Yu-Gi-Oh Episode 12 Sub/Dub Comparison: Dark Fire! Red Eyes Black Dragon

Plot: Jounouchi finally has the upper hand on Ryuzaki by using Honda’s Barbarian card in conjunction with his own. However, Ryuzaki has one more card up his sleeve – his most powerful monster, the legendary Red Eyes Black Dragon; a card that is almost as rare as the Blue Eyes.

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Ryuzaki destroys both of the Barbarians in one shot. Joey actually brings this up in the dub with the line “How could he torch them both with one shot?” which, funnily enough, brings to light all of the other times when that has happened. Even Joey himself did that with Mai. Rex just says “Those who defend together are destroyed together”…..which isn’t true. They do give themselves a bonus, but they don’t die when one or the other dies.

In this episode they finally fix the specifics of the Time Wizard. This time he needs to spin a wheel and land properly with a 50/50 chance.

They get rid of the word BOM! In the scene where Tristan punches Joey because I dunno. And they change it to “shove” again, even though he was clearly punched and Tristan has his hand in a fist.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

In the original, Mai tells Jounouchi and the boys not to peek while Anzu takes a shower. In the dub, she compliments him on good cooking.

They completely edit out Mai’s backstory simply because it involves gambling…..which, oddly enough is a focal point of the entire show (Almost every duel has something riding on it, star chips, cards, battle city cards, souls, etc) Also, isn’t it stated that Bandit Keith was into underground dueling for money? Though that might also be original version exclusive.

Mai’s backstory was that she was a blackjack dealer on a cruise ship and traveled the world watching wealthy people gain and lose money on card games. They were always focused on money and power, and she found those people to be shameful. Eventually, she got fed up with them and started hating people, so she left the profession. It doesn’t explain at all why she started basically doing the same thing nor why she chose Duel Monsters as her game of choice, but it’s something that would’ve been nice to include in the dub.

In the original, Mai views Anzu and the boys’ friendship with melancholy, like she sees something she lost in them. In the dub, she just says they’re useless as friends.

They edit out Jounouchi and Honda trying to go into the shower after Mai says it’s okay. Yugi’s holding them back and Mai hits them with another BOM bubble.

All of the Japanese text on the food packages is removed.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Jounouchi doesn’t have the same kind of fantasies as Joey does. He just explains how everyone has a card they relate to or treasure. 4Kids just wanted to foreshadow what was going to happen in literally minutes..…

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This episode was pretty good. Time Wizard’s showing to be a little bit OP, even if it is a gamble, but I guess Jounouchi deserves some OP cards, especially when Yugi’s deck is littered with them. The second half was pretty nice. We got some of Mai’s backstory, in the original anyway, and it was a good change of pace to see Mai hanging out and being kind.

Next up, a Shadow Game! Yami Vs. Yami Bakura!


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Pokemon Episode 59 Analysis – Volcanic Panic

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen11

Badge Episode: Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge (Attempt 2 – Success)

50px-Volcano_Badge

Plot: Ash’s Gym battle with Blaine continues with Pikachu cornered between the fearsome Magmar and the molten hot pit of magma below as he stands inches away from the edge of the arena. He barely misses getting hit by a Fire Blast, earning him a burn mark on his back and nearly forcing him into the magma below. Pikachu is okay, but Ash can’t stand to risk Pikachu’s life any further so he surrenders.

As Ash takes Pikachu to the hot spring to recover, Team Rocket devises a plan to steal Magmar – trick it into dropping its guard and then hit it with freeze blasts. The frozen Pokemon will then be transported to their boss. Their plan fails miserably as Magmar effortlessly melts the ice almost as quickly as it encases it.

Panicking, Team Rocket unleashes a barrage of freeze blasts to the surrounding rock, causing it to crack and break apart. Blaine is alerted to the situation and Ash and Co. go with him to help. The Gym is falling apart at a fast rate and, even worse, the magma is going out of control. Soon, the rocks will burst and the entire island will be flooded with magma, killing all of its inhabitants.

Team Rocket blasts off and Blaine commands Magmar to stop the magma flow with a wall of rocks. Only Fire Pokemon can withstand the heat enough to help, so Ash calls on Charizard…..who promptly naps.

Magmar is left to make the dam alone, but every time a decent amount of rocks is stacked, the magma pushes them away. Magmar simply can’t make a dam fast enough on its own. Respecting Magmar’s power and determination, Charizard agrees to help out. The two of them together make the dam more effective more quickly.

Brock decides to send out Geodude and Onix to help, since Rock Types don’t mind the heat, and Misty sends out Staryu (and Ash, Squirtle) to help keep the Pokemon cool with Water Gun. After a lot of work and a lot of rocks, the dam is successfully made and the island is saved.

Ash initially thinks this act has earned him a Volcano Badge, but Blaine offers a rematch for the badge instead. Using an arena made on the top of the volcano, over another lava pit, they start their one-on-one match. Blaine sends out Magmar. Ash is about to send out Pikachu, but Charizard insists on battling, wanting to test his strength against an opponent as tough as Magmar.

Ash is excited that Charizard will finally battle for him, even if he shows that he still doesn’t respect him. The battle heats up quickly, no pun intended, as Magmar and Charizard maintain a pretty even playing field throughout the match. However, the tides soon turn when Magmar grapples Charizard and dives into the magma with him.

This move, despite being lethally devastating, is considered legal by Blaine since the lava pit itself counts as a part of the arena, thus Magmar is violating no rules dragging Charizard down there, despite the horrible implications.

Ash starts mourning Charizard, but there’s bubbling in the lava.

Sure enough, Charizard flies out of the lava, Magmar still latched to his back, and starts shooting up into the sky. With a Submission and a powerful Seismic Toss attack, Magmar is soundly defeated and Ash earns his Volcano Badge. Charizard, however, goes back to his old tricks immediately and Flamethrower’s Ash in the face before having his own victory celebration in the middle of the arena.

With his seventh badge in hand, Ash wonders where he’ll earn his eighth and final badge before gaining entry into the Indigo League. Brock tells him that he never beat the Gym back in Viridian City. Ash wonders why Misty never told him of a Gym in Viridian City and she explains that they were fighting back then, though she doesn’t remember why. Brock nearly reminds her of the bike Ash busted when they first met, and Ash does his best to change the subject and walk off. Misty remembers, however, and reminds him that he still needs to pay her back for her bike.

It’s off to Viridian City and the battle for the Earth Badge!

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– Alright, alright, alright, this is completely unimportant and kind of silly but I swear this has been driving me nuts for years and now I finally have a platform to point it out.

In the flashback to the previous episode, when Ash is talking to Pikachu right as Pikachu is stuck between Magmar and a fall into a pit of magma, surely ending his life, Ash says ‘You’ll feel 100% soon, Pikachu.’

Obviously, this is not only the wrong line, but this line was taken from after the title card when Ash is bathing Pikachu and trying to soothe his battle wounds. I don’t know if this was a mistake in the editing room or this was something 4Kids consciously did (Wouldn’t put it past them) but still, how did such a mistake even happen? It’s a clip mashup recap. That’s one of the easiest things in the world to edit. Just take clips from the episode and put them to new music with a voiceover. It would make more sense if they accidentally put this audio clip over the audio for that scene, but nope. It’s purely the ‘100%’ audio.

This drove me nuts as a kid because it’s just so hard to miss and so awkward. It’s a very inappropriate thing to say at that scene. It’s like it’s implying that Ash is okay with Pikachu getting hurt because he’ll be treated soon after.

– Narrator: “As Ninetales won the first round with its Ember attack!” Nope. That was a Fire Spin.

You can tell because the clip you’re playing shows the fire…spinning……Also, it literally takes two seconds to check the last episode.

– Narrator: *In regards to the battle against Rhydon* “It was Pikachu to the rescue with another electrifying effort!” Don’t remind me…

– Flashback!Blaine: “Come out, Magmar!” That’s not what he said – he said “I choose Magmar!”

Flashback!Ash: “What’s that?” That’s not what he said during that shot. He said, “Mag….mar?” Dogasu from Dogasu’s backpack/Bulbagarden stated that they suspect this episode was made when Riddle Me This was likely still in production or at least not solidified, as that’s the only way they can explain how screwed up the dialogue in the flashback is. However, not having the right lines is different from taking a line later in this same episode, one that’s completely nonsensical in this context, and using it in the previous shot. 4Kids really doesn’t have an excuse with that one.

Plus, technically, 4Kids does this all the time. When they make cuts to insert commercial breaks in their shows and then replay the last scene when they come back as a mini-recap, they very commonly change the dialogue for whatever reason. Their theory is still sound, but I can’t help but think this is just more 4Kids sloppiness.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen1

– Narrator: “Pikachu is in real Pika-peril!” Narrator, Pikachu is about to be burned alive or melted in molten magma. Maybe now’s not the best time for cute wordplay.

– Ash: “Pikachu! Duck for cover!” That’s actually pretty smart seeing as how Fire Blast’s shape leaves a big gap in the bottom. If you duck, you should be able to avoid it, especially at Pikachu’s size.

– High five to Ash for stopping the match. It definitely shows his growth, particularly when you remember his first Gym match with Brock. However, maybe I should dock that to a high four or something because I think he waited a bit long to call it off. When Pikachu was cornered between an insanely powerful Fire Pokemon who wasn’t affected by electricity and a pit of magma, that would’ve been the time to raise the white flag.

– Blaine: “The hots springs will help it recover from its injuries.” I know people say hot springs have medicinal or therapeutic properties, but are hot springs really wise for treating….burns?

– Ash: “Hey, Blaine, where ya goin’?! You have to give me another chance!” Why are you stopping him from leaving? He never said he wouldn’t give you another chance in the future, and you obviously can’t have one immediately.

– It is pretty cute to see Ash bathing Pikachu. Although, that has to HURT on a burn wound.

– Ash: “If Charizard would battle, I know I’d win!” Why? It’s Fire v. Fire and Magmar is an incredibly experienced Pokemon who is basically magma incarnate. Charizard is his most powerful Pokemon, but the matchup is so iffy to act like it’d be a sure thing.

Ash: “But it still won’t listen to me…” Yeah, I don’t get it. Charizard still won’t listen after all the nothings you’ve tried to get it to obey. It’s so weird.

– There’s a very interesting and somewhat irritating comparison note/rant on this scene with Team Rocket found here.

– Team Rocket’s going to battle Magmar with an ice gun…..Uh….Huh…

– James: “A frozen Magmarita!” Did you just reference a margarita? As in, you made an alcohol reference in Pokemon? Keep making sense, 4Kids.

– They plan on tricking Magmar into thinking he won something so they can get a chance to take it off-guard and freeze-blast it….but they also decided to carry their freeze blaster rocket launchers into the room with them….Yeah, that doesn’t seem suspicious. Keep in mind, this show frequently incorporates cartoon logic – as in you always see Team Rocket pulling various items out of nowhere like the space behind them is an endless void of props. There’s no reason they can’t walk in seemingly carrying nothing.

Yes, I am nitpicking the fact that they’re NOT using cartoon logic here, but only because their real logic makes their plan completely pointless.

(Another alternative – they could have been carrying briefcases or something that turn into the rocket launchers.)

– Would Magmar really care that he won a trip to Mount Vesuvius if he already lives in a volcano?

– I love how Magmar gives zero shits about the rockets being shot towards it. Like ‘Yeah, whatever.’

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen2

– I don’t know why Blaine is suddenly all about puns instead of riddles.

– If I’m going to go off about lack of cartoon logic, I guess I’ll keep my mouth shut about the fact that Jessie and James seemingly have an endless supply of ice rockets.

– Ash literally just told Blaine to stop the jokes, and when Blaine asks what will happen when the volcano fills with ice, he responds that it will become a snow cone…..

– So, Team Rocket’s plan was not only stupid, but their plan B was 100x more stupid and didn’t even have an end goal besides ‘freeze gym.’ Okie dokie.

– That being said, a volcano breaking apart and threatening to spew lava all over the island, killing all of its residents in a short time frame, is certainly a high-tension moment for this series.

– It’s really cute that Pikachu wants to help too. Kinda reminds me of him using a watering can to help put out the fire in Pokemon Scent-Sation.

– Blaine: “WAIT! Only a Fire Type Pokemon can withstand the heat from that lava!” I don’t think the lava at its current level is any lower or higher than it was to the Gym platform. This is either not true or Blaine knows his Gym setup is ridiculously unsafe for non-Fire Types (and people for that matter) but keeps it that way because screw you.

– I am even more annoyed than usual about Ash’s typical ‘expecting Charizard to obey out of nowhere’ shtick this time. I think it’s because his body language and voice acting make him seem more cocky about it in this episode.

– Ash: “Argh, Charizard never listens to me…” At this point, I wouldn’t listen either. Yes, Charizard is a big brat who had a personality change out of nowhere just because of evolution. However, after all this time, look at it from Charizard’s perspective.

This little shit knows you’re a powerhouse and keeps commanding you like an army general. He makes no efforts to understand you or train you. Time and again, he keeps throwing you out because you’re his trump card, expecting you to obey simply because he’s the Trainer and you’re the Pokemon. Each time you get let out is another reminder that he’s an entitled asshat who just wants to use your power to win without working with you to earn it. Wouldn’t you just continue to lose any desire whatsoever to obey him whenever he calls on you?

That coupled with Charizard’s pride makes this relationship a recipe for disaster.

I really, truly think Charizard would be more cooperative if Ash showed more maturity and respect for Charizard, even if Charizard himself doesn’t deserve it either. One of them has to be the bigger man/Pokemon and put the cards on the table.

It’s been shown time and again, including here, that Charizard can put aside his pride and his attitude if the other person/Pokemon shows some sort of strength in character to earn it. Here, Magmar is trying valiantly to save lives by stopping the volcano from erupting. Charizard recognizes its noble feats and decides to get off his ass and help. In contrast, Ash demands that Charizard help out, which leads to the predictable outcome of Charizard taking a nap.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen3
I love Pikachu’s expression here. He’s not even surprised anymore.

