothing that they blame Nagisa for) So you’ve got a little drama there. Ultimately this works as a big trial for Nagisa but I would say it’s a bit harder to connect with it. She takes the situation rather hard but I just didn’t find it nearly as emotional.

Nagisa tends to fall for a lot of Tomoya’s gags the whole time but always means well. She tries to defend him when things get tricky and she fights hard to get her own club. So there isn’t anything really bad to say about her. She does well as the main heroine and gets her moments to shine. I can’t say I’m super on board with the romance angle but it’s not bad either and I’ll go more into that later on. I think something that could have helped her here would be to have had some kind of big moment outside of her arc. Mostly Tomoya did the heavy lifting in each arc and that makes sense as the main character but maybe having Nagisa come in with a clutch assist in one of them would have been good. Something to put her ahead of the pack.

Akio and Sanae did well as the parents. Now this is a subplot that the show really executed well as they initially start out as very gimmicky side characters but their plot actually gets rather serious. We learn more about their past and see why they are so protective. I also like how close they are even after being married for so long. You could make the very strong case that they have the healthiest relationship in the whole show. Akio may end up saying the wrong thing a lot and getting himself into hot water but he is always looking out for Sanae. He also has a very critical moment in Nagisa’s character arc.

It’s rare to see the parents actually getting a quality role like this so I was all for it. They also got to show Tomoya what a healthy family dynamic looks like which helped him in his own character arc as well. Sanae should probably start baking more to improve her cooking skills but low key I think she likes the attention since it gets Akio to chase after her. Again, it’s just a fun dynamic and even more so if you think she’s trolling him a bit there. He certainly likes trolling Tomoya a lot so it just runs in the family.

Now there is one plot that I found to be really pointless though. So at the beginning of every episode we start with a dystopian future where a girl is talking to a little robot she created. See, this kid had the power to create life but only once and so she created a robot but now he’s lonely and she’s sad too. The two of them are doomed to live forever in a world without life which is kind of depressing. The story feels like a very vague meta commentary on something and you’re just trying to figure it out. By the end of the series it makes sense but I just didn’t think it added to anything. It was just a bit boring and the only part of the series where I could even say that. Remove this and just keep the series on the main characters. That would be for the best.

The animation is pretty good. There isn’t much time to show off because this isn’t an action anime or anything like that but we do get a few action scenes with Tomoyo once in a while. The show never looks sloppy or off model so that alone is enough to fit the bill. It’s good enough for the title. The soundtrack is a bit more on the forgettable side though. The opening is one of the weakest ones I’ve heard in a long time. It’s just way too soft. This may be an emotional series but I feel like you could still add a little more energy to it. It’s one of those openings you probably would never re watch. Then the ending is even weaker. I appreciate the dedication to the Dango gag but this isn’t the place for it!

At the end of the day Clannad really succeeds because it’s really good at every genre that it tackles. It’s a really good slice of life title as you actually have time to see the characters hanging out and just relaxing in all kinds of settings. It’s a good way to build up some character development and the characters can hold their own so it doesn’t get boring. On the drama front the show manages to build up a lot of emotional scenes and get things sad for everyone without overdoing it and making the whole thing try hard. It never gets to be too traumatic or gritty while still keeping the emotions high.

Then for the romance, well that’s always a little trickier but I will say that on average it did the romance better than most. One of the key staples to a good romance is that it needs to take place over a long while. Any romance that is instant will be a weak one guaranteed. Likewise you don’t want rebound romances and that’s one advantage that harem titles actually have. Usually the lead doesn’t pick anyone until the end and all of the girls liked him from the start so there is no rebound. Some of the less classy ones would mess this up but not Clannad. The show cheats a bit by showing an alternate route but since it is expressly an “alternate” path it did choose one girl in the end so I’ll give it props there.

I won’t say which girl wins out but it’s probably pretty clear from the start. Some shows can actually keep you guessing right to the end like Lull of the Sea, but this is one where you can just tell based on who gets the focus and everything. The show isn’t trying to be very secretive about this at all. The main romance takes place over a long time and develops naturally so yeah I’d be able to confidently say that it’s one of the better romances. That’s a good thing because the show is part romance after all. I still didn’t ship the characters but if it happens then I guess I’m cool with it. I did like some of the other characters better than this heroine though.

During the show there is one Basketball game and it kind of made me wish we could have gotten some more sports. The game itself was very interesting because of course Tomoya can’t really lift his arm to play the way that he used to. So he’s at a disadvantage the whole time and has to try and win with pure strategy alone. I think making that a full episode would have been a blast even if it may not have really flowed with the rest of the show. Hey, sports and tactics are always a great mix and the show got me invested so it’s definitely a complement. I wonder how bad the injury was that Tomoya doesn’t feel like he can ever rehabilitate it though. The show doesn’t go into specifics and surely there’s a way to rebound. At least I figure there would be.

Overall, Clannad is a title that I could safely recommend to just about any anime fan as long as you aren’t looking for an action title. It’s just a well written title all around with a lot of strengths. Perhaps it isn’t as funny as it wishes it could be but there are still scenes that will make you smile here and there. Perhaps not laugh out loud funny but I did like a lot of Tomoya’s witty comebacks from time to time. It also never hurts to see Sunohara get beat up. The voice actor does a good job with the reactions.

Overall 7/10

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Review

I remember starting this manga not too long ago. Well after binging it all the way to the current chapter it was time to look at the show adaption which was referenced in the manga a bunch of times. Ultimately it is a fun slice of life type show. It’s not laugh out loud levels of funny like Noragami or Kaguya Sama but if you’re looking for a calming experience then this could be the ticket for you. At the end of the day it’s a very safe show all around that you can pick up and play at any time.

The show starts with Princess Syalis being kidnapped by Twilight, the Demon King. The hero Dawner vows to find and rescue her no matter how dangerous the trip is. To this end he and his loyal allies set off to various regions and dungeons to find her. They actually aren’t the main characters of this quest though. No, Syalis is the main character and the show is about her daily interactions in the Demon Castle. Will she learn that the demons actually aren’t so bad?

I have to admit, having Dawner as the main character would have been cool though. He’s a very genuine guy who really wants to help her out but unfortunately she just finds him annoying and the demons appear to be a lot stronger than Dawner. He can be sneaky good at times though and the show even gives him more of a role than in the manga. He gets to appear in quite a few episodes here as he gets closer and closer to the goal. Dawner is really played up as not being very smart and being super over the top but with such heroic aspirations how could you root against him right?

