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

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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

RWBY

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A few weeks ago I got into RWBY thanks to a Twitch marathon and quickly binged through the first 4 seasons. It’s definitely an exceptional show and one that’ll hook you as you keep on watching. Between the epic fights, amazing soundtrack, and solid characters, it’s a very well rounded show. I was thinking about whether the volumes should be counted as different reviews or not, but since there are already 5 by the time I started, I figure I’ll just count it all as one show. I don’t expect it to end anytime soon so a review isn’t going to happen for a while. In the meantime, enjoy season 5 and who knows, maybe we’ll get a solid RWBY movie soon.

Overall 9/10

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

Spider-Man

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It’s time for the latest Spiderman adventure. Ultimate still feels pretty fresh but I’m glad that they churned out another show so soon. I never want the gap between titles to be too long. It’s off to a good start and should make for a solid Superhero show. The animation may not be that good, but considering how animation has been dropping off in American television for years now, it could have been a lot worse. I’ll definitely be sticking with it and will have a review up when the series is over.

Overall 7/10

Azumanga Daioh Review

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It’s time to look at my first pure comedy anime as well as the first one to take an anthology style to it. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that the mix worked too well. The series got off to a rocky start but was able to at least balance the ship by the end. It’s not the best one out there, but you’ll be used to the characters by and end and will have had a fun ride.

The plot follows a group of teenagers as they go through the various years of high school. Tomo and Yomi are already friends when the series starts, but Sakaki is a loner. The situation changes up when a little girl by the name of Chiyo shows up. She is a prodigy and got to skip enough grades to make it to high school. Another transfer student nicknamed Osaka also joins up. With the gang together, they can go on many adventures and try to achieve glory in the sports fest!

Lets quickly go with why the show had a rocky start. The anthology format is a huge warning bell for me because I just don’t like it. The concept of an anthology just sounds like a bad idea as each story is so short that you can’t fit much story into it. Some of the episodes here were split into 5-6 parts so each one was only 4-5 minutes. At first this was very jarring as nothing would happen and the segments felt like they had nothing to do with each other. I also think the writers didn’t know what to do because they acted like each 5 minute segment had to be as contained as possible. For example, if a segment had a joke, it would just keep on getting repeated and drawn out for the whole time. The show tried to limit itself to one main gag in the segment. It would even recycle animation and use a ton of stock footage to literally repeat the gag.

Another thing is that one of the few aspects where anime may lose to Western animation is in comedy. Westerns seem to prefer snappy dialogue as comedy with characters just rapid firing a ton of puns and subtle burns while anime really like having a perverse character say something crazy and then everyone either blushes or starts yelling at him. The former can be great while the latter is absolutely never funny. Daioh actually has a big problem trying to be funny throughout. I feel like the vast majority of the jokes didn’t work because either they were never funny from the start or they were dragged out way too long. That’s why it couldn’t really pick up til the second half where it started to get more of a plot or at least longer segments.

For now, one last problem is that the series is extremely low budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series originally debuted as 5 minute shorts behind various shows and was eventually compiled into a series. It would actually make a lot of sense with how I said that each segment limited itself to effectively one scene/joke. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with as much recycled animation as this one. The animation can be decent at times, but usually it is satisfied with as few motions as possible. You’ll notice a lot of times that if there are two characters on screen only one will move at a time. If two are talking on screen, they’ll each only use one mouth animation which continuously loops. So, I think the show just didn’t have a budget. Sure, there aren’t any action scenes so I guess it didn’t need much of one, but it should have at least gotten enough to reasonably bluff through it.

Now, here’s why the second half was better. For starters, they gave Kimura a shorter role. Kimura was one of the reasons why the humor was hit hard as his moments were just really bad. He would make scenes tougher to watch by making inappropriate comments and pointing attention to what the characters were wearing. He took advantage of his position constantly so he could be around. The show didn’t really have much in the way of fanservice but by going to the pool and trying to create it, that sort of defeated the purpose. The fact that he is still a teacher is appalling and every scene with him just reminded me of this fact. He was never completely written out, but he didn’t do a whole lot after the opening episodes. After that, the only iffy moments left where when the characters would have quick remarks about someone’s chest and those were slight in comparison. While the show show is pretty fun for the most part, he made it hard to enjoy the early episodes. As I said those just had issues with pacing and writing, but they certainly didn’t need more problems. Without Kimura the show would have definitely jumped up a star and possibly 2.

The next reason why the second half was better is that it had less segments. Episodes would be able to have a longer plot and the segments actually did continue from each other. The characters finally had goals like getting to college or studying for it. The last few episodes were all consistent in this regard. The show also stopped relying on one joke since it had plot to cover. Most of the characters stayed pretty much the same throughout the years, but Sasaki got a considerable amount of development by the end. It was a little hard to like her at first because she is extremely quiet and spends 90% of her time blushing at various animals or anything that she finds adorable. It’s cool to like animals, but it just made for a very limited personality. By the end of the series she starts to speak up more and blush less. She becomes a lot more open about playing with the animals and had a nice bond with Chiyo. She stuck up for the kid during the final sports fest when the other teens started to mock her. It was a nice friendship between them.

Chiyo is effectively the main character even if she doesn’t always feel like it. She’s rich and a genius so that makes it easy for her to be at the top of this class as well. She’s probably the nicest character of the group and constantly tries to get everyone to get along. They make it difficult though since bickering is what they do best, but all in good fun. Chiyo invites everyone to her summer home each year and is certainly popular in the classroom. She gets traumatized after a certain car trip and doesn’t do too well at the sport competitions since she technically is just a kid but Chiyo always tries her best. She’s a nice all around character.

Osaka is a total space case as she can’t think about something for more than a minute. As a result her mind is always wavering and she says random, abstract things at times. She finds studying to be pointless because she won’t remember what she looked at anyway. Osaka is a nice enough character. She’s one of the weaker members of the main cast, but she is a nice contrast from the others. I also like how bold she is like when she decided to take a nap right after getting to Chiyo’s place even though everyone was supposed to study.

