Disney’s First Southeast Asian Princess

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Raya and the Last Dragon

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars


I had high expectations for this movie, but while the animation was fabulous, the rest was generally unimpressive. It looked really cool, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.


Raya and the Last Dragon is a Disney movie that was released in 2021. Raya became the first Southeast Asian Disney princess.

This movie stars Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, and Alan Tudyk.


In the land of Kumandra, Raya the warrior princess must find the last dragon to restore her family and kingdom to its former prosperity.


  • Relationship between Raya and Namaari
  • Relationship between Chief Benja and Raya sweet
  • Animal life interesting
  • Cool idea that each dragon has a unique power
  • Somewhat unique villain
  • Strong theme that came through clearly
  • Well-researched setting
  • Somewhat developed cultures
  • Cool weapon
  • Stunning animation


  • Very predictable at points
  • Dragon design a little too cute and fuzzy to be the majestic beings they were made out to be
  • Concept worn thin at places
  • Despite being unique, villain was underdeveloped
  • Sad moments just weren’t that sad
  • Unmemorable sound tracks
  • Hit you over the head with the theme all the time



Raya and Namaari had an interesting and complex relationship throughout the film. Many people complain that despite the obvious chemistry between them, Disney was purposely ambiguous about whether either or both characters were gay, and I definitely see that point. It has a very queerbaity-feel because it definitely seemed like there could be romantic tension there. Even the actor playing Raya, Kelly Marie Tran, said openly that she believed her character was gay. I am hoping they have a sequel where they will have more space to develop their relationship further so that it is clear.

The relationship between Chief Benja and Raya was sweet. He is a father to her, but also a mentor. He embodies trust and hope and is a real role model for Raya.


The Druun are both a unique villain and an underdeveloped one. It was a creative idea but not well fleshed out. They end up being more like a natural disaster, yet seem to stem somehow from the evil of humans. None of this is well explained in the movie, but basically the villain is like a plague that turns people to stone.


Tuk Tuk is Raya’s pet, an odd mix between a pill bug and an armadillo. It grows quite large and is surprisingly mobile even in its larger form.


Raya’s weapon is a kind of whip sword, shifting between a normal sword form and a separated form that is longer and acts like a whip. This was much more creative than going with a traditional medieval-style sword.


The theme is trust. More specifically, that you should trust people regardless of whether you know them or if they have betrayed you in the past. This movie thrusts its theme in your face from beginning to end. While that is good for very young children, older children and adults may find this patronizing.

I wouldn’t say that this is a necessarily good or realistic theme, but for a kids movie, whatever. Generally it is good to trust people, but it’s also good to be smart about who you trust.


According to IMDb, the cultures and land of Kumandra were inspired by the countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Indonesia, and Laos.

Kumandra is beautiful, consisting of various cultures known for certain traits but also defying those traits at times. A culture is not simple, and cannot be described in a couple sentences like Raya tried to in the beginning of the film. That becomes increasingly obvious as the film moves on.

The setting is beautiful, a mix of rivers, deserts, mountains, towns, and cities that were all beautifully animated.


This was your formulaic Disney story. I won’t spoil it, but it had all the plot elements of a typical Disney movie. Yet it was much more dry, cliché, and lacking in emotion at some of the most critical moments of the film. However, it was nice that the movie had a strong female lead without having a man come in to save the day like in the earlier Disney films.


None of the songs stuck out to me, unlike with the other Disney princess movies new and old. James Newton Howard composed the score, and while it added somewhat to the mood of several scenes, there were no takeaway anthems for this movie like there were for Tangled, Moana, and even Brave.


The animation of the backgrounds was phenomenal, particularly fog and water. The characters were not as well done but still pretty high quality animation.


If you like formulaic Disney, you may like this movie. But if you expect the movie to try anything new or exciting, you will be disappointed.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.


  • Raya and the Last Dragon Trailer – quick note: It may be more fun to watch the movie without the trailer because the trailer actually spoils more than I was willing to in my article.


