4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the third installment in the Fast and the Furious film. Unfortunately this one just isn’t very good. It has a lot of fanservice and the characters aren’t particularly likable. This makes for an experience that’s more of a miss than it ever should have been. That being said, it has its strengths. I enjoyed the visuals and the music this movie had to offer. At the end of the day those factors are never going to be enough to make you a very good film in general, but I suppose it’s a good start so we take those.

The movie begins with Sean getting goaded into yet another race. He simply couldn’t let the bully go after having a rock thrown through the window and decides to mix things up with him in this race. Unfortunately, while Sean won the race he was still picked up by the cops. The bullies get away of course but Sean’s been caught one too many times. His Mom arranges for him to be bailed out and sent to his father in Tokyo. His father only has 2 main rules, go straight home, and no underground racing. That’s not Sean’s style though so he gets his new friend that he’s known for 2 hours to take him to the local scene. Sean gets demolished in this race and since he broke the car he now has to work for Han until he pays it back. Sean wants to pay him back but he also wants Neela to be with him and to do that he needs to humiliate DK in a race. Can he really surpass the Drift King?

When the film started the first thing I could think of was that this film seemed like more of a Need for Speed adaption than the actual film. Sean references racing for Pink Slips which is all that you do in the big boss levels of those games. Then we’ve got the whole Drifting focus here which is huge in Need for Speed. So those were just pretty fun things to note. Then you have the cops nabbing him right away too which is what usually goes down there. So, the racing scenes here are quite solid. I definitely have no problems with them. I suppose Drifting may be a little less exciting to watch than a straight race, but we get plenty of those here too so no matter which style you like, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. If you don’t like driving at all….then I can’t help you here.

Meanwhile the visuals are also really nice. The nighttime races in particular look good and it meshes well with the Tokyo environment. Tokyo is sort of like New York in how it’s always open and active with things going on 24/7. The most intense race was probably the 4 way free for all with the heroes trying to escape and being pursued by DK. It was nice because they were all just racing through the streets. There was no map, you had to drive on instinct. The final race on the mountain is also pretty solid though. As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to action this film couldn’t be beat.

I also enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit. It’s quite different from most soundtracks that I’ve heard. I can’t speak to the lyrics as you’re more focused on the beat. At the very least the main theme really gets you set for some hype races. It’s got a bit of an ominous feel to it where there’s danger all around. If this counts as rap, then it’s probably one of the few rap songs that I found to actually be rather good. It’s definitely not my genre in general but any genre can have a good tune if you try hard enough. This song just really set the stage every time it was played. So I think we’ve got most of the positives out of the way now. I’ll also say that I enjoyed the ending stinger. I imagine it’ll be pretty annoying for people who saw this day 1 wondering when this lead would show up again though. It does feel like this was just a little tribute for the fans but it was the perfect way to end things off.

All right, so here’s where the film falters. Lets get the obvious things out of the way. First is the obnoxious amount of fanservice here. The camera zooms in quite a bit, Sean goes to various clubs and Discos that are pretty edgy. All of his teammates seem morally dubious as well. Even Han who is the most charismatic member of the crew doesn’t actually seem like a good guy if you think about it. All of the heroes here live free and loose. By that I mean that I wouldn’t trust any of them in a serious relationship for a second much less to have your back in a fight. They would turn at the first sign of danger. The romance in the movie is also handled pretty poorly. It’s hard to see why Neela would fall for Sean after everything that goes on. I suppose getting rescued in a sense by the villain helps since people can mistake gratitude for love, but then you recall that Sean gets distracted by every girl he meets and you know this relationship can’t possibly end well.

As for Sean, he’s just not a good character. I tend to like the rebellious character type but this guy takes it way too far. You’ve always got to try and hit the right amount of edge for these characters since they should still feel like a good character in general who wants to do the right thing. You never get that feeling with Sean. As I mentioned, he ignores his father and immediately goes into underground racing. It’s not like he was pressured into it or someone was in trouble. He chose to get back into the game and didn’t care about the consequences. I already mentioned how he seems to be quite flighty and goes after girls. The guy also stood around as someone got bullied. I think the film was trying to say that he would have stepped in if the hazing was more intense. He put down the wrench once he saw they were “just” spray painting him. You could also interpret it as he saw the numbers and decided he couldn’t win.

I don’t think it matters much what reasoning you chose. It’s still horrible that he let the guy get bullied like that. Physical damage isn’t the only kind of bullying there is. Being held down and spray painted all over would be an incredibly traumatizing experience. From that point it would be extremely difficult for Sean to become a likable character and he didn’t even come close to pull it off. His best friend Twinkie is a lot better in that respect. I do think it was a bit much for him to get upset when Sean came to his rescue but otherwise he’s consistently helpful. He takes a lot of risks to help Sean as well so it’s not like he’s just giving moral support. Sean would have been in trouble without him.

