Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros Review

It’s time to look at the Mario OVA which is so obscure that I wouldn’t blame you for not hearing of it before. There are 3 episodes in this OVA which each tell a story that shows why Mario is a true hero. They decide to mess with his origin a bit and each story is a stand alone, but it’s interesting to see Mario be used in a bunch of classic fables like this. It may not be the greatest Mario adventure, but they aren’t bad.

The first story starts with Peach and her Hammerbro parents. They are not able to protect her from the mighty Bowser. That’s where Mario comes in as he is born from a shooting star and grows up very quickly. He heads off to save her, but he will have to deal with many powerful threats like the King of the Koopas. Mario isn’t scared though and quickly gets ready to take them all down. This is a more vicious Mario than we are used to as he even wields a gun. It’s cool to see Mario fight like this. He actually uses some hand to hand skills which is something that never happens anymore. We seriously need the upcoming big budget Mario film to have some real fights. This is the Mario we deserve. The whole special is very surreal though, like how are Peach’s parents Koopas? I figured they would at least be Toads or something. Bowser doesn’t look very good as can be expected though. It’s a short little story and one that is fun enough.

The second story is about Mario but this time he is only 1 inch tall. Mario doesn’t care about this and wants to go check out the big city anyway. He knows that this will help him quickly become one of the all time greats. He meets Peach along the way and has a great time. Unfortunately, Mario’s plans are cut short when Bowser appears and decides to take Peach away. Mario can’t have this so he grabs his sword and then begins a fight for the ages. Mario may be small, but he has some serious moves and Bowser makes the mistake of swallowing Mario without chewing. I never quite get why the big villains do this since of course Mario will stab him from the inside. Bowser didn’t really think this plant through, but I suppose I can give him some kudos for the attempt. It’s a fun special as well although I prefer the first story. Mini Mario just doesn’t make for as endearing a character as his normal form.

Finally, the OVA decides to end with a bang on the last episode. This one is a Snow White homage as Bowser dresses up as an old lady and tricks Peach into biting the poison apple. Mario arrives too late to save her, but breaks into the castle in a rescue attempt. Surprisingly he wasn’t doing too well this time, but granted Mario was outnumbered. Fortunately Luigi comes in to save the day and the duo finally get to team up. It was nice to see Luigi actually show up for a bit since I thought the OVA had forgotten about him. This was the last special but probably also the best one so it was a good way to close things out. The action was on point.

So, it’s hard not to like this special as how can you not enjoy a Mario anime? Granted, the anime is fairly low budget. There is a lot of reused animation throughout the specials and they went for stills whenever possible. There’s not much of a soundtrack here either so on a technical level the OVA is pretty bad. That’s why you always want to have a good story to help counter balance these elements. If this wasn’t a Mario product then it probably wouldn’t rate quite as highly as it does. Still, it is great to see Mario on the big screen so I guess he deserves some props for that.

Even if you combine all 3 episodes the OVA isn’t all that long. You can fast blast through this with ease. The pacing for each special is pretty good as a result. It’s all pretty easily available online if you decide to check it out. Mario makes for a good hero and Peach is pretty consistent. Bowser isn’t a great villain though and you probably won’t be able to take him seriously for any of the specials. I think Bowser Jr/Baby Bowser may have been a better pick here or perhaps a made up villain. Bowser just seriously needs a better goal than constantly trying to marry Peach. It’s a futile mission and one that was doomed to failure from the start.

Overall, The Amada series may not have put Mario on the map, but they gave it a good shot. The special is reasonably fun, but there isn’t too much replay value to be found here. Watching it once is good enough to enjoy the surreal elements of the OVA. After that you’ll probably want to stick to the main Prince Haru movie. That’s where most of the Mario elements stayed after all. Of course, if you want to see Mario with a gun, then you have no choice but to run to this series. Either way, if you’re a Mario fan then I recommend checking this special out. If not, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it quite as highly as you could find better alternatives, but it’s a good adventure story for any viewer.

Overall 6/10


Inhumans Review

The Inhumans were pushed heavily throughout the comics and shows a few years back. Marvel did their best to try and use them as replacements for the X-Men although this plan failed and the mutants are back in business. This TV show came out during this interesting period and all it did was show why the Inhumans were never all that popular. They just aren’t likable characters.

The show starts off with showing us the Inhuman civilization on the Moon. Things may look peaceful from a distance, but the citizens are not happy as King Black Bolt has separated them into an outdated caste system. Depending on how you were born you were doomed to work in the mines or you can live above ground. Now you may recognize this system from many villain groups like the Soul Society, Skypiea, or even the world of Black Clover. Since you know the format then you know that Black Bolt is the main villain so an up and coming Inhuman will stop him right? Well that’s where Maximus comes in.

He realizes that the caste system is immoral and decides to quickly put a stop to it once and for all. He achieves a coup d’etat and usurps Black Bolt of his crown and banishes most of the royal family to Earth. Black Bolt swears revenge and that he will destroy Maximus when next they meet. Show’s over right? Well, Maximus is the main villain and Black Bolt is the hero…..just let that sink in for a little while.

Despite the summary Maximus is obviously a villain from the start. It’s just a shame because he is completely right about how Black Bolt has become a dictator and isn’t treating everyone equally. The show just wrote itself into a corner because this makes Black Bolt a total villain so Maximus goes over the top and starts murdering everyone while also trying for someone who is already married. Clearly the show was worried that Maximus was going to be the best character in the show otherwise. Naturally as a result of all this I am definitely not a Maximus fan. While he may be slightly sympathetic at first he completely goes nuts and loses whatever credibility he had. It’s a shame, but just having a sob story won’t be enough to get you anywhere.

Black Bolt is just as bad but he was never sympathetic. He can’t talk which is supposed to make you sympathetic I guess, but as he is king we can blame him for a lot of what is wrong with the society. He kept in the caste system and looks down on his own people. He is incredibly arrogant to the point where he doesn’t like anyone to make contact with him since he is so above them. He locked one guy in darkness for eternity which is certainly a cruel fate and even hid secrets away from his wife and inner cabal. This is because at his core, Black Bolt doesn’t trust anyone. The only part that I guess could be frustrating for Black Bolt is how Medusa is his interpreter, but she rarely repeats what he actually said and likes to come up with her own version. He definitely needs to find some way to talk through writing or electronically.

I also have to say that his abilities were not impressive in the slightest compared to what you would expect. The show spends the entire season building up his raw power but the big moment at the end where he finally lets loose only amounts to some rocks being broken and the metal cube not even getting a dent. All I’m saying is that I just didn’t find this impressive and the show could have done a whole lot better if you ask me. As a whole, the Inhumans just seem fairly weak and wouldn’t last long against the Avengers or the X-Men. They are all glass cannons with no real defense.

Karnak is a hand to hand fighter with the unique ability to see all of the angles. It is definitely a cool power to have since he can think things through so clearly that he can basically get a do over on any situation. While this ability isn’t as all encompassing as the famous Spider Sense as Karnak won’t know about attacks from behind, it’s good for any fight that he jumps into. Naturally since this ability would likely be too good, Karnak inexplicably trips and loses his ability for most of the season. That’s just annoying since of course now he is just a normal human who needs help from everybody. He also gets the worst subplot in the show as he goes to this place where they’re growing drugs. He helps for a while, but one of the guys goes crazy and starts murdering everybody. Karnak manages to escape with the girl and then they part ways, but the romance was absolutely brutal. This is mainly because Karnak is another one of those characters who doesn’t know much about social behavior and as such he has to be taught romance. It’s all very cringe worthy stuff.

Then we have Crystal and her subplot. She was taught that humans are all beneath her so she should not speak to her, but Lockjaw gets run over by a car for the edge factor so she has to find a vet. She meets up with a surfer dude, well he is the one who ran over her dog and he introduces her to his ex girlfriend who is a vet. The whole scenario is so absurd that it is almost funny. The guy gives her pretty bad advice the whole time as he says things like “your family can wait” as having a fun time at the beach is just a better way to spend the day. He isn’t a positive influence and the problem is that he’s supposed to be the person who gets Crystal to see that humans aren’t so bad. So much for that plan right? Crystal is also annoying because of how extremely powerful she is. She could destroy Maximus at any point in the show, but hesitated too much and loves firing warning shots. She could have saved quite a few people if she had actually made a move instead of waiting. Big mistake on her part if you ask me. So she isn’t a bad character but she is definitely an annoying one. I wanted her to take more initiative so having her become the Queen of the Inhumans would have worked really well.

We can’t forget the actual queen though. Medusa serves as the voice for Black Bolt but as she is basically a yes man for a while, her role barely matters. She does seem to have a little more humanity than Bolt though and at least gets him to be less strict on the corrupt rules that were in place. She can come off as rather mean at times and a little overdramatic when it came to her hair. Still, I have less faults with Medusa than the other characters. She is at least a character who tries to make a change in her situation.

Then we also have Gorgon with his strong stomps. I guess he is super human when it comes to physical abilities but they definitely aren’t at a particularly high level. He is the tough member of the group, but always seems rather outmatched in the various fights that he is in. You never really expect him to win although he does look good when going up against the humans. I guess we will give him some credit for that. There is a big decision that has to be made involving whether they should try to bring him back or not. All I can say is that the group’s bickering and indecision is another reason why they will never be as good as the others. Karnak was Bolt’s most trusted adviser and even he ended up defying him. Considering that Bolt was going to destroy him for this one choice I can definitely say that Karnak made the right move.

There is also a human scientist thrown into the mix who looks like someone out of the Supergirl show. Louise serves as the general audience character who does her best to help and even defies her bosses when she really wants to pursue a story. She doesn’t add a whole lot to the story if we are being honest and just works as a plot device to help the Inhumans secure cars and other necessities in order to reform the team. She could have definitely been worse, but I wasn’t really a fan of the character.
The best character in the film is certainly the regenerating assassin who serves Maximus. Having excellent hand to hand skills in addition to a healing factor is certainly crucial to have at the ready and it’s a shame that her boss was so crazy. Auran definitely was hoping that Maximus was going to be a just ruler, but it simply wasn’t to be. Auran ended up making the right calls by the end and is someone you can trust to keep her word. Being honorable is always a good trait for a protagonist or an antagonist. It shows that he or she has confidence in winning a battle with anyone. If you have to cheat or resort to sneak attacks, then you clearly aren’t as tough as you thought you were. It’s even worse if the villain is one of those people talking about survival of the fittest. So much for that right?

Mordis is one of the other big villains and he gets a ton of hype. Everyone fears him including Black Bolt. The thing is, he’s basically just a weaker Cyclops. He completely relies on his eye blasts and is otherwise a normal mortal. His constant joking around is a nice change of pace from all of the ultra serious Inhumans, but he really couldn’t live up to the hype. He ends up going down pretty quickly when the adventure actually gets tough.

The pacing is fairly good at least since this is basically just an extended movie turned into a short show. Either way, something is always happening and it doesn’t have time to be all that drawn out. Certainly a good thing. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the show thanks to its lackluster cast and it not striving to have quality writing instead of random romances, at least it didn’t keep in going and going for too long. It knew to end before going too far off the deep end.

The show isn’t all that violent which is a good thing. It never gets quite as intense as the Agents of Shield or anything like that. We have a regenerative character and we see her heal from a wound but it’s nothing too crazy. There is also the animal violence of the dog being run over. If he had died or something then the show would have really done down the tubes. It’s definitely good that the show avoided that land mine.

I suppose I’ll give the show’s scenery and costumes some props. I thought they did a good job with Black Bolt and Crystal’s costumes. They seemed to be pretty comic accurate. They weren’t really trying with Medusa since most of the plot revolved around her losing the hair anyway, but I suppose the actual costume was on point. The suits may have a hard time translating into live action for many heroes since they just feel like cosplay at times, but as long as the look is right then it’s fine if it looks rather fragile. That’s a very slight stretch of disbelief to imagine that the fabric is just really tough.

The fight scenes may have been scarce but we still got a few good ones like Medusa vs Auran. Lets face it though, Auran should have absolutely clobbered her. Medusa is tough because of her hair, but Auran is an advanced master of hand to hand combat. Throw in the regeneration and this is absolutely no contest. If they said beforehand that Medusa was also known as one of the best fighters or that she had super strength then maybe it would be believable, but otherwise I just couldn’t take the fight’s outcome seriously. Too bad we didn’t get more hand to hand fights like that, but the show at least did give us a lot of posturing between…well everybody. Every character here has a huge ego and they are intact by the end so if we get a sequel prepare for a lot of “I told you so” remarks and smirks. I really don’t see this show getting a sequel anytime soon though.