Now keep in mind that even though you have heroes here and villains with super powers, this is not an action anime. So don’t go in expecting a lot of big fights or anything like that. This is still a slice of life comedy at the end of the day so you have to go in with the right mindset. So long as you do that, then you’ll be good as the show goes on. If you went in expecting action then you’d be in trouble but I like to think that the theme song would clue you in right away.

As for the theme song, it’s okay I’d say. I’m not a big fan of it but it’s not bad. The soundtrack itself could use some more variety though. There wasn’t really a standout theme that I can think of right now. The animation is okay, but nothing special. I would say fairly low budget or maybe standard at best. This doesn’t strike me as a show with a really big budget but of course there’s not a whole lot to show off with it given how the show is based though. It’s not quite going above and beyond here, just adapting everything as normal. It also uses that annoying blush effect I don’t like much in the shows. It isn’t constant like in other shows but it’s never needed.

The one thing holding this one back is that I wouldn’t say it’s very funny for being a comedy. In general if you aren’t an action show then you need to be either really funny like Kaguya to succeed, be very emotional like Kanon, or have a super engaging plot with great characters like Death Note. If you don’t have any of those things in your corner then you’ll mainly be treading water. Now I do still have this show on the positive side so it works well enough but I do see this title being buried by the competition the whole time.

I do like that the show has a true continuity going for it though. While it won’t take too much advantage of that yet, we would see more of that come to play during a season 2. This isn’t one of those shows where each character is static, characters do get development. I wouldn’t say it’s anything major but it’s still nice because it really gives you a good reason to watch in order and see how it goes. I would argue that even true 100% comedic shows should have a continuity that they stick to. It just gets you more invested.

Now for Syalis, she’s a fun main character. She takes things in stride and quickly figures out the best way to manipulate the demons. With the video game RPG rules in effect, it also makes sense that she would grow so powerful so quickly as she’s always murdering the minions to get materials. That kind of EXP will add up quickly. Deep down she just wants a good sleep and that’s as good a motivation as anything. Contrary to most main characters, I wouldn’t even say that she is super nice. Sleep is prioritized over everything so if she needs a nap then that’s what is going to happen even if it means ignoring her friends.

At times you will feel bad for some characters like the succubus and harpy who want to be her friend though. Syalis comes really close to being a full antagonist at times so everyone needs to keep their guard up. Most of the demons know to leave her alone though, some just don’t really tend to get the hint in time. The show has each episode segment be like an in game mission which is fun. It comes complete with the fanfare and everything.

No main character is complete without a supporting cast though so lets talk about the side characters. First up is Twilight and he’s a very reasonable character. As of now we don’t really know why he kidnapped Syalis but he seems bored so he may have just wanted some excitement. He’s not even a particularly bad guy as he even leaves cool weapons and items for the hero to use. He doesn’t want things to be boring and he’s also got a lot of good sportsmanship which again begs the question of why demons and humans are enemies to begin with. The show starts to delve into that but for the most part that will be a plot point for the next seasons.

Twilight is definitely one of the best characters here. He is maybe a little too nice to Syalis which helps let her get so spoiled right away but it’s just hard for him to not be nice. That’s his default setting if you would. Then there is the Demon Cleric and he plays the straight man to the various jokes and gags. Everything takes him unawares and he really isn’t sure of what to do. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of his. His role will only grow larger and larger in the future but in the meantime he just needs to make sure that Syalis can revive without any issues.

Harpy is the most tragic character in the series because she just wants to be friends with Syalis. Unfortunately that isn’t possible as the princess just sees her as a pillow. It’s why their friendship always seems rocky at best. The dynamic is that Harpy does her best to help out and Syalis takes advantage of her. It’s the only time when Syalis can be rather annoying for me. Usually I can root for her but moments like that are not a good look at all. The same is true of the Succubus to an extent. She doesn’t want to be friends but Syalis is always putting her in dangerous situations when Succubus just wants to be more popular.

There are a lot of other monsters around the castle and the message to them is clear, stay out of Syalis’ way! If they don’t then they are liable to get hurt like the shrouds that she murders every day. Perhaps she is the real demon in this castle. The characters certainly treat her like the boss with how she can come and go as she pleases. Syalis even tends to take over the big board meetings when she feels like it.

Because this is a standard slice of life without any big plots yet, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. I suspect that season 2 will have more themes to really sink your teeth into and discuss. That said, at least we do see that as per normal the humans appear to be the aggressors here. They have whole festivals and such just for badmouthing the demons. I tend to always be taking shots at the humans in these things and this is an example of what makes it so easy.

Now at least they have an excuse to be a little upset right now with Syalis being kidnapped but the festival has apparently been going on for a while now. So they are always using opportunities to insult the demons while meanwhile we see in the demon castle that they don’t care about the humans. The whole antagonism is only on one side. Of course they can’t suspect that the demons are so nice but they could stand to be a little more reasonable. It just feels like a mean spirited festival the whole time instead of just being a way to have a lot of fun. I admit that even Dawner would likely be in on this though so the whole kingdom needs to work on this.

Because of the nature of the show you’re not really sure just how deep into all of this it’ll go but at the very least there are already hints at a more serious plot someday. You have some serious moments with Syalis and Twilight on this and her deciding to go back with them instead of to the humans. It reminds me a bit of Detective Conan in that sense as 90% of what’s going on is fluff and then you have the occasional tease at a plot coming soon. Whether it actually happens soon or in a very long while is really the question you have to ponder in the meantime.

Overall, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a decent show. It’s a nice way to spend the time and it’s always fun to see the RPG elements. To take the show to the next level I’d say it needs to spice up the music a bit and also change the scenery some more. The demon castle is good but you need more than one backdrop. Make sure to show Dawner more as well since that guy is always fun. Any scene with him in it is bound to be a winner. In the meantime if you want a slice of life to check out, this one’s fairly short so there’s not really any downside to giving it a chance.

Overall 6/10

Real Genius review

When you’re a genius there are a few things you really have to keep in mind. There are those who would try to use your skills for their own personal gain and additionally you have to be careful not to burn out. Go in too hard and that’ll be it for you. The main character has to end up learning this the hard way. It’s an entertaining film and while it has a few weak points that keep it from getting to the next level, I would still be able to recommend this one.

