Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fruits Basket: Another Review


It’s time to look at a recent Fruits Basket spin-off that ended without  a whole lot fanfare. I dare say that a lot of fans of the main series wouldn’t have really heard about this unless they’re were looking for it. It was all very low key which matches the tone of the series as it is a very down to Earth slice of life story. There aren’t any big plots here or a large cast of characters to deal with. It’s a nice enough title but one where not much really seems to happen.

The series follows a girl named Sawa who has a pretty tough home situation. Her mother is always sabotaging her relationships with friends and uses a lot of passive aggressive behavior to keep Sawa from going outside or doing much of anything outside of school. Saw a now believes that she is a bother to everyone. Right now she feels completely trapped but that all begins to change when she bumps into two of the most popular kids in school. They help get her out of trouble and even get her to join the student council. Sawa finally has some friends and activities to do outside of the house for the first time. Can she manage to keep these new friends or will the Mom defeat them as she did all the others?

This is one of those sequels that really has nothing to do with the original title. Outside of the fact that it’s in the same universe and you get a cameo here and there, there is nothing really connecting the two. This could easily have just been a one shot if the author had wished it to be. These kinds of sequels are interesting in the sense that I have mixed feelings on them. On one hand, I like the boldness of not relying on the old characters. Particularly in a slice of life series like this it makes sense to expand the universe with more characters to add some more depth to the place. I also like when it’s a standalone sequel because then I can compare it to the original. Look at Yugioh, that’s the mindset behind that franchise. At the same time, as fun as those sequels are I’ll always still vote for a sequel with a lot of the old characters as the most fun way to do it.

Sawa is definitely not as tough a main character as Tohru which is surprising to say the least since the old heroine wasn’t exactly known for her toughness. Sawa spends most of the series getting pushed around and constantly apologizing. A good portion of this is due to how she was raised. Sawa believes that she is always bringing bad luck to people and that she gets in everyone’s way. Since this is what she has always believed it is difficult to get her out of this mind set. Still, her new friends have made it their mission to do so. By the end of the series Sawa has definitely improved to an extent although she is not quite there yet.

I don’t believe the series was cancelled although the ending makes you feel like it was. The title only has 3 volumes and it just suddenly ends. Most if not all of the plotlines were still going and Sawa’s character arc hadn’t even ended yet. It’s definitely a pretty bold ending but one that you can appreciate. I suppose the author was trying to go for a more realistic angle than the usual everyone turning good at the end kind of thing. By the end Sawa’s Mom still seems like she will be an antagonist and that’s just how things will be for a while.

The best character in the series is definitely Sora. She’s one of the more outgoing members of the Sohma family and is quick to get Sawa’s spirits back up. Sora is very charismatic and can always turn a situation around. She doesn’t see to have any fears or be reluctant to meet new people unlike most of her colleagues. Whenever Sawa was down she always knew that Sora could be counted on and that’s always important. On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got Riku who isn’t particularly great at dealing with people. He can give good advice at times, but it’s rather blunt and so you can only make use of the knowledge if you have a strong character. Otherwise you just wouldn’t have the nerve to pull his plans off. I wasn’t a big fan of his. He’s pretty similar to one of the original Sohma members from the first series and I wasn’t a big fan of that guy either.

Shiki gets a pretty big role in the series. He is the new head of the Sohmas after all or at least in the process of fully going into the role. He’s younger than most of the other members and is fairly emotionless most of the time. He seems like a reasonable kid who does his best to fit in. Unfortunately Shiki does get roped into a romance plot with Sawa towards the end though. I think the series could have gone pretty well without such a pairing. The romance comes in rather late and as the series is only 3 volumes there is absolutely nowhere for this plot to go. Keeping them as friends would have still made for a good dynamic with Sawa still worrying that she caused him too much grief and Shiki trying to get her to realize that he’s over it. He’s definitely not the kind of character who would hold what Sawa’s mother did against her. They are different people after all.

Time to take a look at Mutsuki. He’s one of the main guys in the series and gets a rather large role. He surprisingly has more similarities with Kyo than Yuki at times. While he has Yuki’s positive reputation and is a genius he tends to play the villain like Kyo to get Sawa to realize things. Mutsuki is always one step ahead of the other characters with only Hajime being able to realize his end games half the time. Mutsuki is a solid character. There isn’t a whole lot to him despite the guy always appearing throughout the series, but there isn’t really anything bad about him either. The guy does a good job in his position at school and always tries to seer everyone the right way. Hajime is a little more oblivious as he tends to just lie down in random places which causes people to step on him. He doesn’t really take things like that too personally though and just likes to live freely. He watches out for Mutsuki making sure that the other guy doesn’t take too many things on. For the most part he is fine being a spectator though and just watches over everyone.

We’ve got a pretty solid cast here. The series is more of a slice of life than anything else so there aren’t a bunch of villains or anything like that. The only antagonist here would be the Mom. I do think her confrontations with Sawa can be a bit odd at times though. Half of the time she’s being so passive aggressive that it’s almost hard to read the actual threats. Sawa also never even tries to talk back or explain the situation from her point of view. We can infer that she used to try and since it never worked she gave up but I feel like Sawa needed to be more active. All of their confrontations boil down to her Mom saying a bunch of stuff which Sawa just accepts and then she leaves. It’s never an actual conversation. Sawa also gets surprised when she sees the Mom going through her stuff at one point, but I feel like that’s something she would have already known was going on. She didn’t know the truth about her old friends though so she may have just been a bit oblivious on these things.

The only ones who could really stand up to the Mom were the Sohmas. We find out that she sued them at one point, but they didn’t fold which is good. Having the Sohma family lose to her would have been a pretty odd decision since the whole point of the family is that they’re all rich and don’t bend over so easily. They’ve got a ton of influence even if they no longer have evil members at the ready.

Overall, Fruits Basket Another is a pretty reasonable sequel to the original series. I didn’t like the original when I first read it, but that was a long time ago so I need to give it a second look someday. I did enjoy the recent anime adaption of it after all. Another definitely isn’t as high stakes as the first series and has to condense everything into 3 volumes, but the writing is pretty solid. Aside from the Sawa vs Mom scenes which still didn’t feel real to me and the rushed romance I had no real qualms with the title. The school was a lot more realistic than some with no crazy bullies around every corner. The Sohma family looked pretty solid and it’s just nice to see the franchise back even if the old characters didn’t really show up this time. If you want to read a fun slice of life story about a girl escaping her toxic home and finally making friends then this is the one for you. It’s a pretty upbeat story.

Overall 6/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Pitch Perfect 2 Review


It’s definitely been a while since I saw the first Pitch Perfect. The series definitely goes for a very “Bring it On” vibe throughout and this sequel is no exception. A film being about A Capella is definitely still pretty original since that’s not the most popular form of entertainment out there and the movies consistently make you aware of this fact as everyone comments on it. Unfortunately I can’t say that this film was a success, it makes pretty much all of the mistakes you would expect.

