Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review: Part One of an Animation Spectacle.

I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to the point that it was my favourite movie of 2018.
It has brilliant animation and so many standout moments, like The Leap of Faith scene, which I consider to be one of the most inspirational movie scenes of all time.
So, like many others, I was excited to watch the sequel, Across the Spider-Verse.
I went into the theatre with high expectations and those expectations were certainly met, and then some.
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thomas, the film once again follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) who, after the events of the first movie, has become New York’s new Spider-Man.
After encountering a villain known as the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), Miles is reunited with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and eventually brought into a society of spider-people from across the Sider-Verse, lead by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). 

Conflict quickly arises between Miles and Miguel over the multiverse and the fate of the people in it.

When I say “across the Sider-Verse” I really do mean that because this is a movie that lives up to its title.
Take Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, for example.
It was a good movie but in only dived deep in a couple of alternate universes, not really living up to its title’s promise of a “multiverse of madness.”
Across the Spider-Verse, however, delivers on its title’s promise perfectly, showcasing multiple different universes with multiple different spider-people in absolutely stunning animation.
After watching this movie it is absolutely clear why it took five years to make this film because it is an animation marvel, with jaw dropping details in practically every scene.

The multiple easter eggs in every shot will make rewatches fun.

The time and effort it must have taken to animate all of these different universes and spider-people is honestly staggering to think about it and the animators deserve all the praise in the world for it.
Speaking of the spider-people, this film introduces many interesting new ones.
Miguel is both sympathetic and intimidating, and Pavitr Prabhakar (Karen Soni) is both charasmatic and gets a lot of laughs.
Hobie (Daniel Kaluuya) or “Spider-Punk” was probably my favourite of the new Spider-Men, though, for not only being likeable and funny, but also someone who stands by what they preach.

Hobie is a lot of fun from the moment he shows up.

As for the returning characters, they are also excellent.
Miles’ emotional journey throughout the movie is plenty compelling.
His relationship with his parents, Rio (Luna Lauren Vélez) and Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry), takes up a lot of screen time in the movie, yet it was so interesting that I was completely fine with that, especially with how this builds into Miles’ conflict with Miguel later on in the movie.
As for Gwen, she gets a big bump-up in screen time in this movie and it is absolutely deserved.
Across the Spider-Verse feels like her movie, just as much as it does Miles, with her relationship with her father (Shea Whigman) also being central. 

I was not expecting Gwen to be a co-protaganist in this movie but this is actually what she is, and to Across the Spider-Verse’s benefit.

And then there is Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), with his daughter Mayday.
Unfortunately, his screentime is nowhere near as significant as the first movie but this is okay because he will have plenty of time to shine in the sequel.
Yes, I said sequel because Across the Spider-Verse is actually a part one, with the rest of the story being told in Beyond the Spider-Verse, which will release in March of 2024.
I had no idea about this going into the movie and, from the sound of my theatre, no one else did either.
As soon as the movie cut to a “To Be Continued” there was a collective cry of “Are you kidding me?”
If anything, though, this disappointment at having to wait does show how excellent this movie is.
I honestly would not have minded if the movie had just continued for another few hours to tell the rest of the story, and Across the Spider-Verse is 140 minutes long. 

It is a testament to how great Across the Spider-Verse is that we were all disappointed that we would have to wait to see how this story ends.

As for criticisms, I really only have one significant critique and that is the sound mixing.
Sometimes, it is hard to hear what the characters are saying when the music is so loud compared to the voices, and the characters are speaking so fast.
It was not a constant issue but it was noticeable in a couple of scenes.
Overall, though, Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic sequel, with stellar animation and storytelling.
I would still say that I prefer the first movie, but that might be because the story of Across the Spider-Verse is incomplete.
When Beyond the Spider-Verse releases next year this may change.
One thing is for sure, though.
If they nail Beyond the Spider-Verse as well, then the Spider-Verse movies will be considered among the greatest trilogies of all time. 

Chainsaw Man Chapter 130 and 131 Review: A Feast for the Eyes.