– Seems really dumb to segue from such a topic to something as silly as this, but I don’t think Magmar have the ability to sweat.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen4

I mean, not only would the sweat certainly evaporate immediately, but a Pokemon like Magmar wouldn’t need a biological function designed to cool off the body.

– Also, uhh, Rock Pokemon can also easily withstand the heat from the magma…..*lip smack*…Sure would be nice if we had some of those, huh, Brock?

Big strong Rock Pokemon…sorta like, eh, Rhydon or something….huh, Blaine? (You can argue that Rhydon was KO’d earlier, but Squirtle was barbecued and he’s perfectly fine to help out now.)

– It is pretty awesome when Charizard starts helping out. That little look Magmar and Charizard give each other is cool. They don’t need to say anything, they’re just fiery badasses saving the day.

– Brock: “Right! Okay Onix and Geodude – Rock Pokemon can take heat! GO!” Oh NOW your brain starts working! Good thing you weren’t in a horribly perilous situation that could end the lives of thousa—oh wait.

– Misty: “And Starmie you can help them all to keep cool while they’re working!” The sentiment is nice, Misty, but no. No. Don’t do that. No.

First of all, we just saw the kind of cataclysmic effects that occur when you quickly cool hot rocks. I don’t know the temperature of water from within a Water Pokemon, and quite frankly I don’t want to research that, nor do I know if quickly cooling a hot Rock Pokemon has the same effects, but it’s too risky to try that.

Secondly, they’re all Fire and Rock Type Pokemon, Misty. They’re WEAK to water. Spraying them the whole time would just hurt and weaken them while they’re doing intense manual labor. (Being fair, they obviously don’t spray the Fire Pokemon, but my point still stands)

The only one this would be beneficial for is Pikachu, who shouldn’t be helping even with the Water Pokemon’s help.

– Misty, you called out StarYU not StarMIE. (I also think I mistakenly claimed Misty had already left Horsea and Starmie at the Cerulean Gym an episode or so back when that won’t happen for another two episodes. She uses them so infrequently now I legitimately just thought she already left them…..)

– It’s so sweet that Psyduck lets itself out to try and help.

– I know Jigglypuff was in the previous episode, but why the hell did it suddenly appear down here? It just randomly appears for one comedy shot running in front of the group of Pokemon as Ash chases it and then disappears for the rest of the episode. What the hell?

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– Why are Squirtle, Onix, Geodude and Staryu just standing there posing until Pikachu tells them to go? Misty and Brock already gave them commands. Now’s not the time for this comedy skit. Thousands of people are about to die a horrible, horrible death.

– Togepi is super cute trying to help the others make a barrier.

– I want everyone to think about the previous note and consider why this is actually a massive problem.

The answer is ‘Togepi nearly falls to its death and becomes a fried egg all because Misty, for some godforsaken reason, thought now was a good time to put down the baby Pokemon and stop watching it. Here. In this volcano. That is breaking apart. And filling with magma. And the only reason I can see for her putting down Togepi in the first place is because she threw a Pokeball, but she’s thrown plenty of Pokeballs with Togepi in her arms, and you don’t even need to throw Pokeballs to let Pokemon out…’ The parents from Rugrats wish they could see your level of negligence from where they stand, Misty.

– Blaine: “I don’t know how to thank you, Ash.”

Well….technically, he didn’t do anything. Charizard and Pikachu did stuff, and Charizard didn’t even do it because of him – he did it because of Magmar.

Brock would actually deserve way more credit if we’re going by Pokemon because Onix was the only one throwing several rocks in at once.

As for Misty, between sending a Water Pokemon out to hurt the helpful Pokemon and nearly letting Togepi burn to death, she should probably get arrested or something.

Ash: “Are you gonna give me my Volcano Badge now?!”

Blaine: “Uh!? NO! I was going to say I’ll give you another chance to battle me for your Volcano Badge!”

I’ve mentioned before that I love this exchange, and I do for several reasons. First, it acknowledges the clear issue of Ash constantly getting pity badges and somewhat makes up for it, especially with Blaine’s dumbfounded response to Ash’s request.

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Second, it truly shows Blaine’s professionalism as a Gym Leader (regardless of his questionable Gym location) that he is downright insulted to hear Ash expecting him to just hand over a badge for helping him.

Finally, it knocks Ash’s entitled attitude down a peg, if only for a second. Seriously, I was embarrassed for him when he asked Blaine if he was going to give him his Volcano Badge. The fact that he asked at all was bad enough, but the way he asked was just childish. (Yes, I recognize that he’s a person of child nature.)

You know how I pointed out how Ash has gotten increasingly obnoxious about how he handles his pity badges over time? At first, he didn’t even want to take it. Then, he was very uneasy but accepted anyway. Then he was just ‘WHOO FREE BADGE!’ Now he’s expecting free badges when he does anything for a Gym Leader.

And, again, I feel the need to bring up that Ash didn’t even do anything this time. He let Charizard out of its Pokeball and it didn’t obey him…again. That’s all he did. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he let Squirtle out to spray the Rock Pokemon, which is the same issue as Staryu doing it) At least in the Rainbow Badge episode he braved a burning building to save a Pokemon and nearly died.

That being said, this isn’t even really a prize or a thank-you kinda thing. Blaine said they’d have a rematch again sometime, and didn’t Erika say that it’s in the league rules to accept all challenges? Pretty sure that includes rematch challenges.

– Alright, so this makeshift ‘Gym’ has always greatly confused me.

1) How did the lava get way up there?

2) How is it being held so close to the brim? Is it a man-made pool of lava?

3) Where did those pillars come from? They’re all spaced apart basically evenly and are at the same height, indicating again that this arena is man-made.

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4) If it is a man-made arena, what is it for? Training for Blaine’s Fire Pokemon?

5) How did they even get up there?

6) WHY are they even up there? Is it really necessary to have this match anywhere other than a perilous pit of molten rock?

When you think about it, this place is even more dangerous than the actual Gym. At least there you have a wide platform to walk on, even if there are similar pillars to get to the platform. Here, you just have a bunch of pillars as your arena. One false move and you’re the Terminator……ya know…at the end of The Terminator…..2…..Judgment Day.

– Blaine: “Since my Gym has been wrecked, would you object if we held our match right here on the volcano?” Uh….you already made the climb up there and took positions at opposite ends of the arena. Pretty sure you guys agreed upon this beforehand.

– Blaine: “Let’s make this a one-on-one!” ‘Because there’s not enough time left in the episode for anything more than that!’

– Ash’s sense of entitlement is totally rubbing off on Pikachu. Ash hasn’t announced his choice yet, but Pikachu still steps up like ‘Of course, it’s going to be me. Pftt who else?’

Why would Pikachu think Ash would choose him anyway? We already know Magmar is immune to electricity, leaving Pikachu with only physical attacks at his disposal. This wouldn’t be too bad in any other situation, but 1) He’d be fighting a Magmar, meaning I think any physical contact with him would equal deep, searing pain. And 2) the arena is now a bunch of pillars, meaning he’d have an incredibly difficult time attempting any physical attack.

– Ash: *After Charizard doesn’t pay any mind to Ash calling him out, focused too much on Magmar* “Oh….guess Charizard could still use a little training.” He could use ANY training period. Do you think that when Charizard does things that benefit you, not caring about the benefits to you at all, that counts as training? You’re a backwards little waffle.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen8

– As cool as that explosion looked, fire combining with fire should not make an explosion. To be honest, I’m not even sure how those two Flamethrowers collided like energy beams in Dragon Ball Z.

– Again, as cool as it was to see Charizard physically stop the Fire Blast with his bare hands and deflect it into the sky, it should not be possible to grab and throw fire. Then again, maybe Fire Blast is somewhat solid-ish considering it’s flying through the air while maintaining its shape.

– How is Magmar running towards Charizard during the Skull Bash? He should be hopping at least a little considering their battlefield is pillars.

– Also, Charizard can fly, he specifically extended his wings while watching Magmar come towards him and yet he still somehow failed to fly even a little and got hit.

– That bit was saved by Charizard slickly saving himself from falling into the lava.

– The shot where Charizard flies into the sun and then shoots straight down into Magmar was awesome. (However, Ash didn’t tell him to do that.)

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– Ash: “Rrrgh, it’s against the rules for Magmar to pull Charizard into the volcano!” I don’t think there’s a specific rule about that. Probably because if you brought up that issue with the Pokemon League they’d go ‘Blaine has a Gym in a WHAT?!’ and shut the whole thing down.

However, Ash does have a point. I do believe it’s very much against the rules to MURDER YOUR OPPONENT’S POKEMON!

I don’t know if all Fire Pokemon have the ability to withstand being submerged in molten lava and maybe Blaine knows this, so he’s not worrying about Charizard very much – I feel like this has to be false, just because I’m trying to imagine something like Vulpix swimming in lava and my mind keeps drifting to dark scenarios that make my heart hurt.

Then again, the alternative is that Blaine just had a ten year old’s Pokemon murdered in one of the worst ways imaginable and he just doesn’t care. In which case, what a friggin’ psychopath.

Then again again, it’s also not a good look for Ash to be more concerned over Blaine breaking the rules than….ya know…the murder.

– Blaine: “Magmar didn’t cheat. You agreed to using the volcano for our Pokemon battle didn’t you?. Under the volcano is part of the volcano too.” First of all, they’re in the volcano, not under it – that would be underground and under all of the magma. Secondly, why do you think he’s talking more about being out of bounds than…ya know…the murder?

– It does break my heart when it finally hits Ash that Charizard might be dead.

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– Ash: “Charizard! Let’s show Magmar your aerial submission attack!” Lots of people seem to point out that this is probably a dub flub since ‘Aerial Submission Attack’ isn’t an attack, but I honestly just think Ash is describing the attack (It’s an attack, it’s aerial and it’s Submission….) Maybe that’s just me.

Still, Ash, this is the first time Charizard ever uses Submission (or Seismic Toss, for that matter) so how do you even know he knows these moves?

– Magmar should certainly be dead after being flown up to the clouds, thrown so hard it actually had a fiery aura around it when it was falling and landed face-down. I don’t care if it landed in the lava pool – it would not live through that.

– I usually get a little annoyed when Ash gets Flamethrowered by Charizard, but this time he kinda deserved it. After all that fuss, after getting Charizard to listen to his commands if only for a minute, after thinking Charizard died in a horrific fashion, after Charizard earned him the win and his seventh badge, all Ash has to say to him is ‘Yes! Charizard, return!’ No thank you, no nothing. Just ‘Get back in your Pokeball!’

– Ash: “I know that Charizard will learn to obey someday!” I don’t like the way this is worded, because, again, it just sounds like Ash is expecting this to be something Charizard will do on his own instead something he needs to be taught in training….

– I like how they bring up Misty’s bike again. They haven’t mentioned it in many moons, and it solidifies that Misty follows Ash at this point because she wants to, not because she’s pestering him for a bike.

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All in all, this is still one of my favorite episodes. It has great action, animation, direction, music choices, tense moments and the final battle was simply awesome – one of the best battles in all of the Indigo League episodes.

Blaine, in my opinion, definitely proved to be the most brutal and difficult of all of the Kanto Gym Leaders here, edging out Sabrina, in my opinion. Yes, she’s very scary with her dolls and telekinesis, and yes, she’s incredibly powerful, but she was still defeated by the joy of laughter….Meanwhile, Blaine is holding his Pokemon battles over volcano pits, nearly murdered two Pokemon and used a Pokemon so powerful it was matching Charizard blow for blow.

Also, it’s not a secret that I really don’t care much for the Earth Badge match, but that’s a story for another day…

Magmar is an awesome Pokemon that I’m sorry to say we don’t really see that often. Even though it has a size disadvantage and can’t fly, it still gave Charizard more than a run for its money, and it’s cool to see them have a sort of respect between warriors type of relationship.

However, I am really getting worn out on Ash continuing to expect Charizard to just up and obey him at every turn when he does absolutely nothing to change the situation. His cocky attitude doesn’t help. I know I won’t get off this, but it does bother me a lot. Not to mention that it’s a bad message to send to kids. Have a problem with something? Don’t try to fix it. Just wait. Eventually, it will work itself out. This episode in particular is a shining example of that bad message because Ash doesn’t train Charizard at all and yet he still wins his Volcano Badge with him, even if Charizard goes back to disobeying afterward.

What if Charizard didn’t give a crap about respecting Magmar? Not only would Ash have certainly not won his Volcano Badge in a reasonable time frame, but they also might not have created the barrier in time and thousands of people could have died – all because Ash won’t train the damn thing.

Also, the plot device of the episode, Team Rocket, was just a bit too forced. Trying to capture Magmar, especially considering it beat Pikachu, is very understandable, but there was absolutely no reason for them to completely decimate the volcano with freeze blasts. How would that help them at all, and why did they not think it stupid to blow up a volcano that they’re currently inhabiting?

Still, love the episode, love the two-parter arc, love the Gym’s destruction and racing to stop the magma, love the final battle. It’s just a lot of fun from start to finish.

Next episode, we have some fun with another starter evo final form – Blastoise! With Wartortle! And Wartortle are awesome!


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SSBS – Megaman NT Warrior Episode 4 – Count to Three!

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep 4 Screen1

Plot: Yai and the others are held hostage at school by a crazed rare BattleChip collector named Mr. Higsby intent on obtaining Yai’s rare and expensive BattleChips.

Breakdown: Today’s episode introduces us to the rare BattleChip-crazy Mr. Higsby, who is surprisingly not part of WWW, and his NetNavi, Numberman, who actually has a pretty cool design.

Mr. Higsby is a guest lecturer at Lan’s school, talking about fighting viruses and utilizing BattleChips.

Later, Yai brings the group to her log cabin in a tree. She had her daddy build her a secret base in her yard. The secret is the treehouse/log cabin shifts into a high-tech building designed for 3D NetBattling.

The group instantly jack in their NetNavis to try it out. It’s here where I have the honor of pointing out that when Maylu jacks Roll in, she does it while twirling in front of a pink background covered in hearts and sparkles. Come on, guys, be a little more realistic. At least add in a unicorn and a few rainbows.

