Squid Game Review: Most Intense Show I’ve Seen in a While.

I doubt there’s anyone who has not at least heard of Squid Game yet.
The South Korean series, distributed by Netflix, has become a worldwide phenomenon, in the short time since its release.
This review is probably not going to be any different from the numerous other ones you may have heard, heaping praise upon the show.
However, like many other viewers, I was so enthralled by Squid Game that I couldn’t just not talk about it.
Created and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the series begins with the Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a gambling addict, who is debt to loan sharks, desperately trying to salvage his relationship with his daughter who lives with his ex-wife.
After a strange encounter with a salesman (Gong Yoo) at a train station, Gi-hun is invited to take part in a series of children’s games where the winner will win a substantial amount of prize money.
Joining him in the games is Gi-hun’s childhood friend Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo), an elderly man with a terminal illness (O Yeong-su), the good nautred Pakistani Ali (Anupam Tripathi), North Korean refugee Sae-byeok (first time actress Jung Ho-yeon) , murderous gangster Deok-su (Heo Sung-tae), and 450 others, who also all have crippling debt.
However, the supposed kids games take a turn for the horrifying when the players learn the hard way that this is a death game, where most of them will probably be “eliminated” by the guards for losing before all six challenges are completed. 

Gi-hun and the 450 players will have to survive first if they want a chance to win the prize money.

And so begins the desperate struggle of the players to survive and win, with numerous instances of heartbreak and betrayal.
Squid Game is, without a doubt, one of the most intense experiences I have had with a show.
Almost every single episode had moments that left me shaking with anxiety out of fear for what could happen to these characters.
Speaking of, the characters are another thing this show excels at.
I came to care about so many of them, including some of the ones who are only around for a few episodes.
Even the characters you are supposed to hate are well written, with me literally screaming at the TV in disgust at their actions a few times.
They are all just so well crafted.
Squid Game may be centered around the death game, but it is the character drama that is the heart of the show.
This brings us to episode six, “Gganbu,” which I am sure we can all agree is the best episode of the entire series.
It is an absolute masterpiece that left me an emotional wreck after it was all over.

Be prepared to cry when you get to episode six of Squid Game.

It’s not just episode six, though, because all nine episodes are incredibly well crafted, with numerous excellent examples of foreshadowing and symbolism that make it great for a rewatch.
Apparently, Hwang had been trying for well over a decade to get approval to make Squid Game and, in my opinion, this was a good thing because it allowed him to plan out his story expertly.
The end result is various reveals that recontextualize a lot of moments as the story goes on, which left me feeling shocked and sometimes even betrayed (in a good way).
Accompanying this is the excellent commentary on capitalism, which South Korea just seems to be the best at, considering how well this commentary has been handled in other shows and films from the country, like the Best Picture winning Parasite.
Then there’s the score by Jung Jae-il, which is also great and helps improve on the already emotional and intense scenes.
It’s not all perfect though because there are a few hiccups here and there.
The most obvious issue, which is something everyone else has criticized, is the acting of the VIP characters.
I’m not sure if it’s the actors or the direction they got but their parts were mostly atrocious, with awful acting and dialogue.

The VIPs are easily the worst part of Squid Game.

Although, I’m sure our reactions to the VIPs are how most foreign viewers react whenever an English speaking film has someone acting in their language terribly.
Another thing I have seen people criticizing is the final episode, Episode Nine, “One Lucky Day.”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this ending at first either, however, after thinking about it and hearing other interpretations of the ending, I actually came to enjoy it quite a bit.
There’s plenty of foreshadowing for what happens and it stays consistent with the characters and their progression, while leaving the story open for a season two.

The ending of Squid Game is certainly not a happy one, although concerning the subject matter it is rather fitting.

Some are already eagerly anticipating this potential second season, while others are afraid they might ruin it if they continue.
Personally, I will be okay if they decide to leave it at one season but I do also want another one just to see where they will take it all from here.
A second season is almost guaranteed at this point, though, because of how high the viewership for this has been.
Squid Game is a fantastic show, despite a few issues, and it made me experience so many emotions throughout.    

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song Review: What it Means to Sing With Your Heart.

The past year has sadly not been kind to the great WIT Studio.
Apparently they have lost 501 million yen, or 4.5 million dollars, in the fiscal year.
This is extremely unfortunate when you consider not only what they have put out before, like Attack on Titan for example, but also what they put out after such a loss.
One of these anime was Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s song, probably one of the year’s best anime.
Created by Tappei Nagatsuki and Eiji Umehara, the story is set in a world where AI technology has progressed to the point that many of them appear human.
One of the most advanced AI is Diva, called Vivy (Atsumi Tanezaki) by one of her young fans, and her reason for existing, or her “mission” as the AIs call it, is to make people happy with her singing.
However, this may not be so simple because she suddenly finds herself being recruited by an AI named Matsumoto (Jun Fukuyama), who was sent from the future to stop an AI takeover where all of humanity was slaughtered.

Preventing rogue AI from killing all of humanity is hardly an original concept, but Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song tells it extraordinarily well.

Reluctantly joining Matsumoto, Vivy goes on a series of missions to prevent the AI uprising and learn what it means to sing with your heart, all in the span of 13 amazing and emotional episodes.
What makes these episodes so great is how they not only build upon Vivy’s character, and her growing partnership with Matsumoto, but also develop the many different side characters in their own side narratives, whether they be human or AI.
The emotion produced from these scenes is helped by the excellent animation and soundtrack.
This standard of animation also extends to the action sequences, which are nothing short of spectacular, with their constant fluid movement.