The movie starts with the government telling Jerry that they need the laser which can blow someone up from any distance. Jerry was confident that his star student Chris would be able to build this but the guy has been slacking off a whole lot lately. At this point the deadline is getting real close so instead he decides to take in a new kid named Mitch to take over the project. Perhaps now he will get results. Mitch is eager to help and knows Chris as a living legend but at the same time he’s not thrilled with how the guy is always slacking off. It’s not quite the experience that he was expecting, that’s for sure. He doesn’t realize the true stakes behind what he is building either and is just eager to pull it off. We’ll see how that goes.

Right off the bat I do like the government angle. The whole building a laser thing makes a lot of sense and led to a fun intro scene. They were also quite ruthless here as it’s heavily implied that they decided to take out the one guy who disagreed with the plan. It’s safe to say at such a high level that you should be careful about stepping off of a project. Doing that now makes you a big security risk since you know about the secrets. These guys did not hesitate either considering that they probably knew him for a while.

Unfortunately the government really doesn’t get to appear much after that until the very end of the film. It’s a shame because they were definitely one of the highlights here. Jerry does well representing the shady characters though. He is good at manipulating Mitch and also talks back to the government at times. Naturally they do have most of the power here but he still doesn’t let them just walk all over him. He manages to stand up for himself as needed. He is certainly a ruthless villain since he doesn’t care about anything aside from his paycheck at the end.

The movie handles him really well though. He’s not just cackling in the corner or anything like that. He still seems reasonable on the surface and you almost think he’ll be a main hero at first. Once he started showing his true colors that was it though. The first hinting of this was likely when we found out that he wasted a whole lot of the money for the project on random things he wanted. Not the most responsible guy eh?

Chris is fun but I do think he could go a little far at times in how he would mess around. I get that he didn’t want to take things too seriously so he wouldn’t crack and that makes sense but after a point that just felt like an excuse. There’s a difference between not overworking yourself and still doing some basic work. As the film goes on he eventually learns more about that but in the meantime I can absolutely see why everyone was so fed up with him. The guy wouldn’t just goof off but actively disrupted and distracted everyone else. I would say it’s clear that he was still the smartest guy in the classroom but he really didn’t use those talents to help anyone.

In a way he would almost feel like an antagonist at times if it didn’t turn out that the invention was evil. As for Mitch, he’s a decent main character but he could be a little timid the whole time. It made it real easy for other kids to show up and start teasing him. You gotta be bold and just go with the flow or things are going to get tough in a school like this. He also gets a quick romance plot in the film but I wouldn’t say it was anything all that special. It does happen rather quickly and didn’t seem all that realistic. I’m glad he was able to turn someone else down in the meantime who was after him even if his reaction times were slow but I wouldn’t say it was enough to get me on board with the romance.

Maybe once Mitch had been there for a few semesters or something but until then it’s just a smidge too fast. Then you have the main villain Kent. I mean, in a way Jerry’s the main villain but the difference is that Kent was acting like a villain from the start. At least Jerry puts up a front but Kent doesn’t bother with one. He just openly attacks Chris and messes with his things. In particular one of his sabotage moments was really a big deal with how he ruined a really expensive gadget that cost time and money. I thought he got off really easy all things considered.

The main heroine Jordan got her role in all of this as well. She has a hard time ever sleeping so she is hyper 24/7. The film didn’t give her a ton of time but I thought that she was a nice character. Jordan really stuck out right off the top with a quirk that was memorable without being too annoying. If this film got a sequel I could see her doing a lot more there.

I still say that the government should have appeared more though. The slice of life scenes with the kids at school is still good and all but the government scenes would have really pushed it over the edge. That’s absolutely what would have been the best route here. The only scene I thought was a little unrealistic was when Kent records Mitch so everyone can make fun of him at lunch.

They’re all geniuses and recording isn’t difficult so I’m not saying that this was hard to believe, but that the school wouldn’t get back at him somehow. Ultimately they still want more students in the future so it seems a little counterintuitive to let the bullying go this far. If the school gets sued or something then it will discourage attendance. It’s hardly the worst bullying I’ve seen in a film but it really stood out here. Maybe because it’s just so open while a lot of times the bullying is at least done in the shadows. A valid argument could be made that nobody could prove it was Kent, but it seems like nobody really even cared.

Overall, Real Genius is a good movie. The romance can be a bit cheesy at times but ultimately it’s not a big part of the experience anyway. The writing here was good and I do always like the idea of a school for geniuses. There’s a whole lot you can do with a solid setup like that. This film perhaps didn’t capitalize on it to the fullest extent but we did have some fun inventions and quirks in the first half. I liked the instant ice for example and the heroes had a good solution for the laser at the end. I’d recommend checking it out for some light hearted fun.

Overall 6/10

Harry and Tonto Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Harry and Tonto is a movie with a fairly basic premise. The two of them are going on a big adventure and getting to see the world. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest of course but I would say the execution was not very good at all. It ends up being rather boring a lot of the time but the writing is always very weak. It reminds me of some Woody Allen films from a while back where it’s just the characters talking but the script is so bad that it falls on its face. That’s pretty much what happens here so you don’t even have that to keep the film afloat.

The movie starts by having Harry get mugged again. The neighborhood used to be good but it’s really been sinking a lot. So he goes to move in with his family but it’s rather tense there as the place is really small. One of his grand kids has taken a vow of silence for some reason and only his son is glad about him staying. So Harry decides to go on a journey with his pet cat Tonto. Along the way they run into a girl who ran away from home named Ginger. The initial goal is to find more of Harry’s family members and even an old flame before he decides where to stay but along the way it just becomes more about experiencing life.

A movie like this can only survive if the characters and writing are both really great. That would probably be the case for a 50s or 60s film but one this late in the game has more of an annoying dialogue style than anything else. When the conversations aren’t about mundane things like the weather, you have Harry being shocked at how depraved the world has gotten. He’s able to hook up with a random girl during one of the drives for money and the runaway Ginger is not shy about just stripping down. Other characters talk to him about when the last time he had an affair was and it’s like nobody ever grew up here.

The romance that we do get later on in the film is more of a cringeworthy affair. Then to show us that Harry can never really be happy, he’s thrown for another loop near the end. The world is moving fast and just won’t let him catch up. In theory he’s good now but this rollercoaster had too many pitfalls. By the end I wouldn’t say there are any real likable characters. Harry’s son would be the best for sticking by him the whole time. The rest of the family wasn’t too helpful like the guy who lost all his money, the son’s wife who wasn’t subtle about wanting him to leave, the daughter who didn’t even try, etc.

