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Magia Record Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Transformers: Cyberverse Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 6/10

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

Cardfight!! Vanguard: Shinemon Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

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

The Office Review


It’s time to look at a show that is often regarded as the ultimate comedy show. You typically see other titles up there in people’s top 3 like Seinfeld and Parks and Recreation or if you go a bit further then Friends gets brought up too. The Office is often looked to as the absolute best though and while I haven’t watched the others, I can definitely believe it. It’s hard to see any of the others passing this one. The Mockumentary style that the show goes with is just perfect and the episodes are a blast. Parks and Rec seems to have a bit of a similar nature so that would probably be the highest on my list if I check out another sitcom at some point. This show certainly lasted quite a while so there was time for a lot of adventures.

Usually a long show would automatically mean a crazy long review. That being said, The Office is a little different from other long running shows I’ve seen in part because it is a comedy. Sure, there are story arcs and such but it’s different from a more plot based show. It’s not like I can discuss power levels, special effects, and the OST here because this show doesn’t really have that. It’s all about the humor and the characters so I’ll be focusing on that. Season 1 is supposed to be a pretty rough start so I see people mostly recommend the show starting with season 2. I can see the logic although I thought it started pretty strongly. Admittedly season 2 or 3 would probably be my favorite ones. The period from 2-7 is definitely the show at its peak though. Once Michael leaves there is a noticeable dip although the seasons are still pretty fun. Michael Scott just makes the show and I can directly say that it wouldn’t have been the same without him. This is one case where removing a single character makes a huge difference.

The general plot of the show revolves around a paper company named Dunder Mifflin. Michael Scott is the location’s manager and he supervises a quirky cast of characters. Some of them work super hard, some hardly work, and others are just here for the gossip. The location is often under hard times so there is quite a bit of downsizing. Scott looks at his crew at a big family so he does his best to always make every day a blast. As a result there are a ton of crazy shenanigans that go on throughout the show. You never really know what’s going to happen in the episode. Each episode also starts off with a quick skit for a few minutes and often times those are pretty incredible as well.

The show’s humor is similar to Airplane in a lot of ways. Crazy things happen a lot with the characters reacting as if things are normal. They’re all very exaggerated and yet relatable at the same time. It deals with every possible workplace scenario you can think of and you can see a little bit of each person you know in each character. They’re all cleverly crafted to the point where you can identify with just about all of the main characters. They all have their likable moments and by the end of the show you’ll probably like most of them. Even though every character does at least something crazy by the end of the series it’s easy to overlook it with how many quality moments they have.

At the same time, the show’s humor isn’t afraid to get a little crazy. It’s a tactic that definitely would not work for every title. Being able to use edgy humor has to be done extremely carefully or you’ll end up being either a mean spirited show or just one that is being obnoxiously inappropriate for no reason. This show manages to pull off its share of crazy moments. Not every joke lands of course as that is impossible for even the best of shows, but in The Office more jokes land than miss. The episodes always have something funny happening to the point where I can’t really think of a downright bad episode in those peak seasons. Granted, I marathoned quite a lot of them so splitting up episodes could get tricky.

I think part of the show’s weakness towards the end of its run once Michael left is because it shifted more into a serious romance drama. The majority of the seasons would deal with various romance plots like Jim and Pam or Angela and Dwight but they were the subplots and the main parts were still about the happy comedy. Some episodes at the end are just fairly grim. In particular I’d say Jim and Pam’s romance drama after getting together felt a lot more forced. They didn’t really need to have so many issues. Then you have the fact that just about everyone was cheating on each other with others towards the end. Technically it’s probably just a handful of people but the plots would come up so often that it would be a bit distracting.

Michael Scott is easily the best character of the series as I already mentioned a bit. Part of what makes him such a great character is how he is able to establish good banter with every character in the series. He always seems to want to do the right thing even if it all gets messed up. He can be a bit selfish and always has to be the center of attention but at least he does throw constant parties for his crew. His true intelligence also shows when he is backed into a corner. Michael doesn’t back down and at the end of the day he did live up to his title as the World’s Best Boss.

Then you have Dwight who is a great character due in large part to his banter with Jim. Outside of Michael their interactions are the best part of the series. Dwight is always trying to impress Michael and as a result can be pretty stuffy and literal about things. Jim can’t help but poke fun at him every chance he gets. Jim almost always instigates the fights but is definitely one of those characters who can dish it out but can’t take it. I still remember how he panicked after getting hit with a snow ball. Dwight’s definitely a lot of fun.

Jim’s one of the most entertaining characters as well. I like him best as a salesman though as when he became a boss Jim was a lot less likable. He became the office killjoy as he would keep squashing all of Michael’s plans. Eventually he went back to being a salesman and improved as a result. His plotline with Pam was definitely the most tragic one in the show for many episodes as she was already with Roy but he clearly liked her. They were best friends during this period but in a way that helped make it sting even more. One of the only times I was totally against Jim though was when he made a move on Pam when he knew she was taken.

Encouraging her to cheat is a pretty bad look. Then there’s the fact that both of them kept rebounding with other people until eventually landing each other again. The whole plotline is a bit sketchy and it’s why the romance in the show is its weakest element. Their banter was definitely at its best when they were friends. Pam was the receptionist for a while and had a lot of fun moments in that role. She would do her best to help salvage Michael’s image at times and did seem to have some interest in her work. She’s another character who was integral to the show’s structure for a while as she is the first person each character sees and gets a lot of interactions.

Ryan is another one of the best characters in the series. He’s a good example of the worst kind of worker you could have on your side. He’s super lazy and never gets any work done. Then when he gets a promotion the power goes to his head and he treats everyone terribly. The show does its best to always make him look pretty terrible and that’s part of why he’s so great. You know where you stand with him because everything he says is a lie. The guy definitely took a lot of hard hits in his career even going to jail at one point but he would always bounce back. He definitely had a nice rivalry with Jim and Pam at one point.

Then you have Andy who got a whole lot of character development throughout the series. He started out as a rival to Dwight, became a boss at one point, and then was just a guy who would add to the office atmosphere. I liked him quite a lot although his plot lines near the end of the show were rather odd. The whole growing a beard and getting on a boat plot was a low moment for him. He was at his best as Drew and also when he was a boss before getting pushed around by the next one. It’s crazy how many people wanted to step in as boss once Michael left. The power vacuum was crazy.

Robert Now we’re getting to the secondary characters who are always around and have a lot of character of course but get less of a role than the main ones. Stanley is the character who does his job but doesn’t like to participate in any of the extra activities. He sees his co-workers as just that, not friends. As a result he clashes with Michael quite a bit but can always get happy for food. He’s a solid character and seems easy to get along with. Then we have Kevin who grows less and less intelligent with each season. From the various characters he would be one of the weaker ones for me. He has some solid scenes as with every character of course but his humor moments are a lot more obvious and considerably less funny.

The weakest member of the cast is Meredith though. Her thing is that she will have an affair with anyone but that’s about it. Out of all the characters I feel like she is the only one who may not have had her own episode which is quite telling when you think about it. There’s just not much to her character. You can say the same for Creed to an extent but at least he has his shady past to help as a subplot. The guy is definitely pretty crazy so you never know what he’s going to do.

