Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Avengers Assemble Review


This Avengers show definitely ran for a very long time. It got over 120 episodes which is impressive for any title. It managed to reach 5 seasons and adapted a ton of different Marvel events and brought in all of the fan favorite characters. While it’s not quite as solid as Avenger EMH or the classic 90’s X-Men show, it’s still a pretty good team show. It’s a very good title that you’ll have fun with. It checks off the right boxes and from the current wave of Marvel shows I would definitely say that it was the best one. The Avengers are just fun to have around.

It was a little funny how the show started though as they bump off Captain America almost immediately. Naturally any comic book fan knows that this isn’t going to stick, but it’s fun anyway. The heroes try to stay serious and for irony they have Iron Man tell the other characters that this is no time for jokes. Everyone ends up joking and making banter anyway, but they do try to keep some serious-ness about them during the first episode. The first episodes tried experimenting with comic book panels for the animation. So the characters would fly for example, but the screen would shrink to a panel size. It was an interesting idea, but I’m glad that it was thrown out almost immediately.

Season 1 is mainly about Red Skull and his Cabal of villains. It’s always nice to have a good villain group and these guys could hold their own so it worked out. Attuma and Dracula are among the members and those guys are no joke. While the series was still just starting it was a solid way to incorporate the fights right away and you got a feel for the show. It’s certainly one of the weaker seasons overall, but it holds its own just fine. It’d probably be nostalgic to go back and see how season 1 has aged.

Season 2 has quite a lot going on. First off you have the arrival of Thanos which brings us a ton of fights and then you get Ultron’s big move. Additionally the Squadron Supreme shows up with their Justice League-esque members as they try to take down the Avengers once and for all. That was definitely one of the highlights here since those guys have never really gotten to appear in the Marvel comics before now. It was great to see them on the big screen at long last.

Season 3 brings back Ultron and also adds in the Inhumans as well as a Civil War arc of sorts. It’s another pretty packed season and I do think that the show really started to hit its stride around season 2, but it continued seamlessly into season 3. The show just looked sharper and had more engaging episodes. The Civil War parts are always fun and you can’t really go wrong with Ultron either. There were a lot of fights to enjoy here and the effects of these events did continue into season 4.

Season 4 brings in the Secret Wars which was definitely cool. It’s not handled nearly as well as it was in the old Spider-Man cartoon, but it is really hard to top that one right? It does span almost the whole season though so there is a lot of time for things to happen, but it’s pretty changed from the comic. There are less spontaneous battles and chaos going on which is not the Secret Wars that I remember. We really need a full movie adaption of that legendary saga. Now that would be a lot of fun. Still, it was like an ensemble of all the heroes throughout the series so that was cool.

Season 5 is definitely the weakest of the bunch. The show effectively became the Black Panther show instead of an Avengers title. I’m rarely a fan of Black Panther as the MCU is one of the only continuities to make him likable. Typically he’s just way too arrogant and is basically a villain at times. You can probably imagine that the show wasn’t able to change that so when he is the main focus there isn’t much to really hold your interest here. It’s a whole season just to show why he is better than the Avengers. The basic plot though is that the Shadow Council is framing Black Panther and they intend to destroy the world. To stop them he’ll need a lot of old artifacts from Wakanda and he may have to time travel to use them.

So there’s definitely a lot happening here. As I mentioned, starting with season 2 the show did get better. The animation improved quite drastically as the colors were sharper and it actually got a little closer to the 90’s in terms of style and design. There was even a good soundtrack with a lot of tunes that almost seemed directly ripped from the Justice League cartoon. I wonder if that’s even possible or maybe the shows used some public domain music. Either way it did make everything a lot more epic.

And yet…the show still couldn’t reach the classics. So why is that? I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best to convey it. At no point in this show do you feel any serious stakes or truly hype moments. In The X-Men show the Phoenix Saga was grand and a real page turner. The Spider-Man show had quite a few sagas like the Secret Wars and Avengers EMH had the whole skrull invasion. Assemble has a ton of arcs, but none of them are quite as solid as those were. I think there are two guilty factors here. One is the nonstop humor in the show. If the heroes are constantly joking during the fights and not taking it seriously then the audience can’t either. Why feel scared for the heroes if they’re getting choked and still making puns? Assemble never really knows when to take a break from the one liners but that’s also true for most modern cartoons. It takes away any sense of danger.

Then there is the fact that the heroes seem to be able to lose to just about anyone. We get villains as powerful as Thanos and the Beyonder and then have to try and take guys like the Leader seriously. The stakes go from being universal to street level and it keeps flipping back and forth so often that it destroys your sense of scale. A show can certainly go back and forth, but like with the comics if you keep on going too often then things are going to get a little messy and you’ll experience event fatigue. We can’t blame the animation or soundtrack since I already mentioned that those are quite good. I suppose you can take some shots at the fight scenes though. There’s no weight behind any of the hits. Fights like Thor vs Hyperion are decent, but they don’t come anywhere close to the fights of EMH or something like Justice League. Everyone hits about as hard as sandpaper.

The fights can still look good though and I do enjoy the action, it’s just on a completely different level. It’s why most of the current superhero shows are stuck at a 7. It’s a very respectable score and the show is fun, but they just don’t manage to get to “Great” status. You need more of an engaging plot and a really strong cast to pull that off. That’s not something that Assemble is quite ready to do. Maybe the show will come back and try to prove me wrong at some point. I’d definitely be up for more Avengers action and lasting over 100 episodes is definitely impressive in and of itself.

Get ready for a lot of power level shenanigans, but for a long running superhero cartoon like this one that is basically inevitable. This kind of thing never really hurts the score, you just gotta roll with it. Season 5 is particularly guilty of this as Black Panther beats the entire Avengers crew multiple times. The show tries to make him seem like Batman at times with how prepared for everything he is. Even when he gets betrayed he always tries to make it seem like someone else’s fault. Then you’ve got Ultron taking down Thanos with the gauntlet which was pretty fun. That one’s more believable since Ultron is well, he’s Ultron. Still, I remember that one getting a lot of headlines back in the day and we also can’t forget Iron Man taking on the Byeonder. At the end of the day this show is all about seeing your favorite heroes duke it out with a bunch of villains and it delivers.

As for the characters, they’re all about the same as you would expect them to be from the movies or the comics. None of them are particularly changed or anything. Iron Man is still the leader of the group who likes to goof off, but it always ready with a solution when the world needs him. Then you’ve got Captain America who is more by the books but will startle everyone with the occasional joke. Thor is unfortunately not very smart in this version so he sometimes acts more like the Hulk than the green behemoth. Ms. Marvel is here to cover the newbie angle. She just wants the team to accept her and since she is a kid they all see her as the rookie. Interestingly her character is completely different in the current Spider-Man show as she gets pretty overconfident there. I like to think that Teen Titans Go got this one right as Robin explained in one comic that characters just act differently depending on what crew they’re with. It’s why he’s so goofy with the Titans, but gets serious when Batman is around. I guess not having the Avengers around just makes Ms. Marvel a whole lot braver.

As for the villains Thanos and Ultron are definitely a blast. Thanos gets to really go all out in the battle on the Moon and the scene of him hitting Thor against the hammer definitely looked painful. Ultron plays mind games with everyone as always and definitely has a lot of firepower. Then you’ve got Red Skull who has a really big role here and makes for a decent villain. The Squadron Supreme also deserves a mention. They really should have beaten the Avengers most of the times they fought. Their team is just OP and it reminds me once again why the Justice League would totally school the Avengers in a fair fight. Their members are just way too powerful and completely out of their league.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say here. Avengers Assemble is definitely what you’d expect from a modern Avengers show. It gives us a lot of quality episodes and sagas. The show really takes advantage of the wide roster of Avengers through the years and how many characters they’ve faced. While the show may not contain the soul of the older titles, it still does a very respectable job. There isn’t really anything to dislike about the show and the large array of episodes ensure that it has a lot of replay value as well. It’s a show that you can pick up and watch at any time or if you have a favorite character you can look him or her up and odds are that the show will have introduced this fighter. The amount of guest stars here is quite impressive and having a consistently solid show that you could watch week after week is a very nice thing. If you are a big fan of comics or just like a good action show then I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s a good cartoon for a Saturday Morning.

Overall 7/10

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Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Mega Man Fully Charged Review


It’s time to look at the recent Mega Man show. This one was definitely a different take on the legendary character, but one that worked pretty well nonetheless. It’s nice to have the blue bomber back in any form. Season 2 has not been announced yet and as the days stretch by it looks less and less likely. Still, hopefully the show will be back because the show definitely had some potential. In the meanwhile at least it did last for a full season.

The show starts by introducing us to the world of Mega Man. It takes place in the future where humans and robots co-exist in peace. A big war between the humans and robots happened a while back with the humans winning which is likely why they have the upper hand. Robots now live to serve them and can’t hurt humans. Lord Obsidian does not like that though and starts convincing various robots to turn evil. The Good Guild exists to quell such rebellions, but their skills may not be enough to stop these guys.

Fortunately, there exists a kid named Aki. He’s Dr. Light’s robot and while everyone just thinks that he is an ordinary kid, he actually has the ability to turn into Mega Man thanks to some help from a little robot who lives in his head called Mega Mini. The only person who knows about his secret identity is his sister Suna. Keeping the balance between his human and robot self is tough, but it is definitely something that Aki believes he can handle. No matter how many robots go against him Mega Man will be ready to save the day.

The whole thing about Mega Man having to keep his secret identity is definitely an interesting choice. It’s not something that Mega Man typically has to deal with, but within the setting it does make sense. The main problem though is that you never feel like the show thought this one through. There are various aspects here that the show never delves into, but you can’t help but feel are super relevant. Here’s your first question. Aki is a robot that Dr Light built to be an ordinary kid. So, how did Mega Mini come into existence? If Dr Light invented him then surely he already knows Aki is Mega Man right? If Light didn’t build him, who did? Mega Mini clearly has a whole terminal set up in Mega Man so someone designed such an area.

The second issue is that AKi’s ability to turn into Mega Man is something that had to be programmed. There’s also no way that Light wouldn’t have noticed this whenever he did Mega Man’s diagnostics to make sure he was okay. I think the avoid tripping itself up like this the show should have just had Light and Suna know from the start. It really wouldn’t change a whole lot in the show anyway and it would have simply made more sense.

