Black Clover

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Well, I have started the Black Clover anime alongside the Toonami viewers. It had a pretty solid start with the first episode. The animation and music appear to be on point and as the series goes on we should get many more fights and characters added to the mix. It’ll be a while before this series finishes, but I shall have a review up when it does.

Overall 7/10

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Samurai Jack (2017) Review

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Samurai Jack is one of the best American cartoons out there. If we don’t count super hero shows like Justice League then it takes the title quite easily. The show had awesome fights and episodes that were nonstop action the entire time. It may have ended rather suddenly with no real ending, but that’s fine since you could always imagine your own ending. Still, everyone was rather hyped when they announced that the series would finally be getting a conclusion. Everyone…except me. From the start this was promoted as a far darker, grittier, more violent take on the classic show to fit in with the modern times. I had a bad feeling that this show was not just going to be bad, but terrible. Unfortunately…my fears turned out to be correct.

This new season was fairly misleading as the first episode was actually really good. We got a nice fight scene and it was against a robot so there wasn’t any blood or anything. I felt like things would maybe be okay. Right after that is where the show went downhill and never recovered. Episodes 2-3 are the most action packed and intense episodes of the show, but are also overflowing with over the top violence. Jack also ends up murdering a few of his opponents who were brainwashed girls who were raised to despise him. The fact that they are rather young is there to increase the grit factor.

Episode 4 was more like a classic Jack episode. It still couldn’t be bothered to avoid some animal violence, but was a big step up from the last two episodes. Episode 5 was the final episode before the show lost its focus. We see the Scotsman have a very pointless return as he gets one shotted by Aku and Jack is tricked into thinking that he murdered a bunch of kids. Honestly, I thought they were dead too so props to the show for not going down that rabbit hole.

Episode 6 is about cameos as Ashi meets up with a bunch of old allies. You can say that it’s filler as it’s just a homage for old fans, but the good news is that this means we didn’t have to see any unnecessary grit. I think this may be the episode with a pretty wince worthy line, but more on that later. Episode 7 leads us back to grit as it’s one of the most violent episodes. Ashi murders a bunch of villains and you’ll just want to fast forward to the next one.

Episode 8 is one of the worst episodes. This time it’s because of the very forced romance and the fact that it doesn’t work at all. Jack’s wayyyyyyy older than Ashi and as people had been pointing out on the sub reddit for weeks, it couldn’t work. The show surely wouldn’t go down that path right? Well, they did even though everyone was hoping for a more father-daughter bond which would have made more sense. Episode 9 still has some of this plot to deal with, but luckily the second half is better as Aku steps in. Episode 10 is extremely rushed with a rather lackluster ending and one of the more anticlimactic final fights. The season ended as it ran….a disappointing and unnecessary final season.

Lets look at the negatives more generally now. First off is obviously the violence. Samurai Jack was originally a kid’s show, but this season decided to get extremely violent and dark. You could barely go a single episode without some kind of animal violence. Whether it be a bird getting stabbed, a dog being slashed to the verge of death, or random bugs squashed there was something always happening here. Animal violence is always a big no-no and having it show up over and over again certainly doesn’t help the show’s case. Naturally, the human fight scenes were just as bad. It gets to the point where you actively hope for an episode with no action and that’s where the show goes to the other extreme of having an episode that’s all about walking and talking. The only good fights are the one against Aku and robots, but those are typically quite brief.

To make the show a little more dark as well, Jack destroys the brainwashed daughters of Aku as I mentioned earlier. They were only added to the show so that Jack could justify his choice to destroy them and so he could stop being such a dramatic hero who saved everyone in his path. This was their only purpose which meant that the writers didn’t even care about their power levels. They started out as being incredibly strong and much quicker than Jack, but ultimately turned into light weights that Jack could defeat with ease.

