Cardfight Vanguard G: NEXT Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 9/10

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Transformers Robots in Disguise Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

My Hero Academia Season 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Transformers Beast Machines Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

Ultimate Spiderman Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Buddyfight series. For a little while there I was worried that it would only get 2 seasons and die out because many great anime don’t make it to 3 seasons. However it did make it and now has a 4th season so we can safely say that the franchise is safe. Even if it were to end soon, it’s had a great run. It’s awesome to be living in a time where we have Yu-Gi-Oh, Buddyfight, and Cardfight all airing new episodes. Buddyfight is the weakest of the 3 at least when it comes to the franchises, but it always puts up a good fight. This season had a rocky start, but by the end I’d say that it surpassed season 2 while still not being able to catch the original.

Gao doesn’t have his Drum Bunker Dragon anymore so he has to get a replacement. He ends up getting a buddy named Bal. Bal is a lot younger than Drum and acts like a little kid. It takes a while for the pair to really get along, but they gradually develop a tight bond. They decide to enter the local tournaments to prove that they are the best and gradually approach the World Cup. However, they will have to get past some powerful rivals like Tasuku, the boy prodigy, and Gaito, a mysterious newcomer who wants to prove his strength above all. Meanwhile, Kyoya has been replaced as the head of the financial company and has decided to enter the tournament as a normal participant. What are his goals here? There are many other foes who have surfaced like the new head and a mysterious scientist with a split personality. Gao will have to keep his guard up at all times since these games may not just be for fun anymore.

Lets talk about why the season had a rough start. It acts a little bit like a reboot at times. It’s not a full reboot though so the best way to describe it is like Pokemon. Ash has gone on all of his adventures, but he is still only 10 years old and forgot a lot of his battle experience and even acts like he doesn’t know some of the original Pokemon at times. That’s how it is here. Gao and friends act like they barely know some of the old characters like Tasuku and many supporting characters. This is only relevant in the first episodes as they all become friends again and act like their old selves, but the early episodes are fairly bizarre. It feels like the writers couldn’t decide if he knows the others or not so it goes back and forth on that.

Another issue is that the show seems to aim a little younger this time. Particularly in the first episodes again, it seems a little like Pokemon Sun and Moon. There are a lot of visual gags now with characters faces getting exaggerated and crude humor jokes. One new addition to the show is Zom-B. His whole character is made for excessive humor as he constantly panics and destroys himself. It’s a running gag that the show spams in almost every episode of the first half along with recycled animation the whole time. None of his jokes are funny at all and he does drag down some of the battles to an extent. I was glad when he slowly started to appear less. As you can tell, I didn’t care for the humor. It did not work well at all.

So you may be wondering how this season could possibly top 2 right? Well, it has less repetition. What severely brought Buddyfight 100 down was how many times Gao had to fight the same enemy. That’s never an issue here fortunately. The season is also filled with nonstop tournaments the whole time which was really good. As a result, the action never let up and there were a lot of interesting fights in the mix. In the end we watch card game shows for all of the epic duels and that’s one of the reasons why this show succeeds. Tournaments are particularly fun to watch in this genre although I’d say that they work in just about every genre as well.

As always, the show doesn’t disappoint with the over the top visuals. Every final smash ends up severely damaging the planet and you wonder how the player can survive the intense virtual damage. All of the character designs are on point and a lot of the monster designs look really good. Gaito’s design is solid and his monster is very cool as well. The show’s soundtrack is also amazing. The show is now at its height in that regard. This is mainly because Gaito’s theme is really good and may even surpass the arena theme from 100. Fortunately that one returns along with the despair theme. Combined, those themes make this show one of the best in the business.
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Gao is a likable character as always. He’s not quite as awesome as he was in the first two seasons, but he’s still solid. He’s less intense, but still has a lot of skills. It’s just a shame that he’s not as overpowered as he used to be. I remember when winning every single battle was child’s play for him. Kuguru and Baku don’t really do much in the season. They’re even more irrelevant than they were in the previous two seasons which is a little disappointing for their fans. Fortunately, I don’t like either character much so I’m pretty fine with this.

Bal is certainly no Drum. By the end of the show I didn’t mind him. He beats the new Buddy in the current season, but Drum is still the best. Bal’s true form is really epic to watch and I’m glad that he can actually fight. He didn’t master the form for quite a while, but the payoff was good once he got going.

Tasuku’s as cool as ever. He (finally) quit the Buddypolice for most of the season although there is a slight twist about that. Anyway, he is one character who did not lost his character development. Since he already had a bunch in the previous seasons there is no longer any room for doubt or worry. He is completely sure of himself here and doesn’t have to enter any morally grey areas. Unfortunately this also does make things tricky for him near the climax. He disagrees with challenging Kyoya because he wants to wait for the cops to make a move and thinks it’s dangerous. I disagreed with the rationale there because stopping Kyoya is the safest way to save the world. It’s risky, but still the best move. Still, Tasuku ultimately relented and was pivotal in taking down some of the minions. With Gao being slightly nerfed in the personality department you can make a case for Tasuku being the best character. His buddy Jackknife Dragon is as reliable as ever and serves as a mentor to Bal.

Gaito is the new rival on the block and he’s a really good character. He uses a Dark deck and has shadow energy at all times. This instantly meant that he was going to be my kind of character. His Dragon Abigail gets a lot of development throughout and has a big subplot to himself. I liked him a lot and he is probably my favorite hero dragon in the season. That may seem a bit specific but if we count enemies then I’d probably have to go with Kyoya’s dragon. Gaito gradually does get a little more friendly, but he always stays serious compared to the rest of the characters. Heading off to face Kyoya alone is the kind of decision that I’d expect him to make and it’s one that I supported. I didn’t like his odds going into that fight, but everyone is outmatched against that guy.

Kyoya is the main villain once again. This means that he was the final boss in 2 out of 3 seasons. It could seem repetitive if you see the plot summaries from afar, but it makes sense. True, Kyoya may have had a bit of a personality shift since he seemed like he was turning good after the original season, but his motives are fairly complex. Season 1 was like the opening act for him to gather data and season 2 was something he just didn’t calculate on. I was surprised to see him lose there, but it helped to legitimize the threat. It’s like if an alien attack our world, heroes and villains alike would team up to stop them because we want the world for ourselves. Kyoya just didn’t think it would be enough to beat him. He regained all of his hype in this season though. His new card is great and without plot hax it is virtually unbeatable. There are always some tough questions to ask like if creating your own card is really legitimate or not, but Bal gave Gao, Gaito, and Tasuku one so fair is fair right? It’s no coincidence that the 4 created cards are the strongest either. Why would you make yourself a weak one right?