A week ago when Chapter 130 of Chainsaw Man “Kill Building” released, I intended to do a review of it.
However, the chapter was so short that I decided it would be best to review it with Chapter 131, “Taste of Crap.”
Just because “Kill Building” is the shortest chapter of Part Two so far does not make it a bad chapter, though, far from it.
In fact, the reason it goes by so quickly is because most of the pages are glorious full page spreads of Asa and Denji escaping from the Falling Devil and the diner Devil.
Tatsuki Fujimoto’s artwork for these pages is a feast for the eyes, worthy of the Falling Devil’s palate.
In between these full page spreads, we see Denji and Asa continuing to argue about their situation, with Denji humorously assuming that he’s the one who weaponized their stolen motorbike, instead of Asa.
He and Asa also disagree about whether they can trust the imposter Chainsaw Man but they are attacked again by the diner Devil before they can decide what to do.
The diner Devil seems terrified at the thought of being killed by the Falling Devil if it does not eat Asa, for it covers its face with its hands in apparent horror before transporting itself directly to Asa and Denji to eat them.
The two are able to evade it, until the Falling Devil throws a building at them, which they easily crash through, only to be met with the open mouth of the diner Devil, bringing an end to the chapter.
Overall, “Kill Building” is a short chapter but still a great one.
It might not have much in terms of content but the action is fun with a lot of incredible full page spreads by Fujimoto.
The ending of “Kill Building” leads right into Chapter 131 “Taste of Crap” where Asa and Denji are about to be swallowed whole by the Devil.
Given that their stolen bike now has a chainsaw on it, I suspected that Denji would easily be able to carve his way out.
Instead, they are caught in between the Devil’s teeth, and the Falling Devil then flicks Asa and Denji into the Devil’s stomach, seemingly to their deaths.
The Falling Devil then asks for her diner’s opinion on the dish she served it but the diner proves a harsh critic because it vomits Denji and Asa out.
The Falling Devil’s reaction to this is pretty hysterical, as she angrily stammers that she made it with love, before obliterating the diner.
Dejected, the Falling Devil then apologises for failing to feed Asa to her diner.
In a surprise twist, it is revealed that it was Fami who was ordering around the Falling Devil, as she tells her to “return.”
The Falling Devil’s body then falls apart in a burst of flames, leaving only a steaming minature version, which Fami picks up, before asking someone how they managed to get the diner to throw Denji and Asa up.
In the second surprise twist of the chapter, it is revealed that Fami is talking to Nayuta, who used her control powers to make Asa and Denji taste like crap, making the diner vomit them out.
Nayuta is also revealed to know who Fami is, as she refers to her as “sister” when she asks Fami why she tried to kill Denji and Asa.
Fami explains that she was merely trying to starve Yoru in the Devil’s stomach, which would make Yoru her pawn since Fami is able to control those who are starving.
The reason Fami wants to control Yoru is because she may be the only one who can stop the age of Devils prophesied by Nostradamus, which makes sense because in one of his prophecies he said that Mars would reign supreme, and Mars was the Roman God of War, meaning Yoru.
Fami’s motive for wanting to stop this Age of Devils is funnily enough because she does not want pizza or chinese food to vanish.
It’s pretty ironic that the Famine Devil’s motive revolves around food, and it reminds me a lot of Fujimoto’s other antagonists with simple motives, like in Fire Punch where the Ice Witch’s motive was to watch the next Star Wars movie.
Back to the chapter, Nayuta does not seem too bothered by the end of the world until Fami says that would also mean the end of pizza.
Fami then offers the horrified Nayuta a chance to work togethor, only for Nayuta to still refuse.
Because she has school.
Cue a perfectly timed cut to Nayuta in school, desperately trying to beat the other students in answering the teacher’s question.
This was a funny ending, which made me wonder if we will be getting a Nayuta school arc next.
As for Fami, one question I have about her is how she was able to order around the Falling Devil?
The Falling Devil is a Primal Fear, after all, so she should be stronger than Fami.
Although, considering that the Falling Devil considers herself a chef, maybe she is aligned with Fami in not wanting the world to end so human food can continue to exist.
There is also the matter of the imposter Chainsaw Man.
He tried to save Asa and Denji from being eaten but we now know that was part of Fami’s plan to get Yoru under her control to stop the apocalypse.
So does this mean that the imposter Chainsaw Man wants the apocalypse to happen?
Time will tell.
Chapter 131 “Taste of Crap” is the best of the two chapters.
It ends the Falling Devil Arc well, providing insight into Fami’s motivations while also potentially building into a Nayuta school arc as well.

The Green Bone Saga Review: Fantasy’s Answer to the God Father.

