B’t X Review

This is a show I sort of vaguely knew about since the Saint Seiya creator is very popular but other than the name I knew nothing about it. It turns out to be a fairly retro mecha adventure and one that I definitely had a really good time with. I love me some some mecha action after all and it all feels very nostalgic. I may not have seen the show before but the animation style and fight scenes definitely feel retro in a very good way. There are a ton of battles here that just keep coming one right after the other. The cast is very solid and the show manages to be really interesting and engaging from the jump.

The story picks up with the genius scientist Kotaro preparing to give a lecture. He’s attacked by a shapeshifting robot but his brother Teppei saves him. Teppei has always been the big fighter of the family while Kotaro has the intellect and together they make the world a better place. Unfortunately the Machine Empire attacks the delegation, murders tens of thousands and kidnaps Kotaro. They have taken him past a zone known as the Area and it’s said to be impossible to get there. The throne is protected by dozens and dozens of fighters each with powerful B’t creatures whcih are basically fancy robots.

Teppei has the Messiah Fist that he inherited from his mentor Karen and can destroy any machine but it’s not quite enough to tip the scales. Fortunately his blood is able to awaken one of the most legendary B’t creatures of all time, X. X only wants to work with Karen but he won’t just turn away from someone in need. After a lot of grumbling on both sides, Teppei and X agree to help each other out. Will they be able to stop the Machine Empire and save Teppei’s brother?

The show starts off real quick with the whole shapeshifting robot although that part gets ditched pretty fast. Ditched might be the wrong word but since pretty much the whole series takes place en route to the area, there isn’t much time to check out the real world and how humanity is faring. I liked the idea of shapeshifting robots being around every corner so the heroes always have to be careful. It almost would have been like a mystery thriller kind of title. The humans feel like they’re probably outgunned though. Put it this way, throughout the series when Teppei is trying to stop the empire, we never see the government stepping in or anything like that. The machines are in the driver’s seat all the way.

So there’s a lot left for the world building but I don’t think this is that kind of show. Most of it is really about taking on lots of enemies and continuing to push past your limits. Teppei definitely has a tough time here but he never gives up and keeps on getting stronger. Meanwhile it’s definitely a lot tougher for Kotaro trying to stay safe and out of danger.

Kotaro is a pretty good main character. Despite the constant danger that he’s in, he still keeps trying to stop the Empire in his own way by finding out the weakness to their trump card, Raffaello. After all if he can figure out how to destroy that thing then the world will really be in a much safer place. Hopefully he does get his own B’t though so he can fight a bit more because the support role is fun and all but he’ll end up staying very overshadowed if that’s the extent of his role. Make no mistake, the cutaways to his plot are always very engaging but you still want a little something more.

Then you have Teppei who is a very solid main character. He has that classic “Can Do” attitude about him. He doesn’t give up and continues to press forward. He definitely gets into a lot of disagreements with X so expect a lot of bickering but it all works out in the end. His battle skills are on point and he will jump into a battle even if he doesn’t expect to win. Teppei is good at thinking outside the box and doesn’t take thing too personal. If a character says he will help Teppei now then the hero will usually believe him and keep it moving. He just knows that the priority is saving his brother and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that mission.

X is a fun B’t and definitely one that has the most emotion out of all of them. They all do have personalities which is actually a big plus of the series but of course as a main character we get to see this guy way more than most of the others. He’s always around either in the middle of a fight or getting a power up. Now I will say that he isn’t quite as impressive as you would expect though. He’s a B’t of legend and everyone fears him but X spends most of the series getting beaten up over and over again.

There are a few reasons for this like his owner not being able to draw out his maximum abilities and his still being damaged but considering his big rep it’s still not always a consolation. You just expect a lot more from this guy and I’d say that X doesn’t really live up to the hype until the very end of the series. I like his personality though so X is still a lot of fun either way.

Karen mainly appears in flashbacks but she works as a good mentor to Teppei. She teaches him a lot and the guy would definitely be out of his league if not for the Messiah fist. Her history is mainly shrouded in mystery which you find out more of as the series goes on. Right now she has one of the stronger moral compasses in the series and she is always trying to make a difference. She can fight as well so I hope we get to see her go up against the villains in the continuation. It just feels like this would be a missed opportunity not to have her join in the fights soon. I want to see her side by side with the main characters.

One of the first villains to show up here was Metal Face and I have a soft spot for the guy. By no means is he one of the more powerful villains but I liked the guy’s confidence and he had a lot of good dialogue. He was someone who didn’t back down from a challenge and had to go up against some of the world’s strongest without anything special on his end. It might be a stretch to call this guy a main supporting character but I can say that he’s persistent and I really liked that about him.

Then you have Aramis who is more about giving orders but not actually doing much. I’m still waiting to see if she can actually fight. If she can then that will help her a whole lot but for now I can’t say that I’m really a fan. She talks really tough but then she folds when the boss shows up. If she can fight later on or defects from the villains then that would be huge and give her some momentum.

After that you have the 4 legendary generals. So part of X’s hype is that he is one of those 4 legendary B’t and that means he has a lot to live up to. The next member we meet is Fou and his B’t. Fou is someone who runs a bit of an orphanage and seems like a decent guy but since he’s working for the villains that doesn’t quite add up. He gets a lot of character development as the show goes on though and I thought his character was handled really well. Yeah he’s definitely not a true hero through and through but at the same time he does have his own standards and code of conduct. He won’t be doing just anything or follow orders blindly.

His abilities also seem extremely impressive. Whenever he shows up in an episode the villains fear him and the heroes know they have no chance. This is exactly how the big 4 should appear and it’s why I’m still waiting for Teppei and X to command that level of respect. Once they can do that then I will know that they have really made it. I hope Fou continues to get more fights as the series goes on because seeing him in action is always great. His B’t is also very solid and a machine that is also very confident in her abilities. They have a good bond going right there.

Then there is Hokuto who seems less like a fighter. This guy is more about studying and using his own genius intellect to better the world….well more like just so he can learn more. I wouldn’t call this guy a hero either but at least he wants to find the truth and that prevents him from being just another yes man. I need to see him actually fight though so for now he is the weakest of the big 4 to me. You absolutely need brawn in addition to brain to come out on top. We do know that he can fight but I want to see just how well.

Finally there is Ron but the guy can definitely be a bit more on the annoying side. He’s very strong to be sure but acts more like a mindless yes man at times. Even when everyone is telling him that something is up he refuses to listen. The guy just jumps right into fights and while it’s good to be loyal to a cause, you always have to be reasonable about it. Otherwise you end up following someone rather than the cause and that can be a really big problem. His B’t has a cool design though and I can still appreciate his power. There aren’t many in the verse right now who can challenge him.

Right now the highest ranking member of the empire that we’ve seen is a kid named Misha. He apparently works as a direct contact to the leader. So the leader gives him orders and he executes them. That’s why even if the kid isn’t very strong everyone is completely afraid of him because if he says the wrong thing then they’re doomed. What this kid says goes even when it’s unreasonable and usually this guy is very unreasonable. Lets just say that a whole lot of empire soldiers are destroyed for no reason during Raffaello’s rampages.

So for Rafaello, he is an absolutely huge robot that continues to grow and get more powerful. As a result this guy is shaping up to be the final boss although unfortunately he is so far the only character not to have any personality. So I hope he gets some quick or that won’t be the most satisfying way to end this. I’m interested in how this plays out though. Right now while he is huge, I have a hard time picturing him giving the heroes all that much of a fight though. They would have him completely outnumbered and would also be a lot faster. That should make the fight seem rather one sided if anything.

Now while the show is great, the only issue I had with it is that they do squeeze in some animal violence. Naturally the empire has a lot of livestock around so when the monster goes crazy on the loose the animals don’t quite make it. The scene didn’t really serve any purpose so I’m not sure why that was included at all. Stick to showing the machine just murder a bunch of humans instead, that’s always a better outcome. In general the show isn’t particularly violent but you can definitely still expect a fairly high body count.

One of the series big strengths are its monster of the week characters. A lot of them are actually really memorable and just as importantly they’re also fairly strong. Now to an extent it can be rough seeing all of these random generals giving Teppei a hard time but it shows why nobody else has ever infiltrated the Machine Empire. They have way too many powerful fighters at their disposal. One impressive fighter was a guy with a hook for a hand. What made him stand out is how he’s punching way above his weight class. You figure this guy should be getting packed up rather easily but instead he just gets right back into the thick of the action and keeps on attacking Teppei. Even without his B’t the guy keeps hanging in there and that’s impressive.

Likewise the first of the demon lord fighters shows up and puts up a tremendous fight. He really almost had Teppei and this is after Teppei had grown way more powerful. This is the case for a bunch of these area fighters and while you may not remember their names at times, you will remember the impact. The series quite literally would not be the same without them. I also like the idea of the demon warriors and hopefully the other 6 look good. The show made the interesting choice of confirming that the first member was actually the strongest one. I can’t remember the last time that happened so it was a good twist. Usually it’s the opposite.

The animation here is pretty good. It may not be stunning but the fight scenes definitely go all out and the character models are on point. I also liked the soundtrack quite a bit. It is a little on the smaller side to be sure but at least the tunes that replay a lot are pretty good. If they weren’t then that would absolutely have been a problem. So on the technicals the series holds up and I already explained how the fights are good. The writing is on point too. There was one annoying kid that shows up for a little while but he was written out before long so that wasn’t too bad.

There is already a lot set up for the next season as well. This one has a cliffhanger as you can probably imagine and it works pretty well. I’d have probably even gone further with the cliffhanger but this works either way. I do wonder if they can really squeeze everything into the next season because it feels like there is a whole lot to do but at the same time I know you can pull a whole lot off when the time crunch is near. So we’ll see which villains get the most spotlight coming up and which ones get the shaft. This season introduced a powerful clown villain by the end so I’m super interested in seeing what happens next.

Overall, B’T X is a great show. If you’re looking for a title with nonstop fights and at least one battle in every episode then you’re in luck. It still seems a little unpopular to an extent as there aren’t a ton of screencaps to grab off of Google without doing more of a deep dive so every person who checked it out can help get the show to be even bigger.. Still, the sheer pacing and hype of all the battles will be enough to keep bringing you back. There just aren’t a ton of old school Shonens like this left so you really have to savor them. I look forward to seeing how the sequel plays out and definitely recommend this one.

Overall 8/10

The Misfit of Demon King Academy Review

It’s time to check out a series where the main character might be more popular than the actual show. That’s a bit of a bold thing to say of course but I feel like this guy gets mentioned all the time. The series is a lot of fun though. I think it did leave a lot of meat on the bone with the premise though since the next season is going to be pretty different based on how this one concludes. I would have stretched out the plot for another season at least but either way this is a great all around title.

The series begins by introducing us to a guy named Anos. He protects a fellow student Misha from bullies one day but then exclaims that he is actually the legendary Demon King that everyone worships. See, the characters may look like humans but the series takes place in a demon society. Everyone knows that the king is supposed to eventually revive but for some reason history appears to have been overwritten and everyone thinks the king’s name is actually Avos. Anos will have to prove himself somehow but in the meantime he must attend school like a normal person. He also ended up being branded as a “Misfit” due to the way the scanner processed his data. A bit odd since he’s the most powerful one there but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Can he uncover the mysteries unfolding around him?

One of the enjoyable aspects of the series is really just the extent to which Anos is confident at all times. The guy is extremely powerful to the point where he can almost literally defeat his opponents with a wave. He destroys someone’s fire spell just by breathing out and his physical abilities allow him to endure any blow. Anos can even come back from the dead at will and has perfect immortality. Now you also have to consider that this is all while the majority of his power is still sealed away. Anos is rarely in danger in this show so you’re not watching it to see him lose.

It’s more like One Punch Man where the fun is in the humor all around him. In one way Anos even has a big edge over Saitama which is that he has much more of a personality. Anos is strong and he knows it so the guy walks around with the confidence of knowing that he is the best. It’s just one of those facts that the others have to accept. He can almost be a bit oblivious about this as well as he doesn’t understand why others don’t recognize him as the strongest. As the series goes on we even see that he’s rather nice for a demon king and is always looking out for others.

It may sound cheesy to hear that the most invincible demon of all is also the most heroic one but on the other hand if he was a villain then it’s not like the world would stand a chance anyway. So it’s definitely a power fantasy type show here but the show holds nothing back and embraces this which makes it work. A show like this will need to still be strong all around to make it work and that’s not a problem here. I enjoyed the cast, the humor is on point, and the fight scenes are really strong when they happen.

I’ve already talked about Anos a lot but to sum it up he is a great main character. He’s a good guy who always tries to do the right thing and doesn’t let anyone impose their values on him. He’s always ready to lecture the other students on what it means to be a true demon king and the guy doesn’t waver. He takes everything in stride and that’s great. No panicking, no second guessing himself. Anos has already had any possible character arcs off screen so you’re looking at a hero in his prime.

The main heroine here is Misha. You can make a case for Sasha, but Misha is introduced first and I would say has a bigger role. She can be rather timid and doesn’t stick up for herself all that much. After meeting Anos she definitely starts to improve there though. Misha has a rather sad backstory and has been through a lot so you can see how she went down that path. I’m still not the biggest fan though as I tend to gravitate more towards the confident characters but she does earn points for stepping up to fight and help as needed. Ultimately she’s not bad and I expect she will continue to improve in the future.

Sasha is definitely a character that is more fun but also makes more mistakes. She’s like a roller coaster going up and down while Misha is someone who is very consistent. Sasha starts off great, gets on your nerves towards the middle of the series, and then bounces back again. Ultimately she has a lot of twists and by the end I can at least understand her choices. They weren’t the best and on the record I do think she should have found another way. Especially when….you’ve got an invincible demon king by your side who seems to have every power under the Sun. Just ask him for help. Seriously that’s all she needed to do and we would have skipped a whole lot of drama.

That’s why near the end it is satisfying to see her and Misha finally trust Anos no matter what and this helps during the climax. The guy has performed so many miracles that I feel like you have to be on his side by the end. There should be no room for doubt and you just keep following him to the end. It’s also the safest place to be…most of the time. More on that later.