The movie starts with the Bellas performing on another grand stage. Unfortunately there ends up being a mishap involving Amy which shames the group and puts them in a global controversy. Their group is now about to be disbanded. Fortunately, due to some quick thinking on the group’s part they are going to get a second chance. If they want to keep the group alive then they are going to have to win the world tournament. The problem is that America has never won it before and the commentators mention that nobody likes the U.S. so it’ll never happen. Still, at least now they have something to fight for!

The group isn’t in perfect sync at the moment though. Beca still enjoys this competition, but she is ready to move on with her life and has begun an internship at a big music recording studio. She is actually having some success here, but keeping this big secret is threatening to ruin the group forever. Meanwhile a new girl named Emily has shown up and she really wants to be a Bella. Her Mom was one and always mentioned that it was the best time of her life. Emily is doing her best to fit in, but the only issue is that the others are giving her a hard time and the group may not even exist soon. Still, she is ready to give it her all. Can the girls find a way to win this tournament against the German favorites DSM?

Well, I guess we should get into the positives first because they are outnumbered. Some of the songs can still be catchy. I always like the idea of a Capella battle which is just really cool. One group starts a song and then when the judge gives the queue the next team has to immediately jump in with a different song, but tuned to the same beat. In a sense this means the first team will always have the advantage, but since they’re starting they need to pick a song that picks up right away. This film has a bigger song battle than the first film as it is around 4-5 groups all going at it. It’s easily the best part of the film and really should have been the climax.

I also liked Sammy. He’s Beca’s boss at the studio and is really a scene stealer. He’s definitely a bit on the rude side, but definitely does know what he is doing. He’s got a real quick wit when it comes to music even if he is considerably slower on the take when it comes to learning someone’s name. That’s one thing he couldn’t wrap his head around. His dynamic with one of the interns was also pretty fun as the guy kept on throwing ideas, but Sammy really didn’t like any of them. Honestly I didn’t think that the guy’s ideas were all that bad. At least he was trying right? This is exactly why some people don’t volunteer ideas because you don’t want to get shut down like that. I think part of what makes these scenes work though is the intern never loses his nerve and keeps trying to talk anyway. He certainly doesn’t take it personally and it takes a lot of fortitude to keep getting back up.

I thought Emily was also a reasonable character. She wasn’t as strong as Sammy, but at least she had a lot of enthusiasm and wanted to help make the Bellas better. It’s hard to excuse her for messing up in the music battle since that was a bit selfish, but otherwise I don’t think she made any mistakes. She felt more like the main character than Beca this time around with how much of a focus she got. Without her in the squad ironically not much may have really changed, but I’m sure her optimism helped the group out a lot off screen as well.

Now lets get into the bad parts of the film. First off, the writing is pretty terrible. Almost every line is someone making a dirty joke or just saying something super offensive for no real reason. The latter kind of humor can work if handled perfectly like in Airplane, but you really have to have talented writers to pull it off. Otherwise everyone just ends up being unlikable and you’re always getting ready to cringe at what’s about to be said next. There is really no safe point where you can just wait for it to all go away.

The romance plots in the film are all handled poorly as well. This is to be expected, but they all move very fast with no realistic development. You’ve got the magician who likes Emily but can’t even form a coherent sentence together. Then you have Amy and the other guy whose romance goes from being completely shut down to then they are back in biz. If I were the guy I’d be a little worried since Amy constantly hints that she will have a hard time sticking to one guy so that really does not bode well.

Meanwhile Beca isn’t quite as good as she used to be. Her keeping the massive internship secret was not a good idea. She also gets overly defensive about it when pushed which is just playing the blame game at this point. Beca also gets completely defeated by the leader of DSM in every single confrontation they have, which was not a good look. She may not be the leader of the team or anything, but she is a senior member so you would expect her to stay strong and at least have some kind of retort to the antagonists. By losing each time she really lost her chance of being a capable member.

Then you have Amy whose gimmick revolves around constantly using self deprecating humor on herself and also leads the charge for most of the iffy jokes. She’s the one who gets the group into trouble at the very beginning of the film and doesn’t really stop from there. Her character is definitely the most extreme from the group but it doesn’t always work out in a good way.

There are other characters on the Bellas and some of them have a good sized role but not to the same extent as the big 3. Mostly they’re just here for humor scenes and the leader is the only one who gets a role. She has good reason to be upset since none of the others seem to be taking the team seriously at times. She did invest multiple years on the team so to watch it go down like this is tragic.

The film did a good job of picking commentators who really sound like professional ones in real life. The humor there is supposed to be in how crude they are while announcing. I’ll grant the film that the voices are on point and sometimes they land a good joke but usually the guy goes a little too far. Both of them constantly walk into the insults and then throw some more of them out there.

As for the climax, that one was underwhelming. I didn’t mind the songs in general. Using a competition to end off the film is a good finale. It’s just that the film really gave the Bellas a bad song to end things off with. DSM’s song completely blew theirs out of the water so it’s hard to see how the heroes won that match. I suppose going for a brand new song is a pretty bold tactic, but not one that would win you the world championships. Of course music is completely subjective, but for me it was one of the weakest songs in the whole film so ending off with that was…interesting. It really didn’t have energy compared to DSM’s.

Overall, Pitch Perfect 2 is not a sequel that takes the series to new heights. It makes all the mistakes it possibly can. The plot makes sense for a sequel as you can’t get bigger than the world championships and adding a new main character was good since she was better than most of the established ones. That being said, she couldn’t help carry the film. More scenes with Sammy would have been great since he was definitely entertaining. This is the kind of film that may be fun as you are watching it, but ultimately falls well short of being a good title. If you want a better musical film you should check out Camp Rock or High School Musical.

Overall 3/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Review


It’s tie to look at a more recent Peanuts special. This one stars Rerun as the main character and I believe it is the first time he was the lead. It’s interesting to have someone who isn’t Charlie Brown as the focus although it’s hardly the first time. I don’t think Rerun can hold his own adventure quite as well, but it’s a reasonable adventure. It’s not quite as solid as some of the ones that came before it, but I’d say that it checks off all of the usual boxes.

Rerun’s main dilemma is that he wants to have a dog. The problem here is the fact that he is still a little kid so realistically if his parents got one then they would have to do all of the work. A lot of kids want a pet, but very few of them are actually able to handle one. That’s why I’m actually on the Mom’s side with this one as she keeps telling him no. Rerun is just not ready and I’d say that you’ve got to be 13-14 before you’re actually ready for some of the responsibility. Even then I would have my doubts. A good chunk of the special is Rerun trying to at least hang out with Snoopy, but that dog will only come for snacks. Otherwise Rerun is on his own.