Harry was definitely on his own. Harry was a prideful man too so it’s not like he tried super hard though. He did the best he could to keep his old place but once that was gone then it was pretty much all over for him. Tonto was good the whole time though. He always ended up making you nervous though when he’d run off in general because this was the kind of film that wouldn’t pull its punches.

I think Harry may have ultimately had a better time staying in his neighborhood. Sure it was fairly dangerous but at least he knew everybody there. I’d say the best moments were when the film would slow down to actually let him enjoy the adventure. Like going to the casino and trying to play dice for a bit. At least there he got to have a little more fun before unfortunately not being able to make it to the bathroom in time. The crazy adventure with the chieftain in the cell was certainly something that’s for sure.

Maybe Harry needed to have a dog for some more fun Hijinx. But there really isn’t a lot to the film so it does come down to the human. Harry just wasn’t interesting enough to lead his own film. I dare say that he needed to be a little younger to have an easier time of it. Otherwise you have to be super charismatic and likable which didn’t really work here. Having Harry be a very confident guy who figures he’ll have a new place in no time flat could have been a good angle to have here.

As for the writing, maybe you needed more of a solid hook. If not, I think some humor could have gone a long way here. Yeah, this time I would say throwing in some jokes would not have hurt. It would be a good way to keep the adventure light and also give the characters some more substance to talk about. Just something to make it be a lot more interesting because otherwise you’ll be falling asleep here. Also, they probably shouldn’t have written Harry as having a wife who ultimately died before him because it just makes him look even worse when he is still interested in other women and messing around. At his age he should be all over that and definitely not going for a rebound. That’s really it, just live the rest of your life with a lot of fun and enjoyment but not trying to start another relationship like that.

Overall, A film can certainly get by without having much of a focus or a plot but to do that you need to be very funny or wholesome. One or the other can certainly do the trick but when you’re neither then that is going to be a really big issue. This film never ended up getting interesting. It’s a shame because a journey movie will usually be good even if just to see all of the various sites along the way. Maybe if that guy who was with Ginger could have stayed longer then he would have been a good addition to the party. Could have added something to the dynamic I suppose. A subplot that wouldn’t end tragically like Harry finally getting to meet the girl who liked him way back in the day.

Overall 3/10

Snow White with the Red Hair

This is a fairly low key story so far about a girl who wants to be a master herbalist. It’s a fairly unique goal so I’m ready to see how it turns out. The series is off to a good start and the prince is solid right now as he could pass off for the main character in more of a Shonen title.. I’ll have a review up for the series as soon as I’ve finished it.

Overall 7/10


The main girl always looks pretty sad here, but such is the life of being able to see creepy spirits that nobody else can. The series has an interesting premise but is getting a bit bogged down by the fanservice so far. I think this could take the next step once it gets past that but for now it’s in the middle. A pretty easy read with some good potential. I’ll have a review up for the series when I finish it.

Overall 5/10

Nancy Drew… Trouble Shooter Review

Nancy Drew has returned for some more detective shenanigans! Nancy herself doesn’t look very good in this film though and as tends to be the case in these older adventures, her friend Ted seems to be the real detective around here. It’s a fun movie and definitely a short one as well so you will have this finished in a flash. It may not stick out among the Drew adventures but it’s just solid all around.

The movie starts with a guy being accused of murder so he writes to his friend Carson Drew. Carson is ready to see that justice is served so he quickly heads out to help but much to his dismay, Nancy Drew finds out about this as well and now she wants to help. Unfortunately for Ted, she quickly tracks him down as well and decides that he will be helping her this time around. Can the two of them solve the case of who really committed the murder or will they just get in Carson’s way and cause an innocent man to be taken down?

You can see how Carson treats Nancy as a burden here with how he sighs and tries to keep her out of trouble. He’s just used to doing everything so having a kid around slows his roll. While he is confident though, it does feel like he is always foiled in the end though. There’s only so much that his law training can do here without becoming a vigilante like Nancy. Also, he’s a bit distracted here as he starts off a romance with Edna who immediately captivates him as well as Ted. Nancy gets awful spore about this which impacts her detective skills as well.

Now with a man’s life hanging in the balance you figure that the characters would not let any distractions stop them but that never seems to be the case here. All of the romance scenes here are rather painful with Carson and Ted just tripping over themselves in trying to help her. You’d think they would be a little more subtle and would realize that this isn’t the time for such tings. Worry about romance after the case has been solved. It also doesn’t feel like the romance actually impacts the story all that much. It’s just kind of there to be there.

It does hurt Ted a little but beyond that he looks good. He’s the only one to realize that the attendant was stealing the chickens and he ultimately proves to be helpful at the end as he ensures the heroes have a good landing. He is always very reluctant to get involved in these cases and would much rather take it over to the police, but once he is dragged in, Ted makes sure to do the job right. It’s why he’s such a quality character. You can sympathize with how he just wants to have a quiet day but that won’t be an option for very long. I’d say a lot of the film’s best humor also revolves around Ted and his reactions. It goes without saying that he’s the best character here.

Not to take too many shots at Nancy, she is a good lead but she almost comes off more like an antagonist at times with how she gets in the way. Her one sided feud with Edna doesn’t do her any favors either. Edna is trying to be nice the whole time while Nancy is just petty and takes everything personally. She’s also very slow on the uptake like when Carson had to quickly change his story around Edna and Nancy just didn’t get it. She tends to miss some clues that are right in front of her and so ultimately she has a ways to go before she would become the famous detective.

As for the actual case, it’s not bad. Despite a murder being involved I wouldn’t say it’s super captivating. It’s all fairly basic and the character cast is very small so it’s not like there are a whole lot of suspects that it could be. Basically if someone shows up and acts a bit antagonistic then you figure he’s probably the culprit. Sadly there’s no officer Tweedy this time so the heroes have to make do without him.

I’d say the reason why the film shines though is because the writing is just really good. Sure, it’s all very low key but because of that it ends up being a very calming film. It feels like a slice of life all the way through with two kids doing their best to spice up the day. They get their fill of action and adventure or at least Ted does. Nancy’s always ready for another round even if that’s not a good idea.

