Fairy Tail: Happy’s Heroic Adventure Review

Fairy Tail is one of those franchises that is very interesting because it has extremely high highs but suffers from never ending fanservice that always drops it way down. This spinoff is no different. Well, I wouldn’t say the highs are that amazing but in a lot of ways it looks rather solid. The fights are great, the art is top notch, and the story is interesting. Towards the end it starts to sputter a bit but it’s never able to truly achieve greatness because the fanservice sticks around. Yes, even without Lucy and the gang this keeps up for the animals…ah well Fairy Tail will be Fairy Tail I suppose.

The series starts with Happy being warped away from his normal world over to animal village. He’s not exactly sure why this happened or how but now they are saying he is the hero of legend who is here to save them all. Happy is more interested in going home but the only way to do that is to perform a lot of good deeds. This will fill up the smile heart that he has to wear and once it is filled up, then a miracle will occur which will take him home. Sounds easy enough right?

Happy is a nice guy for the most part even if he’s not super heroic. So for example if he sees a crime in front of him then he’ll definitely jump in. Happy isn’t about to let something like that slide. At the same time he still just wants to go home above all else so it’s not like he’ll stay to fulfill the prophecy first if he has a choice. Ultimately Happy doesn’t really have a say in the matter though as completing all of the tasks will take a while. There is a lot to do in this world that’s for sure.

The pre arc introduces us to some of the characters in the village and Happy starts to win over everyone’s trust. It isn’t particularly difficult since he is able to fly and is physically strong enough to help everyone out. I wouldn’t say that he is the strongest character around but he can hold his own with the heavyweights since the characters aren’t all that powerful here. The introduction is sound and all as we gear up for the first big arc.

At first you may have expected this to be more of an adventure title without a whole lot of action but that quickly changes as the series goes on. It transitions into a complete action story which I thought was an excellent move. You get dynamic fights with a lot of characters who have different skillsets. The art is top notch as I mentioned earlier and the story is sound. The chapters really breeze through too so you can definitely fast blast through the series.

On the negative side, yes the fanservice is as bad as you would expect. It’s crazy how even with no human characters in the series for most of the arcs, the series still manages to include a lot of fanservice like this. You have one character constantly flirting with Happy and while he doesn’t react to it at all, it still gets crammed into the series a whole lot. If you take this away then the series would be a lot better without a doubt.

The final arc involving time travel also gets a little dark. Keep in mind that these are all animals running around here. They are evolved versions that can talk and walk so they get a bit more humanoid but we find out about a farm that basically forces the animals to fight and get slaughtered in vicious war games. It’s possible that they all survive since Fairy Tail tends to spare them at the end but they certainly go through quite the ordeal and it’s hard to say if they actually did make it completely intact. I think for a series like Happy this felt rather out of place. You even had characters pretending not to know about it and while they were threatened, it’s awful that they didn’t try harder to stop this whole project. Ultimately this ended up being the weakest arc.

Lets jump into the first arc now though. We are introduced to a group of animals from Wild Town led by Chee who want to rule the village. They don’t believe in friendship and operate in a might makes right kind of mindset. Happy’s group of fighters will have to try and show them the error of their ways but it won’t be easy at all. This was a solid arc with a lot of fights and a really solid villain in Chee. It was the first point where the series really felt like a Shonen title with a lot of good battles. I would even say this was the best arc in the series.

Chee is an emotional villain who has a tough exterior but the whole time you know he’s going to have a big backstory. The fact that he is constantly emitting a poisonous aura that he can’t really control shows just how tough he would have had it. Not being able to approach anyone is hard to deal with no matter how you slice it. Chee ends up becoming a solid supporting character afterwards and someone that Happy can rely on. It’s always good having allies who can really fight.

Then we have Rhino who is one of the more petty villains. Sure, he eventually sees the light but I felt like he went a lot farther than Chee the whole time so it was a bit harder to get on board with his turnaround. The guy was just willing to go so far to claim his win and help the villains that I ended up already not liking him. It’s not bad to really go all out as a villain but you typically need some kind of master plan or honor code. There just wasn’t anything that I found really cool about this guy.

Tigre was a much better character and like Chee she would really get to help out in future fights. Her speed is excellent in combat and she has a lot of confidence. If anything I thought she should have been able to defeat her opponent Eleph but it was a close fight either way so that works out well enough. The villain group as a whole was rather impressive which really helped you take them seriously as a threat in this arc.

I should go back and talk about some of the heroes now though. I already talked about Happy for a bit so we can get past him. Long story short, he’s a good main character and surprisingly a lot better than in the main Fairy Tail series where he could be a bit iffy at times. Ururu is a reoccurring character and one of the main heroines in a way. Happy helps her out when she’s sick and she looks up to him as the legendary hero. Ultimately her role isn’t particularly big since she’s very young and can’t fight so she represents the emotional part of the village. Hamta is in the same boat here as he’s a little hamster kid who looks up to Happy but can’t really fight. He has his big moment where he stays back to fight the villains but that’s really it.

Captain Bull is the police chief who means well but tends to scare Happy a lot. He’s a nice guy though and while he isn’t very strong, he does stand up for what’s right and tends to always show up in the climaxes. Bull just can’t keep up with the power creep. There’s the elder Tortoise and while I would say he’s a non character for most of the series, he suddenly gets a big role near the end. I can’t say I liked him though. To me he makes all of the wrong decisions both in the past and the present. I wouldn’t want him as the leader of my village.

Now we get to Luna who is the real main heroine in a lot of ways. My issue with her aside from being the main fanservice character here is that most of her character is about flirting. She has a tragic backstory and can fight but those elements always fall to the background for her. I think there is a decent character somewhere here but I don’t think she was handled all that well in the series.

Dori Dorin is another character running around who was a villain and then helps out the heroes. That’s a running theme in Fairy Tail as most characters can ultimately be redeemed so long as they are fought with healthy amounts of friendship. He doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the other characters though because he doesn’t fight much once he turns good. One character who was good from the start was Eleph who is a powerful warrior. You can probably tell from the name what kind of creature he is. Eleph is good and even gets a power up before the series finishes.

As someone who was loyal from the start I definitely have to give him extra credit here. Agi was another good fighter here who was always ready to rumble. He had some good combos with Happy and was a great addition to the hero army. He tends to create a lot of misunderstandings with the roundabout way he talks but ultimately he does mean well.

One more villain from the arc was Moppity but I didn’t like him at all. He’s the pervy character of the series and that’s all that you need to know about him. He was completely doomed from the start and whenever the manga tries to make him sympathetic or something it just doesn’t work out. It’s just not going to happen, there’s no way I’m going to buy into that. He just needs to try being a better person and since that’s not going to happen, he was never going to rise up.

There’s a mini arc where Happy shows up to help a girl named Kai against some robots but then we get to the next big arc. Happy is captured by Leon who rules the holy kingdom and is sentenced to death as the devil who will bring ruin to the world. Even Happy’s friends begin to doubt him so this will be a true test of loyalty. Naturally Leon has a powerful group of fighters at the ready for him so we get a lot of action here. I do have to say that I don’t see why anyone had doubts about Happy though. By this point in the series he had already saved them so many times. Even if the prophecies were turned around, you have to believe in your friends right?

It’s not like this kingdom is all that trustworthy either. They showed up and were acting real aggressive right from the jump. At least once the heroes focus up then they are ready for the big battles. Leon himself works well as the big boss. He talks tough and wants true power. It may be a little straight forward but he had more charisma than Rhino. The guy didn’t even need a big backstory here, just the ability to run in and take names. He gets a cool final form and really gives Happy and the other heroes a lot of work in trying to take him down.

One of his big three advisors is Shieshiemon who is really impressive as a villain. The guy is able to fight numerous opponents at once with how his hair can stretch out and even by the end of the arc he looks like he can fight a lot more. The guy was rather naïve in being quick to believe Leon but his fighting abilities can’t be doubted. I thought he was rather solid as a result. Shadow is another good villain who ends up getting some emotional moments. His role isn’t huge or anything but he does a good job with what he’s given.

Needles and Maru are also decent villains but they got more of the shaft compared to the other villains. They have good designs and potential but their fights are over in a flash. Happy means a little animal named Bakkun but he has that annoying gimmick where his nose is always running and he talks like a baby with how he can’t pronounce some of the words. He can read minds to an extent which is handy but the kid’s not too subtle which leads to him being captured. He’s a kid so you can’t expect him to be an expert but I didn’t think he was all that good here.

Finally we enter the final arc where Happy gets to find out the true reason why he is here and goes through his last trial. This arc involves time travel which is always fun and there are a lot of twists here. It is still my least favorite arc but we do get more fights. So Happy heads over to the tower now that he has the hearts and it sends him 1000 years into the past where he gets to meet Marice and the ancestors of all his friends. It turns out that a villain named General Star wants to use her powers for himself so of course that’s something that Happy can’t allow.

One of the big issues with this arc is the ending. Oh man, this is the kind of ending you never want to see because it effectively voids the entire series. It’s not a dream so everything still happened but the ending is the classic copout you do for spinoffs to ensure that it is never mentioned or brought up in the main line. It’s the ultimately copout for me and just hurts the arc. If you ask me they should have played it straight and you could easily handwave questions about why Happy never brought up this place in the main series. He just chose not to, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Then as I mentioned way earlier, the arc just randomly gets to be more on the darker side here. Star ends up torturing a bunch of the animals and even the kid Marice for her power. Everyone is too shellshocked and nervous to do anything about it either. So what you have is a cast that doesn’t look very good here as they overlook Star’s actions. Blackmail can buy some time for the villain for sure, but I’d expect the heroes to have thought of some way to stop him eventually. Instead it felt like they hadn’t done anything on their end.

Ah well, we do get some fights but then there’s also a whole new group of villains that show up when there are only around 5-7 chapters left in the series. Needless to say, they don’t last very long. I liked their designs and everything but there isn’t enough time to really like them. Their names are Cyclops, Unicorn, and Griffin. They are robotic fighters who are super powerful and get a lot of hype. Technically they would have really won and done a whole lot of damage if not for the heroes getting major buffs at the end. Take that away and it would have really been game over.

