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Pokemon: Twilight Wings Review


It’s time to look at a recent Pokemon web series that ended. It’s always nice to get some new animated material. Pokemon recently did something similar with Pokemon Generations although that one was way too ambitious in scope and ended up being rather disappointing. Twilight Wings from the start is going for a much more inspirational/somber feel to the shorts. These aren’t about big action scenes or colorful backgrounds. It’s actually all very subdued which is where the somber part comes from while also showing that everyone is trying hard to get ready for their futures. It’s a fun little collection of shorts.

There are 7 shorts in all and they’re all under 10 minutes. So if you merge them together this could be around a 40 minute OVA or something like that. Each short changes main character except for the first and last shorts which are about a kid who is rather sick but wants to be a Pokemon trainer. His friend’s definitely a good kid to have around as he tries his best to make sure that the main character is able to get closer to his friend. The rest of the shorts vary in plot and will always have an ending scene that teases the lead of the next main character. I’ll talk briefly about each short.

The first one I already went over. It’s one of the weaker ones in the collection but is fun enough. It’s always nice to see the kids have a happy ending especially when they’ve clearly been through a lot already. The second one is about Bea who is training for her next fight. She actually spars with her Pokemon which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately she gets stuck in a cave in, but this helps her remember that her strength is with her friends as a team and not by doing everything on her own. We get a little action here which is always pretty neat so this was a solid followup.

Then we have one about Hop who is admiring how great Leon is as per usual. His Wooloo feels bad about this and runs away though so now Hop has to find him. Sometimes it can be obvious that the main character is in the wrong but this time I think Wooloo was making a mountain out of a molehill. It showed that Hop was as close to Wooloo as ever though by having him chase after his friend. This was one of the shorts going for a more emotional angle and it worked well. Hop may have been one of the least impressive rivals in Pokemon but it doesn’t take away from him being a pretty good guy in general.

The 4th short is about Nessa as she tries to balance her career of being a model and a gym leader. People say that it can’t be done and she will have to choose one. Ultimately she chooses to keep going in both fields and will prove her doubters wrong. It’s part of why she is one of the better gym leaders as it takes a lot of drive to maintain two careers at once like this. I was glad she didn’t choose to sacrifice any of them.

Next one’s a slice of life short about Oleana as she tries to deal with Chairman Rose’s rather impromptu ideas. He tends to vanish or get sidetracked very easily. It’s clear that she’s got a tough job on her shoulders. Another good special but a lot more low key compared to most of the others. Then we have the short with Allister which is the weakest short in the series. Still not saying it’s bad or anything but the gym leader’s personality doesn’t work for me. The character doesn’t really talk and the kids don’t have enough snappy dialogue to really make the atmosphere work. It’s hard to hold your own episode after all.

Finally, we end with the kid finally getting to meet Leon. Leon helps him realize that his dream to simply meet Leon wasn’t what he was actually meant to do. The kid really wants to go out there and beat Leon and so the champion gives him a little hope that he can pull this off someday. It’s a fun way to end and while the gym leaders seem to not understand Leon (Some going as far as to say he was holding back or not taking the fight seriously) at least they all understand his strength. I like the idea of an unbeatable champion like Leon because it makes the fight with him feel all the more grand.

So those are the 7 specials. Due to the length of the specials the summaries of each special pretty much tell the whole story but I tried to keep them brief. The series is so short that you should really go ahead and check them out. Especially since it’s only 7 episodes in total. They’re all fun and it’s a nice, calm series to check out. The animation style is going for the washed out look which isn’t exactly my favorite but I think they were going for a look to try and resemble the games a bit more than the anime. Something like Generations is going a lot more traditional with vibrant colors but since this one is going for that somber atmosphere perhaps they thought it would be a little distracting. The brief fight scenes we get still look good though with a lot of shockwave effects to show the scale of the attacks.

This is more about the stories than the visuals or soundtrack though so it makes sense that this would be the focus. I can’t really recall any particular big themes either but we had no long fights that would have taken advantage of them anyway. Twilight Wings thrives on the fact that it makes no real mistakes. After watching each episode you’ll be satisfied with what you saw and can easily binge the rest of it or do one episode at a time. Hopefully we get more Pokemon web series like this in the future. I think these bite sized portions are always a good idea for any series. They help to expand the franchise and give each character more development. They could also work as brief character moments in a future game. Imagine the next Pokemon game having 5-7 minute cutscenes that play out showing a character’s origin. I think it would work rather well.


Overall, Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a solid series. I would definitely recommend it whether you are a Pokemon fan or just a general viewer of media. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the themes it’s going for. At the end of the day it’s about showing that you make your own path and to keep going when things are getting tough. None of the characters in the series give up and it ultimately ends up benefiting each and every one of them. The payoff may not always be as great as literally becoming champion of the world but you can still get some personal victories in the meantime. Of course aside from more mini series I would still like to have either a bug budget anime version of Pokemon Ruby (Or Omega Ruby so we get Zinnia) or Pokemon Adventures. It’s time we get more media and it’s Pokemon so it would sell really well.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Prétear Review


It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.

Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.

As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.

Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.

Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.

Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.

Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.

Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.

Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.

The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.

After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.

The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.

The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.

Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.

Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, TV Shows

My Little Pony: Pony Life


MLP has returned with a new series! It’s off to a fun enough start. The animation has taken a bit of a nosedive and I’m never a fan of going for 10 minute shorts rather than 20 but I think this one should manage to be consistently good. I’m hoping the series starts throwing in some fight scenes but either way I’ll be in it for the longhaul.

Overall 6/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at the follow up to the original Madoka show. Technically this is more of a spinoff than a direct sequel though as it’s based on the mobile game. In true Madoka fashion a lot of the background is shrouded in mystery. We don’t yet know when this show takes place or in what timeline. Thanks to the time travel elements and alternate timelines there are many ways this can go. I have my own theory about it which I’ll elaborate on later on. It’s tough to come after the first show since I currently have that in my top 5 all time anime. (Black Clover and One Punch Man are both gaining ground fast though so we’ll see if it can ultimately stay in the 5th spot) While this show isn’t quite ready for that level, it is very good with a dynamite ending.

The story follows a girl named Iroha. She used to have a sister who was very sick and so she entered into a contract with Kyubey to restore her health. Unfortunately, now her sister no longer seems to exist. Nobody remembers her either although since Iroha has her abilities now that means the wish should have been granted. Is something wrong with her memory and did she potentially wish for something else? Iroha works with other magical girls to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the meantime they also work on shattering many myths and legends around the school. These myths are dangerous and many people die until they are busted. Iroha also has to deal with the fact that witches have begun to appeaer in the town much more frequently than usual which is attracting attention from other magical girls who are willing to murder each other so that they can be the ones to defeat the witches. Is this all part of some sort of elaborate plan?