I don’t usually review novels on this blog.
Although I do read a lot, I tend to stick to reviewing movies and shows, mostly anime and manga these days.
Yet, the instant I finished The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee, I just knew I had to talk about it.
Consisting of a trilogy of books, Jade City, Jade War, and Jade Legacy, the most basic way I could describe The Green Bone Saga is fantasy’s answer to The God Father.
The story is set in an alternate version of Earth, on the island of Kekon, the only place in this world where the mineral resource of Jade is mined.
Jade can only be wielded safely by the Kekonese population and it gives them superhuman abilities, which are divided into six disciplines, Strength, Steel, Lightness, Channeling, Deflection and Perception.
Control of Jade is overseen by the various clans of Kekon, with the clans of No Peak and the Mountain being the most powerful.
However, with tensions between these two main clans rising, and foreign powers creating drugs which allow non-Kekonese people to wear Jade, Kekon seems set to fall into open clan war.
The novels follow four siblings in the Kaul family, the leaders of the No Peak Clan.
There is Lan, the Pillar of No Peak, who is a much more lenient man than one would expect of a clan leader.
His brother is Hilo, the hot-headed Horn of No Peak, who is an expert at gaining the loyalty of others, while also being fiercely loyal to those he cares for and trusts.
Their sister is Shae, who has only just returned to Kekon and is reluctant to get involved in clain affairs again.
Finally, there is Anden, the Kaul’s adopted sibling and an up and coming Jade prodigy, who is understandably terrified of his power, given his traumatic family history.
Each of these four main characters are fantastic, and many of them change so much over the course of the story, which spans decades.
Of course, just because they are so likeable does not mean they are good people.
This is pretty much a mafia story, after all, and many of the characters make very morally grey decisions.
This is most apparent in Jade War, where one character commits such a horrifying act that it lead to me audibly declaring them to be a monster.
But what made the choice that character made so good is that, despite me being disgusted with them, their justifications for what they had done made complete sense with their character.
There are moments like this with the Kauls across all three books, yet it is not just them because there are plenty of other fantastic morally grey characters.
There are the Maik siblings of Wen, Kehn and Tar, the ambitious and always pathetic Bero, the Mountain assassin Nau Suenzen, and, of course, the leader of the Mountain, Ayt Mada.
Ayt Mada in particular is one of my favourite characters as, despite not having any POV chapters, I still completley understood how she became so ruthless and why she believes she needs to be so.
She made for an excellent antagonist among a cast of fantastic characters.
Of course, fantastic characters in a mafia story makes reading The Green Bone Saga all the more nerve wracking because that is not exactly a safe environment and characters do die, many shockingly, as the stakes rise with every book.
Along with the stakes rising every book so does the quality, with my ranking of the books from weakest to best going Jade City, Jade War and Jade Legacy at number one.
Jade City is a great start to this story, introducing the fantastic cast of characters well and delivering great fight sequences when the times comes for those.
Jade War expands on the first book’s focus, exploring the world outside Kekon, while making it clearer than ever that many of the characters we are following are not good people.
Finally, Jade Legacy lives up to its name, focusing on the legacy of the characters as decades pass, resulting in a fitting ending that had me tearing up as well as chuckling.
Overall, The Green Bone Saga is a brilliant trilogy with brilliant characters, and is already among my favourite novel series of all time.
Upon finishing, I immediately thought that this story was deserving of an adaptation, however was disappointed to discover that one had been greenlit, only for it to be cancelled.
I hope the adaptation gets picked up again because, if done right, I could easily see The Green Bone Saga being a highly celebrated show for years to come.
I will just have to keep my fingers crossed that it gets adapted eventually, I suppose.
Fonda Lee has crafted an excellent story, which I am going to remember for a long time. 
I cannot recommend The Green Bone Saga enough.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 129, Save Me, Chainsaw Man Review. A Long Awaited Team Up.

Ever since the Falling Devil showed up, I have been waiting for Denji and Asa to team up to survive.
Well, Chapter 129, “Save Me, Chainsaw Man” finally delivered this.
Picking up from the previous chapter’s cliffhanger, Denji and Asa are still staring at the imposter Chainsaw Man, when they are struck from behind by the slug-like Devil, knocking them out of hell, while the imposter disappears.
Asa gets up, only to see that Denji has been mortally wounded again.
Yoru then appears and tells Asa to take the oppurtunity to kill Chainsaw Man so Yoru can give her body back.
Asa, however, has no intention of doing so and Yoru knows this just by reading her thoughts.
Frustrated, Yoru tries to convince Asa to kill Chainsaw Man, saying that she always does the opposite of what Yoru tells her and that she is crossing the line by saving Chainsaw Man.
It is a line Asa is willing to cross, as she explains that Chainsaw Man has saved her twice now.
Most importantly, though, Asa states that, “If a piece of trash like him is allowed to keep living then maybe it’s okay for me to live too!”
This shows that, despite Denji’s comedic mishandling of his talk with her, he has gotten through to Asa in some way.
Now wanting to live, Asa cuts her palm with a rock and uses the blood to revive Denji, begging him to save her.
Denji revives and leaps away from the attacking Devil with Asa in his arms but they are relentlessly pursued.
Realizing they can’t get away on foot, Asa points to a motorcycle and tells Denji to steal it.
Living up to his reputation, however, Denji refuses to because a woman is riding it so Asa tells him to steal a man’s instead.
Denji does so, kicking the man off the bike, as he and Asa take off.
It is then that we get the first big team up between Asa and Denji, which I have been wanting to see for a while.
As the two take off on the motorcycle, one of the slug-like Devil’s clawed appendages lunges at them.
Asa then yells out “Super Chainsaw Man Motorcycle!” using the War Devil’s power to transform the motorcycle into a weapon, working with Denji to cut right through the Devil, as the man behind them screams that they stole his bike.
With that, Chapter 129 of  Chainsaw Man comes to an end.
“Save Me, Chainsaw Man” is a solid chapter, delivering on the team up between Denji and Asa that I and many others had wanted to see for so long.
There are still lingering questions about the imposter Chainsaw Man but it seems that Fujimoto is going to hold the answers to those questions close to his chest for a while.
As for me, I’m just excited to see Denji and Asa continuing to work togethor in the following chapters.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review: A Triumphant End.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are among my favourite heroes in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 
Vol. 1 was a fantastic introduction to these characters, and I believe that Vol. 2 is one of the most underrated MCU films.
So, obviously, I was very excited to watch Vol. 3, especially because I had genuine hope that it would be better than a lot of the more recent MCU installments, which I have felt pretty lukewarm about.
I am happy to say that this hope was well founded because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a triumphant ending for the characters we have come to know and love ever since Vol. 1, all the way back in 2014.

