Tekken: Bloodline Review


When Netflix first came out with the teaser for Tekken I was pretty stoked. From all of the fighting game series Tekken tends to have the best storylines. I may be more of a Street Fighter fan with the gameplay but the stories had less of a strong continuity than Tekken. Tekken was always going to give you a very solid cinematic experience and that translates well into a game. This one may be ultra short at only 6 episodes long but in a way you can just treat it as a 2-2.5 hour movie. It’s really quite elite and succeeds at everything it tries to do.

The show starts off by introducing us to Jin and his mother Jun. She is training him how to fight but only in self defense as might doesn’t make right. Jin tries his best to keep to these teachings but its tough with so many bullies around. Well, one day a mysterious being known as Ogre appears and murders Jin’s mother. He swears to avenge her and goes to meet his grandfather Heihachi to achieve the strength he will need. Jun had said to seek this man out and while Heihachi makes it clear that he doesn’t care about Jin, he agrees to teach him. Jin will have to enter the next King of Iron Fist Tournament and win. The more he wins, the more Ogre should be tempted to come out as he has been destroying powerful fighters across the world. What better bait than a fighting tournament right? Does Jin really have what it takes to beat all of these guys?

I mostly grew up with Tekken 4-6 so I don’t know too much about the earlier games outside of the bullet points. So it was nice to have more of an adaption for Tekken 3. This always felt like the beginning to me so I wonder what the first two games’ story was. Or maybe they were old enough so they didn’t really have enough of one to fill a whole show. Regardless, the decision was a good one because the story here is most excellent. Right off the bat you have a big villain and a tragic hero death. The main character losing a parent to a powerful foe may be something that happens a lot but when executed well it still hits you emotionally.

The show is in CGI but fortunately it keeps the cool visual effects that the games had when someone is hit. You really feel the power behind every blow and I would say the graphics work here. The show looks a whole lot like a video game throughout its run. The fight choreography was on point as well so I was not surprised when I saw Rooster Teeth in the credits. This is some of the better CGI on the market. Would hand drawn have been better? Yes, but they definitely did all that they could with the CG and it didn’t hamper the story. You’re still going to be having a blast with all of the fights. You may wonder how Jin can keep on fighting at times, particularly near the end when it feels like he fights in numerous battles with no break, but I guess we can chalk that up to the “Devil Gene”.

The Devil Gene is a big point of emphasis in the show because it ties into the Ogre mystery and why he attacked in the first place. Any Tekken fan will definitely recognize this as something that will be important in the future as well. It plays a part here and is referenced a lot but I would say it’s more of a preview of things to come. I certainly hope we get a season 2 or some kind of continuation. Keep this going because Tekken has a ton of potential!

I also liked the soundtrack but I think the opening is a huge missed opportunity. There is virtually no animation in the opening at all and the song is really dead. It doesn’t help get you pumped for the episode or anything. It just feels like a bit of a waste and is the only weak element of the show. Not a big deal since it’s just an opening but still, you’d expect better than that.

One of the main reasons why the show is so amazing is because Jin is a great main character. That is always the starting point when you want to make a show successful after all. He is motivated by revenge but hasn’t lost himself in it yet. He sill wants to be a great fighter and he’s made some friends along the way. The show doesn’t have time to dwell on this much but you can see that he does have a fairly stable life built around him. He always goes about things the right way and even by the end Jin still feels like a hero. Perhaps he is someone that the others will have to be careful around but I’d trust Jin at this point in time.

I also liked his fighting style a lot. It’s certainly more basic than most of the other characters but it shows how he relies on fundamentals. If the show was longer I would have liked to have seen more detail into the Kazama fighting style so we could really compare it to Mishima. That’s a big subject in the show as Heihachi wants Jin to learn his Mishima style over Jin’s mother’s style but we technically don’t see too much difference between them. Jin does get one KO move from his mother which was nice to see though.

Then Heihachi works really well as the main villain. He may be the CEO at the top of his company, but by no means has he gotten lazy in the slightest. His fighting abilities are just as deadly as they ever were and he gets to show them off at different points here. There is also a shocking moment involving a gun that was incredible. Heihachi really gets a lot of respect here and earns it not only as a fighter but as a strategist as well. His fans should definitely be very pleased with how he looks.

Jin’s friend Xiaoyu also looks really good. She is determined to be a fighter in the tournament and is tired of people treating her like a kid or thinking that she’s too weak for being a girl. Well, Xiaoyu does prove herself here and does better in the tournament than I was expecting. She’s just a fun character and brings a little light hearted cheer to the tournament as everyone else is fairly serious.

This hype does come at the expense of Nina to an extent though. It’s incredibly hard to believe that Nina would lose to Xiaoyu. I thought they were going to pull a twist where Nina lost on purpose to do some sleuthing in the background or something but instead she actually lost. Well, it’s an effective twist in that I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m still a little skeptical. Nina is fun in her brief appearance though and I expect we’ll see a lot more of her in future installments.

Next up is Paul who is a likable guy. He gets to talk tough and goes far in the tournament. It also feels like his fighting style is rather ordinary like Jin but it takes him far. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do here but I’d say the role was good enough. There is only so much time for each character after all and you get the feeling that Paul’s a good guy. He’s experienced and has been around the block a few times so he can give Jin some advice as well.

Leroy is more of an annoying character. He’s one of those guys who has a big grudge with Heihachi and wants revenge. Fair enough, but once you start taking that out on other people then it becomes a bit of a problem. He just wants to start trouble whenever he is around and that’s not a good idea without a good reason. Just taking out your revenge on someone else doesn’t cut it and so I found him to be one of the weaker characters here.

King was a solid fighter here. Now, there’s one moment where he defeats someone rather brutally so everybody gets upset, but I technically didn’t think he was crossing the line or anything. It’s not a Neji vs Hinata situation or something where it looks like the fight’s about to go beyond the match. King II just flat out won with his techniques and stopped once the opponent was down. We also find out why he is fighting later on and it tracks with him not being a bad person.

So I thought he was good, but the show tries to throw in a little mystery that deflates before it starts. So during the tournament the characters suddenly realize that this isn’t actually the original King. That’s cool and all but in the first or second episode they had already mentioned that Ogre destroyed King or at least that King vanished after the fight. So from the jump we knew that this wasn’t the same King even though it’s treated as a twist of sorts. I thought that was a bit odd.

Usually I’d be talking about Kazuya more by now but he really ends up missing out in this show. He’s still missing after the fight with Heihachi but unfortunately we didn’t see the scene of Heihachi throwing him off the mountain. We did get the reverse though. Those two always have an incredible rivalry so I’m ready to see him in the sequel. He also becomes more of a true rival to Jin. Right now Hwoarang has to fit that bill and it’s harder to take him seriously.

Hwoarang is a good character and I do like him but the victor is never in doubt when he goes up against Jin. It feels like those two are just in different leagues at this point. The fight appears closer than it really was. It’ll be nice to see him stick around but I feel like he probably won’t get many more big fights like the one in this season. As we wrap up the characters, we have to talk about Jun. She’s a lot of fun even if her screen time is quite brief. She helped train Jin the right away. While she does tell him to only fight in self defense, it’s to a reasonable angle at least.

My only issue with self defense is when characters take it to the extreme like letting people throw drinks on them or even land a hit. As long as you can fight back when you’re attacked then it’s all good. She reminds me a lot of the mentor character in Shenmue. Jun is really at the top of her game here and you can see why she is known as such a powerful fighter that even Heihachi gives respect to. She did well in the fight against Ogre too. I thought it was a good showing of how skill can let you keep up with a more powerful fighter for a while even if it won’t ultimately change the outcome.

Finally there is Ogre and I thought he was great too. He’s got a very Doomsday kind of vibe to him. He just shows up out of nowhere like a natural disaster and murders whoever is in front of him. As the show goes on we learn more about the logic of when and why he appears but either way you don’t want him to appear. Almost nobody can fight this guy 1 on 1 and hope to survive. The show even gets a little more out there than you’d expect with the final battle. Ogre does not hold back that’s for sure.

One thing the show could probably tone down for season 2 is the flashbacks though. This show is only 6 episodes long and yet there are a considerable amount of flashbacks. They seem to come in almost every episode over and over again. Some of the scenes we see multiple times and it’s not like the audience will have forgotten. Even ignoring the binging format, it’s only 6 episodes. You really don’t need flashbacks like that. If you want to use 1 or 2 to build up the emotional appeal then that’s fine but more than that is just excessive with no real benefit to doing so.

Meanwhile one unique thing the show did that I thought worked really well was having everyone talk very slowly. At first I thought it would just be something Heihachi did but it works for the entire cast. It’s like everyone is trying really hard to enunciate every syllable no matter how long it takes. I feel like this is either a tribute to the original game’s dubbing or that’s just the custom within the Tekken world. There’s no way it’s a coincidence and all of the VAs just talk like that. Whatever the reasoning behind it was, I thought it worked well. That slow way of talking wasn’t obnoxious like how it’s handled in other titles but just feels very regal here.