DK made for an intimidating villain. The guy definitely didn’t mess around and wasn’t afraid to make the fight physical instead of waiting for the race to begin. He got some good shots on both Sean and Han prior to the races. His skills were also pretty good. He may not be a real mafia member but he had the act down. As for Neela, she was a solid heroine who definitely got herself wrapped up in the wrong crowd. I suppose she underestimated how possessive DK was based on how she was acting at the start. She can apparently drive pretty well but sadly we don’t get to see her race much at all. In general she isn’t given a ton to do here but I liked her character. She had a lot of depth going for her and by default destroys most of the cast in that respect. The film doesn’t go overboard in explaining her backstory either. You understand the crux of it with the context we get.

Then you have Han who really just wants to mess everyone up. He’s fairly laid back, always eating snacks and such. The guy doesn’t really fear anything and stays smug even when he is being beaten up. You have to respect that level of dedication. He was a highlight from the start just with how he would stand up to DK and got Sean into the race. He gives the film a sense of humor as well. Again, when you think about it he’s not a great guy or anything but since he’s on Sean’s side I suppose you see him in more of a positive light than you would for the others. He’s certainly not malicious the way someone like DK is. To Han this is all just a game.

Overall, Tokyo Drift definitely takes the series in a different direction. It’s not even a bad one to be honest, the execution just wasn’t on point. I liked Tokyo as a backdrop, it’s always pretty interesting to see a different locale like that. It must be incredibly hard to transfer to a high school there when you don’t know any Japanese. That’s one area where I can understand why Sean was having such a tough time even though he didn’t exactly try very hard anyway. There are other interesting background elements as well like Sean’s father who seems like he may have had a racing background. He doesn’t get a lot of development here but has one pivotal moment with a gun that I thought was executed really well. I also like the idea of focusing the film around Drifting since it’s something unique. So many good ideas and opportunities but the film just kept on taking the worst choices and limiting its potential. I’d like to see these characters come back some day though and give this another shot. If you really love racing films then it may be worth checking out but otherwise there are certainly better ones out there.

Overall 4/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce Review


It’s time to look at a Dynasty Warriors spinoff. The concept behind this is pretty interesting. What if you took the usual Dynasty Warriors setting and then added a bunch of supernatural elements to it. I’m talking full dragons, super forms flight, energy blasts, etc. It’s definitely going in a different direction here. You’ve also got a few different crossover missions you can tackle and even a whole new section after the credits. Unfortunately a game is only as good as its gameplay and that’s where this one faltered. It was ultimately unable to live up to its true potential.

The story follows the same plot as the rest of the Dynasty Warrior games. You are tasked with uniting the kingdom under your rule using whatever tactics you need too in order to do this. I went with the classic Team Wu of course since those guys are always pretty neat. From there you’re off to the races. The game has 5 main chapters which each tend to have around 7-10 levels in them. After the credits you unlock a 6th chapter which which I would assume probably has another 5-7 levels in it but hard to say. Looks like you need to beat at least some of the request levels before you can tackle the story one. Not sure I’m a fan of that concept but it applies to the other chapters as well so the game is consistent.

As mentioned, my main gripe here is with the gameplay. Gone are the classic beat em up controls where you would go around and take down whole armies. This one plays out more like a mobile title as you have to take down enemies in small locations. Once you beat all of the enemies in one square then you can go into another room. Mind you, you don’t have to always beat everyone in the room. It depends on the mission and sometimes you can bypass rooms all together. I’m not sure if this would be a different genre or still just called your usual beat em up. There’s a lot more platforming in this game to be sure though as you have to jump around a lot and dodge the water. No swimming in this game.

The enemies are all pretty difficult including the minions. They’ll readily interrupt any kind of combo you try to use. The minions in level 1 have a higher A.I. than the minions in the final levels of the main games. So that’s pretty impressive but when you couple it with how unrefined the gameplay is then what you get is a scenario where you’re never actually able to cut loose. Everything you try to do is interrupted by the opponent without missing a beat. It makes the combat not very satisfying at all. You don’t even have a parry system or anything like that to stop them. You just have to eat the damage or waste a super. Unlike the main games the minions will never drop items either so restoring health just isn’t done unless you can find the rare vases scattered around.

In the end I had to resort to some cheese tactics. I bought the best bow money could buy and loaded it up with poison orbs. Poison deals a percentage of the opponent’s health which is incredibly helpful for bosses since it effectively bypasses health. It’s also good for staying afar since going up close is just asking to be completely wrecked. I was able to buy a bow with 268 attack power at the end and that was able to get me through the end. I did need to stock up on 30 potions and 10 Max Ether type items in order to do it though. You’ll be going to the shop quite a lot to make it through.

Strikeforce has a full hub world which is different from the others as well. You are able to manage a bunch of shops in the city and you level them up after waiting a while. Time passes in the game whenever you finish a level so the quickest way to get time to go by is to start a level and immediately surrender. Rinse and repeat as you watch the levels go up. Once a level is maxed out you have to use some items to upgrade the store further. Try to have the stores to at least level 3 so you can get some good items to buy. For the weapon shop, the higher level you can get it the better. I think you can’t get the 268 bow until it’s at level 4 so keep that in mind. There’s a lot to watch out for.