We also get some subplots like Lucy still trying to get together with the piano player. He really doesn’t have time to even entertain this though as he harshly shuts her down each time. He flipped her off the piano quite a bit and I’d say that she’s definitely getting on his last nerve by this point. He just really seemed like he wasn’t in the mood for their usual banter this time. The whole town seemed to be on edge though like with how Rerun was suspended from school pretty suddenly. I suppose going to France is a little dicey during Christmas season since the airplane fare would be a lot higher but it still seemed like a bit of a drastic measure.

I ended up missing Charlie Brown quite a bit because in his few scenes he looked so good. It was nice to see him turn the tables on Rerun by explaining what No meant since the kid kept bugging him at home. Rerun just needed to give up on trying to play with Snoopy by that point. At least Snoopy was nice enough to play with him once right? Snoopy was also busy dealing with all of the other pets. We saw through flashbacks that Snoopy’s family tried to come over so he tricked them into going to another person’s house and in a different instance he took them on one of his WW II fights. That scared em off pretty quick. As always Snoopy is definitely the best character. He’s always got a lot of confidence and is pretty low-key great at whatever he does. Snoopy is just a fierce opponent and someone that you definitely want to have on your side at all times.

Rerun isn’t my favorite lead, but he does have some good traits. I liked the scenes of him trying to act smart and talking about the future. Trying to write up his opinions and doing the math was pretty good since he was at least thinking of ways to get out from under everyone’s shadows. His plans were doomed from the start since he’s younger than the rest and can’t hold his own, but that’s why thinking outside the box was good. He did prevent Lucy from breaking his tower by mentioning things that could happen in 20 years. It’s a big bluff of course, but it paid off and that’s the right strategy for him at the moment.

The animation is about the same as with all of the other specials. Either you like the pencil style or you don’t. By this point I’m pretty well used to it. It’s certainly one of the weaker styles out there, but it’s not like the series is going for fight scenes or anything so it works well enough. At the very least the characters are pretty distinct so you won’t be mixing any of them up with other characters. Then you’ve got the same song that plays on loop for all of the specials which is fairly catchy. I would like to see some more change with the newer ones, but I imagine that it would be a pretty big risk since people want the series to stay consistent. Changing everything up could backfire, but I’d like to see them give it a try at some point.

Overall, The Charlie Brown specials are only as good as the main stories within. This story here is enjoyable even if Rerun doesn’t make for the most engaging lead. You’ll be entertained throughout the adventure and it’s not like it’s a super long one either so it goes by pretty quick. I don’t think it’ll have much replay value, but most of these specials are meant to be watched once and then you move on to the next one. One of these days I really want a special with the grownups taking center stage. Now that would be awesome, but definitely one of those big changes that would be controversial. Well, if you like the Charlie Brown specials then you’ll like this one.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus Review


Time to look at a drama film that takes place on Christmas. It’s based on an editorial from a while back, but since basically the whole film is fictionalized I figured I’d still give it a review. It’s a pretty nice film that reminds you how even if everyone around you can be mean spirited you shouldn’t stoop to their level. The main character gets jaded at times, but ultimately stays strong.

There are a few plots going on in this movie. One of them is with James who loses his job after defending himself from a few brutes. As it usually tends to be, they’re the ones who get away with it while he and his friend get booted out. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of jobs at the moment so James is working hard to try and find anything that could work out for him. He’s starting to think that doing things the right way may be more of a hindrance than it’s worth. Meanwhile his daughter Virginia gets teased for believing in Santa Claus. James advises her to write to the paper about it.

This leads us to the second plot. You’ve got the writer Francis who is currently dealing with depression. He’s been one of the best newspaper reporters in the business but it has cost him a lot of time away from his family. Now he finds himself all alone and blames himself for not being there for his wife. His boss gives him the assignment on Santa Claus hoping that it will give the writer something to live for again and to hopefully get him back into his groove.

There are other plots along the way like the aspiring writer in the newspaper, a sick mother, and a corporate news guy trying to get a story. So we’ve got a lot of story here and the film is relatively short at around an hour and a half so everything has to move pretty quickly. The writing is good so it’s able to hold up and the character cast is solid. I don’t expect you will have any real qualms with the film. At most some plots just don’t feel as interesting as others. I was more invested in the James plot than any of the others ones after all.

He was definitely in the right with defending himself from the attackers in the opening scene. I know they sometimes tell you to look the other way but if someone’s literally attacking you and hampering your abilities on the job you have to do something. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect James to do anything else. That’s personally how I see it at any rate. Likewise I was glad he jumped in to help his friend in the bar even if it put his job at risk. You have to help your friend in these situations. Part of why James is my favorite character here is that he always made the right choices even when it was dangerous for his career. He’s the kind of friend who has got your back. He definitely starts to doubt himself at the end, but it was a trying day for sure.

It’s not to say that Francis’ plot wasn’t good. It’s just not quite as interesting. I thought the boss was actually the standout character here. He really thought things through and made sure he was there for his reporter. The scene of him putting out his cigarette in the ash tray was also very important because if the gas had been on with the windows closed then Francis would have died too. He was betting everything on the fact that Francis hadn’t totally given up yet. The interesting thing is that Francis had seemingly been about to do just that, but opened the window just in time. The boss showing up ended up saving his life.

Meanwhile we have the assignment and I’d say that Francis’ answer was good. He didn’t totally lie about Santa being real, but kept the response vague enough so that a kid could interpret it that way. It’s always a debate on if you tell your kid that Santa is real or not. Nowadays a lot of parents say they just tell their kid right away so there’s no disappointment later on. Personally I would also establish early on that the parents are getting the gifts and there is no Santa. Even if it’s pretty harmless, telling a kid that Santa is real is a lie. There are ways you could imply it without actually lying, but it’s just so much easier to not mislead the kid here. Also it helps to start informing kids about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ rather than letting them grow up thinking it’s about gifts and Santa Claus.

The film definitely tackles some pretty serious themes here with suicide and struggling to find work. It handles these themes well without making the film overly depressing. The movie still has enough happy scenes to keep things going well and so you can have a good time by the end. I think the only character who got a raw deal here was the corporate reporter who was trying to get the aspiring writer from the Sun. Now, maybe I’m missing something here, but was the guy that bad? He recognized that the lady was the one writing some of the articles lately and was prepared to offer her a real salary as a writer. I get that the girl didn’t want to ruin Francis by going away but she could have tried her luck without throwing him under the bus. I guess his approach was pretty over the top and maybe I’m missing a moment of him acting more sinister, but on the surface it didn’t seem like a bad deal.

Overall, This is a good film. The character cast here is well rounded and it’s impressive how they based a whole film around a pretty quick editorial. The kids did a good job of looking after their parents and supporting them through this tough time. Virginia go the magazine which was pretty inspiring at the end and the other kid helped her sick mother by getting the soup ready and generally helping out around the house. We don’t get to see her all that much, but it’s made apparent that she is being very responsible. Aside from the bullies running around a lot of the characters just seem like good people. If you haven’t seen this film yet I’d recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Barakamon Review


It’s time to look at a slice of life manga that I started a super long time ago. I wrapped it up around 2 months back and it was definitely a solid ride. It’s the kind of manga that is fun to go through even if it’s not filled with big fight scenes. I haven’t read a whole lot of slice of life adventures, but this one does beat the other two I’ve read. (Baby & me, Yotsuba) I think the premise is a little stronger and the idea of spending your life in a small community like this doesn’t even sound all that bad. It’s not really my thing, but I at least get the appeal.

