Juistice League Action Review

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It’s time to look at a recent DC show that was rather short lived. Granted, it hasn’t officially been cancelled yet as a few sites still hold out hope on it returning, but the odds of that happening do seem rather slim at times. It’s a shame because the show was fun even if it was severely limited by the dreaded 15 minute format, still one of the worst modern innovations for cartoons in general. We got some action and some more adventures with the heroes so that was pretty cool.

Naturally there isn’t really any kind of ongoing plot here. Most of the episodes are stand alone adventures with maybe a reference or two in there somewhere. Interestingly enough the first 4 episodes was a multi part epic though. It would have been cool if the rest of the show had gone that route. It’s a way that you can get past the animation and the time constraints to tell more of a full story although I suppose that wasn’t the priority here. It’s leagues better than DC’s other current show Teen Titans Go though as this one puts the action as more of a priority than the humor with Teen Titans does the opposite. The humor we do get from Justice League is also just a lot better than Go’s.

The animation will take a lot of getting used to, but specifically it is probably the character designs that seem a little off. Everyone’s super skinny which may just be a flash thing as that’s the same way the characters are drawn in Teen Titans and for the most part MLP. I’m definitely not a big fan of Flash and to be honest at this point I’m pretty sure that CGI has started to pass it for the most part as well. I’m not sure if this is Flash or an odd form of hand drawn animation but it looks more like the former. The fight scenes can be pretty good when the show tries though and I can see them pulling something off with this art. We don’t get big fights all that often though as mostly they are quick skirmishes but we’ll take those. We also do have the good sound effects from the old DCAU days back as well.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but whatever is around goes well enough with the story. Again, you don’t want to expect too much here, but the beginning of the show did have a lot of promise. The first elemental villains that we got were a lot of fun. They were even very powerful as they gave Wonder Woman and Superman a pretty good fight. We had Batman going up against some classic thugs in a fight that may sound boring but it was handled very well and hearing Batman’s old voice again was great. The first few episodes actually took themselves very seriously and it felt like it could be a Justice League sequel.

Gradually the show switched up its approach a bit though. It acts more like a homage to the JL show than a sequel and the comedy episodes became more frequent. There’s nothing wrong with a comedy series of course, but I think the show would have been able to reach the next level if it had just stayed like the first few episodes. For the most part they were the best ones. Other good episodes were: Firestorm’s debut episode where he has to fight off a group of androids, The Time Travel episode where Batman has to stop Chronos from murdering him on his first night as Batman, The Arcade Game where Toyman puts the heroes into a video game, The episode where Lex gets Amazonian abilities, and the one where Lex and Batman have to match wits with the fate of the world at stake.

Most of the episodes are quite solid but in particular those are some of the episodes that I really enjoyed. I could probably count the number of mediocre episodes on one hand in comparison. So at the very least JL Action was always a lot of fun. With each segment being so short it was also pretty clear from the start that pacing would not be an issue. Each adventure feels like it goes by very quickly.

Another thing I liked about the show is that it did give more screen time to some characters who didn’t do a lot in the main series. Firestorm gets a big role and is featured in many episodes. His abilities are very handy to have after all and in general he could be one of the team’s strongest members. Booster Gold also appears quite frequently to mess with time and try to get rich. At the very least you have to respect his resolve since the guy never gives up no matter how many tries it takes. We even get an episode for the Super pups as they fight the Red Lanterns. There was some serious power level shenanigans here since Krypto should have looked a lot better than he did in the fight but I’ll let it slide. In general power levels are often tricky for super hero shows and a good out to use is that the heroes are probably holding back quite a lot in order to not seriously hurt the villains.

Hopefully we do get a full Justice League show at some point. To put it one way, Justice League Action feels more like a RWBY Chibi kind of series where it is made to complement the main title. We need a full length Justice League series to air at some point and then Action could air while it’s on break. Justice League is a huge franchise so you’d think that it would sell quite well and yet DC hasn’t really made a move in a while. It’s a gold mine just waiting to happen.

There’s not much else to say about this show because we’re all already very familiar with the characters and there’s not much of a plot to discuss so even as a show review it’s a little on the short side. As a final note before the wrap up, I will say that Batman and Superman are the best characters as always. They always tend to have great episodes backing them up and the contrast between the two fighters is always nice as well. It’s why they are so legendary at this point.
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Overall, This was a fun DC show. I would put it behind most of the other recent ones but it didn’t really make any mistakes. I’m not a huge fan of the format but it probably did about as much as it could with it while still keeping the comedy elements that Cartoon Network demands. I’d like to see the DCAU return again at some point with a full show. If you haven’t seen it yet then I’d recommend checking out JL Action. It’ll give you a chance to hang out with your favorite characters once again and it should feel pretty nostalgic in general.

Overall 7/10

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Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir Review

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It’s time to look at the latest stop in the App game tour. This one certainly wasn’t quite as long lived as Lollipop and Fruits Mania as there are only 80 levels. I was able to complete them all in the course of around 4-5 days. It’s a really fun game though and while it may be lacking in content it does leave me more time for other titles so that’s not such a bad thing. The game does have more of a focus than the other Free Runner that I’ve played (Sonic Forces Speed Battle) since it does have a loose plot and a sense of progression as you try to get to the end.

Again, when I say “plot” it’s in the loosest sense of the word. Each batch of 5 levels has a black and white set of photos. Each time you complete a level the photo is changed into one that is full color until the set of 5 is over and you move on. Every time you complete 10 levels the villains change so if I had to hazard a guess I would say that the game covers 8 episodes of the show. I haven’t seen the show so I can’t confirm this and maybe the game is making its own plot up. Either way, you are here for the gameplay first and foremost.

The gameplay is a 3D style as you run forward. The levels don’t end until you fulfill the objective. The goal is always to grab a certain amount of collectibles in the level. 500 ladybugs, 20 power ups, etc. There are 3 levels to each goal. Obtaining at least a bronze will allow you to progress further in the game, but obtaining the gold rank will put you in the safest spot. After all, you need a certain amount of stars to progress so not getting them now will only add more things to do when you reach the end game. I had to go back and get more stars twice, but for the most part I made sure to get 3 stars on all of the levels. The stats for this game will be published in a post right after this one. You can jump and slide under objects to get the harder to reach objects. Running on walls is a fairly unique mechanic to this game and is fun as it gives you more options.

Now, what kind of free runner would this be without special abilities? You can fire energy blasts if you get the Yo Yo power up or even survive a single hit if you get the shield. The best power up is the magnet as it drags the ladybugs over to you and the 2X power is nearly as good as it doubles the ladybugs that you can collect. You can use the ladybugs to upgrade your abilities later on and trust me, you’ll most certainly appreciate maxing those powers out. It makes the levels a lot easier and also shortens the time it takes to max out your abilities. Odds are that you will beat the game before you are able to max out your abilities though.

Ladybugs are your main currency but then you’ve also got the butterflies. You can spend 5 of them in order to revive once in a level. Honestly, it’s usually not worth it though and I would save the butterflies to use in the shop for more ladybugs and such. A revive doesn’t go a long way and ultimately it’s best to just hone your skills so that you won’t need it. If it’s important that you beat a certain level then by all means you should go for it. Still, it’s not too urgent since you get unlimited retries and don’t have to worry about an energy meter like in Fire Emblem Heroes.

The graphics are definitely pretty nice. The character models are definitely on point and the screens are clear. Occasionally it can be hard to see an obstacle until the last second, but that’s really just because of how fast you are moving. The game even squeezed in a few quick cutscenes each time you defeat a boss at the end of a 10 level set and whenever you get enough ladybugs to transform. These cutscenes are pretty solid, but I’m glad that they are skippable as you wouldn’t want to see them every time. It’s the same cinematic for all levels so feel free to skip them after the first time.

The soundtrack is rather bland though. It only has 1 tune and unfortunately it’s one of those games that disables your audio for other apps. This means that I can’t be listening to Pandora while playing it like with the other games and that’s unfortunate. It’s not a bad tune for this game, but hearing it nonstop can certainly get a little old. I like to have my musical freedom as a fast paced song will likely just help my skills even more.

There isn’t much for replay value here. I suppose you can aim to grab all of the pictures though. To do that you will have to obtain chests and wait a few hours to unlock them. Waiting is easy as you can just turn off the app, but to get the chests in the first place you need some ladybugs to unlock them or to find one in a level. The latter only seems to happen when you don’t already have one. I don’t think the grind would be all that bad though so I’d say to go for it. You can also just boost your trophy count by playing some of the Infinite Levels.

Overall, This is a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t say that it does anything special, but it’s fun and that’s the important thing. It’s a game that is very easy to get into and just start playing. The levels are fairly short so it’s not a big investment in time and it just looks very crisp. The lack of content would hurt if you paid money for this game, but since it is free I don’t think I would consider that to be a problem. I’d recommend checking this game out and seeing what you think of it.