Tomo is one of my favorite characters. She was surpassed by Kagura by the end, but Tomo always kept it close. Tomo is very loud and overconfident. She doesn’t do well in school but brags about it instead of stressing. She’s constantly sabotaging the team and failing to win when it counts. She’s effectively trolling the main cast throughout and even rubs it in when something goes wrong for the others. She has fun teasing them all but it encourages the team to try harder. It was infinitely satisfying when she got accepted to college before Yomi since the latter had constantly insulted her and studied so hard. You don’t need to study when you have good intuition ya know? Tomo certainly made all of the interactions more fun.
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Yomi is the most boring member of the group. She effectively plays the straight man in this series as she doesn’t understand any of the jokes and is always wondering what everyone is doing. She studies hard and doesn’t mess around like the others. Yomi tries to act mature for her age and everything but as a result she never seems to really have any fun. This act that she puts up also results in her getting sick before the big amusement park vacation so that one was really all her fault when you think about it.

Kagura is the best character and it’s mainly because of how competitive she is. Kagura is always trying to surpass Sakaki. Honestly it’s like the whole Goku vs Vegeta thing, but even more sad. Sakaki never actually trains or exercises at all while Kagura trains 24/7. Yet, Kagura can never manage to beat Sakaki….at anything. Kagura really deserves the win, but at least she continues trying and never holds it against Sakaki. She’s actually happy when Sakaki wins as it means she just needs to train more. Kagura didn’t become a main character until the first time skip in the series, but from then on she stole the show. She’s essentially Tomo if Tomo was actually good at something and is a little less extreme. She certainly doesn’t mock the others or try to sabotage anything. The two of them do get along quite well though as they both aren’t great at school work. I guess Kagura couldn’t be perfect at everything right?

Kaori is sort of one of the main characters, but she always got the shaft next to the others. Her role is just a whole lot smaller and in the second half her only role is to get harassed by Kimura. I never liked her though as her subplot is that she is admires Sakaki and has a hard time trying to talk to her. It gets old before it even begins. Finally we have the two teachers. Yukari is the main one. She doesn’t like being a teacher and doesn’t hesitate to let the kids know this. I dare say that most of her scenes are the ones that are legitimately funny. At least most of the examples I can think of involve her in some capacity. She’s effectively terrible at her job which is her character arc. Yukari is definitely crazy and she doesn’t mind manipulating her students if it will let her win the contest. I can respect her drive to win even if it’s always hard against Nyamo’s squad.

Nyamo is the other teacher and she is an example of a perfect teacher. She supports her students and is also really good at all things athletic. That being said, she can’t really handle the rowdy things that Yukari likes so if she starts drinking then things get tricky. Nyamo is fun enough. She’s not quite as interesting as Yukari but she doesn’t shut down all of the jokes like Yomi. She does a much better job of bouncing off of the moments such as when she got revenge on Yukari for mocking her students by stealing her money. (Granted, she wasn’t “stealing” it because Yukari owed her money for something else)

An example of one of the jokes that I did like was the donation box. The kids forgot to get Yukari a gift and she was pretty obvious about it so the gang decided to bring her a donation box and then they would throw nickels in it. Yukari didn’t take it well, but it was a pretty fun scene as everyone approached the box very grudgingly. A scene that was more random than anything was when this cat creature would appear. He claims to be Chiyu’s father and only shows himself once in a while. He may have some special abilities, but he’s so abstract that you don’t really need to worry about him.

One big plot that actually had an ending was the cat that would always bite Sakaki when she was in the neighborhood. She certainly fell for its tricks many times, but only once at the end. Fortunately she got her own cat guardian which stopped the bullies from messing with her. I guess the cat was just a mean person because even at the end it seemed to have a grudge with Sakaki. The gag was a little overused in the early episodes, but it was handled a lot better by the end. I also am glad that Sakaki got her own cat since it really helped give her some kind of payoff for being bitten so often.

While the animation was quite limited it did have some good shots. I liked the chibi style it would use when characters gave a thumbs up or be in the background agreeing on something. Their arms would turn into noodles at times and it was a better effect than in some other shows. It doesn’t really make up for all of the stock footage but the actual animation certainly wasn’t bad. It may be more that the character designs were simply solid, but it’s hard to say. The soundtrack isn’t very good though. It’s also quite limited/repetitive and I would have liked a little more variety.

Even if the comedy may not always have been on point, one thing you can say for the series is that is was pretty much always fun. The negatives I have with the show don’t involve language or being super dark/violent. At the very least you can always leave the show feeling happy since it is so lighthearted. It’s one thing that I always like about uplifting shows because they should be enjoyable to watch. The characters are always having fun even if things don’t really work out. If there’s any reason I’d recommend watching it, this is the main one. To that end, I actually do tend to like slice of life shows. Sonic Boom is a great example of one that’s currently airing and to date it is the best in that genre. It perfectly pulls it off every episode and I dare say that it is the greatest comedy of all time even if that is a little bold. The show hasn’t ended yet so we’ll see if it can keep that up.

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Overall, Azumanga Daioh was somewhat limited from the anthology style it had, but I suppose it was to be expected since the manga was close to a 4 koma at times. Still, with full sized episodes I think it would have been more fun. The cast was solid though and even if you’re skeptical of the show at first you should be able to get on board by the end. After all, that’s one of the points of being a full show, by the end you should be used to the characters which will make the series more enjoyable. You’ll see the characters develop over the 3 years they’re at school so surely you’ll be a fan of at least one by the end.

Overall 5/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Buddyfight series. For a little while there I was worried that it would only get 2 seasons and die out because many great anime don’t make it to 3 seasons. However it did make it and now has a 4th season so we can safely say that the franchise is safe. Even if it were to end soon, it’s had a great run. It’s awesome to be living in a time where we have Yu-Gi-Oh, Buddyfight, and Cardfight all airing new episodes. Buddyfight is the weakest of the 3 at least when it comes to the franchises, but it always puts up a good fight. This season had a rocky start, but by the end I’d say that it surpassed season 2 while still not being able to catch the original.

