Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 5, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is an anime series that will entertain those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a good balance of humor and drama, cool characters and set in the Meiji era dealing with samurai and ninjas. How cool is that? “Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is worth checking out!
Image courtesy of © Kara Kemuri/MAG Garden, NTV, VAP. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series
ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016
DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Subtitles
RATING: TV 14
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Originally created by Kemuri Karakara
Directed by Hiroshi Haraguchi
Series Composition by Yuuya Takahashi
Music by Shuichiro Fukuhiro
Character Design by Takao Maki
Art Director: Yuki Ikenoue
Chief Animation Director:Takao Maki
Anime Production: Doga Kobo
Featuring the following voice talent:
Yuichi Nakamura/Christopher Wehkamp as Tenka Kumo
Yuuki Kaji/Dave Trosko as Soramaru Kumo
Tsubasa Yonaga/Terri Doty as Chutaro Kumo
Kenichi Suzumura/Micah Solusod as Abe no Hirari
Rina Satou/Morgan Garrett as Botan
Takahiro Sakurai/Robert McCollum as Shirasu Kinjo
Hiroki Yasumoto/Christopher R. Sabat as Seiichirō Takamine
Yuuki Fujiwara/Clifford Chapin as Mutsuki Ashiya
Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Kiiko Sasaki
Kousuke Toriumi/Eric Vale as Abe no Sōsei
Shinichiro Miki/Ian Sinclair as Naoto Kagami
Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Kotaro Fuma
Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Nishiki
Hiro Shimono/Joel McDonald as Rakucho Takeda
Under the cloudy skies of turn-of-the-century Japan, three brothers shine brightly. Orphaned at a young age, the responsibility of providing for the Kumo family fell to the eldest brother, Tenka. A skilled swordfighter and proud guardian of his rambunctious younger siblings, Soramaru and Chutaro, Tenka Kumo walks through life with unfailing optimism and devotion to his family.
But heavy clouds are beginning to settle over their secluded shrine — a growing gloom that signals the return of a deadly serpent known as the Orochi. As the Japanese military’s Yamainu Squad searches for the serpent’s human vessel, the unrest caused by the strict laws of the Meiji era spreads rebellion across the countryside.
As the Kumo family’s ancient connection to the Orochi comes to light, old rivalries will be reignited, and the brothers’ carefree life will give way to the darkness of an ancient prophecy. As long as they stick together, what’s the worst that could happen?
In 2011, manga artist Karakara-Kemuri would create a supernatural manga series titled “Donten ni Warau” (Laughing Under the Clouds) which was serialized by Mag Garden on “Monthly Comic Avarus”.
A 12-episode anime series adaptation was created by Doga Kobo in 2014 and now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation. The series was also the first anime series for Funimation to show on their network, not long after the episode aired in Japan. So, where directors and voice actors have time to shoot episodes and it being released months later, this series was a move to a direction where viewers want to see an episode released in US immediately after it is shown in Japan.
The series was directed by Hiroshi Haraguchi (“KAHEY – A Certain Captain’s Life”), series composition by Yuuya Takahashi (“Luck & Logic”, “Lupin the Third”, “Tiger & Bunny”), music by Shuichiro Fukuhiro (“Genshiken: Second Generation”, “Robot Girls Z” series), character design by Takao Maki *”Zegapain”, “Majestic Prince”) and art direction by Yuki Ikenoue (“Outbreak Company”, “Himouto! Umaruchan”).
The series is set around 1878 and takes place around the Maiji Restoration (which established imperial rule of Japan to Emperor Meiji and led to the end of the shogunate). This would lead to samurai rebelling against the system and many escaping jail.
As the government builds a giant prison in the middle of Lake Biwa, the people responsible of taking them to the prison are the Kumo Brothers.
The Kumo Brothers also try to protect the Orochi’s vessel. The Orochi is a serpent that has cursed Japan since ancient times and can bring havoc if it’s not sealed. Every several hundred years, Orochi tries to reincarnate into the body of a human and possess them.
The Kumo Brothers consists of:
- Tenka Kumo – The eldest brother who is the parent of his younger brothers after the death of his parents. He prefers to take on the enemies and not let his younger brothers fight.
- Soramaru Kumo – The middle child who was entrusted with the family’s twin swords. He feels that he needs to prove to people that he is strong and can protect the Kumo household like his brother. Unfortunately, Soramaru suffers from amnesia due to a childhood trauma and witnessing his parent’s murder and nearly being strangled to death. So, he does not like anyone touching his neck area.
- Chutaro Kumo – The youngest brother and is the fastest of the brothers. He is always trying to prove himself to his brothers.
The brothers are assisted by Shirasu Kinjou, one of the last remaining members of the Fuma ninja clan and is currently freeloading at the Kumo shrine.
But trouble starts to set when people are after the Orochi vessel in hopes of resurrecting Orochi.
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.
I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during the action sequences.
Subtitles are in English.
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” features the following special features:
- Chapter 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by voice talents Christopher Wehkamp (voice of Tenka Kumo), Terri Doty (voice of Chutaro Kumo) and Dave Trosko (voice of Soramaru Kumo).
- Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Lead Adaptive Writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Robert McCollum (voice of Shirasu)
- Textless Opening Song #1 and #2 and Closing Song
- U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Laughing Under the Clouds”
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.
For those wanting an action series that focuses on action, there is no doubt that many people will be entertained with the series “Laughing Under the Clouds”.
For one, it’s a short anime series with only 12-episodes, there are a lot of action sequences and a lot of cool characters, especially as it deals with three brothers taking on unforgiving samurai’s and also ninjas.
But the series is an interesting take on the Meiji era when the shogunate was disbanded, many samurai lost their jobs and those who didn’t like what happened, rebelled and crime rates increased. And many samurai’s escaping incarceration.
In “Laughing Under the Clouds”, to house these criminals, an inescapable lake prison was created. And the Kumo brothers led by the eldest brother, Tenka, are responsible for taking these criminals by water to the prison. But the Kumo family does more than ferry criminals, they are also protecting the orochi vessel, which a monstrous orochi has been sealed for hundreds of years.
The Japanese military’s Yamainu Squad is looking for it but also others are looking for this vessel in order to unleash the Orochi.
While we see many people try to obtain the orochi vessel and people you think are on the side of good, showing their bad side, and also some on the bad side of things, showing their good side, “Laughing Under the Clouds” with its humor and action seems like a simple anime series but actually it’s quite complex. And there are also many scenes that will no doubt touch you as some tragic things may happen throughout the series. So, I’ll leave it at that and just say that for those who have interest in series revolving around samurai and ninjas, will enjoy this action-driven anime series.
As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.
Overall, “Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is an anime series that will entertain those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a good balance of humor and drama, cool characters and set in the Meiji era dealing with samurai and ninjas. How cool is that?
“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is worth checking out!
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