Ah well, the school scenes are still reasonable. The best part of the show is naturally the action, but for the most part the classmates aren’t bad. The only one who is terrible would be Peter. While the show is mostly tame with the crude humor, there is one episode where Peter has a runny nose the whole time which was definitely gross to look at. He doesn’t really have a purpose in the story either so if you cut him out then nothing would really change. He definitely wasn’t needed here. Meanwhile Ashley is good although the small romance that the show tries to throw with her and Mega Man is unnecessary. You really don’t need any romance like that in a Mega Man show. It’s the classic story-line where Ashley likes Mega Man but not Aki so he is effectively competing with himself.

Then you’ve got Wily, but he’s very different from how he is in the games. Here Wily is a kid so they may be going for more of a Harry Osborn and Peter Parker type dynamic than Wily vs Light. I definitely expect Wily would have turned evil in the next season if we ever get that far. Wily’s not bad, but I can’t say that he is all that interesting either. Meanwhile Suna is a dependable ally. She always does her best to support Megaman and does cheer him on whenever the blue bomber falls under another spell or isn’t acting very rationally. Suna also has her drones so she can contribute a little during the fight scenes. I’m not sure why they switched out Roll for Suna, but it doesn’t really make much of a difference in the story. I also would say that Suna is a more likable character than Roll.

We can’t forget Mega Mini, he’s Mega Man’s main sidekick during the series. He is one of the comic relief characters of the series and most of his dialogue is about making the quick one liners to help boost Mega Man’s confidence. I definitely don’t think he was needed in the story and his sort of romance with Hypno Woman was definitely not a keeper. Then you’ve got Rush who doesn’t have a huge role in the story, but is still pretty fun. Dr. Light comes across as a little shady here. He wants to make the world a better place for humans, but I wouldn’t totally trust him if I were a robot. He has the Mega Key which is dangerous for everyone and tends to keep a lot of secrets. The fact that Light can actually fight it out with the robots physically is definitely very cool though.

It’s time to look at the main character of this adventure. Mega Man is your classic hero who is just trying to live life as a normal robot. For the most part he has already adjusted to living alongside humans but occasionally at school his robot self will show its inexperience to an extent as he can be a bit oblivious about things. The show showed a lot of restraint in not making him exaggerated. He can be a bit cocky at times, but at the end of the day Mega Man’s character is pretty much what you’d expect. He’s a hero that you can count on.

One thing that does hurt a bit is how much the show loves to mess with his personality by having him absorb other robot master powers. It’s a huge weakness to be honest. In the old games he could just absorb them but in the show they changed it so that he gets part of their personality inserted into himself. This naturally leads him into a lot of wacky situations where he becomes super nervous, super grouchy, hungry, etc. These scenarios are never quite as funny as the show seems to think it is. The humor in the series really isn’t that bad, but it’s at its best when it isn’t about Mega Man being corrupted. Alas, it happens to him in almost every episode yet he never seems to learn. Every episode he seems to be surprised that it worked. There’s also the fact that it rarely seems to be necessary to save the day.

Then you’ve got Obsidian who is the main villain of this show. He has a secret identity but the show lets you know who he is almost immediately. It’s the kind of secret that the characters in the show don’t know but the audience does right away. He’s definitely a fun villain although his motives are really all over the place. He thinks that humans and robots shouldn’t get along so in his human form he tries to get them to rise up while as a robot he leads all of the robots to destroy the humans. Ultimately by getting the secret weapon in Light’s house he would be able to start the war, but it would be so much easier to just show up and start blasting everyone. His power level is quite high so there is almost nobody who could stop him in a straight fight.

His design is really cool so the show did a good job with that. He’s actually a better version of the usual Wily that you would expect. Then you’ve got his right hand man Namagem. I admit that I thought he would end up being Wily the whole time so the show did dodge my expectations this time. I do think there’s a bit of a missed opportunity with his real identity or maybe I should say that it’s more that I didn’t care for the design so much. I’m sure he will be changing a lot if the show ever comes back though. He’s a fun villain to have around although his power level definitely fluctuated quite drastically. Sometimes he would be almost as strong as Obsidian and other times he would have a hard time with normal robot masters. I don’t think even the show knew exactly how strong he would be.

His fights with Mega Man are some of the best in the show though. I’m not sure exactly which fight I’d put as the best in the series but it would either be between these two or a fight with Obsidian. I definitely look forward to him showing up more. Then you’ve got one of the iconic villains, Fire Man. He’s the classic not very smart but fairly tough character. Fire Man may have been one of the first villains to lose, but he is still treated as a fairly big threat once in a while which is definitely nice for his fans. Of course you can also just argue that Namagem simply couldn’t be taken seriously by the end so Fire Man went up by default.

Then you’ve got one of the show’s original characters, Chaotique. Now she is a scene-stealer. Her ability is super speed to the extent that she is even faster than Elec Man which is impressive. She seems to be able to keep the speed up for longer while Elec Man is more about quick splashes of speed. The only problem with this naturally is that she is way too powerful to actually be stopped by anyone. The show surprisingly writes pretty well around this so it never gets to be an issue. Her character development also goes in a different way than what I expected so that was pretty neat. We don’t really know what’s going on right now since we only have the villain’s word to take on her status. She would definitely be the person to watch out for in season 2.

The rest of the robot masters are a little less remarkable. Drill Man has a pretty emotional origin story about how he had to give up his dreams when his robot design was changed for drilling. It’s played for laughs to an extent, but if you really think about it his story is really tragic. Hypno Woman and Blasto Woman are some of those villains who may be evil, but seems redeemable right away. Hypno Woman’s not particularly ruthless and in a way her illusions allow everyone to lead a peaceful life. Then you’ve got Blasto Woman whose character is hurt by her plot with Mega Mini and in general I don’t think she was one of the better show exclusive characters. I actually mixed both of these characters up while writing this review and had to go back to fix the names.

Wave Man is decent, but pretty generic and never really came into his own. I dare you to even say what his character personality was by the end. Then you’ve got Ice Man who is supposed to be fairly misunderstood and as a result is not very impressive as a villain. He’s simply too gullible. Cut Man at least has his perfection thing going. He’s also super easy to manipulate but at least the guy had a more tangible goal and did a better job of actually getting in there and getting the job done. I would not trust him to cut my hair for a second though so I don’t really get how he got his own store. I mean, people are more used to the robots in this world but still……I dunno.

Air Man got some of the lowest amounts of screen time among all of the characters. He does have a really cool scene showing how high he can fly though. I’d say that he’s low key one of the tougher robots here. Then you’ve got Chemistry Man whose whole character becomes a lot better thanks to his voice. His voice is amazing and right away gets across that he is a jaded professor who is upset at the world. It’s all the city’s fault and not his. You have to respect the guy’s one track mind. Guts Man is a little disappointing here because all he can do is eat a lot. It’s an interesting gimmick I guess, but it means that he spends most of his time eating instead of fighting. Even with that it’s not like he’s easily the worst version of the character. I’m not a big fan in general, but he could have still been improved here.

Then you’ve got Elec Man who definitely makes his presence felt with his incredible speed. He’s another fairly broken character who would absolutely dominate the main cast if not for plot convenience and the like. You just can’t hope to beat overwhelming speed like that without some really cool abilities of your own. He was one of the better villains.

Wood Man’s interpretation was also pretty interesting. He’s basically a paranoid ninja from the war who never quite returned home in one peace. It’s further foreshadowing at a war that we’ll probably never get to actually see, but had a really cool premise otherwise. It’d be nice to see some more stories of how the war was back in the day. Then we’ve got Man Man who is a big fan of the blue bomber. He’s a nice tribute to the original box art for the games. You know what kind of character he will be from the start, but he’s handled well. He’s a very genuine character who does his best to help save the day.

Fully Charged definitely has a soundtrack that does the series proud. It gives us several remixes of the classic Mega Man theme and we get other 8 bit tunes during the little cartoons that pop up during the episodes. I also liked the “Meganize Me” theme that played during the transformation. These songs aren’t fancy or anything, but they’re catchy which I think is the point in this context. They’re tunes that just help the overall atmosphere and considering that you’ll be hearing the Meganize theme over and over you definitely want a nice jingle.

The animation is less impressive although I wouldn’t say that it’s too bad. There are really 2 kinds of CGI style, blocky and realistic. Typically blocky is more colorful and makes for nostalgic viewing like the Transformers machinima style while the more realistic style would be something like Beware the Batman or Final Fantasy Advent Children. Those are able to hit higher heights with the action scenes and can give you smoother action scenes. They both have their uses even if neither is very likely to be able to handle hand drawn animation. (Final Fantasy pulled it off though)

I like the character designs and we do get some real action scenes here. Fully Charged definitely delivers more than most similar shows like Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Still, you can tell that the CGI isn’t quite there yet as the background doesn’t actually change. There is rarely any collateral damage even when attacks hit buildings. This may be a budget thing but it does mean that you can’t take most of the characters seriously as real fighters. They also can’t be that strong if someone like Dr. Light can take them down. Still, the show looks good overall and while hand drawn would have been nice to see, the graphics won’t make you avert your eyes or anything like that.

Overall, Mega Man Fully Charged is a very standard show. It makes for a fun watch, but there isn’t much to it beyond that. I don’t really think this is a show people will be talking about once a few years have passed. Honestly the show just ended and people are already barely talking about it. It was a fun take on the series though so I’m still glad that we got it. The 15 minute size definitely hurt it though. There’s only so much that you can do in 15 minutes and I’ll always stick to that. 30 minutes is just a much better way to present a good story and you can build up to the climax much more efficiently as well. Considering this, the show did a good job of making the final 2 episodes pretty climactic. I’d recommend checking out Fully Charged. It’ll take you for a fun ride and hopefully it does eventually return for a season 2.

Overall 7/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Future Card Buddyfight Ace Review


Buddyfight never hit it off quite as well as Cardfight but it still did last for an impressive amount of time. It got several seasons with the original cast and then we got this one, a sequel sort of like Cardfight G. It’s definitely not quite at the level of the first set of series but as you have to get used to a whole new set of characters it is rare for this to be the case anyway. As it stands, this is still a great show and I was sad to see it go. I’m sure the next arc would have been pretty epic and with more time the ending probably wouldn’t have been so rushed.

The plot follows a kid named Yuga Mikado. He is the son of Gao Mikado but for reasons that are never explained and make no sense Gao never introduced him into the world of Buddyfight despite being the world champion. I guess we have to assume that Gao just never went back home because it sure seems like Yuga doesn’t really know the guy. Still, Yuga prides himself on being the ace of games. He just tends to be very good at whatever he does and even has a Paltube account to document his experiences along with his friend Ranma. One day Ranma gets Yuga into the world of Buddyfight and his world changes forever.

