My Hero Academia Season 3 Review: End of Act One.

4 and a half stars
After highly enjoying My Hero Academia‘s first and second season, I rushed into the third hoping it would be just as fantastic.
And, I have to say that, while I do think it is a great season, it does fall short of the heights of season two for me.
Again, it is still fantastic.
I have heard people call this season “the end of act one” in the overall story, and I can certainly see why.
Where the season takes All Might and his nemesis, All For One (Akio Otsuka), half way through definitely makes it feel like the first part of the story has concluded.
Although, it honestly felt like they built up All For One a bit much last season.
Whether or not this is a good or bad thing has yet to be seen.
Either way, their confrontation leads to, not only an incredible fight, but a game changing event for both All Might and the very world of My Hero Academia itself.

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The fight between All Might and All For One is essentially My Hero Academia’s act one conclusion.

The build up to this was stellar as well with the Training Camp Arc putting a spotlight on all the interesting new villains like Toga Himiko (Misato Fuken), Dabi (Hiro Shimono) and Twice (Daichi Endo).
There are also plenty of great moments from the training heroes in this arc, especially Deku, whose fight with the villain Muscular (Kousuke Takaguchi) leads to a character defining moment.
Although, I do feel that this fight kind of makes the power system feel slightly broken, with the ridiculous heights Deku takes his power to.
Then there is the second arc of the season, where the U.A students take their practical exams to get their practicing hero licenses.
Here, we are introduced to another series of interesting characters and even see a well done twist.

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The exam arc introduces a bunch of new characters for Deku and his friends to fight, one of which provides a great twist.

The twist is certainly a lot better than the one that is revealed during the All Might and All For One fight, which honestly feels very abrupt, due to the little to no build up.
Sadly, the second arc also has its issues with one episode cutting away to a pointless flashback just to advertise a movie, which annoyed me a lot.
But, there are still plenty of great things about the third season to make up for its bothersome moments.
One of these things is the character development of Bakugo.
When he was introduced in the third season, I could not understand why people loved his character so much.
He was just a bully with an inferiority complex that was always angry.
So imagine my surprise when, at the end of the season, Deku and Bakugo fight and it leads to an incredibly impactful outburst from him.
I had no idea he felt that way so this revelation served as another mini twist for me in a great piece of character development.

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Bakugo’s character development in “Deku vs Bakugo, Part 2” is both surprising and impactful.

This made me understand why Bakugo is a lot of people’s favourite character.
He is still not my personal favourite but he is definitely up there.
As for the animation and music, both are once again stellar, delivering two amazing openings with “Odd Future” and “Make My Story.”
Features like this, Bakugo and other characters’ development, and more all turned out to create a great third season that has me excited for the fourth one coming this year.
Season three may not reach the heights of the third for me but I still found it a fun time with a lot of excellent character development.

Attack on Titan Season Three Review: Proves Itself to be One of the Greatest Modern Anime.

5 stars
After I saw season two of Attack on Titan, I became convinced that this anime was going to be one of the the most deep and well thought out series of recent years.
Needless to say, when season three finally started last year, I was overjoyed at being proven right.
Directed by Tetsuro Araki, Attack on Titan‘s third season adapts the Uprising and Return to Shiganshina Arcs from Hajime Isayama’s original manga and does it gloriously.
Both arcs are very different in tone, the first arc being more political while the second is more action oriented, and both are fantastic.
Many people were complaining about how, in two seasons, Attack on Titan was not delivering any answers to many of the burning questions fans had.
Well, this season gave us plenty of answers, and then some, in what has to be among the best exposition sequences of all time.
The anime spent so much time building up the basement reveal, and finally shows the history of the Titans in one big episode, “That Day.”
A lot was riding on this episode so it had to deliver big time, and it somehow did that in spades.

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Grisha’s backstory in “That Day” is the perfect way to do an exposition episode.

“That Day” is basically one big exposition dump and yet it is one of my favourite, if not my absolute favourite, episode of the entire series.
Although, it is a close call between that and “Midnight Sun” because both are amazing for very different reasons.
There are just so many blind blowing episodes in this second arc, which makes sense since it is the best one of the series so far.
As for the first arc of the season, the Uprising Arc, it is heavily changed from the manga, where was a lot slower paced.
In the anime, many of the events in this arc were switched around or removed entirely to create a more natural flow, which I think worked out well.
Sure, it is a shame that some characters who got development in the manga did not get that here but the anime version is better paced for it, with great episodes like “Wish” delivering the perfect amount of action, exposition, and character drama.
That is another thing I especially love about this season: how it continues to develop its amazing cast of characters.
Armin, Erwin, Historia, Levi and Grisha are the definite standouts this season, with so much backstory and  amazing moments given to them.