Anos’ parents also show up which is rather nice. A lot of the time in these shows you won’t see the parents almost at all but they actually stay relevant the whole way through here. Anos has a good relationship with them and they take all of the twists and supernatural elements in stride. When he grows up in under a week from being a baby they just get excited at how fast he grew. When he ends up being the strongest most popular kid at school they’re still just happy for him. They still act like normal parents in cooking food and hanging out with him/building swords and it’s a surprisingly very wholesome plot. Naturally when they get injured you’d best believe Anos is going to be causing some major damage.

Then you have Lay who is one of the best characters without a doubt. The guy is a super skilled swordsman with a ton of confidence and the only one who can give Anos a fun fight in the kingdom. Sure the guy is still outmatched but at least he fights hard and is considerably more talented than most. The guy is a bit of an enigma as he shows up out of the blue and seems a little mysterious. The guy fits right in with the cast though and also has a lot of confidence of his own. He doesn’t fall into the social traps the other characters try to get him into and just cares about getting stronger. A solid motivation I would always say.

Emilia is the teacher for a while but she’s definitely more of a passive villain as she believes in the class system. The show has a bit of a subplot there where the demons are divided into different ranks based on power, family heritage, etc. Anos couldn’t care less about this though and same for Lay so as they continue to show off with their powerful deeds more people start coming around to this line of thinking. It’s nice that Anos is performing such a benefit to society!

The hero Kanon appears several times in the flashbacks as someone who worked with Anos in order to make the world peaceful. Anos is the one who came up with a way to stop the war between humans and demons and then Kanon helped him execute this. Kanon feels a little naive though and definitely lacks Anos’ power so things get a bit dicey for him but I did like the guy through and through. He’s someone that you can count on to do the right thing.

Then we have a villain who was actually really powerful in Eugo. This was the god of time and as you would expect that means he can actually fight someone like Anos. Perhaps he is still not a complete match but he would make sure that Anos at least had to use his abilities for real this time. I liked the guy’s design a lot too and against just about anyone else his time hax would have likely dealt big damage.

I didn’t care much for the demon generals like Ivis and friends because they all get mind controlled incredibly easy so you shake your head when they’re around. Anos really didn’t have the best followers if you ask me. I suppose they can still be good teachers at the school if needed but that’s about it. Put it this way, if Anos is ever in danger then these guys won’t be strong enough to help anyway. It’s rough but that’s just the facts of the matter here.

Avos was also a powerful fighter. He is someone who is always in the background during the pre arc around the school and then starts making his move during the underwater arc leading up to the climax. He has a good design and can actually fight which goes a long way. Definitely a worthy foe to end the adventure with, certainly more than the evil humans from the water arc who felt desperate the whole time. The water arc was fun with the fights but you were just waiting for Anos to end everyone as opposed to the climax where Anos was fighting for the world in a high stakes battle.

Now while I thought the show was great, it’s not devoid of issues. One of them for me is how despite Anos’ super powers he does let his friends and family get injured at times. I’m not saying he needs to be omnipotent but with his level of ability that should not be happening. It’s why One Punch Man tries to stay very light because if anyone seriously gets injured then you have to have a hard look at the lead and why he didn’t do anything about it. Saitama can get away with goofing off because he always makes it in time. Likewise you give Anos a lot of slack for being slow to the scene when he saves the day but there are times where he doesn’t make it in time.

A big example of this is him telling Misha to go take down a villain near the end of the series but then he just overwhelms her and stabs Misha a bunch until she’s basically dead. Anos eventually shows up to save the day but it doesn’t feel right because he allowed that to happen. He should have put a stop to that way sooner and then there would not have been any problems. Likewise letting his guard down enough for his Mom to be attacked by one of the vengeful villains was also sloppy. When you have a hero who is this broken with a million abilities then any time he doesn’t make it in time feels sketchy. This is something Solo Leveling did really well as the MC was always everywhere using his broken abilities to keep his family safe at all times.

My only other issue with the series is more of a narrative choice. It’s not bad, but as I mentioned before I feel like the plot just ends a little too soon. So a lot of the fun here is in seeing Anos stroll around campus like he owns the place (Because he basically does) but everyone scoffs at him and tries to put him in his place. People don’t know that he is the demon king and that makes for a lot of fun scenarios. By the end of the season this plot can no longer be used which means that the dynamic will be way different. Sure there may be some characters who deny reality but they will be the exceptions rather than the rule. Another season of Anos being the misfit would have been great because there are so many other fun scenarios they could have done with this.

Have him gradually get more and more people to believe him. I’m sure season 2 will still be fun of course and I look forward to what they will do next but I just enjoyed the premise so much. I guess we’ll see if they bring in new fighters who can give Anos a challenge, or more likely he’ll get some new teammates. When Anos sandbags long enough sometimes the villains do actually start to land some hits or put up a good fight. This season had several fights where he did come close to at least a temporary death even if he would regenerate later on. It just takes a whole lot of planning on the villains’ part and also some luck if we’re being honest. If Anos ever goes all out from the start then they don’t stand a chance.

In terms of the soundtrack I would say the show is in the middle. See, the opening and the ending are both great. Easily the highlights of the soundtrack and they have a lot of replay value. The songs are even used during some of the battle scenes which is a lot of fun. However, the themes within the episode aren’t very memorable at all and I would say are probably a little sub par. So enjoy the lyrical tunes but you probably won’t remember the rest of the ost much.

I thought the animation was really sharp. You get a good amount of movement here and a lot of bright attacks. When the show goes into its action phase the anime is able to keep up and that results in some pretty hype moments. The show always looks very modern and I didn’t feel like there were any times where it looked bad. The aesthetic works well for the vibe the show is going for and so you should be very satisfied here.

At its core one last reason why the show is great is because of its replay value. The humor lands so well that you definitely enjoy rewatching some scenes. The dialogue is absolutely on point and while I would never go as far as to say it beats the action scenes, it supports them extremely well. Every time Anos starts a sentence off with “Did you really think…” you know that he’s about to flex on someone yet again. It’s why I included extra images here so you can see some of the variations. It’s part of why this guy is such a great main character. The humor/action blend here is balanced just right so there is always something to enjoy. Mix that in with the fact that the series is really good about avoiding fanservice and you’ve got something that is also easy to recommend to just about anyone.

The show does have some violence to be sure but I’d say it’s never excessive. The two most brutal moments are likely when Anos murders one guy over and over again and then when Misha gets stabbed to death. The former is certainly more violent but because it’s played off as dark humor to an extent you won’t find it as twisted. Still really dark to be sure though. The second isn’t as violent but because you really thought Anos should have protected her and because she’s so defenseless there then it hits a bit harder. On the whole the show is not one that I would say is hard to watch though and is still tame by and large.

There are also other supporting characters I didn’t really talk about much earlier but in general the cast is still on the smaller side for now. I expect we will continue to get new characters from within the school and outside of it. This is the kind of series with enough world building to be a really long franchise so adding more characters definitely makes a lot of sense with that.

Overall, The Misfit of Demon King Academy is definitely a great show. The anime is off to a powerful start right out of the gate and we’ll see if it can keep this up now that the whole status quo will be way different. I’m confident that as long as the writing stays this good there shouldn’t be any problems though. Anos may not be able to surprise everyone anymore like when he entered the underwater battle to save the day but you can probably still work around that with new kingdoms and such. Anos can continue to spread his wise teachings across the land and beat up anyone who gets in his way. That’s the way to go.

Overall 8/10

Blue Lock Review

It’s time to talk about one of the top new titles of our generation. Blue Lock goes strong right from the gate and the sports genre is already so stacked that initially I didn’t think it was going to match up. Well, almost immediately it has become the second best sports title of all time right after Prince of Tennis. If it keeps going strong who knows…it may even take the top spot. The anime is handled excellently with a 10 star soundtrack and the animation is on point too. This show will really breeze by with all of the great moments and there is no episode that will leave you feeling even remotely disappointed.

The show follows Isagi, a kid who made the team call in not trying to take the shot himself at the championship but his teammate missed the shot and so he regrets that. Why didn’t he take the shot personally and prove that he was a striker? Well, he was always taught the merits of teamwork and such so it just didn’t occur to him. One day he receives an invite to the Blue Lock program. Basically the goal is to create the world’s greatest striker. The stakes are high because if you lose then you can never compete for Japan in the World Cup. However if you can survive then you will truly be a star. Isagi is ready to risk it all and prove that he is the best. Ultimately the champion will come down to whoever has the most skill as well as the most ego. After all without ego you may not have the nerve to take the shot when it counts and if you can’t do that then you’re no striker at al.

It’s a fantastic setup. The guy running this program is fittingly called Ego himself. Basically the government is allowing this experiment to go on for now but they aren’t super thrilled by it so Ego has to move quickly. This is an unprecedented project so this is brand new to both the players and Ego as the coach. He does believe that this is the only way to push the players to get better quickly enough for it to matter. Additionally because of the setup, the series manages to create a lot of tension with players being eliminated here. See, when you leave Blue Lock, it’s almost like you died since you will never appear again and can’t be in the tourneys. It’s a clever way of increasing the body count while still being a soccer manga.

There’s a decently large cast here but before we dive into them lets talk more on the technical elements. The soundtrack is excellent as I mentioned before. Not only are themes dynamite but there are a lot of them. Many shows have a fairly small ost so you hear the same tunes over and over again but this one kept coming up with new tunes in what felt like every episode. Bout, Rin’s theme, Bachira’s awakening, there are tons of great themes scattered throughout the show and I enjoy listening to them quite a lot. The openings are also really solid and I really liked the first ending. It’s a very emotional track that fits in with the show on being low key but how if your dreams end then that’s it. The soundtrack is very fitting for the futuristic intense vibe that the show is going for.

Then for the soundtrack, it does a good job of nailing the intensity. Now it is true that the intensity probably can’t match the manga which is as over the top as possible but overall I thought it still did an excellent job. I like the energy effects that the characters get and how their eyes change when they enter a serious state. Think of it like Blue Lock mode to an extent but when they’re serious then it is curtains for everyone else. Yes that was really quite excellent. The soccer matches can sometimes transition into 3D while the game is going but it’s not overdone too much and you can still follow the action really well. I particularly like when the show adapts a speed scene well like with the World 5. It’s quite impressive visually.

The show also mastered the use of adding in one last scene as the end theme is playing. I always thought this was a great idea because it always sets up the next episode extra well. It makes the episode end on an epic cliffhanger as opposed to just stopping normally. Sometimes they will even have the next game start while the credits are still showing up and that’s when the series is really at its best. I wish more series would d o this where you basically have a fake ending because the show keeps going if you leave the TV on. It makes sure you stay engaged all the way to the end and it’s like a little taste of what’s to come in advance.

Okay now lets talk about the cast. First up is Isagi and he’s an excellent main character. It is always very important for a show to be excellent that you have an excellent main character so that’s one thing Blue Lock already has in its favor. Isagi is a very intense guy who really wants to be the best and isn’t under any illusions that everyone can do this. He knows that in order to be the best he will need to crush some other dreams in the meantime and has made peace with that. That’s what I like about him, it’s all very matter of fact and just makes sense. He even has one scene where he actively enjoys seeing one guy fall into despair which felt a little odd but shows that sometimes the soccer pretty much takes him over and that’s it. At that point he will do whatever it takes to get the win.

We see this throughout the show where he will temporarily be discouraged or lose some drive but then he’ll get it right back and double down. Isagi never stays disheartened for long which I appreciate and he has a lot of confidence most of the time. He knows that he is not the best yet but is determined to change that and so he keeps on practicing. He never makes any excuses or lets anyone else try to console him. He just focuses on getting better and better. This has already been paying off for him big time and I like his gimmick of being the strategist instead of having the most power. It works well within the soccer context and of course he is still a striker so you know he can score when needed.

Then we go to Bachira, the best character in the series. Rin is really close but it’s just hard to go against Bachira. This guy really loves to play the game of soccer and probably has the saddest backstory. He was all alone for so long that he basically created an imaginary friend to play against and even then that didn’t fully break him out of the shadows. It was only after meeting top tier talents like Isagi and Rin that he was really able to get out. It’s very emotional all the way through and his continual rise to the top is really fun to watch. I also like that he doesn’t back down to anyone and was quickly ready for a fight when Shido attacked Isagi.

Bachira easily could have been the main character in another series but works well as one of the rivals either way. In two different circumstances he was able to go up against an entire team on his own which is really saying something. His one man charge against Reo’s team for example is still one of the more epic moments in the season and trust me there are a ton of epic moments. It’s just something that ordinarily should not be possible and yet he pulled it off anyway.

Next up is Rin, another one of the best characters in the series. in this one he’s sort of likw Sasuke. Basically he wants to defeat his older brother due to something that happened a while back but we don’t have the context on this yet. Rin is a true prodigy and appears to be the best player in all of Blue Lock. Up to this point he has dominated everyone he’s gone up against with ease and even Isagi isn’t able to keep up with him. I like how easy Rin makes everything look. He really excels at soccer but we also see how hard he works for this day in and day out. He goes through the most grueling training processes and knows how easily you can fall from first to second. This is what he has that most of the other characters don’t, drive. Pure 100% drive and confidence in himself to be the best. That’s not something that you can learn, you have to have that from within. He never gives up on the game or in himself and fights to the last man. I definitely look forward to seeing more of him.

Nagi is another genius and while I would put him below the first 3, it’s clear that he’s on the same level and he’s another dynamite character. Up until now he has never really had to practice or work hard at anything in his life. It all just came easily to him but now he’s up against other geniuses and it wakes up his competitive spirit. I like the idea that Nagi was always very competitive but just didn’t realize it because he never had a challenge before. It works really well as a character trait and makes sense because at the end of the day nobody likes to lose. He continues to get better and better and I see him sticking around as one of the best.

Now lets talk about someone who I thought had potential to be one of the best but it didn’t happen. There was a guy in episode 1 named Kira who embodies what the main character would usually be like. He’s all about teamwork and doing the right thing. He believes that Ego is wrong in his belief that soccer is about one person standing out and joins Blue Lock to prove him wrong. Unfortunately he gets tag teamed at the end and is taken down so he doesn’t return past episode 1. To this day I’m waiting for him to return somewhere, perhaps playing for a different country or something. He was clearly very skilled and I see a lot of potential there but I guess we’ll have to see how that plays out.

Back to the players, next up is Reo and he was Nagi’s teammate for a while there. He may not have the same level of skills as Nagi but he is great as copying techniques and strategizing. That’s where he gives the heroes a lot of trouble and by providing Nagi with the ball it makes them a very solid tag team. I liked him well enough although he definitely went on a slump after the first loss. Fortunately he has now found himself and can finally start to make a comeback. I see him staying relevant for a long time.