The first episodes are mainly for introducing the other characters who I will talk about in a bit. The actual plot mainly revolves around a big tournament that is coming up. The champion will be considered to be the best in Japan. Yuga is definitely ready to claim victory but Ranma realizes that the gap between them is steadily growing. As a result he decides to turn to the powers of darkness to make a comeback. He decides that crushing Yuga is what he has to do and they can’t be friends until that happens. Meanwhile his buddy has plans to destroy the world and Yuga’s Buddy Garga may be Earth’s best hope against him. Can Buddyfight really solve all of their problems?

The show definitely starts out pretty strong thanks to having a pretty well rounded cast of characters. Aside from Ranma most of the other characters tend to be pretty solid. It’s also cool to have the heroes grow up in the same city as the originals but I do think we should have gotten more guest star appearances. I understand the logic of keeping them away during the first season and Cardfight did that as well, but it’s always a lot of fun to see the old gang band together one more. Surely at least Gao should have shown up at some point.

I suppose this does mean that the show has to succeed or fail on its own merits though. The animation is definitely pretty sharp. The energy effects are really on point. While I don’t think it beats the top Buddyfight animations, it is definitely up there. The show looks really clear and all of the scenes flow well. It’s always pretty consistent and definitely works to enhance the experience. Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is definitely dynamite. This is one of those series where all of the main characters get their own theme which is cool. I think it’s a nice touch and really lets you get into the heat of the duel. The best theme is actually Ranma’s. It’s a really solid villain theme and definitely gets across the despair of facing off against him.

So let’s talk about the characters. Light is probably the character who shows up the most yet gets the smallest role. He duels maybe two times in the show and spends most of it just watching the other characters. Being a spy is his job so it makes sense I suppose but I feel like he should have done more. His plot of resenting Gaito a bit also came out of nowhere considering how much he also likes Buddyfight.

Then we’ve got Yuga who is the actual main character. He’s definitely a fun guy who is always looking on the positive side of things. As the Ace of Games he also has his competitive side as well. That being said, Yuga is probably the best loser that I’ve seen. He never even comes close to being upset at anything. Even when Ranma turns evil and starts hurling insults 24/7 Yuga just shrugs them off and keeps claiming that the two are still friends. Yuga may be a bit exaggerated in that respect but it is a really nice change of pace to have a lead who just refuses to acknowledge his friend’s betrayal. Even as Ranma continued to get worse and worse Yuga keeps their friendship. He’s definitely a great lead and whenever he puts on the headphones you know that he is getting serious.

Masato is the Ace of Sports and one of the main fighters here. He fights with the Link Order Dragons. While sports are his favorite thing to do he also does enjoy Buddyfight quite a bit. He is able to hold his own with just about anyone in a fight. His backstory is pretty good although to an extent all 3 characters have a similar one. They were all friends with someone who turned evil and needed to be dueled out of it. Masato even has his own winning cheer. I feel like it probably just adds salt to the wound for the foes he defeated but since he died the cheer no matter the outcome you know it isn’t personal.

Then we have the Ace of study, Subaru. He’s a little more aloof than the others, but isn’t mean as you might expect from the rivals. He just likes Buddyfighting and studying and quickly makes friends with the others as a result. He’s not quite as interesting as the others as a result, but his skills are definitely the real deal. His Buddy can predict the future which is handy, but whenever Subaru is going to lose he suddenly can’t see the future which is a little too convenient. It is what it is I suppose. Subaru comes up with an infiltration plan in the second half of the series which was an interesting idea, but I don’t think he pulled it off too well. Still, he always made it pretty far in his duels.

Tasuku is really the only old character with an active role so he’s repping the old characters. He only gets to duel 2-3 times but it is definitely fun to see him get in on the action. He’s still got his Jackknife Dragon at the ready and their retro combos. As the police chief he can’t be quite as reckless as he used to be and seems to follow regulations more. While he may not be quite as much fun as when he was a kid, Tasuku is still a quality character. He is ultimately the one who comes up with the super weapon that plays a key role in saving the world.

Dan or Da Dan as they call him is the main comic relief villain in the series. He has his own Pal Tube account and likes to mess with the heroes. He can’t fight as well as the others for a while, but he never gives up. How much you like him will definitely depend on if you like this kind of character but I thought he was pretty reasonable. He actually did put up a great fight against Ranma in the end. Dan was really close to winning that one and it’s crazy to think on how different the series would have been if he succeeded. Dan also probably had the toughest time out of all the characters since he was effectively trapped for a long while.

Garga is Yuga’s buddy and he is a very formal dragon deity. He’s one of the strongest monsters in all of Buddyworld so the guy has a lot of experience under his belt. He surprisingly has things under control from start to finish and doesn’t go through the whole “Yuga needs to prove himself worthy!” plot. He definitely gets a little more comfortable with the heroes towards the end and even starts filming Paltube videos. From the various main buddies through the years he is definitely one of the best ones. His decisions on how to handle the situation with Vile Demonic Dragon were also the right ones. Garga really hits all the right notes. He’s a dependable ally and a great friend.

Banjoe is one of the supporting characters who is around at times. He’s your classic punk character, but he doesn’t get a whole lot to do compared to the others. He’s a reasonable fighter and has a decent character arc, but I don’t think you’ll be remembering this guy much. Ion is the new announcer, but she definitely doesn’t have the memorable charisma that Paruko had. Mel is a girl who likes to sleep a lot and doesn’t have the bravery needed to talk to Subaru. That’s not really what I want to see in my favorite characters so you can tell that she was one of the weaker ones.

Mamoru is a nice homage to Ultraman so he’s a fun guy to see. You sort of know that he’s doomed in the duels since he just feels like a one shot character, but the fact that he can actually fight in the real world is definitely pretty cool. Miko is a supporting character who appears quite a lot. She owns a pizza shop and always treats the main cast to free pizza every other episode. I do think she is probably losing out on a lot of profits here, but I can’t really fault her for treating her friends right? She may not be too outgoing, but her buddy isn’t afraid to take control of her body and fire energy blasts at opponents who get too close. Miko can fight when in a pinch as well so you definitely don’t want to count her out.

Now it’s time to take a look at the main villains. One of these guys is Daijiro. He’s Masato’s main rival. Aces decided to give each of the main 3 heroes a rival so they all pair up nicely in the final tournament. Daijiro is super competitive like Masato, but winning is all that he cares about. This naturally led to a rift developing between the two characters. Daijiro has a pretty reasonable deck and I do like him as a villain. He’s one of those guys who still follows an honor code and that’s something I always like to see with these characters.

Then we’ve got Seiji who is the more cunning villain. He’s not direct like Daijiro and likes to pit characters against each other and watch the fireworks. When this doesn’t go well then his confidence fades fast though which is definitely his weakness. He’s also a little more petty and easily manipulated by Ranma and the others. I always like the dynamic of a sub villain who wants to betray the leader, but you never really feel like he’s going to come out on top. Seiji really isn’t that kind of villain and he gets too emotional to really be much of a leader. I do like him as a villain though.

Naturally then we have Ranma. Unfortunately..he’s the weakest of the main 3 villains. He starts out as Yuga’s best friend, but quickly gets jealous when the hero gets the most OP buddy in the game. Ranma sulks quite a bit as other people become Yuga’s friend and he really wants to be the hero’s only friend. You can see the warning bells right away here. Ranma succumbs to darkness in order to beat Yuga and does finally get his own buddy. However, instead of being grateful for that he turns into a full blown villain. He goes so far off the deep end that it’s hard to buy his inevitable redemption arc. He even gets over the fact that his buddy murdered one of his teammates. The last episode feels really rushed in this respect and since it looks like we might not get a season 2 that’s going to make it even harder to like the guy. You can sometimes make a big betrayal like this work (ex: Sasuke) but you can’t do it like this. The motivation is extremely important and Ranma’s is petty at best.

Ranma’s buddy is pretty cool though. Vile Demonic Dragon will remind you of Azi Dahaka from the original series. This guy has big plans and he has quite a few different super forms at his disposal. There’s one part where he fights alongside his super form and it makes for really cool visuals. Realistically you should never lose when this guy is your buddy. Of course, he wasn’t exempt from the cheesy end either. It’s hard to buy this guy wanting to be a nicer monster after all of his tough talk. I do like the idea of a bond between him and Ranma, but he just shouldn’t be willing to join the heroes so quickly. Also, how did he get out of jail so quickly? Even if it was for good behavior, you’d think it would take years and not a few weeks. Maybe the Buddypolice do some brainwashing?

One character that the show was probably a little too misleading on was Rei Urameshi though. He was seen as a very mysterious figure for most of the final tournament. The build up gets to the point where you start to actually look forward to his debut. Unfortunately he then shows up as a comic relief villain. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I thought Dan was handled well, but he’s just pretty annoying. It’s hard to go for that complete 180 and succeed. Either you like the twist or you don’t, but it definitely didn’t work for me. I was hoping for someone who was a little more impressive.

Buddyfight Aces definitely wastes no time in making the monsters pretty OP here though. By the end of the series there are quite a few fighters who could probably hold their own against the strongest fighters in the original series. The power creep gets incredible particularly for Yuga and Ranma. There’s no way they can realistically lose to anyone now. Yuga is not even the strongest and he can launch almost 10 consecutive attacks with his combo. If you don’t have a bunch of shields then you can expect an instant loss. Ranma’s attacks are even more devastating as even when he loses all of his life points you have to beat his monster around 15-20 times in order to beat him. In a normal duel you are definitely not getting that many attacks before you lose. Ranma may get lonely at the top now, but he has finally gotten his wish to be the best. Hopefully he makes the most of it.

Aces definitely had a really solid run, but it feels like the season was cancelled or at least had to end a little sooner than expected. The last episode is just crazy sudden and moves at a lightning pace. Quick pacing isn’t inherently bad of course, but when you have multiple villains who have to pull a 180 in the span of a single episode that really isn’t going to work well. If there was going to be a season 2 I feel like the ending would have been quite different. The Dragon would have escaped and Garga would have pursued him. This would lead to Yuga deciding to follow him into another world and of course then there would be a bunch of other monsters. Maybe Gao would also show up to save his son. A lot of potential there that we might never see.

In the end I would say that the character roster is a little weaker than the original Buddyfight’s, but at the same time the core characters are mainly good. The supporting ones are more hit or miss. The villains are probably more solid all around although with the main villain not being too high that does limit the others a bit. The dueling is on point as always though and with the power creep it would have been fun to have seen what they’d do in season 2. I feel like Garga would have lost his form change ability or something to make Yuga have to work for his wins a little more. Alternately everyone’s gonna have multiple flags at the ready.