It also helps with the very cinematic style of each episode. Each episode feels like part of a grand movie. The characters are expressive, the backgrounds are memorable, and the music raises the tension. With the characters speaking slowly, you also feel like they could lunge at any moment so everyone has their guards up at all times. Some characters aren’t too smart and like to take their chances like the one guy who thought he could cheat Heihachi out of their deal, but for the most part everyone plans things out carefully. You have to in this kind of world or you’ll vanish pretty quickly.

Overall, Tekken is a superb show. At the end of the day it really did everything right. It would have its super hype moments and it would also get very emotional at times. Not making any big mistakes is enough to get you to a 7 but if you want to go beyond that then you have to also be strong in all areas. That’s what Tekken does here. The fight scenes are really excellent and the story is great. The character cast is very strong and this is really a superb adaption. Any Tekken fan should be proud of how it came out and even if you don’t know Tekken, you can easily enjoy this as a solid action show. The plot is fairly straight forward with the tournament and you can follow along from there. In a lot of ways it feels like the anime version of Mortal Kombat and that’s always high praise. Hopefully a sequel comes sooner than later.

Overall 9/10

Breath of Fire Review


The Breath of Fire video game was a lot of fun so it was time to see how the manga would fare. Adapting a complete RPG in only 6 chapters is definitely quite the task. I’d say the manga did a good job but of course for obvious reasons it does cut a whole lot out. Things tend to move quickly here, particularly the climax which has to go at lightning speeds. Some of the villain generals also don’t get to appear here. For example you’re not going to see Goda here unless he had some kind of wordless cameo. Even in the game these guys didn’t appear much until the end though so it’s not too surprising.

The manga starts off with a ton of lore and the cliff notes version is that the world was once inhabited by a bunch of dragon clans. One day the Dark Dragons decided to go and murder everybody for some reason. The White Dragons were the only ones that could have stopped them but unfortunately they decided to become complete pacifists so they just watched as everyone got slaughtered instead. I’d be steamed if I was anyone living in that world tbh. Well, eventually the dark dragons got to the final survivors and nearly murdered them too but Ryu’s sister Sara made a deal to keep it as a 1 on 1 fight. She sacrificed herself so that Ryu could live.

Fast forward a few years and Ryu has made it his life’s goal to destroy all of the dark dragons. This will not be easy but he’s ready for this. Inn the meantime he also comes across other characters who have had their lives ruined by the dark dragons as well. The heroes will have to move quickly though or there won’t be a world left to save. They are also heavily outnumbered and so the heroes have to make sure that their plans are completely on point.

This feels like a very classic action adventure story. You’ve seen the characters and this kind of adventure before. It’s not trying to be super ambitious or anything like that and is just trying to tell a good story. It works well at doing this and if you like fantasy adventures then you will definitely have a good time with this one. Ryu makes for a solid main character. He’s your classic heroic kid who has a personal grudge against the villains. As the series goes on he learns that rage isn’t the way and that he must fight for justice instead.

Ryu never backs away from a challenge and will defend his friends to the end. He jumps right into action whenever there is danger and so I definitely don’t have any issues with him. I thought he handled all of the situations really well. Then you have the main heroine Nina who is rather retro in how she’s always beating up on poor Ryu. She can’t fight super well or anything but she does have healing abilities which come in handy. What Nina lacks is self confidence as she is easily set off by the sorceress Deis with rather light teasing. Nina needs to stay strong so she doesn’t cause any trouble.

Danc gets a fairly important role here as he has a tragic sob story as well and is ready to help out. The kid can’t really fight but helps give a motivational speech as one point. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of his but he’s not bad. If you want a bad character, Manillo fits that bill. They try to play him off like a decent guy by the end but I wasn’t buying it. He wouldn’t let the heroes get a boat so they could go save the world because he wanted extra money. His offers to them were pretty bad on the kinds of other tasks they could do to raise money. I don’t see how any of the characters were cool with him after that. They should have just knocked the guy around instead.

Builder gets his moment to shine as well. Things started out rather rough for him but the heroes helped him regain his confidence and make a comeback. Ultimately he got a happy ending which was nice, things almost got pretty dark for him there. Gillian also has his own chapter and that’s probably one of the perks of being an early character. I feel like you get more time to shine since you’re also around in the background for the rest. He’s a good character and helps everyone stay calm.

Mogu is an example of a character who came in too late. By the time he appears the series is pretty much over so there’s not much for him to do. He is a nice enough character who wants to help out but you don’t really feel like he can fight as well as he may think that he can. Deis is the final member to join the group and she’s a fun character like in the game. Her abilities are actually really good so she can help Ryu on the front lines unlike the others. Her spells have a lot of versatility to them and you can count on her help in any circumstance. She does enjoy teasing Nina for sure but you can say that it’s to help make Nina stronger. Deis has quite the strong personality and definitely helped to enhance the overall team dynamics.

As for the villains, most of them didn’t really make the cut here so the roster is rather small. You have Zorgon who thought he was the leader but he is manipulated from start to finish and never actually gets to look all that good. In the end this guy was really all talk and his role is so small that you may chuckle at the end. Judas is definitely the standout villain. He makes his presence known at all times and is incredibly powerful. He lands a lot of super big blows to the heroes and is relevant for the whole series. He gets more to do than I would have even expected and it makes for a great character arc.

Naturally Ryu’s sister Sara is also really solid. She’s determined and has a lot of power just like he does. She never backs down and doesn’t end up playing second fiddle. Sara just goes in and keeps on fighting all the way through to the end. She gets one of the most emotional moments in the manga. Finally you have Myria who is really the big bad here. The destroyer of the universe and she has other cool titles like that. She can fight and has kept up with the power creep over times.

While her goals may not be much more than total destruction, she does a good job of setting this into motion. Myria is strong and I liked her well enough as a villain. She may not stand out in terms of personality but her abilities are the real deal. This is where I would have liked another chapter or two though because the final fight ends up being a little rushed due to the length. In the span of 10 pages the heroes have to try and land their first blow on her and then the series ends. Not a lot of time for a real fight considering how powerful she was right?

The artwork is nice and retro. This looks like a very old time manga and it does adapt the video game designs well. At times the action can be a little hard to follow along so I think the manga could have been clearer there. It’s still good but it’s what keeps the good art from being very good. This would lose to a lot of modern titles for example but it’s solid enough where I wouldn’t call it bad. You’ll be able to blast through the chapters either way. The series has a little fanservice like with the obligatory river washing and Deis messing with Ryu but for the most part there’s not much here. It feels more like the series was ticking off a box than they were trying to add a lot of this. I’d argue that’s a box you don’t need to tick off since the scenes don’t add anything but they’re minor enough where they don’t bring the series down.

The story has good vibes to it and stays upbeat for the most part. There are a lot of tragedies as each character has a sob story but there is no time to really dwell on it. Even the characters are quickly back to having fun as they travel the distance. I’d say the manga does a good job of showing just what an adventure would feel like and how the characters adapt to it. It’s fairly low key even with the world at stake which helps on the retro feel.

I still say that the manga should have been longer but ultimately that’s not something that would shave a star off of the final product. It just means that this will probably encourage you to play the video game to really get the full experience. That’s my recommendation here as well, if you like the manga then definitely play the game. You get the bullet points here and all of the big story moments but it’s just not the same compared to a 20-30 hour experience on the game version. You get more time for the twists and character development there.

Overall, Breath of Fire is a solid title. It’s a very quick read at only 6 chapters long. It’s ultimately 2 volumes long as a result but they would feel like fairly short volumes to me. At least you could also say this speaks to the quality of the series as you will have no problem binging it all the way through. It’s what I’d consider to be a fairly safe pick. It’s not really going for any outlandish twists or bold story choices. This is a traditional adventure with fun characters and really plays out exactly how you would expect it to. So it’s a fun story that should appeal to most without trying to test the waters. I’ll be checking out the Breath of Fire 2 adaption soon and we’ll see how that one stacks up. I’d say I’ve got pretty good hopes on that one as well. Should be a solid adventure too.

Overall 7/10

Hitman: Agent 47 Review

This review is of the TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

We are back in the Hitman universe with this reboot. They learned a lot of their lessons from last time fortunately so this one actually ends up being pretty fun. We’ve got some solid action, special effects, and the whole works. It even feels a bit more like a superhero kind of film with how we’ve got powers now and even 47 can shoot across the whole city. Yeah if you were looking for some Hitman action then you’ve come to the right place.

So the movie introduces us to Katia who seems to have the ability to see the future. It helps her get out of a lot of bad spots and she even saves some lives by utilizing this power. She has been trying to find someone for a while now but doesn’t even know why. The situation gets dangerous when a man named John Smith (I’m sure that’s his real name…) shows up and tells Katia that an assassin is after her so she has to trust him. The assassin of course is 47 who is pursuing her quite relentlessly. Perhaps this guy can help Katia find out why she has super powers and why she even wants to find this random guy from her visions. Either way they will need to move fast.

