Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2 of Phi Brain. The first season was definitely a rock solid show. We got a bunch of great puzzles and in general it was a pretty unique show. I haven’t seen many like it so it was good to have the title return. While season 2 does retread some ground from the first season it’s definitely a great follow up. It’s not quite as good as the first season of course, but the quality is very close to that of the original.

The season also does start off with a bang. Kaito and the rest of the Phi Brains are hanging out at school when they are challenged by a new villain group. They call themselves the Orpheus Order and right off the bat they challenge the heroes to a group battle. Kaito and Gammon can handle themselves well enough but can the rest hold their own? The leader of the Orpheus Order is named Freecell (Or is he the leader?) and he seems to have some ties to Kaito from the past. Kaito doesn’t remember this guy or the promise he supposedly made. Either way Kaito has to stop these guys, but the Orpheus Order is more expansive than they can imagine. Kaito may need to call on his old friends from the POG for assistance.

I always like it when the villains make a move right away. Why bother waiting 20+ episodes to appear when you can storm the hero stronghold in under 10 minutes? It’s really impressive just how quickly they move. I also really like the idea of a team battle. It’s basically a 5 on 5 match as everyone plays a square related game. It’d be even cooler to have everyone moving at once, but logistically that’d probably be a nightmare so this makes sense. It’s still super tense because even if Kaito wins his round there is no guarantee that the whole team will win.

One advantage the season immediately has over the last one is that Kaito isn’t sidelined for every other puzzle. In season 1 there kept being a ton of different circumstances that would keep him out of a fight. First we had Cubik come out with something that prevented Kaito’s brain from activating, then he went through an emotional breakdown where he forgot how to do puzzles, etc. There were so many episodes where Kaito could have solved the puzzle easily but then something happened and he had a hard time. Here the only times Kaito is having a difficult experience solving the puzzle is because his opponent is that good. In season 1 a lot of the puzzles were 1 player, most of the ones in season 2 are vs puzzles so you’re actively fighting someone. It makes a huge difference on how you go about solving it this way. Even Nonoha gets to duel in one puzzle which was definitely interesting. Her photographic memory unfortunately isn’t too helpful in most cases, but she always tries which is good.

The Orpheus Order has quite a few members so lets quickly talk about them. First up is Freecell who serves as the main antagonist here. He blames Kaito for the death of his mother, but gradually we learn more and more about his full backstory. He makes for a good villain, but typically he’s at his best when Kaito isn’t around. For example, his confrontation with Klondike is his best scene. It’s awesome and one of the best moments in the whole show. When he’s with Kaito he gets a little more delusional and in some ways is just Rook 2.0. Overall I did think he made for a pretty great villain though. He may not have been the most original villain in the series, but the execution was on point. If anything it’s too bad we didn’t get to see him fight more. I wanted to see his new powers in action.

Then we have Pinochle who is definitely the worst of the group. He’s the kind of guy who goes for mindgames and intimidation right off the bat, but can’t pull it off. As a result he seems more like a try hard and never becomes all that interesting. It’s a shame since he gets some of the most development out of the characters. Next is Mizerka who also isn’t too great, but she’s a step up from Pinochle. She needs to have a use and so that probably makes her the most loyal out of all the members. So long as the leader gives her a task she is happy to complete it. Her character is tied pretty closely to Melancholy so you can probably expect that things don’t go too well for her. She also tends to get psyched out by Ana as Mizerka takes everything very seriously.

Next up is Doubt and since he’s Gammon’s rival you can imagine that he’s pretty solid. (For the most part all of the Orpheus Order members have a natural rival) He can fight which is handy and he always struck me as the strongest main member behind Freecell. By the end of the series it is strongly implied that this isn’t the case. Things actually get pretty dicey for Doubt in general in the second half. Still, I liked his confidence and as the tough guy of the group he served in his role pretty well. It took a while for me to realize that his name was literally “Doubt” though.

Then we have Melancholy who is pretty young compared to the other characters. Still, that isn’t to say that her talent is lacking in any way next to the others. She’s always confident and sarcastic aside from her final scene. I don’t think she really got any closure compared to the rest of the group so it’s a shame that Melancholy couldn’t have gotten one more puzzle battle. Likewise, Whist gets a lot of hype throughout but ultimately doesn’t really get to do anything at the end. He does have a lot of hype moments in between, but at the end of the day he didn’t have the breakout duel that you’d expect. The butler from season 1 was definitely more impressive in that regard.

Klondike is the head of the Orpheus Order so you definitely expect a lot out of him. His role is pretty small, but definitely very powerful. He instantly became one of my favorite villains in the series. The guy’s so good at puzzles that he reached Kaito’s level during his first time even trying one out. The guy’s potential is nearly limitless. He’s another character that I would have liked to spend more time with. I suppose there are just too many characters for them all to keep on appearing, but it’d be nice if he could appear again. I suspect this was probably it for him.

That wraps up the new villains here. Well, we have Ana’s sister, but she really didn’t add anything to the show. I didn’t even realize Ana still needed a backstory although I suppose maybe it was hinted in season 1? She has her big moment at the end of course, but for the most part she’s pretty forgettable. We do see the return of an old villain from the POG arc. I won’t say who, but his role here is pretty fun. Despite the fact that this guy is always whining, he can apparently fight as he actually takes down Doubt. It was definitely intense to see him again even if I don’t really get why the villains humored him for so long anyway. I suppose testing the villains’ loyalty and Kaito’s progression is always good, but I feel like there were other ways to do this.

Rook and Bishop may be on a quest to destroy all the puzzles of fools, but they do take the time to quickly show up here when Kaito is in trouble. Bishop never really gets to duel, but Rook has some nice moments. His tag team duel with Kaito was definitely pretty cool. It’s always fun seeing the old villain show up as more of a rival in the present. It’s a nice character development moment. It would have been nice to see Rook fight with Freecell, but I think that may have ultimately been too much for him. The other POG members show up, but only the celebrity member really gets to do anything. The rest just panic a whole lot.

From the supporting characters, Tamaki probably gets the biggest role. She has to step in as student body president and naturally the villains make a move. The season is long enough where there are several sections in the plot. At one point what the villains would do is go around mind controlling people. Tamaki ends up being one of those targets. Jikukawa as well, although his was a lot more epic. It made for an excellent cliffhanger when he showed up and challenged Kaito. The guy always had an interesting history as he was close to being a Phi Brain, but decided not to do so. I guess this was his chance to test all of that. I do think his plan to put on the ring was a little sloppy, but it all worked out in the end which is what counts.

From the Phi Brain children they mostly just get a role in the first half of the season. By the end they aren’t really able to help out at all and just stay on the sidelines. Ana’s role near the beginning is to annoy Mizerka and of course the whole thing with her sister. Cubik is heavily involved with trying to figure out how the rings work and Gammon tries to teach Doubt a lesson for involving his sister. They’re all pretty consistent with how they were in the first season. In that respect, Gammon’s the only disappointing one here just because he had such a big role in season 1. He was Kaito’s rival while now he is treated more like an underling. It’s clear that they are no longer on the same level. I suppose it was inevitable to an extent but it’s still a shame.

