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Gintama (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

I personally don’t like manga to film adaptations because far often, the films tend to stray from the original storyline too much and for popular film adaptations from well-known manga/anime series, too often the film adaptations aren’t any good.  Fortunately, “Gintama” is an exception because not only does the film do a great job of bringing out the crazy characters and also pop culture gags, but it’s a hilarious, fun, action-packed film that makes you want to watch “Gintama” again and again.

Images courtesy of © Hideaki Sorachi/Shueisha. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gintama

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 131 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanes Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: March 16, 2018


Directed by Fukuda Yuichi

Original Manga by Hideaki Sorachi

Screenplay by Yuichi Fukuda

Music by Eishi Segawa


Starring:

Shun Oguri as Gintoki Sakata

Kanna Hashimoto as Kagura

Masaki Okada as Kotaro Katsura

Yuya Yagira as Toshiro Hijikata

Masaki Suda as Shinpachi Shimura

Masami Nagasawa as Tae Shimura

Takayuki Yamada as the voice of Elizabeth

Koichi Yamadera as the voice of Yoshida Shoyo

Ryo Yoshizawa as Sougo Okita

Akari Hayami as Tetsuko Murata

Hirofumi Arai as Nizo Okada

Kankuro Nakamura as Isao Kondo

Ken Yasuda as Tetsuya Murata

Seiji Rokkaku as Char Aznable

Tsuyoshi Muro as Gengai Hiraga

Mikako Takahashi as the voice of Sadaharu

Youta Tanaka as Young Gintoki Sakata

Tsuyoshi Domoto as Shinsuke Takasugi


Set in the alternate Edo-period Japan, an alien race from outer space have invaded the country and taken control, forcing the once powerful Samurai to lay down their swords. Once feared as the White Demon , former samurai Gintoki Sakata, works as an everyday handyman until a master swordsman tasks Gintoki and his friends with finding a cursed sword to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Packed with the sword-swinging sci-fi action and offbeat humor, Gintama is a journey through a visually-stunning universe where fantastical action lurks around every corner.


Since 2003, “Gin Tama”, which means “Silver Soul” has been a manga series that has entertained many “Shonen Jump” fans. Written and illustrated by mangaka Hideaki Sorachi, the popular manga received an anime adaptation which has aired in Japan since 2006 and a live action film was made and a second planned for release in 2018.

“Gin Tama” is a series that takes place during the Edo Period (Tokyo – 1860’s) but in this alternate reality of the Edo Period, aliens known as Amanto have conquered Japan and because of the war against the samurai’s, the Amanto have banned swords in public and are now co-existing with the humans (more like humans are forced to co-exist with the Amanto).   Also, technology has been shared with the people of Japan allowing space travel, giving them access to cars, mopeds, television and more.

The series focuses on the silver haired Gintoki Sakata and his two freelancers who will perform odd jobs for a fee, but sometimes these odd jobs turn out to be more destructive than realized.

A little summary of the primary three characters:

Gintoki Sakata is the owner of “Odd Jobs Gin”.  Often lazy, likes reading manga, picking his nose or his ear and is late on his rent payments.  Willing to take on odd jobs for a living but is also an excellent swordsman who despises the Amanto and those who co-exist with them.  Despite the sword ban, Gintoki carries a wooden sword.

And assisting him with these odd jobs is Kagura, an alien girl of the Yato Clan who looks human but has tremendous strength.  Kagura fled to Earth to earn money but also to get away from her violent Yato heritage.  In Earth, she has to hold an umbrella (which functions also as a weapon) to prevent sunlight from damaging her translucent skin.  She loves pickled seaweed, eating, money and often has a temper.  She also is blunt about things that women don’t say in public.  Shinpachi “Four Eyes” Shimura is a teenager who wants to learn the ways of the samurai and thus becomes a freelancer at Odd Jobs Gin.  Often the voice of reason but is hardly listened to and is often a person who receives some sort of punishment.  Lives with his sister Tae.

Meanwhile, the three try to keep getting in trouble with the Shinsengumi, a special police for under the control of the Shogunate.

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Gintama” is directed and features a screenplay by Yuichi Fukuda (“HK: Forbidden Hero”, “Jossy’s”, “Blue Fame”).  The film stars Shun Oguri (“Crows Zero”, “Harlock: Space Pirate”, “Lupin the 3rd”), Kanna Hashimoto (“Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Graduation”, “Assassination Classroom”), Masaki Suda (“Kamen Rider W”), Masami Nagasawa (“Godzilla: Final Wars”, “Our Little Sister”, “Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.”), Masaki Okada (“Confessions”, “A Pierrot”), Yuya Yagira (“Nobody Knows”, “Destruction Babies”), Ryo Yoshizawa (“Kamen Rider Fourze”), Akari Hayami (“Forget Me Not”, “My Pretend Girlfriend”), Hirofumi Arai (“Confessions”, “100 Yen Love”, “Parasyte”), Kankuro Nakamura (“Shinsengumi”, Sanada Jyuyushi”), Ken Yasuda (“Shomuni”, “Black Butler”) and the voices of Takayuki Yamada (“Crows Zero”, “Gantz”, “13 Assassins”) and legendary anime voice actor Koichi Yamadera.