Overall, Buddyfight Aces is definitely a great show. It’s very focused on developing the characters but throws in a lot good duels and action in the meantime. It’s a shame that it looks like it won’t get a follow up season though. Typically the second season is when the plot would really get going and we would start to see more guest stars. Still, it’ll definitely hold up very well as a one shot title, particularly if you look at it more like a stand alone than as a sequel. It’s a Cardfighting show, how can you not love it?

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2 of Phi Brain. The first season was definitely a rock solid show. We got a bunch of great puzzles and in general it was a pretty unique show. I haven’t seen many like it so it was good to have the title return. While season 2 does retread some ground from the first season it’s definitely a great follow up. It’s not quite as good as the first season of course, but the quality is very close to that of the original.

The season also does start off with a bang. Kaito and the rest of the Phi Brains are hanging out at school when they are challenged by a new villain group. They call themselves the Orpheus Order and right off the bat they challenge the heroes to a group battle. Kaito and Gammon can handle themselves well enough but can the rest hold their own? The leader of the Orpheus Order is named Freecell (Or is he the leader?) and he seems to have some ties to Kaito from the past. Kaito doesn’t remember this guy or the promise he supposedly made. Either way Kaito has to stop these guys, but the Orpheus Order is more expansive than they can imagine. Kaito may need to call on his old friends from the POG for assistance.

I always like it when the villains make a move right away. Why bother waiting 20+ episodes to appear when you can storm the hero stronghold in under 10 minutes? It’s really impressive just how quickly they move. I also really like the idea of a team battle. It’s basically a 5 on 5 match as everyone plays a square related game. It’d be even cooler to have everyone moving at once, but logistically that’d probably be a nightmare so this makes sense. It’s still super tense because even if Kaito wins his round there is no guarantee that the whole team will win.

One advantage the season immediately has over the last one is that Kaito isn’t sidelined for every other puzzle. In season 1 there kept being a ton of different circumstances that would keep him out of a fight. First we had Cubik come out with something that prevented Kaito’s brain from activating, then he went through an emotional breakdown where he forgot how to do puzzles, etc. There were so many episodes where Kaito could have solved the puzzle easily but then something happened and he had a hard time. Here the only times Kaito is having a difficult experience solving the puzzle is because his opponent is that good. In season 1 a lot of the puzzles were 1 player, most of the ones in season 2 are vs puzzles so you’re actively fighting someone. It makes a huge difference on how you go about solving it this way. Even Nonoha gets to duel in one puzzle which was definitely interesting. Her photographic memory unfortunately isn’t too helpful in most cases, but she always tries which is good.

The Orpheus Order has quite a few members so lets quickly talk about them. First up is Freecell who serves as the main antagonist here. He blames Kaito for the death of his mother, but gradually we learn more and more about his full backstory. He makes for a good villain, but typically he’s at his best when Kaito isn’t around. For example, his confrontation with Klondike is his best scene. It’s awesome and one of the best moments in the whole show. When he’s with Kaito he gets a little more delusional and in some ways is just Rook 2.0. Overall I did think he made for a pretty great villain though. He may not have been the most original villain in the series, but the execution was on point. If anything it’s too bad we didn’t get to see him fight more. I wanted to see his new powers in action.

Then we have Pinochle who is definitely the worst of the group. He’s the kind of guy who goes for mindgames and intimidation right off the bat, but can’t pull it off. As a result he seems more like a try hard and never becomes all that interesting. It’s a shame since he gets some of the most development out of the characters. Next is Mizerka who also isn’t too great, but she’s a step up from Pinochle. She needs to have a use and so that probably makes her the most loyal out of all the members. So long as the leader gives her a task she is happy to complete it. Her character is tied pretty closely to Melancholy so you can probably expect that things don’t go too well for her. She also tends to get psyched out by Ana as Mizerka takes everything very seriously.

Next up is Doubt and since he’s Gammon’s rival you can imagine that he’s pretty solid. (For the most part all of the Orpheus Order members have a natural rival) He can fight which is handy and he always struck me as the strongest main member behind Freecell. By the end of the series it is strongly implied that this isn’t the case. Things actually get pretty dicey for Doubt in general in the second half. Still, I liked his confidence and as the tough guy of the group he served in his role pretty well. It took a while for me to realize that his name was literally “Doubt” though.

Then we have Melancholy who is pretty young compared to the other characters. Still, that isn’t to say that her talent is lacking in any way next to the others. She’s always confident and sarcastic aside from her final scene. I don’t think she really got any closure compared to the rest of the group so it’s a shame that Melancholy couldn’t have gotten one more puzzle battle. Likewise, Whist gets a lot of hype throughout but ultimately doesn’t really get to do anything at the end. He does have a lot of hype moments in between, but at the end of the day he didn’t have the breakout duel that you’d expect. The butler from season 1 was definitely more impressive in that regard.

Klondike is the head of the Orpheus Order so you definitely expect a lot out of him. His role is pretty small, but definitely very powerful. He instantly became one of my favorite villains in the series. The guy’s so good at puzzles that he reached Kaito’s level during his first time even trying one out. The guy’s potential is nearly limitless. He’s another character that I would have liked to spend more time with. I suppose there are just too many characters for them all to keep on appearing, but it’d be nice if he could appear again. I suspect this was probably it for him.

That wraps up the new villains here. Well, we have Ana’s sister, but she really didn’t add anything to the show. I didn’t even realize Ana still needed a backstory although I suppose maybe it was hinted in season 1? She has her big moment at the end of course, but for the most part she’s pretty forgettable. We do see the return of an old villain from the POG arc. I won’t say who, but his role here is pretty fun. Despite the fact that this guy is always whining, he can apparently fight as he actually takes down Doubt. It was definitely intense to see him again even if I don’t really get why the villains humored him for so long anyway. I suppose testing the villains’ loyalty and Kaito’s progression is always good, but I feel like there were other ways to do this.

Rook and Bishop may be on a quest to destroy all the puzzles of fools, but they do take the time to quickly show up here when Kaito is in trouble. Bishop never really gets to duel, but Rook has some nice moments. His tag team duel with Kaito was definitely pretty cool. It’s always fun seeing the old villain show up as more of a rival in the present. It’s a nice character development moment. It would have been nice to see Rook fight with Freecell, but I think that may have ultimately been too much for him. The other POG members show up, but only the celebrity member really gets to do anything. The rest just panic a whole lot.

From the supporting characters, Tamaki probably gets the biggest role. She has to step in as student body president and naturally the villains make a move. The season is long enough where there are several sections in the plot. At one point what the villains would do is go around mind controlling people. Tamaki ends up being one of those targets. Jikukawa as well, although his was a lot more epic. It made for an excellent cliffhanger when he showed up and challenged Kaito. The guy always had an interesting history as he was close to being a Phi Brain, but decided not to do so. I guess this was his chance to test all of that. I do think his plan to put on the ring was a little sloppy, but it all worked out in the end which is what counts.

From the Phi Brain children they mostly just get a role in the first half of the season. By the end they aren’t really able to help out at all and just stay on the sidelines. Ana’s role near the beginning is to annoy Mizerka and of course the whole thing with her sister. Cubik is heavily involved with trying to figure out how the rings work and Gammon tries to teach Doubt a lesson for involving his sister. They’re all pretty consistent with how they were in the first season. In that respect, Gammon’s the only disappointing one here just because he had such a big role in season 1. He was Kaito’s rival while now he is treated more like an underling. It’s clear that they are no longer on the same level. I suppose it was inevitable to an extent but it’s still a shame.

Nonoha still gets a big role of course as she is always ready to support Kaito. She also helps get Freecell to sort through his emotions in time for the final boss. She’s definitely an integral part of the story. Finally we have Kaito. As always he’s definitely a great main character. He doesn’t really suffer from the same levels of doubt he had in season 1. The mindgames still shake him up a bit from time to time, but for the most part he’s gotten past all of that. He’s now in a spot where he can just enjoy puzzles again. He’s definitely a fun main character and his aggressive nature towards solving puzzles has served him well. I’m glad he chose to do the puzzles without the armlet as well. In season 1 he basically surpassed it so that would have felt like a step back.

Naturally the soundtrack is still great as we have a lot of old themes that return. I do miss the classic samba type music that played though. I don’t even know what style of music it was, maybe Mexican? It fit really well for the tombs, but I guess with the change of scenery for season 2 the directors thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. Still, on the whole we get the rest of the epic tunes. Then for the animation it’s pretty consistent with season 1. The visuals are still nice and shiny. It doesn’t stand out too much in particular, but it all looks good I’d say. Most of these puzzles aren’t exactly made to look super flashy anyway.

I think one difference here compared to the first season which does hurt a bit is that it’s more up and down. I feel like season 1 was consistently excellent with high stakes while this one could fluctuate. At its best the hype moments were even better than season 1’s. The Klondike duel, Jikukawa turning evil, the big duels with Freecell, Rook jumping in, etc. These are all show stopping moments with how amazing they are. At the same time, then we have the episodes that feel like they’re just trying to buy time. These include moments like: Ana’s sister, Tamaki turning evil, the puzzle adventures on the island, etc. Not to say that any of these episodes are bad. They just feel like filler thrown in the middle to buy some for the villains to make another serious move. Since season 1’s episodes were mostly all introducing the characters and getting us to know them even the “filler” felt important. It’s a perk that season 1 has which is supposed to be countered by the fact that season 2 can just jump right in. It’s a good balance and as I mentioned before, the seasons are still very close.

Overall, Season 2 is definitely quite solid. I do like the idea of a villain group of geniuses. We do get some cop outs in terms of the whole group being Phi Brains, but the higher ups still delivered with the fights. Phi Brain will continue to succeed as long as they keep thinking of fun puzzles. Season 1’s were still more creative, but this season definitely had enough hype scenes to match 1. I look forward to seeing how season 3 stacks up. Who can possibly challenge Kaito and friends now right? Maybe there’ll be a super Armlet of Orpheus or something like that.

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Yu Yu Hakusho Review


It’s time to look at an incredibly well known anime in the form of Yu Yu Hakusho. This anime is one of the all time greats and after watching it I can confirm that the dub is top 5. Purely in terms of script it may be the best one yet. The anime really nails Yusuke’s character and makes him even greater than he was in the manga. (Where he was already pretty great) The show is definitely a very complete one and certainly an anime that you should find the time to watch. It’s fairly long, but that’s a good thing.

The basic premise is that Yusuke is a delinquent. He doesn’t like going to school and the teachers don’t like him. One day, he dies when saving a kid from a passing car. Yusuke’s soul did not pass on though and he was chosen as a spirit detective. Eventually he gets his body back, but the detective gig is still going on. Yusuke must now live a dual life as he fights off demons and would be conquerors while still dealing with school. Although, the first half takes up most of the anime as he rarely ever seems to be in the human world during the show. From the Dark Tournament to the big Demon Tournament, there’s a lot of epic action in this show.

