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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Digimon Adventure V-Tamer (Manga) Volume 8 Review

Plot: Taichi and Zero finally go head to head with Neo and Arkadimon, but even though Zero looks like he might be able to topple the powerhouse Digimon, Arkadimon retaliates with a new trick of its own – the Dot Matrix; an ability that allows it to turn energy into data and absorb it. Arkadimon destroys Zero’s arm, then his wing and finally skewers him through the chest.

Zero starts dissolving into binary code, and they rush him to Holy Angemon Castle to see if they can save him. Holy Angemon, Leomon, Hideto and Omegamon and other powerful Digimon decide to evolve and confront Neo and Arkadimon.

Meanwhile, Zero is somehow managing to fight off being completely destroyed, but he’s losing strength quickly. The other Digimon from the area, many that Zero and Taichi have helped over their time in the Digital World, give their energy to Zero to help him fight.

Omegamon nearly destroys himself trying to attack Arkadimon. He’s unsuccessful in damaging him, but it wasn’t a total loss. The Dot Matrix was an invisible attack and no one could see where it was coming from. Omegamon’s attack allowed them to finally see that the attack was coming from Arkadimon’s torso.

Zero manages to get himself back to full strength with the help of all of the Digimon, and he and Taichi rev up to take on Neo and Arkadimon one more time. But, will it be enough?

Breakdown: The big battle is here, and it’s pretty good so far. I didn’t expect Zero to be down for the count in this volume, but we only have one more volume left so maybe I should’ve expected them to be down and out at least once this time around.

The Dot Matrix is a terrifying ability for a Digimon to have. Zero was only able to survive, supposedly, because he was an Ancient type and could hold his code together while the other Digimon gave him energy to recover. However, if it hit another Digimon in a vital area, they’d certainly be dead. And since Arkadimon absorbs the data, they wouldn’t be able to come back.

The scene where the Digimon give their energy to Zero to help him recover was very touching, and Omegamon nearly sacrificing himself was also emotional, even though he really didn’t die. We finally have some small moments where Neo seems like he might be caught off-guard, but he ultimately comes out on top time and again with that dumbass cocky grin on his face.

Neo’s falling further and further away from any sort of chance at legit salvation in my eyes, and that chance was already insanely slim. Wanna know the real reason why Zero had the opportunity to recover? Because Neo told Arkadimon to purposely use a slower version of the Dot Matrix to have Zero slowly vanish so both him and Taichi will suffer longer. Screw this guy so hard.

We also have another bonus chapter, this time with Taichi teaming up with Ryo.

If you don’t know who Ryo is, I don’t blame you. For a quick refresher for purely Digimon anime fans, he’s the guy that suddenly gets introduced in Tamers when the kids go to the Digital World. The one that basically becomes Rika’s love interest kinda?

He’s not purely a one-off random character, though. He’s actually a pretty popular character due to his prominence in the Wonderswan game series for Digimon.

Wonderswan and Wonderswan Colors were basically Game Boy Advanced right before Game Boy Advanced was a thing. They were released by Bandai in 1999 and were the last pieces of hardware to be created by game and gaming hardware designer Gunpei Yokoi before his death. They were never released in America, possibly due to oversaturation of the market at the time in regards to gaming consoles, and only a handful of the games, like Final Fantasy, Gundam titles and Digimon games were released in English.

Even in Japan, the handheld console just couldn’t compete with Nintendo (Which is a little ironic because Yokoi designed the original Game Boy) and Bandai not only stopped production on both devices in 2003, but they also bowed out of the console wars altogether.

The Digimon games created for the Wonderswan crossed over with Adventure, 02 and Tamers, the last of which Ryo also made a long-standing cameo in, so technically Ryo is the only character to be canon in all three original Digimon series. I should note that this does NOT mean all of the Digimon series take place in the same canon. From all I’ve gathered so far, it seems like the most logical conclusion is that all of the Digimon series take place in different dimensions – Ryo just has the ability to jump through dimensions.

Ryo, like Taichi, is rather hotheaded and confident while also being heroic and proud. Because their personalities are so similar, when Ryo enters their dimension, he gets along quite well with Taichi but quickly gets into a ‘Who will save whom?’ contest with him. Their hotheadedness somehow weakens the enemy Digimon they were fighting, and before they can even start an actual battle the Digimon is somehow vanquished by their pride.

I was really underwhelmed by this bonus chapter. There was no nice lesson to learn, the story wasn’t interesting, the resolution is bullshit, quite frankly, and it was just boring. They bring up Tamers in this chapter but don’t take the opportunity to bring in any of the Tamers. I never played any of the Wonderswan games, and I never cared much for Ryo in Tamers, so I was pretty divorced from this plot as it was, but what they did with it was less than I expected.

All in all this was a good, but not fantastic volume. We’ve only got one more volume to go through, so here’s hoping we have an amazing finale!

Rating: 7.5/10


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Inuyasha Movie 2: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass Review

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Naraku has been killed, but there’s a new threat on the horizon by the name of Kaguya. She wishes to bring eternal night to the world and freeze time around her. That’s about it.

Breakdown: This was the first ever Inuyasha movie I watched since I got it on DVD before the first ever premiered on Adult Swim. I watched it over and over in my more anime-deprived days, but how well does it really stand up?

We start off with Inuyasha and the others defeating the main villain of the series, Naraku. ……Oh, really?….Wow, okay. Uh….Movie over? Goodbye everyone!

Oh wait, the movie’s still going on? We’ve only just completed the opening credits? But they showed all the proof that Naraku’s dead. Miroku’s wind tunnel’s gone, Kagura’s heart’s in her chest, Kohaku remembers Sango….

The end.

That’s the end. Main plot of the movie/series resolved. Even if this is a fake out (Why, whatever would they do that for? It’s completely plausible that the main villain of our show would just up and die, without any buildup or background to how they got there, in a movie while the show’s still airing. Pshaw to all you nay sayers.) what would that mean for the movie? That no matter what villain is showcased in this movie, Naraku will inevitably return and take the spotlight back, making the new baddie even more irrelevant than your average TV series connected movie villain.

Anyway, most of the first 40 minutes of the movie after Naraku’s ‘death’ is just talking about Naraku’s ‘death’ while preparing for the arrival of the new baddie. Because baddies can never just appear – they need rituals, preparation and shit. Our baddie of the movie, Kaguya, somehow coerces Kanna into starting the ritual to free her from her mirror prison to bring eternal night to the world. She also coerces Kagura by claiming that the freedom she knows now is a mere illusion and that she can grant her true freedom.