Gao doesn’t have his Drum Bunker Dragon anymore so he has to get a replacement. He ends up getting a buddy named Bal. Bal is a lot younger than Drum and acts like a little kid. It takes a while for the pair to really get along, but they gradually develop a tight bond. They decide to enter the local tournaments to prove that they are the best and gradually approach the World Cup. However, they will have to get past some powerful rivals like Tasuku, the boy prodigy, and Gaito, a mysterious newcomer who wants to prove his strength above all. Meanwhile, Kyoya has been replaced as the head of the financial company and has decided to enter the tournament as a normal participant. What are his goals here? There are many other foes who have surfaced like the new head and a mysterious scientist with a split personality. Gao will have to keep his guard up at all times since these games may not just be for fun anymore.

Lets talk about why the season had a rough start. It acts a little bit like a reboot at times. It’s not a full reboot though so the best way to describe it is like Pokemon. Ash has gone on all of his adventures, but he is still only 10 years old and forgot a lot of his battle experience and even acts like he doesn’t know some of the original Pokemon at times. That’s how it is here. Gao and friends act like they barely know some of the old characters like Tasuku and many supporting characters. This is only relevant in the first episodes as they all become friends again and act like their old selves, but the early episodes are fairly bizarre. It feels like the writers couldn’t decide if he knows the others or not so it goes back and forth on that.

Another issue is that the show seems to aim a little younger this time. Particularly in the first episodes again, it seems a little like Pokemon Sun and Moon. There are a lot of visual gags now with characters faces getting exaggerated and crude humor jokes. One new addition to the show is Zom-B. His whole character is made for excessive humor as he constantly panics and destroys himself. It’s a running gag that the show spams in almost every episode of the first half along with recycled animation the whole time. None of his jokes are funny at all and he does drag down some of the battles to an extent. I was glad when he slowly started to appear less. As you can tell, I didn’t care for the humor. It did not work well at all.

So you may be wondering how this season could possibly top 2 right? Well, it has less repetition. What severely brought Buddyfight 100 down was how many times Gao had to fight the same enemy. That’s never an issue here fortunately. The season is also filled with nonstop tournaments the whole time which was really good. As a result, the action never let up and there were a lot of interesting fights in the mix. In the end we watch card game shows for all of the epic duels and that’s one of the reasons why this show succeeds. Tournaments are particularly fun to watch in this genre although I’d say that they work in just about every genre as well.

As always, the show doesn’t disappoint with the over the top visuals. Every final smash ends up severely damaging the planet and you wonder how the player can survive the intense virtual damage. All of the character designs are on point and a lot of the monster designs look really good. Gaito’s design is solid and his monster is very cool as well. The show’s soundtrack is also amazing. The show is now at its height in that regard. This is mainly because Gaito’s theme is really good and may even surpass the arena theme from 100. Fortunately that one returns along with the despair theme. Combined, those themes make this show one of the best in the business.
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Gao is a likable character as always. He’s not quite as awesome as he was in the first two seasons, but he’s still solid. He’s less intense, but still has a lot of skills. It’s just a shame that he’s not as overpowered as he used to be. I remember when winning every single battle was child’s play for him. Kuguru and Baku don’t really do much in the season. They’re even more irrelevant than they were in the previous two seasons which is a little disappointing for their fans. Fortunately, I don’t like either character much so I’m pretty fine with this.

Bal is certainly no Drum. By the end of the show I didn’t mind him. He beats the new Buddy in the current season, but Drum is still the best. Bal’s true form is really epic to watch and I’m glad that he can actually fight. He didn’t master the form for quite a while, but the payoff was good once he got going.

Tasuku’s as cool as ever. He (finally) quit the Buddypolice for most of the season although there is a slight twist about that. Anyway, he is one character who did not lost his character development. Since he already had a bunch in the previous seasons there is no longer any room for doubt or worry. He is completely sure of himself here and doesn’t have to enter any morally grey areas. Unfortunately this also does make things tricky for him near the climax. He disagrees with challenging Kyoya because he wants to wait for the cops to make a move and thinks it’s dangerous. I disagreed with the rationale there because stopping Kyoya is the safest way to save the world. It’s risky, but still the best move. Still, Tasuku ultimately relented and was pivotal in taking down some of the minions. With Gao being slightly nerfed in the personality department you can make a case for Tasuku being the best character. His buddy Jackknife Dragon is as reliable as ever and serves as a mentor to Bal.

Gaito is the new rival on the block and he’s a really good character. He uses a Dark deck and has shadow energy at all times. This instantly meant that he was going to be my kind of character. His Dragon Abigail gets a lot of development throughout and has a big subplot to himself. I liked him a lot and he is probably my favorite hero dragon in the season. That may seem a bit specific but if we count enemies then I’d probably have to go with Kyoya’s dragon. Gaito gradually does get a little more friendly, but he always stays serious compared to the rest of the characters. Heading off to face Kyoya alone is the kind of decision that I’d expect him to make and it’s one that I supported. I didn’t like his odds going into that fight, but everyone is outmatched against that guy.

Kyoya is the main villain once again. This means that he was the final boss in 2 out of 3 seasons. It could seem repetitive if you see the plot summaries from afar, but it makes sense. True, Kyoya may have had a bit of a personality shift since he seemed like he was turning good after the original season, but his motives are fairly complex. Season 1 was like the opening act for him to gather data and season 2 was something he just didn’t calculate on. I was surprised to see him lose there, but it helped to legitimize the threat. It’s like if an alien attack our world, heroes and villains alike would team up to stop them because we want the world for ourselves. Kyoya just didn’t think it would be enough to beat him. He regained all of his hype in this season though. His new card is great and without plot hax it is virtually unbeatable. There are always some tough questions to ask like if creating your own card is really legitimate or not, but Bal gave Gao, Gaito, and Tasuku one so fair is fair right? It’s no coincidence that the 4 created cards are the strongest either. Why would you make yourself a weak one right?

