Magic: The Gathering Creator Richard Garfield Says He Did Not Expect MTG's Success
IOGEAR Fokus Mouse 2 Gaming Mouse - Review
is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
Over the years, Marvel comics have often found themselves embroiled in controversy whether intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes it’s for being too socially progressive. Sometimes it’s for very much the opposite of that. Sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned nerd rage. Looking over the history, it’s interesting to see what caused these controversies and how Marvel responded to them. What are the patterns? Why do these controversies happen? How quickly are they shoved under the rug and why? This list aims to examine all of that.
The Power Rangers Ninja Steel Complete Season DVD Set delivers exactly what is name promises. It contains all 22 episodes of the explosive 24th season of the ultra long-running Power Rangers franchise This includes the two special episodes, “Grave Robber” and “Past, Present and Future”.
This DVD set is a fitting way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise. Like Power Rangers series of the past, Ninja Steel is a live-action superhero show that uses a combination of action footage from Japan’s Super Sentai franchise (in this season’s case, the show used is Shuriken Sentai Ninninger) and original footage shot by American directors to create a fascinating hybrid experience.
Ninja Steel stars a whole new cast of teenagers with attitude who battle the evil Galvanax in order to prevent him from getting his hands on the Ninja Nexus Prism, which will give him absolute power to destroy the earth. In a bit of a twist, Galvanax is actually the champion of an intergalactic game show. He sends “contestants” down to battle the Power Rangers and their battles are broadcast live for the universe to enjoy.
Ninja Steel definitely isn’t the strongest season the franchise has to offer, but it’s also certainly not without its charms. There are Zords and Megazords aplenty and the battles to save the world are as fun and campy as ever. Not to mention, those costumes are pretty killer.
This DVD set has some striking cover art by George Caltsoudas, who is known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series and the Star Trek graphic novels. The bold colors and intricate designs on this cover really make the set look snazzy. However, fans may be disappointed by the fact that the Gold Ranger is not present on this neat cover. He also can’t be found on the back of the box, which shows a live-action shot of the rangers preparing for battle.
Both the disc covers and the DVD menus reuse this cover art, but it's pretty cool that each of the five power rangers have their own individual special menu screens. These screens positively pop with color thanks to some well-done background designs.
A nice bonus included with the set is a preview of the BOOM! Studios Power Rangers Artist Tribute hardcover. The book was released earlier this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary. The preview includes art by Lucas Werneck and Jorge Monlongo.
Sadly, there are no bonus features to be found on the DVD itself, which is a bit of a disappointment for fans wanting something extra. The over 8 hours of content on this set is simply the episodes that were aired on Nickelodean in 2017.
Still, a 3-disc set isn’t a bad deal for only $19.98, especially with the art included. Why, some might even say that this Ninja Steel set is a…ninja steal! The season will be released on August 14th of this year and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is barreling ahead as always and now the fifth season has made its Netflix debut. The show delivers another solid story-line across six seasons with some new developments and the same old narrative problems.
The focus of this season is undeniably on Prince Lotor, who turned himself over to Team Voltron last season. He wants to ally with them to take down his father and the team is understandably reluctant to do so. But when Lotor kills his father, he gets in good with them. This also marks a big shake-up for the show, as with the main villain out of the picture, so now the question becomes who will replace him. It’s kind of hilarious how easily Zarkon was disposed of, but it was a good move on the show’s part since he wasn’t very interesting. He had a lot of potential to be more of a character than he was- he had a backstory that tied deeply to the rest of the cast- but the narrative just never seemed to want to give him a personality beyond “rar evil”.
This did rob his demise of the impact it should have had. We never saw Zarkon and Lotor interact much or got a sense of what their relationship was like when Lotor was younger, so it’s hard to really feel anything about Lotor killing his own dad. But at least with Zarkon out of the way, Lotor can truly take center stage as the more compelling family member.
Lotor remains a fairly ambiguous character throughout the season. I’m still not sure whether he can fully be trusted. He certainly acts like an ally (and seems to be bonding with Allura in particular) and shows hints of real complexity. Yet some of his actions seem to contradict what came before- he talks a big game about believing conquest is bad, but we saw in earlier seasons he’s said similar things as a cover-up for nefarious activities. The uncertainty about his motives and true personality gives the show a good sense of tension and mystery, but it also makes it pretty hard to care about Lotor as a person- he’s yet to show any real vulnerability or foibles, remaining confident and serious at all times. But fandom’s natural love for a bad boy will probably be enough to make him a favorite regardless.