There are murders happening in the city and one day, Gintoki’s friend Kotaro Katsura, who is a great swordsman, is murdered by a man carrying a crimson sword.

Gintoki is hired by two swordsmiths, Tesuya Murata  and his sister Tetsuko to find the crimson sword known as Benizakura.  Not telling him that the sword is special.  As Gintoki investigates, he is unaware of what has happened to his friend and how dangerous this sword really is.

Also, looking for this crimson sword is the police force, the Shinsengumi.  Isao Kondo is the Commander who can’t seem to keep his clothes on, while his Vice-Commander Toshiro Hijikata can’t help but keep eating.  Meanwhile, Sogo Okita is an excellent swordsman but prefers to carry a huge bazooka.

Meanwhile, Kotaro’s alien friend, Elizabeth (looks like a man wearing a bird outfit) comes to get help from Gintoki, but because he is busy, Kagura and Shinpachi go to try and help.  Shinpachi goes with Elizabeth, while Kagura goes with her large dog inugami, Sadaharu.

And also arriving to the scene is the extremist group Kiheitai led by Gintoki and Kotaro’s childhood friend, Shinsuke Takasugi.  What is his purpose of showing up all of a sudden?

And who is responsible for these murders?


VIDEO:

“Gintama” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is a film that looks great in HD. Visual effects were great and black levels were nice and deep, lighting was good and closeups show very good detail.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gintama” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Stereo 2.0. Dialogue is crystal clear, action sequences utilize the surround channels quite well. Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Gintama” comes with no special features.


“Gintama” is a hilarious film based on the very popular manga and anime series from Japan.   An action-driven storyline that takes place in an alternate world, full of action and gags, but also references to other popular manga and anime series, “Gintama” was a film that I would have never expected to receive a live film adaptation.

The fact that “Gintama” takes place during the Edo Period and humanity was beaten by aliens and now co-existing with them and sharing technology is quite unique. But it’s the characters that bring something different to the series.

The characters of “Gintama” are just odd. The main protagonist, Gintoki is a booger picking, manga reading, lazy hero that is driven by money but when he is in battle, he’s quick during his sword fights and shows amazing skill as a swordsman and fighter.

Kagura seems like a sweet alien girl but she’s perverted (although her bluntness is more of naivety) in the manner she speaks and has this intense strength that makes her quite scary.  She has a huge appetite and her fighting skills are also fantastic.

And then you get the character Shinpachi, the normal guy often referred as “Four Eyes” because he wears eyeglasses, who wants to be a samurai and so he works with Gintoki as an assistant.  He tries to be the voice of reason but ends up being the person who gets the raw end of the deal.

And it’s not these three that are unusual, you have other characters like the members of the Shinsengumi, with a Commander who is always naked, a Vice-Commander who is always with a cigarette in his mouth and is always eating and a captain who is an excellent swordsman but prefers to carry a huge bazooka.

But what can you expect when you have a title “Gintama” which is an interesting name by original creator Hideaki Sorachi which is used as a pun on the word “Kintama” which means testicles. “Gintama” is pretty much an action-comedy film adaptation that may not be 100% like the manga and anime series, but it comes damn close.   There are jokes that parody Japanese pop culture and even several nods to other Shonen Jump and popular manga/anime titles.

The film manages to bring out the humor of the manga/anime series to film.  You can’t help but enjoy these characters because they are so far off and unusual.

While Shun Oguri is known for playing characters for films based on popular manga/anime, what was surprising is to see idol singer Kanna Hashimoto playing the character of Kagura.  For a new actress, she did an amazing job playing Kagura and bringing out that naivety of Kagura but also her amazing hunger and fighting skills.  Kagura is a huge part of the gag factor in the manga/anime and it was great to see that come to play in the film.

“Kamen Rider” fans will no doubt enjoy seeing “Kamen Rider W” actor Masaki Suda playing Shinpachi and also Ryo Yoshizawa who played Kamen Rider Meteor from “Kamen Rider Fourze” as Shinsengumi Captain Sougo Okita.

The film also manages to bring many other characters to the film such as Gintoki’s frienemy Takasugi Shinsuke (portrayed by KinKi Kids singer Tsuyoshi Domoto), Shinpachi’s sister Tae (portrayed by Masami Nagasawa), the gun toting Matako Kijima (portrayed by Nanao) and much more.

