Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rant/Review: Show Me the Money 3 Pt. 1

It seems like everyone has turned into a khip-hop fan last year due to a popular competition show called Show Me the Money 3. I won't rant about the new "fans" the genre has gained, because I mainly want to put all my energy into breaking down my feelings toward this show. As a khip-hop fan, I'm surprised I've never heard of it before now, but on the other hand, I rarely watch any Korean shows aside from very, very few variety shows featuring bias groups, Hello Counselor, and Korean dramas. After watching this season, I am definitely searching for the previous two seasons. If anyone knows of any sites that have them, please let me know. Anyway, I'm going to treat this rant/review like Heroes of Cosplay, breaking it down into easy to digest sections and since I'm doing that, it might take a few posts to convey all my feelings (hence the pt. 1 in the title). In case you've never seen the show and you're planning on watching it **SPOILER ALERT**. If you're interested in watching the show, you can watch it KShowOnline or on Mnet America. Let's get started then!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Erase" by Hyolyn & JooYoung feat. Iron
It seems like Hyolyn/Hyorin has been doing a lot of solo stuff, but I'm not complaining. Her voice is amazing and every time she's on screen, she brightens up the atmosphere with her smile. I think songs like this are her strong suit. It has a pop, ballad, R&B mix to it in the melody and vocal arrangement. JooYoung's voice complements Hyolyn's very well and I don't feel like one or the other overshadow each other, which happens from time to time. The lyrics are well written and the visuals go along with the story of relationship disentigrating over time. Although I thought Iron's rap verse was completely unnecessary, it wasn't that bad.

"I'M DIFFERENT" by HI SUHYUN feat. Bobby (iKON)
I wasn't all that impressed with Lee Hi's solo material and I casually enjoyed AKMU's MV releases. Oh, and Bobby's decent. I was curious how this crossover duo was going to work out and I think this is exactly what Lee Hi needed for her short musical career. Their voices work very well for this almost retro, Duffy/Adele-esque melody. The video is super cute as the girls follow and oogle Bobby shyly. It really looks like they had fun and it kinda made me like Bobby a little, although I think I would've been okay if he didn't have a guest verse in it and just acted in it for visual promotion. Nonetheless, I hope YG does something with this duo again because they have really good chemistry.

"Pendulum" by FKA twigs
Every now and then I saw this name pop up on my Facebook feed, so I was curious what her music sounded like. It's very avant garde both musically and visually. She possesses a very soft and unique voice. The music tends to come and go throughout the song. There's barely a beat or melody, just some noises through the verses and then the melody comes in during the chorus. It's oddly beautiful and the visuals reflect that as well. Lots of close ups of FKA twigs singing, then some artistic shibari, visual effects, and costumes. It's definitely worth checking out at least once for the experience, but I'm sure it's not everyone's cup of tea as it's so out there and ambient.

"Hip Hop for the World" by #HIPHOPISHIPHOP
Visually, this video isn't anything special while it does feature some great scenery, fun little art animations, and break dancers. The video is mostly rappers in their home country rapping in their native tongue. I found this video out through San E and learned it was a video supporting musical education, which is all well and good. Despite the lack of eye catching visuals, I think hearing the different languages in a rap is mindblowing and fun to hear. With the subtitles for me was amusing to decipher all the syllables said. I'm very pleased with who was chosen to represent America too. I recommend this one for all the hip-hop fans out there.

Every now and then I feel the need to post one of these band centric videos, because they are interesting sometimes. They have fun little visual effects that are stimulating to the eye, like this PV. There's plenty of solo shots of the members playing their instruments in the ring of fire and some great shots of Subaru with cooler color tones. The music is very energetic and has a passionate vocal delivery to match. It mixes a little bit of electronics and rock without letting one overpower the other. The costumes are pretty awesome and I love the ink work on Subaru in his solo shots.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Quick Movie Review

Insurgent (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5

Honestly, I wasn't too impressed with the first movie, but the previews to the sequel seemed promising and exciting. I was very happy that it did live up to my expectations. Shailene Woodley brought more to the table with her character and that made the story more interesting compared to Divergent. Although certain elements still reminded me of other teen novel movies like The Giver and Hunger Games, it didn't ruin my enjoyment. The action was great and the effects were pretty impressive. A few little complaints though: the romance aspect was kinda meh at times and I just wanted the focus to shift back to the main motive of the characters; occasionally Kate Winslet's acting seemed unnatural, mostly when she's upset, and some of the parent relationship problems seemed a bit contrived, especially with Four and his mother. Otherwise, I was quite entertained and curious how the movie is going to move forward with such an ending.

