5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Battle at Big Rock Review


It’s time to look at a very quick live action movie that came out a while back. It’s always nice to see franchises push out a little something like this to expand the universe. It gives you something to look at while waiting another 4-5 years for the next big film after all. The plot is pretty self explanatory. A family is enjoying a nice BBQ when a few dinosaurs show up and start to fight. The main characters have to try and be really quiet but the baby is constantly crying so it won’t be easy. Can the humans escape with their lives intact or are they doomed here?

I do have a question on this though. The heroes clearly know about the dinosaurs from how nonchalantly they talk about seeing one and they reference the radio as well. This takes place after the last film so dinosaurs are everywhere. Why would you possibly have a BBQ outside during such a time? The main guy mentions that bears are around so they get the food in pretty quick but you should be more afraid of the dinosaurs. His wife mentions that the dinosaurs aren’t supposed to be this close yet but I don’t think you should be taking any chances.

There aren’t a lot of safe spots elsewhere either though. The film gives us a lot of meanwhile scenes where we see Dinosaurs around every corner sizing people up and destroying the food chain. The film fortunately handles this as well as possible with no explicit animal deaths. They all die but it doesn’t get gritty or graphic. Even the main dinosaur battle is interrupted before either of them can get seriously hurt which is good. It still does hold this back from being a higher score but it doesn’t make it bad either.

There isn’t enough time for the film to really go all that up or down. It just goes by in a flash and reviewing something this short is also pretty tricky for those same reasons. As far as I’m concerned it’s basically middle of the road. It has enough going for it where it’s not bad but there’s not enough here for me to give it a pretty good score or anything. The dinosaurs look great and this could be a scene in a real theatrical film. That’s definitely for sure.

Overall, if you’re a big fan or Jurassic Park or just want to see some dinosaurs in action then you should enjoy this. It’s only about 8-10 minutes so you’ll be done with it very quickly. It doesn’t take much time to watch and it’s solid enough where you should check it out. The humans aren’t too annoying either although I didn’t like the kids or the baby but it’s hard to develop them into likable characters in such a short time span. This special does show why a whole film about surviving in the age of dinosaurs will be pretty interesting. It’s a very dangerous premise so it’ll be hard for a whole film to get out unscathed but it’s worth the attempt.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Diddy Kong Racing DS Review


It’s time to look at a Nintendo racing game from a while back. Considering how successful F-Zero and Mario Kart are you may wonder why Nintendo would have another franchise right? Well, everywhere I go people seem to love Diddy Kong racing so maybe it really did tap into another part of the market. I will say that it is definitely pretty fun. Personally I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the other two titles, but it’s still pretty fun. The game isn’t particularly long but with a racing title the main incentive is the replay value here.

There is also a basic plot. A mysterious pig has broken an amulet and is causing a lot of terror around the planet. Diddy must now conquer four different areas in order to foil this plan once and for all. It may not be an easy task, but it’s one that he knows he must accomplish. Each world has 4 main levels and then you fight the boss. Once you beat the boss of the world then you unlock 4 more races which have you aim at balloons in the level. The first 4 levels are traditional races while the other four play out like an FPS as you don’t control the car, only the blaster. This lets you fight the boss again and then claim the amulet. So effectively each world has 8 levels and 2 bosses so you’re got 40 levels here if you count bosses. It’s a pretty reasonable amount but you’ll still have the game beat in under 3 hours.

The levels aren’t particularly difficult for the most part and naturally the levels aren’t too long either. The average race will take you around 2-3 minutes. There are 3 kinds of races. You’ve got the standard car races, the awesome plane races, and the sluggish hovercraft ones. The car races play out about how you would expect. You try to cross the finish line first and grab items along the way. There are 4 different items triggered by hitting a balloon. You know which balloon spawns which item so part of the fun is choosing what you want for each scenario. There’s also an incentive to not using the item right away. If you store away say a red balloon and then hit another one you get the second ranked version of the item. It’s worth experimenting until you find your favorite item. My favorite was double red since it gives you around 6 rockets.

The plane levels are the same way but you’re in the air which is a lot of fun. It feels like this kind of race is the fastest in the game in terms of how fast everyone is moving. There are a lot of boosters everywhere so use them as much as possible. Finally you have the Hovercraft levels which are just really slow and kind of clunky. It’s hard to turn in these and it is just not nearly as much fun as the other two. Something had to lose out I suppose, but I was glad that there weren’t a lot of these levels.

In terms of graphics the game is quite solid. We actually got some voice acting in the intro and the cutscenes flow really well. In game the assets load up promptly and everything looks clear. You certainly won’t be bumping into things just because you didn’t see them or anything like that. That would be understandably a bit iffy so I was glad that the game managed to avoid that. The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as Mario Kart’s but it was still pretty fun. There’s a good amount of variety based on what world you’re in and the level. The final boss theme was also very catchy although I got to hear it quite a bit.

While the game isn’t very difficult for the most part, the final boss is extremely tough. I don’t see how it would even be possible to defeat him without buying upgrades to your car. The guy is too fast and he pounded me into the ground many times before I was able to beat him. Ultimately I had to max out my car’s speed and acceleration and then I was able to keep up. It’s not like the level is all that complex. It’s pretty straightforward so I don’t see how you can play it any differently. You’re either able to out speed him and claim victory or you can’t.

As I mentioned the game is around 3 hours but there is a lot to do after the game. You have extra levels in each world where you need to find a key or do various achievements to unlock. The hub world is quite large so you can explore for a while and buying every upgrade will also take a super long amount of time. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge unlockables to look forward to, but at the same time if you enjoy the gameplay a lot then the game is giving you a fair amount of opportunities to keep on going. The value here definitely justifies the cost.

