SSSS.Dynazenon Review


Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Cells at Work!! Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Cells at Work series. Season 2 focuses more on the side characters like Normal Cell so it serves to expand on how well you know the cast. It is not quite as explosive as season 1 though and you will miss Red and Neutrophil when they aren’t around. You can tell the production values have dropped as well. Since the show is a slice of life title it’s not like you could call this a filler season but it does feel like that a bit since nothing big happens until near the end of the season. The climax is really solid though and ultimately this is a good title even if it isn’t a great one.

The general premise of the show is that all of the blood cells in a person’s body are sentient. They go around making sure that everything works and this is how you stay alive. Red blood cells move the nutrients around and the White blood cells take out the germ intruders. It all makes for a smooth operation and so you see their day to day lives. Near the end of the season the big villain known as Cancer makes his return to kick things into high gear. Can the heroes stop him?

This is a rather short season with only 8 episodes in it so the whole thing goes by pretty fast. The cast may not be the strongest out there but they’re still nice enough. Lets get the weak points of the show out of the way first. As with the first season I do find that the backgrounds can feel a bit repetitive because there’s only so much you can do while being inside of a body. It limits the show to an extent because the average slice of life has a lot of fun outdoor backdrops and elements to keep things fresh. With that out of the question here the characters have to do the heavy lifting.

Some of the characters are pretty fun so that works out well enough but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this is a series with top tier humor. Titles like Bleach and Noragami would be funnier. As a comedy it’s probably a little below average and the action is only standard. In a lot of ways that is the best way to describe the show. It’s not particularly weak in too many areas but it’s not strong in any of them so it only ends up being a rather standard show that isn’t too remarkable in any way.

From the soundtrack there is one theme that I liked a lot in season 1 and it returns here but barely. Felt like it didn’t get used to much this time which is too bad. The rest of the themes are okay but not really memorable. The animation also isn’t all that impressive. The first season had a lot of really intense, fast paced action scenes while this one has those very rarely. The battle with cancer at the end is probably the only one that felt like it had a lot of really good shots.

Now onto the good stuff. Neutrophil is still one of the best characters here. I like his drive to always protect the body and help the others out. He doesn’t waver in his goal and just keeps on going while also being reasonable. He did help the normal cell with hiding the other germs at one point and isn’t the automatic killing machine that everyone thinks he is. All you have to do is watch how he always supports Red to see that he’s a nice guy. Whenever he was the focus of an episode that was a good thing.

Red really gets the shaft here so don’t expect to see her a lot. She’s still a fun enough character but in a way she got bumped from being one of the 2 lead characters to a very minor supporting role. She makes the most of her moments but it would have been cool to have seen her do more. Maybe not a fight per say but some kind of support role.

Killer T is a fun character as always. He can be a little stern and rough around the edges but that’s just how he rolls. He still put in a ton of effort in order to master his super attack and won’t give up on his friends. He can be a bit much but Killer T will still land in the positive section every time. Meanwhile Regulatory T Cell definitely took a heavy hit here. She ultimately crumbled when the going got tough and that’s not easy for me to forget. She was on the wrong side and used a technicality as an excuse.

By the time she turned things around she had already done a ton of harm. There was no way to get on board with her character after all of that. She quickly sunk to being one of my least favorite cells here and there’s no real way to climb up again. At least realistically I don’t see that happening. She really enjoyed dishing out the pain against her friends too. It’s not like there was any hesitation, she just went right to it. You can’t make mistakes like that.

As for the normal cell, well he’s decent enough I guess. He was a bit annoying in his first main episode though where he is making fun of the white blood cells and all. I get that he’s jealous but the guy was insanely petty the whole time. You should be showing a little more respect to the guys who are keeping you alive right? Without them the germs would have infested the planet and that would be it for them all.

The first episode is mainly about the little cells who go around building bridges and being generally helpful. I liked their coach who got to appear since she was a strict teacher who ultimately helped them all out. It was a low key but fun way to kick things off. The second episode reminded me why the Memory Cell is still one of the worst though. He never comes through when the heroes actually need him to and when your weakness is your memory then you know you’re doomed. How could you start thinking you know about the future?

Neutrophil did well in the other part of that episode to stop the invaders. The 3rd episode has two segments as well. In one of them the Mast cell struggles with being liked vs doing her job. It’s a bit messy since the others don’t appreciate her. Ultimately she finds a balance here but I can’t say that I was a big fan of hers either way. The other segment had one of the more intense fights here as Neutrophil had to fight for the hair. The fact that thousands of his comrades died in this fight makes things surprisingly dark for a minute there. This villain really had a good setup going to stop the heroes each time. Kind of a shame that none of the others ever messaged for backup before though. You’d think that some of them would have done that.

Then we get to the mini arc of the normal cell watching out for a bunch of little creatures. Its nice and wholesome to an extent but at the same time you just feel like he’s not handling things very well. Being mean to the white blood cells is never cool and how is this guy so clueless about the world as a whole? He basically has to grow copies of himself all day so he can’t leave his room. Why not use that time t read or learn about the world? It might be fair to say that the world has no real educational books like that but in that case he should try asking around. Normal cell wants to be a hero but ultimately it just isn’t working out for him.

Finally we get to the Cancer Cell plot and this one is definitely fun. It also brings up some deep questions like Cancer Cell asking why he has to be murdered just for being born. The interesting part of making every cell’s job automatic while also making them sentient is that it can bring up dilemmas like this. White blood cells have to murder germs and cancer cells. That’s the law of this reality and yet as this cancer cell points out, that means its unfair to his group. From the instant they are born, they are slated for destruction. Even if they stopped their activities they would have to be destroyed.

Neutrophil doesn’t really have an answer for that either. He just explains they have to finish this and proceeds. Cancer Cell is a villain so don’t get that mixed up but his points were worth thinking about. He also mentions why they have to risk the lives of trillions of cells and lose them in many fights to protect one body. Why not just take out the body so they can all die together or just ignore it until it eventually shuts down. It’s not an option that’s sustainable in any way but sacrificing trillions of lives for one does seem a bit lopsided.

So you can always count on the cancer cell to really get you thinking. He’ also got a cool design and really solid powers. It took all of the strongest fighters teaming up to take him down for the count. NK cell got to appear again and she did really well in the fight. She’s another really solid character for sure and works well with the others.

As for my final thoughts on Cancer’s questions on just destroying cells because of their type, I agree with him that it’s not right but I can’t think of many ways around that. The characters are very limited in what they can do because of the setting and in his case he was already acting aggressively evil. Maybe there’s some kind of prison that can hold them. At the very least I was glad that Neutrophil didn’t hesitate and just rushed in. If you don’t have the answer then there’s no point in dragging it out. Just get out there and take care of business. Maybe one day he will be able to get his happy ending if they can find a cell that cures other cells.

The stakes were high and cancer is a fitting final boss so it was a good way to wrap up season 2. It always feels odd to finish a show that’s less than 12 episodes because it feels short. We still got the final saga to be a two part event though which was neat. You’ll have a good time here and you might even pick up a few things. It’s very science based like last time so you may recall some more scientific names than you did to start the show but at the same time there are so many names that you may forget them just as easily.

If we ever get a season 3 I think a good idea would be to get them out of the body somehow. That, or make it a time skip where the body now looks like a city. That would make for some fun new dynamics and even having the human shrink and appear in there would be cool. It would be tough to make that work but it would spice things up. Assuming we need to keep things reasonably similar then just bringing the animation budget back up to season 1 levels would be good for all of the fights. It’s hard to know how you can possibly top Cancer as a final boss though.

Overall, Cells at Work!! is a fun sequel. If you wanted to see the characters again then this definitely does the trick there. It should feel nostalgic seeing all of the characters again. It’s definitely got the same vibe as last time and due to its nature you can jump in on almost any episode and know what’s going on the whole time. It’s very accessible for casual watching and makes for a solid experience. There wasn’t a ton to say here compared to many shows since there isn’t a lot to theory craft or a huge cast to discuss but ultimately I’d say I covered the main points. If you checked out season 1 then you’ll want to watch this as well.

Overall 6/10

Moon Knight Review


It’s time to take a look at the latest in the Marvel TV shows. People were definitely looking forward to this one for quite a while since Moon Knight was a brand new hero who hadn’t been adapted before and he’s got a lot of fans. Before now all of the shows used existing characters while this one would not be using any like that. In a way you could watch this as a completely stand alone experience and not watch any other Marvel products. Well, the show is definitely fun and while I do think the second half is weaker than the first it sticks the landing well enough where I would say this is pretty good.

The show starts by introducing us to Steven who works at the local museum. His life is ordinary except for the not very small problem of having to chain himself up at night. See, he walks in his sleep and often wakes up in places where he has no idea how he got there so this is a safety precaution for himself. It’s worked well enough but does mean it might be awkward to invite anyone to his flat. One day he ends up getting mixed up with a bunch of thugs and a giant monster even chases him across the museum. The problem is that the security cameras don’t show this as appearing so it seems like he has completely lost his marbles.

That’s when he looks in the mirror and sees himself, but another version who calls himself Marc. Basically they have made a pact with the Moon god known as Khonshu to be the Moon Knight that punishes the wicked. They do so quite lethally and what Steven thought was sleepwalking was actually Marc running around as the Moon Knight. Only one can control the body at once and naturally Steven doesn’t want to lose control at all but it may not be completely his call. The two don’t get along at all and the rift between them begins to grow. Will they be able to put aside their differences in time to stop Arthur from summoning the goddess Ammit and bringing chaos to the world?

Right off the bat the show does deliver on what I’d consider to be its biggest selling point which is Steven not knowing what is going on at all. I love the jump cuts in the first few episodes where Steven will just be put in bad spots over and over again. He’ll have no idea what is going on and just has to roll with it as best he can. It works well with how he often appears to be a bit confused in the comics as well because of this. Naturally as the series goes on and he learns more about his other self this dynamic can’t stick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.

In some ways that’s the best part of the show because Steven is a very likable main character. His confusion always appears genuine and you can tell that he means well but got a pretty rough hand in life. Not knowing where you’ll wake up is really tough just for starters but also doing things like asking someone out on a date and not remembering it is also pretty rough. His role stays really solid throughout the show and he’s my favorite of the personalities.

Then you have Marc who is the more violent version who goes around bumping people off as the Moon Knight. He is really good at fighting and I remember the rooftop battle being one of the standout highlights in the show. It was a really good display of how he fights and how versatile the guy is in combat. I wouldn’t say he handles the situations as well as Steven in the sense that Khonshu is openly manipulating him though. It feels like he’ll be put on an endless loop of trials no matter what he does so he may as well disobey Khonshu then right? There’s not a whole lot that Khonshu could do about it if he refuses.

He could move on to Layla as he threatened but then couldn’t she just disobey him as well? It feels like if the host doesn’t play ball there really isn’t a ton of leverage that the god has. When Marc and Steven inevitably meet-up they certainly don’t get along at first and it’s a good dynamic there. At one point in the show we get to see inside of his psyche and that makes for a really fun situation because they can actually interact in the flesh. It was something you’d have been waiting for the whole time and it lives up to the hype.

Meanwhile I definitely liked Khonshu a lot. He’s very much like Venom from the movies with how he talks to Steven/Marc. Khonshu is all about lethal vengeance while still thinking of himself on the side of good. He’s always quick to point out the distinction between him and Ammit whereas he punishes people after the crime while Ammit does so beforehand. It’s a very valid point to be honest and of course I would side with him if I had to choose. The guy is as shady as it gets though so you definitely do not want to have to trust him.

The heroes can be a bit harsh at times though like with one of them saying he was as bad as Ammit at the end. C’mon now, that’s not a fair comparison at all. Any scene with Khonshu in it is a blast though and he’s definitely a scene stealer. Ammit doesn’t get to appear as much but she does really well in the big fight. Her ideology is also an interesting one. If she can truly see into the future 100% and knows who will end up evil, then you can see why she would believe in stopping them now. Imagine you could constantly see into the future or into someone’s soul and know they will commit a crime. There’s no evidence so you can’t put them in jail and you can’t be everywhere at once so you could easily be pressured into thinking you should just bump them off.

It’s a dangerous mindset for sure but one that makes for a very interesting villain. By extension this is what makes Arthur so interesting. I was surprised we didn’t get more of a backstory to him because I felt like the series was leading up to that but it never quite happened. I was pleasantly surprised though because we really don’t need to see his past to understand the character. The guy has clearly seen a lot and wants to make the world better in his own way. That’s already enough development and motivation to make him a good villain. The guy’s definitely really good in that role.

On the hero side we also have Layla as the main heroine. She is often left out of the loop by Marc as he tries to keep her safe but that tends to backfire. Because of this Layla is upset at almost all points in the show but at least it’s understandable. She also ends up helping out in the climax and I’m sure she should get a pretty solid role in any future adventures with Moon Knight.

I already talked about the rooftop fight earlier but in general the fights here are really good. Naturally I enjoyed the battle of the gods in the climax as well. It was a good way to show us the high stakes of the battle and what these guys could really do in combat. Moon Knight’s fighting style naturally depends on who is in control at the time and the show does depict their fighting styles as being different. Well, Steven barely has a “style” per say as he’s just flailing around and hoping things will go well. By season 2 I expect he will look a little stronger.

Now I did have some issues mainly revolving around the second half so lets look at that. First off, the avatars for the other gods looked way too weak. I’m not expecting these guys to be crazy strong or anything but how come they seem to have no abilities or combat experience at all while Steven and Layla have all kinds of fun techniques up their sleeve? These guys are treated like fodder the whole time. Then you also have to factor in how the gods don’t look smart at all. They basically just ask Arthur “Hey, you guilty?” and when he says no they accept it and bash Khonshu instead.