The 3 were all cool, I just probably won’t remember them after a while. General Star is the only villain with a really big role here and he’s a tough villain but not really my kind of antagonist. For starters he probably could have had a winning strategy if he was nice to Marice instead of tricking her. She would have listened to him if he wanted to use some power since she doesn’t know much about the world. Why not just have her help you like that instead of going through all the trouble of having a conspiracy and all of these different plans? Star ends up overcomplicating the issue which costs him in the end.

Dr Magicana is a lot more reasonable. He’s still not perfect as he’s one of many characters who just overlooks what Star is doing the whole time but at least this guy isn’t quite as insane. You can at least count on him to try and think of some idea to help Marice. Better to help a little than to not do anything right? It’s a start at least and he’s a decent doctor kind of character. He’s just not much of a fighter.

Marice gets to have a big role here. The whole arc is definitely tough on her since she’s a little kid and yet she has to deal with a whole rebellion going on and a would be world conqueror. She grew up in a small area and doesn’t really know anything about the world either so it’s easy to manipulate her. Ultimately she is manipulated for almost the whole saga and tends to go wild so she didn’t end up being very high.

Finally, you have the 3 hearts who were actual characters in the past. It was nice to see them try to help out but I was glad that Happy beat them in the competition. He’s the true hero after all so he’s not about to lose to these guys like that. It’s just not happening. I should mention that this arc throws in some DBZ homages like the introduction to power levels and one character’s power level going over 10,000. It was a small thing but it’s always cool when DBZ is brought into the fray like this.

Overall, That wraps up the Happy adventure. Happy was a surprisingly solid lead so that worked out and the action was good. If you cut out the fanservice then I dare say this would be a pretty good manga but ultimately that held it back just enough to keep this one from breaking even. There’s less time for it at the end of the series but man is it heavy at first. One day Fairy Tail will be able to resist the whole time and that’ll be a great day. I mean I know some of the shorter ones can be fine at times but I’m talking about a decently long adventure like this. I want Fairy Tail to reach its full potential and this is the best way. Of course I’d like to see the actual members appear next time. Happy is cool for the novelty and all but ultimately you want Natsu and the gang to show up and get their action.

Overall 4/10

SSSS.Dynazenon Review

Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Black Clover SD – Asta’s Road to the Wizard King

Black Clover is one of the premier titles of our time so it’s fitting that it would have a comedy spinoff. That said, this one’s not all that great so far. The crude humor can be a bit much and takes away from the fun of the journey. I’m really early on at just one chapter in so far so we’ll see if this improves. I’ll have a review up for this series as soon as it is complete.

Overall 5/10

Saint Seiya Episode. G

The art is definitely odd for this one. It seems to be trying for a webtoon look but the character designs don’t work so well with everyone having huge eyes and the details getting a little messy. Still, the action is good and the story’s off to a fun start so we’ll see where it goes from here. I’ll have a review up for the series when I finish it.

Overall 7/10

The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days Review

Next up on the Seven Deadly Sins spinoff list is more of a romance title. Yes, Seven Days is a title that I would consider to be a romance first and foremost which is a first for this series. The main manga certainly had its share of romance plots but it was always an action/adventure as the main genre. Well, this title is exclusively about the romance between Ban and Elaine which is a change of pace right away. I’m not a big fan of the romance myself but the story is told well. We get some action and the characters are nice enough so that ends up being a win.

The story starts off by explaining that Elaine is one of the fairies tasked with protecting the fountain of eternal youth from any who should go into the forest. Fortunately she is not alone, her brother is the fairy king and he is incredibly strong. There are many powerful fairies within the forest and even the trees automatically protect against intruders. Unfortunately a bunch of the fairies were suckered by a corrupt human who kidnapped them and the King went off to save them. The rest of the fairies quickly ran away back to the Fairy Realm so Elaine is tasked as the only fairy left who must protect the whole kingdom on her own. The King said he would return shortly but now 700 years have passed. One day a mysterious traveler named Ban appears and he is in search of the fountain of Eternal Youth. Elaine must stop him but he seems different from the rest.

Elaine has good reasons to be really jaded at humanity. She has the ability to read minds and so far everyone who has come to the fountain to gain eternal youth has been a complete criminal. They all end up being liars and try to attack her right away. Fortunately she has been strong enough to defeat them all with ease but between that and a lot of the fairies being kidnapped, the humans do not look very trustworthy at all. Ban’s really shown to be the only good human here.

It is unfortunate that the rest of the fairies look so weak though. Losing to random humans like this isn’t a good look for them. If these were higher ranked villains then that would be different but the way they lost was sad. Even Elaine who looks impressive against the humans ends up faltering when an actual monster shows up. The Fairies definitely need some good power ups so they can alter the balance of power because this is really not working out for them.

Yes, a monster does show up in the second volume to add a little danger to the equation. Of course if you’ve read the main series then you know how this adventure has to end. In case you haven’t, I can say that this definitely changes the dynamic of the series and ties into Ban’s role in the main title. The ending is definitely an emotional one but with enough hope left where you know the characters can still have a chance.

The battle scene was also solid. It’s cool to see Ban fighting back in the day before he got his powers. He was still a strong fighter but of course not on the same level that he is currently. He fights more carefully than in the main series since he really can’t afford to be getting hit like normal but in the end he still can’t quite go up against the really strong opponents without his abilities.

Ban’s a likable character here. He’s quick to give up on his journey when he learns that it will hurt the forest and from then on just tries to help Elaine get through her boredom. I’m still not a fan of the romance angle here but at least through the series we take 7 days before they start to be together instead of right away. Still not a whole lot of time but since they’re both bored with absolutely nothing to do, it’s 7 days where they’re hanging out 24/7 instead of some hours at a time.

I also think the artist did a better job of drawing Elaine to look a little older at least. We know she’s 1000+ years old and all but when she looks too young it just doesn’t feel right. Still not a perfect scenario but better than it could have been. As for Elaine, she’s a good lead. She did well to protect the forest for 700 years without any real backup. (She has a demon dog but he vanishes whenever villains appear) If I was her I would be sore at how everyone just vanished though. The fairies completely ditched her so maybe she should have ditched the forest and left as well. The task just feels completely unreasonable.

It’s also a shame that she doesn’t have more ways to fight off this monster. I feel like she should have some kind of special abilities that would aid her here but she wasn’t really able to do much against this beast. If Ban were not here then she would have gone down in an instant. Ultimately she stayed heroic through to the end though and did not complain as she looked through the forest. It was certainly a relief for her to read Ban’s mind and finally find an honest human for the first time. Having the ability to read someone’s mind has got to be a very comforting feeling since you know for a fact that you aren’t being tricked.

This series (2 volumes, but that’s enough to be called a series I suppose) has a very small cast but I think that’s intentional to show how alone Elaine is. The other fairies appear briefly in volume 1 but after that it’s really just her and Ban the whole time. It’s hard to imagine how she didn’t go crazy just wandering around the forest for 700 years with nothing to do aside from murdering the occasional trespasser. There is some dialogue about how the passage of time feels different for immortals because of just how long it is but that’s still just a really long amount of time.

Also from just reading this series, you have to be mad at the King. He told her he’d be right back and then vanishes for 700 years? Aside from his death or complete memory erasure there is really no excuse for that. I also think there’s no excuse for other Fairies not arriving to work in shifts or to try and get her some intel. They sure show up very quickly in the epilogue when Ban’s around so where were they until then? These are the kinds of allies that you absolutely do not want.

Overall, Seven Days was a fun spinoff. It does show that you can have a quality romance adventure even if you’re not on board with the actual romance. The story’s very low key with lots of scenes of Ban just reading a book about beer labels to Elaine as he wows her with his adventures. The fact that this book is so low key is the point as she’s desperate for any activity that will erase her boredom and it’s a good way to connect the two characters. Elaine was always a fun enough character in the main series while Ban could be hit or miss. He was at his best in this story though and the author understood his character well. The ending is also solid and ties into the main series smoothly. As the story is stand alone you can read this without context of the main series and maybe it’ll even help you to give it a read. Either way, you’ll have a good time reading these two volumes.

Overall 7/10


I’m not a super big fan of anthology type comedy series like this but Haikyu itself was a great series so I like to think this could end up being big. It’s certainly a long running title which is impressive. For many titles you do like to see the characters just hanging out (Although more specifically that’s for big action titles) so I give the series credit for that. While the cover art does not do the series any favors, the start has been good so far. I’ll have a review for the series when it finishes.

Overall 6/10

Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas Review

Saint Seiya is one of the most iconic action titles of all time and I even had it in my top 20 manga series of all time. It really is like the original Dragon Ball with its nonstop action and flashy attacks. I ended up reading this prequel a while back (About half a year ago at this point) but the review took a while as this is such a big series. The Lost Canvas is extremely impressive because it is able to really match the original series and even go beyond. I tend to waffle between the two of them quite a lot because they’re so close and each have their strengths. I figured I would leave my final decision until I finished this review as it would give me a chance to really reflect on the series and the original now that I finished it in both the manga and anime versions. Ultimately, the Lost Canvas does take the win but I’ll go into more detail later on.

The Lost Canvas has over 200 chapters and yet you could really say that the story only has one big arc. It’s probably more fair to say that it’s one overarching storyline with a lot of arcs in it though. This series covers the Holy War between Hades and Athena that is referenced in the main series. The Holy War occurs every 200 years so it truly feels endless on both sides. This futility is something the characters are fully aware of and yet there isn’t really much of anything that they can do about it. This is just the way that it has always been.

The Pegasus Saint to be born into this era is a kid named Tenma. He grew up with his childhood friends Alone and Sasha. The 3 of them led a normal life for a while but one day Sasha was proclaimed to be the new incarnation of Athena and taken away. Alone went crazy and became Hades as he ruthlessly murdered everyone in his path and Tenma ended up becoming a Bronze Saint. Now Tenma and Sasha feel like it is their specific duty to stop Alone since he ended up becoming the ultimate evil in the land. Can they really pull this off or is he too far gone?