In order to do this, she sends Kagura and Kanna on a fetch quest for 500 exp, 2000 gold and a Ring of Strength lvl 5. They need some sprig, which they have, a crystal, a piece of the robe of the fire rat, a shell and a stone bowl. Funny thing about the stone bowl. A dying little girl who was tasked with protecting the bowl gave it to Kikyo to protect it from the demons as she died. And what does Kikyo do? She willingly hands it over to Kagura. Kikyo’s a real bitch in the movies. She can be a bitch in the TV series too, but she’s an even bigger bitch in the movies.

They gather the items fairly quickly, except the robe of the fire rat, because Inuyasha holds that. After a bit of a battle with Inuyasha, they rip his sleeve off and bail.

As Kagura and Kanna summon Kaguya, we keep up with the group. Miroku is learning more about his grandfather and his connection to the story, Sango has reunited with an injured and still fairly amnesia-ridden Kohaku and Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippo have met with Hojo’s ancestor who is trying to throw the one ring of power into the volcano—I mean throw the celestial robe, something Kaguya needs, into a crater to prevent great chaos and blah blah.

We get a scene where Inuyasha and Kagome are talking about him staying as a half-demon when they get the jewel, but he doesn’t want that. The vocal song in the background swells as Kagome pulls Inuyasha to look at her after he claims it’s ridiculous to think that he’s strong enough as it is. I guess the look in his eyes is important because she stops to stare at him.

I used to really like this scene without issue, but now I find it a little confusing. Why does he look like that? Because he desperately wants to be a demon? Because completing the jewel means Kagome likely leaves? Because he doesn’t know what he really wants? Hm.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen1

Kaguya shows up for the robe and restrains Inuyasha to a tree. Kagome, being their last line of defense (well, they’re dead), tries to attack Kaguya with a sacred arrow, but Kaguya reflects it back towards Inuyasha. Kagome jumps in the way to save him while Ancestor Hojo throws the celestial robe in the arrow’s path as it sticks in Kagome’s back. This obviously means Kagome’s going to be okay, but Kaguya reinforces this by saying she won’t let her die.

Kaguya takes Kagome and the robe (Kagome a damsel in distress? That never happens!) leaving Inuyasha and the others to find her castle and save Kagome.

Sango, Miroku, Kohaku, Kirara and Hachi head towards the castle, but are shot down. Shippo saves Sango and the others, while Inuyasha and Kagome do what they do best…..Yell each others names.

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Kagome’s also completely healed of her arrow wound due to the robe. Oh how surprising. (I’m being sarcastic)

Inuyasha fights a three-headed water dragon. This is a pretty cool battle, even if this is another monster where the weakspot is painfully obvious. Gee, I wonder if that giant glowing point where all of the heads connect could be what Inuyasha needs to aim for. Just the battle itself is pretty cool since the demon’s so huge compared to Inuyasha and Inuyasha has to practically ride him to beat him. However, there are numerous times in this battle where it looks like Inuyasha’s standing on water.

Inuyasha defeats the demon with a Wind Scar as Kikyo shoots a sacred arrow at it at the same time from land. Well, okay Miss Unclearmotivationsandintentions.

Inuyasha: “Who shot that arrow?” Gee, I wonder. There are only two people commonly seen in the Inuyasha universe who can use sacred arrows. One is currently kidnapped. Hmmm such a mystery.

I will forgive that, though, just to see Inuyasha shake off like a dog.

After that’s done, Kagura reveals that Kaguya’s not the real Kaguya. She’s much like Naraku in that she has absorbed the powers of other demons to gain immortality. Naraku wanted her body for himself, thus he….kept her locked away and never bothered to try and get it? I dunno.

Kanna tries to steal Kaguya’s soul, but is unable. Kaguya then sends Kagura and Kanna to another dimension with the powers of the robe.

Inuyasha arrives at the castle to confront Kaguya, but she unleashes her time-freezing ability on the world as he attacks. While all of the land around them, Hachi and Hojo’s ancestor are frozen in time, Inuyasha and the others are not.

Why? Because all of them were wearing items from modern times that Kagome brought back with her. Sango and the others had bandages of Kagome’s on while Inuyasha had a locket that Kagome gave to him……I’m sorry, I’m calling a little bit of BS here. Just because they’re items from the modern era, that means they have a, quoting here, ‘time barrier’ around them that exempts them from Kaguya’s spell? Shenanigans, I say!

While Inuyasha isn’t affected by the freeze in time, Kaguya claims that it doesn’t matter because he wasn’t even there at all and reveals it all to be an illusion of Inuyasha’s. The real dream castle is mirrored under their feet, which Inuyasha easily accesses using his red Tetsusaiga, so that was completely pointless.

Inuyasha and the others reach Kagome, and Kaguya and the others have a battle. Inuyasha and Miroku get injured while Sango and Kohaku get restrained. Kaguya decides to grant Inuyasha his deepest desires of becoming a full demon…..which makes no sense to me. Why would she purposely make Inuyasha stronger? Making him a full demon won’t guarantee that he’ll be obedient to her. In fact, he’s an out of control beast when he’s full demon.

Inuyasha in full demon form attacks Miroku as he tries to snap Inuyasha out of it. It’s meant to be shocking, but he doesn’t even rip Miroku’s clothes with an Iron Reaver.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen2Inuyasha movie 02 Screen3

Ya know, I like Richard Ian Cox as Inuyasha, but he makes really lame ‘demon’ noises.

Shippo frees Kagome by throwing her jewel shards at her, and Kagome runs to hug Inuyasha to get him to stop changing….and…I dunno what’s happening, but again I used to really like this sequence, now I just find it really cheesy. It’s not really bad, in fact I still find it kinda sweet, but the cheese is prominent.

Through all the chaos in his mind, he sees Kagome running to him and calling his name. Because we haven’t heard her yell it in the past 11 milliseconds. Then as Inuyasha prepares his attack, illusion!Kagome gets surrounded in cherry blossoms and says that she loves him as a half-demon. This starts to reverse his transformation, but Kaguya presses on, forcing him to dig his claws into Kagome’s arms.

Kagome wonders how she can stop his transformation, and she decides the best way is to give the fans something to gush over, so she kisses him. While I used to really like this scene, I still always thought that kiss was….awkward, at least the first half of it. Looking closely, she is actually kissing his bottom lip, but it really just looks like she’s kissing his teeth. Or, at the very least, is shoving her nose into his teeth.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen4

Of course Inuyasha reverts back to normal, and for some reason this causes red sparkles to float around, fixing his robe of the fire rat. *shrug*

As the battle with Kaguya starts again, Kohaku screams in agony with a deep pain in his shoulder. Sango pulls back his shirt and reveals a pulsating spider mark. When the spider mark is revealed, Miroku also yells in agony as his wind tunnel reappears. Naraku soon bursts from Kohaku’s back and reveals he had faked his death somehow. Naraku not dying for reeelz!? NOH WEI! What a complete new plot development this is for the series as a whole.