Azi Dahaka has always been a fun dragon in the series. His fans may be a little upset that he doesn’t really get to activate his master plan and is basically used by Kyoya the whole time, but he still has a very intimidating presence. He’s a good villain to have around for sure. I’ll miss him if he doesn’t return, but I somehow get the feeling that Kyoya will bring him back. If not, maybe this finally was Kyoya’s last hurrah, but I won’t believe that until I see it. Even if he returns as a rival instead of an enemy, I’d be on board with that. Kyoya’s 2 on 1 duel against Gaito and Tasuku is one of the most epic moments of the franchise. The duel may have been off screen, but it’s unheard of to beat multiple opponents. In Buddyfight, that is basically impossible to accomplish thanks to the structure of the game.
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Rouga also gets to appear a little, but I have no idea what the writers are even thinking with him anymore. His character serves no point and I just don’t like the guy anymore. That may be a bit harsh, but I used to like him. It just feels like his character has gone nowhere and he hasn’t gotten any stronger while everyone else has improved. He’s not a threat anymore and I think the franchise should just write him out unless they have a specific plan in mind for him. Noboru is the opposite as he’s still a great character as always. It’s just rather tragic as he loses basically every big battle that he gets involved in. He always gets to make a good speech and it gets emotional, but he can’t close it out. It’s because he always ends up fighting the big villains. It’s a shame, but at least he is a character who tries. Actually, maybe he should be known as the best character in the series now. He’s certainly consistent and I’m always rooting for him at any rate.

Lets talk about some of the new characters. Kaido is a guy who loves yelling about festivals. He never gets serious, but that’s part of his character. He always makes sure to have fun when playing Buddyfight even if everyone else forgets that when the world is at stake. He has the largest monster in the franchise which is essentially his gimmick. It’s pretty impressive and he’s a nice guy. I don’t mind him all that much and he’s a decent rival. I don’t find him to be all that cool, but his gimmick doesn’t get too annoying which helps a lot. He’ll either be your kind of character or not. As far as the new additions go, he’s probably the weakest not counting the one shot characters.

Doctor Gara is one of the big villains who shows up and I liked him. His happy personality as a scientist is pretty boring, but his deranged form works really well. I don’t know how everyone kept getting tricked by him, but I suppose it was the Team Rocket effect. He was actually a very powerful opponent and nearly took Tasuku down. Mix that in with his cool design and he was one of the best parts of the season. Buddyfight is probably one of the few shows where the new villains always seem to be cooler than the new heroes. Maybe that isn’t too rare depending on who you ask, but I liked all of the new villains. He may be no Kyoya, but at least he was a threat. His monster: Zodiac was really good as well. He had a great design that was on point.

Genesis is the other big villain who entered the fray. He replaced Kyoya in the company and now makes it his life’s work to mess up Kyoya’s plans when possible. We get a lot of episodes where both characters are constantly trying to one up the other and it makes for an interesting plot. Kyoya always seems to win in the end, but Genesis came close. He may be the single strongest duelist in the game to be honest. His one hit KO combo is incredibly good and it really should have won. He only lost due to the cheese factor and the fact that someone came back from the grave. Yes, one character’s ability lets him keep on dueling even if his life points hit 0. All right, it’s Gaito, I may as well say it since the ability isn’t a huge plot point. Genesis’ final monster form has a really cool design and the next Buddyfight season even brought back the concept. I guess it must have been a big hit.

As always, the show has an incredible climax which just made the rest of the show even more awesome. It made me really realize what a fun show it had been. The original still wins because it had consistent writing and quality the whole time. The climax may not have been quite as explosive and awesome, but everything else made up for that. This show’s climax is easily the best of the 3 seasons and one of the best anime climaxes in general. Part of it is the fact that Kyoya returned as it feels like a big payoff from the 3 seasons.

I have to say that there’s going to be a lot of pressure for the next season I’m roughly 10 episodes in for that one so it’s way too early to say how it’ll fare. Buddyfight generally starts to ramp up the plot and intensity in the 20s as it loves to use the early episodes for character development and world building. You may think that’s a little excessive but it does work. Hear me out, it can be tough to sit through a bunch of episodes that feel like filler, but it absolutely does make you care more about the characters. Why do you think Cardfight was so successful? It takes just as long to get started at times and G gave us roughly 40-50 episodes of pure character development in the form of the first season before the plot really went underway. As long as the episodes are good anyway (Which they were in Cardfight. Buddyfight admittedly does struggle in this area) then it’s fine. It’s shows with lackluster plots like Naruto which gives the impression that development episodes are bad.

A big element in this season which I almost neglected to mention is the legendary Dragon Force. It is a super ability that only the chosen may wield which naturally means that the main 3 characters obtain it. Gao, Tasuku, and Gaito. The ability is pretty handy. Aside from the cool visuals it also gives some nice abilities to the users. Gaito gets the ability to obtain a second life, Gao can attack multiple times, and Tasuku’s also increases his attacks. Clearly Gaito got the best one if you ask me. Each character also gained an Impact Card which is essentially a super attack that their main monster can use. Gaito’s so good that he obtained two of them though.

These attacks and forms get a pretty high budget animation, but it is one that is reused constantly so it’s a mixed bag. Personally I’m all for it. Recycled footage can be a little dicey at times, but it seems more like a fun gimmick than a crutch in this case. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to have to reanimate these moments every single time. It would certainly get old fast.

When it all boils down to it, one of the best parts of the show is the large amount of hype that everyone gets. Unlike World Trigger where it is a little overdone at times, the characters all live up to the hype. Gaito gets some really epic scenes where he takes down enemies even after they figure out his Impact ability. He quickly grew to be one of my favorite characters because of it. Similarly, Kyoya, Genesis, and Tasuku had big moments as well. Unlike Sengoku Basara where the show didn’t want to give up on the hype, this show knew when it was time to choose a winner though. For example, Gaito and Genesis got to fight when both of them were near the height of their hype reputations. There wasn’t a draw though and a clear winner was chosen. The show is pretty good at not having draws overall as there was only one big one that I can recall and even in that instance, Kyoya would have won, unfortunately the machine couldn’t handle the power of his card.