If you opt to fight with a sword instead of cheesing through with an arrow then just know that you’re going to need a lot of level ups. Earning levels isn’t the easiest thing in the world but by the end of the game I was nearly at level 50 which is the max so I guess it wasn’t so bad. The first level is the easiest one to grind. Just make sure you defeat 1000 enemies there and then clear the level. If you do it on hard mode then you’ll get 1000 EXP each time you do it. Not a bad deal right? Still, I can’t really picture beating some of these guys using a sword. In particular the various dragons and monsters you fight seem like they’d be a nightmare or the levels where you have 4 bosses running at you at once. Divide and conquer is always your absolute best strategy as long as you have some items with you.

The graphics are pretty good although they’re definitely a cut under the main games. It also feels a bit lazy at times because they actually reuse animations from the older Dynasty Warrior game for the cutscenes. They actually play the same cutscene after each chapter except for the final one where we get a new one but no voice acting from the characters. For that you have to wait until the after credits scene which is admittedly pretty hype. Now that’s a good way to really get the blood pumping I’d say. The soundtrack is pretty good. Maybe not too memorable but it gets the job done.

In terms of content this game will last you a while. The story mode took me around 10 hours and I didn’t do the extra chapter at the end. Trying to beat that game should add quite a bit more time into the playthrough and same for maxing out all of the shops. Achieving 100% completion status in this game definitely would not be very easy. Still, that means it’ll be around for a while at least and the going rate is pretty low. I’m confident they would be able to improve upon this one quite a lot if we ever got a sequel.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce is definitely one of the weaker ones in the series. It really takes out a lot of the positive elements from the series. It’s a spinoff though so I suppose that’s the best place to test out these new gimmicks. They didn’t work out but this was the right way to do it as opposed to risking it on a main installment. If you want to see a very different kind of Warriors game then it may be worth a shot. The gameplay just isn’t all that fun to me which is unfortunate as a beat em up but it can be satisfying to finally get the feel of the bow and start launching some counter offensives of your own. I also like the whole superhero aspect they went for here with all the powers being thrown around.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Deku & Bakugo: Rising Review


It’s time to take a look at a quick manga prequel to the recent My Hero Academia movie. It’s two chapters long and each one’s about 15 pages so it’s like 1 monthly chapter. It’s a fun little story about Deku & Bakugo going after their first ever villain. It underscores why you should be able to use your powers if you need too. The series isn’t totally explicit on how this works but I assume you are allowed to use your abilities in self defense. If that’s the case then we’re good although I am glad to see Bakugo just charge in anyway.

The basic premise is that Bakugo and the bullies are walking around town and having a good time. Deku shows up reading one of his superhero magazines so they pick on him for a bit. Bakugo is surprisingly the nicest one of the group as he gives Deku the magazine back. That’s when a cloud villain shows up and tries to flee the scene. Bakugo realizes that this is a good chance for him to finally be a hero and get into UA so he gives chase. Deku is worried about Bakugo because he has figured out that there is more to the villain than the cloud abilities. The only trouble is, how can he gives Bakugo a heads up about this?

Since this is a prequel and we know that the two still don’t get along at the start of the series this one naturally ends with the rift continuing to grow. Bakugo is pretty upset that Deku was able to figure things out so quickly while Deku is impressed that Bakugo was ultimately able to figure it out as well. It’s a fun dynamic between them and one that has been solid since the start of the show. You can definitely point out that their dynamic isn’t nearly as friendly or healthy as other rivals but the sheet animosity from Bakugo to Deku makes it pretty unique.

As far as one shot stories go this one was also pretty good. We got a little fight scene and the art was pretty solid. The plot twist about the guy’s powers was pretty neat although I do feel like they should have figured it out a little sooner. The sheer difference in element is pretty big so it’s something that you should be able to determine both visually or physically. That’s just how it goes I though I suppose. They were still kids when this happened. We also got to see a pro show up which was pretty neat. We don’t usually get to see a lot of the more obscure pros engage in a fight so when that happens it’s pretty neat.

This one incorporates the villains from the movie for a quick page at the end but this definitely isn’t their story. It’s really about connecting more details from Deku and Bakugo’s past. It accomplishes this goal rather well. The artist does a good job of making this feel like it could have been a chapter from the main series and the writing is on point. You’ll definitely read through this adventure in a breeze.

Overall, Deku & Bakugo Rising is definitely worth checking out. If you’re able to then you should read it before watching the movie. It’s always nice to have a little more context on the manga. Hopefully Viz puts this story at the back of an upcoming My Hero volume or something. I always think it’s a shame to lose these stories to the remnants of time. Every one shot should get put into physical form at some point. I’m definitely up for more My Hero Stories. I’ll be starting the My Hero Team Ups soon so that’ll be a good way to get some more My Hero action. There’s certainly a lot of different team combinations the series can try out.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy Deluxe Edition Review


It’s been a while but I finally managed to get a hold of the spinoff which concludes the Professor Layton series. Someday I hope we still get another Layton game though since I don’t want the franchise to end. It’s pretty interesting to be playing as a different character for once. The developers did a good job of making sure that this one also feels very different next to the main games with new mechanics and such. Ultimately the changes aren’t enough to help this game match up to the earlier ones but I did end up liking Katrielle well enough. She isn’t afraid to talk back to the other characters more than the polite Professor Layton would.