He did this to lure Kaguya out to absorb her powers…..Why he couldn’t have just summoned her himself is beyond me. The items to summon her were crazy easy to find and there’s no explanation as to why Kaguya wouldn’t want to appear while Naraku was alive….

Naraku attacks Kaguya and their battle starts to bring the castle down. Naraku disappears, and Inuyasha decides to finish off both of them, Kaguya first. Kagome realizes that the only way to take down Kaguya for good is to destroy her mirror. She asks Shippo to turn into a bow while she uses Miroku’s staff as an arrow…which I don’t think would work in the slightest. His staff seems too heavy to work as an arrow, too long to wield properly, plus the décor at the top would make it too heavy at one end to fly even a little, but whatever. It works, and Inuyasha kills her at the same time with a Wind Scar.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen5

Hooray, our heroes have won! But wait, the dream castle is collapsing.

Kim Possible: “Just once, I wish the bad guy’s lair didn’t have to blow up.”

Precisely! Cue escape scene that you know is pointless because it would be insanely dumb to have them die in a collapsing building after just surviving the final battle.

While escaping, Kaguya in bad CGI smoke cloud form kidnaps Kagome….again, because padding, and conveniently drops her on a beam that Naraku just happens to be on for no reason. He uses Kagome as a lure to get Kaguya, but he’s attacked by Inuyasha before she can get to them. And Miroku uses his windtunnel to suck up Kaguya’s smoke form………well, that was anticlimactic.

Naraku, Kagura, who somehow made it back from whatever dimension she was in, and Kohaku jump through the portal made by the mirror, which shouldn’t work since it’s broken, to escape into the real world, and Inuyasha and the others follow suit.

They see the castle reflection disappear and Hachi and Hojo’s ancestor get freed from the spell. Hojo’s ancestor also miraculously got the robe back instantly after the castle disappeared.

They then continue their journey to defeat Naraku because that’s how everything Inuyasha related ends barring Final Act

Oh and for anyone wondering whatever happens to Hojo’s ancestor, it’s revealed in the TV series that his flighty and shallow love for Kagome ran so deep that he forced his future wife to change her name to Kagome. Creepy creeper.

Art and Animation: The animation was roughly the same as the TV series was a bulk of the time. The art was kinda awkward in it’s style and overall quality. It’s especially apparent in one of the scenes where you see Inuyasha’s human form in the mirror and see that one of his eye reflections is much bigger than the other. However, it had much crisper coloring than the first movie and the TV series.

Music: Same as the TV series, which is fantastic. The movie-exclusive vocal songs are great with Yurayura being one of my favorites.

Voice acting: English Some of the dialogue and acting in this movie was somewhat hokey, but other than that it was on par with the TV series, which is pretty good.

Bottomline: As you probably guessed from my commentary, I don’t like this movie as much as I used to when I was a huge Inuyasha fan. Kaguya’s a decent villain, but she’s just like a mix between Naraku and Kanna without as much threat. Movie villains for anime series never seem to be as threatening because you know by the end of the movie they’ll be defeated (because movie canon hardly ever seems to carry over into series canon) whereas the villains of the TV series go on for ages.

In addition, you knew from the very beginning that Kaguya was just a distraction meant to pass the time until Naraku showed his face again. It’s not an awful or even bad movie by any means, but it’s still not that good. Quite frankly, I think the main reason it’s even given a little notoriety is because it’s where Inuyasha and Kagome share their first kiss, but whether or not this is actually canon is highly questionable.

If you’re a big Inuyasha fan, maybe give it another point, but for casual fans or people relatively unfamiliar to the series (In which case, why are you watching the second movie based on it?) then a six stands just fine.

Additional Information and Notes: Inuyasha was based on a manga of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi. The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass was directed by Toshiya Shinohara, who directed all of the Inuyasha films, and did some directorial work on Black Butler, Crest of the Stars, 2001 Nights and Gurren Lagann. The screenplay was written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, who also wrote the scripts for many episodes of Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, Blue Dragon, all but one episode of Inuyasha: Final Act and Yu Yu Hakusho.

It was produced by Sunrise and is currently licensed in the US by Viz Media.

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience: Violence, some blood, nothing worse than the TV series. 12+


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Dreaming of Dreamworks: The Road to El Dorado

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Miguel and Tulio are two con men who swindle a guy on the street out of his map to the legendary El Dorado: the city of gold. However, they end up getting trapped on a ship before they can head off on their adventure.

While escaping the ship on a lifeboat, they, as well as the horse Altivo, end up lost at sea and get lifeboat-wrecked on a random island that just happens to be the place to start looking for El Dorado. They find the city, but are mistaken for gods by the natives. Being good con men, they intend to keep up the lie just long enough to get a whole bunch of gold and run back to Spain with the help of Chel, a local who wants to go back to Spain with them. Their lie is not easy to keep up, and with an evil high priest wishing to constantly give a blood tribute, they have to get out of El Dorado as soon as possible.

Breakdown: Hmph, I really wanted to enjoy this more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means a bad movie. I may suck at numbered ratings, but that’s not a typo. It’s just that I had hoped that this was one of those lesser known gems I could discover. Alas, no. Just above average. Dammit Dreamworks, you got my hopes up with Prince of Egypt!

To start off on a good note, the movie does have quite a few funny moments. Miguel and Tulio work well off of each other as best friends, even if they do have the typical dynamic of responsible one and goof off.

The art and animation can be simply amazing sometimes, and the Aztec feel was a welcome change of pace.

The title is almost entirely an outright lie. If you were expecting this movie to be like a road trip/treasure hunt movie, you’ll be sorely disappointed because it takes them less than 25 minutes to reach the place. All of the steps of the map are even done in a montage.

To make matters worse, they did the one plot I really hate – trying to pull off a lie. I hate feeling awkward. This type of plot brings nothing but awkwardness, and it just makes the movie more predictable. We know it all leads to one end – at least one important person finding out and crap hitting the fan because of it.

Another plot device they included was the one best friend overhearing something that insults him so he stays mad at the other until he saves his life thing.