There’s a lot to talk about here and a lot of characters to go through but first lets go through one of the aspects that really helps the series. That is the fact that it gives us a ton of lore that helps enhance the original story while also making this one stronger. For example, we find out that when you fight in Hades’ castle, your power is automatically cut to 1/10 of what it normally is. The original series referenced the characters being weaker but it wasn’t made explicit like how this one is.

We find out how Hypnos and Thanatos were sealed away for the main series and we also get to see Dohko and Shion team up here. We get to really see how the two became such good friends among the Gold Saints. Pandora gets a lot of development and one of the biggest things here is that the Gold Saints actually look really strong. In the main series you’re used to them getting schooled by every possible opponent so the Bronze Saints can save the day.

Well, this one plays out more like how you would expect. The Bronze Saints are effectively helpless for the entirety of the series until the climax and before then the Gold Saints have to pick up the slack. They’re shown to be the best in the business and all give the Specters a strong fight. So the catch is that we don’t meet a lot of notable Bronze Saints and the ones that we do see tend to be weak but it’s only fair since that’s what the Gold Saints had to deal with for a while.

We also see the inherent disadvantage that Athena’s forces have against Hades. For starters, Hades has the 108 Specters, 3 Generals, and 2 gods serving him. Athena has her 12 Gold Saints and that’s the extent of her reliable forces. I guess we can throw in Tenma and a small tribe that brings 2 fighters in but that’s really it. Then since Hades rules the Underworld, his fighters can resurrect infinitely which is another problem. That’s one of the big dilemmas that the heroes had to tackle early on since the war was really running out of control.

Compared to the first series where this was completely nonexistent, Lost Canvas does have a little fanservice once in a while. Nothing crazy but compared to the original series anything can feel notable. It’s rare enough where it’s never an issue though. The art is mainly used for the fight scenes which is great since the art here is quite high tier. You really feel the power behind all of the attacks and the designs are on point. Every battle is treated with a certain grandness to it so you know just how special the Gold Saints are. The amount of detail is also very impressive.

So lets talk about our hero Tenma. He doesn’t tend to win all of his fights the way that Seiya did, but Tenma’s a hard worker and does his best to claim victory at every turn. He is a strong fighter in his own right, there’s no doubt about that. He is also trying to save Alone the whole time without murdering him. It reminds me of the Naruto and Sasuke dynamic a lot. Tenma holds the series well as the lead and I don’t think you’ll have any issues with him. He’s just a very solid character.

As the main villain Alone is also very good. I actually preferred him to Hades here. The series even shows that they aren’t truly the same character even though they share the same body. There are times when Alone is pretending to be Hades but they have their distinct goals and wishes. Alone’s main weapon is an easel and a paint brush which is probably the craziest part of the series. Whatever he draws dies. So if he draws a portrait of you, then you will perish. It’s almost like the Deathnote but even more deadly since he doesn’t have to know your name.

The way his power works doesn’t always seem to be consistent though. For example, sometimes when he draws you, you will die immediately. Other times you do not so I assume he has the power to decide when the effect takes place. It’s a very ominous moment when he draws a picture of the Earth. this does tie into the title of the series very well though. For most of the series, Alone is building himself a giant portrait but the challenge is getting “real” colors which cannot be drawn so easily. You can probably imagine that blood is one of these “real” colors.

Now, while Tenma wants to save him, it’s safe to say that Alone is really insane though. The amount of people that he murders during his journeys is absolutely staggering. The guy just does not stop and takes out several villages and quite a lot of innocent bystanders. So whenever Tenma is trying to talk him down, you feel like it’s just too late for all of that at this point. Alone made his choice.

As for Hades himself, well he really doesn’t get to do much of anything here. The guy’s role is incredibly small so while he is very powerful, there’s not much to say about him. I would also argue that his willpower is not very great since Alone was able to overpower him the whole time. So much for his abilities right? At the end of the day Hades will always return so you should respect his power but I wouldn’t have minded the series going on a little longer so I could have really seen that.

Pandora’s role here is a lot bigger than in the original series and I was definitely a fan of hers. See, Pandora can actually fight and rather well at that. In this version she can fire off energy blasts and was able to take out many enemies on her own. Perhaps she isn’t a match for a Gold Saint but she is able to take out all other challengers. She is really attached to Hades and wants to protect him at all times but doesn’t take a passive role in this. She goes out to find and destroy any threats to him which is really what you should be doing as a bodyguard at all times. You definitely won’t be forgetting her by the end.

She does have a rather twisted first appearance where she takes out an animal though. I thought that was a rough start to the series in general as this happens in chapter 1. Fortunately the manga doesn’t tend to fall into that hole after that but you’d think that you want to start a series on a super high note. Whenever a chapter 1 is this rocky I feel like the editor needed to step in and do something. It’s always risky not to have a 5 star chapter 1 4 sure.

Shion was the Pope who got utterly wrecked in the first series so it’s nice to actually see him looking tough here. He crushes Worm in his first fight and he gets a particularly big moment in the climax against one of the gods. He is around the whole time though so there is no shortage of action for him. You get to even see him teaching Mu how to use his spells here so that bond’s established early on.

Sasha is the new Athena and I can tell you right away that she is a huge improvement over the main one. Sasha can actually fight and does do so as she goes up against Pandora at one point. While Sasha is still on the losing end most of the time, I appreciate the fact that she is actually fighting. I always thought it didn’t make sense how all of the gods are these super powerful fighters while Athena couldn’t do anything. It just didn’t add up and this version fixed that by making her a true fighter right out of the jump. The moment where she puts on the armor is a powerful moment as well. She wants to save Alone too and ends up being a very loyal companion all the way through.

Dohko is the first Gold Saint to show up (He wastes no time since he’s beating up Specters as early as chapter 2 with the war already starting. I guess it’s more of a cold war at that point since Hades and Athena have not directly acted but you can tell where it’s all going) and he ends up really being the first mentor that Tenma gets. He’s always around with some wise words and can fight really well. I like Dohko’s absolute confidence and it’s something that we got to see a bit of in the gold saints spinoff. Here he is in his young form the whole time of course and it’s crazy what a better character he is when he’s not being Shiryu’s mentor.

Yuzuriha is the member of the third party faction that I mentioned earlier. It is always interesting to add another group in and personally I tend to love the idea. Her group isn’t strong enough to be a threat to the villains but they do come in handy when it comes to the supernatural elements like bringing people back to life. She can also fight well on par with a Silver Saint which is handy here. Her role is rather large as a supporting character. Often times she is with Unicorn who also gets a bigger role than usual here. Unfortunately he can’t usually contribute to the fights too well but he always has Tenma’s back and that means a lot on its own. He really takes it hard when Tenma is murdered the first time.

Albafica is the first Gold Saint to have a serious fight with one of the judges and he does well in the role. His poison abilities are really handy even if they are a double edged blade to himself. That means he has to handle himself with great care at all times. To also be protecting a whole town is a testament to his skill as a Gold Saint. He may not have gotten to appear a whole lot but he certainly left an impression.

Asmita was another big hero to show up. I wasn’t crazy about his role considering his power though. I feel like he could have helped out so much more in the fights if he had chosen to just keep on going. His role was still pivotal in terms of sealing the enemy’s resurrections but with his power level I just wanted him to fight more. He helps spur Tenma into action and gets a suitable backstory and all. I guess I have to be satisfied about that.

Aldebaran has the same name as the guy from the first series but it’s definitely a different person. Perhaps it’s part of his Taurus constellation and he just chose not to give his name out. Either way I thought he was a big improvement over the main version. For starters, he does actually appear to be one of the strongest of the Gold Saints which is fitting with his being a power type. I always thought it didn’t make a lot of sense that he is a power type but was treated like fodder the whole time. Here he gets to fight off against the strongest of the 3 judges, at least in my opinion after seeing them all fight. He also does extremely well in the fight and I like his competitive spirit. He ended up being one of the more memorable Gold Saints.

Sisyphus gets a bigger role towards the end of the series. From the start we know that he is one of the stronger Saints as he is able to overcome Hades’ intimidating presence while the other Gold Saints were take out right away. It would seem that the one with the bow and arrow is always quite strong in Saint Seiya. I thought he was a solid character although he was easily manipulated and had some confidence issues. Sisyphus may not stand out as much as some of the other Gold Saints but he is certainly someone that you would want to have watching your back.

Cancer wasn’t my favorite Gold Saint initially, I found him to be a little weak but also super unreasonable. At one point he captures Tenma so the hero can’t escape to go and train. I never like when the heroes lock up their own allies, it feels counterintuitive. Fortunately Hades was locked up by his troops at the same time so that ended up well enough. I gained some respect for Cancer when he went to the villain base to attack Thanatos though. I thought that was a good moment to show that he feared nobody and was a very emotional kind of fighter.

The Pope also got to have his fight around this point. His spells are handy which makes u for his not having a whole lot of super abilities. I don’t think he can hold his own as well as some of the other fighters but in the end he did help out so that’s what counts. He also has his brother from the tribe who helps him train as well and the two make for good partners.

El Cid shows up to get some action but in a way you feel bad for him. He has to deal with villains who really come out of the blue as the “Dream gods” who fight him on different realms. I thought the whole thing just felt like it was thrown together at the last moment. It was also a complete counter to his legendary sword. He gets back up and keeps on fighting but he definitely had a lot to deal with right out of the gate. Ultimately it was a good way to show his determination as he had to fight many battles in a row.

This also meant that poor Tenma had to deal with more ghosts from his past again so in a way we got that arc twice. While the dream gods felt random, they were still decent enough for the most part. Morpheus was the most impressive and did well against Tenma. All 4 were strong though and they even had a fusion mode which was as strong as you’d suspect.