The first half involves a lot of chase scenes as they try to get away from 47 and I thought this was handled really well. 47 is a Hitman after all so he won’t always be the hero here. Putting him in as a villain makes for a very intense perspective and I definitely wouldn’t have minded if it stayed like that the whole time. He gets some great feats here too like when he goes on a roof and then shoots a bullet that goes through a train, car, past a bridge, and then into the car where Katia is to hit her. The shot is absolutely insane and even Hawkeye would have to give him some respect there. It’s really impressive all the way through and 47 is practically robotic with how he keeps on going.

Now I do have one absolutely major issue with one of the opening scenes though. So 47’s mission right now is seemingly to neutralize both Katia and John. He is authorized to do whatever it takes to accomplish this. Now as the film goes on you can see why Katia is okay for now but what about John? There are several times where 47 can finish him off but chooses to keep on going. These scenes only work if you assume that 47 actually is a robot. I’ll give you a quick scene here. 47 knocks John to the ground and then turns to set up his gun so he can fire at Katia. He gets really close to shooting her but then John tackles him so they fall to the ground.

Okay, time to shoot John and then go back to hunting Katia right? Wrong, 47 acts like John isn’t even there and gets up to walk after Katia. So…John tackles him again and they wrestle in the train tracks for a bit. Several times John will interrupt 47 and the Hitman will knock him away or land a punch but then go back to ignoring him. I thought that didn’t make any sense unless they changed scripts midway and he was going to be a robot. 47 seems to have no common sense in these scenes which is just odd because he is always portrayed as such a highly skilled agent.

Still, as a character he was really solid. I liked his scenes in the embassy where he is in control the whole time and talks tough. He talks a whole lot more in this film than in the first one and it works well. You get the sense that he is absolutely ruthless and now that he can explain his intentions to the other characters, it makes him that much more sinister. It was also just nice seeing the U.S. Embassy show up even if you knew they were going to be doomed after a while. So there was a whole lot to like about these opening scenes. Plus I also enjoy how everything was dialed up to 11 with the crazy shots across the city or even Katia using her powers to figure out where to go next.

As a character Katia is quite solid. She may have been lacking in confidence at first but this didn’t stop her from taking a risk to save the lady in the opening scene and then always staying on the run. Katia basically had to self teach herself how to use these strange abilities and to stay in the game which is not easy. By the end of the film she has really come into her own and it’s a shame that we won’t be getting a sequel because I think that could have been a great film. Certainly Katia would have had a nice role in it and I liked where the film was going.

Yes, we do have a cliffhanger here so get ready for that. It’s a really hype one though and you can pull quite a few comparisons to Terminator 2 here. I think in a lot of ways this film was trying to be like that one and it succeeded. So if we kept this up I think the movies would have gotten even better as we leaned more on the sci-fi angle. The final scene (pre credits) was just really excellent and exactly the kind of note you want to end the movie off on.

Diana actually appears in person for this film which was nice. She doesn’t seem quite as personable as in the first film though. Here she appears to be fully part of team corporate. I guess if you stay long enough they always get you but it would have been nice to have seen her in more of a heroic role. Then we have John Connor Smith and he’s a fun character. I did find it a bit funny when Katia asked if that was his real name later on. Cmon now…it’s definitely not. The sad thing is if I ever met someone who was actually called John Smith I probably wouldn’t believe him. At this point the name is only used as an alias to the point where using that name actually just puts some suspicion on you.

Either way John was a really solid character here though. He definitely helped to bolster the cast. The movie has a fairly small cast of important characters to be honest but this way you can focus more on the plot and what’s going on. There are some other characters of course but these are the big ones. There is a whole lot of action here as well so you’ll definitely enjoy that. 47 gets to fight with guns, knives, and his fists. Everyone gets a little piece of the pie here.

The uniform still really stands out as well. This movie got to show off how versatile it could be as well by having 47 be a villain one moment and then someone you have to root for in the next. In some scenes he’ll remind you of Wesker even. This time the movie has quite a few twists and turns compared to the first which was more straight forward and it works out quite well. I did think the first one left things off on an interesting note as well but this one really raised the bar. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t better received because I need that sequel!

Overall, If you like a solid action movie then you should definitely enjoy this one. It’s a well rounded title with a lot of action and interesting plot developments. Sometimes the heroes can be a bit brutal with how they finish off their enemies like one kill in particular where the guy got crunched into oblivion but in Katia’s case she is fighting for her life and in 47’s case…he really couldn’t care less. You get the feeling he has some kind of plan going on that he’s not mentioning to anyone either but that could just be me overthinking it. It’s not like we’ll ever know for sure I suppose but hopefully we get another reboot or something soon because this series has a lot of potential.

Overall 7/10

Hitman Review

This review is of the TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

The Hitman video game series is definitely well known and you figure a film about it should be amazing right? Well, this one didn’t quite do it for me. It has some moments that show promise but ultimately just made too many mistakes which kept this from being the next big hit. At least they got the suit and tie right.

So the movie starts off with a quick origin for 47 and he gets the drop on the interpol agent Mike. We then get a flashback to 3 months ago to set things up. Here are the ground rules you need to know about this universe. A bunch of kids were raised to be future hitmen so they don’t show much emotion. The main character’s name is simply 47 and he has done really well. The head of the group or at least the one who contacts him is Diana and she has historically given him a lot of missions that he completes easily enough. Well, one day the mission appears to be a set-up as the guy (Mikhail) that 47 murdered is still alive and he’s told to murder a witness (Nika) who didn’t actually see him? 47 needs to figure out what is going on quickly to turn the tables on these guys or else his reputation as a top hitman may be on the line.

I do think it’s always an odd decision to have your first movie be something that changes the status quo to something you haven’t experienced yet. Shouldn’t a plot about 47 being betrayed by his group be a sequel’s plot as opposed to the original? At least give us a chance to see 47 working in a normal environment. In that sense I’d say you should have had the sequel take place first since the plot was more standard for 47. This is true for any film based on a franchise though, the first movie should feel like a classic adventure with whatever elements are usually in the games and then you subvert this later on.

Well, lets knock out some of the negatives right away. First up, the editing isn’t great and that’s a field I don’t even bring up unless it’s really bad. There are a ton of cuts in each action sequence so you don’t actually get to see the action a lot. Why do you need 5 different camera angles for someone getting punched? Now even if they actually did a solid punch on the set it’s hard to tell and you assume the choreography wasn’t very good. This happens a lot during pretty much every fight.

The only one that gets around this is the 4 man sword fight which is actually really good. Now that’s a fight that is a highlight in the movie and gave us a good look at what could happen here. If this had been the feel of the whole film then I think we’d be having a whole different conversation here. The sword fight was just really good. The gun battles and hand to hand are solid too of course but not nearly on the same level, particularly because of the cuts.

Then sometimes it felt like they were just taking short cuts. There is one scene where a character is walking through a underground parking lot of sorts. Instead of you know…having the character just walk all the way through before cutting away we see him take a step, then there’s a blinding flash of light. Then another step, another light, and then rinse and repeat for a third time before he vanishes. Beyond trying to give the audience seizures, what is even the point of that? It doesn’t make sense to me and felt like they just didn’t want to film the whole walking sequence or something happened and they lost some of the files.

I don’t mind a film being busy with a lot of effects (Kaguya season 1 handled this perfectly with lots of special effects everywhere) but they should have some kind of purpose to them. Otherwise it’s just adding effects to add them. Also, the romance here is pretty bad. Nika is a character who has effectively been held hostage for a long while by the villains. It feels like the last thing she wants to do is to get into an affair right now. There’s also no reason she would actually start liking 47 this quickly as she should still be in self preservation mode. He’s constantly threatening her and their whole dynamic just seems very weak. It all happens way too quickly and 47’s half hearted resistance will just make you roll your eyes.

This is a film that definitely didn’t need romance in the slightest. Finally, I thought the organization could have looked better. Now I don’t know much about 47’s group so maybe they’re all just evil anyway but at least Diana seems trustworthy with how she called 47 to warn him. How come she didn’t find out that the fix was in sooner? Also, why is the organization willing to sell out 47 this easily when he’s one of their best assets? Feels like they’re choosing the wrong side to me by a long shot. You don’t want to turn someone like 47 against you, that’s a terrible move.

Okay so for the good parts, I did like the Interpol agent Mike. That guy wasn’t about to get pushed around by the Russians and just kept going on the case to stop 47. He wasn’t getting distracted or tricked along the way either and just held onto his singular focus the whole time. He may never actually be a threat to 47 in anyway but his plot was always interesting.

47 himself was a decent main character as well. I wouldn’t say he was very good and he lost some points along the way but ultimately he always had a plan and would come out on top. He certainly got the upper hand on Mike quickly enough and took out a ton of villains at every point. I liked Diana even if her role was super small. I was not really a fan of Nika though. Certainly a tragic backstory for her but in the present she didn’t actually get to contribute much at all.

As for the villain Mikhail, well he is the kind of guy who panics a whole ton. The plan to frame 47 was solid without a doubt but the villains didn’t know how to follow through on that. There are a few other villains as well but none of them are particularly memorable. The movie goes through the motions and they get their moments where they come close to stopping 47 but you barely even see them as characters most of the time.