While the overall narrative is going in a compelling direction, Voltron’s pacing problems are more noticeable than ever. The narrative rarely gives itself room to breathe before jumping to the next big twist. Probably the most amusing demonstraton of this is when Allura expresses despair and starts crying over how she can’t do something…and then is suddenly able to do it immediately after she says this. That sure was a short a pointless crisis! The pacing also hurts the revelation of who Keith’s mom really is. The character appears out of nowhere with zero buildup and we’re given no real reason to care about her before the big reveal, so what should have been an exciting moment is just a big “so?”
The series seems to realize the characters haven’t gotten much time to hang out and be fun, so one episode awkwardly inserts a comedy subplot that has no bearing on anything else and just feels out of place. This series has always had problems with its comedy feeling forced and it’s sad this issue seems to be getting worse rather than better.
As far as character development goes, Allura’s newfound connection with Lotor is intriguing and Lance continues to mature in a satisfying way. Haggar seems to be stepping up as a more complex antagonist (though her complete lack of reaction to the death of her former husband is weird). Shiro, meanwhile, is acting more and more erratic and it’s pretty obvious he’s not the real Shiro and is actually a clone or something. While I wish Voltron would slow down in other areas, this plot is one I wouldn’t mind seeing move faster. I’m eager to see what’s going on with the real Shiro and the longer this whole thing drags on, the more unbelievable it seems that the rest of the crew aren’t putting it together- especially with painfully on the nose lines like “I don’t feel like myself.”
This season sees all of Pidge’s problems being neatly and quickly resolved, so I’m left wondering what the show will do with her from now on- hopefully they have something else in store. Keith is barely in the season, as is Coran. But Hunk takes the prize for the most painfully neglected character once again. The show just refuses to give him any love at all- ever since the end of the first season he’s been relegated to awkward comic relief and nothing more.
The action scenes and animation remain nice as always, though there aren’t as many spectacular standout moments like previous seasons. Overall, Voltron continues to be an entertaining space opera with a lot to offer. I just wish it didn’t feel the need to do everything at lightspeed.
Hiromu Arakawa’s smash hit manga Fullmetal Alchemist has inspired two anime adaptations, two animated movies, several video games and now, as seems inevitable, a live action movie. And that movie has premiered for US audiences on Netflix now. But don’t let the “Netflix Original” label confuse you- this movie was made and produced in a Japanese studio, directed by Fumihiko Sori and merely picked up by the streaming service. Therefore, it features an all-Japanese cast, starring Ryosuke Yamada as protagonist Edward Elric.
Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric with CGI Alphonse Elric
The movie competently lays out the basics of the story of a young boy, Ed, and his brother, Alphonse, who try to do forbidden alchemy to bring their mother back to life. As a result Al loses his entire body and is reduced to a soul bound to a suit of armor, while Ed loses some limbs. The childhood sequences are a bit awkward thanks to the wooden acting of the very young children but the movie smartly avoids using them too much. It quickly skips forward to a young adult Ed, who is on a quest to get his brother’s body back, even if it means getting entangled in a military conspiracy and facing monstrous beings.
Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric
The humorous fight scene that begins this part of movie is probably its strongest sequence that isn’t a word-for-word scene from the manga. It’s well choreographed with nice effects and demonstrates the main character’s immaturity and recklessness in a charming way.
For a while after that, the movie focuses a lot on character interactions and it’s quite enjoyable to watch. The performances are sometimes over-the-top in a way that’s fine for anime but a little weird for live action and they immediately come off as more two-dimensional than their original counterparts (take a shot every time Ed says “I’ll do anything for Al” or “I want to get his body back” or some variation. You’ll die. He can’t even eat a pie without launching into it.) But the actors put a lot of heart in their performances, which keeps things entertaining. Ryuta Sato as Maes Hughes is a real stand-out, he’s instantly endearing and loveable and just perfect for the character.
Ryuta Sato as Maes Hughes
There’s a lot of condensing and mixing elements from large swathes of the manga and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Characters tend to suffer for the rushed nature of the storytelling. Ed and Roy, Ed’s superior officer known as the Flame Alchemist, are at least given some depth. Al also has an arc, but he is significantly sidelined compared to his manga counterpart, getting held hostage and taken out of the action a lot.