Overall 7/10

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On Review

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It’s time to look at Monster Hunter. An anime that may be different than what you’re expecting as it is based on a very specific game in the series that is about riders instead of hunters. The series never really manages to break out of its shell and become something too epic which is a shame. There are certainly some more interesting things they could have done here and it could have potentially opened up into something like Pokemon. Still, it’s a reasonably good show and one that lasted for a long time so the show had time for a lot of things to happen.

There are two main arcs, but lets say 3 since the pre arc was rather long. The start of the show is about Lute, Cheval, and Lilia as they journey throughout the village and into towns as they learn more about being Riders. Unlike Hunters who destroy monsters for rewards and safety, Lute and the gang grew up in a village where they live as pals. Lute aims to prove that having kinship with a monster is the right thing to do while the hunters aren’t very sure. Hijinx ensues and the cast often have to wonder if this is the right call. Even if it is, how will they convince anyone to change sides? To become a rider you have to get a special jewel and to do that you basically have to join a village so that’s a tough sell for anyone.

The next arc is the darkest of the show as Cheval’s life is forever changed when a blighted monster destroys the village. He decides to avenge his family by hunting down and destroying all blighted monsters. Lute doesn’t think that this is the way to go though and decides to purify all of the crystals instead to stop the corruption at its core. The two of them become enemies now and while Lute is convinced that they can still be friends with differing opinions, Cheval doesn’t agree. He aims to destroy Lute once and for all to prove that sometimes Kinship isn’t enough to keep two people together.

Finally, the series brings in a new group of villains known as the Black/Ebon/Dark Riders who show up and kidnap Avinia. They aim to bring the world to its knees by performing a forbidden ritual and getting unlimited power. Lute and Cheval have to try and stop these guys, but the problem is that they are outnumbered and these villains are also way too powerful. They will need some kind of power up to hold their own. The other villagers realize that they will have to get stronger as well, but can they bridge the gap in time?
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The show’s tone was all over the place, but for the most part it was rather light. Think of it as a classic slice of life series for a while as the heroes head to various towns and chat with people. That’s why in some cases the episodes could get a little boring since the cast isn’t amazing. Then the show gets really dark for the main Blighted Monsters arc. One thing the show is rarely clear about is if defeating monsters means destroying them. It seems like this is the case due to how everyone reacts and Lute always tells everyone not to defeat the monsters except for when he does. The show’s just really not consistent here. This may be more the dub than anything, but it really tried to never use the word destroy. As a result, “defeated” is the term always used even when a monster is slain.

That’s why the middle arc gets really dark as Cheval goes around destroying all monsters who have been in contact with the blight and even any other that just gets in his way. Lute and the others are unable to save any of them. Chieval even commands a Nargacuga of his own as a revenge of sorts for the main one dealing with his family. He is very mean to it of course and then abandons it. Cheval never really had to answer for all of this much and I just felt bad for the monsters. Then of course we have the hunters running around slaying them all. It’s definitely a rather brutal world that Lute and the others live in. The worst part is that Lute has his kinship stone which can purify all of the blighted monsters but he typically forgets about this and still tries to take some of them down at times. This whole part of the saga definitely brings it down quite a bit and is one of the main reasons why the Black Rider arc ended up winning. At this point the monsters started getting written out a bit although Shadow still destroys quite a few along the way as well. I guess they all need to become pals with a main character quickly before it’s too late.

Lute is your typical main character. He believes in the power of friendship (Known as Kinship here) and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s really close with Navirou so they trade insults quite a lot but all in good fun. Lute’s only real flaw at times is just how much of a pacifist he is. Even when being attacked he refuses to fight back if he is up against a fellow rider. This is at its worst during the final arc when he first fights with Gale. Considering that this guy kidnapped one of his friends and may destroy the village, Lute really has no time to keep trying to dodge the fight. You’ve got to make a stand and it’s not like simply fighting the opponent is the same as destroying him. Aside from that it is nice to have a more experienced Lute for the final arc. He is treated with a lot of respect at the end since he did help save the world and his new design does a good job of getting that across without any words. As soon as you see the design for the first time you can tell that he has gotten stronger.

Navirou is Lute’s travel companion and he is very useful for navigation in his mind at least. He is the main comic relief character of the series so you can probably guess that he isn’t very good at almost anything. He does have some thunder abilities which are really handy when Navirou actually remembers that he has such a power. Unfortunately that isn’t very often so don’t expect to see it much. Navirou’s cross armed salute is probably his best running gag but I also don’t mind his “Navi rules.” Cutting out some of his comic relief would probably have been nice though or even some of the cat episodes in genera. Overall I think he worked well as a support character and I’m glad he was around but the character could have been better.

Lilia is technically one of the 3 main characters for a while but starts to get written out by the end. Her path in the show was doomed from the start as she did t have a monster to protect her. Without a monstie in an action show like this, of course she wouldn’t ultimately stand a chance. It’s the same situation as being in a Pokémon show without catching a Pokémon. Lilia decided that she wanted to be a researcher instead which is fine but that kind of character rarely gets to do all that much. Lilia ends up being rather bland as a result.

Then we have Cheval who is the main rival. He gets a very Sasuke esque role here as he starts out by being one of the more heroic characters, but quickly starts to let the darkness consume him. He goes as far as to try and destroy Lute multiple times and nearly destroys one of his own Monsties. His whole arc gets rather dark at times. Naturally he also gets the redemption arc at the end as well. It may be a little tough to buy into as well especially since he did claim quite a few victims. Lute may accept him, but should he? Ultimately it’s hard to see Cheval as anything but a villain even by the end. It’s a shame because his character type is always nice as he becomes the rival that he always should have been by the end. The guy certainly went through a lot of character changes.

Avinia is a mysterious figure who shows up in the series from time to time before getting a big role in the final arc. She does lose this mystique almost right away but it was nice to finally have another rider who could fight. At the time Lute was the only heroic rider so he really needed an ally. Unfortunately, we never did get that Avinia vs Cheval fight I was hoping for. Once again I can say that the show dropped the ball with Avinia quite a bit. She has one of the best designs in the show and a monstie with a lot of potential. Despite this she rarely fights in the series and spends most of the final arc on the sidelines. Considering how powerful she apparently is, I would have liked to have seen her play a more active role. Still a cool character but one who wasn’t given enough to do in the show.
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Of course we can’t forget about Deb….Li. Every character in the series likes to mess up his name and it is heavily implied that this is intentional. That’s because they say his name normally when he isn’t around. We already have a handful of comic relief characters but I guess you can never have too many as this one was thrown in as well. For the most part he is about as obnoxious as you would expect. He yells quite a lot and can’t seem to do anything right. The one running gag that he does right (Aside from the whole name thing since that one is decent because of how Debli panics every time) is when he Rides on. The animation and fake sound effect that he gets for it is handled beautifully. Debli toes the line between being a sympathetic character and an annoying one and does a good job of making it ambiguous. In the end I was okay with him although I wouldn’t have been sad if he had never shown up.

Reverto is probably one of her biggest unintentional jokes in the series. He gets a lot of hype throughout the series as being one of the world’s greatest hunters. If that really is the case then that doesn’t bode well for the hunters in general. He can barely handle any legitimately strong monsters and forget about taking down a plot important villain. In this show all hunters can do is swing their sword around and hope to land some good hits. They have no special abilities or even any enhanced physical ones. They are just guys with swords. Of course one of the main themes of the show is that the Riders are right and the Hunters are wrong so I wouldn’t expect them to look that good but they look downright horrible by the end. Hundreds of hunters can accomplish what a single rider can because they have no special abilities. Why would they possibly not want to become riders then? How have they not all been wiped out by this point? Anyway, there isn’t anything actually wrong with Reverto as he is a decent character but you just can’t take him seriously when he is fighting because despite all of the tough talk you know that he won’t end up coming out on top. He is just there to buy time for Lute.

Simone would fall into the same issue except from the start she is portrayed as a researcher rather than a fighter. Her intel is rarely useful and barely goes beyond the realm of common knowledge but I guess her role isn’t all that bad. She’s just not a very interesting character and none of her scenes really leave an impact. Cut her out from the show entirely and nothing really changes at all. That’s never a good sign.

Dan is one of those comic relief characters where you aren’t sure if it is intentional or not for a while. Technically you would think that he is rather skilled since he is rather old and teaches the kids, but they end up surpassing him very quickly. Part of the issue is the fact that he chose a very weak monster to be his monstie. He never explains why he doesn’t just pick a different creature. Perhaps it has sentimental value or perhaps he just isn’t the smartest rider in the group. Either way, his character doesn’t work too well and his “In top Form” battle cry is so half hearted that you will wonder why they built a whole character around the line. As you can tell, many of the supporting characters just aren’t very interesting. I won’t even get into the various elders who never do anything or the riddle master who is just annoying.
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Mille is one of the side characters who is actually good. She can fight and in the final arc is probably the strongest rider aside from the main 2. (Lute and Chevall) O would have liked her to have gotten more of a role though. From the start of the show you got the impression that she may turn out to be a bit of a rival or at the very least would remain as one of the main fighters for a while. Instead she is effectively kept to the background for most of the show. Still a good character but she could have been even better.