Nightcrawler (2014, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I wasn't completely sure what this movie was about when it was in theaters, but for some reason, it interested me. I never could find the time to view it in theaters, so I was happy to receive it on DVD. The whole movie is an intense and [almost] frustrating experience in a very good way. Some people may not understand the whole concept of this film, but basically it's a satire on news media and how the society takes that in. The movie is pretty brutal in more of mental sense as Lou Bloom takes desperation and inspiration to a whole different level. Ethics and loyalty come into play with each crime he covers and sometimes you become infuriated with him and his behavior. The movie is shot very well and the characters help immerse you in the story, even if some of their choices are questionable. This movie definitely deserves the praise it has received and I think aspiring broadcasters and journalists can appreciate the content.

Let's Kill Ward's Wife (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I saw this movie in a preview of a DVD I rented and it looked hilarious, plus I really like Donald Faison since way back in the day when he was on Clueless. Even from the preview, it looked kinda cheesy, but it had potential to be actually enjoyable. Fortunately, my judgement was correct and I found it quite entertaining. The story is a little weak, but the characters make it enjoyable throughout the whole film. I will admit majority of the entertainment is when they kill Ward's wife and how they handle that situation. There are a few laughs, so it doesn't fail in comedy, but I can imagine some people finding it rather stupid. The general main complaint about this movie is the abrupt ending.

Before I Go to Sleep (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I believe I saw this film on the shelf and found the cover intriguing, then a co-worker was curious whether I watched it or not. So naturally, I had to check it out for myself. The plot is indeed intriguing and amnesia can be an interesting catalyst to a story as well, especially when it's done right. Memento comes to mind with this concept. At times the story can be a bit clunky and predictable, especially concerning the husband. Nicole Kidman's performance is good, but sometimes her character can be a bit bland and annoying. It was interesting seeing Mark Strong in another movie too and he basically kinda plays the same character as he does in Anna. There is potential in this movie, but it's not perfect the way it is.

Book of Life (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I wanted to see this movie in theaters, but I never got around to it. I was looking forward to catching it on DVD as I didn't hear much feedback about it, which is quite unfortunate. The story is fairly simple, but executes certain elements of the typical love triangle in a unique way to make it more interesting. It also doesn't appropriate Mexican culture of the Dia de la Muerte/Day of the Dead either. The animation style is very unique and I like how the characters in the story look like puppets. The colors are bright and vivid even in the darker settings and I found the movie thoroughly entertaining. I think that more people should give this animated feature more of a chance.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: Tarot Café

Title: Tarot Café (2002)
Author: Sang-Sun Park
Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Shoujo, Shounen Ai, Supernatural
Volumes: 7

You voted and here it is, the first manga review...well, manhwa, which is almost the same thing. Anyway, the reason I wanted to do this is because I read a lot of manga and I know manga is just as in demand as anime. I don't get to share or recommend manga that often either. I've attempted a book review, but they didn't seem too popular. So, the only book reviews I do now are book to movie comparisons from time to time. Anyway, let's move on to the first manga review on Muddy Cult!

Meet Pamela, a tarot card reader who helps supernatural beings living in the human world. She'll help anyone, whether they're a love-stricken cat, a vampire spending eternal life running from his one true love, an unattractive waitress looking for the man of her dreams, or even a magician who creates a humanoid doll to serve the woman he loves. Although she is good-natured, there is a deep dark secret that she must deal with before she can move on to the next life. (Source: Tokyopop)

Every now and then, I want to try something new at my workplace, so I pick up interesting sounding series from the shelves. I also look through the library's collection to stop myself from buying manga for a certain amount of time. So, I've read a few manhwa in the past, so I don't discriminate against them in the least. Hopefully, I will be able to share my thoughts on them. When I began reading the first volume, I wasn't completely sure if I wanted to continue forward or not, but usually when I feel uncertain after reading the first volume, I read the next one to see where my feelings lie. Once I started reading the second volume, I had a clearer picture of what I felt about the series.

