Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

The World Ends With You: The Animation Review


I remember it feeling random that The World Ends With You was getting an anime adaption but I’m definitely all for it. It’s always fun to see a game get the TV show treatment and maybe soon they’ll do the same for Kingdom Hearts. It’s got an interesting animation style which is supposed to really emulate the video game and I’d say it does a good job of that. It certainly doesn’t look as good as a traditional show due to this but works well enough. It adapts the game well and maybe if we’re lucky a season 2 will come out some day to adapt the sequel game.

The show starts off with Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memory of how he got here. What’s even worse is the fact that nobody can see him. It turns out that he must have died at some point and is now forced to participate in a Reaper Game. Effectively this is a 7 day survival competition where he has to complete a mission each day or face erasure. The situation continues to grow more challenging for Shiki when he finds out that he needs a partner in order to fully use the super powers that are given as part of the game. Neku’s not exactly a people person and his partner is the very happy go lucky Shiki. Can the two heroes make pull this off or are they doomed?

The ole survival competition is always a good way to get some really quick tension. After all if you die while you’re already dead then that probably means you’re gone for good. You’ve also got the mystery of how Neku died since he can’t seem to remember that for some reason. The show is only 12 episodes long so things tend to move at a very quick pace. You may wonder how the 7 days will last for 12 episodes but the show does well with the pacing throughout. As someone who played the game I’d say this is a very faithful adaption that really hits the right notes. There is only a single moment where I feel like the anime had less impact than the game and I’ll get into that later on.

The soundtrack here is a lot of fun with the classic themes from the game showing up. While it’s always good to have new music to spice things up, I’m never opposed to grabbing some tunes from the source material since it’s a good nostalgia boost. The game’s main theme certainly works well as the opening even if that wasn’t the original intent. As for the animation, I would say it’s below average. The colors are striking but when they all start moving then you can see the flaws here. The actual combat isn’t very fast or smooth most of the time. It all looks like video game cutscenes for the most part.

I do like how the combination attacks look though. You can always feel a lot of power behind them. Also, as I mentioned the colors are striking so this works really well for special abilities. You can pause the show at any point and it’ll look good. That’s the strength of this style so if anyone shows you a screenshot at any point it should look good. The show doesn’t bother getting into the mechanics of the abilities here so sometimes you’ll see Neku and friends randomly using new attacks but I think even without the game you can understand what’s going on here. After all they do show the pins briefly here and there with different symbols so you understand that the power comes from them.

A more traditional style certainly could have done wonders for the series and propped it up to the next level but as they say, the animation could have been much worse. The production values probably keep this from being higher than it is but at its core the show is still fundamentally solid on writing and story so it’s not like this score will take a big hit. It’s still a pretty fun show that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quality action/adventure story. Even if you haven’t played the game you should be able to get on board with Neku and the others.

As a main character Neku starts off as a bit of a jerk and gradually gets used to hanging around with people. It’s a classic character arc that is handled well and you should be able to have a lot of fun with him. I tend to enjoy characters who are rather blunt like this and he is trying to survive after all. In this tournament, you lose that which you hold most precious to your heart which exposes his feelings for one of the characters later on. It shows how he’s changed but is also a pretty awkward way for others to start finding out about it. Ultimately the Neku we see at the end of the show is far different from the one who entered it.

Then we have the heroine Shiki who is certainly Neku’s polar opposite at first. She tries her best to see the silver linings in being trapped within a death game but is a bit timid despite her cheerful disposition so this isn’t always easy. She is good in the support role throughout the rounds and is a quality character. With her psychic cat she can certainly deal damage to the villains as well.

Next up is Beat but I didn’t care for him for big chunks of the story. See, I like his character type as he is the classic tough guy. Beat is always willing to pick a fight but deep down he’s a good guy. My issue is that he isn’t very loyal and there’s a part of the story where he doesn’t take some events very well at all and actively tries to put others in harm’s way. Once Beat broke down there really wasn’t a way for him to get back up. While you do get that he’s in a better place now, that was a really rocky moment there.

Rhyme doesn’t get to appear nearly as much but is a nice enough character. There just isn’t a whole lot of time to have any real development there. You could say the same for the other contestants. Technically there are a ton of players in this game after all and we never really get to see most of them as they end up dying off screen. The show is quite light hearted for the most part and doesn’t dwell on them but if you think about it, things get awfully dicey for most of the characters in this world.

Joshua is my favorite player in the game and 2nd favorite character in the show as a whole. He has a lot of confidence and is easily the smartest member. While the show has to cut down on a lot of the dialogues to save time, I always enjoyed his back and forth conversations with Minamiimoto. Joshua was the only guy who could ever keep up with the guy’s number phrases and insults. Joshua is also quite powerful and plays a big role in the mysteries of Shibuya. Whenever he appears, Joshua tends to steal the show.

Hanekoma is a mysterious cafe owner who seems to know a whole lot about the rules of the game and what’s going on. You can always count on him to give the heroes a pep talk while wondering what else he is doing. Sometimes you learn a lot by just staying back and observing which could be what he is doing. He’s decent enough but for a character like this I always question why they don’t do more. In a sense Hanekoma also loses points for not getting in on the action.

Uzuki and Kariya are both reapers within the game. Their job is to mess with the players and sometimes destroy them via the Noise. (Monsters) They aren’t allowed to attack players directly but that happens a lot anyway. I’m not a big fan of either one and they are completely overshadowed by the main villains. They’re not as ineffective as Team Rocket or anything but you never really feel like they are a threat. You get the feeling that the heroes could take them out if they got serious.

Additionally, both of them fall for traps very easily. Kariya is supposed to be the smart one and even he doesn’t do very well here. They talk a really good game but ultimately don’t really do much to enhance the story here. Now if you want a great villain, look no further than Minamiimoto. This guy’s just great whenever he shows up. He’s got extreme ambitions and has the power to back them up. I like his boundless confidence and his gimmick about always using numerical terms is a lot of fun. How can you not like a character like this right? His role is big here and you only wish he could have lasted longer.

Then you have Konishi who is another one of the big villain members here. She is also quite ambitious but tends to be quieter than Minamiimoto. She can also fight well when it’s time to do so and is also a good villain. She contrasts with Minamiimoto’s style well and ends up being memorable. In comparison, the final villain Kitaniji isn’t as memorable. You get the feeling that he is very powerful and all but it took a while for him to do anything. He does get a bit of a backstory by the end though which gives him more character.

The World Ends With You is a title that has a lot of twists and turns so I think it’s fair to call this part mystery. I’ve made sure to avoid those elements so you can have fun discovering them for yourself. They all have satisfying conclusions to them which help to enhance the show. Now I did mention that there’s one scene that the show just didn’t adapt very well in my opinion. Well, it’s a scene near the climax so I can’t give too much context away but Neku’s in a pinch against a very difficult opponent. Then just as things are getting hopeless, a glimmer of hope appears and the music jumps up as the whole situation is turned upside down. This was an amazing moment in the game and the music came at the right moment.

In the show the moment isn’t really treated like a big deal though. You don’t have the music climaxing at the right time, the big inner monologue before it and so it doesn’t feel nearly as powerful. The fast pacing may have worked against the show there as it had to move quickly. That was the only point where I felt the adaption wasn’t on point though, the rest of it hit all the right notes and got things moving. The pacing is quite fast and it needs to be to adapt a whole RPG into a quick 1 season show. The game had a ton of gameplay and missions that would slow things down though so the show was able to easily navigate around that and kept in what I would consider to be all of the important moments.

The review feels a bit short but it’s because there isn’t a ton to talk about here. The plot is very straight forward and while there are a lot of twists, I’m not really going into those here. Depending on the title I sometimes jump in if the twist didn’t make sense or I had something to say about it, but it all works really naturally here. By the time the show ends you don’t have any lingering questions of anything like that. So as a result when you finish the show there aren’t any big plot threads that you’re thinking about either. It’s a very open and shut case. You had your fun watching it and then you go on. For that reason maybe it should have had a stinger for the sequel but I’m not sure if that would have made a lot of sense anyway. Of course I’m always up for a little cliffhanger so I’d be game.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty solid show. It’s a good all around title that has your fight scenes, adventure, and mystery angles all thrown in. The animation style may not always work for the fight scenes but it is a very distinct and colorful style that is easy to look at so that’s still important. I wouldn’t say the show ever made any big mistakes either. So perhaps it isn’t the next all star but it’s just an easy anime to recommend and have a good time with. I’d say the replay value is good here too. It’d be great if they could adapt the sequel into a show someday too. There’s a whole lot you could do with that and of course it would just be a lot of fun to see the characters back in action. I assume it’s a longshot but you can always hope.

Overall 7/10

Hawkeye Review


Marvel continues with the next installment in the TV show division. This time it’s Hawkeye and so we’ve finally made it to one of the Core Avengers. The shows have been on an upwards trend for me so far. Wandavision<<<Cap and Winter Soldier<<<Loki<<<What If. Well, this one doesn't quite continue the trend as it loses to Loki and What If but it beats the first two shows. While it doesn't have quite the large scale stakes of some of the other shows, Hawkeye makes for a fun lead. This is more of a fun adventure next to the others and is definitely a good pick for Christmas. You can't go wrong here.

The show follows a girl named Kate Bishop who is an aspiring archer. She looks up to Hawkeye after he saved her during the 2012 attacks. Well, one day she ends up noticing that her mother Eleanor's new fiance Jack seems a bit suspicious. Kate follows him down to an auction when a bunch of thugs burst in. Kate takes the chance to steal the outfit of the Ronin which was on sale and uses it to beat up some crooks. The issue here is that the Ronin is infamous in the underworld because during the 5 year gap Hawkeye was going around murdering all of the villains in that costume. Now Kate is a wanted fugitive by the underworld.

As this involves his persona as the "Ronin", Hawkeye can't really ignore this issue. He heads into town and promises the family that he will be back in time for Christmas. That'll be tough though as the situation gets more complicated with the arrival of Black Widow and one of the biggest crime lords in town. Can Hawkeye help Kate stay out of danger or are they both in over their heads?

One thing I noticed during the show is that Hawkeye is portrayed as being much older than I remember. He didn't seem that way in Endgame but it's almost like Wolverine from X-Men Evolution where he just seems a lot slower and as if he's near the end of his career. Hopefully Hawkeye has some more moves in his arsenal since I'd like to see him around for a while. Of course as a mentor figure which the show is leading him towards, it's fine not to always be in the front lines.