Sure, Khonshu isn’t the nicest guy by a longshot but he is still a god and they should understand he wouldn’t just be making things up. There’s nothing in his character to assume that he’s a chronic liar and isn’t it a little suspect to have a former avatar running around and running a cult? The gods are able to make portals and watch over the skies at all times. A single glance would have verified Khonshu’s claims if they chose to look. It felt a little convenient to put Arthur in a position to win. If you ask me there should have been a better reason for how the gods would have been defeated.

Then I felt even Khonshu’s true strength was not very consistent. In one moment he is just able to swirl up some wind in the background as Arthur makes fun of him and then he’s getting into a Kaiju battle. So you may be thinking, he can only interact with Ammit because they are both gods? I could maybe let that fly but we see him interacting with the ground, pyramids, and other solid objects. So why can’t he hurt a human? Even if he can’t directly attack Arthur, surely he could throw a large object at him or something like that. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work and it would have saved him a lot of grief.

Additionally, the after credits scene is a great moment which I’ll get into later on but it also introduces something close to a plot hole here. If Khonshu could have done this the whole time then….why not do it before Arthur was so close to achieving his goal? Perhaps there are conditions that must be met to use this trick and it’s early enough where it’s fair to say that we don’t know what those are yet but at least as a first impression it does make you feel like he should have been able to end this threat a lot sooner.

My final gripe to an extent here is that Moon Knight looks way too weak at the end of the series. It really starts on the boat ride. How is he having any trouble with these random fantasy monsters? They didn’t seem very strong and then in the climax Arthur is tossing him around the whole time. There’s a slight Power Rangers effect here where you want to put some shine on the new hero so it makes sense that Layla was saving him quite a bit here but I would have liked to have seen him do a bit better. You can absolutely pull this off while making Moon Knight a bit more of a threat. With the skills he had in the first two episodes it’s just hard to see Arthur putting up a fight here at all.

The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as the other Marvel shows of late, however I did like the main theme that Moon Knight wakes up to in some of the episodes. It was really catchy and elevates the whole soundtrack on its own. There are some nice Egyptian kind of themes as well though. Then the special effects are solid as always. I liked how the hospital/mental space looked. The show did a good job of making it appear as if it was a whole different realm. A part of you knows what is going on here right from the jump but the show makes this part long enough where you could almost start to doubt yourself a bit here.

The show does have a great after credits scene here which ends the show on a perfect note. It follows up on one plot-line that was hinted at several points in the show while making one character also look very crafty/intelligent. There’s a lot of reasons to really enjoy this scene for sure and it just has a lot of potential for the next arcs. Logistically it would be tough to keep this up for very long without someone noticing so I expect it’ll be addressed almost immediately and that should be fun. After all, knowing what will happen and stopping it are two very different things.

There’s a whole lot of set up for the second season so that’ll be fun to see. One thing I’ll miss which is inevitable is the sheer confusion Steven had for a while since he didn’t know his other personality was around. It’s part of what makes the first episodes such a blast because it’s such a fresh dynamic. Then we have the dynamic of the two personalities not getting along and trying not to go to sleep so the other doesn’t take control. That’s another really great dynamic. Still the current dynamic between them will be fun too.

Overall, Moon Knight was definitely a very good show. I would put it above Wandavision and Winter Soldier but it goes under Loki, Hawkeye, and What If. Moon Knight makes for a very good main character and I could see him having a lot of great interactions with the rest of the characters. His durability/regen will also make him a useful ally and makes up for his lack of physical ability as long as he remembers his martial arts. The show really took advantage of the multiple personalities angle and I’m sure that should continue even with the main two on good terms now. Could be a kind of DN Angel vibe where they both start to fight over when one of them should be in control. The writing and humor were really on point here so this is just a very well rounded title. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is definitely a title I’d recommend.

Overall 7/10

Shenmue Review


Shenmue is a show based on a game series that I have not played, however you don’t really need to know them to enjoy the show since it re-adapts the sagas. I was impressed with the show right off the bat because it’s got a very retro vibe to it. I’d compare it to Batman Beyond and the classic superhero shows of the DCAU. Even the main character himself has that punk vibe like Terry. It’s a very short show so it hasn’t made it all the way to greatness yet but the way it adapted the events was definitely a lot of fun so hopefully we get a season 2 soon.

The show starts with Ryo being rather confident in his strength to the point where he doesn’t really take his father’s teachings very seriously. He ends up regretting that immediately as he heads home one day to witness a villain known as Lan Di murdering his father. Ryo tries to help but is instantly defeated and his confidence is shattered. He now wants to find out why his father was murdered and his only clue is a mysterious mirror. Ryo will have to ask around and get involved with a bunch of gangs as he tries to get closer to solving this mystery. With his heart clouded by vengeance can Ryo really get strong enough to stop Lan Di?

Shenmue is really a investigation show but what sets it apart from the rest is that Ryo’s not a pro. He’s not a hot shot detective who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s just going around and almost literally knocking on doors and asking questions. Each episode will have him walk over and ask an old lady for help, she’ll tell him to go to the coffee shop, the coffee guy will say to flip some cups, he’ll then get mugged, then rinse and repeat. Ryo is really going around doing the same things a whole lot but it just works.

There is a level of convenience to this of course as he always ends up meeting the right people, but the fact that it’s so tedious on his end helps to at least make it not feel too easy. The guy definitely does still have to walk everywhere and he gets mugged a whole lot so it’s not like he’s taking 0 risks either. Ryo is a really good fighter but he’s in a world where expert fighters seem to be around every corner and so he gets crushed many times. Even by the end of the series you can tell that he’s nowhere close to the top yet.

I’d say my best complement for the series is just that it’s a lot of fun. It really captures that retro action show vibe. There’s no end of the world stakes, no fancy combos, or really anything out of the ordinary. This is purely a street level show with Ryo beating up on goons and getting closer to his father’s murderer. The show never tries to be anything more than that and it’s probably one of the most relaxing shows that I’ve watched in a while. The pacing was always on point with each episode.

I also enjoyed the animation quite a bit. It’s not going to touch the big titles like Bleach but the fight scenes were always solid. They used the sonic boom effect for each hit which I always liked. It’s something you don’t always see nowadays but it’s a good way to make each strike feel like it has a lot of impact. The fight scenes are always solid here and the show also goes all in on the eye effects to show when someone is focused. Apparently a lot of the attacks are even taken straight from the games which is a cool attention to detail. Smooth might be the best word for the animation. It’s not as bright and colorful as some of the others out there but the fights exceled as you could really follow each exchange and feel the power behind the hits. Sadly while the animation in the episodes is real good, the opening is one of the lazier ones. I’ll never get why you would decide to cheap out on the intro since that will appear for every episode.

There’s very little actual animation in the intro at all and it’s just rather boring which is never a good thing for an opening. A proper opening should fill you with energy and have you jumping up and down. This won’t do that for you at all. As for the soundtrack, I wasn’t particularly impressed there either. I didn’t really care for the intro song. There were some decent instrumental themes in the show itself but none that I can remember off the top of my head. I feel like they worked well enough in the scenes as you’re watching but it’s quite telling that I can’t remember them at all.

As for Ryo himself, I definitely liked him as the main character. He’s focused on avenging his father’s death but never lets it consume him. He takes a ton of losses throughout the series but is always striving to do better. One of the standout scenes to me was when he and and Lishao disagree on how he should go further. He doesn’t storm out of there or cause a scene. He just respectfully says that it appears they will not be able to see eye to eye on this and leaves.

He just walks out of there peacefully and still in good standing with the master. It’s so rare to see that and Ryo just comes across as a very mature main character. Perhaps not the smartest one with how often he lets his guard down but a very solid one all the same. He slowly gets stronger throughout the series and his final fight with Lan Di was satisfying even if I thought he would have done way better. He’s clearly still got a ways to go and hopefully we get a season 2 soon so we can see how things play out. I haven’t played the games yet but who knows, I may end up experiencing the saga that way first.

As for Lan Di as the main villain, he doesn’t appear a whole lot. Really it’s just the beginning and the ending where we see him but you can still get a solid glimpse into his character that way. The guy seems very honorable but someone who will also see his revenge through to the end. He was clearly not going to spare Ryo’s father no matter what and the guy has an entire criminal empire. The fact that he can fight so well was always going to be a good sign for his character because I love it when characters can fight like that and don’t have to hide behind their minions. Lan Di is the strongest we’ve seen in the series so far so it’s fitting that he be the final boss.

Nozomi was the main heroine for a while but she pretty much gets written out once Ryo leaves home. She was as helpful as she could be in the meantime though. Nozomi may not be a fighter but she looks out for Ryo as best she can and is a nice person in general. Then you have Joy who is the main heroine in Hong Kong. Joy has a lot more energy to her and also isn’t afraid to take some risks. I thought she was a fun character to have around and Ryo would have had a really tough time settling in without her helping to show him the ropes.

There’s a third heroine Shenhua for the latest land but she hasn’t really gotten to do anything yet so there’s not much to say about her. Right now she would be the weakest of the 3 heroines and we’ll need to see some more personality out of her to get higher. Something beyond just the vague prophecies but I expect her role in season 2 would be rather large so she’ll have plenty of time for that.

Guizhang was a really solid character and definitely one of Ryo’s best allies. It was a shame that he couldn’t follow Ryo into Hong Kong because I think he would have really done well there. The guy was pretty much on par with Ryo in terms of overall fighting ability and had a good head on his shoulders. The way he was written out wasn’t terribly satisfying but maybe he’ll be back someday.

Ren was his replacement of sorts in Hong Kong. This guy is more of an opportunist who loves money and wants to get rich but as the show goes on he starts to become more of a legitimate ally. He does come in handy a lot so while he starts off as the kind of guy who will backstab you at every turn, you grow to like him. He never passed Guizhang for me but it’s always good that Ryo doesn’t have to go through the adventure alone.

Then there’s Lishao who is the master of her Dojo and has the skills to back this up. She’s a very fun character and someone that all of the villains and heroes have to respect. When she’s around you have to take that into account because of her incredible power. She’s certainly one of the standout characters here and pretty much forces Ryo to improve his own skills. Without her there’s no way he would be prepared to stand a chance here.

Wong is a kid in Hong Kong who helps out a bit here and there but I wouldn’t say he was particularly all that great. He has a good character arc where he learns to stop being a thief but that’s about all that I would say for him. You’ve got two more villains in Yuan and Dou but I wasn’t a fan of either of them. Yuan can barely even fight which really huts his case. Dou was surprisingly powerful with how he was beating Ryo on multiple occasions though. He seemed like the slow type who could never hold his own in a fight so I suppose he got the last laugh on me there. It was still pretty embarrassing for Ryo to lose there though.

Technically there are a bunch of other supporting characters running around but this pretty much sums up the main cast. As Ryo has to try and learn all of the Wude (It’s pronounced Wuda but seems to be spelled Wude online for some reason) he meets a lot of characters who help him out. I think these practices can be a little overhyped and some cross the line into just being common sense. It’s a surprisingly long plot point that takes up a good chunk of the show but fortunately the show usually throws you some fight scenes so you have something to do in the meantime.

There was one villain that felt wasted though. He shows up at the very end of the show with a cool looking mask but is taken down in seconds. Why give the guy such a good design if you’re going to throw him out right? I suppose it was subversive but I would have much preferred to see this guy get a real fight. There was a whole lot of potential there without a doubt. Lan Di’s a great villain but he’s really the only good villain at the moment so I’d like to see a few other good ones get introduced soon to keep things fresh. That slippery minion from arc 1 would definitely beat the minions in Hong Kong.

The power levels in the show are also handled pretty well which is a nice benefit of everything being fairly low tier. Ryo starts out as someone who’s low even within the verse despite having a whole lot of confidence. It’s to the point where he has to be protected by Guixhang the whole time. By Hong Kong Ryo is strong enough to hold his own but definitely can’t beat the general and still gets mugged a lot. Once Ryo has learned all of the Wude he is now able to fight and defeat any non-master but would likely still lose to Lishao and definitely Lan Di. By season 2 I expect he should make even greater strides.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of travelling in season 1. We mostly stuck to two different locations but as the show ends Ryo makes it to a third one as well. Then he’s always going to a bunch of different shops for clues and everything. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the next season. I assume it will since Ryo still doesn’t have an easy way of finding things out aside from asking everybody and following each lead. So how strong the region will be will depend on how good the supporting cast is.

Without the Wude to worry about we can also go back to more basic Shenmue investigation like Ryo heading back to the coffee houses and things like that. It’s just nice to see how nonchalant the whole thing is and I can’t stress that enough because it feels so unique in a show. I can’t think of any other time I’ve seen a main character have to check out so many places to follow through on his leads. Of course it could go in a different direction so we’ll see but as long as the show keeps its calm vibe I expect it’ll continue to be a blast. Naturally you also have to keep up the fun martial arts for the battles and I feel like Ryo needs a new super move. He has two now between the elbow hit and the axe kick but I think some kind of punch would suit him the best.

Overall, Shenmue is a very fun action show. It’s extremely low key and is more of a calm title despite the action genre but it works well. If you want to watch something that just feels nostalgic even though it’s a story you haven’t seen before then this is definitely the one to check out. For season 2 I suppose what I would like to see are some longer boss fights and for Ryo to keep his training. I can understand him forgetting the Wude when fighting Lan Di because of his grudge but you can’t use the same excuse next time. So I want a proper fight where Ryo has to give it his all. That would make for a very climactic battle and the pieces should all be in place to make that possible.