The soundtrack is pretty decent though. Some solid tunes in there and I did like the visual. The movie always made sure to show off 47’s suit and how the tie would practically glow. Fans will at least be satisfied that the outfit is pretty much a 1 to 1 recreation from the games. No expense was spared there and the ending also leaves some interesting plots for future installments. Of course no sequel would end up coming out but it did get you interested in the franchise as a whole and that is at least partially the goal in making an adaption like this.

Overall, Hitman wasn’t a success. For everything it did right, it did something wrong as well. I would place is squarely in the middle as a result and while there is a decent amount of replay value, I feel as though there is no real reason to watch it again. Watch Mission Impossible instead if you want to see some solid secret agent work or watch Terminator if you want to watch a stoic villain running around. After all, make no mistake, 47 is still a villain here. Just because his goals align with the heroes sometimes doesn’t change the fact that he is still a killer for hire who follows orders without really thinking about it. If the games keep in all of the interesting plot elements while touching the rest up then I can definitely see how this became a really big franchise.

Overall 5/10

Persona 5: The Animation: Dark Sun… Review


After the show ended things off on a rather intense note, it was time for this special to continue the story along. It’s fair to say that the show’s ending was never going to stick but it was fun to entertain that notion in the meanwhile. This one brings things together to a pretty decent end although it’s fair to say that it’s still another cliffhanger, just a different one. It picks up right where the show left off so it’s nostalgic to see the whole cast here. Since we’re pretty deep into the adventure, there is no downtime and the heroes just get right to work. Naturally this post will have spoilers for the show so proceed with that in mind.

After Akechi murdered Joker he played it up as a suicide and went about his way. It turns out that he’s been working for Shido this whole time and all of the incidents have helped get Shido up to the world stage. The guy is very close to becoming the prime minister now and naturally needed everyone out of the picture. Well, it turns out that Joker faked his death through a clever trick involving switching the two worlds so that Akechi murdered a virtual version of him. Now the team has to saddle up and take Shido down but can they really keep Akechi off their backs long enough to pull this off?

The special goes pretty fast from this point. The intro where they have to explain how the trick worked take some time but then it’s off to the races. I thought the trick was pretty solid although I have my doubts on how well this would work. It really all comes down to two things I have an issue with. The first being that when you switch worlds there is no indication of this happening. Can it really be so smooth? Usually there is an effect where the world itself distorts and the characters all seem to notice this so how is it possible that it didn’t alert Akechi?

The best thing I can think of is they opened it up as such a large territory that he was not in the blast radius but that doesn’t seem to have been something they could really do. My other issue is with the virtual bodies themselves. So we know that a virtual body will die in the same way as a real one based on the previous castles only the body will then disintegrate into a pile of black smoke. How did they prevent Joker’s body from vanishing until after Akechi left? Furthermore, how did the security guard’s body not vanish after Akechi took him down? Akechi monologued for quite a bit so the guy should have been long gone.

In short, I don’t think their plan actually should/could have worked here. At least not with the info we get here, perhaps the video game was more detailed about it. Ah well, then we cut to the heart of the adventure which is to try and take Shido down but of course Akechi will still try to stand in their way. He gets a lot of props here as he was taking on the whole team at once. At one point they ask how he can use more than one persona but Joker’s been doing that since the very start of the show so they should be asking him that. I suppose Akechi is just super talented since he never actually explains how it’s possible.

The various mysteries throughout the show are all wrapped up pretty well here. Akechi does start to go off the deep end a bit but all in all the guy’s still my favorite character. He was usually one step ahead of everyone else and his plans were really on point. The guy was certainly crazy and a total villain but he executed this well. He’s the kind of villain you enjoy watching because his goals make sense and he’s just charismatic.

Shido is a little less interesting in that respect but he makes for a good final boss here. The guy actually knows a little bit about the mental abilities and alternate world. While this is something unknown to most, it makes sense that the big boss should be in on the loop. It even opens the door to some interesting storylines like if they trained a bunch of government assassins to pull this off as well. Perhaps in a sequel or something like that.

The animation is good here. It’s still nothing top notch or anything but works well enough for the fights. Persona isn’t always a very action packed title but this one had a good amount of fighting. With Akechi here that makes sense since the whole show was building up to this and you wouldn’t want to have an underwhelming climax at the end of the road. For the soundtrack we don’t get the big lyrical songs this time around but the beats still work. I’ve always liked the Persona soundtrack and this one’s no exception.

For the main characters they all get their chance to help out. Joker takes most of the credit here as he was strong enough to go up against Akechi and also took most of the risks in the plan. It’s just clear from the start that he’s the most powerful. The rest of the gang helps out as best they can as well. Without them Joker would have definitely been doomed either way. Even Sae gets to help out quite a bit and her role as a cop/investigator is always coming in handy.

If this did end up being the ending to Persona 5 I dare say that it would still work out pretty well. Sure, the heroes are still in a dangerous spot and not all of the villains are down for the count but for the most part things would be going well. It would also be open ended just enough where there could be a sequel. Of course there was a sequel and I’ll be reviewing it pretty soon. I would have liked Akechi to have done more but I am still satisfied in the end and I can see why he’s a fan favorite.

Overall, Dark Sun is a solid follow up to the main show. We get to see the updated version of the opening song here which is fittingly called Dark Sun so that’s nice. If you liked the show then you should definitely like the special. In some ways the special even beats the show as it’s able to focus on just one case and give it the full attention of around an hour. It does a lot within that time and it’s nice to just see the gang back in action. It might not make a whole lot of sense if you haven’t seen the show though so you won’t want to check this out as a stand alone title.

Overall 7/10

Persona 5: The Animation Review


The Persona video games are immensely popular. Not only do they guarantee a lot of content in the games which really run on the long side but the characters tend to become very popular and the franchise is huge at this point. Persona 5 is likely the biggest installment in the series as well so it’s fitting that this one got a full anime. It’s definitely fun to see the thieves in action and the ending really leaves things at a high note. One of the best endings I’ve seen a while. A rough first arc is really what keeps this one from going higher.

The series revolves around a character named Ren and starts with him being beaten by the police and then interrogated. We then cut to the past where he has just gotten out of probation. It was a tough period for him because he was arrested solely for doing the right thing in defending a lady from some random creep. Unfortunately she didn’t defend him when the cops arrived and the whole experience set him back but to this day Ren does not regret what happened. Now his life is really spinning though. At night he has dreams where he is behind bars again and this time a demon is talking to him about rehabilitation.

What does he need to be rehabilitated against though and why is he here? In the real world he finds out that the PE club is run by a villain known as Kamoshida who is exerting his will over all of the students as he assaults them. Ren runs into another student named Ryuji who wants to help but neither one of them are sure what they can do. Fortunately that’s when they end up in an alternate universe of the school where they can tap into summoned spirits known as Persona. These heroes now have the ability to steal the hearts of the wicked and force them to repent. Perhaps they can free the world of all evil? We know that he ultimately ends up being captured by the police so throughout the series you’re wondering when that’ll happen and what leads up to this.

You know this is based on an RPG type game when just explaining the plot takes a few paragraphs and we’re not even past episode 2 yet. There is absolutely a lot going on here. The sheer amount of characters and cases is impressive so you can see how the game would be long. Especially since it seems like this show doesn’t cover the whole game based on how it ends. So lets dive right into this.

First off, the soundtrack is really a blast here. It’s got a very party kind of vibe to it. The opening is very catchy, both of them in fact. I prefer the first opening for sure but the second one grows on you after a bit. It’s definitely going for more of an emotional vibe while the first one is very upbeat the whole time. Then you have the transformation theme whenever the characters activate their persona and a lot of other insert songs throughout. They spared no expense on the soundtrack for sure.

For the animation style itself, it’s good but I wouldn’t say it’s great. It has what I’d call a very standard style here. There aren’t any cuts that are particularly impressive but it never looks bad either. So it’s just standard/average which is good enough here. As long as the animation isn’t bad I’m usually okay on my end. In the end this show really succeeds on a technical side. So now lets jump into each of the arcs.

First is the Kamoshida arc and as I mentioned, this is the weakest one. It does give us the origins of the Phantom Thieves which is nice as they get up to 3 members and learn more about how the castles work. The show leaves a lot to your imagination on this which opens the door for a lot of questions but I’ll get into that later on. So the reason why they have targeted Kamoshida is obvious. His actions have brought great harm to the school and one of the students even tried to commit suicide after he attacked her. So the heroes have to go in and take him out.

How this works is a bit complicated, they can’t just go in and destroy him after all. The way to take his heart is to first scout out the area and find the treasure room. From there they have to send him a notice in the real world to announce that they aim to steal his heart. This causes the treasure to appear in the castle and only then can the heroes steal it. Of course by this point the target is aware of their presence so they always end up having to fight anyway. These thieves never get out without a fight.

So with the rules out of the way, the adventure goes pretty directly. The heroes break in and give Kamoshida the hands with their transformations. Ann gets to directly enact her revenge next to the other characters. It was good that she got to have the win and of course they have removed the evil in him so he can’t hurt anyone else. It’s just too bad they couldn’t have done this a little sooner. A lot of the damage was already done by this point.