Magia Record has more of a slice of life feel than the first show. In the first half of the show typically each episode is about solving a different rumor and stopping the villain. There are subplots hanging out during these adventures like various magical girls acting cryptically in the background and of course Iroha’s plot to save her sister. Those seem like they will mainly be saved until season 2 though. The final episode is really what starts to set the stage for everything as we get big fights and hype guest stars. That tells me there is a lot to look forward too. The show mainly runs on how interesting you find the cast to be and they hold their own. There were a pair of characters that I could mix up at times since they both had blue hair and looked rather similar but everyone else is pretty distinct.

Iroha is the main character and she’s a rather timid character. She’s one of the weaker magical girls around and is used to fighting in a city where the witches are a lot weaker. Still, she had to come here to find her sister and fortunately the other magical girls are willing to help her. Iroha is a pretty decent character even if I wish she was a bit more aggressive. It feels like she sort of goes with the flow half the time and is pretty soft spoken like Madoka. Fortunately unlike the old main character we actually do see Iroha fight quite a bit. She rarely wins but she does contribute.

Yachiyo is one of the characters with the biggest role here and serves as the Homura of the group. She’s very serious compared to the rest of the characters and always has to remind them that this isn’t a game. She has very personal reasons for being a Magical Girl (As do the rest of them) and we slowly find out a bit about what has made her so jaded. She’s a pretty solid fighter and one who has unlocked her hybrid form. I’ll speak more to that in a minute. Yachiyo is pretty strategic and also probably the strongest member of the main cast. While she can’t hold a candle to the original Magical Girls, she does better than the rest.

So what are these hybrid forms? Well, it seems like they are a pretty clever way of balancing the power gap between the original main characters and the new ones. Think of it sort of like how in Cardfight Vanguard G they added Grade 4 units so the new main characters could keep up. In a human 1 on 1 fight the original cast would slaughter these guys as Mami showed when she appeared later on. However, the new iteration of magical girls have the power to turn into a witch when they are close to despair. This allows them to gain great powers and stamina. It’s rather interesting that a magical girl could turn into a witch temporarily instead of it being perfect. In a way that makes them superior to the originals in that it’ll be harder for their stones to break. With these monster forms the heroes were still losing but it’s a lot closer. Once the rest of the cast gets these forms it should be interesting to see how they fare. I’m definitely glad they got these power ups.

Tsuruno is a very fun character in Magia Record. She has supreme confidence all the time and her fire abilities mixed in with the fans are quite impressive. She feels like one of the strongest Magical Girls and doesn’t mind letting the others know that from time to time. She even owns a cafe which is pretty impressive considering her age. At least it seems like she owns it. Might be a family shop but seeing as how she is the only worker there whenever the heroes meet at the shop it’s fair to say that it’s hers. I look forward to her appearing more in season 2 and taking names.

Felicia has a hammer which is pretty cool because I don’t think any of the characters used that weapon before. She’s definitely more of a power fighter who likes to just run in and start hitting Witches. Her wish is easily one of the most direct ones of the group as she wants to eradicate them all. It’s a nice change of pace as most only destroy witches because they have to and it isn’t their ultimate goal. I feel like she’s the kind of character who will start out strong but quickly get surpassed by everyone as the series goes on. We’ll see though, perhaps she will stay as top tier. I thought she looked pretty solid here.

Momoko’s role is unfortunately a lot smaller than the other characters which is a shame. She’s one of the more mature members of the group and is always trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. It’s a difficult job considering how much they all have to go through on a daily basis between the witches and everything. One potential red flag is that she’s very upbeat all the time right now which usually means that she is hiding some kind of deep pain. I expect she’ll get a much bigger role in season 2. I’d like to see her in more fights because she was talented and her battle style is fun to watch.

Kaede and Rena get their own plot as their friendship is tested quite a bit as the show goes on. Rena isn’t good at making apologies and Kaede can be a little too quick to say sorry which makes Rena get even more upset. It’s a pretty tough dynamic they’ve got going on. It’s particularly tricky since they are both magical girls since one moment of despair can quickly prove to be the end for them. Then you’ve also got the cult of magical girls running around trying to get everyone to join the darkness. More on that group in a sec but they’ve definitely become pretty influential in the series. They’ve assembled a whole lot of magical girls.

For guest stars we get to see Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka. Mami gets the biggest role out of the group and proves to be the one with the weakest will as always. It’s a shame because she always seems like a nice person, but one who is easily manipulated. She cracked in the alternate timeline of the first show, didn’t look so good in Rebellion, and then now we have this show. Kyoko only really gets a guest star role here but it does let us know that she’ll be around so she’ll probably do more in season 2. Right away she looked better than Mami here though as she realized that things were not adding up and was quick to assist the real heroes. Finally we have Sayaka who finally steps up at the end of the show. Her regeneration is as good as always but in a battle of pure force she’s nowhere near Mami’s level.

So the big plot going on throughout the show is about the group known as the Magius. They consist of a group of Magical Girls who claim to have found a way to rid the world of Witches once and for all while also ending the curse of Magical Girls being fated to die and turn into them. Naturally this is a pretty tempting offer so a lot of girls join their ranks. It’s still unclear exactly what their true purpose is, but even some of the main characters join their flock. I wouldn’t say that this is such a bad thing if they appeared to be on the level but they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re shady. One of them openly threatens to murder anyone who disagrees with her and they also created a sketchy program to trap people in an endless abyss until they die. These are the “heroes”?

I’m glad Iroha, Kyoko, and Sayaka didn’t get fooled. The girls who did definitely lose some points there. I do like the idea of a group of evil Magical Girls though. It’s something that this franchise hasn’t really explored before. I admit it was always a little disappointing when a fight was getting ready to break out with them only for it to be called off. This show has quite a few fakeouts like that but it looks like they want to leave all of that for the sequel. Here they mainly summon Witches to fight as their proxy. Still, the group clearly does have a goal and who knows, maybe it is on the level. Perhaps they are just a more extremist version of the Girls who want to use any means necessary to murder the Witches. Not to build up too much hype for season 2 but it does seem to be when everything is really going to meet up and all the plots hit their climax.

The show mainly relies on a new ost but there are some old themes here as well. The ost is still pretty hype and whenever the heroes end up in a labyrinth you know things could get tricky for them. The animation is also quite good and it’s nice to see the characters fighting with more updated animation. In that regard the show certainly did surpass the original title. Everything is quite streamlined and the fight scenes are smooth. This isn’t really a show where fights are the main focus although I expect season 2 will have more of them so I’m always glad to see good animation.