The whole 3D NetBattling thing is meant to be impressive, but the way they went about it makes it so that….it’s kinda not. From what we see of the 3D stage in a far shot, it just looks like they superimposed the typical shots of what we usually see in the net onto a big platform in front of them. And then when they start battling, they just switch back and forth from the characters to the scene in the net, which is how it typically goes anyway.

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In conclusion, nothing changed and I just wasted your time.

Dex and Gutsman battle Yai and Glide who win because she’s rich and has access to all sorts of rare BattleChips that make Glide overpowered, despite not being a NetNavi designed for battle. Nice to see Megaman laying the groundwork for pay-to-win games. Good job.

Anyway, since I just mentioned Yai’s rare expensive BattleChips, obviously Mr. Higsby is in her super secure server, waiting in the wings with Numberman, spying on them.

The next day, Mr. Higsby sets up to attack Yai while the entire group is helping their teacher, Miss Mari, edit the school newspaper. Why does she need all of these kids to help edit the paper? I have no idea.

Lan is slightly late to the meeting, so when Mr. Higsby locks the school down to trap Yai, he gets locked out of the computer room. Numberman/Mr. Higsby threatens to destroy the school’s computer system if she doesn’t battle him for her rare BattleChips…..I’m not sure why he doesn’t just steal the chips. I guess he’s an honorable asshole?

Yai initially doesn’t care because she says she’ll just have her daddy buy the school a new system, but Maylu and Dex point out that he can’t replace the data. I’d think any school with valuable data on their system would regularly back it up somewhere offsite, but this is a public school system so maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

With Miss Mari’s permission, and somewhat insistence, Yai begrudgingly agrees to battle Numberman. I’m not exactly sure why she’d agree to battle him just hand over the chips. She’s always talking about her daddy’s endless supply of money – surely he can buy her new ones. She needlessly risking her NetNavi’s life…. She jacks in Glide, but even with his fancy BattleChips, he quickly gets laid out by Numberman.

Megaman gets jacked into the system.

Dex: “Megaman!”

Maylu: “That must mean that Lan’s right outside the classroom!” First of all, how did you not hear him banging on the door for the past several minutes? Second of all, just because Megaman is in the net space doesn’t mean Lan is right outside the classroom. He could be anywhere in the school.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep 4 Screen3

Numberman has a really weird manner of attacking. He rolls a big die and whatever number it lands on is the number of explosions that will occur right next to the die, which means anyone who catches onto this will be able to combat it quite easily….just…ya know…stay away from him when he rolls the die….Also, having your attack strength completely reliant on the roll of a die seems very inefficient.

The school’s security system blocks Megaman from interfering in Glide and Numberman’s fight any further, for some reason, and Lan and the others deduce that Numberman must be controlled by Mr. Higsby.

They decide the only way to end this is by teaming up against Numberman, but they need to disable the school’s security system to lower the walls blocking them from Numberman. Roll offers to interface with the walls to see if there’s anything in the code that would lead them to the password…which…makes sense, but also makes it seem like this super high-tech security system is extremely flawed.

Within less than a minute, Roll finds the word ‘Dove’ and Miss Mari states that the password is the number of doves at the school, which she can’t remember so Lan goes out to count them.

Mr. Higsby: “Unbelievable. The competition will be over by the time he gets back here.”

Miss Mari: “You’re the one who’s unbelievable, Mr. Higsby!”

Mr. Higsby: “Pardon me? ….*Elvis voice* Thank you. Thank you very much.”

…………………………………………..Hello completely random Elvis impression that I doubt any child watching this would understand or find funny.

Lan counts 34 doves, which is the correct answer.

Within less than three seconds, Roll already has the second hint – tennis: the number of tennis rackets the tennis team uses…..Ya know, these numbers seem awful arbitrary. What if you get more doves? What if a dove dies? What if you buy more tennis rackets? What if the kids lose some of them?

My point is made even more apparent in the next scene. Lan accidentally enters the girls locker room and they throw tennis rackets at him. He goes into the storage room and counts the rackets there, which is the correct answer. Why don’t those other rackets count?

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep 4 Screen4

Anyway, the number is 63?! 63 tennis rackets?! I’m almost certain no school would buy that many rackets, especially when typically only one or two is in use at any given moment.

Another issue with this password thing is, if Mr. Higsby knows the system inside and out and is currently manipulating it….can’t he just change the password to something only he knows?

The final hint word is flowers, which indicates the number of potted flowers in the schoolyard. Again, that number can change at any given moment. The flowers could die, the landscapers might plant more without notifying anyone, some could get destroyed by the children. You guys really need a better password system.

Lan loses track counting the hundreds of potted flowers, but a mysterious green-haired woman who seems to be the landscaper and someone who knows what’s going on but for some reason isn’t interfering, tells him the exact number.

Numberman throws three dice this time…..why he wasn’t throwing that many to begin with, again, I have no idea, but with the walls down and Megaman able to access the fighting area, they’re able to save him. Numberman surrenders and relinquishes control of the school’s security system.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep 4 Screen5

They confront Mr. Higsby who begs on his hands and knees for forgiveness, claiming he couldn’t control himself and that he loves BattleChips while most people don’t appreciate their value….I don’t think that’s true because most people seem to drool over rare BattleChips.

For a second, it seems like Miss Mari might actually punish Mr. Higsby….but instead she just asks him to remember back when he was a child and got his first rare BattleChip (?! How long have PETs and stuff been around?) He probably didn’t appreciate its value either, but the flashback and narration indicate it was the best day of his life……You’re really not making any sense, show.

Miss Mari gives him a second chance, even though he does not deserve it in the slightest. He hacked into a school’s security system. He held several people hostage/kidnapped them. He sprayed Dex with the school’s sprinkler system for trying to interfere. He threatened to destroy the system if he didn’t get what he wanted. He threatened a young girl into battle so he could take her rare BattleChips (If BattleChips are physical items, how does he take them without showing his face?) He nearly destroyed a young girl’s NetNavi, and we’re just supposed to forgive him because he wants to strong-arm rare BattleChips from people since they don’t appreciate them….when they do? And he was misguided all along when he didn’t appreciate rare BattleChips when he was a kid….when he did?

Anyway, to the epilogue, Mr. Higsby quit his job educating children on rare BattleChips and security systems thanks to Miss Mari’s kindness in forgiving him. He wants to do good for people now, because apparently valuable education doesn’t do that….So he’s…selling rare BattleChips.

Hey, writers, when you wanna make sense, please contact me. Your logic is about as airtight as a butterfly net.

———————————–

So that was that episode, and it was actually pretty okay. The things I talked about in regards to the security system’s password being too easy to figure out is probably forgivable given this is a kid’s show, but I can’t give as much leeway to the fact that the numbers would probably change all the time and some of them make no sense.

At least Mr. Higsby is a little better of a bad guy considering he’s not out to just cause chaos like the WWW members, he actually has a goal, but I definitely don’t agree with him getting no comeuppance for his actions.

Numberman has a cool design, but for a guy who obsesses over rare BattleChips, he really doesn’t use any. He just uses that same lame dice rolling trick. I also find it really strange that Megaman was able to intimidate him so easily. A guy with a huge collection of rare BattleChips should be able to put up a better fight, especially if he makes a habit out of bullying people out of their chips.

The tension involved with running around trying to figure out the password was much more intense and interesting than last episode where we sit on the edge of our seats hoping a little girl gets to the potty in time.

I didn’t really quite get the significance of introducing the 3D NetBattling system since it, honestly, looks no different to the viewer than it ever did before. It really just established that Glide could be a good fighter with rare BattleChips despite being a NetNavi not designed for battle. Not that matters because he couldn’t do anything against Numberman, even with the chips. He may have lasted a little longer than he would have otherwise, but that’s about it.

Next time, WWW targets a robotic fish aquarium. I’m not sure if a robotic fish aquarium is a really good idea or a really stupid one. Thoughts?


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 21 – Paper Balloons Wafting Review

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Plot: The backstory of Hone Onna unfolds as she follows a case in current day that reminds her a lot of her past.

Breakdown: Barring Ai, Hone Onna definitely has the saddest backstory of everyone in the Hell team. Born as a woman named Tsuyu, her life had been one of servitude, torment and betrayal. I thought just hating the young lord, who tricked her into being sold into prostitution to help settle a debt he had, would be the worst, but nope. That award goes to her ungrateful little pissant of a friend, Kiyo.

I really don’t understand this woman. I get that she was always jealous of Hone Onna/Tsuyu, despite their close relationship, but everything Hone Onna tried to do for her, she’d brush off because she was just that bitter. The fact that it seemed like Kiyo didn’t much care that Hone Onna and another man who was trying to help her was murdered all because ‘oooh look, this douchebag bought me a pretty kimono that is way better than anything you own, onee-san,’ is infuriating. By the way, she didn’t get them murdered by accident – she ousted them as they were trying to help her escape and they got murdered as punishment.

I didn’t have an ounce of sympathy for this bitch when they revealed what happened to her after Hone Onna got murdered.

She continued her life at the brothel only to get pregnant by the guy who gave her the fancy kimono. He wasn’t having any of that, however, so he took his sword and slashed her across the stomach to kill the baby. Devastated, she committed suicide in the same river Hone Onna’s body had been dumped into.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Oh come on, Twix. You’re being a bit harsh on Kiyo. I bet she had just as terrible of a life story as Hone Onna. She made a bad decision and paid for it. Cut her some slack.” Well, maybe I would if not for her story’s resolution.

Yup, Kiyo’s not quite done yet.

Cut to present time where Kiyo is sorta-ish possessing their client of the week. While it’s very unclear exactly how much Kiyo is influencing the client, Youko, she does certainly convince her to try to commit suicide, again, via jumping off a bridge into a river, trying to replicate the circumstances of her own death.

I’m only giving half blame on this to Kiyo herself. I don’t know what circumstances turned her into this wandering spirit outside of her sad story, but she’s still knowingly doing it to continue the cycle of pain and misery through women who have similar stories to her.

She earns the rest of my ire by what she does after Hone Onna saves Youko and confronts Kiyo. Believe it not, Kiyo still has the balls to act like she has the moral high ground with Hone Onna. Apparently, Kiyo is just so woeful that Hone Onna can’t possibly understand what she’s going through. Jeepers. Someone you love betraying you and getting you murdered? Hone Onna would NEVER be able to understand that….

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The situation sucks as a whole for both of them, I get that, but Kiyo’s attitude and actions are so shitty it makes it so much more difficult to sympathize with her.

Hone Onna has been massively betrayed twice in her life, and she still managed to get up, move on and trust others, trying to help them, long after she’s died. Kiyo, on the other hand, had someone who loved her, who tried to help her, tried to free her from a life of prostitution and essential slavery, but she threw that away just to be better than Hone Onna.

And when the shit hit the fan for her, she never even apologized or expressed remorse for her actions. She was still completely wrapped up in her own problems until the very end and continued giving Hone Onna the snub. She did say she was happy to have met her one more time before she, I guess, made the conscious choice to go to hell, but that doesn’t make up for much.

You want to know what else? After all that, Hone Onna still tries to save her from going to hell and even asks Ai if she’ll pick up Kiyo at the river Styx to maybe help Kiyo like she did for her.

It’s sad, but also quite touching that Hone Onna has finally found a family that she can trust, but she had to die to get it.

As for our case this week, a woman named Youko has put out a contract on her ex-boyfriend, Makoto. He has knocked her up, took a ton of her money, and left her for some other woman. He doesn’t give a crap about her or the baby and just wants her out of his life. I did proper research on this and no, this is not Makoto from School Days, but don’t worry, he still gets his in the end.

Youko has contacted Hell Girl, but she is still desperately, and I mean desperately, trying to keep Makoto by her side. She doesn’t care if he’s with another woman or never gives her money back or if he loves her or not – she just wants him to be in her life, and he doesn’t want that at all.

Youko has a friend who basically acts like Hone Onna to Youko’s Kiyo in this situation – trying to convince her to leave him and that he’s not good for her, freeing her of a life with someone so terrible, but she won’t listen.

When Makoto makes it as painfully clear as possible that he’ll never be with her in any capacity again, even being the father to his child, she pulls the string and Kiyo guides her into trying to jump off the bridge because she feels there’s no point in giving birth to a child if Makoto isn’t around. When Kiyo’s influence is torn from her, however, she pats her belly lovingly and goes off to live a good life with her baby, so there’s no arguing that Kiyo didn’t force Youko into attempting suicide.

My question is, how long has Kiyo been influencing Youko? Does she even realize what she’s done, in regards to Hell Girl? Does she know she’s damned for hell? Did Kiyo contact Hell Girl in the first place? I’d imagine not because Ai can see Kiyo, but it’s never really confirmed and that bothers me.

Finally, there’s the hell torture this time around. I’m kinda surprised we got one this episode since the current day plot took up so little time in the episode, but Makoto is certainly a big enough jackwad to warrant one. And what a weird one he got.

He’s transported to a ramen shop where there’s a swaddled baby in his ramen. He’s then drowned in ramen broth, grabbed by Ren, Wanyuudou and Kikuri, clad in bathing suits. When we pull out, it’s revealed that it’s not really ramen broth, it’s amniotic fluid. They’re all in a big womb with a giant baby sitting by them. Zoom out even more and we reveal that they’re all inside of a fish bowl, for some reason.

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You’d think that’d be the end of it, but it’s not. They pull out all the stops with this one. As Makoto wakes up in the boat, he’s massively pregnant and, in Alien-style, whatever is in his man-womb bursts from his stomach.

Holy. Crap. I don’t know why they chose this guy to go all out on when there are so many people who have deserved creative and horrifying hell tortures, with full episodes dedicated to their assholery, but that was so insane and, quite frankly, awesome. Weird as hell, pun intended, but awesome.