Overall 7/10

Fate/Apocrypha Review


This one definitely had to wait quite a while since it’s been months since I finished it up. Apocrypha is an interesting Fate title in that it adapts the Holy Grail War as usual but then throws a lot of wrinkles into the mix. The whole format is different as a result. I would have liked to have seen a little more done with the concept and I had some issues with this one but ultimately it’s a good title. It certainly has the kind of high tier production values you would have come to expect here.

The show starts off with a group known as Yggdmillennia deciding to steal the Holy Grail War for their own nefarious purposes. They intend to start a Grail War with the Clock Tower. The new element here is that it will be a 7 on 7 battle instead of the usual 7 masters all duking it out to be the one true champion. The Clock Tower has to quickly assemble its own fighters in order to combat this thread. As always every master and servant has their own agenda here but this time they will actually have to team up a little which will be difficult for them. Which side will end up winning it all?

Pretty much the whole series is about the war which is impressive. There isn’t really time for anything else but because the war is so vast that does mean the characters aren’t constantly involved in battle. They still have time to strategize for a while and at one point even do some sight seeing around the village to lure someone out. Everything is done with strategy in mind though. Of course there are also a whole lot of subplots going on here so you’ll want to eye every character closely. It’s really a great premise.

Each servant gets his or her hype as well. Nobody here is extremely weak compared to the others although some are definitely what I would consider to be top tiers. This does come with a weakness though which is that the show cops out of almost every fight until we get to the climax. Fights constantly end in a tie over and over again to a degree I haven’t seen since Sengoku Basara. My main issue with the second stage of Basara (The Hideyoshi arc) was that almost every fight wasn’t conclusive. One guy might win but he would spare the opponent for some random reason and walk away. It was hard to recognize the battles as being in the middle of war because they would get up to fight again, over and over again.

Apocrypha fixes that towards the end but because of that you could skip most of the fights in the early half and not really miss much. The fights still look good though so you wouldn’t want to miss them. While the animation isn’t quite up to Grand Order or any of the Ufotable productions I would still say that it is quite solid. The battles have good choreography and the climax battles really get intense. The best battles typically would feature Saber of Red or Achilles but everyone brought something to the table.

For the soundtrack, I thought the two openings were really the highlight here. They have a very ominous feel to them and really set up the war. The cool 7 on 7 montage in the first opening especially feels epic and I can imagine how cool t would be to have something like that used for any crossover title or another big Fate epic. The chessboard is a good analogy to the players on the battlefield so I just like it for a lot of reasons. The tracks within the show are surprisingly not super memorable but they’re definitely good enough. They still have the grand feel that is associated with Fate.

After all, no matter what Fate product you watch, the servants are always supposed to feel very regal and majestic. They’re all famous heroes in their respective cultures and countries after all so you would expect nothing less. Now it’s time to start talking about the 6 masters and 6 servants across each faction. There are quite a lot of characters to get at here so lets dive into this. With so many combatants on both sides it also means that it can be hard to know exactly which side to root for. To an extent they both seem shady at best and evil at worst. Not to mention that everyone has their own agendas so you really have to be careful about who wins the Grail. (I mean it does feel like a bit of a gag that nobody ever gets the grail for good but you still have to be careful.) For the record, I was on Team Red on this one. At least they aren’t running human experiments and such.

Before the two sides lets talk about the two main characters who are officially neutral even if they feel like extra members of Team Red by the end. First off is Sieg who is one of many mass produced clones that Team Black made. He was able to escape his ultimate fate and met up with Jeanne who helped him forge a life for himself. Sieg is unable to abandon his fellow clones though and goes back into the war. He even ends up getting a servant’s heart so he is able to transform into the mighty Siegfried. That definitely worked out really well for him.

Sieg is a classic hero who wants to help everyone out that he possibly can. He may not be quite as ambitious as Shirou in that regard but Sieg gets the job done. It was definitely fortunate that he got the servant form though because in his normal mode he really would have had a hard time leaving much of an impact at all. It’s hard to defend justice if you aren’t able to fight for it but this helped. While Sieg is the main character he still has to share screen time with a bunch of others.

Then you have Jeanne d’Arc who was summoned as the impartial ruler in the war. This means she was granted an exclusive ability to stop any servant as if she was a living command seal. It’s a really good ability to have and while it won’t protect her from cheap shots, it does mean that no servant can beat her in a head to head fight right now. It was wise of the Grail to give her this ability because otherwise the servants would have definitely tried to get rid of her. As it is, they were close to trying that right out of the gate.

Jeanne has a very strong honor code similar to Saber so she really doesn’t care for a lot of the dubious plans that all of the characters are launching. At the same time it’s hard for her to have to go in and take on a bunch of fighters because at that point it would be as if she was an active participant. So she’s in a rather tough spot and perseveres as much as she can. Jeanne’s also seen a whole lot and isn’t easily rattled although I would say it sometimes comes at the price of making the right move.

There was one such moment when Jack the Ripper was close to being defeated. We find out that every kid he murdered is a part of him now and so the option came to get rid of all of them or spare them but it means Jack would continue. Archer of Red did her best to protect them but Jeanne decided they were a lost cause and ended it. In this one I disagreed with Jeanne. In a world of magic like this I feel like there has to have been a way to save them and it would have been worth it for her to have at least kept on trying. By completely abandoning the kids like this, it just didn’t feel particularly heroic.

By the end Jeanne was certainly jaded enough where nothing could phase her to the point where she told one of the villains: “Is this the part where you murder some kids in front of me?” because it felt like bad things would follow her everywhere. The Fate titles can definitely get rather dark and this one’s no exception. Fortunately it uses artistic license of having puppets and dolls be destroyed instead of showing us the kids like in Fate/Zero so things didn’t go completely out of control.

If you’re going to tackle something like this then using a proxy is the right move. I still could have done without some of the grit though but that seems to usually follow the Fate series around. I don’t think we need to know about the kids dying and there’s no way you can buy into Caster having any kind of redemption arc after going so far. It’s just way too much there. Then you also have some of the usual creeps around like Rider’s master in this case who was rather twisted. I guess the Holy Grail War tends to bring out the real twisted characters here.

Okay so now lets get on to the teams. On Team Black the first servant is Siegfried and he’s definitely a heroic kind of guy. If he got to appear more then I think he could have worked well as a leadership figure. Definitely not the top ranking guy but someone that the others would listen to and respect because of how adapt he is in battle. The guy is strong and gets a lot of good moments to be sure. While I wouldn’t say he stood out as the MVP or anything, he was one of my favorite members on this team.

Next is Chiron and I would say he was the best member here. While his abilities aren’t as flashy as some of the others, his archery skills are quite good to the point where he could even tag Achilles. He makes up for not being as physically powerful as the others by being the best strategist. He has a very solid character arc from start to finish and is one of the guys that you can root for. A shame that he’s on the more villainous team even if I use that term relatively since Red aren’t saints either.

Then there’s Vlad III, aka Dracula. It was pretty cool to see this guy get involved in the mix. His abilities are also really broken and if he was fighting anyone other than a warrior of the Sun then he may have won. His whole domain ability is just such a good long range option and those spikes come at you instantly. I think if the team had planned things out just a little better then he could have won it all for them. Even by the end of the series I felt like he was one of the strongest fighters.

Astolfo is next and he’s one of the weakest fighters. The rider class truly is cursed to never be super powerful huh? Fate/Zero’s rep seems to be the only exception to this. Well, he’s a nice guy and at least Astolfo does have a hero’s sense of justice within him. It’s why it’s always so tragic to be summoned to an evil master because there’s not a whole lot that you can do. He still resists as best he can though.

Frankenstein’s Monster is one of the servants here which is interesting. I mean I wouldn’t consider this beast to be a hero but if you can have reverse heroes (aka villains) like Jack the Ripper here then why not right? Either way she also looks very weak and really would not have done very well paired against almost any servant. Berserkers are at a disadvantage since they have a hard time thinking but Lancelot and Hercules were far more impressive.

Avicebron is the Caster of the group and he’s not really my style either. Casters are always rather shady fellows who can’t fight on their own and tend to sacrifice their allies to get ahead. Avicebron is no exception and while he’s not super bad or anything, he’s just not my kind of character. Likewise, Jack the Ripper is definitely not my style either. It’s interesting to see Jack as a little kid here. I suppose it helps with the disturbing factor as she goes around murdering everyone. It is impressive that she caused enough of a stir to temporarily prolong the war as both sides had to go and try to finish her off though. She certainly didn’t abide by the Grail War rule of not targeting civilians.

Now lets go into the Red faction’s servants. First you have Mordred who is similar to Saber in terms of moveset and design but their personalities are quite different. Mordred is always eager for battle and trying to prove herself worthy of being the King. Her battle style is less about elegance and efficiency but rather going for savagery and sheer power. She will just overpower any opponent in her way and this strategy works rather well.

At one point Mordred is in a gauntlet where she fights several opponents in a row and just keeps on winning. That takes enormous amounts of stamina and she made it look easy. I would like to see the others try and pull that off. Ultimately she is a fighter who always perseveres and was easily my favorite character in the Red faction. Her scenes were always just a lot of fun.

Next up is Atalanta and while she doesn’t get as much to do as the others, she does have her big fight at the end and gets a grudge with Jeanne over the issue of the kids I mentioned earlier. The whole thing is pretty sad for her because she just wanted to help the kids and feels guilty about not being strong enough. This ultimately causes her to lose her mind and gain great strength but at a huge cost. I liked her though and I can’t fault her for wanting to save everybody. It was certainly a noble vision even if it didn’t end up coming to fruition.

Karna is next and he’s the only character I really knew before starting the series. That guy always got a lot of hype and ended up being rather popular. He was even a big player in the Exstella game. I’d say this is deserved as he looks really impressive here. He’s got an honor code so he isn’t just going around beating everyone up and his sun abilities are fantastic. I don’t see almost any of the servants being able to defeat him here. He’s right up with Mordred and Achilles as the top 3 servants in the whole series. Only Vlad III has an argument for being included among that number of top tiers. (So Team Red has 3 of the top 4 fighters in the war. That’s pretty good) An honor code goes a long way in a character so you can see why I liked this guy.

Then we have Achilles who is another all star here. The guy has a ton of confidence and why shouldn’t he? The guy is virtually invincible except for his ankle which is really hard to hit as it is. It’s just his bad luck that he had to meet up with Chiron who was familiar with his fighting style. The two had a history together and that’s the only reason that he could keep up. Otherwise Achilles would absolutely be wrecking everyone in combat. He’s just that good and ultimately he does his best to help the others out as well. I definitely had a lot of fun with him.

The next fighter is Sparticus and I can’t say that I liked him much either. The guy doesn’t know how to stay back and do any planning. He runs into battle and it often costs him a lot. He lets his team down and if you’re a berserker that can’t resist mind control then you’re in for a world of trouble. He would just end up annoying me the whole time as he put his team in trouble and never really made up for it. Definitely one of my least favorite services here.

Nearing the end is Shakespeare who really isn’t all that strong although you might have guessed that. He’s more of a planner, someone who jumps in as needed with illusions but doesn’t do much beyond that. His illusions can certainly be twisted and he is effective at using them but I’ll never be able to put someone with a non offensive skillset over the power players. He just can’t fight much even if his life depends on it and that’s a rough state to be in. Imagine if he was summoned for a 1 on 1 war like most? HIs master would be absolutely doomed.

Finally you have Semiramis who is really solid. Certainly she’s much stronger than the team’s actual caster at using magic and that’s a bit ironic. Of course the way the summoning goes, you have to play into your role even if it’s not the strongest like how we saw Lancer summoned as a Caster in Grand Order. Apparently every servant can use all of the roles but naturally they just won’t be as strong. So you can only imagine how powerful Semiramis would have been if she was summoned as a Caster.

Either way she is very impressive though and is really the most pivotal member of Red’s team as a result. Without her summoning the large airship and manning the cannons then the team would have had far less opportunity to carry out their plans. She was absolutely necessary to everything playing out as the leader wanted it and she always gave the task her all.

Now which side do I think was stronger overall? Lets put them side by side and I’ll show you who wins every fight.

Siegfried vs Mordred : Winner Mordred
Chiron vs Atalanta: Winner Chiron
Vlad III vs Karna : Winner Karna
Astolfo vs Achilles : Winner Achilles
Frankenstein’s Monster vs Sparticus : Winner Sparticus
Avicebron vs Shakespeare : Winner Avicebron
Jack the Ripper vs Semiramis : Winner Semiramis

Red wins 5/7 rounds and easily clears the deck after that. The teams are still well balanced overall since it’s not like these fights are stomps but Red is just better around the board. Their heroes are more impressive and better suited to win each of the rounds. The only reason it didn’t play out like that is because Team Red would rarely be on the same page and lost some pieces early due to people doing their own thing or getting wrecked.

Time to talk about the masters. While most of them aren’t fighting on the front lines along with their master, some of them do get good roles. Most of Red’s masters are nonfactors though as they get bumped off real quick. It was a little sad since it would have been nice to see what they were all thinking but at the same time maybe it would have been too difficult to show all of them. So Red only has 2 real masters. First is Shirou and yes this is not the same Shirou from the main series but that would have certainly been interesting.

Shirou’s very much the mastermind kind of character here who is manipulating everyone to his own purposes. He can even fight to an extent which is impressive. Perhaps not well enough to beat most servants but he can defend himself and probably beat some of the weaker ones. As a result parts of his fight with Sieg are impossible to buy since he should be winning that one easily but the main character will usually need some plot armor at the end. Beyond that the fights tended to make sense so at least it was rare.