The best part of the show is probably when the villains and heroes have their first major encounter in the forest. The heroes spend a lot of that time running away and surprisingly there isn’t actually much of a fight but I was done with the whole “Heroes scattered in an unknown town” plot. The actual confrontations are what we came here for after all. Black Bolt did appear to be incredibly naive when he met with Maximus for the first hostage exchange though. In what world would Maximus actually release control back to Black Bolt in exchange for his life when he could just destroy Bolt where he stands? Maximus went as far as to betray his whole family and risk being assassinated to become the ruler. A few words wasn’t going to switch that at any point. Naturally this just causes Black Bolt to fume a little more, but I don’t see how he became the King with those tactician skills. Oh right…he was born into the crown, Bolt didn’t actually earn it. That’s the whole premise of the show.

Overall, Inhumans was a failed experiment of Marvel’s which likely won’t be remembered all that much in the future. It wasn’t a terrible attempt, but it just didn’t have enough good fundamentals to stand on its own. Some guest stars would have really gone a long way into making this a better show. Even if it had to be human guest stars like throwing the Agents of Shield in. That would have worked for me.

Overall 4/10

Sonic Boom Review

The first time I started watching Sonic Boom I knew that I had a winner on my hands. The series is the perfect blend of action and comedy. Due in part to the solid animation and naturally the strong writing as well, Sonic Boom is one of those all star titles that is not to be trifled with. It’s rare to see a comedy centered show actually be really funny throughout as opposed to once in a while but Boom pulls it off.

The basic plot of the show is that a group of friends live on an island. Their names are Sonic, Amy, Sticks, Tails, and Knuckles. This town is fairly isolated so the friends have to try and not get tired of each other or the fact that there is only one eatery in the entire town. They just have to learn to live the sub par food. Meanwhile, we also can’t forget about the evil Dr. Eggman who uses his evil inventions to try and conquer the town or sometimes to fight off tax corruption. One thing is for sure, there is always something happening in this show.

Sonic Boom may be a CGI show but the animation is so smooth and colorful that it is basically on the level of hand drawn animation. The character designs are really on point. At first people did make fun of some of the designs like Knuckles and Sonic but you quickly get used to them. The bright animation works well for the action scenes as well as the back and forth banter. It’s very versatile. Then there is also the solid soundtrack. It’s quite large as some episodes will have guest star montage themes. The normal everyday themes work well too and one of the big ones is the theme that plays when Sonic fights Shadow for the last time. It will keep you guessing throughout the show and that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

The writing is certainly 5 Star material as the jokes just work so well. Part of it is the delivery of course, but you also have to give credit to the script for coming up with the jokes. In particular Sonic and Knuckles tend to get all of the best ones although every character has their moment. Eggman naturally gets a lot of time to shine as well with all of the banter between him and Sonic.

One thing you’ll also notice about Sonic Boom is that the show can get serious when necessary. Not all of the serious arcs may have always worked out, but for the most part they were pretty hype. The final two part event for the series certainly brought in the hype as Shadow’s battle with Sonic was as good as it gets. We haven’t had many battles with the two characters so it was cool to see them go at it. Shadow certainly had the edge in the fight which certainly makes sense since his speed is comparable to Sonic’s plus he has his chaos abilities like teleportation. It was fortunate for Sonic that Metal Sonic showed up and that fight was certainly epic as well. He was really doing pretty well against both of the hedgehogs even though he was outnumbered. The best part of the episode was still the early part though as Shadow’s takedown of the main cast was particularly brutal and showed him to be a legitimate threat. He did have a rather similar role in both seasons, but because his screen time was rather rare and limited it never actually felt redundant.

All right, let’s look at the cast. Sonic is essentially the perfect lead as he acts just like his hand counterpart, but dialed up to 11. This let him bring in a lot of snappy dialogue while still wrecking everyone when it came time for combat. This is definitely the Sonic that I remember from the games and his character is really done Justice. Whenever he faces off with someone you basically know that he is going to come out on top. Occasionally he will even subvert whatever the message of the episode was on account of being so talented. That just goes to show his skilled he is. He also does a good job of insulting everyone without being all that mean about it. He just tells it like it is and manages to look cool while doing so.

Knuckles certainly isn’t a very smart character and the show makes this as extreme as possible. Such an exaggerated character would certainly be either a big hit or a disaster and fortunately this portrayal was spot on. I think what really sells the character is how absolutely confident he is of being right. If someone tries to correct him Knuckles will typically put on a smug expression and explain why they are wrong. He has delusions of grandeur and at times he has gotten so big into his own ego that he ends up forgetting his bonds with the others. Knuckles is a nice guy, but one who just can’t cope too well with being the head honcho. He is still the power hitter of the team as well so you want to have Knuckles on your team.
For Tails, it’s an interesting case because rather than simply play up the genius angle, they play up the “genius wannabe” card. He is consistently shown to not be as smart as Eggman in this version and his inventions have to be fixed many times. Still, he does send up saving the day a lot through his inventions as well so it basically cancels out. Tails is a good character and he also has a bit of a rivalry with Sonic at times which is pretty fun. Sonic tends to come out on top, but the same can basically be said for all of his rivalries in the show (except Shadow) so that’s not bad. Tails’ best invention was certainly the one that could make clones of the individual. That’s a useful piece of tech for any situation.

Amy has her girl power sticker on for the show and loves to remind Sonic that not all problems have to be responded to with violence. Although, she is typically the one to jump into a fight. Her split personality is played up a lot in the show and makes her a character that can be feared by others aides. You just don’t want to make her angry. Her part time job as a psychiatrist also makes for a lot of entertaining scenes. She may be a little on the gullible side, but she is also the hero who gives the villains the benefit of the doubt more than the others which is surely a nice thing to do. Sonic never tends to buy into the villains actually having a change of heart in this show for better or worse.

Sticks was made up for Sonic Boom so it was always going to be interesting to see what route they took her. She is the big conspiracy nut of the series and spends a lot of her time yelling and trying to tell the cast what is actually happening. Her refusal to use technology does come in handy at times like when the villain tries to mind control everyone through the TV. Such tactics won’t work on Sticks. In a fight she does appear to be the weakest member but it’s not all about strength when you’re looking at a character. She’s definitely not one of the best members of the main cast, but she’s a reasonably solid member of the team:

Then we’ve got Eggman who is definitely a very important character in the series. He keeps everyone in check and seems to have a fairly formalized deal with Sonic that he will attack the town every week or so. They reference these plans quite a bit. Of course, a Eggman does sometimes switch things up if the town gets on his nerves. It’s not a great defense but if we’re being honest the town can be pretty annoying. They’ll try to cheat you out of money or cut out in line. Other townsfolk will try to guilt trip you into helping them and the mayor is absolutely corrupt. Some characters may just sit there and take it, but not Eggman. In all of these instances I am actually rooting for Eggman since he just seems to be in the right. It’s the town that really needs to change, not really Eggman.

Shadow only appears in 2 different stories but they are both quite good. He sounds intimidating for sure and just isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Especially when you consider how strong he is. Shadow may be a little gullible which is an unusual trait for the character and the only one that doesn’t work well, but he looks really good beyond that. His style of chaos control based combat is always fun to watch. As Sonic Boom surprisingly didn’t use guest stars all that often, it made their appearances even more special than usual.

Then we have Dave the Intern. Well, he has many jobs to be honest but he is most well known for his time over at Metburger where he sells fast food that isn’t healthy for you and the ingredients are also very suspect. He tends to get everyone’s order wrong and you run a risk whenever you go inside. So why do people eat there? Well, it’s the only food place in the small village. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and you wonder why the heroes would even live in such a village. There are probably quite a lot of fun theories about this, but I like to think that they are just trying to lay low for a little while. They don’t want to have to constantly be fighting so this was a way to get some r n r, but Eggman showing up definitely broke that plan. Dave is a really fun character thanks in large part to how his voice sounds. He clearly doesn’t want to be at the burger shop and has a lot of goals. Dave just isn’t particularly skilled enough to pull any of them off.

Another fairly big character in the show is Eggman’s twin brother robot from another dimension. His name is Morpho and his accent is certainly on point. I imagine that it must have taken a while to perfect it. He uses his shape changing abilities to great effect as he makes it hard for the heroes to trust each other. Eggman’s mother was also a quality character as she kept everyone in line. The supporting cast is just so great in this show and all of them get their due screen time. Even the old lady who is always losing her baby manages to be a solid character. There’s also a whole group of villains who work at the club house who are sort of like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the evil version.

For other guest stars, we’ve got Metal Sonic and Vector. It was a surprise to see Vector show up, but definitely a nice one. He’s not one of the coolest Sonic characters, but it was certainly about time that he got to be in something animated again. Metal Sonic was awesome as expected with his abilities still being top notch. Eggman’s lackeys Cubot and Orbot show up constantly and while their comedic moments don’t work quite as well as some of the others, they have their moments. It’s hard to totally be a bad character when you’re in this show. Even relatively weaker characters like the girl fox who showed up a bit and the old man who guilt trips everyone are more passable than they usually would be.

What really brings the humor home for Sonic Boom is how self aware it is with the characters and what is happening. When it pulls off homages to old sport films or classic moments in the Sonic franchise it works because the writers clearly know what they are referencing. Research was certainly being done on this show throughout. Superman is naturally referenced as well which is hype. Sadly the show did not last long enough for us to get to Super Sonic, but I like to think that the next season would have managed to squeeze that in at some point. There are so many more possibilities for episodes here.

In the end I’d definitely have to say that this is the best Sonic TV show. Sonic X isn’t far behind and then from there they all get rather close. I’d give the original Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon third, Adventures of Sonic 4th and then Underground would take a respectable last place finish. Sonic’s never really had a bad show before and that’s a credit to how good the franchise is. The original movie was excellent as well and hopefully the upcoming one will continue the trend.

Overall, Sonic Boom is an excellent show and one of the best non anime shows that I’ve seen in a long time. You could always expect high quality episodes from week to week. I’m still not a big fan of how many shows like to divide their episodes into 2 parts nowadays, but Boom pulls it off as well as it can. Hopefully it does get another season someday although its odds aren’t looking very great at the moment. I doubt the next Sonic show can surpass this one, but hopefully it is quite solid as well. So if you haven’t seen Sonic Boom yet, be sure to check it out asap.

Overall 8/10

Transformers: Titans Return Review

It’s time for the sequel to the first Transformers Machinima show. The first one had some really cool atmospheric presence and a unique setting, but was held back by the extremely short run time and how much of it was wasted on nothing happening. It was a glimpse at a part in Transformers lore that you wanted to see more of, but couldn’t since it ended so early. With this sequel we’re thrown back in there. There’s less mystery and suspense in this installment since the smoke has cleared and it’s clear who the enemies are again, but we do get more action than the first season and more of a plot as well. I’d say that it’s an improvement over the first although I’m hoping the final season focuses a little more on the core Autobots and Decepticons in favor of the larger bots.

The first season ended with Windblade announcing that the Titans had returned and this season continues that. Trypticon has been awoken and what’s more, Starscream is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t keep control the whole time and only seems to pop in and out periodically but this is still a serious threat to the heroes. They are all still beat up and bruised from the last season so they haven’t had time to regroup. Metroplex and Windblade lead the offensive against him while the Combiners, Optimus Prime, and Fortress Maximum also prepare to join the fight. Meanwhile, Rodimus Prime has decided that he doesn’t want to be a prime anymore and goes off on his own. Megatron appears to be content to sit on the sidelines for a while and Overlord has popped up to take advantage of the situation. Quite a lot of plot lines are occurring here.

Optimus Prime looks pretty good as always. He’s on top of the situation pretty quickly and does his best to contribute in the fight. He’s a little outranked by the sheer size and power of the Trypticon, but still gets his hits in. He’s definitely portrayed as being the strongest normal size bot with Megatron being his only equal. I’m hoping he gets at least one big fight in the next season. Hot Rod unfortunately looks really bad. This is currently Cybertron’s darkest hour and he decides to get rid of the Matrix now? He doesn’t even tell anybody about it. As Hot Rod he can’t fight that well and is taken down pretty quickly. Maybe he had more fun, but it definitely does come across as incredibly selfish. Not really a cool thing to do.