The ending for each Guardian feels fitting.

Directed once again by James Gunn, the movie follows Peter Quill’s Starlord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Deisel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who are living at their home base of Knowhere.
After an attack from Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) leaves Rocket clinging to life, the Guardians must band together once more.
Seeking the help of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the group seek to track down Rocket’s creator the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), to find a way to save him.
Each of the Guardians gets their time to shine in this movie, with standout moments for each of them.
In particular it was great to see how much Nebula has changed from the first film, how the friendship between Drax and Mantis has progressed, and how different Gamora is from her future counterpart, along with how this affects her relationship with Quill.   

It would have been easy to go a cliche route with Quill and Gamora’s relationship after Endgame but I am glad they did not.

The biggest standout of all the Guardians, however, is Rocket, with a large part of the film focusing on his backstory, with constant flashbacks.
Given the number of these flashbacks, it would have been easy for the film to feel disjointed so it is a testament to the writing and the directing that it all flows seamlessly.
It felt like Vol. 2 was slowly transitioning the main character among the Guardians from Starlord to Rocket, and Vol. 3 continues this in excellent fashion.
Rocket’s story is so good in this movie that I actually almost teared up at one point, and this was a scene with multiple CGI characters so that is saying something about the quality. 

Prepare for Rocket’s backstory to destroy you emotionally.

Alongside Rocket, the main villain of the High Evolutionary also stands out.
The guy is a fantastic example of how to do a purely evil villain with no redeeming qualities right. 
And, hey, the High Evolutionary being so evil makes it even more satisfying when the Guardians fight his goons in numerous excellent action sequences, including a gripping one-shot corridor fight that is one of the movie’s highlight scenes.

The corridor fight is the MCU’s best fight scene in years.

Another thing to highlight is just how dark this movie can get at times, with a lot of cruelty to animals so there is that to be aware of.
That does not mean the film is devoid of levity; this is a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, after all.
There are plenty of feel goods moments and humor throughout.
Speaking of the humor though, I do have to say that it thankfully does not ruin any potentially emotional scenes, like it did in Quantimania and Love and Thunder.  
Not everything about Vol. 3 is so great though because, if the film has one issue then it is definitely Adam Warlock. 

Adam Warlock’s presence in the movie felt more like an obligation than anything else.

His addition to this film honestly felt entirely unnecessary to me.
Not only could he have been any other character and the plot of the movie would not have changed, but his actions also seemed pretty contradictory at times.
It feels like James Gunn intended for him to have a big role in Vol. 3 but then he got fired and rehired and, in the time in between that, he came up with a different plot for the film but was obligated to keep Warlock in because of the Vol. 2 post credits scene.
Apart from Warlock, though, I would say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a great film with a triumphant ending for its characters.
It is easily the best MCU film since Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

Chainsaw Man Chapter 127 and 128 Review: Humor and Intrigue.