The story contains a lot of fantastical, horror-ish themes throughout. It has one overarching story dealing with Pamela's mysterious past and several subplots throughout each volume that involve the mystical and supernatural clients that visit Pamela for a reading. If you're not familiar with tarot cards and how to read them, the manhwa gives plenty of details during the readings for the characters and in between each chapter. So, this could be helpful for those who are interested in tarot. Because of the multiple plots throughout the series, it took me a while to really get into it and care about Pamela, but the characters are so intriguing and unique that it was hard not to give it another chance to delve into the story more. Initially, I wanted Tarot Cafe to be a standard main plot focus like most manga series, but after about the fourth volume, I was more adjusted to reading the clients' backstories that eventually connected to Pamela's past. The characters are very interested and you gradually began to care more and more for the reoccurring cast. I also find myself attaching to some of the smaller charaingers in the subplots as some of those stories were truly heartbreaking or admirable. Lastly, I really enjoyed the gothic art style of this manhwa. I think that was another reason I wanted to give it more of a chance while reading.

This is a fairly short series and I'm glad they didn't force it to be anything longer that what it ended up being. The story may take some adjusting to as it incorporates smaller stories in the larger plot. The characters are well rounded, whether they're part of the main cast or simply a client at Pamela's cafe. It may be a tiny bit confusing toward the final two volumes, but things do end in a clearer presentation. The art is unique and fitting for the subject matter. I would recommend this to those who are not oppose to tarot cards and enjoy a little romantic flare mixed with horror and supernatural elements.

Rating: 3/5

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"For the Night" by As One
I don't remember how I came across this video at all, but I'm glad that I did. It has a very sexy, sensual R&B beat and some very beautiful, soft vocals from the duo. It's always refreshing to hear really good sensual vocals from a female singer, since it's usually overly cutesy or sexy. It definitely has that throwback 90's sound. As for the video, it really matches the tone of the music and goes very well the lyrics. I love when Korea takes a risk with their sexuality without being too vulgar (or awkward) about it. It's very consensual, romantic, and enticing. I'm looking forward to delving further into this duo's discography and checking out more video releases. The vocals are too sweet to pass up!

"MISS ME OR DISS ME" by MC MONG feat Jinsil (Mad soul child)
I'm not that big of a fan of MC MONG, but I was curious by the thumbnail. It kinda reminds me of G-Dragon's "COUP D'ETAT" in the visuals. The song is kinda upbeat, mostly in the guitar section. It's borderline danceable, but the rap and vocal delivery contradict that feeling of good times to desperation and pain. The lyrics are really deep and worth turning on the subtitles for. The visuals are absolutely stunning and artistic. It kinda matches the tone of the lyrics by displaying that struggle, uncertainty, and frustration.

"U" by John Park
I've heard some really good things about John Park and I tried watching "Falling", but I really wasn't feeling it. It had a very airy indies sound and the visuals were interesting. In this song, it has more of a UK pop influence to it, which catches my attention a little more than "Falling". It has a great piano melody and his vocal delivery display a very confident strength and determination. He has a great range throughout the song and the chorus is memorable. The visuals have a great balance of disturbed and artistic as the actors interact with each other and John Park sings to us and partially observes the actors in his own scenes. I'm glad I gave this video a chance.

"NOnsenSe MARkeT" by MERRY
Like Dir en grey, I think MERRY's music releases are spaced out fairly well. It gives the fans some time to appreciate and reflect on their previous releases. I enjoy the gap. With this latest track, I was very happy to see them make something new and they always bring some pretty inventive and smart ideas to the table with their videos. I was pleased to see that an English caption option was available, which makes me enjoy the song even more. The song maintains the band's signature sound while still being fresh to the ears. The video concept is amusing and fits the content of the lyrics while at the same time having fun with it. Lastly, kudos to Tetsu for powering through the shooting of this PV with a neck injury. I hope he's doing better now.

"Aware and Awake" by coldrain
I know band centric videos can be kinda basic, but some can be fairly interesting. This is one of them. There's really not much to it, but the cinematography and editing are top notch. The blue hues, lighting, and water effects are just enough to elevate the band's performance and they occasionally interact with these elements which makes it all the more interesting to watch. The song is very energized! It's everything I expect from coldrain and more. They always keep their sound, but make that sound refreshing and addictive.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Quick Anime Review

Fastening Days (2014) | Rating: 5/5

This 11 minute ONA almost feels like a 25 minute episode and I say this as a good thing for once. It's a vividly colorful story with some cute and unique elements. Youji and Kei are raised by their foster parent Anna and they're very brilliant. So brilliant that they have a double life as superheros with zipper powers (hence the name). They're not your typical superheroes that fight crime; they simply solve common, everyday problems by using zippers. I thought this could easily be turned into a short series as I found the characters and their relationships among each other very intriguing and adorable. It's amazing how easily you can attach yourself to these characters. I highly recommend this one!