This game has more of an episodic plot compared to the main Layton games which had a core story. Still, there is an overarching plot in the background. Katrielle is the head of the Layton Detective Agency although not too many people know about her yet. She has a dedicated assistant named Ernest who is always ready to attend to her every whim. One day she bumps into a dog that she nicknames Sherl. Sherl isn’t pleased about this since he doesn’t think it’s a name for a guy, but Katrielle can’t be bothered with this. She also isn’t particularly impressed with the fact that he can talk. She’ll solve his case at some point but she’s more interested in helping the community with their issues as well as trying to find Layton who vanished many years ago. As Layton’s daughter, Katrielle has dedicated her life to finding him. She’ll have to put that on hold though as she solves various crimes fro theft to murder. Will Katrielle ultimately build an even bigger reputation than Professor Layton?

As with the rest of the series the main gameplay revolves around puzzles. As you go through the campaign the characters will often have various puzzles to challenge you with. There is a lot of variety with the missions as some will be solving a maze, math problems, logic questions, etc. It’s always a pretty fun way to test your mettle. There are well over 100 puzzles but to clear the game you only need to clear around 67. That leaves a lot of room for replay value after you complete the game. You are bale to warp between the various cases and the game even tells you exactly how many puzzles and hint coins are left in each section. I appreciate how thorough the game is in its reporting.

There is one thing that holds this game back compared to the other Layton titles aside from the story though. That’s the puzzles themselves. The movements in the puzzles ask you to be way too specific at times. That’s my main issue, the very first puzzle took me a while to complete as it is. I think they needed to allow for a bit more movements here. I think it may have been something about the transition from 3DS to Switch I imagine. The puzzles occasionally have an issue like that but for the most part the rest are all solid so I would hardly call this a big issue or anything like that.

Katrielle’s mission to find her father is probably the most engaging part of the story so the whole time you’ll be waiting for that to come back. It ties into the ending pretty well with a rather massive twist. It definitely makes you double think everything that has happened previously. If you’ve played River City Girls then you’ll understand the effect. She’s definitely a solid lead even if it feels like she may be taking advantage of Ernest quite a bit. They’re really close friends but she certainly must realize that Ernest doesn’t quite see it that way. I imagine that plot will likely move a bit if we ever get a sequel.

As for the talking dog Sherl, I’m not totally sure how that’ll work out. My personal theory is still that he is Layton because that would be pretty cool. His personality will certainly have changed quite a bit but memory loss will do that to you. Meanwhile Ernest is a solid side character. He’s a little older than Luke so you can take him a little more seriously but puzzles definitely isn’t quite his thing. He’s more helpful to Katrielle in daily tasks and such than with his puzzle skills. Another supporting character is Inspector Hastings who is pretty solid. You do feel like he should have more confidence in Katrielle after a while though since she’s always saving his career and reputation. Without her he would be quite doomed.

The various cases are pretty fun. In general the rest of the supporting cast is a bit on the weak side but since the core characters are good that’s the important thing for the cast. Meanwhile the graphics are definitely really good. I was glad to see the full anime cutscenes make a return here. Level 5 has been very consistent with including those. It always helps to give the game a bit more of a cinematic feel to it and I’m always going to give this kind of thing a thumbs up. The soundtrack has some new tunes and some returning ones. The music is pretty fitting with the game’s setting and keeps things rather peaceful.

The main campaign should take you around 15 hours or so and I think you could probably add another 6-7 in order to complete everything in the game. There’s definitely a lot of content here. Even outside the puzzles and main story experience you have a ton of different minigames. I didn’t really try them out but there are many options. I think there are more in this game than in any of the others which is pretty impressive. Every bit adds up after all.

Overall, This Mystery Journey makes for a pretty solid adventure. The title is a bit surprising since it gives you information on a plot point that you don’t otherwise learn about (or even hinted at) until the final chapter. I suppose it’s always good to have some foreshadowing though. At the end of the day this is a pretty pleasant story with solid characters and good gameplay. I’m not usually much of a fan of puzzles in games but I’ve found that games built around the premise tend to be better. You can’t even compare something like the Layton adventures to Flip’s Twisted World. Now all we need is a Katrielle and Professor Layton crossover and we’ll be set. If you haven’t gotten this game yet then you should definitely check it out.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Sword Art Online Progressive Review


It’s time to take a look at one of the more well known Sword Art Online spinoffs. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Progressive over the years and how it brought the series back to its peak. Being back in Aincrad from Arc 1 was definitely pretty cool since I did think that those had the best stories. Unfortunately the manga takes the easy out of adding in a bunch of fanservice during the second half of the series which does ultimately hold this title back. It’s a shame since it had started out pretty well. Apparently the manga adds quite a bit and changes the story/personalities as well so it’ll be interesting to see how the novels stack up. That said, if you’re a mega SAO fan then you’ll probably still want to check this one out.