Megatron seems like he’ll have a really big role in the next season since he is crucial to both the Overlord plot as well as the Megatronus one. They may even be playing him up as a temporary leader to the heroes which is sure to have a lot of the other bots riled up. He’s pretty great as per usual and I’m ready to see him fight on. Overlord hasn’t done a whole lot yet, but the show has portrayed him as a legitimate threat. It’s hard to say how strong he is because both enemies that he took down were either weakened or not really fighters to begin with. I expect he will be quite powerful though and likely you would need Megatron or Prime to take him down. Maybe Windblade could put up a good fight, but it’s hard to see her winning.

Metroplex is the first of the big heroes to take on Trypticon. He seems like a reasonably good robot but is lacking in personality. He also seems like a terrible fighter who completely relies on his size, but that may just be a side effect of the animation. He falls for every single one of Trypticon’s incredibly slow attacks. Now anyone can tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of giant fights and this is why. They’re moving so slow that everything should be dodgeable. Especially since Metroplex is humanoid and should be slightly more agile. Then we have Fortress Maximus who is a really bad character. It’s his duty to fight Trypticon and restore order to the planet but he doesn’t want to do so. He is basically forced into helping out after Windblade nearly dies in the process and still doesn’t fight too well. By this point Trypticon is already pretty exhausted. Of course, win or lose it wasn’t going to help Metroplex with his weak personality. Windblade is still a fun character and this continuity is her best portrayal. She’s less of a mysterious warrior here, but still talks tough to everyone. She doesn’t really get a chance to have a big fight this time around, but I suppose it makes sense since there weren’t many opponents in this season. She is still one of the best characters in the show and has a solid design. She just needs bigger guns when in plane mode since she never seems to deal any damage like that.

Perceptor gets a fairly big role here as Prime chooses him to wield the Matrix. I was never a fan of Perceptor, but I guess he isn’t bad here. He still can’t fight though and can be a little annoying as he isn’t very quick on the uptake. I suppose every franchise needs at least one scientist figure but when you’re one of the only characters in an action show who can’t fight…it doesn’t bode well. He’s probably my least favorite character by default. Meanwhile, Trypticon is a fun villain. He basically spends the entire season fighting opponent after opponent in a nonstop battle with no breaks. It’s a pretty incredible feat of endurance. While his fighting style isn’t elegant, it apparently does get the job done. If anything, the ending to his plot is actually very rushed and anticlimactic. You almost want to root for him by the end since the heroes were just throwing wave after wave at him. If he’s stuck it out for this long then he may as well take the win right? Fans of this character will certainly like how tough he looks here.
Victorion and the Combiners still get a pretty big role in this season although they are largely ineffective. They actually get a brand new super form as they all merge but are still too small to really be of much use. The scale of the Titans really makes them live up to the title. You’ve got the normal bots, then the combiners who are about 2-3x normal size, then you’ve got the fused form which is probably 1.5x that and then the Titans which are 2-3x that. They’re quite large is what I’m trying to say. The Combiners are just annoying though as none of the members are smart and all they care about is fighting even when they are hopelessly outgunned. They just don’t have any plans in place at all and come across as reckless, but not in a cool way. They’re just cannon fodder.

The Mistress of Flame had some potential, but she really didn’t do much throughout both seasons. She will not be missed and didn’t even put up much of a fight in the end. She’s not bad, but always feels like this character could be interchangeable with anyone else. She is a ruler and that caricature is her only personality. I guess better to have a generic one than none at all right? Finally we have the big boss at the end of the series, Megatronus. He’s always been a really cool character who is even more of a final boss esque character than Megatron. His power is on a completely different level from most of the other bots and he is treated as one of the creators here. He has yet to look bad in any form of media that I have seen him in and this will likely be no exception. The series does have to be careful with the power levels rising so high though as having a finale filled with plot hax would not be a good idea.

The animation will still remind you of the classic PS2 video games, but not in a bad way. This style of CGI works pretty well as it feels like a video game which is preferable to CGI that doesn’t look like one and still isn’t good. The character designs are on point and the energy effects are pretty good. It would be nice if the fighting was a little faster though and I feel like that would improve if we had more of the normal sized bots fighting. That may be an optimistic thought though. I guess the animation just looks better when everyone is standing still, but I’ll still give it a thumbs up in the end. With all of the constant action going on, at least I was able to follow the fight scenes. There isn’t really a great soundtrack here. One or two good themes may show up, but you won’t remember them for very long. That’s unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. It would have been a nice bonus, but isn’t a negative.

It’s rare to watch a show where a whole season is essentially one long fight. Honestly, this may be the only time. Sure, we’ve had seasons where the whole thing is a long series of fights like DBZ or Bleach, but one long fight? I can’t think of any. Perhaps Goku vs Frieza was one long fight, but I’m not sure. If the animation was a little better and more streamlined then this could have gone down in history as one of the greatest TV shows ever. It was still a good concept though. What helps this title as well is that the writing is engaging. You’ll be interested in what is happening from start to finish. There are also no human characters around to distract from the fights and what is happening on screen which is certainly a good thing.

It’s almost going to be hard to go back to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons plots in the other shows. I suppose they never get old, but I’ve love to see more of an ongoing show tackle the futuristic era. Prime and Megatron should certainly stick around as main characters though. Writing them out isn’t a good idea when they still have a lot more to do. Even in this show, Prime leaves for 5 minutes and the city is in danger again. Considering that Windblade warned them in the last season it also does come across as a little odd that Prime would choose now to leave.

Overall, Titans Return had quite a lot of action and the season went by quickly. I can see it going down as a cult hit in the future. As the only positive effect of having such short episodes, the pacing was always very quick so nothing actually dragged on. With all of the seeds already sown for the third season it should be interesting to see how it’s handled. If the episodes are the same length as they were for these last two seasons, At first I thought the series was possibly starting more plots than they could finish, but now it seems like it all actually could wrap up. Ideally it just won’t be rushed. I think the Overlord plot will be the subplot once again as Megatronus is the focus but there should still be enough time to satisfactorily complete both plots. Most likely then it’ll end with Cybertron in another rebuilding stage. Well, now the waiting game returns, but long story short, I would recommend watching this season. It’s not as if it’ll take too much time and it’s simply a solid action show. It’s really like watching a short movie or a 3 part adventure if you add up the run time of the episodes.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight Vanguard G: NEXT Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Cardfight season! The show has already solidified itself in the Top 5 shows of all time and these extra seasons just continue to cement it there. It’s going to be just about impossible for the series to step down at this rate and it has earned itself a spot as a true rival to the Yu-Gi-Oh series. Both franchises have titles that are above and below the others. The best Yu-Gi-Oh season is above the best Cardfight one, but they’re all pretty neck and neck as they fight for the top spots. This G season is the best installment and it’s definitely up there with the classic seasons now. With G already getting another season that’s currently airing, there’s just no slowing down for this title. If it can even manage to pass NEXT, then G really could pass some of the classic seasons.

This season has a bit of a timeskip. I forgot the details on how long it was, but the three main characters have split up. Chrono has grown bored of dueling to an extent. It’s probably because he is so much better than his current competition, but it’s also because he just doesn’t know why he’s dueling. He’s lost his purpose. This all changes when a mysterious guy walks into the shop and challenges Chrono. Chrono is soundly defeated and the man then tells him to enter the Under 20 competition. Chrono vows to enter to try and take his revenge on this guy, but he’ll need to find 2 new partners. He chooses Taiyou and Kazuma. These three will have to quickly develop into a team if they want to win because there’s some tough competition ahead.

Shion is still trying to balance being a company head and a Vanguard fighter. The latter has been losing out lately. Then he comes across a Cardfight club at his school which is going to be demolished by the school board. He pulls some connections and convinces them not to shut it down until after the Under 20 tournament. If they win then the club gets to stay open. The board agrees and Shion quickly recruits the scrawny club president. They’ll still need a third member so Shion recruits a reluctant Rin into the fray. This team has even less camaraderie than Chrono’s so they’ll have to bond fast.

Finally, Tokoha moved to France to get away from Japan and dueling. There she meets a guy named Miguel and the two hit it off right away. Unfortunately, he is run over by a car and dies instantly. He had been going to enter the Under 20 so Tokoha decides to fulfill his dream for him. She heads back to Japan and decides to team up with her best friend Kumi and the ex sub-leader of the villains from the last arc. He’s a changed man now and decides to help her out in order to pay back his crimes from last time.

As they all enter the tournament, they are unaware of the true threat lurking in the background. The Diffriders are using this tournament to end Cardfight once and for all. A Diffride is when a monster possesses a human. So, three powerful monsters inhabit 3 powerful players including the legendary champion Kazumi Onimaru. They believe that Cardfight forces monsters to be shackled to destiny so eliminating the game is their way out. Kouji calls in some old characters like Aichi and Kai to help out, but at the end of the day the new generation is going to have to handle this. Can Chrono, Shion, and Tokoha take these guys down or is it already too late?
It feels good to have a Cardfight season with 50+ episodes again. That’s always a good sign since it gives the show a lot of time for all of the duels. Considering how many big characters there are here it’s certainly for the best. After all you want to see all 3 of the main characters take on Kazumi. I was worried at first since Shion’s first fight with him was off screen but they had a proper fight after that. This season tries to bill Chrono, Shion, and Tokoha as three equal main characters and they do a pretty good job with it. All of them get pretty large roles in this season, but at the end of the day we all know that Chrono will have to be the one to step up. He’s still a bigger obstacle for the villains than the others because of his unique time deck.

The animation style is very different from the last seasons and takes a little getting used too. Although, it may be more the character designs than the animation that feels rather different. Shion’s in particular doesn’t work too well I have to admit as he just looks extremely overconfident and like the kind of character that you can’t take seriously. It’s not really the personality that’s the issue, but the design just makes it a bad mix. Tokoha’s also doesn’t mix well with her new voice since she sounds really old instead of being the same age as the others. I think her VA gradually gets better as the show goes on. The animation brings its A game when the duels begin and they always look flashy as you would want them to be. The action scenes can be high budget when they happen although the first half prefers to skip most of the actual duel in favor of the talking. I do miss seeing the battles in more depth from the original series but I’ve grown used to the fact that the show has moved on from that. It’s still showing a lot more than it used too. I would certainly give the animation a passing grade here. It may not be quite as catchy as some of the other seasons, but it’s still consistent as always. You can still take one look at the anime and deduce that it is a very modern title.

I appreciate what they did for the soundtrack in this season. Each major character has his/her own theme as opposed to a standard battle theme being applied for everyone. I’ve always been a fan of characters getting their own theme since it makes the duels more personal. There can still be standard themes for when there isn’t a big moment or something and that happens as well. The soundtrack here is easily 5 star material. Unfortunately, Chrono’s theme may be the weakest from the main characters which is ironic, but it happens. The villains tend to have the best themes here, but Tokoha likely has the best hero theme. It’s a nice balance of intensity/emotion to fit her character arc.

I think it goes without saying why this season is one of the best. It’s essentially all just a huge tournament. Right up until the last episode which is the aftermath, the 51 episodes before that are all from the tournament arc. Of course, it doesn’t start immediately though. First the show builds up to it by showing the 3 main characters assemble their teams. Each team gets a few episodes and then they have to deal with their personal issues. There are quite a lot of those and they pop up between tournament rounds. Don’t be mistaken though, the tournament is still quite long and just about every duel is given a full episode. That results in a lot of duels and it was one of the best handled tournaments in the series. It’s a battle royale style like Battle City where you just fight whoever you bump into. The logistics and rules of it could be a little intriguing at times, but it’s handled well and it’s always fun since you never know who you’ll bump into. Plus, you can keep going even if your teammates lose which is a nice touch since I never liked being defeated by default.

It was a wise move from the show since it doesn’t have as many rivals as the original Cardfight. You can’t really compare the two when it comes to threats to the hero team. The only team that could fight well against any of the 3 main characters would be Onimaru’s team or maybe the 3 kids, but everyone else consists of no names. In the old Cardfight we had Ren’s team, Shion’s, the Celebrities, and a few other high tier teams. There are many other characters that G could have pulled out, but since the rules specify that you have to be under 20, most of them couldn’t enter by default. I still think we should have had an Aichi team since he shouldn’t be 20 yet, but maybe he is. It’s certainly possible since even Kamui was getting close to the age limit but still made it in the tourney at least. As a result, the Battle Royale method is good because then the main characters can take on Onimaru’s team without actually getting eliminated yet. It was certainly really hype how he took out all 3 main characters on his own. That’s pretty unheard of and it’s why he’s one of the best villains of the series.