Azi Dahaka has always been a fun dragon in the series. His fans may be a little upset that he doesn’t really get to activate his master plan and is basically used by Kyoya the whole time, but he still has a very intimidating presence. He’s a good villain to have around for sure. I’ll miss him if he doesn’t return, but I somehow get the feeling that Kyoya will bring him back. If not, maybe this finally was Kyoya’s last hurrah, but I won’t believe that until I see it. Even if he returns as a rival instead of an enemy, I’d be on board with that. Kyoya’s 2 on 1 duel against Gaito and Tasuku is one of the most epic moments of the franchise. The duel may have been off screen, but it’s unheard of to beat multiple opponents. In Buddyfight, that is basically impossible to accomplish thanks to the structure of the game.
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Rouga also gets to appear a little, but I have no idea what the writers are even thinking with him anymore. His character serves no point and I just don’t like the guy anymore. That may be a bit harsh, but I used to like him. It just feels like his character has gone nowhere and he hasn’t gotten any stronger while everyone else has improved. He’s not a threat anymore and I think the franchise should just write him out unless they have a specific plan in mind for him. Noboru is the opposite as he’s still a great character as always. It’s just rather tragic as he loses basically every big battle that he gets involved in. He always gets to make a good speech and it gets emotional, but he can’t close it out. It’s because he always ends up fighting the big villains. It’s a shame, but at least he is a character who tries. Actually, maybe he should be known as the best character in the series now. He’s certainly consistent and I’m always rooting for him at any rate.

Lets talk about some of the new characters. Kaido is a guy who loves yelling about festivals. He never gets serious, but that’s part of his character. He always makes sure to have fun when playing Buddyfight even if everyone else forgets that when the world is at stake. He has the largest monster in the franchise which is essentially his gimmick. It’s pretty impressive and he’s a nice guy. I don’t mind him all that much and he’s a decent rival. I don’t find him to be all that cool, but his gimmick doesn’t get too annoying which helps a lot. He’ll either be your kind of character or not. As far as the new additions go, he’s probably the weakest not counting the one shot characters.

Doctor Gara is one of the big villains who shows up and I liked him. His happy personality as a scientist is pretty boring, but his deranged form works really well. I don’t know how everyone kept getting tricked by him, but I suppose it was the Team Rocket effect. He was actually a very powerful opponent and nearly took Tasuku down. Mix that in with his cool design and he was one of the best parts of the season. Buddyfight is probably one of the few shows where the new villains always seem to be cooler than the new heroes. Maybe that isn’t too rare depending on who you ask, but I liked all of the new villains. He may be no Kyoya, but at least he was a threat. His monster: Zodiac was really good as well. He had a great design that was on point.

Genesis is the other big villain who entered the fray. He replaced Kyoya in the company and now makes it his life’s work to mess up Kyoya’s plans when possible. We get a lot of episodes where both characters are constantly trying to one up the other and it makes for an interesting plot. Kyoya always seems to win in the end, but Genesis came close. He may be the single strongest duelist in the game to be honest. His one hit KO combo is incredibly good and it really should have won. He only lost due to the cheese factor and the fact that someone came back from the grave. Yes, one character’s ability lets him keep on dueling even if his life points hit 0. All right, it’s Gaito, I may as well say it since the ability isn’t a huge plot point. Genesis’ final monster form has a really cool design and the next Buddyfight season even brought back the concept. I guess it must have been a big hit.

As always, the show has an incredible climax which just made the rest of the show even more awesome. It made me really realize what a fun show it had been. The original still wins because it had consistent writing and quality the whole time. The climax may not have been quite as explosive and awesome, but everything else made up for that. This show’s climax is easily the best of the 3 seasons and one of the best anime climaxes in general. Part of it is the fact that Kyoya returned as it feels like a big payoff from the 3 seasons.

I have to say that there’s going to be a lot of pressure for the next season I’m roughly 10 episodes in for that one so it’s way too early to say how it’ll fare. Buddyfight generally starts to ramp up the plot and intensity in the 20s as it loves to use the early episodes for character development and world building. You may think that’s a little excessive but it does work. Hear me out, it can be tough to sit through a bunch of episodes that feel like filler, but it absolutely does make you care more about the characters. Why do you think Cardfight was so successful? It takes just as long to get started at times and G gave us roughly 40-50 episodes of pure character development in the form of the first season before the plot really went underway. As long as the episodes are good anyway (Which they were in Cardfight. Buddyfight admittedly does struggle in this area) then it’s fine. It’s shows with lackluster plots like Naruto which gives the impression that development episodes are bad.

A big element in this season which I almost neglected to mention is the legendary Dragon Force. It is a super ability that only the chosen may wield which naturally means that the main 3 characters obtain it. Gao, Tasuku, and Gaito. The ability is pretty handy. Aside from the cool visuals it also gives some nice abilities to the users. Gaito gets the ability to obtain a second life, Gao can attack multiple times, and Tasuku’s also increases his attacks. Clearly Gaito got the best one if you ask me. Each character also gained an Impact Card which is essentially a super attack that their main monster can use. Gaito’s so good that he obtained two of them though.

These attacks and forms get a pretty high budget animation, but it is one that is reused constantly so it’s a mixed bag. Personally I’m all for it. Recycled footage can be a little dicey at times, but it seems more like a fun gimmick than a crutch in this case. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to have to reanimate these moments every single time. It would certainly get old fast.

When it all boils down to it, one of the best parts of the show is the large amount of hype that everyone gets. Unlike World Trigger where it is a little overdone at times, the characters all live up to the hype. Gaito gets some really epic scenes where he takes down enemies even after they figure out his Impact ability. He quickly grew to be one of my favorite characters because of it. Similarly, Kyoya, Genesis, and Tasuku had big moments as well. Unlike Sengoku Basara where the show didn’t want to give up on the hype, this show knew when it was time to choose a winner though. For example, Gaito and Genesis got to fight when both of them were near the height of their hype reputations. There wasn’t a draw though and a clear winner was chosen. The show is pretty good at not having draws overall as there was only one big one that I can recall and even in that instance, Kyoya would have won, unfortunately the machine couldn’t handle the power of his card.

