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RWBY: Volume 6

Used to be a serious anime
Now instead of the kids or Qrow, the army commander is comedic relief. Too much time spent fighting the hapless Grimm. It's still a beauty though, and still moving at times.

To aru kagaku no rêrugan

Sticking around for Season 2 makes it worthwhile
Season 1 is a solid, well-made magic academy anime. Fan service right off the bat. Maybe that was a good decision. Skip the modeling episode (E13). Kuroka has other great (fight) scenes early on but underutilized thereafter; Misaka is pretty much center stage. Cheesy ending boss. 7.5/10

Season 2 is that much better. Darker, much darker. Blood and gore too. More intense and drawn-out battles. As Misaka becomes more exposed to Academy City's underworld, the baddies become stronger and she realizes she can't go it alone. 10032 is a scene-stealer every time she's on; was disappointed the Sisters didn't have a bigger role during the revolution. Kamijo fans will be delighted he fulfills his mission. 9.5/10

World Trigger

Among the best sci-fi anime to this point. Action so good and rewatchable
Let's get the bad out of the way first. CONS: Each episode intro shows that the first wide-scale alien attack from "the Neighborhood" dimension was quelled 4-1/2 years ago, but we are never shown exactly how, or how they kept casualties to fewer than 1% of the city's population, or who most of the pioneer heroes who formed the Border Defense Agency were. Incredibly, most of the current ace fighters are 21 or younger. Kuga, the Neighbor who fled and journeyed to Medeen (Earth) was already his nation's top warrior as a pre-teen. There's a very large ensemble of heroes who shape the story. Tip: use the color-coded team uniforms to keep track of who's who. The cartoonish pouty faces common to anime are present, but not in any fight scene. There's the obligatory resort spa scene, but 1 fan service in 73 episodes ain't bad. The Xeno/Lilith arc is where the series "jumped the shark" by being too far-fetched and detracts from the show's overall legacy. Thankfully it rebounded. Now for the great things. This is an intellectual anime, and unlike other thought-provoking series, you will never get lost if you miss a dialogue; everything is re-explained in the pre-credits. The main character grows from trainee to hero to leader; it's slow and steady, but hey, he's 15. Kuga's development stopped halfway through as he faced a tragedy; still, 37 episodes feels adequate enough for an alien to get used to Japanese life. Even minus an origin story, there is way more than enough geek science to gratify and at times overwhelm fans. The combat concepts are interesting: transformable weapons (triggers) enhanced by a person's Trion (ala Star Wars' The Force) + body swap into a Trion construct. An agent can de-transform, or if the construct is damaged enough, can "bail out" and rematerialize to their physical bodies back at BODA HQ. A weird ability among trigger wielders who die is become a Black Trigger. As a bonus, a select few have superhuman abilities. I never get tired of Jin's pre-cognition declarations to skeptics: "You will..., my side effect tells me so." The battles are visually stunning and exceptionally choreographed, even if you fast-forward the commentaries. Villains are underdeveloped but not repetitive; the progression of enemies is satisfying as battle droids become stronger, and their masters, the human-like Neighbors are menacing and increasingly powerful with unique abilities (one took 10 top agents just to force a retreat). All these qualities converge into non-stop action achieved through the mythos. There are alien skirmishes and 3 additional major invasions. In between, BODA agents prepare and demonstrate improvement through solo and team Rank Wars. You will want to rewatch the Finally and probably the best part, endless cliffhangers! Episode after episode stopped exactly where it should've and kept you wishing for more. Really well-thought out. 10/10