Nonoha still gets a big role of course as she is always ready to support Kaito. She also helps get Freecell to sort through his emotions in time for the final boss. She’s definitely an integral part of the story. Finally we have Kaito. As always he’s definitely a great main character. He doesn’t really suffer from the same levels of doubt he had in season 1. The mindgames still shake him up a bit from time to time, but for the most part he’s gotten past all of that. He’s now in a spot where he can just enjoy puzzles again. He’s definitely a fun main character and his aggressive nature towards solving puzzles has served him well. I’m glad he chose to do the puzzles without the armlet as well. In season 1 he basically surpassed it so that would have felt like a step back.

Naturally the soundtrack is still great as we have a lot of old themes that return. I do miss the classic samba type music that played though. I don’t even know what style of music it was, maybe Mexican? It fit really well for the tombs, but I guess with the change of scenery for season 2 the directors thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. Still, on the whole we get the rest of the epic tunes. Then for the animation it’s pretty consistent with season 1. The visuals are still nice and shiny. It doesn’t stand out too much in particular, but it all looks good I’d say. Most of these puzzles aren’t exactly made to look super flashy anyway.

I think one difference here compared to the first season which does hurt a bit is that it’s more up and down. I feel like season 1 was consistently excellent with high stakes while this one could fluctuate. At its best the hype moments were even better than season 1’s. The Klondike duel, Jikukawa turning evil, the big duels with Freecell, Rook jumping in, etc. These are all show stopping moments with how amazing they are. At the same time, then we have the episodes that feel like they’re just trying to buy time. These include moments like: Ana’s sister, Tamaki turning evil, the puzzle adventures on the island, etc. Not to say that any of these episodes are bad. They just feel like filler thrown in the middle to buy some for the villains to make another serious move. Since season 1’s episodes were mostly all introducing the characters and getting us to know them even the “filler” felt important. It’s a perk that season 1 has which is supposed to be countered by the fact that season 2 can just jump right in. It’s a good balance and as I mentioned before, the seasons are still very close.

Overall, Season 2 is definitely quite solid. I do like the idea of a villain group of geniuses. We do get some cop outs in terms of the whole group being Phi Brains, but the higher ups still delivered with the fights. Phi Brain will continue to succeed as long as they keep thinking of fun puzzles. Season 1’s were still more creative, but this season definitely had enough hype scenes to match 1. I look forward to seeing how season 3 stacks up. Who can possibly challenge Kaito and friends now right? Maybe there’ll be a super Armlet of Orpheus or something like that.

Overall 8/10

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Megalo Box Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent anime that came out. I hadn’t seen any boxing titles prior to checking this one out so that was definitely pretty cool. It’s definitely a quality title that does a good job of illustrating the kind of world Joe is in. It doesn’t lose sight of the main plot during this though so it consistently moves at a good speed. Really the only bad thing about the show is the opening and in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t mean a lot.

The show takes place in the future. Boxers now use cybernetic enhancements to fight known as “Gear.” It’s like a robotic backpack that extends to your fists. Some have it ingrained in their bodies while others use the basic gear. Joe has been fighting in an underground arena for all his life and he’s sick of it. He has to throw fights to win and as such he is unable to really test his skills. His big chance occurs when they announce the Megalonia tournament. He decides to enter and gets into the tournament with a fake id thanks to some help from his coach Nanbu. Still, the more Joe climbs up the ranks the more it seems like he can’t escape his fast. What will end him first? The top ranked boxer Yuri, or his dark past?

Right away you can tell that Megalo Box did a good job with the atmosphere. It’s going for a very realistic setting despite being in the future. For the most part it actually feels like the past, but it just shows the natural progression of how the rich have gotten even richer while the poor continue to fade away. It doesn’t go too far into making the place tough to look at either though. I’m not a big fan of deserts of those kind of backdrops because I like seeing the more high-tech areas. As such the best looking scenes are often in the ring or at Megalonia. Still, the show did a good job with the setting.

The soundtrack is also top notch. The themes all capture the moments that they’re placed in. They help up the intensity without feeling really forced or anything like that. It’s probably one of the best soundtracks that I’ve heard in quite some time. The animation is also pretty solid. It’s nothing extremely high end, but it’s all pretty smooth. I don’t recall any bad looking episodes so it was pretty consistent the whole time. It continues to give 12-13 episode titles a good name. They seem to consistently have some of the best animation, pacing, and music available. Something about only being 12 episodes seems to help enormously with the budget which makes sense. I think it creates a cycle where the best writers/animators try to get onto those shows and so they continue to excel.

As I mentioned, the show does falter with the opening though. It’s just pretty terrible which is surprising. It’s going for a meta look at Joe at a literal dog and other such stuff, but it doesn’t really give you a good impression of the show. If you showed me the opening I would have told you that the show was likely terrible. There’s just no potential in the opening or anything to grab your attention. The music for the song isn’t particularly catchy either. I definitely don’t agree with the approach the show was going for with this intro.

The character cast was solid so lets quickly talk about them. The best character is the reigning champ of Megalonia. His name is Yuri and he’s pretty much the rival/main antagonist all in one package. I like his confidence and he’s the kind of opponent who is fighting for something. He’s not just a random obstacle to face nor is he a boxer who turned crazy. The guy just likes a good fight and is also trying to reward the faith that the leader of the corporation put in him. He’s a good guy and also just wants a clean fight. He won’t accept a win any other way. We don’t get to see him fight much at all (mainly because of the show’s length) but he is definitely a scene stealer.

Then you’ve got Joe who was close to taking on Yuri for the top spot here. He’s always looking for a fight and is a very aggressive character. A lot of times the main character can heavily influence how good a show is and I think Joe also contributed to Megalo Box’s quality. When the villains try playing mind games with him Joe is often able to get past this without help. Where other characters would start guilt tripping themselves Joe is able to stand strong. A good example of this is when a guy who lost his legs in a war shows up to guilt trip Joe. Joe doesn’t buy it and after explaining that it has nothing to do with him just goes in for the win. Joe is fixated on getting to the top and doesn’t let anything get in his way. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any doubts or trials, but he does a good job of getting past them.

Then you’ve got his coach Nanbu. That guy isn’t quite as solid as the first two. Mindgames always work on him and the villains tend to have a lot of leverage on him so he’s not someone that you can really count on most of the time. He’s also got the toughest road to follow in the show as bad things seem to happen to him constantly. A lot of it is trouble that he really started though so you can only sympathize with him so much. Long story short, he’s a decent mentor character, but definitely not one of my favorite characters. Then there’s the kid Sachio who isn’t quite as bad as he could have been. He’s still a little out of place among the main members of the cast though. He isn’t nearly as smart or witty as the others so he ends up just being around to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get what is going on. I don’t think he ever really needed to stick around.

Yukiko is the rich leader of the company sponsoring the tournament. As such she does serve as one of the main antagonists. Unlike Yuri she is not about fair play and will succeed no matter what the cost is. Still, she is reasonable for the most part. She does share some of the usual prejudice against the lower class but is at least willing to provide a safe haven for the kid. She got a good amount of closure in the ending. Fujimaki is the leader of the thugs and someone who helps the main characters quite a bit. He’s an annoying antagonist who gets in the way a lot, but he is certainly good at his job. I was glad that the random villains couldn’t hack his fake ID so easily since that would have made him look bad. As it stands, his plan was pretty solid although expecting Joe to just backout at the end wasn’t too realistic. He’s easily the most evil character in the series. I think if Nanbu and Joe had talked to Yuri then maybe they could have avoided some of this, but it was a complicated situation.