This whole season is also build up for the upcoming Z installment since the real villains are about to make up their move. It’s similar to the last two G seasons where the first was set up for the climax arc. In that case the season was essentially split into two half seasons so this one had even more build up since it was 52 here to lead into what could be another 50+ installment. Unlike the other set up season though, this one was still really exciting and had a lot of epic duels throughout. The stakes were still pretty high as well and that’s because the overall level of dueling has been kept pretty high. Having to deal with actual monsters and former champs makes the road rather tough for the heroes. I do feel like the older ones are being left in the dust like Ibuki and the rest of the Dragon Branch managers, but it had to happen sometime. I definitely have really high hopes for Z as a result but passing this one will be tough.
Chrono is a solid main character as always. He’s certainly more experienced than he used to be and is treated like a pro. His jacket/jersey is pretty cool and he’s just very calm and collected. He’s not as hot headed as he used to be, but will certainly act quickly to protect someone when necessary. His challenge to Onimaru after Kazuma was taken down was definitely one of his best moments. Even if it wasn’t an authorized tournament duel, Chrono wasn’t going to let him get away without a fight. I’d actually say that he is considerably better than Aichi back when Aichi was a main character. Evil Aichi is still the best, but comparing their heroic selves, you want someone like Chrono on your side.

Taiyou is Chrono’s right hand man on the team. He’s still improving a lot and is the most enthusiastic of the team. I like him well enough and consider the kid to be underratted. He’s certainly not one of the strongest yet, but he’s getting there. His personality isn’t as interesting as some of the other characters but he always gives it his 100%. Definitely someone you can root for. Kazuma is the new kid in the group and he starts off as being very unreliable. He’ll quit games in the middle and tends to run off when things get tough. He gets better, but it does take him a while. I always thought he had potential because his design is pretty good, but of course that’s not the best reason to root for a character. His ritual deck is very unique for Cardfight and he’ll definitely go pretty far as long as he keeps appearing. In some ways he’s a lot like Naoki although certainly not in personality. Either way I liked him well enough by the end. He’s not quite top tier yet power-wise, but like Taiyou he is improving very quickly. He’s likely surpassed Taiyou by this point as well.

Next is the rival team. Shion isn’t quite as good as in the last few seasons, but it would be tough to pass that. Gone are the days of breaking into villain hideouts and beating the information out of the minions there. Still, he does a good job of saving the card club and does his best in the fights during the tournament. He’s still one of the strongest cardfighters although he is no longer a match for Chrono. His Paladins are always fun since they remind you of Aichi’s deck. His design works against him, but Shion is still a good rival as always.

Unfortunately, he has the worst teammate in Henri. Heri’s always very nervous and he isn’t a particularly good cardfighter. He holds the team back and none of his scenes are funny, they’re just annoying. He never really improves as the series goes on so he’s the only new character that is actually bad. He’s not a terrible character who would hurt the show or anything, but he simply doesn’t contribute anything. It’s fun to see Rin return since she had a pretty big role in the older episodes. She’s done a pretty good job of keeping up with the newer characters, but I’m not sure about her going pro. I just don’t think she’s quite That good to keep on fighting at that level. Still, I suppose she’ll keep improving as long as she stays with the main characters. She’s a better character than she used to be.

Tokoha gets the biggest character arc from the main leads. It starts out pretty badly for her since she’s in mourning and it heavily affects her dueling. I was wondering why she kept losing at first, but I suppose it was all build up for her to finally get over it. She’s still a strong duelist, but taking a break for a few months certainly did hurt her in comparison to the others. Of course, everyone had breaks for not dueling as much lately so she didn’t fall as far behind as she could have. It’s nice to have her back in Japan and hopefully she is here to stay this time. Tokoha’s definitely a nice character to have around and is a good main heroine. A shame she couldn’t get better teammates though.

Her best friend Kumi is around to help, but she can’t really help. There’s no realistic way she can contribute to the team although she helps get Satoru into his rage modes when he has to avenge her. Onimaru in particular did a number on her in the duel as he defeated her so completely that Satoru had to step in. Naturally he was no match as well but at least he put up a good fight. I still don’t like Satoru since there’s no way to get around how evil he was last time. The whole season is about atonement though so at least he’s working to get past it. I dunno, I should give him a second chance, but it’s still hard to root for him in any of the duels. So as a compromise I still root against him all the time, but at least I tolerate him on the team. Maybe one day he’ll be a more likable character but in this season he technically doesn’t do anything wrong.

Kazumi is the big main villain of the season and certainly excels in the role. He might be the second best villain in the franchise behind Ren. The cliffhanger in episode 15 helped cement this as he took out Shion and Tokoha with ease. It’s one of the best cliffhangers in all of Cardfight G for that matter and it really set the tone for his character. He’s always very confident and his skills can back that up as he took so many fighters down. Clearing the first stage of the tournament in a single day was completely unheard of, but he still managed to do it. The character is really handled perfectly so I’m definitely going to miss having him around. He’s a major part of why the season was so good and he’s likely in my top 10 characters for the series. I can’t stress enough just how hype he was.
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To counter that hype, Verno absorbed a lot of the losses in the series. I felt bad for her since she’s one of the big hype characters, but tends to lose a lot so other characters can get some hype. She’s not evil like the other two so that’s likely the reason as she has fun with her fights and doesn’t take them as seriously. She’s not a bad character, but it was a little hard to take her seriously as a result. It’s all well and good to have fun, but this tournament probably wasn’t the best place for it. It would have been nice if she could have gotten more big fights before leaving.

Finally, there’s Saori who has the best musical theme in the entire show. It’s a nice rock song that fits in very well with his very aggressive fire deck. He’ll also be appearing quite a bit in the next season so that’s certainly going to be exciting. I definitely liked him a lot and he was the 2nd best villain in the show. He’s good at messing with the opponents by throwing insults around and he’s certainly a formidable foe. Only Chrono could do well against him at first and then he had a big fight with Kazuma at the end. Hopefully he keeps his confident edge though as he seemed rather nervous at the end of the series. The loss may have broken him and if not, the hype of the new villains may do him in first. Either way his theme should definitely return.

There are naturally other characters around, but only a few more need to be mentioned. Team New Nippon shows up and they admire Chrono’s Dad and his old team. They’re nice kids who want to be good duelists in the future. Surprisingly they will actually be getting a role soon as one of their members, Noa has been possessed and looks to be a big antagonist in the next season. He is with the Link Joker deck and I’m sure everyone remembers how tough those guys were. I can’t speak to his character much yet since he hasn’t really started to appear much yet, but I’m expecting big things. He has a lot of potential.

Some of the old guard like Mamoru are still around, but they aren’t very helpful anymore. I’ve never been a Mamoru fan and it’s not like this season helped with that. He talks a lot, but rarely takes an active role in stopping the villains. The same can be said for Kouji as well by this point. He still doubts Chrono’s ability even after getting consistently wrecked by the kid. Any mystery and intrigue his character may have had is long gone by now. He needs a big scene to bring back the hype, but it may be too late by this point. I feel like the heroes just don’t need him all that much. Kamui doesn’t get any big duels compared to the last season, but his character arcs have all already ended by this point so it makes sense. At this point it’s just nice to see him as a cameo for the fans. He does duel as well, but vanishes whenever the going gets tough.

One annoying thing about the season is that they always hype up Aichi and the other old characters, but they still don’t do anything. I want a big Cardfight G climax with the old characters being around to help out. Aichi does duel Chrono in a practice duel but then vanishes after that. One episode preview hinted that he would fight, but it was clickbait. Since the villains are looking for more hosts, I’m hoping they possess Chrono and then Aichi becomes the main character for a few episodes. It’d be a hype twist and I just want to see how much stronger he is. The old characters are appearing more and more now so I can only assume that the show is building up to something with them. That’s my hope at any rate.

As I mentioned earlier, the show does seem to be going for a more Shonen angle. It feels more like Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist then the classic G episodes for example. The villains are aiming for end of the world type situations now and there’s less time for fun and games. There are episodes dedicated to reminding the heroes not to lose sight of why they play and all, but they can’t mess around either. Even the final episode ends with a very classic villains meeting moment. That’s always fun whether it be the Akatsuki in Naruto or the Espada in Bleach. The new villains definitely have a lot of potential and I want to see them bring the fight to Chrono right away. One of my favorite tropes is when a new villain suddenly shows up to take on the main character in a new arc once the main character has just beaten the old main villain and is seemingly untouchable. Win or lose, it sets a high bar for the rest of the season and then the main goal is simply to keep the pacing up. Yu-Gi-Oh Zexla II had a fantastic season opener in that regard as it followed the trope perfectly, but then the plot vanished for a while. That’s the downside, you don’t want to go back to slice of life after a very intense season opener, but I’m confident Cardfight won’t fall into that trap if previous seasons are anything to go by.
Overall, This is another great season, but I expected no less. I went into this one with high hopes and was not disappointed. While I was cautiously wary about the new animation style at first, I got used to it really quickly. The taller, more shonen character designs work well to make the series feel more battle ready. It’s an effect that I am always enthusiastic about. The character designs may not have been optimal, but they’re not bad. The soundtrack has certainly improved and as we’ve been with these characters for so long it’s easy to get invested with what is going on now. If you haven’t seen any Cardfight shows yet you can still jump into this one pretty easily since it’s a new status quo and isn’t too reliant on the older seasons. Of course you’ll appreciate it more if you’ve seen the other shows though. Either way, it’s a great all around show with no real weaknesses and definitely one of the best.

Overall 9/10

Transformers Robots in Disguise Review

Robots in Disguise lasted for a pretty long time even if it never seemed to get ultra popular or anything. It did well enough for itself to continue and kept the Transformers Prime continuity alive a little longer. It was a pretty good show that was consistently entertaining week after week but never made it to the next level as a Great show.

Well, let’s get the humans out of the way. Their role is rarely all that big episode but they are basically guaranteed some kind of subplot in most of the episodes. Russell is an ok kid, but it sure was selfish of him to be willing to throw away his football team’s chance at a championship just because he was nervous. The team was counting on him. The worst moment though was when the team was actually getting ready to win the game without him when Russell shows up to get the winning kick. They were about to win despite being ditched so if I was them I probably would have politely declined the help. These kids also rarely showed up at all during the series which was odd. Definitely not a bad thing by the way since I’d rather focus on the robots anyway. Russell also took his TV too seriously as he actually sulks and guilt trips everyone for a full episode when it breaks. In short, Russell’s not a bad character but he is still a kid so he often gets in the way or only does well thanks to plot hax.

Denny Clay often gets the short end of the stick in this series. He collects a lot of little trinkets which he then plans to sell. He doesn’t get a lot of buyers but at the very least you can’t deny that the guy has heart. At the end of the day you feel bad for him because the Autobots are always breaking his figures and collectibles either intentionally or by accident but they rarely apologize. Even when they do it is hard to think of them as genuine since they keep on doing it. They’re really costing Denny a lot of money which is a shame.

Bumblebee is the heroic leader of the series and I think this is the first time I’ve ever liked him in the entire franchise. Usually he’s not my kind of character because he’s either very weak and annoying or he just doesn’t really have a personality. I blame the live action films for making him a non character for a while but this series stopped that. Bumblebee is now a capable leader and warrior. He resisted arrest when the cops were corrupted and while he was already the best character in the series for a while by that point, it sealed the deal. It was just a great scene since there is definitely no way that Bumblebee could possibly lose to these guys. He should definitely not go willingly with those guys when the safest bet is to press forward. Bumblebee gets a lot of development throughout the series and is always the voice of reason when everyone else is panicking. I’m not sure what the heroes would possibly do without him and his tactical precision.

Drift has been a character who is a very mixed bag in the Transformers series. Sometimes he is a really cool character with a very streamlined design who can fight well like in the comics. Other times they take the Samurai motif all the way so he is a heavy set warrior who talks about honor a lot. This is the latter and I just never cared for the character all that much. He is very by the books and a strict old guy., that’s just not what I look for in my favorite characters. His pupils weren’t any better either though as their training never seemed to end. This show isn’t always very consistent with character development so having two characters work to improve during the series was naturally a bad idea from the start. It simply wasn’t going to work nor was it ever going to work. They’re basically just kids so they aren’t ready to be fighting here with the big kids.