If you pause at any point in an action scene of Vivy, you will most likely find plenty of detail, showing how much effort was put into animating all of this.

As for the soundtrack, there are many amazing songs that I have found myself constantly listening to ever since I finished the show.
From the OP “Sing My Pleasure,” to its counterpart track by Grace, to the titular “Fluorite Eye’s Song,” which got me tearing up when I finally heard it.  
All of this combines to create a spectacular anime that I would highly recommend.
I cannot think of a single weak episode among the lot.
They all either bring an emotional moment or an interesting twist to the story, with fantastic development for Vivy, Matsumoto and the side characters, alongside an excellent soundtrack and vibrant animation.

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song is a complete package anime. I’d call it a masterpiece.

I hope that Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song can help get WIT Studio’s profits up, along with whatever anime they go on to produce in the future.
Check out this emotional rollercoaster ride of an anime if you have not already.   

 

Berserk Chapter 364, A Tear Like Morning Dew Review: The Final Chapter(?).

When I first read Kentaro Miura’s Berserk and reached Chapter 363, I remember excitedly going to read the next chapter, only to realise it was the last one released before Miura’s tragic passing.
I was sad to see that I and many other fans would not know how Miura intended to continue the story, especially after the cliffhanger of the Moonlight Boy meeting Guts again.
This is why I was very excited to hear that there was one final chapter Miura completed that would be released, Chapter 364, “A Tear Like Morning Dew.”
After eagerly anticipating the chapter for a while, I finally read it and am pleased to say that what may be the final chapter of Berserk we ever get did not disappoint.
Picking up from the end of the previous chapter, “A Tear Like Morning Dew” begins with the first of many father and son antics, with the Moonlight Boy instantly climbing atop Guts’ Berserker Armour to rest on his head.
Guts brings him inside so he can be with Casca and what follows is a humorous sequence where Schierke mistakes the child for a disguised Danann.
The face she pulls when she realises she was wrong is so comically out of place with the rest of Miura’s artwork that it heightens the comedy of the moment.
After this scene, we get our reunion between Casca and the Moonlight Boy, only now Casca has all of her memories.
The connection between the two is obvious and Danann quickly picks up on it, along with the boy’s connection to Guts.
The following panel of Guts sitting outside while everyone reunites with the Moonlight Boy is both beautifully drawn and also highlights his purposeful distance from Casca, due to her trauma, as illustrated by the bottom panel of Casca lying in bed with the Moonlight Boy, seperated from Guts.
Once this distance is illustrated, we get many more wholesome moments between the seperate parents and their child, as Casca continues to bond with him while Guts trains.
This training does not last though because the Moonlight Boy quickly interrupts, sneaking into Guts’ Berserker Armour in a downright adorable moment.
After helping the boy out of the armour, Guts then leads him back to Casca, telling him to go be with them, once again keeping a respectful distance from Casca.
Their relationship is truly tragic and it is a sad thing we may never know how it ends for them.
Even sadder is the scene that follows, the final scene of this potential final chapter, which serves to punch us all in the gut.
This is Berserk after all, so we all knew there just had to be a catch to the numerous wholesome scenes with the Moonlight Boy in this chapter.
Turns out that catch is the brutal confirmation of the theory that the Moonlight Boy and Griffith are connected.
As Casca has a dream remembering her connection with her mutilated ghost baby and how this saved her during the Conviction Arc, she seems to awaken with a realization and runs outside to see Guts standing before the Moonlight Boy.
The child begins to speak, however, as he does so, their body begins to change.
“I had a dream. Under the fool moon, I was a child embraced by a nostalgic warmth. But when I wake from the dream, only a vague sense of longing remains… that too, will soon disappear… with a single tear like morning dew.”
With these fittingly poetic lines, the speaker turns, revealing the Moonlight Boy to have transformed into a Griffith, tears spilling from his eyes, bringing the chapter and potentially the story of Berserk to a close.
This was a fantastic chapter, full of both wholesome moments and gut punches.
If it really is the final chapter of Berserk, then I think it is a fitting one.
Is it frustrating for it to end on such a massive cliffhanger?
Certainly, however, it is important to take into account whether this story should continue without Miura’s guidance.
What were his wishes concerning the future of the story in case of his passing, if he had any, and will anyone be able to take over the story until its conclusion?
It is not unheard of.
For example, Brandon Sanderson took over the Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan’s unfortunate passing due to a terminal illness.
Maybe there is someone who could take over Berserk and end it for Muira.
Again, though, Muira’s wishes do need to be considered here first and foremost.
He is the creator of Berserk and his wishes for his series should be respected.
Whether this magnificent story ends here or continues, “A Tear Like Morning Dew,” is yet another brilliant Berserk chapter and Muira deserves all the thanks for gifting this great story that has influenced so many other creators.

Choujin X, Chapters Eight and Nine Review: Dreams of the Choujin.