His wish is the classic villain wish of creating a Utopia. This time he would make everyone immortal to fulfill that goal and in theory if nobody can die and they’re all perfectly happy then bad things will never happen to people again. It’s one of those things that always sounds good at first but then you realize that this would completely remove free will as a concept and so that sours the whole thing. It does always make for a solid villain motivation though and that’s no exception here.

The other master is Shishigou who controls Mordred. I like that he’s not someone who blindly follows orders. He still intends to win the War with only Mordred as his partner. He can also fight on his own with his array of guns, grenades, and other anti-servant weaponry. It takes a lot of guts to get out there to fight opponents who could end you in an instant so that’s impressive. He mostly just does well against other humans but being out there at all to fight is a testament to his bravery. I also thought he and Mordred had the best dynamic as they would trust each other to fight their battles.

On the Black side we had a few more notable masters since all 7 got to do something. First was Reika who completely allowed Jack to murder people and even encouraged it. Naturally she’s one of the biggest psychos here and the fact that she always acted as a really kind person right through the end was certainly something. To her this was all just natural and shows how messed up she was.

Roche is a bit younger and definitely very naïve. He figured Caster won’t betray him but that’s just how the ball bounces sometimes. I never liked him personally. Gordes is another cruel master (Man this team really is mean huh?) who was helping with the clone project and doesn’t treat them as real people. He gets a character arc where he starts to get nice by the end but it’s a little late for that so I still wasn’t buying into it. This guy really went down a dark path with no remorse until after he was knocked out of the war.

Celenike is also master that makes it easy to root for Team Red to win and take control of the world. She likes beating up on her servant for no reason at all and just comes across as another twisted psycho. Her weird obsession with Astolfo doesn’t help her case either and the sooner she’s taken out the better. Any scene with her is definitely annoying and given that she doesn’t help the team in any meaningful way, the bosses should have picked a more capable member from the millenia group.

Fiore and Caules have their own servants and are immediately the two most reasonable members of the group. Fiora wants to do her duty to bring honor to the family name and plays things by the book. She’s one of the few masters who doesn’t lose her cool and just does her best to win each fight one at a time. Her main weakness is that she’s a little too nice so she has a hard time taking people out which is tricky in a war. Then you have Caules who is mainly fighting to protect Fiore and gradually starts to take mores responsibility within the family. It’s a hard road but he starts to pull through it.

Darnic is the final master and the guy at least has some leadership experience. He actually won the Grail war once before even if it was a long time ago. He’s a master manipulator but I would say his weakness was in not choosing better teammates. Either way he gets the job done and lasts for a long while. He almost won in the end but just got a bit too greedy and sped things up too much. I wouldn’t say he was great but he was memorable and played a good role in keeping team black in the running.

So that’s pretty much all of the characters. There are a few more here and there but that’s the majority at least. The cast really is quite big so it takes a while to introduce them all but I’d say the show did well with the development. Just about everyone gets something to do and then the fights are more emotional since you’ve seen both sides. As long as you like seeing a lot of action then you should definitely have a good time here.

Overall, Fate/Apocrypha is a good show. It can get a little extra gritty at times and I think more of the early fights should have had real winners but the show jumps up during the second half as we get the big climax battles. The animators went all out with those and the series does have a conclusive ending. It’s always nice to see the Holy Grail Wars and having a completely different cast with this one works pretty well. I don’t think these servants would beat the FSN ones in a straight fight but some of the top tiers like Karna and Mordred would absolutely go very far. Maybe we’ll see some of these guys pop up in Grand Order soon. Either way if you haven’t checked this one out yet and want to explore more of the Fate verse, it’s a good option.

Overall 6/10

Megaton-kyuu Musashi Review


Megaton is a show that I would consider to be reasonably obscure. I forgot about the franchise entirely after it came out because you just never saw it talked about anywhere. Well, the show actually turned out to be rather great. You’ve got a solid main character here and a lot of good battles. I do think parts of the core plot don’t make a lot of sense so you will have to stretch your disbelief but the show turns up in all the other aspects and ends up making for a very satisfying experience.

The show starts by explaining that humanity was nearly wiped out by aliens. These invaders struck quick and hard so the humans that did survive now live inside of one last city. This city is protected from the outside world and most of the people within it are being mind controlled so that they think life is going on as normal. The ones who do know better have constructed robots to fight against the invaders and protect us as a last line of defense. There are also some scattered human settlements around the planet that try to survive but for the most part humanity is over.

We then cut to our main character Yamato who is a bit of a delinquent. He is always getting into fights with Ryugo and the other gangs. Well, one day he is attacked by a group that’s a little different as they’re all cyborgs. Yamato crushes them and even the robotic leader so he is brought into the fold by the government. They unlock his memories which were torn away and he decides that he will exterminate all of the aliens. Ryugo and Teru join up as well and find out that more people are a part of this resistance than they ever could have known.

The robots require multiple pilots to use so you can’t just go in and start moving around but Yamato gets the hang of it right away. The show starts off with a very Attack on Titan kind of vibe with humanity almost being down for the count and all. Same with Yamato and his grudge against the aliens because they destroyed his whole family. From there the similarities start to end and either way this is a pretty solid way to kick things off.

We actually see the alien’s point of view rather early on in the series too. They don’t all seem super evil but they do want to eradicate humanity so we still have to stop them. At the end of the day they’re trying to take over our planet so we have to stop them no matter what. You’ve got the queen and her loyal subordinates trying to make a move on their end and then you have the subplot with princess Anshem and her mentor. Anshem wants to prove herself by murdering Yamato but has a hard time doing this. At first it’s due to comedic shenanigans where she just can’t pull this off but gradually starts to doubt her cause.

I should mention that the aliens can’t live properly in Earth’s atmosphere so they terraformed most of the planet. The city that survived has its own oxygen so in order to carry out her mission, Anshem possesses the body of one of Yamato’s classmates. You feel bad for the girl being controlled since Anshem is really hurting her reputation the whole time. It’s a fun enough subplot even if you’re really waiting for the battles.

Where the series really excels is in the fights, particularly the hand to hand ones. Yeah this is a mech show but the best fights are definitely when Yamato just picks up a pipe and starts to beat everyone up. He gets many different fights in the series ranging from street thugs to robots to aliens. In each fight he gives it his all and manages to come out on top. At first you may think he’s just a little too talented but I like seeing him be able to take on these new challenges without a sweat for a change. Usually you’d expect the lead to be overwhelmed eventually but that’s not what happens here.

Yamato’s determination really goes above anything that can be thrown at him and he is really a great main character. It may be hard for anyone to change his views about destroying all of the aliens but it’s hard to really be trying to stop him since they are the ones that invaded the Earth first and are causing all of these issues. As much as Anshem starts to talk about peace later, it’s hard to forget that they did already genocide billions of lives across the globe. That’s a rather large thing to put to the side for peace.

Now, I mentioned that there is a part of the main plot which is hard to buy and this is it. The aliens knocked out almost everyone on the planet except for this one city. They know where the city is as evidenced by their sending assassins to bump off individual agents and have known about it for a while. So why not take everyone out? The reason the villains don’t nuke the place is because they want the evolution factor. This hasn’t been fully explained yet but clearly it’s not super crucial since by the end of the series the villains are launching a big invasion anyway.

There are just so many ways to take out the city without nuking everybody. At least send a big group in to wipe out the chain of command and get some villains stationed there instead. It’s hard to buy into the human’s survival here because they are so outmatched. The reason it worked in Attack on Titan is because the titans were largely mindless so a wall could actually work. In Seraph we had ways of fighting back and the numbers weren’t so bad. The issue here is that the villains have an entire planet’s worth of fighters on their side and countless enemies. We’re talking millions and more as they send thousands of fodder to be wiped out by the heroes every episode.

Conveniently they send just enough to be destroyed each time. In ep 1 for example they’ll send just enough to Yamato could beat all of them. By ep 3 they’ll send more than he can handle but the heroes recruit Jun to the team. By 5 even more but now the heroes have more mechs, etc. If the villains had just sent more mechs then humanity would have been doomed but they always send too few again and again. Just send a full assault of aliens and mechs to take over the city once and for all. When you do that then there will be no way for the humans to fight back.

The fact that they haven’t just feels like incredible plot armor. There’s no way the aliens should have not done that by now. It just doesn’t make any sense. Moving beyond that, I think it’s a mistake on the humans part to be mind wiping everybody. What’s the purpose of them living ordinary lives instead of preparing for war? They certainly could have helped the war effort a great deal if they could have been allowed to do that. I also think that erasing their memories on principle is the wrong decision. That’s something you’d expect out of the villains, not the heroes. It’s a big mistake and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a bigger deal in season 2 as more characters think about it.

Meanwhile I thought the soundtrack was excellent as well. There’s a lyrical song that plays when Yamato is beating people up. It’s surprisingly catchy and really shows just how skilled he is. You can feel the power behind all of Yamato’s attacks and it feels like a bear that he might listen too while walking down the street. There are plenty of solid tunes throughout the show but the only one I was not really a fan of was the intro. It’s just not all that catchy and I would like to see the song changed up a bit for next time. It just wasn’t really working for me.

Now back to the characters. Ryugo is the classic punk type character who ends up being one of Yamato’s best friends but I never liked him all that much. The guy isn’t very tough even if he thinks he is and never really enhances the show in any way. He’s not all that bad but there’s nothing particularly interesting about him. In comparison Jun is a lot more fun because of her fiery personality. She’s always picking fights, having hero moments, and generally dominating during her screen time.

It’s also worth noting that she was beating Ryugo when they fought briefly. It wasn’t a great look for him since he didn’t lose for great reasons but I was impressed that she quickly went into battle mode. Jun clearly put a lot of work into the whole scheme of finding out what was going on and also defending her troops when it was time to do so. Ultimately she was one of the more memorable characters as a result.

Reiji is more of a pacifist so you can bet that he wasn’t my favorite character. When you have great power then you need to use it to defend everybody rather than sitting on the sidelines. Doing that isn’t going to ultimately end up helping anybody at all. He takes too long to act and it ultimately costs the life of one of the cats. It was a very emotional moment to be sure and it was regrettable that the show had a cat die at all. He didn’t deserve that and it was really a gut punch by the show in having such an emotional moment there. Don’t think we needed all of that to guilt trip him into action.

I can see his role growing even larger in season 2 as we delve further into his super abilities. Yamato seems to be developing his as well so that would make sense. Then we have Teru but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of that guy either. He’s the smart member of the group and tends to pick up on things rather well but at the end of the day his emotions will get the best of him at the worst times. He stops Yamato from saving someone near the end of the show which wasn’t a good look for him. I’d like to see him be a little more aggressive in battle instead of calm and calculating in season 2 as he takes a harder stance against the enemies.

On the alien side we have Anshem who has a solid character arc as she starts wishing for peace. At one point it seemed like she wasn’t very powerful considering that she was an alien but fortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case and she ended up using her true form. At this point she’s doing all that she can to help. It may be a little late in the game but better late than never right? She’s a good character and I look forward to seeing how this plot plays out.

There are quite a few students that I didn’t talk about but the show doesn’t really have enough time to juggle all of them so some don’t get to do much yet. A good example of this is Takumi who is around but doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s the tech guy so he doesn’t go into the robots but helps with preparing them and making sure that everything is ready. It’s a necessary role even if it isn’t a particularly interesting one. Meanwhile Asuna spends most of her time being mind controlled but tries to help out when possible. Fortunately she remembers being mind controlled even if she doesn’t know what she was doing.

She’s a little quick to be okay with Anshem taking her body over but at least since she could sense the alien’s emotions that helps a bit. It would be nice to see Asuna pilot one of the robots eventually. Momoka ends up becoming Jun’s rival in the show and she does well in that role. She can fight well in hand to hand and also has a good amount of super strength. Both of those traits are handy in this fight. I was usually on team Jun in these moments but Momoka made for a solid rival all the way through.

Kiyoka hasn’t had nearly as much to do so far. She is working in a support role but I’d like that to change soon since it’s the only way that she can end up rising in the ranks. Otherwise there just isn’t a huge future in the support field. Kouta was the worst member of the heroes though. He’s an android who has decided not to fight back so he lets everyone bully him all the time. Momoka slowly teaches him how to defend himself but it’s a long road. One of the most egregious moments here is when a villain runs into the command room with a gun. Kouta is clearly the best person to try and take him down but he just watches until after someone is shot and then he makes a move. The rest of the characters are guilty of not jumping in either but as an android I would put the heaviest burden on Kouta here. It’ll take a long while for him to really go up after that.

Sayaka has a fairly big role here as the commander in charge of field ops. She gets a twist which you might see coming a little before it happens since the anime throws you some hints but either way it’s a solid twist. Sayaka is a good character even if she never got to do a whole lot here. From what we saw she was always a good leader. Then you have Sarzant who is the bodyguard to Anshem. He’s not very good in this role as he tends to lower his guard constantly and allow her to go into dangerous circumstances. He seems like a nice guy but perhaps being a bodyguard just wasn’t the right role for him. It’s a shame since he always looked and talked like he would be really tough.

Rounding up the villain side we have the Queen who is all in on destroying the humans. I blame the fact that they haven’t done this yet on her though since the buck stops here. She talks really tough but never really lives up to her hype. I liked the idea behind the character and she’s cool in most of her scenes but ultimately that just isn’t good enough. She couldn’t step up when it counted and that cost her.

Finally there’s Grieffas and he is easily the highlight as far as the villains are concerned. He has a clear goal in trying to save Anshem and is loyal to her above his normal duties. He has some great fights with Yamato and just doesn’t back down in his convictions. The guy is crazy but doesn’t just throw away his goals in the end. Instead he stands by them and I look forward to seeing more of this guy going forward. He’s really got a lot of promise.