Overall, Diddy Kong Racing DS is a fun racing game. To me it felt fairly standard but with that Nintendo seal of quality. Just having 3 different options of racing does mean you have more options than your typical racing game and it’s a complete package. If you want to enjoy some good racing then you will definitely have fun here. The ending will also give you a nice challenge which is always good. If we do get a sequel to this for 3DS or Switch someday I’d definitely be down with that. The ending is also pretty fun as Pig gets one last laugh against the heroes.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Burn The Witch Review


It’s time to take a look at the new title that Kubo is working on. Currently it is just a one shot so I took a look and figured I’d review this one. Bleach is one of the greatest manga of all time so I’m expecting similar quality from Burn The Witch. It’s hard for a manga to start off being a masterpiece though and this one will clearly need some extra time to work things out. The one shot was not nearly as good as I had been expecting thanks in large part to an annoying character who seems like he’ll be one of the main cast.

The special starts by introducing us to Noel. She is one of the two leads and is always pretty deadpan about everything. She works in the London branch of Soul Society and her mission is to destroy all dragons. She has to deal with constant harassment from her best friend Balgo though who is as shameless as they come. After losing him she meets up with her teammate/superior Spangcole and they are given a new assignment. It turns out that some dragons are near Noel’s home. Balgo may be in danger now so the heroines head over to save them. The question is….should she save Balgo? The guy’s pretty cheap so they may want to re think that.

Balgo is really my main problem with the series. Every scene with him is pretty brutal. He’s only got Noel on his mind and only in a very superficial way. While this is supposed to be comedic it definitely falls short of that and becomes irritating almost instantly. There is just no way you can root for the guy or even feel bad for him. The dynamic that the series is going for completely falls flat and it will heavily limit Burn The Witch’s potential. I’m hoping that he will ultimately get written out and was just made up for the opening pilot. They’ve gotta get rid of him.

His best friend Selvie in comparison seems a lot more reasonable. He’s always pretty tired of Balgo’s antics and just wants to live a normal life. He gets a pretty big role in this chapter and is a solid character. I’d like to see more of him. From the main two, Spangcole’s my favorite character so far. She’s definitely the loud character of the duo and is constantly talking big. Skill-wise I assume she is a little stronger than Noel, but it’s far too soon to say. Confidence does go a long way though and I think that should help her out a lot in the long term.

Then Noel’s a solid character as well. She’s a lot more of the quiet type than Spangcole, but she gets the job done when they need to fight so that’s what counts. Interestingly it’s still hard to really nail down Spangcole and Noel’s characters though. You get their basic personalities, but the title goes by so fast that they haven’t shown you too much yet. That’s a good thing in that it means they won’t be two dimensional. The plot with the dragons is also interested. Despite being called that, most of the enemies don’t look like dragons. They are basically shape shifters who take over the bodies of the dead. If you get hit by a train for example one will hop in your body and pretend that you just barely rolled out of the way. There’s no real way for humans to tell the dragons apart from the actual person so it does put them in a lot of danger. I could easily see the series becoming part horror due to that.

There’s a lot of good potential to the overall premise so I can definitely see this becoming a long running title. The artwork is definitely solid and should remind you of Bleach right away. I’m hoping we can see the regular Bleach cast make guest star appearances at some point though. We’ll likely need to hold off on that until the main characters get a power up though because right now they are far too weak to have many real interactions with that group. There’s plenty of time to buff them up though so I would hardly even call that a real concern. Eventually characters always power up.

Overall, I’ll be interested to see where Burn The Witch goes from here. I’m hoping that the movie is able to correct the weaknesses of the manga though. There isn’t really any fanservice so it’s not like that’s an issue but every scene with Balgo is just super annoying. It takes away from moments where the other characters could be shining instead and that is always preferable. If you’re a huge Bleach fan then you should check this out, but just know that there isn’t really even a connection to Bleach yet besides the universe. I expect we’ll have to wait a while for a true crossover which makes sense because you can build the characters up more that way.

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Koro-Sensei Q! Review


It’s time to look at a parody/comedy spinoff to a main manga that wasn’t even that good to begin with. From the start you can tell that this was going to get a little messy and unfortunately it was as bad as I thought. Mind you, I wouldn’t call the manga terrible or anything like that, but it’s pretty bad. You probably won’t even crack a smile as you read through the gags because the manga goes for the low hanging fruit each time. All of the jokes are painfully predictable and never have any imagination to them. The jokes are also repetitive so you will be seeing the sames ones over and over again as the series tries to get the laughs back.

The basic plot of the series follows that of the main one. The heroes live in a fantasy land that is structured a whole lot like an RPG. One day, the big bad of the game shows up and decides to train the main characters on how to fight. None of them are thrilled about this, but at the same time getting instruction from the strongest monster of all time should be quite valuable right? The heroes decide that they will try to destroy him during the lessons. Each of the heroes has a different glitch which either gives them super powers or just makes life generally awkward. Koro will help them learn how to take advantage of these skills and he’ll have to do so quickly. There are other villains in this world who want to make a move as well as heroes who wish to hunt him. One thing’s for sure, Koro isn’t taking this seriously so neither should we!

That’s the basic premise of the title and the series never really gets much of a plot beyond that. There are various mini arcs and little stories in the middle but they’re all just to further this story goal. We get some basic development for the characters, but it’s all usually wiped away pretty quick. The big developments in the series are the arrival of the elite fighters, Koro’s old protege showing up, and the hero group having a civil war amongst themselves. These plots take a few chapters to resolve. Most of the chapters are just one off fillers that don’t really do much.