Right away you’ll notice how great the script is. There’s enough memorable quotes to make long video compilations of them. Yusuke has dozens of amazing burns and zingers throughout. You know he’s gonna say something cool whenever he talks. I think part of what makes him so great is how he really isn’t afraid of anything. Even when he’s tied up he’ll talk about how the villain’s boring him. His humor can range from defiant to even edgy, but he’s always got something to say about everything. I’ve never seen such an amazing script before. He can pull off pretty much every emotion as Yusuke goes through a lot of sad moments mixed in with the rage and defiant ones. He also gets a lot of great character development throughout the series. It’s hard to believe he’s the same kid who began the series as a normal boxer and eventually goes on to Goku levels of strength. It’s pretty uncanny. I think Yusuke seems a little more merciful in the anime version than in the manga as I seem to remember him being quicker to try and axe the doctor there, but it’s been a while since I read it.

The animation is definitely really sharp. It only gets better and better as the series goes on. It has that distinct 90’s-early 2000s look about it. The colors are sharp and you can feel the power behind the hits in the fight scenes. The series also has fun using some experimental animation from time to time like Yusuke’s fight against the doctor or some of Hiei’s shadow dragon techniques. It’s nice that the series is confident enough to try these things out. Nowadays you don’t really see that very much. I mean, the experimental stuff usually doesn’t quite hold its own to the normal animation so it’s not a bad thing if they skip that altogether, but I don’t mind the attempts especially if they’re infrequent.

We also have to mention the soundtrack as that one is an easy 5/5. There are a lot of incredibly tense themes throughout the series. Pretty much all the top ones are in the Dark Tournament arc. I don’t know the exact names, but the anticipation theme from when the battles are about to start is always good or the feeling of unease theme when the villain powers up. The Sensui arc also had some solid tunes like Sensui’s theme as well. The final arc wasn’t quite as solid with the new themes, but by that point the series already had a huge selection so it’s not like it needed more.

Naturally a show that is over 100 episodes will likely hit some pitfalls along the way. There is some animal violence in the show via flashbacks as we learn someone’s sob story. There are also bits of the story that are pretty dark with torture and stuff. Almost surprisingly the series manages to avoid fanservice although in trying to make Yusuke a big delinquent we do get some dicey moments with him and Keiko. Even though they’re friends it can be a bit iffy. Still, 90% of the time the show avoids these things and it’s long enough where the positives manage to overpower these negatives. That’s a luxury that a shorter show would not have had.

After all, the show is not lacking in positives. Top notch dialogue and fights for over 100 episodes will do that to you. The show also has an incredible main cast and a lot of solid supporting characters. I already talked about Yusuke, but now lets take a look at the rest of his crew. First you’ve got Yusuke’s best friend Kuwabara. He starts out as a fellow delinquent, but gradually begins to hit the books more. Throughout the series a running theme is that he is trying his best to put down the fists and pick up some knowledge. At the same time he’ll never back down from a fight though and has a strong honor code. It’s pretty rough for him since he’s still just a human though and can’t quite keep up once the enemies start getting really high tier. He even missed out on the entire final arc as a result. He’s a fun character although from the main 4 he is certainly the weakest one both in strength and character.

Next up is Kurama, the brains of the group. He’s always thinking up a plan of action for the others, but can also fight quite well when necessary. He’s quite possibly the best executed brainiac type character. He’s not one of those smart characters who lacks common sense or is terrible at fighting. Part of being a top strategist is knowing how to defeat an opponent. He’s also got human ties which end up giving him a ton of character development. An opponent may get the upper hand against him temporarily, but this never lasts. Kurama always wins the end game.

Then we have Hiei, the best character in the show aside from Yusuke. He starts out as a villain very briefly, but then plays more of a Vegeta type role for the rest of the series. He’s probably one of the only characters who got a power boost from being good rather than evil. As a villain he was very weak, partially because the author likely hadn’t thought of what to do with him at the end. By the end of the series he is able to trade blows with all of the big shots. Hiei’s confidence always makes him a winner and makes for a lot of hype scenes. As I said, the core characters are very solid here.

Moving on to other big characters, we have Yusuke’s mentor Genkai. She’s far better than the average Shonen mentors like Jiraiya and Roshi. She actually knows how to fight and teaches Yusuke a lot of important life lessons. While she is old, Genkai is still able to fight with the stronger characters in the series. Keiko is the main heroine. She’s pretty solid although it would have been cool if she could have learned how to fight by the end of the series. She always protects Yusuke’s spirit animal though and never lets the villains get her into a hostage situation. She can take care of herself pretty well.

Botan is the more charismatic heroine though. Her accent is handled well and she does like trolling Yusuke quite a bit. She’s mainly here to drop off information from Spirit World or give the heroes a push in the right direction when they need it. Koenma is her boss, but he spends a lot of time panicking. He doesn’t actually intervene in the action until near the end of the series. He’s not really much of a fighter but his pacifier makes for a very powerful tool. It’s actually a very satisfying reason as to why he still uses one even though he’s grown up. I was blown away at this revelation.

Yukina is an ice princess who appears early on in the series and sticks around as a supporting character. While most of the characters know that she is Hiei’s sister early on that plot runs all the way through to the end as they keep it a secret from her. She’s not quite as outgoing as the other characters, but always presents herself in a very dignified manner. Rinku’s a yoyo user who’s definitely very confident. He’s not one of the more powerful characters in the series, but I suppose just making it into the Dark Tournament is enough to say you’ve earned the right to be confident. He’s not my favorite villain, but he’s not bad I suppose.

Chu is one of Rinku’s teammates and he is certainly a lot tougher. He definitely makes for good fight scenes although his character starts to go down towards the end of the series. Toya is a fierce ice ninja who’s definitely cool. There isn’t a whole lot to say about him but when the chips are down he is ready to help Yusuke. Jin is another ninja and he just loves a good fight. His accent is so strong that you might have a difficult time understanding anything he is saying, but that’s part of the fun with the character. He’s definitely eager and one of the more memorable characters from the tournament.

Then we have Younger Toguro who is certainly one of the most important characters in the series. He’s extremely powerful and serves as an impressive roadblock for Yusuke. He has a pretty solid backstory and his motivations for fighting aren’t bad either. Toguro is the kind of villain who does have an honor system while battling. I definitely think he wouldn’t have lasted long in demon world, but I think a part of him knew that from the start. He got greedy for power and paid the price, but it’s easy to see why he is one of the most popular villains. He certainly is cool.

Elder Toguro isn’t quite as solid. He’s definitely more of a trickster and is willing to achieve victory at any price. Definitely not a villain you want to turn your back to. You can’t deny that the guy is persistent though. With his regeneration and quick attacks he is one of the most deadly villains in the entire series. Not my kind of villain but he makes for good fights. Then we have Karasu who is certainly quick and manages to stay competitive in his fight even when up against Yoko Kurama. He’s slightly less engaging than the other members of Team Toguro but another big hit overall. Then we have Bui who has a really cool design with the armor. His weapon is comically large to the point where it seems impractical but that speaks to how strong he is. His fight with Hiei is definitely a lot of fun and we get a lot of DBZ visuals as well as abstract moments. He doesn’t talk much until the very end. Then we have Sakyo, who is the guy who orchestrated the events of the tournament behind the scenes. His backstory is definitely iffy and so he would have been a dicey villain had he not changed. Fortunately in the present he’s much better. He’s a tactician and not a fighter, but has the courage to stand next to villains who could wipe him out in an instant. Sakyo is ambitious and makes for a very interesting antagonist. He does give up a bit easy in the end, but definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Then we get to Sensui who is definitely an iconic villain. He’s basically insane and has a lot of split personalities. Sensui simply couldn’t deal with the pressures of being a spirit detective and so he became a citizen of evil. Still, he didn’t lose his tactical mind and what makes him such a dangerous villain is that he has super strength as well as a sharp intellect. He continues to get stronger and stronger throughout the arc and is definitely a villain that you’ll miss once he’s gone. He’s definitely one of the greats. He has a band of minions who all get a bit of a role. The smallest role likely belongs to Gourmet though. That guy just got too overconfident for his own good. He’s not nearly as dangerous as the other members of the group since his “Territory” abilities just aren’t too potent.

Itsuki is probably the only member of Sensui’s team who isn’t an underling. Without him Sensui’s plan wouldn’t have a chance and the ex detective knows this. Itsuki does a good job of maintaining the portal as well as buying time for Sensui. He’s not the most interesting villain, but he’s good at what he does. Minoru is a crazed doctor who worked as part of Sensui’s group. He’s probably the most psychotic as he doesn’t even care about the plan so long as he gets to murder people. There was definitely no reasoning with him. His episodes were fun though with the hospital being a very unique locale. You rarely see it being used for fights.

Kaname is definitely good with a weapon and gave Yusuke a lot of trouble during their fight. His ability is probably the most deadly in a typical situation since he has a ton of range. It’s hard to get close to him and he can shoot you at any time. If he fought almost anyone but Yusuke he might have won since even here it ultimately took a third party to stop him. Mitarai gets the most development from the group, but he also whines a whole lot so it’s a mixed bag. The guy ultimately sees the light, but I never became a big fan of the guy. He doesn’t really add much to the table. Then we have Amanuma who is a lot younger than the other characters and as a result it’s easy for Sensui to manipulate him. His end is actually one of the most tragic in the series. The kid was messing with forces beyond his comprehension.

Yomi is one of the 3 Kings and probably the one who gets the most screen time of the 3. He’s another master strategist as this series kept on its path to Hunter X Hunter levels of conflict. Like Sensui he is also ultra powerful though so don’t think that relying on his intellect is his only option. The voice they chose for him in the dub is perfect and he certainly commands the room whenever he appears. He’s always a few steps ahead of the other characters and seems to be ready for any angle. He only loses his cool once or twice during the series. I liked him a lot more in the anime than in the manga, maybe it’s just how the directing was or how they took the arc’s direction. Either way he was quite solid and so the series continued the trend of having great main villains for each arc.