Hawkeye makes for a charismatic main character. He's been around the block a few times and knows how to handle himself in a situation. It can always be a bit annoying when he's telling Kate to stay back when she is saving him though. You get why he would rather not have a kid around but he would have been finished off several times if not for her. There was a key moment when she broke into a villain lair to save him which was certainly a good moment. Hawkeye gradually lightens up by the end of the series though and learns how to have some fun.

As for Kate, she's one of the standout characters here. It's safe to say that her character was always going to be pivotal in the show because if she was unlikable or annoying then it would drag the whole story down. Fortunately she is a lot of fun though and she even reminds me of Katniss a lot. (Which the show references as well) Her outfit and appearance are extremely similar to the point where I'd assume it was the same actress if not for such a gap between now and when Hunger Games came out.

Kate can also fight which puts her well above the average aspiring hero. Now, some of her fights can get a bit cheesy yes. I had some power level issues with this show. They aren't as extensive as the ones I had with Loki but are definitely noticeable. What If had the biggest power level moments but that's to be expected with such a big cast. Kate's a loyal ally and she always has Hawkeye's back. I look forward to seeing her get another big role in season 2.

As for Jack, he's a rather solid fiancé. He's extremely suspicious throughout the show such as when he holds back his power in a fencing match but on the surface it does seem like he's doing his best to fit in with the family. You have to give him a lot of credit there and he even gets a fight by the end of the show. I liked him more than I thought that I would. Then you have Eleanor who wants to make sure and protect Kate at all costs. No matter what lines she has to cross, this ends up being Eleanor's main goal.

I thought she was a really solid character as well. Her very last scene in the whole show felt a little out of character and petty to be honest but she was really solid in every other moment. Kate could potentially end up with a really strong group of parents. Then you've got the villain group who all wear jackets. They're not nearly as intimidating as they think they are. There are really only two important members to the group. First off is Kazi who whines a lot and is always trying to pick the easiest route to success. I never really liked him. I feel like he's only confident when he completely has the upper hand. He's the kind of villain that I can picture making excuses at every corner. He's a decent fighter but takes a lot of Ls in this series. Ultimately I could do without him. He's even trying to translate for someone at the end of the series who knows and understands sign language. I was shaking my head because it seemed like Kazi was just trying to score some points.

Maya is one of the highest ranking members of the gang and she has a lot of development here. She isn’t able to hear but was still able to become a great fighter. It shows the level of talent that she has as this would definitely not be an easy feat. Sound is how you predict enemy movements and prepare for sneak attacks. Without that you’re in a much tougher spot. She can be a bit unreasonable at times though and didn’t really think the whole situation through. I think she’ll get better as she goes on but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of hers. Much better than Kazi though.

Then we have Yelena who gets to make her big return after the Black Widow film. As always she is a lot of fun here and does her best to try and make sure it isn’t personal to Kate and the others when she takes down Hawkeye. Yelena definitely trolls Kate a lot during their interactions. It’s not that Yelena doesn’t take anything seriously but she always seems to like breaking the ice first. She’s sort of like Spider-Man with how she’s joking around although it’s less on the quippy side.

While she is a lot of fun, I do think the rationale for having her fight Hawkeye felt a bit flimsy. I had a hard time believing that this would actually happen or that Yelena would be so quick to believe just anyone. Not after she has already experienced so much deceit while being one of the Black Widows. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense there. Now that the misunderstanding is cleared up, it should all be up hill for her. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know about a certain guest star. I don’t really consider this to be a spoiler as I don’t consider it to be a huge plot spoiler or something that would change your experience but even so this is a heads up. If you skip the next paragraph then you’re all good.

Towards the end of the show we even get to see Kingpin for a bit. Netflix fans will be happy since we have one of their fighters appearing in the big Marvel show. That said, while he gets a lot of hype from Hawkeye and the others, I wasn’t very impressed with him. The guy barely has any kind of plan and underestimates his opponents a lot. The amount of times he just throws Kate away instead of knocking her out is quite numerous. Now you can say he’s just trying to be nice and doesn’t want to fight a kid. That’s fair but you still feel like he should have been able to escape numerous times. He’s never been all that threatening though as any hero should be able to quickly beat him since he’s the equivalent of just being a really strong henchmen. That’s why I would have kept him in the background instead of having him appear. It was surreal to have him show up though.

So to quickly touch on the power level stuff, it happened as early as the first episode for me when Kate showed up and took down a whole gang by herself. She was flipping over minions and knocking everyone around. Considering that she never had any real practical experience before now and just the skills she was taught, it felt a bit like a stretch. Then you have Kate giving Yelena a good fight. Sure, Yelena was holding back but since it was putting her mission in jeopardy I would have liked to have seen her show a bit more urgency and take the win instead of it being so even. The difference in skill here should be massive so Yelena would be able to win without going through all of that.

Likewise on the rooftop fight, Yelena is considerably more powerful than the other 3 fighters. She should have completely knocked them for a loop and there was no reason to retreat. Just secure the victory and take them out. Yelena was the most nerfed character here and while I can see why this was done, I think it could have been smoother overall. Power levels aren’t the kind of thing that loses a show any real points but it’s still something you want to try and avoid.

The rooftop fight is the best battle in the series though. It’s cool to have two different fights going on at the same time here. All of the combatants knew how to fight as well so there was really a lot of action there. Hawkeye isn’t a show that’s filled with action scenes but the ones that we do get are all pretty good. As mentioned before, what makes Hawkeye really work is that it’s just a lot of fun. The writing is good and there is consistently solid banter throughout the show. Each episode really flies by and the pacing is good. There’s no episode that is boring and something big happens in each one. The show makes the most of its miniseries format.

For the soundtrack, the show doesn’t quite match up to some of the previous ones but we have some good tunes on occasion here as well. Whenever a Christmas song shows up that’s always a lot of fun. Season 2 won’t be able to rely on those songs though so that means the show will need to develop more themes soon. One episode had a good end credits theme but for the most part the show usually didn’t have anything too spectacular.

Meanwhile the team had a dog who was fun in his quick appearances. I’m still game for the dog never appearing again though as it’s too risky. There’s also a group of would be adventurers who help Hawkeye and Kate at times but they’re probably the cheesiest parts of the adventure so you really don’t need them here. They somehow manage to beat a few henchmen and that just shouldn’t be happening. As it is I didn’t believe it when Kate was taking everyone down and she is considerably more skilled than these guys. I think the best thing to do is to really just keep those guys out of it.

The show has an after credits scene but it’s definitely skippable. It’s one of those scenes that isn’t actually plot important nor does it contain any of the good characters. I wouldn’t even call it entertaining so just skip it and go full blast towards season 2. Of course it may be a bit of a wait before that comes out but I’m expecting good things from it once that does eventually happen. The cast here is just solid and will hold their own in a sequel.

As a final note, I liked the way that they filmed the car chase scene in one of the episodes. The way it was filmed was really unique and just helped to make the chase feel different from most car battles. We got to see how arrows can be quite useful for attacking and defending even while in the car. There are a lot you can do with trick arrows in general so I would like to see more of those in season 2 as well.

Overall, Hawkeye is another fun Marvel show. The shows have done a good job of really feeling like the movies both in tone and graphics. The special effects here wouldn’t be out of place in a future film and since all of the big characters are here, it does feel like a proper continuation of their stories. There’s a lot you can do even if the characters stay in the town and fight local threats. Especially with someone like Hawkeye who was really built for street level encounters. His whole jaded outlook towards being a hero will always be a fun contrast to Kate’s more upbeat personality. In a way it’s fitting that this review is shorter than the other Marvel shows so far because there is less to talk about. There’s no time travel, moral debates with terrorists, seeing a lead get corrupted by her own power, having a battle across realities, or anything like that. Hawkeye isn’t a show that has any tough questions or big plots to deal with. It’s really a street level adventure dealing with some mild villains. It may not leave you with a whole lot to talk about, debate, and theory craft but you’ll leave the final episode satisfied that you watched a fun adventure fold. At the end of the day, that’ll always mean that the product was a success.

Overall 7/10

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Review


After many years, the original He Man show is finally getting its long awaited sequel. This one was certainly surrounded by controversy right from the jump when Teela ended up being the main character of part 1 along with things getting rather tough for He Man several times there. Still, Part 1 ended up being rather great I’d say and then Part 2 stepped things up further. I think you’ll be quite satisfied with how this sequel series plays out no matter who your favorite character is. (With the exception of Moss Man who is admittedly a little disrespected here)

The series starts off with a bang as Skeletor and his forces attack Castle Grayskull once more. Teela had just been promoted to the Man at Arms role so this is her first chance to prove herself. With He Man and the rest of the army at the ready this should be an easy win and yet it doesn’t go the way everyone had hoped. Skeletor and He Man both die in the carnage. Due to this, everyone learns He Man’s true identity which leaves Teela particularly shattered.

After a falling out among Teela and the royals, she is banished from the kingdom along with Duncan. Teela teams up with Andra and the two effectively work as bounty hunters now. This allows Teela to put some distance between her and the kingdom but deep down she knows that the kingdom needs her. Can Teela find her inner strength to take down Evil-Lyn and the remnants of Skeletor’s army? Also, is He Man really gone for good?

The first arc really goes by quickly. Now, if He Man and Skeletor had actually died then I think the controversy would have absolutely skyrocketed to new heights. If that had happened, then I think it would be fair to say that this really was a bait and switch. That said, there’s no way they would keep the two biggest players out of this. Both He Man and Skeletor return to action before long and we even get some new lore and world building out of it. I’ll touch on all of that as we get through the review but first lets talk about the cast of characters here.

Naturally He Man is great as always. Whether he’s Prince Adam or in his He Man form he tends to steal the show. We see him as a capable hero and a selfless warrior. The show gives him good moments in both forms and he always fights to the end. His single best scene is when he shares a laugh with Skeletor before entering his ultimate mode. Now that was a really intense moment and it also just made a lot of sense. Of course He Man should still be able to use the power without the sword. Now the side effect of him losing his mind is rough but it made sense. The show has characters thinking of new ways to use their abilities and I’m definitely all for it. At the end of the day He Man is as confident as ever and it’s quite deserved.