The struggle against the Falling Devil continues in Chainsaw Man Chapters 127, “Save the Asa”, and 128, “Main Dish”, with Tatsuki Fujimoto delivering plenty of great humor and intrigue, as usual.
Starting with Chapter 127, I quite liked its title, “Save the Asa.”
It serves as the perfect parallel to Chapter 102, “Save the Cat,” especially when we consider what happens.
The chapter begins strong, with what appears to be a POV panel from the Falling Devil’s perspective, as she uses her power to shoot Asa out of the apartment building she was sheltering in.
Barely holding onto a dislodged section of the apartment building, Asa is then confronted by the Falling Devil, who promises her a peaceful fall if she closes her eyes, a clear lie considering all those others who fell were eaten alive by Devils.
Still, Asa is so effected by the trauma brought on by the Falling Devil that not even Yoru shouting at her can bring Asa back.
The trauma of remembering Yuko, Cambron and the evil orphanage lady is too much for Asa, and she closes her eyes, accepting her fall.
As she falls up to her fate, Asa does have one regret, that she never did something with someone but before we learn what that something is the probable someone shows up, as Denji jumps up to Asa in his Chainsaw Man form and grabs a hold of her.
Denji is shocked to learn that Asa wants to fall and, upon realizing that Asa’s trauma is causing her to ascend quicker, tries to make her feel happy by telling her to think about dogs, ice cream, and cats.
The cats suggestion was clearly not a good one, however, sincce Asa’s trauma is directly related to cats.
Denji then tries to convince Asa life is worth living, even if it has bad moments.
His words show just how similar he and Asa are.
Both have had happiness in their lives but it always seems to be cruelly taken away from them.
Denji, however, says he is willing to continue to eat the crap burger of life because he has something he is looking forward to.
Asa is clearly being won over by Denji’s compelling speech so she asks him what he is fighting for.
I was expecting Denji to give some kind of emotional answer, like Nayuta.
I was not expecting (but honestly should have been expecting) Denji to say that he wants to have sex.
And so the chapter ends with this moving moment transforming into one of hilarity as Asa screams out a disgusted “Ew!”
This then leads into Chapter 128, “Main Dish” where all of Denji’s work to calm Asa down have failed because she is now disgusted with him.
Denji tries to explain to Asa how sex is great, only for this to confuse Asa because, as she screams at Denji, “No woman in existence would want to have sex with a guy with a chainsaw sticking out of his head!”
Denji being Denji, this accusation that he will never have sex causes him to hilariously fall into despair, causing him and Asa to fall up into hell.
Denji wakes up on a Devil food dish with an unconcious Asa and attempts to make a break for it, quickly escaping from the slug-like devil, only to be confronted by the Falling Devil at one of the escape doors.
The Falling Devil again shows some leniency by offering to let Denji go but he refuses to leave Asa… or leave her ass, at least.
The Falling Devil calls Denji a pervert but any incoming attack from her is prevented when she is suddenly attacked from behind by none other than the imposter Chainsaw Man who has finally made his reapperance.
For me, the imposter showing up does confirm his identity to be the one who revived Denji in Chapter 126.
As for who the imposter is, in my opinion, the main suspects are again Haruka Iseumi, Seigi Akoku and the Kobeni clone.
Haruka was shown to be following Denji and Asa earlier, Seigi seems to have a similar posture and size to the imposter, and the Kobeni clone looked to have similar shoes to the one who saved Denji.
Whoever the imposter is, they advise that the Falling Devil will kill any invited Devil who does not partake in her meal by dawn, supposedly meaning that Denji only has to survive until then to succeed in saving himself and Asa.
So it looks like Asa and Denji will now have to work togethor if they want to live to see the next day, which should be exciting to see play out.
Chapters 127 and 128 are great additions to the Chainsaw Man story.
They offer great humor, with the Denji wanting sex joke in Chapter 127, and great intrigue, with the imposter Chainsaw Man finally making his return in Chapter 128.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Review: The Yin and Yang of Embracing Strengths and Weaknesses.

I remember seeing the first trailer for the Hell’s Paradise anime months ago.
It was a fantastic trailer, perfectly highlighting the mysteries of the story, without a line of dialogue from the characters.
Despite being interested, I still held off from reading the manga, until watching the first three episodes of the anime, developed by Mappa.
After loving those episodes, I binged the entire manga in three days and was rewarded with a great story that presented a compelling mystery, charismatic characters, some of the most well thought out action I have read, and brilliant artwork from the writer, Yuji Kaku. 

Hell’s Paradise‘s artwork provides both a lot of beauty and a lot of darkness.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is set in Edo Period Japan, and follows the story of Gabimaru, a ninja who has been captured and set for execution, yet longs to reunite with his wife. 
A chance to reunite with her comes with the arrival of Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, an executioner who arrives with the offer of a pardon from the Shogun himself.
The only catch is that, in order to obtain this pardon, Gabimaru will have to travel to a mystical island, from which none have returned alive, to obtain the Elixar of Life for the Shogun.

To reunite with his wife, Gabimaru travels to this dangerous island.

Gabimaru and Sagiri will not be going alone, however, with ten other death row prisoners being sent, with the pardon being available to only the one criminal who retrieves the Elixar.
As for the rest of them, they face death from the executioners sent with them to the island, to monitor them.
However, the criminals and executioners soon find they have much bigger problems to worry about than each other, as the island’s mysterious inhabitants begin picking them off, forcing them to band together and learn the ability known as Tao to survive together. 

The executioners and prisoners having to work togethor creates a lot of great bonds between them.