Strongarm is another one of the main characters and she looks up to Bumblebee since he rose so high in the chain of command. With her mastery over the rules she figures that she has a bright future ahead of her as well. She quickly finds out that this will be difficult as she is often paired up with Sideswipe, an ex con who loves breaking all of the rules. While Strongarm’s character doesn’t really change much during the course of the show, she is one of the better supporting characters. She is certainly more interesting than Grimlock or Drift and is usually more dependable than Sideswipe. I also tend to like the police bots since they can be fairly unique. She does have a bad habit of reading a villain his rights before actually securing the arrest.

Grimlock is another one of the main characters and he is easily the worst one. He is the main comic relief character of the series which his fans will probably be sad about. He isn’t very smart but you would st least think that he is very strong right? Well, that isn’t the case as he is overpowered by just about every con around. While he is slightly stronger than the rest of the Autobots he is so slow that it is rendered moot. He simply can’t keep up with the others and pretty much any Grimlock episode you could assume would be one of the weaker ones. He just can’t hold his own story all that well. Definitely not my kind of character.
Sideswipe is the final main member of the Autobot fighter squad. At first he defies authority and does whatever he wants but by the end he is basically a team player even if he would never admit it. At times the show didn’t seem to know how strong he should be so Sideswipe can look really good in some episodes and really bad in others. At his best he is portrayed as potentially being the secret weapon of the team since he used to be a really powerful stealth fighter. Of course, with how much he talks I’m definitely not sure about that. Basically you have to be able to get over the act that he is constantly picking fights and arguing with Strongarm. It’s certainly better than most of the show’s other attempts at humor though so I can get behind that.

Fixit is the team’s main comic relief character. He is broken despite his name so he always ends up sayings words that sound like what he wants to say but is always off by a letter. He will then punch himself which causes the right word to come out. You better like this gimmick because it is featured in every single episode that he is in and sometimes more than once. I can’t say that it’s my kind of gimmick but the punch is always handled very well. You can hear the strain in his voice after the smack. He definitely wasn’t needed in the show though and never really added anything to the main cast’s dynamic.

Windblade is one of the experienced Autobot guest stars who shows up later to help. I always like the classic “all star” character who seems to know everything and is always willing to lend a helping hand. That being said, she isn’t always as skilled as you would expect from the confident attitude that she has. She has a cool design either way though and I liked her well enough. Adding her to the main cast probably would have made the show more exciting and she is undoubtedly better than some of the main cast members like Drift and Grimlock. You can make a good case for her being better than Strongarm and Sideswipe as well but at least within the comedy atmosphere of the show they are more entertaining. To see Windblade in a show where she can really show off her stuff, you should take a look at the Machinima show.

This wouldn’t be a Transformers show without Optimus Prime appearing so naturally he does manage to get in on the action. He still had his cool jet boosters from Transformers Prime and is acknowledged as one of the heavy hitters. As you would probably expect there is some tension between him and Bumblebee since both of them are leaders now. At times Prime is to blame for their fights as he does undermine Bumblebee at times but sometimes Bumblebee is simply being jealous. Either way it is always cool to see Optimus. I would have liked him to have had more of an active role in fighting some of the opponents. Instead the show usually finds an excuse to keep him out of the way. It makes sense from a Power Level perspective though since the show would be tempted to nerf him. Since the main cast loses in every episode, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do the same to Prime. As it is, they did have him lose to Laserbeak which was really surprising. Nice hype for the little guy though. Prime probably should have told Bumblebee what was happening in Cybertron a lot sooner than he did though. Taking down the evil council should have been really easy for them to be honest and it should have been obvious that it was mind control since Prime should absolutely be acknowledged as a hero. It all worked out in the end though. Prime is always a consistent character and is still one of the best.

Steeljaw is basically the main villain of the series as he just comes back for more in each and every arc. He’s a strategic wolf bot who is good with sub-Sonic waves and tricks people with his cunning. His hand to hand skills are enough to typically make him able to fight on par with Bumblebee. It can be hard to take him seriously due to the fact that he appears constantly which results in a lot of losses but he is played seriously. He also is a credible threat who actually does get the upper hand on the Autobots from time to time. His design is good and the character does get his share of good scenes so ultimately I suppose he did good.
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Megatronus was certainly more of a threat to the heroes though. He got a large amount of hype throughout and when he finally appeared the heroes were certainly no match for him. He has a great design and really good abilities. His big two part adventure were probably the best episodes in the series and it was a shame to see him go. He was the closest that we got to a Megatron in the series and definitely served the role well. I dare say that he’s probably the strongest villain in the series.

Another big boss during the series was Overload, but he is less memorable. He’s another strong bot and one that Bumblebee has a personal vendetta against. He was a credible threat which is always the important thing in the end though. Menasor was one of the last big bots to show up. He’s the fusion of Motormaster and his lackeys. While he doesn’t look too intelligent at first and you have to wonder how the villains haven’t mastered the form yet, he does good by the end. It was fun to see the large robots even if it was only briefly. The Titan battles of the show were always entertaining but were largely left unexplored. Bumblebee and his team barely even got to master it before it was all over.

Glowstrike and Scorponok were rather disappointing as far as big villains go. They weren’t just weak, they were naive. They somehow didn’t expect Steeljaw to betray them even though that is basically his whole character. They had a lot of potential and in general that arc was pretty hype, but they just folded when the situation got tough. It was rather unfortunate and in the end they were no better than some of the lackeys. From the minions, a few of them were fairly memorable with how often they kept showing up. Underbite comes to mind right away as he is the Decepticon’s answer to Grimlock. He’s also really strong and gets even stronger whenever he eats metal. He gets to do this quite often so he is almost always stronger than Grimlock. I liked him well enough and typically the heroes could only beat him with plot hax.

Thunderhoof is an old mob boss who always talks tough. At first he was on roughly equal ground with Steeljaw, but gradually the gap between them widened until he was not really a match anymore. He’s still a fun opponent though and his rivalry with Sideswipe is pretty good. There’s also Quillfire whose abilities are very unique. He can hit you with his quills which will affect you in a random way. Certainly a good way to win a fight, but also a way to lose one if the effect ends up being a positive one. His personality was fun as he always talked about the revolution. Finally we have the comic relief Clampdown. He’s scared of everyone and will certainly rat out his teammates if given the chance. Not much more to add on to that guy as I can’t say that I was a fan. There are a multitude of other bots in the show, but you get the general idea.

Starscream surprisingly got a big role in the show and was one of the cooler guest stars. He looked really good and a quick Prime reference also means that he looked better in that show since he found a way to escape and come back for revenge. He’s a fun opponent as always and he’s definitely still one of my favorite characters. It’s just hard to see how you can not enjoy the character. Starscream clearly enjoys himself while blasting the Autobots away and while he was careless in letting the Minicons get away, he was still pretty imposing throughout the arc.

Soundwave got to appear as a guest star two times and was given a lot of respect in each appearance. The heroes treated him as a legendary villain who was out of their league which his fans will certainly appreciate. That does mean that the way he loses can be a little suspect of course as the film typically has a problem when the power levels are vastly different like that. Instead of thinking up a clever plan to stop the villain, the heroes will usually just win with plot hax. Definitely a little cheesy, but by and large Soundwave definitely looks really good and lives up to the hype. Laserbeak definitely deserves some recognition as well as he looked great when he appeared. Still as loyal as ever and even stronger than he used to be.
The show has some long running story arcs like finding all of the Decepticons who were launched from the ship and the Cybertron conspiracy, but for the most part the series is an episodic one. Each episode will have a self contained plot so you definitely need to enjoy the characters or you won’t be a big fan of this show. Fortunately, thanks in part to the character designs and the overall writing, the series is pretty fun. It may be an advantage of the series going for comedy from the start. Some titles can do both pretty well like DBZ, by others like Naruto Shippuden can only handle the action part and the normal scenes can get a little dull. I’d argue that Robots in Disguise has the funnier cast and the talking scenes are more enjoyable. Naturally the action scenes can’t really hold their own in comparison though.

The series could get serious when necessary though like the climaxes of each season. The first season’s fight brought with it some super firms and a really cool fight with Prime and Bumblebee against the new villain. It’s still my favorite climax in the show. The final season had the cool fight against the High Council and the team finally got to put their Super form to good use. The fight was also a little more brutal than the first ones as the villains landed quite a few hits. In general I thought the final season did up the intensity from the earlier episodes. The one where Sideswipe got traumatized was also pretty dark (relative to this show) even if I didn’t buy into the trauma. Losing the homebase was definitely a big event at any rate.

The sheer length of the show is also impressive but it can be a double edged sword. On one hand it’s great that we get so many adventures with the team. It helps them get more likable and you’re happy that you get a consistent adventure every week. So much happens that it’s hard to even remember it all. I barely remember the Optimus Prime training subplot during the first season, but it was actually handled very well and it was thrilling to see him return after such a long time. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of that plot and it was actually pretty serious throughout. While the show is almost always light hearted, it did get quite serious when necessary. This is basically the case during all of the climax events and like any good action series, the climax is where the show reaches its peak.

On the other hand, the budget begins to show and quite a lot of enemies end up reusing designs. This happens quite extensively as you watch more and more of the show. The designs are good but reusing them is never the answer. I think they could have certainly gotten more creative even if it only meant changing a few parts and making them Chimeras or something. There are also some additions that feel rather pointless like the Minicons. The Minicons don’t only show up for one season, but get almost the same plot in the final arc as a few minicons are working for the enemies. They’re too weak to be a threat and never add anything to the show. We didn’t need the minies that could fuse with other bots and the mini traitors also serves no real role. Some subplots like that never really hit it off.

The animation is actually pretty good. To be specific, I’m not sure if it’s the animation that I always thought looked really good or if it’s the character designs. Whichever of the two it is, it makes the episodes pretty fun to look at. The fight scenes may not be all that long typically but the ones we get are satisfying. This really isn’t the kind of show that does a good job on the power levels though. The whole team of heroes are often defeated by a single opponent with ease and then they will be able to take on far stronger opponents at a later date. At one point the heroes were basically losing in every single episode which was pretty amusing but in a sad way. At least the team always talks tough despite this so they clearly don’t let it get to them.

As you may expect, the soundtrack is rather ordinary. The tunes are catchy enough but they do come across as generic. You will certainly remember them quite well by the end but that’s thanks in part to the fact that the music selection is quite limited so they end up throwing the same songs at you. The music doesn’t really help or hurt the series. It’s basically just around and you won’t get much of an impression from it.
Overall, Robots in Disguise will probably end up fading from memory for most compared to the other Transformer shows. It’s a good show but it certainly doesn’t try to be all that distinct or memorable. Whatever it may do well, other shows have done it even more impressively. It’s really a great way to keep enjoying the Transformers franchise since it’s a pretty long show at least. If you’re a Transformers fan and haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend this one. Even if you are not a Transformers fan I would recommend checking it out since it’s a solid all around action show. It’s very easy to just turn on and enjoy since most episodes are stand alone titles and most of the plots are rather basic. At the very least, I’ll miss having the show around. In particular, I’ll definitely miss Bumblebee since he was handled perfectly. I guess we’ll see if the next Bumblebee show coming up can top this one.

Overall 7/10

My Hero Academia Season 2 Review

All right, it’s time for the second season to the hit show Hero Academia! The first season really took off and this one naturally followed it with the same excitement. I especially recall seeing it get a lot of buzz when the season first started and I’m sure it held on throughout. On the whole I’d definitely consider this season to beat the first one. It had time for more intense fight scenes and both halves of the season were really solid. I’d argue that the first half beat the second but they both had their share of good scenes.

We start off the season with a bang as the tournament starts. First we get some random events in Olympic style as various teams clash. The episodes are a lot of fun and we get introduced to some new characters like Neito who are extremely good. Once the real 1 on 1 phase of the tournament starts, then things get real. The main highlights of the tournament are Bakugo vs Todoroki and Deku vs Todoroki. Those two fights were leagues better than any of the others in the bracket although that’s not to say that the others were bad. These are just the matches that I had been waiting for. Deku’s had less action than Bakugo’s so it would come in second, but I was glad to finally see him using his powers more.

The dynamic between the characters is also good since any of the 3 can make a claim for being the strongest in the school. I’d say that Deku should easily beat both of them once he gets Full Cowl, but the tourney ended right before that so I was fine with him not being able to match the other two. If Bakugo and Todoroki both fight at full power my money would be on Todoroki, but if Bakugo can use his speed a little more it could definitely go either way.

Then we get to the plot heavy part of the season where the League of Villains attacks again and Stain is around as well. It was the best part of the season to be sure as we got to see Deku, Iida, and Todoroki take on Stain. It’s known as one of the best parts of the season and it’s easy to see why. It stays exciting throughout the whole event and it’s almost hard to go back to the happy days after that. Still, the show manages to pull it off since the directing is quite good and even normal scenes usually feel pretty hype here.

