TV Show Review: WandaVision

Details: More information can be found at https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/wandavision and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9140560/

Score: 7/10

WandaVision is the first production from the Marvel cinematic universe after the events of Avengers: Endgame. As a long time Marvel movie fan, I was looking forward to whatever hints Marvel felt like dropping for the future of their shows and movies. In that regard, I enjoyed WandaVision mostly as a prelude for what may come in the future. By itself, it is passable. What surprised me most was how I’ve read many opinions of people who enjoyed the show who did not keep up with the movies or even never saw the movies. Personally, I watched the show with someone who never saw the movies and even they somewhat enjoyed despite having no knowledge of the events that transpired before this show.

Like all the other Marvel movies, WandaVision belongs within the Marvel cinematic universe. This means that the events that took place in all the Marvel movies also occurred in the fictional universe that WandaVision takes place in. I won’t spoil what happens in the prior movies, but in the first episode of this nine episode show, Wanda — a superpowered heroine– finds herself in a 1950’s sitcom. The rest of the show explores this idea and explains the truth about how she got here.

The first half of the series emulate the sitcom theme and in my opinion, it gets old fast. I needed more plot development and reveals a lot sooner. I understand what they were trying to achieve with these episodes, but after the first episode, it was boring.

The last few episodes turn away from the theme of emulating old sitcoms and reverts to your standard Marvel movie plot structure. That generally means more action with a big, bombastic action scene at the end filled with special effects. It was ordinary, predictable, and uneventful. At this point, I’ve seen so many Marvel movies that a big action scene at the end actually bores me. I’ve actually gotten tired of action scenes and explosions thanks to Marvel. Give me plot reveals, drama and dialogue please.

My favorite episode was the one where they reveal and explain everything, including Wanda’s past. I won’t say more than that, but that was by far the most meaningful episode and emotional one.

Overall, this was a nice prelude to the future of Marvel movies and shows, but it was just okay on it’s own. It’s interesting enough that non-Marvel fans may enjoy it, but much of the connections to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe will be lost on them and some things might not make any sense without some internet searching or someone who can explain things.

Anime Review: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Details: Also known as Hanyou no Yashahime: Sengoku Otogizoushi and 半妖の夜叉姫. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/41911/Hanyou_no_Yashahime__Sengoku_Otogizoushi

Score: 6.5/10

Yashahime is the sequel to Inuyasha, a fairly popular anime and manga that came out over a decade ago (maybe two decades). I watched the series when it originally aired and I enjoyed it at first. I soon lost interest as the story just dragged, pacing was an issue and no meaningful progression was made with the primary plot or the relationships between the characters. I’ve only watched a little more than a dozen of the episodes of Yashahime, but it seems like it is making all the same mistakes as Inuyahsa.

Some spoilers ahead.

Yashahime takes place around ten to twenty years after the ending of Inuyasha. In Inuyasha, a teenage Japanese girl named Kagome finds a magical well that transports her to Japan during the feudal period. This is a time of war, factions, and most importantly, magic and demons. When she gets there, she meets Inuyasha, someone who is half human and half demon. During Inuyasha, the two fall in love and eventually get married. Kagome decides to forgo the present and live the rest of her life with Inuyasha in feudal Japan.

Yashahime centers on the child of Inuyasha and Kagome, but more importantly, on the two children of Inuyasha’s brother, Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru’s children are born in feudal Japan, but one somehow gets sent to modern day Japan. That child grows to a teenager before finding a way back to feudal Japan. Now, that child has decided to travel back to feudal Japan in order to find her sister and making up for time lost.

The story is okay… but mostly boring. The original Inuyasha dragged on to such an extent as to drain me of any interest in the series. I watched Yashahime in hopes of something fresh or a revitalization of this franchise. Unfortunately, Yashahime is boring series and simply seeks to try and recreate the nostalgic feelings of what was present in Inuyasha. Yashahime is a series for only the most devoted of Inuyasha fans and even then, it is a dissapointment.

For most Inuyasha fans, they probably just want to see what happened to their favorite characters. While Yashahime does go into that a bit, it is a slow drip. They drop a small bit of plot progression here and there, but they mostly ignore the original characters and focus on the new characters. This wouldn’t be a terrible development, except the primary characters are kind of boring as well.

The animation is fine as is the voice acting. The original Inuyasha had this amazing, fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music here is good, but not as memorable as the melodies from the original series.

Overall, this series may attempt to attract new fans, but it mostly fails at that. Long time Inuyasha fans will likely mostly enjoy this series, but still be disappointed by the absence of their favorite characters from the old series. Personally, I did not enjoy this show and have dropped it from the shows I usually watch. I think it is also important to mention that this show is aimed at younger audiences, which may be why I– now much older than when I originally watched Inuyasha– find a lot of the humor and plot developments emotionless and boring.

TV Show Review: Star Trek Discovery, Season 3

Details: More information can be found at https://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery/ and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5171438/?ref_=ttep_ep_tt

Score: 7.2/10

This third season of Star Trek has felt the most like the Star Trek series that have come before. I mean that in a good way and a bad way.