Chapter Eight: My Benefit.
The eighth chapter of Sui Ishida’s Choujin X, “My Benefit,” is another solid chapter that picks up well with the aftermath from Tokio and Ely’s fight with the Snake Choujin, Nari.
It starts off by immediately dismissing my theory that Tokio’s name being mistaken for Zaven in the last chapter would allow him to hide his true identity from the Choujin organization, while continuing to help them.
It actually turns out that whole Zaven thing was just a gag because the organization of Yamato Mori knows who Tokio is and have given him the story that he is now a witness for a secret agent, so his family and people at school will not learn that he is a Choujin.
The only one who does know from Tokio’s life is obviously Azuma, who takes the time to apologise to Tokio for yelling and not helping him when he needed it.
Tokio forgives him and admits Azuma was right about him constantly relying on people.
Things seem good between the two but the next panel displaying the light reflecting off Azuma’s glasses, hiding his eyes, does raise some suspiscion.
I wonder what is truly going through Azuma’s head?
After this, Tokio goes to Yamato Mori to learn about his registration.
It’s here that he meets up with Ely and two other Choujin, Simon Kagomura, who was the Choujin who saved them from Nari last chapter, and Maiko Momoma, the woman seen with Ely in the last few chapters but who had her face hidden previously.
The two inform Tokio and Ely about the registration system.
Simon and Maiko, along with others at Yamato Mori, have Class A registration, meaning they can use their powers for research or the betterment of society, like protecting people from Choujin attacks like Simon did with capturing Nari.
Tokio and Ely are about to receive Class B registration, which will only allow them to use their powers if they or others are in danger, or by accident since Choujin powers are connected to emotion.
Tokio does express some interest in getting Class A registration but Simon’s scolding gets him to meekly relent.
We then get our first look at Maiko’s powers when she uses super strength to clear a fallen tree.
She makes Tokio and Ely look away when she does this though, so she must be shy about it for some reason.
Either that or there is a practical reason for her trying to hide her power, which could be revealed later.
Following this, Tokio and Ely are interviewed by Sandaq, who drills them on what they consider to be good and evil, and who they consider their allies and enemies to be.
He then hits them with the impotant question that shapes the chapter and possibly Tokio’s life going forward: what do they hope to benefit from their lives?
For Ely, the answer is easy: money.
That’s right, we got another Ochako Uraraka on our hands here.
Although, the dream for money to make them and their loved ones happy is pretty much the only similarity between the two.
On another note, I’m interested to see what the other character’s thought about Ely’s declaration, since it could be interpreted as not being noble and the reaction panels we get from Tokio, Sandaq, Simon and Maiko are interesting.
Yet, this bit is cut short for a comedic moment when Sandaq questions if it will make all of her wishes come true and Ely says most of them, reminding us again of her crush on Sandaq.
I wonder if this will become a running gag or if Ely’s crush on Sandaq will become disillusioned in the future?
Maybe like how Tokio and Azuma’s friendship could become broken if their bond is going the way I think it is.
Once this comedic moment is over, Sandaq turns to Tokio and asks him the same question but, unlike Ely, Tokio has no idea what he hopes to benefit.
It is interesting how most other protaganists in manga have some kind of goal or dream to achieve at the beginning of their stories.
Izuku from My Hero Academia wanted to become a hero, Eren from Attack on Titan wanted to exterminate the Titans, Denji from Chainsaw Man wanted a good life and to touch some boobs.
Tokio, on the other hand, does not know what he wants and it is a pretty good change of pace.
He and Ely really are complete opposites.
Whereas Ely is already certain about what she wants in life, Tokio is hesitant and uncertain.
Ely later confronts him about this, asking what’s the point of living without a dream, probably coming off more insulting than she intended.
With this scene expanding on the opposites dynamic of Tokio and Ely, it also offers a possible character arc for Tokio in the future, as he could slowly begin to sperate from needing Azuma and discover his own dream and strive towards it.
This could also be foreshadowed in the next scene where a news report states that a vulture and a tiger remain at large, having escaped from the zoo Tokio and Ely fought Nari in.
Tokio is definitley being represented by the vulture and Azuma most likely the tiger.
Whatever Tokio decides his dream is though, there will probably be complications to achieving it, no doubt mostly caused by the enemy Choujin out there.
We get our first look at two of them after the zoo symbolism, and these Choujin are revealed to be named Ririka Umezawa, or Ume, and Richard, or Ricardo, in the next chapter.
These two dangerous Choujin have been sent to clean up after Nari, probably by the masked Choujin who started this whole thing.
But, because this is Choujin X, there has to be some comedy so, instead of ending on this ominous note, the chapter instead ends with Tokio curiously asking his sister what dreams she has, only for her to shout that it is to marry into money.
I guess her and Ely would get along then.
Overall, “My Benefit” is another solid chapter for Choujin X. 
It formly introduces us to some interesting characters and excellently sets up the future of Tokio’s character arc, wherever that may take him.