Unfortunately, as good as He Man looks is as bad as Skeletor does. Personally I didn’t care for his portrayal here all that much. He panics a lot and is suckered by the oldest trick in the book of someone flirting with him. Really…this is what Skeletor has become? I wouldn’t be surprised if some ended up not liking the show just because of him. He does look powerful when he has his own super form but his base form is treated like a joke by the end. You’d think that normal Skeletor would still be able to do something but he really isn’t respected by the cast. He ends up getting outshined by quite a few villains in the show. Throw in how he’s always violent with Evil-Lyn for no reason and he really might be one of my least favorite villains in this show. Maybe…even the worst one?

As for Teela, well she gets off to a very rough start in part 1. I mean extremely rough because she blames He Man for dying and saving the world. That’s the kind of thing you’d expect the school bully type character to think, not the main heroine. She just has a bad attitude throughout and doesn’t really become one of the solid characters until the climax. She can fight which is good but it was hard to get over her blaming He Man for quite a few episodes.

Now she does have a really good moment near the end of the series when she realizes that she can wield the power without agreeing to any limitations. I really liked this part because a lot of times the character would just take the legends in stride. If they’re told to just stay put because that’s the only way they can use the power, or they can only use their power 3 times in a day, the character will listen. Here Teela basically just says “Minez!” and runs off with the power. It’s the smart move to make there. Why listen to the legends when you’ve got the power yourself? This at least helped Teela end on a high note.

Her partner Andra gets considerably less to do in part 2 but she’s not bad. She’s your average bounty hunter genius and tends to bring a lot of custom weapons to the fight. It felt like she didn’t have a whole lot to do and was only here so Teela could have a teammate though. Perhaps in Season 2 she would have more of a role. The cast was rather large so it makes sense that it would be hard to juggle all of them.

Like poor Moss-Man who only appears for a scene or two. It’s not great for his fans but maybe he’ll return at some point. I wouldn’t get my hopes too high for that though. Cringer gets a little more to do here. He’s still not really my kind of character but in his Battle Beast form he helps out quite a bit. It’s just a bit of an issue that he never wants to transform though so it really seems like He Man is mind controlling him in that form. With how the power changes He Man’s mind without the sword, it’s not all that far fetched.

The original Sorceress looks good here as well. The fact that she can’t even leave the castle is an enormous weakness though and she ends up looking bad by the end of the series because of the choice that she did not make. At best you could say there was no way to escape now that she made the contract but at worst you could say that she didn’t think this part through. Her powers always look good visually though and she certainly can fight.

One character who gets a really big role here is the original Man at Arms, Duncan. Duncan may not have He Man’s level of super strength but he is quite strong in his own right and has a lot of good gadgets as well. He’s always got some kind of weapon for the occasion and doesn’t let up against the villains. Even once he is captured the guy is always talking tough. So I was impressed with him, he didn’t really have any bad scenes.

For the villains, next up we have Evil-Lyn. She gets a really big role here which the show starts hinting at early on. She’s always put up with quite a lot but looking back at it, this just makes less and less sense to her. Perhaps she is approaching this all wrong and that’s when she makes her move. I think the show went a bit overboard in how powerful it made her since this leads to a lot of power level issues by the end. That said, I wouldn’t say the show is always amazing with how powerful everyone is, the power levels tend to fluctuate a bit. If He Man is able to go toe to toe with an amped up Skeletor then he should be absolutely decimating everyone else. I don’t want to see it take multiple blows to beat the Mer-Man or for He Man not to instantly take out the Beast Man. Teela and Man at Arms shouldn’t be keeping up with Skeletor’s blasts if he’s fast enough to hit He Man. Things like that.

As a character Evil-Lyn is fun though. I wish she would have tricked Skeletor in a different way as that would have benefited both of their characters though. It may have been the most obvious twist on who the big villain is since many would suspect this from episode 1 or 2 but it was executed well. He Man’s parents King Randor and Queen Marlena also get a role but don’t get a ton to do. They are having a lot of relationship issues as a result of what happened early on. The King looks super unreasonable when he throws Teela and Duncan out of the kingdom and the Queen didn’t really try hard to stop him. They have their emotional moments but if you cut them from the story nothing would really change.

Orko looked really good so I think his fans should have a blast here. His magical abilities have come a long way from his training days and he gets a massive power boost as the show goes on. He doesn’t quite keep up with the best of the heroes but he’s a fun character to have around. Back to the villains, we’ve got 3 more with roles. First is the Mer-Man and his role is the smallest. He seems like a good villain but I’d like to have seen more of him. The Beast Man is a very loyal guy but when asked if he is Man or Beast I felt that he made the wrong choice there. It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference in how things went though.

Finally we have Tri-Klops and I liked him quite a bit here. He represents an interesting possibility for a third faction of fighters here. Someone who could cause both the heroes and villains some trouble as the series goes on. It’s hard to say how powerful he is. I doubt that he will be a really big fighter physically but I’m sure he has a good amount of tech to back him up.

So Arc 1 is mainly about Teela’s adventures as she deals with her grief. She makes it hard to care about her but the writers likely knew that so just about every episode has a flashback sequence of He Man beating up on some villains. It was a good way to squeeze him into each episode and those were always the highlight moments. The show has a good sense of humor and He Man always had a one liner at the ready. This all made for a nice combo as keep in mind Part 1 would have been an 8 even without part 2. You could still expect a good action scene every episode.

Now we are introduced to a new concept near the end of Part 1 which is that anyone who uses the powers of Grayskull is given a second life. Basically you have fun in the jungle for a while and you can even come back to life whenever you want. The catch is that you can only come back to life once so when you die again your soul is just destroyed forever. None of the previous guardians seem all that heroic to me as they were willing to just stay in this world forever and never came in to help. I was expecting them to pop up at some point but they ended up just staying in this place the whole time. It really wasn’t a great look for these guys who are supposed to be the ultimate heroes. The existence of this world helps give someone a good destructive feat later on but I think this place just shouldn’t exist. It really comes out of nowhere and doesn’t add to anything. It’s also rough for good guys who don’t have the power and have to go to the underworld anyway. Doesn’t seem like a very fair tradeoff. Fortunately one of the heroes realized that and quickly stops one person from being sent back there later on.

Part 2 is really filled with fights the entire time. We get the big army against army fight scene that you’ve been waiting for. With a series like this where each part is only a few episodes, you do see most of the events in the trailers but at least that way you’re always gearing up for the next fight. The show never really stops to catch its break which is good. The pacing is on point.

One thing that pops out at you immediately is how great the animation is. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is absolutely top tier for western animation. I haven’t seen an art style this vivid since Justice League Unlimited. This show would fit right in with the DCAU and can hold its own against any other western show without exception. The fights are really good and you feel the power behind each blow. I thought the show really did justice to He Man’s incredible power and the rush when he gets his power. The first transformation scene was great.

As for the soundtrack, I wouldn’t say it’s super memorable or anything but it gets the job done. The tunes during the action scenes are on point and the show always has a lot of energy. If you count it, the trailer had a great theme with the “I need a Hero” track. Now that’s a tune that’s always in season.

Naturally the show does end with a cliffhanger and it’s an interesting one. I would definitely be down to see how it all plays out but they’ll need to find a way to make it so the villains are a threat. Now that we have He Man and the powered up Teela at the ready, it’s hard to see these villains being a thread without some kind of massive upgrade. I also think depowering He Man again would be a bad move since it just happened so that’s off the table. Maybe have him be busy off planet? Not sure if that works since he is the protector of Castle Grayskull though. Well, they’ll think of something.

Either way we should hopefully get more He Man vs Skeletor moments. Those are really the scenes when the show is at its peak. Each of their fights really ends up being quite the spectacle and as the faces of good and evil in this world, you always want to see them clash. The top notch animation certainly helps with that as well. We also get a cool teamup in the show which is something I was waiting for. If there was a nice He Man moment you were looking forward to or wanted to see, odds are that the show delivers on this. There’s quite a lot of replay value to be had here as well so this is a show you’ll probably go back to or at least to look up the fights.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this show out. It really does a great job of showing the He Man mythos and events. It’s a nice follow up to the original series. Some concepts like the Otherworld may have been best left on the drawing board but I suppose it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I wouldn’t say the show has any real weaknesses. Part 2 covers for any element that may have had you worried in Part 1 and so when you watch it all together, the season works out nicely. My only real complaint by the end is that it went too far in making Skeletor look really bad most of the time so hopefully he can regroup in season 2. It’ll be difficult for the CGI title to even try and match this one.

Overall 8/10

Transformers Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures Season 4 Review


Well, who’d have thought that Cyberverse would come back? After the show ended, some time passed and then they announced that the show would continue with 2 mini movies. This basically became season 4 with two, two part events. It still feels rather random but who can say no to some more adventures right? I wouldn’t say either episode is quite up there with the best that the show was dishing out in season 3 but they’re fun enough episodes and the nostalgia is the important thing here. So lets take a look at the two stories here.

The first story has the Autobots and Decepticons preparing to finally make the peace between both sides official. It’s been a long time coming after all and this will mark a brighter day for Cybertron. Unfortunately that isn’t to be as the entire planet is frozen solid. The only ones to escape are the Dinobots and Windblade, but she is quickly captured. Grimlock must unite these Dinobots to that they can use a merged form to stop the group of bounty hunters led by the powerful Trypticon. Will they be able to save the day or will it be curtains for Cybertron?

I have to say that the bounty hunter’s ray is really impressive. The fact that it can take out an entire planet in the blink of an eye is terrifying. It reminded me of the whole premise for Dr. Stone. The Dinobots are really just lucky to have gotten out of that one. It was a bold pick to have them be the main characters here but I wouldn’t say it paid off. This has always been my least favorite incarnation of Grimlock and I can’t say that the other Dinobots are much better. As the big premiere to the new season I would have rather had Optimus Prime or Bumblebee at the ready.

The bounty hunter group isn’t bad though. Trypticon makes for a good leader of course. In this version he is portrayed as a tough boss who talks a good game but does care for his subordinates when the chips are down. He seemed like a really practical guy and someone you wouldn’t mind working for. Then you have Soundblaster who gets a rather big role here. You may chuckle a bit at his villainous origin story of why he turned against Soundwave and the others though.