Through his journey to the end Joe did manage to fight some other notable characters as well. There were two in particular. The first is Aragaki who was Nanbu’s first pupil. He has good reason to be upset since everyone basically ditched him. He’s still not all that reasonable though with how he’s targeting Joe though since he’s not just using him as a scapegoat. His fight is definitely an intense one though and one of the more memorable bouts in the series. Then there is Mikio who is actually a pretty great antagonist. He’d be second only to Yuri from the villain side. What really works for his plot is the fact that Mikio is a wild card. He wants to take down both Joe and Yuri while foiling Yukiko’s ambitions at the same time. This would also destroy all of Fujimaki’s plans. Basically if he wins then everyone else loses.

I always love it when a third party steps in. There’s just so many ways they can wreck everyone’s gameplan. Still, you’ll know right away whether he has any chance of succeeding just because there’s only so many wrinkles that a show can have before getting back on track. This isn’t the kind of show that’s going to subvert the ending to such a degree. From episode 3 or even earlier you know how the final fight is going to go down. There’s no room for someone like Mikio there. I did like his armor though and overall he is a charismatic fighter. This isn’t the kind of show that will likely get a season 2, but if it ever did I could see him getting a role.

As far as the ending goes, it’s pretty lackluster. Fortunately the rest of the show is solid enough where it doesn’t really matter but I feel like it did everything wrong. I don’t really like Joe’s intentions at the end. It’s not that they’re bad, but it seems really out of character. Was his final fight that intense/satisfactory? Then Yuri’s end is also really not satisfying at all. I felt it was pretty excessive. Nanbu’s life is also basically wrecked so that’s too bad for him. Then there’s the outcome of the final fight which I wasn’t a big fan of. The show goes out of its way to reassure you that the outcome would have been different if one of the fighters hadn’t done something drastic before it started, but I was still hoping it would go the other way. The conversation with the army that serves as a red herring also heavily hinted this was the case. It’s done intentionally to keep you guessing, but once you know the outcome then the conversation makes absolutely no sense. Ah well, the ending could have been a lot worse.

I do have one other complaint, but this one’s more about power levels. At the start of the show the gear is hyped up quite a bit. It’s considered madness to get into the ring without gear and expect to walk away with your life/the win. Well, when Joe does this for almost the whole series it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Sure, the punches hurt a little bit more, but that’s about it. I don’t know, I was expecting much more of a difference. It feels like everyone could just fight without gear without many side effects. Sure, as a competitor you take whatever edge you can in order to secure the win so it makes sense from a narrative perspective why they would use it, but the gear should offer more of an advantage. Joe could have still won by dodging hits. The irony is that he always takes a lot of hits in every match so if the gear was even remotely stronger than a normal punch Joe definitely should have been dead in several of those fights. So I think the gear mechanic wasn’t really handled as well as it should have been.

After all, the show was epic even without it. All of my favorite hype scenes didn’t even involve gear. One if the first confrontation with Joe and Yuri where they nearly spar. It’s an intense moment and while Yuri actually did have the gear on under his jacket, it’s just about Joe defying authority. I also liked the stinger with Mikio showing up to blackmail Joe and then the sucker punch. It’s too bad Joe couldn’t have fought him right there though. That would have been fun. Then we also have Joe crashing the announcement party to try and throw himself back in the tournament. Again, Joe’s just a great character who is always trying to get in on the action. It’s impressive how much he does in only a few episodes.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Megalo Box very highly. It’s a very complete anime title and one that has no real weaknesses. The character cast is strong and the anime looks/sounds very good. The plot is pretty memorable and the episodes offer great cliffhangers so you’re always ready for the next installment. Megalo Box does more to keep its events memorable in 12 episodes than some do in 26. It’s going to be very hard for another boxing anime to top this one. Not saying it’s impossible of course, but this one really knew how to keep boxing exciting and fresh.

Overall 8/10

Yu Yu Hakusho Review


It’s time to look at an incredibly well known anime in the form of Yu Yu Hakusho. This anime is one of the all time greats and after watching it I can confirm that the dub is top 5. Purely in terms of script it may be the best one yet. The anime really nails Yusuke’s character and makes him even greater than he was in the manga. (Where he was already pretty great) The show is definitely a very complete one and certainly an anime that you should find the time to watch. It’s fairly long, but that’s a good thing.

The basic premise is that Yusuke is a delinquent. He doesn’t like going to school and the teachers don’t like him. One day, he dies when saving a kid from a passing car. Yusuke’s soul did not pass on though and he was chosen as a spirit detective. Eventually he gets his body back, but the detective gig is still going on. Yusuke must now live a dual life as he fights off demons and would be conquerors while still dealing with school. Although, the first half takes up most of the anime as he rarely ever seems to be in the human world during the show. From the Dark Tournament to the big Demon Tournament, there’s a lot of epic action in this show.

Right away you’ll notice how great the script is. There’s enough memorable quotes to make long video compilations of them. Yusuke has dozens of amazing burns and zingers throughout. You know he’s gonna say something cool whenever he talks. I think part of what makes him so great is how he really isn’t afraid of anything. Even when he’s tied up he’ll talk about how the villain’s boring him. His humor can range from defiant to even edgy, but he’s always got something to say about everything. I’ve never seen such an amazing script before. He can pull off pretty much every emotion as Yusuke goes through a lot of sad moments mixed in with the rage and defiant ones. He also gets a lot of great character development throughout the series. It’s hard to believe he’s the same kid who began the series as a normal boxer and eventually goes on to Goku levels of strength. It’s pretty uncanny. I think Yusuke seems a little more merciful in the anime version than in the manga as I seem to remember him being quicker to try and axe the doctor there, but it’s been a while since I read it.

The animation is definitely really sharp. It only gets better and better as the series goes on. It has that distinct 90’s-early 2000s look about it. The colors are sharp and you can feel the power behind the hits in the fight scenes. The series also has fun using some experimental animation from time to time like Yusuke’s fight against the doctor or some of Hiei’s shadow dragon techniques. It’s nice that the series is confident enough to try these things out. Nowadays you don’t really see that very much. I mean, the experimental stuff usually doesn’t quite hold its own to the normal animation so it’s not a bad thing if they skip that altogether, but I don’t mind the attempts especially if they’re infrequent.

We also have to mention the soundtrack as that one is an easy 5/5. There are a lot of incredibly tense themes throughout the series. Pretty much all the top ones are in the Dark Tournament arc. I don’t know the exact names, but the anticipation theme from when the battles are about to start is always good or the feeling of unease theme when the villain powers up. The Sensui arc also had some solid tunes like Sensui’s theme as well. The final arc wasn’t quite as solid with the new themes, but by that point the series already had a huge selection so it’s not like it needed more.