As for the Blu-ray, the Blu-ray release looks great.  Visual effects look great, action sequences are well-done and the film shows very good detail especially on close-ups.  As for the lossless soundtrack, Japanese dialogue is crystal clear and sound effects sound great through the surround channels.  It’s important to note that this film is in Japanese with English subtitles, there is no English dub included.  Unfortunately, unlike the Japanese Blu-ray release, the US releases comes with no special features.

Overall, I personally don’t like manga to film adaptations because far often, the films tend to stray from the original storyline too much and for popular film adaptations from well-known manga/anime series, too often the film adaptations aren’t any good.  Fortunately, “Gintama” is an exception because not only does the film do a great job of bringing out the crazy characters and also pop culture gags, but it’s a hilarious, fun, action-packed film that makes you want to watch “Gintama” again and again.

“Gintama” is recommended!

 

Darkest Hour (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Darkest Hour” is Joe Wright’s finest film.  And with each film that he works on, you see the filmmaker elevate to a level that makes you feel that he is close to creating a defining masterpiece.  “Darkest Hour” is no doubt a great film that is built upon the foundation of great casting and acting.  An excellent performance from Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Darkest Hour

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 2 Hrs. and 5 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:85:1), English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Espanol Dolby Digital 7.2, Subtitles: English SDH, Francais, Espanol

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2018


Directed by Joe Wright

Written by Anthony McCarten

Produced by Tim Bevan, Lisa Bruce, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten, Douglas Urbanski

Associate Producer: Katherine Keating

Executive Producer: James Biddle, Liza Chasin, Lucas Webb

Music by Dario Marianelli

Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel

Edited by Valerio Bonellli

Casting by Jina Jay

Production Design by Sarah Greenwood

Art Direction by Oliver Goodier, Nick Gottschalk, Joe Howard

Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran


Starring:

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Kristin Scott Thomas as Clemmie

Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI

Lily James as Elizabeth Layton

Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain

Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax

Nicholas Jones as Sir John Simon

Samuel West as Sir Anthony Eden

David Schofield as Clement Atlee

Richard Lumsden as General Ismay

Malcolm Storry as General Ironside


Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman gives a “towering performance” (Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair) in acclaimed director Joe Wright’s soaring drama Darkest Hour. As Hitler’s forces storm across the European landscape and close in on the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill (Oldman) is elected the new Prime Minister. With his party questioning his every move, and King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) skeptical of his new political leader, it is up to Churchill to lead his nation and protect them from the most dangerous threat ever seen. Also starring Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James, Darkest Hour is a powerful, inspirational drama.


From award-winning director Joe Wright (“Pride & Prejudice”, “Atonement”, “Anna Karenina”) comes his critically-acclaimed film “Darkest Hour”.

The British war drama written by Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”, “Death of a Superhero”) and starring Gary Oldman (“The Dark Knight”, “The Fifth Element”, “Air Force One”), Kristen Scott Thomas (“The English Patient”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Gosford Park”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, “Animal Kingdom”, “The Dark Knight Rises”), Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies”, “Burnt”), Ronald Pickup (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, “The Day of the Jackal”) and Stephen Dillane (“Game of Thrones”, “King Arthur”, “The Hours”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

“Darkest Hour” begins in 1940 and the Labour Party in Parliament demands the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (portrayed by Ronald Pickup) for being too weak as the Nazi has been showing their domination in Europe.

As Chamberlain wants Lord Halifax (portrayed by Stephen Dillane) as his successor, Halifax does not want the position just yet, so Chamberlain chooses the only man that would receive support from both parties, Winston Churchill (portrayed by Gary Oldman), the First Lord of the Admiralty.

While Churchill has always heard each year that he may be the next Prime Minister, he gets a new secretary named Elizabeth Layton (portrayed by Lily James), but he is very cruel and hard on her, screaming at her when she makes a mistake on the first day of the job.  But coming to her defense is Clemmie, who is a woman who stands her own to her husband and tells her that he is becoming unbearable of late.

Unfortunately, Winston Churchill doesn’t have the best reputation because of the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War (Britain and France launched a naval attack to capture the Ottoman capital and failed), his views on India (he blamed the Indians for famine and opposed Ghandi) and his support for Edward VIII’s abdication.  But Churchill is promoted to become the next Prime Minister.

Churchill stands firm on refusing to negotiate for peace with Adolf Hitler, which puts him in opposition of the French Prime Minister who believes Churchilli s delusional for not admitting that the Allied Forces are losing the Battle of France.   And also in disagreement with Churchill is former Prime Minister Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, as both want to push for negotiations with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Both men conspire to find a way to have Churchill removed from his position, but can Churchill find a way to overcome his detractors?