Chapter Nine: Sinker, Part 1 – Grounder Boy.
Chapter Nine picks up from “My Benefit” in an interesting way because, while it continues to expand on Tokio’s lack of a dream, it seems to contrast this with a new character whose dream was destroyed by him becoming a Choujin.
This contrast starts with two sets of characters, Tokio at his home, and the Choujin Ume and Richard in what appears to be a motel, watching Azuma’s baseball match on TV.
On a side note it is intriguing to see how this world differs somewhat from our own through the portrayal of baseball, with the bases seemingly being in the shape of a hexagon.
The main focus is on how this sets up the introduction for the new character though, with Azuma’s skills being compared to that of a student who was even better than Azuma.
However, Richard says that he had to quit because he turned into a Choujin in the middle of a match.
This student is then revealed as Tezuya Shiozaki, who will clearly be a big focus of the next chapter, if the Part 1 in the title refrencing him is any indication.
From his introduction, we cut to an expansion on Richard and Ume, as Tokio sees their wanted posters.
Noticing this, another new character, Ichiro Sato, who is explained by Simon to be Sandaq’s protege, tells Tokio that Ume is the Paper-Cutout Choujin who is responsible for numerous bank robberies.
As for Richard, he is a Tentacle Choujin who works as a bodyguard for criminal organizations, but also betrayed one of these groups, killing all of the members.
Since we have seen Richard working with Ume, I wonder if that means she hired him to help her in whatever job she has been tasked with?
Back to Tokio, he sees Ichiro taking Tezuya for his latest Choujin evaluation and Tokio becomes intrigued when Simon tells him that Tezuya used to go Tsuru High, like him.
This intrigue is interrupted by anoter great gag when Ely wonders aloud if Yamato Mori could make her some cash, and her eyes become coins, much to Tokio’s exasperation.
From here, we get a brief look at Ichiro’s evaluation of Tezuya, during which he claims to not be interested in baseball anymore, and afterwards has a brief interaction with Tokio.
Following this, Tezuya goes home to his siblings, only to take part in a bank robbery later.
It would seem losing his dream of baseball thanks to his Choujin powers caused Tezuya to go down a dark path.
Once this is displayed, we get another showcase of Tokio and Ely’s days at Yamato Mori, with them watching a presentation on what the consequences can be if they lose control of their Choujin powers.
Maiko also falls asleep during this, which is comedic since it seems she was supposed to be supervising.
In the next scene, we then get an expansion on Tokio and Ely’s growing friendship, with Tokio teaching Ely how to use a phone so she can call her grandfather.
The two then walk out, with Ely consoling Tokio, telling him it does not matter if he does not have a dream, motivating Tokio begin trying to find his own dream .
This causes Ely to ask if he can help her find something, but we don’t hear what.
Then, for the last scene, we cut back to Tezuya, who discovers one of Ume’s cutout dogs, which shocks him when he grabs hold of it.
This is concerning because if Ume and Richard learn of Tezuya’s darker side then they could try to recruit him, maybe even blackmailing him.
Yamato Mori certainly would not be pleased if they learned of Tezuya’s nightly activities, after all.
Still, Tezuya has a chance of redemption from Tokio and Ely, as the chapter ends with the two of them seeing him illegally use his Choujin Powers to steal a soft drink when the vending machine won’t accept his money.
How fitting that the chapter ends with the Choujin whose dream was destroyed by becoming one about to have a conversation with the Choujin who does not have a dream and the one who does.
This could lead to some interesting growth for all three characters, so I am intrigued to see where Chapter Ten will go.
The ninth chapter of Choujin X is another solid one from Ishida.
He has yet to release a bad chapter for this series.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil – The Movie Review: Tanya vs the Literal Mary Sue.

I loved the first season of The Saga of Tanya the Evil so immediately after finishing it, I naturally moved on to watching the movie, which was released two years after the show.
Directed once again by Yutaku Uemura, and based off the light novels by Carol Zen, The movie sees Tanya (Aoi Yuki) and her battalion of mages sent to infiltrate and spy on the Russy Federation, this world’s version of the Soviet Union. 
However, once inside, the plan instantly goes awry, causing a chain of events that creates a film which is a worthy sequel to the anime.

“They’re Commies. Blow the s#$t out of them.” With these words, Tanya and her batallion begin their mission.

I was not let down by this movie, even though I felt like some things could have been improved upon.
The first of these things is Tanya’s relationship with Being X.
Her rivalry with the self proclaimed deity was a highlight for me when watching the show, so I was disappointed to see Being X not drop in personally to gloat to Tanya in the movie.
Another disappointing thing was that there is a flash forward, which clearly spoils the outcome of the entire war.
This should have been cut entirely.
I have heard it is like this in the light novels but, come on, knowing what’s going to happen to the Empire does remove some of the tension, somewhat.  
The last criticism I have is of Tanya’s actual rival in this film.
You see, certain circumstances inside the Russy Federation lead to Tanya being confronted by the daughter of a solider who she killed in combat.
This girl’s name is Mary Sue (Haruka Tomatsu).
No, I am not kidding, there is literally a character called Mary Sue and, as her name suggests, she is ridiculously overpowered, most likely because of Being X’s involvement, and has none of the struggles in dealing with her power, like Tanya.
Now, I know Mary Sue being overpowered is clearly the point.
She is a character that is supposed to play off the stereotypical tropes of the Mary Sue archetype, possibly serving as a parody.
However, Mary does not feel like a parody but rather just a general usage of the Mary Sue trope, without anything new or interesting done, which makes her pretty annoying.

Mary is more like an actual Mary Sue rather than a commentary on the trope.

I know I have been criticising this movie a bunch when I said I enjoyed it and I did.
I just wanted to get a few of my grievances out of the way first before I got into the praise.

First of all, Tanya is once again a fun character to follow.
Not only is it still exciting and somewhat funny to see a salaryman in the body of a child plan and then carry out military operations, but the animators also clearly go all out animating her expressions, especially when she indulges in her sometimes crazy outbursts.
Just like in the show, the action is also great, with the sound design once again being stellar.
Then there’s the comedy, which had me burst out laughing a few times.

This reaction is pretty funny. Watch the movie and you’ll know why.

I will also say that this film contains a scene which is probably my favourite of the entire anime so far.
Watching this movie after the anime left me wanting more, so I was overjoyed to hear that a season two is currently being made.
Hopefully it will live up to the standard set by its predecessors.
Until then, there’s also a comedic OVA “Operation Desert Pasta” is also pretty good.
The Saga of Tanya the Evil: The Movie is a worthy follow up to the anime and I cannot wait to see more from the monster in the form of a little girl.    