So what’s the problem? Well, first off the characters are all pretty terrible. Koro is the instructor but he is the worst possible role model for these kids. He lies a lot, tends to be interested in pretty sketchy material, and never takes things seriously. Half of the problems that the heroes face in this series are all because of him. The guy loves messing with the heroes to the point where it feels like he is actively trying to get in their way. The sad part is that the kids are trying to take him down, they just aren’t powerful enough to do so. There’s not much to talk about with the rest of the characters because they aren’t really characters. They’re like distorted versions of their real selves.

The series also has a fanservice issue which is unfortunate. The least a gag manga like this can do is to avoid a problem like that right? It should be beneath such a series, but this one has it occur quite a bit. A lot of the jokes are about the fanservice as well which doesn’t help matters. This already meant that the series was going to be doomed. As I mentioned earlier, the jokes are also very repetitive. All the jokes about Nagisa are that he looks like a girl but his glitch makes him look like Goku once it is activated. Then you have Karma who has a pot fall on his head every time he starts to brag. Considering that he likes to brag a lot, you see a whole bunch of pots and pans falling on him all the time. It probably happens in just about every chapter. One guy always forgets part of his clothes, etc. Every character is a walking gag and so the joke happens whenever they are present. That’s not how you set up a good comedy plot.

Another problem isn’t just for the series but in general with gag manga. Without a story to get behind or actual characters, there is no reason to get invested into the series. The fact that this is a spinoff is supposed to help since you are already used to the characters from the main series, but it didn’t have the strongest cast of fighters to begin with. As a result this one really didn’t have a whole lot of potential to start with. I’ve yet to meet a total parody gag manga that was very good. You need to have some kind of story like Dragon Ball SD at least. That gives you something to work with. A good gag manga should be like an abridged series. It pokes fun as everyone and everything but still has some kind of a focus of narrative to get behind.

At least the art is fairly good. The characters all look correct from the original series and you can always tell what is happening. You can follow the events easy enough and since the series doesn’t really have a lot of fight scenes it’s not like the series really has to exert itself. In the end, this is at least one positive that I can point to in the series. Even in the image below you can see how the art is actually pretty good. In a different series you would actually expect a pretty hype chapter to follow that. We don’t quite go that far but it’s nice to think about.

It’s also fun to see Goku show up even if it’s only for 2-3 panels at most. The series ends with a bit of a cliffhanger that could be cool for just about any other series so I’ll accept that as well. I think the best positive for the series is that it could have been worse. For as unimpressive as it was in the end, there’s always another level of awful you could get to. This series avoided making any lethal mistakes that would have lost it more points even if it is already a pretty negative score.

Overall, Koro-Sensei Q is not a good manga. The humor is pretty bad and the characters are terrible. I’m still trying to find a good reason why you would even want to read this one and I can’t think of any. If you’re going to get into the franchise then you should read the main series as it is still better than this one. This one brings in all of the worst traits from the original and just magnifies them. The art is good and that’s about all I can say for this series. The best thing to do is to simply avoid it. The title may not be that long but you can still use your new found time to do something else. I actually didn’t realize this got an anime, maybe that version would be a little more enjoyable.

Overall 3/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario Golf Advance Tour Review


It’s time to take a look at a Mario game that I’ve had on the backburner for many years. Golf is already not one of my favorite sport games to play so even with the Mario factor I wasn’t sure this would be a hype one. I would play a few rounds here and there but the game just didn’t click. Well, now that I’ve played through the whole game I can say that it is better than the average Golf game. I think Nintendo did a reasonable job of making this as accessible as possible. That being said, it still wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues.

There isn’t much of a story beyond the intro. You’re playing as a kid who is trying to get into the game of golf. It’s tough though because you are in a world where everyone is really good for some reason. You’ll have to improve your skills before you can even challenge the top tournaments. There are 4-5 tournaments in the game and every time you clear one you unlock another. Once you’ve beaten all of the human tournaments you will finally be given the opportunity to take on Mario and friends. It’s the ultimate goal and a one in a life time opportunity. You can’t let this chance pass you by.

I’ve got to give the game credit for the amount of content in this game. There is really a lot to do at all times. Aside from the tournaments there are a bunch of mini games in each area. You can work on landing your shots next to the pole in one hit or exploring different tracks. Additionally you can upgrade your racket although I’m not sure how you get the guy to build you more after the first one. The game seems like it’s going for an RPG angle so talking to everyone is a good idea. There’s just a lot going on and this will also help you get more of a story out of the game. If that’s not your thing then no worries, you can just enter the tournaments and ignore everything else. Each tournament has a singles mode and a doubles option. I just did all of the Singles but I wonder how Doubles works in this context.

Each tournament has 18 holes. Your score is tallied over the course of these shots and the goal is to have the lowest amount of points at the end. The quicker you get the ball into the hole, the lower your score will be. When you finish a tournament you gain EXP which you can use to improve your stats. I always improved my maximum shooting distance. The others are things like control and spin. Just be careful because as you increase your skills it can be harder to control yourself. This is rarely an issue in anything beyond racing games but it is something you will want to keep in mind for this game. Especially since learning the controls isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

The graphics are pretty nice and I dare say that they are one of the game’s highlights. Everything is bright and colorful which is always good. The presentation is really nice and if you lose a match you definitely can’t blame the graphics. Then the soundtrack may not be the most memorable but it works pretty well if you ask me. It’s all just got a very calm/peaceful feel to it.

In terms of replay value the game also has a lot to offer. The main tournaments probably won’t take you much longer than an hour, but then you’ve still got the minigames and doubles tournaments to play through. You’ve also got the post game tournament which is sure to be pretty difficult. Finally you can max out your character’s level. I’m sure this will still be around 10 hours or less, but it’s a pretty good deal. I don’t think you can really ask for much more in the end. It took Golf about as far as you could on the GBA.

