Monthly Archives: December 2016

My Hero Academia

Type: Do Good to Others, and Every Man can be an All Might

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Synopsis: World of Superheroes. Quirkless Boy. Mighty Hero. Plus Ultra.

Pros: My Hero Academia is about a boy named Izuku Midoriya who lives in a world where 80% of the population has super powers, and an established Superhero community. Midoriya’s dream is to become a hero like his idol All Might, but he doesn’t have any powers, or “Quirks.” It seems like he’s hoping against hope until he selflessly risks his life for a friend/bully, impressing All Might enough to bestow upon him his own superpowers. And this is just the first two episodes. The rest of the series is Miyoriya’s life in U.A. High School, a school for gifted youngsters (sister school to the Xavier Institute, I’m sure). The anime does have the name “Academia” in the title. While the school stuff is fun, and an easy way to introduce new characters, the real draw of the show is Midoriya. He has the heart of a hero, despite his twitchy demeanor and tendency for water works. He wins you over almost immediately with his fan boy love of heroes, and keeps your rooting for his through his determination to fulfill his dream, a dream no one believe in because of his handicap. It breaks your heart when he’s told its impossible, and you root for him when he overcomes a new obstacle. And In a simple but effective gimmick, Midoriya’s new quirk is a glass cannon. He can become just as powerful as All Might, but because his body isn’t use to the power output, he becomes incredibly damaged after a single use. So instead of powering through his obstacles, Midoriya has to think his way out of them (fun fact: Most Silver Age Superman stories did the same thing). He also has an in story reason for this, given his obsession of collecting data on heroes. Plus the fact that his quirk has to be passed down was a nice touch, and a good allusion to legacy heroes. As you can plainly see, I loved Midoriya and the show as a whole.

Cons: But that’s not to say that there aren’t bad things about this anime. For one, villains show up in the last few episodes, but they’re underdeveloped. The actual manga, which I devoured after watching this show,  does the same thing, switching between school arcs and villain arcs. The other heroes are also underdeveloped, with All-Might being the only one to get any real character development. The main theme seems to revolve around the term “underdeveloped,” which can all be sourced to the fact that the anime only got 13 episodes. It does have a second season, but a shoen show like this really needs more episodes in a season. But the first season has a cliff hanger ending. Because, as much as I loved it, you do get the feeling that you’ve only scratched the surface of the story in retrospect.

Watch it: Hit my Superhero feels button (4/5)

MVP: Midoriya

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Or, The Great Hero Deku

Best Episode: Ep.1-2, “Izuki Midoriya: Origin” and “What it takes to be a Hero” (The end made me cry. One of my newest favorite moments in all of anime)

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And you thought there is never a girl online?

Type: Actually, about 50% of Gamers are Female

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Synopsis: A group of high schoolers manage to convince their teachers that creating a club for the sole purpose of playing a MMO RPG is a good and worthwhile idea. They do so by exploiting the fact that one of their club members, Ako, suffers from a mental condition wherein she cannot discern the game from reality. They say that the club is an “incentive” for Ako to come to school, but really, there just slacking off. (P.s. I wish I could come up with a tie-in joke to GamerGate, but they’re a  joke already).

Pros: This anime is in the online-game anime subgenre. Sort of. Basically, the character interactions in the game are all presented with regular character models. The game itself look’s fairly 2D. No one is stuck in the game. Except probably Ako, the female protagonist. She’s addicted to online gaming, to the point where she’s having difficulties separating games from reality. But luckily she has help in the “Ally Cat” Guild, made up of her classmates and friends who try to help keep a foot in reality. Notably, she has Hideki, or “Rusian,” her online husband, who she love IRL. The depiction and treatment of Ako makes her the most fascinating and complex character, her bouncy character model not withstanding. Ako has low self-esteem, as years of failing in school made her withdraw inwards. Her only solace is the gaming world (even though she’s not that good at that either). To the story’s credit, Ako’s issues aren’t solved quick and neatly, and the first half of the anime revolves around weening Ako from the game, and getting her to attend school (a nice touch of realism). But while Ako represents the old stereotype of the basement dwelling gamer, her club mates break convention. Rusian takes separating games and reality quite seriously. Akane’s a popular girl who want’s her gaming hobby to be a secret, and Kyo’s the pretty student body president. But don’t get me wrong, the anime is not a heavy handed character drama on geek or Otoku life (cough NHK cough). It’s actually a pretty light hearted comedy with subtle fan service (a bounce here, pose there, half the cast has large breasts, etc). And the English Dubb is choke full of game references, from Zelda to WOW quotes.