Oscar often plays it seriously compared to everyone else. When people suggest crazy ideas he tries to keep them all on track although he is not very successful at this. He’s definitely another funny character though. The series drags him through the mud by the end of the series with all the cheating he does though. The same can be said for Angela who consistently cheats on everyone throughout the series. Even once she gets married she started cheating a lot once again. She’s a very strict/serious character who has a hard time showing her emotions. Despite this character arc I wasn’t a huge fan of her either.

In general I still say the cast was really strong though because all of the true main characters were solid and so the secondaries could bounce off of them. One of the more unlikable characters was Phyllis who always seems to be trying to get revenge. She’s easily the most petty character and a lot of the time she gets away with it which is what makes her even worse. Part of why you don’t hold much against the other characters is because they usually get their comeuppance by the end of the episode. That rarely happens with Phyllis though.

Jan’s character goes in a very different direction than I could have possibly expected from her first appearances. She seemed like a tough boss who just got a little too emotionally involved. By the end of the series though we see that she was actually a bit insane and Michael sure put up with a whole lot. She’s a fun enough character but she was at her best before she officially got together with Michael. Then later on we have Holly who is basically a nice version of Jan. I don’t think her character worked because she was a little too perfect the whole time though.

Next up is Kelly who is the group’s main gossip. She loves to talk and talk but that helps her fit in even more with this group. Let’s face it, most of the characters in this show gossip a lot so that’s not unheard of. She gets in several affairs throughout the show so she’s always in the mix. Darryl is the only member of the Warehouse staff who gets a sizable role here and he’s cool. He had a pretty interesting subplot where he got his own office at one point and so it was good to see him move up.

Meanwhile Erin was another one of the new additions to the team. While she wasn’t quite as fun as Pam, Erin was pretty solid. She was a nice character as well. Gave on the other hand could come off as a bit of a creep the whole time. He does his best to defend corporate, but a corporate sympathizer was never going to look all that good. It was just never going to happen. Karen is a character who didn’t last long and got a pretty unfortunate ending. At the end of the day Jim really ditched her without much reason just because Pam was back in the mix. The whole show never seemed very fair to Karen and it’s unfortunate because she was fun. She was always willing to go along with the office hi-jinx so I think she had a lot of potential.

David Wallace is one of the big bosses in the series and so I thought he deserved a mention. He’s pretty patient with Michael. He may get exasperated a whole lot but at the end of the day he seems like a really nice guy. He was definitely the most reasonable boss. You also had Robert California but he was a little too odd. Even for this show he could be a bit crazy and most of the time I can’t really say that he was really entertaining. Part of the problem with him is that when push came to shove he got thrown around by a random lady who walked in the office and stole a job. Robert never recovered from that.

Finally we have Toby. Aside from his rather odd plot with Pam that would show up once in a while he was a blast to have around. His banter with Michael was possibly even better than Jim and Dwight although it’s very one sided. How much you enjoy the plot will depend on if you think it’s too mean spirited to Toby or not. I personally thought it was pretty hilarious but it’s not for everyone. Toby works for H.R. so absolutely nobody likes him in the series but Michael especially can’t stand the guy because it’s basically his job to stop all of Michael’s quick parties.

I think it goes without saying that the writing is phenomenal in this series. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find every episode hilarious. I really don’t think there will ever be another show as entertaining as this one. Ultimately it can’t get a higher score because it is held back a bit by the romance and some of the dicier scenes in the show, but it’s still got another great moments for me to easily recommend it. I would say maybe don’t watch the final two seasons though unless you really enjoy the other characters. I still did like the final two seasons but if the others were a 9 on the funny scale, those would be more of a 7. The final episode in particular is easily one of the worst ones in the series for me. As a finale it just fell flat.

Overall, The Office is definitely a blast. It’s really a totally different level of comedy. I’ve seen quite a few comedy shows in my day although they were usually pretty old or Disney type shows so I can’t say that I’ve really seen too many mainstream ones. The gimmick of the interview style just works really well. I see a lot of people say they binge watch the show over and over again and it definitely does have a lot of replay value. There are so many episodes you could easily run through them again and there’s even an Office Youtube account that uploads old clips every few days and still gets ton of clicks. If you like humor and think the premise sounds good then I would recommend it. The show can definitely get intense and keep in mind that the humor takes shots at everything. Nothing is off limits for the title, but once it gets going the show is hard to put down. If you’re on the fence with the show then starting at Season 2 makes sense and you can always go back to watch Season 1 later on but otherwise I’d say you’re fine with starting from the beginning.

Overall 7/10

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

The Reflection Review


Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10

10 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

RWBY Volume 7 Review


It’s always a sad day when a RWBY volume ends. It’s a pretty long wait til the next one but at least in the meantime we can keep watching this one over and over again. The volume had a bit of a slow start in terms of action so initially I was a bit concerned but the final few episodes made for a really epic climax. This ended up being one of the best volumes yet. The fight scenes have improved again to the point where they are finally back up to around volume 3 level.

This volume starts off with team RWBY finally making it into Atlas. It’s been a long journey for the team but now they can talk to Ironwood about stopping Salem. He has been quite busy since volume 4 and has amassed an impressive army to combat her including the AceOps, a group of powerful fighters who are known as the best of the best. The heroes train and get some upgrades while in Atlas, even meeting up with a rebuilt Penny. The peace doesn’t last for long though as Salem sends Watts and Tyrian over to create some general chaos in Atlas. Meanwhile Cinder and Neo are after the maiden and the artifact. If the heroes aren’t careful they may lose everything. Do they retreat or hold their ground? Ironwood, Robyn, and Mr. Schnee all have their own ideas on what to do next.

A lot happens here even if the experience will feel pretty short due to how much fun it is. I believe this was one of the longest seasons to date and Rooster Teeth has done a good job of getting the episodes to pretty consistent run times. I’d like to eventually see every episode be around 25 minutes, but one step at a time. There’s so much that the volume does right so it’s almost hard to know where to start. First, one big positive here is that the story moves along quite a bit. We get through a solid chunk of the Atlas arc here to the point where the next volume should end it. We get to wrap up Weiss’ plot as well as get to the heart of Ironwood’s character arc. The pacing is solid.

The animation is definitely top notch. As I mentioned earlier, these are the best that the fights have looked in quite a while. It’s not like RWBY ever got bad at that though. Volume 4 did have the Team vs Tyrian fight which is still one of the best fights in the series and Volume 5 of course had the big Raven vs Cinder match. Volume 6 had the Grim Reaper battle as well as the climax with Adam. I’d say that the main difference is that in volumes 4 and 5 it felt like the team only had time for one big fight so the rest of the fight scenes suffered a bit. Volume 6 got past that and then Volume 7 is really thriving. We’re back to fun team combos and good background effects that amp up the battle.s

Ironwood’s battle is a good example of this with gravity playing an effect in the confrontation. It really adds an extra dynamic to the whole thing. Then Team RWBY’s fight was excellent. While most of it isn’t a pure 4 vs 4 fight, you’ve still got a lot of people moving at the same time which is something the series was infamously unable to do in the Volume 5 climax. (I’d still like to see the team re-make that fight someday) It’s a good benchmark to see how the series has really grown since then.

Then we’ve also got an excellent soundtrack which should come as no surprise since the series always has great tunes. We get the excellent Hero theme that plays during Ironwood’s fight. I’ve listened to that one a very large number of times at this point. The song that plays during the RWBY fight was also really solid. Those are the 2 best themes for me, but the credits villain theme is also solid as well as the intro. I look forward to seeing the full soundtrack for this volume coming out so we can hear the full versions of these songs.