VIDEO:

“Darkest Hour” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). The film shows great detail on closeups and low-light situations are presented well.  The prosthetics utilized for Gary Oldman to look like Winston Churchill is magnificent.  The transformation was extraordinary.  Colors are natural and for the most part, the film looks wonderful in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Darkest Hour” is presented in English Dolby Atmos, Francais Dolby Digital 5.1 and Espanol Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.  The film is primarily dialogue and music-driven.  Dialogue and the music soundtrack are crystal clear.  There are scenes such as scenes of war or arguments in parliament which lends to crowd ambiance that contributes to the use of the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, Francais and Espanol.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Darkest Hour” comes with the following special features:

  • Into the Darkest Hour – (8:16) The making of “Darkest Hour”, interview with the director and cast and discussion about the primary characters of the film.
  • Gary Oldman: Becoming Churchill – (4:19) An interview with Gary Oldman on playing Winston Churchill.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Joe Wright

EXTRAS:

“Darkest Hour” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD and Movies Anwyhere code.


For those who have read many articles and books about Winston Churchill, one can understand that he’s a complex individual.

Often painted as a hero for standing his ground for not negotiating with the enemy and having faith in the allied forces to continue and fight on, Churchill is often portrayed as a no-nonsense, driven man who did his country proud.

But in truth, there is more to Winston Churchill, good and bad, and that is what filmmaker Joe Wright and writer Anthony McCarten did very well with “Darkest Hour” and that is to show a flawed, complex man that took a position that no one wanted, where most felt that the Allied Forces were in a losing position and no one wanted the role to be the man that would be the fall guy if Britain was to lose the war.

If anything, this is where history would show that Winston Churchill was a man that was not very liked, he was stubborn, he was quite flawed but he was also man who was proud of his country and he helped save the world.

But what a film like “Darkest Hour” also does, is to show other people in his life such as his wife Clementine, who was just as headstrong as he was and possibly one the few people that Churchill dared not cross.  While the film does show the stress public life had on the two.

The other is secretary Elizabeth Layton, while the story of her brother at Dunkirk was fictionalized, her 1958 memoir “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” gave insight to the life of her working with Winston Churchill and how demanding he was and also very hard to please.

How these characters were interwoven into the more personal details of Winston Churchill’s life was well-done, but also integrating the behind-the-scenes undermining between Chamberlain and Halifax.

The casting for the film was excellent.  Gary Oldman in prosthetics did an amazing job of playing Winston Churchill, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine and Lily James as Elizabeth Layton was also fantastic and you have to give casting a thumbs up by finding actors that look similar to their real counterpart. The casting of Stephen Dillane was wonderful as he bares a resemblance to Viscount Halifax.

The film is primarily focused on Churchill’s work at home or government buildings but the film does show at times where you see overhead shots when Churchill was flying over France.  And you get a few scenes that show war situations, but for the most part, the film is strictly focused on Churchill making difficult decisions, trying to convince his fellow politicians for their support and also his working relationship with Elizabeth Layton.

“Darkest Hour” is no doubt an intriguing film that gives wonderful insight to Winston Churchill’s first month in office but also how this complex individual would stand his ground when things were looking very bad for him, whether it was to have him removed in office or facing the reality that Britain may try to negotiate with Hitler and Nazi Germany. And of course, we know from history books of what Churchill had done and how he won support to carry on the war against Germany but to also find a way to save his fellow soldiers in Dunkirk.

Overall, “Darkest Hour” is Joe Wright’s finest film.  And with each film that he works on, you see the filmmaker elevate to a level that makes you feel that he is close to creating a defining masterpiece.  “Darkest Hour” is no doubt a great film that is built upon the foundation of great casting and acting.  An excellent performance from Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” is recommended!

 

Kickboxer: Retaliation (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” stays consistent with being an exciting popcorn action film and making sure that it doesn’t let it up on the action.  So, no doubt fans of “Kickboxer: Vengeance” will enjoy “Retaliation”.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Kickboxer Retaliation, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kickboxer Retaliation

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2018

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (16:9), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2018


Directed by Dimitri Logothetis

Written by Dmitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath

Produced by Robert Hickman, Dimitri Logothetis

Co-Producer: Kamel Krifa, Jim McGrath

Line Producer: Scott Putnam

Executive Producer: Jeff Bowler, Nicholas Celozzi, Luke Daniels, Phil Hunt, Bey Logan, Nat McCormick, Larry Nealy, Alan Pao, Compton Ross, Jay Strommen, Steven Swadling

Co-Executive Producer: Tommy Tang, Gary Wood

Music by Adam Dorn

Cinematographer: Gerard Madrazo

Edited by Christopher Robin Bell, Daniel McDonald

Casting by Dean E. Fronk, Thitiya Thongbai, Mike Leeder

Production Design by Toey Jaruvaatekul

Costume Design by Terri Middleton


Starring:

Alain Moussi as Kurt Sloane

Christopher Lambert as Thomas Moore

Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Durand

Mike Tyson as Biggs

Sara Malakul Lane as Liu

Hafbor Julius Bjornsson as Mongkut

Sam Medina as Crawford

Steven Swadling as Joseph King

Miles Strommen as Rupert

Jessica Jann as Gamon

Maxime Savaria as Somsak

Wanderlei Silva as Chud


One year after finding vengeance for his murdered brother, MMA champion Kurt Sloane finds himself back in Thailand kidnapped and imprisoned there by a powerful gangster (Christopher Lambert). His only shot at freedom is to win an underground death match against a 400lb killer enhanced with state-of the-art drugs (Game of Thrones’ Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) . To make it out alive, he seeks training unlike anything he s ever endured, with the help of the legendary Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and fellow prisoner Briggs (Mike Tyson).