Naturally a show that is over 100 episodes will likely hit some pitfalls along the way. There is some animal violence in the show via flashbacks as we learn someone’s sob story. There are also bits of the story that are pretty dark with torture and stuff. Almost surprisingly the series manages to avoid fanservice although in trying to make Yusuke a big delinquent we do get some dicey moments with him and Keiko. Even though they’re friends it can be a bit iffy. Still, 90% of the time the show avoids these things and it’s long enough where the positives manage to overpower these negatives. That’s a luxury that a shorter show would not have had.

After all, the show is not lacking in positives. Top notch dialogue and fights for over 100 episodes will do that to you. The show also has an incredible main cast and a lot of solid supporting characters. I already talked about Yusuke, but now lets take a look at the rest of his crew. First you’ve got Yusuke’s best friend Kuwabara. He starts out as a fellow delinquent, but gradually begins to hit the books more. Throughout the series a running theme is that he is trying his best to put down the fists and pick up some knowledge. At the same time he’ll never back down from a fight though and has a strong honor code. It’s pretty rough for him since he’s still just a human though and can’t quite keep up once the enemies start getting really high tier. He even missed out on the entire final arc as a result. He’s a fun character although from the main 4 he is certainly the weakest one both in strength and character.

Next up is Kurama, the brains of the group. He’s always thinking up a plan of action for the others, but can also fight quite well when necessary. He’s quite possibly the best executed brainiac type character. He’s not one of those smart characters who lacks common sense or is terrible at fighting. Part of being a top strategist is knowing how to defeat an opponent. He’s also got human ties which end up giving him a ton of character development. An opponent may get the upper hand against him temporarily, but this never lasts. Kurama always wins the end game.

Then we have Hiei, the best character in the show aside from Yusuke. He starts out as a villain very briefly, but then plays more of a Vegeta type role for the rest of the series. He’s probably one of the only characters who got a power boost from being good rather than evil. As a villain he was very weak, partially because the author likely hadn’t thought of what to do with him at the end. By the end of the series he is able to trade blows with all of the big shots. Hiei’s confidence always makes him a winner and makes for a lot of hype scenes. As I said, the core characters are very solid here.

Moving on to other big characters, we have Yusuke’s mentor Genkai. She’s far better than the average Shonen mentors like Jiraiya and Roshi. She actually knows how to fight and teaches Yusuke a lot of important life lessons. While she is old, Genkai is still able to fight with the stronger characters in the series. Keiko is the main heroine. She’s pretty solid although it would have been cool if she could have learned how to fight by the end of the series. She always protects Yusuke’s spirit animal though and never lets the villains get her into a hostage situation. She can take care of herself pretty well.

Botan is the more charismatic heroine though. Her accent is handled well and she does like trolling Yusuke quite a bit. She’s mainly here to drop off information from Spirit World or give the heroes a push in the right direction when they need it. Koenma is her boss, but he spends a lot of time panicking. He doesn’t actually intervene in the action until near the end of the series. He’s not really much of a fighter but his pacifier makes for a very powerful tool. It’s actually a very satisfying reason as to why he still uses one even though he’s grown up. I was blown away at this revelation.

Yukina is an ice princess who appears early on in the series and sticks around as a supporting character. While most of the characters know that she is Hiei’s sister early on that plot runs all the way through to the end as they keep it a secret from her. She’s not quite as outgoing as the other characters, but always presents herself in a very dignified manner. Rinku’s a yoyo user who’s definitely very confident. He’s not one of the more powerful characters in the series, but I suppose just making it into the Dark Tournament is enough to say you’ve earned the right to be confident. He’s not my favorite villain, but he’s not bad I suppose.

Chu is one of Rinku’s teammates and he is certainly a lot tougher. He definitely makes for good fight scenes although his character starts to go down towards the end of the series. Toya is a fierce ice ninja who’s definitely cool. There isn’t a whole lot to say about him but when the chips are down he is ready to help Yusuke. Jin is another ninja and he just loves a good fight. His accent is so strong that you might have a difficult time understanding anything he is saying, but that’s part of the fun with the character. He’s definitely eager and one of the more memorable characters from the tournament.

Then we have Younger Toguro who is certainly one of the most important characters in the series. He’s extremely powerful and serves as an impressive roadblock for Yusuke. He has a pretty solid backstory and his motivations for fighting aren’t bad either. Toguro is the kind of villain who does have an honor system while battling. I definitely think he wouldn’t have lasted long in demon world, but I think a part of him knew that from the start. He got greedy for power and paid the price, but it’s easy to see why he is one of the most popular villains. He certainly is cool.

Elder Toguro isn’t quite as solid. He’s definitely more of a trickster and is willing to achieve victory at any price. Definitely not a villain you want to turn your back to. You can’t deny that the guy is persistent though. With his regeneration and quick attacks he is one of the most deadly villains in the entire series. Not my kind of villain but he makes for good fights. Then we have Karasu who is certainly quick and manages to stay competitive in his fight even when up against Yoko Kurama. He’s slightly less engaging than the other members of Team Toguro but another big hit overall. Then we have Bui who has a really cool design with the armor. His weapon is comically large to the point where it seems impractical but that speaks to how strong he is. His fight with Hiei is definitely a lot of fun and we get a lot of DBZ visuals as well as abstract moments. He doesn’t talk much until the very end. Then we have Sakyo, who is the guy who orchestrated the events of the tournament behind the scenes. His backstory is definitely iffy and so he would have been a dicey villain had he not changed. Fortunately in the present he’s much better. He’s a tactician and not a fighter, but has the courage to stand next to villains who could wipe him out in an instant. Sakyo is ambitious and makes for a very interesting antagonist. He does give up a bit easy in the end, but definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Then we get to Sensui who is definitely an iconic villain. He’s basically insane and has a lot of split personalities. Sensui simply couldn’t deal with the pressures of being a spirit detective and so he became a citizen of evil. Still, he didn’t lose his tactical mind and what makes him such a dangerous villain is that he has super strength as well as a sharp intellect. He continues to get stronger and stronger throughout the arc and is definitely a villain that you’ll miss once he’s gone. He’s definitely one of the greats. He has a band of minions who all get a bit of a role. The smallest role likely belongs to Gourmet though. That guy just got too overconfident for his own good. He’s not nearly as dangerous as the other members of the group since his “Territory” abilities just aren’t too potent.

Itsuki is probably the only member of Sensui’s team who isn’t an underling. Without him Sensui’s plan wouldn’t have a chance and the ex detective knows this. Itsuki does a good job of maintaining the portal as well as buying time for Sensui. He’s not the most interesting villain, but he’s good at what he does. Minoru is a crazed doctor who worked as part of Sensui’s group. He’s probably the most psychotic as he doesn’t even care about the plan so long as he gets to murder people. There was definitely no reasoning with him. His episodes were fun though with the hospital being a very unique locale. You rarely see it being used for fights.

Kaname is definitely good with a weapon and gave Yusuke a lot of trouble during their fight. His ability is probably the most deadly in a typical situation since he has a ton of range. It’s hard to get close to him and he can shoot you at any time. If he fought almost anyone but Yusuke he might have won since even here it ultimately took a third party to stop him. Mitarai gets the most development from the group, but he also whines a whole lot so it’s a mixed bag. The guy ultimately sees the light, but I never became a big fan of the guy. He doesn’t really add much to the table. Then we have Amanuma who is a lot younger than the other characters and as a result it’s easy for Sensui to manipulate him. His end is actually one of the most tragic in the series. The kid was messing with forces beyond his comprehension.