So even if the film doesn’t become all that unique, you could easily see 10 or more films just riding off of this one’s energy. You can easily just keep it going for a long while yet with slightly different cases and I think it would still be entertaining. I could probably do without the random romance but that strikes me as a one time thing anyway so the other films wouldn’t need to do that. Now we just need a film series about the Hardy Boys.

Overall, This was a pretty good film I’d say. I do have the disclaimer that you could be bored if you walk into this expecting a lot of action, but this isn’t that kind of film nor is it attempting to be. You have to be drawn in by the writing and the cheerful vibe of all the scenes. If that sounds good to you then you will certainly have a good time here. It’s just a very calming film that makes you feel good. The only thing that could have hurt this film would be if it was too long since this kind of plot is best meant for a shorter film but that’s why it’s so fast. It’s a quick adventure that’s over without having any pacing issues.

Overall 7/10

Cells at Work! Review

Fun fact on this one, while I reviewed both anime seasons a while back, I actually completed the manga before watching the shows. It just so happened that writing those reviews was a bit quicker than writing the review for the manga. In general the anime reviews can be easier sometimes but I would say it’s case by case. At the time of this writing it’s completely balanced with 5 manga and 5 anime left to review with this one out of the way. It’s kind of cool how that ended up working out. A lot of my pros and cons for the manga are similar to the anime so lets dive right in.

The story mainly revolves around 2 cells, a white blood cell and a red blood cell. Red is always getting lost around the body as she tries to deliver nutrients. Meanwhile white blood cell’s job is to go around destroying viruses and any harmful bacteria. He may seem like a very intense guy whose only thoughts are of murdering his prey but he’s a nice guy once you get to know him. The two cells hit it off as good friends and the manga follows their adventures. I would say the manga is 90% slice of life with the occasional big plot threads like when the cancer cell shows up. To date I do think it’s fitting that the cancer cell would end up being the big threat here because that is typically known as the most dangerous disease out there.

A slice of life title like this is really carried by the characters and setting. For me this is where the series is a little weaker than it could have been otherwise. For example, the characters live inside of the human body because that’s the entire premise of the series. It’s not like they could just leave it at any point, that wouldn’t really make sense. So logically they have to always be in the same kind of areas but it isn’t a very visually interesting setting. It all looks a bit bland and personally I would have liked a little more variety. Maybe make it so that some parts of the body actually do look like cities and such. It may not have been super scientific but it’s not like the series takes no liberties so this definitely could have worked.

Then for the characters, I’ll get into them more in detail in a minute. The cast is good but there aren’t a lot of exceptional characters here. Also, they just aren’t as funny as some other slice of life casts. The series is part comedic but I wouldn’t say it ever gets as funny as some of the top titles like Nisekoi or Kaguya Sama. It’s not boring or anything but these are the things that keep it from taking the jump to the next level. Cells at Work! is a good title, it’s just not a great one.

Neutrophil is definitely one of the best characters and someone who always dominates the scene that he is in. He’s really got a very focused approach towards tackling any issue and I can definitely appreciate that. The cancer cell tries to have a philosophical debate with him but Neutrophil is really built to destroy his enemies and so he can’t do that. I thought it was an interesting approach to have him be so by the books that he can’t see the gray area. Everything is black and white to him because that’s how he is designed. The very world of Cells at Work is interesting in that way because there are a lot of implications in having each cell be sentient and I would say say that the series handles them well. It’s not a constant theme and don’t mistake this for being a deep series but at least you get an inkling of how this would play out.

Then you have Red who is always fun. She doesn’t really get any big action scenes since she can’t fight but she is always striving to be better. By the end of the series she may still get lost but not as much as she once did. Red also has several scenes where she is really able to prove herself and stay strong even when everyone around her is giving up. She has a lot of determination and you definitely want to see that in the main heroine.

Another big character is Killer T and he’s fun enough. The guy definitely loves to battle but he isn’t quite as smart or nuanced as Neutrophil. The guy also doesn’t seem as strong if you ask me. He’s not as quick to Neutrohpil could probably outmaneuver him. Killer T has a decent backstory and gets a bigger role as the series progressed. It was good to have another fighter to help Neutrophil out against the enemies so his presence was certainly appreciated.

Macrophage is a helpful character. She may not appear to be too deadly at first glance but she can certainly fight with the best of them. Then you have Helper T who is more of a support role. Apparently he can fight based on his flashback but just doesn’t do that nowadays. With how the cell system works, you just have to stay in your lane at all times even if you have the ability to help. So sadly we never get to see him do much.

Regulatory T actually does get a role but unfortunately it’s a bad one. She ends up betraying the heroes to help out the cancer cell which was a really bad move. She may mean well but if following the rules means betraying your friends then it’s time to go off script a bit. The fact that she didn’t do this is ultimately what got her into a really big mess here.

Eosinophil was one of the better characters though. She could fight really well but her weakness is that it depends on the opponent so she did get mocked a lot initially. It’s got to be tough to only be able to fight against some opponents but she makes the most of her opportunities and gets a good win at the end of the day. She should only get more powerful as she goes on.

Memory Cell is one of the more annoying cells. The guy’s whole purpose here is to use memories from previous attacks to let the others know how to fight the opponents and what the best course of action is. Unfortunately he tends to forget this when it counts which is really not a good look. You’re counting on him to do something but he almost never lives up to his role. Considering that this is literally his only task, it is a really bad look for him.

Basophil is a very mysterious cell who is always talking in riddles. I think this does have some potential of course but ultimately it just doesn’t work out. Mainly the issue is because his words don’t actually amount to much. If you really pay attention to what he’s saying, it’s usually abstract things without a real meaning behind it. I like technobabble and ancient prophecy type speeches as long as there is a point but if it’s just the character trying to show off to an extent then it doesn’t work. Trying to sound smart and actually saying something which is smart are two very different things.

Then there is the normal cell and he just wants to have a good purpose. Right now the only thing that he has to do is make more clones of him. It’s a rather boring job and there just isn’t much to keep him occupied. I do sympathize but it gets to be a bit much when he’s getting in the way of the other heroes and actually teaming up with a villain at one point. Each job there is very necessary to keeping the body operational so messing around for no good reason is not a good excuse at all. It takes away from his sympathy points.

There are other supporting characters as well since there are tons of different blood types in the body. You’ve got the red blood cells in training called the platelets and then some more obscure types. You’ll probably have a hard time remembering all of the names but the series certainly doesn’t skimp out on the details. If there is a blood cell then you can bet that it’s in here somewhere.