There are some power level stuff that gets a bit tricky. I didn’t really buy into how Genesis was defeated and there may have been a few cheesy moments here and there. Nothing major though and a big part of card games is the luck factor involved. For the most part it was all fairly believable. I’m definitely hoping for a big reunion season soon though with a tournament that encompasses characters from all of the seasons. You have to admit that this would be hype. On one last note, Kiri fans will be disappointed by the fact that he looks terrible here. He nearly resorts to kidnapping Bal to run away from the enemy threat and doesn’t fight almost at all despite gaining these super powerful abilities of his. Not a good look considering his character development.

For fun, here are the card game seasons off the top of my head. Shows without subtitles are treated as the same though and I’m merging Zexal and Zexal II since that’s what I did on this site. The order would be Yugioh GX, Cardfight Link Joker, Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V, Cardfight Legion Mate, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, Cardfight Asia Circuit, Digimon Tamers, Future Card Buddyfight, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, Cardfight G GIRS Crisis, Scan 2 Go, Buddyfight Triple D, Cardfight NEXT, Cardfight G, Buddyfight 100, Buddyfight NEXT, Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters. I’m pretty sure I got them all. It’s pretty tough to put them all in order since most of the shows are really close to each other. Some are still ongoing as well so they may move up by the end. The worst card show (Minus Capsule Monsters) on the list is still a very good title overall which is why the genre is just so much fun. I’m glad that it has been doing so well as of late.
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Overall, This was a great anime. I highly recommend watching this season. The best part is that since they tried to target newcomers with this title, you can go ahead and watch it without knowing much of the series beforehand. The rules are easy to follow and the plot is pretty basic. After all, a tournament is as straight forward as it gets while still being incredibly epic. We also get the awesome climax and there is a real time fight during the night where Bal fights Azi Dahaka outside of the game rules. That was fun and I’d love to see more of that. Please bring Azi Dahaka back as well, there’s still so much that the franchise can do for him. Buddyfight’s action and pacing ensure that this is a show everyone can check out.

Overall 8/10

Sengoku Basara II Review

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The first Sengoku Basara was incredibly good. It had a lot of action, good graphics, as a hype soundtrack to boot. All of the tactical scenes were also handled well thanks to the music and it made for one complete package. It’s only slight issue was that the end of the show started to feel like a cop out since basically all of the characters survived. This season takes that a little more to the extreme and is just a lot weaker than the first season. It’s still a really good show, but one that should have been better.

The Devil King has been defeated so all of the various clans are back to fighting each other. Unfortunately, this peace was never going to last too long. A new villain named Hideyoshi has arisen and he wishes to take over the world for the sake of his ideals. He quickly begins to take over land after land so Date realizes he’ll have to deal with this threat personally. Meanwhile, Sanada heads to the beach to overcome his mid life crisis, but will he be able to deal with all of the dirty techniques his opponents use?

Let’s start off with the positives that stayed with the show from the first season. The animation is still really solid. The character designs are on point and this makes for some really fun action scenes. There is a nice contrast whenever it is night or day. Also just about all of Hideyoshi’s fights get a high budget and look spectacular. Furthermore, the soundtrack is excellent as you’d expect. Basically all of the themes from the first season return except for the Devil King’s. I’m glad his didn’t return since it should be exclusive to his character. Replacing that one is Hideyoshi’s theme which is virtually as good. “This is a fight to change the world” makes the fight feel larger in scale and more theatrical. The normal battle themes and talking themes are very solid as well. They did a good job with the selections.

Hideyoshi makes for a great villain. While I still prefer the Devil King and consider I’m to be more powerful as well, Hideyoshi doesn’t disappoint in the strength department either. The scene where he punches a hole in the sky was an incredible start and then draining a river with a single punch was also super impressive. If not for some plot had at the end, he would have certainly achieved his vision. More on that later. He may have a twisted sense of justice since he’s a classic “I’ll destroy everybody, but then we’ll be at peace” kind of guy. Sometimes tricking yourself is the only way to get out of answering the tough questions I suppose. Either way, it was a nice surprise to see the show churn out yet another really cool final boss.

His subordinate Hanbei was also a good character. Unlike the Devil King who had a few minions, Hanbei is really his only minion. Still, he is in charge of all the tactical operations and is actually loyal for a change so that’s nice. He’s a good fighter although he’s a little naive. I don’t think Kojuro would have ever joined his ranks so the mind games felt rather futile. I would have liked to have seen him fight more since he only got 2 action scenes, but he did well in both of them. He had the upper hand against Date and was also beating Kojuro until his illness took control of him. He made for a great lieutenant and I definitely wish that Yukimura had gotten a swing at him.

As expected, the cast of returning characters here is very solid as well. Date has moved up from being a dual main character in the first season to being the complete lead in this one. He may lose a few fights here and there, but overall I’d say that he definitely looked really good. After all, his personality is the main important thing. Even without his right eye, Date continued to show some strategy and foresight into his plans which was nice to see. He didn’t become a commander for nothing after all. He definitely worked well as the main character in Yukimura’s place.

Kojuro got a larger role here as well. He’s always been one of the main characters, but he has another big role here since he was kidnapped and forced to watch the villains plan things out for a while. He eventually got out and was able to claim his vengeance, but his intelligence was certainly praised a lot. Even when he was entirely out of the loop he could predict what everyone was doing. He’s probably the best tactician in the show and was shown to be capable of foiling Hanbei as well. I suppose Mori could give him a run for his money in the intelligence department, but I like to think Kojuro has the lead.

Motochika also got a much larger role here. His army is usually at a disadvantage since it’s smaller in size when compared to the other, but his large battleship always keeps him in the running. He’s got a pretty good personality and doesn’t back down from a fight. I was definitely cool with seeing more of him here and I’m just sad that we wasted an episode with him during the whole mountain exploding debacle. I think having him team up with Date to fight Hideyoshi made a lot of sense instead of sending him off to an off screen climax. He did a great job while he was on screen though and his weapon is pretty unique. The show’s actually pretty good with that as most of the characters use different weapons as opposed to the same sword. One other new character was a ninja who served Matsunaga. He’s apparently extremely strong and he ends up winning his only fight in the series. He’s another character who just appeared out of the blue and I would have liked to have seen more of him. Ah well, perhaps in the next season. What I just want to know is how Matsunaga can hold his own against guys like Date when he seems like the kind of guy who just sits on a throne all day? I can’t picture him training.