The manga starts off by introducing us to professional calligrapher Handa. He has a lot of talent, but also a bit of a temper which gets him into trouble. He punched a big judge/critic which forces the issue of banishing him to a little island. This is a bit of a dramatic way to phrase that, but it’s really what happens here. He must now reconnect with his inner self to find out why he really enjoys calligraphy. Once he has learned his lesson he is free to return but by then he may find that the friendships he has made on the island are more important to him.

While Handa’s first appearance shows him being a bit of a hot head, I’d never say that he’s all that rebellious. Even from the start of the series he is pretty patient with the townsfolk and does his best not to be impolite. As the series goes on you can see how he learns to settle down and relax more though. He has less outbursts and panic moments as he realizes that everyone here is just trying to look out for him. Handa’s a solid main character even if I would have preferred he try for more calligraphy titles.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with deciding not to go pro, but it would have made for some fun arcs. His short lived rivalry with some of the other pros was pretty fun and it was some of the best parts of the series. Barakamon was typically at its peak when Hiroshi was on his adventures of when Handa was trying to compete with everyone else. The competition added a little spice to the daily routines of the village. Handa still did prove himself as a talented artist either way though. Judging calligraphy seems like it would be really difficult though since the process seems to be quite subjective. I like it when things are purely objective so you know right away whether you’re right or wrong. I wouldn’t be able to handle competing in a sport where that was not the case.

Naru is the main kid in the village. There are quite a few others like Hina and the gang, but Naru is really the focus. She is the one who really helps Handa get used to life in the village and also is the one who picks up on Handa’s subtler emotions. If he’s feeling down she’ll try to throw him a party or something to get his spirits back up. I’m still not a big fan of the kids in these adventures because they tend to slow down the pacing and hold the main cast back, but in a slice of life adventure like this that isn’t really a main concern. Naru’s not bad. The best scenes don’t typically involve her, but she’s not as annoying as she could be.

Miwa is one of the older kids. She’s a bit more aggressive than the other characters and likes having fun doing all kinds of sports and other activities. From all of the kids she is certainly the best one. Miwa doesn’t really care about calligraphy and such even compared to the rest of the kids, but does it to have some fun and keep the others company. In a small village like this there really isn’t anything to do so all of the kids head to Handa’s place every day to waste some time. Usually she is hanging out with Tomako who isn’t quite as interesting. Tomako is an aspiring manga artist, but her titles are always too dark and violent which has been holding her back. Her artwork is pretty good, she just needs to work on getting better plots to support this. Once she has a good story she should be able to go pretty far.

Hiroshi is one of the only guys who is Handa’s age on the island so he gets a big role as well. His character arc has him wanting to go out into the world to see what it’s like. He believes he is a little too ordinary and so he wants to experience things to help him grow up. A lot of the running gags involving him are how everything he does seems to be uninspiring. No matter what he is never good or bad at anything, he’s always average. Hiroshi is a fun character and he was definitely one of my favorites in the series. I was sad to see him go when the guy moved away, but he did get a few meanwhile stories from time to time so at least it wasn’t as if he had completely left. He still got to show up from time to time.

Then you have Handa’s parents. His father is known as one of the best calligraphy users in the entire world so that always put a lot of pressure on Handa. Handa isn’t very good at communicating with his parents so this pressure began to crush him quite a lot. Eventually they show up and Handa begins to realize that he doesn’t have to be on the same level or compete in the same way. The parents were quite reasonable here and they looked good whenever they would show up. It may be tough for them to get on the same page, but they are all very professional about it which is a nice change of pace.

There are quite a few other side characters like the various villagers. They’ve all got different roles in the series and help to round out the cast. The village is small enough where everyone knows each other, but still large enough where you’ve got at least 15 characters running around. One of the more enjoyable ones is Handa’s rival who is always doing some sabotaging on the side. Handa doesn’t even notice when the guy is throwing around insults half of the time, but ultimately they still come to a bit of an understanding. I doubt they’ll ever be great friends of anything like that, but they get along well enough.

Barakamon’s humor is also pretty well done. The style of humor usually revolves around Handa being oblivious or something crazy happening and everyone having a very calm reaction to it. Usually the jokes centered around Handa are the best ones. You just have to admire his confidence to the point where the insults don’t even seem to register with him. It’s like he can’t even comprehend the concept of someone trying to take a shot at him so he dismisses the possibility.

The art for the series is very clear and relaxed. It is really suitable for the series too. Part of the theme in the series is learning to relax so having chaotic art would have definitely defeated the purpose. It’s always very easy to see what’s happening at all times and it also makes it easy to read through each volume. The volumes are bigger than the average one but with the big pictures/clear text they still feel like normal volumes. The writing throughout the series is on point which is especially important for a series like this. Since there is less happening than in other series you have to be fully invested in the characters and what’s going on. I’d say that the series succeeds with this. At the very least I wouldn’t say that the series ever got me bored.

I do think the series slowed down a bit once Handa started the school though. It felt like the series pretty much ended its main story by this point so the last volume or two were just stalling for time. That’s not really a bad thing per say, but the series made the right call in ending shortly afterwards. I’m sure we could have been introduced to some new plotlines or something, but part of the point of the series was seeing if Handa would go pro or help out the village. He made his decision and so that was the end of that.

It’s a fairly long manga, but not one that you need to talk about for too long due to the slice of life nature of the series. There are various arcs and such but the character cast never gets a whole lot bigger than how it starts out. It’s also pretty easy to understand the general premise and to go from there. This may not be the kind of title you want to marathon the whole way through, but it’s a pretty good change of pace title when you’re reading a bunch of other more action packed titles.

Overall, Barakamon is definitely a very fun manga. The characters are cool and the laid back vibe will really remind you of how people made it without technology back in the day. I personally prefer to be surrounded by tech at all times, but the country route isn’t so bad as long as you have good neighbors. If you haven’t checked this manga out yet and want to take a nice look at what it’s like to live outside the city then this is definitely a good one to check out. I don’t believe you will be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

September Review


It’s time to look at one of those films that is pretty terrible. The very premise should clue you in to this though so at least it won’t come as any surprise. The whole plot basically revolves around cheating with none of the characters being strong enough to leave the house. That would have been the best way to avoid the drama. It drags on and on so by the time you walk out of the theater (Or more realistically walking out of the TV room since nobody is seeing this in theaters right now) you’ll just be ready for a good meal and to act as if the film never happened.