One thing that bugged me in particular was the seemingly forced relationship between Tulio and Chel. They don’t connect on really anything – they just flirt. We don’t learn anything about Tulio and we know even less of Chel besides the fact that she wants to go to Spain and likes stealing. Yet there’s some flirting, some sex-ish activity on a pile of gold (which is the best sex, of course) and then, boom, they basically want to start a life together. She served no real purpose in the entire movie besides to be fanservice and/or to have a girl among this sausage-fest.

The ending was also fairly disappointing. Considering how blood-hungry the high-priest guy was, I was expecting him to be a real threat at the end, but no. He does learn of the non-divinity of the boys and decides to work some mojo to get rid of them, but it was a short and disappointing battle that had a short and disappointing end. You think he’ll reprise when he joins up with some Spanish soldiers and wishes to lead them to El Dorado to take it over, but the final climax is to crash the boat into the entrance of El Dorado so they can never enter (and supposedly the citizens of El Dorado can now never leave.) and then he’s easily dragged away by the soldiers who believe he was lying all along. It’s ridiculous that a guy who could possess or control a giant stone jaguar and do all sorts of freaky magic could be contained by Spanish soldiers.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who was disappointed with this because the movie was a box office failure losing over $20 million and receiving negative to moderate ratings across the board by critics. However, it was nominated for numerous awards.

The music was just okay. It seemed weird to have only one song that the characters sing like it’s a musical number while everything else is in the background. Besides that song, all of the lyrical songs were done by Tim Rice and Elton John, whom I haven’t seen work on an animated movie since the freakin’ Lion King. However, I found the songs to just be mediocre at best.

Bottomline: It’s a perfectly fine movie to kill time and it’s pretty funny and nice to look at sometimes. However, it’s still basically an awkward, predictable movie with no backstory for any of the characters and a pretty flat ending.

Recommended Audience: Dreamworks likes to swear here and there but nothing worse than ass, crap or hell. One sex-ish scene, but it’s honestly just an off-screen heavy make out. No nudity. A little blood. 10+

Episode One-Derland: Blue Dragon

Plot: Thousands of years ago, at the dawn of humanity, God blessed the world with prosperity and light. However, the humans, greedy for more, wished for darkness as well. They were granted their wish, and darkness fell upon them. It invaded the hearts of men, and humanity had to fight against it. Warriors of light emerged and triumphed over the darkness, but now the darkness has returned, heralding in the call for warriors of light.

A dark and evil king named Nene is terrorizing villages everywhere looking for a special power, kidnapping children that he believes possesses the ability to wield it. One day, Nene’s forces target the village of a boy named Shu, who wishes for nothing more than to be a brave warrior called a Knight Master and travel the world looking for adventure.

He believes he’s found a Knight Master when he meets the stoic woman named Zola, but is disappointed when she states that she is no such thing. When the attack commences on Shu’s village, he races to find Zola and her companion, a boy named Jiro, to recruit them to help fight them off. They refuse, however, and tell him that if he wants his village saved he must do it himself.

Jiro and his friends, a girl named Kluke and three others, make a valiant effort to fight off the soldier, but to no avail. The leader of the soldiers is met with Zola and he prepares for battle by calling on his shadow, which turns into a goblin-like beast. Zola too calls upon her shadow, a killer bat.

The goblin is no match for Killer Bat, but the resulting battle causes debris to fly everywhere. Just as Shu’s friends are about to be killed by a falling heap of debris, he leaps into the path of danger with nothing but the wish to save them behind him. As he’s about to get crushed, his shadow suddenly emerges as a brilliant blue dragon, aptly named Blue Dragon, the incredible power everyone’s been looking for.

Breakdown: Blue Dragon is a title I’ve been aware of for quite some time, but I’ve never bothered to look up any information on it.

At face value, there’s not really anything special about this series so far besides the Akira Toriyama aesthetics. Being clear, Toriyama only lent his talent to the art. He had no hand in the story.

The opening in particular about the powers of light and darkness battling each other was some dry milky toast. The aspect of the shadows is also not horribly creative since it’s basically just a fancy way of saying ‘familiar.’

As a first episode, it fares okay. We get the personalities of all of the main characters fairly effectively, even if a good chunk of them are also stereotypes. Shu is the headstrong shounen fighting fantasy anime lead character who has a heart of gold, wants to protect the people he loves and is kinda dense. But he has the best power because main character. I’ll stave off of making a stark comparison between him and Goku for now.

You have the perpetually grumpy rival in Jiro.

Kluke is a bit of a generic love interest, though she’s also sort of a big sister to Shu, and her love of gadgetry is a nice touch.

Zola in particular caught my eye because holy shit it has gotten annoying to not have many prominent legit female fighters throughout shounen. Zola is one kickass pirate-clad assassin girl.

The enemies are horribly generic, destroying villages and beating up kids while chuckling evilly. Even the leader’s shadow is a typical goblin thing.

Shu discovering his power through a desire to save his friends is also typical. I know I praise some shows that use tropes, but I just don’t feel like this show is bringing enough to the table to make me ignore them.

They don’t explain these powers much at all in this episode. We know that some people can summon monsters through their shadows and that’s about it. We have no clue what constitutes gaining this ability, why certain people get certain shadows, why it seems like they were collecting kids for the sake of summoning the blue dragon (you can’t really argue that only kids can summon shadows because the leader guy is definitely an adult and Zola’s a teen at least), what’s so special about the shadows, how they work etc. They don’t even explain Nene and the Gran Kingdom well.

That being said, it is obviously very stylized because Akira Toriyama and I never felt bored while watching. I was never really immersed in it that much, but I didn’t find it to be that bad, especially with Zola.

Final verdict:

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A slightly reluctant yes. Yet another freshly hatched Shounen Step-By-Step. Hopefully it just gets better after this point.

Digimon Adventure V-Tamer Volume 3 (Manga) Review

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Plot: After Zero gets some much needed medical care at Hospitown, Taichi and Gabo meet the evolved versions of some of the Agumon that he met back at Holy Angemon’s castle. They are determined to help stop Neo and Demon from taking over the Digital World, but it’s an uphill task even for their newly evolved forms, and Holy Angemon’s army continues to suffer massive losses.

Taichi and Zero finally reach the tree where Neo stands with the final tag. While Taichi and Zero are more than ready to take him on, they haven’t seen every trick up his sleeve.

Later, Taichi and Zero meet another human in the Digital World – a girl named Rei, and while she seems normal enough, there may be more to her than meets the eye.

Breakdown: Really the only notes I have between the anime and manga are that Piyomon makes an appearance and needs a boost of bravery when faced with the trail of fallen allies Demon and Neo have left in their wake.