As for the villains, most of them are rather nameless. You do have the coronavirus, flu, and a bunch of bacteria but for the most part they just get a quick appearance before being shredded. The Cancer Cell is the only exception to this. He’s a very smart cell who tries to think outside of the framework. It makes him an interesting villain because he’s someone who brings up a lot of valid points. Why does he have to be destroyed just for existing? After all, he didn’t choose to be born a cancer cell and it’s an interesting dynamic because this is a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier with the implications of each cell being alive.

A cancer cell by definition has to be destroyed even if he wasn’t doing anything. It’s not like the heroes can just spare him because as long as he’s alive then the system won’t work. In almost any other series you could see him being the sympathetic hero with that case or more of a moral discussion but Neutrophil has to end him because he recognizes that there is no way around this. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the manga even if they aren’t able to delve into this too much. It’s just nice food for thought.

I thought he made for an excellent antagonist and someone who couldn’t be brushed aside so easily. His abilities were also handy, he fought like a symbiote with how he could stretch his arms and turn them into shapes. That’s not something you could see a lot of other characters do. This title also didn’t have too many prolonged fights like this so it was definitely cool to see. You’ll certainly be satisfied with the fight as a whole.

In general I would also say that the artwork here was solid. It may not be amazing or anything but you can certainly follow the action without getting lost at any point. It’s easy to read through the pages and get to the end so I have no complaints here. The characters also have very different designs so you aren’t likely to mix them up. I still thought at first that each chapter would have a different white blood cell and red blood cell since there are billions or trillions of them running around and looking the same. Would have made sense in a way because the odds of the two cells meeting each other again seems slim at best. I assume it didn’t happen because the author would either have to think of an excuse to have them get along each time or just drop the dynamic entirely which would have made for a very different series. Ultimately this was the only way to keep their bond all the way through.

Another plus for the series is definitely that you may be able to learn a thing or two as you read through it. The series does use the science name for each of the cells and so you may learn some things about the body. Biology was definitely never my thing so I can’t say that I remember too much of the science but it’s a nice element to throw in there. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything.

In general it’s not like the manga makes any big mistakes either. It’s biggest weakness to me is that you never get super invested. It’s a fun read but I wouldn’t exactly call it a page turner. The characters just don’t have enough energy to really keep every moment dynamic and since the series is more of a slice of life style, the characters are needed to kick things up a notch. It’s still fun but you are less likely to re read the adventure. I think that’s the biggest difference between a 6 like this and a higher 7.

Overall, Cells at Work! is a very unique manga. I wouldn’t say this is a premise that most people would think of right off the bat. Usually dealing with the body like this could be a recipe for disaster as it could get a bit gross but this series never takes it like that. The areas also don’t look like parts of the body which I think is a good thing. I still would have liked more variety in the corridors but this’ll get the job done. If you’re looking for a manga to spend some time on, this will still get the job done. At less than 10 volumes it makes for a quick read.

Overall 6/10

The Time Machine Review

Whenever you have a film with time travel you know that things are going to get good. That was my thought upon watching this film as well and it definitely delivered. What you have to understand right from the jump is that this isn’t an action title though. It’s actually very low key about the time traveling aspect. Sure, there are some punches thrown near the end but for the most part this is a dialogue based film but one that works rather well here and I like the time travel rules that the film abided by.

There are a lot of time travel rules after all. The ones where you can’t alter the past or the future, the ones that create new universes, ones where you can’t go directly to your own past, etc. Personally my favorite styles tend to be when you can change things and you just see a lot of ripple effects. It makes the most sense to me even if we don’t actually know how time travel would work yet. Back to the movie though.

So George invites his friends over for dinner but when they arrive he is very late and appears as if he’s been in some kind of battle. He explains to them that he has been travelling through time and this triggers a flashback which is from the rest of the movie. So a while back he tried to show his invention to them but they didn’t believe him. It was partially on him for only showing them the basic version when he could have messed with the real one and proved the machine quite easily. Instead they laugh and run off while he decides to use this machine to go to the future. At first George just has fun seeing how things will change in the next year or so but then he ends up going over 800,000 years in the future. Humanity seems to finally be at peace but is there some darker secret here? George will have to find out fast because his machine may be in danger.

Naturally if your time machine breaks for any reason then that’s game over so you don’t want that to happen. The way the film handles it, the machines effectively exists outside of time while it is being used and then it appears in the same spot that it was, just in a different universe. It’s a very handy ability that’s for sure and the controls are very intuitive so he is able to stop on a dime in any era. Somehow George even made a mini version of it so he has completely mastered the mechanics of it. He could really become rich with an invention like that even if that’s not really his style.

So the first half of the film is just very calm as he goes from place to place and has fun. He can be a little slow on the uptake and draws attention to himself all the time but nobody is really going to be thinking about time travel so that part’s safe. The real high stakes of the film don’t appear until after he’s in the far future though.

So Humanity pretty much blew themselves up it seems because al technology is gone and the world is back to the cave man era. The people are still rather dignified though so it’s not a full reset. People have grown lazy though because now there is a race of alien type creature that cater to their every whim so people don’t need to work anymore. Their food is served to them and they don’t bother reading so people just live every day on repeat. George is quite dismayed about this but at the same time he meets a lady named Weena that he likes so that’s a silver lining there.

Now he has a reason to embrace this new time period. The film never makes it clear why these other beings are watching over humanity and how they prepare all of this when they seem mindless. There are a lot of questions here and perhaps another film could go more into detail but it’s not like George has a lot of time to find out all of the answers. He’s busy just trying to stay alive the whole time and he does a good job of it too.

I like to think he’ll give some more closure to the characters in the present at some point but the ending is a happy one either way. George was a solid main character once he found his footing and really got used to traveling through time. He should help make the future era a much better one as well. Then Weena was a good heroine as well even if she didn’t get a whole lot to do in the future. She was brave enough to talk to him when most wouldn’t say a word.

The film really thrives because of its writing. A film like this absolutely needs high quality writing to survive since that is going to be what executes on the solid premise. I have no complaints on that area and thought that the script was quite solid. Yes, I do have some issues with how George could have done a much better job of proving his time machine to the group. That is a bit iffy so I’ll just make an excuse for him and say that if his friends would barely entertain this idea of his then maybe they didn’t deserve to see it anyway. He had one good friend in Filby but even that guy didn’t really believe him the whole time. At least he would defend George but that’s about all I can say for him. Nice guy but if he had taken the next step and actually assisted with the time travel that would have been ideal.