Yomi is one of the 3 Kings and probably the one who gets the most screen time of the 3. He’s another master strategist as this series kept on its path to Hunter X Hunter levels of conflict. Like Sensui he is also ultra powerful though so don’t think that relying on his intellect is his only option. The voice they chose for him in the dub is perfect and he certainly commands the room whenever he appears. He’s always a few steps ahead of the other characters and seems to be ready for any angle. He only loses his cool once or twice during the series. I liked him a lot more in the anime than in the manga, maybe it’s just how the directing was or how they took the arc’s direction. Either way he was quite solid and so the series continued the trend of having great main villains for each arc.

Mukuro is another one of the Kings, although she is a little less impressive than Yomi. I think her character arc feels like it never had much of a final destination at times. By the time we get her origin story it’s pretty late in the game. Still, she’s a solid villain as well and we do get to see her fight quite a bit by the end. Then we have Raizen who lived and died by his ethics. At least he stayed strong so I’ll give him some props there. Still, I feel like he didn’t really handle any of his situations too well and ultimately came close to dooming his people. I never really became a fan of his in the end. There are quite a few other characters who show up in the final arc like Raizen’s friends and the lieutenants of each faction. The only one to get a really big role was Shigure I’d say. He definitely had a big part in Hiei’s origin story and made for an interesting wild card. The monks on Yusuke’s team were also interesting even if they did keep subtly saying that they were weaker than the other factions by a lot even once the tournament had started.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters but if you want to see them all then check out the show. There’s not a whole lot to say about the pre arc adventures, but pretty much every story part of Yu Yu Hakusho is interesting and a lot of fun. Again, it comes down to the fact that this show was firing on all cylinders in every area. Each arc is also pretty different. The Dark Tournament is awesome because of the constant fights. It embraces its shonen nature and adds in a lot of danger and suspense constantly. The way the rounds are handled is also a lot of fun as you never know exactly how the next fight is going to be structured. This also makes things difficult on the heroes since they don’t know what to expect either. There’s a lot of backstabbing going on here as well.

Then you have the Sensui arc which is a big tonal shift in the series. We get a lot of new themes that fit in with this. It started out on an awesome note as well with Yusuke being kidnapped. It’s handled in a way that really makes you anticipate the next episode. Whether you watch the show weekly or binge it, you’ll be at the edge of your seat. Yusuke’s first encounter with Sensui in the city is also epic. This arc had the highest stakes and the most tension in the series. You really never knew what to expect and while Dark Tournament is certainly still my favorite arc, this one’s also dynamite.

In comparison the final arc is a little weaker, but it’s still pretty excellent. I think I enjoyed the build up and first half more than the tournament ironically. There were just so many players and plot threads moving early on that it was a lot of fun. In a sense it all climaxed when Yusuke went to Yomi’s base to discuss things. There were a lot of ways that could have gone. The tournament was fun and all, but I did like the idea of a 3 way war for the demon world. I think that would have made for a more enjoyable arc, but it probably would have been super long as well so it makes sense that the show shifted gears. The tournament was still a lot of fun anyway even if for the first time there were no real stakes here.

Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is definitely one of the best anime out there. I highly recommend checking it out ASAP. The show is pretty great from the start, but it enters elite status once the Dark Tournament begins. That’s when the series really hits its groove. From there on the rest of the series continues to operate on that high level and never looks back. Even the transitions from arc to arc are incredibly smooth with new villains showing up and a lot of great fights. As the series is ending there are fights right up until the end. Whether we ever get a sequel or not, the series is definitely very complete. There’s so much to talk about in this series but at the end of the day you’ve really got to experience it yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

Overall 9/10

RWBY Volume 6 Review


It’s time to take a look at RWBY Volume 6. This show is still the greatest of all time and volume 6 is a real return to form in many ways. We get to see some old characters, questions from way back in volume 1 are finally answered and even the fight scenes are back to their prime. While Volume 3 is still the best, Volume 6 easily climbs its way up to being the second best volume. It’s just a great time to be a RWBY fan as we also have the current manga going and other projects lined up. It’s all most impressive I must admit.

Volume 5 ended with the team finally managing to secure one of the 4 relics. They now plan to go to Atlas in order to have Ironwood secure the relic while also getting a lead on the next one. Unfortunately getting there won’t be very easy as Salem’s group, Cinder’s Group, and other enemies all plan to stand in their way. Fortunately, team RWBY is finally united once more and together they can stand up against any force. Physical threats may not be what they should fear though as certain truths come out which force them to re-think their entire mission.

As always the soundtrack for this volume is quite amazing. RWBY has never had a weak volume, but that just makes this all the more impressive as it’s tough to just keep on churning quality tunes like this. The best themes are the Neo theme, Adam theme, and Miracle. Then we have other high quality songs like the volume 6 intro and the emotional theme for Pyrrha. The only theme that I’m not crazy about is the one for when the team fought the robot, but of course it was just a small sample so we’ll see what the full theme sounds like. It’s hard to say how the soundtrack stands up to previous volumes, but it’s definitely 5/5 star material.

Then we have the animation which is great. As I mentioned in the intro, the fight scenes have been vastly improved. We’ve already seen the potential that this post volume 3 animation style brings through dynamite fights like Qrow vs Tyrian and Raven vs Cinder, but Rooster Teeth seemed to be having some trouble really getting the heroes to fight the way they used to. Well, whatever they did between volumes worked as we get a dynamite action scene in the premiere and then we get other battles like Cinder vs Neo and Adam vs Yang which are top notch. As fight scenes are one of the reasons why the series got so big in the first place it’s great to see them return. It’s no small reason as to why the volume was so good.

Of course, then we also have the excellent writing to thank as well. The series has always been able to grab your attention with ease and this one is no exception. I’m definitely enjoying the plot and the character interactions are always on point as well. We’re finally getting most of the questions in the series answered to the point where it feels like we could reach the end game soon. As each volume is about as long as a movie I think we could reasonably end the whole saga by volume 9, but there are also enough supporting characters and sub-plots going on that it could last til way after that as well. Either way I’m cool with that. If any part of the writing can be a little weak it’s in the humor. The characters from Atlas seem a little too extreme at times. Calavera and her rival aren’t particularly amusing. Nor are the two bodyguards. Still, it could be way worse of course. I’ll take a little forced humor over crude humor gags which the show has always avoided.

A big character in volume 6 is certainly Adam. He got his own short before the volume aired and the writers hyped him up quite a bit. After 5 volumes of appearing once in a while, his character arc was finally going to end here. His character has had a very mixed history over the years. While he was well liked in the first two volumes, people started to lose faith in him by 3. Volume 5 wrecked him for most fans to the point where it was too late by volume 6. He’s still my favorite character in the series, but you can definitely see why he isn’t for everyone. I’ll probably write some kind of article on him soon so I won’t go too into detail here. He gave us some great fights in 6 and has solid dialogue throughout. He may not be a fan favorite, but he definitely works well as the big boss of the season.