For someone who’s not very relevant, Naruhaya fits the bill. See this is a character I didn’t like because he was not someone who let his soccer do the talking. He was always trash talking and trying to get in Isagi’s head. I feel like that means he doesn’t have the same top level confidence that most of the strikers had. You don’t resort to mind games if your play on the field can speak for itself. He kept on calling himself and Isagi average which also isn’t good because if you’re always downplaying yourself then of course you’re not going to be very good. So yeah I didn’t like this guy at all. One of the weaker characters if you ask me.

Gagamaru is another character who doesn’t really stand out. He’s not bad or mean like Naruhaya but I never found him very interesting or impressive. He does mean well though and by default to last this long he is fairly skilled. Will see if he ends up doing any better coming up. Likewise for Igarashi although in this case I would say this guy is a lot weaker from what we’ve seen. I really wonder how he possibly cleared the solo striking challenge that everyone had to go through because he’s not impressive at all. The guy’s also super petty so I won’t like him much at all. I’m ready for him to be eliminated to be honest.

The Wanima twins get some decent screen time as they were one of the first bosses. They are decent players but I feel like there isn’t a whole lot to them. They love their trash talking throughout the episodes but that’s about it. Imamura was another early boss and he seemed pretty good the whole time but ultimately comes across as a bit more of a one shot player. I was surprised he didn’t make it further since he seemed to have real talent but sometimes it really is the luck of the draw. Lemon is the guy you feel the most bad for because he’s been stuck playing the goalie in just about every match so we have yet to see what he can really do. Hopefully he ends up being one of the big players but I don’t get that vibe from him.

Then we have Kunigami who looks a lot like Ichigo Kurosaki which is a common joke while watching the show. I like his honor code and he’s a good guy. He has a lot of raw power which works really well during the matches. There isn’t anything tricky or outside the box with his play though which I would argue puts him at a bit of a disadvantage. Yes pure strength and technique are important but you need more than that if you’re going to win it all.

Chigiri is the speedster of the group and always looks very impressive in the matches. Low key they seem to hint that he really is one of the best players in all of Blue Lock. Without exception every top player always comments on his speed and I think that makes sense since speed is a big part of soccer. It’s always fun to see him with the ball and I expect he will continue to be one of the best. We already got a bit of a scare about his ankle from the flashback though so I’m worried that it ultimately will break later on which will force him out of the running. Until then I expect him to really keep exceling though.

Raichi is a very loud player who has a ton of confidence but it is unwarranted so far. He seems like a fairly average player who is not weak by any means but not quite able to tangle with the big shots yet. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but for now he needs to do more. I do like his personality though, he takes the games very seriously and isn’t about to let anyone pull one over him. This guy is playing for keeps and understands exactly what Blue Lock represents in the grand scheme of things. He absolutely won’t be caught lacking when it counts.

Now we have to talk about one of the worst characters here…actually the worst character in Kuon. Basically this guy is a petty traitor and I’ll just never be able to overlook that guy. When the chips were down he didn’t stand by his team and that was absolutely the wrong way to go. When you turn traitor and mess with the team there is really no way out of that. From that point on I was rooting for him to fail. His skills are okay I suppose but yeah the guy is just really obnoxious and needs to go.

I liked Niko as another rival to Isagi. This guy can read the field really well and has solid skills so he’s a good parallel to Isagi. Their mind battles were a lot of fun and this guy is probably the best player who is really under the radar. I look forward to seeing what he can do when he next appears. Then there is Baro who started out as an ally, and is back to being a rival. This guy doesn’t believe in teamwork at all so in a way you can argue that he embodies the teachings of Blue Lock more than any of the others. At times it can be annoying how he just completely does his own thing but he does get results sometimes. I do think this will limit him in the long run but it makes for a unique way to play soccer which is always good to have.

Zantetsu gets the shaft from Nagi’s team as he doesn’t appear much after the initial battle but he’s still pretty good. His speed was impressive and he could hold his own with the other speedsters. I feel like this guy could end up doing good things in the future but I’m also tempted to say that he’s pretty much capped out his potential. We’ll have to see how that goes I suppose but yeah it could be a while before he really does anything super special again.

As the guy who came up with the project, Ego is a fun character. He’s always being as disrespectful as possible to the other players and his matter of fact way of talking makes people listen to him. He’s definitely not a people person but he’s here to complete a mission and you do believe that he can pull it off. Meanwhile Teieri does a great job of handling the political aspects of this like talking to the big shots. The anime actually improved all those scenes tremendously by making the executives not appear to desperate and annoying. While the Blue Lock scenes are the best part, I do enjoy the cutaways to what’s happening outside the arena. It helps to develop the world too.

For example this is where we meet Sae Itoshi for the first time and of course he is a big obstacle in Rin’s way so this sets things up nicely. We know that the guy is an excellent player but he’s actually not a striker. He’s someone who passes the ball to strikers so they will be competing in slightly different arenas. Of course the personal thing to Rin is that Sae at least was still a better striker than him at the time. Have things changed? Well we’ll have to wait a while to see how things stack up now.

Then we have Rin’s teammates Tokimitsu and Aryu. Tokimitsu is one of the more annoying characters so I don’t like him much at all. He’s constantly crying and panicking the whole time. The gimmick is that despite this he is really strong but I like my characters to have a lot of confidence so panicking like that doesn’t do him any favors. If he can ever get his head in the game then I think he can be really good. Meanwhile Aryu is all about playing soccer in a way that is glamorous to him. His signature saying is throwing the word glam into everything. The guy has the skills to back it up but like Tokimitsu I think he could stand to be a little less quirky.

At the very end of the series we meet Shido and now here is a guy with personality and drive. He’s ready to pick a fight with everyone immediately and is clearly a threat in soccer. I look forward to seeing him on the field since he left an immediate impact. We also got to see the World 5, a quick team comprised of some of the world’s best for the final training match. That was a really fun way to end the series and see just what the pros are like. What I like about this is that it really shows how this series ultimately will reach the pros. The World Cup arc will definitely be the highlight of the series if it lives up to the potential. I can’t think of the last time I read/watched any sports title where they actually made it to the world championships. It feels like it’s always the high school or college tournaments instead so the stakes here are a lot higher.

What else really needs to be said right? The show is firing off on all cylinders and even as a big fan of the manga I was super impressed at how the show was handled. It’s all just so energetic and action packed. You are never given any chance to relax and by having that final scene after the credits several times it amps up the energy even more. I’ve rewatched a few of the cliffhangers a bunch of times for that reason. It really is effective and season 2 needs to make sure and match up with this tempo. We’ll see if Ego is right or if this is actually going to be a very long winded way of saying that Isagi and friends should have kept up their teamwork. After all the World 5 actually had a good amount of teamwork going and it worked well.

Overall, This was a fantastic start to the franchise. Blue Lock has really laid the groundwork for a lot of great seasons worth of epic fights and solid characters. I would say one of the things that works really well about the series is that so many characters are interesting and worth rooting for. They all have their dreams and aspirations and it’s not like they’re villains. For the most part they all seem like good and decent people who just want to be the best. Sure, not all of them are super nice but this isn’t a battle of good and evil. It’s just a lot of people fighting for a spot that ultimately only 1-2 people will actually be able to grab. It really makes you feel the stakes involved here because realistically you have to be the very best to really stand a chance here. when you’re playing so many experts like this, it isn’t easy.

Overall 9/10

RWBY: Ice Queendom Review

It’s been quite a while since this show aired. I ended up reviewing every episode of the show as it came out which is the first time I ever did that but ultimately I never actually reviewed it in its entirety. With volume 9 finished, now is a good time to check that out. I’ll even post my episode reviews below and then I’ll wrap the whole thing up. Basically Ice Queendom is the weakest RWBY show so I’ll get that out of the way first. It has some issues that the main show doesn’t have and ends up not pushing the anime medium to its limit. The show feels low budget and like an abridged version of the real thing. It hopefully brought some new people into the fandom but otherwise you’re better off just watching the original. Of course a copy can not beat the greatness of the original but I will say that it’s still a pretty good show, it’s just not up to the RWBY standard.

Episode 1

“The visuals were fantastic and it definitely moves through a good amount of material by knocking out 2 of the specials and the first episode plus some material from a volume 4 special. The fights look great as Ruby takes down some goons and Blake destroys a bunch of mechs. A lot of effort went into this one and at least at this point and time you can really feel the high budget effort behind this. I would also say it does work well as someone’s introduction to the series. You quickly get the plot and learn about the characters so that’s a win/win. I was quite satisfied here. If I am recommending someone to the series I would actually show them this episode first and then transition over to volume 1 from where this one left off. If episode 2 is as strong then I may do the same for that one.”

Episode 2

“Once again the quick pacing really helped this one jump up near the top. You could feel the budget already dropping from episode 1, however they quickly increased it again for the climax which I appreciated. The fight with the Nevermore was a lot of fun and it’s always nostalgic to see the group in the old days. The episode speeds through several from volume 1 and makes for a really satisfying watch. It still feels like a best hits montage but of course we’re getting closer to the original story so then we can see how that stacks up. Will Ice Queendom still be one of the best or will this be where it falters?”

Episode 3

“Naturally Ice Queendom has a lot going on here as it wraps volume 1 up but makes the very unfortunate choice of cutting out the fight at the docks. I think they definitely should have kept that in but at least we did get the fight between Weiss and the Grimm which was really solid. The animation really shone during that part and this episode had a lot of good development for the characters. The cliffhanger was also really epic. We’re getting into the original plot now so I’m definitely hyped to see how that plays out. Ice Queendom is off to a fast start and has been keeping up rather well so far. “

Episode 4

“Now we’re entering the anime only original story and it works quite well here. We get a whole new environment and get to learn about Weiss’ psyche. It’s an effective way of showing her true thoughts the whole time without having to make it appear too forced or anything like that. It’s the right way to go about it. The visuals still look really good and actually getting a Ruby vs Weiss fight is something we’ve been waiting for throughout the franchise. The battle theme is also on point even if it seems like the show always uses the same ones. The lyrical moments are on point though and this show just continues to operate at a very high level. I’m eager to see how this plays out for the rest of the show.”

Episode 5

“Ice Queendom comes back with another big episode as we get to see Weiss square off with Blake this time around. Ruby’s first mission didn’t go great so she brought Blake and Yang this time around but Yang was stuck on decoy duty for a while so it’s more about Ruby and Blake running around. I do like that Yang is a bit more no nonsense about the whole thing and doesn’t mind taking shots at Weiss here. That’s just her personality and it’s good to see her stay bold, it’s the Yang we’re used to after all. While the fight isn’t quite as good as the last one, the episode has a good mix of action and plot main for another solid episode in the saga. The dream world is certainly difficult to conquer.”

Episode 6

“Episode 6 has our big group fight against Weiss as even Yang gets involved. Interestingly part of the scuffle actually seemed to transform into CGI which was interesting but it was brief. The episode got to show off it’s animation a little more than the last one as Weiss spammed her energy attacks and the heroes had to deal with it. I’m a little skeptical about the main trio not being able to stop her though. It was shown that Weiss upgraded Yang and Blake’s weapons subconsciously so I like to think that they could defeat her. Just knock her out and then take out the Grimm. That would be the most direct way to solve all of this. It’s been fun seeing more into Weiss’ mind and that’s definitely been one of the most engaging parts of the show.”

Episode 7

“It’s Ice Queendom’s first time at the bottom. Mainly this episode allowed Jaune to see into the dream but because of that we’re seeing a lot of things that we already know. The Mini Weisses were fun though and then they even got to turn giant. The cliffhanger is definitely the best part though and that nearly bumped it up a spot but the volume right above this one also had a powerful cliffhanger like that. It’s nice to have Jaune in the mix but I look forward to the volume throwing in some more action in the next episodes.”

Episode 8

“Ice Queendom is in a similar situation to Volume 4 here. Sure, it’s good that the heroes are getting in a little deeper through the dream and learning more but it does feel a bit like they’re treading water by this point. Not much has really changed since the last episode to the point where it almost feels like this episode could have been merged into the last one. In a way I think I just miss the real world by this point as the dreamscape got old real quick. That being said you can tell that we’re getting close to the climax so I’m ready to see how this all pans out.”

Episode 9

“In Ice Queendom the heroes are trying to get closer to saving Weiss but seem to hit a dead end at every corner. It’s just not easy to get to her when she has the home field advantage in the dream world. Blake seems to go with a rather gutsy plan at the end though which leads to a great cliffhanger. The overall episode is a bit on the slow side but the final scene is really what pushes this above the other two volumes. It opens up a lot of fun possibilities for where the arc could go from here and I’m at least looking forward to a really big fight!”

Episode 10

“Ice Queendom is getting closer to the end now as we begin the big Blake vs Weiss fight. This episode spends half of its time showing us what led to Blake embracing the powers of darkness and then the second half continues us from where it left off. It’s definitely a very risky plan and one that I’m not a fan of since letting yourself be controlled can really not end well. I’d say just going up there and winning in fisticuffs would be the best way. Try a sneak attack to get the rapier away from Weiss or something like that. Beyond that I enjoyed our classic divide and conquer approach as each fighter will be going up against a different opponent. With better animation I dare say this could really be a top contender but I did enjoy the Weiss and Blake clashes regardless. Seeing Weiss immediately realize that something was up with Blake was also nice to show that she isn’t totally gone yet.”

Episode 11

“This was quite possibly Ice Queendom’s best episode in the batch. We finally get to see the team fight as a unit on more than one occasion which was really satisfying. The ost was top tier as you’d expect and they really saved up a lot of the budget for this episode. It was an excellent way to wrap up the arc and we got to see how strong Blake would be with the power of Adam. It all goes by really quickly with nonstop action so I had no issues with the episode. It’s just a lot of fun and I always enjoy team fights like this. I hope to see more and more combos from the team in the future.”

Episode 12

“Ice Queendom has been a fun ride and I’ll definitely have a full review up for it soon. In the meantime this works really well as an epilogue episode. A chance to just see the characters interacting and now that they have all had a lot of character development, they’re the best friends you remember. The series really nailed the characters for Blake and Weiss in particular and why they are so great. Both are usually considered to have the most development from the main group and it’s nice to see how they’ve changed. Even the little things like Weiss waiting for Blake afterwards so they could have one last talk and reaffirm how they will change the world was great.”