Back in 1989, Jean-Claude Van Damme was riding high as an emerging action star thanks to his appearance in the 1988 film “Bloodsport” and spoiling action fans with his martial arts and flexibility years earlier in the 1986 film, “No Retreat, No Surrender”.

In 1989, Van Damme would star as the character Kurt Sloane for “Kickboxer” and four more films starring other actors.

In 2016, the film series would receive a reboot titled “Kickboxer: Vengeance” as actor/stunman Alain Moussi would take on the role of Kurt Sloane, while Jean-Claude Van Damme would becoming his mentor, Master Durand.

In 2018, the sequel “Kickboxer: Retaliation” would reunite the action stars and would also star Mike Tyson, “Game of Thrones” actor Hafbor Julius Bjornsson and the main antagonist portrayed by Christopher Lambert.

And now “Kickboxer: Retaliation” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film takes place 18-months after Kurt Sloane would avenge his brother’s death by killing Tong Po in self defense.  After the fight, he is met by two men claiming to be U.S. Marshals informing him he must return to Thailand for the murder of Tong Po.  When Kurt asks to see their badge, he is tasered.

Sloane awakens in a prison in Thailand and is informed that the mastermind of the underground fighting tournament is Thomas Tang Moore (portrayed by Christopher Lambert) and told that he was to stay in Thailand and remain there as the new champion.

The current champion is a huge, biologically engineered fighter named Mongkut (portrayed by Hafbor Julius Bjornsson) and is offered $1 million to fight.  But Sloane refuses.

Stuck in prison, Sloane is repeatedly tortured and beaten and he eventually meets Briggs (portrayed by Mike Tyson), a boxer that tries to train Sloane on how to live through the pain but also tells him that his Muay Thai teacher, Durand, comes to train some of the prisoners but now he is blind.

When Durand finds out who Mongkut is, Durand and Briggs try to put Sloane through intense training.  But as Thomas Tang Moore tries to get Sloane to fight, he refuses.

So, Moore has Sloane’s wife, Liu (portrayed by Sara Malakul Lane) kidnapped forcing Sloane to accept a fight against the underground’s top fighter, Mongkut.

Can Sloane beat him?


VIDEO:

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). The film shows great detail on closeups and low-light situations are presented well. Colors are natural and for the most part, the film looks good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film features a strong soundtrack utilizing front and center channels for dialogue but surround channels utilized for sound effects and crowd ambiance.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” comes with a “Meet the Fighters” featurette.

EXTRAS:

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD.


Alain Moussi has no doubt got his opportunity of a lifetime by becoming a featured action-star in the recent “Kickboxer” films.

Having done the stunts for major films such as “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “X-Men: Apocalypse”, “Suicide Squad” to name a few, Moussi is able to showcase his fighting skills and he no doubt has done a very good job at it.

Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme had to prove his himself before getting consistent work as a major lead and Alain Moussi is no doubt experiencing the same, showcasing his fighting skills and of course, his stunt talent and not quitting his day job, by still working on the major superhero films.

These last two “Kickboxer” films are no doubt a good start.

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” is a popcorn action films, where it’s action upon action and while the acting is kept to a minimum.  Surprisingly, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s role as a blind master, has quite a bit of dialogue and also has a few action scenes as well.

While Christopher Lambert is the primary antagonist in the film for the majority of the film, once “Game of Thrones” star Hafbor Julius Bjornsson’s Mongkut comes into contact with Sloane, Mongkut immediately becomes the top antagonist and if anything, the casting of Bjornsson was perfect and his character role was no doubt a formidable fighting foe for Sloane this time around.  It becomes a “David and Goliath” story and you can’t help but wonder how Sloane would be able to take on someone so huge and dominating.

In the 2016 film, “Kickboxer: Vengeance”, former WWE star Dave Bautista as Tong Po was no doubt a huge, powerful antagonist.  But for “Kickboxer: Retaliation”, Bjornsson is literally a human mountain, tall and powerful and because of his sheer size, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Bjornsson playing more antagonist roles or being utilized in a big budget superhero film in the near future because of his size.

As for Mike Tyson, he did a much better job on this film compared to his role in the martial arts film “Ip Man 3”.   Tyson has a good fight scene, but the director did a good job at keeping Tyson to what he knows best, boxing.  And seeing him train Sloane and letting him stay within his element and his acting skills have improved.