This did mean that Soundwave got to have a true rival though so that was near. There are a few other forgettable members and then you have the last two, Bug Bite and Nightbird. Now these characters were fun as evil versions of Bumblebee and Arcee. It’s not literal but the character designs are the same so why not right? Nightbird had good close combat skills and Bug Bite was good at always moving and keeping everyone on guard.

So as a whole the bounty hunters were a lot more memorable than I would have expected them to be. They made for good antagonists and were easily the highlight of the two part story event. I just wish the heroes could have been as interesting. The whole Dinobots learning how to fuse thing got old fast and none of the Dinobots have enough charisma to hold their own scenes. They’re easily some of my least favorite Autobots and end up holding the special back. So in the end it’s a good two parter but not a great one.

Finally the other 2 part adventure sees the return of the ultimate Decepticons. Out of nowhere they start appearing on Cybertron only they are fighting each other for some reason. It’s difficult to get them to disengage and Cybertron itself may be destroyed at this rate. One of these robots still appears sentient though and explains that the Autobots can help the rest too. They just need to get another legendary relic of the Primes but it can only be opened by someone with the Matrix. It’s obvious that this is a trap so I’ll jump ahead a bit to say Tam (The sentient robot) gets this artifact and is now intent on using it to destroy all of the Autobots. The War for Cybertron has begun anew. Will any Decepticons continue to aid the Autobots or will we go back to square one?

Now this was a big step up from the first story. It’s a massive upgrade on all fronts from the action scenes to even having more of an ensemble cast. This time almost everyone gets a little something to do. Prime, Soundwave, Bumblebee, Windblade, the Dinobots, etc. Everyone has to pitch in and help this time around because the villains are too powerful for anything else. The perfected Decepticon robots are also impressively strong like last time. One on one only someone like Optimus Prime can defeat them. The other fighters don’t stand much of a chance which is why it was so important to try and shut them down.

Soundwave gets a lot of the spotlight here which was unexpected but his fans should be pleased. His story really goes in a vastly different direction from anything I would have predicted. Not only does he get his catchphrase but he’s well prepared for each battle and is willing to put his spark on the line to help his friends. The episode treats him like the new leader for the Decepticons and he was willing to make peace with the Autobots. Soundwave seems like he would make for a very good leader to the team, someone they could all be proud of.

The Dinobots return and get to use their fusion form but not as much as you would think. Too bad since it should in theory be strong enough to really make a difference in these battles. More importantly, Hot Rod gets to appear for a bit and while he doesn’t look super strong, I’ll take any screen time I can get. Optimus Prime gets to step in as well this time. It’s not a huge role but the episode does still acknowledge him as the strongest Autobot with how he is able to take on some of these robots.

Aside from generally having more action and more of a serious plot, the episode also had a great start. When Astro Train comes falling out of the sky it’ll remind you of the old Infinity Gauntlet comics when Silver Surfer crashed in a similar way. It immediately tells you that something big is about to go down and that’s absolutely right. Even if the main twist may have been telegraphed, the fact that the story has twists and turns is fun. It’s just a well written two part adventure and this feels like a true finale.

As for Tam as a villain, I thought he was solid. He isn’t quite as memorable as the bounty hunters from the first story but I still liked him quite a bit. He had a grand plan and did a good job of executing it. The design was on point and he had a good, no nonsense kind of personality. The show really didn’t hold back with the villains in this season. Both stories had good antagonists.

Season 4 seamlessly blends in with the rest of the episodes so it’s like no time has passed. The score may not be as high as the show but that’s in part due to how many adventures the show got to have and how you knew you’d have a consistently solid time. This season is better than the first for sure but would lose to seasons 2 and 3. I have a feeling it could have easily jumped up another star with more episodes. This one’s just over so quickly and with half the show used up on the Dinobots, that meant it didn’t have a lot of extra opportunities. Not everything has to be the next big hit though and at the very least I can say that I think you’ll have a good time with this one.

The animation style is kept the same from the TV show and still looks good. The animation style is colorful and you quickly know what’s going on. I like it well enough for the action scenes although this isn’t that kind of show so don’t expect any big battles. When it comes to the soundtrack, there aren’t really any memorable themes so I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that front. On a technical level the show definitely doesn’t stand out but it looks good enough.

Overall, Transformers got to have some more fun adventures which is nice. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one but the second delivered. In the end they balance out well enough so I would call season 4 good and in the end that’s what counts. You may not check these adventures out again but now you can proudly say that the show reached 4 seasons and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventure comes around next. The Transformers franchise never takes a break after all so you can bet that it will be back sooner than later! There are even a few items already lined up in the franchise.

Overall 6/10

What If…? Season 1 Review


Lets take a look at the latest in the series of MCU related TV shows. This one’s a bit different from the rest as it takes place outside of the normal universe although you could probably guess that from the title. The What If comics from back in the day were always a lot of fun. There’s a ton you can do with the concept to the point where there are really limitless possibilities. A single story can turn into 20. Any scene where you might have called for “plot hax” or something can now be rewritten so you can see how it “should” have ended. This show’s off to a good start, lets break down each episode.

The first episode is What If Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve. In this case Steve ended up getting shot and was in no condition to continue the experiment so Peggy went in his stead. Can she still end the war and save the world? It’s a decent way to start off the season but at the same time the reason this was not very exciting is because it doesn’t feel much like a What If. Put it this way, Steve had no real combat experience and was rather scrawny before taking the serum. Carter knows how to fight and has kept in top shape.

After taking the serum they would more or less be equal and Peggy should actually be more skilled initially thanks to her combat experience. So completing the events of the movie is sort of a given. The show tries to add a bit of a change here with a random monster at the end which was fun but for all intents and purposes this is just the first film again. It’s a good story, just nothing that you haven’t already seen before.

Next up we have an episode that really goes out there. The Ravagers head to Earth and pick up T’Challa by mistake instead of Peter Quill. T’Challa ends up becoming the Star Lord and is rather good at it. He ends up being an accomplished Ravager and even ends up convincing Thanos not to snap half of the universe away and gets the guy to join the team. The Black Order is still on the loose though and they could do a lot of damage with the “Embers” so the team has to put a stop to this assuming they can trust Nebula.

Now this is what you would expect from a What If episode. By changing one thing you’ve changed a whole lot of other aspects. Thanos being a Guardian of the Galaxy is a good example of this. It’s fun seeing how T’Challa would work as a Ravager and the episode has quick pacing and a lot going on at all times. It’s an engaging story although it does have some power level issues.

Namely Thanos and this is not the only time he will be clowned in this series. I can’t believe for a moment that Thanos would be having any kind of trouble against these guys. He was actually losing against the Order and it’s like he just became a huge punching bag the instant he turned good. Remember that Thanos was casually beating the Hulk in Infinity War and that was without using any of the stones. Given that, there is no way he would be having any kind of trouble against the Order. This should have been an easy stomp. Still, power level issues aside this was quite solid.

The third episode is one of the highlights of the season as we get a true mystery episode. Someone is picking off members of the Avengers but the trick is that the Avengers haven’t actually formed yet. So someone knows who was going to be on the roster and is taking them out ahead of time. This ends up bringing in some attention from Asgard as well since Thor was one of the targets. Who could possibly be strong enough to defeat everyone?

This is a well written story in large part because I can actually buy a lot of this. At first you may be skeptical as to how this person could take down all of the Avengers and the episode has a pretty good explanation. At most you may just be skeptical with the Hulk. It’s a question of if the radiation and blood would be enough to break through and prevent this from happening or if the skin was strong enough to resist. In both cases I would say there is enough room for doubt where I would buy into it. I had no issues here which is impressive for this kind of story. The reveal at the end also makes sense.

Following that up is a Dr. Strange story. Basically he doesn’t go into a car crash initially and lives long enough to have a good relationship going with Christine. Well, one day she dies in a car crash and so Strange decides to become a magician to bring her back to life. Everyone warns him against this but he correctly decides to go back in time. The problem is that every attempt seems to end in failure so he has to find some way to save her life for good. What depths of power will it take to pull this off?

I definitely like this kind of story quite a lot where we see the lengths Strange will go in order to save Christine. Now where he crosses the line is when he starts to actually destroy other monsters to get stronger. There’s nothing wrong with altering time and going back to make things better as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. The moment time travel is established you don’t know if someone else has been messing with time so it’s all fair game. It does seem as though the universe is rigged as Strange tries to save her many times and I appreciate the effort. You really can’t give up and have to just keep trying until the end. The climax fight with the two Stranges was also a blast. I felt like this episode really fit a whole lot into it.

In the 5th episode we get the big Zombies episode. So what if the Wasp came back but she had the Zombie virus and quickly started transmitting it. Before long the Avengers are infected as well so there is just a small group of heroes left to fend them off. Either they will find the cure and save the world or the entire planet will be covered with zombies before long. It’s a solid thriller kind of episode. Now this one does feel a bit more iffy with how the heroes are infected though. Now granted there are a lot of ways to make the zombies do well here. The way it was shown just didn’t seem right.

So the Avengers fly in and land in the middle of a bridge only to be surrounded by zombies and quickly got slaughtered. There were thousands of zombies by this point so it was impossible to miss them. Why fly to the middle of the bridge? You either blast from afar or if you don’t want to hurt the zombies, then stay in the air. Going to the bridge was effectively a suicide mission. The twist ending I also have a hard time buying because I don’t see how a certain someone would get infected. Unless a bunch of other planets already got infected, I don’t see how Earth would have had time to tag this guy.

It was cool to see the last remnants of humanity banding together here. It was a good team up here and the end of the world always gives a good opportunity to see some team ups that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I’d say this is probably around the middle of the season. It doesn’t beat a few of the others that I’ve mentioned but still offered a good scenario. This is such a famous story that you almost feel like it could and should have been a multi parter though.

In episode 6, what if Killmonger was the one to save Tony from the events of Iron Man 1? This causes him to be promoted to a very high position and he convinces Iron Man to help him build a bunch of armors. The guy is surprisingly quite smart with tech here to the point of it maybe being too convenient. He then decides to slowly start taking control of the world. This one’s definitely quite out there which is good but I do feel like the characters got sloppy at times. There’s no way Killmonger should have made it out of the room once Tony knew what was up. I had a hard time believing he could beat the robot or that Tony’s room wouldn’t have some kind of evidence of what really happened.

