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Star Driver Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 19, 2011 by  



An anime series featuring all-out mecha action, a little harem plot but one teenager’s quest to defeat a mysterious group!  “Star Driver” is an exciting anime TV series on Blu-ray and by the last episode on volume 1, you’ll definitely be craving for more. Definitely one of my favorite anime TV series on Blu-ray for 2011!

Images courtesy of ©BONES/STAR DRIVER COMMITTEE, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Star Driver Vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen), Japanese Linear PCM 2.0, English Subtitles

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

COMPANY: Aniplex/Bandai Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: November 29, 2011

Directed by Takuya Igarashi

Series Composition by Yoji Enokido

Music by monaca, Satoru Kousaki

Original Character Design by Hiroka Mizuya, Misa Mizuya

Character Design by Yoshiyuki Ito

Art Director by Takeshi Waki

Anime Production by BONES

Featuring the voices of:

Jun Fukuyama as Sugata Shindou

Mamoru Miyano as Takuto Tsunashi

Saori Hayami as Wako Agemaki

Akira Ishida as Head

Ami Koshimizu as Keito Nichi

Ayana Taketatsu as Aragon Simone

Ayano Niina as Kanako Watanabe

Chiemi Chiba as Benio Shinada

Emiri Katou as Ruri Makina

Fumiko Orikasa as Sora

Haruka Tomatsu as Keta no Miko/Sakana-chan

Hiroko Ushida as Jaguar Yamasugata

Houko Kuwashima as Midori Okamoto

Kenichi Suzumura as Tsukihiko Bou/Stick Star

Kenji Akabane as Takashi Dai

Maaya Sakamoto as Sarina Endou

Mitsuki Saiga as Kou Atari

Nao Tōyama as Tiger Sugatame

Ooki Sugiyama as Tetsuya Gouda

Rina Hidaka as Mizuno You

Ryohei Kimura as Ginta Ryou/Camel Star

Ryou Hirohashi as Marino You/Manticore

Shinichiro Miki as Ryousuke Katashiro

Shun Takagi as George Honda

Yukana as Madoka Kei

Yuuki Kaji as Takeo Takumi/Sword Star

On the southern edge of Japan, the inhabitants of Southern Cross Island lead seemingly normal lives – but far beneath the surface of this quiet island lies an ancient secret that lays dormant until Takuto Tsunashi washes ashore one night…

Upon enrolling at Southern Cross Island High School, Takuto and his friends become embroiled in a conflict with a clandestine society to control giant machines, called Cybodies, sealed under the island whose powers are bound by special shrine maidens. What secrets will Takuto dig up, and how will he deal with the obstacles that lie ahead of him? This struggle will threaten to tear apart the entire island!

It’s one teenager taking on a mysterious group in the exciting mecha action anime series…”Star Driver”!

In Oct. 2010, the anime “Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto” began airing on Japanese television.  Directed by Takuya Igarashi (“Ojamajo Doremi”, “Ashita no Nadia”, “Darker than Black”) and a screenplay by Yoji Enokido (“Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Ouran High School Host Club”), a total of 25 episodes were aired on TBS and now the anime series will be released on Blu-ray in the United States courtesy of Bandai Entertainment.

“Star Driver” vol. 1 on Blu-ray features the first 13 episodes of the sci-fi action anime TV series.

The story is set in Southern Cross Isle, an island in which Wako Agemaki and Sugata Shindo were on the beach one day.  While talking to each other one night, they spot a teenager named Takuto who has washed up ashore.

Takuto happened to swim from the mainland to Southern Cross Isle to attend Southern Cross Island High School and all seems to be going well for the teenager as he makes new friends, especially with Wako and Sugata and is revealed to be the son of a famous painter (paintings which are featured throughout Sugata Shindo’s mansion).

Meanwhile, beneath the school is where Cybodies exist.  These Cybodies are mecha that can be controlled by humans in an alternate dimension known as “Zero Time” and a mysterious group known as the “Kiraboshi Order of Cross” are currently trying to take possession of the island’s Cybodies for their own persona purposes and break the seal of the island’s four shrine maidens.

One day, as Takuto is trying to enter a private area (illegally), he notices that his friend Wako Agemaki has been taken hostage by the mysterious group.  He tries to fight back but it appears that this group’s members are experienced fighters and it is revealed that some of these mysterious individuals are actual classmates and students of Southern Cross High School, people that Takuto have met and some he has befriended.

It is revealed that Wako is a one of the Shrine Maidens and she has the power to create the South Maiden Seal.

And as one of the members takes control of one of the Cybodies, the group is shocked that Takuto has managed to enter Zero Time and enter the seal.    And he calls upon a Cybody known as Tauburn and reveals himself as a Star Driver or “Ginga Bishounen” (Galactic Pretty Boy).

He easily defeats one of the members of the Order of Glittering Stars and with each loss, each member must give up their badge and are literally lose their position of becoming leader of the Order.  But they also realize that Takuto is not only a Star Driver with amazing power, he is also the biggest threat that stands in their way.