Now we’re going to enter the more detailed part of the review so these parts will have spoilers. If you need to know the score now then know that it is a perfect 10. RWBY never delivers anything short of perfection. RWBY is definitely still the best show out there and it’s also part of why I have to discuss it in such detail. I can’t leave a stone unturned and I’m always browsing the reddit to see what everyone else thinks of the big events. It’s a title where there will always be a good amount of discussion.

The first big topic for debate here is Ironwood’s decision of course. Ironwood himself is a pretty complex character. He’s been doing his best to fight Salem since Volume 3, but things never turn out so well for him. In Volume 3 things don’t go well because Ozpin stays tight lipped about everything and doesn’t let Ironwood in quick enough. By Volume 6 2 of the 4 Kingdoms have already been defeated (Haven is still around, but without a headmaster or a relic it can’t do much to help) and so Atlas seems like it may be the next target. Given this, Ironwood has been building up his army. He has everyone fully mobalized and even got the AceOps ready for action. He’s done a tremendous job of getting everyone in tip top shape. The army may still need a little work since team RWBY got in so easily but it’s still pretty solid as a whole.

Unfortunately intruders are still getting into Atlas and Salem threatens to make an appearance as well. There is no time for Ironwood to achieve his goal of getting the communication tower up in time and the heroes could barely fend off the first wave of Grimm so the whole army would dominate them. Ironwood then makes the controversial decision to jettison Atlas into space to avoid the Grimm and in theory Salem won’t be able to chase him there. At the very least it’ll take some time for her to get up there so he can smoke out the intruders and think up a plan. Team RWBY disagrees which leads to their big fight with the AceOps.

Ruby does have the moral high ground here since abandoning a whole half of the country to die is not heroic no matter how you slice it. On a practical level Ironwood is right that they’ll all die down there given how powerful the Grimm are. It’s a matter of do you let everyone die or half of them? It’s not the heroic move, but Ironwood’s decision is the most rational. I think a good compromise team RWBY could have gone for would be to quickly gather everyone who wasn’t already evacuated into Atlas. They already got some of them over, just not everyone. This would also seal the deal for the rest of the survivors though so in effect helping Ironwood would also go against RWBY’s goals here. It’s easy to see why this would lead to a fight.

I hope the series keeps Ironwood as an anti-hero who is doing what he can, but finds himself on the wrong moral side each time rather than becoming a full villain. He’s getting dangerously close to that with how he shot Oscar. The line he used for that was pretty awesome though and one of the best lines in RWBY. This volume helped Ironwood rise up from just another character to being in my top 5 now. I may need to make a new top 10 RWBY characters editorial soon since it’s been shaken up so much. At the moment my top 10 would be 1. Adam 2. Ironwood 3. Cinder 4. Yang 5. Raven 6. Neo 7. Torchwick 8.Weiss 9.Mercury 10. Ruby but it’s definitely a list that tends to change quite a bit. Ironwood’s just made for a great character and now that he is officially becoming a third party to contend with it makes him that much more interesting. I really hope he doesn’t die in the next volume although it’s looking likely. Realistically he won’t be defeating Salem or Cinder but hopefully he can bump off at least one more side villain like Mercury or Hazel.

The whole Atlas debate was a pretty big part of the volume. Meanwhile we had the Atlas election which was the setup for all of this. The Weiss family drama was less interesting, but still a necessary part in all of this since we had been waiting so long for some closure. I’m still not a big fan of Weiss’ Mom. At least Whitley is a little interesting with where his character may go. There are a lot of options for him for sure. Then Weiss’ father gets his end. He had a pretty good run and he’s a fun guy to have around. I’d have liked him to manipulate the others a little more instead of getting manipulated but I suppose that’s how it goes some times.

Winter is a character who hadn’t appeared in a long while so it was good to see her return. She’s still a little too fixated on following the law though to the point where she isn’t choosing to step up and help Weiss. For characters like her I always like to see them ultimately betray the law to help their family out. Those who do not end up suffering a big fall and it’s hard to rise back up as a character. Byakuya from Bleach pulled it off so Winter could as well, but this was not her best volume. I’m fine with her getting wrecked by Cinder since I don’t consider them to be in the same league, but I’d have liked her to have been more supportive of Weiss. I do like to think that maybe she would have helped if Weiss was actually brought in although I have my doubts.

Penny’s return was another controversial part of the volume. Especially since it was confirmed that she wouldn’t be coming back several years ago after her death. Plans change so you should never put too much stock into interviews and such outside of the show though. In-universe she is a robot so it makes sense that she could come back. Personally I would have rathered she did not. In general not bringing a character back is the right move, but it can all work out if the character has great scenes. Take Cinder for example. I’m glad she was brought back since she has had several great fights since then. At the time I’d have preferred she stayed dead, but what’s done is done. So going forward in volume 8 it’s not like I’ll still be dwelling on it. She’s here so now I’m looking forward to her getting some big fights. She’s going to be a real powerhouse now so hopefully Ironwood is unable to take control of her or the heroes are going to be in some major trouble.

Watts gets his first big role of the series and looks pretty good. His battle with Ironwood is handled really well and they both got a good amount of hype there. Watts’ motivations may be weaker than some of the other villains, but it’s still one you can understand. He feels like he should have gotten the headmaster position at Haven. I think he would have done a way better job than Lionheart, but I’m sure Ironwood had his reasons for doing that. It’s still no excuse for being evil. I’m surprised that Ironwood let him live, but Watts could end up being pretty useful going forward.

Then we have the AceOps who all become pretty big characters by the end. Clover gets the biggest role for sure. He’s a solid commander who seems to be going for a bit of a Captain America vibe. Unfortunately he makes one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen as he decides to prioritize going after Qrow instead of Tyrian. Qrow even points out that this is crazy but Clover won’t listen to reason and gets murdered over that decision. It was hard to feel bad for him there because the entire thing was completely his fault. Qrow did his best to go after Tyrian, but Clover made that impossible.

The rest of the AceOps come across as more reasonable. While they are trying to take out Team RWBY, it’s because they see their orders as being the right ones. Harriet is the main fighter of the group and she has the right idea of going all out from the start. Marrow mentions that he doesn’t want to destroy the heroes, but ironically Weiss tries to slice off their heads at the exact point he says that. Team RWBY isn’t holding back so they can’t either. Besides, you aren’t able to destroy someone if they still have Aura unless your attack is that much stronger like Adam’s famous slash which took off Yang’s arm. Either way holding back will only get you injured. Harriet was determined and even after being tied up gave Ruby a good fight.

Marrow comes across as the most reasonable of the members. He doesn’t fall for Robyn’s mind games which was impressive since everyone always falls for that. His power to stop time of either one person at a time or everyone in his line of sight is a really good ability. He’s nigh unstoppable in a 1 on 1 fight but Weiss ended up being a bad match up for him. Elm and Vine get the smallest roles of the group. Vine is the most emotionless of the group and doesn’t find any of this personal. He’s just following orders and doing what he’s got to do in order to claim victory here. Elm takes this very personally as she is quite eager and willing to put team RWBY down for good.

One thing I greatly appreciated here was the fact that Team RWBY beat AceOps fair and square. I was worried that the fight would get broken up or they would get saved, but fortunately that does not happen. RWBY just shuts them down systematically and it was quite satisfying. I also liked Ruby’s confidence there as she doesn’t always show that lately. Flat out telling AceOps that RWBY is more talented was really great. This is the kind of development I like to see from her as team leader.