All in all, I really loved this episode. Some parts about Kiyo were janky, and it’s very miserable, but much of Hell Girl tends to be filled with misery. At least we know Hone Onna’s content where she is and she got some closure with Kiyo. At least we know Youko is going to love and care for her baby now. Heck, we even know Kiyo’s free from wandering the earth and another dickwicket is having a literal pregnancy from hell for all eternity. It’s about the best you can get in regards to happy endings in this show.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, Takuma, another miserable human being, in a different manner, returns! Will there be any light on the horizon for this perpetual tormented boy?


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Analyzing the Criticized: Sakura Haruno (Naruto) Part 3 – Chapters 201-300 – Starting to Blossom

See Part One Here

See Part Two Here

Chapters 201-220 (Kiba and Shikamaru’s Battles + Kimimaro Appears + The Sand Siblings Arrive + Naruto and Sasuke’s Battle Starts + The Beginning of the Full Story of Sasuke’s Past)

I can’t believe we’re starting off on such a blasé note, but I have nothing really to discuss here since Sakura is in a grand total of zero chapters in this section. She appears very rarely and very briefly in flashbacks of Naruto’s to remind him of his promise to her and she’s just there in a lot of his flashbacks of Sasuke in general, but present-time Sakura is not shown at all. Ever. Not once.

But you know who does come back and even fights? Rock friggin’ Lee.

Not only did he accept an insanely dangerous surgery with a high mortality rate, not only did he survive it like a damn boss, but the same day as the surgery he’s rushing out to help with the mission to retrieve Sasuke because Rock. Lee. Is. Awesome.

And even though he still needs assistance from Gaara (always loved this brief but poignant team up) he was able to hold his ground fairly well against one of Orochimaru’s strongest, in terms of powers anyway, associates. (Kimimaro’s story is sad, but his powers freak me out)

Let me repeat that. Rock Lee, who was essentially crippled when Naruto and the others left for their mission just that morning, had surgery to fix his body, survived it and was out helping with that same mission almost immediately after the surgery was over.

Meanwhile, Sakura is literally nowhere to be found.

Maybe she’s practicing her apple peeling skills.

I’m not blaming her for not also rushing out the door to help behind everyone’s backs because she understands that she’d be more of a liability than an asset in this circumstance, but we can at least get a brief scene with her doing…something. ANYTHING.

I will note something funny, though. The entirety of the second chapter cluster, a whole 100 chapters, not a one had a chapter title card pic including Sakura even though she was at least in a decent amount of those chapters. In this section alone, she’s in two chapter title cards. Granted, one of them shows her from very far away, but she’s at least there. Yes, in the 20 chapter section where she’s in all of, being generous, ten panels, and that’s only in flashback, she’s in two chapter title cards. *shrug*

Maybe they want to remind us that she exists. I mean, even Tenten got one and we haven’t seen her in so long I’m starting to think she was a figment of my imagination.

But hey, Shikamaru gets his sexist ass saved and then some by Temari, who completely dominates the battle.

Kiba’s battle was a little boring, to be honest. I never really connected with Kiba that much, outside of his relationship with Akamaru (and that’s probably born of my love of animals, particularly dogs) Kiba’s always been kinda obnoxious to me, nor is he very interesting as a character (He’s basically a more abrasive and possibly less mature Naruto with little in terms of decent backstory and motivations. The fact that Naruto has a lot of fox traits while Kiba has a lot of wolf/dog traits doesn’t help this comparison) and he’s just not all that impressive in this battle. It was badass of him to stab himself to hurt Ukon, who had merged with his body, but that’s about it.

Shikamaru’s fights are always entertaining simply because of the incredibly clever ways he manages to defeat his enemies. Even though he needed Temari to finish off Tayuya, the match as a whole was very entertaining.

Chapters 221-240 (Sasuke’s Full Backstory – Naruto and Sasuke’s Fight – The Aftermath and Naruto’s Departure – Start of Kakashi Chronicles)

This is a pretty inappropriate chapter title card for the chapter where Sasuke’s family and clan get slaughtered…..I’m not making a joke. This is the title card they used for this part. What the hell?

Obviously, almost none of this section involves Sakura since so much of it is taken up by Sasuke’s backstory and Naruto and Sasuke’s battle. Surprisingly, she’s not even brought up much, if at all, in the emotional pleas and flashbacks the two have. She’s barely present in the background.

Sakura finally appears when Naruto and the other Genin who were on the mission get brought back home to the hospital for medical care. At first, she believes Sasuke has been brought back, but she soon learns about the group’s failure in returning Sasuke after she overhears Shikamaru and Naruto talking through the hospital room door. Sakura initially puts on a smile and tries to push through her disappointment and despair, but Naruto asserts that he will keep his promise, as his ninja way states, and he’ll bring Sasuke back home no matter what.

Driven by Naruto’s resolve, Sakura decides to FINALLY take some initiative in her ninja training and asks Tsunade if she’ll take her on as her apprentice, which she accepts.

After a three month time skip to allow everyone ample time to recover and get their ducks in a row for their futures while Naruto’s off training, we see Sakura has a talent for medical jutsu. She healed a fish!

I’m not making a jab at her – fish need care too. Have a heart, guys.

Tsunade even points out that she hasn’t seen someone with such talent and promise in medical jutsu since Shizune.

……Also, let me just get this off my chest – it does bug me that most prominent medical-nin are girls – or, more to the point, that most girls are medical-nin. Tsunade did make the very good suggestion to have at least one medical-nin included in squads or brought along with squads when they have missions, but that pretty much makes it seem like if there’s a girl in the squad, she’s the healer. And considering I can’t think of any squads that have more than one girl in it…..yeah. The girl=support thing has always been a pet peeve of mine.

I’m not badmouthing medical jutsu, it allows you to do some pretty fantastic things as we’ll see soon enough, nor am I ignoring that male medical-nin exist (Kabuto was the first medical-nin we ever met) but considering the relatively poor treatment of women in this series as it is, it only serves to irk me more that the new role of most of the girls will be medical related.

Sakura becomes the healer of Team 7. Ino becomes the healer of her squad. Rin was the healer in her squad. Karin is the healer in her team. Tsunade was the healer in her squad. And even though she’s not specifically a healer, Hinata will also learn some medical jutsu, which she is able to learn rather quickly due to Hyuga techniques requiring such precise chakra control.

The only prominent Konoha girl who never develops skills in medical jutsu is Tenten, and that’s not for lack of trying. She idolized Tsunade and wanted to be a medical-nin, she just never had talent for it. Poor Tenten. So overlooked and mishandled that you even fail at becoming an annoying stereotype.

I’m not saying this is a hard and fast rule. There are several female characters who also don’t utilize medical jutsu like Temari, Kurenai, Anko and even Kushina, but it is a trend and it is still annoying.

And that’s the end of Part One of Naruto. There is more to this section, but it goes into the backstory of Kakashi. I’ll save any notes about that for the next section.

Chapters 241-260 (The Rest of the Kakashi Chronicles + The Start of Part Two + Reprise of the Bell Test + Gaara’s Battle with Deidara and Capture + The Start of the Mission to Save Gaara)

Alright, so since Sakura isn’t in the Kakashi Chronicle chapters, obviously, I thought I’d try to draw some parallels between Team 7 and Team Minato. Parallels have already been made as a whole by others, but I’ll try to focus on Sakura’s parallel specifically.

First of all, even though the other two look very different from Naruto and Sasuke, Rin looks strikingly similar to Sakura, in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the haircut and the fact that we can’t see her hair color in this black and white manga, but she looks very similar to Sakura.

Rin is much more useful to her team even in these handful of chapters than Sakura probably ever has so far, and I’m pretty sure they’re the same age here. She’s a skilled medical-nin who patches up her teammates, Kakashi and Obito, when they get hurt, which was a few times in this side story (Am I going to get in trouble for calling this a side story when it’s so important to future events?) She also performs a rather complex eye transplant right in the middle of the battlefield on two people who stay completely conscious through the whole thing and neither seems to experience pain during the procedure…..Wow.

However, she doesn’t seem to have really any battle prowess, and, guess what? She ends up getting kidnapped and needs saving.

The main reason I even decided to start drawing comparisons between Team 7 and Team Minato is because of the love triangle….angle. Obito is a screw up who is in love with Rin, but Rin is in love with dark and stern Kakashi, who has never given her the time of day. Sound familiar?

To her credit, Rin is nowhere near as Kakashi-crazy as Sakura is Sasuke-crazy, in fact until she outright blurts out her love confession to Kakashi near the end, you can barely tell she has a thing for him, but still.

What annoys me a bit more in Rin’s particular situation is how her love confession is handled. After Obito dies slowly and horribly right in front of both of them, half his body crushed by a boulder, sacrificing his life to save his friends, giving his sharingan to Kakashi, telling Kakashi specifically to take care of Rin for him, Kakashi tells Rin that Obito loved her (since he could never admit it before his death and probably to treasure her life enough to honor his wishes and leave before they get slammed by a group of enemy ninja.) Rin basically doesn’t even react to this information and stubbornly tries to stay with Kakashi and basically die with him because she loves Kakashi.

Yeah, Rin basically spit on Obito’s dying wish and love for her so she could needlessly die with Kakashi. The way the whole scene was structured was just terrible, at least in regards to the light it puts Rin in. It was basically “Let me protect you because Obito loved you and his dying wish was for me to protect you!” “Yeah, well, I love you so I’m staying and dying! Nyehh!”

Onto the Part Two of the main story – Sakura’s a Chunin now, yay!

Our first sighting of Sakura is more or less her reacting to how much Naruto has grown. It actually kinda seems like Sakura’s smitten for a few pages because she blushes several times and even makes flirty expressions. This is reverted back to same old, same old when Naruto breaks his new maturity for a minute to attempt to show off a newer, sexier version of the Sexy no Jutsu to Konohamaru.

I really love that our first venture into Part Two is a revisiting of the bell test. As you’ll recall, I criticized Sakura quite a bit for her role in the first bell test. She pretty much fretted about Sasuke, tried to impress Sasuke to no avail and then ended up fainting from a Genjutsu that made it seem like Sasuke was severely wounded.

Sakura’s performance in that test was almost laughably bad. To be fair, Naruto’s was similarly terrible, but at least he was making honest efforts. I can’t even remember a moment when Sakura made a play for the bells.

This time, Sakura’s visibly impressed with Naruto’s initial strikes, but when she realizes Kakashi’s coming for her next, she quickly assesses her surroundings and correctly surmises that he’s dug down below her. Which means we get our first glimpse into Sakura’s new abilities. That of which being Hulk-Smashing the ever-loving hell out of everything.

A single punch from Sakura can now cause massive craters, something Kakashi experiences firsthand as he cowers under a pile of rocks after barely evading her strike. I really love that Sakura’s new abilities manifest themselves into both massive explosions of raw power like this and extremely precise abilities that she’ll display later on with medical jutsu. They took a really awesome route with her power and it fits perfectly with her specific talent being chakra control.

Kakashi mentions Sakura’s affinity for Genjutsu again, whatever, and thinks to himself that she certainly shows potential to be even more skilled than Tsunade.

But Sakura’s growth reflection in the bell test doesn’t end there. In the bell test two and a half years ago, none of the trio were working together. They were all trying to gun for the bells on their own. Sakura would try to work with Sasuke, but her focus was more on gushing over him or trying to impress him. Sasuke saw Sakura as a liability and Naruto was too bullheaded to do anything but rush out on his own without thinking. Sakura basically wished for Naruto’s failure in the test or, at the very least, enjoyed watching him screw up.

Here, Sakura and Naruto are sticking together and working alongside each other. Not only that, but Naruto comes up with a final plan that actually sounds really silly, but Sakura doesn’t think to mock him about it for a second. Instead, she thinks it through, and realizes that, even if it’s silly, it could very well work – and it does. There’s a method to Naruto’s goofiness sometimes, even if he’s still a doofus on occasion, and Sakura realizes that. She respects Naruto as a teammate much more now than she did back then. Likewise, Naruto earns this respect by showing that he’s more mature, serious and focused, even if he’s still Naruto at heart.

Later on, after the battle with Deidara and Gaara’s kidnapping, as Sakura and the others are traveling to Sunagakure, Sakura reveals that she’s been snooping around and secretly reading private reports in Tsunade’s office for the past two and a half years. She explains that she now knows everything Naruto and Kakashi know about their current situation, which absolutely floored me.

This confirms that Sakura did not, in fact, know the details that Naruto and Kakashi knew about Sasuke’s situation with Orochimaru, Itachi and the Akatsuki, and, apparently, no one thought to ever actually clue her in all this time. She had to sneak around and read private reports instead when there is absolutely 100% no reason to keep this information from her considering how involved she is with Sasuke and Naruto, how much she already knows about the situation and her drive to return Sasuke to Konoha.

Do they really have such little trust in Sakura’s resolve as a ninja, even now that she’s clearly more mature and focused, that no one ever thought to explain this shit to her? Not even right before they sent her on a mission against other Akatsuki members?! That is ludicrous!

At least Sakura ends the chapter proclaiming that she’ll be the one to protect Sasuke and Naruto this time – but her mileage may vary.

For now, she’ll settle on saving Kankuro’s life.

Once we get to Sunagakure, Sakura quickly saves Kankuro’s life by removing poison from his system with her own chakra, which is pretty baller. She can’t get all of it and he’ll need additional treatment, but her medical skills were well beyond that of Chiyo, a very experienced medical-nin, and it’s clear that both she and Naruto are impressed with Sakura.

Later on, she even expertly crafts a medicine to help combat the effects of the residual poison.

Our first look at Sakura’s actual battle prowess is a bit…..disappointing, though I suppose it’s understandable. Itachi confronts the group, and while Naruto and Kakashi try to fight off Itachi, he actually knocks both Sakura and Chiyo to the ground so quickly that Naruto and Kakashi don’t even notice until they look behind them.

Yup, Sakura didn’t even get to throw a punch before she’s flat on her face.

Now, I’m giving Sakura a good deal of leeway for this for two reasons; 1) It’s Itachi. No one would ever expect, no matter how much Sakura has improved, that Sakura would be able to successfully fend off Itachi. 2) Naruto and Kakashi are both having trouble simply trying to keep up with him, so it’s understandable for him to get off a cheap shot.