Tsubasa Honda as Winry Rockbell
Winry (the Elric's childhood friend and the mechanic for Ed’s prosthetics) has it even worse though. In the manga, she had her own narrative arc about her turmoil over losing her parents in the war and there was also focus on her career aspirations. This is completely left out of the movie, as is the Ishvalan war plot in general, so her character entirely revolves around her relationship with Ed and Al. It's somewhat understandable considering the film's focus, but still a shame.
Misaka Renbutsu as Riza Hawkeye
But at least Winry got to have lots of presence and effective moments where she asserted herself and impacted those around her- the same sadly can’t be said for lieutentant Riza Hawkeye. In the manga, she’s a talented officer and the right hand woman to Roy. She’s a fully formed character with her own backstory and she performs some truly cool heroics that impact the narrative a lot. But in the movie, she’s just an accessory to Roy and not even a cool accessory. She doesn’t even get a nice scene where she battles by his side. The poor treatment of her character is really surprising, since the team of her and Roy is very popular with the fans and Riza herself was even voted the third most popular character in the manga at one point.
Also, Riza’s cute dog was on the poster but not in the movie! What madness is this? I think the movie would have been 500% improved with this puppy.
Unjustly ommitted dogs aside, the narrative in general starts to falter and get much weaker at the end of the movie due to the story trying to cram too much in at once. Important moments aren’t given room to breathe. A major character dies, but the characters aren’t given time to really grieve and react to it. A character is set up by the villains in a dramatic way, but then it’s immediately cleared up five minutes later so the plot point feels unneeded. The movie tries to cover two major fights from the source material at once,but cramming them together robs them both of their impact. The action sequences in the final scenes were decent, but sadly uncreative in how they are staged, lacking any evocative visuals. Some emotional moments were pulled off well though, and it was at least a mostly cohesive ending that left room for other aspects of the story and characters to be fleshed out in a sequel.
Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric
As for the visuals in general, the effects are often pretty decent considering it’s not a big-budget Hollywood film. They can verge on goofy at times, but it’s very respectable for the resources they had, especially Al's armor. I do wish they had poured some of their budget into getting better wigs for their main characters. Ed’s was so bad it sometimes got distracting.
So was the Fullmetal Alchemist movie good? Well…it was okay. There was some clear affection for the source material and an understanding of some of what made it work, which puts it a cut over many of the soulless anime adaptations Hollywood has churned out. It also managed to be coherent, which is impressive considering the amount of story it covered. However, condensing a complex narrative into this small amount of time and making it work was just not a task this movie was completely up to. I don’t even know if it can be done. The original manga is so tight and well-plotted that it's hard to cut things without gutting it. A live action version of FMA may be more suited to a high budget TV series than a movie, but that's a pipe dream.
Fullmetal Alchemist Main Cast
Though the movie isn’t a great introduction to the story of Fullmetal Alchemist, It’s something that’s worth a look for those who are already fans, for the novelty of seeing your good perfomances of your favorite characters and also seeing some nice moments play out. I wouldn’t be uninterested in a sequel. (It'd be nice to see the Ishvalan war plot that was cast aside explored, and important characters like Scar included). The movie may be flawed, but it has heart….not quite a heart made fullmetal, but something sturdy enough.
Carrie Fisher’s performance as Leia Organa is something so monumental it cannot even be put into words. Not only has Leia changed many lives, she’s changes the cultural landscape. There are few characters as iconic or as important as Leia and few actors as indelibly memorable as Carrie Fisher. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was Carrie Fisher’s last complete performance as Leia and it was utterly amazing. Fisher effortlessly reminded us why Leia Organa is a legend, communicating her power, regality, warmth and love in a way that left many in tears.
Director Rian Johnson has discussed how he felt passionately about keeping Carrie Fisher’s entire performance intact, even in the wake of Fisher’s death, in The Last Jedi. ““We have a beautiful, complete performance from her that I think audiences deserve to see,” he said “and I think it will mean a lot for them, that ray of hope from Leia”.
It really did mean a lot. Leia was amazing, badass and beautiful throughout the whole movie. Let’s take a look at all the times throughout The Last Jedi Leia showed us she was not only a princess, but a general and Queen we should all bow down to.
It is without question The Last Jedi had more women in major roles than any Star Wars movie to date. Between Rey, Leia, Rose, Admiral Holdo, Paige and even a quick but important check-in from Maz, the major roles of the movie were actually fairly evenly split between men and women. This really SHOULDN’T be rare in sci-fi and fantasy cinema, but sadly, it still very much is. And it’s definitely a big step up for Star Wars.