The Saga of Tanya The Evil Review: The Monster in the Form of a Little Girl.

Before I begin the review, I will say that this contains spoilers for a reveal that happens early on, which will work a lot better if you do not know what it is going in. So, if you have not yet watched The Saga of Tanya the Evil, then it’s probably best to avoid this review until you have.

When it comes to picking an anime to watch, there are two features which, if present, will usually make me avoid the show I hear they are in.
These two things are the genre of isekais and character trope of lolis.
I don’t have anything against isekais, it’s just that I have found that they usually do not appeal to me.
Then there are lolis, which I don’t think I even need to explain why I find them to be an automatic avoid requirement for an anime.
However, despite The Saga of Tanya the Evil both being an isekai and having a loli as the main character, I heard great things about it, so I decided to give it a chance and was surprised to find that I loved it.
The isekai aspects of the show only make its premise way more interesting and the loli Tanya (Aoi Yuki) is not sexualised in any way (thank god).

Tanya being a child is wisely used as an often comedic or unnerving juxtaposition with her status as a military leader.

Directed by Yutaku Uemura, and based off the light novels by Carlo Zen, The Saga of Tanya the Evil tells the story of a salaryman in Japan, whose job it is to fire unproductive people at the company he works.
However, he is particularly ruthless and uncaring in his treatment of others, and this leads to a man he fired murderering him by pushing him in front of a train.
Just as he is about to die, the salaryman is confronted by a being who claims to be God, who is dissatisfied with the lack of faith in him.
It is at this time that the salaryman makes the unfortunate decision to declare that he is an atheist and does not believe he is talking to God, dubbing him Being X (Hideaki Tezuka) instead.
This leads to the first of many funny cases of miscommunication where the salaryman’s mocking comments cause Being X to believe that if the salaryman is reincarnated in a harsh situation then he will find faith in God.

And so the salaryman’s isekai journey begins.

Thus, the salaryman is reincarnated as the girl Tanya Degurechaff in an alternate version of Germany, known as the Empire, during a World War One where magic exists.   
Wanting to secure a good life for herself, Tanya enters the military at nine-years-old with the hope of using her experiences from her past life to earn a comfy position safe away from the battlefield.
Only problem is that her constant miscommunication with people, and Being X’s interference keeps pushing her to the front lines.
And it is here the good usage of the isekai genre and loli elements come in, with the isekai storyline creating Tanya’s rivalry with Being X during the conflict, and the loli stature of Tanya creating the amusing display of a little girl as a military leader.
Or, as Erich Rerugen (Shinichiro Miki) would call her, “a monster in the form of a little girl!” 

Tanya’s creepy faces get a lot of animation. Looking at this it’s not hard to understand why Rerugen is so unnerved by her.

It is this “monster” who is by far the most interesting character in the show.
The other characters are good but it’s Tanya who carries the whole thing, with her military genius, often crazy personality, and struggle for her own human autonomy against what is essentially God.
Speaking of that crazy personality though, it does lead to a few technically-not-a-war-crime-because-of-loophole scenarios and, oh, boy, are those dark.
A lot of the military strategy surrounding these events are also quite interesting to sit through, and when it comes to the actual combat of the series, it does not disappoint.
However, the thing I want to praise most about the action is not the animation but the sound design.
Seriously, the sound of the explosions and gunfire is top notch and makes the world of this horrible war feel tangible. 

I found myself often replaying the action scenes just to listen to the glorious sound design.

It is not all action though because the comedy is also well done.
I have already mentioned that Tanya gets into a lot of difficult situations due to miscommunication with her superiors, and it gets funnier every time. 
So, with an intriguing story which is lead by an interesting, morally grey character, featuring great action with terrific sound design, some comedic moments and engaging instances of military strategy, it is easy to recommend The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
It has certainly made me more likely to check out other Isekais in the future… not other animes with lolis though because I’m pretty sure most of those are going to be just as creepy as appear on the surface.   

My Hero Academia Season Five, Episode Twenty-Four, Tomura Shigaraki: Origin Review: Rise of the Demon King.