Tao is Hell’s Paradise’s main fighting mechanic and I was constantly marveling at how well Yuji Kaku incorporated it into his fight scenes, with many characters learning the technique quickly, while others learned slower in various triumphant moments.
Speaking of the characters, the ones in Hell’s Paradise have to be some of the most charismatic I have read in a while.
There is, of course, Gabimaru and Sagiri who, as the main leads of this story, grow a lot over the course of it, with numerous relizations they have about themselves creating plenty of development. 
Side characters such as Yuzuriha, the brothers Chobe and Toma, Nurugai, Shion, Fuchi, Tenza and Senta are also all fantastic but I don’t have time to discuss all of them, so I will focus on my favourite side character, Tamiya Gantetsusai.
He starts off as a warrior valuing only his own glory and legacy, yet slowly changes until, by the end of his story, he becomes much more humble due to the influence of his assigned executioner turned friend Fuchi.
This results in an ending for him that is probably the most emotionally impactful, alongside Gabimaru’s. 

Gantetsusai’s ending is subtle yet moving.

All of these characters I have mentioned are compelling and I find it to be a testament to how good Hell’s Paradise is that their camaraderie is so believeable, despite the main conflict of the story really only taking place over a few days at least.
What helps these characters and their fight sequences shine is also the combination of great themes and artwork.
The theme of Hell’s Paradise is the acceptance of strengths and weaknesses, yin and yang, with this theme being key to many of the events and imagery in the manga.
This imagery is especially great, with Yuji Kuko delivering many breath taking panels showing off both the beauty and horror of the island. 

The artwork of warped buddist statues and monsters highlight this yin and yang conflict quite well.

However, despite having plenty of positive things to say about Hell’s Paradise, I will not act like it is perfect, since there were a few issues I had.
The first of these is in regards to character deaths.
There are a few times in this manga where characters have emotional deaths that affected me, only for those feelings I had to vanish when the character is revealed to have survived.
Granted, I did like these characters so was pleased to see that they lived but, at the same time, some part of me wished that they had stayed dead so that the emotional weight of their deaths could be kept.
That being said, this was not a constant issue, as Yuji Kaku still followed through on many other tragic deaths across the series.
Although, there are a couple characters that were clearly introduced as canon fodder for the final battle.

While some characters introduced later in the story shine, others were probably introduced just to die.

Another minor issue I have is that there were a few plot points introduced that did not amount to much.
In particular, there is one moment where Jikka makes a pretty shady offer to two characters, only for this to amount to pretty much nothing.
While these were issues I had with the manga, they were nowhere near significant enough to dull my enjoyment of this otherwise fantastic story.
Hell’s Paradise is a manga with an interesting story, and great characters and fight scenes, supported by brilliant art work and compelling themes of ying and yang.
It is already among my favourite manga and I will continue watching the anime, hoping Mappa can keep up with the quality of their adaptation so far.    

Chainsaw Man Chapter 126, Food Fight Review: A Mysterious Saviour.

There was a theory going around after Chapter 125 of Chainsaw Man that it was not Denji fighting the Falling Devil but the imposter Chainsaw Man.
The supposed evidence for this theory was that Denji’s laugh sounded different but I found this incredibly unlikely.
Sure enough, the opening pages of Chapter 126, “Food Fight”, shoots down the theory quickly.
The chapter begins with the Falling Devil fighting Denji off temporarily, before telling him that there is no need for them to fight because all she needs to do is drop Asa Mitaka into hell and then she will leave.
This causes Denji to fight even harder, all to protect his “ex-potential girlfriend” as he humorously calls her, confirming his identity as Denji and not the imposter.
Annoyed by Denji’s actions, the Falling Devil unleashes her trauma power upon him, causing Denji to remember the deaths of Aki and Power; the trauma of their deaths making him fall up into the air.
It was good to see Aki and Power again, even if it is just in a brief flashback of their deaths.
The Falling Devil attempts to go after Asa again, only for Denji to drop down from the sky and attack her, having used his chainsaws to cut through his brain, cutting off the Falling Devil’s trauma attack.
Denji then begins to eat the Falling Devil, deliriously shouting that he wants to eat corndogs from france, while continuing to shred his own brain.
This leads to the Falling Devil shouting, “I am not a corn dog!” while Denji is eating her, in an almost full-page spread.
I said it once and I will say it again: Tatsuki Fujimoto is the most insane author I have ever read.
Only a warped mind like his could come up with something as ludicrous as a Devil complaining about being eaten like a corn dog, and make it work.
Further proving Fujimoto’s creatively dark mind, the Falling Devil then allows Denji to eat her, only to burst out of his stomach, ripping Denji in half and allowing her to continue her hunt for Asa.
It is then that a mysterious figure approaches Denji and slices their hand, giving him enough blood to regenerate and continue the fight.
This mysterious saviour then says, “Chainsaw Man… I still need you to fight.”
There has been a lot of speculation about who this unseen person is, with many thinking that it is Yoshida.
However, much like the theory about the imposter being the one to fight the Falling Devil, I find this theory to be unlikely.
Yoshida is already a shady character so hiding his face does nothing.
If this was truly Yoshida then I think Fujimoto would just show his face to add to the mystery of what his intentions are.
Therefore, I think this has to be another character but who?
Well, it makes sense for this person to be from the school, since that is where Part Two is focused.
This rules out any girl character from the school because the mysterious figure is wearing pants and the girls at the school all wear skirts.
So there are three unaccounted for male characters, who are all part of the Devil Hunter Club.
There is Haruka Iseumi, Seigi Akoku and the Kobeni clone.
Of these three, I find Haruka and the Kobeni clone to be the most likely candidates.
Haruka has been shown to be following Denji and Asa recently, and the Kobeni clone looks to have shoes of a similar colour to the mystery person in previous chapters.
Maybe whoever Denji’s saviour is could also be the Chainsaw Man imposter?
We will have to wait and see.
In any case, right after the scene where Denji is revived, we get the final page of Chapter 126, where the Falling Devil finds Asa still stuck on the roof.
Asa and Yoru will definitley need to trust each other if they are to have any hope of surviving the Falling Devil but Denji showing up might just give them an edge.
I am excited to potentially see the War Devil and Chainsaw Man forced to team up.
It could also lead to Asa and Yoru learning that Denji really is Chainsaw Man.
The possibilites are endless and, even then, I am sure Fujimoto will find a way to deliver things we never expected, as he always does.