Despite all the positives, there were certainly some negatives that got thrown into the show and became a bit of a problem. Let’s start with Yukimura. His character seems to go in circles as he deals with fears that he overcame in the first season. Once again, he is unsure of whether he is doing the right thing or not since he is taking a lot of lives even if it’s for the sake of peace. This causes him to go train on a beach…for almost the whole series. Those episodes are all complete filler and Yukimura doesn’t even get to take on the final boss like Date. Yukimura’s fight with Date in episode 1 is great, I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, that’s the only fight you’ll get to see Yukimura have. Even his big climax battle isn’t really a fight, it’s just him doing one really big tackle and maybe 1-2 minutes of actual swordsmanship at best. Yukimura is still my favorite Sengoku character so this was pretty disappointing. He was absolutely given the shaft here.
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Also, the show made it seem like he made the wrong decision by trying to help Motochika instead of continuing with the mission. His effort to save him was in vain (Although Motochika lived since Sengoku Basara lets everyone live) and then everyone basically blamed him. Yukimura was rather half hearted the whole time, but it was still the right decision. That carries into another point, the show seemed to just have a very poor director or whoever plotted the scenes. Several times an episode would end with an epic cliffhanger only for it to just be skipped over in the next episode. This episode had ended with Yukimura’s team taking the field. The next one starts with the battle already over and they explain that Yukimura lost. A significant amount of fights are off screen in this title which is pretty unacceptable. I feel like the writers weren’t sure if they should continue their story or turn the show into a history lesson at times. It was just very inconsistent and as a result, we saw less fights than we should have.

The show’s problem of having everyone avert death is another issue. It was starting to get bad in season 1, but it’s far worse here. Motochika is basically destroyed by Hideyoshi as he is punched through a battleship and the episode heavily implies that he is dead. Nah, the guy shows up in the next episode. Matsunaga died in season 1, but returns here. Honestly, his episodes have no point and are basically filler. There was no reason to bring him back. Lady Nohime also comes back from the grave. I’m telling you, nobody stays dead here except for the main villain group of the season and even then subordinates seem to come back if they try hard enough. The show needs to just be bold and let the characters die. At the very least, fix the power levels.

If Sengoku Basara’s death problem is basically turning it into the Fairy Tail or Shonen, it’s wonky power levels are second only to Dragon Ball Super. The problem here is that the show acts as if everyone has the same exact power level. Date, Yukimura, (Lost by a fraction) Motochika, Yukmura’s master, the Ice Master, Keiji, Hideyoshi’s lieutenant, Matsunaga, Matsunaga’s assistant, etc, etc. They all have the same power level so just about every fight in the entire season is a stalemate. That gets really old after a while. I don’t want to constantly be seeing matches end in a draw over and over again. I feel like this is because the writers want all of the characters to stay hype and cool when that is not what should be happening at all. Even if your favorite character loses, at least you’ll know that it was a good fight. If it’s a tie, then it ultimately ends up feeling like a waste.

For the matches that aren’t ties, they can be even worse. Look at Date vs Hideyoshi the final round. Date was getting completely clobbered during the entire fight. Hideyoshi was way stronger and he also appeared to be faster. Then after Hideyoshi “won”, Date gets up with the power of friendship and defeats him in a single hit. Of all the anticlimactic, plot hax endings, that’s how you finish it? It has to go up as one of the most random victories along with Soul Eater’s ending. The anime built up Hideyoshi way too much during the arc which ended up backfiring horribly. He was simply too strong so the anime had two options. They could have had a big team up fight where Date allies himself with other commanders or they could have simply not built him up as much.

Also, I mentioned that Samurai Jack’s ending was pretty rushed. Well this one told tat show to hold its Katana because this one tops that. We have around 6-7 big fights going on and a ton of plots in the final episode. This may attribute to why Date’s fight was so rushed at the end and likewise the other scenes don’t get much screen time. Quite a few new characters even show up in this last episode which was just really weird. They got some hype and appeared in the shadows, but only had time for one clash before we got a cut away and then the rest of the fight was off screen. The whole thing was bizarre. I suppose it was meant as a homage to the games since the characters probably had their own stories there, but if you’re going to include them in the story, find a role for them. It’s like how Brawl couldn’t squeeze in Toon Link, Wolf, or Jigglypuff so they put them in secret rooms. Fortunately, there is a movie and a third season so this should hopefully help with that. If anything, they would have worked well as a stinger in that case.

As with the first show, there is a bonus episode/OVA that is included along with it. It shows how Yukimura participated in the Man event with Date back when they were nursing him back to health. It’s a fun enough special as they get to have some fighting accomplished and all. The power levels were still out of whack as Sasuke got way too much hype, but at least Date didn’t actually lose. It was a fun enough episode and while it wasn’t serious, we never did get a chance to see the characters just hang out before this so I’d say that it worked pretty well. Yukimura’s squad definitely has the most fun out of all the groups.

Aside from Yukimura’s character being wrecked in this season, most of the characters were on point. Date shined quite a lot in his main character role. All of the other captains were around as per usual even if they didn’t do much. Kasuga’s recycled fanservice image is as old as it ever was, but fortunately it is only used once or twice this time since her role was greatly reduced this time. Her commander also doesn’t appear much, but does a good job of not actually harming anyone. Stalling Date for no reason definitely seemed rather pointless if you ask me though. However, I said that most of the characters were on point, there is one other figure who looked really bad here, Keiji.
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Keiji’s whole gimmick is that he’s all for peace and rarely tries to fight. He wants to be diplomatic and he used to be friends with Hideyoshi. However, it’s heavily implied that Hideyoshi destroyed one of their mutual friends (The anime never goes into it and I’m sure glad they don’t to be honest. The plot should have never even existed since it just seems to go against his character entirely) so a rift formed between them. He tries to solve things peacefully but it doesn’t work and he gets ignored. Finally, he realizes that the time to act has come and heads off to meet Hideyoshi. Unfortunately, he gets cold feet at the last second and lets the guy steamroll him, losing without trying to fight back. That scene was pretty brutal since you can’t just keep trying the same tactic over and over again and hope to win. Especially since Hideyoshi made it clear that he’s going to conquer the land and innocents are also targeted in his campaign. After a while, it you refuse to fight the enemy, you may as well be aiding them.