I do think that the season should have ended on a more exciting note though. We get the big teacher vs student battles with All Might taking on Deku and Bakugo towards the end. He certainly wasn’t pulling his punches as much as you’d expect and it made for a really good showdown between them. That should have been the final episode as opposed to ending with Shigaraki getting in some threats and Deku being humiliated again. It could have been a worse ending as we at least got to see new villains, but maybe it just didn’t help that I’m not too impressed with them yet. There’s plenty of time for them to change my mind in the next season. I’m confident that season 3 will continue to improve the series as it’s going to be adapting my favorite arc in the series. Prepare yourself since it may even manage a 9/10 for that one if it plays its cards right.

Well, lets look at the characters. Deku is still a good main character. He was quick to divert from his main mission to go save Iida when he suspected something was wrong. A hero should always be ready to take the initiative like that after all. In his fight with Todoroki he also did a good job of talking sense to him. I don’t care much for his quirk of muttering to himself but it’s not overdone to the point of annoyance so it’s easy to overlook. Deku really just had two problems in this season. One was when he let Shigaraki get the drop on him and just threaten him for a while. It’s moments like those where you have to use Full Cowl and just blast him off. Especially once he started to get choked. That scene was just brutal for Deku fans because you’d expect him to at least do something. Anything is better than just losing like that.
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The other iffy moment is when he is teamed up with Bakugo against All Might and keeps saying that they should run away. Running is never the answer and against an opponent whose main ability is super speed and strength…just doesn’t seem like a good option. I was completely with Bakugo there as the best defense is a good offense. Just fight All Might and claim victory. As the heroes always say, it doesn’t matter who your opponent is as your mission still doesn’t change. You just have to win, that’s the end goal. If they had fought together from the start they probably would have done a lot better.

Todoroki finally gets a lot of development here and he’s still my favorite character. He did a really good job in all of his fights and finally knows that he should always be willing to use his fire. He was the only student smart enough to find Deku in time and does a good job of living up to his rep as a genius. It’s a shame that he doesn’t do much in the future arcs since he has such a nice role here. He’s extremely powerful and dependable. You can’t ask for much more from a character.

Bakugo is also a fun character. In season 1 his bullying could be a little intense, but now that Deku has learned to stand up for himself at least Bakugo doesn’t even try anymore. He still lashes out at everyone all the time and is constantly growling about something, but he’s a solid rival. His attack strategy is very versatile and he’s almost as combat smart as Todoroki. His ego probably isn’t thrilled with how Deku keeps surpassing him, but at least he still just focuses on winning. His only issue at one point was saying that he’d rather lose than fight with Deku since that’s a little too drastic. Beyond that, he’s probably still my second favorite character behind Todoroki and the two of them are pretty close. Todoroki is just still a cooler rival. (Pun intended)

One issue with the heroes taking on villains though is that the main 3 are really the only ones who can fight. I suppose Iida has some combat ability as well, but the kids are just so far behind right now. Uraraka is a fun heroine, but her gravity ability doesn’t really have a whole lot of combat potential. That’s why I’m glad she’s at least learning some hand to hand skills from her mentor. That should make up for her powers and maybe she can find a way to use the two as a combo. Light gravity on herself should allow Uraraka to engage in faster hand to hand combat battles potentially. Hopefully they can do something like that for her.

This is Iida’s final big moment before his character falls down the tubes so I recommend enjoying it. His quest to stop Stain was pretty good, it’s a shame that he just didn’t have the power to back it up. Stain’s simply too fast and Iida is bad at changing directions. It also admittedly wasn’t his best moment as a hero since he didn’t even think about saving the other guy in the crossfire. I would give him a passing grade for the season though since he at least had a good plan for telling Stain. I probably wouldn’t have told the other students either since they would really be in danger at that point.

Tsu gets her own episode but it’s probably one of the weakest in the season. It’s about her helping out on a boat which isn’t bad…but pretty much the definition of filler. It’s definitely fun for her fans and all, but the “veterans” on the ship looked like chumps when they were just thrown overboard like that. They really didn’t expect the villains to try and pull a fast one? That’s a little sad for them if that’s the case. Tsu also can’t really fight so hopefully she’ll get a second power soon.

Momo gets some more development as her battle with self confidence happens during her match against the teacher. She’s a cool character and I think the series can do a lot with her ability. Being able to create anything that she understands is certainly handy. It’s surprising how often she just never gets to appear but maybe that’ll change soon. Kirishima doesn’t have an especially large role here or anything, but he’s still a fun character. His armor ability just has too many limitations at the moment so he really needs to improve it. What’s the point of super strength and durability if it’s only to a mild degree? At least he has enthusiasm.

Kyoka also has a mild role, but she looked really good. At least she’s always ready for a fight and is a capable strategist. She contributed in her battle against Mic with her cool ear drum abilities even if the self damage is a little too high for it to be worth using very often. Tokoyami is also another solid fighter who uses his dark hawk ability and his mind to outsmart the enemy. He’s treated as one of the strongest students and I guess he would be top 5. He’s a cool character that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of as well.

Finally from the main students there is also Mineta, but he is the worst by far. There’s just nothing cool to say about him and he is only here to try and bring in some fanservice. The show is really good about avoiding that trap for the moment so getting rid of him and Midnight would make the show completely stay away from it. Mineta has his own big scene which is terrible and unnecessary so hopefully we don’t go through that again.
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The other classes have some pretty interesting students as well. Neito is easily one of the best as his character exists only to make fun of the main students as he reminds them that talents, not quirks win battles. He actually does really good during the opening events. Considering that he has no powers, the guy really makes an impact. I hope to see a lot more of him as he’s the kind of comic relief character that I can get behind. Mei is a tech student who invents a bunch of stuff. She seems to be a fun enough character although none of her inventions seem like they’ll be enough to help her in a real fight. She’ll definitely have to stick to the support role for a little while longer.

Hitoshi can control people if they talk to him which is certainly a very good ability. After all, as long as he doesn’t let everyone know about that, most villains will automatically talk to him for trash talking and the like. How useful this ability is will directly correlate to how well he can keep a secret. Just keep releasing fake truths to how it works through the news and such and he could be a secret weapon. It’s just a shame that this kind of ability never seems to work on the stronger opponents.

There’s not much to say about the teachers. Aizawa still serves as the Kakashi of the series and reminds the kids that you can’t mess with the adults. I don’t buy into him doing well against Todoroki at all, but being able to turn off a person’s quirk is really handy. The no blinking rule isn’t nearly as useful though since it should be easy to make him blink during a scuffle. He needs a stun gun or something. Principal Nezu is pretty cheap as per usual. I still hold onto my pet theory that he’s a traitor as it would at least give his character a purpose.

I actually like Mic. He made for a pretty good opponent during the battle and had a lot of fun with his exam. His ability is a little overpowered for how the test was structured though. Ectoplasm has a really cool design even if he hasn’t done much yet. Having Shadow Clones is always handy as well for dealing with multiple opponents. I hope he is either really fast or has some hand to hand techniques though. Snipe has a gun and he knows how to fire it. The guy didn’t get to do much in this season though. Midnight’s hormone abilities definitely make for one of the most underwhelming quirks. It’s almost as bad as just having a tail, it’s not going to help against a serious villain.

All Might’s fight is pretty good and while that’s basically the extent of his role here, it’s a pretty good one. It’s good that he didn’t go too easy on the kids because then there wouldn’t have been much of a point to the exercise. I still really like his super hero design even if the frail human mode isn’t nearly as exciting or fun to watch. He embodies what it means to be a super hero and that’s why it’s easy to see All Might as the symbol of hope. He’s starting to keep some secrets from Deku, but nothing massive yet so it’s all good for now.

One thing that’s always annoying though is how the grown ups tell the kids not to make the hero call. The heroes being in trouble for helping stop Stain is pretty awful no matter how you look at it. Sure, they weren’t given permission to use their quirks and such but I thought you were allowed to do that if it was an emergency. I feel like that was mentioned in season 1 and this would count. Now they have to pretend that they never helped in the first place which is pretty bad. I’ve seen similar speeches in many shows and I never agree with them. If you’re in a position to help someone but don’t have a license, you still have to act. There’s no time to go and find someone and being a hero means saving lives over following the rules. The heroes need to work on a better system so they encourage other heroes to help instead of stopping them. Considering that most of humanity has quirks in this series, they’d be a force to be reckoned with if they united instead of being forced to hide their quirks.

The League of Villains didn’t do much yet. One of the few weaknesses to the series is that the villains aren’t very interesting. Stain is really good and Kurogiri/Noumu have cool designs. Beyond that, the rest of basically throwaways. It’s hard to take Shigaraki seriously when he’s always grabbing his face to calm himself down. His power is actually very useful but his personality just doesn’t work as the big leader of the villains. He needs some self confidence or a better design at the very least. Kurogiri looks cool and his power is great. He should just overthrow Shigaraki at this point since he seems more qualified to be leader. I’d definitely like to see more of him since he is easily the most interesting villain right now.

Since there are many Noumu running around now, they are far weaker than the one that fought All Might. It’s too bad that they got nerfed but at least they are still a credible threat to an extent. We get quick cameos for Dabi and Himiko at the end. They will do more in season 3. Considering that they seemed threatened by Shigaraki at the end, their hype is basically gone by this point. I can see why Himiko is a fan favorite since she’s totally crazy, but it’s just not in a cool way. Dabi is fine though and I expect good things from him.

Stain is the big villain of the series and he is certainly as cool as you’d expect. He has a great design and his ability is also very handy. Being able to paralyze someone for a few minutes is downright amazing. In a 1 on 1 fight that is an instant game over for basically anyone. No matter what your quirk is, you’re not going to be able to survive for long if you can’t move. I’m pretty sure you can’t even use your quirk while paralyzed although I’m sure there are probably some exceptions to this rule. Since Stain is still alive, I’m definitely expecting him to return at some point.

Whoever the show has hired as the director definitely needs to stay on. I take a lot of shots at Naruto Shippuden, but that’s because I wish it was a show like this one. Basically every scene is interesting and the characters are mostly all fun. Each episode is over in the blink of an eye since nothing drags on and you don’t keep seeing the same flashbacks. Even though the manga starts to go downhill a little after where season 3 should end, I’m hoping the anime can save it somehow. With this team at the helm I do think there is a chance. It’s one thing to adapt the source material and another to make it even better. This show is one of the latter and this is basically the prime of the series so continue to enjoy it now while the going is good.

As you’d expect the animation is really solid for this season. The colors really stand out and everything is very sharp. You can especially see this in the high budget episodes. I’m glad the show got a good budget since just about every character has some kind of energy element to their abilities and you need to be able to show that off. One look at the episodes and you know this is a modern show. The soundtrack is basically the same as in the first season. It can be kind of nostalgic but I hope they add some new tunes for season 3. It’s a good soundtrack, but you should never be satisfied by just reusing old themes and should always incorporate new ones as the series progresses. I wasn’t too impressed with the new openings visually, but I did like how they sounded. The very first opening is still the best by far though. That one’s iconic at this point and is one of the best no matter what opening you put against it.
Overall, This was a great followup to the original season. It worked out well that we got another big villain arc here like in the first season. The first season may have done a better job of being really tense since the kids still hadn’t really mastered their powers yet. It went from happy to serious in the blink of an eye there and it was one of the best moments in the series. On the other hand, this season embraced its nature as an action series more and really stepped it up with the fights. For example, the Stain fight here beats anything that was in season 1. The characters were already developed a lot so now getting to see them fight is even more satisfying. It’s a really solid action show that I can recommend to anyone and it’s not complicated or anything so it’s very easy to start.

Overall 8/10

Transformers Beast Machines Review

There have been a bunch of Transformer cartoons. They’ve all been pretty good as they ranged from decent to excellent. That being said, the bulk of the shows all take place during the same time period. The war between Autobots and Decepticons always rage on with neither side ever managing to achieve complete victory. That’s why it’s always cool when they changed things up a bit by having a show take place in the future. The Machinima show got the premise right there as we explored new territory. The execution may not have been the best, but I was really hyped for the new location and plot. It had some of the most potential for any Transformers show. Fast forward to Beast Machines even though it’s a lot older. This series takes place so far in the future that the original characters are mere memories at this point. There are no more Autobots and Decepticons. There are barely even any Maximals and their opponents anymore. It’s the End Game for life as we know it with the final Maximals making their final attempt to save the world.