Meanwhile we had one more big new character in the form of Robyn. Unfortunately I was really not impressed with her. For starters her fighting abilities are really just now impressive. She has a crossbow as her weapon which is a questionable choice at best because there just isn’t anything you can really do with that. All of the characters fighting at this level can move fast enough to catch or dodge any such arrows. It leaves her with no real room to grow. She goes down quite quickly in each match. I was hoping she would have been more of a serious third party character to worry about, but in the end Ironwood ended up taking that role so there was nothing really left for her to do. A shame of course, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped. I hope she is able to make a comeback in the next volume. She talks really tough every time so that makes me think there is still hope for her to make a comeback if she can just get a little stronger.

I can’t say that I really have any formal negatives with the volume. Even the weakest aspects of RWBY are quite solid. If there’s a plot we could remove, I wouldn’t mind losing the Ren and Nora one. Their romance hasn’t really worked since day 1 and they were better off as close friends. It is also quite telling that the instant Nora distracted Ren was when the villains attacked so he was unable to help out. It ended up costing quite a few lives. Maybe the show will use that to end this sub plot. Ren’s also been panicking a lot so if one member of the team gets bumped off I could see it being him. Team Jaune in general spent the volume not doing much and getting wrecked along the way. They haven’t really kept up with Team RWBY in terms of power although I wouldn’t expect them to. The main characters should always be in a different level compared to the supporting ones. That’s just how these things go.

Cinder and Neo still make for a pretty dangerous team. Cinder needs to watch her back since a betrayal could happen at any point. It’s a little hard for me to believe that Cinder was unable to get past the other Maiden’s ice abilities though. Cinder is a maiden herself and I can understand losing to Raven since Raven had years of experience, but an old maiden who’s getting ready to die? I’m not sure I can buy into that one. For Neo it was great to see her take down the heroes. I’ve always seen her as a top tier fighter close to Maiden level so it’ll be interesting to see who is actually able to stop her. The longer she goes undefeated the more she will stay in her mythical status of being seen as basically untouchable.

As for Team RWBY, they all look good. Blake doesn’t do too well in the big fight at the end as she has to get saved twice, but she still does contribute in the fight. Yang looks great throughout here as she helps the team make their decisions and also has the power to get things done when it counts. She is still using a lot of strategy in her fights which is good to see. Ruby looks great in the volume as she takes charge and gives orders with one exception. She only didn’t look very good in Salem’s big scene where Ruby bursts into tears right away. I thought she fell to tears way too quickly if you ask me and it just wasn’t very deserved at the time. It also made Ironwood’s decision that much easier since if the leader of the heroes bursts into tears when the villain shows up then they really don’t have much of a chance. Hopefully Ruby can keep it together when they actually fight Salem.

For Weiss this was an especially big volume. At long last she won her first true 1 on 1 fight which was awesome. It’s about time since she has trained a whole lot over the years. She earned this victory and also helps the team out quite a lot. Her summoning is only going to get better from here on out and that’ll make her a true threat in combat. Then we have Qrow who looks pretty good here. He still has some trouble with his bad luck like nearly tripping once, but as least he doesn’t spend the volume looking super nerfed or feeling sorry for himself this time. He looks pretty decent as he keeps up with Clover and Tyrian. It’ll also be interesting to see if he does try to assassinate Ironwood in the next volume. I’m surprised he let himself be captured though because that’s always a very dangerous risk.

Finally we’ve got Oscar who is doing his best to fit in with the crew. He still feels way weaker than the others, but always does his best to give good advice and talk to the various characters. Ozpin misses most of the volume so this is really just good ole Oscar. I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s not bad. There’s no way he should have actually landed that punch on Neo though. I don’t think anyone was buying that. She’s way too nimble and if she meant to knock him out then Oscar should not be waking up anytime soon.

So in the end I thought about it quite a bit and I would actually put this as the second best volume in the series. Right now I’m going to put the volumes as 3>7>6>2>5>1>4. 2 and 5 are pretty close but the train fights are still just too amazing to pass up. If the trend continues then Volume 8 could finally be the one to pass 3. It’ll be tough but with how many cool things are set up to happen we could reach that level. I’m ready for Salem to finally step in the ring herself. Sadly there is no after credits scene in this volume but I’d recommend sticking through the credits just for the song.

Overall, RWBY Volume 7 is a really great volume. We got to see more of Cinder and Neo which is always great as well as some excellent action scenes with RWBY and Ironwood to close things off. The first 9-10 episodes are a little slow, but the final few really help to give us the action we needed. It’ll work well in movie format since you can see all of that as set up for the big fights in the end. The ending is always super important and RWBY always delivers there. If you haven’t watched RWBY before then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out. You can watch this volume from the start and get what is happening since the volume is made in a clear way so you can watch it as a stand alone title, but you’d be missing out on so many hype scenes from the earlier days. I’d advise you to start from scratch.

Overall 10/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


It’s time to look at the new Kino series. This one is effectively a remake of the old one in a way as some stories are re-adapted while others are looked at for the first time. Since the series is an anthology in a sense the stories will always differ a bit. Anthologies are still the riskiest type of story telling since there are so many different adventures that one is bound to drag the rest down. Unfortunately this was the case here. They say that a bad ending can hurt the whole product and it is true. An ending can really change things and this series had one of the worst final episodes I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of the series is that Kino and her sentient bike Hermes travel the world seeing a lot of different countries. Their rule is that they can’t stay anywhere for more than 3 days. That’s because any longer and you may get attached to the place, but Kino wants to stay a traveler for her whole life. She has to keep on moving and so she follows this rule. That’s also why the series is able to be an anthology as each place is different. There is also a different main character for some episodes but more on that later. As an anthology it makes sense to look at the episodes so lets take a look at each adventure.

Our first episode sees Kino head into a country where murder is legal. As a result you’d expect the place to be very chaotic but it’s strangely peaceful. Kino enjoys the place quite a bit although she keeps her guard up at all times just in case. After all most places tend to seem better than they are. The twist here is handled pretty well and ends up making the place one of the better towns we’ve seen in the series. It’s certainly not an area to be trifled with and I think Kino would have fit in quite well.

Next up was one of the better episodes where we meet the other main character Shizu and his dog Riku. Kino enters a land where she is forced to participate in a tournament against other fighters. It’s all held under the authority of a corrupt king who forces travelers to participate and most if not all of them end up murdered. Kino begins taking down all her opponents and aims to seemingly end this while Shizu has similar goals. It’s a pretty intense episode and we get more fight scenes than usual which is nice. Shizu is also a good fighter so Kino finally has a good rival. Typically in the series she is portrayed as being pretty much invincible.

The twist ending here is definitely unexpected as it portrays Kino as being particularly merciless. We know that she is not a hero, but in this episode she goes as far as to basically be a big villain. She is directly responsible for triggering a mass murder at the end of the episode and she did so intentionally. It’s hard to really forgive her for this by the end and for the rest of the series you probably won’t be rooting for her quite as much. It’s possible for a hero to become a villain that you still root for sort of like Garou but the goals are a big part of that. Kino really doesn’t have any goals which hurts her personality.