Keiji’s friends are just as bad though. Even after the Devil King back stabbed them, they have decided to join forces with Hideyoshi once more. I don’t get their rationale for this at all. They know that he is evil, but they still go through with it. It’s like they’ve learned nothing from their last encounter which could be another example of no character development or regression. Fortunately, Keiji breaks his rule this time to take them out and becomes head of the clan so they can’t do anything, but those guys were definitely annoying.

Keep in mind that this episode is only 12 episodes long and we have all of these characters and various plots running around. It’s no wonder why the whole thing was so rushed. I feel like the writers really wanted a 26 episode show and were only given 12, but they didn’t want to cut anything out. That would certainly explain quite a lot in the show. It’s not really a legitimate excuse, but at least it’ll make the whole thing make sense.

While I definitely had a lot of negative things to say about the show, that’s mainly because the first season just set such a high standard. Compared to the rather tight plot of the first season, this one was incredibly scattered. It just included too many characters and plots that should not have arrived since they ultimately didn’t contribute anything to the story. Still, it kept all of the elements that made the show as good as it was. We get a lot of really Hype moments throughout even if you discount the Hideyoshi moments. (Those were certainly the best ones though) Just about all of the characters get to shine. While the show has about as many hype characters as World Trigger and should probably have a few of them lose, it still does make for fun matchups. While it got a little more jaded here compared to season 1 since you knew they would all be ties, it still works to an extent. It’s a step down, but just as a Lasagna is a step down from pizza, it’s still a very good product in the end.

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Overall, Sengoku Basara crumbled under the pressure of its own ambitions. Still, the animation is rock solid and the soundtrack is amazing. The character cast is very solid and the writing is on point. You’ll never be bored during the show except for possibly the Yukimura filler episodes. Even just seeing the characters talk and plot strategies on the board is always interesting. I do enjoy that kind of thing as I like to see strategies unfold. It further emphasizes how ambitious the show was as many different pieces would be moving as once. Everyone had a plan and the villains would try to anticipate these plans and counter with their own. It was all very intricate and interesting. That’s why it would always be regrettable when the outcome would be off screen. Anyway, I definitely recommend watching this show. It may drop the ball on a bunch of things, but still has more than enough to let it compete with just about any other title. It’s definitely still one of my favorite recent franchises and I look forward to seeing what they do in the sequels. Ideally Yukimura will get a larger role coming up.

Overall 7/10

Samurai Jack (2017) Review

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Samurai Jack is one of the best American cartoons out there. If we don’t count super hero shows like Justice League then it takes the title quite easily. The show had awesome fights and episodes that were nonstop action the entire time. It may have ended rather suddenly with no real ending, but that’s fine since you could always imagine your own ending. Still, everyone was rather hyped when they announced that the series would finally be getting a conclusion. Everyone…except me. From the start this was promoted as a far darker, grittier, more violent take on the classic show to fit in with the modern times. I had a bad feeling that this show was not just going to be bad, but terrible. Unfortunately…my fears turned out to be correct.

This new season was fairly misleading as the first episode was actually really good. We got a nice fight scene and it was against a robot so there wasn’t any blood or anything. I felt like things would maybe be okay. Right after that is where the show went downhill and never recovered. Episodes 2-3 are the most action packed and intense episodes of the show, but are also overflowing with over the top violence. Jack also ends up murdering a few of his opponents who were brainwashed girls who were raised to despise him. The fact that they are rather young is there to increase the grit factor.

Episode 4 was more like a classic Jack episode. It still couldn’t be bothered to avoid some animal violence, but was a big step up from the last two episodes. Episode 5 was the final episode before the show lost its focus. We see the Scotsman have a very pointless return as he gets one shotted by Aku and Jack is tricked into thinking that he murdered a bunch of kids. Honestly, I thought they were dead too so props to the show for not going down that rabbit hole.

Episode 6 is about cameos as Ashi meets up with a bunch of old allies. You can say that it’s filler as it’s just a homage for old fans, but the good news is that this means we didn’t have to see any unnecessary grit. I think this may be the episode with a pretty wince worthy line, but more on that later. Episode 7 leads us back to grit as it’s one of the most violent episodes. Ashi murders a bunch of villains and you’ll just want to fast forward to the next one.

Episode 8 is one of the worst episodes. This time it’s because of the very forced romance and the fact that it doesn’t work at all. Jack’s wayyyyyyy older than Ashi and as people had been pointing out on the sub reddit for weeks, it couldn’t work. The show surely wouldn’t go down that path right? Well, they did even though everyone was hoping for a more father-daughter bond which would have made more sense. Episode 9 still has some of this plot to deal with, but luckily the second half is better as Aku steps in. Episode 10 is extremely rushed with a rather lackluster ending and one of the more anticlimactic final fights. The season ended as it ran….a disappointing and unnecessary final season.

Lets look at the negatives more generally now. First off is obviously the violence. Samurai Jack was originally a kid’s show, but this season decided to get extremely violent and dark. You could barely go a single episode without some kind of animal violence. Whether it be a bird getting stabbed, a dog being slashed to the verge of death, or random bugs squashed there was something always happening here. Animal violence is always a big no-no and having it show up over and over again certainly doesn’t help the show’s case. Naturally, the human fight scenes were just as bad. It gets to the point where you actively hope for an episode with no action and that’s where the show goes to the other extreme of having an episode that’s all about walking and talking. The only good fights are the one against Aku and robots, but those are typically quite brief.

To make the show a little more dark as well, Jack destroys the brainwashed daughters of Aku as I mentioned earlier. They were only added to the show so that Jack could justify his choice to destroy them and so he could stop being such a dramatic hero who saved everyone in his path. This was their only purpose which meant that the writers didn’t even care about their power levels. They started out as being incredibly strong and much quicker than Jack, but ultimately turned into light weights that Jack could defeat with ease.

The show’s writing also drops down quite a few levels. Just to keep up the edge factor the show has Scaramouche use a p word to describe someone’s head and it felt so out of place and unnecessary. It was about as forced as Wolverine’s catchphrase in virtually every X-Men film. The whole romance angle was also written quite poorly. Jack’s sudden lack of confidence and debates with his inner self were just as hard to watch. Aku was really the only character who stayed in character during this season. He was great and definitely a highlight here. Without him, I wonder how the show would have fared.
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To expand on why Jack isn’t a good character here, he has to compromise on his ideals far too often and doesn’t seem to have a shred of will power left. He decides to commit suicide after not being able to save a bunch of kids, but all that will do is doom even more people. He decides not to help a village that is being destroyed because he’s tired of being a hero. By the time he changes his mind and goes there, everyone is already dead. Jack even got a bunch of clever nicknames on Youtube as a result since he certainly seems to have gotten more ruthless over the years. His new (pretty bad) design didn’t help matters either. They really dropped the ball on this.