Psycho-Pass (2013) | Rating: 3/5

This series was recommended by a friend and I promised her that I would watch it after I completed Zankyou no Terror. Honestly, it took me some time to really get into this series. I think when things started to really pick up with Makishima Shougo my interest definitely piqued. I enjoyed the cat and mouse chase, the mind games, and the twist and turns the series offered, but I didn't buy into the hype too much. Nonetheless, it was very entertaining and the animation was very nice. I'm not sure if I'm interested in the second season just yet as I don't feel extremely invested in this series, but we'll see.

Amnesia + Special (2013) | Rating: 3.5/5

I believe this series is loosely based on a game and I heard about it through a friend. The premise sounded pretty interesting, so obviously I checked it out. I love the opening song by Nagi Yanagi. It's absolutely beautiful and hard to skip. I really liked the art style as well and I thought the character designs were very visually appealing and cleverly used the card suits as inspiration for their designs. The story may be a little frustrating at first as our protagonist (literally named Heroine) is a bit on the ditzy/naive side, but the story revolves around her memory lost and the fact the timeline repeats itself with a different companion for Heroine. Once you realize what's going on with Heroine and the storyline, I found it a little less annoying or confusing. You tend to want to figure out what the heck is going and which timeline is real or not. So, I guess it does provide a bit of fanservice in that sense, but it's not terrible. The viewer is able to explore the varying personalities of Heroine's possible suitor. The special OVA is even more fanservice-y as you get to see the boys in silly and cute costumes. The OVA isn't really necessary for viewing as it doesn't really supplement the story in any way, but it is amusing to see Sentai hosts.

Sakasama no Patema (2013) | Rating: 3.5/5

I noticed we had a new anime movie at my job and I was curious what it was all about, since I hadn't seen an anime movie in a while. I watched the English dub of this which was pretty good. The story was intriguing. It had a little bit of religious tones to it, but it wasn't overwhelmingly dependent on it. It deals with Patema and Age finding each other and learning about their inverted worlds. They build a trust between each other and try to unite the two worlds together, despite the beliefs their people have of the inverted underground and open sky world. At certain points, I thought of a couple Miyazaki films, like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, for some reason. It's a very simple story with likeable characters and beautiful animation.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! (2015) | Rating: 5/5

All around me were fans being excited for second seasons of shows like Durarara!!, Tokyo Ghoul, and Psycho-Pass, but I was looking forward to this series with a couple friends. I have friends that have always wanted to be a magical girl and now we have a magical boy anime series! Something I didn't think I needed in my life, but so openly and proudly accepted it. Watching the previews made me really excited and I knew what it was parodying, even though I've never seen an episode of Sailor Moon. The show is ridiculous, silly, meta, and so much fun. I loved every episode of this show and the characters are just the best. I think this series would be appreciated by magical girl fans (and probably shounen ai lovers), especially all the little references it makes episode to episode.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


[from left to right] SHINNOSUKE (bass), AKIRA (vocals), & MA-SHI- (drums)
|Official Site|

DISACODE are a female-fronted visual rock band with electronic, pop, and traditional Japanese influences. They are based in Tokyo, Japan. DISACODE was formed in 2008, by the lead singer and KERA model AKIRA. It took 2 years until band members were found. In April 2010, guitarist DACHI, bassist SHINNOSUKE and drummer MASHI joined AKIRA and thus became DISACODE. (source: last.fm)

Most people know this band through AKIRA and her modeling career with KERA. Last year at Anime Matsuri when AKIRA was a guest, I noticed a lot of fans, mostly girls, were very enthusiastic and excited about her appearance and weren't aware that she is a singer. I was in the reverse position in not knowing she was a model until a couple months before the guest announcement. I found this band almost accidentally. I think I was looking for music for either Discord or Eriscode and the names were similar and there was also a couple YouTube suggestions that caught my interests, so here I am, a fan of their music. Recently, AKIRA has been very active with her modeling and music career. She has become the face for dansou fashion, working on some solo music for anime, such as Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus, and venturing into theatrical productions like Vampire Knight. AKIRA will be making her second appearance at Texas' Anime Matsuri and DISACODE will be making their American debut there as well. If you're already a fan of the band or you're going to be experiencing them for the first time either after reading this or at Anime Matsuri, keep your eyes peeled for some special DISACODE posts here on Muddy Cult!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Quick Movie Review

The ABCs of Death 2 (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I've already reviewed the first movie, which you can read here. I was excited to hear that they would be making a sequel to the anthology and that one of my favorite directors Sion Sono would be part of the project. Unfortunately, he didn't make the final cut for one reason or another. I have no idea why and a few IMDb commenters were curious too. Anyway, I thought this movie was pretty good and, depending on my mood, sometimes I think it's slightly better or worse than the first, but they're both worth watching. Just like the first movie, not all of them are gold, but the ones that are the most entertaining make up for what's lacking.

