My Hero Academia Vigilantes Review

This series finished up quite a while ago so this review has been on the backburner for a minute now. My Hero’s done a good job of fleshing out the franchise by having several spinoff manga and this is certainly the most popular one of them. It helps that the story beats here would actually end up being important to the main series and the final battle is legendary for how long it was. In the end this was definitely a pretty good title and one that was getting better the longer it went on. I still hope we get to see Koichi appear in the main series some day but until then at least he got plenty of adventures here.

The story starts by introducing us to Koichi who is a big fan of All Might. He even has a hoodie based on the guy and so he does his best to save people and lead a good life. Unfortunately civilians are not allowed to use their powers unless specifically authorized. That makes Koichi a vigilante and someone who must be stopped. His powers allow him to slide across any surface which is why he’s called the Crawler but he’s not really an offensive type fighter so going up against the heroes would be tricky. Fortunately he meets up with Pop, a vigilante who likes to sing and dance, and Knuckle Duster who is a brawler that beats up villains. Together these 3 would make for quite the fighting force.

Before we get into the big story arcs we get some introduction stories to help get you used to the cast and they work rather well. The artist is also able to improve quite a lot. You can see a good amount of difference from the first chapters to the last ones and that worked out really well since you want a lot of great spectacles for the climax. The series does not hold back there at all. You can always tell what is going on here so I give the art a lot of credit there and the characters all tend to be very distinct. I’d also note that the art was never bad even at the start, I liked the shading, particularly for Knuckle Duster as it really helped him be like Batman. There was just more and more detail as the series went on.

The series had a mild fanservice issue initially as it would seem to follow Pop wherever she went. Her outfit definitely isn’t combat ready as they would say but as the series goes on that basically vanishes which is great. This is a series that can absolutely stand out on its own merits and doesn’t need to rely on any tricks like that. Since this is a spinoff that takes place before the main series, the author is able to really make the most of the timeline by adding in a bunch of references and foreshadowing. Quite a few heroes appear here from time to time including a rather large role for Aizawa. Even Endeavor and All Might join in on the fray and we also have a flashback arc which brings more in. There are important plots like Aizawa’s backstory that you have to read in this series to get the full context.

It’s rare to have a spinoff that is so important but Vigilantes pulled it off. So lets talk about the first main arc. Even though I was talking about the pre arc adventures, the first arc’s story is ongoing in the background almost immediately as the series starts. Basically there is a drug known as trigger out there and someone is giving this to a lot of people with quirks. This causes their quirks to massively power up but its at the cost of their sanity and this starts turning people to the side of darkness. Knuckle Duster’s mission is to get this off the streets and he may even have a more personal reason for wanting to get rid of the stuff. Koichi and Pop end up agreeing to help out and that’s how they all get mixed in with this. They have to stop the ringleader at all costs!

This was a good way to kick off the series. We meet a whole lot of characters and there are also a good amount of villains for the heroes to all fight against. Between the guest stars and original characters there was something to be enjoyed for fans of each part. Tensei gets to appear in a few stories here and since we heard a lot about Ida’s big brother but never got to see him fight before, that was definitely a lot of fun. He seems like a good guy and isn’t quite as strict about everything as Ida is.

Stain also gets to show up here and he leaves quite the impact. His fight with Knuckle Duster is really good and we really got to see how this battle helped to shape his ideology for later on. Stain got to keep his hype all the way through and even stood up to Kuin, the true final boss of this arc. It made for a really solid event during this arc and one that you weren’t likely to forget afterwards. So like the other guest stars this was enough to enhance the story without taking the spotlight away from the original characters too much.

For one original character that was rather low key the whole time, we have Soga. Soga is someone who is around for the entirety of the series but it’s easy to overlook him because he doesn’t fight all that much and doesn’t have any real powers. He basically becomes something of an assistant for Koichi. He makes sure that things go without a hitch whether it’s dodging the cops or fighting villains. He handles the strategy element so Koichi can focus on just landing attacks and taking out villains. I can’t say he ever really stood out to me but he’s effective at what he does.

Makoto is a character who gets a really big role. She takes over as Koichi’s agent of sorts and helps him quite a lot. Her stance on vigilantes isn’t nearly as drastic as the police officer’s but ultimately she is still on the fence about the whole thing. When the chips are down she does help Pop and Koichi though. The series tries to spin in a little romance here but you could interpret it as her just testing Koichi to see what he would say. It’s a little hard to say, I remember it feeling ambiguous. Vigilantes isn’t afraid to throw in some romance in general as there is some with Pop as well but ultimately it never becomes a focus and that’s for the best. I don’t think there is really a lot of time for romance here.

Captain Celebrity makes his first appearance during this arc although he would return later on. Think of him like a discount version of All Might. He’s got the strength, speed, and flight but all to much smaller extents. His powers may not work the same way as All Might’s but he can make them appear like that which is the important thing. I like his confidence and thought he was a quality character right from the start. If anything I’m surprised he didn’t do more in the climax or show up in the main series yet as this is the kind of international hero that would make a lot of sense to appear. Captain Celebrity can be a bit vain and you can probably tell that from his title but he is the kind of character that is fun to root for.

Finally we get to the main villain Kuin. She’s the mastermind behind the first big chunk of the series and definitely does really well. She can use her bees to great effect whether it’s fighting at close range or going for a more long range assassin type of attack. Kuin gets a full backstory and everything and lasts longer than you may have expected. The series did a good job of really developing her so you definitely aren’t likely to forget her by the end. Her power set was also unique and let her go toe to toe with several fighters. Even by the end of the series I would say that she could still be considered rather powerful in her prime and the power creep effect never really happened to her there.

In this arc is when we start to see the professional heroes showing up but unfortunately I would say they tend to come across as really annoying. Yes the vigilantes aren’t going through proper channels so the cops do need to do something about them but half the time they’re actively helping fight the villains so shouldn’t you prioritize getting those guys out of the way first? That feels like it would easily be the most efficient way to do it right? Of course it ultimately goes higher up to the very laws themselves. I always felt that the laws in the MHA verse are super restrictive with how civilians can’t even help each other without breaking the law even in an emergency setting. It’s no wonder that the Vigilantes become so popular.

Koichi lives in a rather small town that is apparently often overlooked by the police. So if he doesn’t help them then odds are that nobody else will. So he just has to put on a disguise and help out because otherwise they would be after him too. It’s a rather stressful way to operate and you just feel like that shouldn’t be necessary. So the pro heroes aren’t fully to blame here but they could handle things better either way. At least Aizawa will pretend to look the other way at times which is a decent start.

He skirts the line the most there and he should understand that the casualties would be worse without the vigilantes. Fans of Aizawa will appreciate that he also gets his own flashback arc so there is a lot of room for development there. Someone like Endeavor is solidly back in his antagonist days so he shows up here just to throw some fire around and doesn’t care as much about collateral damage. He’s lucky that Koichi isn’t one of the more aggressive characters because by the end of the series I’d say that he surpassed Endeavor by a longshot. This is one guy who wouldn’t go down easily.

All Might’s role is much smaller than most of the heroes because he would end each arc too quickly but he looks good. It’s nice to see how he just shows up and dominates the field at any given moment. That’s what you would expect from the #1 hero, particularly since he hasn’t been too weakened yet and should be at full strength. The cop who always follows him around (Tsukauchi) also gets a fairly big role. This guy is more of a stickler for the rules though so I can’t say that I was a big fan of him. He’s the kind of guy who absolutely would try to arrest a vigilante even if the city was burning down all around him. He needs to work on his priorities a little better.

After that arc we start to set up more seeds for the future. Villains using the trigger drug are still around so someone appears to still be mass producing the drug. A mysterious speedster known as Six also starts to make some moves and this villain is difficult to stop because of how crazy fast he is. In an instant he can land any number of blows and fighting anyone with speed like that is difficult. The main plot is about Captain Celebrity though and he is targeted by the new mastermind. Koichi will have to try and help out while Knuckle Duster takes care of Six but are they ready for this?