For the most part the show has the look and feel of a kodomo type anime. The characters have vibrant designs, the atmosphere is light and the soundtrack is energetic. That’s why it’s particularly effective when a character dies or the fights start to get intense. This clearly isn’t a kodomo but you could have been tricked for a little while there. In the end I would consider this to be more of a classic Shonen but it balances all of the genres well. There’s even some drama here although I would consider the romance to be a little more on the weak side. The show is always at its best when there is some action going on but that’s true of most titles.

With the way the season ends off I’ll be interested to see how season 2 goes. We could easily have a time skip or just continue from where this one leaves off. I do think they will have to address how humanity isn’t just wiped off of the map though. We need more than a vague “evolutionary materials” excuse now that the villains are getting more serious. The heroes are getting stronger and stronger too so the aliens absolutely need to factor that in before they become the prey in this equation. Once that happens then there is really no way back.

As for the debate about destroying the aliens or not….right now I’m with Yamato’s initial view on taking them out. Look, there will be a time for peace and coexistence later on but right now you’re looking at an army that is many times stronger than your own. There isn’t an easy way to spare them on the battlefield without sacrificing your own men. It’s different than in most situations where I’d say to spare the villain where you have the framework to do so. When you’re defending the last 10% of your species against the invading force that has every advantage then you really just have to go for the win.

Holding back at all will put you in a really bad spot. It’s also fair to say that most of the villains have pretty much been brainwashed right now so it’s unlikely that you will get many supporters. It’s just a slippery slope with Anshem saying to spare the villains every time when they just run back to their ship and request reinforcements. It’s not a viable strategy at the moment and I’d say the episodes illustrate that pretty well. Near the end of the season the villains come up with a giant robot that takes everything the heroes have to take out and they only barely manage it with a trick that probably won’t work twice.

The more time you buy for the villains who seem to have better tech, the more unwinnable the fight is. I will say that the show did a very good job with that fight as it could have easily been more on the boring side with the heroes not being able to do much of anything but instead you really felt the durability of the robot and made the whole thing feel grand. I use robot and alien rather interchangeably for the minions because in a way they both work but they really are robots since the actual aliens look like humans.

As a final point, the villains even have a lot of operatives running around the city assassinating the pilots so they can’t fly the mech suits. Until you deal with that then the situation will keep on getting worse for them. It’s why it’s still odd that the humans are being mind controlled to just go to school and live life as normal. Makes it way easier for the villains to bump them off if they feel like it. The slice of life scenes we do get in the show are always fun enough but this is what you’ll be thinking in the back of your head.

Overall, Megaton might not be a show that you are super familiar with but I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. Whether you’re a fan of classic mech shows or just want a good action title then you’re in luck either way. While I singled out the hand to hand fights in particular, I thought the mech battles were still good as well. The animation is solid in each way. The story is interesting and while I may not be a big fan of some of Yamato’s friends, he stands as a strong enough lead for the rest of them. You do not want to miss out on this adventure!

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


Kaguya is definitely a title that took the romance genre to new heights. It has to be up there with Nisekoi as one of the all time greats. The manga has definitely been a lot of fun with how crazy it is and season 1 of the anime manages to capture that same energy. The premise is excellent and the show really manages to capitalize on this. So in the end you’re bound to have a good time with this one and you’ll definitely be really hyped for the next season.

The show starts by introducing us to the 2 main characters, Kaguya and Shirogane. They are members of the Student Council and are considered to be elites in a school that is already comprised of only the rich and influential. Shirogane has earned his way to the top as the student council president through good grades and being a general genius. It’s something he is quite proud of since there is otherwise no way he could possibly be in the school. Then you have Kaguya who is a member of the most powerful family in the world, the Shinomiya family. She is a natural prodigy at just about any skill she picks up.

With such talents comes a great ego on both sides though. Shirogane and Kaguya both like each other but refuse to make the first move. That is where “Love is War” comes into play as the anime uses a lot of battle analogies for this. The way to win this battle is to get the other person to confess first. If you can do this then you will have won the match but on the other hand is you break down and confess then it will be an eternal loss. So who will end up conquering the other? That is the basis for each episode as they use their impressive intellects to try and get the other person into a tight spot where they have to confess.

Right from the start I thought this was really a great plot. It’s also a fairly big departure from the usual rom-com setup where it would be one character obviously chasing after the other. Here we actually get to see into their heads as they come up with all kinds of crazy plans. It’s safe to say that Kaguya tends to be better at planning things out long-term as her plans usually involve a lot of research from before the day has even started. Meanwhile I would say that Shirogane is quicker at thinking in the moment like when he has to counter her various plans and come up with some strategies of his own. He’s never on the back foot for long.

You may wonder how this premise could go on for so long but it’s really easy as the show comes up with all kinds of fun scenarios throughout the 12 episodes. Additionally there are other characters here as well and I’ll get into them in a moment. First off, as an adaption the anime really does a great job. The soundtrack is a 5 star title. There are so many great themes that fit each of the various moments in the show. You’ve got action themes, comedic ones, emotional tracks, etc. Whatever scene is happening, the show is able to amp it up with some well placed music. You’ll definitely want to listen to a lot of those tunes again. As for the theme song itself, it’s fairly decent. I wouldn’t call it high tier or anything but the song is catchy enough. I think the visuals can feel a bit too lazy with how so many scenes are reused over and over again.

It’s a stylistic choice but one that didn’t land for me. Otherwise the general animation in the show is really quite good. There’s always a lot happening in every scene from background effects to things happening in the character’s eyes. The show is never taking a break with the animation and it helps keep everything as interesting as possible. The story is engaging enough where it would still be good but that’s why this ends up being a great adaption as it makes everything even better.

You can feel the tension in the episodes as the characters have to try and get each other to crack. In that sense the Umbrella segment is one of the best ones because almost the whole thing is the two characters casually hinting that the other one is lying about not bringing an umbrella. There isn’t a lot technically happening so the scene has to carry itself with pure dialogue and music. It does so quite well. On average my favorite segments tend to be the game themed ones though. Whether the characters are playing a card game, board game, or a mental game, I like the competitive fire it brings out in the cast. Chika tends to do surprisingly well at some of these too even if she doesn’t always win.

All right, lets talk about the characters now. I think it’s a strong testament to how good the cast is that I can remember the names of the main 4 immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while to really know the characters. Kaguya is a solid lead for all the reasons I mentioned before. She’s a genius, always has a lot of plans at the ready and knows what she wants. Kaguya does well in this war of love and is also just a good person beyond that. She will put aside her competition to help someone out in need, whether it be a child who needs to cross the street or Ishigami flunking a class. So her role as a member of the student council never really takes a back seat and that makes sense.

Kaguya is someone who certainly values honor and duty so she doesn’t let go of those things. Then you have Shirogane who is also a blast. He’s someone who is always under a lot of stress since he has no family connections or money to fall back on. As a result the guy is constantly doing a million things but he always has time to compete with Kaguya and the others. He really comes through in the climax of the season and definitely helps to put everyone in a better place. At the end of the day he’ll also stop to do the right thing even if it might hurt him in his battles with Kaguya.

The two have a really solid balance going in part because of how different they are. They each have similar goals but you’ll see how they tackle this in different ways. I’d also say Shirogane tends to overthink things a little more than Kaguya does. He imagines things going in the worst possible way all the time. While this may happen to Kaguya once in a while, it’s almost constant for him.

The next biggest character here would be Chika. She’s the main comic relief character of the series and fulfills her role very well. She doesn’t notice any of the tension between the main two characters and just likes to have a lot of fun. She’s often the character who will bring in the games to play with. She has less of an honor code than the other two and doesn’t mind cheating at times though. Chika can often be a bit of a space case and mess things up for the others but at times you also figure she’s a lot smarter than she lets on.

Chika is one of those characters who just doesn’t let anything really get to her and has a lot of fun all of the time. She’s another very strong character as a result. The main two still win but she’s still an extremely solid character and probably one of the best you could hope for to slot in as the comic relief character. Often times those characters don’t seem to contribute a whole lot to the plot or can get annoying but that never happens with her. She’s just consistent through it all and the series would lose a lot in the dynamic if she wasn’t around. Just having her here as a third party to mess up Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans is great.

Ishigami is the final member of the student council and doesn’t really get to do much until fairly deep into season 1. I liked how the anime would keep him out of frame or have him facing the wrong way until it was time for his debut. It was a good way to acknowledge/foreshadow that he would be appearing soon without actually spoiling that part yet. While I don’t think he’s as strong as the main 3, he’s still a solid member. His gimmick is that he’s super afraid of Kaguya and loves playing video games so he doesn’t take the school as seriously as the others. It’s to the point where he nearly flunks so the guy definitely likes to live life on the edge.

Ishigami tends to get in trouble a lot but most of the time it’s through situations of his own creating so you don’t feel super bad for him. The guy needs to work on reading the room which is not one of his strengths right now. He does add to the dynamic though and so I’d say he didn’t arrive too late or anything. With these 4 the student council is in good hands and they’re all quite different so it’s not like they’re stealing a lot of screen time away from each other or anything.

That’s it for the main characters and right now there aren’t too many supporting characters. A few like Shirogane’s sister do appear but haven’t had much to do yet. I’d say the two main ones to show up would be Hayasaka and Nagisa. Nagisa and her boyfriend have a bit of a running sub plot where they will show up to separately ask the main 2 for advice since they assume Kaguya and Shirogane would have a lot of experience even if that is not the case. There’s not a whole lot to say about them beyond that but they seem like nice enough characters.

Hayasaka is a much more entertaining character though. She is forced to live a double life so that nobody suspects that she is actually Kaguya’s maid. Her role is really to keep Kaguya safe and so she does this really well by also being at school so she can help out as needed. Hayasaka is more old school on the romance angle and just thinks Kaguya should confess but of course that’s not going to happen. Hayasaka really goes the extra mile in her duties to help Kaguya out so she’s a very solid ally to have.

That about wraps up the characters. Each episode tends to have 2-3 adventures in it so the episodes really breeze by. It shows how quick some of the adventures are but also that the show isn’t really going to drag them out which is good. The pacing is always on point here. While the series eventually gets more plot driven I would largely say that season 1 is episodic. Some development and events do carry over of course but for the most part you can pop in any episode and understand what’s going on right away.

There really aren’t any negatives to speak of for this show. With any comedic title there are bound to be some segments that you won’t find quite as funny as others but with multiple segments per episode I doubt there will be any episode where you don’t like any of them. The weakest segments for me would be Kaguya getting sick and Kaguya being unable to laugh. Then the best ones would be the Umbrella and all of the game episodes I mentioned earlier. The series also avoids some of the potential pitfalls of the rom-com genre like random fanservice and lots of rivals popping up out of the wood work. Not to say that the show is completely devoid of fanservice but it’s fortunately just about nonexistent.

Finally, the writing just feels very sophisticated. It’s the kind of show that will randomly drop lots of different scientific theories at you. The characters are always showing off in one way or another so it makes sense and works naturally. This helps to enhance the script all around and the line between the characters stating facts or just bluffing gets really blurry which is always nice. You don’t want to necessarily believe whatever you hear them say but it’s always nice to see them invoking all of the theories anyway. The show is really a comedy first and a romance second but balances the two to perfection and never gets overly dramatic. It is just a great all around title.

Overall, If you’re looking for a solid rom-com then look no further. Even if you’re not big on romance I could still recommend it entirely because at its core the series is about the mind games that come from this. The romance is always around but it’s not a dramatic romance or anything. Often times the characters will just seem more like friends anyway and you might even hope that this could be the end game instead of getting together. It’s just season 1 though so it’s too early to be thinking about the end game. Just enjoy all the laughs and fun and the 12 episodes will go by in a breeze. You’ll also be looking forward to Chika’s continued assault against the Ramen Kings. It’s a small subplot that begins in this season and is just a lot of fun with how seriously they take their food. I’m more of a “Stuff my face” kind of eater personally but I understand that some like to really savor the experience. It’ll also make you hungry for some good pasta even if you don’t have a ramen on hand.

Overall 8/10

God Eater Review


God Eater is a series that very much feels like Attack on Titan. It’s got a pretty interesting premise and fun concepts but it ultimately focuses too much on the tragedy and horror surrounding the characters. They’re all put through the wringer quite a bit and this only escalates as the series gets closer to the end. Ultimately the series goes way too far into this and ends up shooting itself in the foot so it can’t end up taking advantage of the interesting art style.

God Eater is effectively divided up into two stories that are being told at the same time. The present where Fenrir trains fighters known as God Eaters to fight the Aragami and defend the Earth and the past where we see how the Aragami first appeared on the Earth and how the scientists reacted. The past is told in a black and white art style while the present is full in color. Each story gives new information and context to the other so they end up bouncing back and forth on that.

The main character is a boy named Lenka. His goal is to destroy all of the Aragami and it’s his motivation for being a God Eater. He is one of the new types but unfortunately he doesn’t know what that means or much about the world. His only focus has been on destroying the monsters so he never really bothered to find out more about the world than that. Well when the defense force is low on fighters, Lenka takes that chance to run out of the base and fight. Unfortunately he gets crushed rather quickly and has to be saved by the First Unit. This happens again in the next episode so it’s rough for him but ultimately he is allowed to enter their squad. Can he make a difference or will he learn that aspirations alone are not enough to win?

God Eater is one of those titles that is tragic in a way because I do think this could have been an absolute top tier if it could just tone down the edge a bit. So lets get the negatives out of the way here because those are pretty easy to go through. First off, the series is just incredibly violent. You have a character who gets eaten alive in a really disturbing way. People are chomped, blown up, and very few characters get a happy ending here. Whenever you have a flashback to a character’s past you now that things are going to get crazy.