Life Itself (2014, USA) | Rating: 5/5

As someone who grew up watching Siskel & Ebert every night with my mother and becoming a film major in the long run, I felt obligated to watch this documentary/biography of one of the greatest movie critics of our time. This film takes excerpts from the book of the same name and recounts Ebert's personal and professional life as well as his final days. It was interesting learn so much about such a brilliant and insightful man and the passion he had for cinema. He held such an influence on Hollywood and he was well respected among his peers. He's definitely a man who has left an inspirational legacy behind. It is a very inspiring, insightful, informational, and emotional documentary. For those who have a passion for cinema, no matter what aspect of it, I highly recommend it.

Beyond the Lights (2014, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I remember seeing the previews for this movie in the theater and I didn't think too much of it. When it came in at my job, I figured I'd give the movie a chance because it did seem a little interesting. I'm sure some people let this movie slip under the radar when it was in theaters or whatever, but this is actually a good quality movie with a black female lead. Coincidentally, the star also was in another quality film people slept on, Belle. I was afraid that this movie was going be super predictable and basic like Addicted or some Tyler Perry movie, but it actually had some depth and an interesting storyline. I enjoyed watching Noni's development throughout the movie and her interactions between her mother and Kaz. Occasionally, Kaz did some unbelievable or outrageous things, but overall, I felt for what he was going through with their relationship. The movie isn't completely perfect, but it is an improvement from most movies with a black main cast.

Jessabelle (2014, USA) | Rating: 2/5

I haven't had too much luck with a lot of the horror movies I've been checking out lately, fortunately my expectations have been pretty low with them. But still, it's sad that it has come to this feeling of acceptance that most horror movies lately are simply subpar or mediocre at best. This one had some potential as it deals with hauntings, ghosts, and maybe a tiny bit of possession, but I guess voodoo is in play in some form as well. I had no expectations for this movie, meaning I didn't know what to expect from it, I simply went into it with an open mind. The story is fairly interesting as we follow Jessie after a horrific car accident and recovering in her childhood home in Louisiana. This is where the strange things occur for Jessie and the people around her. Up to a certain point in the movie, I thought of The Skeleton Key, which is also set in Louisiana and involves some sort of voodoo/witchcraft/magic. The difference between these two movies is that The Skeleton Key is more suspenseful, better written, and delivers a more satisfying ending, in my opinion.

Open Windows (2014, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

I was warned that this movie was absolutely stupid and I believed him. Judging by the low budget-ish cover, the questionable cast, the premise, and a little bit of the name, I knew it was going to be dumb. The few Elijah Wood movies I've reviewed that have gone straight to DVD have been a little iffy and this is my second movie I've seen with Sasha Grey, although Would You Rather ended up being rather entertaining. Once again, Wood has to follow orders from a mysterious person, except this time he is a fan of a certain actress, which almost teeters into Grey's former real life profession. The premise is somewhat interesting, but Wood's acting and/or writing is kinda weak and unbelievable. Not only that, the whole execution of the movie's plot is flimsy. It seems like the writer(s) wanted to cram so many different hacker elements into one film that it seems confusing and possibly impossible or flawed in reality. The ending is also confusing and slightly anti-climatic. Grey also doesn't contribute much either, but honestly there was little for her to work with.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Magic Knight Rayearth Seasons 1 & 2

Title: Magic Knight Rayearth
Language: English & Japanese
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Mecha, Romance, Shoujo
Episodes: 49 (20 + 29)

When I was introduced to anime by one of my best friends, she exposed me and another best friend to a handful of shoujo series. One I've already reviewed, DiGi Charat which I might review later, Revolutionary Girl Utena which I'll be starting in place of this series, and Magic Knight Rayearth. Magic Knight Rayearth and DiGi Charat kinda became a foundation in the next level of our friendship. We were a trio of girls and they were also a trio of girls. To this day, I still remember our characters; I had Puchiko/Petit Charat and Fuu. As of last year, I picked up the series again, oblivious that I completed the first season so many years ago. I didn't realize it until I reached the final episode, but I've never seen the follow up season. Without further ado, seasons one and two of Magic Knight Rayearth!