These ladies were also downright indispensable to the narrative and kicked some serious ass. Women are the movers and shakers of the resistance in this movie and it’s clear the galaxy woild be lost without them. (Sadly though, on the villain's side. Captain Phasma was given the short stick and utterly wasted. You can't win them all.) So let’s take a look at the women of The Last Jedi and all their amazing accomplishments.
There’s something to be said for going into an adaptation with an open mind and not comparing it to the source material.
However, Netflix’s Americanized Death Note movie is absolutely terrible whether or not you consider the source material, so I might as well look at the two stories side by side and figure out what went wrong.
Death Note Netflix movie protagonist Light Turner (2017) vs the Death Note anime protagonist Light Yagami (2006)
Death Note, a Netflix Original Film directed by Adam Wingard, is adapted from the Japanese manga of the same name written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. And I use “adapted” in the loosest possible sense. There’s a scene in the movie where we pan across a room full of Japanese people who were brutally murdered by the movie’s American protagonist and it serves as a pretty apt metaphor for what the American version of Death Note did to its Japanese source material.
The movie follows Light Turner (who is just an average kid no one understands/school and dad and anti murder laws always giving him commands). He’s a sniveling edgelord teenybopper with terrible hair (just to give you a good idea of how wannabe-edgy he is, his locker literally has a “normal people scare me” bumper sticker in it). Within the first two minutes of the movie, I was applauding the stereotypical school bully for punching him in the face. Not a great sign.
Anyway, a magical notebook falls out of the sky and Light opens it to find instructions that basically say if he writes someone’s name in the notebook while visualizing their face, that person will die. The Death God Ryuk appears and talks him into killing people. (Doom and gloom up in Light’s room is broken instantly/by his magic little book and his pal Ryuk and committing felonies).
(Side-note: the school bully’s name was Kenny, and he was predictably Light’s first victim. But nobody- nobody- said “oh no, they killed Kenny! You bastards!”. Just another way this movie failed me).
The Death Note manga
The original Death Note manga had a very simple, but strong message- even someone who is supposedly a “model citizen” could quickly turn corrupt if given unlimited power. It doesn’t take a “devil” to corrupt humans or tempt them to kill- humans are perfectly capable of sliding down the slippery slope all on their own. That’s why in the manga, Light is a pretty much the perfect kid- attractive, popular, Japan’s number one student, someone who’d never broken a law in his life- a far cry from the faux-punk rebel selling test answers at school Netflix presents.
And in the original manga, Ryuk is a neutral figure. He simply lets the notebook drop and waits to see what humans will do with it because he’s bored. Of his own volition, Light becomes curious if it will work and writes a name in it. Then Light, again of his own volition, decides to go on a crusade to kill all he deems criminals. Ryuk simply appears to explain the rules. He never prompts Light to do anything. The manga makes it clear humans are the true force of chaos and violence, while our detached gods find our cruelty fascinating and unpredictable.
Netflix’s version goes the much more boring and banal route of making a Light a passive figure who’s basically intimidated into killing by a supernatural force. Netflix Death Note doesn’t care enough to say anything about human nature, it just likes the idea of scary demons and people being killed in ridiculous and gory ways. The movie also gives no explanation for why Ryuk is doing any of this or why this notebook even exists.
Light and Mia, Death Note (2017)
Meanwhile, instead of having his manga counterpart’s twisted sense of justice, American Light is motivated by wanting to bang a cheerleader, because that’s clearly a fascinating and worthwhile direction to take the story in. Mia, Light’s love interest, is Not Like Other Cheerleaders ™ - she looks down on them and hates participating in cheer activities. Which makes you wonder why she joined the squad in the first place, but the movie doesn’t bother to explain that because it would require giving her characterization beyond the Foul Temptress Corrupting Our Goodhearted Male Protagonist. She’s also the only named female character in the entire movie, by the way.
Let’s be clear here, the original Death Note manga was not great when it came to female characters. Every single one was either barely characterized, killed off rather quickly or solely motivated by their infatuation with a man- or all three, for some. So for this movie to somehow manage to be even more sexist than the manga was actually not something I was expecting- but by gum, they did it. It’s almost impressive.