Mainly this series is adapting Arc 1 all over again but doing it very slowly. The castle has 100 floors and the only way to beat the game is to clear them all. Naturally in the main series they weren’t quite able to go through all of the floors so the goal of this manga is to show them to us one by one. As a result, after the 7 volumes of this series the heroes are still only up to volume 3. That’s a pretty good amount of pacing I’d say. We’ll see if they can continue to use up so much time. It’s fun though and helps make the series more about the fantasy setting and slice of life aspects. We still get fights of course, but Progressive is more about the character interactions.

We see Kirito start out as the loner he always was with Asuna being a bit of a newbie to the game world. Gradually she grows more experienced and he learns what it is like to be in a team. It makes for a pretty good dynamic between the two of them. We see them train up and gradually improve their abilities. While there isn’t much of an ongoing plot for the most part, the final 3 volumes give us a mini arc of sorts that was completely not in the original story. It’s a quest arc. Basically Kirito and Asuna run into a group of elves who are duking it out. They are given the option of joining either the light or dark factions. Kirito lets Asuna pick and she decides to help the Dark Elves. They help the leader (Kizmel) take down her opponent.

The full quest is a bit on the longer side. They have to help her deliver a key, find the traitor and take down the opposing army. The tricky thing is that some other players have taken the light side and of course if they die in the game they die in real life. This means that the heroes are going to have to tread carefully here. You’ve also got a shady Sword Art Online player who wants to challenge Kirito and possibly eliminate him from the world. It’s nice to see Kirito going all out here and it makes for a pretty nice fight. It’s probably the most intense battle in the series with a lot of back and forth with good swordplay. Kirito rarely finds a challenge for himself so this guy did pretty good in managing to match him.

As for Kizmel, she’s a pretty solid character. It’s a shame that the series uses her for fanservice almost constantly. The series throws in multiple bath scenes which is pretty forced. She’s portrayed as a big sister figure to Kirito and Asuna. She is pretty advanced for an A.I. as well since she can understand human phrases and adapts rather well. It further shows just how advanced Sword Art Online was as a game in this universe. The A.I. systems were already pretty adaptive and this is only arc 1. Her skills were also far above Kirito and Asuna’s at the time. It makes sense since they are still in the opening floors I suppose. At this point nobody really had a whole lot of levels yet and this is the kind of quest where you are mainly playing as support.

It’s also interesting to see a time where Heathcliff had not yet formed his own group. At this point there are only two main attacking squads and neither of them are particularly helpful. They have numbers but not a whole lot of power. This was one of the more interesting points in the game because it’s fun to see Kirito and Asuna teaming up and clearing a bunch of quests on their own. It shows that they really don’t need the army and are prepared to handle everything on their own. If you were ever trapped in a game it does make sense to train a lot solo or in a small party rather than joining an army. It would be a lot harder to level up with so many people around.

Really the series is at its best when it’s letting the characters just enjoy the SAO environment. Learning new skills and having fun in the world is what the arc is all about. While Kirito and Asuna are both great characters, the supporting cast is a bit weaker so you don’t really want the focus to be on them. I could never really get behind the rest of the characters but fortunately each arc would add at least one good character so the series as a whole has a solid cast. It’s part of why Kizmel was a good addition here since she’s easily one of the better characters. I was also glad that she could fight at such a high level. Arc 1 will definitely always be nostalgic.

I was also glad that Asuna got a pretty powerful rapier here. It helped close the gap with Kirito and for a while near the end she was the power hitter. It’s what makes them such a dangerous combo. Asuna can land hits with lightning speed and then Kirito finishes the job with a crispy combo. As they said, it’s almost unfair for the rest of the players who are still struggling with the basics. Still, they’ll learn the ropes eventually. You just can’t hope to match up against the main characters. I wouldn’t mind if the series took some queues from the games and started adding in future characters. The series would have to completely be known as an AU after that, but I think it would be worth it.

The art is pretty solid and definitely one of the best for SAO. It has a pretty simple design set up like an online manga or Bleach. This allows the character designs to be pretty smooth and we also get a lot of great fight scenes. It’s all very clear and lets you read through the adventures with ease. You can clear all of the volumes in no time at all. At 7 volumes the series is a reasonable length although I always think you should aim to be at least 10 volumes long. That’s when you know that you’ve made it to the big leagues.

Overall, Sword Art Online Progressive is a series that is a lot of fun but does get bogged down by the fanservice. To an extent you can certainly block it out, but the series goes pretty overboard with how often it occurs. After a point it can’t help but lower the score of the adventure. It’s a shame that SAO tends to fall into this trap because the series is so awesome otherwise. Where else are you going to get a main character quite like Kirito? It’s really tough to match a guy like that. From what I’ve heard you are better off reading the novels for this part of the franchise. The original adaption of the first arc is also better as it plays the concept pretty straight even if the art isn’t that good. I’m ready for the sequel though and hopefully that one will fix some of these issues. After all there are still plenty of floors left to conquer and I want to see them all!