So, where does this show take place? For now I am going to assume you have seen the first show. If you have not then skip the next two paragraphs. After all, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the future seasons if you haven’t seen the original. So here’s how I see it. At the end of the original show Madoka sacrificed herself to end all Witches. This created the Wraiths in their place. This show still has the witches so the first guess would be that they are before the show ended right? Alternately you could say it takes place after Rebellion since Homura undid Madoka’s wish and brought back Witches although they weren’t quite real. I don’t think this would work though because Walpurgisnacht wasn’t revived. As a result, I think this is one of the broken timelines.

We know from the first show that Homura tried to stop Walpurgisnacht hundreds of times and failed in each timeline until Madoka saved the day. So it stands to reason that this is one of the many timelines where she failed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the one who has formed this group of rebel Magical Girls to try to end the curse and finish off Walpurgisnacht. It would make sense as Homura took a different strategy in each attempt. While it would mean that ultimately every action in the show would be futile it would be a pretty epic twist. So right now this theory makes the most sense to me and it’ll be fun to see how season 2 goes with this. I really doubt the show would do something to reverse Rebellion’s ending as that would be saved for a proper sequel. I know Homura shows up in the game though so I expect she’ll make her presence known in season 2 and that should answer a lot of questions.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a lot of fun. It can feel more episodic and it’s not trying to be quite as deep as the main show but there are always elements beneath the surface just waiting to pop up. The ending is also pretty excellent. It was quite possibly my favorite part of the whole show. It feels like the tone suddenly shifted and it helps that the song was really great as well. In a way, the first 11 episodes were all setup for these final moments. It really sets up the sequel season quite well and also raises the stakes. It ties in a bit to where this takes place as I mentioned earlier as well. I’m hoping season 2 jumps us right into the action there. I’m expecting we’ll see more of the old cast as well since they are destined to show up for this confrontation. I highly advise watching the original show before checking this one out so you can understand the framework. After that, definitely jump into this show and if the wait for season 2 is too long you can always download the mobile game and try to reach the end.

Overall 7/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

D.Gray-man Hallow Review


It’s time to take a look to the sequel to the original D. Gray-Man anime. It hasn’t been so long since I saw the original so it’s nice to see the characters return. This was around the part where the manga started to go off the rails though with the artwork taking a dip and it never quite reached the parts that the original show adapted. Perhaps it would work better in anime format? Well, I can definitely make sense of the events a lot better and you can follow the action really well. Unfortunately, the show is not able to salvage these arcs to the point where it can hold a candle to the first show.

The show has 13 episodes and mainly focuses on two arcs. First up we get a mini arc adding a new kid to the cast. Allen and Kanda are sent in to investigate a possible new exorcist who can possess Akuma. Considering what a bother those enemies have been over the years this would definitely be a very valuable asset to have in the field. The heroes will have to hurry though because the Akuma are also after this kid. It’s a pretty reasonable first 3 episodes. I don’t really care for the kid but it did feel like the original days a bit. It also gave us a chance to see most of the characters and some quick fights.

After that we focus on the Alma Karma arc. This is definitely the darkest arc in the series as we see the shady experiments that the order runs on the Exorcist candidates or clones that can be disposed of. In the present we find out that Alma was actually kept alive and the Earl decides to use him to help awaken Allen as the 14th and possibly eliminate Kanda in the process. With the Order acting so questionably the heroes will have to decide if they really are on the right side.

Finally, we end with the debut of Apocryphos as one of the best villains in the series. He attacks and Allen’s arm resonates with the character which makes it difficult for him to stay with the order. At this point Allen is the host for quite a lot of beings so he has to go on the run. The Exorcists are given the order to destroy him so we will have to see which of his allies will remain loyal and which ones will decide to destroy him. Either way Allen better keep his guard up.

Right from the start Hallow positions itself as a much more intense take on the series. It gets quite violent as now even the Akuma all bleed like living things. It’s always been an odd take to have the monsters all bleed like this and many titles do this off and on. How I see it you should just keep the Akuma hollow. The series goes into the next level with this during the Karma arc though which is what ultimately holds the series back the most. It just gets way too dark with the kids effectively being murdered over and over again with their healing factors keeping them alive.

It also makes the Order look completely evil to be condoning these experiments. The Earl even points out that the Order seems to be just as evil as the Noah. It’s also ultimately pointless since the Earl has control over all Akuma so these experiments just ended up helping the villains even more. Even if they were effective it wouldn’t make these decisions any better. The fact that all of the higher ups are in on this makes it worse because even if you like the main Exorcists you have to now acknowledge that they are working for an evil organization. All the good they are doing is just protecting the villains above this. The arc goes too far in making you dislike the Order because now you have no one to root for.

The season does its best to get back on track after this. The final arc with Apocryphos is a lot more enjoyable and feels more like the classic adventures. We get to see Tyki Mikk and Road appear again to fight off the new villain. Apocryphos has a pretty great design and he can actually fight which is important. Allen gets framed and the episodes are pretty suspenseful with solid action and a good story. It also leads us to a pretty solid end for the series. The second last episode probably works better as an ending than the actual finale but either way I was satisfied with the ending. The manga hasn’t been super consistent since then so I don’t really think there is enough material for another season but eventually we’ll probably get another installment.

Allen continues to be a strong lead here. He’s doing his best to fight off the 14th and the total corruption of the Order. He’s in a tough spot here since no matter what he does someone tends to get upset. He is a full fledged Exorcist at this point though and can even hold his own against Kanda which is important. You still get the feeling that he won’t be beating the Noah anytime soon but who knows, maybe he could take them at this point. He just needs some allies because 13-1 are not good odds. Right now Allen has handled every situation admirably.

Then you have Kanda who definitely got a really big role in this series. He was rather mean to Karma throughout so you’ll feel bad for the kid. In the present he didn’t handle the situation well at all until Allen knocked some sense into him. Kanda seems to have mellowed out by the end of the series so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself in future arcs. He’s still a fun character regardless. The guy isn’t as heroic as some of the others, but doesn’t pretend to be either. He does what he wants at this point although some of his tough rhetoric doesn’t land since he is still working for the Order after everything they’ve done to him.

Lenalee and Lavi don’t get a whole lot to do here. Lenalee’s abilities still look really cool so I’m hoping she will get a real fight soon. Lavi gets kidnapped but that’s about it for his role. He’s pretty strong willed so hopefully he’ll come out of this okay. Cross gets a minor role as well, but he looks pretty terrible. So much for being a General and getting a lot of hype right? When it was clutch time he folded like a trading card.