Mukuro is another one of the Kings, although she is a little less impressive than Yomi. I think her character arc feels like it never had much of a final destination at times. By the time we get her origin story it’s pretty late in the game. Still, she’s a solid villain as well and we do get to see her fight quite a bit by the end. Then we have Raizen who lived and died by his ethics. At least he stayed strong so I’ll give him some props there. Still, I feel like he didn’t really handle any of his situations too well and ultimately came close to dooming his people. I never really became a fan of his in the end. There are quite a few other characters who show up in the final arc like Raizen’s friends and the lieutenants of each faction. The only one to get a really big role was Shigure I’d say. He definitely had a big part in Hiei’s origin story and made for an interesting wild card. The monks on Yusuke’s team were also interesting even if they did keep subtly saying that they were weaker than the other factions by a lot even once the tournament had started.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters but if you want to see them all then check out the show. There’s not a whole lot to say about the pre arc adventures, but pretty much every story part of Yu Yu Hakusho is interesting and a lot of fun. Again, it comes down to the fact that this show was firing on all cylinders in every area. Each arc is also pretty different. The Dark Tournament is awesome because of the constant fights. It embraces its shonen nature and adds in a lot of danger and suspense constantly. The way the rounds are handled is also a lot of fun as you never know exactly how the next fight is going to be structured. This also makes things difficult on the heroes since they don’t know what to expect either. There’s a lot of backstabbing going on here as well.

Then you have the Sensui arc which is a big tonal shift in the series. We get a lot of new themes that fit in with this. It started out on an awesome note as well with Yusuke being kidnapped. It’s handled in a way that really makes you anticipate the next episode. Whether you watch the show weekly or binge it, you’ll be at the edge of your seat. Yusuke’s first encounter with Sensui in the city is also epic. This arc had the highest stakes and the most tension in the series. You really never knew what to expect and while Dark Tournament is certainly still my favorite arc, this one’s also dynamite.

In comparison the final arc is a little weaker, but it’s still pretty excellent. I think I enjoyed the build up and first half more than the tournament ironically. There were just so many players and plot threads moving early on that it was a lot of fun. In a sense it all climaxed when Yusuke went to Yomi’s base to discuss things. There were a lot of ways that could have gone. The tournament was fun and all, but I did like the idea of a 3 way war for the demon world. I think that would have made for a more enjoyable arc, but it probably would have been super long as well so it makes sense that the show shifted gears. The tournament was still a lot of fun anyway even if for the first time there were no real stakes here.

Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is definitely one of the best anime out there. I highly recommend checking it out ASAP. The show is pretty great from the start, but it enters elite status once the Dark Tournament begins. That’s when the series really hits its groove. From there on the rest of the series continues to operate on that high level and never looks back. Even the transitions from arc to arc are incredibly smooth with new villains showing up and a lot of great fights. As the series is ending there are fights right up until the end. Whether we ever get a sequel or not, the series is definitely very complete. There’s so much to talk about in this series but at the end of the day you’ve really got to experience it yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

Overall 9/10

10 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

RWBY Volume 6 Review


It’s time to take a look at RWBY Volume 6. This show is still the greatest of all time and volume 6 is a real return to form in many ways. We get to see some old characters, questions from way back in volume 1 are finally answered and even the fight scenes are back to their prime. While Volume 3 is still the best, Volume 6 easily climbs its way up to being the second best volume. It’s just a great time to be a RWBY fan as we also have the current manga going and other projects lined up. It’s all most impressive I must admit.

Volume 5 ended with the team finally managing to secure one of the 4 relics. They now plan to go to Atlas in order to have Ironwood secure the relic while also getting a lead on the next one. Unfortunately getting there won’t be very easy as Salem’s group, Cinder’s Group, and other enemies all plan to stand in their way. Fortunately, team RWBY is finally united once more and together they can stand up against any force. Physical threats may not be what they should fear though as certain truths come out which force them to re-think their entire mission.

As always the soundtrack for this volume is quite amazing. RWBY has never had a weak volume, but that just makes this all the more impressive as it’s tough to just keep on churning quality tunes like this. The best themes are the Neo theme, Adam theme, and Miracle. Then we have other high quality songs like the volume 6 intro and the emotional theme for Pyrrha. The only theme that I’m not crazy about is the one for when the team fought the robot, but of course it was just a small sample so we’ll see what the full theme sounds like. It’s hard to say how the soundtrack stands up to previous volumes, but it’s definitely 5/5 star material.

Then we have the animation which is great. As I mentioned in the intro, the fight scenes have been vastly improved. We’ve already seen the potential that this post volume 3 animation style brings through dynamite fights like Qrow vs Tyrian and Raven vs Cinder, but Rooster Teeth seemed to be having some trouble really getting the heroes to fight the way they used to. Well, whatever they did between volumes worked as we get a dynamite action scene in the premiere and then we get other battles like Cinder vs Neo and Adam vs Yang which are top notch. As fight scenes are one of the reasons why the series got so big in the first place it’s great to see them return. It’s no small reason as to why the volume was so good.

Of course, then we also have the excellent writing to thank as well. The series has always been able to grab your attention with ease and this one is no exception. I’m definitely enjoying the plot and the character interactions are always on point as well. We’re finally getting most of the questions in the series answered to the point where it feels like we could reach the end game soon. As each volume is about as long as a movie I think we could reasonably end the whole saga by volume 9, but there are also enough supporting characters and sub-plots going on that it could last til way after that as well. Either way I’m cool with that. If any part of the writing can be a little weak it’s in the humor. The characters from Atlas seem a little too extreme at times. Calavera and her rival aren’t particularly amusing. Nor are the two bodyguards. Still, it could be way worse of course. I’ll take a little forced humor over crude humor gags which the show has always avoided.

A big character in volume 6 is certainly Adam. He got his own short before the volume aired and the writers hyped him up quite a bit. After 5 volumes of appearing once in a while, his character arc was finally going to end here. His character has had a very mixed history over the years. While he was well liked in the first two volumes, people started to lose faith in him by 3. Volume 5 wrecked him for most fans to the point where it was too late by volume 6. He’s still my favorite character in the series, but you can definitely see why he isn’t for everyone. I’ll probably write some kind of article on him soon so I won’t go too into detail here. He gave us some great fights in 6 and has solid dialogue throughout. He may not be a fan favorite, but he definitely works well as the big boss of the season.

Another character who got a lot of attention here was Salem and through her development we saw more of Ozpin as well. This was the longest episode in the season which makes sense because it finally told us the true origin of this end boss and why she turned to the dark side. It’s a very interesting episode and you ultimately have to decide who was right, Ozpin or Salem. Personally I was on Salem’s side. While the power did start to go to her head, she still stayed very sane and reasonable during that stretch. Ozpin is the one who decided to pretend that he was on her side only to try running away with their kids. If he had actually tried to talk to Salem face to face then I think they would have been okay. He’s the one who was very unreasonable here.

Ozpin is pretty content to work with the gods even though they’re the ones who messed up Salem in the first place and appear to be rather malicious. They did come close to ending the human race after all. You now have to question Ozpin’s decision to gather all of the relics as doing so will just bring the gods back to murder them all. Meanwhile it’s hard to say why Salem wants them. I’m hoping she is planning on attacking the gods or something which would be pretty cool. It’s too early to guess at the exact goals right now, but I’m definitely rooting for Salem to take down her rival once and for all.

Meanwhile this may be Ruby’s best volume yet. She’s really gotten used to her leadership role and this is the first time where we actually see her giving out orders. She’s stepped out from Qrow’s shadow and her character arc appears to be complete. She’s close to mastering her silver eyes as well which is good. Weiss gets the least development from the 4 in this volume but she already had a lot in 4/5 and it looks like 7 will be another big one for her so that makes sense. Blake and Yang get their closure with the Adam plot so that was important. Yang is effectively over her trauma now and Blake’s resolve to never run away again is confirmed. She’s definitely come a long way. While Blake is still my least favorite of the main 4, she could possibly pass Ruby for 3rd at some point. It was just her bad luck that this would also be such a great volume for the group’s leader.

For characters who didn’t look so good, we’ve got Oscar and Qrow. Qrow spends most of the volume whining and really not looking like the reliable guy you can count on. His abilities also don’t seem nearly as impressive as they once were. He feels like he would be on an even playing field with the main 4 rather than being a large step above. After the Grim Reaper said that Yang has surpassed her as well, it really shows that the grown ups just can’t keep up. Meanwhile Oscar is annoying as he takes things super personally and then vanishes in the middle of the night to do some shopping. There still doesn’t feel like there is much point to his character. Take Oscar away and the series really wouldn’t change to be honest.

Back to the Grim Reaper for a second. While I’m not a big fan of her, I did really like the flashback sequence we got where she fights off a group of bandits. Her fighting style is a lot of fun and it’s certainly nice to finally see another silver eyed warrior. She did get a little outshined by the shark tooth girl but that made the whole thing even better. While brief, the two can definitely be considered to be some of the stronger characters in the series.

Salem’s main minions don’t get a lot to do here, but we do have some scenes to explore what Mercury and Emerald think about the whole situation. It’ll be interesting to see what they do from here. Mercury’s days of hype do seem to be gone now though so his next fight will probably be his last. I could see Emerald having more to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Salem or Cinder ends her. Either way I don’t see her escaping alive. Tyrian, Watts, and Hazel don’t do much of anything, but we should at least get to see the first two fight in the next volume.

There’s not too much to say about Team Jaune. Nora and Ren still feel extremely weak and desperately need some kind of power up to make them relevant again. Jaune is basically holding the team together at this point and hopefully he has something up his sleeve for when the team fights their next opponent. If he can use his aura amplification to do something with his sword then he has got a lot of potential there.

I do think this volume felt a little too short though. While the episodes started out rather long like with the Salem adventure, the final episodes were all extremely short. Perhaps not more so than previous volumes, but with the increased budget and mainstream attention I’d like it if we could get more full length adventures. I’m assuming Gen-Lock took a lot of time out from RWBY, but hopefully for next season we’ll get more footage. After all, we lost a whole episode here to limbo. (Gen-Lock looks fun of course, but not in the same league as RWBY so I still want Rooster Teeth to give this title the bulk of its attention) Also, the big Kaiju didn’t make for a great final boss. He ultimately went down in a single hit after he was frozen which doesn’t make for the most intense final boss. I think shifting it so that the Adam scene was the final part of the climax would have worked a little better. I don’t see Adam returning, but with the way the scene went it’s definitely possible as a shock value twist.

Finally, we got the big return of Neo here. It’s been a very long time since she last appeared so I’m glad to see her return. The scene was handled perfectly as her theme music is one of the best in the series. It amplifies the hype a lot more than if the scene had no music. Her fight with Cinder also reminds you just how good she is. Without Cinder’s Maiden abilities she certainly would have lost so it’s fair to say that Neo is high tier and can probably take on just about any non-maiden. We’ll see if she ends up being a little nerfed or something, but otherwise her partnership with Cinder is probably enough to take down team RWBY+Qrow+Team Jaune+Oscar I’d say. Of course with a large scale battle like that it is possible that teamwork will make all the difference. Also it’s unlikely that such a fight will happen since we have so many other parties running around like Salem’s group and the Atlas fighters.