Like with Attack on Titan there is a lot of focus on how despair is all that most of these guys have to look forward to. These monsters are just too numerous and keep on coming. Aside from a select few top tier fighters, the rest can only hope to defend themselves for a few minutes before getting eaten. While this is the case throughout the series, Lenka’s backstory definitely gets the most drastic about it.

God Eater is just unrelenting on this. Soma’s backstory also gets rather tragic with a birth going wrong and you probably wont go more than an episode or 2 without something twisted happening. The crazy thing is that the show didn’t start out quite so violent. I felt like the first 2-3 episodes seemed normal. Perhaps a little intense but nothing crazy. Then the show just dialed everything up to 11 all of a sudden. Even in other ways like the scenes with Lenka’s sister got rather crazy by the end even outside of the violence. Don’t think we needed that kind of subplot there.

This is why I said it was easy to go through the negatives pretty quick though. Really it boils down to the show being way too extremely edgy the whole time. With this kind of premise it could be expected to an extent (Even the opening starts off on a rather dark note) but there’s so many possibilities here. If you focused more on the story and less on the violence this could have been really great.

Now for the animation, it’s a little different as I mentioned earlier. The style is heavily shaded and it’s hard to describe but it feels like there’s a ton of detail in the shots. Some scenes almost feel like an illustration. It takes a little getting used to because it is so different. It’s certainly not touching Ufotable’s big hand drawn titles like Demon Slayer or Fate but I would say it’s still a high tier production in its own right. Then the animation randomly seems to change later on.

I felt like the first episodes looked a lot more high budget than the latter ones at first but that’s when it dawned on me that it was just a very different style. It didn’t necessarily get worse, just different. The deep illustration style was gone and it looked more hand drawn I’d say or at least trying to emulate that style. It threw me for a bit of a loop because both styles are good but just different. So this was a roundabout way of saying that I liked the animation style. Once you get used to it, it holds up well and it’s the kind of style that looks really good even when you pause at any point. It works well for the dark atmosphere the show is going for as well.

The show starts to fall into the fanservice trap a little more during the second half though. It was virtually nonexistent in the first half outside of Alisa’s impractical costume but the show never really puts any attention on it so that’s easy to overlook. The fanservice in the second half just feels out of nowhere and just added in for kicks. Too bad on that, it’s enough to be noticeable but not excessive enough where I would deduct big points or anything.

As for the soundtrack, I thought that was excellent. There are quite a few lyrical songs that show up and they all have a fun electronic feeling to them. They really get the hype going in each scene like when Lenka’s escaping the base to go and try to save the day or when the heroes finally fight as a unit. There are quite a few different songs too so it’s not like they’re just spamming the same lyrical song either. You’ve got battle ones, somber ones, and montage types. There’s a good variety here. They all have the same feel but work well. I also like how the opening starts with that great rock beat although I feel like the rest of the opening falters a bit after that. Either way, this is definitely a 5 star soundtrack that I would recommend without a doubt. You can just listen to the music without context and get how it would work really well in the show.

Now lets talk about the characters real quick. It took a little time to really learn the main guy’s name since it’s so similar to the captain. Lenka is really like Eren Yeager. He wants to save the day and destroy all of the Aragami but as the series goes on he starts to learn what that really means. It’s really not as easy as it sounds and while the first unit makes it look easy, every monster can be a threat under the right circumstances.

Lenka quickly gains a lot of development from being someone who wants to jump into the action each time to becoming more of a strategist. For a minute there I actually thought the show was going to totally have him shift roles so I’m glad that he still stayed in an action arrangement. It would have been a shame if he didn’t get to fight again. Lenka goes through a lot but always gets up no matter how grisly the injury. He also hasn’t abandoned his morals and will try to help people as long as he can even if it means going against orders. I always like main characters who prioritize doing the right thing over following orders like that so in the end I did like him quite a bit. He would be the second best character here.

The best is captain Lindow and that guy earns every bit of it. He really knows how to lead a team and has the right amount of discipline while still being a hothead. He doesn’t just accept how Fenrir does things and has his own plans to save the day. This does mean that he’s always in a dangerous position though and doesn’t really let his teammates on it. The guy prefers to do things on his own. He’s also not a new type but has strong enough abilities to compete with them. By the end it’s fair to say that he is still one of the strongest characters in the series. It was always fun to have him around and Lenka owes a lot of his development to this guy.

Sakuya is the right hand woman on the 1st Unit and she is always there to provide backup to Lindow. She specializes in strategy and also helps a lot with making sure that the plans are good. Her sniper skills come in handy when training Lenka as well and you could say that she’s the heart of the team. She doesn’t want to be the leader and is always satisfied just being there to support the team. She’s another good character and I feel like Lindow could have trusted her a bit more and told her what was going on. I’m sure she could have helped out.

Soma is another one of the core members of the team and he’s quite powerful. He can shoot out a giant energy blast that takes down a lot of monsters. I wonder why more characters don’t have a cool finisher like that but I suppose it ties into his backstory. The guy certainly had a rough time of it as a kid and so now he just tries to avoid everyone as much as possible. You can’t blame him because that does seem like the safest bet at this point. Things never work out when he’s around others so at this point it makes sense to go in solo. He’s not afraid of dying and even puts himself in positions where that’s likely.

Lenka is able to give Soma a little hope which was good. The guy was certainly drowning in his despair by this point so it was nearly too late. I like his cool demeanor although I wish he could have done a little more. I suppose he would have a larger role in season 2 if that ever came out. Then there’s Kota who feels a little out of place next to the others because of how weak he is. I suppose that’s the fate of being the old friend of the main character, you’re not one of the hype characters nor do you have a lot of power ups coming into play. I like to think he’ll do better soon but as it is the guy just didn’t stand out to me. I thought he was okay I guess but not too impressive in any way.

Alisa is interesting because initially I thought she was going to be one of the best characters. She has a dynamic intro where she is shredding the Aragami and shows Lenka what a real new type looks like. She has absolute confidence and even makes sure to save everyone on the plane even if it meant that she wouldn’t get out alive. So she has top notch skills while still looking out for the innocent. All right, count me in! That’s a great start for any character and she still keeps up her tough personality after that.

Unfortunately she falters once we start seeing more of her past. There is one Aragami that is stronger than all others and he takes a real pleasure in destroying humans. You can probably imagine that her family didn’t have a good time here. This traumatized Alisa to the point where she needed serious therapy. It worked for a while but unfortunately during the course of the show she relapses and from there she’s just never the same. She spends whole episodes hiding and letting everyone get eaten around her because she can’t move. It lasts for way too long and it’s always just sad to see everyone dying when a character could have prevented it.

If Alisa had been able to help at all in the village then things would have been over really quick. A single new type is a game changer in any battle so having her off the board like that was unfortunate. I’ll give her some credit for not going too far in the end and being able to resist her brainwashing and trauma. Alisa does eventually get over it all but it just takes way too long and it did hurt her character a lot. It shouldn’t be an issue for a sequel but at least in this season she dropped hard from temporarily being around the top.

Back at the base you also have Tsubaki who is head of operations. She is also doing her best to look into the darkness plaguing the world but I tend to disagree with most of her decisions. While she does have a tough job of trying to balance being careful with going on the attack, she is too quick to give up and let the areas plunge into chaos. She should have just let Lenka jump in each time. Sure, he’s untrained but you have to take a risk to save a lot of lives right? Even if he did die, the risk would have been worth it because everyone would have died otherwise.

Then you have Johannes who has a big role in both stories. In the past he is the head researcher studying this Aragami threat and the origins of how that appeared. He ends up hiding some research and acting shady but everyone is shady here. In the present he is the head of Fenrir so you can directly blame him for some of their policies like not letting any nonpowered individuals in. The guy is incredibly shady and you always have to wonder if he is really a hero or a villain. I’ll talk more about this later on.

There are some parts of the show where you feel like they are missing something from the game though. For example, we see that Lenka can boost his speed somehow and presumably this is a feature from the God Arc weapon he wields. How come he only uses it once or twice in the whole season? It would be really helpful in a combat scenario. In fact, he should be able to absolutely crush the Aragami with this but ends up getting wrecked by basic types early on. Soma has that cool energy attack I mentioned, why don’t the other characters have something like that? I bet every character has a super attack in the game so I’m wondering why they aren’t here. Either way I think the show could have gone more into detail on how the powers work.

Getting some exposition and lore is good in cases like this. They went more into detail on how the Aragami work inside the weapons at least which is good. I thought that was a very interesting idea and as we saw it in action, it was an effective one as well. I dare say the heroes should use them right off the bat instead of waiting towards the end. Seems like it’s a one hit KO in most instances so why not use it sooner right? Would save the team a lot of heartache that’s for sure.

Okay time for some spoilers so skip this paragraph and the next 2 if you haven’t seen the show yet. You’ve been warned so proceed at your own peril. Lets gooooooo. Begin Spoilers So near the end of the show we find out that the Aragami can’t be destroyed because they are produced from the very planet. Meaning no matter how many you destroy, they will keep on coming endlessly. The members who have found this out either retired in despair or left the combat role. It’s hard to find out that your efforts seem to be completely futile. As a result there are a few different plans here on how to deal with it. The first is to build an arc. It will take hundreds of thousands of monster cores but in a few decades this goal may be achievable. Humanity will be able to move in there and be protected from monsters forever because none can break through it.

That’s the idea but you should be very skeptical about that. No dome is unbreakable and we see some really powerful monsters in this series. It feels unlikely that this would work and Johannes agrees with this. So his idea is he believes that the monsters are some kind of way the universe keeps the balance. The monsters will destroy the planet and reset everything. So his plan is to get a bunch of people into space and then blow up the Earth himself to speed up the process. The obvious downside here is that the rocket can’t carry everyone so a whole lot of people will be left behind to die by the monsters or get blown up by Fenrir. So it’s a plan that has a better chance of success than the dome but it is also giving up in a sense. He also went full villain by the end with how he’s intentionally sabotaging the characters and undermining their efforts. When you’re trying to injure some of your best fighters, you have to wonder at what point you’re just helping the Aragami out. You need someone to guard and launch the rocket right? I think he needs to think this through a bit more.

Finally, the rival doctor’s plan is to have humans coexist with the Aragami. He figures if they keep on evolving then it will be possible to coexist. We already have one case where the monster evolved enough to develop emotions and feelings. Of course the downside is that this monster ended up turning evil as he enjoyed all of the negative emotions. This plan feels really far fetched. Imagine if this guy is actually intentionally evolving monster and we find out that he created the big one? That will cause a lot of drama within the ranks for sure. We don’t yet know what route Lenka will take but I think he would lean towards the dome. That said, he may not be able to see it since his death is being accelerated. I feel like the ending ends up confirming that he has surpassed the illness and won’t die anymore but it is open to interpretation for sure. End Spoilers

By the end of the series you probably won’t like Fenrir though. As with many titles involving the end of the world against a common threat, the lone government group left is as corrupt as can be. Seraph of the End, Attack on Titan, Resident Evil, etc. This is how it always happens and God Eater is no exception. As mentioned before, Fenrir doesn’t even let you go within the walls unless you are compatible with a God Arc or have family who are. Everyone else is left outside to fend for themselves against the monsters.

Now, we do have several instances of monsters getting within the borders anyway (As early as episode 1) so maybe there’s not a huge difference but it does make the group come off as cold. On a practical sense you can see how they can’t possibly house everyone but at least try to do more against these monsters right? Provide some support or slowly keep on extending the walls to get more people in. It is a little idealistic and since I was with Ironwood to an extent in RWBY I should be with Fenrir right? The difference is that Ironwood’s plan actually seems to have a chance and isn’t actively sacrificing everyone while Fenrir seems to just be delaying the inevitable by locking people outside. Surely you could come up with more weapons or ways for the outsiders to fight. At least give them mechs and some better guns to work with. It’s why I was glad that Lindow and Lenka helped out.

Finally, I’ve mentioned him a few times but Pita is the big monster who gets a lot of hype here. The guy is evolved to an extremely high level and has no problems slaughtering both humans and Aragami. It makes him a real mystery as well as for why he enjoys murdering people so much. The monster toys with his prey and also has a good memory as he remembers his victims. The show really makes sure that you know this guy is a threat. Even if there was just one more of him then I don’t think the heroes would have a chance. It took everything they had to just take one on. There are other fighters around the world but it doesn’t seem like there are a ton of them and even with reinforcements it wouldn’t change a lot since most would be taken down in an instant.

While I did think some aspects should have explored more, I do want to say the writing was still pretty solid. When the show wasn’t going for max edge, it did take time to really establish each character’s personalities, motivations, and why they are here. There are a few different factions running around and you get just enough details to keep you interested while also making you feel like you want to know more about what’s going on. The dialogue between the characters is also strong as they wrestle with the situation they’re in and discuss things like what they could have done differently. In each case where Lenka had to fight without a God Arc, I agreed with him that he had to do something. Abandoning others because you didn’t have the right equipment just won’t fly.

Overall, God Eater is a series with a very interesting world and a whole lot of world building. There’s a lot going on here and a whole lot to discuss and theorize. It’s the kind of title where you will leave with a lot of questions and the ending has so many sudden twists and cliffhangers that you’re ready for season 2. Whether the sequel could capitalize on that is another question. The game had several sequels but it looks like the show may not get there. That’s why it’s too bad they couldn’t just tone down the darker aspects. A lot of times the shows with the most interesting premises are the ones that jump off the deep end like Attack on Titan, Fate Zero, and a bunch of others. The dark atmosphere plays a part in why these get so interesting but you can absolutely keep that without all of the extra content. Madoka Magica certainly pulled that off, Digimon Tamers got rather dark at times and there are more as you go down the list. Madoka would be my top recommendation if you’re looking for a show where things get dark and the heroes seem to be up against impossible odds.