Link is one of the new characters and I actually liked him a lot more here than I did in the anime. While he did start out as a watchdog for Allen he ultimately did gain some real personality. He made the wrong choice in stopping Allen during the fight with the thirds, but he made the right choice against Apocryphos. He may not have been the strongest fighter around, but his stats were still pretty good and he seemed like a nice guy. He was just in a little over his head.

Timothy is not nearly as interesting. He can possess ghosts which is cool but his personality isn’t all that great. I think it’ll be a while before he matures more and becomes a character you can root for. I’ll give him props for fighting valiantly later on though. If he keeps this up for another arc then he should rise up. We get a new Noah member in this show named Wisely. Technically there are a bunch of others but most of them haven’t done much yet. This guy gets some hype because he did take out Kanda in one hit which is hard to do. I think he should make for a very enjoyable Noah member.

The Millennium Earl appears a lot here and we finally see more of his human form. Unfortunately it does destroy his character. You can’t take him seriously when you see his human form constantly crying. He also seems like less and less of a fighter every time he appears and his obsession with the 14th could very well ruin all of his plans. The guy doesn’t seem to have a great plan laid out so I can see why his followers are getting very frustrated at this point. He may ruin it for all of them.

Road is a fun enough villain as always. She doesn’t do a lot here but does like messing with the heroes aside from Allen. Tyki Mikk gets a good role as he tries to fight Apocryphos even if he isn’t successful. He’s always gotten more personality than most of the other Noah members and that continues to be true here. He’s just a fun guy to have around. Then you have Apocryphos who is pretty great as I mentioned. It’s excellent to have a third party villain here especially since he seems to be a very radical “good guy” who just wants to protect the Innocence. It seems like he’ll murder anyone who gets in his way and if he is the ultimate enemy of the Noah it makes you wonder where the Exorcists stand. I want to see more of this guy.

Finally we have Karma. He’s a very tragic character since he started out very happy and then everything eventually broke him. By the end of the series he was a total villain. His whole reincarnation plot was a bit wacky but beyond that he got a cool super form and did give us solid action scenes. Battles between fighters with healing factors can always get pretty intense. I liked Karma. He may have cracked in the end, but he did a good job of making sure he saved Kanda and held out hope for as long as possible.

One thing that’s pretty noticeable with this show is that it throws in some random humor to try and get your mind off the serious stuff. To an extent most shows or movies will do this as throwing in a more light hearted moment helps to cut the tension of a dark one. This show just isn’t very subtle with it so it can be pretty jarring. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it to the extent as I did with this show. A character might have just been stabbed or in trouble and suddenly he will have a comic relief face or a deadpan moment where they make a joke. It happens a lot in this season and so it seems to me like the show knew it was getting really dark. It can be a bit off putting but not the kind of thing that will hurt the score or anything. Maybe if I really liked the dark stuff I would mind more.

In D. Gray-Man as I pointed out in my original TV show review there is still one element that is hard to ignore. The whole story doesn’t really make sense because the Akuma should have just won by now. The show continually points out that the Exorcists are completely outmatched in numbers and power. A single Level 4 was able to take out almost all of the strongest Exorcists and the Earl can mass produce hundreds of them. Why has he not just stormed the base at this point? The only reasonable explanation is that the Earl wants to keep the Exorcists alive but then why launch attacks on them in general? Everything he does seems half hearted.

In most titles the heroes are outmatched at least a bit but in this series it is incredibly one sided. The heroes really have absolutely no chance of victory which is just odd to see. When watching the show you know that they can’t win and so unless the heroes get a massive power up then it’s all futile. One episode here even illustrates that as the Earl sends the Noah in and they absolutely crush all of the Exorcists, but decide to spare most of them for kicks. The heroes are definitely lucky but surviving purely on your opponent’s whims is not a good spot to be in.

The animation is definitely solid though. We get a lot of striking colors and the dark color palette stands out. You’re always able to see what is happening and a lot of the visuals are adapted really well. I like how the feathers were implemented and Link’s various attacks were cool. It was consistently great during the show. Then you’ve also got a pretty solid soundtrack from the show. The opening for Hallow is also very catchy. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the images are also solid. It definitely sets up the atmosphere quite well.

I’d say the best thing I can attribute to Hallow is that it is very interesting. At this point in the series there are quite a lot of pieces moving on the board which makes for a lot of interesting plotlines. You certainly won’t be bored during any episode. At most the final one has some slow scenes with the flashbacks but the rest of the series is very fast paced with something always happening. It’s definitely a positive for long running titles like this one because the longer they go on the more plots you have to juggle. With only 13 episodes Hallow definitely had to keep going at full speed.


Overall, D. Gray-Man Hallow wasn’t exactly the sequel I think it could have been. It goes too far in trying to be violent and gritty as it gets a lot darker than the original series. The first series could also be pretty dark but more in terms of atmosphere than just giving everyone a hard time throughout. If you cut away the Karma arc then the title gets considerably better. To an extent I suppose a show can only do so much with the source material but that’s where deviating can come in handy. Regardless if you’re a big fan of the original anime then you should definitely check this sequel out. It is still following all of the classic characters and continues the story so you want to see where things are going.

Overall 5/10

8 Star TV Shows, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Dr. Stone Review


It’s time to look at one of the current big Shonen Jump titles. For a while there I actually thought it was going to be one of the current Big 3 next to Black Clover and My Hero Academia but the huge success of the Demon Slayer ended up nabbing the third slot in my eyes. Also depending on how you look at it One Piece would still deserve one of the slots but my view is that even though it is still the biggest title it is firmly known as the leader of the last generation. With all that said, Dr. Stone’s anime was great and this is a really solid anime to check out. We’ve got a lot of excellent world building here and a colorful cast of characters that make this unique premise work out quite well.

The series begins by introducing us to Senku and Taiju. Both of these characters are completely different but are great friends nonetheless. Senku is a science wiz who likes to look at things objectively and isn’t very emotional. Then you have Taiju who is super emotional and despite being very powerful he likes to resolve things peacefully. One day he goes outside to confess to his childhood friend Yuzuriha but a powerful light envelops the world first. All humans and animals were turned into stone and then billions of years passed. Taiju manages to break out of his stone shell eventually and finds that Senku has managed to do the same. These two now need to find a way to find a cure and break the rest of humanity out of stone. Will they be able to restart the human race? Another question in the back of their minds is also, how did this happen?