Cons: OK, here’s the thing, I can’t really think of any negatives that detract from what the show is trying to be. It’s a comedy about online gaming, with pretty girls as the main characters. I mean, from an outsider’s perspective, Ako is a “male-fantasy” character, a curvy anime girl who plays video games and is obsessed with being your wife. And yes, I thought Kyo’s skimpy mage outfit wore out it’s novelty after 2 episodes. But none of these make the show bad. It all works in context and doesn’t betray the spirit of the show. From a structure stand point, Ako’s story arc lasts between ep.1 to ep. 8. Every else doesn’t have the same weight, and feels more like fun filler. As a gamer myself, the show did legitimedly scare me at two points: when Ako was going to meet an online stranger in real life, and when Ako’s game chat was hacked by an online creeper. These types of situations are all too real, so they did make me nervous for the character (which is more of a positive from a story perspective). (P.s. This anime is kinda a harem, but in that there’s one male character and 4 females character. But only 1 real romantic connection exists).

Watch it?: I had a blast! (4/5)

MVP: Ako

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A real rarity: a buxom character with an emotional arc not based on a love interest

Best Episode: Ep.7-8 The Summer Vacation Arc (you made my wife cry!!!)

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Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto

Type: Anime The Fonze!

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Synopsis: Imagine you went to school with the coolest person on Earth. No matter what happened, they always came out looking even better after the situation. Can’t think of anyone like that? Then I guess that only leaves one possible person…cool guy/gal.

Pros: The central joke in Sakamoto is that the character of Sakamoto is a mary sue. By that I mean that he’s good at everything. Even situations in where he is set up to fail end up making him look even better. He’s stylish and a bit over the top. That’s kinda the whole show. Everyone around Sakamoto is usually touched by his presence, even if they started off resenting him. In fact, the one real chink in Sakamoto’s armor is that he sometimes inspires the resentment of others, usually delinquents. But even they are eventually won over by his charm. (P.s. It was really hard not to write “Sakamoto-Kun” in this. Even I feel for the guy.)

Cons: The anime is basically a one note joke. The episodes are set up as seperate scenarios. But the resolution is always the same. Someone feels better, either because of Sakamoto or because of themselves, and then Sakamoto does something outlandishly stylish to inspire them to move forward. Hit classy music cue and fade to black. The whole anime is probably something you’ll like at the start for how wacky it is, but it’ll be less and less unique the more you watch it. I’d advise watching it in chunks, as a marathon would probably get repetitive.

Watch it?: It’s like a piece of hard candy. Sweet at first, it lessens as time goes on (4/5)

MVP: Sakamoto

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Haven’t you heard? His name is on the title

Best Episode: Ep7. “Is Sakamoto Really A Pervert?” (The other half is good too, but boys trying to get physical skin flicks is somewhat nolstalgic)

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Assassination Classroom: Second Season

Type: Also known as “Graduation”

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Synopsis: The kid’s in Class E start their second semester with the same goal, Kill their Teacher and get P.A.I.D. Except, as the they soon discover, they’ve grown attached to their hyper fast, multi-tenticled, yellow world destroying Instructor. Can these 14-15 year old’s kill the only Educator that every truly cared about them? (No. The answer is No. They’re babies. Of course they couldn’t).

