Attack on Titan: No Regrets Review

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It’s time to look at another Attack on Titan OVA. I read the manga version of this one a while back so I basically knew what to expect. I definitely considered it to be one of the better spinoffs and it did a good job of making Levi a good character. The main series disregards that of course as it makes everyone compromised by the end, but that’s why prequels can be cool sometimes. The OVA is divided into two episodes with the first one being really good and the second one pretty bad. The mix makes for an outcome that you’d probably expect from the franchise.

The story starts with a girl named Isabel running from shady fellows who are unnecessarily gritty as always. Levi stops them and the guys retreat. Isabel realizes that learning how to fight would be pretty useful here so she joins the group and becomes one of the team. The other member being Furlan. She gets the hang of things rather quickly. Unfortunately, one of Levi’s comrades is taken to a hospital and held as a hostage so he and his team are forced to join the Survey Corps to murder the commander Erwin to help a corrupt politician escape persecution. Can they accomplish the task before they are eaten by titans?

The first episode is pretty fun. It still gritty in some aspects, but there aren’t any titans running around. It’s just Levi and the others trying to survive the slums. Levi’s a pretty stand up guy who looks out for his comrades and he gets a lot of respect around the place. He’s the kind of heroic main character that you’d expect to find in a Shonen. He goes through with the scheme to get Erwin because if he doesn’t his friend will be in trouble. He’s just a great all around lead and he also knows how to fight. His 3D Vertical maneuvering abilities are second to none.

Furlan is a good second in command. He doesn’t have much character except that he is always ready to help Levi and also stands up against injustice. That’s good enough for me. Finally, Isabel is a chipper young cadet who is eager to help out. Her first scene has her protecting a bird which is a great start and it even gets to live which makes the whole thing even better. The dynamic between the three characters is pretty fun and that probably would have made for a pretty fun show on its own. I had no real complaints with the first episode. The animation was sharp and the soundtrack was good. The ending could have even worked as an ending since it shows how he joins the corps.

The second episode is where it all goes downhill. The first half wasn’t bad as we see the characters excel in the Titan hunting practice. Levi may use an unorthadox grip, but it gets the job done. The other members may not like it, but as long as he gets results they can’t do much about it. They still plan to destroy Erwin, but there aren’t really any openings for them to accomplish this. The guy is like a stone wall that blocks everyone off. Finally, they get their chance on a titan hunt when the rain gets extra thick. Levi goes ahead to take Erwin down, but as he leaves a titan murders all of his friends so he murders it as well. In despair, he decides to follow Erwin’s cause so that his life can now have meaning.

Erwin’s not very sympathetic to the whole situation as the show portrays him as a guy who’s been around the block many times. None of this is as a surprise to him anymore and he’s made of sterner stuff. He’s willing to cross any line if it means defeating the Titan so he’s not really a hero. He just aligns himself on the same side as the main characters. He’s not my kind of character, but he’s certainly someone who’s useful to have on your side. At least he saw through Levi’s plan the whole time so he’s fairly cautious. It makes sense to be suspicious when the characters were caught so easily. I like to think Levi would have defeated Erwin in a fair fight.

What hurts the second episode is naturally how super violent and dark it is. The animation uses a detailed style to try and make the deaths as graphic as possible. You see the spine and body parts as their remains are found. It’s definitely super done and likewise with Levi’s fight against the Titan as he keeps on slashing it over and over to take his rage out on it. I would have preferred the light novel approach where Titans just turn to steam and don’t really bleed. Those were the good ole days.

Levi was still a great character of course as avenging his comrades is the first thing he should do and he did abandon the mission to check on their safety right away. It’s like Spider-Man’s origin story as his choice ultimately decided their fate. He couldn’t do everything, but the overall message of the OVA was good. You can’t regret your choices when you don’t know what outcomes they will bring. Some choices lead to positive outcomes and some don’t. As long as the decision itself was good, then you shouldn’t actually have any regrets. Levi’s reasoning for joining Erwin wasn’t bad either. I definitely think part of it was helping to avoid what happened to his friends to anyone else. Who wouldn’t want to stop the Titans after that?