Persona 5 really goes out of its way to show that most of the adults are crooked here. They’re either going after girls like the corrupt fiancé, the guy from Ren’s backstory, and Kamoshida; just generally violent like the cops who enjoy beating Ren into the ground, or just plain mean like every other criminal they go after here. It’s rare to find any adults that actually seem like good people here. The only big one I can think of would be Futaba’s legal guardian and a politician who realized that he needs to bet on the youth of this world. So as you can guess this is not a very pleasant world to be in and that’s why a lot of heart snatching is necessary from the heroes’ side. That’s a whole other debate which I’ll go into later as well.

The Kamoshida arc is felt throughout the rest of the series and will be brought up a lot. It was certainly a big moment for sure but the show would have been better off skipping this one. That kind of villain never enhances an episode. The next arc introduces Madarame as the big villain. He’s a corrupt art teacher who steals his students’ work and then tosses them aside when they’re no longer useful. Right now his victim is a kid named Yusuke who refuses to believe Ren and the others when they talk about this. Since it will be incredibly hard to prove that Madarame is guilty, they’ll have to take his heart away.

Yusuke was very unreasonable the whole time but this was a good case. By this point we’re starting to meet some other characters here like Akechi who wants to catch the Phantom Thieves and the cast is slowly growing. The main moral here has to be that you should always not lose sight of the fact that people will take advantage of you if you don’t keep your guard up. Yusuke figured that this could never happen to him but sure enough, it did.

After that it’s time to go up against Kaneshiro. Yes this name is really similar and they are pronounced in very similar ways so that makes it a little hard to keep the names apart. Kaneshiro is using money to ruin lives as he gets people used to gambling and then takes their futures away and blackmails the rest. It’s a tough scheme that reaches all throughout the city and so the only option left is to take his heart. Each arc so far has added a new member to the team and this one is no exception as Makoto joins in. She’s definitely one of the better members and it was good to have her on board. This one was fun enough and the heroes made quick work out of him. It’s another reminder on why you want to stick away from the shadier parts of town though, everyone’s just waiting to mess you up in Persona world. Make one mistake and they’ll throw the blackmailing at you.

Next up, Medjed declares that they will attack the city if the phantoms do not give themselves up and reveal their identities. Up to this point people had been rooting for the phantoms but now with their lives at risk the people change their minds real quick. Naturally giving up their identities would be a bad move here since they would not be able to do much after that. You could make the case that it would be tough to prove their guilt even if they voluntarily turned themselves in but with everyone knowing about how all of these criminals have suddenly turned a new leaf, it is still too risky. The heroes have to steal Futaba’s heart to stop all of this.

Futaba’s not really a villain the way the rest of the people had been so far but she needs her heart stolen because she has been traumatized by this point. She hasn’t had the best experiences with her family as her mother committed suicide and the rest just weren’t particularly pleasant at the time. She blames herself for what happened and no longer goes outside. She has locked herself into her room and intends to never leave it again so if things don’t change, that will be game over for her. For once the heroes are trying to change a heart to directly save their target.

While I was not really a fan of Futaba, this was a solid arc. Sojiro got to appear more ere and he was doing his best to protect her the whole time. That guy gave Ren a chance when everyone else wouldn’t so now Ren had a chance to help him out in return. This helped the team really get together and now they had even more members in place. You have to think that this is happening just in time because every boss requires more and more fighters to beat it. Imagine if it was still just 2 or 3 of them?

Next up, the heroes are confronted with a string of mental blackouts where someone seems to be stealing hearts the way that the phantoms are, only these guys are completely murdering their victims. The blackouts effectively turn you into a vegetable or worse. The only lead is that a company owned by Kunikazu stands to gain from this. His daughter Haru is also being married off to some random creep and he won’t even talk to her about it. So the heroes have to stop Kunikazu quickly but making matters more complicated is that Morgana has been getting upset at them recently because he feels that they don’t appreciate his contributions.

Additionally, Morgana is still a human trapped in a cat’s body and feels like there has not been any progress on this part. So he also blames himself for this and not being able to help so all of that frustration comes to a boil here. Haru also gets to activate her persona here so the group gets even bigger. This arc wasn’t bad, I liked the idea of Morgana teaming up with someone else to form a splinter group of sorts. Then we have the mysterious guy in black and these mental outs so a lot is going on here. It ends up being one of the more important arcs in that sense. While Haru’s father looks awful and the would be fiancé is just as bad, you’re used to it by this point since all of the adults are just corrupt here.

The arc also doesn’t end the way you might expect. Finally, we enter the last arc which leads up to the present where Ren has been captured by Sae. The show really had the whole first season be a flashback if you think about it so it was nice to be in the present. Basically Sae has been gradually getting more and more off the deep end by the day in her desperation to stop the Phantom Thieves. So Akechi tells the team they need to steal her heart and he will even help. It’s hard to know if they can trust him but Ren agrees. As it is, it’s been hard to actually act lately with Sae around every corner and improving security all around.

Well this is the big arc and it lives up to the hype. Putting aside my questions of the capture for now, it was just great to get to this point. This also ties into the ending. Of course I can’t go into it but it really doesn’t go the way you might have expected. I wasn’t ready for the twist and then the ending theme that plays as the episode concludes is phenomenal. The ending just felt very valid. There was a game of wits and someone won while someone else lost. You sort of know that this ending cannot possibly stick but even so it was just really solid. Also, the show did end this way so if you don’t watch anything afterwards or play the game then in a way this was really the ending. Either way it definitely threw me for a loop.

So one of the big debates here is the ethics of stealing hearts. After all, the way it goes, this seems to be like mind control to an extent. The person’s whole personality changes and suddenly they want to be an upstanding citizen. The reason mind control is always controversial is because it’s a slippery slope. The good intentions you have can change over time and it’s not always clear what is the right thing to do but taking away someone’s agency is a big thing. Even in a series like One Piece people deeply disliked when one of the heroes would go around mind controlling the villains. I’m usually an advocate against mind control myself for those reasons.

The reason this one is tricky is because the heroes aren’t giving any commands. It’s not like they’re telling this guy “Go donate your money” or something like that. They remove the dark intentions without any orders so in a way the individual is still making their own choices. The difference is that they’re making their choices from a much smaller list of options because no evil ones appear there. It’s still a bit squishy but I would actually be in favor of the Thieves here. You’d have to convince me that there is a tangible downside to doing this.

In my mind it’s not equivalent to mind control and that’s why I’m on board. So if I’m the phantoms I’d keep on going. You can never get to everyone of course but each person they convert means one more potential victim that they’ve saved. The team is objectively making the city safer. Of course I don’t fault Akechi and the cops for trying to stop the Thieves. They have no way of knowing all of the information that we the viewer have but I think if they did have that knowledge, a lot of the would end up agreeing with the main characters. There are valid reasons to keep on opposing them since that’s a lot of power to be giving a few teenagers but it’s a good bet. I like to think if we had a way to tangibly make the world better then we should take it. Particularly since this world seems so corrupt but even in the real world, being able to eliminate evil emotions while only keeping the good ones just seems like such a good deal. Of course you take a risk since you could die in the castle but it’s a risk worth taking.

Now, there are some questions about how the castle system works out. In the show we see that the heroes take out their phone apps and the surroundings sort of turn into the castle framework. So in the real world are they still walking around and looking crazy like it’s a VR? Well, we see in the last episodes some cases to suggest this isn’t it. From an outside perspective the characters seem to just vanish. If you’re really close you’ll even vanish along with them. So once you are transported there is no connection to the human world until you get back.

With this in mind, how could the characters possibly get caught by the cops? I didn’t buy it personally but someone led them into the virtual world and they nabbed Joker. Here’s my thing, Ren has summons, super powers, and is more used to the world. You’re going to have a hard time ever convincing me that a bunch of cops with no knowledge of this world just popped in and took him out. Come on now, that’s just hard to buy. It’s a pretty big deal too considering the entire season hinges on him getting captured. I’m glad that we got an explanation on how it worked by the end at least because the whole season I was wondering about it. The heroes sure are lazy about keeping the secrets though as they’ll just vanish in the middle of school or right outside and get caught several times.

It’s a small thing, but I enjoyed the music and atmosphere whenever we’d cut to Ren being interrogated. You’d always hear that click sound effect and then be brought right back to the room where Ren definitely just wants some sleep but has to keep answering questions over and over again. You could feel his exhaustion just from watching the screen and also see how it feels like he wasn’t getting anywhere in his story. We still don’t have any answers on the rehabilitation jail Ren is in with the demon so we’ll have to see what becomes of that. Arsene also doesn’t appear much at all. Unlike the rest of the heroes who keep using the same persona, Ren keeps on switching so that’ll probably be a big plot moment eventually.

All right, time to talk about the characters. First up is Ren and he’s okay at best but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan. It’s hard to get a read on the guy as his personality just seems to change or not really make much sense to me. He’s often quiet and just trying to do the right thing but then he’s also a pushover. He lets the guys talk him into ordering a maid for sketchy reasons which was a real low point for him. He has some debates with Akechi but doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for them so this banter is not nearly as good as it could have been. Ultimately Ren is a good guy but he’s not a great character. He needs to be either more outspoken or just more confident but something needs to change a bit there.