Overall, “Kickboxer: Retaliation” stays consistent with being an exciting popcorn action film and making sure that it doesn’t let it up on the action.  So, no doubt fans of “Kickboxer: Vengeance” will enjoy “Retaliation”.

 

Dragon Ball Super – Part 3 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a battle between brothers as Beerus and his fighters from Universe 7 take on Champa and his fighters from Universe 6 in “Dragon Ball Super” Part 3.  An action-packed arc and it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan, “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 3

DURATION: (Episodes 27-39) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: February 20, 2018


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Brad Jackson as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After a startling meeting with Beerus’ brother Champa goes sideways, the godly brothers decide to settle their differences in the best way possible: by putting their best fighters to the test.

It’s a battle of universes as Universe 7—the home of Goku and the Z Fighters—faces Universe 6 in a brand-new Martial Arts Tournament! And the ultimate prize is one worth fighting for—the Super Dragon Balls from Universe 6. Can Goku gather the best fighters for a chance at true glory? And who is the mysterious Monaka that Beerus boasts as his strongest warrior? Get ready for an out-of-this-world competition!


It’s the conclusion of the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza and the beginning of  the Universe 6 and 7 Invitational Fighting Tournament as Beerus team takes on his twin, Champa’s team for the Super Dragon Balls.

But Goku must take on Frost, someone that looks exactly like Frieza and what happens when Vegeta takes on a fellow Saiyan?

All this and more in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”!

What is “Dragon Ball Super” about?

With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired. The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet. Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

The conclusion as Son Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza is continued in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”.

And all was going well as Goku and Vegeta undergo intense training but all is interrupted when Champa and Vados shows up to visit Beerus and Whis.

The two have a disagreement of which universe has better food and when Beerus introduces Champa to Cup Ramen, Champa proposes a challenge. A fighting tournament featuring Universe 6’s best fighters vs. Beerus’ choice of five of Universe 7’s best fighters. Whoever wins gets access to the Super Dragon Balls and Champa’s goal is to switch Earth’s and have Beerus’ Earth switch places with the barren/devastated by war Earth of Universe 6.

All agree to have this tournament take place and now Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Boo and a fighter of Beerus’ choosing will need to take on Champa’s top five fighters.


VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native). The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant. Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes. I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese). Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 3” comes with the following special features:

  • Anime Expo 2017 Interview with Sean Schemmel & Jason Douglas – (18:48) Interview with Sean Schemmel (voice of Son Goku) and Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus).
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 3 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 27-39.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs. Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 3, we get the conclusion to the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza.  But quickly the series changes gears as Son Goku and friends will need to take on the top warriors of Universe 6. In some ways, it’s kind of an Akira Toriyama nod to DC Comics with Superman and the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 and the differences of similar universes but different outcomes for various planets in the universe.

And with volume 2, the tournament between Beerus team (which includes Goku, Vegeta and Piccolo) vs. Champa’s team (which includes Frost, who looks like Frieza; a saiyan; an assassin and a killer robot) kicks off in high gear and what an entertaining and exciting battle. More importantly, where battles last for so long in “Dragon Ball Z”, I’m glad these battles and the tournament is not stretched out for too long.

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors. Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Sean Schemmel and Jason Douglas.

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

 

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is another action-packed, thrilling series and the conclusion of the “Kyoto Saga” has proven to be wonderful!  Fans of the series will no doubt want to check out “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2”!   Recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA, Blue Exorcist Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 7-12) 140 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: February 13, 2018


Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition by Toshiya Ono

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Kohta Yamamoto

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw


Blue Exorcist, the manga by Kazue Kato which has surpassed 15 million copies in sales. Following a TV anime series and a theatrical film, the long-awaited new series has come back! Set in Kyoto, a new chapter of Blue Exorcist is about to begin…

Rin’s anger towards Ryuji Suguro releases as blue flame in front of everyone, resulting in Rin being thrown into prison. While locked up, Shura delivers a letter to Rin from Tatsuma, Ryuji’s father and the head priest of Myohda Sect. From the letter they learn of the relationship between Tatsuma and Shiro Fujimoto, as well as the secret of the demon sword, Kurikara.

Meanwhile, Todo attempts to resurrect the Impure King and Tatsuma tries to disrupt his plans, but despite Tatsuma’s best efforts, Todo resurrects the Impure King!

Now Rin and his classmates must band together and defeat the Impure King!


Nearly six years since “Blue Exorcist” first aired on Japanese television, now the 12-episode anime series “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” has aired in Japan and with a first part released in the US, now part 2 on Blu-ray will be available in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex of America, Inc.

In the “Kyoto Saga”, Rin’s secret that he is the son of Satan has been exposed and for some his friends, they realize that Rin is the son of the demon that killed their family and friends. And because of Rin showed signs of trying to use his power against evil, to be used as a weapon if his father was to reappear, he has been given a second chance. Mess up and he will be executed.