Also, the new human character, Rei, has a haircut that looks a lot like Sora’s, but eh.

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This volume is where the stakes get amped up a hundred fold. The battle against Neo takes center stage in this volume, and it’s definitely the biggest and most nail-biting battle of the manga so far, but surprisingly that’s the ‘second act’, so to speak. A lot more happens in this volume than you’d first think, and we have quite a bit of ground to cover.

We start off learning where the other Digi-allies are in their fight against Demon and while there is some good news, such as the Agumon who were being trained in the first volume evolving and Leomon evolving, though his evolved form is never seen on-panel, there’s no denying that the battle against Neo and Demon has taken its toll on Holy Angemon’s army. Holy Angemon himself even catches some of the damage.

Piyomon’s reluctance to brave the frightening circumstances and continue to help the battle are a highlight to this, but the one who brings the shining light of hope back into her very skeptical eyes is Taichi…..and his goggles.

Yes, we get the backstory to Taichi’s goggles. You may faint now. And because I’m such a nice person, I’ll share it with you. A Piyomon is frozen with fear after surviving a massacre lead by Neo. She makes fun of Taichi’s goggles when explaining how ridiculous it is that he and Zero can do anything to help. Taichi explains that the goggles were given to him by his grandpa when he was a young kid.

When he was younger, he saw a kid getting bullied. He knew he should do something about it, but couldn’t find it within himself to do so. Taichi’s grandpa gave him the goggles, knowing he liked airplanes, and called them goggles of friendship and courage.

The goggles belonged to a childhood friend of his who was known for being brave and a great friend. When he was older, he became a great pilot but later fell ill and passed away. He kept his friend’s goggles as a reminder of him and his old saying of ‘courage will give you wings to fly’ (which is actually kinda foreshadowing something that happens later.) Taichi received the goggles happily and knew at that point that he had to be brave in order to protect his friends – a lesson he has never forgotten.

Dammit, considering how important the aspect of the gogglehead is in this franchise, why the hell have we never gotten a backstory for them in the anime? Plus, considering the strong connection the goggles have to Taichi’s courage, his crest no less, you’d think they’d jump on that chance. This revelation, if it can be applied to the anime, makes me a little madder that he just handed his goggles to Daisuke in Adventure 02. That wasn’t a reminder of courage for Daisuke, he was just given a new pair since his broke and Taichi basically proclaimed him as the new leader with them.

Onto the main event, Taichi’s battle with Neo. As I mentioned, Neo has several tricks up his sleeve for combating Zero with his own two Digimon, now a Kuwagamon and Akatorimon that he can merge and separate as many times as he wants. Not only that, but he takes their Perfect form, Megadramon, and merges it with another Perfect, Jureimon to make an Ultimate level Digimon, Deathmon. And it looks about as disappointingly uncreative as the name is. It’s basically a cyclopic (or tricloptic, considering it has eyeballs on its hands) monster with bat wings.

Despite its bland look and uncreative name, it is a huge threat to Taichi and Zero considering that Zero is still merely an adult level, they are still at a disadvantage on the ground while the enemy can fly and they’ve never once faced an Ultimate level before. As you can guess, this results in Zero getting the ever-loving crap beat out of him to the point where, again, you’re seriously wondering if they’ll make it out alive. Even Taichi and Gabo have near-death experiences.

This really was the perfect opportunity to spotlight Zero’s first evolution, and they took advantage of it. It’s probably one of the best evo events of the franchise, at least that I’ve seen. Granted, V-dramon doesn’t change very much when he evolves, but it’s a much needed change to his design and power structure that gives him plenty of edge in the fight.

I’ll also give them props for how Neo was handled in the end. They cop out at the end of the volume, but it was still pretty shocking when it happened. Neo did get a little too crazy and villain-like for my liking, though. Seriously, he’s basically surpassing Kaiba and Vegeta now for how obsessed his is with beating his rival.

After the events of the ‘second act’, we see that portals to the human world have opened and people are being sucked into the Digital World either because they’re being called there or they just happened to be sucked in on accident through their computers. In comes Rei, who comes off as very abrasive. She finds herself in a strange world filled with monsters and when she finally finds some friendly faces, a human one no less, she makes fun of them, insults them and leaves to find more ‘normal’ people to help her.

When they save her life, she pulls a complete 180 and practically flatters them while agreeing to join their group and even asks them to take her to Demon’s castle, but Taichi is soon suspicious of her.

Meanwhile, the egg of the Super Ultimate Digimon has hatched and Neo has to start training it. He sends out a new team of tamers who recently came to the Digital World through the portals, a group called Alias III, to take care of other matters in the battle against Holy Angemon’s army.

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But that’s not all, we also have our first mini-chapter in which Taichi and Zero run into a Sukamon while training. He takes advantage of the fact that his special ability is to emit pheromones that induce the need to poop to completely distract Zero and Taichi from the battle. It’s only made worse by the fact that Zero doesn’t want to fight a pile of crap because that’s gross. They can’t even fight from a safe distance with his V Breath Arrow because it will probably redefine explosive diarrhea.

Zero then can’t fight the need to crap anymore and dumps a load so large that it takes up 80% of the page, he can sit on it like a hill, and it intimidates Sukamon into leaving.

Yeah……that just happened.

And I thought that one Naruto OVA where he craps his pants was ridiculously stupid. I will admit, this mini-chapter is a little tiny itty bitty bit funny, though.

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All in all, this is the best volume yet. This series really just seems to get better and better as the ball keeps rolling. We got to start off fairly calmly while also getting some info on where Holy Angemon’s efforts stand, we got a huge battle, some more strengthening of Taichi and Zero’s friendship and we ended on plenty of interesting details for the next volume, such as the Super Ultimate hatching, Rei’s true intentions, who exactly the guys in Alias III are and what they can do, if any more humans came through the portals and even if we’ll see even more evolutions from Zero. Deathmon was a disappointment in regards to design, and I would’ve liked to see some real character development from Neo in this volume, but still a very solid vol—oh yeah the mini-chapter……

*sigh* That really does tarnish this whole volume quite a bit, doesn’t it? Like I said, it’s a little funny, but it’s an entire nine pages dedicated to fighting poop, talking about poop and actually pooping – a house-sized poop, mind you. So, yeah, I’m gonna take off at least half a point for that, but we’re still standing really strong with this one.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended Audience: Zero gets even more badly beaten in this volume, and there’s one instance where a character kinda sorta commits suicide by falling. You don’t see anything, and it’s later revealed that his life was saved so I guess we’ll stay with 7+

Next volume, it’s the debut of Neo’s Aliases!