All right so from the episode reviews you can see how things started out on an excellent note with the volume 1 recap but then the show quickly lost some steam in the original plot. That’s pretty much how I would frame it. The volume 1 adaption was definitely a bit rushed but it was great seeing all of the iconic moments again. The only big miss here was completely cutting out the Torchwick fight at the climax of the volume. That would have been great to have seen in anime format instead of then jumping into the original story. The original story has an interesting premise.

Basically there is a nightmare Grimm that is ridiculously overpowered and ensnares Weiss. The other characters jump into save her along with Jaune but once inside they find out that this won’t be easy. Basically the entire world is in her mind but a twisted version of it and to get to her they have to defeat a lot of other obstacles like statues and such. Additionally once they get to Weiss she is quite powerful and won’t turn good unless they can destroy the Grimm behind her. Make any kind of contact with the Grimm and you too will be corrupted though. So dodging it won’t be an easy endeavor.

Where the show fumbles a bit is that the heroes try over and over to save her and fail multiple times. This causes the heroes to fall out of the dream and then re-enter so you see the same things over and over again. Once when Ruby lands, once when the team lands, and then once for Jaune. It feels like a way to save on the animation budget at times to be honest and the show unfortunately looks very low budget. Sometimes the fights barely have any animation. It will randomly change to CGI once in a while too and so nothing is very streamlined. The show looks solid during the first episodes for the volume 1 recap and then in episode 11 but that’s about it.

One of the most disappointing parts was when they set up the Weiss vs Ruby fight but then in the next episode it was done as lazily as possible. This happens quite a few times and it’s too bad because you were really looking forward to these battles. For example you have Weiss vs the rest of Team RWBY and there are no memorable shots there. Then you have Weiss going up against Blake for a few episodes and only one really had the good animation. The others were mostly them just yelling the same things at each other. The dialogue could get awfully repetitive as Weiss yells how the Faunus are destroying everything and Blake says that she will liberate them. We get this stalemate of sorts for a while.

It was fun to see a mind controlled Weiss figure out that Blake was mind controlled and swear to save her. I guess even when you’re not in your right mind you know when someone else isn’t either. Now I do want to underscore that the animation can be good at some times but it is rare and very scattered. This is a show that could have used a lot more time in the oven to really hammer everything out and deliver a more complete product. Trust me when I say that doing this would have absolutely been the right way to go about it. Because with top tier animation this would have worked so much more.

I did enjoy the soundtrack quite a lot though. It was different from the average RWBY title for sure but it worked well. Realm is probably the standout song from the ost. It plays a few times and always to great effect. There was another really solid lyrical song as well. The only one that didn’t really work well for me though was the opening but it’s not bad. I just like one part of it a whole lot and the rest is just okay. Still not bad though and while the soundtrack is limited, each tune in the episode ost are solid. You’ll definitely have a good time with the music, no doubt about that.

The show’s original characters don’t get to do much though so you don’t get much of an opinion on them. First up is Shion but I couldn’t tell you anything about that character’s personality or anything really. He’s mainly just a means of explaining the plot and the new Grimm but that’s about it. Likewise the new Grimm is basically just a mindless monster to be defeated so there isn’t a ton to discuss on that front either. At the end of the day most of the discussion will naturally end up being about the existing characters instead.

Weiss gets the most to do here and I’d say her character portrayal is on point. At first she comes across as a bit of a jerk and then tries to play nice with her teammates. In the main show people often mention how she seemed to change a bit too soon and so this show actually addresses that. Basically she was just acting the part of the nice teammate but she didn’t truly mean it. So by going into her dream they were able to have a true heart to heart talk and get to the bottom of this. I thought that was really a great way to use this nightmare bug. Now Weiss could be changed inside and out as opposed to just talking the part and that’s really the best kind of change. Weiss puts up a lot of resistance subconsciously with all of the monsters and such but she herself is trying her best. It was a really fun look into her psyche.

Likewise her whole issue with the Faunus and Blake. I think the premise was a little better than the execution there but the two of them being able to just talk things out was really solid but then when it didn’t work, going into a fight was on point. Sometimes you do need to end up talking with your fists a bit even if it’s not actually the final answer. It’s the driving force that allows you to connect at least. Blake’s new super form was also a lot of fun, I liked the design as there was a lot of inspiration from Adam.

This also led to the climax which actually was excellent. The budget went into this fight as they all fought evil Blake and really got to show off their abilities. It was a true team effort and you love to see it. The fight with the Grimm itself was also solid I’d say. Whenever RWBY is fighting as a team it’s always great to see, they complement each other well with the fighting skills and you get the feeling that if they did this more often the villains really wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately for them RWBY is usually split up for plot reasons.

I still can’t get over the fact that the show finally got its full anime treatment. Yes it may not have been quite as high budget as I would have liked but it’s still cool. I also think you really could show someone the first two episodes and then cut to volume 1 to finish it off. I would say the first 3 and then skip volume 1 but it’s rough to miss out on the Torchwick battle because he would go on to become such a major character later on. You really need to see him fight here so you can really understand just what a big threat he was. Ice Queendom’s power levels do get a bit wonky though so you’ll need to keep that in mind. There were a few times where I felt like the heroes should have had the decisive edge by a mile and it just didn’t happen. The show could have just been a few episodes long imo but they had to stretch things a bit.

In terms of characters, well they’re all in character so it works out. Ruby is still a good leader here and while Weiss’ insults may really cut her to the core, she always stands back up and keeps going. Her determination really comes through very strong here. Weiss has a masterful level of depth to her here and is executed perfectly. Yang may come off as a bit meaner than usual with all her shots at Weiss but I like how she always speaks her mind. She still comes through as the power hitter and Blake conquers her fears to allow herself to be taken over all to save Weiss. That’s a lot of dedication right there and so she gets a big thumbs up as well.

As a sidenote, I really liked their winter designs in general. The cold weather type outfits worked well and I always like when characters actually do change their attire based on the weather. Weiss and Blake both have really cool evil forms as well. The designers really held nothing back here and it ended up working out really well. I may take my shots at the animation but the art itself was great so the show always looks really good in the still images. It’s one that will hold up and ultimately I still do really want a season 2. Maybe lets just re-adapt the whole show this time and not bother with an original plot until it’s caught up. Then I can get to see volume 3 and all the tourney battles in the anime style.

Overall, RWBY: Ice Queendom is a fun side adventure. I think they should have planned things out a little better so that the episodes weren’t repetitive though. There’s really a lot of ways you could have done this like make Weiss’ dream world change completely each time or use more check points so it’s different. I think a little less repetition would have just gone a long way here and then you could focus on the story more. It may not match up to the classic RWBY adventures but those are all star titles which surpass the very medium so that’s probably not a super fair comparison. On its own this is still a great title either way and one that I would recommend checking out. So if you want more RWBY content, well you’ve come to the right place.

Overall 8/10

RWBY Volume 9 Review

All right this is going to be a long review so strap in! The greatest show of all time has finally returned for season 9 after so many years. I’d been eagerly awaiting the return and the company’s gone through a lot in the meantime so right now we don’t really know if Volume 10 is coming or not. Everything seems up in the air and if it were to all end here then I would still be satisfied because 9 seasons of content is incredible but of course I will be eagerly awaiting Volume 10. It’s one of those things I can never lose hope on because there’s always a chance and with the amount of buzz the show gets it feels crazy to put it on hold. We’ll get that season 10, but hopefully sooner than later.

Volume 8 ended with the main characters falling through the hole into the ever after. Fortunately they all meet up with each other very quickly so the gang’s still together but it’s not under the best of circumstances. Ruby is feeling depressed after the heroes lost to Salem’s forces yet again and this time the body count was very real. This world is really trippy and every time they try to leave they just seem to be further and further away. It all seems to be following a book that the main characters read when they were kids so they can at least predict some events but their presence as well as Neo’s is already changing things up. Can the heroes defeat her and escape? Also, where is Jaune?

For a big show like this it’s almost hard to know where to start. The volume is a bit shorter than the others since it’s only 10 episodes and they’re all fairly short as it is but because this is RWBY there is a ton to unpack. I’ll probably keep this review fairly scattered as I just type each aspect as I think of it and we’ll go from there. First to get this out of the way, to an extent this volume was considered by some to potentially be a filler season since it was planned out from way before the main plot even started and the mini volume format that the writers would refer to it as made people feel like it was a side adventure. By and large that probably is true. There are some developments here to be sure but at the same time it can feel a bit like Capsule Monsters or Fast Forward in that it’s sort of a break from the main story. There’s no Salem or Cinder here and the heroes aren’t fighting the Grimm. The Grimm don’t even appear.

Think of this as the heroes getting isekai’d into a whole different world for one season. Of course unlike other spinoff adventures they won’t be losing their memories or anything. Their development will be sticking with them for the future sagas. Aside from Weiss who was already perfectly sound going into this world, the other 3 do change and adapt from their experiences here. Jaune and Neo have quite a lot of character development as well. So in a literal sense the season isn’t filler because things did happen. At the same time it is a breather season I would say since it’s not super important to the grand story. On a RWBY binge re-watch if the series ever does end, you could basically skip this volume or jump to the final episode to enjoy the fights. Of course it’s still a great watch on its own so no need for skipping.

Now as this is going to be a deep look through at the series you should be warned that there will be advanced spoilers here. Tread carefully and if you haven’t seen the season yet then I highly recommend changing that first. Trust me you want to go into this fresh because that just makes for the best viewing experience. A show like RWBY has so much replay value that you will keep on watching anyway but it’s still nice not to be spoiled. Then when you’re watching the battle song in the final episode on loop over and over again you will always remember your first experience with it.

First lets talk about Ruby as she gets a lot of focus here. She’s coming off of 2 of her best volumes in the series as she led her team to a decisive victory over the Ace Ops and nearly took down Neo if not for Cinder getting her from behind after that. Well, unfortunately this is her worst volume by far and it’s not even close. Basically Ruby has taken the loss very hard and completely doubts herself as a leader now. Her friends keep trying to ask her what’s wrong and see what’s going on but Ruby pushes them away and ultimately blows up.

My main issue with this is while it’s portrayed as if she was ignored, the characters made every effort to talk to her. It was Ruby who actively pushed them away so I wouldn’t say that they could be blamed for anything at this point. Ruby blowing up at them was just a big L for her and she doesn’t come off very well for just about the entire season. Ultimately this leads to her getting bullied by Neo and ultimately choosing to drink the poison tea and destroy herself. Now, whenever a show deals with taking your own life, that’s a pretty big thing. It’s a huge decision and always the wrong one so a show has to make sure to show this.

The main controversy among this season was how this was handled. After all Rooster Teeth already has a bit of a dicey streak with this since Gen Lock and to a lesser extent, Penny convincing Jaune to destroy her in the last volume. I do think it was the wrong choice to have Ruby do this as well here because that’s just not who she is. She always has some hope and losing it all like this may have been to show how she’s been broken down but it goes too far. I would say the other aspect of this that doesn’t work are the non reactions of her friends and sister in Yang. When Ruby drinks the cup, none of them make a move to stop her, yell or do much of anything. It’s like they were all stunned into silence.

Now you can write this up as a momentary freeze but in the next episodes they are completely over this. They tell the cat that Ruby has to choose for herself what to do here, how she might be a different person, etc. The reactions are so bizarre, they are not being proactive about anything and don’t seem nearly as worried as they should be. Yes in this world death means instant reincarnation so she won’t be gone for good but based on what they have seen, Ruby herself would still be “dead” as her new form wouldn’t have her memories. Look at the paper pleasers for example. So for all intents and purposes Ruby really would be dead and so I don’t understand how nonchalant they are.

I feel like the show got confused midway on exactly what kind of symbology they were going for here. Within the show’s context none of this made any sense considering that Ruby just chose to destroy herself. That absolutely should have shaken up the cast a whole lot no matter how strong they are. Certainly they shouldn’t be grinning in a scene right afterwards. I had similar issues with the Paper Pleasers plot. Basically they are a suicidal cult that wants to destroy themselves because they feel they have succeeded in their mission a long time ago.

In this world once you have completed your mission then you are empty and need to ascend to get a new one. The problem is that this is still death since they don’t retain their memories or experiences and so Jaune tries to stop them. Unfortunately it is portrayed as a bad thing as he should have let them go off to their deaths. I definitely can’t get behind that one either and it was annoying how Team RWBY was so okay with this. Ruby in particular had no sympathy for Jaune at all. Have I mentioned how this is her worst portrayal in the franchise? Yeah it was definitely rough for a while there. Death in general seems to carry less weight than it should. At one point Team RWBY run off when the Jabberwockers appear and leave a whole village to die. Each and every one of them are murdered and we hear the sounds as they left.

At the end of the series Blake asks if they actually helped at all or if they just made things worse and you have to assume the latter to be honest. The heroes left a trail of death and destruction everywhere they went. They destroyed two villages, took down the king, and now the kingdom has no more of the original creatures like the Jabberwockers and the Cat. Not all of that was directly their fault but you’d be hard pressed to say that they really made the world a better place.

Now I am still ready for Ruby to bounce back because she finally goes back to herself in the final episode. Now she is the Ruby that we all know and love. In that sense her character arc sort of just flipped back to her being really confident like in volumes 7 and 8 once more but we can assume with this arc over that she won’t have any more doubts in the future. She also seems more powerful now but it’s hard to scale until we see her back in the real world. Ultimately her arc was filler you could say as it basically reset to where she started but I was glad that we got to finally see her smiling and having a good time again. Her final fight is absolutely the highlight of the whole volume and I’m ready to see her take on Salem. Plus now that she’ll be in a world of Grimm again she can finally use her silver eyes. I get that part of the point of this volume was to take a break from the Salem plot but I still miss Ruby’s cool silver powers. We still need to find out how any Grimm will ever be a threat again since Ruby can one-shot almost all of them at this point so Salem needs to think of something quickly.

Yang looks great here as you would expect. She’s always ready for a good fight and I would say that she has relaxed a bit more now. She’s back to making a lot of puns and just grinning all the time. For a while Yang had always been the heart of the team and kept the atmosphere lighter but she did get a bit more serious in the last volumes. I think this was a chance for her to reset in a way as well and it was a welcome change. She is still the power hitter of the group and does well in all of the fights. The heroes would definitely be lost without her.