Overall 3/10

Persona 5: The Animation Review


The Persona video games are immensely popular. Not only do they guarantee a lot of content in the games which really run on the long side but the characters tend to become very popular and the franchise is huge at this point. Persona 5 is likely the biggest installment in the series as well so it’s fitting that this one got a full anime. It’s definitely fun to see the thieves in action and the ending really leaves things at a high note. One of the best endings I’ve seen a while. A rough first arc is really what keeps this one from going higher.

The series revolves around a character named Ren and starts with him being beaten by the police and then interrogated. We then cut to the past where he has just gotten out of probation. It was a tough period for him because he was arrested solely for doing the right thing in defending a lady from some random creep. Unfortunately she didn’t defend him when the cops arrived and the whole experience set him back but to this day Ren does not regret what happened. Now his life is really spinning though. At night he has dreams where he is behind bars again and this time a demon is talking to him about rehabilitation.

What does he need to be rehabilitated against though and why is he here? In the real world he finds out that the PE club is run by a villain known as Kamoshida who is exerting his will over all of the students as he assaults them. Ren runs into another student named Ryuji who wants to help but neither one of them are sure what they can do. Fortunately that’s when they end up in an alternate universe of the school where they can tap into summoned spirits known as Persona. These heroes now have the ability to steal the hearts of the wicked and force them to repent. Perhaps they can free the world of all evil? We know that he ultimately ends up being captured by the police so throughout the series you’re wondering when that’ll happen and what leads up to this.

You know this is based on an RPG type game when just explaining the plot takes a few paragraphs and we’re not even past episode 2 yet. There is absolutely a lot going on here. The sheer amount of characters and cases is impressive so you can see how the game would be long. Especially since it seems like this show doesn’t cover the whole game based on how it ends. So lets dive right into this.

First off, the soundtrack is really a blast here. It’s got a very party kind of vibe to it. The opening is very catchy, both of them in fact. I prefer the first opening for sure but the second one grows on you after a bit. It’s definitely going for more of an emotional vibe while the first one is very upbeat the whole time. Then you have the transformation theme whenever the characters activate their persona and a lot of other insert songs throughout. They spared no expense on the soundtrack for sure.

For the animation style itself, it’s good but I wouldn’t say it’s great. It has what I’d call a very standard style here. There aren’t any cuts that are particularly impressive but it never looks bad either. So it’s just standard/average which is good enough here. As long as the animation isn’t bad I’m usually okay on my end. In the end this show really succeeds on a technical side. So now lets jump into each of the arcs.

First is the Kamoshida arc and as I mentioned, this is the weakest one. It does give us the origins of the Phantom Thieves which is nice as they get up to 3 members and learn more about how the castles work. The show leaves a lot to your imagination on this which opens the door for a lot of questions but I’ll get into that later on. So the reason why they have targeted Kamoshida is obvious. His actions have brought great harm to the school and one of the students even tried to commit suicide after he attacked her. So the heroes have to go in and take him out.

How this works is a bit complicated, they can’t just go in and destroy him after all. The way to take his heart is to first scout out the area and find the treasure room. From there they have to send him a notice in the real world to announce that they aim to steal his heart. This causes the treasure to appear in the castle and only then can the heroes steal it. Of course by this point the target is aware of their presence so they always end up having to fight anyway. These thieves never get out without a fight.

So with the rules out of the way, the adventure goes pretty directly. The heroes break in and give Kamoshida the hands with their transformations. Ann gets to directly enact her revenge next to the other characters. It was good that she got to have the win and of course they have removed the evil in him so he can’t hurt anyone else. It’s just too bad they couldn’t have done this a little sooner. A lot of the damage was already done by this point.

Persona 5 really goes out of its way to show that most of the adults are crooked here. They’re either going after girls like the corrupt fiancé, the guy from Ren’s backstory, and Kamoshida; just generally violent like the cops who enjoy beating Ren into the ground, or just plain mean like every other criminal they go after here. It’s rare to find any adults that actually seem like good people here. The only big one I can think of would be Futaba’s legal guardian and a politician who realized that he needs to bet on the youth of this world. So as you can guess this is not a very pleasant world to be in and that’s why a lot of heart snatching is necessary from the heroes’ side. That’s a whole other debate which I’ll go into later as well.

The Kamoshida arc is felt throughout the rest of the series and will be brought up a lot. It was certainly a big moment for sure but the show would have been better off skipping this one. That kind of villain never enhances an episode. The next arc introduces Madarame as the big villain. He’s a corrupt art teacher who steals his students’ work and then tosses them aside when they’re no longer useful. Right now his victim is a kid named Yusuke who refuses to believe Ren and the others when they talk about this. Since it will be incredibly hard to prove that Madarame is guilty, they’ll have to take his heart away.

Yusuke was very unreasonable the whole time but this was a good case. By this point we’re starting to meet some other characters here like Akechi who wants to catch the Phantom Thieves and the cast is slowly growing. The main moral here has to be that you should always not lose sight of the fact that people will take advantage of you if you don’t keep your guard up. Yusuke figured that this could never happen to him but sure enough, it did.

After that it’s time to go up against Kaneshiro. Yes this name is really similar and they are pronounced in very similar ways so that makes it a little hard to keep the names apart. Kaneshiro is using money to ruin lives as he gets people used to gambling and then takes their futures away and blackmails the rest. It’s a tough scheme that reaches all throughout the city and so the only option left is to take his heart. Each arc so far has added a new member to the team and this one is no exception as Makoto joins in. She’s definitely one of the better members and it was good to have her on board. This one was fun enough and the heroes made quick work out of him. It’s another reminder on why you want to stick away from the shadier parts of town though, everyone’s just waiting to mess you up in Persona world. Make one mistake and they’ll throw the blackmailing at you.

Next up, Medjed declares that they will attack the city if the phantoms do not give themselves up and reveal their identities. Up to this point people had been rooting for the phantoms but now with their lives at risk the people change their minds real quick. Naturally giving up their identities would be a bad move here since they would not be able to do much after that. You could make the case that it would be tough to prove their guilt even if they voluntarily turned themselves in but with everyone knowing about how all of these criminals have suddenly turned a new leaf, it is still too risky. The heroes have to steal Futaba’s heart to stop all of this.

Futaba’s not really a villain the way the rest of the people had been so far but she needs her heart stolen because she has been traumatized by this point. She hasn’t had the best experiences with her family as her mother committed suicide and the rest just weren’t particularly pleasant at the time. She blames herself for what happened and no longer goes outside. She has locked herself into her room and intends to never leave it again so if things don’t change, that will be game over for her. For once the heroes are trying to change a heart to directly save their target.

While I was not really a fan of Futaba, this was a solid arc. Sojiro got to appear more ere and he was doing his best to protect her the whole time. That guy gave Ren a chance when everyone else wouldn’t so now Ren had a chance to help him out in return. This helped the team really get together and now they had even more members in place. You have to think that this is happening just in time because every boss requires more and more fighters to beat it. Imagine if it was still just 2 or 3 of them?

Next up, the heroes are confronted with a string of mental blackouts where someone seems to be stealing hearts the way that the phantoms are, only these guys are completely murdering their victims. The blackouts effectively turn you into a vegetable or worse. The only lead is that a company owned by Kunikazu stands to gain from this. His daughter Haru is also being married off to some random creep and he won’t even talk to her about it. So the heroes have to stop Kunikazu quickly but making matters more complicated is that Morgana has been getting upset at them recently because he feels that they don’t appreciate his contributions.

Additionally, Morgana is still a human trapped in a cat’s body and feels like there has not been any progress on this part. So he also blames himself for this and not being able to help so all of that frustration comes to a boil here. Haru also gets to activate her persona here so the group gets even bigger. This arc wasn’t bad, I liked the idea of Morgana teaming up with someone else to form a splinter group of sorts. Then we have the mysterious guy in black and these mental outs so a lot is going on here. It ends up being one of the more important arcs in that sense. While Haru’s father looks awful and the would be fiancé is just as bad, you’re used to it by this point since all of the adults are just corrupt here.

The arc also doesn’t end the way you might expect. Finally, we enter the last arc which leads up to the present where Ren has been captured by Sae. The show really had the whole first season be a flashback if you think about it so it was nice to be in the present. Basically Sae has been gradually getting more and more off the deep end by the day in her desperation to stop the Phantom Thieves. So Akechi tells the team they need to steal her heart and he will even help. It’s hard to know if they can trust him but Ren agrees. As it is, it’s been hard to actually act lately with Sae around every corner and improving security all around.

Well this is the big arc and it lives up to the hype. Putting aside my questions of the capture for now, it was just great to get to this point. This also ties into the ending. Of course I can’t go into it but it really doesn’t go the way you might have expected. I wasn’t ready for the twist and then the ending theme that plays as the episode concludes is phenomenal. The ending just felt very valid. There was a game of wits and someone won while someone else lost. You sort of know that this ending cannot possibly stick but even so it was just really solid. Also, the show did end this way so if you don’t watch anything afterwards or play the game then in a way this was really the ending. Either way it definitely threw me for a loop.

So one of the big debates here is the ethics of stealing hearts. After all, the way it goes, this seems to be like mind control to an extent. The person’s whole personality changes and suddenly they want to be an upstanding citizen. The reason mind control is always controversial is because it’s a slippery slope. The good intentions you have can change over time and it’s not always clear what is the right thing to do but taking away someone’s agency is a big thing. Even in a series like One Piece people deeply disliked when one of the heroes would go around mind controlling the villains. I’m usually an advocate against mind control myself for those reasons.

The reason this one is tricky is because the heroes aren’t giving any commands. It’s not like they’re telling this guy “Go donate your money” or something like that. They remove the dark intentions without any orders so in a way the individual is still making their own choices. The difference is that they’re making their choices from a much smaller list of options because no evil ones appear there. It’s still a bit squishy but I would actually be in favor of the Thieves here. You’d have to convince me that there is a tangible downside to doing this.

In my mind it’s not equivalent to mind control and that’s why I’m on board. So if I’m the phantoms I’d keep on going. You can never get to everyone of course but each person they convert means one more potential victim that they’ve saved. The team is objectively making the city safer. Of course I don’t fault Akechi and the cops for trying to stop the Thieves. They have no way of knowing all of the information that we the viewer have but I think if they did have that knowledge, a lot of the would end up agreeing with the main characters. There are valid reasons to keep on opposing them since that’s a lot of power to be giving a few teenagers but it’s a good bet. I like to think if we had a way to tangibly make the world better then we should take it. Particularly since this world seems so corrupt but even in the real world, being able to eliminate evil emotions while only keeping the good ones just seems like such a good deal. Of course you take a risk since you could die in the castle but it’s a risk worth taking.

Now, there are some questions about how the castle system works out. In the show we see that the heroes take out their phone apps and the surroundings sort of turn into the castle framework. So in the real world are they still walking around and looking crazy like it’s a VR? Well, we see in the last episodes some cases to suggest this isn’t it. From an outside perspective the characters seem to just vanish. If you’re really close you’ll even vanish along with them. So once you are transported there is no connection to the human world until you get back.

With this in mind, how could the characters possibly get caught by the cops? I didn’t buy it personally but someone led them into the virtual world and they nabbed Joker. Here’s my thing, Ren has summons, super powers, and is more used to the world. You’re going to have a hard time ever convincing me that a bunch of cops with no knowledge of this world just popped in and took him out. Come on now, that’s just hard to buy. It’s a pretty big deal too considering the entire season hinges on him getting captured. I’m glad that we got an explanation on how it worked by the end at least because the whole season I was wondering about it. The heroes sure are lazy about keeping the secrets though as they’ll just vanish in the middle of school or right outside and get caught several times.

It’s a small thing, but I enjoyed the music and atmosphere whenever we’d cut to Ren being interrogated. You’d always hear that click sound effect and then be brought right back to the room where Ren definitely just wants some sleep but has to keep answering questions over and over again. You could feel his exhaustion just from watching the screen and also see how it feels like he wasn’t getting anywhere in his story. We still don’t have any answers on the rehabilitation jail Ren is in with the demon so we’ll have to see what becomes of that. Arsene also doesn’t appear much at all. Unlike the rest of the heroes who keep using the same persona, Ren keeps on switching so that’ll probably be a big plot moment eventually.

All right, time to talk about the characters. First up is Ren and he’s okay at best but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan. It’s hard to get a read on the guy as his personality just seems to change or not really make much sense to me. He’s often quiet and just trying to do the right thing but then he’s also a pushover. He lets the guys talk him into ordering a maid for sketchy reasons which was a real low point for him. He has some debates with Akechi but doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for them so this banter is not nearly as good as it could have been. Ultimately Ren is a good guy but he’s not a great character. He needs to be either more outspoken or just more confident but something needs to change a bit there.

Then there’s Morgana who is the animal mascot here and he’s good for lore but doesn’t help a whole lot in the fights. He does have a persona but it seems weaker than the others. Perhaps that is not the case but it feels like that at least and it works well with the whole sub plot about Morgana doubting himself so it makes sense. Too bad Morgana never got a big power up.

Ryuji’s a fun character. He’s the first person that Ren meets up with from the phantoms and really gets the hang of things quickly. He doesn’t doubt himself or the mission as much as some of the others do. He’s not perfect or anything but by and large he does his best. Ryuji just has fun with the mission and tends to keep an upbeat attitude.