The show’s writing also drops down quite a few levels. Just to keep up the edge factor the show has Scaramouche use a p word to describe someone’s head and it felt so out of place and unnecessary. It was about as forced as Wolverine’s catchphrase in virtually every X-Men film. The whole romance angle was also written quite poorly. Jack’s sudden lack of confidence and debates with his inner self were just as hard to watch. Aku was really the only character who stayed in character during this season. He was great and definitely a highlight here. Without him, I wonder how the show would have fared.
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To expand on why Jack isn’t a good character here, he has to compromise on his ideals far too often and doesn’t seem to have a shred of will power left. He decides to commit suicide after not being able to save a bunch of kids, but all that will do is doom even more people. He decides not to help a village that is being destroyed because he’s tired of being a hero. By the time he changes his mind and goes there, everyone is already dead. Jack even got a bunch of clever nicknames on Youtube as a result since he certainly seems to have gotten more ruthless over the years. His new (pretty bad) design didn’t help matters either. They really dropped the ball on this.

While Jack may have been butchered as a character, he still got some pretty good lines during the season. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way” or “I will give you a new choice. Turn back now or stay and face your destiny.” Those may not be word for word, but they were pretty intense. The latter especially as it comes from the preview for one of the first episodes. It was the most exciting preview and easily one of the best Toonami previews of all time. The music for that one was also pretty awesome and it will make you wish for some good tunes in the actual show.

Ashi is the main heroine and she’s a pretty decent character. She gets the short end of the stick on this show, but it was nice to finally have another supporting character who could fight. It’s a shame that we then had to throw romance into the picture and that we couldn’t see Ashi’s true form appear more. She was a good character and probably the best member in the series. She’s as brutal as Jack thanks to her origin and also mows everyone down during the course of the series. She got significantly weaker after turning good, but that’s to be expected. I like the concept of her character more than the execution, but she definitely wasn’t bad.

Scaramouche was great in the first episode. He made for a really good villain and his tuning fork is a potent weapon. That being said, his character was wasted in the rest of his appearances. The show just didn’t know what to do with him. His voice really helped to sell the character if you ask me. I already talked about how great Aku was so I don’t really need to go into it. He was just on point and while the show made him a little too powerful, (Jack can only win with plot hax) it made for an interesting dynamic. Aku is evil, but he doesn’t seem like a mean guy compared to the other villains. It’s something that I wouldn’t mind more titles playing around with. To an extent, Fairy Tail did this with Zeref for a while, but then he suddenly became full psychotic while trying to convince people that he was a nice guy.

The animation is basically the same as the old Jack show. It’s a little more streamlined and modern as the colors are sharper and the contrast works well. That being said, it’s still not my kind of animation and I wish they’d switch it to something more modern. The show looks very dated and I’ve seen 90’s shows that look a lot sharper. Just check out DBZ or Pokemon. The fight scenes are also a big step down from the old series. That one could have fights that lasted the entire episode and they happened multiple times. All of the fights in the 2nd half of the series are short and the first half felt long and intricate but also super violent and bloody.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack here. The classic Jack end theme is still around for most of the episodes which was pretty cool. I’m not really a fan of the theme song either. I typically don’t care for narration in my openings as it should just be illustrated through the lyrics and animation. If the show can’t do that, then it just needs to try again until it can pull this off.

The show is only 10 episodes so you’ll be able to get through it in a breeze. I can’t say that there is any real replay value to be found here at all. It may help convince you to re watch the old series again though so that would definitely be a good side effect of watching this one. At the very least, Samurai Jack serves as a cautionary tale to other old cartoons that fans want to get a new season. Odds are that the new season won’t be able to live up to the original episodes and it’ll just throw mud onto your cherished memories.

Before ending this review I should at least come up with one positive fro the show. It’s not a 0 so it’s not as if the show had 0 potential. What it did do well was establish a pretty apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s clear that Aku has won the war when the season picks up. Everything that I say here refers to the first 3 episodes by the way. The rest of the season became a complete trainwreck. The episode with Ashi and Jack teaming up in the factory was the final episode to try and salvage itself. Still, the first 3 episodes were pretty hype. There was a nice level of intensity and flare to each episode and the fights had real stakes. While the daughters of Aku were nerfed, they still felt like a nice threat. Seeing Jack use a variety of weapons instead of his sword was also interesting since he is a master in virtually every form of combat. If the episodes had been handled in the same vein as the original show, I think that these three episodes could have easily reached a solid 9. It wasn’t to be, but at least Jack never got boring during this trilogy. It really should have come out as some kind of 70 minute movie.