Kardia is the Scorpio Gold Saint of this era and he’s fun. He does have a bad habit of toying with weaker opponents while he looks for strong ones though. You’d think this would be beneath him as a Gold Saint but I suppose he doesn’t have that level of honor. That’s what keeps him from being one of the all time greats here. I like his burning passion though and his fight in the Poseidon arc is good.

Meanwhile Degel does well in his battle. It’s a little harder to get invested in his fight since he’s battling with someone who isn’t super interesting. Degel does do well in the fight though and works well enough as one of the last Gold Saints to show up for action. There’s only so much time for everyone to get involved with so many fighters on the field after all.

Gemini also makes an appearance late into the series and his first fight is later still. He does end up having a very big role though. The whole Gemini angle is always something that means he will be dealing with his own issues during the fight but he is ultimately able to push past them. I wouldn’t say he’s as good as Gemini Saga but he contributes a lot and is as powerful as you would expect.

Then you’ve got Leo. He’s the youngest Gold Saint and has a lot of passion in each of his blows. He ended up being one of my favorites by the end. He did well in guarding the ship and had a lot of responsibility for one so young. The series is quick to show that he’s a true prodigy. That can often be a red flag for a fighter this deep into the war but regardless, I think you’ll be invested in his character right off the bat.

Bennu is easily my favorite villain in the series and I would go as far as to say he was my favorite character in general. The guy reminds me of Garou in One Punch with how he would get stronger after every fight. Bennu starts out as a match for Gold Saints right out of the gate and only goes higher from there. He has a strict honor code which I like to see in a villain. His dark fire abilities are also very impressive. The guy isn’t a yes man and follows his own ambitions to the end. Any scene/fight with him was always guaranteed to be a blast.

Niobe may appear whiny from his design and how you know him in the original series but he actually doesn’t look all that bad here. He almost wins his first fight and has a natural counter to a Gold Saint’s ability. “Almost” may not count for much in a fight but it was still a good look. Then you have Minos who really got to go all out as one of the 3 Judges. His ability to move people against their will like a puppet is certainly incredibly dangerous. It has to be one of the more frustrating skills to go up against as well. Albafica was a really good match-up for the heroes because of his poisons. Otherwise this could have been a really tough fighter to bring down.

Cat Sith was a reasonably strong Specter. While he may not stand out as much as some of the other high ranking fighters, he got his own fight against Tenma which automatically means he got more of a role than most. I would have liked to have seen more out of him but he had a good design and was a solid fighter so in the end I can’t ask for much more than that. He can be rather subservient to Pandora out of fear at times but seeing as how Pandora brutally beats and murders her opponents you can see how that would happen.

Rhadamanthys is another one of the Judges to fight and he does really well. He reminds me of Bennu with his absolute confidence and dark element attacks. I would give the other guy the edge but Rhadamanthys is close and certainly not someone to scoff at. When he enters the arena, the whole dynamic changes. He is that one guy that absolutely nobody wants to face off against. His battle with Scorpio was a lot of fun. I’m not crazy about his whole servitude angle later on though. He allows Pandora to completely humiliate him because he says that doing anything else would be traitorous but there’s limits to this.

I felt bad for his subordinate Valentine who was trying to stand up for his honor. You can’t stand up for someone who refuses to defend themself though. To an extent it will end up being futile and that’s exactly what happens here. He gets credit for not backing down though. Additionally, this was how we got Pandora’s biggest fight in the series so that was a blast.

Then you have Unity but he’s a villain that I don’t like. One of those petty villains with a short sighted goal that won’t make anybody happy. Sure, he is powerful but that’s not enough to make him a really solid villain. At least that was definitely not the case for me. He’s more interesting because of the mini arc he’s in and how this all relates to Poseidon but that’s all I can say for him.

Veronica is one of the more twisted specters from the Underworld and she really doesn’t mind using any underhanded tricks to get the upper hand. As a villain with no honor code, you can bet that I wasn’t much of a fan of hers. I much prefer villains who just get out into the open and start landing attacks. That’s the best way and if you can’t win like that then you just take the loss.

Violate is the first big villain to arrive during the boat arc and she’s a fun specter. She is one of the highest ranking members and can really fight quite savagely. Her battle with Leo was excellent and she remained a loyal ally to Aiacos right through to the end. Aiacos liked to talk about bonds and even he had to recognize hers by the end. The two of them had a good dynamic going. Not enough where you were rooting for them over the heroes or anything like that but it was nice to see. Both of these villains were memorable and helped make the boat arc a complete success.

Sphinx is one of those villains who tries to act fair and just but naturally there is a plot twist about him cheating. A villain like that definitely takes a big hit with me because I tend to like my villains to have a bit more honor. If you’re going to cheat then do it boldly and right in front of the heroes to show that you mean business. Don’t slink around or anything like that.

Gemini Aspros is one of the villains who shows up near the end and he’s definitely an intense fighter to have to go up against. His abilities are impressive. The guy ultimately couldn’t defeat his own inner ambitions which means that his willpower is rather weak but at the end of the day he had a decent character arc. Too bad he just couldn’t be stronger a little sooner. That could have turned the whole war upside down.

Mephistopheles is another boss to show up at the end and he almost feels like he’s from a completely different series. Hie design just doesn’t really feel like a Saint Seiya character, perhaps it is because of the costume he uses. He does not wear a Saint’s armor or anything like that. I remember being really surprised when he showed up. I didn’t like the guy though. I know they’re going for the big troll who’s the mastermind behind everything angle but I just don’t think he needed to be here. I’m also confident that Hades or Tenma would have quickly crushed him if the guy wasn’t always running around.

Partita also shows up as another twisted fighter to face off against Tenma. Sure, she does have a super convoluted plot about why she is acting this way but honestly it didn’t help her case for me. She really put Tenma through a ton of grief and pain both physical and mental. There was no excuse ready for this. While she is still a lot better than Mephistopheles, I was not able to like her by the end. I just see Partita as a full villain all the way.

Thanatos and Hypnos certainly get their time to shine as well. As always those two look quite powerful here. As lesser gods, they still have more power than any of the Judges and even more than a standard Gold Saint. Fighting them always proves to be quite the hassle. It’s impressive that Hades got them on the payroll considering you’d think that they would want to do their own thing. I mean, to an extent they do manipulate him regardless but in their own way they think they’re being really loyal.

So yeah there’s a lot to like here and it’s really a terrific cast of characters. At worst you may just get annoyed seeing Tenma and the Bronze Saints lose so often. It does make sense with how the Bronze Saints are supposed to be the weakest though. In a way the power levels make more sense here as a result. Aside from Tenma who is able to shatter his limits by the end, each rank is accurate. A Silver Saint can never beat a Gold Saint and a Bronze can never beat a Silver. That’s just the way that it is and whoever evaluates the power within Athena’s circles is better at his job here.

In general I do think the power levels are really solid here as well. The Gold Saints are far more powerful than any ordinary Specter (They seem to be the equivalent of a high bronze or low silver) but the 3 Generals are each as strong as a Gold Saint if not a bit stronger. Than the 2 gods are more powerful than any Gold Saint so you need 2-3 to take them on. Naturally at the top, Hades is even more powerful. It’s a very straight forward power level system which allows for a bit of flexibility for some fighters who keep on getting stronger. Tenma of the heroes and Bennu of the villains are strong examples of this. They continue to rise up the ranks as the series progresses until they are near the very top.

So lets talk a bit about Alone’s goal now. It’s a very classic goal you see a lot of villains have nowadays. Basically he thinks this endless cycle of violence and knights destroying each other needs to end. So his goal is to destroy everyone completely to the point where they are taken out of this cycle. It’s the classic “Death is Peace” kind of argument that the villains like to throw around. Now, this is usually one of those pretty insane ramblings that you ignore but in the context of the Saint Seiya world it’s a little interesting. I go more into depth on this later on in the review but basically when you die you get tormented for all of eternity in most cases. If you are a hero then you are absolutely doomed and if you were an evil villain then you might get some peace. This is because the villains own the world after death.

So Alone knows first hand that there is no peace. If he can successfully dismantle this system, then perhaps everyone could finally rest. Since the Underworld is tangible, he could try destroying that but he needs to destroy everything at once. I don’t recall if he gave a specific reason why he couldn’t just destroy the Underworld first. I think this goes back into his being a villain. He wants everyone to be absolutely dead so if he destroys the Underworld first then Athena’s forces could wipe him out. So he has to take out both sides to end the conflict. Still a villainous goal of course but I would have loved to have seen Athena or one of the heroes figure out a way to take out the Underworld for good. If you ensure that death is permanent without destroying anyone, then that seems like a fair compromise. You still get to live your life as well as possible and don’t have to worry about the villains messing with you after death. Because as this series shows repeatedly, they absolutely don’t mind doing so.

Even though the arcs are all related to the big war, I’ll quickly break down some of what I would consider to be the mini arcs. First you have the trip to Italy which does not go well as Tenma is murdered and Alone takes everyone out. It was the first big loss for the Gold Saints and the various fighters all around. It was a good way to establish Alone as a true threat though. It’s so short that even calling it a mini arc may be generous but either way it made for a good time. It’s what really kicks off the war since we have our first casualties.

After that you have the mini arc where Tenma needed to be resurrected. He really got to experience the Underworld very quickly didn’t he? It’s a good adventure here and we meet the next Specter known as Fedor who was reasonably tough. Granted, he was fighting some of the weaker fighters there but it still made for a good entrance fight as the heroes went deeper into the Underworld to complete their quest. While not as over the top exciting as the future arcs, we were still slowly building things up so it made sense.

Now the next event was what really marked the turning point for Lost Canvas as an elite title. Hades sends the first judge over to take down Athena so Minos shows up along with a bunch of minions. The first battle is against Albafica, the first Gold Saint. Technically his temple isn’t the first one but he went down early to prevent them from going any further. The battle is epic and lots of nonstop action. It’s why I can’t state enough how endless the battles are here. It really is a big part of what makes the series so fun. You’re never done with the action and it’s a very dramatic arc as well as the fight comes down to the wire. Really an all star fight.