While Jack may have been butchered as a character, he still got some pretty good lines during the season. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way” or “I will give you a new choice. Turn back now or stay and face your destiny.” Those may not be word for word, but they were pretty intense. The latter especially as it comes from the preview for one of the first episodes. It was the most exciting preview and easily one of the best Toonami previews of all time. The music for that one was also pretty awesome and it will make you wish for some good tunes in the actual show.

Ashi is the main heroine and she’s a pretty decent character. She gets the short end of the stick on this show, but it was nice to finally have another supporting character who could fight. It’s a shame that we then had to throw romance into the picture and that we couldn’t see Ashi’s true form appear more. She was a good character and probably the best member in the series. She’s as brutal as Jack thanks to her origin and also mows everyone down during the course of the series. She got significantly weaker after turning good, but that’s to be expected. I like the concept of her character more than the execution, but she definitely wasn’t bad.

Scaramouche was great in the first episode. He made for a really good villain and his tuning fork is a potent weapon. That being said, his character was wasted in the rest of his appearances. The show just didn’t know what to do with him. His voice really helped to sell the character if you ask me. I already talked about how great Aku was so I don’t really need to go into it. He was just on point and while the show made him a little too powerful, (Jack can only win with plot hax) it made for an interesting dynamic. Aku is evil, but he doesn’t seem like a mean guy compared to the other villains. It’s something that I wouldn’t mind more titles playing around with. To an extent, Fairy Tail did this with Zeref for a while, but then he suddenly became full psychotic while trying to convince people that he was a nice guy.

The animation is basically the same as the old Jack show. It’s a little more streamlined and modern as the colors are sharper and the contrast works well. That being said, it’s still not my kind of animation and I wish they’d switch it to something more modern. The show looks very dated and I’ve seen 90’s shows that look a lot sharper. Just check out DBZ or Pokemon. The fight scenes are also a big step down from the old series. That one could have fights that lasted the entire episode and they happened multiple times. All of the fights in the 2nd half of the series are short and the first half felt long and intricate but also super violent and bloody.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack here. The classic Jack end theme is still around for most of the episodes which was pretty cool. I’m not really a fan of the theme song either. I typically don’t care for narration in my openings as it should just be illustrated through the lyrics and animation. If the show can’t do that, then it just needs to try again until it can pull this off.

The show is only 10 episodes so you’ll be able to get through it in a breeze. I can’t say that there is any real replay value to be found here at all. It may help convince you to re watch the old series again though so that would definitely be a good side effect of watching this one. At the very least, Samurai Jack serves as a cautionary tale to other old cartoons that fans want to get a new season. Odds are that the new season won’t be able to live up to the original episodes and it’ll just throw mud onto your cherished memories.

Before ending this review I should at least come up with one positive fro the show. It’s not a 0 so it’s not as if the show had 0 potential. What it did do well was establish a pretty apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s clear that Aku has won the war when the season picks up. Everything that I say here refers to the first 3 episodes by the way. The rest of the season became a complete trainwreck. The episode with Ashi and Jack teaming up in the factory was the final episode to try and salvage itself. Still, the first 3 episodes were pretty hype. There was a nice level of intensity and flare to each episode and the fights had real stakes. While the daughters of Aku were nerfed, they still felt like a nice threat. Seeing Jack use a variety of weapons instead of his sword was also interesting since he is a master in virtually every form of combat. If the episodes had been handled in the same vein as the original show, I think that these three episodes could have easily reached a solid 9. It wasn’t to be, but at least Jack never got boring during this trilogy. It really should have come out as some kind of 70 minute movie.

To address the ending, I can safely say that it wasn’t satisfying. As mentioned earlier, I wanted a big final fight. Even if we ignore the fact that we got cheated out of that, it’s just pretty mean spirited to Jack. The show basically just got him a companion just so they could take her away at the end so he could die alone. Jack also got over it a little too quickly in that last butterfly scene. I would have much preferred it if Jack had simply gone to the past, defeated Jack in a very long drawn out fight, and then became King. It would have been so much more effective and concise. That or have a big team up with Aku against a new villain, but I somehow feel like fans wouldn’t like that option very much.
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Overall, Samurai Jack deserved another season, but it didn’t need one. This season could have had a lot of potential since you can always make another story arc for Jack since he is immortal and the world is extremely large. Unfortunately this season couldn’t even decide what it wanted to do and half of the season felt like filler. The show could have ended on a more epic note after the first 3 episodes. It would have been a pretty conclusive ending. It even could have adapted episode 10 just without Ashi. Make no mistake, the show wouldn’t have gotten a positive score or anything since that would fix nothing, but you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by cutting the other 6 episodes out. The poorly constructed romance and pointless cameo of the Scotsman could have been left on the shelf. Next time you think about watching this show…don’t.

Overall 3/10

Sengoku Basara Review

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It’s time for an anime that is nostalgic in a sense. I played the original Devil Kings game a while back which is what this arc is based off of. Admittedly, I can see how the game would sell better with that title over Sengoku Basara as it just seems a little more intense. The anime did a great job of adapting it and was just about perfect. It was a really well done anime all around and I look forward to seeing how good the sequels are. This will be a tough season to follow though so I can’t say that I’m expecting it to be surpassed. I look forward to seeing it try to prove me wrong though.

The series takes place back in the really old days of warring nations of Samurai. There are many factions along the land and they feud over territory all the time. Despite this, many of them have fairly friendly relations with each other. They don’t hold grudges over destroying each other because it is simply their way of life. Whoever wins, there are no salty losers. That being said, it all changes when the Oda army descends onto the battlefield. They are led by the infamous Devil King who has no such compassion or morals on the battle field. His army doesn’t play by any set of rules and believes in winning at all costs. The heroes of each warring faction must either team up or face annihilation.

This is one of those series that has multiple protagonists through the different factions. Some of them are clearly evil while others are more heroic. You ultimately have to decide which group to root for. There are 3 main heroic factions to choose from with Yukimura’s getting the largest focus. That was where my allegiance was since he is easily the best character in the series. I did like Masamune a lot as a runner up though and the show did a good job of giving everyone a good amount of screen time.