If I’m honest, The My Villain Academia Arc has not exactly been handled well in this fifth season of My Hero Academia. 
It’s pretty obvious that Studio Bones just prioritized the heroes development over the villains here, with them rearranging the arc and giving it less time to be fleshed out because of filler episodes and moments beforehand, most of which were to hype up a non-canon movie.
This has made the My Villain Academia storyline a disappointing adaptation, which is extremely unfortunate when you compare it to the greatness of the manga.
You know something went wrong when plenty of people think that the Joint Training Arc was adapted better than the My Villain Academia Arc.
Well, at least I can say that Studio Bones finished the arc well.
The last half of Tenko Shimura: Origin did a fantastic job of adapting Shigaraki’s backstory and, now, Tomoura Shigaraki: Origin has continued this by ending the storyline with even better quality.
I wish the rest of the My Villain Academia Arc had been adapted as well as it was in this episode.
Picking up from the reveal of how Tenko Shimura “accidentally” murdered his family in the previous episode, we see the poor boy walking the crowded streets, filthy and bloody.
Surely someone helps him, right?
Wrong, because as soon as anyone gets a good look at his frightening face they naturally assume a hero can deal with it and abandon the child.
This perfectly points out the flaws in My Hero Academia’s hero society.
The civilian population is so complacent with the system that they full-heartedly believe a hero can solve any problem, and they don’t need to do anything, so they leave a child begging to be saved alone.
Unfortunately for Tenko, and the world at large, the only one with an interest in saving him, for undoubtedly nefarious reasons, is All For One, who stretches out a hand to Tenko, just as All Might did for Izuku at the beginning of the story.
The parralels between our hero and villain are greatly portrayed here.
While Izuku had someone to help him down the path to be a hero, Tenko had someone to manipulate him down the path of a villain.
Tenko did not spend a long time in All For One’s care before the criminal mastermind had convinced him to kill two street thugs who he had restrained himself from killing previously after they harassed him.
This leads to All For One also convincing Tenko to wear the hands of his dead family, now dubbing him Tomura Shigaraki, Tomoura meaning mourning, and Shigaraki being All For One’s own last name.
Now remembering everything about his past, in his present fight with Redestro, Shigaraki reflects on how, in his eyes, what happened was no tragedy.
All of this leads to his awakening, as he crushes the supposed last hand of his dead family, declaring he doesn’t need it anymore, before unlocking his Quirk’s full potential, just as Gigantomachia arrives on the scene.
Redestro’s efforts in using a mecha suit to up his stress does no good, as Shigaraki unleashes a seemingly unending wave of decay in some fantastic animation that really highlights the danger he will pose going forward.
Destroying much of Deika city, Shigaraki leaves Redestro crippled, after the Meta Liberation Army commander is forced to amputate his own legs to stop the decay from killing him when his feet touched the ground.
Although this clearly has an effect on Shigaraki himself, given how his own skin cracks and his hair turns almost a glowing white.
Yet, this destruction is still enough to leave Gigantomachia in a state of shock and cause him to finally submit after seeing how Shigaraki’s liberated and terryifying strength then causes Redestro to sign over leadership of the Meta Liberation Army.
It is here where one of my issues of the episode comes in because, when Redestro submits to Shigaraki’s leadership, Shigaraki says that because he is the CEO of Deternat he must have money to give them, since the League was down on their luck before this moment.
However, because the anime adaptation cut out the beginning of the My Villain Academia Arc, including Redestro’s entire introduction, this information feels very forced and shoved in.
Oh, and Spinner also gets more of his character arc cut.
Seriously, you really have to feel bad for Spinner since this is the arc that turned him from a very forgettable character into a relatable and somewhat interesting one.
Along with this, his character arc shows Shigaraki’s growth through how Spinner starts off questioning his leadership of the League yet by the end of the storyline he is fully devoted to Shigaraki.
Cutting all of this not only makes Spinner a much weaker character, but will also make his actions in the next arc when we get Season Six mean a lot less.
But, hey, not like I expected this episode to actually give Spinner anything, given how much they cut from him before.
Other than these issues though, Tomura Shigaraki: Origin is still a great episode.
Following Redestro’s surrender, we then cut to the League and Shigaraki being touted as the new leaders of the Meta Liberation Army, now named the Paranormal Liberation Front.
Redestro is now fully devoted to Shigaraki, along with Gigantomachia, there is a funny gag about Toga’s clone, Twice’s split personality is still in place, Shigaraki has one of the dead hands left, and Dr Ujiko prepares to experiment on Shigaraki to give him an even bigger upgrade.
And all of this is happening while Izuku is definitley beginning to unlock his own Quirk’s potential, through learning how he will inherit all of the Quirk’s from the previous holders of One For All.
This should make for an interesting fight between Deku and Shigaraki when the two finally face off.
I just hope that such a fight will not get the same treatment as the My Villain Academia Arc.
While I can say that this storyline has been good in the anime, there were so many cuts and it went by so fast that it just does not have the same impact as the manga.
I just hope the next season takes the arc following this seriously because it is by far the best storyline in the entire manga, in my own personal opinion.
Despite my feelings about the My Villain Academia Arc as a whole though, I cannot deny that Studio Bones at least ended it well, with Tomura Shigaraki: Origin being a great finisher for it.

The Suicide Squad Review: James Gunn Knows What He’s Doing.

My opinion on the Suicide Squad movie from 2016 has changed a lot over the years.
When I first saw the trailers for it, I became intrigued by the premise of supervillains being forced to go on covert government operations, so I made sure to read all the comics I could before the film released.
So, when it actually came out, I was already hyped for it and this hype really blinded me about the film’s quality at the time.
I was pretty much in denial and told plenty of people that I thought the film was good.
However, even though years have passed and multiple rewatches allowed me to finally realize the film’s many, many, many faults, it is still a guilty pleasure of mine and I do still think there are good things about it. 

Everyone has a guilt pleasure movie and Suicide Squad (2016) is definitley mine.

So, I was naturally excited for the film’s loosely based sequel, this time titled The Suicide Squad (because that’s not confusing at all), directed by James Gunn.
The only movies of Gunn’s that I have seen are his Guardians of the Galaxy films and I love those, so I was interested to see what Gunn would do with what was obviously going to be a more comedic take on the titular Suicide Squad, although a dark comedic take at that.
What was reassuring to know coming into the film was that Gunn had complete freedom, unlike Suicide Squad 2016’s director David Ayer whose vision for the film was ripped apart in the editing room.
And you know what?
James Gunn naturally pulled it off.
The Suicide Squad is a much better film that its 2016 counterpart, delivering on plenty of exciting, funny, dark, and sometimes even emotional moments with style.
The plot follows Task Force X, who are tasked by the ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to infiltrate the fictional country of Corto Maltese and bring an end to the mysterious Project Starfish.