This arc was especially good for Captain Celebrity because he got a whole lot of character development as a result of this. We got to see his true heroic side. He may posture a lot for the cameras but at the end of the day he’s still a hero and certainly didn’t lose sight of that. Koichi also started to slowly improve his powers. Perhaps a little too slowly as he tries to be really careful about not causing any harm with them which is good but when he even fires a tiny blast Pop and some other characters always get on his case. I feel like it’s a bit overdone. As long as Koichi is pulling his punches and just knocking people out then I don’t really see the issue with it. This saga was a little more low key than the first one but it was definitely solid.

Then there is the Aizawa arc with Oboro, his old childhood friend. We get to see how the two of them and Present Mic were the best of friends. The 3 of them aimed to really take the hero world by storm and they had the quirks to do it. Aizawa was still more on the quiet side like in the present but Oboro had a way of getting everyone excited and so even Aizawa bought into it. Unfortunately as Oboro isn’t in the main series you can probably guess that things don’t go very well for him. It does make things very interesting for a character in the main series though and it’s an emotional arc. I had a good time with it and while Oboro may not have been around for very long, he definitely left quite the impact. I’d enjoy seeing more adventures with these 3 in the past, it actually gave me a lot of Naruto vibes.

After that we go into more of a romance focused arc. Pop is still confused about her feelings for Koichi and this allows her to be in a vulnerable state which Six takes advantage of. He turns her into an evil mind controlled fighter so Koichi has to try and stop her without hurting her. The tough part about that is the pro heroes aren’t so lenient, particularly Endeavor. So Koichi in a way has to take this guy down as well and it won’t be easy but at this point his powers have continued to evolve. The tough situation really helped to speed up his development on that front quite a bit.

Props to the series for trying to focus on the romance here but ultimately they were good friends so you’re cool with it staying that way. I was glad that we got to see Pop fight with her powers now that she was on the dark side though. As a hero you didn’t get to see her battle all that much at all so this way she can really go in. It was also nice seeing the pro heroes so that’s why this made for a very well balanced arc and further helped set up Six as the big villain to come up.

As the series prepared to enter the final stage we finally got Knuckle Duster back in his younger days. We saw how he used to be a very powerful hero and he got to go undercover to check out an underground fighting circuit. We get some fun guest stars here like Rappa, Mirko, and the High-End. There are quite a few solid battles in here and all of these fighters are quite powerful. It really makes for an impressive collage of characters here. So this flashback didn’t feel like some minor flashback.
Instead it was a great showing of the heroes working together back in the day and how Knuckle Duster could even convince villains to help. You get the feeling that Rappa was really close to becoming a full hero if things had turned out differently. The High-End was also really powerful even back before he got powered up further by All For One. Mirko being here for the fights also makes a lot of sense since she loves to get in on the chaos. The arc may not have had Koichi and friends but it was a really fun change of pace.

Then we enter the final arc which is rather massive as you would expect. It’s finally time for Six to make his big move and he holds nothing back. He has half of the city exploding and with his speed even the pro heroes don’t know what to do. It’s fun to see Endeavor and all of the pros but you know that they stand no chance against this guy. Only Koichi can possibly do something but even he is at the end of his rope. With Pop currently out of action that makes the stakes a lot more personal as well. We get to see a lot of teamwork between all of the heroes that Koichi has helped out in the past and the civilians as well so it’s really a great team effort.

You may figure that Koichi is completely out of his depth here since Six ends up being one of the strongest characters in the franchise but fortunately like Deku, Koichi is effectively able to use multiple quirks at once. In a way it’s even more impressive because it’s technically one quirk that he mastered so well until it could act as multiple. He found so many uses for the glide ability that it would make you surprised to see how far he had come. It definitely made for a great climax and this arc has a whole lot of memorable moments.

The author also did a good job of handling Six’s speed. When someone can move this fast you will always find some issues with it but Six’s speed has some defined limits and the characters make good use of it. So the climax ended up working out rather well. Six is also my favorite villain in the series and it was nice to see him getting so much action. This is definitely a villain that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. He’s really memorable and the series even gave him some ties with All For One. It really helped make the finale more and more grand. At one point I thought it was going to tie in with the first chapter of the main series in a specific way but didn’t go down that route.

As a main character Koichi is really solid. He’s fairly unassuming and may not have that Shonen aggressiveness that you’ve come to expect from a lot of heroes but he gets the job done. Even by the end of the series he thinks of himself more as an everyman who will help to take down the villains but isn’t expected to be the main act. He is a supportive fighter for most of the series so that makes sense and it’s only near the end that his powers really begin to go crazy. So he’s very consistent and ranks fairly high up there in the verse. In terms of power level he’s absolutely on the highest tier but even in terms of character he’s one of the better ones. That was important since you need quality characters to keep your series high up.

Then there is Pop as the main heroine. It’s a little unfortunate that she got sidelined for so long since it kept her from appearing more. She did well as a villain but as a hero she never really got to use her powers to the max. I suspect that she would have been quite good in combat but we didn’t really get to see to what extent that would have been true. Pop helps to encourage Koichi throughout the journey though and he would not have made it nearly as far without her. She’s a good friend to have.

Finally we have Knuckle Duster to round out the main trio. He’s a really tough fighter and should remind you of Batman. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole idea and it works well. While All Might takes out villains during the day and makes a big spectacle of it, Knuckle Duster works as a vigilante by night who takes out any villains that happen to get in his way. That’s just how he rolls and he gets a lot of the best stories here. He is often fighting opponents who are out of his weight class and so he has to fight smart.

Upon first glance you may figure that he’s your average bruiser but he does use his head a lot and fights strategically. That’s what separates him from the average character and it works out quite nicely. He may not get the most screen time in the series but he gets enough to leave you very satisfied the whole time. It’s always easy to root for an underdog like this who has no powers but is mixing it up with all of these crazy fighters anyway. Knuckle Duster is someone who absolutely will not back down!

I have to give another shoutout to the final climax. I just can’t end this review without talking about it because that was so much fun. This is one of those times where reading the series live was so neat because the fight just kept on going and going. I can’t recall a fight that was so much fun to see live like that since probably one of the final Bleach fights. A long battle where the villain is surpassing his limits as well as the hero makes for a very satisfying conclusion because you know that they both gave it their all. You want a villain to be determined in his goal and to keep on giving the match 100% or it just wouldn’t be nearly as high tier. It helps that Six was the best character in the series, that guy was intense!

Overall, My Hero Academia Vigilantes is a great series. It may start off a little slow but each arc keeps the series moving higher and higher and that’s the kind of trajectory that you want your series to take. Better to start off light and get great by the end than to start off great and slowly go downhill to the end. You always remember the ending after all and a satisfying one goes a long way. The series is a bit long for a spinoff so if you decide to read through this series you will definitely have a lot of content. I definitely recommend jumping in whenever you can. This is one title that you don’t want to miss!

Overall 8/10

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning Review

The introduction to Tiger & Bunny is starting to get rather nostalgic. I’ve now seen it in the first TV show, the original manga, the adaption in the movie, and now the adaption of the movie that was adapting the first show. It doesn’t really do much different from the core story so it works well if you aren’t able to access the movie but otherwise there isn’t a whole lot of reasons to check this one out. It’s a perfectly serviceable adaption though and I’d say that the art is actually better than the main series so that’s worth noting as well.

The series starts with Tiger not doing so well as he helps to stop a villain but causes a lot of property damage in the process. Unfortunately while he wants to do the right thing, he just isn’t very good at being efficient most of the time. His company has even closed as Tiger will now be owned by one of the bigger hero agencies. They want him to be partners with this new hero named Barnaby. Tiger decides to call him Bunny since the outfit looks like one but he’s really just sore because on Barnaby’s first day he ends up saving Tiger from certain doom. Bunny is a very modern hero who worries about the ratings while Tiger just wants to help people. Will they really be able to form a solid partnership and stop the crooks or is this duo about to get absolutely devastated against the first villain they meet?

It almost feels weird writing that plot summary for a third time but hey that’s just how it goes. As this is based on the first movie which readapts the first part of the TV show you already know all of the story beats. Ultimately the series is about Tiger & Bunny getting to know each other and coming to terms with each other’s differences enough to at least tolerate each other. Ultimately they both want the same thing which is to help people out when they are in trouble and go from there. It’s the ultimate goal of any true hero after all and that’s just how you have to do it.