A great show should always start off with a solid first episode. I don’t think you have the luxury of hoping that people stick around for a bunch of episodes just waiting for things to get good. There’s no excuse for a premiere to not be exciting and Stone delivers. A lot happens in that first episode and we’re introduced to the premise. You’ll likely have a lot of questions and that is intended because the series is part mystery to the extent of wondering how this all started. Was it an alien attack, did another country mess up with a chemical bomb? There are a lot of possibilities but the characters have little time to ponder this initially so don’t expect a lot of answers in the first season. I wouldn’t expect that plot to get closer to ending until near the end of season 2.

The series is pretty well grounded in reality right now so I wouldn’t expect anything too supernatural either. The toughest part about a plot like this is once you know most of the answers. The intrigue and suspense is part of the appeal as well as the limited cast. It’s inevitable that more and more people will start to get revived and I’m assuming the series would probably end once almost everyone is back as we cut to an epilogue. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the series goes in because there are a lot of paths to take. The cliffhanger for this season definitely makes the story of season 2 pretty obvious. Based on the plot coming up I’m assuming that one may even beat season 1.

Lets back up a bit to talk more about the show though. The animation is really solid. It’s very smooth and the colors pop out. The faces from the manga are adapted pretty well so you can expect some nice, crazy expressions. The fight scenes can be a little less intense and it’s clear that it’s not the anime’s strong suit. I’d like to see them put more of an effort behind this in season 2 since that one has many more fights, but they’re still good enough. Most of them just rely on stills and such to hide the movement. A good story will always compensate for the fights but I think Stone can get closer to hitting the next level with quality action scenes.

The writing is definitely great here as well. For a dialogue heavy series like this you definitely need good writing. It’s completely necessary here and Stone delivers in full. There are no episodes here that are boring in the slightest. The pacing is on point. Clearly for any series you can’t be in a big action part all the time so we have a few downtime episodes but they still further the plot and give development to the characters. An example of an episode that could have been boring in a different show is the flashback episode with Senku’s Dad and the rest of the crew. The characters are fairly short lived but they’re all fun enough. I definitely enjoyed Byakuya’s character.

He’s definitely quite different from Senku with how expressive and emotional he is, but he’s still got a good intellect as well. He just seems to hide it a little more than Senku would. All right, let’s talk about the cast. First up is Taiju and the series does a nice mis-direct here. Initially you think he’ll be the main character because he gets the first scenes and the largest role in the opening episodes. That’s actually not the case though as Senku takes the reigns and Taiju vanishes for most of the season. Taiju really gets written out of the show pretty early on but I like the concept of two main characters on different paths. It doesn’t look like Stone will fully go there as it’s 95% Senku but it’ll be fun when Taiju returns.

I like Taiju’s character, but he is too soft at times. I understand not wanting to fight. It’s not a bad trait to have and just because you’re strong it doesn’t mean you should even have to fight. However, if you are in front of someone who is trying to murder your friends then you have to fight. Taiju’s strategy is to let Tsukasa keep whailing at him without trying to land a blow but the guy is going to murder everyone else once Taiju can’t get up again. It’s not a proper strategy and it makes Taiju appear to be way too idealistic here. Sometimes you have to raise your fist.

Meanwhile Senku is a much more practical character, but his body isn’t ready for a fight. He’s devoted everything to learning the art of science so he really can’t fight at all in hand to hand combat. He is prepared to fight in his own way though with a lot of scientific gadgets. He’s a very entertaining lead and a very unique one. We don’t see a whole lot of super geniuses as main characters. The last one I can think of would be Light Yagami whose genius ended up turning him over to the dark side. Senku has a lot of great moments throughout the series.

Then you have Yuzuriha who appears to be the main heroine at first, but similar to Taiju she vanishes early on. We don’t get to learn a whole lot about her character yet, but I can say that she’s already a quality character from how she handled the situation. Rather than panicking or anything when she broke out of the stone she quickly got with the program and followed the heroes out of there. It’s extremely rare for a character to take this kind of situation well without asking a bunch of questions so she left a solid first impression with me. She’s also very pro-active and will help out with any task.

Then we have the best villain, Tsukasa. He doesn’t want the world to go back to the way it once was with the rich ruling over all and society becoming one sided. As such, he believes that only kids should be revived which leads him to be at odds with Senku who wants to revive everyone. Tsukasa is the main villain of the series so far and they did a good job of picking him to be the leader. His goals aren’t even crazy and he’s not the kind of guy who goes around murdering everyone. He stays true to his ideals and even though those don’t negate the fact that he is a mass murderer, at least he is one with a sound plan which is the first step in being a compelling villain. So far he has dominated in all of his fights and I look forward to seeing him get more fights. Right now it’s clear that nobody stands a chance against him.

Clearly you’re to root for Senku in this series but Tsukasa’s main point is hard to grapple with. He points out that if Senku just resurrects everyone society will quickly go back to how it is. Senku’s point is that none of that matters until they resurrect everyone. His main thought here is that he is not a politician or anything like that so his goal is to use science to save everyone and it’s up to everyone else to make things work after that. Both of them are rather extreme at the moment but even if they do resurrect everyone at once there is no proof that things will go to how they used to be. If Tsukasa and Senku were to work together it should be easy to change things but both of them are quite firm on their views.

Gen is another main character in the series. He is a wild card and is proud of that. Senku knows that he’ll have to try and win Gen over because this guy can cause a lot of damage to both sides. He’s a fun character who is a genius in his own way. He’s great at manipulating people although I find it ironic that at least half of the time this doesn’t work because everyone already knows that he can do this. It’s an ironic thing to happen to him, but it makes sense. If someone knows that you are great at lying then they just won’t believe you. It’s the same concept with Gen.

Then we have Chrome who is a scientist in his own right. He’s done really well in the past and is Senku’s main partner. He’s a fun character and brings a lot of energy to the series. He’s easily one of the best characters in the series. He’s improved quite a lot in a pretty short amount of time so the guy has a ton of potential. I don’t see anyone ever passing Senku because that guy is practically a robot but it’s always good to have more than one genius. This way you can work on two things at once.

Finally you have Kohaku. She’s introduced pretty early on and is the first villager we meet. She also happens to be the strongest one which is a nice change of pace because usually the strongest is left for last. Kohaku’s a great character and even has a brief skirmish with Tsukasa. While you definitely don’t think she ultimately has a chance it’s still a great effort on her part. She’ll do whatever it takes to help Ruri and isn’t afraid to jump in and grab whatever materials Senku needs. Right now they’ve got a pretty good dynamic going. While I miss the opening trio from the show, she helps the village come close to matching up to that. Between her and Chrome I’d even say that they’re a better trio than the first 3 characters but the other villagers bring them down a tad.