As for the after credits scene, it’s pretty weak to be honest. Salem is making more Grimm…that doesn’t seem like a threat though. By definition Silver Eyes eradicate Grimm with no exceptions. We found out that the ability is straight from the light god so I don’t think Salem could override that. Most likely they will serve as a diversion or something to keep the military busy or Ruby’s friends. Still, I feel like if they go up against any named character they would just be fodder. It makes sense to have a Grim invasion for pure numbers of course, but it shouldn’t have been the big cliffhanger scene.

Overall, RWBY is in great hands as always. I have high hopes for volume 7 as expected and it’ll still be tough to beat this volume. Still, with all of the characters in motion there is definitely a real chance that it could be the best volume yet. We should be getting a ton of action scenes there so I’m glad that the crew has confirmed that they are already working on the next volume. The more development time on that the better and you can never start too soon. If you haven’t started RWBY yet then I recommend binge watching the whole series and fixing that ASAP. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the greatest TV show of all time.

Overall 10/10

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

Sonic Mania Adventures Review


It’s time to look at the little promo series Sega came out with to promote the complete Sonic Mania collection. It’s always nice to see a company put out a little extra effort to bring something like this to the table. It’s just a cool thing to do and I’m always up for some new animations. When you combine the 5 parts the series is around 11 minutes. In that time we get to see the main cast of Sonic Mania mix it up a bit. It’s a solid promo that I would recommend to anyone.

The basic premise is that Sonic and Tails are having fun on the island when they notice that Eggman is up to his old tricks once again. They decide to put a stop to him while grabbing the Chaos Emeralds along the way. Meanwhile Knuckles, Mighty, and Ray are also having some trouble with Eggman. The group all head towards Eggman’s location from various directions. Eggman was prepared for this though and sends out Metal Sonic. Can the heroes defeat a being who is as fast as Sonic and is powered by the Chaos Emeralds?

Right away you’ll have to give the series a lot of credit for its nostalgic art direction. The characters all really look like their counterparts from the original games. The animation is like something out of the original Sonic cartoon but possibly even more retro. It’s all very smooth and once again you’ll wonder why we get this level of animation for a web series while the cartoons on TV don’t even look as good. It’s a very different style from many of the other Sonic cartoons, but it holds its own against all of them. Sonic X certainly still looks the best, but this one would give Sonic Boom a run for its money in the graphics department.

Then you’ve also got the classic music which is a lot of fun as well. It makes all of this feel like a 2D Sonic adventure. Considering that this was before any of the characters could talk either, the series has to be very expressive with them. You can always tell what the characters are thinking and doing so that’s another bit of credit we have to give the animation team. Sometimes a character can just be annoying when they can’t talk as poor writers can’t use them well, but this show had no problems there.

Sonic is a solid character as always and I was glad to see him head right for Metal Sonic and enter battle. He’s as fearless as always and Sonic also puts up a great fight considering that he was holding his own against Metal Sonic while in base form. Tails is nice as well although he doesn’t really get to do much. It’s still always good to have a sidekick. Mighty gets a considerable amount of hype here as he completely destroys Metal Sonic in a fight. Who knew that this guy was so high tier? Ray doesn’t do nearly as well, but then again he never was too much of a fighter so I suppose it was to be expected to an extent. Then we have Knuckles who got less of a role than the others, but did come through in the end when it counted.

I can’t say that Metal Sonic’s appearance was too positive though since he was treated as a big punching bag the whole time. It’s unfortunate because he should be way stronger than these guys. This isn’t meant to be a very serious action show so it’s not like we were ever going to get really long fights, but Metal Sonic still could have looked more powerful with the amount of screen time that he was given. His fight also had some stills when I would have preferred to see him speed blitzing, but we got scenes of both varieties for him so it’s not really a problem. Eggman was also consistent as always which is good.

Overall, This special was a lot of fun to watch. I’d recommend it to anyone and at 11 minutes you have no good excuse not to watch it. It’s a fun adventure with a little action, you can’t go wrong there. Hopefully one day we will get another full length Sonic show since the possibilities are always endless for it. If TMNT can get so many different shows within such a small time frame, Sonic should also get the same treatment. He has proven that action as well as comedy works within his universe so no matter which direction they take the franchise in, we should be set for a golden experience. Yes, I don’t have Sonic Mania at the moment, but I’m sure its time will come. As a Sonic fan I’d expect nothing less.

Overall 7/10

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

.Hack//Sign Review


It’s time to look at what I’d consider to be a fairly iconic anime. It’s not so much that it’s known as one of the greatest anime of all time like DBZ or that it’s super long like One Piece, but it’s just an anime that you’ve likely heard of over the years. The .Hack franchise is also pretty popular in its own right and this is certainly the most well known show. It’s definitely a fun adventure that takes a pretty deep look into the online gaming genre.

The show takes place in the future where online games are finally on the rise once more. In particular a fully immersive game known as The World has gotten incredibly popular because of how realistic it is. Just pop on the helmet and you are inside the game. A player named Mimiru was exploring a cave like normal when she bumps into a player named Tsukasa. He runs off and she thinks nothing of it at the moment. However, it turns out that Tsukasa is unable to log out of the game and can’t even recall what is happening in the real world. The other players suspect that he is a hacker while others are worried about what has happened to his real world body. The secrets can be found with the Key to the Twilight. It’s an object of immense power can can change the game itself. Of course, finding it will be tough since the heroes don’t even know if it exists at all or if it’s merely a legend.

A big part of the anime is about exploration as the characters look around for a dungeon that isn’t in any of the official guidebooks. Effectively, they are really getting into the game now since it’s like going back to the days before the internet. Of course the stakes are high since Tsukasa’s life hangs in the balance. The heroes have to decide if helping like this is worth it or if the game is starting to take up too much of their time.

Despite being the main character, Tsukasa is actually pretty annoying. He is constantly snapping at everyone and feeling sorry for himself. From the start things would have been better for him if he had talked to the Crimson Knights instead of making a break for it and acting all suspicious all of the time. From his actions he basically told them that he was a cheater so of course they would try to arrest him at that point. Then Tsukasa actually destroys a few players. He never turns into a total villain or anything though and his actions are not malicious. He attacks in self defense but naturally the Crimson Knights won’t believe it. Tsukasa doesn’t have an easy time of it at all, but the reason why he is annoying is that you feel like the lead is making the situation a lot worse on himself.

Mimiru is the main heroine here and in a sense you could say that she represents the average player. She is intelligent but not a pondering philosopher like the rest of the characters. She is just here to enjoy the game at first but gradually gets pulled into Tsukasa’s web. I’d say that she definitely has a pretty tough experience here since the wavemaster is hard to be friends with and tends to panic or run away when the going gets tough. Mimiru’s definitely a fun character throughout and was certainly crucial in Tsukasa’s personality change. I dare say even more than Subaru as she got him to take the initial steps out of his shell.

Subaru is the leader of the Crimson Knights but she tends to disagree with their methods. She wants them to just go around talking with people as opposed to actively keeping the world safe. I rather disagree with her on this one at the very least on the idea that they should be so lenient on cheaters. They should report them to the admin right away and in the meantime locking them up makes sense. It would be like locking someone’s account for a little while. The knights naturally did take it a little far by the end, but I felt she was too far in the other direction. Subaru is a nice character though even if she isn’t the best fighter. She can just be rather naive at times like when she actually expected the Crimson Knight to tell her if the friends that he disliked leave her a message. I don’t think anyone expected him to actually do that.

Bear is another one of the main characters. He hangs out with Mimiru a lot as well as BT. Inside the game he is probably the deepest thinker and is also the most pro active in trying to find out the truth behind Tsukasa’s predicament. He has to make a lot of tough calls on his own and ultimately ends up making the right ones. It would have been rather tough on the kid without him. Bear can always hold his own against the other characters in a verbal battle and is good at planning as well. He’s just a very solid all around character.

BT is a character who really doesn’t care for lettuce since it erodes the taste of whatever it touches despite society telling her that it has no taste. It’s a pretty interesting backstory. In the game she likes to play as a very tricky character who will betray the heroes for a good item. She plays both sides quite a lot throughout the series before finally choosing the right side. As a result she is rather annoying though and it was too little too late when she came to aid the heroes. She also tries to go after Crim in the real world even though he’s pretty decisive in rejecting her. Of course it’s always tough to move on immediately.

Crim is essentially the “Top Player” character of the game. He has a considerable amount of skill and vows to use it for justice. He role plays as a Superman type figure who is always around to help those in need. He definitely ended up being the best character in the game. For starters he is the only one who didn’t really bring any drama with him to The World. He likes to keep the real world and the video game separate and completely gets absorbed into his role. That’s definitely the way to play and he is able to do this while still appreciating the stakes that the game now holds.

Sora plays a big role in the series as he likes to manipulate all of the characters and hatch plans of his own. As he is one of the strongest characters in the series there typically isn’t much that the heroes can do to oppose him. Only Crim is able to properly stand up to the guy. He can be fun to have around, but I definitely wouldn’t say that he is a likable character. At least he ends up trolling both the heroes and villains which is always nice for a wild card. At most you might feel bad for him during the end of the series since he tries one last betrayal which doesn’t even matter and ends up getting himself a little too deep into The World.

For a while the Crimson Knight was easily the best character in the show. He’s one of the big antagonists of the series who believes in hunting down the hackers so everyone will have a fair gaming experience. He isn’t pleased when Subaru tells him that they are just a fan group with no real power. At this point he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s not as if he goes crazy and starts trying to destroy everyone though. He merely stays in his quest to stop the cheaters and it’s a shame that by the end of the show he didn’t get to do as much as I would have hoped. His fight scene with Tsukasa early on was cool though. I think that may have even been the first episode. Even there he wasn’t in the wrong you’d think since Tsukasa was obstructing Justice. On the other hand, since the Crimson Knights are a fake group with no authority then are they outside their jurisdiction? I’d say no.

As the characters mention from time to time, they are all role playing inside of The World. Why not role play as a police officer? While the Crimson Knight gets a little extreme towards the end, he is not unreasonable at the start. If someone is hacking the game then they must be stopped before other players are hurt right? Especially since this game does seem to give you some level of pain feedback in the real world. In the video games a lot of the characters also don’t like the hackers since they mess with the game so much. The Crimson Knight does get distracted by the romance angle quite a bit, but otherwise he had a pretty interesting mission throughout the show.