Then we have Blake who has unfortunately been flanderized a little bit. She really takes the role of being the nervous member of the group who can’t stand up to Ruby anymore and is the only one to have some self doubt in the final episode. The writers took great care for her to basically not land any real blows in every fight outside of the chess battle and she always ends up being support. It’s fine to be a support fighter but she was one of the stronger fighters back in the day so I’d like to see that return. Blake is still a good character but right now she’s not keeping pace with the other 3 at all and that needs to change.

As for Weiss, I was pleased at just how confident she was. See, Weiss has already been through her character arcs so before the volume started I was talking about how nothing should get to her here. The villain mind games just won’t work at this point and sure enough, they don’t. This was the best attention to detail in the series as Weiss basically tries to keep everyone together. She does act a bit goofier at times which did feel a bit out of character but my headcanon will just be that she is trying to keep the atmosphere lighter since she sees how Ruby is feeling down. Might not be the sharpest theory but at least it works as an explanation. I can buy into it at least. She also finally uses her rapier a bit more here rather than relying exclusively on summons and I appreciated that. With her glyphs she has the potential to be one of the most powerful fighters so lets get back into that.

Jaune gets a big role here as well. He’s been a consistently solid character throughout the series and has had several character arcs. From the characters you can make a very strong case for him enduring the most amount of trauma. Yes, even more than Ruby and Blake I would say. The guy had to watch the girl he loved run off to her death and then he was pressured into murdering another one of his friends. He’s always been powerless to protect those around him and even started to get suicidal in volume 5 with how he kept charging Cinder. He finally got into a good headspace in volume 8 and then falling into the Everafter and being alone for years broke him again. The guy just can’t catch a break but whatever happens he tries his best.

The fact that he lasted for so long on his own in a strange planet shows just how resourceful he was. That’s why it was a shame when RWBY didn’t back him up. Still, he kept on trying to be the great hero and this is absolutely a highlight volume for him. I would have preferred that he stayed in his grown up form in the present since the design was also so good but I guess this is the end of the road for that. Right now he has a lot of experience though so I hope that is directly shown in the next volumes. He has grown into truly being an excellent leader and will be able to make a difference. The volume really nailed his character from start to finish.

Okay it’s time to talk about Neo and she is the character that the volume fumbled the most. So what do we really know about Neo beyond what we see in the novels? Well, she wants revenge on Ruby for murdering Torchwick and will want revenge on Cinder for being portrayed at the very end of volume 8. We need to remember that originally Neo intended to murder Cinder for Torchwick’s death but the villain told Neo that it was Ruby’s fault. So now that Cinder has betrayed her maybe Neo will double think this? She doesn’t and just goes after Ruby but surely after that she would try to get Cinder right? Well that’s where the issues come in.

When Neo successfully destroys Ruby, she suddenly goes all empty. Basically her purpose was fulfilled so she is an empty shell. That seems to be what the show was driving at and it makes no sense because she still needs to murder Cinder. Her purpose is hardly completed, there’s a lot left to go in her adventure. That was the first warning sign here. Alternately you could say that she suddenly regretted this and thought that murdering someone was going too far but that makes even less sense for such a ruthless calculating villain. Neo was just completely out of character here and so she went from being one of the most powerful, epic villains imaginable to being someone who was just left by the wayside. Even the way her character arc ends was not satisfying at all as she just jumps off to die too and be reborn as something else. Unless she chooses herself like Ruby did, she’ll lose her memories now and that would be annoying.

The show never explained why her powers completely evolved and changed either. Sure, Semblance evolution is a thing but it’s something you need to actually work at. She just got a bunch of new powers and used them immediately. For example her illusions can now talk and they seem to have the original’s memories because she uses some illusions that she couldn’t possibly know about. Penny dying twice for example. It’s all to break Ruby so these characters had to show up but logically it makes no sense that she would know the inner dynamics of exactly how they would break Ruby. That’s really my issue here.

At least she still looks powerful but we don’t get to really see her fight before getting possessed and I wanted to see how the team would fare against normal Neo. That would have really been good to see since I figure she can probably still handle the whole team to an extent. Fans of the Jabberwocker should not be too pleased either. The monster starts off by losing against Team RWBY rather handily and then getting instantly murdered by Neo. The rest of the show they are just clones of Neo’s and that’s not the most impressive way to appear. Cool design but the character sort of got misused a bit.

Then we have the curious cat and he was a lot of fun. He’s the kind of guy who will trick you so you always have to be on your guard in every conversation. He is playing the long game and does a good job of getting the characters to trust him so they can be manipulated. As a villain he also works well and I definitely liked his true form. Automatically I would say he’s probably a top 10 villain in the show and that’s good considering how many there are. Even to the end he was talking tough and I loved how he called the humans weak and insignificent even as they had just beaten him up. Sometimes you have to double down like that. He also made for some of the most intense visuals in the show.

Finally Alyx who was the main character of the book gets a decent role in the lore. At first she wasn’t the nicest person but gradually grew nicer. It’s a classic character arc but they try to keep you off balance with some twists and almost twists. I don’t think she adds a lot to the adventure but she does help to give Jaune even more trauma by the end so he’s not going to run out of that any time soon. The show also heavily implied that she ended up being reborn as the metal crafter although I think that’s a rough fate since it feels like you would be bored for a very long time in that role. You rarely have people to talk too.

The gang also meet a little mouse named Little. She’s a bit scattered all the time and tends to sleep a lot but means well. I was expecting them to reverse the death for a while there like it was just an illusion but ultimately Neo really did get the better of her. Little will likely never show up again in her new super form but if she ever returns that could be interesting. Perhaps Little will even have some fighting ability now.

Now the volume did decide to finally go through with the very controversial ship of Yang and Blake getting together. Long had I dreaded this day but the writers have basically been promising this for years now. A good chunk of their scenes are used for setting this up and general flirting the whole time. So much for Yang’s personality being the flirty one for a while there and Blake’s connection with Sun. Both have been squashed due to popular demand. It was just a matter of time until this happened but it was still unfortunate since they were such good friends and shows don’t need to go there like this. I know they’re now saying this was planned from the very beginning..but I have doubts. We’ll see if they can keep their personalities and stay strong or if this will become their personality and Blake will continue to shrink in fear at every danger so Yang can save her.

I would say the best non action scene in the volume was when the members of Team RWBY met their younger selves. It was great to see the old designs from back in the day and how each character has really changed. As expected Weiss really destroyed her previous version verbally while Ruby got completely devastated since the old her was so confident. The contrasts were really good and of course the art was excellent as always. The show really knows how to make every scene really pop out at you. In general of course the dialogue in the volume is very strong and it helps to make up for the lack of action but this was the stand out scene for me.

Of course the end of the volume gets you hyped for volume 10. The show seemed to be trying not to set up too much of a direct cliffhanger in case it isn’t renewed though like not having any kind of post credits scene this time. That was too bad since I always like a good cliffhanger but at least we still have a bit to theorize on. The last show showed that Atlas has arrived in Vacquo and somehow Amity Arena is back in operation. So the implication is that the distress signal Ruby sent out in volume 8 actually did work and the kingdoms sent backup. It’s a bit funny how the instant the heroes leave things start looking up again.

Of course the portal was set up to send Team RWBY to when they were needed as opposed to where so it could be any kind of timeskip. I’d assume maybe a few weeks or months but nothing too drastic. Anything longer would also be dicey since you’d assume humanity would be wiped out already. Salem and her forces should be having a field day without the main crew there after all. It’s why I can’t wait for volume 10 so we can see what’s been going on. The side story is all well and good but I am absolutely ready to jump back into the action here.

This was the first volume where Jeff would not be doing the music along with Casey and you can feel it as the volume sounds very different. Of course that could be to match with the tone as well. Ultimately it’s easily the weakest soundtrack but there was still a really good song for the final fight. Right now the theory is that it will be called Red Like Roses Part 3 since the opening lyrics are similar but we’ll see. It’s an excellent rock song and really brings you back to the classic days. The other themes are a little more fantastical but there is much less rock than usual. The ending song for the volume is emotional but not one that you would typically re-listen to after the first time. I’ll do a ranking of all the songs once they’re released and we’ll see if the full version buffs them a bit. Still, it’s a good soundtrack just a step down from what we’re used to.

Likewise that’s basically the case for the animation as well. The art is top tier as always and the colors have never been more vibrant. The character designs are on point and they clearly took a lot of time to make sure everything looked great. The only issue here are the fights which don’t have quite as much animation as you would expect. That’s really the only problem here. The fights are still fun overall but you can’t compare them to volume 8. The last fight of the volume though can hold its own with any of them. It’s super short but the part we get was still very crisp, fast, and streamlined. Exactly what you expect out of any RWBY fight so this one really delivered. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a Volume 5 situation.

Instead of them saving all the budget for the final fight since most was spent on GenLock, this time the budget was saved for the end because the group was taken off to work on the Justice League movie midway through the volume and the budget was already smaller. It also explains why the volume was only 10 episodes instead of the usual 12-13. They really didn’t have much room here to do anything more than what they needed to. Hoping that the next volume gets the full budget start to finish so we get a lot more intense fights like this though.

I would mention the flashbacks with Alyx and the gods but those look super low budget intentionally. It’s a narrative decision to make them look like storybooks even if I think they should have skipped that and made it look normal. My motto is that you should never intentionally make animation look older or lower quality even if that’s the intention. Sure you would have to create new 3D models…but then it’s time to start creating. I was glad that the flashback with Summer and Raven was fully animated. It makes you feel like Summer will be getting more scenes sooner than later now that she has a character model and I want to see how the mission with Salem went. Clearly not very well but still there is a lot to fill in there. Meanwhile it was also great to see a lot of the old characters return like Ironwood even if it was just as an illusion. It reminds you just how large of a presence the guy had and still has within the series.

The volume was a bit rushed so it could have used another 2-3 episodes I’d say but at least since it is so short, that makes it even easier to binge. You can definitely watch the whole volume as a movie of sorts and that would work really well. The season has a lot of light hearted moments to balance out the series ones and so you should feel good just going through it all. At the end of the day RWBY is always a lot of fun to watch and this volume is no exception.

Overall, There’s always more to discuss but that’s volume 9 in a nutshell. At the end of the day is pretty much is a side story and one that you could probably skip without missing much for volume 10. That said, it’s more RWBY content so you don’t want to miss that. It will naturally have far less replay value than most of the other volumes though as a result of the smaller cast and stakes. I would say it only beats Ice Queendom and loses to the rest of the main volumes. I’ve already rewatched all of the episodes once via reactions and I’ll be doing it a lot more so either way it’s still RWBY. It having less replay value doesn’t mean that it’s gone after all and there were still a lot of fun moments here. I would definitely recommend checking it out and at least before volume 10 we have the two movies to look forward too. That will have to satisfy the RWBY itch for now but you know as soon as volume 10 comes out, I will be there!

Overall 8/10

Levius Review

Levius is one of those series that I certainly hadn’t heard of before watching but it was quite the solid show. I’m always up for a good boxing title as it goes without saying that it would have a lot of action thrown into the mix. This one has a solid story to back it up as well and the last fight was quite a bit longer than I expected and that’s a good thing. It was quite climactic and usually you don’t see something like that outside of Shonen Jump so that was pretty cool. All in all it’s a great show with solid pacing and you should have a good time all the way through.

The show starts off by showing a city being reduced to rubble and machines kidnap a bunch of people in the area. In particular one girl was calling for help but Levius was too young and didn’t have the power to save her. This haunts him to the present where he is now a boxer. His destroyed arm was replaced with a metal one but he has decided to keep the other one. It puts him at a disadvantage against fighters who use two metal arms but it has sentimental value to him. He aims to gradually become the world’s greatest boxer but his coach Zacks suspects there is more to his dream than that. One day that girl appears again and Levius is determined to save her this time around. Will his strength in boxing be enough?

Now the show does have a plot outside of the boxing stuff but I would say boxing is absolutely still the main focus and as it should be since that’s likely why you’re here in the first place. The world building is more used to help set up Levius’ big reunion with the girl A.J. (Will just keep as AJ for easier typing) It does open up the possibility for a lot of interesting plots in the future but at the same time Levius is just a boxer. He’s not a CIA agent or anything so odds are that he won’t actually be getting mixed up in any of that. Unless a potential season 2 took a really big shift in story the global issues would be a different character’s concern. It’s actually an interesting angle as you assume there are a lot of big battles going on in the outside but we just don’t see them. Picture an end of the world event going on in Transformers but instead we’re following some big races.

The closest this ties in is the fact that AJ’s suit and mech is created by the guy in charge of the evil machine company. His name is Clown which is kind of fun. That’s his last name but it’s still his name. Imagine walking around and when someone calls you a clown you don’t know if it’s an insult or your name? I thought this guy made for an interesting villain but at the same time he wasn’t quite as good as he could have been. What I mean by that is he gives off the aura of being a great fighter and has a lot of mystery to him but in the end he goes out like a chump. It’s going to take some more time for him to build up his hype again. I still feel like he should be able to fight very well and must be powerful but we have yet to see any real proof of this.

Now the cast here is pretty small but that works well enough since the show is so short. It’s only 12 episodes after all so this lets them really dive into the characters. First up is Levius and he’s a solid hero. He’s the kind of guy who will jump in to protect someone even if it could cost him the match. His best moment was definitely when he went into the ring to save Hugo when his opponent was going too far. Levius was also making sure that any plan the heroes went with would be one where AJ was saved since he wasn’t going to resort to murder. He’s a very stand up guy and a determined lead to boot. He went through various fights without having any leads towards his true goal without ever losing hope. He’s also a nice guy too and when he has to let someone down he does it gently.

There’s really nothing to dislike about the guy. He’s a very well rounded main character. Then you have his uncle/coach Zacks who is also solid. Zacks used to be a fighter himself so he makes for a good coach. He knows what it’s like in the ring and always does his best to give good advice. It can be frustrating being the coach because sometimes the boxer just won’t listen to you even when you’re right but he still tries hard. Zacks has a big moment near the very end of the series which definitely helped to make him stand out. He actually contributed in a very direct way which made him stand out.