In the third episode we see a moving country that likes to roll right over other countries as it destroys them entirely. The country has the same mission as Kino, to travel the world. The main difference is that the entire country moves around and it’s inside a giant armored shell so they just blow up anyone who tries to stop them. One country refuses to move and they end up paying the price. Kino gladly helps the moving country take care of these guys as well. They are giving her a free ride after all. It’s an interesting concept to have a moving country like this but you’re definitely hoping someone does shut these guys down soon.

Next up we got the return of Shizu as he finds a shady country that lives on a big boat. The boat is failing so eventually everyone is going to die. Shizu warns the leaders of this, but they refuse to listen. He doesn’t want to let everyone die so he decides to stop the boat by force only to be met up with the main antagonist Kino. She is working for the boat guys and so they have to have another fight. Shizu also meets a little girl named Ti who has had a pretty tough time of it and decides to adopt her. He intends to find a nice country where they can finally relax but it’ll be tough to find a good place. This was another fun episode in part because Shizu is just such a great lead. This guy’s a hero who is out to stop the villains whenever possible and I’d be up for a full series about him.

The next episode involves a lot of lies within lies. Kino finds out about some people who seemingly died, but then again maybe they didn’t. It’s an interesting concept where everyone knows the lie, but they don’t know that the others do. It’s an infinite loop where everyone has to play dumb until someone makes the first move. It’s a little tragic for everyone involved, so Kino just takes a sip of tea and leaves them to it. I do think the whole situation may make you roll your eyes a bit. Hopefully the characters just allow themselves to learn the truth at some point.

Following that up was the darkest episode in the season and certainly the weakest one aside from the final episode. We see a travelling caravan of merchants who have a slave girl with them. They force her to do all of the chores and such without really letting her eat or anything. The whole episode is them mistreating her as she tries to keep on a brave face throughout. They go to a poisonous area and everyone ends up dying except her. She gets a happy ending, but the episode is pretty unpleasant. For a while you may even think this was Kino’s origin story since there are a lot of similarities to the lead, but ultimately the episode doesn’t go down that route.

After that we got a pretty solid episode with Kino’s master and her partner. They enter a town where the partner is arrested and so she decides to break him out and they take over the town. We get some fun spy scenes and I like both the Master and the Partner. These two characters have a really solid dynamic and they have their epic entrance theme. The town definitely gets wrecked pretty badly by the two characters, but in the end they all get a reasonably happy ending. The Master’s team definitely won though. It was a fun prequel adventure and I’d be glad to see more of those.

Next up we see Shizu again. There’s this one town where people randomly turn evil and start murdering others once in a while. They blame it on radio waves so people don’t get arrested and go back to living normal lives. It’s pretty dark since everyone knows they get one chance to do something as evil as they want and there will be no punishment. Shizu goes out to the tower to prove that this is fake, but the town refuses to believe him. He does his best to change their minds, but is ultimately forced to leave with the assistance of Ti who causes a distraction. Shizu makes for an interesting lead as always, but the episode does cross into extra grim territory with everyone in the school getting murdered. It was definitely a twisted town.

The next episode was an anthology inside of an anthology which was definitely an odd choice. The stories were fun enough but the highlight was the two bandits who are wondering who they should try to rob. Kino passes by them and they wisely decide not to attack her since they would have been promptly murdered. Then you have Shizu’s group and again the bandits decide not to attack since they’d be sliced and diced. We find out that the reason why they are so wary is because they tried attacking Kino’s master once and lost most of their men real quick. Being a bandit just doesn’t pay off in the end.

After that we get an emotional story where Kino heads to a town that is known to be really mean to strangers. Surprisingly everyone is nice to her and she has a good time. It all seems pretty odd but she takes it in stride before leaving. Naturally there is a pretty big twist to the episode and the ending does make a lot of sense. Naturally Kino had to wreck this ending by pointing out that her first thought was almost a glad one because she didn’t want the extra responsibility of watching over someone. If you want extra context for this you’ll need to see the episode but it’s such a terrible first reaction to what just happened.

Next up was Kino’s big origin story. She grew up in a country where things get pretty dicey for kids and the original Kino learned this the hard way. It was nice to see the first Kino even though he looked pretty bad here. He’s definitely not quite as well trained as the current main character. It’s an interesting enough story. There’s not really a twist here compared to most of the other stories, but I suppose an origin didn’t really need a twist right?

Then we’ve got the terrible final episode. Kino and Hermes are travelling between lands when they run into a bunch of sheep. These sheep are particularly violent and just want to murder all travelers. Naturally Kino and Hermes are not exempt from this and so they have to be on the run. There is no escape though so Kino decides that she will murder all of them and does just that. The majority of the episode is Kino blasting them with fire, running over them, and then shooting them. It’s a really mean spirited episode that threw in a lot of animal violence for no reason. It’s a shame because the series hadn’t really had any animal violence before that. It was hard to believe what I was watching with that ending.

The character cast is very small since most of the stories make up their own leads. Hermes is a reasonable sidekick to Kino, but he does feel like a yes man half the time. He always gives her assurances that what she is doing isn’t all that bad which helps to justify her behavior. He’s also pretty helpless without her so it’s not like he can help much. Kino’s a unique character since she just looks out for herself and comes off as more of a villain than a hero half the time. She just wants to have a good time and so she does whatever she wants. If a villain helps her out she will likely return the favor and she doesn’t want to be burdened by anyone. I really wasn’t a fan of her in this series.

Shizu was great though and he stood out even more than in the original series. He was a great lead in all of his episodes and part of what made him so good is that he’s looking out for Ti. It’s not easy to have to be looking out for someone else like this, but he was ready. His dog’s decent, but the weakest of the 3. Meanwhile Ti is solid. She knows how to fight a bit with grenades and is a very solid supporting character to have. Her dynamic with Shizu is really good. I said it earlier, but I’d like to see more of them. Meanwhile the Master and her partner were also good. I liked the partner’s confidence. The Master tends to slam his ideas down, but he never loses his nerve and keeps on trying to be helpful.

The animation is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it excellent or anything like that as it’s going for a bit of a simple style, but it still looks clear enough to me. The character designs are on point and we get some nice action scenes as well. The best action scenes are always with Kino’s old mentor as they take the place down. We usually quickly cut away to the aftermath as this series isn’t really about the action but it works well when it occurs. The soundtrack is more low key so that part isn’t as impressive. I did like one theme though and coincidentally it always shows up for the mentor as well. It’s the main battle theme of the series.

So the series definitely has its ups and downs. One thing I’ll give the series is that it’s usually pretty interesting. Take away 3-4 episodes and the rest of it was pretty solid with the twists and that Twilight Zone feel. The series is at its best when everything feels rather odd and you don’t know what to expect. The mystery is what the series thrives on. If we ever get an actual arc where the whole season is one story I think that would have a lot of potential. I really wouldn’t mind if we switched main characters though.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is a series that will have a hard time really hitting the next level. Anthologies just limit themselves with the style that they have and I would say that the original Kino’s Journey was a little better. The title is like a modern day Twilight Zone so if that sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Each episode has a different theme going on and there is usually a twist. Some episodes can be very light hearted and fun while others can be dark and dreary. You never know quite what you’re about to get. If you want a series that’s more consistent with its tone then you should check out Black Clover instead. That one’s sure to deliver with the epic fight scenes for you.