Pros: The second season of Assassination Classroom get a proper 25 episodes. 24 real episodes and 1 epilogue. I thought I’d start off with that, because the 22 episode thing from season one always bugged me. Like any long season, the anime is split into two main story arcs. The first arc mainly deals with school related stories, like school festivals, finals, and vacation. There are some big revelations and character moments, but it does feel like a bit of a retread of the first season, at least thematically. The last half delves into Koro-Sensei’s past, and the classroom’s ultimate decision on whether or not to actually kill him. And, to it’s credit, the show does actually end with an answer to that problem. The season definitely feels like the last half of a complete story. While it does lack some of more sillier moments of the first season, it makes up for it with important and often impactful character moments, especially for the students. Nagisa in particular shines (as the lead, that’s pretty obvious, but still).

Cons: As stated above, the first half of the season does feel like it meanders a little too much. It’s a continuation of the first season more than a sequel season. Old story arcs are resolved, but new story arcs aren’t really introduced until later on. I found the resolution of Kuro-Sensei’s story underwhelming. Without giving too much away, the final battle involves his first “student” and the scientist that gave him his abilities, but neither of these villains where really all that engaging. Assassination Classroom’s strength was always in the relationship between Kuro-Sensei and his students. Anything else felt superflous. Which is why I never really cared about other assassin’s trying to kill him, or the Agent Karasuma and Irina. Even Koro sensei’s backstory was weak and cliche. The real climax of the story is Koro-Sensei’s students deciding whether or not to go through with the assassination. Not a big dumb tentacle fight. (I should also mention that the second to last episode draaaaaags on).

Watch it?: I liked it, but Your Milage May Vary (3/5)

MVP: The Nagisa-Karma fight

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Maybe one of the best fights I’ve seen in a while.

Best Episode: Ep. 17-18 The Paintball Match Arc (The show at it’s best, thematically and narratively)

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Mob Psycho 100

Type: From the maker of One-Punch Man!

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Synopsis: A super powerful male character tries to live a quiet life while effortlessly defeating any challenge that comes their way. Sound familiar? Well, it shouldn’t, because in this case, the only challenges that are overcome easily are psychic stuff. But the main character, Mob, is more concerned about real world stuff like girls, social interactions, physical fitness, etc, which he kinda sucks at. But he wants to be better. Because being able to disintegrate buildings with your mind is all well and good, but it’s pretty useless during diner parties

Pros: Mob Psycho 100 is the thinking man/woman’s One-Punch Man. Both series are about an ultra powerful protagonist. But while the latter is mostly a parody, the former is a slice of life show. The star, Mob, is a fairly typical anime protagonists. He’s soft spoken, shy, and indecisive. He has near god-like psychic powers, but he doesn’t want to be defined by them. Like any teenage boy, he would rather be good with girls and conversations than in psychic battles. What makes Mob a good character is his desire and effort at trying to make himself better in ways he can actually achieve. He’s not trying to master a technique or become King of the Psychics, he just wants to be able to run a mile and talk to his crush without sweating buckets. It’s still a long term process, but it’s doable. The show does a good job at contrasting Mob with other characters who try the opposite, and fail miserably, showing that being exceptional in one thing is great, but being well rounded is probably better. Outside of great characters (I didn’t even mention Mob’s tendency to get Con-Men as friends and mentors, or his super nice club mates at the Body Improvement Club), the show has a distinctive “rough” animation style. The style is inspired by ONE, the author of the manga, and his notable messy drawing skills. But in anime, this animation style really works at getting the intensity and almost primal nature of Mob’s psychic powers right.

Cons: The show’s biggest fault it that it has a “read the manga” ending. That always suck. I mean, I was already going to read the manga because this show is amazing, but still. Later on in the show, the “Claw” organization is introduced. At first, I thought this was going to be a generic “evil” organization with forgettable villains that Mob has to beat. Which it kinda is. But it does contribute to the show’s massage of being narrowly exceptional vs. well-rounded. I would also consider the other “psychic” children introduced later to be dead weight, at least right now. And, yeaaaaaah, that’s about it. This is actually a pretty great show with lots of layered messages and characters.