Then there’s Morgana who is the animal mascot here and he’s good for lore but doesn’t help a whole lot in the fights. He does have a persona but it seems weaker than the others. Perhaps that is not the case but it feels like that at least and it works well with the whole sub plot about Morgana doubting himself so it makes sense. Too bad Morgana never got a big power up.

Ryuji’s a fun character. He’s the first person that Ren meets up with from the phantoms and really gets the hang of things quickly. He doesn’t doubt himself or the mission as much as some of the others do. He’s not perfect or anything but by and large he does his best. Ryuji just has fun with the mission and tends to keep an upbeat attitude.

Ann joins shortly afterwards and is all for the mission too. She takes it very seriously considering that she’s been a victim of the corrupt adults before and is always helping out a lot. While more members join up later, I consider these 3 to really be the main players of the group and the leaders when you boil it all down. If they have an opinion on the next mission you expect it to get a lot of weight.

Next up is Yusuke and I never warmed up to the guy. For starters he claims to seriously be an art guy who does his sculptures just to achieve his mastery and yet it doesn’t seem that way when he wants the sculpture of Ann. He stopped being reasonable at that point and while he gets past that after the episode, his normal personality isn’t great either. He’s always rather aloof and just doesn’t really contribute as much as the others.

Makoto is one of the last members to join but she’s one of the best ones. For starters she was actually trying to enact some justice on her own first by working for the school and then by tailing the main characters. Her connection with Sae helps in that regard but so she’s always been on the front lines here. Becoming a phantom was the next logical step on her path and she had more personality than most of the other characters.

Futaba is not nearly as impressive. She’s a great hacker who helps out a lot on that front but she’s not really used to the outdoors and can hold the others back a bit. She doesn’t take as active of a role in fighting either. It’s good to have the tactician monitoring the situation of course but ultimately I’d like to see her do more. Due to her origin story it’ll take some time for her to really get the hang of things but after that maybe she will be fighting more.

Finally you have Haru. I give her credit for being able to self teach herself how to work in the castles a bit. I’m sure Morgana helped out as well but it was nice to see. Haru’s stint as an alternate hero group to the phantoms was very short lived but it was still a nice plot point. She shows up late enough in the series where she hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot just yet but should be a nice addition to the cast.

That’s it for the main heroes. I’ll mainly sidestep the villains as there isn’t much to say about them. They show up and prove how evil they are before being taken down by the heroes. The exception to this would be the mysterious man in black but we have yet to know who that even is. There’s certainly a big suspect on who that is based on the context clues but it’s not totally confirmed just yet.

For the side characters, well we’ve got Sojiro who I mentioned before. He’s a nice enough bartender and while he talks tough, he still helps Ren out in the end. There is Sae who we slowly see get more and more obsessed with the Phantom Thieves. She may not be a total villain but Sae is right on the edge about that. She is tempted to falsify evidence and can’t be reasoned with by the end so that’s when you know that her heart needs rescuing. I appreciate her determination but she really was crazy by the end so even though she started to see the light eventually, it was a little late. Sae makes for a good villain though.

Then we have Akechi who really lives up to the hype. He’s effectively like L from Death Note. Akechi is a super sleuth who is out to catch the Phantom Thieves because he believes that what they are doing is unjust. He thinks it’s an abuse of power and that it bypasses the court systems. So like I was saying earlier about how you could easily get this viewpoint and that it’s a valid one, I do like him as an antagonist. He is willing to talk with the thieves about this although they can’t out themselves so they’re careful about it. Ren’s not very subtle but you like to think they have a subtle understanding that they will talk vaguely around each other. Akechi doesn’t do much until near the end of the show but he really makes his presence felt in those episodes.

That covers all of the big characters I’d say. It’s really a colorful cast of characters here. I wouldn’t say it’s a great cast since I’m not a big fan of quite a few of the Thieves but Akechi and Sae make for two formidable opponents. The thieves seem to spend more time being fighters than thieves in the virtual world but the show makes up for it by having the characters strategize in the real world a lot.

Now, while the animation as a whole I wasn’t too impressed with, I did really like the transformation sequences. Each character gets one for the very first time they merge with their persona. These moments seemed to get a really high budget in particular. The attention to detail with each of the transformations was really excellent. There was even a specific theme that would show up each time this happened. These moments were always a lot of fun and we got a look into each character’s psyche as you have to tap into your inner desires to use the power. I was half expecting the characters to start faltering when they had doubts, but fortunately that didn’t happen. They may have had some doubts but on the battlefield they would stow their fears and keep on going.

The show even squeezes in a few one shot episodes like the moderator of the website going crazy, the heroes heading to the beach, etc. The slice of life episodes tend to be a little on the boring side though. This is a show where you really want to see the next story beats and the episodes for character development don’t land as well. Probably because I wasn’t a big fan of some of them but also because they tended to not look very good in these episodes. They tend to bring out the worst in Ryuji and parts like the maid episode don’t help Ren either. The show mainly avoids fanservice fortunately but if there were any episodes where you could expect some, it would be in these episodes which didn’t help their case compared to the plot based ones either.

Overall, Persona 5: The Animation seems like a very good adaption of the game. It doesn’t end all of the plot points so get ready for a few cliffhangers but that just makes the whole thing even more epic. I’d have liked more of an explanation on how the Persona’s work. Why can Ren use several while everyone else is tied to one? Headcanon will work in the meantime though. The opening arc started the show off on a real rough patch with the villain getting away with way too much but the show rebounds from there and by the end I’d still say it’s good, in no small part due to the climax really being quite epic. I still say that was one of the most effective endings I’ve seen in a while. If you’re up for some good ole mysteries and moral discussions on if you should change hearts or not then this is up your alley.

Overall 6/10

Monster Hunter Review


Monster Hunter is a franchise that always seemed pretty fun. I haven’t played any of the games yet but I did watch one of the anime and it was solid. The monster designs are on point and so a movie for this could have a lot of potential. In some ways the movie is really stellar like with the effects and soundtrack, but unfortunately that doesn’t translate to the actual movie which suffers greatly from a lack of quality characters and no real good dynamics. The sequel would likely take things to the next level but we’ll see if that ever manages to come out.

The movie starts with Artemis and her team looking for some missing soldiers. They find an abandoned truck with signs of a struggle around it but no bodies. Then a giant storm appears and throws the gang through a portal into a different world. This world is dangerous with lots of giant monsters and crazy creatures running around. There is seemingly no escape from them and one by one they pick off all of Artemis’ team. She is now alone and must try to find her way back to Earth. She will have to reluctantly team up with a mysterious hunter who isn’t the nicest guy around. Can they put aside their differences and stay alive?

So lets quickly talk about what went right for this film and why I thought it had potential rather deep into the film until I realized it wasn’t going to happen. First off, the soundtrack really is excellent. It’s one of the best that I’ve heard in a long time with a good amount of electronic tunes. This sounds like something straight out of the Tron film series. It also has some solid action tunes and as a result this is a soundtrack that you could throw right into a video game without any issues. That’s how solid it is.

Then you have the special effects which are on point. We meet several monsters but of course the Diablos is the main one from all of the trailers. They all look good and rather faithful to the games where they came from. It’s clear that there was a good amount of effort put into the research part of the movie. I would have liked to have seen some more monsters of course but the ones that we did get were solid. Then you have the flame sword and some more intense weapons at the end of the film. The cliffhanger makes you feel like the next film would have really gotten involved with the lore of the series and even thrown in some villains. It could have been a Final Fantasy type experience.

Also, the first chunk of the film about Artemis and her team running around the island is like something out of Alien only much better. The gang are all experienced soldiers in an unfamiliar territory fighting off monsters that are basically Xenomorphs. One by one they are picked off but the scene shave a lot of tension and suspense. You could even call the film part horror for this whole part until the final members die and Hunter appears. This was the best part of the film. Now I still have some issues like with the neck bursters taking the place of the chest bursters. Do we need any kind of bursters in every alien film? I’d rather get torn apart by a Xenomorph than have that happen to be honest.

The film can’t really resist having this happen to one member at least but the film mostly has restraint otherwise. The scenes can be intense but it’s more about the atmosphere than what is actually happening on screen and I do think that is the right approach here. Finally, the last positive I can give for the movie is that Artemis is a very solid main character. She’s a no nonsense fighter who knows how to keep her team focused and not get sidetracked by every little thing. It’s easy to see how she earned the captain role and never falters throughout the movie.

In general the film’s pacing is solid as well so things never drag on. Still, the second half is a big downgrades and a big part of that is Hunter’s fault. So, Hunter can only talk in the language of the new world so he and Artemis don’t understand each other. I think that already puts the film in a tough position since it’s very hard to write good banter in such a situation. I absolutely think it’s possible with top tier writers but do you think Monster Hunter has that level of talent at the ready? Most of the conversations are basically just the two characters making fun of each other. It takes them a while to actually get along and by that point the film is nearly over.

They even have a very serious fight early on where they nearly murder each other. It was certainly quite the way to get introduced to each other. Hunter’s mostly the one at fault here though as he kept on taunting Artemis. She had to put him in his place to establish the chain of command around here. Hunter just never gets all that interesting though and I would have almost preferred Artemis was on her own the whole time.

