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Kurokami the Animation: Volume Five (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 24, 2011 by  



“Kurokami the Animation” volume 5 sets things up for a magnificent conclusion for volume 6.  For this latest “Kurokami” release, expect every major character to come back and fight in battle.  Expect an intense action-driven from here on in  with many surprising twist and turns.  “Kurokami” has become one hell of an awesome anime series and if you haven’t watched it yet, you should start!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume Five

DURATION: EPISODES 17-20 (100 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: January 4, 2011

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

With Kuraki’s plan to form a Utopia in ruins, the Pure Place, the home of the Shishigami clan of Tera Guardians, appears in Tokyo bay. Along with the appearance of the Pure Place, every human being except those in a Pact with a Tera Guardian falls unconscious. Kuro senses a tremendous amount of Tera gathering at her birthplace and heads there to investigate.

On their way there, Kuro and Keita encounter a mysterious Tera Guardian named Nam, but that is to be only the first of many before Kuro can learn the truth that’s been hidden from her since birth…

The fifth volume of “Kurokami” is here!  And Kuro and Keita have made a commitment to put an end to the Doppeliner System that has caused everyone so much misery!

In volume four, the helicopter that Akane was inside had malfunctioned and crash landed into the sea.  Everyone inside was killed but Akane was not found.  Keita worries that Akane may be dead.

But meanwhile, various Tera Guardians are making their way to the Pure Land where the Tera Crystal is located.  Those who want the incredible power of the “Masagami” and have the power to rule and destroy planets.  But Kuro and Keita want to make sure they get their first.

But everyone receives an uneasy feeling, of increased tera nearby.  Can it be… Reishin Shishigami is still alive?

“Kurokami the Animation” Backstory

For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Exquilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.

In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractee’s can easily be killed and are not invincible.

For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro. Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.

In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance. Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction. Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.

As Kuro and Keita barely survive against their battle with Reishin, thanks to the help of Excel and Steiner, Kuro and Keita are able to escape. But unfortunately, in order for them to escape, Steiner sacrificed his life. Meanwhile, Kuraki and Raiga then take on Reishin to for the control of the Kaionji Group.

In volume four, this begins the second season of “Kurokami”.  Kuro and Keita take on the powerful Shinra and both find a way to combine their life energy.  Meanwhile, Akane is revealed to be a master root.  Everyone in the world except Tera Guardians and contractee’s have collapsed for some unknown reason and the Pure Land has been created.

“Kurokami: The Animation” features the following characters:

  • Keita Ibuki – When Keita was young, he met a woman that looked like his mother.  The following day, his mother died.  One day, while trying to defend a woman who was getting beaten by a Tera Guardian, he is severely injured in the heart area and before he was to die, Kuro saves his life by forming a contract with him.  As long as the two are close together, he has the ability to heal Kuro and also develops his skill as a contractee.
  • Kuro Shishigami – One of the last remaining members of the Shishigami clan and a Tera Guardian.  She is after her brother Reishin Shishigami who murdered everyone in the clan (including their mother) except her.  She now has formed a bond with Keita and together they take on other enemy Tera Guardians.
  • Akane Sano – A childhood friend of Keita, Akane is in love with him but has a hard time expressing it to him.  She occasionally joins Keita and Kuro on their adventures.
  • Punipuni – Kuro’s small doberman pup and is always hungry.  He also seems to understand people when they talk to him.
  • Excel – A veteran contractee who worked with the Tera Guardian named Steiner and later Mikami.  She has the ability to create Hexagon shields.
  • Yakumo – A Tera Guardian that survived the massacre and does all he can to protect Kuro.  His contractee is Riona Kogure and both are often traveling with Kuro and Keita.
  • Riona Kogure – A contractee of Yakumo.  She escaped from the Kaionji group when she found out that she was going to be experimented on.
  • Mikami Houjou – A powerful Tera Guardian from the Ginko clan.  She once worked for the Kaionji group for medicine to give to her dying contractee.  She later forms a contract with Excel.

“Kurokami” vol. 5 features the episodes 17-20 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 17 – Masagami – Kuro and Keita along with Yakumo and Riona arrive at the Pure Land and Kuro realizes a feeling that her brother Reishin is alive.  They also learn that all these Tera Guardians have arrived to capture the power of the Masagami.  Meanwhile the Noble One operatives take on Reishin.
  • EPISODE 18 – Cataclysm – Another Tera Guardian and his contractee takes on Kuro and Keita, meanwhile Excel forms a contract with Mikami and both take on Reishin.
  • EPISODE 19 – Abyss – Both Kuro and Keita find Reishin but are shocked to find out that Akane is alive but she has also formed a contract with Reishin.
  • EPISODE 20 – Awakening – Reishin reveals the truth about what happened to his people and why his and Kuro’s mother was killed.

VIDEO:

“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami the Animation vol. 5” contains the following special features:

  • Textless theme and ending themes – Included are one textless opening theme and one textless ending theme for “Kurokami the Animation”.
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

Here we are with volume five of “Kurokami: The Animation” and not only is it an action-packed volume but also a major reveal is made that will alter everything that you have watched of the series thus far.  It’s a major bombshell that no doubt sets things in place for the awesome final sixth volume!

The fifth volume features the group’s arrival to the Pure Land and as many Tera Guardians are planning to gain access to the Masagami’s power, we see various Tera Guardians and contractees take on Kuro and Keita.  Meanwhile, we see the Noble Ones and also a return of Mikami and Excel (who have made a contract with each other) taking on Reishin Shishigami.

Everyone is involved in battle in this latest volume, including Kuro’s little dog Punipuni.

But what I loved about this latest volume is the various twists.  It’s one thing to have Reishin Shishigami back, but one after the other we see Mikami and Excel return, we see Akane return but also to find out that she has formed a contract with Reishin but then of course, the big reveal of episode 20.  Without spoiling anything, all I can say is WOW!

Overall, “Kurokami – The Animation” has become a magnificent anime series that with a pretty awesome storyline and really cool animation/background art and also fight sequences.  Especially this fifth volume alone.

I know that some people have been put off by the four episodes per volume of “Kurokami” instead of how other companies are offering 12 episodes per Blu-ray volume but the main thing to remember what Bandai Entertainment is doing is release simultaneous releases or very close releases in Japan and the US.  Other companies release titles that are literally a year, two years or many years old when they come out to the US.  And because of that, similar to what we, anime fans, had to do back during the LaserDisc (and even VHS) years, you end up paying a little more.  People still do that today with DVD and Blu-ray releases who want titles released in Japan now.

So, for those who want the latest Bandai Entertainment releases, there has to be a compromise and “Kurokami” can be found online for a good price, sure you don’t get the English dub but that’s because of reverse importation and the time of releases between Japan and the US are quite close.

So, if you want to watch an awesome series, I really recommend “Kurokami the Animation” on Blu-ray.  If you have watched the first four volumes thus far, it’s a no-brainer to get the fifth volume.  It really is an awesome volume thus far!

“Kurokami the Animation” is recommended!

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