Watch it?: 100% (5/5)

MVP: Shigeo Kageyama (aka Mob)

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1,2,3,4….

Best Episode: ep5 “Ochimusha ~Psychic Powers and Me~” (Tears!)

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KonoSuba

Type: “Every moment I live, is agony” -Kazuma Sato

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Synopsis: One day, a kid dies in an extremely hilarious way, as all child deaths tend to go. His spirit is given the chance to reincarnate in a fantasy world, but it turns out any world he lives in will suck. His closest friend is a goddess, who does nothing but build up huge debts and complain. His most powerful ally is a magician who only knows 1 spell that she can only use once. And this most loyal comrade is a beautiful knight…who has a masochism fetish. Only in 2016 could someone be sent to a magical world, be given a harem of beautiful women, and still have to live in a staple full of horse manure.

Pros: KonoSuba was hailed as the best comedy anime of 2016.  And it is. The core group and the show are funny. Go watch it.

Cons: First off, the show is really hard to talk about because it is chalk full of references, running gags, and subtle jokes. This show takes all the potential melodrama or a game/fantasy/light novel series and laughs in the face of it. The characters are selfish, cowardly, pervy, petty, and we love them for it! If I really tried, I could dissect the deep level of parody this show exhibits…Lucky for me I’m doing this for free and thus have no real quality requirement for these reviews. Take it or leave it suckers! (Please don’t leave it, this is all I have!!!!). So instead of detailing the good, let’s focus on the bad. The show is a slice-of-life comedy, with no real end. The show even admits it, calling the season’s 10 episodes a “tutorial.” Except for the first episode and meeting Darkness and Megumin, it’s literally just a bunch of stuff that happened. Some characters show up. Some characters are rushed through. I think the show was working within some limited time and budget constraints. The show would be perfect if it didn’t feel like you were only scratching the surface at a much larger story (though I am strongly tempted to read the light novels, a first for me). I also found Darkness and Megumin a bit one-dimensional in terms of comedy. More so Megumin, as her main joke was that she used up all her magic in a powerful spell, but she can only use it once a day. Noticeably, the show used her spell incantations to eat up some air time. Darkness, on the other hand, is technically a little more complex. She’s a noble knight who not so secretly fantasizes of being ravished and humiliated, or at least beat up by monsters. But she’s also used a fan service, being the stereotypical blonde knight with big boobs. The fan service is pretty good. A little boob centric to be original, though I do love the fact that no one ever mentions that Aqua is going commando. The show’s setting doesn’t change either, being set in city for beginner characters. Though, I suppose this is not different than a show being set in Tokyo or something.

Watch it: Kudos to Aqua’s voice actress, Sora Amamiya, for delivering possibly the best whining I have ever heard in an anime (4/5)

MVP: Aqua

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I never thought I’d say this, but this woman’s tears brought me so much joy

Best Episode: Hell, just watch all of it. (They are all gold).

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Koe de Oshigoto!

Type: Merry Christmas Pervs!

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Synopsis: This is going to be explicit. Just putting that out there. The OVA is about a girls whose essentially drafted by her older sister to be a voice actress for “eroge,” or porn games. But in order to get over her initial embarrassment, the actress needs to use her imagination. Which gets, ah, a little blue.

Pros: So it turns out this is based on a manga. Which could explain its quality. Believe it or not, this show has some quality humor. Most of it is based on the main character, Kanna’s, embarrassment over being a eroge voice actress. Not necessarily over the work, but over some of the more explicit lines she has to say out loud. Now, this part was super interesting to me, because when you think about it, all voice actors have to say some truly silly things. But as professionals, they have to get over that initial embarrassment to get the job done. But Kanna’s just starting out. To the show’s credit, Kanna’s fellow actors and production staff are depicted as completely normal people. If they walked by you on the anime street, you’d never know what they do for a living. And the eroge voice acting is shown as just another kind of acting, and I loved that Kanna chose to stick with it because she loved making a scene come to life. Another interesting aspect of the show was that Kanna’s job is sorta serving as Sex Ed for her, but she has the benefit of being surrounded by not only her older sister, but other  women who can answer some of her questions. I did appreciate that comradery.