Ann joins shortly afterwards and is all for the mission too. She takes it very seriously considering that she’s been a victim of the corrupt adults before and is always helping out a lot. While more members join up later, I consider these 3 to really be the main players of the group and the leaders when you boil it all down. If they have an opinion on the next mission you expect it to get a lot of weight.

Next up is Yusuke and I never warmed up to the guy. For starters he claims to seriously be an art guy who does his sculptures just to achieve his mastery and yet it doesn’t seem that way when he wants the sculpture of Ann. He stopped being reasonable at that point and while he gets past that after the episode, his normal personality isn’t great either. He’s always rather aloof and just doesn’t really contribute as much as the others.

Makoto is one of the last members to join but she’s one of the best ones. For starters she was actually trying to enact some justice on her own first by working for the school and then by tailing the main characters. Her connection with Sae helps in that regard but so she’s always been on the front lines here. Becoming a phantom was the next logical step on her path and she had more personality than most of the other characters.

Futaba is not nearly as impressive. She’s a great hacker who helps out a lot on that front but she’s not really used to the outdoors and can hold the others back a bit. She doesn’t take as active of a role in fighting either. It’s good to have the tactician monitoring the situation of course but ultimately I’d like to see her do more. Due to her origin story it’ll take some time for her to really get the hang of things but after that maybe she will be fighting more.

Finally you have Haru. I give her credit for being able to self teach herself how to work in the castles a bit. I’m sure Morgana helped out as well but it was nice to see. Haru’s stint as an alternate hero group to the phantoms was very short lived but it was still a nice plot point. She shows up late enough in the series where she hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot just yet but should be a nice addition to the cast.

That’s it for the main heroes. I’ll mainly sidestep the villains as there isn’t much to say about them. They show up and prove how evil they are before being taken down by the heroes. The exception to this would be the mysterious man in black but we have yet to know who that even is. There’s certainly a big suspect on who that is based on the context clues but it’s not totally confirmed just yet.

For the side characters, well we’ve got Sojiro who I mentioned before. He’s a nice enough bartender and while he talks tough, he still helps Ren out in the end. There is Sae who we slowly see get more and more obsessed with the Phantom Thieves. She may not be a total villain but Sae is right on the edge about that. She is tempted to falsify evidence and can’t be reasoned with by the end so that’s when you know that her heart needs rescuing. I appreciate her determination but she really was crazy by the end so even though she started to see the light eventually, it was a little late. Sae makes for a good villain though.

Then we have Akechi who really lives up to the hype. He’s effectively like L from Death Note. Akechi is a super sleuth who is out to catch the Phantom Thieves because he believes that what they are doing is unjust. He thinks it’s an abuse of power and that it bypasses the court systems. So like I was saying earlier about how you could easily get this viewpoint and that it’s a valid one, I do like him as an antagonist. He is willing to talk with the thieves about this although they can’t out themselves so they’re careful about it. Ren’s not very subtle but you like to think they have a subtle understanding that they will talk vaguely around each other. Akechi doesn’t do much until near the end of the show but he really makes his presence felt in those episodes.

That covers all of the big characters I’d say. It’s really a colorful cast of characters here. I wouldn’t say it’s a great cast since I’m not a big fan of quite a few of the Thieves but Akechi and Sae make for two formidable opponents. The thieves seem to spend more time being fighters than thieves in the virtual world but the show makes up for it by having the characters strategize in the real world a lot.

Now, while the animation as a whole I wasn’t too impressed with, I did really like the transformation sequences. Each character gets one for the very first time they merge with their persona. These moments seemed to get a really high budget in particular. The attention to detail with each of the transformations was really excellent. There was even a specific theme that would show up each time this happened. These moments were always a lot of fun and we got a look into each character’s psyche as you have to tap into your inner desires to use the power. I was half expecting the characters to start faltering when they had doubts, but fortunately that didn’t happen. They may have had some doubts but on the battlefield they would stow their fears and keep on going.

The show even squeezes in a few one shot episodes like the moderator of the website going crazy, the heroes heading to the beach, etc. The slice of life episodes tend to be a little on the boring side though. This is a show where you really want to see the next story beats and the episodes for character development don’t land as well. Probably because I wasn’t a big fan of some of them but also because they tended to not look very good in these episodes. They tend to bring out the worst in Ryuji and parts like the maid episode don’t help Ren either. The show mainly avoids fanservice fortunately but if there were any episodes where you could expect some, it would be in these episodes which didn’t help their case compared to the plot based ones either.

Overall, Persona 5: The Animation seems like a very good adaption of the game. It doesn’t end all of the plot points so get ready for a few cliffhangers but that just makes the whole thing even more epic. I’d have liked more of an explanation on how the Persona’s work. Why can Ren use several while everyone else is tied to one? Headcanon will work in the meantime though. The opening arc started the show off on a real rough patch with the villain getting away with way too much but the show rebounds from there and by the end I’d still say it’s good, in no small part due to the climax really being quite epic. I still say that was one of the most effective endings I’ve seen in a while. If you’re up for some good ole mysteries and moral discussions on if you should change hearts or not then this is up your alley.

Overall 6/10

Cells at Work! Review


Cells at Work is definitely a show with a very unique premise. It’s sort of like the Magic School Bus episode where everyone heads into the body except this time the show show takes place inside the body and every blood cell is an individual character. So you’ve definitely got a show that’s not quite like any other and can even be educational to an extent. You may end up missing the outside world pretty quick but it’s a fun enough show.

The main character here is the Red Blood Cell. (I’ll call her Red for short) Red’s job is to go around the body delivering nutrients to every part of the body. Unfortunately she is not very good at directions and ends up getting lost all the time. That’s when she meets Neutrophil, one of the white blood cell variants. His job is to ruthlessly murder any germs and bacteria that get into the body. The guy’s always serious and slashing away but deep down he’s a nice guy and they end up hitting it off after he saves her from one of the monsters and helps her with directions. As the show goes on we see more adventures with these two and get introduced to the rest of the blood cells.

For the most part I would say this is a slice of life title. Each episode is fairly stand alone even though we do have the big climax at the end. Typically Red will get lost somewhere and Neutrophil will step in to help along with the cell of the day. Each episode will usually introduce a new blood cell so by the end of season 1 you’ve pretty much met them all. Sometimes we’ll even get a big budget fight scene.

The first episode has the best fight in that regard. The battle with Neutrophil against the germ really looked great. There was a lot of excellent hand to hand and the animators went all out. The rest of the show can’t quite compete with that but I would say it still keeps to a pretty solid level of animation. The character designs are consistent and the animation looks good.

For the soundtrack, there’s the main battle theme that I like a lot. It’s really good for when danger approaches and is suitably fast. The opening isn’t really my thing but I appreciate the effort of dubbing the intro since that’s pretty rare. All in all the musical themes are memorable so you aren’t likely to forget them.

A slice of life anime lives and dies on the characters so lets jump into those. First off we have Red and she is a fun lead. She may not be good with directions but she tries hard and just keeps on going. Near the end of the series she gets her big episode when the body is snowed in and got to prove herself. She definitely holds up her end of the show very well and it someone you can count on in the end.

Then you have Neutrophil who’s the main fighter here and he definitely looks good. The guy is absolutely invested in his job and loves any opportunity to go in and crush the germs. The guy is always yelling and acts like such a savage that most characters are afraid of him except for Red. Deep down the guy is just trying to make the world a better place and that’s his role within the body. He also has his lighthearted moments where he watches over Red to make sure she’s okay.

Killer T is like a more exaggerated version of Neutrophil when it comes to beating up germs but he has less social awareness. The guy has no time for happiness or anything like that and just focuses on the mission. I like Killer T’s confidence and he never bets against himself in the end. You’ve certainly got to respect that. Then you have Macrophage who is also really intense but she doesn’t typically let it show. She just goes about her business and drinks tea but when the going gets tough, she gets going.

Platelets are like junior cells that go around stitching up wounds and making sure that the body is safe. They can’t really fight but they get around and there are sure a lot of them. They would probably use a few bodyguards though since they don’t stand a chance when villains show up. Typically there is someone on hand to help but they probably shouldn’t take any big chances.

Helper T is someone who really tries to do things by the book and lets the other cells know when there is trouble. He may not do a lot in the present but he gets a whole episode to himself where we see how he and Killer T used to be rivals. That made for a fun watch but it’s a shame that Helper T went for more of a desk job when his fighting abilities are so good. The heroes could have used him in some of these battles. Maybe someday we’ll see him in the field again but it feels unlikely since his station is always so far from the action.

His partner on the job is Regulatory T and she makes sure the paperwork is in order. She keeps Killer T and Helper T from fighting too often as well and has always been a bit of a mediator there. Without her I’m sure they would be bickering even more. Naive T is a cell who gets his own episode too. He feels bad because he has been completely ineffective in combat and everyone’s always going at him. Eventually he comes to terms with this and evolves into a more powerful cell who can defend himself though. It was good to see him step up when it counted since he had a rough start there.

Eosinophil is a type of white blood cell but she’s not meant for direct battle with the germs. Due to this the other cells tend to make fun of her a bit since a lot of them didn’t properly learn the duties and tasks of all cells the way Neutrophil does. Fortunately she gets to show her skills off later on. She’s a fun character who is really enthusiastic. She may not have strength against all enemies just yet but she will still jump in to try and do what she can.

Then there’s Memory Cell but there’s not a whole lot to say about him yet. The guy should be able to use his memories really well to help everyone out but he always forgets them. He’s the one cell you could say is just bad at his job because remembering is the one task he should be able to do at any time. You definitely end up feeling bad for him there. Dendritic Cell’s job is to awaken other cells to their maximum power. He does this by using embarrassing photos/memories of other Cells. In a way he should have been the memory cell then right?

Mast Cell and B Cell don’t get to do a whole lot here. B Cell has his gun and as long as memory does his job and remembers the formula, B Cell can use this to take down a lot of germs from afar. Unfortunately for B Cell, he is powerless without this. Meanwhile Mast Cell is ready to tell the body when to panic but she is always stressed out which puts her in a tough spot here. If she stresses everyone too much then it’ll backfire.

Basophil’s role is to be really mysterious and try to be vague about everything. I wouldn’t say that it really works though. The main issue with him is that you really feel like his speeches aren’t going anywhere so you feel like he’s talking just to talk. That’s what really holds him back here. To be a good mysterious character, your paranoid delusions have to make some kind of sense and be interesting. That way I can get behind what is going on here but without that it just feels like mumbling without a true goal.

That about wraps up the heroes. On the villain side most of the germs and viruses are oneshots. Technically each one that appears is a different member of the same species and similar to the heroes, each kind of villain just has the same design based on what strain they are. I really liked the designs though, these villains look intimidating and can fight rather well. They give the heroes a good fight each and every time until they find their worst opponent.

Cancer Cell stands out as being the most memorable villain though and that makes sense. After all, cancer always felt like a perfect big boss for a series like this because cancer cells actively destroy other cells and spread quickly. Cancer Cell has a grand master plan and even tries to explain his own ethics to Neutrophil. It’s all very interesting and ultimately they still need to take Cancer Cell down for the count of course. I was glad that he got a character arc though.

His point also brings up an interesting part of the world. So of course every cell is born with their own role to play here. What cell you are will dictate what kind of germ/virus you must destroy or if you have another function. You will be unable to destroy a virus that’s outside of your role no matter how strong you are and the cells here learn that the hard way. It’s an interesting dynamic because it shows that the world runs on a Pokemon type/matchup kind of dynamic. This is one series where you cant really surpass your limits because they are built in.

The cells also don’t seem to know much about the past as they tend to learn things on the fly. I expect that is memory’s fault but maybe this body just doesn’t have a library where you can read up on the past. It’s possible that they just don’t have the time though. I can’t recall if the characters ever sleep. You see them taking breaks on occasion but that’s it. I remember at first I thought that Red and Neutrophil would be different in each episode since they mention that there are millions of them inside the body. After all, each blood cell is technically different but they still end up meeting all of the time. While that could be a stretch when you think about it, I think it’s a necessary one. I don’t know about you but it’s more engaging to be hanging out with the same characters as always.

Now, as I said before you may start to miss the outdoors though. One thing about being inside the body the whole time is that a lot of the backgrounds and scenery start to feel the same after a while. it can feel a little confined but I don’t know what the show could really do about that. At the end of the day, the body is the setting and there are ways you could cheat that but I can’t fault a show for sticking to its premise. Personally I wish we could have seen the human running around a bit.

As for the humor, I’d say it works well enough. It may not be the funniest slice of life out there, but the characters are enjoyable enough and make the dynamics work. There weren’t any really bad characters or anything like that here and we did have the occasional big action scene which was always nice. As the characters are blood cells, you can probably guess that there is a lot of blood flying around. Ironically, the blood pretty much always comes from the enemies though as Neutrophil really lays into them. It’s fairly excessive with the geysers everywhere but the show’s using it for comedy. Always a tricky gag and I think it could be dialed back a bit but in this context it’s not something that really would hurt the show.

Overall, You’ll have a good time with Cells at Work. I was on the fence the whole time on if this is a high 6 or a low 7. I don’t feel like it really has any replay value, it’s not the kind of show you’re likely to watch again but at the same time I wouldn’t say it made any real mistakes. It’s just not quite as funny as it could be. Still, I’d say it does enough right where your initial experience is good so I’d give it the points. You even get to learn a few things about how the body works although good luck on retaining that info. The scientific name for each blood cell is just so advanced that they tend to fall out of your mind as soon as you hear them.

Overall 7/10