After that, we get the big fight with Bennu and Aldebaran as the next big battle. This was a sizable encounter which was the next really cool fight. It was the first full showing that Bennu was not just some mindless Specter like most of the others who craved battle above all else. No, he actually had drive and determination which made the fight even better. It was a really good way to also raise the stakes right away.

From there we had the fun meetup where Hades attacked the palace and he has his big meetup with Alone. Lots of cool things happen there and Aldebaran even gets to fight some more challengers later on but the next big event was the forest of illusions. It’s always a classic plot to have the lead have to confront the memories of his dead friends. In this case it’s particularly disturbing for the characters because the villains rule the Underworld. So here’s the dark twist in the Saint Seiya verse. When you die, you go to the underworld. There is no other place, your soul is sent down there for Hades to mess with.

If you’re really lucky, then you go to Elysium which is a fairly nice place, but again it is still under the rule of Hades. So if you were helpful to the heroes or did anything that attracted his attention, then you’re basically doomed. I thought this was a really sad moment even more so than usual because that means the heroes have no hope in this verse. When you die, the villains capture you. There’s no way to live forever so your only hope is for your opponent to have a soul destroying attack so that you are obliterated from reality. I feel like the heroes should have a realm of the dead so that they can save the innocents. Since they don’t, I’d say the responsibility falls on Athena since she should have wiped Hades and the Underworld out long ago. So this arc really gives you a lot to think about. This concept is revisited near the end of the series to really confirm this and how hopeless the whole situation is.

After some more battles the heroes would launch their next big offensive on Hades’ castle. Of course the tough part there is that it weakens all Saints so the pope decided to go on his own to lower those defenses first. A pretty risky move for sure and I feel like they should have just all attacked. I get that they’d be weakened but surely the odds are better than just the Pope going right? At least it was the best display he’s ever had as the guy took on tons of opponents. Now that was super impressive and he lived up to the hype. The siege doesn’t last very long though as the heroes were out of their depth again. This is certainly one war where the heroes don’t win every battle.

We then split to two different plots. In one of them, Tenma gets trained by the Gemini Saint while in the other one the two Gold Saints Degel and Kardia head over to Poseidon’s area to see if they can get some help or at least a weapon with which to fight Hades. I thought this was a good idea, why not try to make an alliance at this point right? Naturally Hades sent his own men there to cause some trouble so it wouldn’t be as easy as all of that. Poseidon’s an interesting wild card so it makes sense that each side is super interested. The way it plays out is also interesting. I would say it doesn’t make Poseidon look great but the whole reincarnation angle makes things tough for everyone in these things.

After that is the big boat arc where the heroes have to construct the boat so that they can reach Hades and the Lost Canvas. Of course that means that the villains want to get over there and stop them by any means necessary. This makes for a really solid arc with lots of battles and of course Hades steps in himself. That guy absolutely does not mind entering battles on the front lines, he seems to rather enjoy doing so if anything. I think that’s part of what gives the villains an edge in this series, having your leader fight alongside you is a big moral boost.

Finally that leads to another invasion of Hades’ castle but this time it’s the final one. The series isn’t afraid to add in a bunch of new elements at the very end of the series though. Were you wondering about Tenma’s parents? No? Well that makes sense since we saw Tenma at the orphanage but it turns out that he did have parents and they were both incredibly powerful fighters back in the day who are now on the side of evil. I thought this was super random personally but hey, it means we get more fight scenes which is always a plus. Naturally the climax is really crazy with a ton of action at all times which is good. That’s how you want to end the series.

The series really has a 7 Samurai kind of feel to it. One by one the Gold Saints continue to be bumped off during the war so you know that even if the heroes win, it will be at a huge cost. These wars certainly go all out every 200 years and you can also see why the characters would be utterly sick of them by this point. Most of the players change and yet they know about the history really well. For characters like Athena and Hades, it must feel repetitive even if they think each time will be the last one.

One thing I also liked about the war here is that it feels more like a war than in the classic version. What I mean by that is you have battles going on at different fronts with Athena and Alone (Acting as Hades) making moves directly. For example, at one point Alone is tired of waiting so he breaks into Athena’s domain on his own to fight against the Gold Saints and take her down. Later on you also have Athena taking the fight to him. Since Athena isn’t just kidnapped for the whole arc this time, it makes the war a little more strategic as they both have to make their moves to take the other out while protecting their domains. Also, seeing Hades actually confront the Gold Saints and bend them to his power helped to establish him as a big threat here.

So finally, why does this one beat the original Saint Seiya. Well, lets look at this area by area. Lost Canvas easily wins in terms of artwork, I don’t think many would debate that. There’s a world of difference between the two series. The OG has better Bronze Saints and I would say Seiya beats Tenma as a main character. This series has better Gold Saints who aren’t constantly betraying Athena and the heroes. The villains are also better in this one although it’s close. As a whole the Lost Canvass wins in the character cast.

I’d also say the plot is more engaging. With a war going on throughout the whole series, there is no time for breaks. While the original also had a lot of nonstop battles, this one took it to the next level. There are a ton of twists and turns around every corner too which keeps you off balance. Now, not every plot twist needs to be here to be honest like Mephistopheles and his whole plan. (His final twist was really good though) Others were a blast though like one that plays out like Aizen’s big plan from Bleach. Lets just say that there was more than one puppet master running around in the shadows. Finally, I’d say that this one was able to take the hype to the next level. It was able to do everything the original did in the Hades arc and then some. The first series had 3 gods fighting it out in the final arc, this one had close to 10. The characters had to keep on surpassing their limits because of how powerful the villains are. We had several factions by the end so it was hard to predict exactly what would happen.

Hades’ army also just looks more impressive. In the original they had the help of many Gold Saints and still couldn’t do much. Here they had many more powerful fighters which helped to make this an even war. I’d also say the massive upgrades to Athena, Pandora, and Alone help to put this ahead too. So, Lost Canvas just wins in more areas than it doesn’t. This is still a pretty close battle, I would say they’re absolutely still in the same league and everything. I would just have to lean towards The Lost Canvas for the win here and with the plot being a lot more dynamic and less formulaic, it also has more replay value as an added bonus.

Overall, Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas is a spectacular title. Athena and Alone/Hades were big improvements in this version and I was also glad to see Pandora get a big role. Just look at the picture I put right above this paragraph. Could you have imagined Athena fighting on the front lines with the others before now? It’s really got top tier action at all points and the character roster is very solid. The art is excellent as well. You can’t go wrong with this one and you’ll be blasting through it at high speeds from start to finish. It sets a high bar for the other Saint Seiya spinoffs and I don’t think they will be able to match up but I look forward to seeing the attempt. Whether you read this after the original series or before it, you’ll really have a great time here. It’s no wonder that this Holy War is referenced a lot because it ended up being extremely important and this is really the peak of Saint Seiya.

Overall 9/10

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note Review

It’s time for the next installment in the Fate franchise. While Zero may not have ended up hitting it out of the park for me, it set up a pretty solid framework with the Grail War and this title takes place after that. While you never really think that El-Melloi will be entering a Grail War since that would really end up being a completely different kind of series, it has enough connections to the main adventures to stay hype. Throw in some fun mysteries and this ended up being a great ride.

The series starts off with an episode 0 which is easily the weakest episode in the series so you may as well start with 1 tbh. It sets up the world to those unfamiliar with Fate. Magic is something that most people live with and manipulate nowadays. Those of the Clock Tower are especially familiar with magic as they tend to train the most skilled mages. The main character here is Waver although he has now taken on the title of El-Melloi II in part because he is being blackmailed by Reines but also in part to prove that he can handle the job as the previous El Melloi died during the Holy Grail War. With his loyal friend Gray at his side, Waver teaches classes of promising students in the ways of magic. Waver also hopes to enter the next Holy Grail War so that he can see Iskandar one more time and get some closure for being one of the only survivors of the whole event.

It’s hard to even call this the full premise of the show because there’s a lot to unpack but what you mainly need to focus on is that this is a case by case series. Waver will always be thrown into some kind of magical mystery and has to solve it fast before the various magical departments start to make a mess of things. There is always a whole lot of infighting among the different magical groups and in a world where any of them can curse you in an instant, you have to tread carefully. I wouldn’t say Waver is always super diplomatic but he tries to at least keep up the appearance of being calm and collected.

So in episode 0 a cat ends up dying and it turns out that this was to lay a lethal curse on Waver. He has to quickly team up with his two students Flat and Svin as well as Gray to track the culprit down before it’s too late. Unfortunately as in Fate/Zero Waver is still very weak and did not have enough ability to save the cat. The cat is able to help to an extent thanks to Gray being able to sense its presence so they track down the culprit but starting your show off with an animal dying like that’s a pretty bad idea. As I said, you should probably just skip episode 0. Fortunately the rest of the series was strong enough to get things back on track.

Right from the start it’s also fair to say that you can feel the high production values here. The animation is really great. There’s a lot of detail in every scene and the colors are always striking. It’s definitely got the same kind of style as the main Fate titles and we also do get some fight scenes which go all out. Now, I wouldn’t quite put them on par with the bigger fights that Fate has to offer but it’s makes for a satisfying watch all the same. The battles have a lot of weight to them even if there aren’t a lot of them.

The soundtrack is also master class here. You have a lot of great tunes which have the same level of drama as Fate/Zero. I also liked the opening here quite a bit. It’s not really an action packed one or anything but works well for the mysteries with how ominous it is. Usually the music will start playing after some kind of dramatic statement and the opening starts so this is styled well. There was no expense spared in this title’s production, that’s for sure.

As for the main cast, they’re solid. Waver is much better than he was in the Fate/Zero days so I was glad to see that. This is the kind of improvement that helps a character go a long way. It would be nice if he could fight more but he has helped to bridge this gap with the knowledge that he has acquired. He knows enough to be a teacher after all and his theories/knowledge allow him to crack the many cases here. He’s like a Sherlock Holmes of the magical world. I imagine that the magical setting here makes it a little easier for the writers since you can keep on adding new concepts though.