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Characters like Historia get a lot of development this season, causing them to become some of my favourites.

This results in some gut wrenching moments when these characters are at their lowest points, and some crowd pleasing moments when they are at their highest.
Even characters with smaller roles in the overall story, like Kenny and those introduced in Grisha’s backstory, are memorable and well developed.
Then there is the animation and music, which are both stellar.
Episodes like “Pain” and “Hero” show off the best animation the anime has had to date with Levi’s impressive skills.
One of the few parts where I found that the animation faltered was with the CGI Colossal Titan but the rest of the animation is so jaw dropping that it more than makes up for it.
As for the music, once again I will be adding many of these OSTs to my Spotify so I can listen to them over and over again.
I have said before that Attack on Titan has my favourite soundtrack of any series and this season topped many of the already amazing songs seen in the previous seasons.
This fantastic usage of animation and music helps to build on the suspense and action that is happening on screen.
With this, the story builds to a contemplative conclusion in “The Other Side of the Wall” where Eren is put at a crossroads, which will lead him to a point of no return next season.

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The final episode of the season sees our main characters reach their goal, only to realize they are facing an entirely new threat.

Speaking of which, season four is confirmed to be the final season, and with the manga currently in its final arc, it looks like the anime and manga may be set to end around the same time.
I am very excited to see how Hajime Isayama will end his masterwork of a story.
However, It will be interesting to see if season four takes a break in between arcs, like season three did.
Actually, I think it will be more interesting to see whether of not we will be told, if it this happen.
This is my one big gripe with season three of Attack on Titan. 
We only found out about the six month hiatus when the first arc ended, displaying a sad lack of communication on Wit Studio’s part.
This does not affect my opinion of the season, since the wait was more than worth it, but I would appreciate more transparency if this does happen again.
I also hope Wit Studio can work on Attack on Titan’s final season because rumors are still floating around that they may hand it over to another studio.

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The fourth and final season of Attack on Titan airs in 2020, starting with the Marley Arc where new and interesting characters, and perspectives will be introduced.

Overall, though, many people are now rightly calling Attack on Titan one of the best anime in modern times, and I am glad to see it getting this well deserved recognition.
I cannot wait for the final season where the story will go to much darker places and, hopefully, end on a satisfying note.

Little Witch Academia Review: Endearing and Hilarious.

4 and a half stars
Joining Anime Club at my University this year, I expected to see a lot of interesting anime.
Barakamon was one of these anime and, as you could see from my review, I enjoyed it a lot.
But my favourite series we watched in Anime Club, by far, is Little Witch Academia, made by Studio Trigger.
Directed by Yoh Yoshinari, the anime follows Atsuko “Akko” Kagari (Megumi Han) who, hoping to follow in the footsteps of her idol, the witch Shiny Chariot, goes to the witch school she went to, Luna Nova.
There is just one problem: Akko is a terrible witch, being completely incapable of flying on a broom.

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Akko’s constant failures work great as slapstick humor and makes you route for her even more.

However, after finding Chariot’s Shiny Rod, Akko resolves to find the idol who inspired her, embarking on a series of increasingly hilarious adventures with her friends Lotte (Fumiko Orikasa) and Sucy (Michiyo Murase).
Little Witch Academia succeeds in being extremely funny, leaving most of the club roaring with laughter.
This was mainly because of the absolute klutz that is Akko.
Despite her incompetence, I found Akko to be one of the most relatable underdog protagonists I have seen in a while.
Every time she gets knocked down she gets back up, more determined than ever.
Along with this, Akko shines through the friendships she builds with the other characters.
It was great to see other people slowly warm up to her, resulting in positive impacts in the lives of characters like Diana (Yoko Hikasa) and Andrew (Ryosuke Kanemoto).

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Watching Akko and Diana’s rivalry (although Diana refuses to call it that) evolve into a strong friendship was natural and well done. 