Now each member is willing to take on Takuto in order to see if they can defeat him with their special ability, while Takuto has dedicated himself into destroying every Cybody piloted by the Kiraboshi Order of Cross.

The main characters of “Star Driver” (featured in Volume 1) are:

  • Takuto Tsunashi – The main character who is good friends with Wako Agemaki and Sugata Shindo.  He is a member of the Night Flight drama club at Southern Cross Island High School and is also a pilot of the Cybody known as Tauburn and a Star Driver who plans to destroy every Cybody he fights against.  He’s also popular among the ladies and many start to fall for him.  He also loves to say words in English, is highly intelligent and has great athletic/fighting skills.
  • Wako Agemaki – A shrine maiden and her powers and existence creates the South Maiden Seal.  If the seal was to break, all Cybodies would be able to leave the island.  She is forbidden to leave the island and is engaged to Sugata out of family tradition.  She is often hungry and takes care of a yellow fox known as Vice.  She is also a member of the Midnight Flight drama club at Southern Cross Island High School.
  • Sugata Shindo – A member of the Midnight Flight drama club at Southern Cross Island High School, Sugata is from a very wealthy family and is engaged to Wako.  He is calm, intelligent and a great fighter.  He is able to use his First Phase powers to assist Takuto in battles.  He has a mysterious side to him and an interest in Takuto for some reason.
  • Benio Shimada – A Pink-haired girl who is the kendo champ and the Resident Advisor of the school dorms.  She is also a member of the Kiraboshi Order of Cross and likes to control people, but has interest in those who are stronger than her.  Her code name is Scarlett Kiss and leads the Filament Squad and pilots the Cybody known as Peshent.
  • Kanako Watanabe – The green-haired promiscuous married student.  Kanako is married to a 65-year-old tycoon named Leon Watanabe and lives in a a luxury cruise ship. She is a member of the  Kiraboshi Order of Cross and wants her husband’s company to own all Cybodies on the island.  She is an excellent fighter, but a very bored wife.  Her code name is “The President and leads the fourth section, “Adult Bank” squad. Her Cybody is Betreida.
  • Simone Aragon – Kanako’s assistant who despises her.  She is also a member of the  Kiraboshi Order of Cross and a Cybody pilot.  She is actually named Pamela Watanabe,  the daughter of Kanako’s husband and Kanako’s step-daughter who lost her memory after an accident.  A member of the “Adult Bank” squad, her Cybody is Daletos.
  • Takashi Dai – Kanako’s employee and a member of the Kiraboshi Order of Cross.  A member of the “Adult Bank” squad, he is also a very good kendo swordsman and among the first to challenge Takuto via his Cybody Tzadikt.
  • Mizuno Yo – The twin sister of Marino and is known as the “witch girl” because she is always talking about magical spells.  She is able to talk to birds and falls for Takuto because he saves a bird for her.  She is also the West Maiden of the island.
  • Marino Yo – The twin sister of Mizuno.  She is a member of the  Kiraboshi Order of Cross and goes by the name of Manticore.  But she uses her position to secretly hide the fact that her twin sister is the Western Maiden.  She also has feelings for Takuto.
  • Keito Nichi – A childhood friend of Wako and Sugata and is known for wearing eyeglasses.  She is a member of the  Kiraboshi Order of Cross and leads the third section, “Bougainvilleae” squad and likes Sugata.
  • Reiji Miyabi – Leader of the Glittering Star’s second section “Vanishing Age” squad and had kept the North Maiden locked in a  cage.  He proposes that anyone in the group who can beat Takuto can be the order’s main leader.  He pilots the Cybody, Reshbal.
  • George Honda – A member of the high school’s boxing club and a member of the  Kiraboshi Order of Cross “Filament” squad.  He is the first opponent to take on Takuto.

“Star Driver Vol. 1” features the following episodes:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1: The Ginga Bishounen – Introduction to Takato and his confrontation with the ” Kiraboshi Order of Cross”.
  • EPISODE 2: Challenge of the Kiraboshi Order of Cross – Wako introduces Takuto to her drama club friends, meanwhile the Kiraboshi Order of Cross makes a plan that whoever defeats Takuto becomes the leader of the group.
  • EPISODE 3: The Otona Bank – Kanako gives Takuto a chance to earn some money, meanwhile one of her employees challenges Takuto in a Cybody fight.
  • EPISODE 4: Wako’s Song – Takuto learns about Wako’s duties as a Shrine maiden.
  • EPISODE 5: The Meaning of Mandrake – Takuto vs. Professor Green in Zero Space.
  • EPISODE 6: The King’s Pillar – It’s Sugata’s birthday and we learn that Sugata also has a Cybody and why he hates his birthday.
  • EPISODE 7: Faraway World – Takuto is challenged by another member of the Kiraboshi Order of the Cross, meanwhile Sugata is unconscious.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 8: Always Like a Shooting Star – After Sugata’s incident, Takuto and Sugata begin to fight each other.  Meanwhile, Scarlet Kiss captures Sugata.
  • EPISODE 9: That Mizuno’s First Love – The Order of Cross tries to search for the west maiden, meanwhile Mizuno begins to fall for Takuto.
  • EPISODE 10: And Now Marino’s First Love for Personal Gain – After playing a baseball game against Takuto, is Marino developing feelings towards Takuto?
  • EPISODE 12: A Kiss Through the Glass – Takuto vs. The President
  • EPISODE 13: The Red Sword in Love – Takuto vs. Scarlet Kiss, fight #2.