Viola Davis was the perfect casting choice for Amanda Waller in the original Suicide Squad so I was glad to see her return and be just as ruthless.

Leading this version of the squad is Robert DuBois, AKA Bloodsport (Idris Alba), an assassin who put Superman in the ICU with a Kryptonite bullet, and becomes a part of Task Force X’s latest mission to protect his daughter.
So, he’s basically Deadshot.
Despite the two characters being extremely similar, though, I actually do prefer Bloodsport with this film because the bond with his daughter is much more interesting, even with only one scene, and his character arc is actually pretty great.

Bloodsport’s character development in this film is stellar, with him being quite different at the end of the film from how he began.

The rest of the Squad in this film is just as interesting.
We have the ironically named Peace Maker (John Cena), the extrememly messed up Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), the kind hearted thief Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and the man eating, yet loveable idiot King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone).
Also returning from the previous film is Margo Robbie who is still perfectly cast as Harley Quinn, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg.
I would like to signal out Flagg in particular because, even though I do find enjoyment in the original Suicide Squad film, Flagg was not one of these enjoyable things, being quite a bland character.
Well, in The Suicide Squad, this version of Flagg is ten times better, with a fantastic character arc that really made me care for him, hence the emotional parts of the film I mentioned previously.

I never expected to actually like Flagg coming into the film so I was pleasantly surprised with how his character development was handled.

Along with the emotion, another feature this movie pulls off excellently is the comedy, especially the gags of the dark variety.
I burst out into uncomfortable laughter on numerous occasions.
This is easily one of the funniest movies of the year.
It is the characters and their journey that really brings it all togethor though.
I remember back in the first Suicide Squad where one of the characters talked about them being a family, even though they had just met and didn’t really have that much of a bond by that point.
By the end of this film, however, I felt the comradery between the characters completley and wanted to see where they would go in a future film.
How likely this is, I’m not sure because the movie apparently bombed, most likely based off the reputation of its predecessor and, you know… Covid.
That said, I hope the studios see the positive reactions to this film and realize there is a great potential for sequels.
James Gunn did a fantastic job breathing a comedically dark life into The Suicide Squad and I hope to see more of it the future.

My Hero Academia, Season Five, Episode Twenty-Three, Tenko Shimura: Origin Review: Half and Half.

Coming into the latest episode of My Hero Academia Season Five, Episode Twenty-Three, “Tenko Shimura: Origin”, I had my fingers crossed that it would live up to its potential, making it one of the best episodes in the entire series.
After seeing it, can I say that it achieved this?
Well, like Todoroki’s Quirk, it’s half and half.
The first half of “Tenko Shimura: Origin” is honestly a bit dissapointing with its lackluster animation, while the second half definitley lives up to its potential, delivering a fantastic adaptation of the darkest moment from the manga.
Before this, though, there is the already mentioned weaker first half of the episode, where we first see Twice creating a clone of Toga to do a blood transfusion, followed by some Spinner development as he fights the politician Trumpet.
However, since the beginning of Spinner’s entire character arc was cut  from the “My Villain Academia” episode, this is just pay off to scenes that never happened so it lacks impact.
Then there’s the fight between Shigaraki and Redestro, which suffers from feeling overall a bit stiff and limited, although this may come from me comparing it to other fights in the series.
Along with this, the censorship does not really help because it does raise certain plot holes about why Shigaraki is not able to simply decay Redestro, and anime only viewers will probably not have realized that Shigaraki has lost some fingers here.
Also there are some weird moments when Shigaraki has blood all over him, yet in the next shot all this blood is gone.
Kind of reminded me of there not being any blood on the knife in that one The Promised Neverland Season Two episode.
As the fight between Redestro and Shigaraki continues, with Redestro’s stress quirk building, Shigaraki admitting he only wants to destroy, and Gigantomachia arriving on the scene, we finally get the dark second half of the episode that shows Shigaraki’s backstory.
We see his life with his family, and how his father, Kotaru, Nana Shimura’s son, was ruthless in his hatred of heroes for his mother abandoning him to fight All For One, to the point that he abused Tenko whenever he tried to play hero.
This complicated matters when Tenko’s sister, Hana, showed him a picture of their grandmother, inspiring Tenko to be a hero further, only for her to put all the blame on him when she got found out, resulting in more abuse directed at Tenko from Kotaro.
It is at this unfortunate time of high stress that Shigaraki’s Quirk activates while he is hugging the family dog for comfort outside.
This decays the pup and, wow, is it a lot more brutal than I thought it would be.
Yes, there is some censorship when the dog sadly crumbles, but the aftermath is on full bloody display, with chunks lying strewn around a puddle of red.
The horror only grows when Hana comes outside and flees in terror upon seeing what has happened.
Thinking a villain is attacking, Tenko goes to grab her, only for her to decay into a disgusting bloody puddle of human chunks as well.
The shots of Tenko tearing at his face after this, while his hair turns white, are also particularily disturbing.
Now beginning to understand what is happening, Tenko next unleashes his new power on his mother and grandparents for not helping him, causing his mother to die as she falls to pieces trying to reach out and hold her son.
Imagine being Kotaro: You have just read a letter from the mother who abandoned you, and this letter has made you decide to try and be a better parent, only to go outside and see that your son’s new power has gruesomely killed your entire family.
The narration from Nana that she hopes Kotaro lives a happy life makes for a grim overlap to this scene, made even grimmer by Tenko’s subsequent murder of his father.
When Kotaro tries to defend himself from his own son’s attacks, giving him one of his singature scars even though he still pleads for help, Tenko snaps entirely, giving into his murderous impluses completley.
Slamming his hand onto his father’s face, Shigaraki kills him, a disgusting look of pleasure matching his innner thoughts as the itch that was plaguing him for so long finally disipates, bringing a horrifying end to the episode.
This dark reveal of Shigaraki’s past was a fantastic adaptation of the manga.
Everything clicked from the animation, to the voice acting, to the music, bringing the darkest moment of My Hero Academia to terrifying life.
I just wish the first half of the episode was this good.
Still, “Tenko Shimura: Origin” is a great episode for its second half alone, and I do have high hopes for the next one, considering that it will continue to adapt Shigaraki’s backstory and it appears that Studio Bones is willing to put much of their resources into that.