Some spoilers ahead.

This third season picks up right where the last season left off. The crew of Discovery was sent hundreds of years into the future and must now survive in this unfamiliar time. What they discover is a ravaged galaxy where a galaxy spanning disaster known as the “burn” has destroyed most of the space ships in the galaxy. Starfleet is a shell of what it once was. It’s up to Discovery and the remnants of Starfleet to rekindle hope in the galaxy again.

This season is very standard Star Trek, which means that there was no genre defying twist or anything like that. It followed the tried and true plot structure of past seasons of Star Trek where there are a lot of standalone episodes with a looming threat in the background and the final few episodes deal primarily with that threat. I like the often used themes of morality, optimism and rising above cruelty, themes common to old Star Trek. I enjoyed all of that.

But there was nothing new in this season. No real twist or revelation. The final reveal of what the “burn” really was anticlimactic, but in line with a more optimistic Star Trek.

Overall, I am a long time Star Trek fan so of course I enjoyed this season. I would’ve liked some progression in the overall genre and for the franchise, but this is nice too. When there are so many shows that insist on dark, edgy stories, it’s nice to have a story that stays somewhat optimistic, even if that equates to a predictable plot.

Anime Movie Review: KONOSUBA -God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!- Legend of Crimson

Details: More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/38040/Kono_Subarashii_Sekai_ni_Shukufuku_wo__Kurenai_Densetsu and you can watch it for free at https://www.crunchyroll.com/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-794436

Score: 7/10

Legend of Crimson is a movie spawned by the fairly popular anime, Konosuba. While I greatly enjoyed this comedy, the movie was somewhat disappointing as it lacked that higher level of animation quality you’d expect from a movie. What’s also sad is that even though the humor is exactly the same here as in the anime series, I didn’t find it as funny. I think I just grew out of this type of humor and don’t enjoy it as much anymore.

Konosuba is an isekai story. Generally in these types of stories, someone from the real world dies and is reborn into another world, usually a fantasy world. That person is usually granted immense power as isekai stories are usually power fantasies. However, this is a comedy and our protagonist is reborn into the new world with almost no power. Now, we get to watch our unfortunate, sleazy protagonist flail about while meeting other oddballs in this new world.

One of the funniest parts of this anime is watching these pathetic characters struggle. Most scenes usually start off with our protagonists confident in their ability to handle the situation. Then the true danger appears and we get to watch our protagonists crumble into a pile of cowardly dust. They play up this scene structure over and over again and mostly, it’s hilarious. It’s almost always funny watching an arrogant character knocked into the shadow realm of humility again and again. Also funny is watching how these characters start off trying to be decent human beings, but once a situation escalates, they degenerate into the vile of characters. The main draw of Konosuba is watching these cowardly, perverse, sleazy characters flail about as the world their in continues to throw them in difficult situations.

My biggest gripe with this movie is the animation. The animation quality is about the same as the anime series, which isn’t terrible. It’s just that you’d expect a movie to up the quality just a bit over an episodic series because a movie is just one big episode. I don’t know how their budgeting and time management went, but the higher quality of animation just isn’t here.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it could’ve been better. Also worth mentioning is that there is a lot of fan service in this show… though some of the fan service is turned around on you into a fairly hilarious joke. I won’t explain it more than that for fear of spoiling the plot.

Anime Review: Jujutsu Kaisen

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/40748/Jujutsu_Kaisen_TV

Score: 7/10

One of the most important things for a successful shounen anime is that the fight scenes are animated well. Jujutsu Kaisen does exactly that. Jujutsu Kaisen is your stereotypical shounen anime whose story is kind of a mashup of Naruto and Bleach (at least the first story arc in Bleach).

Jujutsu Kaisen takes place in present day Japan. A high school student’s encounter with the supernatural leads him to join a world filled with curses, sorcerers and monsters. He must now enter this world, train and become more powerful in order to fight supernatural bad guys.

The story is a very generic shounen story, to the extent that the first few story arcs are copy and pastes of story arcs from other popular shounen anime. Some examples of this redundant story telling is that the protagonist has a demon inside him (like in Naruto), all the characters are part of a school for other students with super powers (like Naruto, My Hero Academia, etc.) and the protagonist goes through a training arc where they explain how powers work in this world. It’s very uninspired and repetitive for the shounen genre.

However, fans of shounen don’t become fans just for a unique story, they want to see impressively animated fight scenes and this anime delivers on that. There’s only fourteen episodes at the time this review was written, but we’ve already gotten a few well done fight scenes. It’s one of those situations where there’s an obvious jump in animation quality when a plot relevant fight scene shows up. Animation is more fluid and more details and frames are noticeably added in.

Overall, Jujutsu Kaisen is average in terms of story, but I’d still recommend it for the fight scenes. If you like shounen anime Naruto, Bleach, or My Hero Academia, you will likely enjoy Jujutsu Kaisen. It’s one of the most popular shounen anime to come out in the past year.