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Star Driver Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 23, 2012 by  



An anime series featuring all-out mecha action!   The conclusion of “Star Driver” ends literally with a bang and I can only hope that Bones considers a second season.  Exciting and overall an awesome mecha anime series on Blu-ray!  Definitely recommended!

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

TITLE: Star Driver Vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (300 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: January 17, 2012

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

The Kiraboshi Order of Cross continues to search for the other shrine maidens using the cybody Ayingott’s special ability. One by one, the Western and Eastern Shrine Maidens are revealed and their seals are unlocked, bringing Vanishing Age closer to their ultimate goal, unleashing the king Cybody, Samekh, from zero time into the real world. In order to stop them, Takuto will have to finally confront his father and battle his own best friend!

The truth about the Kiraboshi is revealed and to save the planet, Takuto must continue to fight until the very end in this final second volume of “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 second volume of the anime series will be released on Blu-ray in the United States courtesy of Bandai Entertainment.

“Star Driver” vol. 2 on Blu-ray features episodes 14-25 of the sci-fi action anime TV series.

A brief summary of what “Star Driver” is all about:

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.

In the second volume of “Star Driver”, the Kiraboshi continue their quest to find the maidens in order to resurrect Samekh, meanwhile the fight continutes as the Vanishing Age and Glittering Star members of the Kiraboshi Order of Cross challenge Takuto.

Meanwhile, Marino Yo, a member of the Glittering Crux of the Kiraboshi Order is trying to hide her comrades that her sister Mizuno is the Western Maiden.  And the Kiraboshi try to enlist Sugata as their leader to go against Takuto.  Will they be successful?  Will Takuto stand a chance against the more powerful members of the Kiraboshi Order?

The main characters of “Star Driver” (featured in Volume 2) 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 Ivrogne, a member of the Kiraboshi Order of Cross and leads the third section, “Bougainvilleae” squad and likes Sugata.  Unbeknown to the Kiraboshi, she is also the East Maiden.
  • 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.
  • Tiger Sugatame – A student at Southern Cross High School who is a maid for Sugata (and secretly likes him) but she is also hired to keep watch on Sugata and kill him if he ever flees the island or joins the Kiraboshi Order.
  • Jaguar Yamasugata – A student at Southern Cross High School and a maid for Sugata.  She is also hired to keep watch on Sugata and kill him if he ever flees the island or joins the Kiraboshi Order.

“Star Driver Vol. 2” features the following episodes:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 14: Ayingot’s Eyes – The Kirboshi order tries to repair Manticore’s cybody with hopes to find out who the West maiden is.
  • EPISODE 15: Shrine Maidens of the Seals – When Mizuno and Marino’s mother returns back to the island, since Mizuno is a maiden, will she be able to leave the island?  Meanwhile, Marino’s true identity is revealed.
  • EPISODE 16: Takuto’s Emblem – The Kiraboshi Order has captured Mizuno and break her seal to begin the Third Phase.
  • EPISODE 17: Vanishing Age – Head becomes the leader of Glittering Star and the Kiraboshi try to break the remaining two seals.  Takuto takes on Madoka Kei.
  • EPISODE 18: Kate’s Morning & Night – Takuto get sa job at the karaoke bar that Keito Nich works, unaware she is the Eastern maiden and a member of the Kiraboshi.
  • EPISODE 19: The Trio’s Sunday – It’s Wako’s birthday and both Sugata and Takuto try to enjoy the day with her.  Meanwhile, Kou Atari of the Kiraboshi intervenes.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 20: The Rainbow Painted That Day –Ryousuke Katashiro, Vanishing Age’s second in command reminisces about his past with Reiji and his former fiance Sora.  Takuto vs. Ginta Ryo.
  • EPISODE 21: The Libidinal Age – Madoka volunteers herself to be an experiment for the Kiraboshi.  But Takuto can’t fight back without hurting her.
  • EPISODE 22: On the Eve of the Legend – The drama club’s big day, meanwhile Keito reveals her powers to Sugata.
  • EPISODE 23: Emperor – Takuto must take on three members of the Kiraboshi.
  • EPISODE 24: Easter Shrine Maiden – Takuto and Wako are shocked to find out that both Keito and Sugata are members of teh Kiraboshi and that Samekh has broken free.
  • EPISODE 25: Our Apprivoiser  – Takuto, Wako and the Kiraboshi Order learn the true reason of why Reiji needed Samekh freed.

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. 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending Themes – Featuring the opening plus two endings via “Mizuno” and “Kate” versions.
  • Bandai Previews – Bandai Entertainment trailers

The release of “Star Driver Vol. 2” is an exciting conclusion to the anime series but also is quite bittersweet as Bandai Entertainment has announced that they are no longer releasing anime on Blu-ray and DVD (or manga) after February and will remained focused on licensing rights, especially in digital distribution and merchandising.

So, in essence, “Star Driver” will be the final mecha anime series and final TV anime series released on Blu-ray from Bandai Entertaiment in the United States.

But I suppose, if you have to go out in a bang, I will say that “Star Driver” was an anime series I have wanted to come to the United States and now that it’s over, I can easily let mecha fans know that this 25-episode series was definitely worth watching on Blu!

An anime series featuring all-out mecha action, “Star Driver” has a little bit of everything.  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.

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 12 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!

The second volume has now gone past the introductory phase for its characters and now focuses on storyline arcs, specifically with the Yo sisters and also the Kiraboshi’s quest to revive Samekh.  While the harem aspect is not as evident as it was in the first half of the series, this time around it focuses on Wako being confused if she likes her long-time friend and fiance Sugata or Takuto.  And if anything, there was this sense that Sugata would emerge from his shell.  We know the guy’s powerful and the writers would unleash him by the second half of the series.

What I enjoyed about “Star Driver” thus far, is the characters. A good variety of them with their own style and presentation.  But most importantly, it’s a mecha anime series that tends to distinguish itself from various “Gundam” series, especially “Code Geass Lelouch” which deals with the student life but is far more darker than “Star Driver”.  If anything, “Star Driver” is an easily accessible anime series that doesn’t try to become too deep or violent.  It’s a bit free flowing and focuses a lot more on character development for the primary characters and then the action.  So, writers typically had to divide the episode from focusing on the student life of Takuto, Sugata and Wako in the beginning and then the final half on the actual battle.

But definitely, “Star Driver” has a fresh storyline that distinguishes itself from the many mecha anime series that have been released in Japan within the last two decades.

So, overall… I’m quite content with the way the series had ended but it does leave things open for a second season which wouldn’t surprise me if “Star Driver” continues.

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 Bandai Entertainment trailers.

Overall, “Star Driver” is an anime series full of mecha action, cool characters and vibrant presentation, “Star Driver” is definitely recommended!






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