Things certainly worked out quite well for Killmonger that’s for sure. It was a good episode although a bit on the unbelievable side to me. You know, come to think of it this has been a rough stretch for Iron Man, seems like he’s died quite a few times in this series. Surprisingly this is one of the only episodes where the twist ending actually gives the heroes some hope as opposed to almost all of the others where it ends with the villains getting ready to win.

Next up is the party Thor episode. What If Loki stayed as a frost giant so Thor grew up on his own and got super spoiled. He decides to throw a big party that’s so powerful it starts to destroy the planet. Fury is forced to call in Captain Marvel and the two have some big fights. It’s definitely the most light hearted episode to the point where you can call it a comedy. There’s more slapstick here, the characters are having fun and Thor’s mom even gets to have some hype.

It’s a nice enough episode. The fight with Thor and Marvel is absolutely the highlight and really why you will be watching this. It’s nice to see both characters blasting each other back and forth. I would say Thor definitely has the edge based on how the fight was going here since he was holding back the whole time and just having fun while Marvel was clearly going all out. Even with her best attacks Thor was just having fun the whole time which speaks to his skills. I think the episode would have benefited from being taken just a bit more seriously though. The next two episodes get quite serious though so I suppose this was a way to brace yourself for those parts.

In this case Ultron ended up getting the full download into Vision’s body and was able to quickly wipe the team out. He even one shotted Thanos (I had a hard time buying into that one) and then proceeded to take over the world. Black Widow and Hawkeye are the last lines of resistance against him and need to find some kind of way to take him down. It’s difficult because of how strong he has gotten though so they may need some unexpected help.

Part 1 is the best episode in the season so far. The fight scene between Ultron and the Watcher is really solid and I like how far the series went with it. We have reality breaking and Ultron even eat a universe at one point in one of the rare moments where we see what a universe buster can do in a practical setting. Now this does come back to haunt the show in part 2 with how powerful Ultron looks here but the whole thing is definitely very impressive. It also shows us what a threat Ultron is and why we will have to band the team together.

The final episode is really a big team up as we have reps from almost every episode show up to try and take Ultron down. It’s nice to see what reality’s final line of defense can do. The only one you can take seriously as a threat to Ultron at this point is Dr. Strange. I liked the show’s decision to have a magic barrier blocking all damage for the rest of the heroes since it at least gives a reason for why they don’t all get one shotted. I still don’t see why Ultron couldn’t just beat everyone a lot quicker though.

Keep in mind that he should be able to destroy the planet in an instant with no real effort that would have put most of the heroes in a bad spot. At one point he even ponders out loud why he is having so much trouble. I don’t know myself, Ultron was shown to be so powerful that he should have easily been crushing these guys. If you can get past the power level angle then you’ve still got a solid end here. It’s naturally fun to see all of the characters teaming up at the end like this.

And that wraps up season 1. There were definitely a lot of fun adventures here. They’re entertaining and the writing is on point here. I may have some power level issues mainly with Thanos in all of his appearances and Ultron at the end but the scenarios themselves are on point. I also like how each of the episodes have a twist ending at the ready. Usually you can assume that the heroes are doomed to be destroyed but if season 2 continues some of these scenarios then we’ll see how they get past them.

Personally I’d rather season 2 is completely filled with new scenarios though. Keep each one as a one and done because there are just so many slots that you don’t want to have to go back and revisit any with such a limited amount of episodes per season. Trust me when I say it would only take an hour or less to come up with a full 10 seasons worth of great scenarios so the more new ones you can do the better.

One thing I would like them to change for season 2 is the animation though. It’s well below average and just doesn’t look all that good. The art style is trying its best to look fairly realistic but as a result it doesn’t stand out and the colors are very faded except for some of the fight scenes. The fights can be quite solid but another style would really do the show some wonders. Give it a more traditional animation style like Spider-Man or the Avengers EMH show and then you’re in business.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Watcher keeps claiming that he won’t interfere during the pre episode narration in season 2 now that he has broken his vow. Hopefully he doesn’t so we can acknowledge that now he is ready to step in if things get too dangerous. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Watcher because of how slow he is to act. At least in this show he can fight rather well so I give him some props there. It is his best appearance in all of Marvel but he needs to start interfering to save these universes and then I would really start liking the guy.

Overall, Marvel’s What If is a solid show and it’s a great premise for a title. This is a good way to really bring up some fun scenarios that you couldn’t do in the main universe. As the seasons expand I like to imagine we can expand the character roster too and really get in some more characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc. If you’ve been curious to see how things could quickly go off the rails then you’ll want to check this out. Hopefully season 2 doesn’t take too long to come out.

Overall 7/10

Eden Review


Eden’s a show I hadn’t heard of before. It’s fairly short at 4 episodes so this almost could have just been a full movie. The animation feels very RWBY inspired which is a good thing and this ends up being a fun title to check out. Having Sara be the only human in the present setting was a bold move but one that works out well.

The show starts by introducing us to the far future where humans seem to no longer exist. Two robots named A37 and E92 are completing their tasks as normal when they come across a baby named Sara. They are supposed to immediately alert the high council to dispose of the human but they can’t bring themselves to do so and instead raise her as their kid. She grows up with them and while she isn’t thrilled about always having to be in hiding, she still has a good life. One day, she discovers a robot and a message. It would appear that the human race is still alive but trapped in stasis. Sara will have to find the unlock code to save them and she will have to do this quickly or they will never wake up again. This is going to be dangerous but it’s a mission that she is ready and prepared for.

A and E make for interesting characters since they are pure robots. We’re not talking about androids who have human emotions or anything like that but robots who do their best to understand what is going on. They’re inherently good robots as we see them taking a stand compared to most. Perhaps the fact that they are protecting Sara at all suggests that they do have true emotions. They can be rather awkward and don’t always know the best way to talk to her but I’d say they did a very good job of raising her.

The whole plot is very wholesome and I like the way that it was executed. Potentially it could have been a bit dull at first before the danger elements come into play but Sara is a good character and the robots make for solid supporting ones. It ends up being a solid dynamic either way. As for Sara, she’s a good lead and one who isn’t even that unreasonable. She does take some tremendous risks like jumping from high heights because she knows that her robot friend will catch her. I don’t blame the parents for being worried about that and of course Sara likes to venture fairly far away from her home.

She’s ready to jump into action when she finds out about her mission. It’s not an easy one either since the world is filled with robots that are after her. They’re fairly powerful ones too led by the mighty Zero. Zero has a design that really stands out here. It’s sort of like the Shredder from the TMNT 2003 show. He has a futuristic armor and a really booming voice so you can see why everyone follows him. Among the robots he seems to have the most character as well.

As the show goes on we learn more about Zero and more about the world at large. It’s pretty easy to see how Zero ended up going down the path that he did. In any show or movie where the villain makes the case that the world would be better without humans, it’s always hard to debate their point. Take this instance, with humans stuck in stasis, the world has become a utopia with no crime. Life and nature have prospered as well. If the humans return then Zero says they will bring war and crime back with them as well as polluting the Earth.

It’s not as if they would change and the issue is that he’s right. Now you can still root for the humans to return and everything but it will be sad to see the Utopia go away. That’s mainly the conflict at the end of the series. There is also a quick mecha battle near the end of the show but action definitely isn’t the main part of the show. It’s a fun little battle with the fighters but the emotional battle is really what the focus is on.

As mentioned earlier, I did like the animation style here. It may not be quite as polished as RWBY, you can see how the animation is a bit more stilted, but the art and backgrounds are definitely on point. I’ve always wondered why more titles don’t try to go for the colorful CGI style that RWBY has so I’m glad that this one finally embraced it. The character designs are memorable and I like the world that it’s based in. It all just looks very descriptive.

Eden is really a family drama title at its core. Sara learns what it means to really have a family while in the past segments we have someone feel the pain of losing one. These two focuses act as complete contrasts to each other and also show us how each character made it on both sides. So while I say this is a light hearted title there are definitely quite a lot of sad moments throughout. Enjoy the first two episodes while you can as they’re really about showing the happy times first like Sara growing up. I thought it was a good move that she grew up so quickly as well since she’s able to do a lot more as a teen compared to being a toddler.

The flashbacks about the final humans before they all went into stasis definitely have the most sad moments throughout its run. You can tell that not everyone will get a happy ending which makes sense. They each have their own struggles to go through after all. I didn’t really have any issues with the show by the end of its run either. It’s a pleasant little title with all the proper elements an adventure needed. The writing was on point and the conflict was solid.

I will say the only part that felt like it was edging towards a plot hole was how inconsistent the timer was. There’s a timer that consistently shows how close the humans are to being locked in stasis forever. Each episode has the timer appear a whole lot but it just doesn’t make sense based on how much time was there before her time skip and afterwards. I think they either shouldn’t have shown the timer when she was still a baby and only showed it afterwards or just set it to a different time. With a calculator it shouldn’t be hard to have set that up properly especially since it is so crucial to the story.

It’s a small thing overall though and my head canon is that the A.I. was just malfunctioning at times and showing the wrong values. That seems like it should be within the realm of possibility. If you want to go a bit farther, it’s hard to see Zero and the robots not stamping out the two protecting Sara instantly but I suppose for a while she just wasn’t on their radar. Also, Zero’s minions don’t seem to be very intelligent and just have basic skills developed so that would make sense. His personal A.I. would be the only exception there. The heroes have an A.I. too and they even have a very brief skirmish which was fun. The two A.I. were always entertaining so it’s too bad that they didn’t appear a bit more.

Overall, Eden is a fun title and really gets the adventure/journey across well. It’s a fairly personal story that it just pleasant to watch. It’s definitely got a rather somber end so I won’t say it’s a huge feel good title but throughout the 4 episodes there are a lot of fun moments. You can also interpret the ending as still being happy in a sense as Sara won’t give up and will create more experiences but to me it would have been perfect if one more thing could have been fixed in-universe. Ultimately the title is really about Sara experiencing the world for herself and seeing that robots can be a real family just as well as a human one. A & E really did a great job for as long as they could and this was an impressive effort considering that they had no formal training before now. If you’re looking for a good family drama title with some action elements at the end then this is a good one to pick up. It really feels like a solid one shot movie that gives you a complete experience from beginning to end.