A Supernatural Summer Adventure

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Gravity Falls Season 1

Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars


When my sister wanted me to watch Gravity Falls, I was skeptical about whether I would like it. It looked like an uninteresting kids show or like it, would have a style of humor I wouldn’t be a fan of. However, it has become one of my favorite shows.


Gravity Falls Season 1 was released in 2012-2013. It stars the voice talent of Jason Ritter, Alex Hirsch, Kristen Schaal, and Linda Cardellini.

It can currently be watched on Disney Plus.


Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines travel to Gravity Falls, Oregon to stay with their great uncle Stan for the summer. While there, they are involved in all sorts of paranormal adventures.


  • Loveable characters
  • Unique villains
  • Interesting supernatural beings
  • Touching character dynamics between the twins
  • Entertaining setting
  • Clever and amusing dialogue
  • Fun animation
  • References to other shows and pop culture
  • Continuity between episodes unlike in some cartoons
  • Enjoyable for adults and children alike
  • Original catchy music


  • Doesn’t start out as good as it eventually gets later in the season


  • The whispers at the end of the intro song of each episode are hints to solve the cryptogram at the end of each episode
  • Alex Hirsch is the voice actor for Gruncle Stan, Soos, Old Man McGucket, and Bill Cipher.
  • Dipper’s hat was originally supposed to be red, but the creators feared that he would look too much like Ash Ketchum



My Favorite Pic of the Whole Gang

Mabel Pines, the girl in the pink sweater and braces, is a quirky and boy-crazy girl. She wears a different sweater almost every episode and is very spontaneous.

Dipper Pines, the boy in the blue hat, is adventurous, practical, and cautious. He is eager to find out what supernatural forces are at work in Gravity Falls.

Wendy Corduroy is the redheaded teenager. She is tomboyish, strong, assertive, clever, and funny. Wendy is my favorite character.

Gruncle Stan, the old man, is the main characters’ Great Uncle. Get it? Gruncle? He is miserly, bossy, and occasional a criminal. Nonetheless, he is one of the most loveable characters.

Soos is the handyman in the green shirt. He is laidback, has a big heart, and is very close to the Pines family. He acts kind of like a big brother to Dipper and Mabel.

I can’t imagine the show without any one of these characters. They are all essential and add so much to the story.

Lil Gideon is perhaps the most annoying character in the show, but that is what makes him so effective. He claims to be psychic and is a rich kid.

Bill Cipher is the iconic villain of Gravity Falls. He’s just so weird….some of his scenes involve deer teeth and possession. It’s all quite odd, and that’s what makes him so unique. He is kind of sadistic and thoughtless and enjoys making deals.


The relationship between the twins is so sweet and authentic. It is clear that they genuinely do care for each other and enjoy each other’s company. Gravity Falls avoids common tropes used in shows for twins–such as twins that are identical or very similar in personality, or the twin that is always right vs. the one that is always wrong, single-minded twins, etc.


The show is set in Gravity Falls, Oregon. A lot of time is spent at the Mystery Shack in particular, which is a tourist trap filled with gimmicks and odd artifacts.


There is so much fun dialogue in this show. Mabel probably has the best jokes and lines, but all of the characters are hilarious.

For instance, when Dipper freaks out because one of Mabel’s latest crushes does not seem to blink, she suggests:

Maybe he’s blinking when you’re blinking.”

And there is a line by Dipper that has become an often used GIF. Dipper is listening and writing down in a notebook these words:

I am pretending to write something down.”

Mabel has another great line shown below:

Boys, why can’t you learn to hate each other in secret. Like girls do.”


The goofy and sometimes postcard-worthy animation of Gravity Falls is attractive and fits the theme of the show.


There are so many references in this show to older shows, movies, and pop culture. I’ll name a few below, but be on the lookout for more if you watch Gravity Falls.

  • Stan wears a Gill-man mask once, which is a reference to the creature from Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  • Mabel takes an object out of the box and spins like Link from Legend of Zelda
  • When Soos is pretending to be Bigfoot, he uses a pose from the famous alleged film of Bigfoot
  • Monsters Inc reference, but “It’s a 2316” instead of 2319
  • Smile Dip alludes to the brand Fun Dip
  • Mabel sings “Don’t Start Un-believing,” a reference to the song “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
  • Dipper’s statement “Yes, yes I am” is a reference to Phineas and Ferb


Continuity is established through references events in early episodes, such as the gifts the twins choose from the shop, and the damage to the sign on the Mystery Shack.