The mechanic Bill was also good even if he started to crack a bit towards the end. The pressure was nearly too much for him and so his emotionless façade broke down. Ultimately very few characters can truly be emotionless to the very end. Often times they will end up overflowing when the going gets tough which is always the tough part about internalizing. Bill was very good at his job though and even if he couldn’t get it done in the end, he came close and still gave Levius a whole lot of help.

Then you have Natalia who is a fun rival but her power level is a bit lower than I would have liked. The whole show I was expecting her to get some kind of a big win considering just how confident she is. Unfortunately it turns out that she is a bit delusional and can’t compete with Levius. Now she is still a good fighter as she was climbing up the ranks quickly but he defeated her early on and she just never improved from there. She has some more street smarts than he does and comes in handy for training but I would have liked a big moment for her that involved combat. Natalia is a lot of fun but she ultimately seems to be all bark and no bite.

After that you have the other 3 boxers who had a big role. First up is Malcolm and he’s known as a very dirty fighter who will do whatever it takes to win. The guy also murders all of his opponents. No that’s not a figure of speech, he literally makes sure to attack hard enough to always destroy his opponent to the point where that’s his reputation. Yes this is a futuristic form of boxing where everyone has on mecha armaments but even so he doesn’t have to do that. Malcolm is proud of himself for murdering everyone though and that’s why it’s hard to forget this later on when the show tries to paint on more of a sympathetic edge to the guy. I’m just not buying it, you don’t go from being a mass murderer to then forgetting about it. That’s not how this works.

The show sort of glosses this over a bit I’d say. He does end up donating to charities later on but it’s just a bit late for that. He makes for a good villain but it’s hard to see him as anything more than that. A hero or an anti-hero? I don’t think it’s quite deserved yet. He was certainly an impressive boxer though so nobody can really doubt his abilities in the ring. Those were definitely for real.

Then we have Hugo who was my favorite character in the series. The guy is just a very straight laced boxer who goes in and tries to take his opponents down by force. There are no tricks or gimmicks here, the guy just fights very logically and with a lot of force. He puts up a tremendous fight against AJ and really never wanted to give up. It was super impressive so while the guy may not have appeared a whole ton, he left a good impression. This is the kind of guy that you want to have on your side.

Finally we have AJ herself. She has the coolest mech suit in the series to be sure. It just looks really impressive and since she has the best tech developers behind her, her equipment is the most efficient as well. Her own natural fighting moves are really good too. Without the enhancements I don’t see her taking on Hugo or Levius but with them she’s basically unstoppable. I would even say they probably made her a bit too strong because you really don’t see Levius holding his own here. AJ was just too powerful with each hit dealing massive damage.

Throw in the speed as well and Levius was outmatched. I sort of buy into the whole taking advantage of her rage and making her sloppy at different points in the fight but lasting long enough to pull that off is where I have my doubts. Still a great fight though and the perfect way to end off the series. It was everything the show had built it up to be and it would be difficult for any sequel fight to top this one. Especially since it was basically 3 episodes long.

As for the animation, it is CGI so it’s not quite going to hold its own against the big hand drawn titles but I thought it looked well enough. They did a good job with the fights and the character models are on point. It definitely beats some other CG titles that I’ve seen in the past. Then with the soundtrack it’s good but not super memorable. I thought there were some decent action tunes mixed in there and the theme song was decent but on this aspect it’s a little more forgettable.

The show always does a good job of nailing the build up to the fights. I like the way the arena looks and you feel that excited crowd atmosphere for every fight. We get good cliffhangers during the episodes and the pacing is on point. The dialogue/writing are good as well and so the show can hold its own even when the action scenes aren’t happening. It even takes some time for more emotional type moments with the characters as they want Levius to abandon the fight several times when his opponent seems too powerful.

Ultimately Levius doesn’t waver which is why once again he is such a great character. No matter who is trying to get him to quit the guy just won’t listen. Above all else he has his own moral compass and knows what he needs to do in order to win. The show also doesn’t waste much time on the past. We get quick flashbacks for Natalia, Bill, and Zacks but it’s always very quick since they know we’re more interested in what’s going on in the present. Everything else can really just wait until another time.

If I have just one minor issue here it would be that the third last episode overdid it with the flashbacks a bit. It felt like half the episode was the characters remembering things and considering how short the show is, I don’t think almost any of them were necessary. You could have one or two quick ones if you want for narrative reasons but that episode was spamming them. I figure maybe they wanted a very specific episode ending cliffhanger and so this was for the pacing but it felt a little bit forced.

On one more positive note, I like how in detail they went on the actual boxing training. We got to see them practice the moves that Levius would be using in the actual matches. Each time it felt like there was actual coaching and adjustments happening which was nice. It’s not overdone or anything, it just helps add extra context and detail to the fights. I thought it worked out really well all around. The spin punch for example was a really fun technique and I also liked the side step technique Levius learned later on. The blur effect and the squeaky sound effect was satisfying. Moreover it felt like a technique that really could be effective with some practice and not something the show just made up on the fly.

In the end, if I was in this future there is no way I’d ever want to be a boxer though. It feels like you are constantly at risk of dying there and your opponent will get off completely free each time since it’s still just within the rules. One realistic element they included here is about bribing the association though. One boxer lands a hit on the referee but because of her group’s pull there are no penalties or anything like that. It’s pretty crazy but that’s the power of widespread influence I suppose.

Overall, Levius is a great show. What really seals it is how solid the fights are and the characters hold their own as well. You’ll have a lot of fun watching the show and it has a good amount of replay value. The ending is very satisfying so there really aren’t any weak points here. It’s also a very safe recommendation to anyone whether they be action fans or looking for a good story. The series has 0 fanservice in it which is always impressive and so the writers are confident enough in their story to keep everyone’s attention the whole time. This show really does all the right things and will be remembered fondly. It’s crazy to think about how this was all G3 level fighters, just wait until we reach G1! I’d definitely recommend checking this show out.

Overall 8/10

Spy X Family Review

Spy X Family is a show that took the world by storm. It’s a pretty fun series and the anime goes all the way in adding extra effects to make the whole thing stand out even more. I definitely had a good time with this one and am ready for season 2. It’s got a fun wholesome kind of vibe to it and there are a ton of scenarios you can really explore with this setup. There is also an overarching plot but it’s more like Detective Conan where you should be enjoying it for the characters more than the story since it’s likely going to take us a very long time to get to the end.

The plot starts off by introducing us to Loid who is one of the world’s top secret agents. He can perform any mission and is an expert in hand to hand combat as well as espionage. This guy is always well prepared and basically his role is to ensure that a civil war never erupts within the world. Westalis and Ostania are the two places fighting and have to be kept in check. Lois is a member of WISE and opposing them are the special police as both groups don’t see eye to eye. So in that way Loid’s group would be considered as the villains within their territory. They have to operate in the shadows while the police are open about this. Perhaps down the road the two groups can work together but they’re far from that point right now.

Loid is given his toughest mission yet which is to make contact with the leader of the Desmond family. He has a ton of power and connections so the organization needs to have a read on him but it won’t be easy. Loid needs to start a fake family so that he can have a kid enroll in Eden Academy to befriend the young Damian Desmond. Then eventually that would lead the parents to meet. That’s the idea anyway but you can see how this plan will be very difficult. Fortunately things work out as Loid meets a young telepath named Anya (She keeps her abilities a secret though) and adopts her. Then he meets an assassin known as Yor (She keeps this a secret) and they agree to a fake marriage since it would help them both not stand out too much. See, being single in this country is risky since it makes you look like a spy for the opposing side. Loid figures he can lead this double life easily enough. He is now a father, a doctor, and a secret agent.

The situation is supposed to be temporary though so it’s not like he has to stick with the family forever. He figures that as soon as the mission is complete he will find a way to leave them but at the same time he is getting more attached the longer he hangs out with them so that may not be so easy. What is a top agent to do? Of course Anya is glad to finally have a real family so she wants to keep this up and will have to use her telepathy in order to pull this off. Finally this is a great deal for Yor too since she can now murder people without having to worry about a cover. In a way all 3 of these character split the role of the lead although I would say Loid probably has the most screen time with Anya being a close second. Yor just has a little less to do than the others since this isn’t really a full on action show there is less time for her to show off her abilities.

Right away one reason why the show is pretty fun is because of how fast paced and energetic it is. In every episode there is a lot going on and that’s one advantage for this being the first season as we slowly get introduced to all of the characters and their quirks. The introductions are always a lot of fun for a series like this and the show can turn an everyday event into something real exciting. One example of this is the big Dodgeball game. The animators went all in for this one as we even get a DBZ homage when Damian tries to stop the ball from hitting Anya.

There are intense waves of energy coming from the ball and it feels like a Shonen Jump fight. Then Anya unlocks her starlight mode when she tries to go for a super throw even if it ends up failing. The extra animation like this does the show a great service and it is a show that will hold up very well visually. The animation is really fluid and colorful. Then you have the soundtrack which is also good. I won’t call that part great per say but there are enough memorable tracks for this one to be pretty good. The ending is fairly emotional and while the intro doesn’t really work for me, there are a lot of good sleuthing tracks during the show.

The writing is also on point and another reason why the show is very solid. You can’t have a good slice of life comedy without quality characters to follow after all. Everyone brings something to the table with the exception of Franky and so you have a lot of dynamics to set up. The cast isn’t even complete yet and you can expect more characters to show up once season 2 kicks off. There’s also a good balance of plot important episodes here with character development ones.

Now lets talk about the characters. First up is Loid and of course he’s a top ranking character here. There’s just nothing to really dislike about the guy. He’s a hard worker who is good at what he does and balances his home and work lives quite effectively. The guy has to wear a mask all day but he never lets it get to him and keeps on working hard. That’s the kind of determination you like to see here. Lois is also a good fighter and gets some nice action scenes against the punks he goes after. At the end of the day he wants to protect the peacefulness of the world and never loses sight of that. It’s part of what makes him a good hero.

Then you have Yor who is also doing her best to protect the world. See, she is an assassin but one who takes out people who may threaten the country. Now, she is just following orders so the bosses could absolutely be lying to her but at least she is doing her best to be heroic. In a way her sacrifice of staining her hands with the blood of her victims is part of what really shows her conviction to doing what needs to be done. She has incredible amounts of super strength and speed as well so you know once we get a serious Yor arc she will be doing very well in the battles. I’m looking forward to that since she hasn’t gotten a chance to really show off her skills over a long period of time just yet.

Next up is Anya and of course her telepathic abilities are really handy. She is quite young though so she isn’t always good at hiding them or making the most of this. She has a number of close calls but at least the idea of anyone having telepathic abilities is so far fetched that it should be difficult for anybody to find this out. I would actually think it would be a bit cheesy if someone did figure it out unless there was another connection leading to that possibility. Anya isn’t always very mature for her age so she makes a lot of mistakes but that comes with being a kid. For me she isn’t close to Yor or Loid as main characters but she tries her best and has her moments. So in the end she does add to the dynamic.

I already talked about how Franky isn’t very solid and basically the problem with him is that he’s the comic relief character but he’s not very funny. I don’t think we even really needed a comic relief character like this to be honest. The series was going just fine without him and he add nothing to the table. Whenever he’s on screen he’s being annoying or roping Loid into some kind of scheme that has nothing to do with anything. Franky has no self confidence either so he has to really be encouraged and talked into making a move. Hopefully this guy improves but I won’t hold my breath.

After that we have Damian from school and he’s your typical bully type character. That said, his redemption arc is already in full effect as he has started being kinder to Anya even if just a little. I don’t care about the kids plot as much a the grown ups though so whenever the episode is about him, it’s usually not one of the strongest ones. At least he is getting better which is the important part. The best kid is definitely Becky though. She’s very supportive of Anya from the start and is also mature enough not to fall for the insults of the other characters. Becky is absolutely the character that you want on your side in school since she will understand the situation quickly.

At school one of the main teacher figures is Henry, someone who believes that people should always act in a very refined and elegant manor. He holds a very high standard with this and is always impressed by Loid and Yor for taking this into account. Anya usually doesn’t live up to this standard although she tries her best. I like Henry though because he leaves an impression and seems like a fun teacher.

Then there are a few miscellaneous adults like Fiona. She wants Loid all to herself and tries to figure out a way to bump Yor out of the mix. This won’t be easy though since Yor is much more powerful than she is and of course the family plan can’t be changed now. As much as Fiona wants it to happen, it wouldn’t make sense as a cover story and it would be super suspicious for Loid and his wife to suddenly break up only for him to find someone else. It’s why you can’t really root for her since she’s trying to sabotage a whole mission just for her personal feelings. Additionally it all feels petty and Yor is the better character anyway so that’s a lot of points against her right from the jump. It’s really hard to get past all of that.

Yor’s brother Yuri is a character who gets a decent amount to do. I think they really do overplay how much he cares for Yor though in one of the less funny tropes out there. I like how he can’t stand Loid and it makes for a good dynamic but Yuri is at his best when he’s acting as a special police officer or trying to find something out. When it comes to Yor he really loses all perspective. If this wasn’t so overplayed I actually think it would make for a great dynamic and he could be someone you really root for. As it stands, you can’t root for him and so when he appears you’re just expecting him to lose.

In a way the final big character here is Bond but I have to say that he is underwhelming. Usually I do like the pet mascot type characters but Bond just isn’t as cool or engaging as you would expect him to be. He can see the future which is a great ability but of course it’s difficult for him to really use. As a dog it’s not like he can just leave home at any time either. Bond is big so he’s fairly tough but that’s about all I can say for him. I’d like to see him have some more energy or something in the future.

So there you have it, that’s the main cast of characters. It’s a good bunch there and with 3 characters to juggle, that’s why there are so many possibilities for good stories. In addition to their solo adventures then you can use any combination of the 3 for fun stories as well. There is no limit to the amount of stuff the fake family can do together and of course that will keep inching them closer and closer to becoming a real family. I mean since the license itself is real, they really are a true family in every sense of the word already even if they won’t actually admit it. Due to how this is set up the show actually doesn’t have much in the way of romance yet. There is some shipping of course but for now the main two characters are mainly too busy for any of that.

While I want to see more of the Desmond plot, the show already has proven that it can hold its own even without advancing the story. It’s in a very good position as a result since it can really do whatever it wants in the interim. I do hope they mostly focus on full adventures within the episode as opposed to near the end of the season where we would have two almost totally unrelated segments like Arthur. It’s best not to do that since feature length stories are the best. You can absolutely split up a story organically too without making it into two different shorts. That would be the way to go about this.