Tiger is a good main character. He may not be the strongest fighter but you have to appreciate his heart. I always preferred Bunny from the two main characters though. Sure he may not be as heroic at first but he has a lot of confidence and is very good at what he does. There’s a reason why he quickly starts to be known as one of the top heroes while Tiger is stuck near the bottom. Keep in mind that they have the same abilities so it’s not like one has a better power than the other.

The series also keeps in a lot of the fun foreshadowing for the next sagas even though it doesn’t get up to there yet. That’s a good thing because it still gives the reader some insight that there is more to explore within the universe. We have the judge who appears and looks very sinister so even if you only read this series you’ll likely suspect that something is up with him. Bunny’s boss also looks a bit suspect but it could just be the lighting. There isn’t a lot of time to go into Bunny’s origin story here either so you just get the bare minimum but enough to know that he is fighting his own demons in the shadows.

The rest of the heroes don’t make for the greatest supporting cast though and that’s what holds them back quite a bit. Fire Emblem continues to attack one of the other heroes and you feel bad for Rock Bison the whole time but also wish he could do something about this. Dragon Kid and Oragami don’t have time to do much here. I guess we see a bit about how Cyclone is jealous of how everyone loves Barnaby right away. In general they don’t get along with Bunny much either since the guy is so standoffish the whole time. Not only does he not try to get along with them but he actively seems to antagonize them. He’s certainly no team player here.

That gets tricky for the main case where the heroes have to take out Robin, a guy who can switch places with other people. It’s a really difficult power to contend with since in theory it means that he can constantly escape from any situation. How do you tie a guy down when he can just do that at any point? The easy answer is that you don’t, but even considering that I would say that their plans were pretty bad. At one point they try holding hands to block his exit but the guy can just run off. Another plan is to have everyone bunch together but all the villain has to do is wait them out.

Ultimately Robin gets too tricky for his own good and puts himself in a bad spot. I’ll also give the heroes some credit there because the last plan was good. I also do think this was a good way of getting Tiger and Bunny to trust each other a bit more. Usually you’d have a message that encourages teamwork and the two have to band together in order to get this going but instead Tiger trusts Bunny to get the job done and decides not to get in his way. I thought this was great because sometimes it is just better to tackle a threat by yourself. You shouldn’t feel like you have to squeeze teamwork in just to say that you did it. So the original plot tacked on to the original origin was a good one.

The art here is fairly good, in fact I think it looks a bit better than the main series. The artist did a better job of drawing each robot suit so they didn’t look too similar this time around. I wouldn’t say it’s anything super high end or something like that but it gets the job done. It’s easy to read through and I definitely had no issues getting to the end. Even though the story is familiar, it’s still fun enough. I could safely recommend this as a reasonable read to anyone trying to get into the franchise. The ending works well without any huge cliffhangers and you could then jump right into the show.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny could use a bit more of an engaging cast to get things to the next level but as far as superhero origins go this one worked out well. The setting of heroes ranked by popularity and getting points during livestreams is a very unique one. I’d say it works well to give the series a hook and make it stand out from the rest. Once we get to the more plot based sagas then this should only continue to improve. I’ve got two more Tiger & Bunny reviews coming up, one sooner than later so the franchise continues on!

Overall 6/10

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising Review

All right, we’re back in action for another Tiger & Bunny movie adventure! This time it’s a brand new story with updated visuals and everything so it’s already showing some different improvements there. I would say this movie is definitely better than the first one. It’s fairly low key and does suffer from throwing the giant opponent who can’t fight back cliché in the climax but aside from that you can tell that it’s trying this time.

The movie takes place after the show so Tiger’s powers are all but gone at this point since he can only use them for super short amounts of time. He and Bunny are now a part of the second division for heroes so in a way you could call them the B team. It doesn’t earn a lot of money though and Bunny can’t help but feel like they should get back into the A league. The test is coming up soon but things take a spin when corporate gets involved. The companies are all bought out by Mark and he wants to change things up. He’s axing the second league and is now pairing Bunny with a new hero called Golden Ryan. Tiger is left out and he’s starting to wonder if he should retire. First he’ll have to stop a new villain group that is re-enacting tragedies from an old play. Can he do it?

For the main plot, it definitely feels like Tiger has to struggle with confidence issues a lot. In the main show when he was losing his powers that became a big thing and now it is resurfacing with how he’s holding Bunny back. He really needs to get his powers back to 100% or this is probably going to keep on happening with him. He handles things mostly well though and tries to make sure that Bunny is set up at least. Although I think the right move would have been to make more of a scene and convince Bunny to stick to the B league. Call Mark’s bluff and maybe he would have gotten Tiger back to the A team.

As for Bunny, well as always he is the big standout hero here. We see how he spends a lot of his free time helping out the orphans and making sure that they have a lot of stuff. Now that’s high quality hero behavior and he even gets them all tickets to the biggest party of the year. Bunny is all about giving back to the community now and you love to see it. He’s also still the top strategist among the heroes and easily the most powerful. He may never end up being the main character as long as Tiger is here, but you couldn’t ask for anyone better as the #2.

The rest of the heroes don’t get a ton to do for the most part. You have Sky High who is still one of the top heroes and he gets to be in the fights. There isn’t much of a character development arc needed for him though. Same for Dragon Kid but it was nice to see her fight more here. We didn’t get to see her have too many serious battles in the main show. She’s always a loyal ally and a fun fighter to have at the ready.

Blue Rose is still acting like a tsundere a lot but fortunately she always makes the right calls at the right times. I was glad that she wasn’t sidelined for the whole fight with trying to put out Fire Emblem’s flames because that would have been a shame. She still gets less action than the others but does contribute in the big fights. Rock Bison has a bit of a subplot where he isn’t feeling like he sticks out very much. So he starts ripping off other characters’ catch phrases and everything. It’s not a good look and starts to just put more pressure on him.

I feel that this plot still isn’t actually finished yet so we’ll see if the next season picks up on it. I feel bad for the guy but at the same time it is true that he is usually lagging behind the rest and taking a lot of Ls. Then we have Origami Cyclone who wants to be able to fight straight up instead of always going for surprise hits from behind. It was an interesting plot although there wasn’t a lot of time for it. Ultimately he did get to try fighting up close and personal but for the most part the opponents here are just a little too high tier for that to work very easily.

Now onw hero who does get a big role here is Fire Emblem. In the show he was easily the worst character as he was always messing with Rock Bison no matter how much the guy told him to knock it off. It was very in line with a character like Puri Puri Prisoner or even Master Roshi with how he would get physical. So fortunately this film doesn’t have any of that as it decides to tackle his plot on a more serious note. Of course that brings up issues of its own and I can’t say it’s the kind of plot that I’m a fan of.

It’s a bit late in the game to try and save his character. Hopefully if he keeps the development then in the next season things could work out but sometimes it’s just a bit too late. Like I never got around to liking Gajeel even though he’s been a hero for over 10 years now. Sometimes it’s just too late and then it’s all game over. Here Fire Emblem is taken out by the villains for most of the film so he’s indirectly causing another hero to be indisposed the whole time and then when he does return for his big fight…he gets taken out rather quickly. I was at least expecting a big win for him. I can’t say that Fire Emblem really works yet and we need more screen time to see if he has really changed or if he’s just going to be acting the same way when he returns.

Finally we have Golden Ryan who is a new hero who has shown up and gets a good amount of hype here. He has gravity powers which is always super useful in any context. I love gravity powers and consider it to be one of the most high-end elements that you can use. He does look really strong here too and automatically became the second strongest hero after Bunny. He can be rather arrogant and all but I’m liking this guy so far. He add a lot to the dynamic and doesn’t feel like just another guy. Actually enhancing the dynamic and changing things up is absolutely what you want to strive for with a new character.

As for the new corporate guy Mark, well he’s just your classic shady CEO. The guy’s so over the top that you will keep wondering whether he is super evil or just shady. Sometimes the line can be hard to distinguish in these things. The rest of the supporting characters are around as well and it’s always nice just seeing everybody again. The movie does have a huge issue with power levels though.