Waver rarely shows any fear or anything like that and is perceptive. He’s just a strong all around lead and also knows when to back off and just let Gray do the fighting. It would be nice to see him enter the Grail War but ultimately you can’t fault him if he wants to back out as well since there would be a lot to lose and not a whole lot to gain at this point. For the most part there are rarely casualties in the Grail War outside of the combatants so he should be safe in that case. Even if his title is temporary, Waver has also crafted a whole new life now so why throw it all away?

As for Gray, she’s still a bit of a mystery. We still don’t know the full story behind her. She looks like Saber and is said to always be close to death which came in handy during episode 0. She seems to be a type of Pseudo servant like Mash from Grand Order although she isn’t amped up with technology or anything like that. Instead she carries around a talking cube who seems to be a personality that she created to nerf her abilities. When she has to go all out a Sword Art Online type voice rings out saying that the false personality has been disengaged and then she is able to fight harder.

I don’t know exactly where that’s going but she makes for a very intriguing character. I’m also glad that there is at least one big fighter on the hero side since it inevitably means that we can have some strong villains as well. Her big fights against Faker are some of the highlights of the show after all. Gray’s a very earnest character as well who always feels out of time but takes everything in stride. It’s like seeing a What If for a servant who sticks around after the Grail War to help in everyday life. She could crush almost every character in the cast but doesn’t have to fight like that too often. In a way Waver has a top notch bodyguard at all times though.

Reines makes for a fun heroine and a good troll character throughout the show. As mentioned, she really forced Waver into this. While she claims that she wasn’t going to murder him, it certainly seemed like that at different points in the flashback so I can see why he was getting nervous. Now she mainly teases him while helping out from the background. She’s often a lot more helpful than she lets on. She has the ability to detect magic with her eyes which is handy at first glance but there are so many downsides that I would not want to have it.

One such downside is that she gets intense pain spasms if the magical energy is too high. Considering that this is the case for all strong fighters, it gets to her quite a few times. She always has a cheerful disposition though and has some solid banter with the other elites at the Clock Tower. Reines can hold her own and once she is of age and gets the title formally, I’m sure she will do a great job. The anime has a lot of solid banter between many characters and she is certainly consistent in this.

Flat is one of Waver’s students and while he isn’t bad, he can be a bit boring. He’s a very by the books kind of kid who does well in class and takes everything seriously. As a result he’s seen as more responsible and does well but just doesn’t have much in the way of personality. Meanwhile Svin’s the go getter who is always trying his best. I like how he keeps trying to positively “curse” Waver by calling him things like “The Powerful Waver” or “The All Knowing Waver” since we learn in the first episodes that merely using titles next to someone’s name can actually cause good or bad things to happen to them.

So it was a nice way for Svin to try and help his teacher even if there was no effect. On the other hand, he’s got a big crush on Gray that’s so intense he is usually not able to talk to her much and gives her the impression that he doesn’t like her. There’s also some kind of berserk mode within him that causes him to lash out against Gray for some reason. This isn’t something that is delved into at all so it will remain a mystery. I guess it ties into his abilities and her near death state but it’s hard to say why there’s a connection. Waver is aware of it as he forbids Svin from being near Gray. It speaks badly of Svin’s willpower though.

With the opening episode out of the way, the next adventure is more of a flashback to see how Waver became El Melloi. He ended up getting kidnapped by a mage and met his future best friend Melvin as they had to team up and take the mage down. It was tough since neither one of them really have any powers but they were able to use evil spirits to get the guy by taking advantage of the temple. There was good strategy involved and it was a fun enough episode. Not really a mystery like some of the others but it was a good one shot.

Melvin also makes for a good character. He’s someone who is always on Waver’s side and he’s rich which is always handy. At the same time, it does seem like he will prioritize “fun” over everything else so even if it means that Waver will be in danger, he’ll take the risk. So you can trust Melvin to an extent but you probably don’t want to be around him or you could be in danger. He also seems to have some kind of terminal illness which pops up now and again.

We then get another quick mystery where someone has been murdered and there are a bunch of suspects in the estate. From research partners to family members and the maid, El Melloi has to figure out the true culprit quickly or the government will probably pick someone off at random. This is the first big appearance of Hishiri who will always be a thorn in Waver’s side. See, she’s from the Department of Policies and they just want results at all times. She makes this quite clear to Waver and so “Justice” will be served whether it is just or not. Often times she is basically used as a timer so Waver has to hurry. It was an interesting case and of course it does involve a lot of spellcasting and plotting in order to get the situation just right.

Hishiri is a fun villain. While she may help the heroes at times, I would consider her to be an antagonist because she will do whatever policies says no matter what. At the same time, if Waver will save her some time then she’ll help him out. It’s not like she’s actively malicious but to me she may as well be if she’s that calm about just grabbing innocent people. There’s even one case where she intentionally hides evidence which could have gone badly. It’s very rare where she is actually very helpful.

There’s also an episode about Waver finding out what happened to his favorite tea shop which closed down due to suspicious circumstances. It’s more of a low key episode although it is one of the few times we see his students fighting. Gray also gets an action scene of her own and I’m always up for that. They rarely let her go all out but when she powers up that’s really game over for these guys.

Now we get to the first big case. So there was this mage who created a bunch of lightning but was super sloppy and died. Now the strikes are getting more and more frequent which is putting the whole estate in. Waver is called in to help and find a way to dispel this while the holy grail is dangled in front of him like a carrot. If he helps out here then it will help his chances of being in the next Grail War. This one plays out like a classic mystery with the lightning slowly taking its victims and we have to see who is really responsible. Is someone actually causing these strikes to occur or is it just an accident? Hishiri certainly doesn’t think so and already believes she knows who is causing this but Waver has to be sure.

There are a lot of suspects as always and I think it’s fair to say that nobody really believes this is just random coincidence right from the start. That would have been really hard to buy. We get some action in the second half of this and the ending is definitely an interesting one. A character makes a very dicey decision involving a portal although….I don’t necessarily disagree with it. Honestly in that situation I would say it might even be the right move. There is also a bit of a cliffhanger leading into the Zeppelin arc.

Right before that arc though we get a filler slice of life episode with Gray, Reines, and Luvia hanging out. The three of them have fun at the mall until they are warped inside of a reality marble and have to get out. The thing is, who is targeting them and how do they get out of this? Luvia is a strong fighter but Reines can’t really fight and it’s risky on if Gray should show her true powers here. It’s a fun episode though, certainly a lighthearted one with low stakes but the dialogue is strong as always. The reveal on who the culprit was is also very unexpected and works as a solid twist.

Luvia doesn’t get a huge role in the show but at least she got one big episode here. Her hand to hand skills is refreshing to see as most humans in the series don’t seem to know how to fight all that well. Personally if I lived in a magical world like this I’d want to be able to defend myself but it doesn’t seem to be the highest priority for a lot of the mages.

Finally we have the 6 part Rail Zeppelin arc. Basically the Zeppelin is a train and on it is a big auction for magical eyes. You can buy and sell them at will here. Why does Waver care? Well, his piece of Iskandar’s cloak has been stolen and it will be impossible to summon him in the upcoming grail war if he does not have that. It’s imperative that he grabs this at all costs. Meanwhile someone is naturally murdered on the train so everyone is alert. Was it infighting between Spiritual Evocation and Policies? Was it the member of the Anti-Clock Tower faction who is on the train? One of the many sorcerers here? Waver will have to find out and quickly as the murderer may also be the thief that he is looking for.

We get quite a few new characters here of course although maybe not as many as you would think. It can be a little hard to choose who you think the suspect is at times because not all of the sorcerers really get a big role here. You have Leandra who is effectively the top member of the train. She makes sure things are going smoothly but perhaps wanted to shake things up a bit. She doesn’t do a lot in this but is around the whole time. There’s even a JoJo’s type summon which is part of the train itself and helps with transactions.

There is the ticketmaster Rodin who is always very ominous. As someone who’s always been around the train you can see how it would be easy for him to make a move. I liked his design for sure, you have to take him seriously after seeing the guy. Then you have Yvette who is one of Waver’s students but also likes teasing him to no end. She’s super rich and has many resources at her disposal. Naturally it wouldn’t be hard for her to have stolen his artifact if she really wanted too. I can’t say that she was one of the better characters though. Her teasing is more excessive and not quite as fun as Reines. Additionally there’s also not much more to her character than that.

Then there’s Olga and it’s fun to see her since her role in Grand Order was so small. At the same time because of that it’s hard to say that she’s ever truly a suspect since we know her future state. She isn’t quite as powerful now of course but she has a memorable role and helps out quite a bit. Things don’t go quite as well for her butler/assistant Trisha who doesn’t last very long here. Every train murder mystery needs its victim after all and this was her role.

Finally you have Karabo who is one of the Anti Clock Tower guys. The show doesn’t get into the whole factions part much but it’s probably self explanatory. The Cloc Tower is an elite group of sorcerers and training them for the Grail War. I’m sure many oppose the group on principle. Karabo wants to get rid of his eyes for reasons which are explained later on but the whole time you wonder if it’s worth it. Aside from the fact that losing your eyes is pretty bad, it seems like they won’t even give him normal ones in exchange so he’ll be blind.

It’s a magical world though so I’m sure he can buy new ones somewhere. The downside is he’ll lose his powers. His ability is that with his future eyes he is able to see events from the past by making contact with someone and of course can see his own past. The best part of the ability is that he can bring past attacks to the present. So for example if he throws a punch and misses, he can try to get you back to that spot later and then instantly resummon his old punch at any time. It means that the longer a fight goes on, the more he will be at an advantage.

The downside though is that he can’t control the eyes really well. Imagine having a painful experience or a sad memory and it will suddenly appear in front of you at any time. That’s not very easy to deal with, especially if it happens very often. The bad experiences will keep on piling up. It’s a unique downside to an ability as you don’t often see things like that. Karabo’s a fairly nuanced character as well and I liked him.