Another aspect of the anime that keeps the humor fresh is the constant references to other material, with hilarious homages to Star Wars, Pawn Stars and even freaking Twilight.
Then there is the way that Little Witch Academia  brings it themes across to the audience.
Looking deeper into the writer’s thought process, it is apparent they were trying to create an anime with messages about whether you should follow in the footsteps of your idol, and being your own person.
These themes are brilliantly presented in fantastic episodes such as “Night Fall”, “Intellect and Sensibility”, and the final two episodes, “The Road to Arcturus” and “Changing at the Edge of the World.”
The anime’s animation and music are also quite well done, with the first op, “Shiny Ray” by YURiKA, being a song you will be glad to get stuck in your head.

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I swear, you will find yourself humming the opening song constantly, after hearing it.

If I had to pick out any flaws it would be that there is a twist in there that is blatantly obvious.
Other than this though, I whole heatedly enjoyed Little Witch Academia.
It has a relatable, underdog protagonist, moving themes, and will have you holding your sides with laughter.

Spider-Man: Far From Home Review. Good Film With Incredible Mid-Credits Scene.

4 stars
Every so often, I will hear that the latest Marvel film has the best post or mid-credits scene in the entire cinematic universe.
However, when I eventually see the film, and the scene, I am almost always left disappointed.
Coming into Spider-Man: Far From Home I had heard nothing about its mid-credits scene, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find it is my favourite in the entirety of the MCU.
There are two great twists and an amazing cameo that make this moment more than worth the wait.

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The mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home is the best in the entire MCU because of the implications it has for future Spider-Man films.

The post-credits scene is good too and, happily, so is the rest of the film.
Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Far From Home sees Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on a school trip overseas, where he plan to confess his feelings for Mary Jane (Zendaya).
However, his plans change when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) ropes him in on a mission to save the world by helping a hero from the multiverse named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Now, although I said the film is good, it is a bit slow going at first and does have a few rushed moments.
For example, the growing friendship between Peter and Mysterio’s Quentin Beck felt like it happened too quickly, with an absurd level of trust built between them in such a small amount of time.

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Even though Gyllenhaal and Holland do great jobs with their performances, the friendship between their characters feels very rushed. 

Then there is this big exposition scene that could have been a lot better and is saved only by Gyllenhaal’s charisma.
However, after this exposition scene, the film goes full throttle with explosive action, culminating in a great third act.
Along with this, the comedy is also very good with Happy Hogan (Jon Faverau) and Peter’s friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) being particularly funny.
Then there is the relationship between Peter and M.J, who both have fantastic chemistry in their scenes, which are well performed by their actors.

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Peter and M.J’s relationship is a focal point of the film and it is handled well.

Overall, I would say Spider-Man: Far From Home is another great addition to the MCU.
It is not quite as good as Home Coming but still very enjoyable.
Just be sure to sit through the credits to watch the amazing mid-credits scene.

 

Stranger Things Season Three Review: Best Season Yet.

4 and a half stars
Stranger Things 
is one of Netflix’s biggest shows and there was much excitement surrounding its third season.
I enjoyed the first and second season a great deal and was hoping that this third one could live up to them.
Well, I am happy to say that Stranger Things season is probably my favourite so far.
Dropped on the fourth of July, the Duffer brothers take the story in an interesting direction with plenty of great character moments, laughs, horror, and, of course, nostalgia.
After defeating the Mind Flayer, our central characters are no longer kids, growing into their teenage years where they begin to value dating over Dungeons and Dragons, much to Will’s (Noah Schnapp) dismay.
However, when the evil force returns because of experiments committed by stereotypically evil, cold war Russians, it is up to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and her friends to find a way to stop it once more.

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The Mind Flayer is back with an all new, disgusting, CGI monster at its disposal.

The first few episodes start off slow before it all builds towards an epic conclusion.
Much like the previous seasons, this one has the characters split up into multiple groups, giving them all a chance to shine.
The relationship troubles of Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven are endearing, as is Eleven’s friendship with Max (Sadie Sink), which is a nice change of pace considering Max was treated unfairly for no reason back in season two.
Then there is Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) who make a great pair again, especially with Hopper’s hilarious anger issues.
The best group of the entire season though has to be Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), Erica (Priah Ferguson) and new character Robin (Maya Hawke).
These four characters have plenty of hilarious scenes that had me clutching my stomach with laughter.
Not only that, they have plenty of great emotional moments as well, with one conversation between Steve and Robin, in a bathroom, giving me a feeling that a life long friendship had been sparked.