….Previous Volume

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Slugterra

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Plot: Will Shane is a respected man of justice in the world of Slugterra – a world miles beneath the surface where people battle using slugs with various powers. While combating the evil Dr. Blakk, he is met with Blakk’s newest creation – corrupted slugs. One of them opens up an interdimensional void that sucks Will up, but not before he sends his faithful slug, Burpy to the surface world to notify his teenage son, Eli, of his fate. After Eli learns of his father’s fall, he follows the instructions on a letter he left behind to finally go to Slugterra and earn his rightful place as a shane, if he wishes it and only when he turns 15.

On his 15th birthday, Eli heads down to Slugterra and follows his father’s directions to find a place to live, a mode of transportation and some starter gear. However, he’s aggravated when he learns that Slugterra has been taken over by thugs in the years of the shane’s absence. Since Eli has no formal training and only one slug, he is quickly tossed aside when he tries to enforce law and order.

In order to help him out, a seeming burglar of his father’s hideout, Pronto, tells him to earn respect and training by winning a local tournament. Eli is pumped to finally start fighting, but since he’s just starting out can he even win a qualifier?

Breakdown: Okay, I really need to start paying more attention to Disney XD because they seem to get way better shows that whatever they sling on cable.

Slugterra didn’t look like much to me when I first glanced at it, but I was surprisingly intrigued by this show….they shoot animals out of guns at each other and they transform in mid-air into awesome monsters! Out of context, that’s seemingly a hair below animal abuse, but it’s actually really cool!

In just our starter episode, part one no less, we are introduced to all sorts of interesting slugs, creatures and characters that get you amped up to see more.

I even enjoyed the cel-shaded CGI animation and art, and that’s very rare for me because I have a really hard time enjoying CGI cartoons.

I do have some bones to pick, though.

First, the pacing is kinda break-neck. We go from Will’s battle to his fall to Eli learning of his fall to him being 15 and going to Slugterra in just a handful of minutes. I think we could’ve made this a bit smoother considering this is indeed a part one.

Second, Eli’s response to his dad ‘falling’ (IE Dying) is uh…less than emotional. I swear, he looks sad for about a second then gets pumped when he learns of the letter his dad left, instructing him on how to start his shane training and how to get to Slugterra. It’s really offputting. The families of soldiers and law enforcement officers are also prepared for something bad to happen to their loved ones, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have an expected emotional response to it happening. Especially when Will seemed like a single dad.

This lack of emotional response is even more offputting when he gets to Slugterra and has the gall to complain about the vehicle his dad left him. Gee thanks dead dad for leaving me full instructions on how to get to this awesome fantasy world and leaving me a place to live, new clothes, a blaster, a powerful slug etc etc. But this vehicle’s a hunk of junk. Pft.

It’s somehow even worse when it’s revealed that the vehicle in the hideout wasn’t even the one he was talking about and Eli’s real ride is super cool. You don’t deserve a cool ride when you’re a spoiled brat.

Third, for seemingly being the hotshot of the tournament, Shockwire’s battle with Eli was kinda lame. If it’s so well know that his slugs can misfire when they’re overworked, surely this crowd favorite would know about it and not shoot off his slugs willy-nilly. And after one hit by Burpy he surrenders? Come on, dude.

I do commend Eli for asking which of Shockwire’s slugs wanted to go with him instead of just taking one. That shows a level of respect for both the slugs and the world that no one seems to have.

Finally, I hate to say it, but the overall plot is cliché city. From the dead dad to the upstart son to the evil bad guy of badness who is named, of all damn things, Dr. Blakk, and the corruption that puts the world at risk. I’ve seen more creativity on the nutritional value chart on my multivitamins.

Overall, however, this is a very fun and engrossing show that I will be glad to continue. Sadly, this show seems to be in limbo because no new episodes have been made since October 2016.

Final Verdict?

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I hope to God this show didn’t get canceled on some horrible incident involving a small child, a gun and literal slugs. I don’t know what would happen in the solution to that equation, but I imagine something terrible….and slimy.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Huntik: Secrets and Seekers

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Break your spine today, Sophie?

Plot: In a University in Venice, Italy, a college student named Lok and his friend, Sophie, accidentally find Lok’s long-lost father’s journal and an amulet in one of his old artifacts. Before they even even begin to look into it, a group of people in black suits burst into his house and attack him with strange powers. They’re after the journal, but Lok travels all over Venice to ensure its safety.

Along the way, he gets imbued with similarly strange powers from the amulet he found, and he finds some sense of security with a man named Dante, who helps save him from the people in suits. He reveals that the suited people are from an evil group known only as The Organization. They utilize ancient powers and summon powerful titans from their amulets for nefarious purposes. Those who possess these powers are known as Seekers, and there is a benevolent group of seekers known as The Huntik Foundation, who aim to take down The Organization.

While Lok quickly wants nothing more to do with the situation, Dante reveals that he already is a part of it since the amulet synced with him, making him a Seeker. The Organization returns for another face-off, this time with more firepower. Will they be able to make it out in one piece?

Breakdown: This show has awesome music.

The instant I heard the opener, I was sold….but maybe I was a bit cheap because there’s not much going on in the originality department here.

Missing dad? Check.

Main Character suddenly dragged into a huge conflict with mysterious powers and monsters? Check.

Obvious love interest? Check.

Being so vague about your enemy that they’re literally bad guys in black with a non-descript name? Check.

Suddenly saved by mysterious guy with uber powers and luxurious hair? Check.

It’s not the most cliché thing in the world…..but it’s up there. Being fair, they put plenty of action in there to hold your attention, but nothing about the story really grabbed it.

Just to get these minor annoyances out of the way, here are some minor annoyances.

– Lok seriously didn’t know what an amulet was. Not what THE amulet was – what AN amulet was…..he’s a college student.

– Bad guys are after the journal, journal falls into water, stops Lok from going into water, make no effort to go into the completely calm canal water to retrieve journal. Don’t even stick around long enough to see him surface. Good job.

– Sophie was reaching for a precious and delicate artifact left behind from your father, is having no real issues reaching it or getting it down, yet you act like she’s about to be hit by invisible falling debris and tackle her, ensuring that the artifact breaks. Good job, Lok. Though, being fair, it’s rude as hell to get all grabby on what is clearly a delicate ancient statue.

– How did Lok’s dad get that stuff in that statue anyway?

– Sophie describes Lok as a nerd and he can even complete a full crossword puzzle in less than two minutes, but he’s super lazy in school, never bothered to open his textbooks out of their plastic wrapping and needs to copy Sophie’s notes.