Cons: This. Is. Porn. Well, softcore porn. HBO porn. Like I said in the beginning, Kanna is in high school, with no sexual experience to speak of. Since her line of work is Eroge voice acting, she can’t use previous experiences for her performances. Instead, she needs to use her imagination. At which points, the show decides to visualize her thoughts in fairly explicit scenes. I mean, we don’t actually see Penises go into Vaginas, but only because it’s censored. We go see Penis shaped glowy things go into mouths, which makes me wonder exactly what Japan’s censorship laws draw the line. There are also parts where Kanna needs to get into a “trance,” where she likes to suck on fingers to simulate fellatio. That got pretty weird. Without these scenes, I actually would recommend this to most anyone, as it’s a good “sex” themed comedy. But as it stands, I say look for the manga and see if its any good. That’s what I’m doing.

Watch it?: The closest I will ever get to reviewing a Hentai (4/5)

MVP: Fumika Warasono

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An Actress

Best Episode: It’s 2 Episodes (so you decide)

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Sailor Moon Crystal (Season 1 & 2)

Type: Dark Kingdom and Black Moon

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Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a land of Beastmasters and Fresh Princes, there lived 5 Sailor Guardians who fought for love and justice. Together with their English cat, best friends from Brooklyn, and Surfer boyfriends, the Guardians thought a generation of boys and girls the importance of friendship, believing in yourself, and sometimes remembering to eat a balanced breakfast under the mantra “Sailor Moon says, tee-hee.” 20 years later, the legend of brought back to life, and its a hell of a lot more melodramatic than I remember.

Pros: So for various reasons, mostly the podcast “Sailor Business,” I have been slowly getting into the whole Sailor Moon franchise thingy. I watched the first season of the 90’s anime a while back, and now I caught up to the reboot. In all honesty, I liked the campy fun of the original, but this has some strong points. The best thing it does is emphasize the fairy tale aspect of the story, which works really well considering the nostalgia value this show has. Just look at the opening: five figures standing tall underneath the full moon. That shit is mythical imagery man. It also has gorgeous interstitials. Simply amazing. Crystal is suppose to be the show that follows the original manga, the Brotherhood treatment as it were. I can’t speak for the manga, but the anime is much more melodramatic than the 90’s show, making me think that the manga was meant for young teenage girls, not children. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing. I loved the story of the tragic fall of the Moon Kingdom, which again, felt like it was straight out of a fairy tale. I mean, come one! The Princess of the Moon and the Prince of Earth fall in love, only to die in each other’s arms as their Kingdoms go to war? (I also had not idea that Usagi killed herself in that story. Way more hardcore than I thought would happen in a show were character yell “Make-Up!” to transform). I also really liked Sailor Pluto, which is interesting, because I didn’t think I would actually like any of the outer senshi. But her story’s so sad, and she has time travel and I’m a sucker for sad time travelers.

Cons: A common complaint that Crystal’s often given is that it doesn’t have the same charm as the 90’s anime, and isn’t quiet as engrossing as the manga. I myself found the show a bit dull at times. It’s definitely more subdued that the original show. The characters also looked weird to me, but you get use to it. Something you also have to understand is that this is Sailor Moon’s story. So while the other Sailor Scouts get intro episodes, there characters do not get explored much. They’re mostly Usagi’s support system. Literally, being her royal guard and all. I watched this in English, and let me tell you something, those voice actresses shreiked to high heaven during their transformation sequences. Which really takes out of some of the more dramatic scenes. Speaking of transformation, these iconic scenes are now in 3D, which I was not a fan of. Now…lets get to the elephant in the room: Chibi Moon. This was my first exposure to Chibi Moon. I was, ah, not prepared for what I got. I’m not going to waste your time talking about annoying child characters, or the holes in time travel stories–all I’m going to point out is that Chibi Moon is legitimately in romantic love with her father, is 900 years old, and threatened to shoot her mother in the face to steal her power. But she liked Sailor Pluto, and she automatically ran to her Earth grandparents when she saw them, so she gets a pass.