Overall 7/10

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Kingdom Review


Transformers has been quite busy. Since the end of the second part in the trilogy I got to review the Rescue Bots Academy show as well as the recent Battlegrounds game. Well, now we’re at the final part of the trilogy. Part 2 ended off with a ton of plot lines to explore but since each part only has a few episodes I’d say a lot of us expected there would be loose ends. The only question was, would these be in the form of direct cliffhangers or more like threads that aren’t really mentioned but you know they’re out there? I’d say it’s closer to the former to we’ll see if there’s a part 4.

This part pretty much opens with the Autobots and Decepticons crash landing on this mysterious planet. They are greeted by the locals which are the Maximals and Predacons. Unfortunately for the heroes, the Decepticons and Predacons hit it off really quickly. Meanwhile Prime has to figure out a way to defeat the Maximals and to find the All Spark once and for all. If he can get that, then all the sacrifices will have been worth it.

Now you may be wondering about what’s going on with the subplot back on Cybertron but there’s no time for that so we don’t get one. We find out what happened in the aftermath though. The Kingdom saga is only 6 episodes so those are all really spent on this planet as the gang tries to work together. The series has certainly come a long way from the original days of war on Cybertron that’s for sure.

It’s fun to see the Maximals return. It’s been a while since I saw Beast Wars but the old characters are all pretty familiar. Primal and the gang actually do pretty well in the fight. I would even argue they should have beaten the Autobots pretty quickly. The heroes have been running on the last smidges of Energon pretty much since the beginning of the trilogy so I’d expect they would be out of luck by now. I suppose Autobots are naturally tougher than Maximals so it balances out but if the fight kept going they really should lose.

We don’t really get to see the heroes fight much in any part of Transformers so it was a cool skirmish and I wouldn’t have minded if it kept on going for a while longer to be honest. The heroes look good as you would expect. Prime is still calling the shots well. While I may not have always agreed with him in the previous two parts, at this point he is committed so I’m with him on seeing this mission through to the end. Turning back now would just not make any sense and they all know it.

Prime’s so close to the goal after all. The rest of the Autobots are solid as well but Prime really gets the biggest role. Bumblebee also gets his moment to shine as he is acknowledged by Prime as being the best candidate for the Matrix and leadership position. In context I definitely think it’s a stretch since Bumblebee just joined the team but you can also interpret it as a diss to the other members not being ready for this.

For the Maximals, Primal is fun of course. He definitely does not like Nemesis at all which is why it’s hard to work with him at first but gradually he softens up. He doesn’t really have the same commanding presence as Prime but does what he needs to. Then you have Airazor who does the most dangerous jobs for the team. It doesn’t always go well for her but she stays strong and does well at convincing a Predacon to rethink things.

Then on the Predacons side you have three main members. First is Megatron II but I wasn’t a big fan of that guy. He basically worships Megatron and is always mentioning how great the guy is. He doesn’t exactly feel like a leader and acts like a minion. The guy needs to have more self respect to be taken seriously here.

Dinobot was great as always though. He looks very strong and is also reasonable. His decision to go along with Starscream for a while may have been shaky but ultimately he wisened up and got out of there pretty quickly. He was one of the best characters in Beast Wars so I wasn’t surprised that he was great here as well.

Then you have Blackarachnia. There are so many spider themed villains in Transformers that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Still, she’s a fun member and definitely likes goading Starscream on. Both of them aren’t exactly the most loyal fighters out there so they make for a good team. Both will need to watch their backs though.

As for the Decepticons, Megatron is a fun leader as always but at this point he’s just a complete villain who is running around and trying to destroy things. Gone is the Part 1 Megatron who you could make the case of having a stronger argument than Prime. That’s one thing I miss from the first part which is that we had a whole lot of nuance between both factions. Due to the show skipping the initial outbreak of what set off the war, you really didn’t know who was right. We could assume that Prime was given the entire franchise history but the fact that it was close was interesting.

Megatron insists on using the Matrix in this season but you can’t help and think that it is just holding him back. The matrix doesn’t offer any super abilities and all of the characters let him know that it refuses to be used by a Decepticon. I’d toss it or lock it up if I was him.

Then you have his loyal follower Soundwave who finally gets some action here. He’s definitely not portrayed as a big fighter here but Soundwave still gets his hype. Mainly through Laserbeak who really does good here and takes on several challengers. Finally there is Starscream who has his plans as always. You wonder if he will end up being the main villain since that happens a lot. Either way you’ll be satisfied with his portrayal. He’s as cunning and quick witted as ever.

Throughout the part we have a lot of fights between the 4 factions but gradually we are given more and more hints that something else is coming. Galvatron appeared in the opening episode after all with the golden disc of destiny and there was all the foreshadowing with Unicron early on. Well, here’s where this all comes to play as Nemesis and Galvatron show up. I wish they could have appeared more because to me this was the most interesting part of the whole saga.

In season 2 the show already delved into the idea of a multiverse with the whole Dead Zone aspect. (Which comes into play here) Well, it looks like in one timeline Unicron ended up winning and took both Prime and Megatron as his lackeys. In a Galactus kind of way, Unicron reformatted them so they would work for him as Nemesis and Galvatron. It’s very interesting and cool to see both a Prime and Megatron teaming up like this.

Sure, they may be evil and potentially not in their right minds but it’s a great team up nonetheless. I love it when a show introduces multiple timelines and parallel dimensions. There is so much you can do with that and even if you don’t go the guest star angle, you can still get a lot out of it just through discussion and lore.

Mind you, Netflix sometimes likes to go a little too far with sci-fi lore and there was an instance where I was worried this was going to happen here as well. We do get some info dumps and pondering about the universe but it ends as quickly as it begins so we’re good. The climax is really a big battle as everyone tries to fight these invaders off and it’s pretty epic. Galvatron and Nemesis were pretty outnumbered but otherwise I dare say they would have crushed everyone.

In theory we’ll see them more in a Part 4 if we ever get that. You know how I’m a big fan of cliffhanger endings so of course I had a blast with the ending. If we ever do get a sequel it’ll probably be the best part. Nemesis may not talk but he has a cool aura around him and Galvatron is as fun as ever. I like that he has a lot of plans going and was doing his best to defy Unicron. In a way he’s like Starscream in that respect as Megatron doesn’t like to work for anybody. He’ll likely continue resisting Unicron until he ceases to function.

The graphics are pretty good. It’s CGI so it won’t look quite as clean as all of the animes but you can always tell what is going on and who is who. CGI will likely never quite stack up to hand drawn for me but if you are going to go the CG route, you should always try to be colorful. That way the fight scenes will pop out at you and you can still get a lot of cool visuals. So I’d say the CG here is good because there are definitely a lot of moments where you can pause and what is happening on screen will look pretty good. The soundtrack is more on the underwhelming side though. I couldn’t tell you about a single theme in the show. I’m sure there is music of course but none of it is memorable.

It’s worth mentioning that this is another Transformers title that didn’t need to add any humans. It’s all about the bots and it works well. There’s a whole lot you can do with the franchise without even needing the humans because the Transformers world is incredibly vast. Part of the fun in season 2 was seeing the world with Soundblaster because it was a whole alien culture that the Transformers had to visit. You could make a Star Trek type story just about exploring other planets as well. The battles with Prime and Megatron are classic but those are all other avenues we could explore.

Of course in a Part 4 we need to go into the whole Unicron angle. That said, I think the toughest part about incorporating him into the mix is it’s hard to picture him being defeated. Take this trilogy for example. Both sides are incredibly low on energon and the combined armies had trouble with his heralds. What would they do when the actual Unicron shows up? They would need a bunch of the celestial Transformers and some of those living cities to do much of anything to him and even then I’d find it pretty hard to buy into them winning.

In the end I’d put this one pretty close to the Machinima Transformers show. This one went the more conventional route initially but by the end we had a lot of guest stars and pretty ambitious plot lines. This one wins in terms of it being so much longer than the few minutes per episode and it had time to do more. At the same time, I’d give Mach the edge in terms of the actual story and scale of what was going on. It was cool seeing all of the obscure Transformer characters showing up and doing their thing like the Mistress of Flame. This one wins overall though as the extra length is just too good to pass up. Now we just have to wait and see what the next CGI experience is, hopefully it arrives sooner than later.

Overall, The War for Cybertron trilogy was pretty fun. It does feel like the name was more applicable to the first two parts though as the third was mostly unrelated. I suppose the battles are an extension of what happened previously though so in that sense you can say it was still a war. I don’t think this will go down as one of the more memorable Transformer shows but I am glad they keep pumping out titles left and right. At this point Transformers has so many shows you’d be hard pressed to name them all without thinking about it. If you haven’t checked this one out yet then you definitely should. If you combined all 3 shows you’ve effectively got a full season’s worth of content.

Overall 7/10

Kiznaiver Review


If you watch a lot of anime you know that summer vacation is usually high stakes. Either you get thrown into a cybernetic world, scouted for a professional sport, or you end up getting run over by a bus and have to thrive in a new world. It’s rare that you actually end up just having a blast and these characters are about to learn that the hard way. It’s a pretty fun show and ends up being unique as well.

The show starts off by introducing us to Katsuhira who gets bullied every day. He is forced to hand over his lunch money to these bullies and get pounded for a while anyway. The thing is, he doesn’t really mind. He does not have the ability to feel pain, it’s just not something his body can do. So he doesn’t mind being beaten up since he doesn’t feel it. Additionally, he doesn’t really possess emotions or they’re too muted to really be felt. So he’s rather apathetic about life itself.

His best friend Chidori is always really upset about Katsuhira being beaten up like this but she can’t convince him to fight back. One day his life changes when a girl named Noriko shows up. She decides to murder him and pushes the guy off the stairs. Katsuhira manages to survive somehow, only he is trapped in a facility. She explains that she is going to run an experiment by which his pain will now be transmitted to the rest of the Seven Deadly Sins. These are 6 other students she has chosen from the school who will now be forced to partake in this experiment. The Kiznaiver program.

The 5 don’t have a choice as they are kidnapped and taken to this school. Here’s how the program works, whenever any of these 7 experience any kind of pain, it will be split 7 ways and everyone will feel it. So the good part is that no pain you experience will be as bad as it usually was. The bad part is that if someone gets beaten up by bullies a lot….prepare for extra pain. The 7 students must survive the entire Summer Vacation in order to be released from this program. They’re all from different social circles and circumstances though so they will have to try and get along first.