– They were too lazy to animate him completing the crossword. It was an actual plotpoint, but they skipped it through black fades. They animated a completely pointless Indiana Jones dream sequence, but not him completing a crossword. They even have to have a little note on screen that says ‘Less than two minutes later’

That out of the way, the art and animation is Italian. That about sums it up.

Alright, I’m not being fair. Sorry Italy. But, really, can someone point me to some Italian animation that doesn’t look like it was given the budget of a bucket of nails? I feel like I’m unfairly building a bad view of it just because I keep coming across shows like these.

The art itself is alright. Passable enough. It’s the animation and lip-syncing that make me gnash my teeth. This series was produced by Rainbow s.r.l., the same people who brought us Winx Club. It’s done in that same style, but to the best of my knowledge, the quality is much worse. That might be the fault of their co-producer, Big Bocca Productions, but damned if I can find a single word of that company that isn’t ‘They helped produce Huntik.’

Huntik’s level and type of animation problems can only be summed up in one way – It’s exactly the same as those old religious cartoons from the 90s and early 00s. I can’t describe it any better than that. I was almost expecting this to be produced by a company that made some of those shows and specials, it was just that similar.

As for the lip-syncing, I have no clue how they produced this they way they did, but whatever system they used to work between America and Italy to fuse the animation with the voices did not work. Keep in mind, this show was not originally voiced in Italian. There is no language gap to jump, excusing the poor syncing. As a fan of anime, I would be more than glad to turn a blind eye to that (mostly).

I assume Big Bocca Productions is the American company who did the scripts and voice work. Rainbow did the animation and designs. Rainbow has the responsibility of matching their animations to the script and voice work, so I guess I have to mark off Rainbow for this.

The voice acting as a whole is just alright. We have some actual voice actors here such as Yuri Lowenthal, Marc Thompson and even Maddie Blaustein. They’re not putting their all into it, but they’re not really phoning it in. The sound mixing and editing is sometimes terrible, though. There will be instances of characters accidentally talking over each other and sometimes the music drowns out the voices.

Marc, however, is doing a terrible job as Cherit, the little talking bat-creature thing. Just imagine one of your parents putting on a high-pitched witch-like voice when they would read to you at bed time, and that’s basically what he’s doing.

Final verdict:

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Just barely eeked out ‘undecided’, mostly because A) music is still awesome, B) it intrigued me enough to at least plug on for now. Maybe it has more to offer to set it apart from the crowd. At the very least, I might get to see some laughably terrible stuff.

…….But seriously, he had no idea what an amulet was.

Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 (Manga) Volume 1 Review

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Plot: Taichi is a very talented player of the V-Pet game, Digimon. When he tries to enter a tournament, he’s disqualified for having an unknown Digimon, V-dramon, known by the nickname of Zeromaru or Zero for short. He eventually gets transported to the Digital World; a world where Digimon are real.

After he teams up with Zero, he is told by one of the great leaders of the world, Holy Angemon, that the Digital World is in danger of destruction by someone named Demon. Since a good tamer makes a Digimon immensely more skilled and powerful, he sends them on a mission to collect the five tags needed to enter Demon’s castle and save the Digital World.

Breakdown: I’m a big fan of Digimon, and I’ve always been interested to see if there was a manga version. Much to my delight, there are several with this being the first. Much to my confusion, it’s not really even close to the same as the anime.

Let me back up. Digimon, as a franchise, is actually derived from Digimon V-Pets, little devices aimed towards kids where you could raise a virtual monster. Sound familiar? Of course it does, it’s one of many Tamagotchi clones. More to the point, Digimon V-Pets were specifically designed to be aimed towards boys since Tamagotchis were aimed more towards girls. To push the masculine aspect even further, the Digimon V-Pets included the ability to sync up devices and battle other Digimon.

This manga is based off of those V-Pets and the anime was ‘loosely’ based on the manga.

Since the differences are so drastic, I want to handle this as a purely standalone feature with no AniManga clash hanging off of it, but I know some people will be curious as to the main differences between the manga and the anime, so the sate those curiosities I will list all of the major differences at the start of each review.

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The anime showcases seven and later eight children each with their own Digimon, and these children are referred to as Chosen Children. It’s not until season three where the kids are described as Digimon Tamers. Also, Digimon have never been heard of in the real world beforehand, except in Digimon Tamers.

In the manga, only Taichi is present. And he doesn’t even have Agumon; instead he has a V-dramon. Also sound familiar? He’s the Adult version of Daisuke’s Digimon, V-mon, from Adventure 02. Weird, huh? Zero’s design is bulkier and less humanoid than Adventure 02’s V-dramon, though. I prefer Zero’s design much more. Also, this Taichi is quite a bit different from his anime counterpart. He’s much more laid back and excitable, kinda like Daisuke only much less stupid and jealous.

As for any of the anime’s Chosen Children Digimon making any appearances, we get Gabumon, named Gabo here. He’s a bit neurotic and follows Taichi and Zero on their journey. Gomamon, named Gon here, is roughly similar, but he’s more responsible than anime!Gomamon, and eventually becomes tasked with being the guardian of the oceans after evolving to Ikkakumon. Greymon makes a brief appearance, but it’s an enemy and doesn’t even talk. Known Digimon such as Whamon and Etemon (called Etemonkey here) make appearances, but no other Chosen Children Digimon except maybe counting Leomon, who is more strict and uptight here.

The Digivice is still a thing, but it’s different. First off, it’s a super cool kick-ass watch I’m mad at the anime for changing. Second, it doesn’t prompt evolution, at least not yet, and instead shows the stats of other Digimon and allows Taichi to communicate ‘telepathically’ with Zero to give him precise commands that no one else can hear.

The crests are gone, but there is something similar in the tags. Unlike the crests which embody traits and help prompt Perfect level and Ultimate level evolution, the tags embody elements in earth, sea, sky, spirit and iron, and their function is to enter the castle that Demon lives in.

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I think that’s everything important, so let’s address the actual story for this volume.

This is a pretty simple story, which is to be expected since it’s based off of a game that is literally ‘raise monsters, fight them’. Taichi is transported to the Digital World because of a great leader named Holy Angemon/MagnaAngemon. While he looks entirely different from the MagnaAngemon of the anime here, apparently he looks very similar to MagnaAngemon’s priest mode, which is never shown in the anime.

He requests his help in saving the Digital World from a terrible virus Digimon called Demon. I would call them out on their uncreative name, but the main villain for much of the first series was called Devimon….