To address the ending, I can safely say that it wasn’t satisfying. As mentioned earlier, I wanted a big final fight. Even if we ignore the fact that we got cheated out of that, it’s just pretty mean spirited to Jack. The show basically just got him a companion just so they could take her away at the end so he could die alone. Jack also got over it a little too quickly in that last butterfly scene. I would have much preferred it if Jack had simply gone to the past, defeated Jack in a very long drawn out fight, and then became King. It would have been so much more effective and concise. That or have a big team up with Aku against a new villain, but I somehow feel like fans wouldn’t like that option very much.
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Overall, Samurai Jack deserved another season, but it didn’t need one. This season could have had a lot of potential since you can always make another story arc for Jack since he is immortal and the world is extremely large. Unfortunately this season couldn’t even decide what it wanted to do and half of the season felt like filler. The show could have ended on a more epic note after the first 3 episodes. It would have been a pretty conclusive ending. It even could have adapted episode 10 just without Ashi. Make no mistake, the show wouldn’t have gotten a positive score or anything since that would fix nothing, but you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by cutting the other 6 episodes out. The poorly constructed romance and pointless cameo of the Scotsman could have been left on the shelf. Next time you think about watching this show…don’t.

Overall 3/10

Dimension W Review

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It’s time to take a look at a recent anime. Dimension W is only 12 episodes long so it is definitely a short title. Nonetheless, it makes sure to give us some filler episodes here and there to “keep it real” for those of you who prefer not to have a big plot. Unfortunately, the show is quite terrible no matter what it tries to do and ends up making a bigger mess the longer that it goes on. While the show could have at least tried to go for a 6 towards the very, very beginning, it continued to shoot itself in the foot right up through to the very end.

This show takes place in the future. Another dimensional axis has been discovered and it has been called Dimension W. Through this dimension, Earth can now receive unlimited energy and essentially making companies like General Electric obsolete. To control this unlimited energy, towers were placed around the world and while the Earth still suffers from just about every modern day problem, lack of electricity is no longer one of them. The problem is that Dimension W can be a little unstable and that is an issue because it is what’s used to power “coils.” Think of coils as batteries that run on this new form of energy. Everything uses them now and they have revolutionized how people live their lives.

The downside of being so dependent on Dimension W is that when the energy goes out for a little while, so does everything else. Dimension W’s energy allows you to do things like enhance weapons and even travel through time. Naturally, this means that people also want to use it to further their own ambitions. In the center of all this is Kyouma. He is a bounty hunter who takes down villains, but he does it the old fashioned way. This guy doesn’t like coils because they were involved with the death of someone he knew back in the day. He gets along just fine anyway, but one day a scientist blows himself up and his robot (Mira) decides to join up with Kyouma.

Seeing as how Kyouma is a bounty hunter who also collects Coils to give to the people who hire him (Or just to destroy them) Mira figures that being around him will help her achieve her goals. Before the scientist died, he told Mira to find all of the coils for some reason. She doesn’t know the specifics, but a little thing like that won’t stop her. This is essentially the pre arc as they have a lot of adventures along the way. The main plot starts when a rich guy hires a bunch of collectors (The bounty hunters who capture coils) to go find the original numbered coil on Easter Island.

This gets personal for Kyouma because that’s where he was wrecked so convincingly that he lost his memories. It’s also the reason why his friend died. Still, he heads on over and he’ll have to fight quite a lot to get out of there alive. Especially since the other Collectors aren’t exactly team players and Salva (The rich guy) can’t be trusted. This should have been epic, but it simply wasn’t to be. Let’s start with some negatives before we talk about the characters.

For starters, this anime falls for the oldest trick in the book, the trap of fanservice. The main heroine is a robot, but she is (Of course) very well crafted so the anime constantly has her be scanned as fanservice for the show. Mix that in with a whole episode where she is stuck in a bath towel and other shenanigans throughout the show and you get some sad scenes. Salva is the rich villain who appears midway through the show and he doesn’t help matters. He uses a bind technique to inflict pain to his assistant and naturally this affects her in a specific area. Unfortunately, she has been brainwashed to the point where she still serves and admires him the entire time. It is very twisted and even more so when the show tries to present Salva as a good guy by the end. I really hope nobody actually bought that and it was going to be impossible to make him likable after his initial scene. It’s simply not going to happen.