Our story begins with Shidou Hikaru, Ryuuzaki Umi, and Hououji Fuu together at Tokyo Tower, during a field trip. These three girls come from different schools and possess somewhat opposing personalities. Suddenly, a mysterious light captures their attention and brings them to another world called Cephiro. They soon learn from the wise and powerful Master Mage Clef that Princess Emeraude has summoned them to become Magic Knights and rid Cephiro of the monsters that have inhabited the land.

The first season is definitely an emotional rollercoaster and it's hard not to feel and experience these ups and downs with our main characters. No matter how much pain and joy they go through, it strengthens and cultivates their hearts and friendship. Throughout the series, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu struggle to find and build pure love in their hearts worthy enough to work together with the Rune Gods of Cephiro.

Aside from promoting a message of selfless love, this series has a great variety of characters. The truly remarkable, the intimidating, the angered, and the innocent. Our main characters are easily very likeable and watching their development unfold is very rewarding and uplifting. The support characters that help them also manage to steal a small part in your heart such as Master Mage Clef, Presea, and Ferio. The series of villains present plenty of unique challenges to keep the story interesting and entertaining through magic, trickery, beasts, and other forms of clever manipulation. Even though they are briefly shown through each episode until the finale, the show effortlessly develops a gateway for viewers to develop emotions toward Princess Emeraude and High Priest Zagato.

Even though I didn't grow up strictly on 90's anime, I still feel a sense of nostalgia with Clamps' animation style. Even the music and signature "ohohoho" laughter makes me drift into memory lane. I believe if you love magical girls, you should at least watch the first season. But, what about season 2, you say? I will try my best to avoid spoilers, but there is no guarantee. So, if you are planning on watching the first season, I would suggest you skip ahead to the final verdict in the last paragraph.


The story begins back in the real world with Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu reminiscencing on their time in Cephiro. The girls haven't seen each other since returning to the real world and their hearts weigh heavy after the events that occurred in Cephiro. So, they all coincidentally meet back at Tokyo Tower where it all started and wish to return to the wonderful land of Cephiro. Suddenly, the girls are teleported back, but things aren't as beautiful as they left it. Since losing the Pillar, Princess Emeraude, Cephiro has become unstable and other countries are fighting to take over the Pillar system. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu unite with Mage Clef and previous characters to help defend Cephiro and search for a new Pillar.

While the first season focused on selfless love, this season focuses more on self love, especially for Hikaru. The main characters are more mature and willing to fight as Cephiro is like a second home and the people they've encountered are like a family to them. Some characters return such as Mage Clef, Ferio, Caldina, and Ascot. We also gain some backstory on Princess Emeraude and High Priest Zagato's relationship with the introduction of Zagato's brother Lantis. As the first season delves into development of the characters and selfless love, the action is somewhat secondary, this season delivers more action as the Magic Knights defend Cephiro from Autozam, Chizeta, Fahren, and the mysterious Debonair. Even though there is plenty of action, the second season explores a different kind of love as the story shifts from friendship to a more romantic bond for the girls. There was already an establishment between Fuu and Ferio in the first season, but Umi and Hikaru get a chance to experience romantic feelings. Of course, more of the focus is on Hikaru, which makes certain plot points pretty obvious on the resolution.

For those who were wanting more action from the first season, this one definitely delivers that with a good mixture of mecha battles and personal battles on various terrains. My only gripe is that the mecha battles can be a little repetitive at times, even though they try to mix it up a little by involving the newer characters to assist. Either way the fights are entertaining, despite my disinterest with mecha anime. The shift on friendship to romantic love was a reasonable and believable choice for this season, but at times I did get a little annoyed with Hikaru's lack of self confidence. Her struggle with Nova is compelling, but sometimes I want to shake Hikaru to snap out of it every time she regresses. Perhaps they should've shorten the season and kept it to 20 episodes or something.

Overall, Magic Knight Rayearth is a fairly enjoyable shoujo anime that mixes the joys of friendships, the ups and downs of love, the pride of a country, and the excitement of battle. The story is very solid and cohesive among the two seasons and the battle elements are engaging for the most part. As I mentioned in the beginning, if you enjoy magical girl animes, I recommend this nostalgic treat.

Rating: 3.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.