What makes it more painful for him is that he warned his teammates not to come. Their skills aren’t at the same level as his so it makes sense that it would be dangerous for them. Still, it’s not as if he could have stopped them from coming in the end so what’s done is done. It’s a pretty sad ending to the OVA and I would have preferred the first one, but it shows why Levi is so cold to everyone.

As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are really good. All of the character models are really high quality and the fight scenes are smooth. The Survey Corps battle with Levi squad is definitely the best part of the whole thing. The animation and directing did a good job of showcasing their speed without getting distracted or spinning around in an attempt to look good. Some anime try to do that to be clever, but it’s a cop out. The soundtrack is also great as it grabs a lot of the good themes from the anime and plugs them in. The fun techno theme is always a fun addition and I’ll never forget it from the very first Attack on Titan episode. It was a good way to start the series….for an instant.

Overall, No Regrets had a solid beginning, but a weak ending. It’s a little too dark/gritty/tragic at the end which brings down the score considerably. That’s why Attack on Titan will always be limited since it always goes down when the Titans appear, but a series without Titans would be a completely different show. Still, it definitely has an interesting premise and I’d probably recommend checking it out over the main show. If you like the OVA then you should go ahead and watch it. The intro is included here and some quick exposition so you’ll know what’s happening from the get go. I have another OVA coming up and it has the potential to be the best yet as we return to the main cast. It’s hard to say which ending was more tragic and mean spirited, this one or Ilse’s Notebook. I dare say it would be the latter since Ilse was by herself and pretty much defenseless while at least Isabel and Furlan had each other, but it’s close. Hopefully the next one has a happier ending so it can end the OVA on a solid note.

Overall 4/10

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Psyren Review

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It’s time for a pretty fun manga that went under the radar and had to hurry to a rushed conclusion. It’s a shame, but I can see how people never gave it a chance. Personally, I always thought it was a manga about competitive hip hop dancing. I don’t know why, but it just looked like one thanks to a screencap on Mangastream. I didn’t learn better until I got to read a few volumes from the library. It’s a series that takes a few different twists compared to your average Shonen and the series was very ambitious. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t last long enough to unleash its full potential.

The main character is Ageha and he’s your average Bully hunter for hire. He takes out the bullies as long as you can pay him. One day he notices Anamiya getting bullied by a few other girls and saves her wallet. She dashes off, but not before asking him for help. The next day she goes missing and the town goes on full alert. Ageha decides to call the number of a mysterious card that he received and solves its puzzle so he can get some answers. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away to a desolate world that is overrun by monsters. Anamiya is here, but with a completely different personality as she is very cold and antagonistic to the rest of the characters. Still, she needs Ageha to help her clear the game. If you die in the game you die in real life!

There are a few rules. One: They just have to live through it. Two: Clear the daily missions. Three: Tell nobody. As long as they follow those 3 rules, they will be allowed to leave the game in peace. Of course, this is difficult since there are monsters everywhere as well as an evil organization that is bent on taking over the Earth through any means necessary. Fortunately, this world amps up everyone’s natural psychic abilities and you can gradually learn how to use it for combat. Along the way, a kid Ageha used to bully, a rockstar, and a random joe are brought to the world as well. Technically, a bunch of people are brought in, but the rest are all slaughtered almost instantly by the monsters. Hey, you can’t save em all right?
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At first the manga plays out like a survival horror. The humans have no business fighting giant monsters and basically just have to run and hide. Anamiya is the only one who can fight them and even she can’t take on too many of them at once. If the series had stayed like this, it could have certainly gone for an Attack on Titan vibe. Honestly, it could have maybe worked, but I’m glad the manga shifted gears into full action instead. Once the characters all got powers and the monsters were phased out in place of humanoid opponents, the manga truly began to excel.

It plays out a lot like Hueco Mundo in Bleach. The heroes get in really large scale battles against the enemies. The series jumps between the present and the future a lot. As you’d probably expect, the future has all of the best scenes and fights. The technology doesn’t really change this time, but everyone is just a lot stronger so the visuals are more spectacular. This series really knew how to draw your attention the whole time. Lets quickly go through a bunch of the characters.

