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Sakura Wars Review


Looks like it’s time to finally review the original Sakura Wars anime. This one has definitely been waiting its turn for quite a while now so it’s time I get right to it. Ultimately I would consider this to be the definitive Sakura Wars experience at the moment from what I’ve seen. While the OVAs may have more energy to them, this is a complete 26 episode anime so it gives us a full plot complete with an array of enemies. You also get a lot of interactions with the cast and natural character development as a result of it. I’d classify this as a slice of life that transitions slowly into more of an action series for the second half. Lets take a deeper look at one of the classic mech franchises!

The show starts off by introducing us to the Flower Division. This is a group of undercover fighters who use mech suits to take down the alien/robotic creatures that attack the capital. In order to not draw too much attention to themselves the group operates a theater by day. It’s a pretty detailed disguise as the group actually performs quite a few plays throughout the show. It’s a career they have dedicated themselves too. Then when the enemies strike they get into their uniforms and get ready to strike the opponents down. Well, one day Commander Yoneda is finally able to recruit the final member of the team. Her name is Sakura and part of the reason why he is eager to recruit her is because she is related to one of his old partners who saved the world a while back. There’s a decent chance that she would have inherited those abilities plus her own maiden ones.

See, in this world maidens are able to use a sort of energy that powers their mechs and allows them to unleash super moves. Guys aren’t able to draw out this energy with the exception of Sakura’s father as well as a man named Ogami. This suggests that men can use the energy but it is an extremely rare occurrence. How the energy manifests will differ from person to person. Of course at its most basic level it will move your mech but after that you can do so much more. For example, Iris can teleport and Sumire seems to amp up her spear’s attacks with this. Sakura channels the power into her sword and Kanna may use it with her fists although she may just be naturally strong. That’s a real possibility as well to be honest. The show doesn’t go into the energy abilities all that much to be honest as the OVAs show more of that like with the elemental abilities. Still, the process of controlling it is a big part of the show.

The Flower Division is definitely not a big fan of Sakura’s when she first shows up so the heroine gets a very cold reception. Eventually she wins them over but it takes a while so you may not even like them for a while there. At the very least you feel like they showed their true colors initially. I can’t imagine Sakura giving other characters a hard time like that although she is by far the nicest character of the group. By the end of the series they are a close knit group even if you feel like Sumire will continue to give Sakura a tough time as long as they are teammates. Some things never change after all.

Sakura Wars goes for a pretty interesting tone here. The whole time the villains keep on invading and being pushed back and yet this often feels like an after thought. A lot of times the main plots for the episodes will be about the theater which leads to a lot of character development. You’ll have an episode where Sumire wants to be the star over Sakura or one where Kohran has another crisis of confidence and runs off. The villains don’t become more of a major factor until near the end of the series. You should think of this as more of a slice of life and then it’ll all feel pretty natural. Just don’t think of it as an action series despite the mechs.

I wouldn’t have minded the action part coming in a bit sooner but the slice of life stuff is fun enough as well. It’s a pretty good cast. Perhaps not the strongest out there but most of the characters are good which is important. The heroes are also a bit lucky that the villains don’t use much in the way of teamwork because just one villain is enough to put the heroes on edge so if they had all attacked initially then that would have been game over for the heroes. As it was, the heroes should blame Commander Yoneda for not leaving them more prepared. Sakura had a meeting with one of the villains and had no idea of his true identity until later on since so many secrets were being kept.

I’m not a big fan of the robot designs because they are so old school and don’t feel very streamlined. It’s going for a very steam type design here which does match the rest of the era. It’s to the point though where you feel like the heroes would be better off fighting without them some times. I don’t think the show did a great job of making them appear to be stronger than the heroes individually. Meanwhile the villains go down like butter except for the high ranking members of the cabal who seem to easily crush the robots. Those guys definitely can’t be defeated 1 on 1 at all. You really want to have the whole group ready for them.

The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side but I’d say that it works out well enough. It’s a pretty peaceful ost that never feels repetitive. It isn’t the easiest bit to remember by heart but as soon as it plays during the scene you’ll immediately be able to recall it. Likewise the animation isn’t anything special but it gets the job done. I’d consider it to be standard animation so it’s good and I have no complaints. In a lot of ways that is how the show is in general. It’s not about to become the next Railgun or Madoka but it’s a quality adventure where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’ll have fun with the case before very long and this is the kind of series where I feel like an anniversary OVA/TV show reboot would probably do pretty well.

Lets quickly take a look at the characters. Sakura is the lead so it makes sense to start with her. She can be a bit of a timid character so at first she definitely gets steam rolled by the others. I wouldn’t say that her character has any negative qualities though. I’m not usually a fan of timid characters though so I was ready for her to regain her confidence. Fortunately that happened sooner than later. She begins to stand up for herself more by the middle of the series and since by then she was awakening her abilities it’s not like the other characters could say a whole lot about it. Once the hazing period was over she was able to make a good connection with the other characters. I wouldn’t say that Sakura has a ton of personality, but she’s a good character and definitely a nice person. She brings a good contrast to the group.

Then you have Sumire who is always pretty entertaining. At first she may come across as overly mean spirited though since she is pretty unrelenting in how she hounds Sakura. As the show goes on you learn that she is like that with everyone so her character will be hit or miss. I ended up liking her by the end although at first she wasn’t quite my favorite character. By the end you can see how Sumire really enhances the character dynamics though and the show wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s also a lot more eager to just jump into the fray and let the chips fall where they may. That’s definitely the kind of character that you need in a group. Sumire pretty much took down one of the enemy commanders on her own and then also won in the rematch.

Kanna is next and she’s a lot of fun as well. Her deal is that she’s very good in hand to hand combat and sensitive to changes in nature. She’s the only character who can really stand up to Sumire on an even playing field in part because she has a lot of confidence as well. Kanna is unquestionably a much nicer character than Sumire while still having that absolute confidence which makes for a lot of banter between the characters. These two definitely have the best dynamic to be sure. Kanna doesn’t really get to show off her strength quite as much as in the OVAs but you still know she is the power hitter here.

Then we have Iris who is one of the weaker members. I’m talking in terms of character as power-wise she should be the best. She has much greater amounts of spirit energy than the other characters but she is also a lot younger so she is unable to control it. As a result what tends to happen is she’ll panic and teleport away from the characters rather than actively using her abilities to help out. That bit is unfortunate because she would have been a great asset to the team. She never quite gets her confidence even by the end of the series. Sure, Iris has her big moments on occasion but it’s more like Luigi or Scooby having a quick brave moment. It doesn’t exactly stick which is unfortunate.

The worst member of the Flower Force is Kohran though. It’s hard to know where to start with her. I guess the main thing is that she ultimately ends up running out on the team when the going gets tough. I understand (very slightly) that there would be some shock upon learning that the inventor of the legendary robots is evil, but it should be very mild. Certainly not enough to run away and hide while the heroes are fighting for their lives. It was a terrible moment and every other character handled it better. She had not even met the guy before so why is there such a strong connection just from reading his notes? I also felt like Kohhran never really did much in the way of improvements for the mechs. She would repair them a lot but that’s about it.

Finally we have Maria. She’s a very serious member of the group who is effectively the leader of the team when Ogami, Yoneda, and Ayame aren’t around. She’s a Russian fighter who specializes in gunplay to take down her opponents until she gets into her mech suit. One thing I hadn’t mentioned up til now is the series has the Flower Division be a global group of sorts. All of the girls are from different cultures which also helps to make this a pretty interesting dynamic since they have different ideas on everything. One episode had Iris throw a fit because French parties are different from how they celebrate in Japan where it’s about festivals. That episode still came across as very petty on Iris’ side though which is another reason why I wasn’t a big fan of hers. The whole group went out of their way to make her birthday exciting and that’s how she reacts? Yeah, definitely not a good look.

Back to Maria though, she’s a solid character. I’d say that she’s one of the better ones. Her serious nature means she doesn’t have as much fun with the group for the most part but by the end I’d say that they have started to chip away at her. She is a solid tactical fighter and never backs out on the team the way that others (Iris and Kohran) do so I’ll give her points for that. She also acts as a mentor to Sakura at times and is easily the most supportive member of the group.

That covers the Division but then you have Ogami who is effectively the captain. It’s pretty tough for him because he doesn’t have the same level of ability that they do. At times he tries to compensate by having the drills run very strictly which tends to backfire. He goes through his own sets of issues during the series like struggling with confidence and such so he never has an easy road. I liked Ogami well enough. He may not be the most exciting character but he did a good job of hanging out with the team. He took some key steps in improving their unity like when he made everyone have dinner together. That was definitely a pretty good move.

Then you have the higher ranking Yoneda who didn’t do a very good job. For one thing he tends to get drunk quite often. It’s mainly played for laughs of course, but even so this isn’t someone I would trust to have my back. He also decides to go up against the villain completely on his own which was a really bad idea. I understand not wanting to get everyone involved but he should have at least left some kind of letter in case he was defeated so people would know what was going on. As it stood, to them it looked like he just vanished without a trace when they needed him most. Then he also took the bomb and hinted that he would have used it if the heroes had failed. You can assume that it was a bluff, but I’d have liked to see him throw it away later on or something to show that he wasn’t serious. As it stands, I just wasn’t impressed with Yoneda.

Ayame was his right hand woman. She didn’t really get much of a role although we can assume she used to have a much more active role within the group before the series started. Maria and Yoneda both trust her guidance quite a bit although now she tends to decline on giving her thoughts so the others can grow. The last hero to really talk about would be Kazuma. He died before the series started so we only see him in flashbacks but it’s easy to see why Yoneda believed there was so much promise to Sakura’s future with the group. Kazuma was an incredible fighter who could harness spirit energy better than anyone else in the series. He really did a good job of making his last stand count. At most maybe you could say that if he kept fighting with his sword he could have won without sacrificing himself but there were still a ton of monsters at the end so his sacrifice felt pretty justified. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of him, the guy was definitely cool. A prequel TV show about the guy would definitely work well I’d say. Since they had to fight without the robots I can see those fights being pretty tense. Additionally, it seems like this is a case where the previous generation may have been stronger than the current one so I’d like to see what other abilities they had. Although if like in the games every character should have special moves, maybe the TV show just toned down the super abilities a bit.

Yamazaki is the main villain of the series and makes for an interesting guy in general. He’s easily my favorite villain of the series. His motivations for being evil are a little on the weak side to be honest as the guy just totally cracked but since he does completely remember how things used to be it makes him a pretty deadly opponent. For the most part the enemy forces tend to be rather mindless so when they finally got a leading figure I was happy about that. He made for some good fights with Sakura and the team as well. Between a solid character design and impressive abilities, I would definitely say that Yamazaki is a winner in my books.