Meanwhile, the “Left Eye of the Impure King”, a demon relic was stolen from True Cross Academy. And now someone has unleashed it in the land.

Find out in “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” vol. 2!

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”. Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series (as of January 2012, there have been a total of 30 chapters released).

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan. And now the second setof “Blue Exorcist” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy. But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill satan.

The story continues as Rin continues to study along with his classmates and each are trying to be Esquires, in order to take on various missions. But others at the Academy and the higher ups want to test Rin and find out if he is a person that can be taught and eventually fight with the other exorcists in defeating demons and satan himself.

While people question a demon being an exorcist, for Rin, he makes a goal that one day, he will become a Paladin (highest level of exorcism) like his adoptive father, Father Shiro and prove that because he is satan’s son, that having a caring father like Shiro can make a big change in the life of a person, even if they are a demon.


“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

  • Rin Okamura – The main protagonist. The son of Satan but born from a human mother. He and his brother Yukio are twins but he inherited his father’s powers. Rin’s power was sealed inside a sword by Mephisto Pheles, so he can live a human life. Rin was raised by the priest Shiro Fujimoto as normal humans with compassion and love. Despite getting into a lot of trouble and his abilities tend to be more of fighting or cooking, since discovering his power and identity, he vows to use his power to avenge his adoptive father Shiro Fujimoto’s death and defeat Satan. He vows to attend True Cross Academy and do all it takes to become a Paladin and a “Meister” (Knight). Rin also has taken in a dog demon (Cat Sith) which he names Kuro.
  • Yukio Okamura – The son of Satan but born from a human mother. Unlike Rin he did not inherit Satan’s powers. Known as the intellectual person of the family, unbeknown to Rin was that he has been secretly trained to become an exorcist since the age of seven in order to protect his brother. So, now he is an instructor at True Cross Academy and responsible for looking after his brother. But he harbors a secret…dark spots are starting to appear on his body which Yukio has told no one about, despite being tested daily if Satan’s power is in him.
  • Mephisto Pheles – The Chairman of True Cross Academy. He and Shiro Fujimoto worked together in order to seal Rin’s power and make him human. Mephisto is a powerful exorcist but because he is a demon, many do not believe him while others believe he has proven he is on the side to fight against Satan.
  • Ryuji Suguro – Also known as “Bon” to his classmates. He has a high temper and is often fighting and arguing with Rin. But despite his attitude, he is the best student in the class and dedicated to his studies. Part of his drive is because Satan destroyed his family temple.
  • Shiemi Moriyama – The daughter of a woman who runs an exorcist-only shop. She lacks confidence and she is quite sheltered (having lived with her grandmother and her only friends were plants) but when given the chance to meet and make friends at True Cross Academy, being in school gives her a new lease on life. It appears that both Rin and Yukio may have feelings towards her. Shiemi is a tamer and can summon a greenman spirit to produce herbs and barriers.
  • Izumo Kamiki – She always has a cold attitude and known for her eyebrows. The only friend she is close to is her best friend Paku but slowly (very slowly), she is starting to befriend her classmates. She can summon two Baykko (foxes) to fight.
  • Konkomaru Miwa – Very smart but very shy. He is the strategist and is loyal to his best friend Ryuji and Renzo, since they grew up at the same temple that was destroyed. His parents were killed by Satan.
  • Renzo Shima – Carefee, loves to flirt with girls (especially Paku and Izumi) but has a major phobia of insects. He also grew up with Ryuji and Konekomaru. Renzo carries a K’rik staff to fight.
  • Shura Kirigakure – The carefree, hardly wears anything, loves alcohol, upper first class exorcist who was asked by priest Shiro Fujimoto to train Rin and help him become a “Meister”. She can draw a demon sword from her chest and stomach and is an excellent fighter.
  • Shiro Fujimoto – The priest of Southern Cross Monastery who raised both Yukio and Rin as a loving father. He is a Paladin in the True Cross Order and was the strongest exorcist. Was thought to be the only man who could not be possessed by Satan but after an argument with Rin (and Rin saying some hurtful things) which shocked Shiro, it was enough time for Satan to possess Shiro. In order to protect himself from hurting Rin and Yukio, Shiro sacrificed himself.

VIDEO:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). The anime production is well-done. The surrounding environments are well-detailed, painted nicely, while the character designs are vibrant, clear and just gorgeous on Blu-ray!

If anything, character designer Keigo Sasaki (“Night Raid 1931″, “Sengoku Basara”) does a great job of bringing the characters from Kazue Kato’s manga series to life, while art director Mahot Takahashi (“Pumpkin Scissors”, “Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Tokko”) did a wonderful job in bringing the series to life with the scenery and painted backgrounds.