First up is Ageha. He’s a good protagonist even if he definitely doesn’t care about being a hero. Lets move past his childhood where he was apparently a bit of a bully. He does act like your typical main character for a while as he tries to save everyone and does his best to complete the game. What separates him from most is how absolutely ruthless Ageha is. He’s totally on board with destroying any opponent who gets in his way. Some of the villains comment on this as Ageha will go for a kill shot right off the bat. Given the stakes and all, it’s easy to see why, but not something that all main characters will go for. He embraces his dark abilities from the start and never enters into a self doubt phase. All of these elements together make him a very engaging lead. You can draw a lot of similarities to Yusuke Urameshi.

Amamiya is the main heroine and she was always rather odd. We find out the reason why by the end as she has a split personality. One side of her is very shy and timid while the other is aggressive and outgoing. She starts to lose control of her other personality by the end, but eventually gets it back. You could say that the two sides of her made a truce to share the body and each gets a turn now. It’s an intriguing concept anyway. For the most part, the more aggressive one is naturally better although the flirting can be a bit much. I’m glad that Anamiya can fight, but she’s just not a very charismatic heroine.

The same can be said for the big rival of the series. That is Asaga and he is probably the most soulless rival I’ve ever seen in a series. He barely even counts as a rival since he is never in Ageha’s league to begin with. He has a lot of brute strength and that’s how he wields his psychic powers. He just has no real personality though besides possibly liking the main heroine. Ageha’s gravity abilities are both stronger and more versatile. There’s just nothing Asaga can contribute to a fight and he was basically written out of the series for a while as he had some adventures on the alien planet by himself.

Next up is a character whose development never really got to end. Oboro is a famous pop star who got into the game and began to excel. He can heal others which is incredibly useful and his abilities began to morph into disintegration. He can also heal others too well which results in them merging with other monsters and dying. The series was really hinting that he was going to turn evil and he was beginning to fit into the rival role. Then…the series just ended and he never really got to have any closure. I think he barely even got a final fight if he did at all. I did think the character had a lot of promise though and he was probably the best supporting member.

Kirisaki’s essentially the scaredy cat of the group. Every series seems to need one and he fits the bill. His ability is that he can sense the future as long as he is in danger and this allows him to dodge any traps. Think of it like a very good Spider Sense and you get the general idea. This isn’t the kind of character that I’m typically a fan of though so I’ll have to give him a thumbs down.

Now lets talk about some of the villains. Miroku is the big villain in the series and he’s certainly a strong fighter. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and can come across as generic, but I’d say that he’s good enough. His design’s not bad. Grana is the strongest member of the main villain group so he’s second only to Miroku for most of the series. He’s sort of like Zaraki from Bleach and I like his personality. He’s always itching for a fight and he can dish it out as well as he takes it. That makes for a pretty good villain if you ask me. Unfortunately, as the story goes with most of these characters, he didn’t get to do a whole lot.

Junas was one of the most impressive villains. He went up against quite a few of the main characters and kept on rolling. His design is on point and he made good use of his abilities. WISE was very fortunate to have him on their side. There’s not much to say about Uranus. He’s another member of the group who puts up a good fight, but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Junas. Finally we’re up to a villain who did get a lot to do. Dholaki was probably Ageha’s first real challenge and the guy kept coming back for more. He would train and learn new abilities to stay relevant. He had a good work ethic for a villain. Shiner was another member of the group and he also got a good role. I’d say that he was maybe a little nerfed by the end of the fight, but he did a good job weakening the heroes.

Mithra is basically the real final boss. She’s a very imposing entity and her true form helps increase the stakes of the series. I definitely think just about all big action titles should end with a big cosmic being suddenly showing up. It makes the final battle really feel like a final stand as opposed to just another fight against the bad guys. Mithra didn’t appear all that much, but she is memorable.