Then you’ve got Miroku who was the first big villain to make a move. She gave Sumire a solid fight and the two almost became rivals in a sense. It definitely got personal there and was one of the first moments where you really saw what a great character Sumire was. I’m not sure if the others would have fared so well in this battle. Miroku is a fun villain. She doesn’t have quite as much personality as Yamazaki but she is dedicated to the cause and doing what she needed to. She represented a shift in the series from mindless drones to an opposing army so she was effective in that respect.

Then you have Jade who looks like a kid but can actually be a pretty dangerous opponent. It’s hard to land a hit on him because moves tend to go right through him. He definitely has his way with Ogami’s friend for a while there before they learn how to counter him. I wouldn’t even say that his physical power is anything to be afraid of, but his abilities are tricky. You’ve got Silver to compensate for that though. This guy is rather slow but has a lot of super strength. He’s like a Frankenstein of sorts who just barrels into his opponents. This guy’s the definition of a mindless opponent though and is my least favorite member of the group. At least Jade gave us the closest thing to a horror episode here and was a thorn in the heroes side. Silver would have been doomed without backup.

There are other characters but I think I’ve covered most of them. The show definitely has a lot of events happen during its run. In part because of how stand alone a lot of the episodes are it lets the show cover a lot more with all of the characters and their personalities. I’d say it’s a pretty organic way of adapting the game if it’s anything like the Wii installment I played where you focus on improving your bonds with the other members while also defending the capital at the end of each chapter. That format lends itself really well to a show like this. At the end of the day what is really key here is the writing and characters. So long as those are strong then the show will be a success and that’s exactly what happened here.

Overall, Sakura Wars is a pretty fun show. It’s definitely going for a different angle than other mech series like Gundam or Transformers. It’s really balancing the action element with more slice of life themes like the girls all trying to get alone despite having such different personalities. Sakura Wars can definitely handle the action elements really well though as you can probably tell from some of the images I chose. The stakes do get pretty high and the series definitely picks up the action at the end with the quick onslaught of fights but I expect you should enjoy the series before then for the strong writing and pacing. I’d definitely recommend this series no matter what genre you like. It’s a fun title that should satisfy you with action, adventure, and comedy.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a quick anime that came out a while back. Season 2 shouldn’t be far after though and with the manga being over they can really fast blast now. At 12 episodes this is a pretty quick anime and your classic seasonal type show. It makes for a nice quick watch with a compact cast. The show was pretty unique in its premise so it made some waves. While I wasn’t a big fan of the manga as the concept grew darker and darker in its execution, the beginning always starts off pretty ominous. I think season 1 was a pretty solid adaption with definitely a lot of notable moments within.

The show starts by introducing us to Emma and her friends at school. They live in an orphanage and don’t know anything about their parents. They have numbers tattooed on them but beyond that it’s a very ordinary home where they live perfect lives. The kids all eventually find foster parents before they enter their real teen years which is good too. One day Emma decides to follow one of the kids who is sent out along with Norman and then they find out the truth. They actually live on a human farm where the kids are sent off to be eaten by demons. As the oldest kids with the highest test scores, Emma, Norman, and Ray will be the next ones to be shipped out. Do they tell the rest of the kids, bump off Isabella, or try to escape? There are a lot of ideas but not a lot of time. The heroes will also have to try and keep a straight face in the meantime but will they really be able to do that?

This is definitely a horror anime. The kids know that their odds aren’t particularly good and finding out that you were born to be shipped off isn’t a great feeling either. There’s a lot of things that the kids just don’t know either. What exactly is this planet and how does it work? They can’t trust anything they learned at the school and it seems like escape will be nearly impossible as well. There are a lot of natural defenses to take into account as well and since they are just kids it’s not like they could fight off the demons either. They don’t have any true weapons either and there is a tracker built into each of the kids so the villains know where they are at all times. The deck is stacked against them so the show is mainly about their planning a way out of this.

The season adapts the complete arc and doesn’t really even end with a cliffhanger so it handles all of this rather directly. It feels like a pretty complete story even if there obviously has to be a season 2. The cast will definitely grow in the next season so you can eagerly await that. The main cast we have here is pretty solid though. First you’ve got Emma who is extremely determined and wants to save everyone. Her view is that they can’t escape unless everyone is safe. I feel like they toned down how crazy she can be a bit in the anime as the manga did a terrific job with her close ups. Still, she is still the same character here and does everything she can to make the plans succeed. Emma isn’t afraid of death or pain and will go to drastic measures to make sure things work out. As she is here, Emma’s definitely a solid character.

Then you have Norman who is easily the smartest kid in the class. He has a bit of a rivalry with Ray on this but I think it’s fair to say that Norman is always a step ahead. He finds out quite a lot during the season. He may not always beat Isabella in wits but always comes close so it’s neck and neck. I like Norman’s calm demeanor here even if he’s always got something up his sleeve. He’s also determined to make Emma right so his plans are built with that in mind. By throwing his plans on top of hers he makes them sound even better.

Then you’ve got Ray who is not quite as much of a “Gotta save them all” person as Emma. He looks at things scientifically on what gives him the greatest chance of escape. If he has to sacrifice others to do it then so be it. Naturally this is a very ruthless way of looking at things but you do have to look at the situation from his point of view. Emma wants to bring along kids who are only 2-3 years old with them on a journey through the forest that could last for months and they will be on the run from demons. While anime can help kids be a lot tougher than in the real world, there is only so much you can do with a 2 year old. Can you picture such a kid making this kind of journey? So Ray’s right in that sense that taking everyone would be pretty crazy.

In a way the best thing to do would be to bump off Isabella but at most that would only buy them some time. She has to make regular communications to the demons so if she suddenly stops then that will really raise some red flags on their side. That’s why escape is still the best bet but they’ll need a terrific plan to bring everyone together. As planning is one of the core focuses of the show you can rest assured that the plan is sound. A lot of thought goes into all of this and it ends up being pretty satisfying. If you think about it hard enough of course there are many ways Isabella should have been able to stop the kids. At the end of the day a big part as to why the kids get away with so much is her overconfidence. She thought she had more power than what she really did and also underestimated the kids quite a bit. That can definitely be a fatal mistake.

Isabella is still a good villain though. While she may have made some mistakes here, she’s had a long track record of doing well in the meantime. You can’t say that she didn’t do a great job when she’s maintained the place for so many years. She also has an interesting origin story showing the lack of choices you have in this society. Ultimately you end up being another one of the villains or you die out. There aren’t exactly a lot of rebel fighters out there. She’s still a villain as a true hero would have fought despite all of that though. Sister Krone is in a similar spot as she had to go through the same trials to get this far. After a point the characters just stopped worrying about others and started thinking about themselves. Krone really wants a win here so she can be back in control.

There are two other kids who get a main role in the form of Don and Gilda but they aren’t that great. I feel like they’re just here to get in trouble. There’s one scene where they decide to break into Isabella’s room just to stick it to Emma and friends. It ends up working out but that was such a petty thing to do and it could have literally gotten everyone murdered. Gilda also tends to panic quite a bit. These guys feel a bit out of their league next to the main characters. In some ways it’s not their fault since the main 3 happen to be super geniuses. Don and Gilda are technically still above average in intelligence but in this fight that’s barely even a consolation at the moment.

A lot of the fun in the show is thinking about the various arguments the kids make and who you agree with. There’s also a traitor subplot throughout the show that’s pretty interesting to follow. With all of the dynamics going on in the show there is always a lot of story to follow. Now as for who is right. Emma is naturally right morally since leaving anyone to die is a sacrifice. As it is, kids have been getting sacrificed left and right but you can’t change the past so you may as well change the future. That said, she doesn’t really have a concrete plan to do so. In that case taking Isabella out makes the most sense. In terms of probabilities Ray’s plan makes the most sense. The 3 of them leaving on their own would work pretty well. Then in theory you’ve still got about a year or two before you need to go back and save the rest. Of course sometimes a shipment leaves early so it’s a complete gamble either way. If your test scores are low you get shipped out a lot sooner as it is. If you had someone to protect then that would give some strength to leaving people behind but that isn’t the case so you do need to bring everyone. Better to all die together than 2 surviving instead of most right?

The animation is good. I wouldn’t say it’s anything great, but for a show like this you don’t need anything fancy. As long as the animation is solid you can still get across the horror vibes. The show likes its quick 3D looks as well which are fun enough. The whole thing feels very standard and since this is a pretty modern show that means it still holds up rather well. The real test will be once we get more fight scenes in a future season. Then we’ll see how the animators handle that. As for the soundtrack, I’d say that one’s pretty good. I like the opening song and the tunes during the episodes are suitably ominous. You’re not going to hear a lot of super happy tracks or anything like that of course. The soundtrack fits the tone which is crucial.

Overall, The Promised Neverland is definitely a pretty unique show. As far as the various dystopia futures go, this has got to be one of the darkest. There is really no backup for the heroes and not a lot of hope either. Still, they’ve made progress so in season 2 we’ll see how they use that. If you’re up for a dark thriller then this will be up your alley. It never gets violent or anything like that, it’s just dark because of how the kids are being eaten off screen and all. The show doesn’t beat you over the head with this fortunately so it doesn’t turn gritty. It’s just the premise of the show and Neverland runs with it. If you managed to watch the show without knowing this beforehand then the first episode is especially powerful although odds are that you’ll already know the twist before that happens. Usually even the promos spoil that part since it happens so early. The show builds up the tension through the atmosphere as opposed to crazy shock value or anything outside of that. You might quickly yell plot armor during the final episode when someone isn’t instantly murdered the way the last few were but I suppose it helps to build up the hype for season 2 as well.

Overall 6/10

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

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Siege Review


It’s time for another Transformers show to enter the fray. This one’s more of a mini series since there are under 10 episodes but it is confirmed to be a trilogy so by the end of it this’ll be like a normal length show. It’s a take on the original Transformer battles from G1 but throwing in some extra elements. It’s like the Final Fantasy VII Remake in that a lot of things are similar but things start changing a bit by the end to the point where you’re confident that the sequels are really going to change things up. It’s definitely pretty solid and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

The show starts us a little after the war has begun. The Decepticons currently have the edge in this war and the remaining Autobots are outnumbered and almost completely out of energon. If they don’t replenish soon then they will die out before the Decepticons even attack. Optimus Prime has gone for more and more risky endeavors to the point where some of his team are losing faith in him. The window for victory is closing rapidly though so Prime decides to take one last gamble to ensure their survival. Meanwhile Megatron knows he needs to squash the Autobots before they do come up with some kind of plan to take him down.

Since the show skips the actual start of the war you’re left to rely on context clues on who to root for. Naturally the Autobots are not as merciless as the Decepticons and don’t just go around blowing everyone up. That said, it does look like they would quickly fall to that level without Prime intervening all the time. We just don’t know what the actual treaty will be. The old system hardly sounds like it was that good with the Decepticons being enslaved. Of course, it looks like they’re just trying to turn the tables and do the same to the Autobots. Megatron doesn’t seem completely off the rails for most of the show though so I feel like there may be some nuance here. Regardless, there’s no way you will be rooting against the Autobots in the meantime. It’ll be up to the Decepticons to prove that their goals aren’t bad.