So you’ve got a few villains here, the 3 main ones and the big mastermind. The movie doesn’t bother to give the main 3 names but it was nice to have a full squad. My problem is that none of them should be all that tough. Take the disc throwing girl. She has to go up against Bunny and Ryan which should be the worst matchup for her. Gravity will negate her discs and Bunny has the speed to catch her no matter how many illusions she has. The film has to actively make Bunny and Ryan look awful for her to last so long.

Then you have a guy with super voice going up against Bison, Cyclone, and Sky High. That’s all this dude has, a super sonic voice and yet he’s crushing them with ease. I’d like to see some team work here or even some common sense like dodging the attack and countering with a quick energy hit from Sky High. It seems to me like this really shouldn’t be asking too much. How are these villains who have never really fought before taking on seasoned veterans?

Finally we have the third guy who is a literal old man with a staff and he is crushing Fire Emblem, Dragon Kid, and Blue Rose. I liked his memory abilities which are kind of OP but in hand to hand he should be getting crushed. It is a running gag that the pro heroes are super weak, what with their having trouble with random bank robbers the whole time. Yes, we get that scene again here as the opener where the entire cast of heroes can’t beat one random punk. It’s extremely embarrassing at this point and shows how low tier the fighters are.

I have to blame a good amount of this on the writing though because it just doesn’t make any sense. At least the final boss has a giant form where he’s huge and everything. It may not make for an interesting battle scene but you can see how he would be putting up a fight. That’s the kind of energy that we should be seeing. While I thought the fights didn’t make a lot of sense, I will at least say that the villain motivations were good. I liked how the film executed the reveal on who the mastermind was and why they’re doing this. I thought the motive was quite sound and that goes a long way for a villain. Same for the other 3 who were working for the leader.

So that part was good. Lunatic even gets to appear for a bit but the role was mainly filler here. He doesn’t actually contribute anything to the story except to appear a bit for the fans. It’s really just a cameo that comes out of nowhere, but I appreciate it all the same. As I said earlier, the animation is also greatly improved here which is good. It’s still not going to hold its own against many of the more mainstream anime titles but at least now I can say that it looks pretty good. The soundtrack is still on the forgettable side though.

Overall, It’s nice to have another movie for the series. Even if the stakes might be a little higher here than in the first film, I would say that it still feels like more of a calm movie. Maybe it’s just because you never feel like they’re all in a lot of danger. It still executes just about everything on a higher level than the first film. It’s also nice that each of the heroes at least got a bit to do here even if it wasn’t much and we got to follow them down their paths. I could see some of these plots continuing in the future as well. So if you’re already in the series then this is a good movie to check out and see the characters. You’ll probably be a bit lost if you jump straight into this one though.

Overall 7/10

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning Review

It’s time to check out a film with a very unique style here. See, most of the film is just recapping parts of the TV show without even upping the animation and then you have some new stuff towards the end. I always feel like it’s a bit lazy to do things both ways. Whether it’s framed as a merged movie like Madoka or a movie split into episodes like Demon Slayer, you’re just doing the same thing twice. If you’re going to handle something twice then I want a completely different animation going in there and some changes to the story like how Super handled the Resurrection F part. It may not have been completely different but you didn’t really feel like you were watching the same thing twice. Still, as a stand alone film I suppose it holds its own but there’s not much reason to watch it over the show.

The movie begins by introducing us to the world of heroes which has become heavily commercialized. Various companies own the rights to the various heroes and they all perform as best they can in order to rise up the ranks. Tiger is old news at this point and his company is going under but fortunately he is bought out by a big company that wants to pair him up with the up and coming prodigy, Bunny. Bunny is a modern hero who is completely different in every way from Tiger. Tiger believes in secret identities and doing whatever it takes to save people while Bunny is more by the books and lets everyone know his true identity. Can they put their differences aside to save the world?

Well, this isn’t really a “Planet in danger” kind of scenario but that sounds cool at least. So in readapting the first few episodes you have the duo going up against a giant statue and they meet the other heroes but the big threat comes when a guy shows up who is a big thief. Robin is his name and speed’s his game. He is incredibly elusive to the point where all of the heroes teaming up are having a tough time keeping up with him. It’s almost like he’s mocking them…but that can’t be right…can it? This is another obstacle where teamwork may have to be the answer. That’s what you’d think anyway.

So, aside from the fact that readapting something is a bit iffy, this does work as a stand alone movie to the general audience. So if you haven’t seen the show before then you should be able to understand what is happening here well enough. It’s all about superheroes and fighting crime. It’s not too complicated or anything so it works out. The pacing is decent as well. Now your first tip off that something isn’t right may be with the animation. The movie doesn’t look great, and that’s because it just looks like the TV show most of the time which I already wasn’t very impressed with.

The movie feels at least 5-6 years older than it actually is because you had movies that came out a lot earlier in the 90s that look better than this one. So you can’t count on the visuals to hold it up. Additionally I don’t think the soundtrack is great either. There aren’t too many real memorable tunes. What that means is this feels a bit like a low budget adventure and the story/characters have to hold it up.

And to an extent I do think it works. For example I wouldn’t call this a bad film or anything. It’s not very solid but it is “good” and worth watching. I could recommend this to anyone wanting an action title. I would recommend a long list of other titles first but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be deterring anyone from watching this. It’s fun enough and does the job of keeping you busy for a little while but of course I am hoping that the series can hit the next level in the future.

The villain, Robin is okay at best but he mostly does good by relying on the heroes making constant mistakes. We find out that his ability is actually rather great. He can swap places with anyone and that’s such an overpowered ability for a verse like Tiger & Bunny where nobody is super strong like that. Right off the bat I had a bad feeling about the whole thing because there’s no way this guy should really lose. As long as he plays it smart that is but Robin makes a lot of mistakes and fumbles the ball. It was still fun to see the heroes strategizing and trying to find out ways to stop him though. There’s just not much to Robin beyond the chase.

As for the main characters, they’re decent. I like Tiger well enough as a good hero who wants to save the day no matter what. My only problem with him can be that he seems weak sometimes. Considering how good his powers are, he should be doing a lot better. He can increase his skills many times over with his power and yet he is still being outmaneuvered the whole time. He didn’t do so well against a normal bank robber near the beginning.

Bunny is still my favorite character here. The guy has very concrete goals and won’t be giving up until he has achieved them all. You want someone with that kind of focus on your side for sure and he is good at strategy. You could even say that he steals the show by the end of it over Tiger. It’s not surprising since that’s how things played out in the show as well. He can be a bit mean/rude but that’s just how he rolls.

The rest of the heroes don’t get time to do too much here. As usual Fire Emblem is annoying, Rock Bison seems way too weak, and the others are generally just not super effective even if they mean well. It was nice seeing Blue Rose talking tough here since this is before she started to weak around Tiger. The scene of everyone meeting up to introduce themselves to Bunny was a solid addition by the film. It may not have gone over well but it shows that everyone made the attempt which I think was a good idea.

That said, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss here. In part because the film is mostly recap but also because the story is very by the numbers. From the general plot you can mainly guess how the film will play out. I’d say the only twist would be how they deal with Robin and I was a fan of that. The heroes didn’t handle things too well for most of that fight so at least they had a plan by the end of the movie.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny is best experienced by watching the show since you can then seamlessly continue to the next adventures. You always could watch the movie and then skip the episodes in the show but it feels like more steps compared to just watching the season as you usually would. Go with your gut on this though and I’ll have a review for the sequel up shortly. Then we can really see how that one stacks up and if it takes the franchise to new heights.

Overall 6/10

Tiger & Bunny Review

Now that I’ve reviewed the show, it’s time to look at the Tiger & Bunny manga. It’s fairly similar to the show but end a bit sooner and so it instead expands on the Jake arc. Some characters also get a bigger role like Cyclone and his old friend. All in all, you should like it about as well in terms of story as the show. The changes hold up and I wouldn’t say either version is weaker there. What helps the manga though is that the art is better than the show’s animation. I’m not saying that the art is amazing or anything like that as it can still feel like a tie-in at times and the suits tend to look the same but it’s easy enough to follow the action scenes. In the end, it works as a bit of an advantage compared to the show.