The show is also very boring and tries to take all of the most boring cliches that it can find and merges them into a single episode. We get a mystery “thriller” where the heroes end up getting knocked into the past thanks to Dimension W and find out that people were still fairly sinister even back in the day. Another filler saga shows how a guy murders a security guy for no reason and as a result, all of his friends end up drowning. He’s left with two options, try to save a few people or save his girlfriend. (Who tripped and sprained her ankle so she can’t move) He ends up cracking in one timeline and doesn’t do much of anything while an alternate him tried to help people. Either way, they end up toast so it didn’t matter much and the guy was not sympathetic. The entire thing would have been avoided if he had not murdered the innocent security guard.

For some more context, he was trying to hide a body that his friend murdered in self defense, but didn’t have the confidence to back up her story before the cops. That’s why he decided to drown the evidence and murder someone else to increase the body count. It was a terrible story. Another boring installment to the series was the series of flashbacks that we got for Kyouma. We kept on seeing the same things time after time after time. I was glad when he finally got his memories back to we wouldn’t have to keep revisiting them. The problem is that they were still boring.

His old friend who died thanks to a malfunction of the coils didn’t feel like much of a character. She appeared and instantly fell for the main guy, but it felt forced. It was just there for our cliche romance and to make the main character have a tragic backstory. Getting stuck behind a bus somehow was also a very odd scenario that doesn’t seem all that realistic or likely. Instead of getting over it, Kyouma’s memory loss is an excuse for him to suddenly have a lot of doubts in the final episode. He’s a bad character without all that, but it meant a few more minutes of nothing happening while Mira had to jump in his mind Sailor Moon style.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about why Kyouma is a bad main character. For starters, he is not heroic nor is he even close to that. He tries to punch Mira in the face after being frustrated at how badly he was humiliated in one case. Sure, Mira’s a robot, but she’s also a robot of a fairly young teenager and the principle of punching her in the face is quite sad. Luckily, Kyouma basically broke his wrist on the punch and decided not to do that again. He spends the entire show calling Mira names and insulting her. It’s supposed to be endearing, but I don’t think that plot line ever turns out to be endearing in the end and it just makes him look overly mean. Kyouma only cared about himself and while the show tries to prove to you how good Kyouma is deep down…I’m not buying it. He even goes into a rampage and attacks his old friend who saved his life many times over the years. That’s not being very grateful.
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Mira is around for most of the series, but never turns into a good character. When she’s not being insulted or used for fanservice, we are reminded that since she is an android, she is technically fairly strong. She just never exhibits this and when she finally starts to fight more, she is outclassed by random robots who have been sleeping for decades. Yes, this show isn’t very nice to her. Even kids end up picking on her. Mira tries her best to be a nice robot and follow the rules, but she is simply too much of a pushover. She should have left Kyouma to find her own way a long time ago.

Loser was easily the best character in the show. He wants to collect the numbers so that he could go back in time and save his wife from being destroyed by the main villain. (Haruka) He has to do this very cautiously so that nobody suspects anything and gets the reputation of being a loser since he always fails his “mission” but actually ends up succeeding in his primary goal. Unlike Haruka, his motivations are ones that I can get behind and he proves to be a likable character from the start. He has a lot of plans and he treats his assistant (Elizabeth) with respect. The two of them make for a good team and since Elizabeth is a kid, it’s easy for her to go places without arousing suspicion.

As good as Loser is though, he’s only human. That puts him at a bit of a disadvantage when up against guys with powers like Kyouma (Mild super physical stats) and Albert. He has gauntlets which can amp up his physical power and he has some fire tech as well, but most of it is never shown. His only big fight in the series is completely off screen and he decides to let his guard down when fighting Haruka and gets crushed. He goes out in a very anticlimactic way which was disappointing. Despite all that, he was easily still the best. Personality trumps combat results after all.