Instead a lot of screen time is wasted on Hyoro as he tries to overcome his timid nature. The plot does not go well and he even sides with the villainous Chevall to take on the village. Yes, Mille does this as well but at least she was already a quality character. Hyoro never ends up becoming a good character and even after he gets stronger off screen for the final arc it’s hard to ever gain respect for the guy. He just never had a big moment where he got past his fears and did something amazing. Instead he essentially proved his doubts right as he never got to be all that strong. Genie is Hyoro’s older brother and the main reason why the kid turned out the way that he did. Genie can be overly critical of Hyoro but of course he says it is only to make Hyoro better. I didn’t mind Genie, but he was a rather half hearted bully who couldn’t back up his tough talk. Ultimately he was about as weak as the other side characters and Hyoro likely surpassed him in the end.

Gale is the Shadow Rider with the biggest role in the series. He gets to fight Lute quite a few times and his skills are the real deal. He is also the strongest member I’d say although Shadow would give him some competition for that title. He gets quite a few plot twists. While his plan may not have been amazing and he probably should have tried doing something a little earlier, he did make for a good rival. He just kept getting stuck in rather bad situations. While he was also unable to make the hero move at the end which nearly caught him, it’s a mistake that I could sympathize with since he was so close to finally accomplishing his goal. It was an intense moment and he’s in my top 3 characters in the series. I’d say that he is second only to Lute.

Next is Shadow who is certainly the 2nd coolest member of the group. Her speed is astounding to the point where the heroes can’t even keep track of where she is. There is a plot twist about this that I was a little mixed on. It is essentially a nerf, but I didn’t see it coming so I’ll give the show that. I also think Shadow’s rage mode should have kicked in instantly after what Anvis ends up doing to someone instead of waiting til their next meeting. It’s not as if anything would have changed in the outcome though.

Then we have Mad who is one of the villains that you can’t take seriously. I guess in the end the Riders could only score a 50 as 2 of their members were good and the others weren’t. Mad is just one of those guys who only cares about his looks and as a result he can be defeated if you simply get some dirt on him. Even his monster’s design isn’t all that good. It’s basically just a huge worm so that’s not too impressive. Same goes for Wrath but to an even bigger extent. Wrath is the strong but not smart type, but he isn’t even all that tough. There’s nothing original or interesting about him as a character.

Finally we have Anvis, the leader of these guys. Somehow he was able to gain control over an Elder Dragon even before undergoing the complete power up ceremony. Considering this, he does earn the title of being the strongest rider in existence. He makes for a solid final boss and a solid character all around. He definitely thought things through and stayed one step ahead of Gale and the heroes for a while. He’s a considerable improvement over the doctor who was the main villain of the first few arcs. He is reduced to comic relief for the final arc and was never much of a threat anyway. His episodes had a tendency to simply be rather boring so I was fine with him being gone.

There are also the Numbers, but they never had much of a point in the story. They are really just around to get their long piece of recycled animation over and over again. The show certainly loved doing that to save on the budget. The animation for the show is fairly decent. It does take a lot of shortcuts by using recycled animation constantly though. This becomes a bigger issue in season 2 as we even get little scenes of the characters reaching out when calling their monsties. It feels really forced and I could have done without that. I’m happy they all got armor but it just feels like another way to save on animation. It also uses quite a bit of CGI. We do get some real animation whenever a big fight happens though. Some of the special abilities also look really good like Chevall’s energy disc. Overall, the animation wouldn’t hurt the show, but it wouldn’t really help it either.

The soundtrack is rather bland as well unfortunately. You will definitely start to remember the tunes after a while since they keep on popping up, but that’s because the soundtrack is just really limited. I would have loved to have had some really great tunes to amp up the fight scenes, but alas it was simply not to be. This title could not deliver.

Finally I have to say that the show’s ride on mechanic seems rather odd. Basically the monstie that is summoned shows up when a character strikes the pose. The show portrays this as the monsters are just hiding nearby until they are needed but what are they doing in the meantime? Shouldn’t they just be with the heroes then? Lute has over 6 monsties in the show, but only uses his main one for basically the whole series. What is even the point of everyone having up to 6 if they only use one for all of the fights? They should have just had Pokeballs of some kind to keep the others in as that would make more sense if you ask me. I think the show dropped the ball a little on the collect them all aspect of the series.

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Overall, This isn’t a bad show. I’d say that Monster Hunter is fairly decent. The problem is that it’s only average or below average in most areas. There isn’t a single section that I could point to and say that the series was amazing. On the contrary, the series could be a little boring at times. The characters just aren’t strong enough to hold the show as well as others could. It got a little more exciting towards the end but the show also amped up the crude humor and comedy to match. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you need a good fantasy show, but there are many others that I would suggest seeing before this one. At least there is a lot of content here since the show managed to make it to around 70 episodes. That was actually pretty impressive.

Overall 6/10

RWBY Review

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It’s time to take a look at the greatest TV show of all time. For a long while Yugioh GX held that spot and I never thought that it would be surpassed or even that it could. Then one day I happened to notice the twitch marathon channel tuning into RWBY. They were in season 2 and I saw the hype battle between team RWBY and Torchwick. I stuck around for about 4 episodes before deciding this was a show that I needed to watch and so I went back to the beginning and marathoned it. I’ve since seen most of the episodes 3 times thanks to various reaction videos and the fights more times than that. It’s certainly a title that I imagine will stay in 1st for a very long time.

There are 5 volumes so let’s go through them all from the beginning. The premise of the series is that the planet has been overrun by the Grimm. These are shadow creatures who destroy at random and thanks to their sheer numbers humanity has had a very hard time dealing with them. Fortunately they found out how to harness aura. Aura allows you to shield yourself from injury and also lets you augment your attacks. 4 kingdoms arose and various little villages sprang up as well although those tend to be destroyed by bandits or Grimm monsters. The people who fight back against the Grimm and defend our borders are known as Huntsman. They are our last defense.

The series focuses on team RWBY who are comprised of Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. They don’t actually form until midway through the season though. The first volume is mainly set up with the heroes having their first real confrontation with the enemy near the end of the volume. It’s definitely a really fun volume and one that has aged pretty well. It got the ball rolling for the series after all and did a good job with everyone’s personalities.

I should also mention that part of how the series built up a lot of hype before even airing was through the 4 character shorts they released before the series even started. Each of the main 4 characters got their own and the shorts were all about the action. If we count them as episodes then they are all likely still in the top half for me. All 4 of them are excellent but if I had to pick a favorite then it would be the Yang special. It’s the longest which leads to the most action, but she is also the most enjoyable character of the 4. You may have expected the show to be a little different than it was if you saw the 4 shorts and then went into the show, but ultimately the fights do come so it’s not as if they were cut off entirely. It was a wise move to make the shorts about the fights as a glimpse of what was to come.

Volume 1’s soundtrack is also amazing and some of the best tunes in the series are in this volume like the theme song. This Will Be The Day is a song that I have heard well over 100 times at this point and it certainly never gets old. It’s very fast paced and gets you psyched up. Then we also have Red Like Roses II and even just the normal instrumental tunes that show up. The animation was pretty simple and not too detailed here, but it really showed up whenever an action scene would pop up. It’s a really balanced volume.
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Next up was Volume 2. Now that the heroes had scored their first win against the villains they were ready to try again. The first half of the season follows their attempts to shut Torchwick and his cronies for good. We also start to get some set up towards events in season 3 like the villains big move and the tournament. They also squeeze in a school dance and even an invasion. Season 2 throws in a bunch of new characters and has a lot of fights so it’s definitely the logical next step from volume 1. It’s essentially better in every way which is always how you want a show to be. It should get better with each season.

The animation has noticeably improved from season 1 as everything just looks more modern. This translates really well into the fight scenes as well. We get some of the best fights in the series here like Yang vs Neo or the team against Torchwick. Each half of the season has a nice climax and there are no bad episodes here. Well, the whole series has never had a bad episode so that goes without saying. We got some new tunes to write home about here as well like the great opening, Die, and Sacrifice. Little did I know that the series would get even better.

Season 3 is the absolute peak for RWBY and a major part of why it is the best show. The tournament finally starts up and lasts for the majority of the season. Then the villains finally make their big move which leads to a lot of fights. Almost every big character who was referenced or introduced earlier gets to have a nice role here as well. The episodes also start to get longer in this season which is good since the ongoing plot starts to take root here. We are introduced to the concept of the 4 maidens and the relics which is what the rest of the series will likely be about. At the very least the next 2 volumes are about this plot and it stands to reason that volume 6 will follow suit.

The animation is at its best here for the fights as my personal favorite match happens. (Yang vs Mercury) Divide is really a highlight song for this volume as well and it works perfectly for the end credits. The climax of volume 3 is also the most ambitious yet as we finally get to see what some high level fights look like. By high level I’m not necessarily referring to animation as they’re all high level up to this point, but in universe what some of the stronger fighters can do.