The show is very dialogue heavy of course so don’t go in expecting constant fight scenes. Fortunately the writing is really good so the dialogue works. The show never feels dull or boring despite all of the talking because the show is just very interesting. You’re engaged with what they are talking about. The characters may go in circles at times but it won’t dampen your enthusiasm as they will at least gain some kind of new clue which alters the conversation. I think the voice acting deserves a lot of credit here as well. Every character sounds rather monotone and robotic but that makes sense since they’re all role playing within the game. It adds to the effect pretty well and makes them easy to listen to.

.Hack also manages to avoid some of the negatives that typically go hand in hand with anime as well like fanservice. The show avoids this which seems to be pretty tricky for video game anime like this or at least that’s the impression you get from titles like Sword Art Online. It was tough deciding whether this show would be a 7 or an 8 because it is fun, but is it great? It was very interesting throughout and while the show lacked action the mystery was fun. It’s not the kind of mystery that would lose much replay value on the second watch since it’s not about a culprit that you are finding, but secrets of the world. Everything is very meta so I think it would hold up well enough on a second viewing.

I also liked the soundtrack quite a lot. We get many different operatic themes which help get across the show’s mysterious tone. “Come with me to the Twilight” works well for all of Tsukasa’s moping scenes where he’s wondering what to do next. The show is constantly throwing in both lyrical and instrumental themes at you which fit in well. They are epic but can also be interpreted as sad depending on the scene. The only theme that I really didn’t like for epic scenes was Sora’s. It’s a really happy theme that seems completely out of place whenever it pops up. For example, it pops up during the final battle between Crim and Sora which is a hype scene but the music doesn’t fit at all.

It’s not a theme that pops up too often though so it’s fine. Also, as we don’t get too many fights during the series it’s always fun when they do pop up. The Sora bouts are always enjoyable and the invincible monsters were also cool. Each fight is fairly short so enjoy what you get from them. The thing is that most of the characters aren’t too strong here as they want to enjoy the game and aren’t grinding their stats. Only Sora and Crim decided to grind their way to level 100 and at that point it all comes down to their skill level when wielding their weapons. Since The World is so glitchy, it’s probably for the best that they don’t take that part too seriously.

The animation is also pretty good and holds up well. It’s a classic 90s-early 2000s aesthetic. The colors are bright and the backgrounds have a lot of detail. I liked how they animated Skeith as well. He certainly comes across as a very intimidating figure. The gray, faded out look for the real world also did a good job of showing that aside from The World, Earth hasn’t changed much and that’s why everyone wants to be playing the game instead of just going through the same motions as always. It would be cool to see more of the human world, but this way it does keep more of a mysterious vibe.

How much you enjoy the show will depend on what extent the vibe works for you. The first half can be rather slow as all of the characters keep heir secrets and don’t really do a lot to shed light on the situation for anyone else. It’s not til we enter the second half where the characters all start to team up and realize that an enemy is near. Then we get the fun dungeon exploration and battles against the mysterious being. As it is the show basically just ends around this point as the clean up is left to the characters of the original 4 video games. It’s not like these characters can fight a being who is a part of the game like this so I wonder how often they would log on after this or if they began to take a more cautious approach. Either way as long as you find the show interesting like I expect you will then the lack of activity at times won’t really be an issue.

One thing that would have been nice would have been to include more of the video game characters. Several of them got cameos here which was cool, but having them around more would have been even more exciting. I suppose they could have stolen the show since they were so OP though. By not having them around, it also showed that while the situation was huge for the main characters, it wasn’t necessarily an end of the world event where everyone had to show up. Even by the end of the show a lot of people probably didn’t even realize what was happening since they would probably just ignore the forums.

Overall, .Hack//Sign is definitely a fun show. It’s the kind of title that has a lot of replay value since the dialogue is engaging from the start. It’s very solid across the board so I wouldn’t say that it had any specific weaknesses. At most I do think it could have used some more fight scenes but the characters do stress that this isn’t really that kind of game. Combat is a feature though so it’s always an option. The show is also better in batches than weekly since the show likes to progress at a slow pace in order to allow all of the characters to process what is going on and discuss it. If you haven’t seen a really solid video game adventure yet then this is a great way to start. Now I just need to go back and play .Hack part 4.

Overall 7/10

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

Transformers: Power of the Primes Review


It’s time to look at the final installment in the online Transformers trilogy! The trilogy has definitely showed a lot of promise at times but has been limited by how short each episode was. It’s a shame because a full length season of Transformers hype with this backdrop could have been really cool. No sense in thinking about the what ifs though. While this season was not quite as good as the last one, it’s still a pretty fun adventure.

Last time Megatronus arrived and showed Megatron’s crew a glimpse of his power. He’s on a level that none of the other bots could really comprehend. Megatron decides that the team needs to grab the legendary blaster along with whatever other ancient weapons can be found. Optimus Primal agrees to help them but makes it clear that if the situation gets dangerous he will ditch them. The heroes accept these terms and prepare for their final battle. Meanwhile Overlord and Rodimus Prime continue to destroy all robots in their path as they look for Megatron. Eventually all of the fighters find themselves in the big climax.

The show dug itself into a big hole with the final episode of the 2nd series. The issue is that they made Megatronus too powerful. Not only does he have greater physical power than the combiners, but he has the greatest speed stat out of all the robots as well. This makes it so that no fighter can reasonably hope to challenge him and win. What the show does is quickly get rid of his speed in this season and on the whole that works as a big nerf. Suddenly everyone can fight him and the heroes even pin the guy down for quite a while. It’s a bit of a shame, but completely expected since he was simply too powerful. Megatronus is still a great villain though and I like the design.

Overlord also finally gets to have his closure with his subplot about taking down Megatron. Naturally the Decepticon is a little preoccupied at the moment, but Overlord certainly doesn’t care about what is convenient for his arch nemesis. He’s definitely a strong fighter and the show does a good job of depicting that he is a heavy weight. I do think Megatron would defeat him in a fair fight, but it would be a close battle. Overlord certainly does tend to win any fight that he is involved in.

Then we’ve got Rodimus Prime who ends up being controlled by Unicron. It’s certainly a bit of a change in dynamic there as initially you just think of him as an evil version of himself. I wonder if the show always meant for him to be Unicron or if that was changed for some reason. Either way he does make for a good villain although I didn’t care much for his redesign at the end. I thought his normal design looked good as it was. I dare say that he could might have even been stronger than Overlord and Megatron by the end although it’s hard to say since he fought a souped up Primal and that guy didn’t fight anyone else so it’s hard to compare them all. It’s unfortunate for Rodimus though as his ending definitely isn’t very happy.

Meanwhile Megatron makes for a good leader. It was definitely fun seeing him take over for Prime for once. Of course it wouldn’t be so out of place in the comics, but as far as the shows go this was definitely a very new take. Considering who he was teaming with Megatron is definitely the perfect pick for the leader. He gets the job done and has the power needed to back up his command decisions. The rest of the team would have been completely lost without him.

The most annoying character in the series is definitely still Perceptor. He seems to only be around to get in the way. Even while the characters are fighting to the death he is worried about his tech and yells things like “Be careful guys!” This guy is completely unrealistic and doesn’t seem to care about the lives of his friends. That makes it impossible to root for him and at the end of the day you want him off the team. To date he has not had any moment that has made him even close to being a likable character.

Windblade is still solid although her role here is certainly smaller than in the last 2 seasons. While she initially seemed to be more of a leader figure or at least one of the most important characters, that role was given to Megatron so she isn’t left with a whole lot to do. She is still around for the whole season of course, but at this point none of her weapons can even singe the armor of the villains so she isn’t all that helpful.

One of the big guest stars here was Optimus Primal of course and he definitely comes out of nowhere. I’d say that he was a fun character, but he does come across as rather annoying the whole time. He is very quick to try and ditch everyone, but surely he must realize how futile that would be. The villains would inevitably go after him next and he isn’t strong enough to stop them. Helping the heroes is his best chance at ultimately keeping the blaster safe which is his purpose. Also, he definitely should have taken the shot against Megatronus considering that targets don’t get much easier than that. He ends up being really strong, but as a character it is hard to root for him.

We certainly do get a lot of action here which is nice. The climax has a lot of fun moments and the energy blasts always stand out. It is impressive to see Megatronus just rip his opponents apart. I do think the Autobots should look into making their heads a little more secure though given how easy they seem to be to pry apart. In particular this doesn’t end up boding very well for Victorion but I’m confident that the writers just don’t like her at this point. She looks so terrible across all of the seasons of the show that it can’t be accidental. They certainly succeeded since I’m not a fan of her either. The whining can be a little endearing in a comical sense at times, but that’s about it.

Ultimately you may wonder why the Dinobots were added. They were fun to have around of course, but aside from Grimlock the others were just around to get wrecked. Even Grimlock didn’t look all that good for the most part. I do appreciate the fact that the series brought so many people in but it did seem to be more out of obligation than anything else. Even Predaking showed up very briefly for some quick destruction scenes and a fight.

The writing is pretty solid throughout. The script takes itself seriously and works well in constantly showing that the heroes don’t really have a chance without overdoing it. The show isn’t very heavy handed in that respect. Even the characters I don’t like aren’t super annoying or anything aside from Perceptor who is fairly unbearable the whole time. I would be interested in this creative team tackling another show someday but with an actual budget and full length episodes. I think at the end of the day an important thing to note is that the episodes didn’t drag on. It would be hard for them to do so, but nonetheless it was a fun ride.

While the animation still looks like really old PS1 graphics, I still do like it. It’s pretty nostalgic and works well for the mecha. It would never beat any really solid traditional animation style, but it’s still not something that I’d consider as a weakness for the show. It’s clunky and it does make it difficult on the show with the fight scenes since nobody can be too agile but it’s still vibrant for the blasters. It also does get the dark color scheme across pretty well like in the image below.

Overall, The trilogy is now over. It’ll certainly be forgotten rather quickly and didn’t end up making much of a name for itself but it was a fun ride. At the very least it doesn’t take a whole lot of time since the episodes are so short and there are only 10 episodes. Even watching all 3 seasons back to back wouldn’t take very long either. It does end on a cliffhanger but it’s barely even worth noting since it won’t amount to very much. The odds of this getting a sequel are slim to none. I think the best way to look at this show is as if it’s just a promo trying to get you interested in the franchise. It’s a movie that was split into many different parts to pad it out a bit but if you merge it all then it makes for a fun film that will admittedly feel a little rushed since the plot will change many times during the adventure. If you’re a big Transformers fan then you should certainly check it out. Otherwise it’s probably best to start with a different one like Transformers Prime.

Overall 7/10