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

Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy Review


It feels like ages since this show started. It’s already impressive that the original Rescue Bots got a sequel series and even more so that it got 2 seasons. Clearly the series is doing something right and it does feel like we’re back into a renaissance for the franchise. We’ve got a live action film coming up, another TV show, some animated movies, etc. And if you like the Beast War characters then even more so. Now this series is naturally a lot smaller scale than most of the other titles coming up as it’s more of an educational series but it’s fun enough.

The series takes place several years after the original Rescue Bots show. Cody is now a lot older and Heatwave is the main teacher at this academy. The goal of the school is to train a whole new generation of Rescue Bots now that the others are all masters of their craft. It’ll be difficult though because the new kids are ready for action and on its surface, rescuing isn’t quite the same thing. In particular Hot Shot is a global champion in Cube and it’ll be difficult to get him to switch gears. Well, Heatwave and the other bots have their challenge. Now it’s time to watch the journey on getting these recruits to be the best rescue bots ever.

Each episode is around 10 minutes which is definitely a trend in the west. So if you go by that logic then the series has over 100 episodes but I always merge them to be fair so lets say we have 52. That’s still a pretty good run for this show. There’s a lot you can do with that many adventures and a lot of lessons to learn for the kids.

Rescue Bots Academy is a very laid back show so from the start you have to make sure that you’re not expecting big action scenes or anything like that. This is a slice of life adventure that is aimed at a very young crowd after all. Still, it has to stay interesting and have some kind of focus in order to keep a positive score since whether you’re aimed at 1 year olds or 10, there should be a point to the whole thing.

Fortunately Rescue Bots Academy makes for a good watch. I don’t think it’s a title that you will want to marathon a whole lot but each story is very different so that does help. It’s also fun to see the old Transformer characters running about. You could even say that Hot Shot makes for an even better character than Heatwave was back in the day. I do miss the humans a bit here though. Yes, it’s rare but this is one of the few cases where humans help to enhance the experience.

Back to Hot Shot, the reason why he is the best character here is because of his absolute confidence. The guy is a cube champion which you will be reminded of a whole lot. Most of his morals are about learning to trust others and not keeping so many secrets. He’s a hard nut to crack but gradually throughout the show Hot Shot learns what it means to be a true leader. Ultimately he has the clearest character arc out of the whole cast and he never lost his edge. There’s just no way Hot Shot could be anything but the best. Even his transformation ability is the best as he can turn into any kind of vehicle even if he can only do it once a day.

Then we have Whirl who is the second best member of the group. She’s a stickler for the rules so she’s the polar opposite of Hot Shot. She is willing to bend them a whole lot more than Chase though and I suppose that’s why she is a cadet. She’ll probably be much more rigid about it once she grows up. A lot of the times she is the one coming up with plans and as a detective in training you would certainly say she is the brains of the group.

Wedge is the tough guy and in a way tries to be the rival to Hot Shot. He can’t quite keep up but at least he tries right? He has a good amount of power and part of his personality is that he really looks up to Bumblebee. This results in him trying to show off a lot of the time and it ultimately ends up backfiring quite a bit.

Then we get to the final two Rescue Bots who can’t really hold their own with the main 3. Hoist is the most nervous bot of the group and has a lot of self confidence issues. He does his best to get over his fears but that doesn’t really happen until the very end of season 2. Hoist just wasn’t quite able to get into the action like the others for a while which is why for me he was a lot less entertaining. I prefer when the characters just dive in.

As for Medix, I dare say that he’s even more by the book than Whirl. The guy doesn’t really know how to have a good time for the most part. A lot of his morals are about learning how to adapt due to this. It’s always good to have a medical bot on board at least even if nobody ever really gets injured in the show. At best you have Chuck, the indestructible testing bot who gets beat up a ton but the point of his character is that he can’t be injured anyway.

For the humans we have Cody as the main character. Unfortunately you won’t really be seeing Chief Burns or any of the other classic characters beyond a quick cameo or guest star appearance like the mayor. Cody’s a good character but he rarely gets to do much more than say a wise line or two. Cody has a friend named Wes who gets an episode or two to himself. The kid wants to hang out with the Rescue Bots but they’re not the biggest fans of humans yet as they find them to be a bit too weak.

This does lead to one of the cheesiest scenes in the series when Wes actually manages to snag the Cube when it’s tough even for robots to do it. Hmmm, I guess he got his hype though. For the true Autobots, we get a few of them from time to time. Optimus Prime shows up at the beginning and ending of the show to drop some sage advice on the characters. His role is never more than a quick cameo here and there though so don’t expect anything big.

Bumblebee gets a few episodes as we explore what it’s like to be a true scout. Wedge also gets to see his hero in action. We also get to see that he really is faster than Hot Shot when Bumblebee tries to humiliate the little guy. The moral of that episode was about teaching the right way so it was good that he showed Hot Shot what’s up although it would have been fun if Hot Shot had actually won that match. Now that would have put Bee in a rather sticky situation. It was nice to see at least one of the old guard getting to do quite a bit.

Perceptor and Ratchet also get to show up from time to time. Everyone tends to like their classes since they know their stuff and how to make things exciting. Surprisingly we even get Lazerbeak from the Decepticons only the bird has turned over a new leaf now. He’s here to help and support the heroes whenever possible. It’s definitely a pretty emotional sub plot I suppose although his change of heart seemed rather sudden. I suppose he never wanted to be evil and just followed Soundwave around? Hmmm…not sure I buy that one.

From the old Rescue Bots it’s very noticeable that Blades, Boulder, and Chase don’t get a whole lot to do. They may show up for a few episodes here and there but it’s a very rare sight. Especially Blades who is an exceptionally rare guest star. At least we do have Heatwave though and that guy shows up in virtually every episode. It makes sense that he would be the teacher after being the main Rescue Bot. He’s learned a lot of lessons as it is so it’s easier to teach them.

Then we have the Dinobots. Grimlock easily gets the biggest role as he became a Teacher himself which was pretty impressive. Just goes to show that anyone can do it if they put enough effort into the mix. Unfortunately Grimlock was objectively not a good teacher as he would constantly break equipment and even taught the wrong moral by mistake so the kids had to correct him. The guy always tries hard though.

The other Dinobots like Sludge and Snarl don’t do much until the final episodes. They become friends with Hoist which keeps them around as supporting characters since they’re needed for the morals. They’re definitely not the smartest characters which even leads to them being framed. I would say they’re some of the weaker characters personally. Then you have Slash who shows up at the very end of the series. She’s not a fan of humans and seems to be more of a rebel compared to the others.

She’s fun even if she ultimately has to lose her edge really quickly since being a rebel wasn’t going to be tolerated in the academy. Finally you have Scorch who also has a small role but as a rival of sorts to Hot Shot he was a fun character whenever he appeared. Part of why the Cube episodes in the show are the best ones is because I like to see some good competition and for Hot Shot to live up to his hype. To his credit, Hot Shot was not bluffing. He really is a cube master.

While there is never any real action in the show, occasionally we get some moments that at least give you a sense of competition like the Cube episodes and even this one tournament episode that occurred. Hot Shot may not have looked so good there which basically means that humans have built robots that surpass Cybertronians but at least it was cool to see. Who’d have thought this show would have a tournament? It may not be played super seriously but that’s just how it goes.

The writing in the show is good. You clearly see each lesson and moral as the show goes on. It stays interesting enough which is always good. It’s 1 peg below the average title I would say just because it is a little more limited in what it can do. I would sooner pick all of the other Transformer shows which makes sense since they’re allowed to execute on the actual concept of the series which is battles with Decepticons. Naturally this one can’t go quite so far.