Then we move on to volume 4 which definitely gets pretty interesting for the series. Unfortunately I’d say that this is around the same where the series got really mainstream. This one decided to go for an even more plot based approach with minimal action. The animation style was also completely overhauled and so we lost 2/3 of what made the original seasons so amazing. We still did keep the solid soundtrack though and while we lost the pacing, things do get intense when they finally happen. Volume 4 is easily the weakest season for me, but theoretically it is meant to help Volume 5 be even better since the whole volume is set up.

Volume 4 isn’t completely devoid of fights either. We get Qrow vs Tyrian which is known as one of the best fights in the series and I would absolutely agree with the consensus. Then there is also the season finale fight against the Nuckle which isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but it is certainly a fight. I’d say that the season had 4 real fights which isn’t half bad. The actual animation does look sharp so it’s not as if the overhaul was a strict downgrade. On the contrary, the character models are on point. Everyone basically looks the same except for Ruby and now they’re in HD. The real problems with the animation is the facts that the animators don’t seem to know how to use it.
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There were a lot of behind the scene issues here and I also suspect that the show was trying to nerf all of the characters a bit to mask their animation inexperience. The characters go from being incredibly fast powerhouses who felt like DBZ characters to suddenly being very mortal. Their attacks lack any actual impact anymore and they seem to have trouble with monsters that wouldn’t have stood a chance back in the day. As big a deal as it was in volume 4, I’m afraid that these issues would rear their head even more in volume 5. 4 also made sure to cram in as much exposition as possible to the point where it would take them 5 minutes to say something that you would figure out in 1. This may be my least favorite volume, but it’s still good on its own. It would probably just be a 7 as opposed to a 9 much less a 10. As far as the soundtrack goes we were introduced to Qrow’s new theme which is definitely very solid and Yang’s theme from the end credits which still ranks as my favorite song. A close second is the first volume’s intro with Divide being third. This is the End could end up passing those once the full version is released though. I also liked Weiss’ song “This Life Is Mine” which was another standout hit. The franchise has never had a season go by without some new epic songs.

Then we have volume 5. Here we finally get the big payoff as the heroes and villains have their first confrontation since volume 3. The battle for the next kingdom finally begins and we have our first Maiden battle. Naturally the big hype for this volume is that team RWBY is finally together. Maybe that’s another area that hurt the last volume. Seeing Mercury and Emerald get to fight again was pretty fun as well and as a whole the volume was just a lot more epic than the last one. If we had the same level of fight quality as volume 3 then 5 would have had a real shot at being the best.

The problem here is that the lack of fights is even more glaring than in volume 4 and likewise with the nerfs. Everyone seems to fight in slow motion for the most part. Compare Yang’s fight against the bandits to her fight against the gang members in the original Yellow trailer. The volume 5 fight just doesn’t look impressive at all. The choreography may look nice, but there’s nothing impressive about how quickly she is taking them down. In the time it takes her to beat one guy she has probably steam rolled 2-3 in the yellow trailer with a flurry of more powerful blows. This may have all been to make the Maidens look more impressive. I heard that the big fight at the end took 6 months to animate. I am really hoping that this isn’t true. While it does give a concrete reason for why the fights have come to a halt in the later volumes, it would just be a bad sign for future seasons. We need every fight to look like the final one, not just one per volume.

I also do have to admit that volume 5 wrecked the climax. “The More The Merrier” is definitely one of my favorite episodes in the franchise as it perfectly set up all of the fights. Yang vs Mercury, Qrow vs Raven, Ruby vs Weiss, etc. When the episode ended we even got a conclusion to one of the fights so you expect the rest to continue. The problem is that they don’t. None of the fights ever actually happen as it cuts away every time and we just see the aftermath. It doesn’t even make sense half the time as in one scene the heroes are basically out of energy and getting obliterated and in the next cut it is the exact opposite. The power levels also got quite wonky by the end and the way Raven’s plot ended in volume 5 was actually terrible. Volume 5 was still a lot of fun regardless and it was certainly hype, but it could have ended on a much better note. The soundtrack was great as always though. I did enjoy the new opening quite a lot and the song for Raven vs Cinder is definitely one of the best in the series. I think volume 5 may have introduced the largest amount of epic tunes out of all the volumes since we also got From Shadows Part II and the theme from Yang’s new trailer. Raven vs Cinder is also one of the best fights in the series so it shows that the animation is still on point. Volume 5 has a lot of replay value and you can definitely see the episodes quite a few times.

All right, it’s time for the bulk of the review which is looking at the large cast in the series. Brace yourself as I will talk about almost every character who had a reasonably large role or has survived and thrived as a meme like Pilot Boi. Naturally we should start off with the main character Ruby. From the first trailer you may have expected her to be a very intense character of few words who viciously finishes off her opponents, but she’s actually rather timid and mild mannered around others at first. This doesn’t apply when she is fighting off villains though as she eagerly jumps into battle in episode one against Torchwick and his cronies. That scene alone had me convinced that she would be a great character. She doesn’t back off when bickering with Weiss and always does her best to help everyone out. She didn’t blame Pyrrha for what happened to Penny which is good since that would have been an annoying plot and she put up a great fight against Neo and Torchwick. At the end of the day she is also a smart tactician and that is really what makes her a dangerous fighter. Once she finally masters her white eyes then she could be the strongest in the series or at least top 5.
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Next up is Yang who is the best character of the four. She can turn Super Saiyan when taking damage and tends to have the best themes as well. Yang has always been known as the power hitter of the group and tends to be trusted to take on the strongest opponents. In volume 2 she is left to face off against Neo while she takes on Mercury in volume 3. While she isn’t quite the strongest character in the series, I’d say that she is definitely the most powerful student. She wasn’t able to train much during volume 4 and it’s unknown if her robot arm will be as good as her old one (I’m inclined to say that it isn’t as good) but it’s safe to say that she has retained her rank among the other fighters. Yang didn’t look good during volume 4 with her depression subplot but by volume 5 she is over it and finally back into the fight. I’m looking forward to seeing her get some more fight scenes as Yang is still my favorite hero in the series and 3rd favorite character overall.

Weiss was Ruby’s rival for a little while and definitely was the meanest of the group. It basically comes with the territory of being rich and gifted with immense power. She eventually learns how to be a team player though and probably has the best synergy with Ruby. They tend to pull off some really good combo attacks like the one against the Nevermore or their overall strategy against Torchwick’s robot. She has transformed from a close range fighter to more of a long range summoning specialist over the course of the volumes. We haven’t gotten to see Weiss fight all that much compared to the others, but it’s fair to say that she has the potential to be the strongest member. Her elemental abilities and glyphs already make her a dangerous opponent so throwing in the summons makes her a fighter who can be lethal at any range. I’m still a little upset that she was defeated so handily against Vernal, but since she wasn’t really able to practice or spar at all for a very long time, I can buy into the excuse that she was rusty and out of practice. All of team RWBY (minus Ruby) have had really extensive character arcs so it’s a little bold to say that Weiss has had the most development out of all of them but a case can be made in her defense. Either way she is definitely a great character and the 2nd best member of Team RWBY.

Finally we have Blake. She’s probably dealt with the most issues out of the team as she had a tough childhood and basically now has to assume command of an army at a young age. As she is a Faunus she has superhuman levels of ability but at the same time she has to deal with all of the social stigmas of being part animal. Blake is my least favorite member of the cast since she ditched everyone to run away from the villains in order to save herself. Sun eventually talked her out of it, but I was never really able to get around that. I can understand why Yang was so upset at her even if the two eventually made up. Hopefully that’s the end of that plot so in volume 6 we can skip ahead to the epic fights. Blake was hit with the nerf hammer the hardest though along with everyone in her plot like Adam but more on that later. I think what hurt Blake a little as well was her incredibly long subplot that took up a big chunk of seasons 4 and 5 with a bunch of characters that I didn’t care about either. She’s a good character overall, but was definitely at her best in volume 2 if you ask me as she desperately kept searching the city to destroy Torchwick. She had a tangible goal there and really worked to get to it. Here she now has an army and can cross large distances in impossible times to help foil an invasion but she still doesn’t seem to have the same drive and intensity that she used to have. Now if she could get a little stronger for volume 6 that could help her. It will be very tough to pass any of the other 3, but that’s not really a bad thing since they are all very solid characters. Someone has to be last after all.

We looked at team RWBY so now it’s time to look at JNPR. Pyrrha may not have been the leader of the team, but she was their best fighter so I’ll discuss her character first. For many series there is a character that I place as my favorite before properly watching the series like Gaara in Naruto, Piccolo in DBZ, etc. Pyrrha was the character that I chose in RWBY and while she did get surpassed by quite a few characters she is still certainly one of the best ones. Her fighting abilities are on such a high level that she was considered to be a prodigy. Pyrrha is also one of the nicest characters in the series and tries to defend Jaune when people make fun of him. Her big fight at the end was great and she never really had a bad moment in the series. It’s just a shame that she couldn’t have appeared more than she had.