Overall 5/10

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

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: Nemesis Raetsel Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Phi Brain season. The first two seasons were pretty great so I was ready to jump into the next season. This one is also very good although I would say that it is the weakest season of the 3. It just has a hard time keeping up with the first two because of Jin’s antics. His character gets flushed away here, but fortunately Kaito still makes for a pretty epic main character. We also get to see a lot of the big characters from the first two seasons show up which is always cool. All in all, it makes for a good wrap up to the series.

The season starts with Kaito solving another puzzle as per usual. It’s a little odd that there was still a puzzle around since they should have all been solved, but he doesn’t think too much of it. This changes when a girl named Raetsel shows up and kidnaps Jin. Kaito gives chase while the rest of the Phi Brain children are attacked by a man named Enigma. He is the leader of the Master Brains, a group who is dedicated to destroying all puzzlers. He states that the group is doing this under Jin’s orders. Up til now Kaito has known Jin as his trusted master who loved all puzzles and was a hero through and through. Is it possible that this was all a lie?

Why not ask Jin? Well, they try this, but Jin is no help since he is still missing most of his memories after getting steam rolled by the main villain in season 1. Jin never truly recovered from that in future seasons and even now he is being affected. He spends most of the season teetering like a rag doll between sides as he lets everyone speak for him. Jin is effectively an echo chamber or a mindless monster who follows whatever people say. He has no will of his own and unless he is being possessed you can’t expect him to do much of anything here. He’s a bit of a dull character who is always getting everyone in trouble. He never really shapes up so hopefully you enjoy his character more than I did. He’s the weakest one in the season.

Fortunately to counter that the other villains are pretty solid. One of the new ones here is Raetsel and she claims that she’s known Jin back during the “missing” year he had and that he does in fact despise puzzles. She is a talented solver which isn’t surprising since she was trained by Jin himself. Raetsel definitely doesn’t like Kaito since from her point of view he basically took Jin away from her. It wasn’t really his fault as Jin was just a jerk, but as a kid it was hard for her to know better. Raetsel does tend to get manipulated a bit as the series goes on and I would have liked her to defect early on, but she still has a strong showing overall. She’s another great rival for Kaito and we even got a duel involving her, Rook, Gammon, Freecell, and Kaito which was pretty amazing. Pretty much all of the big rivals were there.

Enigma is another big villain here and he was fun. He’s not as solid as the other master strategist from season 2, but he’s got the smug demeanor down pat. You always want to have a villain with a lot of confidence like this. He’s also good at what he does as shown by how he easily betrays so many other villains in the process. That’s not exactly an easy thing for anyone to pull off. I don’t think anyone expected him to be the final boss or anything like that, but he definitely does last for quite a while.

Unfortunately in this season Gammon doesn’t get to do much. In the first two seasons he was one of Kaito’s biggest rivals, but you can tell that he’s slowly stopped being able to catch up to the lead. Gammon is seen as more of an after thought and only gets 2-3 big puzzles during the whole season. It’s a shame but he did get a really big role in the first two seasons so I suppose eventually he had to slow down. He still talks tough to an extent, but is more on automatic mode than anything else. Gammon’s really just going through the motions at this point rather than actively trying to be the best.

The rest of the Phi Brain children also don’t get to do much here. Cubik gets wrecked in the very first episode of the season which is quite good foreshadowing of how useful he will be for the rest of the season. He’s never been the best solver though so it’s not as if it is out of the blue. He does his best when he appears, but I’ve never been a particularly big fan of his. Ana was also one of the more quirky solvers who relies on mind games more than skill. There isn’t really anyone here with personal ties to her which limits her abilities. Nonoha was never a solver anyway so she doesn’t get to do much of course, but she’s always around for moral support which is important. She’s a nice character as always.

Kaito is a top notch lead as always. It’s pretty rough for him since in every season the villains use mind games to get to him. It’s established early on that Kaito is one of the greatest solvers of all time. He’s only lost maybe 2-3 duels in the entire show in fair fights. Usually the only other way he will lose is if someone is messing with his mind or if there is some kind of device limiting his abilities. The latter doesn’t get to happen this time, but the mind games are still present. Jin and Raetsel do a number on him and he also gets more visions of how the world will end depending on his actions. It’s a lot of pressure but he does a good job of getting past it.

At the end of the day Kaito just loves solving puzzles and the villains aren’t able to take that away from him. He jumps into every battle and is quite impulsive so he just leaps in without a plan. Kaito’s a bit of a loner despite the group he usually travels with and isn’t opposed to fighting a villain one on one. I definitely liked him quite a lot and while Gammon was fighting neck and neck with him for the earlier seasons, it’s clear that Kaito is the best at least in this season.

Meanwhile Rook has now become one of the big executives of the puzzles group that used to be evil. He is now more of a planner than an active participant although he does get to have a few duels regardless. He looks pretty solid although there was one point where I disagreed with him. He basically told all of the heroes that they weren’t allowed to go after the villains. He figured it was a trap and so they needed to stay put. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but time was of the essence and they needed to free Jin. Not going wasn’t going to solve anything and so Kaito rightfully ditched Rook. Rook tried forcing the issue with a lethal duel and I was just not on his side the whole time. Also by fighting each other it was playing into the villain’s hands. I do like the idea of having all 5 of the super geniuses across the 3 seasons fighting each other to awaken their true powers. Since it’s been such a long time and you had characters from different seasons (3 from season 1, 1 from season 2, and 1 from season 3) it was a nice balance. I think everyone would expect Kaito and Raetsel to be the final survivors, but I won’t confirm if that was the case.

Freecell had really hoped not to have to duel anymore and I don’t blame him since it was never his passion. Compared to the other characters in the show who just live for puzzles, Freecell was just mainpulated into using them. Once he regained his sanity it was time for retirement, but it was not to me. He made some powerful enemies in season 2 and one of them ended up coming back for revenge. Freecell ultimately embraces his abilities and has some pretty good duels near the end of the season. I do like him as a character. He was at his best as a villain, but is still portrayed as a skilled solver which I appreciated. He’s a step below some of the others, but really does his best to keep up and comes across as the most sympathetic hero. He could have walked away from all of this, but stayed behind to help his friend Melancholy.

Meanwhile Melancholy gets a big role here as she signs up with the villains just to get revenge on Freecell. She has a lot to avenge at this point since he took down her boss in the last season and nearly broke her with his vague optical powers. Melancholy does pretty good and still never lost sight of herself. She didn’t actually aim to murder the heroes most of the time although some of her puzzles seemed pretty dangerous anyway. Her main mistake was allowing the other villains to have control over her puzzles as well. In the end I wouldn’t say she was the smartest villain because she got manipulated quite a bit, but she was a fun wild card to have around. I always love having a third party here to shake things up and she fulfilled that role.

In a way Elena could have been in this role as well (only as a hero) except unfortunately she doesn’t really get to duel here. It’s a shame because we know she is quite skilled, but she only offers her support financially and through planning this time around. It is helpful to have her around though as she finds out a lot about Raetsel. Although in general the Raetsel thing was a little odd since she kept trying to murder the heroes, but they were pretty relaxed around her anyway. How can you hang out with someone who’s always trying to murder you? I know Kaito doesn’t really fear anything, but even for him it’s pretty bold.