As for the animation, I would say it’s fairly below average. You definitely wouldn’t expect to see any cutting edge spectacles here. Shows like Sonic Boom, Kim Possible, and other shows tend to look quite a bit better than this one. I suppose the character designs and environments aren’t bad though. At the very least everything is always clear. Potentially the animation could have gotten a chance to show off if we got some action scenes sort of like My Little Pony, but without those the series just never jumped up like that.

The soundtrack’s a little limited but it’s not bad. Each theme gets across what it was going for in the scene. You have the danger themes, happy ones, etc. It’s all rather by the book but because of that you’re never confused on what the themes are going for.

It would have been fun if the series could have maybe gotten around the no danger rules a bit more though. If the show can’t put anyone in true peril, have some more sport competitions. The fun thing about those is that you’re not in mortal danger but it still ups the stakes because you absolutely don’t want to lose. A mini arc about the Rescue Bots having to put aside their differences to be the best team in the land would have been a lot of fun without a doubt.

Overall, Rescue Bots Academy is a good follow up to the original show. I would say the original one still wins though as it felt like they were able to do a whole lot more. Not only was the cast significantly bigger but they were allowed to have real danger scenes. You had a Decepticon show up once, an evil scientist, characters nearly getting squished, etc. The first show had way more danger than this one so I suppose this one was aiming even younger. Still, if you really like Transformers and don’t mind watching educational type shows then this one makes for a decent watch. There are certainly no real negatives to be found here, it just won’t have any episode that really pops for you.

Overall 6/10

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review


Marvel is keeping it going with a second live action show connected to the movies. Following up on WandaVision this one is more of a down to Earth story with two characters still trying to move on after Cap seemingly died or at the very least is super old right now. Personally I’m in the “he’s dead” camp myself but you never know when he might pop out to mess with everyone. This one’s a good show and I would put it above the WandaVision show. As it all takes place in the modern day you can expect a lot of setup for future events.

The show starts with showing us where the two characters are at. Falcon is in a rough spot financially since being an Avenger and a top ranking government agent doesn’t pay very well. (I still have major issues believing this by the way. There’s absolutely no way the government could let this happen. Even without Tony there should be some way he should have a lot of money right now since being a free lance government worker pays really well and with the Avengers press and such that should add up.) He and his sister may even have to sell their boat which is causing a lot of tension between them. Surely Falcon can find a way to get past this but it’s going to be difficult.

Meanwhile the Winter Soldier is trying to deal with his guilt of murdering so many people back when he was a Hydra agent. He is going to mandatory counseling to deal with this and has been working as a vigilante to try and commit a lot of good deeds to overwhelm the negative ones. It hasn’t stopped his nightmares though and he needs something big to take his mind off of things.

Well, they’re in luck. A terrorist organization known as the Flag Smashers have popped up. They go around burning buildings and destroying property to realize their goal of “One People One World” Effectively, they are saying that the world was better during the 5 years when everyone was blinked out of existence and they want everyone to go back to that time. They are led by Karli, a super soldier who is willing to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished. Sam and Bucky are going to need to unite forces to stop her.

Right off the bat it was nice to see some pseudo Avengers action here. One of the highlight battles was definitely when they engage the Flagsmashers on the train and get some assistance from the new Captain America, John Walker and his partner. With 4 on 4 effectively you figure the heroes would win but they still get rolled up like a burrito. It just goes to show that they are still lacking that power hitter to win the day but it was a well balanced fight that went back and forth.

All of the battle scenes here are on point. There’s a lot of good choreography throughout. That said, Falcon and John feel incredibly outmatched here since they are normal humans dealing with super soldiers. They should be getting rolled every time they try to fight because the gap is just too huge at this point. Especially as in later films we’ve seen more of what the super soldier serum could really do for Cap. It’s not a level of power that you can easily match.

The show only lasts for 6 episodes but it gets to accomplish a whole lot within that time such as plot setups for the future and different developments that will be relevant to the films coming up. One character who was fleshed out really well here was John. I rather liked the guy and thought that Sam and Bucky were way too harsh on the guy. He really was just trying to help initially but all they had to offer him were insults and a bad attitude. You can see where his character arc is going from there from the start though.

It’s a classic Ironwood kind of path although handled with a lot more subtlety. By the end you can’t even say John is fully evil or anything. The fact that his emotions run away with him is incredibly dangerous though so he’s likely going to end up more like Punisher than the actual Captain America. Still, I look forward to seeing more of him. He’s a versatile fighter who was usually fighting against bad odds and still did well.

His 2 on 1 fight against the other heroes was impressive, so impressive that you could make the case he would have beaten either one of them 1 on 1. That would scale him to possibly being even a little stronger than Steve who was initially getting overpowered by Bucky at times although I suppose since then he had surpassed him. John does have a whole lot of combat experience though so it makes sense. To him the whole thing must feel unfair as two vigilantes are trying to take away the shield he got from the government. Mix that in with the other events from that day and he had a really rough time of it.

On the government crowd we also have Sharon who finally gets to appear in the universe again after being gone for a long while. She’s a fun character and definitely doesn’t seem to have an issue with murdering her opponents though. She has managed to survive for a long while on her own which has definitely had an effect on how she sees things. Sharon will be an interesting character to keep an eye on.

Zemo also gets a big role here. Yes, I do think the heroes busting him free as part of the plan was an extremely risky plan that could have easily backfired. I disagreed with it from the start mainly because of how many innocent people would and probably die die during the escape. It’s glossed over but they had to free a ton of prisoners to keep the guards busy and we see a lot of guards getting knocked out during the chaos. Considering that all of these villains were incredibly dangerous like Zemo, I doubt they would be taking prisoners.

So the benefits didn’t outweigh the dangers there. At that point you could easily be rooting against the heroes for the rest of the show and I wouldn’t blame you. It was pretty shocking how dubious a decision that was. Zemo’s a fun guy though. He’s certainly as villainous as ever but he does agree that the Flagsmashers are a big concern since the guy really doesn’t like the super soldier serum. He’ll be an ally at least for a little while but he’s not someone you can turn your back on.

Joaquin is Falcon’s main army contact and the guy does pretty well for himself. He certainly isn’t someone who is ready to fight with a bunch of super soldiers but he does well when needed and finds out a lot of info. Then there’s Falcon’s sister who is fun enough. She helps to keep him grounded and is doing what she can to stay afloat.

Now let’s look at the two main characters and the main villain. Falcon leads the title card so as you can imagine he is effectively the main character here. A big part of the story is his character development from giving away the shield to ultimately deciding to take on the mantle. You’ve probably seen certain shots from the final episode between the film announcement and the big deal it got but he will certainly be entering a new status quo going forward.

I would like for Falcon to get a super soldier serum of his own just because I don’t think it’s possible to compete for long without powers but maybe that is coming up. He’s a good character here and there’s a lot of nice banter with Bucky. Falcon does fumble the ball towards the end though with his speech about how Karli wasn’t a terrorist. You can understand the idea behind this and not rushing to conclusions, but he shouldn’t have used her as an example.

Let’s face facts here, she blew up several buildings that still had innocents inside, she was going to blow up a bus of government officials to send a message and she was just getting started. She was getting more and more extreme throughout the show so calling her a terrorist is fair. His main comeback seemed to be that she had a good message but your intentions and goals don’t matter when you cross a certain line.

After all, there are tons of villains who had goals that people may even agree with but the methods are what nullify them. The universe is over populated so you may agree with Thanos on reducing it, just not by destroying people. Adam Taurus fought to help give the Faunus equal rights which everyone agreed with but he wanted to do that by murdering people so it voided the cause. It’s the same thing with Karli. Maybe they can think of a way to make the world better but it doesn’t change the fact that she and her Flagsmashers were absolutely 100% terrorists.