Later, Sakura breaks Naruto free of a Genjutsu that Itachi had trapped him in, and he was unable to release it himself because he wasn’t skilled enough to break it. Chiyo did help her, but I’m giving Sakura the points here.

Chapters 261 – 280 (The Battle Against Sasori + Pursuing/Battling Deidara)

Sakura cries again, but I’m giving her another pass because she’s just learned that any jinchuriki that has its biju taken out of them will surely die, meaning Naruto will be killed if he’s captured by the Akatsuki.

Sakura uses her Hulk smash to break the giant boulder in front of the entryway to the room where Gaara’s being held.

Before we start the battle with Sasori, can I just say that it’s very nonsensical to split up the group and take your only two medical-nin and pit them against an extremely powerful enemy? Especially when you’re pursuing a near-dead or fully dead Kazekage who would need immediate medical attention?

In her battle against Sasori, Sakura pulls off some really impressive evasive maneuvers and breaks through Hiruko’s hard shell with her hulk smash. Then she does more impressive evasive maneuvers and barely escapes harm time and again …..buuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttttttttttt.

I can’t give her credit for most of this because Chiyo was controlling her body like a puppet. Even though Sakura was likely the one doing the Hulk smashing, I still have to take points off here.

She finally starts taking the initiative for herself when she’s trapped in a cloud of poison gas. She’s able to trigger a paper bomb on her belt, allowing her to dissipate the poison and allow her to break away. While this was kinda badass, it was also, as Chiyo pointed out, very reckless. I can’t really ding her too much here because it was either take a chance with the bomb or get poisoned to death.

Sakura then makes a big tough declaration that is supposed to be intimidating and show how much she’s grown, but all it really does for me is show how immature she still is. A true, mature, shinobi doesn’t bother with such grandstanding…especially when her role in the battle so far has been mostly playing Pinocchio and blowing herself up. She’s yelling at the top of her lungs, she’s making rather vicious threats to him (because she was triggered by him mentioning Orochimaru, which made her think back to Sasuke) and she’s obviously puffing out her chest more than she’s earned so far.

This little speech is made even more laughable when Sasori basically ignores her and throws a ton of kunai at her, which she needs to be saved from by Chiyo and her puppets because Sakura’s an idiot who would rather blather on about how much she’s going to kick Sasori’s ass than pay attention in battle.

Later, she’s targeted by Sasori again and Chiyo needs to use her puppets to save her….again…

Then they’re attacked again, and Chiyo uses her puppet to save Sakura…..again…..*cough*

But then, hip hip hooray, when Chiyo is out of puppets and down an arm, it seems like Sakura finally has to step up and take Sasori on by herself……Well…Kinda.

Sakura does step up. She refuses to leave even when Chiyo, again, tells her to flee since Sasori is too powerful and dangerous. However, instead of defending Chiyo and fighting on her own two feet, she tells Chiyo to use her as a puppet again….

This time, it’s not quite the same. Since Chiyo’s arm is gone, she can’t control all of Sakura’s body like she did before, but, still, a majority is still being puppeteered. Sakura pretty much just has full control over one of her arms, meaning yet again Sakura stands there like an idiot as something is about to hit her so Chiyo can yank her strings and pull her away and Sakura can Hulk-smash another projectile.

I really don’t understand why Sakura is having such difficulty evading shit in this battle on her own. Logically, it makes even less sense than when she was younger. She should have much more battle experience by now that would allow her be better at evading.

Not only that, but her training in honing her chakra at specific points in her body should also make her insanely good at evasion since all she’d have to do is focus it into her feet and either launch herself up or zoom off in literally any other direction. Remember, she was skilled at honing her chakra evenly into her feet near the start of Part One before she ever met Tsunade. Remember? One of literally two times where she proved to be more skilled at least in some area above both Sasuke and Naruto, for like a second? Climbing the tree?

Note that they still show the strings, implying that Sakura is being controlled here as the projectile misses her.

I was about to say that maybe she’s just standing there gawking at whatever attacks are about to hit her because of Chiyo’s chakra strings making her unable to move but:

1) There have been numerous instances of her gawking and nearly getting killed without the strings on her.

2) She has been shown to be able to move with the strings on her. See: Hulk -smash

Chiyo is impressed with Sakura’s next attack to break one of Sasori’s projectiles, claiming she’s quickly been able to predict Sasori’s offensive patterns. She also goes so far as to say she ‘never dreamed she’d be so good.’…Okie dokie, Granny. Dial it back a little.

We get a flashback to Sakura’s training with Tsunade. She asks Sakura why medics should never have their first focus be offense. Sakura immediately, and somewhat obnoxiously, explains in a textbook-like manner that medic ninja are meant to be support. They’re always meant to be providing aid, not fighting.

Tsunade declares that answer to be incorrect. Medical-nin are meant to treat the wounded, yes. But the reason they should never focus on combat first is because it puts their lives in danger. If they die, there’s no one to treat the wounded.

Now this is all well and good, but Tsunade mentions something else – something that directly contradicts everything I’ve been writing for this section.

Tsunade says one of the most important skills for a medical-nin to focus on…..is evasion.

……..I don’t get it. Sakura has been a deer in headlights for most of this fight, needing Chiyo to pull her away from danger or her block her from it numerous times. The one time she actually got away from danger herself, she didn’t evade it, she Hulk-smashed it away.

Not to mention that Sakura’s also completely disregarding that entire lesson from the ground up with her declarations that she’s going to make Sasori scream and she’ll kick his ass and yadda yadda.

But enough criticizing Sakura for the moment because her next move is indeed all hers and is very intelligent. Sakura is poisoned by the iron sand and topples over. Sasori’s about to finish them both off, but Sakura gets up and saves Chiyo. She had secretly made two and a half doses of antidote when she treated Kankuro. She gave one to him and saved the other two for the mission in case they faced off against Sasori. She kept it hidden from Sasori because she wanted him to use his trump cards before revealing that she had something to combat the poison. Why she kept it secret from Chiyo, I have no idea.

The catch is the antidote isn’t so much an antidote as it is a temporary treatment. It will null the effects for two and a half minutes, but after that the poison will start affecting her system again.

She heals Chiyo’s wounded hand, but at this point Sakura’s already at her limit. (Chiyo also mentions that Sakura’s been using chakra to dodge, but, again, that doesn’t really match what we’ve been seeing.) With what little chakra she has left, Sakura heals the worst of her wounds and prepares to take on Sasori. He’s impressed that she was able to make any sort of medicine that can combat his poison since even he needs to consult ratio charts to make suitable antidotes for it.

Sasori, wanting to end the battle quickly, uses some giant mass of needles to attack Sakura once more. Even with Chiyo helping, Sakura’s unable to evade all of the needles – the poisoned needles, and she ends up with a bunch of deep cuts all over her.

Another assault from Sasori delivers a stomach wound to Sakura, but his real target is Chiyo. Sakura manages to grab a reel of some kind of cord coming out of his stomach to pull him away and Hulk smash him to pieces.

However, he’s a puppet so he just pieces himself back together again.

Unbelievable – she literally hit him about two and a half inches away from his clearly marked weak spot….

Chiyo kinda takes the spotlight now since Sakura’s reached her time limit with the antidote and Chiyo is now breaking out an army of puppets, as is Sasori. To Sakura’s credit, though, she’s still not backing down.

Sakura, in conjunction with a sealing puppet-esque tool Chiyo gives her, ‘seals’ Sasori so he can’t move his puppets, but she throws it at an empty puppet. The real Sasori attacks Chiyo with a sword, but Sakura jumps in the way and takes the hit to her stomach. She’s able to heal the wound a bit even with the sword inside her, which is impressive, and her gripping the sword allows Chiyo to have the opening to hit Sasori’s weak spot. The totally well-hidden not completely obvious weak spot under that giant-ass insignia panel on his chest that completely stands out and has no purpose other than to be a beacon that says ‘THIS IS MY WEAK SPOT’ to his enemies.

Chiyo also saves Sakura’s life by injecting her with the last vial of antidote, which is a problem because Chiyo was also poisoned in that battle. That’s not really good enough, however, because Sakura falls and starts to die because of her wounds from the sword, which is weird because she was specifically healing the wound around the sword, but maybe the wound was too dire. Chiyo saves her life by healing her while also pulling out the sword.

However, even THAT’S not good enough, so Chiyo uses a jutsu she invented – a life-transferrence technique that is so powerful it can bring the dead back to life, but only if the user sacrifices their life. Since Sakura wasn’t actually dead when she did the technique, Chiyo doesn’t die. Sakura gets up and pointlessly punches Sasori in the face….It’s pointless because he’s basically already dead anyway and he’s a puppet so he doesn’t feel pain. It’s not like she crushed his head with a Hulk-smash, she just regularly punched him in the face.

Even Sasori points out how pointless and wasteful of her energy it was to do that…and…well..yeah. Chiyo’s nearly on death’s door trying to revive you, Sakura. Why would you waste any energy to slap a puppet and lecture him? Your mission doesn’t end with Sasori’s death. Chiyo needs your help. And what if Naruto or Kakashi need you for medical aid later? Gaara certainly will. Save your energy, you dingleberry.

My issue with this battle has always been that it feels like Sakura’s merely an assistant here. That is way better than her being useless and watching from the sidelines, but it’s still frustrating. This is her first actual battle since the time skip – this is our first chance to really test out her skills in the field after actually training and working her ass off to improve and she’s mostly just following Chiyo’s lead and being foolish.

Between her irrational behavior here and Naruto continuously losing his temper throughout this whole mission, to the point where he’s frequently acquiring Kyuubi features on his face, I feel like backwards character development has actually occurred over the past two and a half years.

Not to mention that Sasori and Chiyo have their own storyline going on, which obviously makes this battle more about them and less about her. It always seems like Sasori is more focused on Chiyo as his main enemy than Sakura.

Granted, both Chiyo and Sasori take the time out to point out how impressive Sakura is being (in inner monologue) but usually it feels like they’re being too impressed. Usually. Sometimes, there are moments when the awe is called for, like realizing Sakura could make a medicine to treat the effects of Sasori’s poison without having any of his charts or knowing the exact makeup of it. Most of the other instances of this, however, felt really exaggerated.

It’s just disappointing, because this is the one Sakura battle that actually sticks out in my mind in Part Two and they didn’t even let her have the full spotlight….they gave her a flashlight with cheap batteries.

I will, of course, give credit where credit is due here. This is certainly the most impressive Sakura has been in the entire series. She’s getting to actually fight, she’s making some really smart decisions and she saved Chiyo’s life a couple of times…..but…I feel like Sakura wasn’t really needed here that much.

If Sakura just gave Chiyo the antidote vials and let her fight the battle, Chiyo probably would’ve been fine on her own. The only part of the battle Chiyo most likely couldn’t have done on her own is destroy Hiruko’s shell. That’s about it. Sakura was otherwise a good meat shield to get Sasori to use up his energy. There were also numerous points where her presence was actually a little detrimental, such as Chiyo getting injured, losing her arm and using more chakra than was necessary in order to help Sakura.

Again, I’m not saying she was useless in this battle – of course she wasn’t. She did much more than she ever did in any battle in Part One, but, as a whole, it’s disappointing as Sakura’s premiere battle in Part Two. There was never a point where she really wowed me. And nearly any time where she was very impressive is offset by instances of her making poor decisions or being rash.

I almost feel like this battle originally was written for just Chiyo and Sasori but they realized they didn’t want such a massive section of the start of Part Two to focus on two characters we barely know. So they hastily wrote a role for Sakura to play here – and a good chunk of it was literally Sakura being a puppet for Chiyo.

I also don’t appreciate the fact that not only was Sakura saved numerous times over the course of this section, even if Chiyo acts like she wasn’t (??) but in the end, she nearly died and had to be saved again, technically twice since Chiyo gave over her antidote when she needed it, and this time it was nearly at the cost of Chiyo’s life.

In addition, in my opinion, this self-sacrifice was pretty needless. Why didn’t she just Hulk-smash Sasori to pieces to stop the attack instead of acting as a human shield? It wouldn’t have killed Sasori, unless she knew to hit his giant weak spot button, but it would’ve halted his attack.

Why did we need to see Chiyo’s life-transferrence technique at this stage anyway? It didn’t actually kill her and she’s just going to do it again in a chapter or two. It would have been more badass if Sakura removed the sword herself and completed her own healing, which she was already in the process of doing.

Sakura deserves all the credit in the world for not leaving when prompted, several times, and standing her ground to help Chiyo and succeed in their mission. She had her moments here, but I’m just disappointed that our first venture with her on a mission after the time skip is a two on one battle where she gets a few cool moments peppered throughout a lot of the same old Sakura stuff.

Later, when Sakura and Chiyo meet back up with Naruto and Kakashi, Sakura can’t heal Gaara – his condition is either too grave or he’s already dead. I’m not blaming Sakura for being unable to do this as I doubt any medical-nin, probably even Tsunade, would be able to treat him at this point. Plus, she’s very drained of chakra. Chiyo offers her life to save his instead.

In a surprising moment, she actually tells Sakura that, in the future, she shouldn’t risk her life to help a dying granny like her. Which…yeah, I guess I agree a little – as I said there were better options than jumping in front of that sword – but if she hadn’t saved Chiyo, Gaara would be dead for good. So, save those old grannies, Sakura. Just be a bit more careful about it next time. Chiyo praises her abilities and her spirit and tells her that she definitely has it in her to surpass her master.

Can I just take the time out to say it continues to baffle me how hypocritical people are in the Naruto universe? Two and a half years ago, Gaara was treated as nothing but a monster – someone everyone, even his father, wanted dead. It was understandable for him to become Kazekage in that time, even if that is a stretch, but for everyone in the village to be so fangirly/boy-y about him…it’s just….a little irritating.

For contrast and fairness, they did have one of the government officials act like Gaara wasn’t worth saving because he was just a monster, but still.