Overall, The Time Machine is a fun, dare I say relaxing film. It’s just very low key so there isn’t a ton to say about it, but it’s interesting enough. I think the concept is what intrigues you the most because it’s fun to put yourself in George’s shoes and think about what you would do with a time machine. The possibilities are really endless especially with the level of freedom you have with this machine. Of course you have to be careful not to leave it alone or to let it get broken or you’ll be really sunk. If you want a nice look at the future then this is a good one to check out without a doubt.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress Season 2 Review

To put it mildly I was not a big fan of the first season. For a franchise that is used to getting 9s and 8s before, that one only got a 6. It had a lot of glaring issues and would have been a whole lot lower if not for Tohya taking the whole season on his back and keeping it afloat. I’ve rewatched his fights many times on Youtube while I have not rewatched any of the other episodes at all. Well, season 2 seems to have gotten the memo as Tohya is a full main character now and we even got a big fight between groups here. Season 2 is a complete step up in every way and while Tohya still carries all of the best moments, the episodes without him as the focus are finally solid here. We’re not quite at the great level yet but now I can say this season is pretty good.

Last time Tohya torched the banner of Team Blackout and Danji ran off somewhere. So this season begins with the fallout from that. Tohya is trying to make amends for what he has done and is starting by getting the banner back together and fixing the amusement park. He’s done rather well for himself and gradually everyone starts hanging out with him and acknowledging him as a good guy. Tohya is not very comfortable being part of a group and so he has to get used to this. There isn’t a lot of time to take it easy though as a group has started going around burning other team’s banners and they’re doing this across the country.

Tohya’s old partner is in on this but the mastermind is Mirei, the leader of team Daybreak. She will have to be taken down to restore peace in the Cardfight community. It won’t be easy though as she is the head of a multi million dollar company and her bodyguard is…Danji? Why has he crossed over to the villain’s side and will Tohya be able to take him down this time? So far he has not proven up to the task but now is his chance to win the rematch and help his new friends out at the same time. He can’t afford to lose!

With season 1 one of the many issues was just how aimless it could be. You would barely have a cardfight even happen sometimes. The humor didn’t work and Yuyu was a rather sad main character. Well, season 2 works on this by having more of a plot right away. Having Tohya work to atone from last time is already a good starting premise since it reminds you of the stakes from last time. We’ve also got an actual villain that isn’t comic relief here. (Referring to Tohya’s partner from last time) So the stakes are higher and the season is a lot more personal. Danji’s got his own plot here too but I’ll stick to the heroes for now.

Tohya is still my favorite character and it isn’t even close. He just does a really great job and you can tell that he’s a very responsible person too. He’s not taking the easy way here. He also didn’t have to be the guy to shut down team Daybreak but he goes in anyway. Then when he fights Danji he doesn’t back down and challenges him to a Cardfight. That’s exactly what I want to see from the tough rival here.

There are a lot of callbacks to the original fight. When Tohya asks Danji if he has any drive left that’s when the music starts up and you get pumped. Man that episode has a ton of great replay value and you could watch the fight so many times. There are fake-outs and moments when both combatants seem like they are going to win. It just doesn’t end and you can really feel satisfaction for the victor when it’s all over. It’s a spectacular fight and a 9/10 episode. Definitely the pinnacle for the season even if it wasn’t the end arc fight.

But we already knew that the Tohya parts were going to be great. We knew that he was the guy who carried season 1 so you are probably more curious about the rest of the cast and events. Well, that’s definitely fair and that’s exactly where this season excels over the first. So lets head over to the Danji plot now. Mirei is his younger sister and she is blind which is naturally quite rough if you want to play the game of Cardfight. They were very close back in the day but one day she was to be put into an arranged marriage and Danji found out that the guy was no good so he caused a scene and cancelled the wedding.

Only he knows the truth and everyone else thought he was acting out since Danji used to be a bit of a delinquent. So Danji was basically forced out and Mirei’s guardian Haruka told the world that he was dead. They even had a funeral for him. Well, now her overall goal is to use Cardfight to bring people together in a way where everyone can be equal. By each group having their own flag it means that can’t happen so they all have to be burned. Additionally no emotions are allowed during the games so that people don’t feel sad when they lose.

In a way she has turned her tragic past into her drive to make Cardfight the safest game around. A game where you can always be happy and the groups she takes out will thank her someday. It’s definitely an overly optimistic view of how things would go since you can probably imagine how each of the groups are quite upset at her for burning their flags. Who would be happy about that right? To an extent she has been tricked by Haruka who just wants Mirei to be happy but it’s also partially that Mirei has been sheltered from the actual effects of her policies. A lot of people also support them so she just doesn’t have a proper worldview now.

Danji is basically blackmailed into being her driver by Haruka. He is not to let her know that he’s the long lost brother and has to play it cool. He does want to be with her so this is how he does it but along the way that means he is basically overlooking all the crazy things that the group is doing. I heavily disagreed with Danji on this and in general he doesn’t look great in this season. He should have come clean to Mirei a lot sooner. Sure he might get sued and chased out of town again but she deserves to know and the longer he doesn’t say anything, the more it is like he’s basically tricking her too.

Particularly as we see later on that Haruka records all of their conversations. Danji knows this and doesn’t say anything so now this is also an invasion of privacy since Mirei is talking to him in confidence and doesn’t realize that she’s being recorded. Danji is passive as she meets with the heroes and debates. It’s all rather hard on him but he’s just not as outgoing and decisive as he was in season 1. He’ll be back to normal for season 3 but he’s just disappointing throughout the entire season. He makes all of the wrong calls and found himself on the wrong side. In a way the show may have been paralleling how Tohya atoned the right way and Danji as being in the wrong here but I’m not sure if that’s 100% intentional. It makes a lot of sense so I can roll with that though.

This shouldn’t be used as an excuse for Danji during his battle with Tohya though. Listen when you take the field in a Cardfight battle then you have to accept the results no matter the outcome. So even if he was dealing with some things, there is no backing out now. Danji may have been super annoying the whole time but at least he still does have a lot of skills and I doubt Yuyu would have been able to stop him.