So I think Falcon got caught up in his feelings a bit there with a character who had just threatened to murder his sister an episode ago but otherwise he was a fun lead. It’ll be good to see how he handles the mantle in the next season. Meanwhile Bucky is definitely the more down to Earth guy in the group. I would say it seems like he was nerfed quite a bit to make sure he wouldn’t just outshine the rest of the cast though. Based on how well he fought Captain America he should absolutely be dominating these Flagsmashers. Unless it’s 4 to 1 or something he just has way better combat experience and his arm is on point. There’s a 1 on 1 fight where it’s fairly even near the end and I feel like Bucky should waste the guy.

On a personality level though Bucky is finally getting past his old feelings of guilt so I think we’ll see a more confident version of him if we get a season 2. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Bucky fan in just about any incarnation but he’s not bad here. At least I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the mind control and such anymore. Now he works pretty well as an anti-hero and the banter with him and Falcon is always a positive. His super rushed romance that doesn’t go anywhere could have been skipped though.

Finally we have Karli. In case you couldn’t guess, I was not a big fan of hers. In part it’s because I don’t exactly see her group having any tangible ways to make the world a better place. Okay, she’s upset that half the world came back and destroyed the world unity that people had. Since she can’t destroy half of the population to bring things back to normal (Although I wonder if that was the plan pre-Covid. If it was, then that changes everything) how does she propose the world make this situation work? She doesn’t offer any solutions throughout the whole show.

Presumably she tried peaceful options earlier based on her dialogue but we never even learn what her proposal is. She always goes right to burning buildings and beating people up so there isn’t even any kind of agenda that you can get behind. Ultimately that’s why I can’t get behind Karli because her group didn’t seem to even have a tangible goal.

There’s also a guest star that shows up here but I won’t go into that here as it’s probably the first guest star from one of these shows that I didn’t even know was in it. So that was a nice surprise and her role is pretty good. She gets to show off her skills rather quickly. Including cameos and guest appearances like this also helps to cement this as something really in the universe which is always nice to see.

As always Marvel delivers with a lot of impressive effects here. The show does really feel like you’re watching an extended movie which is always impressive. TV Shows have certainly come a very long way from how they used to be. It probably helps that this is a mini series. I also like how the events seem really important to the movies. With a show like Agents of Shield no matter how many times they may say it was canon or the show would have references, you suspected that nothing big would ever happen because the execs would worry that people wouldn’t watch it. Sure enough, Shield is basically not cannon to the extent that nothing there mattered if you just watch the movies. While the movies could somehow back out of the events for WandaVision and this show, I find that to be 99% unlikely. There just seems like no way it would be possible. The events here are massive which is nice to see.

Overall, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a pretty good show. We have a solid cast of characters and a lot of interesting plots going on. I do think the two heroes did really overstep their boundaries as heroes and acted like vigilantes quite a bit. Not a problem as I rather enjoy vigilantes but it’s never really portrayed that way which is odd. You’d think they would be full fugitives by the end of the film no matter what results they got. I particularly enjoyed John Walker’s character arc as he tried to use the mantle well and be the best hero he could be. Whenever I see him swinging Cap’s shield around I do wonder how people don’t straight up get murdered though. Never forget that the shield is made up of Vibranium. You feel like a single shot would utterly shatter someone. I think this show has a better chance of getting a season 2 compared to WandaVision but at the same time the odds are still small since this will probably continue on into the movies. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

WandaVision Review


WandaVision is the first of the big Marvel TV shows to come out. One of the big hooks for these is unlike the previous shows such as Agents of Shield or the various Netflix properties, this one would be plucking some rather big characters straight out of the movies and into TV format. As a result you can expect more big events and for scenarios that actually impact future films. WandaVision definitely delivers on this as the events feel quite massive and you can bet that the films will feel an impact here. I did have some issues with the show’s pacing but lets dive in.

The show starts by introducing us to Wanda and Vision who appear to be living in a rather old era. It’s like something out of I Love Lucy or I Dream of Genie with the two getting involved in some wacky adventures. Each episode plunges us 10 years forward in time or at least with what the show is paying homage to but in real time it’s just the next day. Something doesn’t seem right though, why are the characters stuck in what appears to be an alternate world? Something just doesn’t seem right here.

Most of the show is about this mystery. The first 3 episodes keep this up and then in episode 4 is when we finally start to crack the puzzle. As a result it makes things rather interesting for a review since that is about a third of the way through the show. The actual plot twists are at the halfway point so would that be a spoiler? Since the hook of the show is figuring out what is happening I would say it is so I’ll try avoiding those plot threads for the most part.

So, the intro episodes for me are the weak links. The show isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is with the various homages. It’s fun noticing what shows the series is going for but the issue is that it isn’t quite as good as any of those. The Office certainly made better use of the Mockumentary style, The Brady Bunch seemed to be more entertaining and likewise in each era. I think the issue is that the show was trying very hard to be as wacky and intense as possible to simulate these shows but as a result it doesn’t feel natural.

So I wasn’t big on the old time parts. The whole time I was always looking forward to the meanwhile plots as we see what everyone else is doing. Also, you can start to piece together what the plot is very quickly even if it takes the characters in universe a little extra time to pick up the pieces. The show is at its best when it is fully embracing the twists. The final two episodes are definitely the highlight of the show for that reason. It’s certainly nice to see the characters in a slice of life setting but it would have worked best in modern day.

I was satisfied with the various twists and explanation of what is going on though. It all makes sense and you can also see why it would be hard to intervene at this point since the Avengers aren’t in the best shape at this point in time. Iron Man’s not really in the picture, Cap’s gone, and Thor may be in space right now. You’d have to hope that someone like Ant Man is around and the odds of him even hearing about this event are slim to none.

For the characters, Vision is probably the worst one here. I really can’t cut him any slack. The guy moves as fast as molasses once he finds out more and more information so you can’t help but feel like he’s partially responsible for what is going on. The second he realized that something was wrong you would figure that he would quickly act or do something to help out. Instead he just drags the whole thing out as long as possible well past the point where you will lose patience with the guy. At the end of the day, his acting can help save lives so the longer he doesn’t do anything, the worse it gets. He had to be the most frustrating character in the show without question.

Meanwhile Wanda definitely has a lot to do here of course. Without going into details, you can see how her character has changed drastically even when you just see flashbacks in the show to her younger days. Her powers have gotten quite a lot of respect in the movies so we already knew that she was quite powerful. This whole show is really setting up that she will only get stronger from here. Power corrupts so this is rather dangerous and her actions in the show don’t exactly make her a beacon of hope.

All right, time for a quick pair of spoiler paragraphs. Skip these two if you haven’t seen the show yet but it’s time to dive into some of the bigger items here. All right, so it turns out that Scarlet Witch was holding everyone here against their will. She went from being a morally dubious character to a flat out villain and it’s not really something you might have guessed initially. The show did set her up as being suspicious as early as episode 2 to be honest but it’s all rather gradual. She seems rather insane and spiteful but you may write that off as just being fed up at the villains until it’s too late. I think she is going to make for a very interesting villain. Someone who isn’t quite pure evil yet but is quickly going there. Based on the end credits scene in the show I think she is going to be absolutely psychotic in short order. She does seem to be set off pretty easily and in a way this whole show could be considered as a super villain origin story.