This show is CG like the last online title. It’s going for more of a War for Cybertron aesthetic whole the former went for a bright PS2 look. Both animation styles are solid and I remember thinking that the old show looked quite a bit better than I expected. CG can absolutely work well as long as the character models are on point and the other show handled that rather well. At the moment I would say the other show had the better animation. Still, the show looks really solid and definitely has a lot of detail. It had some really epic shots and a lot of fun fights. It’ll naturally take some time for this one to get there since we’re at the start of the war so it’s trying to go for a very dialed down approach for now. Everyone has standard power levels at the moment and the fights aren’t the main focus yet. I look forward to seeing the fighters go all out soon.

The character who is most changed from the original show is definitely Bumblebee. Here he is completely disillusioned with the war and does what he can to survive. He scouts out energon and gives it to the highest bidder. It’s an interesting way to keep him as a scout, he just isn’t an Autobot this time around. You sort of know who he will join in the end but I like the idea of making him a wildcard in the beginning. The Autobots are definitely pretty persistent in trying to recruit him though. They certainly have some good points here such as the fact that you can’t just avoid the war forever. The whole planet is involved and at some point you will either join a side or get taken out as a casualty in the end. Not choosing is a choice in itself.

Optimus Prime is a solid Autobot leader as always. He seems a little weaker than Megatron here but that makes sense since he is new to combat while Megatron grew up as a gladiator. It always made sense that Megatron should be stronger initially even if Optimus Prime ends up catching up to him at the end. Prime’s leadership skills also aren’t at the point where they would be later on. He makes a lot of tactical mistakes and continues to push for riskier and riskier plans. If the Decepticons didn’t have the aim of a Storm Trooper his group would have been doomed many times over during the opening episodes. Honestly if the Decepticons played this a little better the war should have been over. There is only so much you can do when you’re out of energon and that’s the status of the Autobots. You may as well go with one last all out assault instead of dragging it out at that point.

Of course we do have some wild cards in the show which help things out. One pretty interesting change here is how the show introduced Soundblaster. You may remember him as Soundwave’s super form in the G1 show but why would he have a super form already? Well, the show takes a different approach and it works out pretty well. Soundblaster is pretty interesting and I’d like to see more of him. The show does a nice job of building the environment in Cybertron so there are already a lot of characters to root for here with different personalities. Not everyone will be a winner of course but it does help you remember them.

For example, this is probably Elita’s biggest role in the series. Surprisingly she doesn’t end up as one of the more supportive characters here. She disagrees with Prime on a whole lot. To an extent this is fair since I agreed with her sentiments for a while. However, once the plan is underway at that point you just have to do your best to make it work. It’s not like you can turn back halfway yet she was still giving Prime a really hard time about everything. I would have liked to have seen her get on board with the plan for the second half. It would have made a nice difference to her character. Then you have Ratchet who definitely isn’t a big fan of the Autobots and feels like this war is a waste. Still, in the end he helps the heroes out. As a medic he prioritizes saving lives above all else so he’s a good ally to have around. He doesn’t forget about the rules of war and makes sure not to cross them.

The characters here all have their own plots which is good. Then you’ve got the Decepticons. I think just about anyone will predict that Starscream will be having a pretty big role coming up. The guy always has a lot of ambition and nothing slows him down. Jetfire really doesn’t help his case much though. He could have explained his side a little better. I don’t think it would have ultimately made much of a difference to be honest since the Decepticons were gradually growing darker and darker but at least it would have helped him out. I also like to think he could have taken out just about all of his opponents in his main fight if he started fighting a little sooner. Jetfire’s a fun character even if he ca be a bit naive so I’d like to see him more.

Soundwave and Shockwave get solid roles as well. Shockwave is the guy who really helps bring Megatron to the dark side. He’s that classic bad influence who keeps suggesting tempting ideas until they eventually get to the guy. He’s a large part of why Megatron ultimately started disregarding the ideals that kept him close to being less of an evil mastermind and just someone who wanted to help. Then you have Soundwave who is a very loyal officer and one that Megatron can count on. The fact of the matter is that the Decepticons have more key players than the Autobots so it’s easy to see why they were winning the war. This side is just very stacked. Then you’ve got Megatron himself. I’ve already talked a bit about him so I’ll keep it brief, but he’s a great villain as always. The slow descent from being a reasonable villain to going more off the rails is always pretty interesting.

From his point of view you can also see why Prime would feel like a villain. Megatron just broke free from society and now Prime is going to blow up the planet? Prime knows that taking the core will likely blow up the planet but sees this as necessary over losing the war. It’s a very drastic step and one you don’t usually see from the heroes. It really underscores that this is a war and both sides are incredibly desperate. They’re willing to make sacrifices in order to win. I imagine in part 2 there is definitely not going to be any mercy or quarter given from the Decepticons. The time for talking is over.

It was already over to an extent though which is why Ultra Magnus was a little annoying here as always. Walking over to the villains to talk never works out well. Naturally they can’t be trusted and will end up doing whatever they want now that you are effectively a glorified hostage. Even if Magnus doesn’t mind risking his life, what he doesn’t understand is that he’s risking everyone else’s lives as well. Magnus does a good job of handling the situation once he’s in there but he should not have gone in the first place. It was just a bad decision through and through.

At the end of the day Transformers just makes for a very interesting show. We’ve already had plenty of shows about them on Earth with the humans so it’s also nice to just have a title where it’s the robots. The writing is absolutely on point and you could definitely have the robots continue to fight for a long time on this planet. Of course Part 2 looks like it’ll change that, I doubt there will be any humans if they do wind up on Earth but if it turns out they arrived in present day that would certainly be a huge twist. I doubt it would be well received, but it would certainly be a twist.

Overall, This was a solid start to the War for Cybertron series. It starts out fast and keeps the pacing up throughout the whole season. There’s never any down time in the action and that makes sense. Part of the point of small seasons like this is that they can be very focused with tight pacing through and through. The Transformers franchise has always delivered with a lot of solid shows and this one will certainly be no different. I’m looking forward to seeing which characters are thrown in for part 2. Personally it would be nice to see Rodimus show up a bit more but as he got a big role in the last CGI title I suppose they may want to give him a break. That’s fair, but it would still be cool of course. If you like Transformers or just enjoy a tense action series then this is a good one for you to check out.

Overall 7/10

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

Makai Senki Disgaea Review


It’s time to take a look at the anime adaption to a game I played pretty recently. This anime isn’t a straight adaption and has quite a bit of fun along the way. It’s certainly not a great show and mileage will very but I thought it was solid. It’s certainly entertaining and the cast is strong enough to hold their own here. With solid writing behind it, Disgaea is a show that is good to pass the time with and they do quite a bit with the 12 episodes they had. I’d definitely be game for the second title getting an anime someday as well.

The show starts with an angel trainee named Flonne showing up in the demon world to assassinate the King. She finds a boy who is asleep and wakes him up. It turns out that this is Prince Laharl and his father actually died by choking on some food. Laharl is now the demon king and Flonne decides to accompany him and prove that demons have feelings too. Laharl isn’t thrilled to have company but he won’t let this distract him from assuming command. The demons won’t follow Laharl until he possesses the legendary book which proves ownership and also gets back to his real castle. His “loyal” retainer Etna also arrives to come with him on the journey. Will these 3 really be able to get alone and is Flonne right that Laharl has the potential to be a good guy?

This is a main plot in the show that is actually played pretty seriously or at least relatively so for this title like in the game. The idea of demons being capable of feeling emotions and being heroic is quite foreign for a lot of characters. The demons themselves certainly don’t think it’s possible but at the same time they all act like regular people so you never find the idea to be all that outlandish. If you’re familiar with this kind of plot you’ll also be very willing to believe that it might happen as well. Flonne can be a little naive about it but she’s still on the right track here.

I’d say that the biggest difference here compared to the game is while the game was a blend of action and comedy, this show is going for full comedy. There are rarely any serious moments until the final episode. For the most part the show is actually going for a slice of life feel as the main character visit different areas and have a lot of stand alone adventures. There are plots that reach through the whole series in the background but they don’t really take center stage here for quite a while. So how much you enjoy the series will really come down to how funny you find it to be.

As I mentioned earlier I thought it was pretty entertaining. The dynamic between the three main characters is a solid one. Laharl definitely takes everything pretty personally so he’s always fighting with the other two. Etna is openly antagonistic with Laharl and is constantly trying to get him assassinated which is a fun subplot. Then you have Flonne who keeps talking about love and forgetting that the mere mention of the word ends up weakening Laharl considerably. This also means that Laharl is rarely able to go all out in a fight. It might be for the best as he is clearly one of the strongest characters in the series and would end most fights really quick.

He’s definitely a solid lead character. Laharl’s design is certainly memorable and he would make for a really good overlord. The guy knows how to run a kingdom even if he acts like a kid a lot. The most memorable part of his character is easily his laugh though. It’s brilliant and I dare say it’s the best laugh in media. It’s just epic and the shows even ends off with this laugh. That’s when you know that the laugh itself has hit the big time. You just can’t watch this show without giving it some credit.

Etna is a fun side character to have around as well. I do think she looked a bit weaker than I expected at times though. If she really wants to be the overlord then she is going to need to hit the gym quite a bit if she wants to compete. As it stands right now she is nowhere near strong enough to become the leader that everyone will end up following. It’s another reason why the sequel needs an adaption because she got much more powerful in that title. She may be constantly trying to destroy Laharl but she’s still someone he can count on in the meantime. It may seem like a contradiction but that’s a crucial part of her character. Logic is flipped with demons so the fact that Etna wants to murder Laharl is why he wants her by his side. The show also has a nice gag with this when someone tries to take some demons hostage. As if that would work on Lahalr.

Flonne is definitely the nicest character in the series and always trying to convert the characters around her. She may not always live up to her standards such as accepting the Prinnies carrying the heroes around for a while even when told that she should probably get off to help them out. Flonne has her limits but at the end of the day she tries her best to make the right move. Laharl doesn’t make things easy for her though by doing things like stranding her in the desert and such. Flonne always takes on each new challenge with a smile. I would argue that she had no reason to accept such a punishment in the final episode of the show but heroic sacrifice is the whole idea of her character.

Then we’ve got the Team Rocket of the series which is Gordon, Jennifer, and Thursday. As the protector of Earth Gordon is pretty full of himself but he really can’t fight at all. I like the team because the camp works quite well in this setting. I would have liked Gordon to have looked a bit better against Curtis though. I think the fact that the show uses them as a full Team Rocket blasting off again approach weakens their characters a bit but they still work well enough. Similarly Kurtis doesn’t appear nearly as much here. He was one of the best characters in the game but I couldn’t rank him quite as high up here as a result. Still, he is fun to have around.