As for Yuyu, he is still the main character and it’s fair to say that he gets the most screen time but at this point he shares so much time with both Danji and Tohya that it’s not by a huge margin. I’m completely cool with this because I’m still not a big fan of his. He does make some good speeches during the duels but he’s another character who is just a bit too passive and doesn’t just get out there. He has a little more confidence than he used to, but still just lets Mirei walk all over him in their verbal debate. If he keeps up the upwards trend then he should be set for season 3 but we’ll see how that goes.

As for Mirei, she’s the main villain and will be appearing a lot so it’s important that she be a good character as well. Fortunately I would say that she is fairly solid. I wouldn’t say her goals make a whole lot of sense when you think about it and she gets manipulated a lot but that’s why making her blind was a very smart decision. It makes a lot of her choices believable because your whole worldview is just so different if you have to rely on what other people tell you your whole life. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be blind and this did have a big toll on her.

So while I think she could have handled things differently, it’s not something that I would seriously hold against her. Particularly when the heroes have multiple opportunities to talk to her and end up chickening out each time. Perhaps they would have been able to have gotten through to her a little sooner. Her guardian Haruka is also responsible for a lot of this as she takes the job a little too seriously. Haruka tries to keep Mirei in a bubble and make decisions for her but this doesn’t tend to end well. I can appreciate her intent but I would say she handled things poorly as well. If Haruka had realized the truth behind the arranged marriage and why Danji broke it up then that would be one thing but without that she is on the losing side here.

Then there’s Megumi who is still the main heroine…sorta. I feel like her role is so small that you almost forget that she is the heroine. She is around a lot of course but doesn’t get a whole lot to do. In part this is because she doesn’t have a big rival like the others although they try to play the kid up as her rival. He’s not much of a threat compared to the others but he can duel so I suppose that will have to do. Megumi is a solid character either way.

Tomari gets some action here and shows that she can still duel with the best of them. She is a member of the team after all so you’d expect her to be able to duel. I was glad she got a little shine here. Tomari tends to serve as one of the more experienced members of the group so she should absolutely be able to pitch in when needed and she keeps the characters sharp. Zakusa is also around but I was never as much of a fan of him. He has his whole punk angle where he starts to talk tough and then he’s usually mild mannered but that whole dynamic never works. It definitely doesn’t for Zakusa and he just isn’t very interesting to me. It doesn’t help that he’s another very passive character.

This may be why I like Tohya so much since he actually goes out there and gets things done while the other characters prefer to just talk and talk all the time. The cast isn’t very strong yet which also didn’t help season 1 since that was all about the characters. Here we have a lot of duels and the impending threat of team Daybreak so that kept everyone focused. The duels are really good so I do want to emphasize that the show did that justice. The stakes are high and the music is very fitting for each one of the duels.

Finally there’s Masanori and I still can’t take him seriously as a villain. I get that he’s always around and seems to be the mastermind behind everything but he takes so many Ls and at what point is he supposed to start being a serious threat? Right now it doesn’t seem like he can beat the heroes even if he tries his best and I don’t get the feeling that he even knows what he will do next. The guy is a true wild card without a doubt but not one that you need to fear.

The soundtrack is quite excellent. The gyroaxia song returns for Tohya as he questions Danji’s drive and it really is a song that gets you pumped up. The animation is also fairly solid. I don’t think there’s any scene that quite matches when Tohya pulled off his special transformation in season 1 but it’s all pretty solid though. You shouldn’t have any complaints on the technical side here as they don’t phone any of that in.

In terms of negatives, I’d say the only thing here is that the first half of the season can be a little weak. The show builds up to the war against Daybreak so in the first episodes you hear about them and see Mirei through the Danji subplot but not a whole lot happens. It’s got that season 1 vibe of being more of an aimless slice of life. It’s better this time though because it isn’t truly aimless, not to mention the episodes aren’t as weak. We don’t get a whole episode of Yuyu being sick after all.

In the main plot we have Tohya trying to get the town to accept him and in the B plot we have Danji getting absolutely devastated in every scene. So at least things are happening and there’s always a duel around. It’s just not until the second part of the season where we kick things into high gear with the big battles of clan against clan. The show’s humor is also fairly decent. The heroes running around trying to get a free meal was decent enough. If the whole show was like this then I’m sure it would have lost a star and been around the first season’s level but we did get the action so this ended up making it.

Cardfight also tends to be about a clash of ideals. Whether it is power vs enjoyment in Aichi vs Ren, Acceptance vs Change in Chrono vs the kid who lose his parents, or now Discarding vs Embracing the flames in Danji vs Tohya. There always tends to be something deeper behind each duel which is part of what makes the series is a blast. Naturally we have those themes in these duels as well. I would say in particular Danji vs Tohya and Yuyu vs Mirei would fall into those camps so lets quickly look at those two duels since they were some of the best in the season.

So for Danji and Tohya I mentioned there were a lot of callbacks to the first season’s fight. That time Danji won as he pointed out that Tohya was too fixated on power and ended up losing his strength as a result. So initially Tohya thought he had to discard his flames and completely change himself but instead of doing this he ultimately decided to embrace them. Danji didn’t particularly agree but also said it’s a choice each person had to make. Tohya won the duel but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right. It does mean that he successfully defended his ideals though.

Danji wasn’t defending anything in this season which is part of why Tohya’s win was so important here to get Danji back into his groove. As for the Yuyu duel, well of course he believes that you should be able to have fun and laugh while playing Cardfight. This emotionless way of dueling that Mirei teaches goes against Yuyu’s ideas here. Instead of making the game completely equal, it takes away from the fun.

Neither character is as eloquent in this duel since they’re both a little on the younger side but they still do their best and it is a pretty intense battle. There’s a lot of good back and forth here and I will always say that my one complement for Yuyu is that he gives good speeches. Sometimes they are thrown right back at him like Tohya when he turned the tables but Yuyu has a lot of passion in his duels. If he could keep this up outside of the dueling table then he could definitely join Chrono and Aichi as some of the higher tier main characters someday. As long as we keep up these emotional duels then the series is in a great spot and I don’t see that changing.

Overall, OverDress still has a ways to go if it wants to catch up to any of the other parts of the franchise but an upwards trend is always good. As long as Tohya is here you know you’re guaranteed to have at least one excellent match in the season too. He always brings in the passion and emotion that you want to see from the main characters. He could really teach the other characters a thing or two. The third season looks to be finally adding in some tournament action so that sounds really promising. Who knows, it could end up being the best season yet!

Overall 7/10