One thing I really hope they do keep in for season 2 is exaggerating some of the moments for extra drama. Again I’d point to the dodgeball episode there but another really good one was the castle adventure where Loid played along with Anya’s script of being kidnapped by an enemy organization. The animation and fighting in that episode were both really solid. Putting in a little extra budget during these episodes is always a great way to really get an extra boost into the story.

Overall, Spy X Family is definitely a lot of fun. It’s impressive that season 2 is already on the way. They’re really not wasting any time with this series and that makes sense because you really want to keep going while the franchise is red hot the way that it is right now. If you’re on the fence about watching this one, don’t be. There’s a lot to enjoy here and we don’t have very many comedic titles about a family just hanging out like this. Through in the spy stuff and you’ve got a fun dynamic here. The show juggles several genres and if you think about it, the plot at large is fairly serious too even if that isn’t the main focus here. As long as the humor lands and the characters stay solid, this show will have a good future ahead of it.

Overall 7/10

Natsume’s Book of Friends Continued Review

It’s time to continue the adventures of Natsume and Nyanko. In season 2 we slowly continue to expand the cast and Natsume gets into more crazy adventures but at its core this is still a classic slice of life kind of adventure. So if you enjoyed season 1 then you will like this as well. I would say the average episode here is also stronger than its counterpart in season 1 so all in all there is quite a lot to enjoy here. The seasons definitely go by really fast.

For this season lets jump into the review on a quick episode by episode basis since we’re already familiar with the characters. The first episode has another Nyanko appear and so Natsume has to figure out what’s going on here and why he has run off with the Book of Friends. Is this an enemy to be scared of or just another Yokai pulling a prank? You never can tell right off the bat after all and the book of friends is quite dangerous in the wrong hands. It works well as a peaceful episode to start off the season. I would not say that the stakes or danger level are as high as in other episodes but usually you always start a season off with a rather calm adventure.

In the next episode we have a spirit get absorbed into a little snow bunny. This means that much like Frosty The Snowman his very existence is in danger when the weather starts to turn warmer. Natsume has to help him find another spirit but also keep this guy at arm’s length in case he’s actually trouble. It’s another fairly calm episode although as a nice touch I did like that Natsume’s mother figure made another quick snow bunny to keep his company. The guardians may not be his real parents but they are always very cheerful people and it’s nice to see them helping out. They do their best to make him feel at home even if Natsume isn’t 100% comfortable yet.

After that we get an episode where Nyanko doesn’t look very good since he allows an enemy Yokai to attack Natsume and nearly finish him off. It’s only thanks to the help of someone whom Natsume had rescued earlier that the hero managed to stay alive. Not a great look for the bodyguard who was supposed to still be on duty right? Nyanko definitely needs to learn how to keep his guard raised a little more if he really wants to protect Natsume when it counts. It was a good episode to show how even the little good deeds you do during the day can come back to help you in a big way. It was also almost nostalgic to see Natsume get knocked to the ground again even if that’s a little sad.

Someone on the blog once told me that it seemed like Natsume was knocked onto his back for over half the show and it does feel like that’s pretty much the case sometimes. He’s constantly knocked to the ground by all of these yokai to the point where it almost starts to get pretty funny. Seriously the guy just can’t catch a break. To an extent part of the issue is that Natsume does have a tendency to let his guard down which Nyanko calls him out on but sometimes there seriously isn’t anything he could have done. You have to keep in mind that most of these yokai are significantly stronger than the average human after all even if Natsume does have a mean right hook. Poor guy can’t even enjoy a day at the hot springs which is what the episode was about initially.

In another episode a mysterious egg appears and when it hatches a monster comes out of it. It’s a nice looking monster though and Natsume has decided to protect it from a mysterious yokai that seeks to have its master eat the thing. Natsume makes the right call here and decides not to sell out the egg. It’s one of the more tense episodes because Natsume isn’t the best liar but he has to keep this yokai at bay by acting as if he hasn’t seen the egg. He doesn’t really know what the monster will turn into either so he has to be careful but one thing’s for sure, giving it to the guy who wants to eat the monster would have been the wrong move so I’m glad that Natsume didn’t do that.

In the 5th episode we have a poor kid who is unable to move on because his name is tied to a tree. His only hope is a super cryptic message about the end of the world so it’s a good thing that Natsume is here to help. One thing I liked about this episode is how this is the realistic ending of how cryptic puzzles would play out. In most shows there are always a bunch of geniuses that solve these puzzles but what if you’re just some normal kid? Well much like this kid you’d probably have no idea what is going on and just be stuck. It shows how selfish it can be to rely on puzzles. Well that may not have been the actual moral of the episode but it’s certainly what I took away from it. It’s less of a danger episode and more of an emotional one but it works well.

Now we get introduced to a new character, Toru. She is a good addition to the main cast and immediately beats most of Natsume’s other friends. One of the reasons why she is good is because she is determined to solve problems on her own and isn’t waiting for help. She just goes on her own to fight a monster and try to come up with ways to win. It’s not easy either since she can’t actually see them normally and has to try and trick a monster into going into her magical circle. Not a very easy thing to do and even once that happens it’s not like she has super strength or anything like that. So as a result she is definitely on the back foot here.

Toru doesn’t give up though and for the rest of the season she is someone who can help out Natsume at times. Definitely the best supporting character as a result. It’s a little frustrating for Jun fans though because she is someone who would also like to help Natsume but for some reason he refuses to be honest with her. As a result she is one of the only people who doesn’t know about Natsume’s abilities and he keeps her at arm’s length. Not the place you really want to be and it also means that there is only so much that she can do to help. Even Kaname gets to help more and the guy barely appears in this season at all. He’s a good guy but he can’t see spirits either so that always puts him at a disadvantage.

After that two part adventure we had a story about a mermaid. Basically mermaids are real in the world of Natsume and their blood can give you immortality but as a result they tend to be jaded with humanity. At this point they just don’t get along and so one is so bitter that she may be about to murder her old friend. Natsume has to try and clear up 100+ years of misunderstandings and quickly before someone ends up dying here. Does he have the skills for that or is it all over for him? It’s a reasonable episode but the mermaid gets off a little easy considering that she really was going to try and murder the friend. Natsume may have changed her mind in the end but it doesn’t change the fact that she was completely willing to pull the trigger.

Next up is a story with a mysterious painting that starts to sprout in Natsume’s room. It can’t be taken off though and it appears to be making Natsume become fatally sick. If he doesn’t remove this soon then he is a goner but what can he possibly do? The odds are against him. There is another yokai that wants the painting but she isn’t able to take it off either. Nyanko could burn it away but Natsume forbids him from doing this since there is a mini monster inside the painting. All this leads up to the realization that this won’t be easy. It’s an interesting episode but a bit annoying with how this doesn’t feel like it should be such a big deal. Can’t they knock out the wall the painting is on and run off like that? At least once Natsume is super sick.

After that we have a yokai decide to get revenge on Reiko. See, way back in the day she destroyed him in combat so now the monster is here to get Natsume. The main character isn’t big on violence and doesn’t like fighting Yokai but this time his family is in trouble so it’s time for him to step up. It’s a pretty good episode to be sure and definitely one of the most intense. After all this time we have a yokai who wants to destroy Natsume. There are no doubts about this and so he is fighting for his life which isn’t always the case here. We also got to see a lot more of Reiko than usual so that was pretty cool.

As we near the end of the season, Natsume gets to meet up with a bunch of other people who can see yokai. For the first time he isn’t quite alone here and can meet likeminded people but it doesn’t go quite as he planned. They may have the same abilities that he does but they don’t really think the same way and so he leaves not feeling particularly fulfilled. This episode sows the seeds that he will soon need to choose between the humans and the yokai but how can he actually manage to pull this off? Also, should he really choose or is that something being pushed onto him? I liked this episode as it expanded the world building for the season and also set up the final two episodes pretty well.

The season ends with Natsume meeting a kid named Kai who was trapped in a chest. Natsume saves him and after some misunderstandings the kid realizes that Natsume is a good person. The one problem here is that Kai is a yokai so Natori has been called in to destroy him. Kai seems nice enough but his goal is to free a bunch of demons which does not sound quite so innocent. If Natsume does nothing then they could end up hurting a lot of people but if he helps Natori directly then Kai will die. It’s not an easy choice but time is against him so Natsume is about to be pushed in a direction one way or the other unless he can do something real quick.

These two episodes were the best ones in the season so it was a great move to end with them. First off we had a lot of action as Kai is easily the most powerful fighter that we have seen in the series. He can move at super speeds and can even fire off powerful energy blasts. That’s not something that just about anyone else here could do. In theory he could have easily beaten the whole cast including Nyanko if he was truly evil so it’s lucky that he wasn’t. Now that would have been a real problem. Fortunately Kai isn’t really a bad guy, just misguided. If not for Natori complicating things I do think that Natsume could have easily talked him down.

The ending also veers away from being tragic and instead it just works really well to wrap things up. I don’t recall Kai ever appearing again in the manga but hopefully I’m forgetting a story since I’d like to see him return. Natsume may have decided to support both the humans and yokai which will be difficult but it does feel like the right decision here. Natori looked real weak which definitely reminds you that in the war of humans vs yokai the humans are definitely on the losing side. If the Yokai ever decided to destroy the Earth humanity would be doomed so it’s fortunate that this isn’t happening. That would have definitely been intense.

As always Natsume is a good main character even if he’s a little bland. I still disagree with him giving some of the characters the run around about his powers though. Sure, some definitely aren’t ready for it and he doesn’t have to tell strangers but someone like Jun who basically knows? I don’t see the harm in telling her. Natsume also does get himself into a lot of dangerous situations which definitely makes things really hard on Nyanko. I think he could dial that back a little while still looking out for the spirits.

Nyanko on the other hand also lets his guard down a lot and often vanishes when Natsume needs him. So the issue is definitely not all on one person here. They get a lot of fun banter and Nyanko does often save Natsume when it counts but all it takes is one of these mistakes and that would be curtains. In theory there will be less yokai after Natsume the more that he gives the names back but in this season we still aren’t given any metrics for how many names are left so it definitely could be a long while.

The animation is pretty decent here. I still wouldn’t say that the show particularly stands out for the animation but at the same time there isn’t much to stand out with since this isn’t a particularly colorful show nor is it an action packed one. It’s a show with very muted colors that is trying to be fairly realistic outside of the whole yokai angle. The closest we get to some true action here is when Kai powers up before styling all over everybody. It never turns into bad animation which is the important part though. Meanwhile the soundtrack is also more on the forgettable side. There aren’t any really sharp themes and while the theme song is okay, it’s not one that will likely get onto your playlist any time soon.

I would say this show does a good job of fulfilling its objectives in what it set out to do. This is a slice of life show first and foremost which may have some danger on occasion but for the most part it’s about Natsume finally opening up and making some friends. That’s where his journey really starts and ends here. He’ll only continue to meet more people as he goes through his adventures and in a way that’s all that he has to do. By the end of the journey he will be able to look back at himself and see how much he has changed. Hopefully Reiko shows up soon. I like to think that she is a yokai that’s haunting someone at the moment. It just doesn’t feel like she is someone who would simply pass away without at least meeting Natsume first.

Overall, Season 2 is a good show and I would say it is better than Season 1. It has more high intensity episodes and it feels like the plot moves more. I would still need a little more out of this show to reach the next stage though. Either focusing more on the story than being episodic or throwing in some more humor here. This show is really easy to plug and play at any time which is a good thing but on the flip side none of the episodes are really the kind that would glue you to your seat. On any given day this would probably be getting defeated by another show airing at the same time. So you should watch this for a fun calming experience but it’s not really a big bingeable show which is what separates the good shows from the great ones.

Overall 6/10

Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – Battle for Sanctuary Review

It’s time to jump back into the world of Saint Seiya. It’s definitely impressive how many times we get to see the classic arc of the Bronze Saints running through the temples. This one does a good job of redoing the saga. Ultimately while the CG will always have its limits against the classic hand drawn style, it does a good job with the colors and action. It’s also setting up some original storylines for this version which is a good way to differentiate itself from the original story. All in all, whether you’re a fan of Saint Seiya or not you should still have a great time here.

Well last time things ended on a rather intense note as Athena was stabbed with an arrow. Basically this was no ordinary arrow and any attempt to pull it out of her would destroy the goddess immediately. The only one who can take this out is the Pope but he is the one trying to murder Athena. Seiya and friends have no choice but to go and invade the 12 castles and reach the Pope in Sanctuary. To do this they will have to defeat the 12 Gold Saints, the strongest fighters in history. Can they pull this off or are they already doomed? They won’t know until they try and as they are true heroes they won’t back down until they have made this a reality. It is time for their ultimate battle.

One of the fun things about this arc is how it’s basically nonstop action. The heroes go from one fight to the next without much in the way of breaks. It’s also what makes their victories even more impressive because they are fighting the strongest foes in existence and they are doing this without stopping to catch their breath or anything like that. Of course you know that Seiya is ready for such a challenge but what about the others? They haven’t had a chance to do much of anything in the Netflix version up to now. Well, you will be glad to know that they look better here even if Seiya is still the one doing most of the work.

One of the original storylines I mentioned involves Genet who didn’t just get written out of the story this time. Instead she continues to act as a knight and has been added to the Marin subplot. She gets an original scene involving confronting her master and at the rate we’re going she may get even more screen time in season 3. This change works pretty well as it’s a very natural way of expanding the cast and I think she has a lot of potential here. Hopefully she really gets to show her stuff and even takes down a strong opponent. I’m not asking for a gold saint in particular but beating a silver saint for example would be great.

One addition that didn’t work as well was Virgo Shaka’s skeleton minions. I didn’t really see the point of these guys. I suppose they were there to temporarily split up the saints again but it felt more like the show was stalling for time than anything. Like they were just here so that the season could end at a specific point. Perhaps that is exactly the case but they weren’t very interesting villains and of course one turned huge. That’s the CG dream after all, to throw in a giant boss. Even the movie did that but there was just no point for these guys and I couldn’t take them seriously. Since it didn’t come at the expense of the main story though I was okay with this.