In that sense you can see why the government wanted to wipe her out. Hayward and Monica represent two extremes in the army. Monica is insistent on treating Wanda like a victim who is only holding everyone hostage and threatening to murder her because she’s unstable at the moment. Hayward doesn’t want to try any negotiating and believes just shooting Wanda is the easiest way to do this. As a result both of them seem really unreasonable. I think you’re meant to be on Monica’s side as Hayward starts going so extreme that he even tries to shoot kids straight up. As a premise you do need to take Wanda down for sure, but there should be lots of ways without destroying her. Her durability is still that of a human’s if you can attack before her shield’s up. I do think peace is out of the question once she has hundreds of hostages the way that she does though. With her power said to be even stronger than the Sorcerer Supreme by the end, Strange may actually need some help in dealing with her. I can see why her powers are greater though, if you think about it, she essentially altered reality for an entire town and created new life forms complete with true super powers. That means she can conceivably do something similar like creating the original Avengers to fight Dr. Strange. There are so many exciting possibilities here and needless to say they all spell bad news for Agatha as well since she’s really at Wanda’s mercy right now.

Okay, spoilers are over now so back to our regularly scheduled program. We have some supporting characters from the old days like Darcy. She’s good at trying to crack the case although she does give the government a lot of grief whenever she helps. She definitely reminds them that she is doing this because she has to and not because she wants to. Monica also gets a fairly big role in the show and looks good. While I do think she needs to look at things in less of a “peace at all costs” approach, at least she is trying to reach out to Wanda. She probably just needed more of a plan though but we are setting up some fun things for her character in the future.

Inside of the dome we also have some supporting characters like Wanda’s kids. I’m not a big kids person but they could have been more annoying I suppose. At least they have powers which is pretty cool. That definitely separates them from the average kids at least since they can now defend themselves. You also have some neighbors like Agatha and I’m sure the instant that name is mentioned a lot of people will have various ideas on how that would play out.

Then the show has a really solid climax which was nice to see. We’re definitely at a point where shows can even look like movies now so I’m glad to see this show embracing that. No reason to shy away from big comic fights now. You can just get straight into the action and we get a prolonged battle from multiple sides which was fun. Things are definitely starting to get high tier by the end and magical battles are always fun. There’s just a whole lot you can do with that.

So WandaVision is a show where I’d say it really turned up once the action got going. Not necessarily fight scenes but once we got less of a focus on the old TV show motif and more into the actual plot. I admit that at times it felt like those scenes were straight up filler that were just holding the big plots up. The TV shows are a big focus of WandaVision so taking them out would effectively be changing the show but I think they could have had less scenes for it. Maybe it was just the execution that was off for me but that’s really the only thing that holds the show back from going further.

In a way the show was going for a low key horror vibe despite the classic show settings because you can see that something is off the whole time. So, if the show had committed to this more fully I think that could have been interesting. Grab a Stranger Things vibe or something with each question leading to more mysteries. You would need to retool the plot a bit but for example, Vision realizes he is in a world created by the Grand Master and none of it is real or he’s in a simulation. He confronts Wanda but even she isn’t real and he’s in Mephisto’s lair. Something like that would have been really scary but those are just alternate paths. I feel like the shows were sort of stuck in the middle so while you had that feeling of unease, it wasn’t quite enough to keep you compelled.

The writing is on point though so whenever the show is in the modern setting then it’s pretty interesting. I always like seeing a lot of government scenes so the moments with Hayward and the team were always fun. He may go all in but at least the guy did his best in commanding the troops. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many average humans you have though, it’s not going to do much at all against a true magic user.

Overall, WandaVision is a fun show. At only 9 episodes it is definitely over in a flash and can feel like an extended movie. It’s a fun thing about having the show format since you can cover a lot more ground than a film ever could. The first half of the show is a little slow and they didn’t have to do the dog like that by the end. Beyond that the second half turns up though. There are a bunch of twists and turns here so while you may understand the main plot and get most of the twists early on, ideally at least a few can throw you for a loop. I wasn’t expecting the after credits scene after all which was really solid. I can’t wait to see where that one goes since we should get more action out of it. I’d definitely recommend checking this title out and we’ll see how the rest of the shows fare coming up. Oh yeah there was also a song that shows up in the show which was pretty catchy.

Overall 6/10

RWBY Volume 8 Review


It’s always great to have RWBY back in action because the world of entertainment just isn’t the same without it. RWBY is the greatest show of all time and Volume 8 continues to operate on that high level. The show just has the perfect blend of action, story, and excellent musical themes to accompany the scenes. Throughout the season it’s always fun to watch reactions and learn new things about the show through interviews and such. There’s just a lot to take in and you can bet like last year I’ll have a few editorials for the show up before the next volume ends. Lets dive into Volume 8 and what it added into the table. Keep in mind this review is meant to be read after you have seen the show as it will go into a detailed discussion of important plot details

The show starts off with the heroes still in a dangerous spot. They are currently on the run from Ironwood and the Aceop’s but ultimately they do have more leverage since Penny is now the Winter Maiden. Ironwood orders the heroes to give her back or he will be forced to take drastic measures. Meanwhile Salem has finally arrived and intends to destroy Atlas while obtaining the next relic which is the staff of creation. Team RWBY is also having some issues among their team with each person wanting to try a different plan. Ruby wants to go with Ironwood’s initial plan of getting Amity Tower up to try and contact people around the world to help out while Yang wants to prioritize saving Mantle first. They’ll need to split up which is dangerous.

Naturally quite a lot happens along the way from there. So lets take things one step at a time. The first half of the season deals a lot with a new villain called The Hound. It’s a powerful Grimm to be sure and it was really giving the heroes a hard time. It’s got a cool design and I like the concept behind it. I would argue that Team RWBY shouldn’t have had as much trouble with it as they did though or team Yang when the Hound embarrassed them in the first skirmish though. Ordinarily I’d expect Yang to have taken the creature out pretty quickly but they ended up freezing for a little too long. With this Hound out of the way I expect Salem to be bringing in more of them soon. Potentially at least different Hound variations for Summer and Hazel.

We also get Cinder’s backstory at long last. It’s a play on the Cinderella fairy tale but a much darker twist. Cinder was effectively a slave working for a rich family that would torment her with a shock collar for quite a while. Eventually she was able to harness her abilities and escape but not before having to murder a huntsman as well. It was a pretty intense origin story to be sure and had one of the most impressive tracks in the season. Interestingly that song is one that already existed as opposed to most RWBY songs debuting in the volume they appear in. Cinder’s backstory shows that she didn’t quite start out being as evil as she is now but that certainly escalated quickly.

Rhodes really helped push her to the next level here since he was very quick to attack her. I would have to put pretty much all of the blame from the origin story on him. He knew about all the crazy things that were being done to Cinder or at least it would be hard to miss since they spent so much time together. Additionally he was telling her to be careful and such so he had an idea that things were dangerous but he never tried to help her out. Escaping with her or something like that would have solved the issue but instead he just trained her and told her to wait a few years. Ultimately she did try to wait but one day the family caught her with the swords so she had no way out. He was also the first one to draw his weapons and prepare to attack after this.

In the current story Cinder’s certainly an absolute villain and an unrepentant one so since then she has clearly taken it to heart that she needs absolute power. We can see why she is always trying to get stronger now. Her role in this season is really good. While she does have a rep for taking quite a few losses over the years she has also earned quite a lot of great wins. Up until now she has beaten Pyrrha, Ozpin, Winter, Jaune, and a whole lot of other fighters. I would say that she has certainly earned the amount of hype that she has gotten and is still one of the best characters in the show.