Herbert seems to appear in every season as one of those villains who just doesn’t want to stay down. You have to give him some props for that even if you never really think that he’s going to come out on top. He’s just a fun guy to go up against and here he gets a brief power up which makes him even more of a threat. Herbert doesn’t last long, but you’ll remember him. Then you have Lovushka who is mentioned a whole lot more than her actual screen time would suggest. She’s the main reason why the villains are going through the plan so she’s important in that sense. I can’t say that I was a fan, but she didn’t really appear enough for me to have much of an opinion on her.

Finally we have Orpheus who makes for a solid end boss. It was also nice to see Jin finally leave for the rest of the season which helped me like Orpheus even more. He’s fairly standard as far as Phi Brain end bosses go, but it was a nice way to tie in season 2. It gave the Orpheus Order a little more credibility here. Orpheus has a pretty cool final form and the shadow eyes effect is always a nice one. I would have liked to have seen him fight more directly though as he usually chooses to go through intermediaries.

Each season of Phi Brain always has a terrific climax and this one was no exception. As I mentioned earlier I really liked the big duel between the 5 strongest solvers in the series. It was a pretty good way to let them all have one last crack at a puzzle and those kind of stakes are just fun. It’s like the 4 way duel from Battle City in the Yugioh series. It’s a lot of fun because it does make it a little harder to know where everyone will place. You may know who will win, but it’s hard to guess aside from that. Aside from the main plot I also liked all of the duels with the Master Brains. Their competency level varied for sure, but it did bring us more puzzles which is what the whole series is about. I like to see the puzzles and watching the heroes try to solve them is fun. The series does a good job of really thinking of a lot of different combinations.

The writing is sound as well and that’s important because the puzzles are naturally going to rely on having strong writing at the ready. Weak writing would result in puzzles that don’t make a lot of sense or have convenient answers. I’d make the case that the first season still had the best puzzles with answers that you could actually solve on your own but these were good as well. My favorite puzzle was probably one of the ones from early in the season where the heroes had to find the correct door while Raetsel would snap her fingers causing the doors to shuffle. The idea is to memorize which direction her snaps cause the doors to move and then go from there. It was a very logical puzzle with an answer that made sense. It was definitely an extremely tough one, but one that followed a set of rules.

As always the animation for the season is quite good. I like the character designs and energy effects the series has. It’s looked quite solid from day 1 and that’s never changed. The first episode of the series may still have had some of the most impressive scenes with Kaito first getting his powers, but it’s been pretty consistent since then. This season is no different. Then you’ve got the top notch soundtrack. Most if not all of the tunes are from previous seasons, but the show had already established itself as having a top tier music selection so I can see why they would want to bring them back. The songs can range from being pretty emotional and ominous to having straight up battle tunes. These music selections are part of what makes the puzzles so intense and are definitely necessary for the full experience.

Overall, Phi Brain season 3 is a fun end to the saga. I may not be the biggest fan of Jin, but since his plot had started back in season 1 I suppose it was about time we wrapped that up. On a technical level the series delivered as expected with great animation and a really solid soundtrack. The old characters didn’t get to shine as much, but as they had all already finished their character arcs I suppose their time was simply up at this point. The new characters were fun and I was glad to see old favorites like Rook and Freecell again. I’d definitely like to see a revival of this series someday, but it’s probably a little too recent for that. Even so, a 3 season show about puzzles is quite unique and hopefully more and more people will find out about this title.

Overall 7/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

One Punch Man Season 2 Review


Anime is definitely one of the most amazing mediums there is. It never ceases to really bring you into a show. Even anime that I haven’t given the highest of scores will usually have some kind of epic confrontation that takes it to the next level. As a result I tend to really get into various series. I was on a Sword Art Online high for a while, then there was RWBY, One Punch Man and of course Black Clover. There are many great shows, but then at the top you’ve got the elites. These are shows where you are engaged no matter what is happening on screen. It could just be the characters hanging around chatting and you’ll be interested because the characters are just so well written. Then when the action comes you know you’ll be in for a good time. One Punch Man is the second greatest manga I’ve ever read and the first season is easily in my top 10 shows. Season 2 continues the series on a supreme note and I certainly hope to see the franchise continue to go for many years to come.

The season really has two main story arcs going on. One arc follows Saitama as he decides to enter a martial arts tournament to see if some of these fighting techniques will help him face off against a worthy opponent. He’s tired of one shotting monsters all the time so perhaps this will give him some kind of a challenge. This is Saitama though so it’s going to be hard to find such a challenge. Meanwhile the monster association has started to make their first moves against humanity and so the heroes could really use him right about now.

The other big arc follows a new character named Garou. He has dubbed himself the “Hero Hunter” and aims to defeat all of the S Class heroes. He believes that monsters are always portrayed in a negative light and bullied by the humans so he will become a monster that defeats them all. His quest leads him up against most of the series’ biggest fighters as he gradually goes from taking on weaker opponents to some of the strongest in the series. As he becomes a bigger and bigger threat the heroes are forced to acknowledge his power.

It’s easy to see why the 12 episode format is so popular. One Punch Man is able to go at a very quick pace much like season 1 and so there is never a minute of dull time. The plot is always progressing and we go from fight to fight. It helps to really capture the high level of intensity from the manga which is ideal. This season is also covering the beginning of the greatest arc in the series which is a really great place to start. It’s a little hard to know what to talk about first. I guess a logical part is the writing. In most shows it’s hard to like the whole cast, but OPM really manages to do a great job here. I can’t think of any character that is downright bad….well there is one. I forgot he appeared in this season, but I quickly double checked and Puri Puri Prisoner showed up after all. He would be the only negative character. The others ranging from heroes to villains are all pretty spectacular.

Another positive in this season is that it goes out of its way to build up the monsters as a real threat. In season 1 we did see a lot of powerful enemies that dealt major damage until Saitama took them out, but as a whole the society was pretty much okay after each encounter. There were slight hintings in the background that something was coming though. Season 2 is the payoff with that as we find out that there is a monster association led by Monster King Orochi and they have plans on how to deal with the heroes. It’s really the worst nightmare of the hero society since these guys are all mega powerful and know how to pick off the heroes. It’s a fact that there are more monsters than humans so if they properly gang up then it’s hard to see how they could be defeated.

I always like a good villain meetup scene so the episode where we first see Orochi and his full staff of monsters is excellent. I also like how they trolled the humans by pretending to be interested in a truce only to start shooting anyway. These monsters are ruthless and most of their members are actually cool monsters and not just throwaways. The series went out of its way to establish a lot of these guys and that’s great if you ask me.

In particular I liked 2 of the monsters in this season a lot. First is the cockroach guy who has a cool design and gave Genos a real fight. That alone is enough to make him pop out on my radar. Then you’ve got Gouketsu who has a great design and a solid presence. I would have liked to have seen him fight some more opponents to really see him in action before he left though. While we didn’t get that, it’s still clear that he is one of the strongest fighters out there.

We’ve already got an engaging story and excellent writing so that’s how you know you’ve got a winner. Next up is the animation. It certainly took a lot of heat as soon as the first promo came out with people saying that J.C. Staff was going to ruin it and that it couldn’t match up to the original. To start with, season 2 was never going to pass the first one. To date One Punch Man season 1 has the greatest animation I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it will be passed in the near future, that anime just looked perfect and it was fitting since the manga has the best artwork I’ve ever seen in that medium. You simply can’t top it. That being said, season 2’s animation is still great. At its absolute worst it’s still pretty good.