Then we’ve got Jaune who is basically the polar opposite of Pyrrha. He isn’t particularly talented at anything and as a fighter he is one of the worst in the series. He isn’t very fast or strong and is basically a human fighting among heroes. Surprisingly he has yet to get a power up at the moment, but as a result he also wasn’t nerfed when everyone else was so that has helped him close the gap a bit. His speed now seems to be on roughly the same level as everyone else. He does have a healing ability in his back pocket which is sure to be helpful as well. He was a really solid comic relief character for the first 3 volumes. Now he is more of a quiet rage character who blows up when the villains appear. He definitely works well in both roles but he desperately needs a power up at some point.
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Nora and Ren had a high bar to get over since Jaune and Pyrrha were so solid. They never quite make it up there, but they aren’t bad characters. I guess they just don’t add much to the story. Nora is always fairly cheerful and is low key known as one of the stronger fighters in the school. She has a lot of raw power at any rate and while she doesn’t tend to take anything too seriously she does know when to turn the comedy switch off when necessary. I do think she is basically irrelevant at this point as far as the power levels are concerned, but her fans will be happy that she gets her moment in volume 5. Then we have Ren who suffers from the same issues as Nora. In his case he isn’t the super cheerful character, but the quiet one. As a result he tends to be a little slow on the uptake and gives the characters obvious exposition or just acts as a nuisance. His past traumatized him quite a bit so he was ready to desert Ruby and Jaune just to get out of the area. Later on he gives a big speech on what the meaning of character development is. Maybe if Ren gets more screen time that isn’t him just talking that would help as he had some potential when he briefly fought against Tyrian. In theory he has more proper hand to hand training and warrior skills than some of the other characters, but it never seems to be all that important. He’s not my kind of character, but he’s not bad.

It’s time to look at the first big villain of the series, Torchwick. Torchwick is a great villain and certainly one of the best ones. He manages to balance out his sarcastic humor with his more intense scenes to become the great villain that he is today. Considering that he seems to be a normal crook with no aura or anything, it’s actually very impressive how well he fights. He was holding his own against Blake and Sun. Later on he was even giving Ruby a good run for her money. He’s definitely a villain who steals the show during every appearance that he is in and Torchwick will not be forgotten.

Neo was Torchwick’s right hand woman and she is definitely one of the strongest villains. She defeated Yang with absolute ease as she was just toying with the hero during the whole confrontation. After that she went on to overwhelm Ruby in their fight although it wasn’t as one sided as you would expect. Perhaps Ruby’s fighting style would be tougher to counter since she isn’t a hand to hand combatant, but the fight was too brief to really speculate on all that much. The show actually did a good job of balancing Team RWBY for a while there as they were all about equal overall but with different fighting styles so the matchups were very important. Despite being one of the best villains as well as one of the most powerful Neo surprisingly hasn’t done all that much in the series. She’s had 2 fights and that has been it. Hopefully she will return in volume 6.

Salem is the big bad. She’s the leader of the villain organization but hasn’t gotten to fight yet. She talks tough in the background though and it can be very reasonably inferred that her abilities are considerable. Honestly I find it hard to believe that she can keep up with some of the faster opponents while in that cloak and she always walks around as if she is very old. These can all just be red herrings though and I expect big things for when she actually fights. Salem’s definitely a very good leader for the villains though as her design and voice are perfect for the character. She feels about as intimidating as the embodiment of darkness should be.

Cinder isn’t the leader of the villains, but she is the figure head. She carries out all of Salem’s orders and is the face of the villains to the general populace. Her plans started very early on in the first volume even as we slowly learned the chain of command. She was a considerable fighter from the start and only grew stronger once she obtained the Maiden abilities. It’s easy to see why she is a fan favorite and I definitely like Cinder a lot as well. She is powerful and intelligent which is the ultimate combo as a villain. She even outsmarted Raven even if she wasn’t quite as powerful in the end. If her character arc has finally ended then it was still a very satisfying adventure. That being said, I would certainly like for her to return so we can get some more Maiden battles.
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Mercury is a really great villain who is certainly one of my favorites. Honestly the villain ranks are stacked with awesome characters like him, Neo, Torchwick, Emerald, Cinder, and Adam. So…pretty much all of the main villains from the early part of the series. Mercury actually ranks above all of them as my number 1 favorite character in the series. It’s hard to say exactly when that happened, but I just love that smug arrogance that he has. He looks and sounds like Sasuke as well which fits the character. It’s hard to say exactly how strong he is since he threw the fight with Yang, but at the very least he is quite high tier. It’s hard to say at this point if he is still stronger than each of the members of Team RWBY, but I’m inclined to say that they haven’t quite caught up to him. I feel like his role in the story is almost over though so hopefully he at least gets one more fight.

Emerald is Mercury’s partner and definitely doesn’t seem to like working with him all that much. They’ve been teaming up for quite a while though and usually have some fun banter going back and forth. What makes Emerald really shine is that she’s not only a great villain, but also performs very well as a fake hero. She’s really over the top with how cheerful she can be and would fit right in with the heroes if it wasn’t an act. Her illusion abilities are very hard to deal with and her close combat skills are also top notch. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her fight again.

Pilot Boi got to appear for a cameo in volume 4, but didn’t really get huge til volume 5. He was voted as the greatest RWBY character in the Reddit poll and I can definitely sympathize with them. He’s an incredible character and to say that he is just a meme would be doing the character a great disservice. Every line uttered by the Pilot Boi is gritty and to the point, but not in a bad way. He just lays out the facts honestly. He only cares about himself and his money so everything else isn’t his concern. Even Weiss knows better than to mess with the guy. There are a lot of fans who hope he survived the crash and I do as well. He needs to return and to get an action scene to prove that he is more than just a fad. Just listen to his lines and you’ll see why he is such an iconic character.

Then we’ve got Ozpin who is the head of the school and later inhabits the body of Oscar Pine. He is always very shady and likes to keep a lot of secrets. We’ve certainly seen this kind of character many times before and I’m typically not a fan. He is no exception either. Ozpin doesn’t think anything through. The whole point of the school he built was to defend the Relic that was hidden there from Salem by essentially having an army of powerful students there at all times. The problem is that he didn’t tell them about this or even how to fight since they all tries to run away when the villains showed up. He doesn’t tell Ruby how to use her powers and doesn’t even tell his teammates when they are heading into a trap. He is definitely a “The ends justify the means” character who would fit right in with the villains. He can’t be trusted if you ask me.

Oscart is an interesting character as I thought his name was Oscar, but the credits of volume 5 corrected me. I guess I’ll spell it the easier way anyway though. He’s a rather annoying character for many reasons. One of those reasons is that he doesn’t know anything so the show has to waste time explaining basic concepts to him like aura and how to fight. He has never trained before, but suddenly he is on the level of the other heroes thanks to Ozpin hax? I don’t like that one bit and he does quite a bit of whining and panicking throughout the show. He never develops into a good character and it’s taking him way too long as it is. Hopefully he is better for volume 6 as right now he just exists to make the power levels wonky and to be the Chris (Sonic X) of RWBY.

Winter is Weiss’ older sister and a very accomplished fighter. She has had a very minimal amount of screen time so far, but has still managed to become quite the fan favorite character over the years. Her fight with Qrow was very impressive and I would like to see her fight more in the next volume. Like Weiss she has quite a lot of confidence. Having her around to teach Weiss more would be good and she is just a solid character to have around. She will also help to keep Qrow in line and her presence would force him not to slack off. After all Qrow was clearly losing his touch in volume 5 as he got humiliated by Hazel. He looked so terrible in the whole volume that I have to wonder what the writers were thinking. Qrow is a very powerful huntsman who is fast and strong. He was able to compete with Tyrian after all. How is he too weak to even injure Hazel? His sword should absolutely leave a dent and then he is also too slow to dodge any of Hazel’s attacks either. Their mini spars were always just annoying and it’s been tough for Qrow. Don’t worry, he’s still a pretty awesome character though. His first scenes are still classic as he is always drinking and insulting everyone. He’s quite smug and knows how strong he is. Volume 3 was certainly his best volume.
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Next to Cinder, Tyrian is probably the most impressive of the enemy fighters. I would like to see him go up against Neo, but at the moment I would give him the edge in a fight. He’s definitely a very psychotic villain as he laughs a lot and certainly enjoys inflicting pain. His fight in volume 4 was really good and you have to appreciate how he likes to skip the talking and go right into the action. He’s vicious as you would expect a villain to be and from the cabal he is definitely the best member. Lets contrast that with Hazel who is the worst one. He wasn’t necessarily a bad villain during his early phase as he always talked with a soft voice and didn’t like violence. Then we learn about his sob story where his sister died and suddenly he turns into the Hulk with a mechanical edge to his voice. As soon as he became super bulky and slow I knew that he didn’t stand a chance here. Not only is his reasoning quite poor since it makes no sense, but turning him into the “strong but not smart” trope is never a good idea. Even his ability to block out pain isn’t a very useful one to have if you ask me as it can serve as more of a liability than anything else.