The film starts with Lane and her friend Stephanie meeting up at Lane’s place. For some reason I thought they were sisters, but they’re just best friends. They’re joined by Lane’s parents Diane and Lloyd as well as a guy named Howard and Lane’s boyfriend Peter. Having this many people around the house definitely ensures that there will be drama, but things get a little worse than that. Peter decides that he wants to start going out with Stephanie even though she is currently married. Howard wants to be with Lane, but that plot is so pointless that the film doesn’t care about it either so it gets almost no screen time. Meanwhile Diane just wants to have her book written but everyone is too selfish to help her out with it. What cane Lane do about all of this?

Whenever a movie is all about cheating it’s just not going to be good. The whole premise is pretty mean spirited and none of the characters are good. Stephanie is pretty guilty for even giving Peter a moment of her time. She claims that she was trying to get him to notice her for a while so she started the whole thing even though she’s married. That’s already a pretty big strike against her character. There are some things you just don’t do and trying to have an affair once you are taken is a big one. She also gets pretty defensive at Lane afterwards for this even though she is the one in the wrong. It’s a common reaction and one that doesn’t help her case.

Meanwhile we have Peter who is also terrible. Whether he was encouraged or not it doesn’t change the fact that he knows Stephanie already has a man as well. He is also quick to ditch Lane and blames it on being overly emotional. That’s not even remotely a good excuse and short of being mind controlled I can’t think of any that would have saved him either way. The guy is just quick to use people.

Then there is Lane and she’s not a good lead either. For starters she is never around and doesn’t try to confront Peter all that much. She’s too cautious and keeps her emotions grounded which doesn’t let her face up to what is happening right under her nose. She doesn’t handle any of the situations in the film well. Her hand in life is definitely a tough one here since nothing goes her way, but it would have been nice if she could have done something earlier.

Diane is the most enjoyable character in the film although she still makes mistakes of her own. Her decision to move back into the house when Lane was going to sell it was pretty selfish. It was probably the only time in the film where she appeared to be super unreasonable. Her decision to have a book made isn’t quite so bad because it is still her life. At the end of the day if she wants her story to be told then I don’t really think the other characters can object all that much. Also lets face it, Peter wasn’t going to finish his novel anyway.

Then there’s Howard, but there’s still nothing to say about him. He is pointless in the film as his plot gets the least amount of screen time and it doesn’t amount to anything. He’s way too old for anyone to be going with him here and he seems to realize that as he just walks out pretty silently. If the other characters could have just walked out like that rather than sticking around then maybe the film would have ended up with a happier ending. As it stands I can’t see the group getting together for a nice dinner anytime soon. The whole business probably left them pretty sore with each other.

Beyond the fact that the plot is lousy with a terrible cast of characters, the film is also pretty boring. It all takes place in one setting at the house so there is no variety. The plot is small enough for a 30 minute special so it has to be stretched out quite a lot with random plots to be a full movie. Nothing eventful happens here and you’d probably learn more just watching the news for a little while. The film makers weren’t able to succeed in getting any kind of emotion from the audience with the scenes found here. It’s all just darkly lit possibly in the hopes of saving on the budget.

Another part of the problem is really how half heartedly the characters resist making the wrong choices. If they were villains then at least you’d expect them to travel down these dark roads without remorse. By half heartedly saying that they won’t do this thing and then cheat a few minutes later it makes the characters look even worse. They couldn’t have been very serious if the situation would flip so suddenly. The only sympathetic characters here are the ones trying to buy the house and after the way they were treated I’d be surprised if they still wanted to make the sale.

Overall, September is definitely a pretty terrible film. Whenever the main characters are involved in an affair like this it’s just not going to go well. It’s a pretty big betrayal to say the least and with none of the characters getting a satisfying ending except possibly for Diane you can’t end the movie on a high note either. There’s nothing particularly positive about this film so I’d suggest staying as far away as possible. Hopefully if they make a film called October someday it will be a lot more impressive.

Overall 0/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Misadventures of Merlin Jones Review


Time to look at a fairly old film about how being too smart in just one field can backfire. A lot of times we see films about scientists who are smart at making things but then don’t really understand the consequences of their actions and the whole thing blows up in their face. Merlin is no exception to this as he makes a lot of dangerous assumptions which get him into trouble. It’s a pretty entertaining movie and I could see this being a fun show to watch if it were on TV.

There are effectively two storylines in the film which don’t really have anything to do with each other. The first one starts off with Merlin working on another experiment of his. He ends up zapping himself and now he has the ability to read people’s minds. It’s an incredible ability to have so long as people don’t know you have it. Naturally that means the very first thing he does is try to tell people. Things get serious when he finds out through this mind trick that the judge plans to steal some gems and then murder someone. Can Merlin stop this guy?

The second story has Merlin get hypnotized. He figures that this is a pretty good trick and decides to hypnotize a chimpanzee into being tougher. Things begin to escalate when the judge convinces Merlin to hypnotize him and commit a crime. It’s all well and good at first but since the judge doesn’t remember the crime and Merlin was found at the scene things aren’t looking good for the kid. He may be in some real trouble now.

So those are the two stories. They’re definitely interesting but ultimately I can’t put Merlin in a very positive light. The guy makes too many mistakes and both stories would have ended a lot sooner if he had just made the rational decisions. He should have kept listening to the mind before jumping the gun and for the hypnosis he should have added a fail safe. He just didn’t think things through all that well. Particularly in the first story I would argue that he was guilty of contempt of court with how many crimes he was committing.

Merlin plays dumb half the time, but he was definitely being pretty annoying the whole time. He is always talking back to the judge and jumps to conclusions a lot. The worst part is that it’s so easy to prove you’re reading someone’s mind. Just do it the way he convinced Jennifer, have the person think of something or pick a number and then say it. There isn’t really a way for someone to not believe when you do that. Then it’s a matter of waiting, he should have just waited it out a bit more with the judge. It’s good that he was able to control what thoughts he could hear later on though because the only drawback of telepathy is that you can go crazy if you start hearing everyone’s thoughts and can’t turn it off.

Jennifer was definitely a lot of fun though and a great heroine. She was always jumping to Merlin’s defense and would declare his innocence to the world. She was super trust worthy and someone who had Merlin’s back no matter what. Without her he would have been doomed many times. If anything Jennifer sometimes cuts him too much slack like when he blows off their date to work on some more science projects. It’s not like it was for a class or anything, he just skipped their date for no reason. I can also see why she was upset about him going to another girl in the second short. He was mind controlled, but he should have at least had some will power there.

The best character throughout both specials was the judge though. He tells it like it is and always has a commanding presence. He’s a very reasonable guy considering how crazy the town is. I also like the fact that he has a double identity as an author that he hides from the world. It adds a little more depth to the character. He’s not just a judge. Since he deals with Merlin and Jennifer a lot they do get away with more than the others, but the judge does realize that they are sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The writing here is pretty fun. The characters are enjoyable and the laid back atmosphere of the town works well for a title like this one. It’s not the most exciting or thrilling story around, but it’s enjoyable. The time goes by quickly. The film isn’t without its weaknesses though. For starters the whole hypnosis scenes are iffy. I still don’t buy into hypnosis on command like this. It works so quickly that you have to assume that the characters have 0 will power. It was also iffy of the teacher to give Merlin a command to kiss someone and with the character half heartedly saying to stop the whole thing was a mess. It single handily ensured that the first story was more enjoyable.