Another big event in the season is Salem finally arriving. We are 8 volumes into the show so this was definitely a big deal. Everyone is always very afraid of Salem but we’ve always had to wonder exactly why. The Maidens are incredibly powerful after all. It was hinted that the reason everyone fears Salem is because she is immortal but would there be more to it than that? So far it doesn’t appear so. I would make the case that right now Salem really isn’t all that impressive. Of course she will have plenty of time to show off more of her abilities soon since I don’t see her going away anytime soon. I still think Cinder will ultimately be the one to take her down though in a big betrayal scene.

Salem dies here and we find out that she has been destroyed several times by Hazel. Due to her immortality she is able to regenerate pretty quickly though so it’s only a minor setback. She showed some decent speed in the fight before going down, but as of right now I would still take any of the Maidens over her in a fight. Salem’s a fun villain though. She may not be quite as interesting as Neo or Cinder but as an immortal leader of the Grimm it’s nice how she manipulates the other villains so well. She also got a pretty tragic backstory a while back so you can potentially see why she wants the relics. We don’t know for sure yet of course but in theory she will want to bring the gods back so she can try to wipe them out or so they can wipe out the planet.

This volume introduced some pretty interesting new angles since we now know what the staff of creation can do. It can create pretty much anything although at the expense of something else. So now you have to start asking yourself some questions because it seems like this could easily destroy Salem. Create a box filled with fire or holes where you can put weapons in and keep destroying her over and over again, have her fall into the endless void. Well, the void leads to another realm seemingly so that might not do the trick but if that place isn’t connected to the main world that would be interesting. Finally, just open one of the vaults, throw her in and then close it again. Presumably if she could open a vault then she wouldn’t be searching so hard for the Maidens. None of these plans would be all that easy but this is why Salem needs more than just immortality. To recover from her showing this volume she’s going to need to go all in during the next volume.

Ironwood gets a big role in this volume as you would expect. After all, in the last volume he and RWBY really differed on their approaches on how to do things. He even went as far as to shoot Ozpin so he wouldn’t get in his way anymore. He went from being a fairly unremarkable character to completely stealing Volume 7 and helping to escalate it to the second best volume of the series. Well, it seems like his approach may have went too well. This volume decides to take him to the extreme of being a complete villain filled with ominous backgrounds like in his TV broadcast to suddenly just shooting people for not much of a reason.

Now you could say part of this is his semblance but despite being confirmed on a writer’s zoom call, I don’t put much stock in it. Ultimately there is no visual or audio queue to the semblance in the show and it is never referenced so for all intents and purposes it just does not exist. What seems to have happened here is that they wrote Ironwood too well as a morally gray character to the point where a lot of people were rooting for him. You’d look online and almost nobody was supporting Team RWBY in their debates against him.

The main reason for this is really that Ironwood at least had a plan but whenever Team RWBY was asked for specifics they didn’t seem to know what to do next. That happens in this volume as well when Mantle is being attacked so one of the Happy Huntsmen shows up to tell them it’s time to evac but Ruby insisted on staying. When they pointed out that they have been getting wrecked by the normal Grimm and the numbers are about to multiply Ruby didn’t have an answer except a vague “We’ll get through this”. Not having a plan is always the quickest way to lose support. It’s similar to a debate that happened in Attack on Titan although there we still have the gray character staying that way.

Maybe it was always the plan for Ironwood to go totally off the rails but I do feel it’s more likely that the writers saw how a ton of people were rooting for him and knew they needed to weaken his case quickly or people wouldn’t be happy with Ruby and co. So in this volume Ironwood is just straight up evil most of the time but he’s still a fun character to have around. He’s a little on the gullible side at times but at the end of the day he’s still a fighter. His battle with Winter is really solid and really cements him as one of the strongest characters in the series. To think, at one point he was considered the heavy underdog in that battle. Personally I think there’s still a decent chance he is alive. His ending was intentionally rather vague with no body shown so it’s not beyond the pale to say that he would have escaped. I doubt Watts would be as lucky though.

Ruby gets a solid role here. She does lose her will to fight at one point again but it is a pretty tough time for the team. At this point Weiss would probably be the best option for the leader as she’s gone through the most and has really matured into being a character everyone can count on. She’ll always support Ruby though so the team is in good hands. Ruby’s speed also makes her a very capable opponent in any fight. I look forward to her getting to fight more in the next volume. Here she may have mostly just taken losses but when up against foes like Neo and Cinder that is to be expected.

Weiss is great as always. She may be a little hard on Whitley but it’s hard to just get over something like that with what she had to put up with over the years. I’m glad that we’re seeing her use her glyphs more in combat now like the old days. If she keeps that up I could see her potentially becoming the strongest member of the team since those abilities are just so versatile. There’s a lot you can do with glyphs from gravity control to elemental attacks. Then she always has her summons available too.

Yang has a lot to do here since she gets her own solo quest and also has the task of cheering up Ruby. I would have liked her to have fought more in the climax but it also makes perfect sense that the villains would try to take her out of play right away. If you take out the strongest hero on the team that will always be the safest path to victory. She has to be the mediator quite a lot in this volume since Ren also deals with some issues here.

Blake gets to fight the Hound and has some good blows in the finale as well. Her role here is quite solid. She may not have quite as many individual moments as the other 3 but she did just have her big volume with Adam back in 6 so that makes sense. She still makes the most of her moments although she absolutely needs a new weapon soon. I still say she should use Adam’s sword since that would be cool but either way she has come a long way from her early days on the team and isn’t really a loner anymore. I expect she’ll be getting more hype battles in the next volume.

Jaune’s role here is small for the most part but he’s low-key a very solid leader. He knows how to handle each character and add moral support. He’s just a very well rounded character but I have to admit that I heavily disagreed with his choice at the end of the volume. Effectively Penny asks Jaune to murder her to that Cinder won’t be able to do so. The idea is that you die when you are killed so this can Penny can control who she gives the maiden powers to. I’m pretty surprised that she didn’t give the powers to Ruby to be honest but maybe she knew Winter was going to need those abilities more. Jaune just shouldn’t have obliged her in this case. By stabbing her like that he was basically conceding defeat to the villains and admitting that there was no way out. There’s always a better way and he should have just fought til the bitter end.

I have to say this was a very weak volume for Ren though. He looks pretty bad the whole time. Ren started his path of panicking ever since last volume but here it gets worse as he intentionally attacks each character using their pasts like Jaune and Yang while not actually contributing to the situation. It looks like he’s getting back to his usual self by the end of the volume so he should do better next volume but he was easily one of the worst characters here. Nora does a lot better as she is also attacked with feelings of self doubt but just pushes through them and helps the heroes as much as she can. Now that she is close to fully recovered I expect to see her fighting more soon.

Penny is a character I’ve never been a huge fan of. Her super cheerful persona isn’t a bad thing per say as I still like characters like that but I guess she just felt hollow. I don’t know, I got more from her in the first few volumes before her first death. It’s quite ironic that she was brought back only to die again although a lot of people did suspect this would be the case. At least she got to briefly wield the powerful abilities of a Maiden. I’ll still take her over Oscar/Ozpin though. I’m still waiting for Ozpin to betray the heroes but at this point I’m not sure if he could. Part of the issue for Ozpin is that he has not done very well at all against Salem over the last thousand years. Evidently he’s not as great a tactician as he thinks he is. He really accomplished nothing over many years which is why so many people left him. It looks like he is trying to do better this time but I have my doubts.

Oscar’s at least trying his hardest but every time he uses magic, the two of them fuse even more so at this point I wonder if Oscar still exists. Is he still really separate or at this point are they basically the same character? I could see the next volume delving into that a bit more. The AceOps are all still here of course but you could make the case that Harriet is the only one with a real role. She is the most extreme of the group and the only one who is ready to listen to Ironwood without hesitation. While the others are portrayed more as following orders, I would say Harriet goes into full villain mode. She just wants to blow everyone up as part of the mission so she fits in with Ironwood.