Back to the heroes we have Penny who is an android with super strength. She befriends Ruby and the gang and is also a pretty nice character. She can be a little naive being a robot and all though which doesn’t quite help her to rank with the other characters. Still, she pulls out all of the stops when it comes to the fights though and her battle with Pyrrha was also quite impressive. She may not have done a whole lot during the series but was a nice character to have around.

Raven is definitely one of the best villains in the series. It’s fair to call her a villain since she does murder a bunch of innocents even if I wasn’t too consistent in counting her as one during the review. She doesn’t really get to do anything until volume 5, but stopping Neo in her tracks just by appearing was a great way to debut. She looked terrific in volume 5 as she won every fight that she took part in and may very well be the strongest character in the series at the moment. Her ability to teleport is definitely a very potent one. Giving up the relic still makes absolutely no sense, and Raven’s plan to deal with Cinder was bad as well, but she’s still a great character. Raven may not be a great tactician, but she is a superb character and that’s what counts. She could potentially be top 5 as well, but there are probably 10 characters who are top 5 material which is why it gets tough.

Adam is another one of those characters and he looked great in the first volumes. He appeared to be a hype rival type character in the Black trailer and then ended season 2 on the most epic note possible. In season 3 he looked spectacular with how easily he defeated Yang and Blake. In Volume 5 I liked his new costume, but that was about it. He went from being Maiden level to going down to a single blow from Blake. It’s really hard to get back up from such a disgraceful performance. No matter, either way he is still a personal favorite character of mine and I would still say that he is one of the strongest in the series. You just have to ignore the plot armor/convenience of many moments during the V5 climax.

Vernal is one of the newest characters to show up, but she has already become quite solid. I gained a lot of respect for her during the fight scene with Weiss. Her choice of weapon is definitely quite good as it is basically a Tron disc like the one Tyrian uses. It can also shoot out laser blasts which is really handy. Her skills are the real deal for sure and I would like to see more of her in action although that doesn’t look likely at all. Her role may not have been huge, but it was memorable.

It’s time to look at the characters from Blake’s plot. First up is Sun who is the best of these characters. His best role was certainly in season 1 as he decided to help Blake out by fighting Torchwick. Right from the start he was a loyal partner to have at the ready. The romance angle started getting played up a little more in future seasons which wasn’t great, but at least he is always a solid character. He still seems to be quite a bit stronger than her and it’s impressive that he’s managed to keep up so well. He’s just a very solid character.

Then we’ve got Blake’s parents Kali and Ghira. They’re pretty reasonable characters and are much better than Weiss’ parents. They are pretty understanding about Blake’s running away and have totally forgiven her. They do a good job of managing their country and affairs while remaining grounded. Then you have the childhood traitor Ilia who decided to team up with Adam to destroy Blake. Well, you know how I typically don’t forgive traitors. Ilia falls into this same hole as the heroes forgive her almost instantly, but I can’t. She was perfectly willing to destroy everyone and would have done so if she wasn’t stopped. You can’t just shake your head and allow her back into the fold so easily. She’ll have to really prove herself to become a better character. There were also a bunch of random villains in this mini arc who forked for the two fox brothers, but they were all very weak and expendable. One of the hype villains got one shotted by Kali who was holding a tray! That’s when you know that the villain can’t be taken seriously.

Finally I’ll mention some of the more minor characters that I almost skipped. We have Glynda who is the first huntsman that we see in the series. Her abilities haven’t really been explained in universe yet, but I’m sure someone has figured them out by now. They seem like transmutation or time alteration, but either way she always looked impressive. That’s why I am hoping we see her fight an actual opponent at some point since surprisingly that hasn’t happened yet. We’ve also got Ironwood who has seen a little more action than her. He seems to be a bit of a Superman figure with how he talks and the design. However, the series is hinting that he could become a bit of a villain as he gets more and more desperate to protect his kingdom. He also has 2 seats on the council and may get corrupt with power. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but at the very least I am definitely a fan of his at the moment. Neptune deserves a quick mention, but honestly he never contributed much except towards the dance plot. He’s not a good character honestly and would probably rank as one of the worst in the series. He’s not funny and we don’t need one of those characters who is always flirting in this show. I can see why he was written out so quickly.

Oobleck is one of the teachers at Beacon and he has super speed along with a close range fire gun of sorts. It’s a pretty interesting weapon. He’s not a bad character, but never really does all that much as he makes sure to vanish before the real enemies show up. Port is another teacher and he gives some decent life lessons. He can be a little annoying though as his scenes drag on so fortunately he doesn’t appear much. Then we have Taiyang who is Ruby and Yang’s father. He seems like a decent fighter, but he will probably be more impressive when we actually see him get to take on a villain. I’m expecting big things from him since he was on the same team as Raven and Spring. Considering how good a fighter Yang was back in the day I don’t agree with Taiyang’s analysis that she uses her Super Saiyan mode too much, but I guess as long as he snapped her out of her depression I’ll let it slide.

Then we’ve got Cardin who was the big bully for season 1. He never really shows up again after that, but he was an entertaining guy. Cardin was certainly clever though and manipulated Jaune and the others like a champ. Flynt was a pretty good fighter from the tournament who actually managed to take down Weiss. His fighting abilities are nothing to scoff at and I liked his theme music as well. I was less impressed with his partner Neon, but I suppose she had fun during the fight so that’s nice. Maybe if she trash talked a little better or just didn’t talk much then I would have been more of a fan.
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Then we’ve got Junior who was humiliated by Yang. He’s not a great character at all, but he is surprisingly brave as he stood up to Yang after she demolished all of his men. His two subordinates were great though as the twin dancers really gave Yang a run for her money. Then we have the original Spring Maiden Amber. She was clearly not a great fighter as she was beaten rather easily even though a Maiden is supposed to be crazy strong. She should have practiced more and I question what she was doing all by herself anyway.

Lionheart is one of the more recent villains and he’s definitely no good. He’s not meant to be an interesting villain anyway though as you’re supposed to notice how cowardly he is and then shake your head. There aren’t really any good qualities about this villain and it doesn’t help that he is also super weak. Watts is one of the members of the villain group, but he has yet to fight. Still, he is a solid villain so far as he really likes taking shots at Cinder. He always knows just what to say and that’s why he also needs to be a good fighter just to make sure that he can back up the tough talk. Sienna was the leader of the White Fang who was hyped for quite a while so it was rather funny how her plot ended. She was a good character, but definitely not a particularly smart one since she didn’t seem to see any of the events coming before they happened. Finally, there is also Adam’s right hand man who fought Weiss during season 2. He never got to get a final fight to finish up his character arc, but from how decisively he was able to defeat Weiss we can tell that he is very powerful. It would be great to see him fight again, especially since the character has no name at the moment.

You can probably accurately surmise how I rank all of the volumes at this point, but I’ll spell it out anyway. Volume 3 is still definitely the best one. It had a large tournament which I am a huge fan of and the best climax. Volume 2 would be my next pick as the fights were top notch as always while still embarking on more of a plot. The third highest is the toughest pick as I go back and forth with them at times. I think I would actually go with Volume 5. Whether it is recency bias or volume 5 having more of a plot and a lot of epic scenes, I have to give it the edge here. Missed opportunities aside, they don’t take away what the show actually did right and it certainly still held up the proud standard of quality that RWBY stands for. Volume 1 is close behind. It’s still very nostalgic with the retro animation and Blake’s battle against Torchwick holds up really well. Finally we have Volume 4. A good volume, but one that could have certainly benefited from better pacing.
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Overall, Now you see why I say that RWBY is the greatest show of all time. I don’t have to go over the soundtrack and animation again like in most reviews since I already touched upon it in each of the volume sections. They are absolutely top notch and it’s hard to imagine that it used to be more of a fan project. I’ll have a review for RWBY volume 6 when it finishes so you don’t have to worry about waiting for another 5 volumes before I churn one out. I’m definitely expecting big things from volume 6 and won’t be satisfied unless it is able to at least crack the top 3 from the volumes. At this point the action should be coming fast and hard with enough subplots and loose ends to keep the pacing quite frantic. Naturally in a show this long it’s hard to express everything about it, but I feel like I’ve gotten all of the major points. I definitely went from not knowing about the franchise to being obsessed with it in a short time. Ah well, only about 6 months until RWBY returns so that’s not so long. That’s not the end for my reviews on the franchise though. In the mean time, I’ll also be reviewing RWBY Chibi once the latest season ends and RWBY manga that should be coming out soon.

Overall 10/10

Sonic Boom Review

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The first time I started watching Sonic Boom I knew that I had a winner on my hands. The series is the perfect blend of action and comedy. Due in part to the solid animation and naturally the strong writing as well, Sonic Boom is one of those all star titles that is not to be trifled with. It’s rare to see a comedy centered show actually be really funny throughout as opposed to once in a while but Boom pulls it off.