Suika is one of the side characters in the series. She’s a nice kid who wants to help out, but her eyesight isn’t very good and naturally there are no glasses back in these days. She’s not bad although definitely one of the least interesting side characters. You’ve also got Kinro and Ginro from the village. Kinro is a serious fighter whose eyesight also isn’t great but he has learned to fight well despite this. He’s a good character although I do admit that I thought he’d be a little stronger. He’s very loyal to the village so you can always count on him. He’s way better than Ginro who is openly antagonistic and doesn’t want to fight. I really can’t trust that guy as an ally and definitely wouldn’t mind if he got written out.

Ruri is a pretty big character in the village for a while because of how sick she is. Ruri’s definitely not a fighter like her sister Kohaku but she is very wise and helps the characters learn about the past. For a non combatant character Ruri is solid. Then you have Kaseki who helps Senku build a lot of the inventions. He’s a pretty emotional character since he never really had any friends before. The guy may be very old but now his life is a lot more fulfilling and he’s getting to really enjoy himself. I’m hoping he lives through this series, I’d definitely like to see him continue to contribute.

Then we have Magma who is the main bully of the village. He just wants to rule no matter what and for these tribal times that isn’t really unheard of. I don’t really like him as a character though and he doesn’t offer a whole lot. The main problem is also that he has strength but no real technique so it’s not like he’ll be able to do much against the villains. That was his only asset that he could bring to fights and without it there doesn’t seem to be much point to his character. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong though.

For the villains we are briefly introduced to Hyoga and Homura. Both of them have not had a whole lot to do yet so it’s almost like a preview for season 2. Homura was able to hold her own against Kohaku briefly and Hyoga seems like a dangerous foe both in physical abilities as well as with strategies. I can already see both of these characters being very solid villains which is making Tsukasa’s army look more and more stacked. At this point it’s hard to picture the heroes winning against them in a fight.

That’s where Senku comes in though. Inventions are the ultimate equalizer though so that’s why this is a series where it can actually be believable for Senku’s team to come out. Between his actual inventions and the bluffs that they can create, the army of Science is in a great position as well. The season has set up a lot of good pieces and this feels like a very complete anime. There are enough episodes to really introduce the characters and every aspect of the show is sound. This is what it takes to be a great anime.

Finally one thing I also like about the show are the various science experiments. I’m sure a lot of these things are simplified down for the sake of making everything in the show quickly a lot of these recipes and methods are quite real. I made the Senku Cola myself and it actually did taste quite good. I always like when I feel like I’m learning something while watching a show and you’ll definitely gain some good knowledge during Dr. Stone. It’s like an added bonus on top of everything else.

Overall, Dr. Stone is a show that I can recommend to everyone. Whether you want a classic action Shounen or are looking for something different this show should have something to interest you. It’s well written and the show looks nice. The action scenes are really the only weakness as I mentioned but it’s not enough to stop this show’s momentum. The animation in general is also very detailed so I feel like if the animators really put some time in they could definitely get us some great fight scenes too. Stone quickly shows why it is an up and coming title and I’m sure things can only continue to get better from here. I’m definitely looking forward to Tsukasa taking more fighters in the next arc.

Overall 8/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Review


It’s time to take a look at a pretty big TV show that ended recently. Friendship is Magic is a show that lasted for a very long time and really got a big fanbase. I dare say that My Little Pony is almost a household name at this point and that would have been almost impossible to have seen coming a long time ago. Not even the G1 part of the series got quite this much recognition. In short, it’s nice that MLP is back on the map. Even with this show over the series will continue through comics and the Equestria line. Friendship is Magic is a good show that I would recommend to anyone.

The series follows a pony named Twilight Sparkle who is going to be learning how to be a friend. Celestia gave her a mission to go into town and learn about this. She gradually meets up with other ponies and together they make up the Mane 6. Her allies are the speedy Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie. Together they solve a lot of friendship issues (Sometimes between them) and also fight to keep Equestria safe from the clutches of those who would try and destroy Ponyville. Fortunately Twilight is up to the task!

I haven’t seen a whole lot of shows aimed at a younger audience and especially recently. I watch Transformers Rescue Bots/Academy and that’s probably the only recent one I can think of. A lot of them look solid like I’m sure I’d enjoy Strawberry Shortcake and some of the other titles, but there’s a bunch of em so it’s hard to make time for each one. That’s why I appreciate the fact that MLP has some action scenes. It may not be the center focus of the show and you can go a bunch of episodes without it happening, but just the idea that a fight could show up in the next episode was always great. Plus the characters do have super powers which naturally leads to a cooler setting. The show also didn’t do this half heartedly. The Tirek episode actually had a lot of dark visuals and the fight scenes wouldn’t have been out of place in a total action show.

I managed to fast blast through the show pretty quickly and only got caught up once it was around the second last season I believe. It was a good ride and while I can’t go through episode I’ll at least talk about some highlights. One of the show’s strengths is its consistency as the characters get to learn a lot of morals and gradually become experts in their crafts. Some of the characters may not be all that different from their early days while others like Twilight are definitely pretty different. A slice of life show is only as good as its cast and fortunately MLP has a really solid cast at its disposal.

Twilight Sparkle is the lead character and definitely one of the characters with the most character development. She starts out as a pony who knows nothing about friendship to writing a whole book on it. Twilight is always about doing things according to how they are written and doesn’t like to branch out. By the end of the series she is more confident in leaving things to her friends and doesn’t panic quite as much. She’s a quality character throughout the series and does Pony up when she needs too. Her best appearance is in the Tirek two part fight when she tries to avenge Ponyville after it is close to destruction. She also put up quite the valiant fight against Starlight Glimmer. Twilight’s really stepped up to the plate every time danger arose. She may not be the strongest Pony around, but she is in the top tier fighters of the universe and her knowledge of books comes in handy many times.

Twilight is sometimes at her best when she goes crazy though. One such episode is during the trivia challenge where she decides that she will win at absolutely any cost. This includes messing with her partner and actually sabotaging other teams. You would expect this to be completely out of the question usually but not this time. Twilight was not messing around here. Then there is the other episode where she goes insane and we got a lot of memes out of it. Her facial expressions go all over the place and her mind literally broke. Twilight was under a lot of stress and that’s how she got it out. I’m sure the village will be glad that she ultimately got this under control.