The audience for this show is varied. When I was looking at who had left ratings on IMDb, there was a large age range from teens to people in their mid-20s or mid-30s–even people older than that such as in their 50s. In addition, it was made for children, so it fits all of these audiences well. There are a lot of jokes that adults will appreciate that kids may barely notice. The darker themes at times in the show makes it appealing to adults as well.


The theme song is so catchy my sister and dad both made it their ringtone. I love it. It’s one of those iconic songs that will always bring back good memories for me.


I recommend this show for all ages except for very young children due to dark elements.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.


Anime, Shows

RWBY Volume 3 Is A Major Turning Point in the Series

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

RWBY Volume 3

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars


I enjoyed Volume 1 and 2, but I have to say that Volume 3 exceeded my expectations. There were so many surprises, and a major turning point in the series. It’s my favorite volume so far. I watched it twice, once with my siblings and once with my close friend.

Warning! Although there are no spoilers for Volume 3 in this review, there are minor spoilers for earlier volumes.


RWBY is an American anime. Some people say anime has to come from Japan to be legit–I disagree. I share the opinion of many others that say anime is a style and not limited to the products of any one country.

Volume 3 was released in 2015. Before production began on Volume 3, Monty Oum had a severe allergic reaction, fell into a coma, and died on February 1, 2015. He was only 33. Despite this tragedy, new members of the team were hired and it was decided RWBY would continue.


The Vytal Festival Tournament is the ultimate battle of skill, pitting the world’s most powerful Huntsmen and Huntresses in training against one another… and it’s finally here! Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang are back for a season of over-the-top action, and they’re not alone. New fighters from around Remnant are ready to bring glory to their Kingdom, but there are those among them with a far more sinister goal in mind.”

Rooster Teeth quoted on Fandom

Basically, RWBY is about four young women who seek to become huntresses and defend the world of Remnant from shadowy creatures called Grimm.


  • Memorable heroes
  • Effective villains
  • Unique weapons and apparel
  • Interesting character naming rules
  • Phenomenal fight scenes
  • Interesting setting
  • Original music
  • Attractive intro
  • Balance of comedic and dark moments
  • Groundbreaking American Anime


  • Animation better but still developing



For my Volume 1 review I focused on Team RWBY, and for the Volume 2 review I focused on Team JNPR. For this review, I will focus on various favorite characters from Volume 3.

Ozpin is the principal of Beacon Academy, and has a lot of say when it comes to who attends his school and who will be teamed up with who. He makes what seem like strange decisions, such as choosing Ruby for the leader of Team RWBY even though she is the youngest and most immature in her group, and Jaune for the leader of Team JNPR even though he is the least experienced fighter. He has great insight however, recognizing that Ruby and Jaune exhibited leadership skills worthy of their positions. Ozpin has a mysterious past and says that “I’ve made more mistakes than any man, woman, and child on this planet.” Ozpin alludes to the Wizard of Oz.

Sun Wukong is a Faunus with monkey features, visiting Beacon Academy from the Kingdom of Vacuo. Sun became close friends with Blake during the events of Volume 1. He has a great sense of humor and is highly skilled at combat. He is the leader of Team SSSN. Sun is fun-loving, confident, and persistent.

According to Fandom, Sun alludes to Sun Wukong from the Chinese novel Journey to the West. Sun Wukong from the novel was also quite perceptive, had a similar power to Sun’s semblance, and is a monkey.

Neptune Vasilias is a skilled young man who is an incurable flirt. He is constantly trying to impress the girls, which makes him a really funny character. He is a close friend to Sun Wukong.

Neptune alludes to the Neptune found in Roman mythology. This is ironic, as you will see if you watch the volume.

Penny Polendina is an android with a soul, a loveable character whose catchphrase is “Salutations!” Upon meeting Ruby, she is intrigued by being called a friend and asks if it is true. Unsure how to react, Ruby reluctantly says yes at first, but then they do end up being close friends. Penny is curious, kind, loyal, and talented.