Mia, who somehow has yet to be ousted from the cheer team, Death Note (2017)
Mia is actually not that far from manga Light in morality-she’s a fascinated by the Death Note’s power and quick to abuse it. But while manga Light was a fleshed-out character with a family, life and well-reasoned actions, Mia is a cypher with none of those things. In fact she straight up admits she has no character beyond how she relates to Light and the Death Note. “I’m a cheerleader, Light. Nothing I did before I met you mattered.” Actual line in this movie.
If Mia had actually taken over as protagonist by killing Light and taking his Death Note, that would have at least been daring and unexpected. But instead, we remain stuck with an incompetent, idiotic hero the movie tries to convince us is an intelligent, kind victim of circumstance we should root for…as he repeatedly kills dudes in unnecessarily painful ways for the sake of his boner. Now that Light has been robbed of his agency, the movie’s closest equivalent to the manga’s entertaining villain protagonist is the thinly-written unsympathetic woman manipulating him, because in this movie men only do bad things when women (or demons) (same thing, am I right) seduce them into it.
Light isn’t the only character gutted. His father, a sympathetic figure in the manga, seems to be incapable of expressing human emotion in the movie (his reaction to his wife’s murderer dying in a mysterious accident is “heh” and he seems utterly unconcerned about his son seeing a guy get decapitated).
L and Light, Death Note (2017)
There is one thing the movie does have in common with the manga- L is definitely the most interesting character in the story in both versions. Lakeith Stanfield seems to be the only actor who cared enough to turn in a decent performance and also the only one to glance at the at the source material. He mirrors manga L’s eccentric detective vibe quite well, right down the quirky mannerisms- the weird way of sitting, the sweets addiction, the clipped way of talking. He’s pretty sympathetic and would come off as actually intelligent with a better script. Unfortunately, he lacks a worthy opponent, so he can’t shine.
While the original manga had a tense, suspenseful cat-and-mouse game between Light and L where they outmaneuvered and out-gambitted each other, American Light is not competent or self-possessed enough for that. Far from engaging in a battle of wits with L, he basically confesses the second L confronts him. If our “genius detective” had thought to wear a wire, it would have been all over.
Light Turner, Death Note (2017)
In fact, the only time Light manages to pull a good gambit off is at the very end of the movie, and considering he’s been completely incompetent up to that point, it comes out of nowhere and is utterly unbelievable. But that sums up a lot of the movie. The plot is as thin as the characters. I mean, the entire thing hinges on the fact the dumbass main character couldn't be bothered to read the overly convoluted terms of service agreement for his magic murder book.
There ARE ways an American version of Death Note could have been worthwhile. The original was a story very rooted in a Japanese setting. If you put a story about kid who executes criminals from afar in an American setting, there’s all kinds of new wrinkles and things to explore- the possibility of racial bias in the justice system, for one. L being a black man who is forced to operate in the shadows and Light being the worshipped white boy who flagrantly gets away with murder was rife with potential if the movie bothered to explore it or even comment on it. Instead, we were clearly supposed to root for poor "victimized" Light over L, despite all the nasty implications that has. This movie was not interested in political nuance, or nuance period.
Meanwhile, the references to the story’s Japanese origins were downright laughable and insulting. Watari was the only Japanese character and he was a nonentity with a stupid catchphrase. Japan is represented through a kinky sex club and the yakuza, basically the height of lazy stereotypes. And let’s not get into the white protagonist pretending to be Japanese- that was a little too painfully on the nose.
The original 2006 live action Death Note movie
So in the end, there was nothing of value in the American Death Note, especially when far more decently-made live action versions of the story have already been come from Japan (hilariously, the CGI for Ryuk was better in the Japanese live action Death Note movie made more than a decade ago). All we got from this version was the whitewashing of several characters, some tired high school movie clichés, laughable gore, tons of plot holes, a forgettable pop soundtrack and the reduction of a competently told tale about the ease with which humans can succumb to corruption to a painfully incompetent black-and-white teenage edgelord power trip.
It’s a terribly paced and plotted story with mostly bland, unlikable characters that is utterly without complexity. To add insult to injury, it’s blatantly racist and sexist and grossly misunderstands what made its source material compelling and popular. The best thing I can say for if it was unintentionally funny a few times and I was able to finish watching it (while constantly checking my watch to see how long I had left) which puts it above the likes of Dragonball Evolution. But in the end, I really wish the American Death Note had stayed dead in the water.
The Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season 3 (Blu-ray) is out and it has a lot to offer an eager audience.