Then you have one of the standout characters, The Dark Adonis. The show pretty much spoils his twist early on but I suppose they thought people might find it obvious anyway. Now this guy is a show stealer. He’s always around with a cool line and shows up whenever the heroes are in trouble. Unlike Laharl he doesn’t mind being openly heroic although that doesn’t mean he will always do the right thing. The guy is as chaotic as can be and just does whatever he feels like. He is not someone you can count on. Even if he is usually portrayed as more of a good guy the fact that you are never sure means he is not the guy you want to absolutely have in your corner. You want someone that you know will have your back right?

Then you’ve got the Angels. Vulcanus gets a big role and is one of the main villains here. The guy can’t fight much though so he focuses on summoning demons to help him out. That definitely means you won’t really be seeing him as a threat here. The tougher angel is Lamington who is also a villain. The guy may try to justify his actions later on but there’s just no way he can. At the end of the day his decision was to try and murder a bunch of people to answer the question of if love was real or not. The guy does a lot of back pedaling. Laharl doesn’t buy it and neither do I. If anything Lamington seems to get off really easy by the end of the series. If only Laharl could have acted a little quicker.

While parts of the ending feel a bit forced due to one character making a terrible move, the show still manages to have a pretty satisfying conclusion by the end of it. The ending is definitely close to ideal if you ask me with the final twist being excellent. The ending could have easily swung the wrong way if you left out the final scene because that is critical. It just provides the closure we need for such an adventure.

The animation for the show isn’t all that good. I liked the art and the character model style though. The character designs look like they’re out of the show but when they start moving that’s when things fall apart. It’s not very consistent and a lot of shortcuts are taken. We maybe get 3-4 very solid animation scenes throughout the whole series. It’s rare to see so when the scenes pop up it’s pretty nice to see. It feels like the show had a very low budget and perhaps that’s why it decided to go for the comedy angle. That takes up less budget than if you decided to go full action. The soundtrack is certainly good and nostalgic though. It grabs all of the classic themes from the video game which work really well with all of the scenes. The game did a masterful job with all the tunes.

While there’s definitely lots of room for a sequel the show stands up well on its own so you don’t feel like there needed to be a second season. I imagine it would have gone more into some of the plots here like Laharl’s fake sister. At the end of the day that plot didn’t appear as much and goes about how you would expect. I have to say Laharl absolutely did get punked there though. It happens to him a few times though so it’s nothing new for the overlord. He’ll only improve from here though. I should also quickly mention that the Prinny makes for pretty fun creatures. Their plot is a little sad if you think about it, but they really are nice followers. They put up with a lot and their whole purpose is to support an overlord and his army of demons who don’t actually care for them in return. The idea is that they’re working towards their salvation in the end though so that’s probably what gets them going. The world has quite a few unique rules and the show lays them out nicely.

Overall, Disgaea is a solid story. If you could only choose one way to experience this series then you should do it with the games. The game does a much better job of telling the story. Still, if you want to see it in another way then going with the show is not a bad idea. The show is still a lot of fun. It may add a lot of gags and extra stories but at the end of the day it’s still relatively close to the main game’s plot. The creative liberties help you to experience things in a fresh way which is not a bad idea. It’s only 12 episodes too so you’ll definitely be blasting through it and whenever you see a critical story moment from the games the show does its best to adapt it sometimes even word for word. I definitely need to go and get Disgaea 3 at some point even if it will be with whole new characters.

Overall 7/10

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

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Review


It’s time to look at a recent Pokemon web series that ended. It’s always nice to get some new animated material. Pokemon recently did something similar with Pokemon Generations although that one was way too ambitious in scope and ended up being rather disappointing. Twilight Wings from the start is going for a much more inspirational/somber feel to the shorts. These aren’t about big action scenes or colorful backgrounds. It’s actually all very subdued which is where the somber part comes from while also showing that everyone is trying hard to get ready for their futures. It’s a fun little collection of shorts.

There are 7 shorts in all and they’re all under 10 minutes. So if you merge them together this could be around a 40 minute OVA or something like that. Each short changes main character except for the first and last shorts which are about a kid who is rather sick but wants to be a Pokemon trainer. His friend’s definitely a good kid to have around as he tries his best to make sure that the main character is able to get closer to his friend. The rest of the shorts vary in plot and will always have an ending scene that teases the lead of the next main character. I’ll talk briefly about each short.

The first one I already went over. It’s one of the weaker ones in the collection but is fun enough. It’s always nice to see the kids have a happy ending especially when they’ve clearly been through a lot already. The second one is about Bea who is training for her next fight. She actually spars with her Pokemon which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately she gets stuck in a cave in, but this helps her remember that her strength is with her friends as a team and not by doing everything on her own. We get a little action here which is always pretty neat so this was a solid followup.

Then we have one about Hop who is admiring how great Leon is as per usual. His Wooloo feels bad about this and runs away though so now Hop has to find him. Sometimes it can be obvious that the main character is in the wrong but this time I think Wooloo was making a mountain out of a molehill. It showed that Hop was as close to Wooloo as ever though by having him chase after his friend. This was one of the shorts going for a more emotional angle and it worked well. Hop may have been one of the least impressive rivals in Pokemon but it doesn’t take away from him being a pretty good guy in general.

The 4th short is about Nessa as she tries to balance her career of being a model and a gym leader. People say that it can’t be done and she will have to choose one. Ultimately she chooses to keep going in both fields and will prove her doubters wrong. It’s part of why she is one of the better gym leaders as it takes a lot of drive to maintain two careers at once like this. I was glad she didn’t choose to sacrifice any of them.

Next one’s a slice of life short about Oleana as she tries to deal with Chairman Rose’s rather impromptu ideas. He tends to vanish or get sidetracked very easily. It’s clear that she’s got a tough job on her shoulders. Another good special but a lot more low key compared to most of the others. Then we have the short with Allister which is the weakest short in the series. Still not saying it’s bad or anything but the gym leader’s personality doesn’t work for me. The character doesn’t really talk and the kids don’t have enough snappy dialogue to really make the atmosphere work. It’s hard to hold your own episode after all.

Finally, we end with the kid finally getting to meet Leon. Leon helps him realize that his dream to simply meet Leon wasn’t what he was actually meant to do. The kid really wants to go out there and beat Leon and so the champion gives him a little hope that he can pull this off someday. It’s a fun way to end and while the gym leaders seem to not understand Leon (Some going as far as to say he was holding back or not taking the fight seriously) at least they all understand his strength. I like the idea of an unbeatable champion like Leon because it makes the fight with him feel all the more grand.

So those are the 7 specials. Due to the length of the specials the summaries of each special pretty much tell the whole story but I tried to keep them brief. The series is so short that you should really go ahead and check them out. Especially since it’s only 7 episodes in total. They’re all fun and it’s a nice, calm series to check out. The animation style is going for the washed out look which isn’t exactly my favorite but I think they were going for a look to try and resemble the games a bit more than the anime. Something like Generations is going a lot more traditional with vibrant colors but since this one is going for that somber atmosphere perhaps they thought it would be a little distracting. The brief fight scenes we get still look good though with a lot of shockwave effects to show the scale of the attacks.

This is more about the stories than the visuals or soundtrack though so it makes sense that this would be the focus. I can’t really recall any particular big themes either but we had no long fights that would have taken advantage of them anyway. Twilight Wings thrives on the fact that it makes no real mistakes. After watching each episode you’ll be satisfied with what you saw and can easily binge the rest of it or do one episode at a time. Hopefully we get more Pokemon web series like this in the future. I think these bite sized portions are always a good idea for any series. They help to expand the franchise and give each character more development. They could also work as brief character moments in a future game. Imagine the next Pokemon game having 5-7 minute cutscenes that play out showing a character’s origin. I think it would work rather well.


Overall, Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a solid series. I would definitely recommend it whether you are a Pokemon fan or just a general viewer of media. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the themes it’s going for. At the end of the day it’s about showing that you make your own path and to keep going when things are getting tough. None of the characters in the series give up and it ultimately ends up benefiting each and every one of them. The payoff may not always be as great as literally becoming champion of the world but you can still get some personal victories in the meantime. Of course aside from more mini series I would still like to have either a bug budget anime version of Pokemon Ruby (Or Omega Ruby so we get Zinnia) or Pokemon Adventures. It’s time we get more media and it’s Pokemon so it would sell really well.

Overall 7/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (2020) Review


It’s time to look at the 2020 remake of the classic Orphen story. This one takes a far different approach than the last one though which was pretty interesting. Azalie plays a much bigger role here which I was happy to see. It definitely ended up completely surpassing the original series. This one is a blast and a half from start to finish with excellent animation and story beats. If you want a solid action anime to check out then this is definitely the one that you will want to have at the ready.

The show starts by introducing us to Orphen. He used to be a member of the Tower of Fang but left to pursue Azalie since he disagreed with the Tower’s approach. Most of this is cloaked in mystery and explained as the story goes on so I’ll leave it there. He’s now a renegade mage trying to make ends meet until he can find her. He takes on an apprentice named Majic who really wants to be a great mage but Orphen doesn’t take him too seriously. A rich girl named Cleao also ends up joining the party so now this trio have to try not to hold Orphen back as they tag along. Orphen will have to go up against assassins, the Tower of Fang, and of course Azalie. Are his skills as a stabber and inheritor of the Razor’s Edge going to be enough for this?

The show starts off quite fast paced and it has to in order to cover all of this in only 13 episodes. The show does a great job of making you feel like a lot is happening. We get to see Orphen in a lot of different fights and scenarios. I’d say that the first arc of the series is naturally finding Azalie and then the second half is sort of about finding her again. We get mini arcs throughout of course so there’s always more than one plot going on. For example, one plot has the heroes head to an isolated village of people who can’t stand sorcerers. Naturally they aren’t too happy to see Orphen and pals so the heroes have to end up fighting them off.

Another mini arc and my personal favorite in the series is when a fake Orphen appears and stars murdering Tower of Fang members. Naturally this puts Orphen in a bad light especially as this clone looks like how Orphen was back when he was a member. Orphen has to try and take this guy out but the problem is that the Fake Orphen appears to be as powerful as Orphen was at his peak. Unfortunately the Orphen, he has actually grown weaker over the years because he is not able to actively train like he used to and so his skills have naturally deteriorated. It’s a pretty intense arc for sure.

Finally the last arc involves some more assassins. These guys want a book that the Tower of Fang currently possesses and they will do whatever they have to in order to get it. Once they start targeting Orphen’s friends he takes it personally and decides to remove them. He is a stabber after all and isn’t opposed to destroying his enemies when necessary. They went after Cleao and Leticia (Tish) so at this point Orphen needs to make sure they don’t go after anyone else.

The season ends with a nice cliffhanger setting up the next season pretty well. Once again Orphen and the gang are going to be heading to a place that isn’t exactly known for being nice for mages. Should make for a pretty tense second season. We already know Azalie can protect herself so the question is if Orphen’s up to the task. He never backs down from a challenge so I expect he will do just fine here. He’s ready for whatever they throw at him and is pretty good at using underhanded tactics in a fight to make up the power gap as well. He’s not the kind of guy who will just give up.