There are some power level stuff that gets a bit tricky. I didn’t really buy into how Genesis was defeated and there may have been a few cheesy moments here and there. Nothing major though and a big part of card games is the luck factor involved. For the most part it was all fairly believable. I’m definitely hoping for a big reunion season soon though with a tournament that encompasses characters from all of the seasons. You have to admit that this would be hype. On one last note, Kiri fans will be disappointed by the fact that he looks terrible here. He nearly resorts to kidnapping Bal to run away from the enemy threat and doesn’t fight almost at all despite gaining these super powerful abilities of his. Not a good look considering his character development.

For fun, here are the card game seasons off the top of my head. Shows without subtitles are treated as the same though and I’m merging Zexal and Zexal II since that’s what I did on this site. The order would be Yugioh GX, Cardfight Link Joker, Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V, Cardfight Legion Mate, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, Cardfight Asia Circuit, Digimon Tamers, Future Card Buddyfight, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, Cardfight G GIRS Crisis, Scan 2 Go, Buddyfight Triple D, Cardfight NEXT, Cardfight G, Buddyfight 100, Buddyfight NEXT, Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters. I’m pretty sure I got them all. It’s pretty tough to put them all in order since most of the shows are really close to each other. Some are still ongoing as well so they may move up by the end. The worst card show (Minus Capsule Monsters) on the list is still a very good title overall which is why the genre is just so much fun. I’m glad that it has been doing so well as of late.
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Overall, This was a great anime. I highly recommend watching this season. The best part is that since they tried to target newcomers with this title, you can go ahead and watch it without knowing much of the series beforehand. The rules are easy to follow and the plot is pretty basic. After all, a tournament is as straight forward as it gets while still being incredibly epic. We also get the awesome climax and there is a real time fight during the night where Bal fights Azi Dahaka outside of the game rules. That was fun and I’d love to see more of that. Please bring Azi Dahaka back as well, there’s still so much that the franchise can do for him. Buddyfight’s action and pacing ensure that this is a show everyone can check out.

Overall 8/10

Sengoku Basara II Review

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The first Sengoku Basara was incredibly good. It had a lot of action, good graphics, as a hype soundtrack to boot. All of the tactical scenes were also handled well thanks to the music and it made for one complete package. It’s only slight issue was that the end of the show started to feel like a cop out since basically all of the characters survived. This season takes that a little more to the extreme and is just a lot weaker than the first season. It’s still a really good show, but one that should have been better.

The Devil King has been defeated so all of the various clans are back to fighting each other. Unfortunately, this peace was never going to last too long. A new villain named Hideyoshi has arisen and he wishes to take over the world for the sake of his ideals. He quickly begins to take over land after land so Date realizes he’ll have to deal with this threat personally. Meanwhile, Sanada heads to the beach to overcome his mid life crisis, but will he be able to deal with all of the dirty techniques his opponents use?

Let’s start off with the positives that stayed with the show from the first season. The animation is still really solid. The character designs are on point and this makes for some really fun action scenes. There is a nice contrast whenever it is night or day. Also just about all of Hideyoshi’s fights get a high budget and look spectacular. Furthermore, the soundtrack is excellent as you’d expect. Basically all of the themes from the first season return except for the Devil King’s. I’m glad his didn’t return since it should be exclusive to his character. Replacing that one is Hideyoshi’s theme which is virtually as good. “This is a fight to change the world” makes the fight feel larger in scale and more theatrical. The normal battle themes and talking themes are very solid as well. They did a good job with the selections.

Hideyoshi makes for a great villain. While I still prefer the Devil King and consider I’m to be more powerful as well, Hideyoshi doesn’t disappoint in the strength department either. The scene where he punches a hole in the sky was an incredible start and then draining a river with a single punch was also super impressive. If not for some plot had at the end, he would have certainly achieved his vision. More on that later. He may have a twisted sense of justice since he’s a classic “I’ll destroy everybody, but then we’ll be at peace” kind of guy. Sometimes tricking yourself is the only way to get out of answering the tough questions I suppose. Either way, it was a nice surprise to see the show churn out yet another really cool final boss.

His subordinate Hanbei was also a good character. Unlike the Devil King who had a few minions, Hanbei is really his only minion. Still, he is in charge of all the tactical operations and is actually loyal for a change so that’s nice. He’s a good fighter although he’s a little naive. I don’t think Kojuro would have ever joined his ranks so the mind games felt rather futile. I would have liked to have seen him fight more since he only got 2 action scenes, but he did well in both of them. He had the upper hand against Date and was also beating Kojuro until his illness took control of him. He made for a great lieutenant and I definitely wish that Yukimura had gotten a swing at him.

As expected, the cast of returning characters here is very solid as well. Date has moved up from being a dual main character in the first season to being the complete lead in this one. He may lose a few fights here and there, but overall I’d say that he definitely looked really good. After all, his personality is the main important thing. Even without his right eye, Date continued to show some strategy and foresight into his plans which was nice to see. He didn’t become a commander for nothing after all. He definitely worked well as the main character in Yukimura’s place.

Kojuro got a larger role here as well. He’s always been one of the main characters, but he has another big role here since he was kidnapped and forced to watch the villains plan things out for a while. He eventually got out and was able to claim his vengeance, but his intelligence was certainly praised a lot. Even when he was entirely out of the loop he could predict what everyone was doing. He’s probably the best tactician in the show and was shown to be capable of foiling Hanbei as well. I suppose Mori could give him a run for his money in the intelligence department, but I like to think Kojuro has the lead.

Motochika also got a much larger role here. His army is usually at a disadvantage since it’s smaller in size when compared to the other, but his large battleship always keeps him in the running. He’s got a pretty good personality and doesn’t back down from a fight. I was definitely cool with seeing more of him here and I’m just sad that we wasted an episode with him during the whole mountain exploding debacle. I think having him team up with Date to fight Hideyoshi made a lot of sense instead of sending him off to an off screen climax. He did a great job while he was on screen though and his weapon is pretty unique. The show’s actually pretty good with that as most of the characters use different weapons as opposed to the same sword. One other new character was a ninja who served Matsunaga. He’s apparently extremely strong and he ends up winning his only fight in the series. He’s another character who just appeared out of the blue and I would have liked to have seen more of him. Ah well, perhaps in the next season. What I just want to know is how Matsunaga can hold his own against guys like Date when he seems like the kind of guy who just sits on a throne all day? I can’t picture him training.