Penny is an allusion to Pinocchio, which makes sense since she was created. Even though she was made to be a weapon, she also just wants to do things like a real girl.

Coco Adel is the leader of Team CFVY. She is fashionable, confident, and generally likeable. She is never fazed by the Grimm, which suggests a lot of experience. The name Coco is an allusion to color because of Cocoa, which is brown.

I have to say Coco is one of the coolest characters. Seeing her in action is amazing. According to Fandom, her character design and name may be an allusion to 20th century fashion designer Coco Chanel.

Weapons and Apparel

According to Monty Oum’s Facebook, Sun Wukong’s weapon is a pair of nunchuks called Ruyi Bang and Jingu Bang. They can switch between staff form, gun form, and nunchuk form.

According to Fandom, their name comes from the novel Journey to the West, where the character Sun Wukong’s staff is called Ruyi Jingu Bang.

According to Fandom, Penny’s weapon is called Floating Array. It consists of a grouping of sword-guns that come from inside her body and are capable of shooting a laser.

They have strings attached to them, which is likely an allusion to the puppet strings of Pinocchio.

Coco’s handbag is her weapon, which according to Fandom is called Gianduja. The name comes from an Italian confection made of chocolate and hazelnut paste, which hearkens back to the character name.

Gianduja looks harmless but is actually quite heavy. It can be used as a bludgeoning weapon in handbag form or as a machine gun in gun form.

Naming Rules

Almost all character names and team names follow Monty Oum’s color naming rules, which basically require that all names should be inspired by color. The most notable exception is Ozpin, which makes sense later on.

In the past of Remnant, there was a Great War, during which art was destroyed and artistic suppression expressed. In response to that, later generations named their children based on color as a symbolic choice that meant they would not accept this kind of oppression.

Some examples are:

Ruby--an obvious color

Weiss–German for “white”

Yang–Chinese for “sun,” suggests the color yellow

Blake–Old English for “black”

Furthermore, some characters are named to allude to fairy tale characters, such as how “Weiss Schnee” is a reference to Snow White.

Fight Scenes

The fight scenes in the Vytal tournament are phenomenal. I won’t tell you which teams matched up, but just think of the most skilled fighters with the most creative weapons. That’s what it was, one after another. I will say that we finally figure out what Velvet’s fighting style is, which is super exciting.

The battle of Qrow vs. Winter is one of favorites and comes up early in the volume.


Amity Colosseum is a floating arena that usually resides in Atlas. It is mobile and moves to the host kingdom of the Vytal festival every time the festival is held. The ground can change terrain randomly and this is used to challenge the fighters and add to the entertainment.


Unlike with many anime, the music in RWBY was created exclusively for RWBY, with foreshadowing built into the songs and songs that seem linked to specific characters.

The music was composed by Jeff Williams, and his daughter Casey Lee Williams does a lot of the vocals. According to Fandom, Jeff Williams does not regard the songs as canon and asserts that they should not be taken literally.

To me, that just seems like he is covering for himself and Rooster Teeth in case the story ends up veering too far from the lyrics, but I know that so far the songs fit the theme and story very well.

My favorite song in Volume 3 is “Neon,” which is basically Neon making fun of a member of Team RWBY.


The intro is better animated than previous intros and highlights the darker nature of Volume 3. It shows important heroes and villains and foreshadows what is to come.

The intro also delves into the past a bit with well-placed hints.


Even though this volume is a bit darker than the previous ones, there is still a lot of humor. For instance, the dialogue is still funny at times.

Qrow: “They don’t give medals for almost.”

Ruby: “They do and they’re called silver!”

There is also a fairy tale quality to the past that Ozpin describes in RWBY. The villains’ threatening schemes add a dark element to this volume.


The 3D animation of RWBY is made using Poser, and thus differs greatly from most other anime. The animation is simple and does not involve a lot of shading and shadow like later volumes have. There are scenes like in the forest where it really shows how far the animators have come.