All of this is to say that Orphen is a pretty great main character. He has confidence and ability, two traits that you absolutely need to have.
His fight against the Fake Orphen is a good example of that. He was completely outmatched in terms of physical and magical ability so he had to win with his pure intelligence. Otherwise he had no real shot to pull this off. Same as when he fought with Azalie. He knew that he couldn’t take her down in a fair fight so he had to have some good equipment at the ready. It’s not really uncommon in this series for Orphen to be outmatched so it’s good that he’s so cunning. He is the inheritor to the Razor’s Edge which the show loves to bring up every episode and used to be the strongest but he no longer holds that title. Even so, I feel like he is second only to Azalie in terms of ability from Tower of Fang members. I wouldn’t be surprised if people outside of the tower would be able to take him on though. He didn’t exactly do well against the Elder Dragon.

Then we have the main heroine Cleao who is a fun character. She may not be much of a fighter but she’s a good morale booster and is always here to raise everyone’s spirits. She also has her pet dragon Lucky who can fight really well. At least this gives her something in the way of defense and she can land a surprise blow when needed. She definitely will always try to contribute when needed. Her role isn’t huge and it doesn’t look like she will ever be going into more of a full combat role but as it stands she does add to the dynamic.

Unfortunately Orphen’s other partner Majic is not nearly as good. He’s just around to hold the team back. He’s the hapless trainee whose abilities aren’t improving at nearly the rate he was hoping for. Usually that could be an inspirational character as you root for his success but he ruined that in his first appearance when he betrays Cleao’s confidence and only stops because he is caught. His character never recovered from this peeping incident and for the rest of the series I was rooting against him. Clearly Majic doesn’t have the discipline needed to improve his magical abilities.

You’ve also got the pair of comic relief characters Volcan and Dortin who follow the heroes around. Their roles have been greatly reduced compared to the original show though. They show up a few times as they sell out Orphen over and over again but that’s about it. They’re pretty fun though and it’s a comic relief kind of style that has aged pretty well. I dare say that it’s about as funny now as it ever was. Keeping it in short doses is probably a good thing though so we can really focus on the actual plot going on.

Azalie was always a great character in the original show and the same is true here. She makes for a very good wild card. I would certainly not call her a hero but as a loner she doesn’t mind helping the heroes out once in a while. Her abilities are still formidable and she only loses one fight in the series due to a good magical item. Otherwise she looked pretty much invincible. She definitely enjoys being quite mischievous and pranking Orphan all the time. It makes for a very fun dynamic and she really is the heard of the series. The whole thing revolves around her so much that you couldn’t have the show without her.

Then we have Childman who is a pretty interesting character. He certainly looks after Azalie like how Orphan does although in his own way. He doesn’t have a huge role in the series but gets a lot of respect in his own right. He’s certainly a powerful opponent and a pretty reasonable guy in general. At least he’s someone that you can count on when the going gets tough and that’s always important. We’ve also got Leticia who’s another high ranking member of the group. Her abilities are fairly decent although I wouldn’t say I was too impressed. Her first big fight doesn’t really go all that well. In a fair fight I’d take her over most of the opponents though. When you’re outnumbered it’s hard to really do much.

The other members of the Tower of Fang like Heartia or Forte are around but don’t do quite as much. The final character I’d single out here is the Fake Orphen who really steals the show. Naturally there’s a twist about his true identity. His episodes were really the peak of the series with how fantastic they were. This guy would really keep you on your toes the whole time and I loved his absolute confidence. He’s definitely one of the strongest characters in the series without a doubt. Unfortunately he will likely never appear again so you will need to have enjoyed these scenes as much as possible.

As mentioned, the animation is quite solid here. It’s definitely bright with a lot of good color contrasts. The energy fights are good and the same goes for the hand to hand choreography which is quite impressive. I think this goes a long way into helping shape the series into the great title it is. When you’re following a show that just looks really good in addition to its good writing and solid soundtrack then you’ve got a solid combo. The soundtrack may not be an all star or anything like that but I thought it sounded really good for the scenes that were there. You’ll hear the themes a lot over the course of the series. The opening theme is also pretty catchy for sure.

Another thing that separates this show from the average title is that it was even able to make the flashback scenes interesting. In most shows I definitely don’t look forward to flashbacks at best and normally I dread them. It’s the perfect way to absolutely destroy a show’s pacing and give us extra info we didn’t need to know. 9 times out of 10 we don’t need a sob story for the characters. Fortunately the flashbacks are actually pretty interesting this time though. I think they could even make a whole show about Orphen’s days at the academy. It’s always rare to see a main character who was stronger as a child than when he was grown up. The idea that he had to fight while always holding back at the Tower was a pretty interesting one that they could run with. The writing here is just exceptional and it’s why the show is so much fun and so interesting throughout.

Overall, Orphen is definitely a great anime. As a reboot it’s very easy for anyone to just pick up and watch as well. You don’t need to go back to the old shows and can just start here. The animation is very smooth and the writing is on point. The show really has no weaknesses and had no bad episodes. It just does a superb job of showing what you can do in 13 episodes. It set a high bar for the next season but I look forward to seeing what other adventures we get. This was definitely one of the more fun self contained shows I’ve seen in quite a bit. It really took all of the strengths of the first show and expanded on them.

Overall 8/10

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

Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at the follow up to the original Madoka show. Technically this is more of a spinoff than a direct sequel though as it’s based on the mobile game. In true Madoka fashion a lot of the background is shrouded in mystery. We don’t yet know when this show takes place or in what timeline. Thanks to the time travel elements and alternate timelines there are many ways this can go. I have my own theory about it which I’ll elaborate on later on. It’s tough to come after the first show since I currently have that in my top 5 all time anime. (Black Clover and One Punch Man are both gaining ground fast though so we’ll see if it can ultimately stay in the 5th spot) While this show isn’t quite ready for that level, it is very good with a dynamite ending.

The story follows a girl named Iroha. She used to have a sister who was very sick and so she entered into a contract with Kyubey to restore her health. Unfortunately, now her sister no longer seems to exist. Nobody remembers her either although since Iroha has her abilities now that means the wish should have been granted. Is something wrong with her memory and did she potentially wish for something else? Iroha works with other magical girls to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the meantime they also work on shattering many myths and legends around the school. These myths are dangerous and many people die until they are busted. Iroha also has to deal with the fact that witches have begun to appeaer in the town much more frequently than usual which is attracting attention from other magical girls who are willing to murder each other so that they can be the ones to defeat the witches. Is this all part of some sort of elaborate plan?

Magia Record has more of a slice of life feel than the first show. In the first half of the show typically each episode is about solving a different rumor and stopping the villain. There are subplots hanging out during these adventures like various magical girls acting cryptically in the background and of course Iroha’s plot to save her sister. Those seem like they will mainly be saved until season 2 though. The final episode is really what starts to set the stage for everything as we get big fights and hype guest stars. That tells me there is a lot to look forward too. The show mainly runs on how interesting you find the cast to be and they hold their own. There were a pair of characters that I could mix up at times since they both had blue hair and looked rather similar but everyone else is pretty distinct.

Iroha is the main character and she’s a rather timid character. She’s one of the weaker magical girls around and is used to fighting in a city where the witches are a lot weaker. Still, she had to come here to find her sister and fortunately the other magical girls are willing to help her. Iroha is a pretty decent character even if I wish she was a bit more aggressive. It feels like she sort of goes with the flow half the time and is pretty soft spoken like Madoka. Fortunately unlike the old main character we actually do see Iroha fight quite a bit. She rarely wins but she does contribute.

Yachiyo is one of the characters with the biggest role here and serves as the Homura of the group. She’s very serious compared to the rest of the characters and always has to remind them that this isn’t a game. She has very personal reasons for being a Magical Girl (As do the rest of them) and we slowly find out a bit about what has made her so jaded. She’s a pretty solid fighter and one who has unlocked her hybrid form. I’ll speak more to that in a minute. Yachiyo is pretty strategic and also probably the strongest member of the main cast. While she can’t hold a candle to the original Magical Girls, she does better than the rest.

So what are these hybrid forms? Well, it seems like they are a pretty clever way of balancing the power gap between the original main characters and the new ones. Think of it sort of like how in Cardfight Vanguard G they added Grade 4 units so the new main characters could keep up. In a human 1 on 1 fight the original cast would slaughter these guys as Mami showed when she appeared later on. However, the new iteration of magical girls have the power to turn into a witch when they are close to despair. This allows them to gain great powers and stamina. It’s rather interesting that a magical girl could turn into a witch temporarily instead of it being perfect. In a way that makes them superior to the originals in that it’ll be harder for their stones to break. With these monster forms the heroes were still losing but it’s a lot closer. Once the rest of the cast gets these forms it should be interesting to see how they fare. I’m definitely glad they got these power ups.

Tsuruno is a very fun character in Magia Record. She has supreme confidence all the time and her fire abilities mixed in with the fans are quite impressive. She feels like one of the strongest Magical Girls and doesn’t mind letting the others know that from time to time. She even owns a cafe which is pretty impressive considering her age. At least it seems like she owns it. Might be a family shop but seeing as how she is the only worker there whenever the heroes meet at the shop it’s fair to say that it’s hers. I look forward to her appearing more in season 2 and taking names.

Felicia has a hammer which is pretty cool because I don’t think any of the characters used that weapon before. She’s definitely more of a power fighter who likes to just run in and start hitting Witches. Her wish is easily one of the most direct ones of the group as she wants to eradicate them all. It’s a nice change of pace as most only destroy witches because they have to and it isn’t their ultimate goal. I feel like she’s the kind of character who will start out strong but quickly get surpassed by everyone as the series goes on. We’ll see though, perhaps she will stay as top tier. I thought she looked pretty solid here.

Momoko’s role is unfortunately a lot smaller than the other characters which is a shame. She’s one of the more mature members of the group and is always trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. It’s a difficult job considering how much they all have to go through on a daily basis between the witches and everything. One potential red flag is that she’s very upbeat all the time right now which usually means that she is hiding some kind of deep pain. I expect she’ll get a much bigger role in season 2. I’d like to see her in more fights because she was talented and her battle style is fun to watch.

Kaede and Rena get their own plot as their friendship is tested quite a bit as the show goes on. Rena isn’t good at making apologies and Kaede can be a little too quick to say sorry which makes Rena get even more upset. It’s a pretty tough dynamic they’ve got going on. It’s particularly tricky since they are both magical girls since one moment of despair can quickly prove to be the end for them. Then you’ve also got the cult of magical girls running around trying to get everyone to join the darkness. More on that group in a sec but they’ve definitely become pretty influential in the series. They’ve assembled a whole lot of magical girls.