If I have any complaints with this game it is that the Mario characters should appear more. I’d say that the Mario Tennis for GBA game did a better job with this. They felt like end boss characters and had a presence. That isn’t really the case here largely due to the fact that the story really doesn’t get to happen. If we had gotten Bowser to show up or another villain I think that would have done a lot to make the game a little more memorable.

Overall, Mario Golf Advance Tour is impressive. The gameplay is pretty smooth and the loading times are virtually nonexistent. That being said, it is still Golf so there is a hard limit on how far it can go. In the end it’s just not my thing. It’s fun enough in short doses but I can’t see myself going back to this one. If you like Golf then this is a must buy. If you’re not really into Golf then the only reason to get this title would be to see Mario and the others, but you don’t see them much at all so I don’t think that would be the best option. With Mario Golf you should know what you’re getting yourself into. It delivers on everything it is trying to be.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fairy Tail: City Hero Review


It’s time to take a look at a Fairy Tail parody that ended recently. Fairy Tail has always been a very tragic franchise because it has some of the best artwork and fights of all time but is heavily held back by the large amounts of fanservice contained in each volume. Would a light hearted parody have the same mistakes? Unfortunately yes. It never gets quite as serious or excessive as in the main series, but there is still enough here to keep this from being the quality series it could have been.

The general premise of the series is “What if Fairy Tail was a police squad instead of a guild?” That’s what the series runs with. Natsu and friends keep the peace in the land and do their best to stop any villains that get the idea of taking over the world. It’s not an easy job but someone’s got to do it. Keep in mind that this is still a parody though so it’s not taken seriously in the slightest. A bunch of villains and side characters from the original series show up and we get homages to other titles, but it’s all in good fun.

The chapters are all pretty episodic with every 2-3 being about a different case. Occasionally you get the hintings of a grander story with Zeref making a move, but that’s fairly rare. The stories certainly do vary in quality with some being very good and others being sub par at best. I’ll take a look at some of the stories although naturally we won’t dive into every one as that would be quite a lot. Before doing that though lets look at some of the technical aspects of the manga.

The artwork is top tier as you’d expect. The character designs are on point and when we do get a fight scene it looks incredibly impressive. You can tell that the artist isn’t phoning this in. There’s a lot of effort here and it’s appreciated since art does play a big role in how good a manga is. It isn’t the critical factor, but every bit helps. The writing is okay, some of the jokes land and others do not. On the whole the tone of the manga is quite good so I’d give that credit over to the writing department. This is a series that is fun to read and you can almost overlook the fanservice as a result. Almost is the key word here.

As always fanservice is the big problem in the series. While it is played for laughs it happens often enough where you are still forced to take note. Characters are teased by others or they get put in dicey situations due to the circumstances of the case. Sometimes the heroes are even used as bait which is always a dicey tactic. It’s never taken too extremely, but merely being present is an issue in itself. The series is pretty consistent with fanservice being in just about every single chapter in the first part and then it surprisingly gets better about that near the middle. Too little too late though so I’m afraid that I have to dock points for this.

All right, lets look at some stories. Ironically enough we’ll start with the final one which was one of the better ones. Basically Zeref is launching his big attack on the Fairy Tail guild, but is this really what’s happening? Some dancing and partying goes on so the heroes think that perhaps they were wrong to doubt Zeref. We get a quick fight with him and Natsu which was certainly cool. The manga has brief flashes where it pretends to be serious and these moments actually do work quite well. The series even ends with the slight cliffhanger where it seems like Zeref still has his real plan at the ready. In this universe I believe Fairy Tail will likely lose.

One story that was good was the parody of Phantom Thief Kaidou. Part of why it is so solid is because it’s a multi chapter story so there’s time for the plot to get going and there was surprisingly no fanservice here. Essentially a mysterious thief is going around stealing artifacts so Fairy Tail is called in to help. Erza in particular has an interest in this thief because he looks a whole lot like her bartender friend. The series makes it pretty obvious from the get go that it’s the same guy, but Erza can be a bit oblivious at times so the plot still works. It was a pretty fun story.

One of the weaker stories is about Lucy and Wendy infiltrating a school to find out what shady business is going on. They’re actually magical girls who defeat their enemies with songs which is likely another reference in itself. What holds this back is that the villain’s pretty iffy and the principal is terrible. The characters are a little too extreme here and the comedy doesn’t hold up. I don’t believe Lucy and Wendy can hold their own story nearly as well as when Natsu and the gang are around.

A good set of stories was Laxus meeting a princess who was undercover. It’s a classic story where he helps her look around the town and she gets to have a day as a normal person away from her royal duties. It’s a pretty wholesome story and the plot usually works pretty well. Laxus getting knocked out by some random muggers was a bit forced for the drama, but fortunately he did manage to get up after that. The story stayed classy and even had a pretty nice ending. It’s easily one of the stronger stories in the set.

There was a one shot story where Rogue and Sting got to appear and they certainly looked really good. They were fun rivals in the main series so it was nice to see them appear a bit here. It’s not very long of course since you can only do so much in a single chapter, but it was a good story all the same. Sometimes you don’t need multiple chapters to really get a fun bit across. Especially in a comedy/parody title like this. You’ve got other one shots with fun plots like the murder mystery of who destroyed Cana, but naturally that one couldn’t help itself and included some fanservice so it’s not quite as solid.

Another good one shot was with Acnologia showing up in the real world and wanting to see if anyone could keep up with him. This leads to him sharing a bowl of ramen with Natsu which was pretty cool. Natsu really shows him up and even has a great closing line about how he doesn’t want to be king before leaving which causes Acnologia to disappear. I suppose that just wasn’t what he was hoping to hear, but at least he got to pass away in peace.