The basic plot of the show is that a group of friends live on an island. Their names are Sonic, Amy, Sticks, Tails, and Knuckles. This town is fairly isolated so the friends have to try and not get tired of each other or the fact that there is only one eatery in the entire town. They just have to learn to live the sub par food. Meanwhile, we also can’t forget about the evil Dr. Eggman who uses his evil inventions to try and conquer the town or sometimes to fight off tax corruption. One thing is for sure, there is always something happening in this show.

Sonic Boom may be a CGI show but the animation is so smooth and colorful that it is basically on the level of hand drawn animation. The character designs are really on point. At first people did make fun of some of the designs like Knuckles and Sonic but you quickly get used to them. The bright animation works well for the action scenes as well as the back and forth banter. It’s very versatile. Then there is also the solid soundtrack. It’s quite large as some episodes will have guest star montage themes. The normal everyday themes work well too and one of the big ones is the theme that plays when Sonic fights Shadow for the last time. It will keep you guessing throughout the show and that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

The writing is certainly 5 Star material as the jokes just work so well. Part of it is the delivery of course, but you also have to give credit to the script for coming up with the jokes. In particular Sonic and Knuckles tend to get all of the best ones although every character has their moment. Eggman naturally gets a lot of time to shine as well with all of the banter between him and Sonic.

One thing you’ll also notice about Sonic Boom is that the show can get serious when necessary. Not all of the serious arcs may have always worked out, but for the most part they were pretty hype. The final two part event for the series certainly brought in the hype as Shadow’s battle with Sonic was as good as it gets. We haven’t had many battles with the two characters so it was cool to see them go at it. Shadow certainly had the edge in the fight which certainly makes sense since his speed is comparable to Sonic’s plus he has his chaos abilities like teleportation. It was fortunate for Sonic that Metal Sonic showed up and that fight was certainly epic as well. He was really doing pretty well against both of the hedgehogs even though he was outnumbered. The best part of the episode was still the early part though as Shadow’s takedown of the main cast was particularly brutal and showed him to be a legitimate threat. He did have a rather similar role in both seasons, but because his screen time was rather rare and limited it never actually felt redundant.

All right, let’s look at the cast. Sonic is essentially the perfect lead as he acts just like his hand counterpart, but dialed up to 11. This let him bring in a lot of snappy dialogue while still wrecking everyone when it came time for combat. This is definitely the Sonic that I remember from the games and his character is really done Justice. Whenever he faces off with someone you basically know that he is going to come out on top. Occasionally he will even subvert whatever the message of the episode was on account of being so talented. That just goes to show his skilled he is. He also does a good job of insulting everyone without being all that mean about it. He just tells it like it is and manages to look cool while doing so.

Knuckles certainly isn’t a very smart character and the show makes this as extreme as possible. Such an exaggerated character would certainly be either a big hit or a disaster and fortunately this portrayal was spot on. I think what really sells the character is how absolutely confident he is of being right. If someone tries to correct him Knuckles will typically put on a smug expression and explain why they are wrong. He has delusions of grandeur and at times he has gotten so big into his own ego that he ends up forgetting his bonds with the others. Knuckles is a nice guy, but one who just can’t cope too well with being the head honcho. He is still the power hitter of the team as well so you want to have Knuckles on your team.
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For Tails, it’s an interesting case because rather than simply play up the genius angle, they play up the “genius wannabe” card. He is consistently shown to not be as smart as Eggman in this version and his inventions have to be fixed many times. Still, he does send up saving the day a lot through his inventions as well so it basically cancels out. Tails is a good character and he also has a bit of a rivalry with Sonic at times which is pretty fun. Sonic tends to come out on top, but the same can basically be said for all of his rivalries in the show (except Shadow) so that’s not bad. Tails’ best invention was certainly the one that could make clones of the individual. That’s a useful piece of tech for any situation.

Amy has her girl power sticker on for the show and loves to remind Sonic that not all problems have to be responded to with violence. Although, she is typically the one to jump into a fight. Her split personality is played up a lot in the show and makes her a character that can be feared by others aides. You just don’t want to make her angry. Her part time job as a psychiatrist also makes for a lot of entertaining scenes. She may be a little on the gullible side, but she is also the hero who gives the villains the benefit of the doubt more than the others which is surely a nice thing to do. Sonic never tends to buy into the villains actually having a change of heart in this show for better or worse.

Sticks was made up for Sonic Boom so it was always going to be interesting to see what route they took her. She is the big conspiracy nut of the series and spends a lot of her time yelling and trying to tell the cast what is actually happening. Her refusal to use technology does come in handy at times like when the villain tries to mind control everyone through the TV. Such tactics won’t work on Sticks. In a fight she does appear to be the weakest member but it’s not all about strength when you’re looking at a character. She’s definitely not one of the best members of the main cast, but she’s a reasonably solid member of the team:

Then we’ve got Eggman who is definitely a very important character in the series. He keeps everyone in check and seems to have a fairly formalized deal with Sonic that he will attack the town every week or so. They reference these plans quite a bit. Of course, a Eggman does sometimes switch things up if the town gets on his nerves. It’s not a great defense but if we’re being honest the town can be pretty annoying. They’ll try to cheat you out of money or cut out in line. Other townsfolk will try to guilt trip you into helping them and the mayor is absolutely corrupt. Some characters may just sit there and take it, but not Eggman. In all of these instances I am actually rooting for Eggman since he just seems to be in the right. It’s the town that really needs to change, not really Eggman.

Shadow only appears in 2 different stories but they are both quite good. He sounds intimidating for sure and just isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Especially when you consider how strong he is. Shadow may be a little gullible which is an unusual trait for the character and the only one that doesn’t work well, but he looks really good beyond that. His style of chaos control based combat is always fun to watch. As Sonic Boom surprisingly didn’t use guest stars all that often, it made their appearances even more special than usual.

Then we have Dave the Intern. Well, he has many jobs to be honest but he is most well known for his time over at Metburger where he sells fast food that isn’t healthy for you and the ingredients are also very suspect. He tends to get everyone’s order wrong and you run a risk whenever you go inside. So why do people eat there? Well, it’s the only food place in the small village. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and you wonder why the heroes would even live in such a village. There are probably quite a lot of fun theories about this, but I like to think that they are just trying to lay low for a little while. They don’t want to have to constantly be fighting so this was a way to get some r n r, but Eggman showing up definitely broke that plan. Dave is a really fun character thanks in large part to how his voice sounds. He clearly doesn’t want to be at the burger shop and has a lot of goals. Dave just isn’t particularly skilled enough to pull any of them off.

Another fairly big character in the show is Eggman’s twin brother robot from another dimension. His name is Morpho and his accent is certainly on point. I imagine that it must have taken a while to perfect it. He uses his shape changing abilities to great effect as he makes it hard for the heroes to trust each other. Eggman’s mother was also a quality character as she kept everyone in line. The supporting cast is just so great in this show and all of them get their due screen time. Even the old lady who is always losing her baby manages to be a solid character. There’s also a whole group of villains who work at the club house who are sort of like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the evil version.

For other guest stars, we’ve got Metal Sonic and Vector. It was a surprise to see Vector show up, but definitely a nice one. He’s not one of the coolest Sonic characters, but it was certainly about time that he got to be in something animated again. Metal Sonic was awesome as expected with his abilities still being top notch. Eggman’s lackeys Cubot and Orbot show up constantly and while their comedic moments don’t work quite as well as some of the others, they have their moments. It’s hard to totally be a bad character when you’re in this show. Even relatively weaker characters like the girl fox who showed up a bit and the old man who guilt trips everyone are more passable than they usually would be.

What really brings the humor home for Sonic Boom is how self aware it is with the characters and what is happening. When it pulls off homages to old sport films or classic moments in the Sonic franchise it works because the writers clearly know what they are referencing. Research was certainly being done on this show throughout. Superman is naturally referenced as well which is hype. Sadly the show did not last long enough for us to get to Super Sonic, but I like to think that the next season would have managed to squeeze that in at some point. There are so many more possibilities for episodes here.

In the end I’d definitely have to say that this is the best Sonic TV show. Sonic X isn’t far behind and then from there they all get rather close. I’d give the original Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon third, Adventures of Sonic 4th and then Underground would take a respectable last place finish. Sonic’s never really had a bad show before and that’s a credit to how good the franchise is. The original movie was excellent as well and hopefully the upcoming one will continue the trend.

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Overall, Sonic Boom is an excellent show and one of the best non anime shows that I’ve seen in a long time. You could always expect high quality episodes from week to week. I’m still not a big fan of how many shows like to divide their episodes into 2 parts nowadays, but Boom pulls it off as well as it can. Hopefully it does get another season someday although its odds aren’t looking very great at the moment. I doubt the next Sonic show can surpass this one, but hopefully it is quite solid as well. So if you haven’t seen Sonic Boom yet, be sure to check it out asap.