That’s really what this show is about, seeing if the students can come together. In a way the show’s even a metaphor for how anyone can get along no matter what their background or situation is. The show creates a scenario that forces each person to have to at least make an attempt to get along. It’s in their best interests if they want to make it through the Summer without too much pain after all. They’ll be put through many different situations and scenarios before they can get out of this.

So lets do a roll call of the characters. I’ve already talked about Katsuhira for the most part. He doesn’t know what his dark secret is (Everyone is tested on this during the first trial) I wasn’t a big fan of his. His lack of emotion does mean that for a while he lets anyone push him around and doesn’t really think for himself. He does get a character arc around this though so by the end he is considerably improved from how he started. I still wouldn’t say I’m a big fan or anything but I am glad that he made progress.

Then you have Chidori, (I could have sworn they pronounced her name as Chitori the whole time though. I really thought that was her name until I looked up the spelling for this review) the best friend. Her darkest secret is that she’s in love with Katsuhira so that’s pretty tough for her since he doesn’t have the emotional knowledge to know how to respond. She’s a nice character and one of the more likable ones. She does her best to try and take this all in stride but Noriko’s presence makes it rather difficult. Usually if you start off strong it makes it difficult to stick the landing though as she takes the final episodes the hardest. Still a quality character throughout though.

Next up is Hajime, the tough guy of the group. His darkest secret is that he’s extremely afraid of dogs to the point where he plans out his routes so he doesn’t pass any dog owners. It would wreck his image so you can see why he hides that away. He’s quick to step in and help Katsuhira out in the opening episode which was good. At his core Hajime is a good person such as how he ignores his own romantic feelings so they don’t get in the way of this adventure. He’s not always great as he can be rather crude like his threat to Noriko but for the most part he definitely stands out and is loyal. He’s more likely to have your back than most of the other characters even if he did beat someone up a little too quickly near the end. I know he cracked but it still felt uncalled for.

Nico is the quirky member of the group. She loves talking about fairies and just bouncing around all the time. Her darkest secret is that…she doesn’t actually believe in any of that stuff and just acts quirky so people won’t think she’s normal. I thought that was actually a pretty interesting subversion and in a sense, thinking up a whole elaborate act like that means she was already quirky to begin with. It’s definitely an interesting development. Overall she’s one of the strongest characters for sure. Nico probably takes the end of the series better than the rest as well.

Tsuguhito was my favorite member of the students. He’s the cool kid in class who is super popular and has a lot of friends. His darkest secret is that he used to be fat and has tried to make sure nobody knows that part of him. Honestly, while it’s good as a comedic moment, it’s probably the lowest stakes from all of the secrets. To most that’s actually more of an impressive moment than anything because it showed that he was able to lose a lot of weight and turned his life around.

Part of why I like him is because he’s just a good guy. He doesn’t brag about it or show off like the others but just does the right thing when it counts. He gives Honoka a lot of pep talks and sticks up for Katsuhira. He really doesn’t pick fights or get anyone into trouble throughout the show. He does put up a tough façade at times and throws some insults around but never anything too serious. He does just enough to keep the act going and also wasn’t about to rush into a romance like certain other characters in the show.

Then you have one of least favorite members of the group Honoka. She’s definitely not a people person and likes to keep to herself. Her darkest secret is that she murdered someone a while back although of course there is more context to that later on. Honoka is just the meanest member of the group by far and carries this attitude on for way too long. Right up through the last 2 episodes or so, she is still going on about how none of them are friends. She does her best to hurt everyone else’s feelings as well.

Her origin story was definitely a sad one but even that got worse because she didn’t face it head on. If she had then she would have been in a much better place since she did misinterpret things. Should have just read the manga…. I would say her backstory was probably the weakest part of the show.

Finally you have my actual least favorite member of the group, Yoshiharu. His thing is that he’s really into pain and even enjoys injuring himself just to get that sensation. He’s got a few screws loose so to speak. I don’t even remember what his darkest secret was. He missed the first trial so maybe it didn’t come up. Part of what hurts him is that the guy never really contributes to the story. You could cut him out and I dare say that not a single thing would change. He really felt like he was added on to an extent. Even how the other 6 characters all match up in pairs while he’s just running around. Yoshiharu’s gimmick wasn’t really funny either so he just fell flat as a character.

Of course you have the two teachers who are in on this. Both of them signed off on this very corrupt experiment so it’s hard to like either one of them. Both are willing to put the students in danger on multiple occasions. Mutsumi seems to at least have more of a conscience than Kazunao though. She finally has a breaking point while he never backs down even to the end. The students definitely shouldn’t forgive these two anytime soon.

Finally you have the mysterious Noriko. She also appears to be rather emotionless and didn’t feel a thing even when she nearly brought Katsuhira to his doom. So that’s a character you want to be wary of. I’m not a big fan of hers for the same reason I wasn’t a big Katsuhira fan for a while. When you’re emotionless like that there’s just less opportunities to have cool moments where you really stand out.

By the end we learn her origin story of course and it does help her case. She definitely went through a lot and made some rather big sacrifices to make sure things went well for everyone else. I can respect that without a doubt. Noriko definitely takes the cake for the hardest path in the show and had to endure way more than the rest of the characters combined. It’s very dark and I’m glad she at least got a happy ending since it would have been really tragic otherwise. She was a lot of fun in the flashbacks too.

That’s mainly it for the cast as there aren’t many supporting characters beyond that. The show is 12 episodes after all and it’s heavily character driven so there’s not much room to throw in others. The two bullies appear for a bit but Chidori put them in their place when they try to complain. They haven’t been through nearly as much as the main characters so they definitely had no room to complain. It’s not like it’s a competition of who had it the worst but when you’re a bully you don’t get to suddenly say that life isn’t fair. They really picked this battle for themselves.

Now there is a whole lot of romance here as you might have gathered. It’s summer vacation with 7 students who are forced to hang out with each other constantly. Naturally there was going to be a lot of drama here. Moreover, you’ve got multiple triangles going. Katsuhira likes Noriko, Chidori likes Katsuhira, Hajime likes Chidori, and Nico likes Hajime. Tsuguhito likes Honoka but there isn’t a third party in that one. With characters all connected like this, it makes it hard for them to approach.

Even more so once the characters begin experiencing each other’s emotions as well. In a way that’s the scariest thing about the Kiznaiver program. When everyone knows every little thing about you, it means that privacy is now a foreign concept. You’re really boxed in and when you’re forced to be honest as opposed to doing it willingly, that’s naturally going to bring in a little more tension.

The Kiznaiver program is a very fascinating concept because even if you could implement this in real life, the show depicts why this would be dangerous. For starters, you could simply die from the sudden pain of someone else feeling something. Throw in the emotional pain and you could suddenly have a group of suicidal people. From the start the show makes sure to depict this as a very dangerous experiment that would be outlawed by any government. The main characters have to thrive in spite of it.

So going back to the romance, that part could get a little overly dramatic. I’m not the biggest romance guy and aside from Chidori who knew Katsuhira ever since he was a kid, the rest only just met each other. A little quick to be developing romantic feelings right? Perhaps the Kiznaiver accelerated the program since it connects people so thoroughly but even then it all just feels fast.

Now, most of the characters do keep their feelings hidden which is an interesting twist. See, I usually judge the characters for moving too quickly but for the ones who were hiding their feelings until Kiznaiver exposed them, is it really the same thing? I’d say no. See, in this case that means the character might subconsciously know it’s too soon so that’s why they didn’t say anything. I don’t think Chidori, Nico, or Hajime would have said anything. They’d just have kept their feelings in their heart and squashed them eventually.

It’s a very interesting dynamic and one I could get behind here. Particularly in the triangles since they were all holding their feelings back since they knew that their friends were already interested. If you like a girl but your best friend has already made the same interest clear, then stepping back is a pretty honorable thing to do. Now, if you friend doesn’t do anything for ages then absolutely you can jump in, but the core concept is sound. So I’ll give them some credit for that. That said, it does feel like Chidori going with Hajime would feel like an absolute rebound if Katsuhira chooses Noriko in the end. Kiznaiver probably has more romance sewn into its themes than most other shows I’ve seen and yet it handles them better than a lot of others too. I wouldn’t mind if you cut out a lot of the drama of course but if you’re going to do it, then you should do it well of course.

While things get really serious by the end, I’d say the show keeps a good balance of being light hearted along with this. Nico for example is a character who keeps everyone feeling pretty chipper the whole time. The characters also have opportunities to just hang out and have a good time once in a while. Don’t expect it a whole lot but they at least aren’t having to worry about the Kiznaiver program all the time even if it’s not exactly something you can forget either.

I said it once and I’ll say it again, the Kiznaiver system itself is absolutely terrifying when you think about it. The fact that these 6 strangers (Lets be real, they’re basically strangers since you don’t know them well) will eventually know your every thought, emotion, and pain is pretty intense. It’s enough to make you decide to just move away like in the Kino’s Journey episode only in this case you can’t quite escape the pain so it isn’t a full proof solution. Then if you keep residual effects even after the Kiznaiver implant is gone…well I guess there’s no real escape at that point.

The animation looks pretty solid. This is more of a slice of life so there’s not a chance to show off with the graphics most of the time but the city shots look great like in the climax. This is also probably why they gave Chidori’s hair a sharp color since that always stands out. The show also takes advantage whenever there is a chance to use some bright colors so the Kiznaiver energy bands are an example of this or when Noriko is standing in front of a data computer. As for the soundtrack, it’s not very memorable but it’s decent. The opening is one of the weakest I’ve seen in a while though. It’s going for more of a low key route but give me a hype opening anytime.

The writing is solid throughout and the episodes really go by in a flash. It feels like a very natural journey to the point where this could easily be turned into a movie. You’d have to remove some of the trials of course but it would work pretty well since it’s all 1 grant story here. You could probably cut some things out if needed like Honoka’s origin story and even most of Noriko’s or at least the parts that are still around in the present. I wouldn’t mind if they threw some more scenes Tsuguhito’s way instead.

By the end you will question why the company was looking into these Kiznaiver experiments though. If you think about it, there’s still no long term gains for this project. At least not without some kind of redesign because even if you make it safe to an extent, nobody is going to want to sign up for this. I can’t see it being useful in military applications either as it would just confuse the soldiers. Maybe it can help with medical research if a doctor wants to see exactly what kind of pain you are experiencing but I still can’t see that ending well. So in that way it almost feels like the kids were put through a whole lot for no real reason other than learning how to be nicer people.