It’s more understandable when Naruto’s drowning in fans later on, considering he becomes a war hero, but the fact that most people don’t apologize for how they treated either Gaara or Naruto really bothers me. Because it’s like Naruto and Gaara were required to work their asses off to earn the respect of their peers when all they did to not have it at the start was exist.

Chapters 281-300 (Returning to Konoha + Introducing Yamato and Sai to Team 7 + A New Mission – Deceiving Orochimaru and Kabuto + Naruto Going Insane in Four-Tails Mode)

Gonna point out how adorable it is that Gaara nudged Naruto’s hand for a handshake by manipulating some sand around it. Seriously, I had to stop reading for a second – that was so sweet.

Sakura is put on the same level as Shizune in regards to them being the two people Tsunade trusts most explicitly.

Anyone else feel really bad for Shino when Naruto recognizes Kiba, Choji and Hinata but not him?

I find it very…interesting that Naruto seems way more offended and threatened by Sai’s inclusion on the team as Sasuke’s replacement than Sakura is. It’s strange. Naruto is literally yelling out how much cooler Sasuke is than Sai and I feel like, if the panels didn’t show the characters, I’d be mistakenly attributing his dialogue to Sakura. Meanwhile, Sakura is teasing Naruto about it, trying to cheer him up on the situation.

After Sai insults Sasuke with some….err…well…truth (He IS a traitor who turned his back on everything to pursue power.) I was about to give Sakura heaping mounds of props because it seemed like they were going to have Sakura be the most mature and level-headed one here. Considering Sai’s insulting Sasuke right now and tensions are high with Sai seemingly taking Sasuke’s place, I was looking to the sky to see if the heavens had opened and bestowed upon me a wonderful moment of proof that Sakura’s a mature ninja who can put aside such personal feelings and keep her team focused on the mission – reflecting those two and a half years of hard work and change.

PBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB…..No.

Sakura does step between Naruto and Sai when it seems like Naruto might actually start a fight with Sai. She calmly apologizes for Naruto’s behavior and explains that, even though Naruto doesn’t know Sai very well yet, it’s no excuse to judge him so harshly.

………..Then she punches Sai square in the face, knocking him several feet backward and with a scary face she says ‘I don’t care if you forgive me.’ Blah blah blah you don’t know Sasuke blah blah I won’t hold back next time blah.

Seriously, what the hell is up with the wishy washy maturity levels Sakura and Naruto are displaying since we entered Part Two? Is it understandable that Naruto doesn’t trust Sai? Sure. He’s an identity-less wack-a-doo who attacked Naruto before they even met. Is it understandable that Naruto’s uncomfortable with someone taking Sasuke’s place, even temporarily? Definitely.

Is it understandable that Naruto’s yelling out at that top of his lungs that they don’t need another member since the fourth member of their squad is Sasuke and this “loser” will never be Sasuke or anything close to him? No.

It’s especially stupid that Sakura’s like ‘Naruto barely knows you, but that’s not an excuse for him to to judge you.’ and then immediately follows that up with judging Sai herself, even though she barely knows him either. It’s like they’re trying to be badass by covering up immaturity by even worse immaturity and that’s just dumb.

“But, Twix, they’re just teenagers! You can’t expect them to be emotionally stable!” Agreed. Leeway where leeway is appropriate, BUT, like I’ve mentioned before, there’s only so much leeway I can give in that regard given the world they live in.

Children in the Naruto universe, particularly when they’re ninjas, are expected to grow up faster than children in our world would. Children as young as twelve, sometimes younger like with Kakashi and Itachi, are sent on life-threatening missions all the time. They are treated as if they’re still students, and they are, but they’re also full-fledged ninja and are, technically, comrades in arms with Chunin and Jonin, who commonly aren’t even that much older than they are.

For example, Shikamaru is now a Chunin (and so is Sakura) who is proctoring the Chunin exams and taking squads out on missions as team leader – and he has been doing that since he was 12. Temari is a Jonin who is basically acting as an ambassador between Suna and Konoha. And lest we forget that Gaara is the flippin’ Kazekage whose maturity and emotional stability has grown so much in just two and a half years that you almost wouldn’t recognize him.

Sakura and Naruto have both been given special attention and direct individual training by two of the Sannin for the past two and a half years and, if anything, it’s like they reverted in maturity half of the time.

Now Naruto is badmouthing Sai’s art for no reason. I think we’ve reached a point where I can comfortably say Naruto can go fuck himself. What’s the matter? The series can’t reach its angst and attitude quota without Sasuke so now Naruto has to pick up the slack? At least Sakura is being nice about it now and showing a legitimate interest in his art and life (when she discovers the picture of Sai’s brother.)

By the by, I’m not defending Sai’s behavior. He may be emotionless, but he’s been a dick so far.

Sakura does show more restraint after Naruto says he’ll team up with Sai if it helps them bring Sasuke back. She’s about to punch Sai again after he showed more insensitivity towards their relationship with Sasuke, but she acknowledges that he can’t help them to the best of his abilities if he’s injured via Hulk-smash.

Aaaannnnnnddddd…..Sakura’s knocked out by hitting her head on the bridge right as the battle between them and Orochimaru and Kabuto starts. *sigh*

Not only that, but Naruto’s loss of control over the Kyuubi causes the bridge they’re on to collapse and Sakura’s unconscious body falls off of it. She’s saved by Yamato, though.

After Sakura wakes up, the next thing she does, after some conversation with Yamato, is confirm to Kabuto Sasori’s fate….because why not give the enemy more intel for no reason? (Seriously, if they thought Sasori was still alive, Konoha might have been able to use that to their advantage somehow. It’s not much, but think before you speak, Sakura.)

Then she gets pulled away from an attack by Naruto from Yamato.

Realizing Naruto’s current condition, Sakura rushes towards him and tells him she’ll save Sasuke so he doesn’t have to keep suffering in the Kyuubi form…which, while noble….is also really, really, REALLY dumb. It’s been made clear that Naruto has no control over himself right now – as evidenced by the massive amounts of destruction and nearly turning Sakura and Yamato into shish kabobs – but she still decides to rush right towards him. Of course, Yamato needs to save her from Naruto’s wrath and, of course, she gets wounded anyway.

Again, you’re perfectly utilizing Tsunade’s training advice of trying not to get wounded or killed as much as humanly possible because the team needs their medic, Sakura. Just perfect.

To her credit, she does ask Yamato if he can teach her the jutsu used to pacify Naruto. She’s seemingly biologically unable to do so so, however, since he has the First Hokage’s cells inside of him and they’re the only ones that can utilize the jutsu. Due to her wounds, she also suffers from pain while trying to heal Naruto, but does her duty anyway.

This exchange was sweet but also a little irritating.

Sakura: “The only things I can ever do for Naruto…are these little things.” I really thought the point of the last two and a half years was to allow you to grow outside of that box, so nice to see you’re still in it. /sarcasm

Again, It’s good that she at least acknowledges that she has these shortcomings but we’re only a little bit into Part Two and we’re right back to ‘I can’t do much to help.’ Giving her some big credit, though, she is healing Naruto pretty quickly from the wounds he received from his four-tailed state, and from what Jiraiya said about the first time he transformed that far, his wounds must have been pretty severe. Considering they really need Naruto on this mission, getting him back on his feet is no easy…well….feat.

It’s just a bit disheartening knowing that her biggest obstacle as a character is trying to keep up with Naruto and Sasuke and she really just…can’t and never will. She takes two steps forward and they take an airplane to the next country.

Yamato: “It doesn’t matter whether the things you do for him are large or small…what matters is how much you care about Naruto.” Realistically, he’s right. From a narrative standpoint….eeehhhhh.

Someone’s ship teasing the NaruSaku fans…

Sakura lies to Naruto about the damage caused by him since he doesn’t remember doing it. I don’t really feel strongly either way about this. It’s understandable that she’d lie since he’d probably feel like garbage about what he did, especially considering Sakura got wounded by him, and there’s no real benefit to telling him, at least not now.

Because Sakura’s wound was caused by the Kyuubi’s chakra, Sakura is unable to heal it fully and it basically acts like an acid or poison, so she’s a wounded duck for now and they need to stop their pursuit to let her rest.

No big note to end this entry on besides Sakura reading Sai’s picture book and getting a sneak peak at Sasuke.

————————————–

A lot of stuff happened in this entry, and it was quite the roller coaster of progress in Sakura’s character.

On the other hand….

As I pointed out, Sakura does show a lot of growth after the time skip. She’s more mature, she’s developed many useful skills, and she’s become a medical-nin with abilities that have already surpassed much more experienced shinobi in her field. I may have my qualms with the battle itself and her role in it, but Sakura also faced down an Akatsuki member when, last we saw of her in battle, she couldn’t even take on the Genin-level Sound-nin or even friggin’ Ino without being laid out at the end.

She’s Hulk-smashing shit, she’s eager to learn and even though she still does cry numerous times throughout this entry, she’s not bawling at the drop of a hat or simply staying on the sidelines anymore. She’s also grown as a ninja in regards to her teamwork with Naruto. As shown in the bell test with Kakashi, she gives his ideas, even seemingly goofy ones, more credit than she would have in the past and she’s working with him not against him. She’s no longer snickering at his failures or hoping for his downfall.

That being said, the improvement is not as sharp as I’d like.

She’s being very impulsive and illogical, especially where Sasuke is concerned. She’s screaming threats at her enemies, she’s punching her comrades, and she’s ignoring Tsunade’s guidance to stay reserved and defensive in order to stay alive and well to treat her teammates if need be. I can’t count how many times she suddenly flung herself into danger unnecessarily.

Her position as a medical-nin also basically means she’s now solidified as being the one teammate who will always need to be protected and never put on the front lines unless absolutely necessary, and that’s a little irritating – made all the more irritating considering there were already many times where Sakura needed to be rescued or otherwise protected by her teammates.

I know it seems like I’m being contradictory for dinging her on rushing into danger while also dinging her for needing to be saved just as much as she used to back in Part One, but the thing is a good medical ninja – or just a good ninja in general – needs to find a balance between being effective in offense, defense and evasion.

The one time where it seemed like she did find this balance, kinda anyway, was when Sasori stabbed her. She healed herself while she was being stabbed and kept him in place that way, but 1) She shouldn’t have allowed herself to get stabbed in the first place, there were better options, and 2) this technically didn’t matter as she ended up on the brink of death afterwards anyway. Maybe this did give Chiyo the opening to cut through his weak point, but I think Hulk-smashing him in the right spot would’ve have achieved the same aim.

Speaking of the battle with Sasori, that was a really confusing and lackluster battle debut of time skipped Sakura. She was used as a puppet for a good chunk of it, which is disappointing, but Sasori and Chiyo seem really impressed with what she was doing. Chiyo praises her for having good evasion when I thought for certain Sakura was being pulled by Chiyo most of the time. They always made a point to draw the chakra strings, so I’m doubly confused.

She definitely Hulk-smashed on her own, which was good. She also had the forethought to make three antidotes and bring two with her in case they ran into Sasori, which was very smart. She had the skills and knowledge to save Kankuro from the poison when no one in Suna could, including Chiyo, which is really impressive.

Later on, she also healed Naruto from a fairly terrible state after he reverted back from four-tails, which was impressive, even if Yamato wants to leave him behind after being mostly healed (He’s still very weak and falling over.)

This entry really has been a massive mixed bag for Sakura, but the highs were higher and the lows weren’t quite as low. I’m certainly thankful for the development Sakura has gotten, but I can’t help but feel they’re still holding back on making her really astound me. Plus, even though Sasuke is not present for most of this chapter cluster to outshine her, Naruto still is. Hell, Gaara still is, for that matter. It’s hard to be truly floored by Sakura’s Hulk-smashes and medical prowess when Gaara’s guarding an entire village with his sand while fighting an Akatsuki member by himself and Naruto is leveling a 1000 foot radius with his Kyuubi powers and nearly killing Kabuto and Orochimaru without thinking.

Speaking of Sasuke, this was the first cluster where we were completely free of Sasuke, barring a bit at the end. Meaning, we finally get to see Sakura fully without Sasuke’s direct influence. I can’t help but wonder where Sakura would be right now had Sasuke not left the village. She still had a drive to better herself, but she wasn’t doing anything with it. She was doting on Sasuke and stagnating like a puddle in an alleyway.

With Sasuke gone, she’s become an apprentice to a Sannin, she’s become an incredible medical-nin on her way to surpassing Tsunade, she’s….kinda matured….And the only reason I say ‘Kinda’ there is because, even though she has shown a lot of mental and emotional growth, she’s at her worst, maturity-wise, in Part Two when Sasuke is involved. Sakura’s making rash decisions and calling out a frickin’ Akatsuki member with loud threats? Happened because he mentioned Orochimaru, which implied Sasuke. Sakura socks her teammate so hard he flies several feet backward? Happened because he badmouthed Sasuke.

Then again, while Sasuke’s influence was hindering her, he is technically responsible for her growth, in a way, too. Afterall, she’s mainly doing all of this so she can bring Sasuke back home. And once Sasuke’s back, I’m not sure she continues improving beyond what she had already achieved. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I’m actually pretty bummed we’re moving out of this chapter cluster because Sasuke is definitely returning in the next one, and I’m very worried it will result in more backwards development for Sakura. I’m not saying she’d gush over him like she used to, I’m almost certain she wouldn’t, but I do fear that she’d be paralyzed with pre-time-skip-Sakura uselessness if she came into contact with him. I’m pretty sure she never throws a punch in his direction over the entirety of the manga, so, whenever he’ll be the enemy, she’ll most certainly be a passive party. I definitely know some very questionable things will happen in this regard, but let’s save that for next time.

Speaking of next time, there’s a whole lot going on in the next cluster, but how much Sakura actually has to do over the following 100 chapters, considering the very wide focus, is up in the air. Hopefully, we have some great things to look forward to with her, though. If she’s not still not wowing me, maybe she can at least get some spotlight and growth.