Just look at any of Garou’s fights and you’ll see how stellar it is. Genos vs Sonic and Genos vs Cockroach are also great fights and the same goes for Suiryu. What I’m basically saying is that all of the fights are great. This season uses different animation techniques which may take a little time to get used to if you watch both seasons back to back, but they aren’t bad. We get more air slash effects to compensate for not being able to animate every little detail like in season 1. It’s also more of a fluid color scheme that has less detail, but still gives you a lot of movement. I’d say it’s similar to the older seasons of Cardfight vs the newer ones, DBZ vs Super, or Naruto vs Boruto. In general I think a lot of anime are going towards this more streamlined era of less detail. It’ll be up to personal preference though and it’s all done within reason. For example, Black Clover falls under the “more detailed” line of anime but for big fights they tend to switch to simpler designs. Super interestingly went the opposite direction as the first few arcs were very simple so they went for a detailed look in the Tournament of Power.

In general I’d say that the detailed approach will look better than the simple designs. It’s clear that it takes a lot more work and effort to get it across, but if it’s something that’s 5x as hard to do and only makes 2x as much money (if even that) then it’s likely not worth it from a studio perspective. As long as the animation is still great I’m cool with whatever they decide to use. At least it’s not all CGI right? Now that would be something for me to get disappointed at. Season 2 has a few CGI gradients put onto the characters at times, but it’s never a full transformation like the Colossal Titan in AOT or anything like that. The actual fights are always still hand drawn and that’s the important thing.

The soundtrack is also great like with season 1. I wasn’t a big fan of the opening though. I dunno, both OPM intros haven’t really been my thing which is surprising since they are rock based. Maybe season 3 will get that one across. The new theme we have which plays during Bang’s scenes is excellent. In particular when it shows up during his fight with Garou it’s perfectly timed. It starts out as a fairly soft theme and then really picks up. Every show should have a standout theme and this is the one for this season. We also have the return of the Genos theme which was slightly remixed and still sounds great.

It’s a small complaint, but the sound mixing did seem a bit off at times. The Genos theme in particular was one instance of this as you could barely hear it playing during his fight with Garou. The sound effects were way louder than the music. Then some of the sound effects don’t have quite the pop you would expect during some battles. I didn’t notice the effects sounding weak for any of Garou’s fights though as it was just in early episodes. Perhaps it’s something that was quickly addressed.

Most of the big characters from season 1 return here which is definitely good. Saitama is still a great lead. He’s just a nice guy who’s pretty relatable and does really want to be a great hero. It must be tough being the strongest, but he’s never even been remotely tempted to turn into a villain which is good. The series could easily have had him try to be a villain so he could see if the S rank heroes give him a good fight but it hasn’t gone in that direction. It’s also always cool to see him transition into his cool hero persona.

King is one of the big new characters in this season and he definitely makes a positive impact. Everyone believes they he is one of the strongest heroes out there because King always happens to be in the right place at the right time. He is similar to Hercule from DBZ only King is fairly selfless and isn’t here for the money or power. He just wants people to leave him alone so he can play his video games. King does step up when needed though. One of the main reasons why he is such a fun character is he actually does give good advice and solid speeches. His character definitely goes in a different direction from how you’d expect and it works out really well.

Bang was in the first season, but this is the first one where he gets a fairly significant role. Since Garou was one of his students he wants to defeat the villain personally. This leads to him taking down a lot of thugs and ultimately helping out a lot in the climax. He is treated as one of the strongest S class heroes for sure although his age does factor in a bit. He’s not quite as powerful as he used to be although you wouldn’t guess it from his fights. He’s probably one of the best Shonen mentors I’ve seen in a very long while. You can’t even compare him to someone like Master Roshi. Garou manages to stay relevant next to the main characters and is just a good guy. Then we get to see his brother Bomb. Bomb’s not one of the more popular characters but he is quite solid in his own right. He is able to keep up with Bang blow for blow and just having him along as backup is incredibly handy. There would be too many enemies if Bang had to worry about them all by himself.

Meanwhile Sonic is awesome as always even if his role is very small this time around. He still has his super speed and confidence when he fights the other two ninja but this season is mostly just not about him much. His quick fight with Genos was also great. I like the rivalry between them. Genos gets a solid role meanwhile. Unlike season 1 where he basically lost every fight he actually scores some impressive wins here like against the cockroach monster. Garou also takes down a legion of enemies all while overwhelming Garou. It’s great to see him improving although I expect ultimately he will still be losing to most of the bigger fighters. It just wouldn’t be One Punch Man without Genos breaking down at least once. He never loses confidence though and that’s why he is the best hero.

Another new character is Suiryu and he’s definitely a hit. At this point Saitama already has 2 solid rivals in Genos and Sonic but why not add in a third one right? Suiryu is a martial arts master and quite possibly the strongest non hero out there. He is able to easily defeat A rank heroes and I dare say that he could give some S Ranks a run for their money. His pure physical abilities are off the charts and I always enjoy confident characters like this. He completely overwhelms his opponents in the ring and is only stopped short by Gouketsu. I don’t believe any of the villains under that guy would have been able to do much here. I really hope Suiryu gets to appear again because this guy has potential. The scenes of him getting beat up by the villains are probably some of the most emotional in the series.

Then we have Garou who really lit up the anime with his appearances. He gets stronger as he fights which is always a great trait to have. A good villain should always have an interesting backstory as well and Garou’s is top notch. He does have a point that in a lot of the old monster type shows the heroes would pick on the monster unfairly. Just look at the original Ultraman. Part of my complaints with that show was that not all of the monsters would be evil, but they’d all be beaten and blown up anyway. Garou takes this down an extreme path and does without a doubt become a villain, but it’s still a solid motivation if you ask me. He’s borderline the main character of season 2 and should play a large part in season 3 as well. Garou faces off against crazy odds in most of his fights and easily feels like the most dangerous villain. Take this into consideration, he was giving Genos an even fight despite being almost unconscious and losing his vision. Garou at full strength at this point would be completely insane.

Then there’s Fubuki who hasn’t yet had a lot to do in the show. She’s a fun character and I look forward to seeing her get more fights in the future. Her dynamic of not wanting to be saved by Tatsumaki is good as it’ll make her get stronger and is also a good motivation in general. Saitama was that making the Fubuki group is a bit of a waste when you can just get stronger but it isn’t so easy for most.

So in the end does season 2 manage to dethrone season 1? The answer is no, but it’s a very close fight. Season 2 does adapt what I consider to be some of the best scenes in the series. The season has higher stakes and more emotional moments because Saitama just isn’t around to save the day as much. It has a grander feel, but ultimately season 1 wins with how phenomenal it is. Having the greatest animation of all time certainly helps, but we also got to meet all of the S ranks in the cool climax of season 1. Boros made for a great opponent and I also enjoyed a lot of the light hearted moments with Saitama and Genos. A whole show of them hanging out would be a lot of fun as well.

Overall, One Punch Man Season 2 is a great follow up to the original and a top notch show in general. When you combine both shows you’ve got 24 episodes that would be hard for any title to match. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you need to change that. Each episode is guaranteed to get your heart pumping as you enjoy the excellent action scenes. It’s really rare to have such a well balanced show on this level so the wait for season 3 is definitely going to be tough. I hope they launch the next one right away. Since the seasons are only 12 episodes that should help them pump it out quickly. Whether they adapt the rest of the arc or not I just want to see more One Punch Man!

Overall 9/10