Overall 5/10

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

Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at the follow up to the original Madoka show. Technically this is more of a spinoff than a direct sequel though as it’s based on the mobile game. In true Madoka fashion a lot of the background is shrouded in mystery. We don’t yet know when this show takes place or in what timeline. Thanks to the time travel elements and alternate timelines there are many ways this can go. I have my own theory about it which I’ll elaborate on later on. It’s tough to come after the first show since I currently have that in my top 5 all time anime. (Black Clover and One Punch Man are both gaining ground fast though so we’ll see if it can ultimately stay in the 5th spot) While this show isn’t quite ready for that level, it is very good with a dynamite ending.

The story follows a girl named Iroha. She used to have a sister who was very sick and so she entered into a contract with Kyubey to restore her health. Unfortunately, now her sister no longer seems to exist. Nobody remembers her either although since Iroha has her abilities now that means the wish should have been granted. Is something wrong with her memory and did she potentially wish for something else? Iroha works with other magical girls to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the meantime they also work on shattering many myths and legends around the school. These myths are dangerous and many people die until they are busted. Iroha also has to deal with the fact that witches have begun to appeaer in the town much more frequently than usual which is attracting attention from other magical girls who are willing to murder each other so that they can be the ones to defeat the witches. Is this all part of some sort of elaborate plan?

Magia Record has more of a slice of life feel than the first show. In the first half of the show typically each episode is about solving a different rumor and stopping the villain. There are subplots hanging out during these adventures like various magical girls acting cryptically in the background and of course Iroha’s plot to save her sister. Those seem like they will mainly be saved until season 2 though. The final episode is really what starts to set the stage for everything as we get big fights and hype guest stars. That tells me there is a lot to look forward too. The show mainly runs on how interesting you find the cast to be and they hold their own. There were a pair of characters that I could mix up at times since they both had blue hair and looked rather similar but everyone else is pretty distinct.

Iroha is the main character and she’s a rather timid character. She’s one of the weaker magical girls around and is used to fighting in a city where the witches are a lot weaker. Still, she had to come here to find her sister and fortunately the other magical girls are willing to help her. Iroha is a pretty decent character even if I wish she was a bit more aggressive. It feels like she sort of goes with the flow half the time and is pretty soft spoken like Madoka. Fortunately unlike the old main character we actually do see Iroha fight quite a bit. She rarely wins but she does contribute.

Yachiyo is one of the characters with the biggest role here and serves as the Homura of the group. She’s very serious compared to the rest of the characters and always has to remind them that this isn’t a game. She has very personal reasons for being a Magical Girl (As do the rest of them) and we slowly find out a bit about what has made her so jaded. She’s a pretty solid fighter and one who has unlocked her hybrid form. I’ll speak more to that in a minute. Yachiyo is pretty strategic and also probably the strongest member of the main cast. While she can’t hold a candle to the original Magical Girls, she does better than the rest.

So what are these hybrid forms? Well, it seems like they are a pretty clever way of balancing the power gap between the original main characters and the new ones. Think of it sort of like how in Cardfight Vanguard G they added Grade 4 units so the new main characters could keep up. In a human 1 on 1 fight the original cast would slaughter these guys as Mami showed when she appeared later on. However, the new iteration of magical girls have the power to turn into a witch when they are close to despair. This allows them to gain great powers and stamina. It’s rather interesting that a magical girl could turn into a witch temporarily instead of it being perfect. In a way that makes them superior to the originals in that it’ll be harder for their stones to break. With these monster forms the heroes were still losing but it’s a lot closer. Once the rest of the cast gets these forms it should be interesting to see how they fare. I’m definitely glad they got these power ups.

Tsuruno is a very fun character in Magia Record. She has supreme confidence all the time and her fire abilities mixed in with the fans are quite impressive. She feels like one of the strongest Magical Girls and doesn’t mind letting the others know that from time to time. She even owns a cafe which is pretty impressive considering her age. At least it seems like she owns it. Might be a family shop but seeing as how she is the only worker there whenever the heroes meet at the shop it’s fair to say that it’s hers. I look forward to her appearing more in season 2 and taking names.

Felicia has a hammer which is pretty cool because I don’t think any of the characters used that weapon before. She’s definitely more of a power fighter who likes to just run in and start hitting Witches. Her wish is easily one of the most direct ones of the group as she wants to eradicate them all. It’s a nice change of pace as most only destroy witches because they have to and it isn’t their ultimate goal. I feel like she’s the kind of character who will start out strong but quickly get surpassed by everyone as the series goes on. We’ll see though, perhaps she will stay as top tier. I thought she looked pretty solid here.