There’s also the plot with the chimp that wasn’t great. The chimp definitely didn’t want to be with the bully and so Merlin was right on that one. We don’t see anything beyond the bully being curt as usual which is good since that’s not a plot that the film would have really benefited from. I think this film should have really stuck to the first short. It’s just a lot stronger than the second one and had more substance to it. I suppose neither side was all that bad though.

Overall, Merlin Jones would have made for a fun TV show. I think there would have been a good audience for it and back in the day when I watched a lot of other Disney shows I would have tuned into this one. The writers would need to think of a lot of different inventions and gimmicks, but it would have been doable. As a film there is just less to do and by trying to fit two stories into one film it is less focused. Both stories really have nothing to do with each other so it only serves to break the flow. If you want a fun little film to check out then this is a good one to watch. It’s one of those movies that is just fun to watch and will entertain you all the way through. Just don’t go in expecting any big hype moments.

Overall 6/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Fruits Basket Review


It’s time to look at the recent Fruits Basket anime. I read the manga many years ago when I was a kid and didn’t really like it all that much. I actually put it down as one of my least favorite Shojo series so it was good to see it in a fresh setting. I actually liked the show so maybe I would like the manga more on a re-read or the show is just directed that well. Either way it’s a title I can definitely recommend. It’s an emotional slice of life title that manages to hit different tones in different episodes, but is careful not to go too far into being tragic.

The show is centered around a girl named Tohru. After her Mom passed away she went to move in with her other relatives, but it wasn’t ideal and so now she lives in the forest. She is found by the popular boy at school (Yuki) and he convinces her to stay at his place instead of the forest. To be exact, it’s Shigure’s place and soon after another kid by the name of Kyo stays there as well. Kyo and Yuki are constantly fighting like cat and mouse (heh) so Tohru quickly becomes the most mature member in the household. Tohru has decided to always have a positive attitude and to do her best to help everyone else out in respect to her mother’s memory.

There are no shortages of situations for her to help out here as everyone in the school has issues. The 3 people she lives with all of things to deal with and then the rest of the family. See, in a larger scale look at the plot there is the Sohma family. They were hit with a curse where if anyone from the opposite gender makes contact with them they turn into an animal. It is from the Chinese Zodiac legend which may be real and of course Kyo is the Cat and Yuki is the mouse so now things make sense. In the legend the rat didn’t send the cat the invite so he was shunned for life. Of course that was ages ago so we’re likely dealing with descendants, but the wound is still fresh.

Tohru is definitely a great main character. I mean she is pretty much portrayed as the perfect heroine. She’s super nice, does well academically, and is always ready to lend a hand. Tohru imparts wisdom whenever she can and even stands by her friends when they literally lose their minds. If Tohru has any issues it is just that she is a little too oblivious when other people are being downright mean to her. It’s great that she turns the other cheek but at least acknowledging this or telling them to stop would be a good idea.

We don’t see Tohru’s Mom much since she dies prior to the series but she appears through flashbacks a few times. She also seems really good and I’m glad that she still knows how to fight even though she is retired. The flashback where she helps Arisa was handled really well since it’s implied that she basically took down an entire gang.

Yuki is one of the main guys so he naturally gets a lot of screen time. He has a tough time showing his emotions except for when he’s upset at Kyo. Gradually Tohru helps get him out of his shell. We haven’t really seen his true origin but there is a lot of foreshadowing for it. From the main 2 I do prefer Kyo, but Yuki is good. He does step in to help Tohru at times and I do believe he would be able to conquer his fears and help even if Akito was involved. I really hope so at least. Yuki still gets hit with fear and isn’t perfect, but he does his best.

Then there is Kyo who is always ready for a fight. I dare say that Yuki picks the fight most of the time but that isn’t always the case. Kyo always tends to lose the fight, but at least he is enthusiastic. Kyo is not great around people but does his best to communicate with Tohru. He’s come a very long way from the first episode to the last one. His character arc already feels pretty complete and that may help in why he is one of if not the best character in the show. He’s probably the only character to not be openly scared of Akito. While part of him wants to be in the main family, I do think this is an advantage of not being there.

Then we have Shigure, but I can’t get behind him. He’s always trolling his editor to the point where he basically puts her job at stake. Then there’s the fact that he flirts a lot and rarely takes things seriously. He may be the adult in the house, but there is a reason why I said that Tohru is the most responsible. Shigure will have a moment or two where he steps up but that’s about it. The show is hinting that he is planning some kind of big revenge on Akito and is pretending to be a friend for now. He claims that he will avenge everyone else, but he’s sure taking his sweet time. Shigure better do something before the tables turn on him, but that is one of the more interesting plots right now.

Arisa is one of Tohru’s friends. She used to be a juvenile delinquent who hanged out with gangs and was generally on a rough path. Her origin is a bit similar to Tohru’s mom in some respects and that’s also why Arisa always wanted to meet her. Arisa was less thrilled to meet Tohru but along the way Tohru got to show her how to properly adapt to school life. Arisa had a tough road, but now she’s in a good place and has a solid group of supporting friends. Arisa is a nice ally to have. While she may not be as entertaining as some of the Sohma characters she is definitely a good character.

Then you have Saki who is Tohru’s other best friend. She has psychic powers which is cool. Mainly she just uses them for comic relief scenes against bullies and there is actually a story reason for this. She gets a backstory where we learn that her abilities nearly ended Saki. Saki’s origin story was definitely one of the toughest ones in the series, maybe the toughest because everyone was against her. I was glad that she had supportive parents who were there for her at least. It’s a reverse of most situations where you have a friend on your side but the family isn’t. Saki is fairly laidback and quiet so she can’t hold her own episodes the way that others can, but as a side character she’s good.

Kagura is a very persistent character and that’s a good thing since otherwise she probably would get pretty hurt with how Kyo is always ignoring her. Deep down she likely realizes that he isn’t interested in her but will keep on trying until he meets someone else. She’s a good side character. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go down the road of making her jealous of Tohru. That always gets old pretty fast and them being friends is a much better development. Momiji is one of my least favorite characters in the show though. He can be pretty annoying with how oblivious he pretends to act. He trolls Kyo and Yuki about Tohru quite a lot. She may be too oblivious to really take notice but it doesn’t do wonders for his character. I’m not even really interested in learning more about his backstory, but maybe it’ll help to make him more likable. Right now he’s just quirky and not really in a good way.