I like her as a villain though. She keeps the heroes on their toes and having super speed is such an incredible semblance to have. Aside from Ruby’s which has super speed as well as flight, I don’t think there’s any other semblance I would take over that one. It’s just way too good. The fact that she was dunking on Qrow is still solid even if the guy can’t catch a break lately. Qrow went from being one of the best characters in the series to fading fast. Qrow was fantastic in Volume 3, Excellent in Volume 4, and then I liked him quite a lot in Volume 5. The cracks in his armor began to show a bit as he had trouble with Lionheart but you could attribute that to animation. Fine, I can accept that.

Volume 6 Qrow was brutal though. He was so lost in his own misery and apathy that he nearly let Ruby and Yang die right under his nose. That would have happened without him doing a single thing about it. His depression just held him back real hard and when mixed with the fact that he seems to have been extremely nerfed, it’s not a good look for him. Losing to Harriet is just yet another loss to the mix and since Ruby was winning/put up a way better fight…that’s not good for him. I’m hoping he can make a comeback because he needs it.

Now Winter is a character who looks really good here. I’m not really a fan of when characters just follow rules even if they are evil ones. It can be a bit much or when a character goes against the rules but does so too late. Here Winter ultimately made a stand before that happened and then stood up to Ironwood. Since that goes against everything she had been working towards, I can appreciate her resolve and drive to stay on the path. I think she’ll make for a fantastic Winter Maiden as well and look forward to her going up against the villains more soon. It’ll be a tough matchup against Cinder though with the whole fire vs ice thing but if anyone can pull it off, Winter can.

Emerald also gets a considerable role here as she finally joins the heroes’ side. It’s definitely been a long time coming. Originally she was the pure evil one while Mercury was the guy questioning if this was the right path like in Volume 2 when Emerald was having a blast watching people get eaten by the Grimm while Mercury didn’t seem happy. That changed in Volume 3 as Mercury began to revel in the misery while Emerald no longer enjoyed it. Her only real tie here was to Cinder the whole time and Cinder really treats her poorly so the other side would definitely sound better. Now, if Cinder comes back asking Emerald to join her, will she stay strong or defect again? Personally I think Emerald’s a hero to stay now. She may end up dying for it but I think she may get to live through her redemption arc. If Mercury goes for a similar position, I don’t think he’ll survive as the guy has a lot of death flags written all over him.

Meanwhile Hazel finally got his big ending here. I was never a big fan of the guy personally, just because he’s ultimately working for the lady who murdered his sister. He blames Ozpin for sending her on a suicide mission and yes that’s fair, but how can you work for the one who ultimately orchestrated her death? Hazel would make a lot more sense as a third party kind of villain. Still, he eventually saw the light and I have 0 complaints about the way he went out. Hazel ultimately went out on his own terms and you can’t really do much better than that. Again, we don’t see his body so he may be alive but with Salem right there at best he can hope to be a living grimm or something but death would probably be preferable for him.

For Robyn there’s nothing much to say. You may still be confused why she is in the show since she’s had close to 0 impact on the entire franchise. Well…maybe next volume will be when she finally pops off. I have my doubts personally but she has to have been kept alive for a reason right? Watts had a solid volume as well. I like him as a charismatic villain. He may not go into the field a whole lot but the guy has guts to talk to Cinder the way that he did. I can respect that and while he may have ultimately been manipulated, I don’t think he would have had much of a way to escape anyway.

Finally there’s Neo who is always fun. I’ve always considered her to be a demi maiden power-wise just because of how effortlessly she handled Yang back in the day and how she even had the upper hand against Cinder until she activated her maiden abilities. This volume continues to support that as she completely shattered Yang’s aura in a single hit (Surprise attacks don’t affect aura as far as we know so that’s still a power feat) and then she was handling both Blake and Ruby teaming up with ease. I really hope she doesn’t die anytime soon because I want to see her get some more action. Her moveset is just very unique and I like the fighting style. Ruby just needs to convince Neo that Cinder is more to blame for Torchwick’s death which is fair since it’s a Grimm that ate Torchwick. It’s not like Ruby did anything to cause that.

Now for the volume ending stinger, I think the safest bet is they’re now in some kind of lost pocket dimension that the gods built but forgot about. That’s probably why they were warned not to go there since it’s so desolate the whole time. It is for the best that the show quickly confirmed the team was alive though because I don’t think anyone ever thought they were really dead. Even if the show only kept Yang as the one who had fallen down, she’s just too important of a character to go down like that. If a member of RWBY dies it wouldn’t be until the last arc and even then I would be surprised to see it. It’ll be interesting to see what’s down there especially since Neo and Jaune are crashing the party. If Jaune gets a big power up that will definitely be cool to see.

In theory with the delays to this volume and all the next one probably won’t start until November but hopefully it debuts earlier since that would be great. At least in the meantime we should be getting the CD soon so the full music tracks will be online. We’ll see if the next volume has any animated shorts like the Adam special or if those are going to be gone for good. If it helps to speed up airing the season then it’s worth it I suppose but those are always a lot of fun.

Now lets compare the volumes. It’s always fun to update the rankings as each volume airs. Naturally Volume 3 is still the all time best if you ask me. It was the absolute peak of the series’ nonstop action along with the plot settling in. The stakes were raised immensely and you just could not change the channel. The second best volume would be 7. Ironwood was just developed into a fantastic character here and the battle with RWBY vs AceOps is still the best one in the series. Mix that in with one of the best OSTs and it’s hard to see this volume getting beat.

3rd place would be Volume 6. It’s a pretty close one but the Adam climax was a really powerful one to end the series on. Additionally, the Grim Reaper’s origin as well as the return of Neo are scenes that are hard to be beat. Bringing her back into the fold was a fantastic idea. It’s also when the new animation style really got going. 4th would be Volume 8. It was a great volume and we got to have the heroes make a comeback and take a big win. It’s been a while since they made any serious headway against the heroes so it was nice to see how they could coordinate here.

5th would go to Volume 5. I tend to waffle between this one and 2 a lot because it’s pretty close. I would say 2 probably had longer stretches of hype fights and action but 5 had the better climax. The Raven vs Cinder fight is just fantastic. The More the Merrier episode is probably the biggest missed opportunity in the show just because the setup was absolutely perfect with all of the battles going underway but then there wasn’t really any animation to them. Volume 5 will always be the most awkward volume for fights in that sense but the story beats were still right up there. 6th is Volume 2, the big Neo fight was hype as well as the battle with the Giant mech. I always liked seeing Torchwick in the focus as well and it’s just a volume that really holds up quite well.

7th would be Volume 1, where it all began. The climax with Torchwick is a lot of fun and it’s always easy to forget that at the time you could make a legitimate argument for Blake being the most powerful member of Team RWBY. She had more real life experience than the other 3 and even went on her own to fight Torchwick. It didn’t go well until Sun stepped in but it was a good effort. Last place would be Volume 4. A very solid volume to be sure since this is all relative by RWBY standards but there was a lot of info dumping here and not a lot of action. The Tyrian fight is really the only big battle in the volume until the final episode. Qrow vs Tyrian was worth it though as it’s still one of the best fights in the season but it just couldn’t keep up with the others.

So that’s the rankings for now. 3, 7, 6, 8, 5, 2, 1, 4. I imagine as I continue to revisit each volume that could change but the rankings are pretty solid. Really the closest ones that I can see changing is the middle group (6-2) but the top two and bottom two volumes would be pretty hard to move at this point. I imagine with the series in the middle of so many events all future volumes will be in a pretty good spot as well as they aim for the top. Can any possible dethrone 3 though?