Tales of Zestiria the X

Stunning visuals. "Weak"/underutilized villains. Somewhat preachy and may not appeal to everyone
First and foremost, the graphics are BEAUTIFUL and so detailed. Fight scenes were also top-notch. Finding out later that the anime was adapted from 2 video games did not detract from my original experience. {7/10 Stars for basic story/likable characters +3 Stars for extreme production values} Scientiiaa's review provides a good background and plot review. On the other hand, mnasirdey raises several discrepancies with the games (which I haven't played); however, 5 of his 10 questions were explicitly answered in the series so this guy wasn't really paying much attention. Now, Episodes 6 and 7 are from Tales of Berseria and jarringly seem out of sequence with the rest, but to be honest, I might've lost interest if they were shown later. The intense excerpts only raised unrealistic expectations. Alas, there would be no more scenes from this "prequel" or hints on the fate of Velvet Crowe. Perhaps we're forced to play the game? ToZ is NOT an action anime although there was a lot of it. As it progressed, it became more like Charmed where the sister witches use their Power of 3 to "vanquish" demons; in ToZ, the main character Sorey draws a magical sword from a stone (ala Excalibur) and becomes the Shepherd, whose destiny is to "purify" malevolent (corrupted) creatures by taking on their malevolence. And therein lies the show's main pitfall. After only a few weeks on the job, Sorey achieves feats that no Shepherds before him had, so there is no dramatic tension or sense that he could lose. Like Charmed's hapless demons, none of ToZ's baddies, no matter how powerful otherwise, are immune to purification, so you already anticipate the final battle will be anticlimactic, and it is. The most glaring omission is of even one battle between Symonne and any of the heroes. {-1 Star for losing emotional buildup} Similar to the ebb of action scenes, which really bog down after Episode 18, the moral "direction", if you will, is also all over the place. With a title like The Shepherd and the fact that he previously spent his entire life in Elysia (a paradise inhabited by the peaceful Seraphim, a race of immortal supernatural beings with elemental-based powers), it should surprise no one that Sorey would espouse a form of pacifism (humans should never be killed). But despite her huge on-screen time, why Princess Alisha ended up the same way wasn't adequately explained. She was an excellent combatant who fought well against monsters and unknown assailants, but balked at defending friends/family who are under direct attack? Rose, the traveling merchant and secret leader of a "good" assassins' guild, was a little more developed, almost to the point I forget she was easily duped into a contract to kill Alisha. But the show left many loose ends about her evil victims, er, targets (their crimes never came to light). I was especially unsatisfied with the aftermath of the royal who killed her father, or rather, the lack thereof. Other reviews have already noted how several bad guys had changes of heart out of nowhere. {-1 Star for inconsistencies} Overall, I enjoyed exploring the Zesteria universe, except The North (yes, I might be spoiled by GoT). I imagine most viewers getting up to 18-20 episodes of eye-candy or even thought-provoking entertainment ("immediate justice over unreachable ideals" anyone?), before the series becomes too weird/rushed/predictable. ToZ is good, not nearly great, and hampered by the gradual diminishing of action, with no romantic angle to compensate. Although those two girls at the end... hmm? {Final grade: B- or 8/10}

Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid

Internment camp drama dressed as soft porn anime
If you know X-men and Transformers, you can accept this series' unusual concept of a virus designed to bestow superhuman abilities. Mermaid Island's inhabitants are all victims of a gov't weapons project gone wrong, "transfers" from a society that deems all who are infected as potentially too dangerous, despite those who already use their powers for good. Obviously, the reviewer who described the pairs of girls trying to optimize their gifts as "masters-slaves" never made it past the 5th minute. The vast majority of relationships are consensual, even the submissives are willing to make their unions work. In fact, the ones able to wield the Extars (living weapons) are called Liberators.

No getting around the T&A during transformations, which thankfully are short and non-repetitive unlike Sailor Moon's, and there's the obligatory beach and Japanese bath episodes. And tentacles once. But if you've seen the Star Trek Next Generation XXX Parody, minus the sex scenes that was decent canon-caliber stuff. Same here; a flowing script and fast pace allows you to get behind the rather good and complex story. A lone idealistic self-appointed governor is trying to impose order among the growing population but has to deal with the island's secrets; power-hungry groups and other rebels with their own agendas; and finally, the arrival of the main heroines, strangers from opposite backgrounds who had to immediately *bond together* to survive. Of course, you sense the governor's well-intentioned efforts to convince "the watchers" they will eventually be fit to rejoin the normal world, as well as other plans to escape the island, are doomed to fail. Soon the activities alert the government, who bring in tech-enhanced beings to tie up loose ends in the experimental prison.

Yes, most of the mains are listed as teenagers and act/speak accordingly, and the villains aren't well-developed. So if you have to skip something, make it the Giantess episode, which doesn't advance the plot. Otherwise, enjoy Season 1. The governor and commander are likable, the Robin-Hood type provides comedic relief, and the action even from secondary characters are delivered top-notch. Most importantly, the protagonists' chemistry is instant and hot! But sex and exaggerated body parts or no, score is still 8/10. Final spoilers: not every girl is lesbian and as the heroes meet more girls, not all partnerships are set in stone.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

ESL student could write a better script, er, translation
Tristan's descendant was closest to a realistic performance and could use a better role/makeup. For the rest of the film, if this was a purely US production, it would be a 1-star (my B action flick ratings start at 7/10 stars, so it's hard to mess up). So I imagined having adequate dialogue would earn the film a 5/10. It's hurt by terrible production values, especially when the Knights claim to use original Arthurian weapons; they look like cheap Asian training swords. Cops use "security" uniforms. Merlin's descendant's mansion is actually a school they forgot to cover the name of. The ending speech dragged way too long. And the final image, seriously? Maybe Thai audiences don't care, but Americans will, thus a 3/10 average. Don't waste your time watching.

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