Resident Evil 4 Remake Review: Among the Greatest Action-Horror Games of All Time.

We are living in an age of horror video game remakes. 
This year alone, we have had the Dead Space remake, which is pretty spectacular, if you ask me, and the Silent Hill 2 remake might just come out out later this year.
Then, of course, there is the recently released Resident Evil 4 remake, which is not only the most beloved Resident Evil game but one of the most beloved video games of all time.
It served as an inspiration for countless other games.

However, despite knowing this, I never got around to playing the original Resident Evil 4. 
The most I did was look up a few clips of the gameplay to see how it had inspired Village.
So this was an opportunity for me to play an updated version of it to see why the game was so lauded.
After playing it, I can say that I get it.
Resident Evil 4 is a fantastic experience from start to finish with a good story and characters, exhilarating gameplay, and a few terrifying moments. 

The opening of the Resident Evil 4 Remake makes one hell of a first impression.

You play as Leon Kennedy (Nick Apostolides) who, after the events of Resident Evil 2, was unwillingly recruited by the US government to become one of their top agents.
After the President’s daughter Ashley Graham (Genevieve Buechner) is kidnapped and taken to a village in Spain by a cult known as the Los Illuminados, headed by Osmund Saddler (Christopher Jane), Leon is sent to rescue her.
On his mission, Leon encounters many colourful characters, such as the shady yet charasmatic Luis Serra (André Peña), Leon’s even shadier acquaintance Ada Wong (Lily Gao), Saddler’s devout follower Ramon Salazar (Marcio Moreno), and, of course, a friendly merchant (Michael Adamthwaite) who we buy from and sell supplies to and upgrades out weapons.
The story of Resident Evil 4 has a classic B-movie feel to it, while also carrying a feeling of seriousness that is key to the other Resident Evil remakes.
The game juggles these two tones effortlessly, providing a fun story for the player.

It’s constantly funny how Leon reacts to a lot horrifying situations with cheesy one-liners.

What is even funner, though, is the gameplay, as fighting against wave upon wave of Las Plagas infected villagers never became dull, with numerous ways of taking them out.
I found shooting one in the head to stun them, and then running forward to deliver a roundhouse kick, knocking them and any surrounding villagers to the ground, to be the most entertaining way of dealing with these waves.
This technique will not work with all enemies, however, so you will have to be constantly managing your ammo, herbs, and other supplies to be prepared for each possible encounter.
Such becomes particularly nerve wracking when the game truly gets into the horror Resident Evil is known for.
There is the Verdugo fight, and the remake original section where you play as Ashley running away from Plagas controlled suits of armour.
The most terrifying part of the game, however, is the Regenerators, where my panicking lead me to constantly missing their weak points, which then lead to me constantly dying against them. 

The Regenerators are by far the most terrifying enemies in the game.

Speaking of dying, this happened quite a few times on some of the bosses, most notably Salazar, who must have killed me at least ten times.
It was satisfying to finally defeat him but easily the most satisfying boss of the game for me was Major Krauser (Mike Kovac).
He destroyed me in my first attempt against him but our roles reversed in my second attempt, where I destroyed him, after learning from my failures.

Krauser is undobutedly the best boss in the game, in my opinion.