Ayame is also fairly eccentric, but he handles himself well and with style. Ayame throws himself into every situation and you can admire how bold he is. Even in real life it’s always an admirable trait to be so confident. Nothing throws Ayame and even when everyone is hurling insults he keeps his cool. Ayame and Yuki may never properly bond the way he hoped they would because of how different their personalities are, but at least they won’t be as antagonistic as they used to be. Ayame is a handful, but not in a problematic way. I can’t point to anything he did in the show that was downright bad. Perhaps inconvenient for the others, but that’s about it.

Hatori is a character that I definitely had some problems with. For starters he is very submissive to Akito to the point where he allows the guy to wreck his life. Hatori is basically a yes man and even threatens Tohru into meeting him. We learn that he is a nice guy for the most part, but since he is so weak that is barely a consolation since you won’t be able to trust him when it counts. His origin story is sad, but it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him because of how terribly he handles it. He met someone and they were to be together, but then Akito decided that he didn’t like this and throws a fit. Instead of stopping him Hatori lets Akito claim the win and then even erases the girl’s memories. From there on Hatori lost the will to resist, but he never had it to begin with. If he won’t stand up to Akito there then he never will. The whole origin was just really annoying, especially since Akito is so sickly to begin with. How is he going to threaten Hatori and the guy just takes it? I don’t really have any respect for this character.

Hatsuharu is another one of the Sohma and his dual personality is definitely unique among the others. One half of him is very edgy and definitely wants to be close with Yuki. Then the other half is calmer and more polite in comparison. He can shift gears at any moment and as a result tends to get involved in a lot of fights. It’s nice to have another fighter on the team, but it makes it more and more odd why everyone is so scared of Akito. I’ll get into that more later on. Anyway Hatsuharu would be near the middle of the pack. He’s nowhere near the best members but he’s better than someone like Hatori.

Kisa is one of the younger members. She’s a nice enough kid although she hasn’t gotten much of a role yet. I’m not sure if that’ll change or not later on, but so far she’s off to a good start. The same can’t be said for Hiro. That guy’s real petty and a jerk to Tohru for no reason. She overlooks all of it because she’s so nice, but it doesn’t do him any favors. He seems to be over that now so things will be looking up for him, but he’ll have to work hard to fully get past that terrible intro. Then we have Kazuma who was Kyo’s instructor. This guy seems reasonable. He lives on a mountain probably so he can get away from the main family. Forcing Kyo to transform was definitely a pretty iffy strategy since that could have easily backfired and really made life terrible for Kyo. It worked out in the end I suppose, but it’s hard to see them being quite as close after that. Kazuma seems like Hatori, but with more self-confidence.

Then we have the main villain of the series, Akito. He gets a lot of hype throughout as everyone is scared of him. Everyone shudders at the thought of even meeting him and they all freeze in terror. The guy’s super sick though and needs constant attention or he’ll die. How is anyone scared of him? I think this goes more into cultural impact and the fact that the family is so old. Traditions are strong here and maybe everyone is afraid because he would ruin their reputation. Since everyone else is afraid it becomes circular logic where everyone is afraid because of everyone else. All one person needs to do is stand up to him though and then everyone else could. Maybe the next season will go more into depth on this.

Regardless, Akito isn’t a good villain. The guy just seems really petty and self centered the whole time. I’m sure he’ll have a sad origin, but he’s taking it out on everyone else which is never good. Everyone in this series has had a tough background and I mean almost literally everyone. That means it’ll be very hard for Akito to try and stand there with a straight face and explain why he has to be mean to everyone. I just won’t be able to buy that very easily. Seriously, someone just needs to stand up to this guy and then the rest will quickly fall into place.

At the end of the day Fruits Basket is really about moving on from your past. That’s the main theme of the show and Tohru helps the characters come to terms with it and move forward. The origins are all sad and dark in different ways which allows her to give many different kinds of advice. It’s definitely a moving series in that regard and that’s why it’s a fun watch. You should always feel pretty good upon finishing up the episode. It can get heavy at times as well so make sure you are prepared. It’s worth noting that the romance here isn’t terrible so far. I still don’t think any romance should ultimately happen here since Tohru is just too heroic and oblivious to get into that, but it does feel inevitable that it’ll happen soon. We’ll see how the show handles that.

It’s also just plain fun most of the time. The cast can handle themselves pretty well and that’s extremely important for a slice of life show. There aren’t going to be big action scenes here so the show has to hold its own with pure writing and fundamentals. The pacing is on point and the writing is good so it’s all set there. The animation is pretty good as well. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but it all looks smooth and vibrant. Then you’ve got a reasonable soundtrack here as well. It may not be the most memorable, but it does get the job done.

Overall, Fruits Basket season 1 is a pretty good show. It’s the kind of all around title that you can easily recommend to someone who doesn’t really watch a lot of anime. That’s because it touches on a lot of themes that a live action show would with regard to the origin stories and characters trying to find reasons to keep on living or to re-experience what it’s like to enjoy their day to day existence. The show can get pretty sad, but there is always a happy ending. I can’t think of any episode that ended on a low note. It’s not a perfect show and I’d say that a drama will always be limited in how high it can ultimately reach. That being said, the execution is basically ideal and we’ll see if season 2 can match it. I don’t know if season 2 intends to cover the rest of the series but you can already see how not everyone can get their perfect ending here. Multiple characters are interested in each other so someone will have to take a back seat. I also better see more people stand up to Akito because that’s the one part of the series that makes no sense so far.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Magical Dancing Review


Time to check out a dancing crossover manga. It’s always fun to look at a crossover in any media and this is one of those series that I had not heard of before now. It’s not an action series so don’t go in expecting Kingdom Hearts, but it’s nice to see the Disney characters weighing in with their thoughts and tips. It’s a fun mini series and one that I would recommend.

The story follows a girl named Rin who wants to be a great dancer. She is in the same class as the legendary duet Kai and Yuna so Rin gets good inspiration during every class. Unfortunately her dancing abilities aren’t quite on their level yet which puts her in a bit of a bind. Yuna also doesn’t seem to like Rin one bit and even tells her to quit the club. Rin nearly does but then Tinker Bell shows up with a magic book. This book summons random Disney mascots to aid Boo in her time of need. Whenever she is in trouble these are friends that Rin can rely on. Will they be enough to get her atop the winning stage?

At only 2 volumes the series has to move quickly but I must say that it makes a world of difference to have 2 volumes over 1. The extra volume allows for more character development in each of the characters and we also get more Disney stars which is always good. It is a fun story and while it could have certainly gone for a few more volumes you don’t feel cheated out of its potential. I’d consider it to be a page turner. It’s not like it’s got an end of the world plot but the writing is just really solid which makes the experience all the more pleasant. The art is also quite solid which is important. The pages are all very clear and none of the characters are drawn too similarly so you won’t be mixing anyone up here. That is also absolutely critical since some series like to draw a bunch of people the same way and that can get tricky.