Then we have Rainbow Dash who was consistently fighting with Apple Jack on who the best member of the Mane 6 was. Ultimately she took the lead. You just can’t beat Dash’s confidence and her super speed is incredibly handy. Dash is probably the Pony who would be the most helpful in all of the fights if this was more of an action series. Rainbow definitely stays the most true to herself throughout the series as well. She really hasn’t changed much at all since season 1 which in itself is impressive. Rainbow Dash has been proving herself the whole time and is now one of the most well known members of the Wonderbolts. It’s a good testament to her determination and pure skills.

Next up is Pinkie Pie and unfortunately she is easily the worst member of the Mane 6. She isn’t the worst character or anything like that, but she is definitely not very good. At first she isn’t all that bad. Pinkie Pie is one of the main comic relief characters in the show and mainly does this by throwing pies at everyone or just acting nonsensical. I’m sure it’ll be amusing for some, but the issue is when the series starts to get more serious in some of the later seasons. It’s all well and good to goof off when everyone is at a picnic, but if villains are attacking the town and blowing things up then the time for jokes is over. Unfortunately Pinkie Pie never knows when to stop and this is an issue with most character types like hers. The 24/7 jokes just go too far after a while and by the end of the series you’ll be completely tired of her.

Then we have Fluttershy who is the timid character of the group as her name would suggest. Most of her episodes are about her conquering her fears and becoming more outspoken. She does make some good progress from season 1. By the end of the series she is still very timid, but is at least willing to try and go into the limelight when it is necessary. She’s a nice enough character but while not to the extent of Pinkie Pie, she can feel a little out of her depth. Trusting the enemies may pay off a lot of times here, but it’s always a risky decision and the fact that she chooses this option so quickly is a bit of a red flag. Would Fluttershy be able to fight against the villains 100% if she thinks that they might be turned good? It’s a heroic aspiration, but one that she needs to keep in check.

Applejack takes us back to the intensity we saw with Twilight and Rainbow. Applejack has a rivalry with Rainbow as well as Rarity. In general Applejack is just very competitive and has a lot of great episode in the series. One really solid one is her race with Rainbow in the forest. She’s pretty tough and while she doesn’t have the super speed that Rainbow has, Apple makes up for it with her super strength. Honesty is her main trait and she uses it well as opposed to being too dramatized. Applejack is the kind of pony that you want on your squad.

Rarity is an interesting member of the group since she has magic powers like Twilight. Honestly I think the show may have missed the boat with her a little since we could have had an interesting rivalry there. Rarity is mainly focused on fashion though and has to be reminded at times that she even has friends. Rarity has a franchise and is pretty popular so she is probably the most successful of the group. By the time she closes up shop I fully expect her to be rich. She’ll have led a very satisfying life.

That’s it for the Mane 6, but towards the end of the series we got an honorary 7th member. Starlight Glimmer started out as one of the big villains before getting reformed. I really liked her as a villain. Her time manipulation was on point and she was the closest thing we got to a Dark Twilight. She’s like what Twilight could have become without friends. Since Starlight had a lot of time to focus on her magic she is even stronger than Sparkle which is interesting. In all of their confrontations Starlight had the edge and even at the end of the series she still seems to be more powerful. Starlight is also on the same path that Twilight was put on in season 1 so there’s a lot of good promise to her character. She is a real scene stealer and even the episode without her powers being where they are today in the same flank village she had a lot of great scenes. She’s just excellent at manipulating people.

Next up is Spike and he may not be a pony, but he is still a very important character in the series. He is Twilight’s assistant and is always around to offer advice and help out wherever he can. Things may not always go well for him, but he always tries his best. Twilight and the others would have really been in a pickle without him. I’m not a big fan, but he’s not bad. I just don’t think Spike really adds to the dynamic and the series would have been pretty similar without him.

Meanwhile Celestia is a solid character. She can be a bit mean and comes off as an antagonist though. Luna forgave her so I suppose the rest of us should, but Celestia always jumps the gun and adds on extra pressure to the crew. She also loses pretty much every battle that she gets in which doesn’t help her reputation. I think she stays on the sidelines a little too often which ultimately means that she doesn’t have a lot of battle experience despite being so old. I feel like she should have gotten at least one big win during the series so we could see why she is so revered.

Luna is a big improvement. For starters you will feel bad for her when she transforms into Nightmare Moon. Celestia doesn’t do a great job of trying to understand her. Then in flashbacks and comic adventures we see that Celestia always belittled Luna and teased her. While some of the jokes were in good fun, there’s a saying on how there is a little truth in every joke. If Celestia is always joking about how easy Luna’s job is then you feel like she actually believes it to be the case. This paragraph isn’t supposed to be about how mean Celestia is though. Back to Luna, Luna is just a very nice pony. She’s always the bigger pony in these arguments and gives the heroes great advice. Luna’s job is really difficult since she has to sleep during the day and can rarely spend time with anyone. It’s got to be super lonely and yet she handles her job with no complaints. Definitely one of the best characters in the series.

We also can’t forget about the Cutie Mark Crusaders. All 3 of those ponies are really good although Apple Bloom steals the show. They don’t have Cutie Marks which is something that most ponies get at some point or another. You have to find your specific talent to unlock it though and they had a tough time finding their actual talents. Most of their episodes are about trying various things or helping other ponies find their talents. These episodes are really wholesome and it’s nice to see them making such a difference. They really brighten up every episode and I think they would do a good job with their own spinoff series if given the chance.

Discord is one of the big villains of the series although I suppose he is a hero for longer than he was evil. The guy has unlimited reality warping abilities and should be super strong as a result. Despite this, Discord manages to lose just about every battle he is in which is actually pretty impressive if you think about it. How do you lose when you are so powerful? Discord never ceases to disappoint me and everyone else whenever he can. I like how crazy he is and the guy has a good personality. If you take away his embarrassing losses then he is a great character. Discord never truly changes his spots to the extent that he does whatever he wants, but at least he has good intentions at the end. His plans rarely end up working though which is pretty tragic for him.

Tirek was one of the coolest villains when he first showed up in the show. Not only did he defeat Discord but he also took down Celestia, Luna, and basically the entire cast in the show. The Mane 6 could not stand up to him for a second which led us to the greatest moment in the entire series. His fight with Twilight was amazing and solidified him as the ultimate threat in the series. Honestly the show could have ended right at that moment and it would have made sense. Unfortunately Tirek returned and his character was completely obliterated. He went from being the ultimate evil to comic relief and got wrecked at every corner. I like the idea of a villain teamup, but I have to admit that the show did not handle that part particularly well. Don’t get me wrong, the two part episode at the end was really solid. Tirek just looked really bad and that was a little disappointing.