My Hero Academia, Season Five, Episode Twenty-Two, Sadman’s Parade Review: I am Pleasantly Surprised.

In my review for the previous episode of My Hero Academia I said that I would be pleasantly surprised to see Episdoe Twenty-Two of Season Five, “Sadman’s Parade,” adapt the manga in a way that does it justice. 
Well, thankfully, I was indeed pleasantly surprised because “Sadman’s Parade” is a very well done depiction of the chapters it adapts, bringing Twice’s development and the beginning of the fight with Redestro to the screen in various exciting scenes. 
The episode picks up from where “Revival Party” left off, with Toga about to be killed by clones of Twice created by one of the leading members of the Meta Liberation Army, Skeptic. 
Having been unmasked, Twice is undergoing a mental breakdown, horrified because he thinks he is seeing himself trying to kill Toga, and this causes him to recall his past. 
We already knew from previous flashbacks that Twice used his Double Quirk to create clones of himself so he could have friends, only for them to all declare they were the real one and kill each other, making Jin himself wonder if he was the real one at all or just another double. 
This lead to him developing a split personality and eventually joining the Legaue of Villains as Twice. 
However, in this episode we get even more great details. 
We see how, before he resorted to using his doubles for friends, he accidentally hit someone with his bike because they ran out in front of him. 
While not entirely his fault, the man he hit unfotunately had connections to Twice’s workplace, causing his boss to assault and fire him, eventually pushing Twice into his life of crime with his doubles until they caused his mental breakdown.
This is where his saviour, Giran, came in. 
The information broker brought Twice into the League, giving him the family he never had, and it is this motivation for his newfound family that gets Twice moving to save Toga, only for Skeptic’s puppets to break both his arms. 
This was a bad move on Skeptic’s part though because the pain causes Twice to realize that he really is the original Jin Babaigawarwa because he has not melted away like one of his doubles would.
It is this relization, which allows him to unlock the full potential of his quirk, like Toga did last episode, unleashing inifinte doubles in his new ultimate move, the titular Sadman’s Parade, to fight off the Liberation Army, having overcome his trauma. 
“Learn to fear my Quirk,” indeed. 
The animation for Sadman’s Parade is actually quite good, bringing this powerful moment home. 
Before watching the episode, I was afraid that this moment would be composed of entirely still images but there was a fair amount of animation to these infinite Twices. 
Another piece of animation which I was pleased with was the Dabi fight with Geten. 
Like the evolution of Twice’s Quirk, Dabi’s battle with the ice user is quite well animated. 
It also leads to the revelation that Dabi’s own flames eat away at him, meaning that the scars he has across his face and body are likely self inflicted. 
Before this, we also get a closer look at the Meta Libertation Army’s ideology through Geten, showing how deporable they are. 
Geten says that the world they strive to create is one where only those with strong Quirks can prosper above all. 
Kind of creepy to think about what would have happened to Deku if he had remained Quirkless and such a world had come about. 
Dabi seems to share the sentiment of this world view being a terrible idea, calling it a sad ideology and the two begin to fight again.
While this is happening, Shigaraki and Spinner push forward with the help of the army of Twices, only for one double to reach the tower first, confronting Redestro with a double version of the League.
It is a shame that Redestro is much too powerful, laying waste to all of the doubles, with the exception of one Twice clone who runs to Giran’s side, tearfully saying he has nothing to apologise for. 
This is interrupted when the double version of Shigaraki is revealed to have survived, attacking Redestro in a well animated fight scene, where Redestro reveals the origins of Destro and the Liberation Army. 
It is revealed that the term Quirk came from a mother who begged a prejudice crowd to accept her son’s “Quirk”, only for the crowd to kill her. 
Her child was the original Destro, Redestro’s father, and now Redestro believes he has inherited his will, which should allow him to defeat Shigaraki.
This seems to be the case, until the real Shigaraki shows up at the bottom of the tower and disintergrates it with a mere touch. 
As Redestro emerges from the rubble, his Quirk fully acitivated, Shigaraki recognizes him as the boss of the Liberation Army because his strength allowed him to surive the fall, ending the episode. 
On another note, I was a bit disappointed to see Shigaraki not mention that he recognized Redestro from the Detnerat commericals, like in the manga, but Redestro’s introduction was cut so it makes sense why this line was removed. 
In any case, next episode looks to be a great one, what with Gigantomachia now approaching, since the Dr woke him up early this episode, and Shigaraki’s full backstory fast approaching. 
I hope we get this backstory adapted brilliantly in all of its horrific glory because, if it is, it could be one of My Hero Academia’s best episodes.