As for the characters, the main cast is pretty small, but solid. First you have Rin who is given a pretty tough time at school because she isn’t very good at dancing. She has a lot of enthusiasm, but no matter how much she practices Rin has just never been able to get the hang of the sport. Even Kai is fairly down on her and he’s supposed to be the nice guy. Yuna and the other girls are a lot harsher which is what leads Rin to the book. Rin does admittedly use the book as a crutch quite often in order to save the day, but it’s not like you can become a great dancer overnight. This allows her to buy some time as her skills improve organically. My main complaint with Rin is just that she lets things get to her too easily. She doesn’t really fight back against the other characters and gets walked on quite a bit. I like to think that by the end of the series she has gotten a little tougher though.

I would say that she is a little gullible, but in this case I have to blame the whole class. There is one moment when a bunch of bullies show up to talk some smack. The heroes fire back but then still listen to what the bullies have to say. Why would you do that? They all walked into that trap and I was surprised because literally the entire team was fooled. Fortunately Rin was there to save the day, but otherwise that would have been an embarrassing way to go.

Next up you have Kai who is a little odd. As mentioned, he doesn’t seem all that nice at first in the series but by the end he is very supportive of Rin. I guess he was probably trying to keep up his image, but I don’t know if that’s the best defense. He also makes you feel bad for Yuna because he acts totally oblivious to her and seems to be falling for Rin. Yuna being a bully lowers the sympathy levels, but either way Kai is in a tricky spot. He’s not the best main guy in a Shojo series, but he could have been worse. Then you have Yuna who is considerably better than the average bully character. That’s because she’s not super petty and doesn’t constantly try to sabotage Rin. She may not like the main character much, but Yuna does give her a fair shake. More importantly, Yuna doesn’t go back on her word so when Rin clears the challenges Yuna lets her on the team. Not saying that Yuna is heroic by the end or anything like that, but she’s a quality character.

Naturally we have the Disney characters as well. I was actually surprised at how Mickey acted when he showed up though because he basically just “Noped” out of there as soon as he appeared. Helping Rin out of a tight spot wasn’t really his goal and he always used to strike me as one of the heroic leads. From all of the guest stars he was probably the least helpful. Still, things always tend to work out when the guest stars show up, but some took a more active role in making sure this did happen than others. They also did help Rin learn to take it easy and not always get caught up in the heat of the moment. It’s good advice no matter what profession you’re in.

The ending is pretty open so it’s the kind of title that could easily get a sequel if the author feels like it. Otherwise you can easily imagine how it’ll all play out. If we did get a sequel then I imagine that the rivalry between Yuna and Rin would heat up. Honestly I would prefer that they just stay friends, but that does seem pretty unlikely. That just rarely happens in these kinds of stories even though they have a lot of similarities. So long as Kai exists there will definitely be some tension.


Overall, Magical Dancing is a title that I definitely recommend. There aren’t a ton of dancing titles out there so it’s always nice to have more options. The Disney characters showing up is a nice bonus, but it’s just that, a bonus. The series would have been able to stand up on its own even without them. After all, they are surprisingly the weakest part of the story. They’re fun, but whenever the Disney characters show up the plot has to temporarily come to a halt. Without them the team would have been doomed in the tournament so they were critical in getting Rin to her goal though.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Monster Tamer Girls Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure manga. I’d definitely not heard of this one before and as it was only 2 volumes it’s definitely not one that you will likely see in stores much. It’s definitely an interesting take on the monster genre. It’s sort of a mix between Yotsuba and Go Go Monster. While I can’t say that this manga was all that interesting there was certainly nothing wrong with it either. It’s a good way to spend some time, but at the end of the day it’s a manga I would recommend reading for free at the library as opposed to buying it.

The manga takes place in a world where Kaiju are now commonplace. They are numerous and run around across the planet. Fortunately they are all basically mindless but the bad side of this is that they cause trouble without meaning to. As a result the world has started opening up schools for kids to train on how to tame these creatures. The Tamers will take the Kaiju to safe spaces where they can relax without disturbing people. That’s the way it’s always been and how it must remain in order to build a stable society. The manga follows the adventures of 2 girls who are tamers in training. They’ll soon learn that this job is easier than it looks.

There’s not really much of a plot once you get beyond the initial synopsis which I dare say is a problem. So many cool things you can do with a Kaiju defense force! Most of the manga is introducing you to the cast and then by that point the series is basically over. There are several main humans, but only one main Kaiju who is around for the whole adventure. His name is Blue and he’s a huge Kaiju who just wants a friend. The Monster tamers are fortunate to have him as he helps give them a boost when needed. He definitely makes travelling a lot more convenient for sure.

There are 4 main characters with 2 supporting ones thrown in there. One of these characters is Koto. She is a professional but doesn’t care much for the monsters. She thinks they’re all mindless and the job seems to bore her, but by the end she learns that the monsters have a little heart at least. Then there is Sora who is the co-main character along with Ion. Sora likes messing around and hitting people with the water horse while Ion is just focused on being the best tamer she can be. Tsukiko is the quiet one who doesn’t like to admit that she likes the Kaiju. She has a reputation to uphold after all and she’s always been proud of it. Still, pride comes before a fall and eventually she learns to play nice with the monsters.

None of the characters are bad, however there isn’t much to any of them. They’re all just going through the motions and enjoying their daily adventures, but nothing really comes of this. They get some basic character development like Tsukiko learning to be more open, but that’s about it. There’s really no time for anything else. Length isn’t an issue as you can have a great series in 2 volumes, but I think this is one title that could have used a bit more time. As it stands it is over before you can properly identify with any of the characters and that’s a bit of a problem.

The art is pretty solid, but the problem that the artist has is how similar all of the characters look. It’s easy to mix up Sora and Ion as well as Koto and another one of the characters. Some characters share the same hairstyles and others share the same personalities. Their ages are all pretty close as well so after a while you’ll just find yourself mixing them up. I had to dig up one of the volumes just to remind myself of their names.

I think one thing that could have added some more interesting elements to the story would have been to have some actual monster action in the series. I don’t think that would be unreasonable as surely some of the monsters would try attacking the planet right? The series hints at this and develops a world that should have many interesting elements, but we are stuck at the school with the nice monsters the whole time. You’ll very quickly find yourself wishing to see the outside world. The closest thing we get to these discussions is one kick from Blue to another Kaiju, a flashback where there’s some kind of battle going on and a Kaiju saves someone from a burning window, and a ghost. Beyond that the series is mainly just the kids learning how to feed animals and have fun.

Overall, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t exactly for me. I dare say that Yotsuba has a little more depth and excitement contained within. You really need some sort of gimmick to take the manga to the next level. A slice of life series can live on for quite some time with a good character cast, but you need them to have real personalities. You don’t really get that vibe from this series and even the monster designs aren’t all that great. This doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of options and as a result I’ve got to give this one a middle grade. I wouldn’t say to stick away from it, but I would hardly recommend it either. It’s a manga where you’ll finish it and not have much of an opinion on it. The series isn’t hurting anyone, but you could always find something else to read.

Overall 5/10