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The bathroom scene between Steve and Robin is one of my favourite character moments of the season with Keery and Hawke doing a great job.

This season is sadly not all laughs though because there is plenty of horror to be had with the Mind Flayer’s new weapon.
The CGI is handled very well for this disgusting creature, which begins to influence many characters, including Billy (Dacre Montgomary).
Which reminds me of another thing I love about Stranger Things, character redemption.
The Duffer brothers are able to take characters that seem irredeemable at first only to turn this original perception of them on its head.
Billy is one such character because, even though he is a villain this season, he is made a very relatable one by the final episode.

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Montgomary makes Billy both threatening and sympathetic this season as the Mind Flayer begins to use him as its latest host.

Sadly, he is also where an issue I have lies.
There is an ultimately pointless subplot where Billy tries to have an affair with Mike’s mum and it has absolutely no impact on the story, feeling like a complete waste of time.
This took up so little screen time though that it is forgivable.
Season three of Stranger Things is almost certainly my favourite season of the bunch, and I am excited to see where it goes from here.
Even if some people do have more issues with the season than I do, they still have to admit that there is nothing as terrible as the “Lost Sister” episode of season two.

Attack on Titan, Chapter 119, Big Brothers and Little Brothers Review: R.I.P Gabi’s Redemption Arc.

5 stars
I cannot remember the last time I read an Attack on Titan chapter this intense and shocking.
There is so much in Chapter 119, “Big Brothers and Little Brothers”, to talk about and I do not know where to begin.
Oh, wait, yes I do.
I should start with the big cliffhanger of the chapter where Gabi shoots Eren’s freaking head off!
My jaw was on the floor after reading this moment, and the people sitting around me at the time gave me weird looks.
It took everything I had not to scream out loud, in public, because of the shock.
I said in my review of Chapter 118 that Colt’s Titan killing gun was going to end up being a literal Chekov’s Gun but I never expected it would be used this way.
Just to make my opinion clear though, I am 99% sure that Eren is going to survive this.
Sure, that might seem ridiculous but what other character do we know who has survived getting their head blown off?
Reiner.
He survived this in the Return to Shiganshina Arc by transferring his consciousness throughout his body, and I believe Eren did this.
Either that or he will end up being saved by Ymir Fritz like Zeke was.
If Eren does die then this will be a terrible writing decision on Hajime Isayama’s part but, again, I do not believe he is dead.
As for his shooter, Gabi, this gives the fan base another reason to hate her guts.
Gabi is, without a doubt, the most hated character in the series but I have always been supportive of her because of how she was brainwashed by Marleyan propaganda.
And, again, I have to speak against those saying they hope Gabi dies a torturous death.
Both because wishing a little kid will be tortured to death is really messed up and because literally anyone in Gabi’s position would do the same thing.
Not only did Eren kill her friends but Gabi knows he is working with Zeke, who just turned her friend into a Titan, and, as far as she knows, the two brothers are planning to destroy the world by coming into contact.
Of course she would try to stop them, any rational person in her position would.
Still, this does not change how shocking and heartbreaking of a moment this was.
Even though I am incredibly sure that Eren will make it, the distraught look on Zeke’s face as his brother is decapitated by the Titan gun’s bullet left me feeling sick.
You can clearly see from this that Zeke loves Eren.
In fact, the bond between brothers is pretty much the main focus of Chapter 119, shown by the title being “Big Brothers and Little Brothers”.
However, rather than going into the positives of such brotherly bonds, the chapter sadly goes into the tragic circumstances caused by them.
Eren and Zeke, Falco and Colt, Porco and Marcel, these three sets of brothers’ stories all result in tragedy by the end.
Colt tries to convince Zeke not to scream because this will transform Falco but, as I predicted, Zeke’s mission is too important for him to stop.
Zeke is remorseful but screams nonetheless, transforming Falco and killing Colt who refuses to leave his side in a gut wrenching panel.
Then there is Porco, who finally receives Marcel’s memories and realizes his brother was trying to protect him by stopping him from becoming a warrior.
Realizing this, Porco sacrifices himself to save Reiner, by allowing Falco to eat him.
Along with this being tragic, it is also a perfect example of coming full circle and subverting expectations.
Porco sacrificing himself resembles the previous Jaw Titan users Marcel and Ymir, who both gave their lives for someone else.
Then there is the scene right before Porco is eaten, where Falco nearly eats Reiner.
Ever since it was revealed that Falco had ingested Zeke’s spinal fluid everyone, including myself, has been predicting that Reiner would sacrifice himself to save Falco.
Isayama clearly saw this because he makes it look like it is about to happen, before Porco marches in and steals Reiner’s thunder as Falco’s meal.
Colt and Falco’s deaths are very sad, although I am a bit disappointed that Porco never got to interact with Historia using Ymir’s memories.
Although, this could happen with Falco since he is now the Jaw Titan.
He could also be the one to free Annie because it has been shown that only the Jaw Titan can destroy the Titan crystals.
Maybe I am getting too hopeful but who knows?
Sadly, unlike Falco, we can not hope for any resurrections for Pyxis, Nile and all the other soldiers who were transformed by Zeke’s scream.
They are all mindless Titans now and their transformations are gut wrenching, especially Pyxis who seems to accept it in the end, dying as he lived with a bottle of wine in hand.
There is one character’s fate that I am very unsure of though.
We see Magath gets blown back by a thunder spear fired at Pieck by Armin but we do not see him after that.
Does this mean Magath is dead?
I hope not because it seems like Isayama has been setting him up for something big so it would be disappointing for him to die like this.
How many people did we even lose this chapter?
Pyxis, Nile, Rouge, Colt, Porco and, potentially (although I hope not), Eren and Magath.
I think more named characters died in this chapter than any other in the series.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.
Overall,  “Big Brothers and Little Brothers” is an amazing chapter of Attack on Titan that is one of the most shocking I have ever read.
It is because of chapters like this that Attack on Titan is my favourite series right now.