I saw Beast Wars a while ago and it was surprisingly good. One of the areas where the show really shined was how they had an epic cliff hanger at the end of pretty much every season. Those moments are incredible. Beast Machines keeps that up. There are only 2 seasons to work with this time so it at least pulls this off for season 1. The cliffhanger is really epic and while it may seem like I’m jumping ahead in this review, that is the core of why the show is so good. Beast Machines is really epic with almost nonstop action and a desolate world as the battlefield. The heroes are outnumbered and are hunted down 24/7 until they are destroyed. They never have time to relax or regroup so their guards are always up. It’s the tense Transformers show that I’ve always wanted. It has the atmosphere of Attack on Titan with the proper execution of the DBZ Trunks timeline.

Lets back up to the plot though. Optimus Primal and the Maximals had nearly defeated Megatron once and for all, but unfortunately they didn’t see their victory through to the end. At the last possible moment something happened and they all woke up on Cybertron with their memories wiped. The mystery of how this all happened doesn’t come up for several episodes although you can probably guess what happened. The answer doesn’t matter as much as the situation. Primal quickly gets a grasp of the situation and escapes to safety with Cheetor and Rattrap. They have to stay in Beast Mode most of the time because whenever they switch to Robot mode Megatron’s armies can track them.

See, Megatron has taken over Cybertron. He murdered all of its inhabitants and is locking their Sparks (AKA Souls) inside of a chamber. He plans to absorb them into himself so he will be All Powerful and one with the spark, but first he has to purge himself of his organic Dinosaur/Dragon form. He has grown to deeply dislike anything organic and wants to be a pure robot again. The end goal is that he’ll be able to make Cybertron metal again. Meanwhile, Primal has grown to like the Organic way of life and wants to make Cybertron like Earth. To do that he will need to free all of the sparks and stop Megatron. It’ll be tough, but he’s ready to happen.

The heroes are always at a disadvantage here. In season 1 it’s only 4 of them for quite a while. By season 2 they slowly start to build up their forces and have much better odds. In Robot form the heroes are considerably stronger than Megatron’s forces one on one, but the villains make up for that in sheer numbers. They outnumber the heroes with around 1000-7 fighters. The heroes can also keep getting rebuilt while it’s game over for the Maximals if they even die once. Throw in the fact that Optimus Primal slowly seems to be turning crazy and the heroes have their work cut out for them.
The graphics are infamous since the show is pure CGI. That being said, it’s a CGI that isn’t terrible. It looks like an old PS1 video game. You feel like you’re watching nonstop cutscenes and as a big video game fan myself, I thought it worked out well enough. It still beats out several other animation styles like Samurai Jack’s or the average Flash show for me. It’s a bit of a case by case basis as some of those likely beat this one out as well, but the character designs and Playstation look just make it all the more convincing for me. The show could also animate the energy effects and destruction quite well when it wanted too. The new design for Cybertron was really great as well.

I’ve always said that city landscapes are the absolute best backdrop for any show/movie/game/comic. Name any form of media and the city is the best. It just looks amazing and can make any scene that much more epic. I’ve always felt that way and can name a number of shows/movies that used a city and it helped the media succeed. Justice League, Index, Man of Steel, etc. It’s just so much better than being in a desert, forest, under water, in a cave, on a mountain, in The Room, or even in space. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a normal city. A metallic one like this show or a sci-fi version works as well. As long as it’s a city it’ll work well. It’s deserted of course since the show didn’t want to animate too many character models, but it just helps the apocalyptic effect get across even more. The show show feels like the heroes are devoid of hope without overplaying that card and it worked quite brilliantly.

The soundtrack is also amazing. It’s pretty limited as you’ll hear the same 2-3 themes almost every single episode but they are great so you won’t get tired of them. They help get the epicness of the show across well. There are some titles where the music makes a difference and this is one of them. I could honestly see the show dropping 2 stars if the soundtrack had been bad since it would destroy the entire illusion that the show was going for. It needs a fast soundtrack that will keep you pumped throughout all of the episodes and fights.

Lets talk about the characters. The main character is Optimus Primal and he can be a mixed bag. On one hand, I like that he’s a little more intense than in Beast Wars. He took his loss quite badly and has distanced himself from the others. He cares more about saving everyone than saving himself which is good even if he can be extreme about it. He also no longer cares about being regarded as a hero so when Megatron prepares to destroy his team, Primal decides to retaliate by destroying everyone else. Mutual destruction is the option he’ll go with now even if he would not have before. It’s an intense scene and since it’s the cliff hanger of season 1 it’s amazing. Primal maybe overthought things a lot and trusted in the Oracle way too much when it was clearly hacked, but it’s consistent with his character development. He’s no longer the leader that he used to be, but this new edgy version of Primal worked well.

Another character that changed quite a bit was Cheetor. He’s no inexperienced rookie anymore and has become a seasoned commander. Part of the drama in the show is that he has become a better leader than Primal and keeps undercutting him. This leads to quite a lot of tension between the two characters and they bicker a lot. Cheetor does really respect Primal a lot though and backs off most of the time, but feels like he has to press the point at times or Primal will lead them to their doom. I liked how his super speed was emphasized quite a lot in this show when he’s in robot mode. He can deflect many blasts at once and he became my favorite character in the title. I think the Maximals will be in a good spot as long as he’s around.

Rattrap is the same as always. He’s very weak and rather annoying. He only serves as the main comic relief character for the show although he’s not nearly as obnoxious as most. You may have guessed this, but the show isn’t what you’d call a happy one. Rattrap’s humor moments are far apart and not very frequent. He complains about everything and tries to hold the heroes back, but that’s about it. His robot form has some nice hacking abilities to make up for his lack of power at least. I personally didn’t like him, but he’s not a terrible character.
Blackarachnia is another one of the main maximals. She’s pretty upset since her pal Silverbolt has yet to be found in the future. Something seems to have happened to him and gradually the characters find out what occurred. Unfortunately once that happens she loses interest in anything else and has a one track mind. Her persistence is impressive, but since I don’t even like Silverbolt, I can’t say that I was too thrilled at that. Her thunder abilities certainly make her a useful ally to have around.

Nightscream is a new character for this show. He’s a teenager robot so he can be a lot edgier than the others. He defies Primal at every turn and is always trying to stir up the group. He’s a nice guy super deep down of course, but rarely shows it. He’s one of the most overpowered heroes since he is super dangerous in beast mode, let alone his robot form. He can be entertaining to watch, but not the most reliable fellow. I didn’t mind him all that much. He doesn’t quite fit into the rival role, but that’s sort of the angle the show was going with him. Watch out for when his head moves to his chest, it makes him definitely look rather disturbing.

Rhinox certainly has an interesting role here. Like everyone else his personality has changed quite drastically. In his case, he’s had an ephiphany that he’s been on the wrong side all this time. Metal must live and nature must die. It’s certainly interesting and he’s not on either side. He wants Megatron and Primal to finish each other off so he can take over the planet. It’s an interesting goal and I did like having a third party at the ready. That being said, I was quite pleased when Megatron made his final mode involving the character. Lets just say that a traitor is rarely a match for the real main villain.

Silverbolt may not be quite as changed as Rhinox, but he’s supremely annoying. He has the worst re design from all of the characters and he just comes across as rather arrogant for no good reason. He hasn’t earned the right to be overconfident like the others. He should take a back seat and try to learn from the others instead of saying what he wants. He was also the reason one of my favorite characters missed most or all of Arc 2 which was sad.

Botanica joined the team at the very end. She’s portrayed as super powerful as she can shoot lightning and manipulate the environment. I admit that I was hoping for a different character when the rocket landed. Her hype vanishes after the first episode and she gets a very random romance subplot so in the end the show was probably better off without her. You may have guessed this, but the romance in the show is not handled well and could have easily been removed. At least the Blackarachnia one had been going on since the first show, Botanica’s really came out of left field.

Lets talk about the villains. Megatron got a really cool redesign, complete with a cape and everything. He certainly stole the show from the villains for the most part. He was a lot more serious than in Beast Wars and while he didn’t get to fight all that much, his presence was felt. I also liked that he did at least have a code of honor as he kept to his part of the agreement with Rattrap. His final fight with Primal in the last episode was quite great. It’s an extended battle and the show really puts its budget to the max. It’s not rushed to make way for the rest of the episode, but came across as the main focus which is how it should be. It’s probably one of the longer fights in Transformers and was a good way to cap off the rivalry. It made up for the fact that Megatron didn’t fight much here.

Another great villain was Jetstorm. He was pretty confident and had the most charisma from Megatron’s generals. He had one liners at the ready and was extremely loyal. Unlike the others, he never had any doubts about his job and just took out any Maximal that he could find. Thrust was also pretty good. He may have gotten confused at several points, but at the end of the day he knew where his loyalties were. He may not be as powerful as Jetstorm, but he can hold his own in a fight.

Megatron added two more generals by the name of Obsidion and Strika, but they didn’t do much. They got hype for one episode as they’re master strategists, but that was it. They were then relegated to normal lackey status after that and faded away. Waspinator appears a bit and it was nostalgic to see him, but his role was really just a cameo for the fans. I appreciated the effort though. Finally, we have Noble, a werewolf esque robot that is unpredictable. I preferred him as an enemy. Once they tried to make him a sympathetic pet for Nightscream who had to be sacrificed for the greater good, it reminded you that he was only added for edge. He had a really cool design too so it’s a shame that the show couldn’t do more with him.

The show could get dark, but it was never too over the top. The Noble plot was probably the darkest if you ask me and it’s fairly brief. It keeps up the atmosphere without constantly reminding you of the fact that it’s hopeless with characters begging for their lives. (Attack on Titan) You’re reminded of this by the fact that the Maximals are always running though. They are forced to retreat in almost every single episode. The deck is definitely stacked against them, you can’t forget that part.

The team isn’t a well oiled unit either. The heroes spend a lot of time bickering amongst themselves and there is constant tension. You’ll have to eventually choose which characters to root for and then hope they win during the arguments. I’m always on Cheetor’s side for the record. Now, where do I stand on Metal vs Organic? Personally I think Cybertron should stay metal. Turning it organic just seems kind of odd to me even if the oracle claims that it was organic to start with. I have a hard time swallowing it. Of course, eradicating all of the organic elements turns the plan into villain territory so I wouldn’t roll with that, but I’m just used to a metal Cybertron. Seeing the robot monkeys at the end was surreal.

So where does this show stack up against the other Transformer shows? It’s been a while since I ranked them so I think it’s about time I did so. I’m not looking at my older reviews for reference so this is based purely on my memory. As it stands I’d say that the first place victor is Transformers Victory, 2nd is the original Transformers, 3rd is Masterforce, 4th is Headmasters, 5th is Transformers Prime, 6th is Transformers Beast Machines, 7th is Robots in Disguise, 8th is Beast Wars, 9th is Combiner Wars 10th is Animated, 11th is Rescue Bots. Beast Machines is almost perfectly halfway at this point. It may sink a little once I see the Unicron Trilogy as I expect great things from those titles, but I suppose we’ll see how it goes. It’s definitely impressive just how many shows the franchise has gotten so far. It’s definitely not slowing down either with several new titles over the horizon.
Overall, This is definitely a really fun Transformers show. The average episode is solid and the series really steps it up further with the multi parters like End Game. If anything it’s a shame that the show was so short, but I suppose the concept could have gotten a little dragged out if the writers weren’t careful. Since the series was only 26 episodes and had an ongoing plot, there wasn’t really time for filler or a lot of padding which may not have been possible if the episode count had been doubled. It’s a very different Transformers show so it may take you some getting used too, but it’s well worth the effort. On the other hand, the beginning is very fast and epic so you may get on board right away like I did. It’s rare for a show like this to come out so I’m always up for an adventure like this one. Hopefully the Combiner War sequel that is coming out soon will be able to do a better job of executing the concept so it can be like having Beast Machines return. After all, imagine this setting but with the classic characters? The sky’s the limit. Speaking of classic characters though, watch out for the Soundwave cameo because it gets pretty intense. There’s also a Prime cameo, but with a fun twist!