Momoko’s role is unfortunately a lot smaller than the other characters which is a shame. She’s one of the more mature members of the group and is always trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. It’s a difficult job considering how much they all have to go through on a daily basis between the witches and everything. One potential red flag is that she’s very upbeat all the time right now which usually means that she is hiding some kind of deep pain. I expect she’ll get a much bigger role in season 2. I’d like to see her in more fights because she was talented and her battle style is fun to watch.

Kaede and Rena get their own plot as their friendship is tested quite a bit as the show goes on. Rena isn’t good at making apologies and Kaede can be a little too quick to say sorry which makes Rena get even more upset. It’s a pretty tough dynamic they’ve got going on. It’s particularly tricky since they are both magical girls since one moment of despair can quickly prove to be the end for them. Then you’ve also got the cult of magical girls running around trying to get everyone to join the darkness. More on that group in a sec but they’ve definitely become pretty influential in the series. They’ve assembled a whole lot of magical girls.

For guest stars we get to see Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka. Mami gets the biggest role out of the group and proves to be the one with the weakest will as always. It’s a shame because she always seems like a nice person, but one who is easily manipulated. She cracked in the alternate timeline of the first show, didn’t look so good in Rebellion, and then now we have this show. Kyoko only really gets a guest star role here but it does let us know that she’ll be around so she’ll probably do more in season 2. Right away she looked better than Mami here though as she realized that things were not adding up and was quick to assist the real heroes. Finally we have Sayaka who finally steps up at the end of the show. Her regeneration is as good as always but in a battle of pure force she’s nowhere near Mami’s level.

So the big plot going on throughout the show is about the group known as the Magius. They consist of a group of Magical Girls who claim to have found a way to rid the world of Witches once and for all while also ending the curse of Magical Girls being fated to die and turn into them. Naturally this is a pretty tempting offer so a lot of girls join their ranks. It’s still unclear exactly what their true purpose is, but even some of the main characters join their flock. I wouldn’t say that this is such a bad thing if they appeared to be on the level but they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re shady. One of them openly threatens to murder anyone who disagrees with her and they also created a sketchy program to trap people in an endless abyss until they die. These are the “heroes”?

I’m glad Iroha, Kyoko, and Sayaka didn’t get fooled. The girls who did definitely lose some points there. I do like the idea of a group of evil Magical Girls though. It’s something that this franchise hasn’t really explored before. I admit it was always a little disappointing when a fight was getting ready to break out with them only for it to be called off. This show has quite a few fakeouts like that but it looks like they want to leave all of that for the sequel. Here they mainly summon Witches to fight as their proxy. Still, the group clearly does have a goal and who knows, maybe it is on the level. Perhaps they are just a more extremist version of the Girls who want to use any means necessary to murder the Witches. Not to build up too much hype for season 2 but it does seem to be when everything is really going to meet up and all the plots hit their climax.

The show mainly relies on a new ost but there are some old themes here as well. The ost is still pretty hype and whenever the heroes end up in a labyrinth you know things could get tricky for them. The animation is also quite good and it’s nice to see the characters fighting with more updated animation. In that regard the show certainly did surpass the original title. Everything is quite streamlined and the fight scenes are smooth. This isn’t really a show where fights are the main focus although I expect season 2 will have more of them so I’m always glad to see good animation.

So, where does this show take place? For now I am going to assume you have seen the first show. If you have not then skip the next two paragraphs. After all, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the future seasons if you haven’t seen the original. So here’s how I see it. At the end of the original show Madoka sacrificed herself to end all Witches. This created the Wraiths in their place. This show still has the witches so the first guess would be that they are before the show ended right? Alternately you could say it takes place after Rebellion since Homura undid Madoka’s wish and brought back Witches although they weren’t quite real. I don’t think this would work though because Walpurgisnacht wasn’t revived. As a result, I think this is one of the broken timelines.

We know from the first show that Homura tried to stop Walpurgisnacht hundreds of times and failed in each timeline until Madoka saved the day. So it stands to reason that this is one of the many timelines where she failed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the one who has formed this group of rebel Magical Girls to try to end the curse and finish off Walpurgisnacht. It would make sense as Homura took a different strategy in each attempt. While it would mean that ultimately every action in the show would be futile it would be a pretty epic twist. So right now this theory makes the most sense to me and it’ll be fun to see how season 2 goes with this. I really doubt the show would do something to reverse Rebellion’s ending as that would be saved for a proper sequel. I know Homura shows up in the game though so I expect she’ll make her presence known in season 2 and that should answer a lot of questions.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a lot of fun. It can feel more episodic and it’s not trying to be quite as deep as the main show but there are always elements beneath the surface just waiting to pop up. The ending is also pretty excellent. It was quite possibly my favorite part of the whole show. It feels like the tone suddenly shifted and it helps that the song was really great as well. In a way, the first 11 episodes were all setup for these final moments. It really sets up the sequel season quite well and also raises the stakes. It ties in a bit to where this takes place as I mentioned earlier as well. I’m hoping season 2 jumps us right into the action there. I’m expecting we’ll see more of the old cast as well since they are destined to show up for this confrontation. I highly advise watching the original show before checking this one out so you can understand the framework. After that, definitely jump into this show and if the wait for season 2 is too long you can always download the mobile game and try to reach the end.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero Review


It’s certainly been a very long time since I started this game. I got in pretty deep to be honest, but unfortunately I hit a glitch and had to start over. I pushed that off for around a decade but now it was time to finally do it. This is a fun game that is held back by a few items. I would ultimately not recommend it too highly simply because there are just many better games to choose from. Still, if you really like the Elebits then this will allow you to get some closure at the very least. Otherwise the series appears to be gone for good so I don’t really think we’ll be seeing any Elebits in the near future. It’s a shame but that’s just how it goes.