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Episode One-Derland: Made in Abyss

Plot: On the island of Orth, a massive pit called the Abyss beckons explorers with strange creatures and valuable relics. No one knows how deep the Abyss truly is, but cave raiding is so important to the city that even children are put to work excavating the Abyss.

One day, a lowest ranking cave raider, Riko, finds herself in mortal danger only to be saved by a mysterious burning light. The light originated from a boy lying unconscious quite a ways away from her location. She believes the boy to be a robot due to his metal arms, strange metal helmet and oddly textured skin. The boy that she names Reg has no memory of who or what he is, nor does he remember anything about Orth or the Abyss.

What secrets lie within the Abyss? And where did Reg really come from?

Breakdown: I caught a few glimpses of this show in an AMV a while back and it looked interesting. The art style for the characters looked simplistic and the characters didn’t seem like they had much to them, but I was intrigued by the concept and who doesn’t love cyborgs?

Now that I’ve given it a shot, I have to say it seems pretty good. It’s a fairly unique plot and setting, and I’m really curious as to the mysteries of the Abyss, especially Reg’s origins.

They introduce the characters pretty well. Riko is a hard worker, but she’s also a trouble maker. She really wants to rise through the ranks so she can go to the same levels in the Abyss as her mother.

Nat is a bit harder to pin down. He seems less enthusiastic than Riko, but is nice enough.

Shiggy seems like the brains of the group, both making them a plan to sneak into their orphanage and creating a device to awaken Reg.

Speaking of the orphanage, how messed up is this place? Granted, the classroom is awesome, even if it’s an accident waiting to happen with everyone’s desks attached to the walls, but they’re all forced to be cave raiders and give over everything they find to their superiors to help pay for the orphanage.

It’s also really unclear as to whether these are even orphans. The head woman talks about their parents as if they’re still alive maybe, and Riko definitely talks about her mom as if she’s alive.

There’s not much to say about Reg yet. Being a character with amnesia, his dialogue consists heavily of just asking questions and looking around. Plus he’s only been awake for about a third of the episode. He could be a little funny, though.

I don’t know what to make of Leader yet. He seems like he genuinely cares about the kids, but he seems like he’s keeping secrets and might be an asshole deep down.

As I mentioned, the art for the characters is pretty simplistic, foregoing noses and making everyone’s head appear very rounded. It’s not bad, and the animation is very fluid. Plus, the landscapes are really nice. Not as awe-inspiring as I’d really like of a show like this, but very good.

The music is also pretty mellow and nice to listen to, and the voice acting was all very well done even if Riko’s VA was getting a little grating. It’s mostly because she’s one of those characters who basically yells all of her lines.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes


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Digimon Adventure V-Tamer (Manga) Volume 9 (FINALE) + Full Manga Review

Plot: Taichi and Zero’s battle against Neo and Arkadimon is reaching a peak. Thanks to the data Hideto and Omegamon gained from Arkadimon, Zero manages to dodge the Dot Matrix attack several times, draining Arkadimon of its energy and giving Zero an edge. However, Neo isn’t done yet. He uses the power of the Digimental to evolve Arkadimon into its Super Ultimate form, which can use an even more powerful version of the Dot Matrix called the God Matrix.

Zero valiantly sacrifices himself in an effort to save his friends, but just when all hope seems lost, Zero’s ability to overwrite his lost data causes him to reform into the amazing Alforce V-dramon!

Able to rewrite his destroyed data even faster and shield himself from impending attacks, Alforce V-dramon, with the help and support of Taichi, gains the upper-hand yet again.

Incredibly angered by yet another miracle Taichi and Zero pulled off, Neo yells in rage at these ‘bugs’ seeing as them as nothing but accidents that he wants to wipe clear from the world – so people like Rei will never suffer from another horrific ever again.

Upon hearing Neo’s words, the group tries to convince him that this isn’t the way to stop terrible events like that from happening. Rei also admits that her devastation after the accident wasn’t because she lost the ability to walk – it was because Neo changed so much after it happened.

After Rei nearly sacrifices herself to get Neo to come to his senses, Arkadimon suddenly reverts back to Ultimate form. Neo’s will to fight seems to have waned, but the battle’s not over yet.

Arkadimon suddenly speaks and reveals that it’s actually Demon, having finally been able to retake the Digimon’s body after being absorbed by him. The combined version of Arkadimon and Demon proves to be too much for Zero, and Demon moves on to his true plan – opening a portal to the real world and causing mass chaos by infecting them with his Dark Virus. With them out of the way, both the real world and the Digital World will be his to command.

In a last-ditch effort to save both worlds, Taichi grabs the Digimental and uses it to turn Alforce V-Dramon into his Future form! Powered by the support of Taichi and his friends and fueled by the light of the future of both worlds, Zero strikes down Demon, destroying Arkadimon once and for all.

With Arkadimon defeated and Neo stood down, Taichi and Zero bid farewell to the Digital World and all of their friends so they can return to the real world.

Taichi meets up with Sigma, now without his mask, Mari, Hideto, Rei and even Neo as they enter another Digimon tournament…..only for Taichi to be turned away when Zero is, yet again, not recognized as an official Digimon, thus making him ineligible to enter.

Neo declares himself unfit to be a true Tamer unless he defeats Taichi, making them friendly rivals. When Neo wins the tournament, he, Taichi and the rest of the group link up for more Digimon battles as they head for the bright future Zero and Taichi set them on.

Breakdown: Going into the final volume, I was worried about a couple of things.

1) How they’d deal with redeeming Neo, and 2) How they’d manage to defeat Arkadimon.

In regards to the latter, it was a bit on the predictable side, particularly with Zero’s sudden evolution, but it was well-written and exciting. Plus, Alforce V-Dramon is too awesome. I’m so disappointed we only got him for a few chapters.

I won’t lie, I was tearing up when Zero seemingly sacrificed himself to save the others. I pretty much knew he wouldn’t be gone for good, but that scene really got me.

The reveal that Arkadimon was taken over by Demon was….not really as predictable, and it did save Demon from being merely a footnote villain, but I feel like there wasn’t enough written into Demon for his reveal to really be all that grand. He’s about as generic as his name.

His motivations are that he’s tired of Digimon being subservient to humans despite their massive powers. He plans on taking over the Digital World with his power and taking over the real world with his Dark Virus that will manipulate everyone’s emotions and cause chaos.

It’s a far cry from the plans Neo had of just flatout destroying both worlds and making a new one.

Speaking of Neo, we have to address the Elephantmon in the room – How is Neo going to be redeemed?

I’ve said a few times now that Neo’s pretty much gone beyond the point of redemption in my eyes. He’s been so malicious and horrible to pretty much everyone, including Rei and Hideto, that any redemption for him would feel cheap.

And I wasn’t wrong.

Neo’s redemption is in the ‘reveal’ that he’s been doing all of this to create a utopia, or Arcadia, so accidents like the one that robbed Rei of her ability to walk would never happen again.

*deep sigh*

He has said several times that he didn’t even so much care about that anymore. He just wanted power and to destroy both worlds. He’s even been a dick to Rei in the meantime to achieve this, and yet his motivation circles back around to his deep love of his sister and his guilt for her condition. How does that work?

Not only that, but they imply that Demon was manipulating him the whole time with the Dark Virus, amplifying his emotions and making him so ridiculously evil, which really feels like the bigger cop-out.

I feel it’s very appropriate to compare this plight with that of Ken from Adventure 02.

Ken was a tyrant. He wanted all of the Digital World under his control and every Digimon his slave. When the Chosen Children showed up, he didn’t care who he hurt, human or Digimon alike, or even if he’d end up killing Digimon or people. He just wanted power and control. Sometimes, he just wanted to see others suffer.

In a lot of ways, it was difficult to see redemption for Ken too. However, they did a pretty good job with it. He didn’t see Digimon as living, breathing creatures – he just saw them as data. He didn’t see the Digital World as a real world – he saw it as an escape; a computer program he could run off into and do whatever he pleased.

This falls apart when he starts putting the lives of other people in peril, however, especially in that episode where he pretty much made a game out of tormenting Daisuke over saving one of his friends or watching them all die.

However, you might say that’s due to madness because of his intense self-loathing over feelings of guilt with the death of his brother, Sam. It’s even possible that, given he believes the Digital World is just a game and nothing that happens there is real, that the lives of the others aren’t really in actual danger, but that’s extremely muddy territory.

Still, no matter what he believed, those actions are things he’d have to make up for, which he did. He paid for it in the loss of Wormmon, his partner, the realization that all of the pain and suffering he was causing in the Digital World was real and not a computer simulation, falling into such deep mental shock that he was essentially in a comatose state for several days, haunted by terrible memories of his past, and gets a massive tongue lashing by the reborn Digimon in Primary Village who had felt the sting of his whip firsthand. He even took it upon himself to start taking down the Dark Towers and making amends to the Digimon, no matter how harsh the scorn was from both them and the Chosen Children.

He also eventually joined the other Chosen Children to help save the Digital World time and again.

Even though it is later revealed that Ken also has something amplifying his dark feelings with the Dark Seed, that didn’t really matter. He still took responsibility for what he did and what he was. He accepted the mistakes he made and worked towards making up for them and being a better person.

Neo, however, doesn’t go through the same suffering. Despite doing as much damage if not worse in this manga, his redemption amounts to him just getting a dose of reality from Rei talking to him about never giving up and her nearly getting herself killed (or killing herself? It’s never really made clear) to talk sense into him. He just suddenly realizes that he was wrong and joins the good guys.

This is an actual page.

Neo doesn’t suffer at all. Sure, he beats himself up a little for Rei’s accident, but his drive is moreso trying to wipe the possibility of tragic accidents from the world. If he sees what happened as truly an accident, he’s not guilting himself too much.

He also doesn’t own up to all of the pain and suffering he caused, both for people and Digimon. He yells when he realizes he’s been stealing the futures of others for his own means, but it only lasts about three panels.

He never feels guilt for destroying Piemon, treating Greymon like garbage and deleting him, deleting him again as MetalGreymon after he suffered so much to come back from death just to be of use to Neo, nearly destroying Omegamon, any of the other Digimon he destroyed to feed Arkadimon, wanting Arkadimon to use a slower version of the Dot Matrix so Zero and Taichi will suffer more during Zero’s death, he never apologizes for hurting the other kids or saying the terrible things he’s said – he just frowns and saves Taichi from falling off a cliff.

Never is there a moment of actual suffering or repentance. He doesn’t even stick around in the Digital World to help rebuild the place or make amends to the Digimon. He leaves for the real world and calls it a day.

There is one moment where Taichi and the others meet up before he departs for the real world, and they explain that Neo was too ashamed of what he had done to face them so he left without them….which is about 1000x worse. Ken not only went back and faced his mistakes, he actively went into the Digital World to fix things and make up for what he had done, as much as he was able to anyway.

Neo’s such a bitch he wouldn’t even look everyone in the eye? He just lolnoped out of there and never looked back?

He did all of those terrible things and never even apologized to anyone for it. Back in the real world, Neo is just another one of the group now, even back with the friends he betrayed. The only thing he says is that he can’t be a real Tamer unless he defeats Taichi…..which is basically looping back around to his beginning motivations, only seemingly not malicious this time.

Another way they balk out on Neo’s evilness is through the Digimental. It’s only meant to activate with someone’s pure heart, so they were shocked to find that Neo could use it. Hispure feelings of wanting to make a utopia for Rei was what fueled it…..

Pile the influence of Demon on top of that and I guess we’re just supposed to accept that Neo’s actually a good guy and not expect him to have consequences for his actions. Bull. Shit.

He was an asshole seemingly even before he came to the Digital World, hence why Rei started becoming miserable. Even before her accident, he was a jerk. Remember when he told Hideto to just delete Wargs and Melgs because they were seen as weak in his eyes?

He also knew from the beginning that the Digital World and Digimon were real, but he didn’t care. In addition, his drive during the first few volumes was to be the best Tamer, then it evolved into him wanting to destroy both the real and Digital Worlds. I’m not sure how much Demon’s influence counts here, but I can’t imagine it’s much.

The overall battle was really great, though. Taichi and Zero’s interactions were amazing, and I love that their faith in each other never wavered for a second. They are a team of legends.

The absolute ending was good. I was bracing myself for Zero to die due to the effects of the Ancient coding within him, but I guess Zero’s going to live a long life now. I was at least expecting him and Taichi to need to part ways after everything was said and done, but I forgot that they can communicate through his v-pet device.

I was a bit upset that Piemon or at least a Digi-Egg for him was never recovered. Poor Sigma.

It’s a tad annoying that Zero STILL isn’t recognized by official sources and thus Taichi can’t enter tournaments, but he has friends to battle with whenever he wants and all he really needs is Zero by his side.

Overall Manga Breakdown: As a whole, I really enjoyed this manga. I think it’s a great read for both Digimon fans and non-fans alike. The pacing is a bit fast, but nothing too break-neck. They do slow down every now and again when it matters.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Taichi and Zero. I’d definitely rank them pretty high on my list of favorite Tamer/Chosen Children/Digimon pairings. Taichi and Zero don’t really change much over the course of the series, but that doesn’t really matter. Character growth isn’t always a necessity, and I don’t think it was needed too much here. They definitely teach each other to not be so hot-headed and when to take things seriously.

Taichi and Zero pull a lot of wins out of their asses just because friendship and determination and what have you. Even Neo calls out these ‘miracles.’ I feel like this was more of a problem in the first half of the series since the second half, while still having plenty of these moments, has many more moments where they’re down and out or on the ropes. In addition, they make it clear that it’s not just Taichi and Zero winning these fights – without everyone else helping out in their own ways, hardly any of Taichi and Zero’s battles would’ve been won.

Some of the battles were really intense and creative. I especially enjoyed Taichi and Zero vs. Sigma and Peimon and the battle with Hideto and Omegamon. Despite the emotional moment getting to me, I don’t think the final battle with Arkadimon topped either, so that was a bit disappointing in that regard.

I came to really like all of the side characters, barring maybe Mari. Sigma in particular had a great story, and he’s adorable in the real world.