Before talking about the show any further, lets delve into the characters. Yukimura is the headstrong protagonist whose fire abilities really enhance his fighting style. He has absolute confidence and never backs down from a fight. In fact, the moment that solidified him as the best character for me was when he didn’t even back down from the Devil King even when Masamune was frozen in fear. It was the deciding moment between the two and Yukimura passed the test. He may not have done too well against Mitsuhide, but you can’t win em all I suppose and the power levels were wonky by the end. More on that in a bit though. Having Ichigo’s English voice actor also helped a bit as well. Yukimura is one of the best main characters that I’ve seen in a while. He’s honorable, a great warrior, and he has fire abilities. Fire is the best element so that’s always a good sign.

Shingen is Yukimura’s boss and he’s a reasonable leader. He definitely gives Yukimura quite the beating over the series, but the main character is very tough so he can take it. I can’t say that I ever found him to be all that strong compared to Yukimura and Masamune since he is really lacking in speed, but he is still one powerful dude. It would have been nice if we could have seen him get a full fight as Shingen never really got the opportunity. Sasuke is the ninja in the fire squad and he gets a lot of subtle hype. He’s very quick and knows how to get out of a dangerous situation. He never gets into any danger or even ends up nearing a loss. Sasuke is essentially untouched during the whole season so I’d like to see him help out more next time.

Masamune is the big rival in the series and the second best character. His design is really good and his intense personality is fitting for Yukimura’s rival. He also enjoys combat quite a lot and it’s impressive that he’s the leader of his clan at a relatively young age. He gets a very large role during the course of the show. While Masamune may have overreacted at his first defeat and had to be snapped out of his stupor, he made a full recovery. I dare say that the show even hints that he may be slightly stronger than Yukimura. At the very least, he did look a little better against Mitsuhide, but Yukimura wasn’t in the right mindset for that one. Masamune’s 6 sword style was definitely unique even if it’s hard for me to imagine someone using it effectively. That’s a lot of swords after all, but it shows just how good he is.
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Kojuro is Masamune’s general and the two are pretty close. Kojuro will defy Masamune occasionally if he thinks that the leader is going down the right path. The leader may not like it at the time, but that’s exactly the kind of person that he wants as his second in command. Kojuro is also a pretty strong fighter in his own right. I don’t think he should really be a match for someone like Mitsuhide, but he’s probably the strongest secondary fighter in the series. His strategic knowledge is just as useful during this war even if Masamune does ignore it for a more direct plan.

Kenshin was another one of the leaders, but he was a little disappointing. He only got to very briefly fight for about a minute or so before being taken out of the equation and all he did was talk. His rivalry with Shingen even felt out of character with the rest of his personality. Honestly, the guy was just a little more on the annoying side and while he may not be a bad character per say, it did feel like he was stringing Kasuga on for a while. Kasuga is his 2nd in command and the head ninja. While she could have had potential as a strong mercenary like Nina Williams of Samus Aran (Bounty Hunter anyway) the show mainly just uses her for fanservice. She is out shined by Sasuke whenever the two characters meet and she also just ends up failing in all of her fights. As she is a professional ninja, you’d think that she could defeat the Devil King’s wife. Kasuga even got her in a choke hold, but then she allowed Nohime to get free and shoot Kenshin. Honestly, that was probably one of the most embarrassing moments in her career. The only moment that may have been worse was when she got one shotted by Nohime again while trying to avenge her master. Kasuga fans definitely won’t be pleased with her portrayal and rightly so. She’s usually a pretty strong character, but she wasn’t given any respect in this season.

Nobunaga or maybe I should say the Devil King, makes for a great villain in the series. He doesn’t appear right away, but still manages to make his presence known the instant that he appears. His theme is absolutely amazing and he is really a perfect villain. He’s absolutely ruthless as well as a brilliant tactician. He didn’t get to where he is by being naive and manages to double cross his lieutenant before he was back stabbed. It was a great moment because being outsmarted would have really hurt his character. I also like the fact that he actually has super powers of his own and that allows him to fight with his gun, cape, and a sword of course. A gun wouldn’t be very useful against most opponents, but since the Devil King is naturally powerful already, he can make it work. He’s one step ahead of the heroes for the bulk of the series and it was even a little surreal to finally see him take to the front lines at the end. Nohime is his wife and probably the only person that he can count on. She’s pretty skilled as she infiltrated one of the hero groups and took out the leader. She also managed to defeat Kasuga pretty easily and just did a really good job of backing up the Devil King overall. She only went down due to plot hax. Unfortunately, that meant that we could never see her get a full fight as her other battles were mere skirmishes.

Mitsuhide Ranmaru really got the shaft from the villains. He’s a kid who is working with the villains, but his backstory isn’t developed here. He can shoot arrows, but that’s about it so he is incredibly out of his depth here. I can’t say that I liked the kid at all so I was glad that the writers threw his character to the curb. Oichi is Nobunaga’s sister and he used her to entangle the clan leader Nagamasa into their ranks. As her husband, Nagamasa decides that he has to help the villains even if his whole shtick is that he fights for justice. It’s a shame since he is always talking about justice, but his honor gets in the way. That was pretty terrible to be honest and then when he finally decides to betray the Devil King, Oichi is used as a hostage. She puts up no resistance though and constantly makes things tough on him. I actually liked Nagamasa so his whole plot was pretty tragic.

Oichi’s a pretty terrible character though. She spends the majority of her screen time on the floor telling everyone to forgive her and asking the Devil King to turn into a good guy. Naturally that was not going to happen and he makes it clear several times that she is expendable. She almost dies a number of times as well. Oichi does have some Devil King abilities within her as well like when she destroys one of the main villains, but it quickly vanishes in time for her to be shot. Her character arc was very poorly developed and never went anywhere. Her powers were also odd as they just randomly appeared for a single scene and then never showed up again. It was as if the writers needed a way to take down one of the main villains and they decided to just make this up. If the powers had transformed Oichi into a good character then I’d be okay with it. As it stands, she basically got her husband murdered and then she went down shortly afterwards.
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Tokugawa is the worst clan leader. He can’t fight for beans and he continues to work for the Devil King even when he knows that the guy is evil. Naturally Tokugawa gets back stabbed and he would have lost the battle anyway if there wasn’t any interference. While Tokugawa may try to act as if he’s not a villain, he’s just as guilty as the others if you ask me since he’s working with the villains. He may use honor as a justification, but it’s just an excuse. His main general is Tadakatsu, a giant cyborg. This guy is physically very strong and Shingen even claims that Yukimura would not be able to defeat him. I don’t buy into that and I didn’t really believe the fight either, but the general seemed like a decent character.