In case you haven’t seen the show though, here’s the general plot. We now live in a society where heroes are a very hot commodity. Most people are born with some level of super powers. They aren’t very strong but as a result you have a lot of people running around and using their powers for good and evil. There is a TV media company which thrives on this as they recruited various heroes to go around saving the day. You get points based on the civilians you save and other heroic conquests.

Tiger is an old school hero who believes that a true hero should defend the innocent and stop criminals. Not because of some kind of cash award or prestige but because it’s the right thing to do. This is definitely not the common mindset nowadays and Tiger is getting old so the bosses get him a partner. He’ll now be working with Bunny, a up and coming hero who has the same power set as Tiger. They both get super strength and speed for a limited time but it seems to be coincidental that they have the same power. They don’t really get along at all as their personalities are completely different but they will have to try and make it work. Bunny is haunted by the murder of his parents and Tiger needs to try and make some time to go and visit his daughter every once in a while. Can they really find time to also do their hero work while accomplishing their objective?

I always like the superhero stories so that was already a good point for this title. Tiger & Bunny isn’t trying to do anything super fancy with the plot, it’s just really embracing the heroics of the whole thing. As the series goes on Tiger gets Bunny to really be heroic as well. I wouldn’t say Bunny was a villain or anything but he was definitely obsessed with revenge and he had to be a top ranking hero in order to find out who the murderer was. So as a result he had to “play ball” and listen to the execs even when it wasn’t the most heroic thing to do. Tiger gradually gets Bunny to be just as headstrong as he is in saving people.

The two really have a solid dynamic going on the whole time. Tiger does test his partner by calling him Bunny a lot (His real name is Barnaby and he can’t stand the animal nickname) but at the end of the day it shows how they’re close. Tiger may be falling off in terms of power level a bit but he’s definitely a great team player and I could see him leading the heroes some day. He has a knack for always being in the right place at the right time and knows what each hero needs to hear in order to get back into the zone. Also, until his powers completely fall off, he is still stronger than the rest of the heroes by far so it’s still important to recognize that he’s a power hitter here.

Tiger just makes for a really solid main character. I also like Bunny quite a lot. His serious plot is always interesting to read and he’s a good foil to Tiger’s character. The series wouldn’t be the same without these two at the top. As with the show, there isn’t a lot of time for the other heroes but the series does its best to give them each at least one big moment. For example, Rock Bison actually gets a solid moment against Jake here. He holds off the villains long enough for Tiger to escape and even comes close to death at one point.

Rock actually got to show off his super strength which was really great because otherwise it felt like his reputation was just for show the whole time. I was pleased with this. Fire Emblem is still a character that can’t really be saved. I felt like the manga did reduce his screen time a bit though and he got to mess with Rock less but it still happens and each scene is still awful. I don’t know how this guy managed to become a pro hero.

Sky High doesn’t do a ton here but he is the top ranked hero so you have to give him his props. I still think his character holds a lot of untapped potential if the series ever wants to get into it. After all he’s a nice guy with good powers. That’s already some really solid stepping stones into being a major character with a full plot to himself right? Dragon Kid has the whole plot with her parents and gets to actively help in the Blue Angel plot where they are babysitting a kid. That mini arc was fun enough and they each got to have a decent role. Blue Angel doesn’t stand out a whole lot as the heroine but her plot of having to choose between being a singer or a hero is decent. I can also totally understand why the parents would be concerned about her being a hero since it is fairly dangerous.

Now for Origami Cyclone, he gets a fairly big role like in the show. Additionally we actually get a little more to this in the manga as his friend Edward get a full redemption arc. While in the show he was mostly just a one off character to show Cyclone the darker path, here we get a lot more of his inner thoughts and goals. It was nice to see because I did like Edward back when he was a full hero. He just had a really rough break and it ended up completely destroying him. So at least this way there is still something of him left to keep on going. Then for Cyclone, I think this should be a good boost to his confidence as well.

I’d like Edward to become a main character for a future installment. It’s perfect if you ask me since the series needs another big hero. This guy could really hold his own in that role. The odds may not be amazing but I think it would be a really good option for the series to try and pull off. He’s a lot more interesting than the next generation cadets with their weak powers. Edward has at least proven himself in a real fight already.

As for the Jake arc, it’s definitely a solid one through and through. It’s fun to see him basically taking on the entire group of heroes tournament style. That’s a good way to not only test your own abilities but to also put the world on notice. It’s a lot easier to scare the world into thinking they can’t fight back against you if you take out all of their heroes first. After all, they were counting on the heroes to protect them so this is sort of like a wakeup call. Jake may not have been the most interesting villain but his powers were very dangerous and so he worked as an obstacle.

His sidekick Kriem was also good and stayed loyal to her duties throughout the series. Lunatic gets a bit of a smaller role here than in the anime or at leas it felt that way but he’s still the standout character. He’s doing his best to punish the villains for good and remove any heroes who are only in it for the fame and glory. He’s the kind of villain that’s easy to root for because he has an honor code and his own view of justice. It’s better than having a villain who is aimless.

It’s also easy to see why this kind of villain tends to be really popular. After all, he is making the world a safer place. Certainly in an unethical way which is why he has to be stopped but put yourself in the shoes of the average joe in this world. People with powers are always going around and throwing their weight but at the end of the day when someone breaks out of jail, you’re the one who feels the fear and takes in the damage. So when the villains are being destroyed, you know that you’re safer than you were before.

Objectively there are less murderers running around now so your quality of life improves. It’s why these villains are tough to stop as well since public opinion can quickly get behind them. There’s still a whole lot they can do with the Lunatic plot so I hope that continues. As it is, the world building was already really on point. This is the kind of title that could become a really big franchise if it wanted to.

I imagine most people who read the manga will have already watched the show but either way this stands up on its own. It may not cover everything but the series still did a good job of getting all of the critical moment. You’ll be able to follow the story all the way through. Hopefully they make the suits a little more different for a sequel though so it’s easier to follow each individual action. There’s never any real good reason for having multiple suits look the same. It’s the only real issue you can have with the Ultraman manga at times and at least there you could make the case that it’s because they all have designated costumes due to the crossover nature of the manga.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny is a fun manga adventure. It doesn’t go as far as the anime does but if you’re a manga only fan I would still say that the ending is fairly satisfying. Are there still open plot points? Yes, but what superhero story doesn’t have more things lined up for the future? The idea is that the adventure will always continue and from that point of view I thought it all worked out really nicely. You won’t regret checking this one out as it’s just a fun read.

Overall 7/10

Tiger & Bunny Review

Tiger & Bunny is a show I heard a lot about back in the day. It seemed to get big for a while before vanishing but with a recent season 2, the franchise is still around. I like the concept of the show and you really can’t go wrong with superheroes. I think this really could have become a big franchise in its own right but unfortunately the show just felt really low budget most of the time. Nothing’s all that streamlined and I would also say the cast is on the weaker side. The premise itself is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. The show will have moments that are really solid but it’s not often enough to really keep this one at the top.

The show starts by introducing us to Tiger. The guy is a hero veteran at this point but the fact of the matter is that he’s growing old. People don’t find him cool anymore and that’s a big deal in this world. See, heroes have basically become professional advertisers. You earn points by saving people and looking cool while doing it. Tiger believes that heroes should do the right thing because that’s what being a hero is all about but such values have vanished over time. Now the agency is pairing him up with Bunny, the coolest young hero around. The two don’t get along at all but will they be able to put this aside to save the day?

So lets talk about some of the things the show did well first. I think it immediately does a lot of good world building in very direct ways with the hero agencies but also in subtle ways as you see nonstop product placement everywhere. Being a hero has really become just like being a movie star and naturally some resent this while others fully embrace it. Part of why Lunatic’s plotline is so good is because it’s based on this but more on that later. The world feels big even if it could have used more heroes at the main spot. You at least get the idea that there are more heroes like this around the world.

The power ceiling is also fairly low as even the strongest heroes aren’t very powerful so it’s a good way to explain how civilians aren’t always getting into trouble and all. The few that do get really powerful tend to become villains anyway so it’s really good that not everybody is super strong. In general the plots are solid too. The villains have interesting motives and there’s a mystery throughout the series that will keep you alert as well. I would have liked a little more commentary on how heroes are for show now and maybe a deeper arc on that but they could definitely tackle this in a future story.