Overall 8/10

Transformers: Titans Return Review

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It’s time for the sequel to the first Transformers Machinima show. The first one had some really cool atmospheric presence and a unique setting, but was held back by the extremely short run time and how much of it was wasted on nothing happening. It was a glimpse at a part in Transformers lore that you wanted to see more of, but couldn’t since it ended so early. With this sequel we’re thrown back in there. There’s less mystery and suspense in this installment since the smoke has cleared and it’s clear who the enemies are again, but we do get more action than the first season and more of a plot as well. I’d say that it’s an improvement over the first although I’m hoping the final season focuses a little more on the core Autobots and Decepticons in favor of the larger bots.

The first season ended with Windblade announcing that the Titans had returned and this season continues that. Trypticon has been awoken and what’s more, Starscream is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t keep control the whole time and only seems to pop in and out periodically but this is still a serious threat to the heroes. They are all still beat up and bruised from the last season so they haven’t had time to regroup. Metroplex and Windblade lead the offensive against him while the Combiners, Optimus Prime, and Fortress Maximum also prepare to join the fight. Meanwhile, Rodimus Prime has decided that he doesn’t want to be a prime anymore and goes off on his own. Megatron appears to be content to sit on the sidelines for a while and Overlord has popped up to take advantage of the situation. Quite a lot of plot lines are occurring here.

Optimus Prime looks pretty good as always. He’s on top of the situation pretty quickly and does his best to contribute in the fight. He’s a little outranked by the sheer size and power of the Trypticon, but still gets his hits in. He’s definitely portrayed as being the strongest normal size bot with Megatron being his only equal. I’m hoping he gets at least one big fight in the next season. Hot Rod unfortunately looks really bad. This is currently Cybertron’s darkest hour and he decides to get rid of the Matrix now? He doesn’t even tell anybody about it. As Hot Rod he can’t fight that well and is taken down pretty quickly. Maybe he had more fun, but it definitely does come across as incredibly selfish. Not really a cool thing to do.

Megatron seems like he’ll have a really big role in the next season since he is crucial to both the Overlord plot as well as the Megatronus one. They may even be playing him up as a temporary leader to the heroes which is sure to have a lot of the other bots riled up. He’s pretty great as per usual and I’m ready to see him fight on. Overlord hasn’t done a whole lot yet, but the show has portrayed him as a legitimate threat. It’s hard to say how strong he is because both enemies that he took down were either weakened or not really fighters to begin with. I expect he will be quite powerful though and likely you would need Megatron or Prime to take him down. Maybe Windblade could put up a good fight, but it’s hard to see her winning.

Metroplex is the first of the big heroes to take on Trypticon. He seems like a reasonably good robot but is lacking in personality. He also seems like a terrible fighter who completely relies on his size, but that may just be a side effect of the animation. He falls for every single one of Trypticon’s incredibly slow attacks. Now anyone can tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of giant fights and this is why. They’re moving so slow that everything should be dodgeable. Especially since Metroplex is humanoid and should be slightly more agile. Then we have Fortress Maximus who is a really bad character. It’s his duty to fight Trypticon and restore order to the planet but he doesn’t want to do so. He is basically forced into helping out after Windblade nearly dies in the process and still doesn’t fight too well. By this point Trypticon is already pretty exhausted. Of course, win or lose it wasn’t going to help Metroplex with his weak personality. Windblade is still a fun character and this continuity is her best portrayal. She’s less of a mysterious warrior here, but still talks tough to everyone. She doesn’t really get a chance to have a big fight this time around, but I suppose it makes sense since there weren’t many opponents in this season. She is still one of the best characters in the show and has a solid design. She just needs bigger guns when in plane mode since she never seems to deal any damage like that.

Perceptor gets a fairly big role here as Prime chooses him to wield the Matrix. I was never a fan of Perceptor, but I guess he isn’t bad here. He still can’t fight though and can be a little annoying as he isn’t very quick on the uptake. I suppose every franchise needs at least one scientist figure but when you’re one of the only characters in an action show who can’t fight…it doesn’t bode well. He’s probably my least favorite character by default. Meanwhile, Trypticon is a fun villain. He basically spends the entire season fighting opponent after opponent in a nonstop battle with no breaks. It’s a pretty incredible feat of endurance. While his fighting style isn’t elegant, it apparently does get the job done. If anything, the ending to his plot is actually very rushed and anticlimactic. You almost want to root for him by the end since the heroes were just throwing wave after wave at him. If he’s stuck it out for this long then he may as well take the win right? Fans of this character will certainly like how tough he looks here.
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Victorion and the Combiners still get a pretty big role in this season although they are largely ineffective. They actually get a brand new super form as they all merge but are still too small to really be of much use. The scale of the Titans really makes them live up to the title. You’ve got the normal bots, then the combiners who are about 2-3x normal size, then you’ve got the fused form which is probably 1.5x that and then the Titans which are 2-3x that. They’re quite large is what I’m trying to say. The Combiners are just annoying though as none of the members are smart and all they care about is fighting even when they are hopelessly outgunned. They just don’t have any plans in place at all and come across as reckless, but not in a cool way. They’re just cannon fodder.

The Mistress of Flame had some potential, but she really didn’t do much throughout both seasons. She will not be missed and didn’t even put up much of a fight in the end. She’s not bad, but always feels like this character could be interchangeable with anyone else. She is a ruler and that caricature is her only personality. I guess better to have a generic one than none at all right? Finally we have the big boss at the end of the series, Megatronus. He’s always been a really cool character who is even more of a final boss esque character than Megatron. His power is on a completely different level from most of the other bots and he is treated as one of the creators here. He has yet to look bad in any form of media that I have seen him in and this will likely be no exception. The series does have to be careful with the power levels rising so high though as having a finale filled with plot hax would not be a good idea.

The animation will still remind you of the classic PS2 video games, but not in a bad way. This style of CGI works pretty well as it feels like a video game which is preferable to CGI that doesn’t look like one and still isn’t good. The character designs are on point and the energy effects are pretty good. It would be nice if the fighting was a little faster though and I feel like that would improve if we had more of the normal sized bots fighting. That may be an optimistic thought though. I guess the animation just looks better when everyone is standing still, but I’ll still give it a thumbs up in the end. With all of the constant action going on, at least I was able to follow the fight scenes. There isn’t really a great soundtrack here. One or two good themes may show up, but you won’t remember them for very long. That’s unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. It would have been a nice bonus, but isn’t a negative.

It’s rare to watch a show where a whole season is essentially one long fight. Honestly, this may be the only time. Sure, we’ve had seasons where the whole thing is a long series of fights like DBZ or Bleach, but one long fight? I can’t think of any. Perhaps Goku vs Frieza was one long fight, but I’m not sure. If the animation was a little better and more streamlined then this could have gone down in history as one of the greatest TV shows ever. It was still a good concept though. What helps this title as well is that the writing is engaging. You’ll be interested in what is happening from start to finish. There are also no human characters around to distract from the fights and what is happening on screen which is certainly a good thing.

It’s almost going to be hard to go back to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons plots in the other shows. I suppose they never get old, but I’ve love to see more of an ongoing show tackle the futuristic era. Prime and Megatron should certainly stick around as main characters though. Writing them out isn’t a good idea when they still have a lot more to do. Even in this show, Prime leaves for 5 minutes and the city is in danger again. Considering that Windblade warned them in the last season it also does come across as a little odd that Prime would choose now to leave.

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Overall, Titans Return had quite a lot of action and the season went by quickly. I can see it going down as a cult hit in the future. As the only positive effect of having such short episodes, the pacing was always very quick so nothing actually dragged on. With all of the seeds already sown for the third season it should be interesting to see how it’s handled. If the episodes are the same length as they were for these last two seasons, At first I thought the series was possibly starting more plots than they could finish, but now it seems like it all actually could wrap up. Ideally it just won’t be rushed. I think the Overlord plot will be the subplot once again as Megatronus is the focus but there should still be enough time to satisfactorily complete both plots. Most likely then it’ll end with Cybertron in another rebuilding stage. Well, now the waiting game returns, but long story short, I would recommend watching this season. It’s not as if it’ll take too much time and it’s simply a solid action show. It’s really like watching a short movie or a 3 part adventure if you add up the run time of the episodes.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight Vanguard G: NEXT Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 9/10

Transformers Robots in Disguise Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Transformers Beast Machines Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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Considering that I’ve seen 3 full episodes of this show (The opening two part special and now Pinkie’s Pride) I felt it was time to add the show to the blog. I won’t have a review up until I’ve seen the whole show at some point, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that this show will keep up the high quality. It has pretty nice songs and solid action scenes as well. With antagonists ranging from the well meaning Cheese Sandwich to the evil Tirek, the show has a lot of variety. The title may not sound too impressive if you’re quick to judge, but it lives up to its reputation as an inspiring show. My favorite member of the Main 6 overall is Rainbow Dash, but Pinkie Pie is a close second who manages to surpass her at times. Twilight also manages to snag 1st once in a while with the other members of the Main 6 always being fun as well.

Overall 7/10