As you can see the series is very entertaining. These could have easily just been side stories included in the main Fairy Tail series, but I’m glad it got its own series. I’ve always believed that it’s good to have as many spinoffs as possible. I don’t think it waters down the series, but if anything enhances it. Give everyone a spinoff, it gives the characters extra development if you ask me and I can’t turn that down. In this series we get to see how the characters would act in a police setting. If anything it’s a good excuse to see all of your favorite characters just hanging out and having fun in a non lethal environment.


Overall, Fairy Tail: City Hero is definitely a unique title. I appreciate the fact that Fairy Tail has expanded into such a wide franchise over the years. It’s really done its best to compete with the other mainstream titles like DBZ, Naruto, and One Piece. I don’t believe it’ll ever quite eclipse any of those titles, but at least it’s still going thanks to the sequel series and may end up running for as long as those 3. If you’re going to read a Fairy Tail series then it’s better to read this one over the main title. That being said I’d recommend reading Ice Trails instead. It’s a spinoff about the best character, Gray, and it just works really well. It’s a story that you just don’t want to miss out on.

Overall 4/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Attack on Titan: Before The Fall Review


It’s time to look at one of the Attack on Titan spinoffs. The manga really lasted for an incredibly long amount of time considering how short the novels were. Even then the first novel is skipped for the most part as we cut right to the Kuklo stuff although the manga eventually adapts the older material. It’s a little better than the main series, but significantly less engaging which may sound like a contradiction. Put it this way, the main title is a lot more interesting and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It has more hype scenes and a better cast of characters, but the guys in Before the Fall are less morally bankrupt. The series is also shorter so there are less opportunities to mess up, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t give this series a particularly high score.

So Kuklo is a kid who grew up in a tough situation because he is known as the Titan’s son. This isn’t actually true, but people say that because his mother was eaten by a titan but he survived since he wasn’t totally born yet. As a result he grew up in a cage where Xavi would beat him up daily for many years. Eventually Kuklo was able to escape and thanks to Sharle was able to learn what it means to be human. He has now dedicated his life to ending the Titans. He wants to shed his title as the Titan’s son and this will be one of the best ways to do it.

As this title takes place in the past the goal of beating a Titan is significantly more outlandish than it would be otherwise in the eyes of the masses. It’s almost scary how back in these days beating one titan was crazy while in the main title you have guys like Levi taking them down by the dozens. It shows how equipment and technology has improved so much since those days. I suppose one of the interesting parts of the manga is seeing the heroes develop the 3D gear that would later be used to strike down all of the Titans. It is definitely a really handy piece of technology that is a must have.

Part of what hurts the manga is the whole plot with Kuklo. Attack on Titan has always been a series that thrives on being gritty and grim throughout. Even for this title it was rather dark though as it’s basically a kid being tortured every day. It also makes Xavi too far gone for him to ever be sympathetic. The series tries to make him a bit of a redeemed character by the end, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. As it is, maybe you could have tried to pull this off if this was the only thing he did. The guy was a kid so he didn’t know any better or something like that. Well, even in the present he tries to murder Kuklo repeatedly. Even when they’re in the middle of a mission to end the Titans which has huge stakes for the whole world his only priority is to murder Kuklo. Xavi really has a one track mind. It’s a shame because otherwise he is probably the most engaging character in the series. Why couldn’t he have at least had an honor code or been more of a reasonable character? That’s all I wanted to know.

Meanwhile Kuklo is a good character. He can be a bit naive, but you have to give him credit for not holding a grudge with Xavi. That can’t have been easy, but Kuklo consistently proves to be the bigger man and doesn’t let these things bring him down. While he isn’t as intelligent as Eren, Kuklo also has some pretty good ideas and plans that come in handy. He’s resourceful and knows how to survive even in Titan infested areas. His super senses come in handy for that and physically he seems a little stronger than the average human. Maybe there is something to the whole titan child thing in that the fluids at least gave him abilities or something. Either way he works as a solid lead.

His best friend is Cardina and that guy has a big role for the majority of the series as well. While he isn’t quite heading to the front lines as much as Kuklo, his expertise with the machinery comes in handy. He has a wealthy upbringing, but that ultimately just got him into trouble which is how he ended up heading outside with Kuklo. Cardina was a good ally and it was nice for Kuklo to have someone else who could help give him support since Sharle wasn’t always around to help with that.

Sharle is a pretty solid heroine meanwhile. The manga gives her a lot more screen time in which she is able to contribute. It works out well as she gets Angel out of his shell and back into action from retirement. She learns a lot about the inner workings of the 3D gear and also stands up to Xavi in defense of Kuklo. A lot of the time she is kept in the dark on what’s going on, but is always looking for Kuklo and doing her best to help out. Sharle tries really hard to always be ready for action so I definitely have to give her some good credit there.

Then we have Gloria whose character arc is definitely a bit more tragic than some of the other characters. I think she should have played the ending a little better. She falls for the whole posturing trap where she talks a really good game throughout but still puts herself in some bad situations. I think she underestimated just how corrupt the city is, but at least had some contingency plans so she was able to take a lot of people down as well. It would have been nice if she could have kept on appearing. Then you have Jorge who is effectively the Erwin of this era. He’s a good planner and a solid general. He tends to make the right decisions throughout, but doesn’t really leave much of a mark on the series. You really just know him for being a good general and that’s about it.

As I mentioned Angel doesn’t get as big a role in the manga as in the light novel and it ends up hurting him. Most of the time when we see Angel he has already fallen into depression from retirement and has no more hope that the humans can win. It doesn’t really paint him in a god light as by the time Sharle has gotten him to think otherwise we are basically done with the series. I liked him in the original novel and he still looks good in the flashbacks, but I think having his worst scenes first ends up hurting the experience.