Another character who got a lot of attention here was Salem and through her development we saw more of Ozpin as well. This was the longest episode in the season which makes sense because it finally told us the true origin of this end boss and why she turned to the dark side. It’s a very interesting episode and you ultimately have to decide who was right, Ozpin or Salem. Personally I was on Salem’s side. While the power did start to go to her head, she still stayed very sane and reasonable during that stretch. Ozpin is the one who decided to pretend that he was on her side only to try running away with their kids. If he had actually tried to talk to Salem face to face then I think they would have been okay. He’s the one who was very unreasonable here.

Ozpin is pretty content to work with the gods even though they’re the ones who messed up Salem in the first place and appear to be rather malicious. They did come close to ending the human race after all. You now have to question Ozpin’s decision to gather all of the relics as doing so will just bring the gods back to murder them all. Meanwhile it’s hard to say why Salem wants them. I’m hoping she is planning on attacking the gods or something which would be pretty cool. It’s too early to guess at the exact goals right now, but I’m definitely rooting for Salem to take down her rival once and for all.

Meanwhile this may be Ruby’s best volume yet. She’s really gotten used to her leadership role and this is the first time where we actually see her giving out orders. She’s stepped out from Qrow’s shadow and her character arc appears to be complete. She’s close to mastering her silver eyes as well which is good. Weiss gets the least development from the 4 in this volume but she already had a lot in 4/5 and it looks like 7 will be another big one for her so that makes sense. Blake and Yang get their closure with the Adam plot so that was important. Yang is effectively over her trauma now and Blake’s resolve to never run away again is confirmed. She’s definitely come a long way. While Blake is still my least favorite of the main 4, she could possibly pass Ruby for 3rd at some point. It was just her bad luck that this would also be such a great volume for the group’s leader.

For characters who didn’t look so good, we’ve got Oscar and Qrow. Qrow spends most of the volume whining and really not looking like the reliable guy you can count on. His abilities also don’t seem nearly as impressive as they once were. He feels like he would be on an even playing field with the main 4 rather than being a large step above. After the Grim Reaper said that Yang has surpassed her as well, it really shows that the grown ups just can’t keep up. Meanwhile Oscar is annoying as he takes things super personally and then vanishes in the middle of the night to do some shopping. There still doesn’t feel like there is much point to his character. Take Oscar away and the series really wouldn’t change to be honest.

Back to the Grim Reaper for a second. While I’m not a big fan of her, I did really like the flashback sequence we got where she fights off a group of bandits. Her fighting style is a lot of fun and it’s certainly nice to finally see another silver eyed warrior. She did get a little outshined by the shark tooth girl but that made the whole thing even better. While brief, the two can definitely be considered to be some of the stronger characters in the series.

Salem’s main minions don’t get a lot to do here, but we do have some scenes to explore what Mercury and Emerald think about the whole situation. It’ll be interesting to see what they do from here. Mercury’s days of hype do seem to be gone now though so his next fight will probably be his last. I could see Emerald having more to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Salem or Cinder ends her. Either way I don’t see her escaping alive. Tyrian, Watts, and Hazel don’t do much of anything, but we should at least get to see the first two fight in the next volume.

There’s not too much to say about Team Jaune. Nora and Ren still feel extremely weak and desperately need some kind of power up to make them relevant again. Jaune is basically holding the team together at this point and hopefully he has something up his sleeve for when the team fights their next opponent. If he can use his aura amplification to do something with his sword then he has got a lot of potential there.

I do think this volume felt a little too short though. While the episodes started out rather long like with the Salem adventure, the final episodes were all extremely short. Perhaps not more so than previous volumes, but with the increased budget and mainstream attention I’d like it if we could get more full length adventures. I’m assuming Gen-Lock took a lot of time out from RWBY, but hopefully for next season we’ll get more footage. After all, we lost a whole episode here to limbo. (Gen-Lock looks fun of course, but not in the same league as RWBY so I still want Rooster Teeth to give this title the bulk of its attention) Also, the big Kaiju didn’t make for a great final boss. He ultimately went down in a single hit after he was frozen which doesn’t make for the most intense final boss. I think shifting it so that the Adam scene was the final part of the climax would have worked a little better. I don’t see Adam returning, but with the way the scene went it’s definitely possible as a shock value twist.

Finally, we got the big return of Neo here. It’s been a very long time since she last appeared so I’m glad to see her return. The scene was handled perfectly as her theme music is one of the best in the series. It amplifies the hype a lot more than if the scene had no music. Her fight with Cinder also reminds you just how good she is. Without Cinder’s Maiden abilities she certainly would have lost so it’s fair to say that Neo is high tier and can probably take on just about any non-maiden. We’ll see if she ends up being a little nerfed or something, but otherwise her partnership with Cinder is probably enough to take down team RWBY+Qrow+Team Jaune+Oscar I’d say. Of course with a large scale battle like that it is possible that teamwork will make all the difference. Also it’s unlikely that such a fight will happen since we have so many other parties running around like Salem’s group and the Atlas fighters.

As for the after credits scene, it’s pretty weak to be honest. Salem is making more Grimm…that doesn’t seem like a threat though. By definition Silver Eyes eradicate Grimm with no exceptions. We found out that the ability is straight from the light god so I don’t think Salem could override that. Most likely they will serve as a diversion or something to keep the military busy or Ruby’s friends. Still, I feel like if they go up against any named character they would just be fodder. It makes sense to have a Grim invasion for pure numbers of course, but it shouldn’t have been the big cliffhanger scene.

Overall, RWBY is in great hands as always. I have high hopes for volume 7 as expected and it’ll still be tough to beat this volume. Still, with all of the characters in motion there is definitely a real chance that it could be the best volume yet. We should be getting a ton of action scenes there so I’m glad that the crew has confirmed that they are already working on the next volume. The more development time on that the better and you can never start too soon. If you haven’t started RWBY yet then I recommend binge watching the whole series and fixing that ASAP. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the greatest TV show of all time.

Overall 10/10

Transformers Rescue Bots Academy


Transformers has had many shows over the years but Rescue Bots is one of the few installments that is actually not an action title. That’s a pretty unique twist in itself. It’s off to a fun enough start after the first 2 episodes. I’m not expecting too much from this one, but I don’t expect it’ll make any real mistakes either. It should be pretty consistent. I’ll have a review for it once the series is finished.

Overall 6/10

Yugioh VRAINS

Vrains_Promo_Poster
The latest Yugioh series is finally here! I’ve only seen the first episode of this show so far, but it’s already setting up a lot of hype plot points for the future. Make no mistake, this is a show that is certainly going places. It’s already got all the makings of a great show, the only question is how it will fare against the other Yugioh titles. I shall have a review with all of those answers once the show is over.

Overall 8/10

Transformers: Cyberverse


The new Transformers show is finally upon us! While it may not be off to the greatest start imaginable, it’s a show that should be pretty entertaining. I’m not expecting anything great, but as long as we get some engaging episodes and fights I suppose that I’m all set. Once Bumblebee is back in top form I’m sure we’ll see some rapid improvement. I’ll have a review for this show once it is finished.

Overall 6/10

Pop Team Epic Review


It’s time to look at another one of the worst anime out there. This one definitely holds its own against titles like FLCL. I’ve never been a big fan of anthologies and I’m even less of a fan of this kind of art style. Mix the two together and you’ve got yourself a show that was doomed right from the start. There just isn’t anything really good about this show so what ends up happening is that you just wait for it to end. Each episode is only around 10 minutes before it repeats so it isn’t even all that long but it feels long.