As always the animation is top notch here. The character models are really smooth and I wonder why all CGI shows can’t look this sharp. I understand it’s now using MAYA technology as opposed to POSER from the first 3 volumes which is completely open software, but it should still be possible for professional studios. Yet, I have yet to see a CGI show look as good as RWBY. It really shows how talented the staff is to make this a reality.

The writing is excellent as well. While I have my share of complaints with how Ironwood was written into a villain, that’s a narrative choice more so than a writing flaw. They just wanted him to be as evil as possible. The episodes are all very engaging and you want to see what happens next. The soundtrack is also excellent. I wouldn’t say it matches 7 quite yet but I liked the theme that played during the snow chase with the hound as well as the one during Cinder’s origin. Every volume usually has at least 2 stand out themes and those would be the ones for me. I’m definitely looking forward to the CD coming out though since I’m hoping some of the normal episode themes also make it in since there are a few instrumental battle themes that also stood out like the one in the final episode.

There’s certainly always more to talk about but I’ll start wrapping it up here. There will be at least 2-3 editorials about RWBY before the next volume comes up so if there’s any big discussion topic I need to bring up I’ll certainly write something about it. The possibilities for going forward are definitely pretty endless. With Atlas down the villains are also one step closer to destroying all 4 of the kingdoms. Haven is all but destroyed, Beacon isn’t doing great, and Atlas is certainly over. Vacuo is the last place standing in full health and it’s less of a formal kingdom and more of a bandits lair type of place so that’ll be different anyway. That’s why I definitely want to see their reaction to all of this.

Overall, RWBY is definitely as great as ever. The toughest part here is going to be waiting for the next volume. Each volume continues to be excellent so I look forward to seeing what they’ve got coming up for Volume 9. Ideally I’d like to see Raven return and for Yang’s Dad to finally get a fight. As a member on such a powerhouse team that guy has got to be a good fighter. Then once we get the team back to the surface I’m expecting a lot of big battles for sure. It feels like we’re getting closer to the ultimate climax although I would still expect that not to happen until around Volume 11 or 12.

Overall 10/10

Sakura Wars: The Animation Review


It had been a long time since Sakura Wars had gotten a complete TV show before this one came out so it was definitely a big deal. Between this and the new game the franchise was finally going to hit it big again. I get the feeling it wasn’t quite as big a hit as they intended at least since to me the series seemed to vanish again. That being said, the show is great. It’s easily the most complete Sakura Wars product out there and in 12 episodes it accomplishes a whole lot. This is absolutely the kind of vibe you want to have for the show and the new cast is a lot of fun.

The show starts out with a very engaging scene as a monster shows up to kidnap a kid named Klara. She is stopped in her tracks when a mysterious lady shows up known as the White Cape. Both of them are interrupted when Seijuro along with two guest stars from foreign combat revues show up. Seijuro takes the girl over to his team to look after her since it’s clear that a lot of villains are after her. While he will be away in Europe tracking down some clues, he leaves Sakura in charge of the team. She vows to watch over Klara with her life and the two of them hit it off really well. The rest of Sakura’s teammates are pretty cool about this as well. It won’t be so easy though. The Moscow team have arrives and claim that Klara is one of them and demand that the team hands her over. They refuse but the Moscow team is appealing to the government so this may be taken out of their hands. Can Sakura and her team protect this kid?

When you think of Sakura Wars, action usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more of a drama or slice of life that includes a lot of action. Well, this show definitely tossed that out the window. There is a ton of action here and as you can probably guess, I was a big fan of that. The first scene in the show is a pretty powerful battle between the various characters. We got to see Excalibur and another girl briefly as they helped Seijuro fight these girls off. They definitely feel more like guest star characters and so you shouldn’t expect to see them do much again until the very end. Still, they had excellent character designs and just really helped to start things off on the right note. They’re exactly the kind of allies that you want to have by your side at all times.

This was also a nice way to build up the stakes and get the show ready from the start. It wouldn’t let up after that either as you could typically look forward to some kind of fight going on in each episode. Surprisingly the heroes don’t fight the demons quite as much as usual since it’s mostly the Moscow group getting in their way and the Black Cape. The monsters probably figured they should lie low for now and I don’t blame them. They do look pretty good when they appear though as the main unit had a lot of trouble with them. There is even one moment in particular that is pretty rough for the group since they had to be saved. It just goes to show that there is always someone stronger after all.

This time around the animation is in pure CGI. Fortunately this is an example of using CGI the right away. The character designs are on point and the fight scenes look good. Naturally with hand drawn animation I’m sure the show would have looked even better but this one handled everything pretty well so I had no complaints. The energy effects are still quite vibrant whenever the characters are attacking and the fight scenes are good. There’s one scene where White Cape has to deflect a ton of bullets and she does it with ease. Then you’ve got Leila blocking Hatsuho’s punch with ease which was another pretty hype moment. You can still feel the impact each time which is definitely the important part.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack. The opening is pretty solid and it feels like a nice remix of the classic intro. That said, the ending is what really stands out here. It is quite stellar and just feels like an epic way to end each episode. You’ll be at the edge of your seat each week as you wait for things to continue. In the actual episodes the music is a little more forgettable though so mainly it’s the beginning and ending where it shines.

Still, this wouldn’t be Sakura Wars without at least having some time to calm down and just enjoy the sights. We get one full episode where Sakura gets to go on a family outing with Seijuro and Klara. The main villains as well as the rest of the heroes all decide to tag along and wreck this little trip of theirs. It’s pretty interesting to see even the villains get in on this. I suppose it may have been a decent time to try and steal Klara away but you feel like they’d never get away with it. You could say that this is the only episode that doesn’t seem to further the plot so in a way it’s like filler.

It was a fun episode though and it gave Shiba some much needed screen time so that alone makes the whole thing worth it. The show balances out the genres pretty well. Aside from that happy episode then you get a more emotional one early on with Hatsuho as she feels bad that Seijuro didn’t choose her to be leader. The tough truth is that Sakura was just better suited for it. Then of course you have the pretty serious episodes of the climax where the villains are making their big play. The show succeeds at every theme so whether the heroes are just having fun on their own or jumping in to make some kind of great stand against the villain, the episode really flies by.

The writing is on point throughout but you would expect no less. The ending to the series is also very satisfying. There are a few ways they could have gone about this of course but this was the optimal route. Additionally, there was one character moment that would have just been plain unfortunate but the very last bit of the ending made sure to correct this. Make sure you stick around til the very end of the show. Ultimately the ending was just great when you consider all of that and so the whole show benefits as a result.

Lets talk about the characters now. First up is Sakura, the leader of the team. She is a very dedicated fighter who stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let Klara go. She also took a lot of big risks in putting her life on the line to protect Klara. Sakura also mastered the more powerful suit of armor pretty quick. It’s clear that she is the most powerful member of the group, especially thanks to her sword skills that she can use even without a suit. When you put that all together, her allies just don’t have anything on her. Seijuro made the right choice.

The bond between Sakura and Klara is also just a lot of fun. Sakura’s always got her back. As for Seijuro, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. The higher ups keep throwing him on wild goose chases so he can’t help out at home. From what we see he is clearly a good fighter though. While Black Cape was able to take on the entire Sakura team and do well, Seijuro was able to take on 2-3 of them at once and came out on top. He’s easily one of the most impressive fighters in the series so that’s why it’s a shame that we couldn’t see him fight more. He has trained the team well though.