There’s also one scene that will take you out of the immersion for a bit because of how ludicrous it is. So, after hours of being in the desert and fighting monsters, Artemis reaches in her pocket and takes out a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. It is perfectly solid and not melted at all. She uses it as a peace offering with Hunter who loves it since this is the best brand of chocolate of all time. Here’s the problem, while I don’t mind shameless product placement since I always find that entertaining, there’s no way it wouldn’t have melted. Try carrying a chocolate bar in your pocket while you’re walking around and handling day to day tasks. I’ve done this a few times in my day and let me tell you, your pocket’s going to be a mess after this.

There is no way that would even resemble a bar by the time she was done with the first act of the film. It may be a minor thing but I couldn’t stop thinking about that because of how obvious it was. As usual for these kinds of films the heroes are rather desperate for whatever they can eat which usually ends up looking rather gross. The characters have to skin the monsters to get weapons and bait which can also be rather messy and gross. That part of Monster Hunter I would be cool with skipping so we can just get to the action already.

That’s not even counting the rest of Hunter’s crew who was completely forgettable. It’s easy to forget they even had an intro scene in the film. I think what this boils down to is that the film was a lot more interesting when it was Artemis and her team. I would have changed it so the whole film was about them trying to survive rather than switching to Hunter and his crew. That would have just ended up being a lot more fun in the end.

One thing you want to have for a sci-fi film like this..or any film really is some fun banter and dialogue while blasting your way through the enemy planet. This film doesn’t have any of that since nobody who can speak English even appear until we’re near the end of the film. You also won’t get answers to the interesting parts of the film yet like who put up the towers to cause the portals between worlds.

At the very end of the film we see a glimpse of the likely culprit but there’s no clue on who this is. There’s so much you can do with this, particularly since there seems to be a castle of some kind at the end. A villain group all fighting with magical swords/weapons would make for an amazing sequel. Sure, the monsters may get less screen time but I would be fine with that. It was fun seeing the government step in again near the end but even then this was a very brief moment.

Overall, Monster Hunter could have been a lot better. It just made a lot of questionable choices in the second half. Hunter could have been much more interesting than how he ended up being. I could do with less of the crude humor like the cat getting his fur in the drink that they end up having to drink. Those scenes don’t need to be there and the writing just doesn’t feel nearly as good as it could have been. Artemis can’t hold the entire film on her own and it’s an issue that the film is trying to give her the full load. At least the excellent soundtrack ensures that you will have a good audio experience, but the solid first act is not enough to keep this movie afloat so it’s time to give this one a skip.

Overall 4/10

James Bond 007: From Russia with Love Review


From Russia With Love certainly left quite an impact to even get its own video game eventually. Bond has had quite a few games which tend to range from being first person shooters to third person. Fortunately this one is the latter as I tend to prefer that style. It’s a pretty good retelling of the movie’s story and even throws in some extra moments to extend the playthrough. The game’s at a reasonable length and has some bonus levels to strive for as well.

The basic plot is that the villains at Octopus (Yeah that’s their new name now instead of Spectre) have decided to trick Bond once again. They get a former Russian agent known as Tatiana to pretend to work with Bond and get him to take many risks in obtaining a device. She believes this is a legitimate mission from Russia and doesn’t realize that it’s a trap. Bond knows it’s a trap but wants to enjoy himself so he looks the other way. The characters are now on a collision course and Bond will have to watch out for an assassin that is coming after him. Will Bond be able to survive?

There are around 22 levels in the game and the goal is usually to grab some intel or just make it to the end in time. Each level has a few different objectives and once you complete them all then the mission is over. Pro tip, if you’re close to dying but about to clear the objective, just run as fast as you can. If you complete it even for a second before dying, it will create a new checkpoint so you recover all of your health when you wake up. This saved me quite a few times.

The game is rather difficult so you really need to make each shot count. Just go in guns blazing and don’t worry about the rest. The toughest enemy to deal with is a big guy who runs in with a machine gun. He can completely destroy you with just a few hits so you desperately need to pepper him with assault rifle rounds of your own or it’s game over. It’s really impressive just how daunting of an opponent he is to fight. If you lower your guard that’s it. He’s even stronger than most bosses.

Most of my losses in the game are due to this guy showing up. You can switch through your weapons and gadgets during gameplay so always try to keep an eye on which one has ammo. Another tip is that most guns have a second kind of ammo so if you run out of the first, go into the menu to switch to the other one. For that reason you should start with the backup ammo since when you finish it automatically cycles back to the normal one. It’s a pretty good way to do things.

The stealth mechanics are also handy. If you sneak up on an opponent from behind you can take him out in a single blow. This can often be very handy since you don’t have to use up any health. It’s also worth noting that the game has an upgrades section. You can build up your guns or even your armor by spending achievement points. I never quite figured out how you earn those points but by the end of the game you should have a good amount. I highly recommend using these on your armor since it extends the health bar which is incredibly useful.

If you ever do end up getting stuck in the game you could probably go back to old levels to earn more points. I assume that would work and the more level ups you get the easier the game would be. That being said, you should be in a good spot for most of these levels. The toughest level in the game by far is the first boat level. I lost that one many times before finally winning. It’s definitely difficult when you’re not at the wheel. The driver really tends to turn at the worst moments.

The graphics are definitely sharp. The game felt rather cinematic as it used cutscenes to reenact a lot of big moments from the film. We even get true fight scenes in the cutscenes which is impressive. The game put in a lot of effort and I’d say it was rewarded since the game is rather well known. This may be based on a movie but it’s no cash-in. The soundtrack is good as well with the classic Bond theme playing a few times. Aside from Bond’s voice sounding noticeably older, the game really sounds just like the movie.

So the base game is probably around 5-7 hours and then with the extra levels you can bump that up a bit. Earning all achievements should take a while too and then the game also has a big multiplayer mode. That really helps to amp up the replay value since you can have a blast staying there for hours. I’d expect no less from a big Gamecube game that’s for sure. The game was very well done and I look forward to seeing what Bond comes up with next. The series lends itself well to a third person shooter style.

I’d like the next ones to keep in the upgrading system as I always like things like that. It incentivizes you to grind the old levels to get stronger and stronger. If I had my way then all games would have some kind of level up system since it’s just so much fun to have. You never truly feel stuck when you can go back and get even stronger.

Overall, From Russia With Love is a pretty fun game. It’s a title that should be nostalgic for long time Bond fans. Even if you haven’t seen the movies you should be pretty well set here though since the game adapts the whole movie so it’s pretty new user friendly. At its core this is a story about agents from different countries all being manipulated by the villain organization. That’s a plot that you can dive into without any issues.

Overall 7/10

Assassin’s Creed Review


Assassin’s Creed is one of those video game series I haven’t played but I do see the games all over. Plenty of their characters have fought on the blog and if you’re a fan of parkour then it seems like it delivers on that. The games always have events happening in various time periods. Well, the film changes things quite a bit while taking a stab at one adventure. It’s a pretty good film although if you’re a big fan of the games it will probably be hard to get past the changes.

The movie starts with Cal witnessing his father murder his mother. The guy tells Cal to run so he does. The lead grows up as a very aggressive guy and after murdering a criminal is sent to a special jail. The staff there will be using an experimental time travel device on him so he will inhabit the psyche of his ancestor. They want him to find the golden apple or at least the location of it. The apple is what grants humanity free will so whoever has it in their possession will become immensely powerful.

So part of the film takes place in the present while parts take place in the past due to this neural link. I can say right away that the present timeline plot is a lot more interesting for me. The setting is effectively a jail for metahumans after all and you can see how things would be pretty interesting there. Down the road you could have some kind of war and if one such jail exists, I’m sure many more do. There are probably undercover bases all over.

The neural links also allow you to use the fighting abilities of your previous incarnation when you were an assassin. This means that the fighters are all very well trained so Cal goes from not having any real fighting abilities to suddenly being a top notch fighter. He’s able to take down dozens of opponents at once even though they also have enhanced abilities. His are just on another level.

I liked the fight scenes a lot here because of how stylized they are. I’ve always enjoyed the arm blade style weapons that the Creed films are well known for and they are put to full display here. You can imagine the film easily being rather violent as characters are getting ripped to shreds and beheaded but with the stylized approach most of it is actually rather bloodless. The enemies either turn into apparitions as we see what’s happening in the present or they just go down instantly. As a result despite the constant action, the film really isn’t very violent at all.

Since the assassins are meant to be rather subtle fighters, it does make sense that they wouldn’t be making much of a mess. There are a lot of fights throughout the movie so you will have no shortage of action scenes. There is less parkour than you would expect though. Cal does run around jumping on roofs and such and doing the big jumps from the games but that’s about it. It’s not something that happens super often but maybe that’s because the past doesn’t get as big a role as you would expect.

Again, that is for the best though. The present timeline is just a lot better. You have a lot of solid architecture and meetings there. Such as the corporate group led by Alan who wants to use the apple to take own the assassins. Alan makes for a decent villain although he’s not exactly a fighter so he just talks a good game.