For guest stars we get to see Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka. Mami gets the biggest role out of the group and proves to be the one with the weakest will as always. It’s a shame because she always seems like a nice person, but one who is easily manipulated. She cracked in the alternate timeline of the first show, didn’t look so good in Rebellion, and then now we have this show. Kyoko only really gets a guest star role here but it does let us know that she’ll be around so she’ll probably do more in season 2. Right away she looked better than Mami here though as she realized that things were not adding up and was quick to assist the real heroes. Finally we have Sayaka who finally steps up at the end of the show. Her regeneration is as good as always but in a battle of pure force she’s nowhere near Mami’s level.

So the big plot going on throughout the show is about the group known as the Magius. They consist of a group of Magical Girls who claim to have found a way to rid the world of Witches once and for all while also ending the curse of Magical Girls being fated to die and turn into them. Naturally this is a pretty tempting offer so a lot of girls join their ranks. It’s still unclear exactly what their true purpose is, but even some of the main characters join their flock. I wouldn’t say that this is such a bad thing if they appeared to be on the level but they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re shady. One of them openly threatens to murder anyone who disagrees with her and they also created a sketchy program to trap people in an endless abyss until they die. These are the “heroes”?

I’m glad Iroha, Kyoko, and Sayaka didn’t get fooled. The girls who did definitely lose some points there. I do like the idea of a group of evil Magical Girls though. It’s something that this franchise hasn’t really explored before. I admit it was always a little disappointing when a fight was getting ready to break out with them only for it to be called off. This show has quite a few fakeouts like that but it looks like they want to leave all of that for the sequel. Here they mainly summon Witches to fight as their proxy. Still, the group clearly does have a goal and who knows, maybe it is on the level. Perhaps they are just a more extremist version of the Girls who want to use any means necessary to murder the Witches. Not to build up too much hype for season 2 but it does seem to be when everything is really going to meet up and all the plots hit their climax.

The show mainly relies on a new ost but there are some old themes here as well. The ost is still pretty hype and whenever the heroes end up in a labyrinth you know things could get tricky for them. The animation is also quite good and it’s nice to see the characters fighting with more updated animation. In that regard the show certainly did surpass the original title. Everything is quite streamlined and the fight scenes are smooth. This isn’t really a show where fights are the main focus although I expect season 2 will have more of them so I’m always glad to see good animation.

So, where does this show take place? For now I am going to assume you have seen the first show. If you have not then skip the next two paragraphs. After all, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the future seasons if you haven’t seen the original. So here’s how I see it. At the end of the original show Madoka sacrificed herself to end all Witches. This created the Wraiths in their place. This show still has the witches so the first guess would be that they are before the show ended right? Alternately you could say it takes place after Rebellion since Homura undid Madoka’s wish and brought back Witches although they weren’t quite real. I don’t think this would work though because Walpurgisnacht wasn’t revived. As a result, I think this is one of the broken timelines.

We know from the first show that Homura tried to stop Walpurgisnacht hundreds of times and failed in each timeline until Madoka saved the day. So it stands to reason that this is one of the many timelines where she failed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the one who has formed this group of rebel Magical Girls to try to end the curse and finish off Walpurgisnacht. It would make sense as Homura took a different strategy in each attempt. While it would mean that ultimately every action in the show would be futile it would be a pretty epic twist. So right now this theory makes the most sense to me and it’ll be fun to see how season 2 goes with this. I really doubt the show would do something to reverse Rebellion’s ending as that would be saved for a proper sequel. I know Homura shows up in the game though so I expect she’ll make her presence known in season 2 and that should answer a lot of questions.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a lot of fun. It can feel more episodic and it’s not trying to be quite as deep as the main show but there are always elements beneath the surface just waiting to pop up. The ending is also pretty excellent. It was quite possibly my favorite part of the whole show. It feels like the tone suddenly shifted and it helps that the song was really great as well. In a way, the first 11 episodes were all setup for these final moments. It really sets up the sequel season quite well and also raises the stakes. It ties in a bit to where this takes place as I mentioned earlier as well. I’m hoping season 2 jumps us right into the action there. I’m expecting we’ll see more of the old cast as well since they are destined to show up for this confrontation. I highly advise watching the original show before checking this one out so you can understand the framework. After that, definitely jump into this show and if the wait for season 2 is too long you can always download the mobile game and try to reach the end.

Overall 7/10

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

Transformers: Cyberverse Review


It’s time to look at a recent Transformers show that ended. I suppose it’s always possible that they’ll announce a season 4 in which case I’ll review that separately but I get the feeling that this show is done for good. It’s a reasonably fun show and one that was trending upwards. Each season was better than the last which is always incredibly difficult to do. The show made it easy as the first season was pretty underwhelming with a Bumblebee subplot that took too long to form. By the end of the show it can proudly hold itself along with the rest. There are few Transformer shows it would beat but I would still say it was pretty good.

The first plot is mainly about Bumblebee’s memory loss. Something happened to all of the Autobots but we don’t know what that is. Whatever it is, Bumblebee is completely mindless now and acts pretty crazy like Crash Bandicoot. Windblade has decided she will fix his memory but to do so they will have to take on a lot of Decepticons and relive memories that Bee may have wished he could forget. We need Bumblebee’s memories, but the heroes may end up wishing they didn’t remember what’s in store for them. That’s really the full plot of season 1. Bumblebee gets his memories near the very end of the season which then ties into season 2.

Ultimately what really holds season 1 back is that Bumblebee can’t hold his own story. In most of the various Transformers shows he just isn’t very entertaining. Robots in Disguise did the best job with his character, but that’s really the exception. Once Bumblebee gets his memories back he’s a lot better but during season 1 he’s pretty annoying. Ultimately Windblade has to hold these episodes on her own. Additionally there really isn’t much of a plot here. The episodes are all pretty much stand alone adventures which are decent, but on a 15 minute runtime limit there isn’t much they can do.

Season 2 is mainly about the big battles between the Autobots and Decepticons. Now that all the Autobots are awake they are ready to fend off the attack. What they don’t know is that the Decepticons have had a schism as well and now Starscream is in command of his own mini fleet. He aims to get the All Spark and obtain unlimited power. Both Optimus Prime and Megatron may have to team up if they want to have any hope of stopping him. The tough part is really what comes afterwards because Prime knows that he definitely cannot trust a Decepticon. Can the heroes manage to stop Starscream while also constantly watching their backs against Megatron and his forces? It’s definitely a pretty difficult balance that they have to worry about the whole time but fortunately we have some pretty hype characters here to help out like Hotrod.

This season was quite the improvement over the first. The cast got expanded quite a bit and I remember being surprised that Prime was back to being a main character. I shouldn’t be, but it feels like he rarely is anymore. Both of the Rescut Bot TV shows, Robots in Disguise, then Cyberverse. It had been years since he was a true main character. Well, this show brought him back into the running and that was neat. We got to finally have the classic Autobot vs Decepticon battles once again. Surprisingly I don’t think the writers liked Megatron all that much though. Typically their rivalry is very evenly matched but in this series it was quite lopsided. Optimus Prime would easily crush Megatron and is treated as being way stronger than the other bots. It’s a good thing for Prime but it makes Megatron look really bad. He never truly recovers from that and even in the final season he ends up feeling more like a sub boss.

Finally we have Season 3. While 2 ended with a big cliffhanger about the Autobots heading to a Cybertron that was already taken over by the Decepticons that actually gets resolved pretty quick. We then get a pretty big timeskip here. I miss not being able to see more of how that plot resolved, but I’d say it was worth it because the third season really starts with a mystery feel. Another alien race has taken over the planet and enslaved all of the bots. Only a few resistance fighters are left, comprised of both Autobots and Decepticons. They will have to learn how to work together to stop this threat. Along the way we slowly find out answers about how this all happened and there’s even a twist on who the big boss is. It’s an excellent arc and definitely the peak of the series. After this the series ends with an extra quick mini arc that’s super rushed but does deliver on a solid ending.

So as you can see, the show was steadily improving as it went on. That’s a good thing because it does show that the series was starting to find its stride. It’s a shame that it didn’t keep going on but 3 seasons is a solid amount of time. Certainly enough time to give it some solid replay value for the future. I’m still not a fan of the 15 minute episodes style though. I really think that all of the titles should aim for the classic 22-25 minutes. Keep in mind that it’s 15 minutes with commercials, I’m thinking it’s probably closer to 12-13 if you time them. It’s a style that I’ve never agreed with. You work with what you get and the show did a good job with them, but I can’t help but feel like it would have been better otherwise. This series couldn’t quite keep up with the G1 shows, Beast Wars, Robots in Disguise, or Prime. It beats the Rescue Bot shows but that’s not too hard. I think I would ultimately take this one over Animated though although it’s a pretty close one. The boost this show got from season 3 definitely helps a lot.

The animation is good. I like the fight scenes and the show actually does give us some choreography with the sword battles. We have good long range battles as well and I’m just glad to have fights. The battle of the Titans from season 3 was another highlight. We got to see what these guys could really do next to the average robots. They were treated as being super powerful even if one was being manipulated the whole time. I do think the heroes shouldn’t have had a shot once the villain leader busted out the one hit laser. The show definitely does have its share of plot hax but what show doesn’t right? The soundtrack is more on the generic side though. There are no memorable tunes to point too. This isn’t surprising.

As for the writing/tone, the show is basically your average Saturday Morning cartoon material. It’s pretty light hearted and filled with fun adventures. That’s why I applaud season 3 for actually taking itself seriously. This show won’t be remembered as great but I do think the episodes did a good job of being entertaining. They also certainly don’t drag out within the 15 minutes. Mix this all together and you’ve got the makings of a pretty good show. I don’t really have any serious negatives that would hold it back. It does enough where I can recommend it to anyone who wants to have a fun little adventure. It’s not great, but it’ll do the job.

The characters are largely portrayed in the same way as usual. Prime is shown to be a great leader and fighter. This is one of his best portrayals and he really feels accurate to his G1 counterpart. Bumblebee is pretty annoying in season 1 as I mentioned and tends to get in trouble a lot. I already spoke about how Windblade is pretty solid and she definitely gets a critical role in saving the day. Grimlock doesn’t look very good here and I feel like the shows do not know how to handle his character. Basically he’s very smart in bot form and when he transforms into a Dinobot he loses his intelligence.

Hot Rod gets a big role here and even performs the heroic sacrifice at one point. His dark form is also pretty neat. He’s still one of my favorite Transformers out there so I’m always happy to see him getting his due respect. Cheetor was a surprising addition to the cast from Beast Wars, but he servers his role as mediator pretty well. He comes across as a little weak and pretty slow to react to what’s going on though. He definitely could have done better. I’ve already spoken about how Megatron is surprisingly weak in this series. His personality is still solid but it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s always getting completely dominated by Optimus Prime.