Tauros looks impressive here as he takes out all of the saints aside from Seiya in one shot. Those guys were definitely found lacking when it counted but they did a good job of showing Seiya overcoming the odds. One thing I’ve really liked here is how he grows wings of energy when he powers up. It’s a really nice touch as the Pegasus saint and also makes him stand out. So I thought that was a really good idea right off the bat. I also like the way the cosmos is portrayed visually. When Seiya powers up you can really tell if he’s burning the cosmos at a higher level or if he can go even further based on if it’s just blue or blue and red. So the fight was satisfying.

The show also gave a better reason for why he and Mu aren’t helping out more. Because in this show they actually are helping out but then they get taken out by the Pope. It’s little details like this which the show executes well. It’s effectively looking at some of the criticisms of the arc and making changes to make things work a little better. Even the whole prophecy angle about how Athena will cause everyone to die is better than them blindly following the Pope. Not by a large margin mind you since I still blame them a whole lot but it’s still something. Every bit counts here.

Then we have the Gemini armor who crushed Hyoga rather quickly (This is a really bad season for Hyoga I have to say. He got wrecked by Aldebaran, then he got wrecked by Gemini, and then he got destroyed by Camus. The guy could not catch a break here) and then we get the good fight with Andromeda. It was certainly Andromeda’s stand out moment in the season so far as she made the most of her chain. I may not be the biggest fan of the chain in general but it still does turn up when it counts. The Gemini armor is also fun with how he makes the illusions and changes the fights up. You can’t approach him the way you would an ordinary foe.

Not much to say about Camus since he shows up and takes care of business immediately but I like how cold and calculating he is. The guy may not be heroic but you can imagine him protecting his temple with ease. Deathmask is still the biggest disgrace to the Saints. I can’t believe this guy was ever allowed to be a Gold Saint because you’d expect them not to employ actual mass murderers right? It would have been nice if they threw in a line about how the Pope only recently brought him in as a gold saint. That would have done wonders for the saints in general. Of course it was nice to see Shiryu crush him either way.

Then we got the really big fight with Aiolia which was always a standout battle. This guy’s light speed punches are incredible and he just keeps making them faster and faster. It’s a fight where Seiya has to keep on getting stronger and it’s fair to say that Aiolia has to be one of the most powerful Gold Saints. He at least does his brother proud in deciding to finally question the Pope and seek out answers. Unfortunately it doesn’t go great but the attempt was nice. He’s one of the few Gold Saints who is actually likable as a person rather than just as a villain to be defeated. We also get to see Aiolia take on Milo and considering how weakened Aiolia is, it was impressive to see him going toe to toe like that. I doubt many other Saints could have pulled that off.

Of course then we get to Virgo Shaka who is always very impressive with his power level. Many consider him to be the most powerful Golden Saint and those who don’t say he is second to Gemini Saga. You can make good arguments either way although I always do give Gemini Saga the edge here. His raw power is just so incredible but Virgo Shaka is clearly giving everyone a good fight. Fortunately Phoenix Ikki shows up for his big fight in the season. (Yeah I’m not going to call him Nero) Definitely one of the standout fights in the whole season with a lot of back and forth as we see exactly why Phoenix’s cloth is so legendary. No other cloth can regenerate like his and Ikki is basically immortal due to being the Phoenix saint. It’s a very potent combo to be sure and keeps him in the fight at all times.

Then we end with Seiya taking on Milo which was a cool way to end the season. Basically once again Seiya is the last one able to fight and you can bet that he won’t be going down easy. His dedication has earned him a spot as one of Jump’s top heroes. Meanwhile the other old bronze saints get to show up to protect Athena but in general that subplot does feel a bit out of place. The randoms of Sanctuary are treated as pure comic relief and it was a bit off putting just how extreme they were. It was like the show was trying a little too hard to be funny. I think Saint Seiya can certainly inject some humor into the mix if they want to but you have to be a little more subtle than this. You’re more likely to roll your eyes than actually chuckle at the characters. They are also insultingly weak so there is no salvaging them there.

Now with the animation the CG here is pretty good as I mentioned above. The colors are sharp and so the fights work well. There is more actual choreography and movement here than last time so the fights feel like they have a lot more substance. The theme song is still great here and so the show flows well on a technical level. The 12 episodes really fly by and I don’t really have any big negatives for the show. It adapts the source material pretty well and for the most part the additions only serve to enhance the story. The one exception would be the skull knights under Virgo Shaka and the comic relief soldiers who attack Athena. Those still aren’t bad enough to really hurt the series either.

It’s only natural that this beats season 1 also because it’s adapting source material that’s a lot more hype. 1 had a lot of great content to be sure but the Gold Saint fights are legendary for good reason. There are so many engaging moments here so each episode is a blast and a half. The cliffhanger here is also super effective and really works well to end things off. You can already recognize the formula to the fights so you sort of know how it’ll play out but that doesn’t take away from it being an emotional moment. Saint Seiya pretty much invented the classic format of being knocked down but getting back up again. It’s all about determination and these characters have that in spades.

Throughout the show all of the bronze saints are great. Andromeda can fight when she needs to, Hyoga always has his confidence even if he gets stomped a lot, and Shiryu is always fighting at a high level. He probably starts on a higher base level than Seiya. The difference is that Seiya has the best durability and continues to get stronger as the fight goes on so by the end he is always super powerful. His confidence feels the most earned from the group and he also takes this the most personally in protecting Athena so he just refuses to go down. Of course we saw a lot of that in season 1 already so I’m focusing more on Ikki here.

This is the first time we get to see Ikki as a hero and it’s really an incredible moment. Ikki can always be trusted to show up and protect Andromeda when it counts. He may have lost his way for a while there but now he is back to being the very dependable big brother that he always was. His fighting style is also noticeably different from the other Saints which helps him stand out. He’s all about outlasting the opponent and trading blows while Seiya tries to go for speed. Ikki just knows that the longer the fight goes on the more the advantage is on his side and it’s a smart strategy considering his abilities.

Overall, Saint Seiya is a franchise that keeps on expanding and you love to see it. I definitely won’t be forgetting this series anytime soon. Hopefully season 3 doesn’t take too much longer to come out but in the meantime you should definitely check this one out either way. It’s got a lot of top tier fights and a solid story so there is no reason to miss out on it. The show has no weaknesses which is rare to say about a show and the only sad thing is that it’s only 12 episodes. They cover a lot of ground here though. Hard to say what my next Saint Seiya review will be at this point but stay tuned as there is always something else on the horizon!

Overall 8/10

Natsume’s Book of Friends Review

It’s time to delve into the anime version of Natsume’s Book of Friends. I’ve been reading the manga for a long while now and it’s definitely a slow burn type that could go on for a while. It’s more about the adventure and the different situations Natsume comes across than completing the story but I do think it’ll have a satisfying conclusion once it’s all over. Season 1 starts us off on a fun note with the character introductions. Right now the cast is fairly small so you get to have a lot of focus on Natsume. If you’re looking for a calming title to watch then this one should fit the bill. Each story tends to be rather emotional without being too sad so you are able to feel happy by the end.

The series centers around a kid named Natsume who has the ability to see Yokai. This is not an ability that he wants because it alienates him from the other kids. Of course he learned the hard way not to let the other kids or even adults know that he has this power but it can make for some embarrassing situations like when he has to run away from one. His only solace is to make it to a temple in time and the yokai can’t follow but the problem is that this can happen at any time. Still, he has tried to find a decent balance of this and leads a quiet if uneventful life. One day he comes across a demon in a cat statue known as Nyanko Sensei.

He agrees to help in exchange for eventually consuming Natsume’s soul or something. I forget Nyanko’s actual excuse but it’s one of those excuses where you know he’s not really serious. The yokai actually seems kind of lonely so now he has a friend in Natsume and Nyanko is very powerful so demons can’t mess with Natsume quite as much as they used to. Natsume then finds out that the reason why all of the Yokai are after him is because he has a legendary book of names. See, his grandmother stole a bunch of Yokai names into her book which basically bound them as eternal servants to her. Now this has been passed down to Natsume but he has no intention of ordering them around. He now has a goal, Natsume must return every name back over to the Yokai in order to grant them freedom and allow them to pass on. Some Yokai will happily agree while others may hold a grudge but he knows that this is the right thing to do. Can Natsume get those names back?

In a way you already know the end goal to this now but the series is clever in not letting you know how many names are in the book. So there could be 100 names in there or there could be 1000. We just don’t know. On average Natsume will release 1 name per episode but sometimes he’ll miss one and sometimes there will be multiple names. Either way the progress is steady but it’s like attacking a boss in a video game where the health bar is hidden. You just have to make sure to never lose heart and keep attacking but as a result the journey can be long. I would like the series to eventually say how many names are left but I know that is a narrative limiter in a sense since it puts an end date. No series should have to end until the writer wants it too so there’s no rush on this.

As I mentioned this is a very calm series. Each episode usually revolves around some kind of Yokai dispute or some kind of tragic event that happened to one and so the demon needs closure from Natsume before passing on. During the day Natsume still has to balance his school life and not let anybody know that he has these powers. I do think he could have at least let the heroine know since she was interested and clearly wouldn’t be giving him any grief about it. Well, maybe in the future I suppose. Don’t expect any big action scenes or much of an ongoing story here though because this isn’t that kind of title.

I also wouldn’t really call it a comedy. Sure the characters can have their moments but for the most part a slice of life drama sounds the most fitting and even then I would almost remove the drama part because it just has the wrong connotation to it even though I would say that is technically accurate. You’re here just for the adventures and to take in the atmosphere. As a result it’s going to have a lower ceiling than most shows and I would call it good as opposed to very good but it’s also a very safe show. You can’t imagine anything super questionable happening here and so it should never really dip. It’s a very consistent ride with no real bumps in between.

As a main character Natsume is okay. He’s a bit emotionless at the moment and in large part that’s due to what he had to put up with as a kid. Presumably he should be getting more and more expressive as the show goes on. He can throw a solid punch when necessary though and is a quick runner. He shows traces of a real personality at times but for now he’s more of an empty shell. A guy who does the right thing and acts pleasant but it always feels like a bit of an act. Of course as the viewer we know that he really is a nice guy but he just doesn’t know how to really interact with people yet.

Nyanko is the more entertaining part of the dynamic. My only issue with him is that he’s supposed to be a real bigshot among the Yokai and yet he never seems as impressive as he should be. I’d just like to see him dominating the others more but again this isn’t an action series so those moments would be a bit more limited. He likes to cause trouble and make an uproar but as much as Natsume acts annoyed about it, he’s probably glad to have a break from the endless peace and quiet he once had. Nyanko is always having fun and messing around which adds a whole lot of energy and excitement to the dynamic. He makes the show better just by existing.

Reiko doesn’t really appear in the present but she’s a big part of the story since the whole situation with the book started because of her. She clearly had a lot of talent and ability back in the day to trick so many Yokai. It’s hard to say just how nefarious she was. I don’t think she was oblivious at what stealing their names would mean for the Yokai but she also seems like a trickster who likes to mess around. So if she died suddenly which I think is most likely, then she had probably intended to return all the names before she passed. She just didn’t realize that in a way she was gambling with their futures but of course this is conjecture. We just don’t know much about her yet but I do think that she is fun. Hopefully she isn’t actually dead somehow and shows up one day.

Then you have Jun who is effectively the main heroine here. She suspects that something is off about Natsume and that he can see spirits but of course she can’t prove it. This is the only area where I was annoyed with Natsume because this was a perfect chance to share his secret. He already has Tanuma who basically knows. Of course that is because the guy has a bit of a 6th sense to him as well but I just don’t see the harm in telling Jun. She is quite persistent either way and will keep hounding him until she gets a satisfying answer. Not saying he needs to bow to peer pressure like that and tell her right off the bat but I just feel like he was being vague for no real reason.

Jun’s nice enough and hopefully she sticks around. Tanuma is also good. He’s a fairly quiet guy so he gets along with Natsume well enough. Natsume’s still more of a solo act though so the guy doesn’t appear a ton. Near the end we are introduced to Natori who feels like the only really major character beyond Natsume from the human side. This guy is a famous actor and yet he can also see yokai. He has an odd lizard spirit that runs around him all the time and the guy has a certain edge to him. Whenever he’s around you sort of feel like the overarching plot is starting to move a bit. This is a guy I absolutely wouldn’t trust if I was Natsume but at the same time I would try to use him in order to get some answers. This is the best time to pull that off after all and usually you see villains using heroes so why not try the other way around right?

The soundtrack is a bit on the weaker side. There weren’t really any standout tracks that I was tempted to look up afterwards. It’s not surprising as a calm show will have calm tunes but throwing in some kind of electronic theme would have been nice. The animation is also fairly basic but not bad. It shouldn’t be winning any awards in my book but you can always see what is happening and nothing’s off model. It works well enough to supplement the story and have you going smoothly through each episode. On a technical level the series does what it needs to in order to move on.

The 12 episodes go by really quickly. In a way it all feels like pre arc but that’s sort of the series in a nutshell. It’s basically an anthology series so how much you enjoy each season will likely depend on the cases within it. The stories in here are all fairly solid. There is even some danger on occasion like when Natsume leaves while Nyanko isn’t around and gets attacked. 9 times out of 10 it is never smart to leave without Nyanko but sometimes there isn’t a choice as Nyanko will just drift off on his own. Natsume’s punch always does a lot of damage to Yokai which hasn’t really been delved into yet. At least that is a way out for him, it’s an attack option that he can use as a last resort but he prefers not to use violence.

His family is nice enough. They aren’t his real parents but the two people who take care of him have really done their best. Natsume is still a bit traumatized to an extent so he tries not to worry them at all. He probably tries a little too hard so it’s almost like he’s hiding things from them but you understand the reason for this. The only time he really gets mad at Nyanko is when the cat breaks one of their object. You look forward to seeing him level with these two a bit more in the future. I feel like they would be more understanding than everyone else from his childhood just based on their temperament. Even if they didn’t believe him for example I don’t think they would treat him any differently.

Overall, Natsume’s Book of Friends is a good show. The episodes go by quickly and it’s something that you can plug in and play on the TV at any time. Due to the episodic nature of the show it’s not like you’ll have to try hard to recall what was happening last time. You can just jump into each adventure fresh and take it from there. A show like this could use a big plot or some fights to take it to the next level but it’s comfortable where it is at and executes the premise well. It’s a show that’s hard for me to picture being really disliked. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, at most you might find it boring but probably not bad. For season 2 I would just like to see a stronger opening and a more energetic soundtrack but if not I can still count on some fun stories.

Overall 6/10