Finally we’ve got the Ogre who is responsible for Kuklo’s mother perishing at the start of the series. As a result there is a vendetta between the two of them. Ogre seems to be more intelligent than the average titan and is fairly powerful. He’s not an easy target and made for a pretty good end arc boss. A normal Titan just wouldn’t have been nearly as thrilling to fight. I suppose we couldn’t have a talking titan since that would have been too soon, but I admit that it would have made Before the Fall’s climax a little more exciting.

One of the themes in the main AOT series is whether the humans are the real monsters or not. This series doesn’t go quite so far, but the humans do look pretty terrible most of the time. Even when Titans are outside the gates they’re busy murdering each other for political position and power. The Titans wouldn’t be doing nearly as good without the humans constantly destroying each other and constantly getting in the way. Even by the end we find out there is a traitor in the Survey corps and this person came awfully close to murdering a member. I feel like the person got off rather easy although it could have been worse. There still was a punishment at least which is good, but every time you see a traitor like this you can’t help but shake your head.

The humans will never beat the Titans if they’re constantly fighting like this. You’ve got characters getting jealous of each other and all that. I’m fine with the fact that the survey members didn’t appear much here because whenever we see them most of the members are pretty bad. It was good character development to have Kuklo and Cardina become squad leaders though. They really did grow a lot as the series progressed and that’s one aspect where the longer run time ended up helping them out. By the end it’s hard to imagine that Kuklo was ever not the strategic captain that people look up to.

In regard to the art, I’d say that Before the Fall is pretty good. There’s a solid amount of detail here and the characters don’t look too similar or anything like that. The titans have the creepy designs you would expect. The human vs human fights are really where the title excels with a lot of good speed lines and dynamic angels. The series can get pretty violent as you would expect though. It’s got the usual Titans munching on poor humans who really don’t stand any kind of chance. People aren’t begging for their lives as much as in the original title but the Titan scenes still end up being some of the weaker parts of the manga. Give me the Kuklo vs Xavi fights anytime.

Overall, Before The Fall does a good job of maintaining the tone of the original series. That being said, the main series is one of the weaker manga that I have read so it didn’t bode well for this one. The character cast isn’t all that strong and it falls into most of the usual Titan negatives like excessive violence and everything being too grim the whole time. It’s hard to root for the humans when half of them are evil and when their whole mission seems futile. They are having a hard time dealing with 1 titan and there are hundreds of them beyond the borders. It just feels like the humans would never get past this and since we know this takes place way before the main series where things are pretty much the same…it all feels a little futile. You can’t help but think that nothing these guys does will matter in the end. It has no real effect on the main series. It’s a complaint you can have with any prequel, but most of them do a good job of at least making you feel like the characters are making a difference.

Overall 3/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Dr. Stone reboot: Byakuya Review


It’s definitely cool to see that Dr. Stone already got a spin-off. At only 9 chapters it is a pretty quick one but that’s fine. I think it would have been hard to stretch the premise out too long or it may have felt a little redundant. Either you have the original astronauts doing a lot of the same things Senku and pals have done or you stay up in space with not a lot to do. This spinoff is definitely pretty emotional though thanks to the addition of a new character.

The series starts by introducing us to Byakuya and his crew as they watch Earth get enveloped in stone. Byakuya figures they need to dash back to Earth. His crew is a little skeptical about this choice but eventually agree to do it. As they head out, Byakuya is forced to leave the A.I. Program behind to guard the ship. The robot says it will wait for the humans to return no matter how long it takes. Will it really be able to stay operational over the next 3000 years?

The first few chapters play out pretty similar to how Byakuya’s story was in the main series. It expands on some areas while cutting out most of the scenes we already saw. The spinoff was timed pretty well since the end of the series ties in really well with the current events in the main title. Somehow I don’t think Rei would show up until the final chapter of the series because she would probably break the immersion for many and would be a little too handy. In general this series is a little less realistic than the main one but it does show you just how advanced the Dr. Stone series could have been if not for the stone wave. If anything I think it shows that it is far more advanced than our Earth.

Byakuya is always a fun character so it was nice to see more of him. He’s quite different from Senku but still has that same determination and drive to succeed. Lillian’s a solid heroine as well and the two of them are the best members of the prequel cast. The rest of the characters are around but they don’t leave much of an impression this time. That’s because there really isn’t enough time for them. The rest of the series is about the A.I. Rei after the humans have gone. She aims to keep the ship in good condition but as the centuries pass it gets to be a difficult task.

I have to admit that Rei’s plot isn’t quite as interesting and since it’s over half of the series that means this isn’t going to be a title with a lot of replay value. Her chapters are almost silent as she fiddles around with some tech and keeps putting upgrades in the ship and on herself. By the end of the series she has her own robot body which is cool. I do think it would be a waste to not have her ever appear again so I would like a cameo by the end of Dr. Stone. I think Byakuya should have been straight with her and told her to come to Earth. Given how resourceful she is I have a feeling that Rei would have been able to pull it off. If anyone could, it would definitely be this A.I.

The art is definitely pretty solid like the main series. All of the characters are pretty well detailed and the backgrounds are solid. It makes for easy reading. I blasted through the series all in one go so it did hold my attention. The writing is solid as always and I’m glad to see Stone getting a spinoff already. Some series take a long time to get any so that’s pretty impressive for sure.

I am still a little surprised that the series wasn’t about showing more of Byakuya’s adventures, but since this was always meant to be a miniseries perhaps the author wants to save that for a spinoff. Ultimately it’s not like Byakuya’s group would go too far since we know how their adventure concludes, but I imagine it could still be pretty enjoyable. Rei’s story is certainly out of the box, but if she appears again then it’ll all be worth it. If she doesn’t return then I admit that will be pretty unfortunate. There’s still so much they can do with her even if she will be overpowered.