Despite all the positives, there were certainly some negatives that got thrown into the show and became a bit of a problem. Let’s start with Yukimura. His character seems to go in circles as he deals with fears that he overcame in the first season. Once again, he is unsure of whether he is doing the right thing or not since he is taking a lot of lives even if it’s for the sake of peace. This causes him to go train on a beach…for almost the whole series. Those episodes are all complete filler and Yukimura doesn’t even get to take on the final boss like Date. Yukimura’s fight with Date in episode 1 is great, I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, that’s the only fight you’ll get to see Yukimura have. Even his big climax battle isn’t really a fight, it’s just him doing one really big tackle and maybe 1-2 minutes of actual swordsmanship at best. Yukimura is still my favorite Sengoku character so this was pretty disappointing. He was absolutely given the shaft here.
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Also, the show made it seem like he made the wrong decision by trying to help Motochika instead of continuing with the mission. His effort to save him was in vain (Although Motochika lived since Sengoku Basara lets everyone live) and then everyone basically blamed him. Yukimura was rather half hearted the whole time, but it was still the right decision. That carries into another point, the show seemed to just have a very poor director or whoever plotted the scenes. Several times an episode would end with an epic cliffhanger only for it to just be skipped over in the next episode. This episode had ended with Yukimura’s team taking the field. The next one starts with the battle already over and they explain that Yukimura lost. A significant amount of fights are off screen in this title which is pretty unacceptable. I feel like the writers weren’t sure if they should continue their story or turn the show into a history lesson at times. It was just very inconsistent and as a result, we saw less fights than we should have.

The show’s problem of having everyone avert death is another issue. It was starting to get bad in season 1, but it’s far worse here. Motochika is basically destroyed by Hideyoshi as he is punched through a battleship and the episode heavily implies that he is dead. Nah, the guy shows up in the next episode. Matsunaga died in season 1, but returns here. Honestly, his episodes have no point and are basically filler. There was no reason to bring him back. Lady Nohime also comes back from the grave. I’m telling you, nobody stays dead here except for the main villain group of the season and even then subordinates seem to come back if they try hard enough. The show needs to just be bold and let the characters die. At the very least, fix the power levels.

If Sengoku Basara’s death problem is basically turning it into the Fairy Tail or Shonen, it’s wonky power levels are second only to Dragon Ball Super. The problem here is that the show acts as if everyone has the same exact power level. Date, Yukimura, (Lost by a fraction) Motochika, Yukmura’s master, the Ice Master, Keiji, Hideyoshi’s lieutenant, Matsunaga, Matsunaga’s assistant, etc, etc. They all have the same power level so just about every fight in the entire season is a stalemate. That gets really old after a while. I don’t want to constantly be seeing matches end in a draw over and over again. I feel like this is because the writers want all of the characters to stay hype and cool when that is not what should be happening at all. Even if your favorite character loses, at least you’ll know that it was a good fight. If it’s a tie, then it ultimately ends up feeling like a waste.

For the matches that aren’t ties, they can be even worse. Look at Date vs Hideyoshi the final round. Date was getting completely clobbered during the entire fight. Hideyoshi was way stronger and he also appeared to be faster. Then after Hideyoshi “won”, Date gets up with the power of friendship and defeats him in a single hit. Of all the anticlimactic, plot hax endings, that’s how you finish it? It has to go up as one of the most random victories along with Soul Eater’s ending. The anime built up Hideyoshi way too much during the arc which ended up backfiring horribly. He was simply too strong so the anime had two options. They could have had a big team up fight where Date allies himself with other commanders or they could have simply not built him up as much.

Also, I mentioned that Samurai Jack’s ending was pretty rushed. Well this one told tat show to hold its Katana because this one tops that. We have around 6-7 big fights going on and a ton of plots in the final episode. This may attribute to why Date’s fight was so rushed at the end and likewise the other scenes don’t get much screen time. Quite a few new characters even show up in this last episode which was just really weird. They got some hype and appeared in the shadows, but only had time for one clash before we got a cut away and then the rest of the fight was off screen. The whole thing was bizarre. I suppose it was meant as a homage to the games since the characters probably had their own stories there, but if you’re going to include them in the story, find a role for them. It’s like how Brawl couldn’t squeeze in Toon Link, Wolf, or Jigglypuff so they put them in secret rooms. Fortunately, there is a movie and a third season so this should hopefully help with that. If anything, they would have worked well as a stinger in that case.

As with the first show, there is a bonus episode/OVA that is included along with it. It shows how Yukimura participated in the Man event with Date back when they were nursing him back to health. It’s a fun enough special as they get to have some fighting accomplished and all. The power levels were still out of whack as Sasuke got way too much hype, but at least Date didn’t actually lose. It was a fun enough episode and while it wasn’t serious, we never did get a chance to see the characters just hang out before this so I’d say that it worked pretty well. Yukimura’s squad definitely has the most fun out of all the groups.

Aside from Yukimura’s character being wrecked in this season, most of the characters were on point. Date shined quite a lot in his main character role. All of the other captains were around as per usual even if they didn’t do much. Kasuga’s recycled fanservice image is as old as it ever was, but fortunately it is only used once or twice this time since her role was greatly reduced this time. Her commander also doesn’t appear much, but does a good job of not actually harming anyone. Stalling Date for no reason definitely seemed rather pointless if you ask me though. However, I said that most of the characters were on point, there is one other figure who looked really bad here, Keiji.
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Keiji’s whole gimmick is that he’s all for peace and rarely tries to fight. He wants to be diplomatic and he used to be friends with Hideyoshi. However, it’s heavily implied that Hideyoshi destroyed one of their mutual friends (The anime never goes into it and I’m sure glad they don’t to be honest. The plot should have never even existed since it just seems to go against his character entirely) so a rift formed between them. He tries to solve things peacefully but it doesn’t work and he gets ignored. Finally, he realizes that the time to act has come and heads off to meet Hideyoshi. Unfortunately, he gets cold feet at the last second and lets the guy steamroll him, losing without trying to fight back. That scene was pretty brutal since you can’t just keep trying the same tactic over and over again and hope to win. Especially since Hideyoshi made it clear that he’s going to conquer the land and innocents are also targeted in his campaign. After a while, it you refuse to fight the enemy, you may as well be aiding them.