Contribution to Anime

RWBY is unique because it is one of the few American anime. It is filled with references to Western pop culture and folk tales, as well as some references to Eastern culture. Additionally, its animation style, while underdeveloped, sets out on a separate path from typical anime.“


Volume 3 is where RWBY really takes off and improves. If you like this volume, keep in mind that later volumes will get even better.

I recommend this anime for ages 13 and up.

Rating System

If you’re interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.


Related Articles

Anime, Shows

MHA Season 3 Features Harrowing Villains, Flamboyant Heroes, and Dorms!

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

My Hero Academia Season 3

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars


Since My Hero Academia is currently my favorite anime, there is no big surprise it is rated high. I am willing to acknowledge its flaws, but these are few. It has so many strong points in its favor! I watched it twice, once with my siblings subbed and once with my dad dubbed.

Warning! Although there are no spoilers for Season 3, there are some spoilers for earlier seasons.


My Hero Academia Season 3 was released in 2018. It was produced by the studio Bones and directed by Kenji Nagasaki. The plot is based on the graphic novels by  Kōhei Horikoshi.

You can watch My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.


UA students participate in the forest lodge trip, work on their ultimate moves, decorate dorm rooms, and enroll in the provisional licensing exam.


  • Recap episode that also adds to the story, catching newcomers up to speed
  • The relationship between Kirishima and Bakugo is sweet
  • Creative quirks
  • Dangerous and effective villains
  • Backstory of Tomura Shigaraki
  • New and unique characters
  • Attractive intros and outro
  • Catchy music
  • Dorm room decorating is hilarious and brilliant
  • Actual consequences for dangerous decisions
  • Creating ultimate moves is really cool
  • The provisional licensing exam is awesome
  • Original art style


  • Mineta being a typical creep and harassing girls
  • Mei Hatsume is uncomfortably touchy with the guys, in what is probably unintentional harassment
  • The second outro is kind of boring and uncreative


  • How did Ashido manage to high-five Hagakure (Invisible Girl)?
  • Bakugo has cooking skills…also, he’s totally a nerd!



The first episode is a recap of what has happened so far and about the various quirks of the characters. Don’t skip it–it’s actually a funny episode with a swim competition and plenty of pool antics.


Kirishima puts his elbow on Bakugo’s shoulder, and Bakugo does not completely flip out. That’s…amazing. It’s nice to see Bakugo on equal footing with Kirishima rather than him being like an underling.

Ochaco’s crush on Deku and his feelings toward her is a continued theme, but it remains true that romance is something the show doesn’t focus much on.


There are plenty of interesting quirks involving blood, enhanced muscles, creating monsters from the earth, etc.

Seiji Shishikura has a particularly disturbing and effective quirk that he uses during the provisional licensing exam.

There are also old quirks that are worth noting for their creativity: such as explosive sweat, acid, engines on calves, frog abilities, and dark shadow.


My Hero Academia always has a ton of characters. Luckily for us, they all have their qualities that make them interesting, even the ones that don’t get as much screen time.

This season adds some new characters who are just as entertaining as the ones that have become so familiar.

The Wild, Wild Pussycats are a team of superheroes who have formidable quirks and spunky personalities.

Kota Izumi is a five-year-old kid who hates superheroes. He is not thrilled to meet the UA gang. Oddly when I first saw him I thought he was just a short man, and was surprised that he was a little kid instead. He is under the care of the Wild, Wild Pussycats.

We finally get to meet Bakugo’s parents. The way that his mom acts kinda hints at why he is so irate all the time. His upbringing undoubtedly sheds light on his current behavior.

Muscular is a villain we get to meet in Season 3, along with a whole team of members of the League of Villains.

It is worthwhile to note that we start getting backstories about the villains in Season 3. For instance, there is a lot of detail about Twice’s backstory. He’s one of my favorite villains.

In the Provisional Hero License Exam arc, we get introduced to members of different schools. These two from Shiketsu High School probably interact with Class 1-A the most.

Camie Utsushimi is on the left, and she has a kind of ditsy personality and does things that make other characters uncomfortable.

Inasa Yoarashi is on the right. He has a powerful quirk that makes him a match for Shoto Todoroki when it comes to power. He has an intense rivalry with Todoroki.