The ending does occur at the expense of Senku’s character though. He doesn’t notice a signal from Rei that I feel like he would have figured out right away. He knows that the event isn’t a natural phenomenon and the guy is always super curious about anything like that. Ideally he’ll notice at some point, but I think the series should have ended without her giving that signal. It would have made Senku look a little better at least.

Overall, Reboot is an interesting prequel. You sort of get the idea that it’s going to be like Attack on Titan: Before The Fall where it doesn’t really matter, but hopefully that is not the case. I believe this title would retroactively get a little more interesting if it does end up having an impact on the main title. It would be a nice crossover of sorts. If not? Well, this is still a fun little mini series. I imagine it’ll eventually get bundled together as a one shot volume so if you see it in stores I’d recommend picking it up.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

A Certain Scientific Accelerator Review


It’s time to look at one of the Index spinoffs. The series has definitely expanded itself into a full franchise at this point with several manga and anime each spinning off into their own thing. It’s definitely neat that Accelerator got his own show since he is the best character in the franchise. Unfortunately he surprisingly isn’t able to carry his show into the spotlight as it just ends up being weaker than some of the other titles. An underwhelming climax and general lack of Accelerator ultimately stopped this season from reaching its full potential, but it’s still a fun ride.

The season starts by introducing us to Accelerator, the strongest Esper in Academy City. At one point he used to be a mass murderer, but has since made it his mission to protect Last Order. Last Order is a kid who also serves as a memory generator for the rest of the Misaka units who are still alive. As a result Accelerator tries to hide her from the darker parts of society. Unfortunately Academy City is as corrupt as they come so this is difficult. We’ve got various groups trying to either destroy the city, claim it, or just murder people for fun. Accelerator has to stop them all. One of the problems though is the fact that he took a lot of damage in a previous arc. He now relies on a web link to Last Order to keep his brain active which is also how he can use his limitless abilities. If someone turns off the switch then he shuts down.

The main story arc here revolves around Esther. She was a necromancer until she realizes that messing around with the dead seemed like a very shady thing to do. As a result she has decided to step away, but first she has to clean up one last mess that was made. See, Esther decided to help Mikihiko with his experiments and now he has enough tech to use dead bodies to fuel his robots. The guy is teaming up with an underworld group called DA and they have been making several moves against the cops. Esther wants to stop them, but she isn’t particularly powerful so she asks Accelerator for help. He couldn’t care less, but then one of the Misaka units gets captured and now it’s personal. Together these two fighters will have to stop DA and any other groups they hire to slow the heroes down along the way.

Accelerator never likes to be considered as a hero so he constantly tries to remind everyone that he is still a villain. Nobody really ever seems to buy this, but he definitely isn’t as merciful as someone like Touma. He will give the occasional heroic speech, but it’s all hidden between the lines so you have to pay attention to really get it. It’s a very interesting approach and I can roll with it. At the end of the day Accelerator does what he needs to in order to protect Last Order. This may usually go in line with the heroes’ interests, but that may not always be the case so he’s making it clear who his priority is. It’s why he doesn’t need a hero label and at the same time doesn’t want to suddenly be in charge of protecting other people like Esther.

This gets difficult though since Esther gets pretty attached to him right away. She sees Accelerator as her mentor and hangs on his every word. I suppose it’s hard not to look up to someone like him since Accelerator is mega powerful. He’s definitely a great character as always and has all of the best scenes. Pretty much nobody here can stand up to him which is something the show has trouble with. Either Accelerator completely overwhelms his opponents in a single hit or he fights a cosmic entity who can’t be hurt. There is no in between, but he never loses his confidence.

Meanwhile I thought Esther was a good heroine. She definitely does tend to hesitate and isn’t all that powerful, but she does her best to do what she can to help. At least she did quit the villain group right away when she saw it was getting dangerous and tried to stop everyone else. Esther just needs to hesitate a lot less and stop freezing up when everyone is counting on her. Esther’s resolve needs work and she can be a bit oblivious. Still, her core character is good and I always do enjoy a heroine who can fight back. That’s definitely important.

Then there is Last Order who is a fun enough kid. As you may or may not know I’m not a big fan of kids in these kind of shows because they tend to be used as hostages or just be slow on the uptake so everyone has to recap events for them. Fortunately Last Order doesn’t really fall into these traps and comes across as a nice enough character here. You do get the idea that she knows more than she lets on at times, but at least she doesn’t use this to slow Accelerator down. She’s also extremely handy since without her Accelerator would be powerless.

One of the Misaka units appears in the show for a while, but looks terrible the whole time. I think her character wasn’t used all that well. She has electricity and should be able to fight yet she forgets this the entire time. She loses every fight and you would think that she was a powerless human half of the time. The real Misaka hopefully would have showed a lot more fighting prowess and as a clone I’d expect the same from this one. Then we have the villain group Skill-Out. These guys are pretty fun. They may not be nearly as strong as ITEM, but they can certainly still fight and I always love having a whole group show up.

First up is the leader Iizumi. Her ability is that she can find you no matter where you are. She’s got the proper confidence that you need for being a leader, but her abilities definitely aren’t that handy in a fight which does hold her back. Having an offensive ability is pretty necessary if you want to last in this show. Naruha was a lot more impressive in this regard as she could make a giant rabbit suit and manipulate paper. She was pretty fun and one of the highlights in the group. Hopefully she’ll get another chance to fight at some point. Then we have Seike who is the best character of the group. Admittedly I never guessed that the character was a guy until I looked him up to remember the name for this review. His ability is the most dangerous since he can manipulate frictional coefficients. Essentially he can stop you from moving and it was one of those super scientific abilities that the series loves to use. I imagine there is quite a lot you can do with such a power.