One of the shakier parts of the series is the animation though. I dare say it comes close to just being flat out bad most of the time. The absolute best moments in the show can look decent but this is very much a low budget show. I would say some Dragon Ball Heroes episodes have about as much fluid movement which isn’t a great look since that’s a low budget online series. The CGI is really rough and even the hand drawn parts aren’t all that great. I’m hoping the budget is a lot higher for the sequel.

The music also isn’t particularly memorable. The intro is very weak and I can’t really remember any of the battle tunes so that’s not a good thing either. In the end the series was really caught lacking on all of the technical elements. A good story still helps it stay above water but it’s a much tougher fight than it otherwise should have been. You’d think that a story about superheroes would always look and sound amazing!

Now lets get into the show. The first few episodes are the pre arc so they help to get the personalities developed for Tiger, Bunny, and some of the other heroes like Blue Rose. So the fights are more on the basic side against minions who don’t really stand a chance but it’s always good to have the interactions here. Tiger & Bunny always have some good banter with each other which is important because a good portion of the show revolves around that. If their dynamic was no good then the show would have absolutely been doomed.

By this point I was already a big fan of Bunny and he would end up being the best hero in the show. He has a fairly serious plot as he has to avenge his parents’ death. This ends up being a big plot for the entire show and beyond so don’t expect the answers to come too quickly. Either way this was always the most engaging plot in the show though. Each clue would lead into another one and it also explains why Bunny is always so serious. He’s trying to be a great hero because it will open more doors and increase his influence so he can find the villains.

He can also back up his tough talk like when he saves Tiger several times. The guy has a cool air about him even if his rage can sometimes cause him to be a little too emotional. I’m usually on his side when he disagrees with Tiger though. There’s one key scene near the end of the show where Tiger doesn’t trust Bunny to make the right call and it’s clear that Bunny took that personally. Because the whole series Tiger was talking about trust and Bunny started to buy into it so that was a shame. It can be hard for the characters to be on the same page.

As for Tiger, part of why he wasn’t higher for me is because it feels like he never lives up to his tough talk. There are a lot of circumstances in the show that help make sure he is never on top but no matter how tough Tiger talks, it always feels like he is one step behind. He had to get saved in the very first episode after all and something similar happens at the end. I know that he’s getting old and it happens to everyone but he’s not quite tough enough to consider himself as a bigshot. It’s great that he has ideals and confidence but he needs to train a whole lot more.

Tiger’s a good guy but that doesn’t automatically make him a great hero. That said, most of the heroes here aren’t very good at all so that’s not a good bar. One of the only other heroes with a big character arc and all is Blue Rose. She is a hero but really wants to be a singer and is considering leaving the business. It’s tough though as her parents don’t fully support the career and are always worried about her. She’s also just not sure if she can pull it off which is another thing to consider. She has ice powers which are handy but they are not very powerful.

Again, part of the way the universe is built up is that everyone is fairly weak so it’s not like it’s just her but half the time she has to run off when the villains show up. It’s part of her hero image but it doesn’t really help her case. She still has more to do than Dragon Kid though. Dragon Kid’s main character dilemma here is that everyone treats her like a kid. Well…she kind of is a kid. Her parents are actually rather supportive but she finds this embarrassing and Tiger helps her to realize that this is actually a good thing and they’re looking out for her. It’s a nice enough plotline.

Sky High is the number 1 hero but it’s easy to forget that because he never looks all that impressive. He can fly and can create an energy blast of sorts but I wouldn’t say that it’s super impressive. In fact, the only time he uses it, it doesn’t work. I like that he always tries to look on the bright side and he’s a nice guy but he’s just not given enough to do. I think that you could really do some interesting things with his character. At best you have something that could almost be considered a romance plot while he’s dog walking but even then I would say it’s a bit of a stretch to say that. It’s not really big enough to call a full plot like that.

Then we have Fire Emblem, the worst hero out of the bunch and it’s unfortunate since he’s the fire themed hero. Usually those are my favorite but his character is basically the same as Puri Puri Prisoner. He’s not as extreme to the point of being an actual villain like that guy but he gets rather close with how he’s always harassing Rock Bison. Fire Emblem has no understanding of personal space and can’t stay serious long enough to ever contribute. His whole gimmick is that he uses fire but Lunatic is stronger in that element and then later on some random machines can use better fire.

Fire Emblem is never given any respect as the series goes on and he’s basically a wasted character. He’s not as bad as characters like Master Roshi or Mineta but man does he make it closer than it should be. Any scene with him is usually supremely annoying. On the other hand, I’m also not a fan of Rock Bison. Make no mistake, Fire Emblem is alone at the bottom but Rock needs to stand up for himself more. Don’t just let Fire Emblem get away with messing with him the whole time.

Rock Bison also gets no definitive moments even though he is supposed to be the power hitter here. At least in the manga he is given a key scene where he really gets to show his stuff but that doesn’t happen in the anime. Then you have Origami Cyclone and I would say that his character arc is actually fairly good. He is one of those heroes who is always in the background and isn’t too strong. Over the years he has really let that get to him so he has virtually no confidence anymore. He has resigned himself to the fate of just being a hero who is used for advertisement rather than saving the day and making a name for himself. Definitely not the kind of track record you want to have for yourself.

So in his mini arc he gets to learn about really being a hero and I thought that was solid. He also had a good backstory involving his friend Edward. I actually thought the whole thing was extremely harsh for that kid. He was trying to use his powers to stop an armed robbery and came close. Unfortunately things didn’t go very well and so he was locked up. But why locked up for so long? It just felt like a harsh punishment considering the circumstances so things better be even harder on the villains. It’s easy to see why Edward got jaded after that although I would say it was still a fairly weak motivation for turning completely evil though. Being a little upset? Sure that’s reasonable, but turning evil? I’m not so sure about that. I liked him in the flashback too.

Now the story starts to resume for real with Bunny finding a lead on the people who murdered his parents. The killer may have been from the terrorist group known as Oruboros and now criminals are being burned alive by someone with blue flames. This seems to tie into Bunny’s memories so this case is extra personal to him. Tiger has to try and stop Bunny from going too far but when they are face to face with Lunatic, that’ll be difficult. Lunatic believes that the current heroes are a joke and not decisive enough with the villains. He believes that true justice is to put these criminals away for good. Not in a jail, but 6 feet under and it’s difficult to stop him since his flames are so powerful.

We then get to what I’d consider to be the big arc of the series. A metahuman named Jake has basically captured the entire island in the name of Oruboros thanks to robots and bombs everywhere. The heroes are basically hopeless since they couldn’t beat the robots normally anyway. It’s all up to Tiger & Bunny as always but the difficult part is that they have been getting absolutely dominated whenever they try to fight Jake. They will have to find a way around that quick or it’s all over.

This arc had a lot of danger to it and was definitely a blast so I was on board the whole time. Jake was shown to be an incredibly powerful villain and he lived up to the hype. The guy was basically able to take all of the heroes on at the same time. Between his natural barrier type abilities which he could use for strength and his reaction times plus his true ability, the guy was virtually invincible to the point where it’s hard to see how you could beat him. Yet I would say that the show did a good job of making it believable. I was able to buy into the teamwork and coordination that the team used against Jake.

As a villain Jake’s not super interesting and his goals are weak at best but I did like his powers which helped the character as a whole go up. He’s really one of those completely chaotic villains who just likes to see the world burn. His right hand woman Kriem was very loyal. She was always by his side and her ability to manipulate the dolls using hair was really good. It was a versatile ability with a whole lot of uses so it’s hard to go up against that one. Even at the very end of her journey she was still doing her best to mess with the heroes and support Jake so I had to give her props there.

After that we start a plot that lasts until the end of the series which is that Tiger’s powers are starting to go away for some reason. Apparently this can just happen when you grow older and once it starts there is no way to stop it. The good part is that temporarily you may even get a quick power boost but the length of time you can use the power begins to shrink and shrink. Tiger’s powers are already on a time basis so losing any time is really bad for him. Now this makes him start to think about retirement but he decides to keep this a secret.