Then you have Faker who shows up as one of Iskandar’s allies from the distant past. Having a real servant here is a blast and she immediately leaves a big impact on the series. I can say that she single handily elevated the show up a star because along with her presence meant that we got some big fights between her and Gray. The show may not be a big action most of the time but having big fights for the climax is always a very good idea and the show made the most of it. I also liked Faker as a character quite a bit. She’s serious and knows how to fight but also has an honor code and won’t just be destroying people for no reason. She gives Gray a breather at one point when the heroine is clearly not doing so well and that does a lot for a character.

An honor code is huge for a villain because it separates the ones with no vision or who just won’t work for me from the big all stars. Faker’s also clearly stronger than Gray which makes sense since a servant should always beat a pseudo one. If she went all out from the beginning then the encounter would have been brief. Since she held back we got to have several fights which were all a blast. Then you have her summoner but as the arc is a mystery I won’t say who that is. He looks good though and clearly has a lot of plans at the ready. I see him being a big threat in the adventures to come, whenever we get the big continuation. Since I liked him here I’m definitely cool with that, it’ll be nice to see what he’s got up his sleeve.

Well, that brings us to the end of the adventure. It was definitely a great ride. It’s a title where you feel like they probably skipped some stories and adventures though. It’s hard to describe but it’s the little things like a supporting character appearing in back to back cases but it seems to be a big deal that he or she has returned. Things like that, but if it means getting to the big parts sooner then I can’t turn that down.

A big part of what makes the show fun aside from the big action scenes and top notch animation/soundtrack is that the mysteries are handled well. I do like a solid mystery any day and these cases are all very sound. It’s also unique because they all use many different magical concepts within them. Half of it may be things that are made up just for Fate but the concepts are always explained so you can follow along. It means that you may rarely ever get ahead of Waver since you don’t even know the rules of engagement but the explanations are always satisfying.

A good mystery should keep you engaged throughout and the show pulls that off. The cast is also solid enough to the point where you can enjoy even just the talking scenes or the more low key moments in between cases. There are also a lot of cameos from other Fateverse characters so they’re always fun to point out. Of course I’d love to see Shirou and the gang show up at some point but I suppose they may end up stealing the show as a result if that were to happen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking this show out. The name may be a bit of a mouthful but I just think of it as the EL Melloi show and that works just as well. Really the only weak episode here is episode 0 so feel free to duck out of that one and you’re still good. Naturally if you’re a fan of Fate/Zero then you’ll have a lot of fun with this one but it also works well as a stand alone adventure. Of course there will be a lot of flashbacks to events that you didn’t get to see first hand but there’s a bunch of context thrown in as well as little clues you can figure out since Waver keeps having the same dreams and visions. Fate has certainly been able to branch out in many different ways and has done a pretty good job of this. We’ll see what the next adventure has in store for the team!

Overall 8/10

Birds of Prey Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

DC may have made some of the movies starring superheroes of all time like Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but it’s certainly made some of the worst movies starring villains with Joker and Suicide Squad. While this one is better than Joker, it’s still at a really low level and feels like it is picking up where Suicide Squad left off in a lot of the worst ways. The more we get films like this, the more I’m convinced it is definitely best to stick to films based around the heroes. Not every film can pull off a Venom where you get the lead to be a rather fun anti-hero. The first step is probably to remove Harley Quinn from the starring role though. You also have to get the memo that any film with a villain as the main characters needs to make that character effectively turn good or be an anti-hero. You can’t have the villain…stay a villain.

The movie starts with Joker dumping Harley Quinn so she’s quite upset. She gets drunk and into trouble a whole lot but this catches up to her once she tells the world that Joker no longer protects her. She barely lasts a day before she is captured and Black Mask orders her to find a jewel that Cassandra Cain stole. If she doesn’t produce this jewel then she will be destroyed. Meanwhile Renee Montoya of the cops needs to find this jewel as well. She wants to make Gotham a better place but it’s been a tough road. Meanwhile Black Mask orders Black Canary to get the jewel as well and Huntress is making an appearance here as well.

So everyone wants the jewel that’s for sure. Don’t get hyped about Cassandra Cain though. Like just about everyone else in the film, she is the character in name only. This has to be one of the biggest ruined portrayals of a character. Forget Taskmaster, Lex Luthor, and the other big names. Cain has to take the cake here. Gone is the history of her being a lethal fighter trained from childhood who would go on to be one of the strongest hand to hand fighters in the DC verse. This version of Cain is a petty thief who isn’t very smart in choosing her targets. She is even caught by the cops almost immediately which speaks to her “skill” at being a thief. I did not like Cain here. I doubt I’d have liked her much even if she had a random name since she’s an annoying kid who gets everyone into trouble but this did not help matters.

Zsasz and Black Mask are your classic gritty villains here. Black Mask has a thing where he likes to cut off people’s faces. I don’t know if this is something he does in the comics as well but it’s certainly just here to remind you that he’s evil evil. The guy is incredibly unbalanced as he throws fits and cries and everything. You’re certainly not meant to find this guy all that interesting and his death scene is certainly something. Even the mask isn’t imposing because you already can’t take this guy seriously.

Zsasz is awful but I’ve never seen him in a continuity where he was good anyway so that’s to be expected. As always he’s a lunatic who just likes making scars and being a villain. He seems like a creep in all of his scenes and definitely someone you are hoping will get bumped off early so he won’t get much more screen time. With these two as the only big villains…that wasn’t setting things off on a good note.

The color scheme could have tipped you off to that right from the jump though. Everything is all gray scaled and grim throughout the movie. I saw a western film right after this one and the first scene has more color in it than this whole adventure. The gray scale can certainly work as with Man of Steel or Batman V Superman where you had a lot of compelling dialogue and great fights to balance it out. This film has none of that though so it just serves to continue to show Gotham as a super hopeless place that you should want to leave immediately.

As for the “Heroes” here, well firs toff is Harley Quinn who is decisively not a hero. She beats up people for no real reason like the guy at the club and abuses her power. She is quick to betray Cain when it benefits her and is really someone that you can’t trust at all. She talks tough but loses quite a lot of fights. If not for Black Canary saving her at the start she would have been in a lot of trouble. The problem is that Harley Quinn is not likable or entertaining. She’s just extremely annoying in all of her scenes and ends up being a liability most of the time. You absolutely do not want her in your corner if you’re going to be facing off against a tough opponent as she’ll fail more often than not.

The film will try to have you take her seriously again later on by having her beat a bunch of random thugs but she loses too many times in this film for that to actually work. Then you have Renee who is drunk half the time. That’s not doing her any favors and you don’t see how she will be much of an asset here. She isn’t a professional fighter or anything and the drinking will definitely hold her back. Of course like everyone else she is beating tons of experienced thugs at the end but you don’t see her career lasting long unless she gets some kind of big weapon.

Huntress should have easily been the best character here but she is used as borderline comic relief half the time. Nobody takes her name seriously and they interrupt her big speeches. She does get to use her crossbow to murder a lot of people of course but always blows up with her random anger issues that the other characters poke fun at. It’s a shame since she was so good in Justice League but she is severely lacking in this film. She doesn’t even get the classic costume or anything until the literal end of the film. She’s another character that might as well not be Huntress.

The worst part about all of these adaptions is that you’re likely stuck with them for the foreseeable future. Of course a good writer can improve these characters but otherwise you’re stuck. They really need to try and put some distance with the characters from Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad. Go for a soft reboot or something and then you can try to turn this around. I can’t say I have much hopes for any sequel or spinoff of this film though. It’s hard to picture it being a winner.

For Black Canary, well the film does remember that she has sonic abilities at the end. She is so incredibly nerfed though that a single hit is enough for her to faint. So I guess we can’t expect her to be going up against any tough fighters by the end of this. She does have a decent hand to hand fight against some of the random thugs though so at least there’s that.

This film could have really used an appearance by Batman at some point. Sure he would have stolen the show but it’d be worth it. This whole thing takes place in Gotham and Harley Quinn blew up a giant chemical plant. Surely Batman should be on the case right? Even just some references of Batman taking down minions would be nice since Black Mask is so openly sending his crooks around to bump people off and kidnap the characters off the street. I know this is Gotham but a lot of nights pass by without any sightings of the Batman. They can’t be everywhere but in this case it’s literally Gotham city, he should be popping up somewhere.

I would say Gotham itself is a big problem for the film. A lot of times films like to show how depraved Gotham is and that’s where they tend to fail. For example, of course we have a scene where the villain orders a girl to strip and dance. That’s completely unnecessary and we also have Harley Quinn shown to be someone who frequents these kinds of establishments as a villain. The movie has a lot of fanservice throughout and sketchy costumes.

Birds of Prey is unrelentingly depressing most of the time. This is a harsh city where the heroes lost years ago and villains rule all over the place. It’s not to the extreme of Joker but you will have a hard time finding any really happy/fun scenes. Harley and Cain have some bonding moments but mostly that’s just Harley being a terrible role model the whole time. Someone who will act nice and talk a good game but lose in one hit or just sell you out in the next scene. It was fun to see the owner of the restaurant accept the money and leave though. In this city that seems to be the quickest way out of here.

The writing’s not particularly good and the song choices are really bad. The final song’s probably the worst one by far and had to be aired out at several moments. Yeah this film was really going for grit. The action scenes could have been worse in that respect as it didn’t try going over the top most of the time. We did have some real choreography and fight scenes which is good. The film wasn’t trying to be gritty all of the time. Usually in the moments it wasn’t, it was the characters just being annoying all the time though.

Overall, Birds of Prey is a pretty bad film. At least I’m glad they ended up ditching the long sub title later on since nobody ever used the whole title anyway. I know that point’s been beaten to death but it’s not even all that accurate with Joker having dumped Harley Quinn as opposed to it being the other way around. You can of course say that the process helped her but when you consider the fact that she would probably run right back to him if he would have her….it doesn’t help her case. Regardless, the biggest issue here is that this is a film about the villains…that forgets to make the villains likable. Harley Quinn and her constant narration does not make for a good lead. The Birds of Prey group aren’t likable yet either. Black Canary is decent and Huntress has potential but for the moment give me a random lead from any big DC character and I would probably take him or her instead. The Birds of Prey will have to work hard to improve their characters in the next film but without Harley Quinn holding them back at least they have a chance.