The Walking Dead Issue 193 The Farm House Review: The End… Wait, What!?

4 and a half stars
Well, I don’t think anyone saw this coming.
There we all were, wondering how The Walking Dead would continue without Rick Grimes when, suddenly, leaks started to come out saying the series would be ending with Issue 193.
It has to be a joke, I thought. It has to be.
But no, this really is the end.
Robert Kirkman somehow managed to keep the ending of The Walking Dead completely secret, even going as far as to create fake covers for future issues that will never exist.
Personally, when I heard of this deception, I was unhappy about it.
I believe that a writer, director, developer, or whatever should never mislead their consumers about future products that they know will not happen.
However, after reading Kirkman’s reasoning behind this, I do understand why he did this.
I still think he should have come clean about the ending of the series but I can see that he wanted to surprise his readers in a good way.
Honestly, I am just sad that it is over.
I remember when I started reading The Walking Dead comics.
I had just finished binge watching the first two seasons of the television show and I wanted to know what would happen next so I started reading.
What I found in the comics was a far superior story to the TV show, with even more engaging characters, plot points and shocking moments.
After catching up, I continued read the next issue every month to see what would happen.
And, even though I was recently thinking about how much The Walking Dead had descended into mediocrity, I was still a massive fan.
Even after the death of the main character, Rick Grimes (which I thought was handled poorly), I was eager to see how the series would continue… only for it to end in a surprising twist.
Enough about my opinions on the overall series though, now I want to talk about the final issue itself, Issue 193 “The Farm House.”
Since I found the previous issue to not be a very good one, and felt that Kirkman was rushing to conclude his story, I fully expected “The Farm House” to join the likes of Game of Thrones among the worst endings to great series in 2019.
Thankfully, this is far from we got.
I actually love this ending.
Do I still think it is a little rushed?
Yes.
Do I think there are a lot of unanswered questions about certain characters?
Yes.
But, overall, this was a fantastic way to end a story that I have been invested in for so many years.
The ending does not fix the mediocre Commonwealth Arc that came beforehand, not by a long shot.
However, it does bring a fitting end to the series and the many characters we know and love.
Picking up after only Kirkman knows how many decades after Rick’s death, “The Farm House” sees Carl living in the countryside with Sophia and their daughter Andrea, named after Carl’s amazing stepmother.
The issue starts with a Roamer coming across Carl’s house who kills it, before angrily storming into town to confront Maggie’s son Hershel, who sadly reminds me a lot of Sebastian.
Turns out the undead are so rare these days that they have actually become a circus attraction, and Hershel is not happy that Carl put down his property.
This starts an believably absurd legal situation that is unbelievably absurd where Carl faces a fine for killing something that could have easily killed his daughter.
Carl states this is not what his father died for and he is exactly right.
Maggie then walks in, now the president of the Commonwealth, and convinces the judge not to fine Carl so long as he gets another Walker for her spoiled son.
It was heartbreaking to see how similar Maggie and Hershel have become to Pamela and Sebastian.
It is a parallel that Kirkman makes plainly obvious with Sophia saying Hershel could end up like Sebastian if Maggie is not careful.
Angered by how Hershel is allowed to keep the dangerous undead, Carl kills the Roamers in the night before going off on a job with his ex Lydia.