Keiji’s friends are just as bad though. Even after the Devil King back stabbed them, they have decided to join forces with Hideyoshi once more. I don’t get their rationale for this at all. They know that he is evil, but they still go through with it. It’s like they’ve learned nothing from their last encounter which could be another example of no character development or regression. Fortunately, Keiji breaks his rule this time to take them out and becomes head of the clan so they can’t do anything, but those guys were definitely annoying.

Keep in mind that this episode is only 12 episodes long and we have all of these characters and various plots running around. It’s no wonder why the whole thing was so rushed. I feel like the writers really wanted a 26 episode show and were only given 12, but they didn’t want to cut anything out. That would certainly explain quite a lot in the show. It’s not really a legitimate excuse, but at least it’ll make the whole thing make sense.

While I definitely had a lot of negative things to say about the show, that’s mainly because the first season just set such a high standard. Compared to the rather tight plot of the first season, this one was incredibly scattered. It just included too many characters and plots that should not have arrived since they ultimately didn’t contribute anything to the story. Still, it kept all of the elements that made the show as good as it was. We get a lot of really Hype moments throughout even if you discount the Hideyoshi moments. (Those were certainly the best ones though) Just about all of the characters get to shine. While the show has about as many hype characters as World Trigger and should probably have a few of them lose, it still does make for fun matchups. While it got a little more jaded here compared to season 1 since you knew they would all be ties, it still works to an extent. It’s a step down, but just as a Lasagna is a step down from pizza, it’s still a very good product in the end.

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Overall, Sengoku Basara crumbled under the pressure of its own ambitions. Still, the animation is rock solid and the soundtrack is amazing. The character cast is very solid and the writing is on point. You’ll never be bored during the show except for possibly the Yukimura filler episodes. Even just seeing the characters talk and plot strategies on the board is always interesting. I do enjoy that kind of thing as I like to see strategies unfold. It further emphasizes how ambitious the show was as many different pieces would be moving as once. Everyone had a plan and the villains would try to anticipate these plans and counter with their own. It was all very intricate and interesting. That’s why it would always be regrettable when the outcome would be off screen. Anyway, I definitely recommend watching this show. It may drop the ball on a bunch of things, but still has more than enough to let it compete with just about any other title. It’s definitely still one of my favorite recent franchises and I look forward to seeing what they do in the sequels. Ideally Yukimura will get a larger role coming up.

Overall 7/10

Samurai Jack (2017) Review

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Samurai Jack is one of the best American cartoons out there. If we don’t count super hero shows like Justice League then it takes the title quite easily. The show had awesome fights and episodes that were nonstop action the entire time. It may have ended rather suddenly with no real ending, but that’s fine since you could always imagine your own ending. Still, everyone was rather hyped when they announced that the series would finally be getting a conclusion. Everyone…except me. From the start this was promoted as a far darker, grittier, more violent take on the classic show to fit in with the modern times. I had a bad feeling that this show was not just going to be bad, but terrible. Unfortunately…my fears turned out to be correct.

This new season was fairly misleading as the first episode was actually really good. We got a nice fight scene and it was against a robot so there wasn’t any blood or anything. I felt like things would maybe be okay. Right after that is where the show went downhill and never recovered. Episodes 2-3 are the most action packed and intense episodes of the show, but are also overflowing with over the top violence. Jack also ends up murdering a few of his opponents who were brainwashed girls who were raised to despise him. The fact that they are rather young is there to increase the grit factor.

Episode 4 was more like a classic Jack episode. It still couldn’t be bothered to avoid some animal violence, but was a big step up from the last two episodes. Episode 5 was the final episode before the show lost its focus. We see the Scotsman have a very pointless return as he gets one shotted by Aku and Jack is tricked into thinking that he murdered a bunch of kids. Honestly, I thought they were dead too so props to the show for not going down that rabbit hole.

Episode 6 is about cameos as Ashi meets up with a bunch of old allies. You can say that it’s filler as it’s just a homage for old fans, but the good news is that this means we didn’t have to see any unnecessary grit. I think this may be the episode with a pretty wince worthy line, but more on that later. Episode 7 leads us back to grit as it’s one of the most violent episodes. Ashi murders a bunch of villains and you’ll just want to fast forward to the next one.

Episode 8 is one of the worst episodes. This time it’s because of the very forced romance and the fact that it doesn’t work at all. Jack’s wayyyyyyy older than Ashi and as people had been pointing out on the sub reddit for weeks, it couldn’t work. The show surely wouldn’t go down that path right? Well, they did even though everyone was hoping for a more father-daughter bond which would have made more sense. Episode 9 still has some of this plot to deal with, but luckily the second half is better as Aku steps in. Episode 10 is extremely rushed with a rather lackluster ending and one of the more anticlimactic final fights. The season ended as it ran….a disappointing and unnecessary final season.

Lets look at the negatives more generally now. First off is obviously the violence. Samurai Jack was originally a kid’s show, but this season decided to get extremely violent and dark. You could barely go a single episode without some kind of animal violence. Whether it be a bird getting stabbed, a dog being slashed to the verge of death, or random bugs squashed there was something always happening here. Animal violence is always a big no-no and having it show up over and over again certainly doesn’t help the show’s case. Naturally, the human fight scenes were just as bad. It gets to the point where you actively hope for an episode with no action and that’s where the show goes to the other extreme of having an episode that’s all about walking and talking. The only good fights are the one against Aku and robots, but those are typically quite brief.