Yusaka is technically a pretty minor villain as he doesn’t appear much, but he was a pretty critical traitor against the heroes so he was memorable. He takes down a lot of humans in a rather brutal action scene and proves to be a lethal opponent. He’s not really my kind of villain, but he made for a good fight scene. While his design isn’t as impressive as most of the villains, it makes sense since he is basically just a human.
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There was a group of kids in the future who were the last defenders of humanity. They were a pretty fun bunch and all of them got some good screen time. Frederica is a fire expert who’s extremely confident and she always managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d call her the strongest member despite her boasts, but she’s definitely fun to have around. She’s effectively the leader of the team. Marie is the nicest member of the team which also happens to mean that she is basically the weakest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of hers. She’s not a bad character, but rarely seemed to help out all that much. She did contribute of course, but I would have liked to have seen more action from her.

Kyle looks up to Ageha and pretty much modeled his fighting style after him. Kyle’s a hand to hand specialist who attacks with incredible power. I’d say that he is the most powerful member of the group and he sure did a good job whenever he would appear. He definitely grew a lot from his days as a kid. Shao probably got one of the best fight scenes in the series as he fights with strategy as well as power. He’s about as strong as Kyle and really helps the group have an edge over the villains. Every time you get a strong fighter like that, it really helps everyone’s odds. He’s rather quiet, but it’s not about confidence. It’s simply a choice in his case and he lets his actions speak for him.

Nemesis Q was more annoying than helpful. I still don’t understand what the point was of calling everyone to the game world, but destroying them if they told anyone. By the end of the series we learn that she is basically stuck in a wheelchair and just gets her thrills out of mocking Ageha. She got some kind of origin story, but it still seems like the best plan would just have been to tell the heroes what was going on. They could have changed the past a whole lot easier if they knew the details.

Matsuri was one of the only players who ever got out of the game alive. As such, she knows about it, but isn’t really allowed back. She can still help in the real world though. Her abilities are potent, but not quite as deadly as most of the main characters. She essentially got surpassed by everyone as the series went on, but did well in the mentor role. Kagetora is her friend and essentially a bodyguard who also got some psychic abilities. He handles psychic crime in the real world, but has a tendency to get in a little over his head at times. His regeneration ability at the end is really handy though since it fits in with his constant aggression.

Tatsuo is a friend of Asaga’s who got stuck in the game. In the real world he was super frail, but he was able to excel in this other world as a hybrid monster. At first he is evil from the experience, but gradually learns to accept the situation and becomes a hero. He’s a fairly decent character, but one that still just feels more like a trope than an individual. Asuka is Ageha’s father and he actually shows up to fight by the end of the series. His ability has a lot of drawbacks and can’t be used for too long, but it’s very powerful. He is one of the only characters in the series who is able to use a certain burning/ascendence which amps up all of his stats. The series may not have explained too much about why he knows so much about the psychic wars and all, but it was nice to see him help out. He’s not a very nice guy at times though so that hurts his likability.

So the character cast is fairly decent. I like Ageha and the Actor worked fairly well as a shady rival. I don’t think the author initially planned for that subplot to just end like it did, but you never know. The rest of the heroes were rather weak compared to most titles though, but fortunately the villains held their own. They were all pretty cool for the most part even if I started to mix them up. It’s important that Ageha was good since if the main character had also only been standard, it might have had more of an effect on the series. What helped to compensate for this was the solid artwork throughout. The artist has a nice clear style that works well with the series. It’s also nice since Ageha’s powers could have easily turned into something very wavy and chaotic. With a lesser artist It would have been easy to get lost during the action scenes.

The series could get pretty intense like the massacre inside the government base. You couldn’t help but feel bad for the government the whole time since they were just so out of their league but they kept on trying anyway. At the very least, you have to admire their commitment. We even got the cops involved at one point as they try to arrest Ageha, that was fun. There’s a lot to like in this series which is why it’s a shame that it never hit 20 volumes.
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Overall, Psyren is a fun action series. It won’t go down as an all star like Dragon Ball Z or Kenshin, but I’d say that it did a really good job. The idea of fighting in the future is always a good one. Reborn! probably did the best job with it, but many titles have pulled it off. The action was large in scale and Ageha readily embracing his dark abilities was nice as well. It’s a shame that the series ended so suddenly since it still had quite a lot of potential left in it. Sometimes we just don’t get to see it all though. That’s just the way it goes. I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. It’s pretty epic and I’m confident you’ll like it if action is your genre of choice.