Star Wars Rebels season 3 was an exciting season for many fans and marked a big turning point in the show. The appearance of fan-favorite villain Admiral Thrawn was an exciting twist for many viewers and the writers of the show seemed to understand the character very well. The season’s skillful incorporation of aspects of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made the Star Wars universe feel more connected than ever. There were also lots of interesting character arcs in this season. Highlights included Sabine reconnecting with her Mandalorian roots and Agent Kallus struggling with doubts about his Imperial loyalties. The animation was also better than ever and some of the action scenes were especially striking. Season 3 is a solid season of Rebels that’s definitely worth watching for any Star Wars fan, expanding on the mythology of the Star Wars universe while telling a strong story with great original characters as well.
But what of the special featured for the Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season 3 (Blu-ray)? What does the set have to offer? It turns out, quite a variety of things.
There are several featurettes focusing on the making of season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, while giving hints to the upcoming season 4.
The first of these features was “A Rebel Alliance” which focused on how the staff behind season 3 made efforts to incorporate Rogue One into the show’s canon. This season of Rebels takes place in the time period between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. Not a lot is known about this period in Star Wars canon, so the writers were given a lot of room to explore. One big connection between Rebels and Rogue One was Mon Mothma. The writers talk about how they tried to show a more intimate side of Mothma and flesh out her story with her appearance in the show. Fans will be happy to see the Genevieve O’ Reilly, who plays Mothma in the show and in Rogue One, makes an appearance in the short.
“The Original Rebel- Saw Gererra Returns Extended” also explores the connection between Rogue One and the show. Gerrera, a character who originated in Clone Wars, returned in Rogue One as a hardened extremist. His appearance in Rebels showed how he came to change in the time between Clone Wars and Rogue One. Saw starts to drift further away from Mothma’s idealogy in season 3 and the showrunners hint at the character’s future, saying this might continue in Season 4. Saw’s actor, Forrest Whittaker, is also featured in this short, which is cool.
“Thrawn: A Legend Reborn” is a feature fans of the character are sure to enjoy. The featurette discusses Thrawn's origins in the Heir to the Empire trilogy, how the showrunners struggled to realize the character in animation (even having to consider things like the exact shade of blue his skin would be) and their long casting search. Timothy Zahn, Thrawn’s creator, makes an appearance and it’s shown he was consulted with. The crew also hints at more Thrawn trouble in season 4.
“Return to Madalore” is another good featurette, focusing on Sabine’s character arc in season 3 and how elements of Star Wars lore (like the darksabre) were incorporated at it. The crew promises fans will see more about Sabine as a Mandalorian in season 4 and talks about how her story may intersect with Bo-Katan's.
Finally, the “Obi-Wan and Maul: Apprentices to Outcast” featurette does a great job exploring the confrontation between Maul and Obi-wan in Rebels, with the writers giving their careful reasoning for the decisions they made with those characters. It incorporates parts from Episode II and maps out exactly why this fight needed to happen.
The Blu-ray also offers episode commentary by Dave Filoni (the executive producer of Star Wars Rebels) and/or other members of the cast and crew for several episode. The commentary offers tons of juicy behind-the-scenes info. There’s also a few trailers for other Star Wars properties.
There’s always a weak link in every set of DVD features though. For The Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season 3 Blu-Ray, the weakest feature by far were the "Rebels Recon" shorts. The shorts are “an in-depth look at each episode of Star Wars Rebels with a recap, cast and crew interviews, answers to your Twitter questions.” That’s all well and good, but every one of the "Rebels Recon" episodes is already officially available online for free (they came out immediately after each episode aired), so it doesn’t feel like a valuable addition to the DVD. Not only that, but it’s completely useless to have “an exclusive preview of next week's installment of Star Wars Rebels” when the season is already over.
Overall, the Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season 3 (Blu-ray) is a sound investment for any Star Wars fan. It offers all the episodes in top-notch quality alongside an impressive array of in-depth features and quality commentary. So don’t hesitate to join the rebellion!
The third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender is coming to Netflix on August 4th and the first two episodes start the new chapter off with a bang. The first episode of the season is "Changing of the Guard" and the second episode is "The Red Paladin".
The show picks up where last season left off with the team having to deal with the messy aftermath of their leader Shiro’s departure. Shiro went missing during last season’s finale and that leaves a big hole the team needs to fill fast.