There’s also the wandering warrior Keiji. He’s apparently extremely strong, but prefers to goof off and enjoy life while he can. This guy is critical to uniting the various factions to oppose the Devil King as they probably would not have worked together otherwise. He’s not really my kind of character, but the show portrayed him decently well. A lot of times this character trope ends up being a lot worse. There were some other minor characters in the show like a few clan leaders who showed up out of nowhere, but they’re really not all that important. They got a little bonus OVA episode that explains their involvement a little more, but it just shows that one of them is a villain and the other is another battle hungry leader. I actually liked that guy at least. It makes sense that there are more clans across the sea, but the show really didn’t need to add these guys.

While I have some issues with the show that are coming up, they don’t really hurt the show all that much. They’re just things that the writing could have worked on and some viewers may not even notice. The only one that was a little aggravating was the fanservice that would pop up once in a while. It was pretty mild and not too frequent at least, but Kasuga was basically used purely for fanservice. Her outfit is pretty outrageous and I can’t picture a ninja actually using it. I know Marvel’s reasoning for costumes like this for assassins is that they can distract the target which makes the job easier, but that seems more like an excuse than anything else. Whenever Kasuga talks to her boss she makes exaggerated poses as she exclaims her delight. It’s a pretty sad running gag and it’s the only part of the series that has fanservice in it. Take this away and that angle would have been perfect. So, that was definitely a little unfortunate, but I realize that it certainly could have been a lot worse. At the very least, the show never puts any real emphasis on her costume aside from these moments, which could have certainly been a disaster.

One thing that the show is comically bad at is the power levels. You get glimpses of this early on, but it gets worse and worse. All right, we know that Yukimura and Masamune are about equal since all of their skirmishes are completely deadlocked and have to be interrupted. They are seen as the absolute strongest warriors even if the leaders would beg to differ. Then we get Nagamasa who is also able to match up to Masamune. Then we get Mitsuhide who has the upper hand against Masamune (He was weakened though) and later on starts to beat Yukimura. The two of them team up and Mitsuhide is still holding his own. That’s when Kojuro shows up and says that he’ll take care of it. He beats Mitsuhide pretty easily, but that shouldn’t be possible since he’s weaker right? Keiji was also shown to be at around the same level and he also took down one of the big hyped leaders.

The problem here is that the show wanted to give everyone a bunch of hype which resulted in all of them being at the same level. It just didn’t make sense and as a result some characters would suddenly look weak for no reason. Yukimura losing to the cyborg for a while in the fight didn’t work for me and Shingen looked really bad against Mitsuhide. It reminded me of LBX, but that show’s probably The most extreme when it comes to power levels so we’re not quite there yet. You’ll also just be able to tell since the visuals are so exaggerated for the two main heroes. They’re making twisters with every hit to launch hundreds of soldiers away one second, but then they can’t dodge a bullet the next. The heroes are cornered by conventional weapons at some points and it makes you wonder how this is possible. Well, that’s because the visuals are more just for entertainment. They’re not actually jumping and staying in the air for whole minutes or cleaving mountains in two, it just feels like they are. At the same time, that’d be kinda sad and some scenes don’t support this as other characters see the battle and feel the tremors. The other explanation is that they can only awaken their powers at some points like in a video game and their normal mode is just really weak. My own theory is just that the power levels are inconsistent and the writers could have handled it better.

The show made some odd decisions towards the end. The story was really good and this isn’t necessarily a negative, but the ending had a lot of cop outs. At the beginning, characters were dying left and right, which kept amping up the stakes and it felt like a show where 90% of the cast would die off and there wouldn’t be any room for a second season. I’m inclined to think that the writers just wanted more money and season 2 would give them a chance of that. As such, a ton of characters just randomly survived at the end even when it felt like they should not have. Yukimura’s boss, the ice boss, Masamune’s henchmen, they all felt rather artificial when these characters survived. Allowing them to die would have made the ending a lot more impactful. So, I think this decision did hurt the tone of season 1 a bit, but it could help season 2 a lot since not having all of these characters could have been a little tough. Even Masamune may have died if there was no season 2. Fans of these characters should also be happy since they may get a chance to fight more thanks to this.

Finally, I have to point out that the characters in this show have a very distorted version of honor. It’s an old school kind of honor where if you make a deal, you have to stick to it even if nobody else is. An example is how several heroes made a pact with the Devil King and then had to stick to it even while he was murdering their allies and stabbing people in the back. At that point, I’d say that the honorful thing to do is to stop him yourself instead of standing back and aiding him. A lot of characters were confused about that, but at least Shingen and Masamune knew better. Honor like that just isn’t worth it, but you’ll be surprised at how many characters in this series are paralyzed by it.

Sengoku Basara definitely doesn’t disappoint with the epic soundtrack. The tunes are all very high octane and full of action which makes all of the scenes that much better. Nobunaga’s theme is absolutely the best one as you’d expect. It’s very atmospheric and perfect for all of his moments. That being said, the hero themes are also really good and the battle themes are exceptional. There are also some lyrical themes which occur during big fights. Basara’s animation was also the real deal. At times it could maybe be a little too stretched out with the attacks though. It’s like watching a 90’s Marvel comic in anime format at times as it’s all very Topsy Turvy. It may seem odd at times, but overall I’d say that it worked really well. The colors are very sharp and it felt like the anime got a pretty high budget overall. At the very least, you could tell that this was as video game adaption right from the start and I do think it should embrace that fact.
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Overall, Sengoku Basara is a pretty great anime. It has a lot of action nonstop and the pacing is really good. I’ve said this many times, but that’s one of the things that I love about 12-13 episode shows. They don’t have to bother with a lot of fillers (typically) or drawn out scenes to buy time. This show just goes all in and never gives you a break to relax. The only real negative here is the fanservice which is fairly limited and the fact that the heroes have horses that they ride into battle. I didn’t really get into it, but there is one scene in particular where a horse dies and that was unfortunate. If it had happened more often, that would have definitely been enough to have really hurt the score. It’s why I heavily advocate against heroes having animals in any capacity as it usually ends up being targeted. Kind of a downer to end the review on that note, but essentially just brace yourself for that scene and the Kasuga shenanigans. Beyond that, the show really hit all of the right notes and I look forward to the next season.

Overall 8/10