Honestly, the only boss that disappointed me in this game was the final one, although that may be more my fault than the game’s.
I still had an RPG in my inventory so I used that to pretty much one-shot him.
However, an argument could be made that I should not be able to one-shot the final boss in the first place because then there’s no challenge.
Another issue I have is how the escorting Ashley segments play out sometimes.
From what I hear, the remake did this much better than the original but there were still some frustrating moments, like a cannon section where Ashley kept going into a death loop.
A criticism I have also heard many people bring up is Lily Gao’s performance as Ada Wong.
And by “bring up”, I mean harass her online because people are terrible.
In my opinion, there was nothing wrong with Gao’s performance.
Sure it wasn’t fantastic but she got the job done. 

It is absolutley unacceptable how Ada Wong’s voice actress is being treated. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t harass people over it.

One criticism I do find to be entirely legitimate is the recent addition of microtransactions for weapon upgrades.
It was pretty scummy of Capcom to add these only after all the positive reviews had come out, and it is extremely difficult to get the ticket used to upgrade the weapons completley without paying up, which is a shame for me because I have never bought a micotransaction and never will.
They are a predatory practice, designed to manipulate you into paying up in a game you have already bought, and sometimes they are even outright gambling.
Microtransactions have no place in a Resident Evil game, (or any game really, if you ask me).

“What are you buying?” The Merchant asks. “Not a microtransaction,” I say.

This problem aside, I found the Resident Evil 4 Remake to be a truly fantastic game that lives up to the hype of the original.
It provides a fun story with likeable characters, along with fantastic and sometimes terrifying gameplay.
I hope Capcom continues to do remakes of their older Resident Evil games so I can play updated versions of ones I never have previously, like Code Veronica for instance.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 125, Apple Thief Review: A Polite Primal Fear.

Way back in the International Assassins Arc of Chainsaw Man Part One, we met the Darkness Devil.
This terrifying entity was the first Primal Fear Tatsuki Fujimoto introduced us to; a Devil so powerful and created from a fear so primal that the Devil itself had never experienced death.
There was no reasoning with the Darkness Devil.
If it wanted you dead then you were probably dead, which is why it is so weird to read Chapter 125, “Apple Thief”, and see the Falling Devil being so unusually polite.
Well, as polite as a Devil can be, anyway, as the chapter starts with her brutally gathering ten eyes and four ears for her dish, after which, she goes to a supermarket like any average shopper would.
We then see her engaging in an oddly respectful talk with a staff member, who she has made fall up to the ceiling.
The Falling Devil asks the worker if she has a variety of apple that goes well with human flesh, a question which honestly got a chuckle out of me because how does the Falling Devil expect this woman to know that.
As for the worker, she is too terrified to respond, until the Falling Devil assures her that she has no intention of killing her unless attacked.
After leaving the shop, the Falling Devil remembers she forgot an ingredient, again, just like any regular shopper, only the ingredient she forgot is a human head.
Displaying more bizarre yet disturbing politeness, she asks if anyone is willing to spare a head.
It is then that a group of unwilling volunteers arrive, as a group of Devil Hunters take on the Falling Devil with sniper rifles.
They reduce her to a pile of limbs and guts but, being a Primal Fear, this is naturally not enough to kill the Falling Devil, who says she would rather avoid meaningless slaughter, before asking for a head again.
She only kills the attacking Devil Hunters and destroys much of the surrounding area when they attack her again but she seems to do this fairly reluctantly since she sighs beforehand.
Again, it is quite bizarre to see this powerful Devil act polite while killing and mutilating people left and right.
It is also quite interesting how the Falling Devil seems reluctant to hurt anyone outside of her goal to serve up some people as food for the Devils, including Asa and Yoru.
Speaking of those two, with the head now in her hands, all the Falling Devil needs to do is make Asa fall and then her dish will be complete.
Before she can do so, however, Denji finally shows up, ripping through the Falling Devil and accusing her of stealing apples… you know, as opposed to all of the murder and mutilation she just committed.
Denji has his priorities straight, although that is nothing new for him.
Another thing that is not new for Denji is being sliced up into pieces while he fights.
Good thing he’s basically immortal.
Unfortunately, so is the Falling Devil, as she seems completley unfazed by Denji ripping her apart, as she complains this is the first time that she has been on the menu, which is the end of the chapter.
I wonder if this is Fujimoto foreshadowing that Chainsaw Man will eat the Falling Devil, thereby erasing the fear of falling from humanity?
Although, if this does happen then it could have a lot of unintended consequences, since I would argue that a fear of falling actually helps out humans a great deal.
As for Denji finally showing up to fight the Falling Devil, there is a theory going around that this is actually not Denji but the Chainsaw Man imposter who killed Yuko.
While this is possible, I doubt this is the imposter because we saw Nayuta convince Denji to go fight a few chapters ago.
Most likely, Denji will have to team up with Asa and Yoru to defeat the Falling Devil and then whatever Primal Fear comes next.
All in all, “Apple Thief” was quite a short Chainsaw Man chapter but one with interesting characterization for the Falling Devil.
It also ended on a great cliffhanger, which has me excited for Denji and the Falling Devil’s fight going forward.