Albert (How is this is name? Either the dub changed it or my memory is really out of whack. The name also doesn’t really fit the character imo) was my second favorite character. He’s a nice guy who works for the government. This often puts him at odds with Kyouma even though they don’t need to be. Kyouma just likes to stir up trouble for no good reason. Albert is a good fighter and an excellent sniper. He was one of the only survivors of the tragic mission due to his impressive skills. It can be hard to understand what his stake in the whole matter is since he treats everything like a game, but at the very least he seems to have heroic intentions/goals.

Haruka is the main villain and he fills all the stereotypes of “Evil Mad Scientist” 101. He wants to change things to prove that his teacher’s invention was actually awesome. It was taken by the government so Haruka decided to use the original Coil to destroy everyone, but the heroes stopped him. Luckily, he was able to keep on existing within dreams so he traveled through dreams into the present time and reclaimed his throne. He decided to use this strategy to do the plan all over again. He wasn’t ready for a positive dream though, which led to his demise. There’s nothing that makes this guy interesting at all. It probably would have helped (A little bit) if he could fight, but he can’t really do that either. In the end, he’s really just a ghost from the past who gets one last laugh.

Lwai is a cyborg who meets up with Kyouma and has some cross dressing adventures for his debut. He then proceeds to get completely wrecked by KK, the assasin. He has multiple bodies so he’s okay for now, but it does show that he’lll need to train some more. He’s not tooooo bad, but the fact that he follows Salva and doesn’t realize how corrupt the guy is can be a bit much. This is the part of the show where he would typically confront his brother and remind him how to be a hero. We don’t get any of that, although there isn’t much time for it either since Salva is knocked unconscious for most of his screen time.

The other bounty hunters who arrive on Easter Island all try to be hardcore and tough, but they end up being rather shallow. I would have liked the American one a lot since he was strong and had a good design, but he also had James Bond qualities to him, which destroyed his chances. KK randomly turned out to be an inside agent and started taking them all down one by one. His method of attack was decent I suppose, but he focused so much on mind games that he forgot how to fight by the end. The two drillers also didn’t really have a purpose in the story and they were just around for laughs.

The animation for the show was decent, but not nearly as good as it seemed to think. Most of the into is about Kyouma dancing to show off how smooth the animation is, but instead it came off as rather flat. Scenes that should have been used for action were just wasted. Plus, it’s easy to look decent when the show doesn’t have all that much action. The animation is still good, but it’s definitely nothing great and I’ve seen shows a few years older that looked better like Sword Art Online.

The music was all right as well, but it was on the bland side. The only memorable theme is the ending theme. It would pop up in some episodes as they were ending. That theme was fairly catchy and did a good job of making the episode’s cliffhanger feel a little more epic, but that’s it. A whole show can’t rely on one or two good themes if the rest are super bland and nonexistent. Maybe if Dimension W had more of an idea of where it wanted to go with the whole concept, then things could have turned out a little better. As it stands, I’m glad that the show was only 12 episodes.
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Overall, Dimension W just was not a good show. As you read above, it simply made too many mistakes and rare did anything right at all. Whenever a promising moment started to approach like a big fight or some kind of hype scene, it would be quickly destroyed. Loser’s big fight against the American hero? That ends without us getting to really see any of it although we still get strategic “hype” talk as the villains mentions how strong Loser is. Kyouma gets a rage mode, but it is quickly nullified because of a plot twist and it didn’t do much for the show because KK barely even tried to fight back. The time travel shenanigans ultimately had no point except to pad out the episode count and buy some time. If the show had played it straight with no fanservice and annoying characters, then this show had potential. Still, you can say that for most shows so I won’t give Dimension W any credit here. It simply failed totally and completely. Also, the show had some animal violence at the very end involving some innocent mice so that’s another problem to add to the bucket list.

Overall 3/10

Hunter X Hunter (2011)

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I’ve officially started the 2011 version of the Hunter X Hunter show. The original one was basically handled perfectly so it’ll certainly be tough to pass it, but this show adapts a lot more of the manga. It’ll be a lot of fun to compare the parts that they both adapt though. I’ll have a review for this series when it has finished airing on Toonami.

Overall 7/10