To make the show a little more dark as well, Jack destroys the brainwashed daughters of Aku as I mentioned earlier. They were only added to the show so that Jack could justify his choice to destroy them and so he could stop being such a dramatic hero who saved everyone in his path. This was their only purpose which meant that the writers didn’t even care about their power levels. They started out as being incredibly strong and much quicker than Jack, but ultimately turned into light weights that Jack could defeat with ease.

The show’s writing also drops down quite a few levels. Just to keep up the edge factor the show has Scaramouche use a p word to describe someone’s head and it felt so out of place and unnecessary. It was about as forced as Wolverine’s catchphrase in virtually every X-Men film. The whole romance angle was also written quite poorly. Jack’s sudden lack of confidence and debates with his inner self were just as hard to watch. Aku was really the only character who stayed in character during this season. He was great and definitely a highlight here. Without him, I wonder how the show would have fared.
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To expand on why Jack isn’t a good character here, he has to compromise on his ideals far too often and doesn’t seem to have a shred of will power left. He decides to commit suicide after not being able to save a bunch of kids, but all that will do is doom even more people. He decides not to help a village that is being destroyed because he’s tired of being a hero. By the time he changes his mind and goes there, everyone is already dead. Jack even got a bunch of clever nicknames on Youtube as a result since he certainly seems to have gotten more ruthless over the years. His new (pretty bad) design didn’t help matters either. They really dropped the ball on this.

While Jack may have been butchered as a character, he still got some pretty good lines during the season. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way” or “I will give you a new choice. Turn back now or stay and face your destiny.” Those may not be word for word, but they were pretty intense. The latter especially as it comes from the preview for one of the first episodes. It was the most exciting preview and easily one of the best Toonami previews of all time. The music for that one was also pretty awesome and it will make you wish for some good tunes in the actual show.

Ashi is the main heroine and she’s a pretty decent character. She gets the short end of the stick on this show, but it was nice to finally have another supporting character who could fight. It’s a shame that we then had to throw romance into the picture and that we couldn’t see Ashi’s true form appear more. She was a good character and probably the best member in the series. She’s as brutal as Jack thanks to her origin and also mows everyone down during the course of the series. She got significantly weaker after turning good, but that’s to be expected. I like the concept of her character more than the execution, but she definitely wasn’t bad.

Scaramouche was great in the first episode. He made for a really good villain and his tuning fork is a potent weapon. That being said, his character was wasted in the rest of his appearances. The show just didn’t know what to do with him. His voice really helped to sell the character if you ask me. I already talked about how great Aku was so I don’t really need to go into it. He was just on point and while the show made him a little too powerful, (Jack can only win with plot hax) it made for an interesting dynamic. Aku is evil, but he doesn’t seem like a mean guy compared to the other villains. It’s something that I wouldn’t mind more titles playing around with. To an extent, Fairy Tail did this with Zeref for a while, but then he suddenly became full psychotic while trying to convince people that he was a nice guy.

The animation is basically the same as the old Jack show. It’s a little more streamlined and modern as the colors are sharper and the contrast works well. That being said, it’s still not my kind of animation and I wish they’d switch it to something more modern. The show looks very dated and I’ve seen 90’s shows that look a lot sharper. Just check out DBZ or Pokemon. The fight scenes are also a big step down from the old series. That one could have fights that lasted the entire episode and they happened multiple times. All of the fights in the 2nd half of the series are short and the first half felt long and intricate but also super violent and bloody.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack here. The classic Jack end theme is still around for most of the episodes which was pretty cool. I’m not really a fan of the theme song either. I typically don’t care for narration in my openings as it should just be illustrated through the lyrics and animation. If the show can’t do that, then it just needs to try again until it can pull this off.

The show is only 10 episodes so you’ll be able to get through it in a breeze. I can’t say that there is any real replay value to be found here at all. It may help convince you to re watch the old series again though so that would definitely be a good side effect of watching this one. At the very least, Samurai Jack serves as a cautionary tale to other old cartoons that fans want to get a new season. Odds are that the new season won’t be able to live up to the original episodes and it’ll just throw mud onto your cherished memories.

Before ending this review I should at least come up with one positive fro the show. It’s not a 0 so it’s not as if the show had 0 potential. What it did do well was establish a pretty apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s clear that Aku has won the war when the season picks up. Everything that I say here refers to the first 3 episodes by the way. The rest of the season became a complete trainwreck. The episode with Ashi and Jack teaming up in the factory was the final episode to try and salvage itself. Still, the first 3 episodes were pretty hype. There was a nice level of intensity and flare to each episode and the fights had real stakes. While the daughters of Aku were nerfed, they still felt like a nice threat. Seeing Jack use a variety of weapons instead of his sword was also interesting since he is a master in virtually every form of combat. If the episodes had been handled in the same vein as the original show, I think that these three episodes could have easily reached a solid 9. It wasn’t to be, but at least Jack never got boring during this trilogy. It really should have come out as some kind of 70 minute movie.

To address the ending, I can safely say that it wasn’t satisfying. As mentioned earlier, I wanted a big final fight. Even if we ignore the fact that we got cheated out of that, it’s just pretty mean spirited to Jack. The show basically just got him a companion just so they could take her away at the end so he could die alone. Jack also got over it a little too quickly in that last butterfly scene. I would have much preferred it if Jack had simply gone to the past, defeated Jack in a very long drawn out fight, and then became King. It would have been so much more effective and concise. That or have a big team up with Aku against a new villain, but I somehow feel like fans wouldn’t like that option very much.
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Overall, Samurai Jack deserved another season, but it didn’t need one. This season could have had a lot of potential since you can always make another story arc for Jack since he is immortal and the world is extremely large. Unfortunately this season couldn’t even decide what it wanted to do and half of the season felt like filler. The show could have ended on a more epic note after the first 3 episodes. It would have been a pretty conclusive ending. It even could have adapted episode 10 just without Ashi. Make no mistake, the show wouldn’t have gotten a positive score or anything since that would fix nothing, but you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by cutting the other 6 episodes out. The poorly constructed romance and pointless cameo of the Scotsman could have been left on the shelf. Next time you think about watching this show…don’t.

Overall 3/10