Klara has a big role of course and she’s good. Now it’s not always easy for a kid character to be very impressive as worst case they can just be really annoying and hold everyone back. Fortunately that isn’t the case with Klara. She’s just a nice kid from the start. While English isn’t her first language (Well, technically it would be Japanese since this is a translation) she does well at fitting in and even throws in a few Russian lines on occasion. The fact that she has some special abilities helps out quite a ton as well. There’s a lot of build up to this so when she finally gets to join the team the scene feels very well earned.

I was also glad that Seijuro was quick to let her help instead of just wasting time and trying to stop her. She is a member of the team after all so it only makes sense that she would jump in right? This is one case where Klara feels necessary to the team’s dynamic so it was good that she was on board. She ended up being a lot more fun than I had expected. Then we have Hatsuho who is the power member of the group. Unfortunately because of this she loses just about all of her fights. It’s sort of like Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon or Tauros from Saint Seiya. Since they are the power members of the group, they are always the first to get wrecked to show how powerful the next villain is and after a while you wonder if they really are the strong member. I guess physically yes, but when Hatsuho is physically weaker than every villain she encounters in the series, that makes things rather difficult for her.

It does lead to one of the best scenes in the show though when she throws a punch and Leyla casually catches the hit while also bringing Hatsuho to her knees. Hatsuho has a tough time here in other scenes as well like when she lost to the demon twice and then growing jealous of Sakura. Fortunately the two talk it over with Sakura being oblivious to what the chat was truly about and then Hatsuho was able to get over it. It was good character development because staying jealous would have just made her look really bad. As it stands I do like Hatsuho quite a bit but she’s got to work on that.

Azami’s the ninja of the group and is not nearly as talented as she thinks she is. This leads to a lot of fun little scenes where she does her best. My main issue with her is the fact that she seems insanely weak in a fight. Ninja stars aren’t going to work on giant monsters. Additionally she seems like the character who would be quickest to betray Klara so I definitely would not trust her in the slightest. Anastesia is another member of the group but unfortunately she really gets nothing to do here. I guess maybe she had enough screen time in the game so they decided to skip her here but it is a shame since everyone else got a big role. All we know about Anastesia from the show is that she’s probably the most serious character of the group.

Claris is more of a low key character but she is quite solid. Her magical attacks definitely look a lot more impressive than the bullets and ninja stars everyone else is using. She is a very pleasant character who is happy to help and doesn’t really worry about anything. She’s quick to try and cover for Azami despite not being too invested in what’s going on just because she is a good friend. So while she doesn’t do a lot in the show, she leaves a very good impression. Their boss Sumire doesn’t do much either but you wouldn’t expect the boss to get mixed up in all of this. Mainly she is notable just because she was on the original show so it’s nice to see that she moved up. Hopefully one day she can access her powers again and suit up, defying what we thought was possible.

Then you have Hakushu, the White Cape. The show makes it plain as day that they are the same character so you don’t have to worry about spoilers. The show is definitely self aware about this the whole time as her disguise is completely obvious. All she does it put on a mask and a cape but everything else is the same from her voice to the hair style. In her first scene we have Sakura chasing White Cape and when she turns the corner there is Hakushu who half heartedly says the Cape ran off. Hakushu also tends to make errors when talking as if she was White Cape and always has a weak excuse as to why that happened.

The show has a blast with this so get ready for the big reveal. Either way Hakushu is easily the best character in the series though. The fact that she is portrayed as the most powerful character while not having a robot is pretty incredible. She always jumps in to help and is willing to do a whole lot more than any of the other characters. The scene of her deflecting tons of energy blasts using super speed is pretty incredible. It’s clear to see why she commands so much respect as Sakura’s boss. Part of why she is the best character is because of how many times she saves the characters. Aside from that, she also seems to be the most intelligent as she stays one step ahead of everyone else. She also finds time to run an orphanage so she is truly a woman of many talents. She steals any scene she is in.

Then you have the main villain Kaminski. This guy is your classic take over the world kind of villain. There’s not much different about him but he does have a flair for the dramatic which works really well. In general he tends to be a fun guy. He keeps a polite demeanor about him at all times even though you know it’s most likely fake the whole time. Considering how long he kept up this charade though, you feel like he gets really sloppy by the end. If he hadn’t suddenly tried being as evil as possible and being cold to Leila then he had a good chance to win this. It almost felt a little out of character for him to be honest as he made things really easy for the heroes. Well, either way he was a pretty charismatic villain that’s for sure and definitely not someone to underestimate.

Leila is his right hand woman and a great villain. She’s the standout villain because of her great character and hype demon form. Her story is a tragic one since she looks up to Kaminski and sees him as a hero so she chooses to ignore the fact that he is manipulating her the whole time. Again, at least he was pretending to be nice which is good so why wreck a good thing and start pushing her away? Leila does all of the hard work throughout the series and is quite powerful. Not only is she able to take on the whole Sakura team with ease but I dare say even White Cape would have a tough time with her. Part of what makes things tragic for Leila is there’s also a lot of memory and emotion tampering going on within her so she is rarely in her right state of mind. You’re certainly rooting for her to break free the whole time.

Then you have Shiba who is a solid mechanic here. One thing that separates him from most is that the guy can actually build useful things that don’t break. It’s a bit of a foreign concept in Sakura Wars where usually the geniuses are a little eccentric to put it mildly or just build walking disasters. This guy even showed some leadership experience like when he had the team tail Sakura. This guy’s a pure comedy character that’s for sure but he excels at it and all of his scenes are a blast. Now, would I sacrifice a scene of his to get some more of Excalibur and the other heroine? Absolutely, but that was likely not on the table anyway so I’ll take what I can get here.

This show even manages to avoid having much of any real fanservice. The fact that the show is CGI probably helps a bit with that since even if the character design for Leila’s super form could have gone tricky, the show didn’t go there. Aside from CGI, that’s just a directing thing though so the director did really good to always play the scene straight. She’s a demon fighting the heroes, the show never tries for anything other than that. That’s when you know that the show is going to be a really solid adventure from start to finish. I suppose we have the gag of Shiba running out of the shower to get slammed but I wouldn’t really count that to be honest. If you like the gag of someone yelling as the camera fades out though, Shiba gets a lot of that.

While the animation is quite solid as I mentioned, I will say that it’s still hard not to chuckle during the dance scenes. Maybe it’s because of how smooth and gracefully the characters move, but it’s just hard to take the villains seriously when they’re just dancing as they talk about the plans. I will say that it’s fun when Leila styles on the heroes while dancing though. Now that’s a whole other level of disrespect right there. There’s even a dancing battle so you can tell the show was having some fun with this. Hey, if you can do solid dance numbers and want to show off the animation why not right? Then you have the epic stills where the colors really jump out of the page and you’re reminded of the potential of CGI all over again. Honestly if every CGI show looked like this we wouldn’t have any problems. Hand Drawn would still be the best but this would be a much more respectable backup plan.

Overall, Sakura Wars: the Animation is a terrific anime. The government looks pretty bad as they fall for every trick in the book but Sakura’s team stays strong throughout and makes sure to protect Klara. When they fail that job White Cape is always around to help out so they have a great system going. Part of what sets the show apart from the rest of the titles in this series is how much action it has. The rest of the Sakura War titles just can’t match this. The best bet would be the OVA for Revolution but that is shorter so by definition it can’t match up. This one’s got fights in pretty much every episode. The final episode especially goes bold with this as the whole episode is really a big fight scene. By the end of the series we learn why one character is so exceptionally strong and I dare say that leaves room for a nice sequel someday. Honestly the humans are in a fantastic spot right now so they don’t need to worry but it’s still good to be prepared. One plot still going is the demons approaching. It’s implied that as long as Klara exists they will keep on coming so ultimately they need to find a way to take out the demons for good. That would make for a fun sequel.

Overall 8/10