His family has long wanted him to be at home more so it’s a plus on that as well. The problem is that Bunny is also thinking about retirement. He feels no closer to solving his parents’ murder at this point and he can’t even trust his memories as the face of the killer keeps on changing. He just can’t trust himself at this point so he needs some down time. Bringing this all to a head is the fact that people around the city have suddenly forgotten about Tiger and think he’s a villain now. Can Tiger clear his name or is it game over for his days as a hero?

It was nice to see the family get more of a role I suppose. Tiger’s daughter Kaede was always hoping to spend time with him but the life of a hero is tough so most times it just wouldn’t work out. Now that she started developing powers of her own, that just made it even more important to have Tiger there at the ready. As a character Kaede is okay but there is just a limit on how good she can be while still just being a kid. You can’t expect any big fight scenes out of her or anything like that but she finds a way to help out in the climax a bit.

As for the world against Tiger plot, it basically boils down to one character having an advanced hypnosis ability. It’s a pretty interesting plot and I liked it but I also had to suspend some disbelief here. The guy isn’t altering reality or anything so all physical evidence of Tiger is still around. It felt a bit iffy that nobody would have noticed the contradictions in time. While it’s true that Tiger kept his secret identity from most of the cast, they should still be able to piece things together like when Tiger used his superpowers. It doesn’t make any of the heroes look great when they still refuse to help him out or at least listen to reason. They just jump into combat so quickly that it can be a bit discouraging if you were hoping that they would be able to do something here.

As for the lead villain himself, well I appreciated how the villain executed his plan. I may not be a big fan of the guy but the plot does revolve around some twists and he did have to put in a lot of work to get this plan all figured out. So he deserves some credit here and it also made some other scenes fun in hindsight. Lets just say when Jake took a bunch of people hostage a while back, the lineup was a little more stacked than he ever could have imagined. While Jake could probably beat all of the other villains in a fight since his powers are so good, it would have been interesting to see them mix it up.

It’s probably about time that we talk about Lunatic a bit now. So he has a sob story of course which is what set him down the dangerous path of evil. His father was abusive and kept on getting worse until Lunatic was able to awaken his flame abilities to stop the guy. From there on he realizes that heroes can’t be trusted (His father was a hero) and sometimes just locking up a prisoner isn’t enough. You have to destroy them all and that’s exactly what he did. You can’t accuse Lunatic of doing things halfway and a character deciding to be the judge, jury, and executioner is always a fun plot.

As a villain it is already a fairly strong motivation and it also means he has an honor code. That’s big in a villain because it already starts you off on the right foot with me. Lunatic is a villain through and through but he’s one who believes in his ideals and doesn’t run away from them when the going gets tough. That is important because as a villain you have to be consistent. His costume was also pretty interesting and it was just great whenever he would appear. The guy would function as a wild card when other villains took the stage and he would also get the focus sometimes. He is definitely a villain who should continue to the next season.

Okay it’s time to go into quick spoiler territory so skip these next two paragraphs if you haven’t watched the show yet. Tiger & Bunny has quite a few twist after all and it’s better that you don’t know them before watching. Especially because this is a very original twist that I did not expect was going to happen at all. All right so hope you’ve skipped by now because here we go. So throughout the series we have Tiger hyping up Mr. Legend because that guy used to be the best hero ever. He’s dead now but he was a symbol of hope.

Mr. Legend didn’t have super fancy powers or anything and yet he was able to defeat every enemy he came across and did it with a smile. He’s basically the Superman/All Might of this series, a living legend. Well, it turns out that he was Lunatic’s father. Yes, Mr. Legend may have started out heroic but then he started losing his powers which made him bitter and he turned to alcohol. Along the way he became a full villain but the public never knew this as he stuck to terrorizing his family.

This twist really just came out of nowhere because you just don’t suspect a thing until it happens. It really helps to give Lunatic a lot of ammo on why he turned against heroes. Even more than the fact that a lot of heroes are just in it for the publicity, now you had a hero who was actually crazy and nobody ever came to his aid. A hero can’t be everywhere but this was enough to help Lunatic mold his philosophy. It’s also a twist I can’t really recall happening before to the biggest hero so that was effective. Of course it did mean that Mr. Legend dropped significantly as he became one of my least favorite characters in the series but the show didn’t pull any punches here.

Overall, the story had a lot of interesting parts to it. There are some elements that the show probably should have gone into a bit deeper but the ending of the show leaves a ton of room for extra stories and sequels. Evidently the writers agreed with me since this does continue so there is still a lot that you can do with this title. I do hope that the animation and soundtrack improve though. The writing/plot shouldn’t have to try and carry the entire show this hard without any backup. I also think it would be easier to try and get this more mainstream if it stood out more. Season 2’s goals should be to try and get some more likable characters in here as well. Right now Tiger & Bunny are the only two really solid heroes here. Sky High, Blue Rose, and Dragon Kid are okay but they aren’t strong enough to really be big assets here. We need another heavy hitter so I’m hoping we can get that.

Overall 6/10

Samaritan Review

It’s always nice to have another superhero film around. The more the merrier I say and this one’s fairly good. It feels a little low in stakes for the most part so it’s very much an old school origin story but it’s an interesting one and has good pacing throughout. I’d be interested to see this continue into a full series so hopefully it can keep on going. Definitely worth checking out on Amazon.

The movie starts by explaining to us the legend of the Samaritan and Nemesis. They were twin brothers who developed extraordinary abilities such as super strength and durability. They could not easily be injured and so one of them used their powers for evil while the other turned to good. Eventually after a fantastic battle they were both presumed dead but in the present many believe that the Samaritan still exists. One such believer is a kid named Sam who really looks up to this hero. Now he thinks that his neighbor across the street is actually the Samaritan. Is he right or is this all just wishful thinking?

I don’t blame the reporter for not believing Sam because apparently the kid tends to think a lot of people are the Samaritan. It’s the classic “Boy cried wolf” scenario that always tends to get in the way for characters like this. The reporter’s role is small but I look forward to him doing more in a sequel. He seems like a likable guy after all. As for Sam, he’s okay but I do wish the main character could have been someone a bit older. Kids can rarely hold their own plots as the lead and the whole time you wish you could see more of Joe instead.

Sam can fight to a degree and so I wouldn’t say he’s bad or anything. He stuck up for his friend when it counted and didn’t back down from the villains. There’s a solid moment when he punches out the main bully as well so I would give major kudos for that. But for every good moment like that, you have him being a thief or working with the villains. He was hard up for cash which led him to the wrong side but ultimately it’s still a choice that he made.

Now Joe is a solid character. He still helps out at times but prefers to stay to the shadows. Unfortunately that is also his weakness as I always have an issue with heroes just deciding to mind their business. As soon as they got their powers that just wasn’t a realistic option anymore. It may not seem fair but at this point he has an obligation to society and to keep on fighting. So being off the grid for so many years wasn’t good, particularly with how bad the town has gotten. It’s clear that nobody is in a good position right now and he could have easily made a difference. At least he eventually gets back into the action.

Cyrus is the main villain here and he’s okay. I mean he’s your average thug type but at least he doesn’t seem totally insane. He’s got an actual goal and isn’t the kind of guy to blow up his minions for no reason. I think if he could have gotten a true power bump and started flying around that would have helped him out. Still, I was satisfied with him. He doesn’t get a ton of screen time until the climax but makes his presence felt for sure.

Sam’s mother Tiffany doers her best throughout the circumstances and is a good supporting character. She’s suitably tough on Sam for some of his bigger mistakes without being too overbearing about it. She also does her best to protect him when the villains come around and so she definitely did her best. Ultimately there were just too many villains even if individually they weren’t too powerful. Sam punched out the main bully easily enough after all.

The fight scenes are fun but there aren’t any real threats for Joe to fight here. Even the main villain never appears to be a true threat if you ask me. There’s no point where you think Joe is going down. This may be the first film in the series but I think you can still put in a more powerful villain. Have the hammer amp everything up to a higher degree than just being an attack item would have worked for example. At least the movie still does have fun with the effects when Joe is punching everyone out. You have characters sliding across the floor and falling through the wall.