I loved the bonus chapters that allowed them to crossover with the anime characters in nearly all seasons. That was a fun little addition. I didn’t much care for the poop chapter, though….

My main problem really does lie with Neo as our main villain. He just wasn’t handled well at all. He was made ridiculously over-evil then we’re pretty much made to just forget every horrible thing he did and forgive him when he never even says he’s sorry for what he did just because he felt bad that his sister was paralyzed (but might be cured some day?)

The influence of Demon being a factor is way too weak for me to consider it a significant issue, and the role of Rei almost seems like a hasty mid-way rewrite since most of his motivation at the start was proving he was better than Taichi. He never thought about Rei back then.

Demon also wasn’t a compelling villain, especially as a final baddie. He’s just an evil power-hungry dude. The fact that he returned was a decent twist, but his motivations and goals are way too weak (much weaker and less interesting than Neo’s, anyway.)

Volume Rating: 8/10

Overall Manga Rating Average: 8/10

Recommended Audience: There’s much more blood in this series than you’d normally see in Digimon, particularly with the Digimon themselves as Digimon typically aren’t supposed to bleed, really. There’s even some stuff that might constitute as gore. There’s no real swearing, nudity or sex. It doesn’t really get any worse in the final volume, and considering I’ve kept it at 8+ for most of the run, I think it’s safe to leave it that way for the entire series.


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Why I “Quit” Watching Dragon Ball Super

The Dragon Ball franchise is a big part of my life as an anime fan. I’ve been following it since the original Dragon Ball first aired on Toonami. Dragon Ball was endearing and a lot of fun. It had memorable characters, interesting storylines and plenty of cool action that only got better as time went on. I instantly fell in love with it.

Then we moved on to Dragon Ball Z – the cultural phenomenon that caught everyone’s eyes with its intense action and epic fight scenes, as well as the continued development of old characters from Dragon Ball (To varying degrees of success, obviously) and new characters added to the mix all the time. Old enemies became friends, romance blossomed, families were created, new terrifying villains arrived and the earth was put in danger several times yet saved time and again by Goku and sometimes helped by not-Goku people.

But all good things must come to an end, and once Majin Buu was taken down for good, the series concluded.

In comes Dragon Ball GT – the “Let’s not talk about that” of the Dragon Ball franchise before Dragon Ball Evolution was released. Your mileage with this series probably varies quite a bit. I’ve definitely said my piece on the show a few times already, but at the end of the day, most people agree that even though the show brought some interesting ideas to the table, GT was ultimately an extremely disappointing followup to Z that once again ended with Goku ‘see ya’-ing his family – this time forever.

Luckily, considering Akira Toriyama’s very limited involvement with GT, most don’t take it as canon. Toriyama himself even treated the series as a non-canon side-story.

Then we got Dragon Ball Kai, (Or DBZKai if you need that unnecessary Z, everywhere else but Japan) and it was fine. Kai was just a remastered recut of the original Z series to basically update it, correct some things and remove all sorts of filler. Didn’t really make too grand of an impact, but it wasn’t meant to.

It’s all quiet on the DB front for a long time until 2013 when Akira Toriyama finally wants to do more Dragon Ball stuff again, starting with a new movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods, which I always meant to watch but never got around to, and then Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ which I never really intended on seeing just because I kinda got sick of seeing Frieza, and his golden form was ugly to me. Kinda lazy, too, quite honestly. Frieza has so many forms, he manages another and it’s just a gold-plated version of his final form?

When Dragon Ball Super came to town, I got a little interested, putting it on the backburner of the stove of shows I’ll catch in passing, which I did, quite slowly mind you. However, the more I heard about it, the less I wanted to keep going.

The fact that they retcon some stuff while not retconning others made me a little uneasy. Then we go to ridiculous Super Saiyan levels like blue, god, rose, rage, white, ultra instinct, mastered ultra instinct on top of all of the Super Saiyan forms that already existed when we, as a society, agreed it was already at comical levels merely with SSJ1-3….I just got put off. (Not to mention that all of these forms are just recolors of the same SS form. Give GT credit – SSJ4 was very unique and cool-looking, reintegrating the ape theme back into their designs in an awesome way.)

I know full well that when it comes to shows like this, tournament fighters/shounen fighting anime etc. you’re required to keep upping the ante so your audience stays interested. Many shounen shows don’t have too much problem with raising the bar over and over again, but they also have very emotional and interesting storylines as well as plenty of character development to keep it fresh. Dragon Ball doesn’t do this nearly as often as more modern shounen shows.

We have the deeply impacting moments like Frieza killing Krillin and Vegeta sacrificing himself for his family and humanity, enriched tragic storylines like Future Trunks’ timeline, drastic character development like Piccolo and Vegeta, but those are placed very far apart amidst a never-ending punch and yelling fest.

In addition, other shounen shows tend to have a lot of various powers and techniques that add some spice to the mix. Dragon Ball just tends to have a lot of the same attack with different set dressing. Like one attack will be purple, another will be a big ball, one will have more lightning, one will require different hand movements to use, the other will look more glowy – at the end of the day most of the attacks are energy beams/balls, and it mostly amounts to who has the biggest beams or….balls….

It’s the same old song over and over. Some strong baddies are coming to earth, let’s train to beat them, nearly everyone dies, somehow manage to beat the enemy, wish back everyone who died. Very rarely are there lasting consequences when people die in the DB universe. Even if they die for good, you will likely see them all the time with the only real difference being them having a halo over their heads. I would say there’s also the restriction of them not being able to return to the physical realm, but not even that seems to be a hard rule.

DBZ did this to the point of overuse. They had a whole arc in GT that only happened because they used the Dragon Balls too much. It practically became a joke. Yes, they did put limits on it like only being able to be wished back twice, but even that had a lot of loopholes (You’ve been wished back twice with THESE Dragon Balls, but we can go to another planet and use different Dragon Balls! Or the other Dragon Balls have different rules etc.)

I’m getting off track here. The point is that the DB franchise has a really cut and dry formula that they use over and over with even the highest of stakes (Even putting whole planets or, as we’ll see, universes at risk) seeming like they don’t matter much. While the action and characters can still be a lot of fun and really cool to watch, it’s empty calories after a certain point.

And there’s only so far they can go with such empty action. Logical power scaling eventually gets broken beyond repair if you go too far. Goku is already constantly at the top of any ‘strongest character ever’ list, and they START this series fighting GODS and then get literal god mode. How much further can you go after that?

What’s even worse is, I was looking at the episode list and I was shocked to see Goku already achieved Super Saiyan God status at episode NINE?! What the shit?! Goku was getting his ass gift wrapped for him in episode five, barely about a day has gone by and he’s already got his god mode and is facing off against Beerus for several episodes?! Just….WHAT!? No wonder they can go through so many new Super Saiyan modes if he’s already become a god before the episode number hits double digits.

I hope I’m not giving off an air like I’m above frivolous fun or empty action, because I’m not. I’ve always been very much of the mind that as long as entertainment is entertaining, it’s fine. I will still talk about the problems, but I just want to have fun.

That’s actually one of the things I liked as I started watching Super. Unlike GT, which pretty much failed in trying to meld the fun and adventure of the original Dragon Ball with the more intense action of DBZ, I think Super is doing a good job bringing a more laid back and humorous feel to the series, at least in the first handful of episodes. Even Beerus, the God of Destruction, is a fun enemy. I like that he’s so goofy about food and actually pretty respectful of people, to a point, while also being very intimidating at the same time.

I also liked how the first seven episodes brought most of the characters together and put some spotlight on Vegeta’s family. He’s still a grump, but he’s a family-oriented grump.

I didn’t much care for Goku ditching his family again, but at least they showed him having a job to support his family. Even though they just throw that away because Hercule gives him a bunch of cash out of the blue. Not to say Goku didn’t earn that money, especially coming from Hercule, but still.

Vegeta freaking right the hell out when Beerus slapped Bulma so hard it knocked her several dozen feet backward was something I was waiting for. I saw a gif of that a long time ago, and I was itching to see it in true action. As a fan of their relationship, having Vegeta flip his shit at Beerus, a being that he was previous kissing the ass of and trembling in fear of for the past couple of hours, for slapping his wife and then him yelling out ‘My Bulma!’ as he slams on Super Saiyan mode was just beautiful.

And that was the same episode in which I finally decided to stop watching it.

Why?

Well, in addition to the problems I already mentioned, episode seven was pretty much a trial of my patience. Outside of that one awesome scene, it was seriously nothing but a back and forth of the group getting their asses easily handed to them by Beerus and characters going on for WAY too long just looking on in shock and making weird straining noises because of all the shock. I nearly shut the episode off before I got to Vegeta’s big scene, even though I knew it was coming, because it was that obnoxious.

I’m fully used to the typical long stretches of screaming associated with this show. I’ve gotten pretty numb to it by now and there’s usually something intense happening while they’re screaming. Or, at the very least, we know for certain the screaming is building up to something epic. But this is just boring constantly straining noises and shock faces. It really got to a point where I finally connected with those people who make fun of anime by making shocked faces, yelling and completely overreacting for too long.

And, as someone who has watched Speed Racer and not really gotten that weird stereotype, that’s a very bad thing.

Not to mention how Vegeta has been really annoying this whole time with the aforementioned ass-kissing and how he’s just spending most of his time in complete shock and terror, before Beerus has even done anything, either.

I don’t know which was more irritating – Vegeta acting like a scared puppy with no plans to do anything about Beerus besides keep him fed and happy or Goku who seems to give zero shits about the threat this being is posing to everything he’s ever loved and is purely focused on the cool challenge before him.

….Probably Goku in hindsight because, while Vegeta is being more annoying on an audio and visual level, Goku is being way more annoying through his illogical behavior. At least Vegeta is scared out of his mind because he’s concerned about the well-being of his home and family. Goku’s just an idiot who, again, feels like he doesn’t take threats seriously until it’s far too late.

Do I even need to bring up how bad this series looks? Has it been run into the ground too hard? ….Eh, probably, but just for good measure – Do you guys at Toei maybe wanna pull a few more dollars from your ass or give your animators more time to work? Because so many shots, and I definitely don’t just mean tweens, look terrible and the animation as a whole is very uninspired. Say what you will about how dated or cheap the older DB titles look sometimes, at least the direction is interesting and the animation is done in such a way that you’re never bored. Super, however, is.

And, no, like Sailor Moon Crystal, I don’t really care that they went back and redid the animation to look better for the Blu-Ray and DVD versions, especially since I’m working from the streaming Funimation copy. They should know how to do that out the gate now. It really seems like Toei cheaps out on the animation until they know the show is a hit and then they decide to spend a few more bucks to make it look good because then they deem it worth it.

I’ve heard that way down the line the animation gets better from the ground up, without needing to be redone, and is more consistent, but I don’t think I have the patience to wade through so much bad just to get to ‘A bit better.’

In addition, this may seem petty, but the designs of most of the antagonists for the series seem very lackluster so far. Most of the enemies in the DB series have been very memorable and striking, even when they have several forms. Even the more minor enemies had very unique designs. The creativity certainly tapered in GT to the point where they weren’t really making new villains as they were just making redesigns of old ones. Baby is probably the most notable design there, and even then he’s not much to write home about.

In Super, however, other than Beerus, I feel like most of the antagonists I’ve seen have been kinda boring in regards to design, very similarly to GT in that half of them just seem boring and the other half are basically redesigns of old characters. This isn’t a comment on their personalities as I haven’t watched far enough to explore their personalities – I’m simply making a note of their designs.

You might think I’m being really unreasonable to drop the series on those grounds, and maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m just being petty or an old grump yearning for the good ol’ days, but I think everyone knows when their time has come to drop a show and this was my time.

Outside of seeing the first female Super Saiyan, which, despite me complaining about the lack of one in GT, I felt was too little far too late, and besides seeing my boy 17 (He’s my favorite character) back and actually given a chance to shine on the good side, I don’t think there’s much for me to look forward to, really. I felt like episode seven was a warning signal that those things wouldn’t be worth my time in the end.

DBS has 131 episodes, and I just can’t find it in myself to watch all of that when I know the formula inside and out – when I feel like there’s absolutely no tension whatsoever because death and the destruction of the universe are basically par for the course for this show. It gets to the point where even the mindless action gets boring.

Also, I feel like these arcs will be very drawn out. As far as I’ve read, the first 13 episodes of the series are meant to cover the events from the first new movie, Gods of Destruction, while the second season covers the second movie Resurrection ‘F’. 13 episodes each to cover two 90 minute movies? I’ll admit that I very well could be wrong about this part as I haven’t watched enough to really know, but considering how padded episode seven felt, I can’t help but think this is probably right.

I know the other arcs aren’t meant to cover movies, but still, DB was never known for its great pacing.

Outside of a few amusing moments and some nostalgia, I just felt like I wasn’t getting much enjoyment out of the series and didn’t really think I’d get much out of anything else that came my way. Even with all of the stuff I’ve read online about future plot developments, I couldn’t really care enough to want to continue, let alone continue for over 120 episodes.

Beerus and Whis are really fun new additions, but they’re not enough to make me want to stay, especially since Beerus is also an asshole who blows up planets for fun and tries to kill people over pudding.

Let me end this by saying that if you’re enjoying or have enjoyed DBS and are looking forward for more continuations, more power to you. I don’t blame you at all for liking it, because I can see things in this series that are very enjoyable. I just think that, for the moment anyway, Dragon Ball titles have ceased being my cup of tea. I feel like there are other things I’d much rather be watching. The characters and relationships and the world they created will always be precious to me, but I’m just having trouble getting into the latest ventures and don’t have the drive to keep waiting for it to wow me.

I’m sure I’ll read some cool developments online in the future about these beloved characters (as I’m writing this, supposedly Yamcha got a time to shine in the latest manga venture) maybe I’ll grab one of the newer movies if I feel in the mood, maybe I’ll even read the manga (I am reading the manga, technically, but I’m way the way way back in classic Dragon Ball) but for now, Dragon Ball Super, I think it’s time we parted ways.


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