There’s no plot so we don’t have to worry about that I guess. There are two characters here Pipimi and Popuko. They just like walking around and doing crazy things. Most of the shorts don’t have anything to do with the others. Since there is no continuity to keep or logic to follow the series can get as absolutely crazy as it wants. There’s just no end to it. In particular there are 3 kinds of shorts that pop up frequently.

First is Bob’s Epic Team. The whole point of these specials is that each of the characters look incredibly deformed and they go around doing more crazy stuff. The voices are annoying and much like the rest of the show it just isn’t funny. It usually gets 2 segments in each episode so brace yourself for those. The second kind of short is Pop Team Cooking. In these the characters usually start to cook or just talk until the segment ends. Nothing ever really happens but at least I can say that the title is kind of catchy.

Then we also have the french segments which are great if you like recycled animation and nothing ever happening. These definitely don’t help the show’s case either. Then we’ve got the random segments that have nothing to do with anything as well. Those are about as bad as you may expect. The only ones that are even kind of good are the long ones at the beginning of every episode. Each episode gets 1 long segment and this allows the segment to get an actual plot. We had an action one, a Detective Conan one, a supernatural murder one, etc. At least these plots were trying to be okay. Of course the show can’t help but go off the deep end here as well as one segment decides to have a romance plot within the family which gets to be about as bad as you would expect. Hey, at least nobody can ever accuse the show of being classy right?

Surprisingly the show doesn’t have a lot of fanservice since I wouldn’t have been surprised from this kind of title. With the animation being this bad though I guess it didn’t want to even try. The soundtrack is basically nonexistent, but I suppose the opening isn’t bad. The images are pretty boring but the tune can be catchy. This kind of show just doesn’t have much in the way of music during the episodes. I already talked about how terrible the animation is so we don’t have to go over that. It’s just painfully bad.

I did like the episode previews at the end because they hint at what kind of show this could have been. The hypothetical story in those bits already look a whole lot more interesting than this one. It seems like a real show with actual animation. You just can’t go wrong there am I right? The show looks rather generic intentionally of course, but I would still take it over this one in a heart beat.

The only 2 real characters here are Popuko and Pipimi but of course their personalities do tend to change based on the short. No matter how the show up the two characters are always pretty annoying though. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a fan of them. Without a good cast or a reasonable plot a show is never going to go anywhere and that’s exactly what happened to this title.

At the end of the day Pop Team Epic is a comedy show. It tries for very outlandish and abstract humor which doesn’t land. Since that is the whole point of the show it was rather doomed right from the start. It’s very focus just wasn’t good enough to keep your attention and there just isn’t anything for it to fall back on from that point. I almost feel bad for the show, but it really has no one to blame but itself. From the very first episode you could tell that it was not going to be good. Making half of the show recycled animation is also incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine how this ever got to be on TV with such lazy production values behind it. In the end you could say that it just didn’t deserve to succeed.

Overall, This is a short review, but Pop Team Epic is basically only 6 episodes so it’s a rather short show. There is no cast or plot either so there just isn’t much to talk about. It’s essentially a long joke that keeps losing its focus and forgetting the punch lines. I’m sure it had a lot of plans initially but in the end the show just couldn’t bring them to fruition. All it did for me was reaffirm the fact that anthology series don’t have a whole lot of potential. Especially when the shorts are only around 2 minutes or less on average. There is really nothing you can do in such a short amount of time. If this sounds interesting to you then by all means check it out. Still, I can’t say that I’m hyped for the next season. Hopefully it is able to do something because the references aren’t enough to help this show overcome its terrible sense of humor and nonexistent plot. Maybe we could just get a full reboot with a different group of staff behind it. Surely an overhaul would ensure that the season is better…right?

Overall 1/10

Mega Man Fully Charged


The new Mega Man show has finally come out. It feels like this show was in development for an exceptionally long time so it’s good to see it alive and well. I’ve seen the first 10 episodes so far and the show is off to a good start. I look forward to all of the fights that will be popping up. I’ll have a review for the series up when it finishes.

Overall 7/10

.Hack//Sign Review


It’s time to look at what I’d consider to be a fairly iconic anime. It’s not so much that it’s known as one of the greatest anime of all time like DBZ or that it’s super long like One Piece, but it’s just an anime that you’ve likely heard of over the years. The .Hack franchise is also pretty popular in its own right and this is certainly the most well known show. It’s definitely a fun adventure that takes a pretty deep look into the online gaming genre.

The show takes place in the future where online games are finally on the rise once more. In particular a fully immersive game known as The World has gotten incredibly popular because of how realistic it is. Just pop on the helmet and you are inside the game. A player named Mimiru was exploring a cave like normal when she bumps into a player named Tsukasa. He runs off and she thinks nothing of it at the moment. However, it turns out that Tsukasa is unable to log out of the game and can’t even recall what is happening in the real world. The other players suspect that he is a hacker while others are worried about what has happened to his real world body. The secrets can be found with the Key to the Twilight. It’s an object of immense power can can change the game itself. Of course, finding it will be tough since the heroes don’t even know if it exists at all or if it’s merely a legend.

A big part of the anime is about exploration as the characters look around for a dungeon that isn’t in any of the official guidebooks. Effectively, they are really getting into the game now since it’s like going back to the days before the internet. Of course the stakes are high since Tsukasa’s life hangs in the balance. The heroes have to decide if helping like this is worth it or if the game is starting to take up too much of their time.

Despite being the main character, Tsukasa is actually pretty annoying. He is constantly snapping at everyone and feeling sorry for himself. From the start things would have been better for him if he had talked to the Crimson Knights instead of making a break for it and acting all suspicious all of the time. From his actions he basically told them that he was a cheater so of course they would try to arrest him at that point. Then Tsukasa actually destroys a few players. He never turns into a total villain or anything though and his actions are not malicious. He attacks in self defense but naturally the Crimson Knights won’t believe it. Tsukasa doesn’t have an easy time of it at all, but the reason why he is annoying is that you feel like the lead is making the situation a lot worse on himself.

Mimiru is the main heroine here and in a sense you could say that she represents the average player. She is intelligent but not a pondering philosopher like the rest of the characters. She is just here to enjoy the game at first but gradually gets pulled into Tsukasa’s web. I’d say that she definitely has a pretty tough experience here since the wavemaster is hard to be friends with and tends to panic or run away when the going gets tough. Mimiru’s definitely a fun character throughout and was certainly crucial in Tsukasa’s personality change. I dare say even more than Subaru as she got him to take the initial steps out of his shell.

Subaru is the leader of the Crimson Knights but she tends to disagree with their methods. She wants them to just go around talking with people as opposed to actively keeping the world safe. I rather disagree with her on this one at the very least on the idea that they should be so lenient on cheaters. They should report them to the admin right away and in the meantime locking them up makes sense. It would be like locking someone’s account for a little while. The knights naturally did take it a little far by the end, but I felt she was too far in the other direction. Subaru is a nice character though even if she isn’t the best fighter. She can just be rather naive at times like when she actually expected the Crimson Knight to tell her if the friends that he disliked leave her a message. I don’t think anyone expected him to actually do that.