The plot starts with Kai talking to us about Elebits. Essentially they power the whole planet as they are this world’s version of electricity. Without them we’d all be doomed. Kai’s a little jealous of them though because his parents research Elebits so they are rarely home. One day he gets in his dimension hopping bus and finds himself on a whole other world. The citizens there tell Kai that his Elebit is a legendary one known as Zero who will end up saving the world. Kai doesn’t believe these guys because that is a bit of a tall tale but still, he does have to get home so having a powerful Elebit will help. The bus explains that he needs energy and directions to get back home so Kai’s going to have to keep capturing Elebits until they find some maps to go home. Will Kai ever make it back to his planet?

Most of the game’s about the journey as you travel from planet to planet. We do get to squeeze in an end of the world plot near the end of the game though which was pretty impressive. One of the Elebits is going crazy and he’ll destroy everything if we don’t stop him. This part of the plot may feel like it comes out of nowhere but there was technically some foreshadowing for it I suppose so we’ll count it. I’m always glad to have a hype climax so either way I was pretty cool with this. The boss battles in the game tend to be its high point. I thought all of those were handled rather well. It can be tough to know what to do at first since the game doesn’t really even drop you any hints but you’ll figure it out. You’ve only got so many Elebits after all so eventually you’ll find the right one to use.

That’s part of the game’s weak point though. It never really lets you know what’s going on and while in a boss context that works out all right, it makes things a little tricky in the puzzle sections. A lot of the time it feels like you’re just stumbling around blindly without a clear plan of what to do. Some sections would take me ages and others I couldn’t figure out on my own. The stages don’t always make a lot of sense and they expect you to use your powers without ever being taught how. As dicey as this is, it could work if not for the fact that you run out of energy so quickly. Each Elebit consumes energy whenever they attack and if you run out that’s it. It takes forever to stock up energy again depending on where you are so then you have to go back to the bus and start the labyrinth again. It’ll be shorter since most puzzles stay completed once you leave them but others you just have to do again. Whenever I had to backtrack that part would be a bit annoying.

The core gameplay involves moving and tapping on Elebits with a stylus. You have your Elebit absorb them after tapping on the creatures. This gives you back energy which you use to open gates, use Elebit moves, or upgrade the Elebits. I’m not sure what the benefit of upgrading the Elebits was so I didn’t even bother doing that. By the time I’d have enough to max most of them out the game would be over anyway. The campaign itself is close to 9 hours which is pretty solid. There’s also a ton of replay value to keep you busy including a bunch of extra Elebits as well as upgrades. If you get this you’ll be in a better spot for the final boss although to be honest there isn’t a huge incentive to doing so. The bosses are fairly easy compared to the puzzles either way. Trust me, the puzzles are what will likely slow you down the most. It’s just hard to get around those.

The graphics are okay. I don’t think they’re low quality or anything like that but it’s going for an odd style. The artwork’s not all that great to look at. It’s sort of going for a gritty style that’s fairly realistic despite this being a fantastical game. It’s all very dreary as opposed to the bright colors you would expect from Elebits. Even the cutscenes use this style which is unfortunate. The gameplay loos a little better at least. I’ll give the soundtrack props though. The themes are pretty solid and we even get a big song at the end. I was not expecting that and it definitely made the game’s climax that much more emotional. I was not prepared for such an ending.

Overall, How much you enjoy this game will depend completely on how much you enjoy puzzles. The game is filled with them and I’d make the case that it’s the core of the gameplay. Moving and tapping the screen are really just here so that you can complete these puzzles. The boss fights are fairly rare so they don’t take up a whole lot of time. The vast majority of the gameplay is just navigating. I still found the game to be fun enough, but it would have benefited greatly from two factors. 1: You shouldn’t run out of energy. Give the player unlimited energy when working on the puzzle or something. Nobody wants to have to restart because they’re out of energy. Additionally I would reduce the amount of puzzles. Give me more platforming instead as I capture Elebits. Those two aspects would definitely make the game more fun.

Overall 6/10

Game Records

Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 12h 47m
Level 45
Styler Energy 94
Styler Power 230
Charge Level Max
Energy Plus Level 1
Power Plus Level Max
Line Plus Level 3
Defense Plus Level 1
Charge Plus Level Max
Recovery Plus Level 1
Latent Power Plus Level 1
Signs 5/8
Pokemon Captured 215/293