My favorite characters introduced this season are the Big Three. From left to right that’s Mirio Togata, Nejire Hado, and Tamaki Amajiki. They are all ridiculously powerful and have creative quirks. These guys are introduced now, but where they really get to shine is Season 4.


From fighting villains and testing for licenses to decorating dorm rooms, the plot keeps you interested from beginning to end. It throws in plenty of character development and backstories. I was hooked, and I don’t doubt you will be too if you enjoyed previous seasons.

Intros and Outros

The first intro shows many of the pro heroes and villains, as well as showing the students in action. The song is upbeat, quirky, and fitting for the show – Odd Future by Uverworld.

The first outro shows a bunch of sketches of characters. It’s actually really fun and attractive, using comic book panels in many sections. The art style is beautiful and it includes references to things such as pez dispensers. It features the song Update by miwa.

Btw, don’t click on the links to the second intro and outro below if you don’t want spoilers.

The second intro is basically showing shots of the Provisional Hero License Exam, introducing the characters in pictures, and is just fun. Seeing Ms. Joke flirt with Aizawa is hilarious. I also like that they put Invisible Girl in the spotlight for the final image because she is character that is usually not focused on. There is an odd scene with a pink-haired character who never shows up in the show, but apparently they were from a canceled filler. This intro features the song Make My Story by Lenny code fiction.

The second outro is terribly boring and shows Midoriya walking slowly and rigidly, and All-Might walking upside down. It’s pretty awful. It features the song Long Hope Philia by Masaki Suda.


Below are all the full songs from the outros and intros–my favorite of these is Odd Future and my least favorite is Long Hope Filia. These are the music videos, so they don’t show the My Hero Academia characters.

  • Odd Future by Uverworld – Kind of odd music video with a horse and dancer, and the whole scene turning red like a murder scene occasionally. My 10th favorite anime song.
  • Update by miwa – This really is a great song in its entirety and the music video looks kind of like a school performance. It doesn’t have anywhere near as many views as the other songs chosen for My Hero Academia, which is a shame.
  • Make My Story by Lenny Code Fiction – the music video is a bunch of dudes dancing and singing in a field with a bunch of spotlights. The song is catchy.
  • Long Hope Philia by Masaki Suda – Not one of my favorite songs, but not bad either. The music video shows a sleeping man in a chair, a bunch of exhausted looking people shambling about, and Japanese phrases being written on various surfaces. I got tired just watching those people looking tired, and the music video is confusing, but that’s probably because I don’t know Japanese.

Art Style

The animation was done by Studio Bones, which also did the style of Fullmetal Alchemist, another one of my favorite anime.

The style is different from Fullmetal Alchemist because it uses bold, bright colors and deep shadows for contrast. The pupils of characters are much smaller than in most anime.


Hatsume is somewhat problematic because she is super touchy with guys even though they are clearly uncomfortable. Above is Hatsume, having fallen on Midoriya. This was an accident, but she seems strangely happy about it even though Midoriya is horrified. She’s in no big hurry to get off either.

This is not as bad as Mineta, who continuously objectifies girls and women. For instance, he goes to great lengths to see the girls naked while they are bathing. The other characters chastise him and acknowledge that he is doing wrong, but the whole thing is still portrayed as a joke.


Not sure how Ashido managed to high five Invisible Girl perfectly. In the same battle, even supporting characters make themselves useful, which I appreciate. It wasn’t just Bakugo, Todoroki, and Midoriya doing all the hard work.

We learn that Bakugo can cook in this season, which is kind of surprising since he has zero patience for most things. Furthermore, it is shown that Bakugo has the qualities of a stereotypical nerd–getting high grades, going to bed early…which is ironic considering he always calls Midoriya “you damn nerd.”


Watch this anime. It’s great. Obviously check out the first two seasons first, but keep in mind that the seasons get progressively better. At least up to Season 4. While I’m writing this, part of Season 5 is out, but I’m reserving judgment on that until the season finale.

I would recommend this anime for ages 13 and up.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.


Outros and Intros

Full Songs

Related Articles