Bear is another one of the main characters. He hangs out with Mimiru a lot as well as BT. Inside the game he is probably the deepest thinker and is also the most pro active in trying to find out the truth behind Tsukasa’s predicament. He has to make a lot of tough calls on his own and ultimately ends up making the right ones. It would have been rather tough on the kid without him. Bear can always hold his own against the other characters in a verbal battle and is good at planning as well. He’s just a very solid all around character.

BT is a character who really doesn’t care for lettuce since it erodes the taste of whatever it touches despite society telling her that it has no taste. It’s a pretty interesting backstory. In the game she likes to play as a very tricky character who will betray the heroes for a good item. She plays both sides quite a lot throughout the series before finally choosing the right side. As a result she is rather annoying though and it was too little too late when she came to aid the heroes. She also tries to go after Crim in the real world even though he’s pretty decisive in rejecting her. Of course it’s always tough to move on immediately.

Crim is essentially the “Top Player” character of the game. He has a considerable amount of skill and vows to use it for justice. He role plays as a Superman type figure who is always around to help those in need. He definitely ended up being the best character in the game. For starters he is the only one who didn’t really bring any drama with him to The World. He likes to keep the real world and the video game separate and completely gets absorbed into his role. That’s definitely the way to play and he is able to do this while still appreciating the stakes that the game now holds.

Sora plays a big role in the series as he likes to manipulate all of the characters and hatch plans of his own. As he is one of the strongest characters in the series there typically isn’t much that the heroes can do to oppose him. Only Crim is able to properly stand up to the guy. He can be fun to have around, but I definitely wouldn’t say that he is a likable character. At least he ends up trolling both the heroes and villains which is always nice for a wild card. At most you might feel bad for him during the end of the series since he tries one last betrayal which doesn’t even matter and ends up getting himself a little too deep into The World.

For a while the Crimson Knight was easily the best character in the show. He’s one of the big antagonists of the series who believes in hunting down the hackers so everyone will have a fair gaming experience. He isn’t pleased when Subaru tells him that they are just a fan group with no real power. At this point he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s not as if he goes crazy and starts trying to destroy everyone though. He merely stays in his quest to stop the cheaters and it’s a shame that by the end of the show he didn’t get to do as much as I would have hoped. His fight scene with Tsukasa early on was cool though. I think that may have even been the first episode. Even there he wasn’t in the wrong you’d think since Tsukasa was obstructing Justice. On the other hand, since the Crimson Knights are a fake group with no authority then are they outside their jurisdiction? I’d say no.

As the characters mention from time to time, they are all role playing inside of The World. Why not role play as a police officer? While the Crimson Knight gets a little extreme towards the end, he is not unreasonable at the start. If someone is hacking the game then they must be stopped before other players are hurt right? Especially since this game does seem to give you some level of pain feedback in the real world. In the video games a lot of the characters also don’t like the hackers since they mess with the game so much. The Crimson Knight does get distracted by the romance angle quite a bit, but otherwise he had a pretty interesting mission throughout the show.

The show is very dialogue heavy of course so don’t go in expecting constant fight scenes. Fortunately the writing is really good so the dialogue works. The show never feels dull or boring despite all of the talking because the show is just very interesting. You’re engaged with what they are talking about. The characters may go in circles at times but it won’t dampen your enthusiasm as they will at least gain some kind of new clue which alters the conversation. I think the voice acting deserves a lot of credit here as well. Every character sounds rather monotone and robotic but that makes sense since they’re all role playing within the game. It adds to the effect pretty well and makes them easy to listen to.

.Hack also manages to avoid some of the negatives that typically go hand in hand with anime as well like fanservice. The show avoids this which seems to be pretty tricky for video game anime like this or at least that’s the impression you get from titles like Sword Art Online. It was tough deciding whether this show would be a 7 or an 8 because it is fun, but is it great? It was very interesting throughout and while the show lacked action the mystery was fun. It’s not the kind of mystery that would lose much replay value on the second watch since it’s not about a culprit that you are finding, but secrets of the world. Everything is very meta so I think it would hold up well enough on a second viewing.

I also liked the soundtrack quite a lot. We get many different operatic themes which help get across the show’s mysterious tone. “Come with me to the Twilight” works well for all of Tsukasa’s moping scenes where he’s wondering what to do next. The show is constantly throwing in both lyrical and instrumental themes at you which fit in well. They are epic but can also be interpreted as sad depending on the scene. The only theme that I really didn’t like for epic scenes was Sora’s. It’s a really happy theme that seems completely out of place whenever it pops up. For example, it pops up during the final battle between Crim and Sora which is a hype scene but the music doesn’t fit at all.

It’s not a theme that pops up too often though so it’s fine. Also, as we don’t get too many fights during the series it’s always fun when they do pop up. The Sora bouts are always enjoyable and the invincible monsters were also cool. Each fight is fairly short so enjoy what you get from them. The thing is that most of the characters aren’t too strong here as they want to enjoy the game and aren’t grinding their stats. Only Sora and Crim decided to grind their way to level 100 and at that point it all comes down to their skill level when wielding their weapons. Since The World is so glitchy, it’s probably for the best that they don’t take that part too seriously.

The animation is also pretty good and holds up well. It’s a classic 90s-early 2000s aesthetic. The colors are bright and the backgrounds have a lot of detail. I liked how they animated Skeith as well. He certainly comes across as a very intimidating figure. The gray, faded out look for the real world also did a good job of showing that aside from The World, Earth hasn’t changed much and that’s why everyone wants to be playing the game instead of just going through the same motions as always. It would be cool to see more of the human world, but this way it does keep more of a mysterious vibe.

How much you enjoy the show will depend on what extent the vibe works for you. The first half can be rather slow as all of the characters keep heir secrets and don’t really do a lot to shed light on the situation for anyone else. It’s not til we enter the second half where the characters all start to team up and realize that an enemy is near. Then we get the fun dungeon exploration and battles against the mysterious being. As it is the show basically just ends around this point as the clean up is left to the characters of the original 4 video games. It’s not like these characters can fight a being who is a part of the game like this so I wonder how often they would log on after this or if they began to take a more cautious approach. Either way as long as you find the show interesting like I expect you will then the lack of activity at times won’t really be an issue.

One thing that would have been nice would have been to include more of the video game characters. Several of them got cameos here which was cool, but having them around more would have been even more exciting. I suppose they could have stolen the show since they were so OP though. By not having them around, it also showed that while the situation was huge for the main characters, it wasn’t necessarily an end of the world event where everyone had to show up. Even by the end of the show a lot of people probably didn’t even realize what was happening since they would probably just ignore the forums.

Overall, .Hack//Sign is definitely a fun show. It’s the kind of title that has a lot of replay value since the dialogue is engaging from the start. It’s very solid across the board so I wouldn’t say that it had any specific weaknesses. At most I do think it could have used some more fight scenes but the characters do stress that this isn’t really that kind of game. Combat is a feature though so it’s always an option. The show is also better in batches than weekly since the show likes to progress at a slow pace in order to allow all of the characters to process what is going on and discuss it. If you haven’t seen a really solid video game adventure yet then this is a great way to start. Now I just need to go back and play .Hack part 4.

Overall 7/10