Meanwhile we have Cozy Glow who was a very different kind of antagonist. Most of the other villains had fierce designs and showed up to destroy Equestria. Glow is a filly and doesn’t look particularly intimidating. She defeats others by making fun of friendship and manipulating everyone. She’s a fun villain even if you can’t really take her seriously in a fight. Cozy does get her share of results after all so it may be a different approach but it works well enough. I was glad she got a super form near the end though.

King Sombra didn’t leave quite as much of an impression on me as the others even though he is a pretty big villain. I gained a lot of respect for him in his final appearance though as he refused to work for Grogar. Sombra did his own thing and while he ended up losing I did appreciate the initiative. Teaming up simply isn’t for everyone and especially a king like Sombra wasn’t about to stand back and take orders. That simply isn’t how he rolls and that is admirable. I think he had the potential to be the best villain if he appeared more.

Queen Chrysalis is one of the more persistent villains. She really can’t stand Starlight or Twilight for wrecking her plans so many times. She has a lot of really good plans for revenge in her following appearances. The dark Mane 6 was great and I still think that should have been a two part saga. There were a lot of great paths that could have taken. Chrysalis can also fight really well and even held her own in a beam fight with Twilight. I don’t think she is as strong as Starlight, but it’s close. Chrysalis was consistently really solid and I’d argue that she was the most evil of the villains. From all of the antagonists she is the only one who was clearly never going to turn good.

Princess Cadence gets outshined next to Luna and Celestia, but this is for good reason. She really doesn’t do anything throughout the whole series and often shirks her princess duties to hang out with Shining Armor. I never liked Cadence, it’s hard to place my finger on it, but she wasn’t all that fun. I think she just came out of nowhere and if you were to cut her out of the show nothing would change. At least Shining Armor has the fact that he is Twilight’s brother to keep him relevant. Otherwise I would really argue the same thing for him. It’s nice to have someone who will debate with Twilight as well.

Big Mac was not one of my favorite characters. He also got most of the worst episodes. I suppose that shouldn’t be held against him though. The series did a lot of things well, but I wouldn’t say that the romance was one of them. The romance episodes have a tendency to drag on and Big Mac only saying “Yup” gets old after the first few times. If he actually couldn’t talk then that would be one thing, but since he can and simply refuses to say anything else it comes across more as a gimmick. The rest of the apple family feel more reasonable.

Diamond Tiara is one of the bullies from the Cutie Mark Crusader episodes. She was sympathetic from the start as you could tell that something was up to make her so mean. She never crossed the line with her pranks either. Tiara definitely made things tough for the trio, but did her part to make things right once she was shown the error of her ways. Tiara is just a fun character and I would have been cool with seeing more of her in the final seasons. Likewise Trixie used to be a bit of an antagonist, but eventually turned good. Now she is Starlight’s best friend and a loyal ally that she can count on. Trixie can be slow on the uptake and may not be the best worker in the school, but at least she tries. Trixie is also sure to stand by Starlight even when everyone else is a bit wary of her. The downside is that Trixie is also super sensitive likely as a result of her past.

Stygian was a big villain in one season as he became the Pony of Shadows. That was a really ambitious story and it was handled well. It had one of the best climaxes as well. On his own Stygian isn’t all that interesting but his symbiote-esque form was really cool. I was pretty surprised that we didn’t see him at all (At least I don’t remember him) after this. I suppose his character arc was complete though. A minor character was Chancellor Neighsay. He is an antagonist since he opposed Twilight’s school, but he did mean well. The guy was just set in his old ways. I don’t buy him losing to Cozy though. That episode was also a bit of a stretch since as Princess I feel like Twilight could have kept her school open. She was still new to the role though so it’s a little realistic that she could be pushed around.

Daring Do is basically a superhero so it was interesting to have her around. Her episodes feel a little different from the average ones so that’s good for a change of pace. I’d like to have seen Rainbow Dash be more useful in those episodes since she also has experience with enemies. Finally we have Derpy who never gets to do much but always seems like an earnest character. It would have been cool to have seen her do more in the show but I suppose that may have defeated the purpose of her character.

Near the end of the show we are introduced to the students of Twilight’s new school. I don’t think they ever quite managed to fit in though. Really they just weren’t all that necessary. I suppose this was probably because the Mane 6 already learned so much and this was a way for the writers to revisit some morals they wanted another crack at. They aren’t too bad, but the episodes just aren’t the same without the Mane 6 taking center stage. Naturally there are a ton of other characters in the show but you’ll have to watch it to see them. With well over 100 episodes you can definitely see how a ton of other ponies and other animals would have shown up.

The best episodes in the series for me are easily the opening two part epic and the Tirek 2 parter. The Tirek episode brought the series the best fight it has ever had and it worked extremely well. I haven’t been so impressed with a payoff in quite some time and it’s clear to me that the show was really going for the gold here. It’s a shame that the fight wasn’t more highly received because I wouldn’t have minded more fights like that. Starlight’s debut appearance was also really solid as was her time travelling adventures. The final two part saga was also really cool even if the actual final episode may have felt a little out of place. It’s hard to expect a perfect ending though so I definitely can’t be too hard on it in that area.

The animation for the show isn’t bad. It’s definitely not exactly my style, but after a few episodes you should be used to it. The show does still manage to have fight scenes with it which is the important thing. MLP has a colorful art style and while the hits won’t have the same impact as something that is hand drawn, it won’t take away from the story. The writing is the important thing after all and the writing in the show is pretty good. The characters are logical and you get some good plots in the episodes. In terms of the music the show has quite a few songs to follow along with. Various characters sing and the songs can be pretty well done. The best one is probably still the song where Applejack and Fluttershy duel over the bats or the Cutie Mark Crusader theme songs. These songs are all pretty wholesome so they work pretty well.

Overall, Friendship is Magic is definitely a show that I can recommend. I know that it may seem a little intense for a kid and I have had parents tell me that this would be too violent for their kid so you may want to wait until they are a little older than the average show like Strawberry Shortcake and such since there are actual big villains here with scary designs. The show isn’t afraid to get a little scary but I would still say that it should be fine for most kids. If you’re a parent just use discretion. If you’re older you can still get something out of this show. A lot of shows that are for kids can still work for older audiences, you just have to go into it with a different mindset. Enjoy the process of learning basic morals and watching a wholesome episode. It may seem basic at times but it’s never a bad idea to re-acquaint yourself with the fundamentals. It’s just a solid all around show. Even with the show done you can expect more MLP reviews soon. I have quite a few comics that I am getting ready to read and I’ll be reviewing all of those of course.

Overall 7/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Megalo Box Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Yu Yu Hakusho Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 9/10