Shadow Striker is one of the highest ranking Decepticons in this show and she looks pretty good. She gets quite a bit of character development as the series goes on and is willing to bend the rules a bit. Soundwave and Shockwave have an ongoing rivalry throughout the series. It’s a pretty fun subplot and they take turns getting wins over the other. I’d say Soundwave gets the better of that rivalry since he lasts a whole lot longer. His glitching out gimmick in the final season was an odd choice but he definitely looks really good overall. The guy gets some props for basically being the second in command.

Starscream gets a big and satisfying role here as well. The guy is as power hungry as ever and doesn’t give up until he’s on top of the food chain. I’ve always liked him for that reason. He never quits and while he may not always get the last laugh, he gets a lot of victories in the meantime. I was very pleased with hos he looked here. Then you have Dead End who was a pretty interesting Decepticon. I liked the guy. He may not be particularly skilled but he always talks a good game and doesn’t let anyone walk all over him. I think he helped the dynamic a lot in the final season. Clobber also gets a big role in the final season. She’s the really strong but not too smart kind of character. Clobber was certainly helpful although she’s not really my kind of character. I liked her better than Macadams though who preferred to just sit back and do nothing. He may as well be a villain if you ask me since he would always refuse to help the heroes. Not much of an ally to have if you ask me.

Overall, Transformers: Cyberverse is a title that had a good run. It’s got solid animation and a few good story arcs. Since the show continued to get better and better you were bound to have a good time as long as you make it through season 1. Season 1 does definitely start off slow but it’s all up hill from there. It was good to see all of the classic Cybertronians again. Windblade has definitely been getting a big role in a lot of Transformers titles now and she holds up well as a main character. I’d say that she is even better than Arcee. Meanwhile Hot Rod and Optimus Prime get great roles as well. I’d like to see them phase Bumblebee out as the main character but as long as it’s an ensemble cast like this show I think it’ll ultimately be okay.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in Blue Exorcist. This is a pretty unique season two because for starters it completely ignores the second half of the first season. That’s because the first season diverged and ultimately went to filler. It’s a pretty interesting tactic but one that makes sense and more titles should give it a try. That said, I don’t mind series going all the way back to the starting point because it means more adaptions of hype fights. That said, one problem here is that most of the characters have slid way back in terms of character development. It’s a solid show but definitely one that has its flaws.

The show starts with Rin and Yukio stopping a kidnapper from getting away. The guy seems rather skilled though and was able to easily best Yukio before escaping. This compounds with Yukio’s inferiority complex over Rin getting all the power and friends which causes a bit of a rift between them although Rin is oblivious and Yukio tries not to show it. They each go their separate ways as Yukio is called to a mission in the mountains while Rin goes with his friends to a temple mission. The problem is that nobody likes Rin anymore after the events of the forest arc. Even the super nice childhood friend seems to have turned on him.

Rin does his best to cope with this though. At the temple things aren’t quite as they seem. The two main factions are feuding with each other and the leader always skips meeting. They suspect he may be a traitor now which would be devastating. See, the temple is in charge of protecting two eyes because should they ever be brought together then a giant monster would appear and end the planet. Rin wants to help but he is not allowed to do so on account of his devil powers. Will the heroes be able to get past all of their individual dramas in order to help save the day?

As you can see, this season does bring up a lot of plot points from the past and they are necessary to fully get what’s happening here. The show has a lot of flashbacks though so you’ll be up to speed real quick. Here’s why part of the season can feel like a retread though. In the first season once it turned to filler, the series decided to delve into Yukio’s character quite a bit. It makes sense because the manga had been building up this plot since the start and if the anime was doing its own thing anyway they may as well finish it right?

In the first show Yukio briefly turned evil due to mind control and such and he finally got to properly have a talk with Rin. They squared away their differences and vowed to get stronger in their own ways. While the filler arc wasn’t all that great (Trying to turn the Devil into a sympathetic guy who didn’t know any better is still pretty crazy) this plot was handled reasonably well. It’s about at the same level as how the real one went although Yukio not flat out turning evil here is a plus.

The other plot was about Rin’s friends not trusting him after he saved their lives in the forest. (By the way the friends are pretty awful about this in every possible context. If Rin didn’t step up and fight the guy then they all would have been murdered. The friends are so petty the whole time that it’s crazy) That one was handled in the first show as well so the got back to being on good terms. This show has to go through all of that again since they are back to square 1. It’s not that the show does any of this poorly though. Other shows also handle the same plots over and over again with changes like the Fate series as you go through the different paths. It’s rare that you see it in a classic Jump anime though.

All right, that’s enough about the similarities. The whole thing is pretty fun to look at though. Ultimately it makes sense why the series would ignore it and do things the canon way. The series is only 12 episodes so it definitely goes by you in a blast. It’s very nostalgic seeing the old characters and part of what helps seal that effect is they grabbed all of the classic themes. The Blue Exorcist series had a terrific OST so this was a smart play. I’d liked to have seen more of Rin’s theme as it only gets played once or twice but he doesn’t get to fight much here so I suppose that makes sense. I also like the 90’s techno/jazz theme that plays. It’s hard to describe that one but it’s always sounded pretty great and gets you pumped for what’s about to happen.

The animation is definitely on point as well. I always like how they draw the blue flames here. They pop out at you and the same goes for the fire blasts as well. All of the shots look crisp and modern so I’ve definitely got no qualms about this. On a technical level the show definitely holds its own and maintains a consistent quality throughout.

Rin’s still a pretty solid lead. That’s a good thing because at times it feels like he is holding the entire show on his shoulders as far as the cast is concerned. He’s definitely the most interesting character and always puts up a brave front. One subplot here is that Rin has lost a lot of his confidence after his friends undermining him the whole time but he tries to never let this show. To an extent I feel like it was also the sword trolling him or someone preventing him from using it though. I feel like he should have been able to use it sooner. Regardless, Rin always dives into action and definitely handles the situations pretty well.

Shiemi is the main heroine here but she doesn’t manage to stack up as well as most. The reason for this is even she is unable to stay by Rin’s side and is a big reason as to why he has lost confidence. Later on it’s played more like she was too nervous to talk to him but it was hard for her to rebound from this. In comparison Izumo handles things a lot better. She’s already mean to everyone and isn’t afraid to talk to Rin throughout the adventure. She treats him the same way as normal and at least that helps Rin’s experience feel a little more normal at times. Izumo is also portrayed as one of the most skilled exorcists here. She is quick to help heal the monks and also thinks fast during the invasion. From the supporting cast she was definitely the best one.

Ryuji is more of a mixed bag but I would definitely put him on the lower side. He mainly just gets in Rin’s way and gets the lead into trouble on quite a few occasions. It would help if he could fight a bit more or something but most of the main characters can’t really fight for beans. He had his big moments at the end of the season since this is his arc so I think he’ll be a much better character in the next season. At least he ended strong right?

Konekomaru is definitely the worst character though. He’s the one most actively afraid of Rin and getting everyone else to fear the lead as well. The guy never really minds his own business. Look, I would cut the characters a little more slack if I could see why they were scared of Rin but I’m not really buying it. He totally saved them all. Konekomaru just needs to remember that. He’s also one of the most reluctant to go and help Rin when it counted.

Shima is also pretty sketchy although not specifically for Rin. The guy just never wants to risk his life so he’ll run for safety even if it means that all of his friends will die. There’s no real way to support him after something like that. I did appreciate that he was a little quicker to start being cool with Rin again though.

Yukio is still pretty jealous of Rin’s abilities for most of the series. He covers It up by acting calm and collected but as Shura pointed out that makes it a lot easier for demons to manipulate him. Todo plays a ton of mind games with him for most of the series although Yukio ultimately stays strong. He looks better than his first series self in that respect. I liked the magic trap that he used near the end of the series. It was pretty well thought out and at least helped him start to make a comeback. Todo was a supremely difficult opponent to stop so any measure that slowed him down is solid.

So right now I don’t really care for Yukio but hopefully he’ll be on the upwards trend now. He is still keeping secrets from Rin though so I can’t see that ending well. Mainly Yukio’s worst scene here was leaving Rin to die and even trying to stop him from using the sword. For a proper redemption arc we need Yukio to step in and save Rin next time or at least defend him when the chips are down. That’ll go a long way to raising him up the ranks.

Then we have Todo who is the big villain of the arc. The guy definitely does pretty well here as he holds off multiple exorcists and even eats two different spirits. This gives him incredible powers in addition to what he already had. The heroes really had a hard time taking him on to the point where he probably should have crushed them almost instantly based on the speed we saw from him. The guy was just out of their league and when you mix in his regeneration abilities this makes the matter even worse. He was a fun villain. Ultimately I don’t think that guy will be super well remembered but this series hasn’t really had many good villains so almost by default he’s my favorite villain in the series right now.

The show does suffer from a bit of fan service at times. For the most part it’s nothing crazy but it seems like the mentor’s only role at times. Shura’s whole attack on Mephisto is one of those scenes because everyone knew the plan had 0 chance of success. If anything it just makes her look pretty terrible. Is she really so scared of this guy? Why even pick the fight if this was out it was going to end? She also doesn’t look too impressive considering she’s a mentor since Rin is able to shake her a few times and in the final fight she helps a bit, but not a ton.

It’s always a bit dicey to have a villain like Mephisto working with the heroes when he’s way stronger than them and they know it. I don’t see how they can all get along so well. I don’t think the dynamic works to be honest. He puts them into a ton of danger and helps the demons out a lot. Why is the guy still here? While the heroes are very weak compared to the villains, I wouldn’t yet call it a hopeless situation for them. The reason being that there isn’t really much of a villain group yet. The villains just do whatever they want and usually almost beat the heroes. This random monster (Well the Impure King is a pretty cool name and I guess he’s not totally random but there could be a lot of other monsters like this guy around) is apparently pretty strong but for one monster to basically have the whole order in check is a bad sign for them. Without Rin the heroes would be doomed and they should really start to realize that soon.

We get quite a few characters from the two sects over at the temple although most of them won’t stand out. Mamushi gets a big role since she gets involved in the conspiracy. She appears to be a bit gullible the whole time but is certainly dedicated to the cause. I do think she had good reason to doubt that Tatsuma was on the level though. She was a fun character. Then you have Juzo who was my favorite character from the group. He had some good fire abilities and took more of a leadership role compared to the others. That being said, I do think it was a bit odd that he tried to stop Mamushi from saving the eye. At that point nobody knew who the traitor was, but it was about to be burned in flames and the whole point is that they need to protect it right? Seemed like an odd moment in the show and the defense for doing that was real weak. Finally we also have Tatsuma as a character with a big role but he’s pretty terrible from start to finish. The guy was just impossible to redeem by the end and his actions still make no sense if you ask me. Stirring up trouble and getting the sects to suspect each other of treason was not the right way to handle this.


