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

November 7, 2010 by  



“Kurokami the Animation” is an action-driven series with a cool concept and if you have followed the first two volumes thus far, volume 3 (the final four episodes of season 1) literally ends with a bang and several characters lives are lost.  Definitely a highlight volume in the series with intense action and pretty awesome storyline thus far!  Definitely 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 3

DURATION: 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: October 5, 2010

 

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

Six months have passed since the battle against Reishin in Okinawa. Keita has been in a comatose state since then while the world changed around him. Kuraki has become the new vice-chairman of the Kaionji conglomerate and is set to fulfill his dream of forming a Utopia by manipulating the Doppeliner System. A band of Tera Guardians and supports have risen around Kuro to fight against this new enemy in a strange new world…

For the first eight episodes, we have been waiting for the confrontation between Kuro and Reishin, if anything, we knew from the episode 8 that things are going to heat up.

Well, let’s just say that “Kurokami the Animation – Volume Three” is not only hot, hot , hot!  These episodes feature significant battles, more answers and even several deaths of key characters.  Needless to say, if you have watched the first two volumes on Blu-ray, you’re definitely going to enjoy volume three!

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 prepares for her battle to the death with her brother Reishin, will she have to fight him alone?  Or will Keita be there for her?

“Kurokami” vol. 3 features the episodes 9-12 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 9 – Shadows of My Mother – While Kuro trains in martial arts with Keita’s grandfather, Keita encounters his mother’s double.
  • EPISODE 10 – Outcome – Keita goes to rescue Kuro who is being held prisoner by Hiyou and takes on his mother’s double – a negative root.   Makana goes to help Kakuma.  Who will survive and who will die in this episode?
  • EPISODE 11 – Reunion – A friend of Keita, Sawamura, who supposedly died has re-appeared and reveals to Keita of his true plans.
  • EPISODE 12 – Confrontation – Kuro and Keita take on Reishin and get some help from Excel and Steiner.  Who will survive and who will die in this episode?

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. 3” contains the following special features:

  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

“Kurokami the Animation” vol. 3 is literally the volume everyone who has been watching the series has been waiting for.  Battles against Reishin, battles against Hiyou…and literally more death and destruction.  Needless to say, a good number of people are killed in this latest volume and some characters, you’ll be shocked about their demise.  This is an action-packed volume but also a volume that answers some questions into the capabilities of the contractee but also how various groups are pulling strings.

Needless to say, after the fight with Reishin, things will never be the same in this “Kurokami” series and ends the first season with a bang!

As for positives, the major positive aside from the story is this series looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Character designs are well done and are vibrant onscreen, the detailed artistic backgrounds definitely look beautiful and the fighting sequences look absolutely fluid. I didn’t catch any edge enhancement or any significant artifacting but I haven’t compared the DVD to the Blu-ray series either. But I’m confident on how beautiful this series is on Blu-ray.

On the negative side, I think that many anime fans who prefer a Japanese soundtrack and also prefer to purchase anime on Blu with a lossless Japanese audio soundtrack. So, I can feel their pain! As mentioned, with Japan and U.S. sharing the same region on Blu-ray and with people wanting simultaneous (or near-simultaneous) releases, this is going to be a major issue in the near future and I hope this is something that can be resolved for future releases.

The other negative that I can think of for anime fans is episodes per volume. With other anime companies releasing complete series or breaking down their releases by a dozen episodes, “Kurokami” which is a 23-episode series features only four episodes per volume and also a release that doesn’t come with much special features aside from the textless opening and ending themes.   In vol. 3, you only get the Bandai trailers.  So, there really isn’t much in terms of special features to begin with.   So, as more and more anime are being released in the US ala Blu-ray each month, unfortunately for those who are on a strict budget may find themselves looking for a series with more bang for the buck.

Overall, “Kurokami – The Animation” is an entertaining anime series that so far features a solid storyline and really cool animation/background art. Volume 3 is pretty awesome and the creators had to pull the death card several times to make this season 1 end with a bang!  I look forward to the continuing of the series (season 2) in the next volume of “Kurokami”!

If you have watched the first two volumes thus far, you’re going to love (or be shocked) by the third.  Definitely a shining moment in the series thus far!  Recommended!






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