Taichi and Zero are the only ones who can do it since Tamers bring out something very special in their Digimon – something that makes Zero incredibly powerful. Something else is brought up to support this; Taichi has ‘Ichi’ or ‘One’ in his name and his partner is Zero. The Digital World’s base is data, which is binary; a series of ones and zeroes.

With good intentions, Taichi and Zero can restore and protect the data, but failure would result in data deletion. This is further supported when Whamon explains that the good guys are all data and vaccine Digimon while the bad guys are virus types, since viruses delete data. Taichi proves his worth time and again as his teamwork, tactical skills and friendship as well as Zero’s trust and faith in Taichi lead them to victory time and again even against Perfect level Digimon.

I will say, this does cheapen the manga a bit. Taichi pulls something out of his ass nearly every chapter. Zero will maybe take one hit, sometimes a couple, then Taichi will have a eureka moment and instantly defeat the enemy. While he does train, the fact remains that the training seems inconsequential when these moments arise. Teaching Zero to swim was vital, yes, but the way he beat Marine (Marinedevimon) had really nothing to do with swimming. Triceramon was beaten in the first try without training.

The plot is similar to the anime in that he has to beat several Perfect level Digimon in order to get to the big bad, like the dark masters, and that the big bad is a virus Digimon who wants to destroy the Digital World.

Taichi and Zero make a great team. They have a wonderful dynamic and friendship that seems real from the very start. I would like to see their origins sometime to get a better idea of the foundation of their strong bond.

The enemies, besides maybe Etemonkey, don’t really have personalities besides ‘Urgh, I’m evil.’ It’s a very black and white, good versus evil, light versus dark story so far with not really much in regards to tension. That’s not to say it’s at all bad. It’s a very entertaining manga so far. You can just sit back and have some fun with the story and characters. I don’t want to say it’s watered down in comparison to the anime, but it kinda is so far. We’re one volume in and he’s already got two tags. He’s zooming through these challenges like nobody’s business.

Hopefully we get a bit more tension in the second volume, but I’m alright with keeping a lighter tone if need be. Still, maybe slow the pace down a bit.

Rating: 7.5/10

Recommended Audience: A Digimon dies, but not really since Digimon don’t really die….unless you’re evil, in which case, screw you. Other than that, nothing. E for everyone.

Final notes: Why was Anime!Taichi screwed out of his awesome yellow cape? First the Digivice now this? You did me wrong, anime. You did me wrong.

Next Volume, Taichi and Zero face off against the evil Vamdemon, and a familiar face to Taichi appears, and he’s helping the enemy!?

 

3×3 Eyes Review

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Rating: 7/10

Plot: A girl named Pai is the last of her race; the demonic immortal beings known as Sanjiyan Unkara, and she longs for nothing more than to become human. Along her journeys, she meets and cares for a sickly man who wanted to help Pai in her quest to become human. However, he died of his illness before he was able to do so and passed on the task to his son, Yakumo.

After searching for him for over four years, Pai finally found Yakumo and he begrudgingly accepted the task. He is soon accidentally killed by Pai’s friend, a demonic bird named Takuhi that lives in her signature cane. In an effort to save his life, she bonds her soul to his. This action not only revived Yakumo, but it also made him a Wu, a completely immortal being whose main role is to protect the one they’re bonded to. The only way they can die is if the sanjiyan they’re bonded with dies. Now they both quest for the statue of humanity in an effort to make them both human again.

Breakdown: I think this show gets a lot of flak because, at most, reviewers tend to give this show middle of the road scores with 5/10’s and 3 star ratings. This is an anime I actually rewatched because I never gave it a proper review before. I remember I really enjoyed it, and I also really enjoyed it this time around, if not more.

The characters are all likable and easy to grow attached to, the plot is pretty interesting and the two main leads are great. I also liked that Pai had two personalities – Pai, the innocent and child-like girl, and Sanjiyan, the cold and focused warrior. The show does have some really intense and epic moments that make this a great ride to sit through.

However, I can’t deny that those reviewers with less than great views don’t have a point in some of their criticisms.

The first episode is very rushed to the point where it’s bordering on ridiculous. Later episodes get better pacing, but it’s still a problem. I would’ve liked to have seen this show have more episodes to space out major events better. I think 3×3 Eyes should at least have eight episodes, but I would’ve hoped for 10-13. It deserves a much longer run outside of four episodes.

Because the manga’s story is smushed into this short OVA, many characters don’t get fleshed out much if at all.

The final episode, while being good, ends on a cliffhanger for many aspects of the story. Where’s Pai? What happened to her? What is the deal with the statue of humanity? Why do so many beings want it? It sounds like it only has the purpose of making beings human, but why is being used for resurrections too? Is Benares dead? Are sanjiyan only immortal in the aging aspect if they’re not immune to murder? It seems silly to me that they have the power to make others immortal from all types of death, but not themselves.

Art and Animation: The art is dated and not that great. I can’t bring myself to dislike it that much. I’m a sucker for the old styles. Still, the facial features are the worst of it as the actual character designs and landscapes are pretty well done. Animation’s decent, but not fantastic.

Music: Only BG music available, and I really enjoyed it, especially the song that usually plays in the opener (but it’s not the OP). It’s very fitting, energetic and impacting.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Pretty great performances all around, except for a few lines here and there. Pai’s VA did an especially good job switching between the high-pitched and child-like voice of Pai to the deeper and more pronounced Sanjiyan.

Bottomline: I have a soft spot for this series, and it really is worth a watch. I am disappointed that it never got a longer series to work from, but there is a three-episode sequel I have yet to see that hopefully fleshes things out further and gives us a legit ending.

Additional Information and Notes: 3×3 Eyes was directed by Daisuke Nishio, director of Dragonball, several Dragonball movies, the first 199 episodes of Dragonball Z and Air Master. It was produced by Toei Animation and it is licensed in the US by Geneon. There was a sequel released in 1995 called 3×3 Eyes Seima Densetsu.

Year: 1991-1992

Episodes: 4

Recommended Audience: No real nudity, but a girl who is about to get sacrificed is in barely any clothing. No sex at all, but maybe a grope or two. Little bit of swearing. The main note here is the violence and gore. In order to show off Yakumo’s immortality, he dies several times over the course of the series in bloody and gory ways. He gets impaled with giant talons, gets brutally run off over with a bus, has a bridge fall on him to the point where he’s so injured after that his head pops off like a pez dispenser, hacks off his own hand etc. There’s also a gory scene with a girl who is possessed by a demon (and the reveal of this possession creeped the hell out of me). So……14+.