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

July 31, 2010 by  



“Kurokami the Animation” is an action-driven series with a cool concept and looks great on Blu!   Volume 2 features episodes that focus on more character development but still has a good amount of action included episodes 5-8.  Wanting a cool action anime series with a lot of fighting?  Definitely give “Kurokami the Animation” a try!

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

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume 2

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: July 20, 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

Having formed a ritualistic bond between human and Tera Guardian known as a Pact, Kuro saved Keita’s life and attained new powers. But the bond carried a price that neither Kuro nor Keita was truly aware. Through new comrades formed in battle, Keita learns that his mother might have been involved with Tera Guardians before her untimely death. With mysteries to be answered, Kuro and Keita head to Okinawa to find answers.

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 that will forever change his relationship with Kuro.

“Kurokami” vol. 2 features the episodes 5-8 of the TV series. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 5- Exceed – Keita and Kuro vs. Steiner and the search for the people in the mystery photo.
  • EPISODE 6 – Sub-Contractee – Keita is kidnapped by Mikami Houjo and is told a big secret involving his status of a contractee to Kuro.
  • EPISODE 7 – Kuro’s Past – As Keita, Kuro and Akane leave to the airport to Okinawa to search for clues in regards to the mystery photo, Kuro reveals her tragic past of her clan.  Meanwhile, Kuro encounters a familiar rival.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Hiba Clan – While Keita, Kuro and Akane are enjoying some R&R in Okinawa, they are attacked by the Hiba Clan.

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” contains the following special features in 1080p and 480p:

  • Textless Opening – Textless opening for “Sympathizer” by Minami Kuribayashi
  • Textless Ending 1– Textless ending theme for “Irodori no Nai Sekai” by Minami Kuribayashi
  • Textless Ending 2 – Textless ending theme for “Irodori no Nai Sekai” by Minami Kuribayashi.  Similar but slightly different from the first ending.
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

“Kurokami the Animation” caught my attention for the first volume with its intriguing story of Dopeliners and all-out action but this time around, the second volume which also featured a lot of action is more character building episodes.  If anything, we are now starting to learn Kuro’s motivation of why she must kill her brother but also, the true status of Keita and that his life (which it was thought that he would be immortal as a contractee) is constantly in danger and that he is not a true “contractee” but a sub. So, Keita knows he can easily die and the fact that they constantly end up in trouble, the situation doesn’t bode quite well for them.

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.  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 2 definitely improves the storyline with more character development and although not a perfect release especially without the Japanese lossless, “Kurokami – The Animation” is definitely a series worth considering for your anime on Blu-ray collection!






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