From Voltron: Legendary Defender
The season premiere also centers around introducing a new antagonist, Prince Lotor, who steps up to take the place of his father, who’s out of commission after the events of last season, as head of the Galra Empire. Lotor promises to be a more interesting (or at least smarter) antagonist than his father was. He seems to at least realize that ruling solely through fear and intimidation isn’t sustainable and one has at least appear likeable and trustworthy for their evil empire to sustain itself. I have high hopes he’ll be a good addition to the show and make the conflict between the paladins and the Empire more complicated than it has been so far.
From Voltron: Legendary Defender
Lotor also has a squad of women as his henchpeople. The cast has been heavily skewed toward male characters so far, so I assume this was an attempt to gender-balance the reoccurring characters a little. I would have preferred a more elegant approach, like introducing a few more female characters in a bunch of different roles rather than just throwing out a girl squad, but it’s something, I guess. They all have pretty cool and distinct character designs, especially the lady with no face and a creepy cat creature companion, so I’m hoping the show will flesh them out and give them meaty motivations, personalities and backstories
The premiere has a ton of things to establish, so it’s very packed with plot. In fact, it was so packed that a lot of the humorous moments seemed a lot more forced than usual. Tonal issues aside, the way the status quo of the show is shifting is really interesting, so the episodes do keep you hooked. However, the way some things play out is fairly predictable. We’re going to get into spoiler territory below as I discuss how the team deals with Shiro’s absence, so skip it if you’re not here for that.
From Voltron: Legendary Defender
Pretty much every fan guessed ahead of time that Keith would take over as leader and Allura would get the blue lion while Lance would take over the red lion and that is exactly what happened. It’s a pretty clear tribute to the original Voltron series (who had a similar team dynamic once that series' equivalent of Shiro left) and it’s not a bad set-up. It’s great to see Allura be part of the team, for one. But the show’s justification for why the team had to be rearranged this specific way is kind of wobbly and vague.
So far there’s no indication why it has to be Keith as leader of Voltron beyond “he’s the one who doesn’t want to be and also the lion and Shiro said so”. It was especially weird to have Pidge list out the basic roles each character plays on the team and define Allura as “the decision maker”, which is essentially what a leader is... and then have the show turn around and say she shouldn’t be the leader. The reasoning behind the red lion and blue lion swicheroo is also flimsy- apparently Lance was chosen by the lions to fill the role because he decided to put the team first and supported Keith as leader. Except, every character puts the team first, so it’s not clear why Lance is the only one who gets a seat change for it.
Another weird thing about the fallout with Shiro had nothing to do with lion switcheroos. It was a bit odd that only Keith had a big emotional reaction to Shiro being missing and only he was desperate to find him. Keith is definitely the closest to Shiro, so it makes sense for him to be the most affected, but the other paladins just seemed content to look sad for a second and then seemingly decide he was dead and gone and there was no point looking for him. It would help a lot if these episodes had acknowledged that they can do two things at once- save the world and look for Shiro. Instead there was this weird implication it had to be one or the other. C’mon guys, at least put up missing posters or something.
From Voltron: Legendary Defender
It at least seems likely the show is going to explore why Keith is the best choice for leader a lot further, so maybe that part will become less of a head-scratcher. The whole thing did lead to some good character development for Lance, who hasn’t gotten the spotlight in a while. Seeing some of Allura’s struggles and insecurities was also nice.
There were also some nice little world-building moments tucked in there. I especially liked the moment where Lance seemed surprised Allura would choose pink for her paladin suit and she explained that on her planet pink was the color they wore to honor fallen warriors. It makes sense that colors would have different connotations in alien cultures compared to Earth cultures, so it was a nice touch on the part of the show to acknowledge that.
Overall, this was a strong season premiere. It was not without its bumps, but a lot of the flaws have the potential to rectified later. Thhe first two episodes of season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender are a real game changer for the series and set up a lot of exciting new mysteries and characters for the show to explore. Where has Shiro vanished to? What’s Lotor’s real agenda? How is the team going to handle all the new changes? I’m excited to see the rest to the season and find out.
There was a lot of great anime last season, but there was also a lot of anime that fell short. We’re going to rank them and see what worked and what didn’t.
Please note that I am not ranking every single anime that aired this season, both because I couldn’t possibly watch every one and because if I included every single one this article would be ridiculously long. Instead, this is a ranking of a broad sample of last season’s anime that looks at what worked and what didn’t. I'll note if an anime's still airing, how many episodes have aired and if it's a sequel to a previous season.
Let’s take a look at the best of the best and the worst of the worst!