Overall, It’s nice to see Blue Exorcist back. The manga seemed to start diving off the deep end and going nowhere fast but anime is a solid medium that can make things more exciting. The directing here seems solid so I’m sure they could pull more seasons off. It seems a bit unlikely right now since this one came out a while ago, but there’s always a chance for another season. Considering that this one had to work with almost no fights and was still entertaining I think the next one should be in a good position.

Overall 6/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight!! Vanguard: Shinemon Review


It’s time to take a look at the next season of Cardfight Vanguard. The franchise has definitely been going quite strong for many years now. It’s easily outlasted Buddyfight at this point and now there are over 10 seasons of the show. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. When’s the last time you had a show go all the way through, do the big next generations series with a new cast, get several sequels to that one, and then do the modern reboot of the original? Well, that’s what Cardfight has done and now we’re getting the prequel to the reboot and it looks like we’re getting close to a reboot of the next generation show. It’s really quite impressive and this is definitely staying up there as one of my favorite franchises of all time. Shin actually holds his own show quite well. While this one can’t match some of the earlier seasons for sure, it’s still a great anime.

The show starts by introducing us to Shin, possibly the youngest cardshop owner out there. However, his ownership of the place is a bit questionable. See, he decided to take it over when Misaki’s parents died as a last wish in order to keep her safe. Shin feels like he owes it to them and has quickly found his place in the cardshop setting. The problem is that he is still attending school and so he can’t be at the shop most of the time. A rich lady by the name of Esuka also wants to own the shop for personal reasons of her own. She has a fair argument for why she would be the best person for the job. She’s not a random villain or some petty person that wants to make some cash. She knew the parents as well and to be honest she seems like she would do a much better job. The show debatably has 2 main arcs, the fight against Esuka and then the G prequel arc about dimension hopping.

For most of the first half of the show Shin does his best to fight against Esuka and her corporation. The thing is, are you even rooting for him? Neither side is evil so you don’t have to worry about that. At the end of the day you have to think about who would run the shop better and I have to give the nod to Esuka here. Fortunately for Shin she also looks after him quite a bit and goes easy on the lead. For most of the series she seems to be way more skilled than he is and definitely has more resources. I have to admit that I was rooting for her the whole time. Shin’s a solid lead and all but he was too young to run a cardshop and I think this begun to sink in a little later on. Shin can be pretty stubborn though.

Then for the climax of the series we have Ryuzu showing up. Fans of the G series will remember him as one of the big villains. The guy is a little less crazy at this point in time though so this is sort of seeing how he went off the wrong path. He wants to harness energy from the other planet in order to make Earth a better place. The warning bells that trigger with statements like that though is that when you take energy from one place to make the other one better, it’s inevitable that one of the worlds won’t be doing so well at this point. It’s a conversation that he doesn’t seem willing to have at the moment. None of the other characters are really persistent about bringing it up though so it’s hard to blame him. How does Shin even fit in to all of this? Well, Rive is on Shin’s team but he may have to miss the tournament because of all this so now Shin has been roped into finding out what’s going on. It’s a pretty fun climax even if the characters could be a bit annoying at times. I think Ryuzu could have easily been encouraged to keep doing his research in a safe manner but nobody was really trying.

Going back to Shin, it’s amazing how far he has come from the original series. The other way of looking at it is how far he has fallen since his younger days I guess. This version of Shin is a lot more fiery and isn’t afraid to pick a fight. He does lose his motivation pretty quick when defeated but he always starts out strong. He has a great fight against Esuka in their first round and shows similar energy in most of his duels. I also like his go to card. It’s incredibly strong and also shows how one powerful card can take you a long way. Shin uses this as a crutch for a while in the series before eventually improving his all around skills.

While I wasn’t on Shin’s side in the debate against Esuka, at least his reasons for doing so were good. At the end of the day he just wanted to make sure Misaki could retain ownership of the shop and he needed to keep custody of it until she was old enough to do so. Shin’s always thinking about how he could help Misaki. Really my only problem with Shin is how he basically threw away one of the tournaments. After Mark had gone to the trouble of exceeding his limits and winning so many battles I thought that was just disrespectful. It’s a horrible way to lose the tournament if you ask me.

Mark is one of Shin’s best friends and so he gets a pretty big role here. Like Shin I was never particularly a fan of the guy in the main series. He is reasonable here though. While the series tries to make him look a little too powerful towards the end for plot convenience, the guy always had Shin’s back which is definitely important. Without him the heroes would have been in trouble during the tournament. He’s also a lot more reliable than Rive, who is mainly just here to be annoying most of the time. He participates in risky experiments and flakes whenever a big match is coming up. Shin and the others cut him a ton of slack but the guy is really not trust worthy. It just comes across as a betrayal when the team is counting on him to win the big tournament and he just ducks out of there. That’s completely unreasonable and I never liked him in the main series either so it’s pretty consistent. His big moment at the end also feels pretty pointless because he could have jumped to the monster along with Chrono. Deep down he didn’t seem to care a whole lot about getting back to Earth. That ending was rushed in quite a few different ways. It makes the monsters in Chrono’s deck actually seem a bit on the evil side with how they just allowed Rive to be trapped when they clearly could have done something.

Tatsuya’s role here is definitely a lot different than what I would have expected. He starts out as a nice enough kid who looks up to Shin and gradually gets a much bigger role. By the end of the series he’s a solid genius who has his own goals. Tatsuya makes for a solid antagonist because his motivation is a solid one. If anything the counter arguments that the heroes give in return are quite weak. It’s at the point where you are likely to be rooting for Tatsuya for a while. The heroes’ arguments all rest on hypotheticals and things that they can’t actually prove. Either way it’s a pretty fun battle though.

Mikuru is another one of Shin’s best friends and gets a big role. She never really gets to duel which does limit how much she can contribute compared to the others. Still, I did enjoy all of the crazy nicknames she would give Shin. His name rhymes with a whole lot of adjectives and she makes sure not to miss a beat. Misaki and Chrono don’t get to do a whole lot since they’re kids in this version. We briefly see them back to normal age at the end though and they should be quality characters as always. This just wasn’t their story this time.

Esuka’s a really fun character and she goes in a much different direction than what I would have expected. She’s definitely not your average rich tycoon. If anything it’s a bit of a subversion because to the characters she acts in much the same way as most rich villains. She uses some bribery and tricks to get her way so the heroes never trust her. The thing is, she usually means well and just has a hard time not acting like a rich tycoon. For example, she offers to make one of the characters rich and famous. The heroes assume she has some kind of ulterior motive and get out of there but she actually was going to try and make that happen. It’s fair that the other characters are suspicious though, it’s just a fun thing to note. She also isn’t afraid to go into the front lines herself like when she infiltrated Ryuzu’s base.

Nanami is Esuka’s main fighter and she gets a pretty big role in the series. She’s effectively a child prodigy and can keep up with the pros. Her deck’s pretty solid and I definitely like her confidence. Tonori is another one of Esuka’s top fighters alongside Nanami. His thing is that he gets stronger the hungrier he is. It’s a bit of an odd gimmick but it works well. He’s a bit underused though as he gets maybe 1-2 big fights in the series and that’s it. I also thought he was really nerfed because he shouldn’t have lost the final fight. The plot demanded it but I wasn’t able to buy that. He’s fun enough though.

Kanzaki got a big role in G and while his role here is a lot smaller, it’s a nice throwback to the G days. He still only thinks about power and yells that weakness is a crime. It can be a bit hard to take him seriously with that at times but he does win most of his fights here so I guess he earned it. He also paid Mark some respect in their close fight which was pretty solid. I probably would like his character more here if I hadn’t seen G first. He’s a bit one note though and his cool design can’t save him. Ryutarou is one of the members of Kanzaki’s team. I think he tries too hard to be Kanzaki’s opposite. He doesn’t really care about winning and just likes a good fight. That’s fine, but he tends to lose a lot so it almost seems like an excuse. The whole “I only lost because I didn’t care about winning” thing doesn’t tend to go well. To be fair, he never uses that excuse but I do think he should take the fights more seriously.

Ruga is definitely one of the most tragic characters in this series. All he wants is to have a serious fight with Rive and yet the guy always runs off. I don’t get why Rive is being so cold here. They used to be best friends and then Rive grew distant as soon as he got married. Yeah, both of them agreed not to get married but Ruga would have been a lot more understanding if Rive didn’t suddenly ditch like that. The only reason Ruga was opposed to this was because he felt like it would take up all of Rive’s time…and then his fears came true. Rive could have absolutely mended the bridge with Ruga if he wanted too and as a result Ruga became even more obsessive.

Finally we have Ryuzu who has always been a fun villain. His goals are pretty interesting. In this series at least I wouldn’t consider him a villain since he is still trying to help the world. Things don’t always go his way but at least he tries his best. His deck is solid and he is usually one step ahead of the other characters. At least he is actually doing something important. Towards the end of the series they try to make a case that playing a normal game of Cardfight is just as important as making research that can save the lives of millions. Ryuzu is really at a loss for words at this and I kind of was as well. Ryuzu may not be perfect but at least he is trying to better society, can Shin and the others really say the same?

Shinemon is definitely the right way to do a prequel. Each episode is a lot of fun and it develops the characters rather quickly. You know the setting and everyone in it within the first 3 episodes. From there we are able to jump into the duels. The series doesn’t really have high stakes like some of the other seasons but that’s fine. In a prequel you already know most of the characters are safe anyway and it would be difficult to jump to end of the world stuff so quickly. That’s why the series focuses more on powerful character moments and sharp duels. The series is just a lot of fun and taps into the early G feels. Shin’s also a very different main character from Chrono and Aichi which helps to differentiate him. I really had no complaints with the title. If anything I wouldn’t have minded if it got more episodes but in a way I like the short seasons because it helps the franchise keep going further. I want to see how many seasons it can churn out.

As expected the animation here is quite sharp. The animations are very clear and smooth. Whenever a monster is summoned it also looks quite crisp and it’s clear that they’re not phoning it in for any of these episodes. I’ve always liked the style that they use for Cardfight. It’s pretty simple in terms of design and such so they’re able to put a lot of effort into the colors. I’ve greatly enjoyed anime with detailed or simple designs so both can definitely work as long as you put the effort in and this one definitely did. Meanwhile the soundtrack is pretty great as always. I’m not really sure if this one added any new themes but at this point the series has so many that you barely need to do that. It grabs some themes from G and the reboot seasons so that’s already a good amount of variety.

Overall, Shinemon is a great season and a nice way to handle the prequel. It really shows us that Shin used to be a cool character as opposed to being one of the blandest characters I had ever seen in the main seasons. I’d consider that to be a bit of a soft reboot since it’s impossible to picture Shin being this great back in the day. The final episodes even try to give a reason for why he changed so much at the end and it’s a nice attempt although you will still have a tough time buying it I’m sure. Since this is a bit of an origin story you can easily watch it without seeing any of the previous seasons. It is one of those prequels made to be watched after experiencing the originals but that doesn’t matter much until the final 2-3 episodes. Either way you should have a blast.

Overall 8/10