It is here that we get a full display of how far the world has come, both after Rick’s death and the zombie apocalypse itself.
Because of the decline in humans, animal populations are sky rocketing with a massive flock of birds flying over the two’s heads.
They then meet up with Eugene, who has actually started to build his railway network, giving off a very wild west theme.
Upon returning, Carl is arrested for killing the Roamers and is sent to Michonne who is now a judge.
It is here that we get a big highlight of the issue, where Michonne actually quotes what is written on the back of each volume, “in a world ruled by the dead we are finally forced to start living.”
After this powerful statement, Carl is released back to his family.
Before this though, we get a final scene from Hershel where we come to understand he is not as similar to Sebastian as we had been led to believe.
Showing those Roamers actually allowed Hershel to feel close to his father Glenn, who he never had the pleasure of meeting.
This gives us another perspective on the whole situation.
We then see that a statue has been made in Rick’s honor, with him in the pose he was in when he saved the Commonwealth from disaster right before his death.
A fitting memorial to the hero we followed for 192 issues.
Finally, we get the final and best scene in the entirety of  “The Farm House”, where Carl reads Andrea the story of Rick Grimes.
During his narration, we get shots of Maggie with Hershel, Jesus and Aaron resting on a riverbank, what looks like Negan laying flowers on Lucille’s grave, Princess and Mercer walking their dog, Lydia arriving home to her partner, Magna and Yumiko in a park, Eugene watching his train go by, Laura eating with her crew, Michonne going to see her grandchild, an elderly Pamela going to see a thankfully still jailed Sebastian, and Rick Grimes’ grave right next to Andrea’s.
Carl then tells his daughter she would have liked her grandfather to which she replies she knows, appearing irritated, before she joyfully asks him to “read it again”, as if Kirkman himself is asking his readers to do so.
The final shot sees Carl smiling as he reads to her in his rocking chair, the panel entirely white and vacant around them, except for the big “The End” to the side and, just like that, I break down.
I cried seeing such a heartwarming ending to a series I have loved reading for years.
This was a fantastic end to The Walking Dead story, and I am overjoyed with how it subverted my expectations from a day ago, when I first heard the story was concluding.
Sure, it does feel a little rushed and it makes characters like Princess seem pretty pointless in hindsight but, overall, I am happy with the ending.
Goodbye, The Walking Dead. 
You will be missed.

My Hero Academia Season Two Review: Spectacular Fight Sequences Inbound.

5 stars
The first season of My Hero Academia was a good start to the anime and I saw a lot of potential in it.
Thankfully, this potential is fully realised in season two, which absolutely blew me away with its character development, animation, music, and downright phenomenal action sequences.
The season covers around three story arcs and each of them has a great mixture of all of these features I mentioned.
The first arc follows the U.A Sports Festival, where the training heroes compete in a tournament to be scouted by pro heroes.
During this arc, we get amazing character development from many of these characters, most notably Shoto Todoroki, voiced by Attack on Titan’s Yuki Kaji.
Other than knowing that he is extremely powerful, Todoroki left little impact on me in the first season but this all changes here.
He is now probably my favourite character of the series.
Along with this, his fight with Deku is one of the greatest fights I have seen, not just in anime but in everything that has been put to screen.

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Deku’s fight with the scarred Zuko-I mean Todoroki, has to be one of the best fight sequences I have ever seen. 