Youko is one of the villains from the very beginning of the series. She was super out of her league with her tech suit and gun against Accelerator, but she gave it the ole try which is admirable. I always like villains who are confident and while her group may not have kept their hype for very long, they were still good to have around. Her two allies left less of an impact though. Hasami is the last ghost on Esther’s side and gets a big role. Since she is manipulating the body of someone who is already dead she feels no pain. Effectively she has no emotions either and as a result doesn’t tend to understand human cultures much. This makes for some forced scenes, but otherwise she is a good fighter to have around. She has basic super strength and speed which are two abilities that will never steer you wrong.

Time for some of the characters who go off the deep end. First up is Hirumi and we can blame most of the series on her selfish actions. She is a very obsessive character who appears unhinged from the start. I feel like the series was obvious about that so it’s no real twist. Her decision to make the ultimate sacrifice when it was not necessary and nobody wanted her to do it really sums up her character. Her will power is so low that two different characters possess her at the same time. You’ve got the demon and then you’ve also got Isaac. While this may make for an interesting villain it really does her no favors. The final episodes really go crazy with all of the various forms and such. It doesn’t make for an exciting climax but more on that later. Either way she was one of the weakest characters in the series.

Finally there is Mikihiko who is also a very dicey character. From the start the show establishes him as an evil character who is also quite sketchy. He betrays everyone and messes around with people who are dead. His sister is without a doubt his top priority but he doesn’t notice when she starts acting rather off. For a genius he is surprisingly slow on the uptake. Some scenes are a bit iffy too like how he found a short cut to catch up to the heroes when he was bleeding out and on the ground, but we’ll assume he’s just that good I guess. He gets quite a lot of development and scenes near the end. While he doesn’t turn good, the show does try to make you sympathize with him for just wanting to help out his sister. It doesn’t work though because of how much of a villain we saw him be earlier. He’s just one of those villains who wants to have it both ways. I prefer him to Hirumi but neither one of these villains were particularly good.

That basically wraps up the main cast. It’s not a bad cast, but really Accelerator has to do most of the work here. Esther and Last Order are good as well, but I wouldn’t call them great characters. Then for the villains I liked the more minor Skill-Out fighters more than the actual main villains. The DA guys were just insane the whole time and I already spoke at length about Hirumi and Mikihiko. The writing is good though as the series still has that scientific feel that Index is famous for. Nothing will top the fight between Accelerator and Kakine from the main Index fight in terms of dialogue though as it perfectly sums up the series. Still, we get a lot of technical dialogue here as well which is great.

It should come as no surprise that the soundtrack is great. The team did a great job with the catchy Shadow is the Light theme song. It’s got that rock theme to it as well which really fits in with Accelerators character as someone who helps out in the dark so nobody even knows that he is helping out. Throughout the season the themes are solid as well. Meanwhile I thought the animation was good. It’s definitely not quite as striking as the Index seasons or Railgun, but I’d still call it pretty good. The only episodes that didn’t look quite as good were the ones in the climax since everyone turned more gray scale. It was an effect that the villain had of course, but I saw it as a quick way to lessen the animation budget a bit. The show would kick it into high gear at some points, but not all the time. Still, it’s still animation that looks nice as you’re watching the show.

Naturally the show does have some fanservice issues at times. Characters forget that they’re not supposed to change while everyone else is around and at times the fighting starts suddenly so they have no time to properly get dressed. Most of their attires aren’t great even when they are ready. It’s never quite as extensive as in the main show fortunately. It adds up enough to be noticed, but definitely could have been a whole lot worse. It’s not the biggest problem that this title has. The main problem in Accelerator is unfortunately the fight scenes.

So how do you make fights for a guy who is pretty much all powerful? Well, I’d say that it was a difficult dilemma except that the main show has had no problems with this so far. The battles against Kakine and the archangels are perfect for showing how this could go. Since Accelerator is still hooked up to the device you can give him a run for his money. The first half of the season did a reasonable job of it with Accelerator wrecking everyone. Then the second half came up and all his fights were with robots. The problem here is that you couldn’t really call them fights. It’s really just him firing a shot at the robots, they dodge, he fires, etc. These scenes just never really amount to anything and feel like they’re stalling for time. Then we get to the final episodes where he is effectively firing at plants the whole time. Of course he can blow them up with ease, plants can barely fight back.

The climax is incredibly weak which is disappointing since there is a lot they could have done with the concept. Accelerator’s first half of the show was considerably stronger than the ending. The main villain by this point was becoming a cosmic being with a bunch of persona fighting for attention. The setting felt like an end of the world type of battlefield too so it at least looked cool. The problem is that the villains stayed in a cocoon the whole time which meant there was no chance of a real fight. When she strapped in I knew that the series had given up on giving us a big fight at the end. This is the main thing that lowers its replay value. You’ll definitely be interested and engaged as you run through the show for the first time, but it’s unlikely that you would come around a second time because there isn’t much you would need to re-watch.

Esther’s origin story also took valuable time away from getting to see Accelerator. It’s not a terrible flashback or anything but without Accelerator at all it couldn’t hope to match up to the present stuff. I’d rather see more of the reluctant Accelerator mentoring Esther dynamic. That was always pretty entertaining with how insistent Esther was on following Accelerator and him always trying to escape the situation. It’s unlikely that Esther would be a main character in the next season since the cliffhanger is already throwing him into another adventure, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she showed up again at some point.

Overall, A Certain Scientific Accelerator is an enjoyable show, but one that always leaves you feeling like it has some missed opportunities. Accelerator himself misses out on quite a lot of screen time as Esther gets her backstory and the other characters all try to be relevant. I believe focusing on him would have made the show better and it’s really the only advice I need to give to a potential season season. Still, just getting to see him as the main character for a while is fun and you’ll get to learn more about the Index franchise as a whole. I’d recommend checking this one out and hopefully we’ll get more Index seasons in the future.

Overall 6/10