VIDEO:

“Star Driver” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen).  What I love about this series is the fact that it’s vibrant and full of colors.  A lot of orange and reds are used and the anime series looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  While it is a TV series and not an OVA and film, still…the character designs are well-done (especially for a series that incorporates many characters) and painted backgrounds are also well-done and very detailed.

The mech design is also pretty cool to look at but I did notice that they do reuse Takuto and Tauburn’s introduction before each battle in every episode (reminiscent of the magical girl transformations in older anime series) but for the most part, for an action-packed series, I enjoyed the character and mechanical designs.  Colors are vibrant and didn’t notice any banding or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO:

“Star Driver” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM 2.0 and is a front channel-driven lossless soundtrack.  Dialogue and sound effects and music are clear, but it would have been great to hear this TV series as a more immersive 5.1 soundtrack (since there is so much action featured) but since it’s a TV series, not many anime series straight from Japan are created in 5.1.

But overall, the 2.0 lossless track is good but if you have a receiver that can play stereo on all channels, choosing that setting may be to your liking.

It’s important to note that this anime release on Blu-ray does not come with an English dub track.

Subtitles are in English and are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Star Driver Vol. 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending Themes  –  Featuring the opening plus two endings via “Sakana-chan” and “Mizuno” versions.
  • Trailer – Original trailer for “Star Driver”.
  • Bandai Previews – Bandai Entertainment trailers

An anime series featuring all-out mecha action, a little harem plot but one teenager’s quest to defeat a mysterious group!  “Star Driver” is an exciting anime TV series on Blu-ray and by the last episode on volume 1, you’ll definitely be craving for more. Definitely one of my favorite anime TV series on Blu-ray for 2011!

My first introduction to “Star Driver” was through an iPhone app on iTunes Japan and because because it was being promoted along with a Gundam app, I looked at a few trailers online to learn more about the series and noticed the mecha action involved and also learning that the series has a pretty significant following Japan.  Needless to say, I was hoping someday the series would be released in the U.S. and now it’s here on Blu-ray courtesy of Bandai Entertainment!

What’s cool about this Blu-ray release of “Star Driver” is that Bandai Entertainment included 13 episodes, which is definitely a major plus as their Blu-ray releases tend to have only 4-5 episodes per volume.  So, that’s definitely great for anime fans who have been wanting Bandai Blu-ray releases with more episodes included!

What I enjoyed about “Star Driver” thus far, is the characters.  A good variety of them with their own style and presentation.

The main protagonist Takuto is mysterious in his own right.  How did he become a Star Driver and what is his past?  We know he is gifted with heightened sense and intellect but he can also fight.  So, I’m sure the second half of the season will delve into his past.

But then you get a bunch of characters, many that are female and in harem fashion, slowly these women who hate Takuto at first, begin to like him.   One thing that I liked about this series is they made Takuto pretty brave, especially during the flirtation sequences made by these female characters.  Usually, in a banal way, most guys get scared or you see the typical blood flowing out of their nose when excited by a female character but for “Star Driver”, he’s a pretty direct and brave guy.  Cool and also very nice to the people that he meets.

Aside from Takuto’s supporting characters such as Wako and Sugata, you have the buxom green-haired student named Kanako, who could care less if she’s loud in class and wants to talk about her libido or what she wants to do to Takuto.  No one dares speak out against her because she’s so rich and powerful but also, it’s this fetish of hers of wanting to fool around, not 100% but letting guys kiss her through a window.

Then you have Benio Shinada, the kendo champ and Resident Advisor of the school dorms.  She is adamant to the students about the school rules but breaks them while entering the hot baths when Takuto is naked and alone or sneaking into his bedroom, before he is about to sleep.  For a sweet looking girl, she also has this dominant personality.

You also have Simone Aragon, an assistant of Kanako Watanabe who despises her boss.  The twins, Mizuno and Marino Yo who both are falling for Takuto.

And with all these women, they all happen to be members of the mysterious Kiraboshi Order of Cross, the group that Takuto wants to destroy.

Although obvious to the audience that these friends that Takuto has at school are members of the Order, you wonder if he is fully aware who they are and if he cares or not.

But so far, the series is an interesting mecha action anime series with plenty of humor and characters that are simply delightful to watch.

The Blu-ray release is beautiful as the animation is well-done, especially the character designs and also the painted backgrounds are full of detail.  If anything, colors are vibrant and look great on Blu-ray.  While the audio is only Japanese linear PCM 2.0, I wish it was 5.1 but most anime TV series are typically stereo straight from Japan.   As for special features, you get the textless opening and endings along with the trailer.

Overall, “Star Driver” is turning out to be among one of my favorite anime TV series to watch in 2011.

A series full of action, cool characters and vibrant presentation, “Star Driver” is definitely recommended!

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