Overall 2/10

Hawkeye Review

Marvel continues with the next installment in the TV show division. This time it’s Hawkeye and so we’ve finally made it to one of the Core Avengers. The shows have been on an upwards trend for me so far. Wandavision<<<Cap and Winter Soldier<<<Loki<<<What If. Well, this one doesn't quite continue the trend as it loses to Loki and What If but it beats the first two shows. While it doesn't have quite the large scale stakes of some of the other shows, Hawkeye makes for a fun lead. This is more of a fun adventure next to the others and is definitely a good pick for Christmas. You can't go wrong here.

The show follows a girl named Kate Bishop who is an aspiring archer. She looks up to Hawkeye after he saved her during the 2012 attacks. Well, one day she ends up noticing that her mother Eleanor's new fiance Jack seems a bit suspicious. Kate follows him down to an auction when a bunch of thugs burst in. Kate takes the chance to steal the outfit of the Ronin which was on sale and uses it to beat up some crooks. The issue here is that the Ronin is infamous in the underworld because during the 5 year gap Hawkeye was going around murdering all of the villains in that costume. Now Kate is a wanted fugitive by the underworld.

As this involves his persona as the "Ronin", Hawkeye can't really ignore this issue. He heads into town and promises the family that he will be back in time for Christmas. That'll be tough though as the situation gets more complicated with the arrival of Black Widow and one of the biggest crime lords in town. Can Hawkeye help Kate stay out of danger or are they both in over their heads?

One thing I noticed during the show is that Hawkeye is portrayed as being much older than I remember. He didn't seem that way in Endgame but it's almost like Wolverine from X-Men Evolution where he just seems a lot slower and as if he's near the end of his career. Hopefully Hawkeye has some more moves in his arsenal since I'd like to see him around for a while. Of course as a mentor figure which the show is leading him towards, it's fine not to always be in the front lines.

Hawkeye makes for a charismatic main character. He's been around the block a few times and knows how to handle himself in a situation. It can always be a bit annoying when he's telling Kate to stay back when she is saving him though. You get why he would rather not have a kid around but he would have been finished off several times if not for her. There was a key moment when she broke into a villain lair to save him which was certainly a good moment. Hawkeye gradually lightens up by the end of the series though and learns how to have some fun.

As for Kate, she's one of the standout characters here. It's safe to say that her character was always going to be pivotal in the show because if she was unlikable or annoying then it would drag the whole story down. Fortunately she is a lot of fun though and she even reminds me of Katniss a lot. (Which the show references as well) Her outfit and appearance are extremely similar to the point where I'd assume it was the same actress if not for such a gap between now and when Hunger Games came out.

Kate can also fight which puts her well above the average aspiring hero. Now, some of her fights can get a bit cheesy yes. I had some power level issues with this show. They aren't as extensive as the ones I had with Loki but are definitely noticeable. What If had the biggest power level moments but that's to be expected with such a big cast. Kate's a loyal ally and she always has Hawkeye's back. I look forward to seeing her get another big role in season 2.

As for Jack, he's a rather solid fiancé. He's extremely suspicious throughout the show such as when he holds back his power in a fencing match but on the surface it does seem like he's doing his best to fit in with the family. You have to give him a lot of credit there and he even gets a fight by the end of the show. I liked him more than I thought that I would. Then you have Eleanor who wants to make sure and protect Kate at all costs. No matter what lines she has to cross, this ends up being Eleanor's main goal.

I thought she was a really solid character as well. Her very last scene in the whole show felt a little out of character and petty to be honest but she was really solid in every other moment. Kate could potentially end up with a really strong group of parents. Then you've got the villain group who all wear jackets. They're not nearly as intimidating as they think they are. There are really only two important members to the group. First off is Kazi who whines a lot and is always trying to pick the easiest route to success. I never really liked him. I feel like he's only confident when he completely has the upper hand. He's the kind of villain that I can picture making excuses at every corner. He's a decent fighter but takes a lot of Ls in this series. Ultimately I could do without him. He's even trying to translate for someone at the end of the series who knows and understands sign language. I was shaking my head because it seemed like Kazi was just trying to score some points.

Maya is one of the highest ranking members of the gang and she has a lot of development here. She isn’t able to hear but was still able to become a great fighter. It shows the level of talent that she has as this would definitely not be an easy feat. Sound is how you predict enemy movements and prepare for sneak attacks. Without that you’re in a much tougher spot. She can be a bit unreasonable at times though and didn’t really think the whole situation through. I think she’ll get better as she goes on but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of hers. Much better than Kazi though.

Then we have Yelena who gets to make her big return after the Black Widow film. As always she is a lot of fun here and does her best to try and make sure it isn’t personal to Kate and the others when she takes down Hawkeye. Yelena definitely trolls Kate a lot during their interactions. It’s not that Yelena doesn’t take anything seriously but she always seems to like breaking the ice first. She’s sort of like Spider-Man with how she’s joking around although it’s less on the quippy side.

While she is a lot of fun, I do think the rationale for having her fight Hawkeye felt a bit flimsy. I had a hard time believing that this would actually happen or that Yelena would be so quick to believe just anyone. Not after she has already experienced so much deceit while being one of the Black Widows. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense there. Now that the misunderstanding is cleared up, it should all be up hill for her. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know about a certain guest star. I don’t really consider this to be a spoiler as I don’t consider it to be a huge plot spoiler or something that would change your experience but even so this is a heads up. If you skip the next paragraph then you’re all good.

Towards the end of the show we even get to see Kingpin for a bit. Netflix fans will be happy since we have one of their fighters appearing in the big Marvel show. That said, while he gets a lot of hype from Hawkeye and the others, I wasn’t very impressed with him. The guy barely has any kind of plan and underestimates his opponents a lot. The amount of times he just throws Kate away instead of knocking her out is quite numerous. Now you can say he’s just trying to be nice and doesn’t want to fight a kid. That’s fair but you still feel like he should have been able to escape numerous times. He’s never been all that threatening though as any hero should be able to quickly beat him since he’s the equivalent of just being a really strong henchmen. That’s why I would have kept him in the background instead of having him appear. It was surreal to have him show up though.

So to quickly touch on the power level stuff, it happened as early as the first episode for me when Kate showed up and took down a whole gang by herself. She was flipping over minions and knocking everyone around. Considering that she never had any real practical experience before now and just the skills she was taught, it felt a bit like a stretch. Then you have Kate giving Yelena a good fight. Sure, Yelena was holding back but since it was putting her mission in jeopardy I would have liked to have seen her show a bit more urgency and take the win instead of it being so even. The difference in skill here should be massive so Yelena would be able to win without going through all of that.

Likewise on the rooftop fight, Yelena is considerably more powerful than the other 3 fighters. She should have completely knocked them for a loop and there was no reason to retreat. Just secure the victory and take them out. Yelena was the most nerfed character here and while I can see why this was done, I think it could have been smoother overall. Power levels aren’t the kind of thing that loses a show any real points but it’s still something you want to try and avoid.

The rooftop fight is the best battle in the series though. It’s cool to have two different fights going on at the same time here. All of the combatants knew how to fight as well so there was really a lot of action there. Hawkeye isn’t a show that’s filled with action scenes but the ones that we do get are all pretty good. As mentioned before, what makes Hawkeye really work is that it’s just a lot of fun. The writing is good and there is consistently solid banter throughout the show. Each episode really flies by and the pacing is good. There’s no episode that is boring and something big happens in each one. The show makes the most of its miniseries format.

For the soundtrack, the show doesn’t quite match up to some of the previous ones but we have some good tunes on occasion here as well. Whenever a Christmas song shows up that’s always a lot of fun. Season 2 won’t be able to rely on those songs though so that means the show will need to develop more themes soon. One episode had a good end credits theme but for the most part the show usually didn’t have anything too spectacular.

Meanwhile the team had a dog who was fun in his quick appearances. I’m still game for the dog never appearing again though as it’s too risky. There’s also a group of would be adventurers who help Hawkeye and Kate at times but they’re probably the cheesiest parts of the adventure so you really don’t need them here. They somehow manage to beat a few henchmen and that just shouldn’t be happening. As it is I didn’t believe it when Kate was taking everyone down and she is considerably more skilled than these guys. I think the best thing to do is to really just keep those guys out of it.

The show has an after credits scene but it’s definitely skippable. It’s one of those scenes that isn’t actually plot important nor does it contain any of the good characters. I wouldn’t even call it entertaining so just skip it and go full blast towards season 2. Of course it may be a bit of a wait before that comes out but I’m expecting good things from it once that does eventually happen. The cast here is just solid and will hold their own in a sequel.

As a final note, I liked the way that they filmed the car chase scene in one of the episodes. The way it was filmed was really unique and just helped to make the chase feel different from most car battles. We got to see how arrows can be quite useful for attacking and defending even while in the car. There are a lot you can do with trick arrows in general so I would like to see more of those in season 2 as well.

Overall, Hawkeye is another fun Marvel show. The shows have done a good job of really feeling like the movies both in tone and graphics. The special effects here wouldn’t be out of place in a future film and since all of the big characters are here, it does feel like a proper continuation of their stories. There’s a lot you can do even if the characters stay in the town and fight local threats. Especially with someone like Hawkeye who was really built for street level encounters. His whole jaded outlook towards being a hero will always be a fun contrast to Kate’s more upbeat personality. In a way it’s fitting that this review is shorter than the other Marvel shows so far because there is less to talk about. There’s no time travel, moral debates with terrorists, seeing a lead get corrupted by her own power, having a battle across realities, or anything like that. Hawkeye isn’t a show that has any tough questions or big plots to deal with. It’s really a street level adventure dealing with some mild villains. It may not leave you with a whole lot to talk about, debate, and theory craft but you’ll leave the final episode satisfied that you watched a fun adventure fold. At the end of the day, that’ll always mean that the product was a success.

Overall 7/10