Sofia is a much more interesting character. She is a villain because she cosigns on everything going on but you can tell she isn’t as absolutely evil as Alan. She does have good intentions even if they don’t always work out. Sofia would certainly get a big role if this film ever gets a sequel.

Honestly I would say Cal is the only other big character in the film. Sure, there are a few others like his companions in the past, present, and his father but their roles are fairly small. His father gets one of the most sudden scenes where he stabs a guard but gets finished off immediately afterwards. Also yes, I didn’t buy into the reason for why the father had to murder the mother. I don’t care if the army after them was huge, they’re assassins and escaping is what they are supposed to do best. Destroying an ally is always just a fancy way of saying you give up.

As for Cal, he’s a pretty solid character. Definitely one who is consumed by rage for pretty much the entirety of the film though. He’s gone through quite a lot and finally takes matters into his own hands by the end of it. Cal is in a pretty interesting spot for the sequel and one of the reasons why the sequel would have a lot of potential since the present should be the main focus now. There’s a whole lot more you can do with that than the past.

The film has a bit of a slow beginning though as you could say the movie doesn’t really start until Cal uses the machine. The flashback of him as a boy doesn’t really add to anything and just walking around the prison doesn’t make for the most interesting scenes. It’s a waste of the present timeline since you want to see the grand outside world and how society will react to the Assassins. That’s where the climax pays off.

As for the past, well I’ve referenced it a lot but it’s hard to be as engaged in that era. I’ve never been a fan of the past after all since the graphics aren’t as good and the backdrops don’t look as nice. There’s not a whole lot there to capture my attention at any given point. You have people dying left and right as Cal/Past Cal has to try and avenge them. Maybe if we had time to actually give some of the characters a real personality this could have worked but there was no time for that.

Additionally, you are just waiting for them to get to the present the whole time so there’s no way for it to actually leave an impact. I know the past is a crucial part of the Creed series but that’s why some of the changes here were good to get rid of that aspect. Throw us into the present for the real action. The only thing the past scenes were good for were all of the extra fight scenes as Cal took the villains down by the busload.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not all that noticeable. I would make the case we only get one really solid track which plays in the final minutes of the film. Right after the final scene in the present with the apple and Sofia’s decision, we get a theme that is likely taken straight from the games. Beyond that, it’s all rather standard fare.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed is one of those films that focuses on action over story which is always a decent move to make. It’s definitely not an all star film like Mortal Kombat or anything like that but it’s a pretty good movie. it’s fairly long so there’s a lot of time for battles and setting up the sequel. I’d make the case that a lot of the film is actually sequel bait since it’s all leading up to him escaping and the real adventure beginning. The odds of a sequel seem rather slim like with most video game films but who knows…maybe they’ll pull it off but more likely there will be a reboot at some point.

Overall 7/10

Sonic the Hedgehog Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the legendary Sonic movie that came out recently. Sonic has always been the greatest video game series of all time as soon as Sonic Adventure first came out. Once Sonic Adventure 2 Battle arrived the series cemented itself as a legend. Despite that we hadn’t gotten a big budget film like this one. Well, that’s finally all changed. It’s definitely a pretty fun film and a good way to get Sonic out into the mainstream. To an extent he’s already there as you often see kids playing the mobile games so it makes sense to launch a movie now since they’ll all check it out. If not for Covid this very well could have cracked 700K and I know the sequel will do incredibly well.

The movie starts off with a quick action sequence as Sonic is evacuated off the planet by a wise bird. Sonic barely escapes the Echidnas but his Mom figure is unable to make it through with him. Sonic’s last words of advice were to make sure that nobody saw him and to always teleport to a new planet if something happened. His rings allow him to go anywhere he is thinking about. Sonic makes a good life for himself on Earth but he is still pretty lonely. One day he gets a little too fired up and launches an EMP that takes out a quarter of the country. Dr Robotnik is called in to find Sonic and this guy has never failed a mission.

Meanwhile the human main character of this movie is Tom. He has always been a pretty great police chief in Green Hills but he wants something a little more exciting. Now that he has been approved for a position in San Francisco he is ecstatic but that’s when Sonic shows up. Tom helps him out but he is now labeled as a terrorist. Tom’s too deep in to back off now so he will have to help Sonic find his rings in San Francisco so he can escape to another plane. Will he be able to do this or will Robotnik get to Sonic first? It’s definitely not going to be an easy journey.

This is a comedy adventure movie so it’s a blend of both but the first genre is likely the most important. Sonic’s always been able to achieve a good blend, just look at Sonic Boom which to date is probably Sonic’s most impressive show. They’ve all historically been solid though and as expected Sonic works in this medium as well. The gags involving Sonic running around and playing by himself against himself are really solid. I like all of the speed effects and the humans are good too. Rachel is Maddie’s sister and works well as the character who is always trying to escalate things. She panics a whole lot and really doesn’t like Tom. She’s absolutely as exaggerated as you can get but it works well.

Most of the characters here are extremely quirky and they make for a memorable cast. Eggman’s right hand man was a lot more fun than I expected him to be. Part of why he succeeds is because he takes everything in stride. While some characters would be puzzled the whole time or panicking this guy never does. He just follows Robotnik’s lead and does whatever he can. Robotnik can be a bit extra at times for sure, but he’s a fun character. A lot of the best moments with him are his banter with Tom. Ultimately I imagine it will become more of an exchange with Sonic but for now this works. Tom really gave it to him with those punches. I also liked Robotnik’s montage while testing out Sonic’s quill for power. We even got a quick dinosaur thhere.

As the main human, Tom gets a lot of screen time so you’re definitely hoping that he’ll be good. Fortunately he works out quite well. The film is going for that buddycop feel and he gets a lot of fun dialogue with Sonic. He can also fight surprisingly well as seen in the bar. His wife Maddie is also pretty good. I’ll give her props for not panicking the whole time the way a lot of characters do when they see an alien. Maddie is just ready for the experience and doesn’t really let it get to her. There are a few more characters but the final important one is Sonic. His character has been through quite a lot like with the design issues. Ultimately this design is way better than the first one they were going for. It’s definitely not quite up to the real Sonic design from the games but as this is definitely aiming to be a much younger version of Sonic than what we are used to, it works out pretty well. I can’t quite imagine Sonic acting quite the same way if he looked more like his adult self.

It’s a lot of fun seeing Sonic use his speed to save the day. We also got some Quicksilver type scenes of him messing with the room. Sonic’s very entertaining and I’d say that the film did him justice. As you can see, the cast here was solid and the writing was also pretty good. Most of the jokes land and the film is just a lot of fun to watch. The pacing is quick and you’ll never be bored here. The effects are also solid for the action scenes we do get. There aren’t a whole lot of them, but they work quite well. The best one is naturally the high speed chase with Robotnik at the end of the film.

While the film has a lot of things going for it, there are a few elements that do keep this to being a very good film rather than hitting the elite level. First off, the power levels are pretty bad. This is almost inevitable for a speedster based film but it’s especially noticeable here. Are we to believe that Sonic can be hit with a tranq dart, an explosion after he gets the button off, or that he can’t outrun Robotnik’s robot at the end of the film? None of these scenes make sense in the same context as the bar scene existing or the missiles on the roof. Both of those scenes show Sonic as being so crazy fast that time is basically stopped and there is absolutely no way anyone can catch him. Even if Eggman has one quill and part of the power his robot simply wouldn’t be that fast. I think the film saw the Quicksilver scene and wanted to do their own version as well but little did they know that scenes like that always bring up a ton of plot holes.

My other issue is that Sonic was a little too weak here. He is shown to physically have the strength of a toddler. He lands a lot of direct punches on people in the bar brawl and they do no damage. That doesn’t really make sense to me. With speed comes power. The Flash shows this often since building up momentum and throwing a punch always does more damage than a normal one. It’s the same concept so super speed automatically gives you super strength but a lot of films don’t really think about this. These two aspects of the film aren’t huge in the sense that they’ll cripple the score or anything like that. They’re just very noticeable and I think the movie could have done better here.

The soundtrack here is also pretty good. There are a lot of solid danger themes here and they flow well with the action scenes. One thing I was shocked about though was seeing the Final Fantasy VII theme in the film. Seriously, watch the scene where Sonic and Tim are in the car trying to fend off the various robots Robotnik keeps sending out. It’s a sped up version of the main battle theme. I have to see if someone made a comparison video on Youtube yet because that was really cool. It’s a battle theme that has withstood the test of time so naturally hearing it in a theatrical film like this is definitely worth it.

Overall, Sonic The Hedgehog is a very fun film. It sets up some good plot elements for the future as well. Make sure you stick around after the credits for a quick stinger. I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long until the sequel comes out because I’m ready for more Sonic hype. There are quite a lot of ways the sequel can go. Personally I’m expecting a return trip to Sonic’s home world but I’m also game for Metal Sonic showing up or Shadow The Hedgehog. We need to get close to the events of Adventure 2 Battle, that will be great. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you definitely need to check it out. It’s really just a lot of fun and has a high amount of replay value.

Overall 7/10