I’d also give the film credit for one solid twist in there. It’s not one I was expecting but then when it happens, it makes a lot of sense in hindsight. That’s the best kind of twist as it’s clear that the film did give you a fair chance with the various signs and I would say it was the right move. I thought it was very interesting and adds an extra layer to the film. It’s something that the sequel can build off of as well.

Throw in a real soundtrack and this movie would be even better. Surprisingly there just isn’t much music at all here so the film is often quiet. I suppose it’s going for a more somber approach but you should always find a way to put in some good tunes somehow. Trust me, they can enhance any film even if there aren’t a lot of action scenes. Ultimately this is a fairly grounded film so I’d call it a low key action title but it’s one that works well. I would certainly recommend it to any action fan.

Overall, The Samaritan is a quality film and one that was well made. I think it could have stood to be a bit more explosive but as far as origin stories go, it still does the trick. It’s hard to see this being the next big action franchise or anything like that but you never know. I’m always ready for more superhero films no matter what studio wants to do it. Hopefully if this does well then Amazon may think about turning it into a whole cinematic universe.

Overall 7/10

The Flash Volume 3 Gorilla Warfare Review

It’s certainly been quite a while since I’ve checked out a Flash comic, that’s for sure. Or any comic for that matter. Volume 2 ended with Gorilla Grodd and the troops heading to Earth just when the Rogues Gallery had been having a big fight with the Flash. Now they have to break that up in order to fight off the invasion but it may already be too late for Central City. That was a good cliffhanger to end things off with so Volume 3 is really able to start quickly. The arc really takes up almost all of the volume but you would expect no less for Grodd.

So as mentioned, Gorilla Grodd’s army is here and the Flash has a very tenuous partnership with the Rogues for now. By that I mean that the Flash definitely has to watch his back at all times or it could be game over for him. This won’t be as easy as normal though because Gorilla Grodd has obtained super speed of his own. Meanwhile Iris and friends are still stuck inside the speed force and trying to get out but they have to make sure not to mess with the timestream too much. That never tends to end well.

The arc takes up the first 5 issues out of 7 in the volume so quite a lot happens. I always had a hard time taking Grodd seriously as a Flash villain because super speed means this guy should not be able to do anything. Giving him the Speed Force as well helps to change that because now Flash is the one in a tough spot. I won’t say unwinnable, but it would be difficult to cause an upset if they both have the same level of speed only Grodd is massively stronger. You could argue that the Flash’s experience would allow him to win but I’d argue that the experience isn’t enough to even give him the advantage let alone make this an easy win.

It’s honestly a very impressive showing for Gorilla Grodd to the point where the Flash pulls a Dr. Strange and thinks through hundreds if not thousands of scenarios and can’t find any way where he can directly defeat Gorilla Grodd. Ultimately he has to think outside of the box on this one. The plan is certainly an interesting one. Depending on how his plan went I may have been shaking my head but ultimately it was well thought out. It may not guarantee his victory but it does stack as many possible advantages as possible in order to at least make this close.

The volume really shows off Barry’s intelligence which is always good. He is a genius in his own right even if he’s not as smart as Batman or Superman. Barry knows how to come up with a plan and is quite self sufficient. The guy’s been the hero of Central City for a while after all and the volume treats him with a lot of respect. Part of why the Justice League is so fun is because you can make an argument for several members ultimately being the deadliest person in the group. Flash is no exception with how he can bend time to his will and move so quickly. Usually this means you may have some power level hax but the comic solved that issue by giving Grodd his speed. Ultimately the arc was a lot of fun.

There are two main subplots here, one of which is solid and the other which is underwhelming. The good one is with the Rogues fighting off the Gorillas. It’s always fun to have a villains vs villains kind of confrontation and this one lives up to that. The rogues are just lucky that the rest of the Gorillas don’t have super speed. Captain Cold is still bickering about trying to be the leader a lot but the group does ultimately team up to stop the threat. I look forward to seeing them step in as villains again in a future arc.

The plot I was not really feeling was with Turbine, Iris, and the gang. So they were hopping around a lot and ultimately show up in the speed force to help but it was a little hard to care. They didn’t help a whole lot and while I know Turbine needs to get home, you would just be waiting to get back to the Barry plot. It seems like Turbo’s plot will end up being important in a future arc so maybe next volume will be his time to shine. In the meantime though it just wasn’t very big yet. Also, Iris is just so unlikable in the New 52 so far so she tends to be annoying in most of the scenes.

We get a flashback where she went on a date with Barry just to try and use him to get her brother out of prison. Manipulating someone with a fake date’s definitely not good. In the present they’ve patched things up well enough but Barry is currently dating Patty and you can’t help but feel that Patty is ultimately doomed. It’s too bad because Patty seems like a good character throughout. She’s been very understanding of his Flash persona and has just been nothing but supportive throughout the series. I’d like to see Iris and Barry just have a very constructive friendship but we’ll see how that goes.

The final two issues deal with the Trickster being charged with murder. He denies the charges and Barry believes him because he knows the Trickster wouldn’t murder someone. Personally….I’d be a little dubious since the guy is a villain even if he usually seems harmless. Also, some of the guys who went into the Speed Force have started developing super speed. Interestingly, only Iris has not awakened her abilities yet which concerns Flash but he doesn’t have time to tackle every issue at once. He needs to convince these guys to stop using their powers so freely and he needs to find evidence to help out the Trickster. One last problem though…his speed has mysteriously vanished. Can he still prove that the Trickster is innocent?

Albert and Gomez are the two guys who awakened the super speed abilities and they are rather annoying. They get themselves into trouble almost immediately and are extremely aggressive right from the jump. Sure, they’re right that they can’t just get rid of their powers and may as well use them but you’d think they would take babysteps first. Maybe train in abandoned areas, get used to the speed, etc. There are so many ways to prepare yourself with super speed since it’s such an amazing power. Jumping right into big fights is not the way to go. I think what rubs me the wrong way is how upset they are and it really feels like they will turn evil in short order. They’re also quite rude to the Flash for no reason. If they keep their powers I definitely expect things to get dicey.

The Flash losing his powers feels pretty random for now. At the end of the volume we find out that this may tie into a Batman case involving a power syphoning device. Cyborg is looking into it and this is a nice nod to the rest of the League being around. It’s the perfect way to include their presence while still having the Flash doing his own thing. Without this happening the mini arc would be extremely easy so I see why the plot device was included.

After all, the stakes here is that a group of rebels are planning to break the Trickster out and that could cause some political strife as the group is a part of an independent nation. It’s certainly impressive that they started this up since these guys don’t seem all that ready for politics. Still, apparently this could cause huge issues so the Flash has to be careful on how he handles this. We get to see how he would fight with gadgets and such to also try and avoid hurting anyone. It’s a fun adventure which may be a lot more low key than the Grodd fights but works well enough.

Finally, the cliffhanger is about the Reverse Flash showing up. I have no idea which version or iteration this one is but he seems to be taking the title literally as he may have just saved someone he murdered only to destroy the guy again? The whole setup is about doing things in reverse which is fun. I want to see more of this gimmick going forward. He’s already talking big and I expect he’ll try to bring some pseudo moral argument over to Barry which the lead should just disregard. Reverse Flash is historically one of his most dangerous foes though so this should be a tough fight.

As expected, the artwork is really solid here. The New 52 era always looked super impressive visually and this comic is no exception. The fight scenes are on point and it makes the comic very easy to read. You never have to pause and wonder what’s going on or anything like that. The whole story just flows together real easy. The writing is good too with all the characters remaining in character and acting sensible. Even Iris who I wasn’t a big fan of is still written well. I just didn’t like the decisions she would end up making.

Overall, The Flash continues to be a strong run for the character. Each arc is interesting and brings a good amount of action and adventure. With the Reverse Flash coming in, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next arc is the best one yet. The beginning to a long comic run is always super important and I’d say the writer’s been nailing it here. Each story keeps introducing new elements for the future so there’s always quite a few plot threads to juggle. The toughest thing will be keeping the Flash from instantly winning without constantly reverting to taking his powers away or just making the enemies also gain super speed. Of course if you have to choose an option to reuse, I would always go with the latter because high speed battles never get old. Also, it just makes sense for his gallery to have super speed as it’s logically the best way to put up a fight against him.

Overall 7/10

The Reflection Review

Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10