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.
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Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.
The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.
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Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

Ultimate Spiderman Review

It’s time for a superhero show that really serves as the definition of what you can expect from one. I feel like if someone ever asked me to name what I think is the title that feels like what you can expect from an average comic book show, I’d have to recommend this one. Justice League is a great Superhero show and Teen Titans Go is a poor one. Ultimate is more of a symbol of what they all strive to be. It’s not great or very good, but it’s not bad or even mediocre. It’s a good show that blends in a lot of action and comedy. All of Marvel’s current shows essentially have the same style to them and Spiderman is what started the trend. At over 100 episodes, I can safely say that the show did all right for itself.

The show’s main premise is that Nick Fury believes Spiderman should be doing something more with his life. Instead of taking out ordinary crooks, he wants him to become the Ultimate Spiderman. Spiderman decides to give this a shot and is placed on a Shield attack squad with White Tiger, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Nova. Together, the team has to take on a lot of villains and prove to the world that they are the strongest team out there. Can Spiderman really handle this level of pressure though?

Season 1 is mainly episodic as we get used to the team and see them take on challenges. There are quite a lot of guest stars to keep you interested such as Iron-Man, Hulk, and Doctor Strange. You also start to get a sense of which villains will play a big role as Venom and Doctor Octopus show up numerous times. Octopus can get old fast as his design is just so bad in this version and it doesn’t make for particularly engaging fights. Still, I suppose he makes sense as the big villain since he constantly has a master plan up his sleeve. I wish I could take him seriously but he has to be one of the worst villains in the show.

There aren’t many specific episodes to call out for season 1 as great ones since this was the weakest season. The Iron-Man team up against the Living Laser was pretty fun. The big two part episode with Green Goblin wasn’t bad either and Venom certainly got to appear quite a bit. On the whole I think they dropped the ball with Venom though. His never really gets around to being with Eddie Brock and is instead treated like more of a power up the whole time. Harry puts him on sometimes and then loses him again. Eventually the writers would decide on his roll, but I definitely didn’t miss his Harry days from season 1.

As for the characters, most of them are similar to how they are in the comics so I’ll really focus on the main ones. It’s interesting to see a young version of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It’s an odd choice since part of Cage’s whole personality is that he’s a gritty guy who’s seen things and makes for a perfect anti hero to hire for a mission. Here he’s just a nice guy who goes to school. Iron Fist doesn’t have to be changed much as he’s just younger but they overplay his formal mannerisms at times. He’s probably the most mature member of the group though. White Tiger is the confident member of the group who always talks a good game, but she doesn’t really have any special abilities (At least for the first 20+ episodes) so it’s a little tough for her to keep up in a fight. Nova is the best member by far. He’s always pranking Spiderman and getting the last laugh in. Of course since he has the Power Cosmic, that is usually used as more plot hax than anything else. He should win every fight, but he just tends to miss every shot. That can be a little annoying.

Season 2 focuses on the Sinister Six. This means…you guessed it, Doctor Octopus is back in his full glory. He has assembled his team of powerful fighters like the Kraven, and Electro. Spiderman must put a stop to these guys while also helping the Lizard not get hurt in the process. He knows that a scientist is effectively trapped within the Lizard, but he’s doing his best to keep it under control. The Rhino is a kid underneath his guise, but the guy can’t seem to make up his mind on whether he wants to be a hero or not so it’s a little hard to help him out.

The Kraven episode may not sound great on paper as it’s just a team up with Spiderman and White Tiger, but it was actually pretty solid. The show did a lot of justice to Kraven as he was actually a real threat and always had good fight scenes in the show. I definitely enjoyed the episode at any rate and White Tiger finally got a big power up. The first Sinister Six episode also came on and it was pretty fun. It was rather rushed though as Spiderman had to beat them all in a single episode.

Then we had the Carnage episode which was fun. Again, I don’t think the Symbiotes were handled all that well and the show should have looked to the 90’s cartoon for inspiration but I suppose it did its best. I gotta give the Stan Lee team up episode a shoutout as well. Who would have thought that Spiderman would be teaming up with the One Above All? There were one liners for days in this episode. For a slightly more serious episode, the Deadpool guest star was fun. It was a little sad that Spiderman’s friends immediately preferred him, but Deadpool is charismatic. He always makes for good humor as well.
Season 3’s big hook is that it adapts the Spider Verse storyline from the comics. A mystical artifact is broken so Spiderman has to go to various universes to find the pieces. He meets up with Ultimate Spiderman, Noir, Spiderham, and other versions of himself along the way. It was a fun multi part epic, but the main problem was that it was incredibly repetitive. Every episode had the exact same format and story telling. It was cool seeing every Spiderman admit that the main one was the best every time, but it didn’t always seem sincere because of how much it was spammed. The show maybe laid it on a little thick that time. Spiderman was definitely a team player in this season as he ended up teaming with the Avengers and then forming his own Warriors group. They definitely kept Parker busy and this led to his original team from season 1 being gradually written out of the show.

The Avengers two part event was fun, but mostly just the second part. The first one didn’t really get to go anywhere since Loki and Spiderman switched bodies. The second at least gave us a fight between the Avengers and Spiderman’s new team. Agent Venom was cool since this was a route I could finally get behind for Venom. I miss his classic Brock form, but I suppose this is the next best thing. It’s just a shame that he got so weak after this. I basically already covered the Spider Verse. It would have been a lot better if not for being so repetitive.

The Crossover with Jessie was interesting since I didn’t even remember that the show existed. On a more epic note, the show adapted the Contest of Champions Mobile Game and that was a lot of fun. Honestly, I wish we could have gotten closer to 10 episode of this as there are so many cool fights you can pull off with this concept. There was quite a bit of plot hax at times and Spiderman did a bad job of picking his teams, but this one really took advantage of how the show loves its guest stars. Spiderman could basically choose from anyone that he’s met so there were a bunch of options. It wasn’t handled quite as well as the Secret Wars from the 90’s show, but it was good nonetheless.

Finally, Season 4 had the return of the Sinister Six. Yeah…the show decided to give them another season. I guess they felt they could do more with them. This last season was certainly the most ambitious though as it had quite a lot of plot lines and multi parters including the return of the Spider Verse. By the end of the show you had certainly gotten used to Spiderman and his friends.

Hydra is usually rather boring, but the opening two parter was good because it saw the debut of the Scarlet Spider and started the ball rolling. Unlike the first 3 seasons, this one had an ongoing plot that would last the entire season. Who is the Scarlet Spider and can they trust him? The Scarlet Spider is a fun character because he’s constantly insulting Spiderman and just generally being a jerk. Yeah, he’s definitely not a nice guy, but he’s not supposed to be one anyway. This is just how he rolls. Of course, it is far too late when they try to get us to feel bad for him. That’s the drawback of being this kind of character and making certain decisions.

The next episode was also pretty solid as Miles is brought into the picture and becomes a main character. The two Spidermen have to team up with Doctor Strange to defeat his version of the Green Goblin and it’s pretty intense. This character is consistently portrayed to be too powerful for the heroes so they have to use a lot of teamwork to keep him down. Miles is a fun enough Spiderman even if he can be a little overconfident despite not usually lasting too long in a fight. His electric abilities really help to give him an edge in a fight and make up for that experience though. He’ll only get better as he keeps on fighting.

The next episodes get pretty intense as the team faces the threat of a traitor in their midst. Agent Venom is put in a wheelchair and Harry falls into a coma. It’s hard to picture any of this happening in the first 3 seasons as it’s actually rather dark and the plot is very serious. The Sinister Six then returns and this time they go after Aunt May along with one of the traitors so Spiderman is forced to get serious about this ordeal. Another character seemingly dies at the end although we know that nobody ever dies in comic land.

We get back to back sagas as The Symbiotes slowly take over the world in one 3 part adventure and then the Spider Verse returns as the guest stars have to unite once more. Both of these events were pretty fun and the extra episodes really let the show cut loose. Even Gwen Stacy’s recent Spider-Gwen form gets to make an appearance. The Spider Slayers 3 part story was cool because Mary Jane finally got powers. She absorbed the Carnage symbiote and became one of the stronger characters in the series. That was definitely a nice upgrade to keep her up to par with the others. Mary Jane had a very small role throughout the series so her fans were glad to see the writers bringing her back in again. After being in season 1, she basically vanished for all of 2 and 3. From here on out, Mary Jane would be a main character although the series only had a few episodes left.
Finally, the Graduation Day 2 parter was a good way to end the series. It may have been embarrassing for everyone else as they were stuck in a bubble and couldn’t break it the whole time, but we had to prove to the world once and for all that Spiderman is the ultimate fighter. Seeing him save everyone is always pretty satisfying. Yeah, as you can tell I was pretty satisfied with season 4 as a whole Honestly, it was a great season and would have gotten a solid 8 if the first 3 didn’t exist. That being said, 3 7 star seasons and 1 8 star season ultimately end up equaling a 7. No matter how great that last season was, it can’t just bring up the curve all on its own.

That’s why it’s a shame that the show didn’t get one more season. Honestly, if the quality had continued to look up like season 4, then this really could have gone down as one of Marvel’s best titles. The ongoing plot had started to get rock solid and this is where the past 100 episodes of situations and characters popping up could have come in handy. With the sheer amount of heroes in the story, the show could have adapted any story arc that it wanted too. I could see the show deciding to tackle the Civil War and it would actually be able to do it justice in this version. It was not to be, but it was a fun glimpse at what the show could have been. Just imagine if all 100+ episodes had been at this level of quality.

One area where the show always excelled was with its animation. It was stylized to look like the iconic 90’s cartoon, but with up to date graphics. It was a little more streamlined and had a dark color scheme that worked well with the night time moments. I’d probably still make the case that the 90’s show ultimately won as its character designs were a step up, but the show definitely delivered in this department. Compared to the other current titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, or the upcoming Spiderman show this is a world of improvement. I would mention Avengers, but the animation for that one got considerably better with Season 2. It’s still a little behind Spiderman, but it’s close enough at this point where I didn’t really need to deliver any burns. There’s unfortunately nothing to say about Ultimate Spiderman’s soundtrack. There’s not a single memorable tune in the entire show.

The current Marvel shows all like to place a big emphasis on comedy. I suppose they just don’t want their shows to get too serious and it helps them gel better with the live action films which use a similar format. That being said, the TV show writers are not necessarily at the same level at times so many of the jokes can be forced. This is Spiderman as well so you can bet that the jokes are constant. They don’t really bother me for the most part, but it does cement the fact that the show won’t be known as an epic one. It can’t quite reach the same level of intensity as Justice League, X-Men, or Avengers EMH as a result. It’s a fun show with a lot of action and cool guest stars, but it never gets past the “Fun” aspect of the show. That means it is relegated to a solid seven, but can’t hit the elusive 8.

That’s not to say that the show didn’t try. As you saw with some of the episodes I hand picked above, it did have some pretty serious ones. The show also had a lot of really good fights that actually had good hand to hand and really solid animation. It’s just that for every great episode I showed above, there were also some really lackluster ones or even downright bad episodes. Some did have crude humor which could be annoying and other episodes could be boring. Every show has a few episodes which aren’t that good, but they’re balanced out by a higher average.

One thing the show actually did well was give characters character development and keep the universe moving. A lot actually happened during the 100 episodes and most of the characters are vastly different from how they started. New designs, new powers, and even personality shifts. The status quo wasn’t the same as when the show started which is important. The show wasn’t always consistent with this and I do get annoyed that Spiderman’s spider sense didn’t always work, but I suppose that’s bound to happen in any Spiderman show.

I can count on one hand the number of characters that the show actually wrecked: Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and Rhino. Those are the main ones anyway and season 4 was able to redeem Doctor Octopus. Beyond that, everyone was pretty true to form and it was fun seeing them all show up. Spiderman was also a fun lead as he was ultimately the hero that we all know and love. By the end he was pretty experienced and wise as well since he became a leader and got to learn how to lead in a few episodes. He got serious when he had too and was also a sharp fighter. It really felt like you grew with the characters in this series.
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Overall, Ultimate Spiderman is a fun show. Perhaps it’s not what everyone was expecting or hoping for, but I was satisfied with it. I’m still glad it exists and that it lasted so long. The fact that it was entertaining and came up with so many different stories is nothing to sneeze at. It’s probably the best Spiderman show next to the 90’s one and it does come very close to matching that one as well. Its longer length gives it more replay value at any rate. The next show is coming out soon so I’ll see how that one turns out, but my expectations are a little lower. I’m going to miss all of the guest stars and the rich history this show brought along with it, but I suppose it’ll be nice to go back to having a solo Spiderman story for a chance with occasional guest stars rather than constant ones. Hopefully it can work through its poor animation and deliver a pretty good product.

Overall 7/10