Everything just combines in that battle to make it such an incredible moment from the character arcs, to the animation, music and shot composition.
This fight is not the only fantastic one, however, because there are two other phenomenal fights, with Deku and Bakugo having to face off against All Might for an exam and Deku, Todoroki and Iida facing off against the Hero Killer, Stain (Go Inoue).
Speaking of Stain, he is a fascinating villain with a complex ideology and moral code that makes him the series’ best antagonist so far.
I have my fingers crossed that we will see more of him in the future.

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Stain is a very engaging villain, with his impact on the series looking to be very important compared to the other antagonists.

The season also goes into more detail about All Might’s backstory, and his rivalry with what looks to be the main villain of the series All For One.
We get to meet All Might’s teacher, Gran Torino (Kenichi Ogata) who I think may be named after the Clint Eastwood movie.
His introduction probably made me laugh harder than any joke in the anime so far.
As for the final episode, rather than the bombastic action one of the previous season, we get more of a meeting of the minds between our hero and villain that seems to set up their potential rivalry for future seasons.

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Tomura Shigaraki’s (Koki Uchiyama) meeting with Deku is especially tense, with Deku being literally one finger on his neck away from death.

Overall, the second season of My Hero Academia is downright fantastic, providing constant laughs, amazing character development and, of course incredible fight sequences.
If you can sit through the Deku vs Todoroki fight without your jaw dropping like me then I will applaud you.

 

Attack on Titan Season Three, Episode 22, The Other Side of the Wall Review. One of the Manga’s Most Impactful Moments Adapted.

5 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Attack on Titan season three just ended and I miss it already.
It adapted the manga chapters excellently the entire way through, and the final episode, “The Other Side of the Wall”, is no exception.
Coming into this final episode, I was concerned that since only Chapter 90 would be adapted then the episode would need to add pointless scenes to lengthen the runtime.
Thankfully, all of the scenes that are added in “The Other Side of the Wall” serve a point and this all combines with the manga adapted scenes to create a somber and meaningful season finale.
“The Other Side of the Wall” adapts a scene I and many other manga readers have been waiting to see and it does not disappoint.
This moment almost brought a tear to my eye with its thematic weight, beautiful animation, and the way it continues to push Eren’s fantastic character development forward.
Eren is the standout of this episode with Yuki Kaji doing a fantastic job as per usual.
I am so excited to see Eren’s character arc continue in the final season because when I finished this arc in the manga Eren was a top 10 favourite character but the next arc makes him a top five favourite character, for me.
Along with Eren, other characters like Floch get their chance to shine.
Many people may not like him based on what he says this episode but it definitely makes you understand him as a character and what he stands for.
The episode also gives a look at how the society within the walls views the truth of situation and it is done very naturally.
The big scene of  “The Other Side of the Wall” though is still its impactful and almost tear inducing ending.
The credits sequence is also pretty surprising, blending images from season one, the future final season, and even some images that I have no idea what they mean.
Overall, “The Other Side of the Wall” is my favourite Attack on Titan finale so far.
It may not have any action like season two’s finale “Scream”, but what this ending represents for the series and characters as a whole going forward makes it one of the most impactful episodes of the series.

Spoiler Review:

As I said in the spoiler free review, I was concerned that “The Other Side of the Wall” would add scenes to lengthen the runtime, which would drag down the episode.
I feared this because another episode that adapted a single chapter, “The Basement”, did this and, as a result, I found that it lessened the episode’s impact.
Thankfully, this is not the case with “The Other Side of the Wall” because every single new scene adds to the character development.
This is most obvious in the scene right before the characters arrive at the sea, where they come across a Titan that can barely move.
Rather than kill it, Eren instead walks up to it and places a hand on its head, sympathetically calling it “a fellow patriot.”
This brilliant scene really shows how far Eren has come.
He has gone from wanting to kill all Titans at the beginning of the series to coming to understand them and even sympathize with them, understanding they are not the true threat.
In the manga, Eren just rode past the Titan while speaking that line so it was not portrayed as clearly how much Eren had changed.
After this great addition, the anime delivers the scene manga readers have been waiting forever to see, the ocean scene.
Watching this joyous moment where characters like Armin finally reach their goal of seeing the ocean is very emotional, even more so because of Eren’s undermining of it.
Rather than celebrating like the others, Eren realizes the threat they all face.
He knows now that reaching the ocean does not mean freedom for them but means they have an entirely new and more dangerous enemy to face.
This moment marks the first big separation Eren has with Mikasa and Armin.
While these two celebrate, Eren does not, and this divide will continue to expand in the final season, as shown by the separation of Eren and Armin in a small post credits scene.
Speaking of the credits though, they are full of many images from next season and even ones we have not seen yet.
There are two particular images I find to be of interest.
One is of a group of kids at some kind of school, and another is where it appears to literally be raining blood.
What the latter image means, I have no idea other than it must be terrible.
As for the image of the kids though, I have a few ideas.
The kid actually looks a lot like Gabi, a character we will meet in the next arc, but the lack of an armband, and with her friends nowhere in sight, makes me question this.
I have also heard people suggest a younger version of Willy Tyber’s sister, which would be interesting.
Whatever these shots may be of, they continue to how how excellent Attack on Titan is with its foreshadowing.
As for the other scenes of the episode, they are just as good, the other highlight being the ceremony where Eren and the rest of the nine survivors from the battle of Shiganshina are awarded medals.
Before this, Floch has a confrontation with Eren and Armin, declaring how he thinks Erwin should have been given the serum instead.
This not only gives us insight into Floch but Eren as well because we see this is the first time that Eren’s belief in the ocean representing freedom are questioned.
Just as he tells Armin he thinks they will be free if they reach the sea, he experiences a flash from his father’s memories of Fay’s dead body in the water.
This not only shows how they are far from free but is also an incredibly smart use of creative censorship.
Even though Fay’s body in the water covers up the gruesome image, it also brilliantly foreshadows that the water Eren and the others will see at the ocean means they are not free but rather in even more danger than before.
I usually criticize the censorship of Attack on Titan but this was such a smart use of it that it surprisingly manages to improve on the manga by adding new symbolic aspects.
“The Other Side of the Wall” is a fantastic season finale.
There may be no action, but the character development and symbolism of the episode is phenomenally handled.
With the final season being announced for 2020, it makes me wonder how long the manga has left?
I personally believe it will end around Chapter 130, which means 12 chapters left, and if I am right then Attack on Titan season four should start right after the manga ends, which would be cool.
Either way though, I just hope the series will get a satisfying conclusion that we all can enjoy, whether that ending is hopeful, tragic, or something in between.

Toy Story 4 Review: Four Installments in, Still Going Strong.

4 and a half stars
I can honestly not think of a single film series where there have been four fantastic installments in a row, except Toy Story.
Before seeing the most recent of them, I, like many, was concerned about where the story would go.
Toy Story 3 felt like a perfect sendoff for the franchise so I was concerned that they were just doing another one for a cash grab.
I was wrong, however, because Toy Story 4 is another heart warming installment in the series with great character growth, animation and laughs.

animation toy story.jpg
Toy Story 4 delivers a strong story with the best animation out of all the films by a wide margin.

Directed by Josh Cooley, the film follows Woody (Tom Hanks) who is still dealing with the departure of Andy in the previous film pretty heavily.
When his new kid, Bonnie, literally makes a toy out of a spork, which she names Forky (Tony Hale), Woody makes it his mission to protect him to ensure her happiness.
However, this becomes difficult when Forky is separated from them on a family trip and, upon looking for him, Woody is reunited with the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who has certainly changed a lot since Woody, and the audience, saw her.

Bo Peep
Woody and Bo Peep’s relationship is at the center of the story, being a key part to Woody’s character arc.

The two then work together to rescue Forky and bring him back to Bonnie, before she and her family leave them behind.
Accompanying this story is, once again, the animation and comedy, which are all spot on.
Animation continues to get better and better every year, and it looks especially stunning in Toy Story 4.
Along with this, the comedy is also fantastic with new characters Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and Duke Caboom (Keeanu Reeves) being particular highlights.

Ducky and Bunny.jpg
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are hilarious as Ducky and Bunny, especially during the plush rush scene, which is more than the trailers make it out to be. 

It is with the character development of Woody, though, that the film truly shines, with Woody having what is probably his best arc out of any of the films.
Many of the new characters have great arcs as well, including the film’s villain (if you can even call her that) Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
However, this also ties into the one issue I have with the film.
This being that, even though Woody, Bo, and other characters’ arcs are fantastic, characters like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and many more of Woody’s friends feel a bit underdeveloped and underused.
Otherwise, Toy Story 4 is another great installment in the franchise, and it will be interesting to see if it continues or if this is the final one for real this time.