Watch it?: I prefer the silly original, but this is an interesting interpretation. (4/5)

MVP: Sailor Pluto

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I am the watcher on the wall.

Best Episode: Ep.10 “Moon” (They were like Romeo and Juliet, but ended up in tragedy)

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+Tic Elder Sister

Type: Basically all I need

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Synopsis: Three girls hand out in a club and laugh at each other’s misfortune. It’s hilarious.

Pros: This anime is right up my alley. It’s an upsurdist gag comedy revolving around three high school girls. The jokes are hilarious, and is really something you need to see rather than it be explained to you. I mean, this show is most famous for two things: that time one of the characters put a school bag between her legs for revenge, and the time they imagined confessing to a boy by shaking their booty’s at him. Plus, the whole thing is like, 30 minutes.

Cons: Some of the humor is, well, I wouldn’t say “crude,” but it may push some buttons. It’s not like the girls are hateful to each other. Let me just say this, some of the jokes come from the behavior that you expect from teenage friends. Maybe “ribbing” is the best way to describe it. There was also this one character, a slightly overweight character, that was made the butt of the joke in two scenes for thinking she was pretty and graceful, if conceited. That came off as kind of mean in hindsight.

Watch it: I’m looking up the manga RIGHT NOW. (4/5)

MVP: Iroe Genma

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The best expressions

Best Episode: The whole season (it’s half an hour)

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Outlaw Star

Type: Poor Man’s Cowboy Bebop

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Synopsis: Group of wayward travelers end up traveling together, trying to makes ends meets on space jobs. Along the way, they each try to help keep their ship up and not starve. This crew of misfits comprises of a red-haired lady’s man, a bio organism, an 11 year old, some sort of beast master, and a samurai.

Pros: As stated above, this does remind me a lot of Cowboy Bebop. Funny enough, this actually premiered a few months before Bebop, though Bebop’s original manga predates Outlaw Star’s manga by a year. So basically, I’m not sure who stole from who. But we all know who the clear winner is….the audience, cause we got two cool space westerns! I love the later 90’s/early 2000’s future setting, as the animation at the time made everything look lived-in and used. Today’s HD just can’t project that same level of grime, ya know? The crew of the Outlaw Star is fun, though they don’t officially form until halfway through the show. The show does a good job mixing serious story arcs with more stand alone light-hearted tales. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like the time Gene spirals into meloncholy after learning that an assassin is after him was followed with an episode about searching for Pirate Treasure. But overall, the universe the show builds of Pirate, Outlaws, and Military serves to create some very interesting and varied stories. I also liked the general focus on the crew doing odd jobs, as a space crew doing missions is always fun to watch.

Cons: The story pacing if a little off. Their are six main plots lines in the show: Why Melfina was created,  who killed Gene’s father, the fights with the MacDougall Brothers, the Anten Seven, and the quest for the Galactic Leyline. The Melfina and Galactine Layline was the best executed, because they intertwine and are introduced at the very beginning. Gene’s father is more of a subplot, and you honestly forget about it after a while. The MacDougall Brother’s are interesting antagonists, though trying to portray Harry MacDougall as anything other than a crazy stalker felt hollow. Seriously, stop trying to make Predators sympathetic. It doesn’t work. They also don’t who up that much until the later half of the show. Ditto with the Anten Seven, who are described as super bad asses, but don’t do anything significant until the last 2 episodes. Character wise, I felt that Gene and Melfina’s relationship felt artificial, sorta like it was just the thing to do, and Aisha could come off as annoying at times.

Watch it: Space Westerns are the best (4/5)

MVP: Gene Starwind

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They never did explain his star tatoo

Best Episode: Ep. 13 “Advance Guard from Another World” (future hijinks!)

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