Overall 8/10

All Is Lost Review

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All is definitely lost all right with this film. Trying to hold a roughly 2 hour film with just one character is not an easy proposition. Nor is it a good idea It’s a bold move and one that I guess you’d expect someone to do for a high school project if you had absolutely no budget and needed to quickly make some money. This film wasn’t exactly in that circumstance though and I can’t award it any sympathy points anyway. This film is not bad in the same way as Sucker Punch, Suicide Squad, or I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it still makes one critical mistake. It’s one of the most boring films that I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, Mr. Megorium’s Wonder Emporium (Close enough to the title) is actually more interesting. This film gives Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit competition along with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t think being boring on its own is enough to get you a 1, but this film does come close.

So, there’s a guy on a boat. Unfortunately, there’s a heavy wind so his boat starts to drift away. He must now try to stay alive for around 2 hours, but he’ll have to deal with strong winds and rain. I didn’t know anything about the film before watching it so I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. “That was an extremely slow start, but I’m sure something will happen soon” was what I was thinking at 20 minutes in. 40 minutes in- “All right, this is a little troublesome. The film can’t get a positive score at this point, but maybe we’ll get some pirates or something” 90 minutes in- “Nooooooooooo!”

It’d be hard to have a film that is less eventful than this one. It screams “Indie” in a bad way as it constantly buys for time. We have to watch the guy eat in 10 different scenes or more. We see him stare out the window, drink beer, and the scenes where nothing happens just goes on and on and on. At least a slice of life movie still has dialogue between characters to keep you engaged. There is nothing for your brain to think about with this film except as to when the film is going to end. I have to be honest, films need dialogue. It’s something to sink your teeth into and learn about the characters. If you’re going to make a film with only one character, then we at least need a lot of inner monologue like with Lon Chaney. Choosing to make a modern day silent film without any interactions, villains, plot, or anything else is just a bad idea. There’s just nothing to this film. I could see a fan film on Youtube like the Mega Man one or King of Fighters with more action and story development.

The locale also isn’t very interesting since we’re just seeing some water the whole time. It never really switches so you better be a fan of the place or it’s going to get very old very quickly. There isn’t really a sountrack so mix that in with the no talking part and things get intriguing. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the camera angles needed some work as well. It kept getting hit by the water of being put in a bad angle so you couldn’t see much. This was probably meant to help the realism, but it failed miserably. It’s not as if the guy had a camera with him in the film so there’s no point in acting as if it was with him. We should have gotten crisp camera angles that could have felt like they were in a modern film.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot to say about this film and no need to keep on beating at the same topics right? I think you get the general idea that I really didn’t like the execution of this film or the very concept of just having a one man movie. It’s not a good idea. Films need dialogue, interaction, multiple characters, fights…something to keep you entertained. This film didn’t have any of that which is why I was bored out of my mind. Now, there is a market for this as there are people who follow celebrities on snapchat and other social media sites where you just watch them walk around and hang out. Vine had a similar thing going. If your idea of a good time is just watching someone walk around for 2 hours, then you’ll enjoy this film a lot. It’s not my cup of tea though so I’m going to go back to my classic Dragon Ball Z films where I can relive the good ole days. I watch Super Smash battles for multiple hours at a time and I’m sure that some people would be bored by that so at th every least, All Is Lost can try to get to a niche and isn’t that what most Indie films do anyway? Better luck next time with the one man approach, I’m sure that another film can implement it better. If necessary, throw in a last second character like Matt Damon just showing up out of a containment tube or a Tom Cruise clone walking around an apocalyptic planet. Other films have already solved the problem of how to start off with 1 or 2 characters and then throwing someone else in, All is Lost just needed to have remembered that a little sooner.

Overall 2/10