It is cool how the company has a bunch of people in mascot costumes going around and kidnapping the main characters though. They have a whole lot of pull when you think about it. Even enough to hide some pretty deep secrets in the school. I admit that I was taken aback at how a few select students are just sorta sitting around. When you get to the final episodes you’ll see what I mean but they were just hanging around there the whole time? That was absolutely crazy, not in a plot hole way or anything as it’s easily explained but I was just surprised at how suddenly they appeared. Not everyone gets a happy ending in this show I’m afraid as the Kiznaiver program definitely has a lot of skeletons in the closet.

Overall, Kiznaiver is a pretty fun show. It’s got a solid concept going for it and is also a fun new approach to showing how characters can learn to get along. It certainly gets serious as the characters have to really look inside themselves to discover their true feelings. It’s over in a flash but has a good run throughout. It also starts off with a bang as the characters initially get trapped in that facility. I wouldn’t call the show high stakes for the most part but they are put in some real danger at times and for a while it’s hard to tell what the intentions behind the tests are. Also the final episode raises the stakes pretty suddenly as well which made for a good climax. You should always end on a high note right? I’d recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Review


The Promised Neverland Season 2 was definitely very controversial to say the least. It really did a number on the fans who wanted a faithful adaption and even to non fans who felt it was super rushed and didn’t feel natural. It’s certainly a unique case where it seems like the studio just wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible. At the very least it was fun keeping up with all the theories on why it ended so quickly and all of that but the burning question is…did it change for the better? Well…I have to say that it did. Granted I was never the biggest fan of the manga but the anime effectively toned down some of the darker elements of the story and made it more of a standard adventure which I’m game with.

Last time, the kids had just escaped and were on the run. Now that they were out of the orphanage they could try and either get over to the proper human world or at least survive somewhere safe. Emma has promised that she would go and save the rest of the kids though so no matter what happens, she won’t be leaving without them. Still, it’s a cruel world out there so this environment is going to test all of her abilities.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the animation in the first season and it’s more or less the same here. It’s pretty standard stuff with some giant CG demons running around. The demons have lost their edge compared to season 1 though so don’t expect them to be all that intimidating here. They’re mainly only relevant when they’re getting beat up and need Emma’s help. How the times have changed eh? The CG is fairly minimal though and in a way I guess if you’re going to use it for something, demons make sense since it makes them look that much more crazy.

For the soundtrack, it’s also not too memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single theme here. The new theme song definitely isn’t up to par with the original one either. That one’s fairly iconic at this point while this one just sort of fades away. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it doesn’t leave any kind of impact. On a technical level it felt like this show was sort of just going through the motions.

The pacing and writing were fine though. It’s always interesting learning more about the world and there is certainly a whole lot of dialogue here. You can see how things get sped up at the beginning and ending though. Norman showing up near the beginning of the show felt rather crazy since it was a big deal that he was gone. I still have to say that it feels like a lot of plot hax how he actually survived and escaped though. The demons are clearly awful at their jobs as well as the human guards. How do you let a kid escape like that?

There are a lot of plot convenient things happening here though like an old man who has every answer you can possibly need and the villains getting foiled because of numerous traitors and getting overconfident. It also helps that the villains always miss their shots when they’re firing their guns or don’t fire at all. The kids don’t have guns in this version so they’re even more outmatched.

The final episode can be almost funny though with how things are skipped over. The actual promise with the alien thing? That’s a single camera shot here so if you were watching The Promised Neverland for…the promise, then you’re out of luck. That’s not something you’ll get to see here. The show throws in a few Easter Eggs like the wolf girl appearing in a prison cell and at least a reference to GoldyPond but that’s about it for throwing a bone to the fans who missed some of the skipped content. The ending’s far better than the manga version though so I’ll give you that.

That’s enough on the pacing though, lets talk about the characters and how they ended up shaking out in this version. First up is Emma since she is the main character after all. She’s certainly come a long way since in season 1 she wanted to escape at all costs and would slaughter any demon who got in her way. Things are more complicated in season 2 though since she has now met demons who are not really combatants. It turns out that demons have families and loved ones as well so this puts Emma in a rather difficult place.

It does end up hurting her character though because one thing I don’t like is when a character is opposing the main plan but has no actual solution. It’s something you would see a lot of in Attack on Titan. So Norman’s plan is he’ll poison the water and in that way they will end the entire demon race. The scary thing about the plan is how easy it will be and yet it will still be super effective. The demons won’t stand a chance and humanity will finally be saved at long last.

The problem is that Emma now wants to spare the demons. There are a few problems with that though. For starters, the demons will die if they don’t eat humans are a while anyway. It’ll be the same effect as Norman’s poison water only slower and potentially more painful. Additionally given that they need humans to survive, talking with them is already out of the question.

Feeding them humans is also crazy since that’s how we got here in the first place. Norman does his best to explain this to Emma but she doesn’t really care. Now the show does offer a convenient way out of this predicament but until that solution appears, Emma is rather unreasonable here. There are times where you really have to make a choice. Choosing both sides just puts everyone at risk and it’s not worth it. Emma has a responsibility to the kids she has already saved.

Her lack of determination ultimately holds her back in this season quite a lot. Then you have Norman. I miss his updated manga design though as the guy finally got the big time skip super form that he deserved. In this version he looks pretty similar to how he did in season 1. His plan and motivations are similar enough with trying to end the demons once and for all but it’s all a lot more rushed here. He basically sees a demon with Emma’s name and calls it a day. So much for his determination and will to come out on top no matter what right? At the end of the day he folded like a deck of cards.

I also think he was acting rather rashly by walking into a demon village by himself while his team was busy. He easily could have been taken out by a stray shot and then all of his plans would have been for nothing. Whenever there’s a bad plan like that I have to call it out because while it may have worked, that doesn’t retroactively make it a good idea. In the end Norman was still pretty fun here the whole time though, he certainly still seems to be the smartest character around.

As for Ray, I would say his role here is smaller than in season 1. He used to be the tough member of the 3 who would always play the bad cop role. He would mention the most practical solution while Emma would say the most ideological one. Norman would then try to compromise and find a plan that would save everyone. With Norman gone though, Ray mainly lets Emma call the shots and does his best to assist her. There’s just less character to him as a whole at this point though. He does everything he can to help Emma but doesn’t do much beyond that so he doesn’t feel like the gruff rival anymore.

Don and Gilda still aren’t some of the more likable characters for me though. Gilda gives yet another lecture to Emma about taking too many risks and all that. Maybe Emma wouldn’t have to take so many risks if she actually got some backup once in a while right? That would have certainly helped a lot but Don and Gilda never really do much of anything. I guess they do more than the rest of the kids but that’s almost by default.

Mujika and Sonju get to do a lot more here. As they are demons who can actually converse with the main characters that means there is something different about them. They end up being some of the most important characters in the series due to how their blood works. Without them things would be pretty tough on the heroes. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan though but Sonju does have some fun scenes. The heroes may not want to underestimate him based on some of the things he said earlier on.

Then we have the return of Isabella since you naturally have to bring in this classic villain for the end. She has definitely lost her edge since season 1 though. She acts as a hype person to the kids at times and then makes her move by the end. No matter how you slice it the whole thing is pretty cheesy though. Her character motivations by the end are utterly unbelievable.

If you want a more compelling big villain here then you’ve got Peter Ratri. He’s the mastermind behind everything and is a man who isn’t even afraid of the demons. Now that’s someone to be feared because you never know when he’s going to pop out and start taking names. The guy may be an ordinary human but he is a grown up which means he could technically defeat most of the cast with ease. I was pretty cool with this guy being the final boss, he was a fun enough character.

Finally you have Norman’s new group. These guys were excellent so I’m just sad they couldn’t appear more. First up you have Zazie. He can’t really talk due to how the experiments messed him up but he’s got super strength and is not someone to underestimate. Then you have Vincent who is pretty decent although he doesn’t seem as powerful as the other members. He’s a strategist like Norman although of course he can’t fully match that guy.

For the real stand out characters you have Cislo and Barbara. Cislo is sort of the Captain America of the group. He is a natural born leader who really dislikes the demons but doesn’t show his emotions the same way that the others do. He doesn’t panic and is quickly to call out any member who gets out of line. You’ll enjoy any scene he is in because the guy is just that good.

Finally you have Barbara who goes as far as to even eat the demons she defeats. She really doesn’t hold back and has really been through a lot. It’s why you know that she will never be able to see eye to eye with Emma on this. How could she? She had to live through the worst of the demonic experiments while Emma had a very pleasant life in the orphanage. It’s another reason why it’s really hard to back Emma in her goals throughout the season.

The inclusion of Norman’s group helped transition this into more of an action title since these guys are able to beat demons in large numbers. Since the anime version has no super demons or anything like that, you could actually say the humans were more powerful this time around. That’s kind of crazy to think about but it ended up being the case this time. It’s part of why none of the demons were actually a threat in this one. No matter what they could possibly try, Norman’s group would take them down a few pegs.

This great power does come at a large price though. It’s not sustainable so the characters have to finish this quickly. It should add a layer of tension but at the same time you don’t feel like they’re in too much danger. Norman has already cheated death before, why not do it again now? The guy’s a genius so surely he can think of something.

Ultimately a lot of these things I couldn’t consider to be severe negatives though. The plot hax and sudden character turns always seem awfully convenient but it’s not the kind of thing I dock points for. The show includes some animal hunting for no real reason which can be annoying but the show doesn’t exploit it in nearly the way some other titles would so this one doesn’t sink into the negatives. Ultimately what keeps it from being higher is more due to a lack of positives than an abundance of negatives. At least the series will keep your attention from episode to episode which is important.

Overall, The Promised Neverland may have ended with a rather controversial season but at least it ended. It would have been nice if we could have gotten some more time to have Norman have a proper debate with Emma and Ray though. Surprisingly I wouldn’t say the three of them interact all that much here. Often times they are in different places and so they can’t even debate the whole demon thing much. Norman hands Emma a few Ls and that’s about it for their conversation. The season tackles some pretty interesting themes but with all of the scenes that were cut, there isn’t enough time to try and make the demons all that sympathetic. At the very least the attempt didn’t work this time. If you liked the first season then you should still enjoy this one well enough. The main thing to keep in mind is that the horror genre has been completely removed in favor of more of a classic adventure genre here.

Overall 6/10