Animation is vibrant, colorful and the series looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in English Linear PCM Stereo and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with English subtitles. Audio is clear coming from the front channels. Japanese voice acting for the series is excellent! I personally had my receiver set to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack. But dialogue is understandable and English subtitles are easy to read.

As for the English dub track, the overall acting is good but it’s once again an action series with Johnny Yong Bosch as the lead character. For the most part, the voice acting by the English dub staff is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2” comes with the Japanese PV’s, trailers and textless opening and closing themes.

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist:Kyoto Saga 2” comes with a 38-page booklet and comes with three collectable postcards.


I’ve always enjoyed “Blue Exorcist” from the manga and the original series and Rin and his brother Yukio trying to keep a secret that they are the children of Satan. While Rin is the primary one who has the blue flames and literally needs to control his power or he will become a demon. While Yukio looks like the level-headed, intelligent brother but in reality, he is trying to hid something dark within him.

As “Kyoto Saga” takes place after Rin’s secret is revealed, his friends are starting to treat him differently. Primarily because his father is the one who slaughtered their friends or family and for some, having a friend who can turn to evil is not easy for them.

So, for Rin, what matters most is trying to control his power and try not to get in trouble or else face the consequence and that is execution.

For “Kyoto Arc”, the Impure King has been revived and as Yukio has locked Rin up and Rin trying to understand why he should live when he feels he causes everyone so much pain, that leaves everyone trying to fight the Impure King which they are powerless again.

At a time like this, Rin’s friends must get him out of his funk and show him how much he means to them but also how important he is in the battle against the Impure King.

This will also be a test for each of them as Bon must rise to take on his father’s work and protect the village, Konekomaru proving that he is brave enough to protect or help his friends, Shiemi must prove that while she may not be the strongest, she can be useful to everyone, especially for her wanting to protect Rin.

Meanwhile Yukio must confront his true feelings of his true self and why Rin gets to him so much.

And Shura Kirigakure wonders if Mephisto is up to no good.

All this and more in the final episodes of “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga”!

The series has developed quite well in terms of storyline pacing, animation, voice acting and just overall enjoyment and the second season is consistent. There is a lot of action, humor and drama, especially as Rin is dragged into things and his anger tends to get the best of him.  The big question is whether or not he can control his anger, not become a demon and protect the people he cares about?

As for the overall series, the character designs are actually pretty cool, especially the costume designs for the characters. Also, the art backgrounds for this series is nicely detailed and range from pastels to really vibrant colors. Something you typically don’t see in a TV Series.

“Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action and an interesting concept in balance with awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds. While the action may be a bit too visual for younger anime viewers (as this is suggested for 13 and up), for fans of action-based anime or manga series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” will find “Blue Exorcist” to their liking.

And once again, Aniplex of America continues to deliver in terms of swag with a 38-page special booklet and collectable postcards.

Overall, “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is another action-packed, thrilling series and the conclusion of the “Kyoto Saga” has proven to be wonderful!  Fans of the series will no doubt want to check out “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2”!   Recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

 

Terraformars (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

 

My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – THE OVA Collection

DURATION: (7 Episodes) 192 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese 5.2 and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 9, 2018


My Otome-Zwei

Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Art Director: Shinji Takasuka

Anime Production: Sunrise

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Directed by Hirokazu Hisayuki

Scenario: Tatsuto Higuchi

Music by Kuniaki Haishima

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Mechanical Design: Hiroyuki Taiga

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent – My Otome-Zwei

Ami Koshimizu/Kris Rundle as Nina Wáng

Mika Kikuchi/Angie Beers as Arika Yumemiya

Yukana/Katie Rowan as Mashiro Blan de Windbloom

Ai Shimizu/Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto Minagi

Akira Ishida/Graham Ko as Nagi Dài Artai

Junko Iwao/Morgan Partridge as Akane Soir

Katsuyuki Konishi/Phil Fulton as Sergay Wáng

Kiyomi Asai/Maizun Jayoussi as Miyu

Kumiko Higa/Leah Dubbin-Steckel as Irina Woods

Mai Nakahara/Carol-Anne Day as Mai Tokiha

Mamiko Noto/Morgan Partridge as Yukino Chrysant

Minami Kuribayashi/Lori Barnes-Smith as Erstin Ho

Mitsuki Saiga/Hazel Forman as Chie Hallard

Naomi Shindoh/Melanie Risdon as Shizuru Viola

Rie Tanaka/Tracy Sutton as Tomoe Marguerite

Ryoka Yuzuki/Lori-Barns Smith as Haruka Armitage

Ryoko Shintani/Jayna Mitchell as Aoi Senoh

Saeko Chiba/Cheryl McMaster as Natsuki Kruger

Sakura Nogawa/Leda Davies as Shiho Huit

Toshihiko Seki/Ethan Cole as Rad

Youko Matsuoka/Barb Mitchell as Maria Graceburt

Yukari Tamura/Mariette Sluyter as Midori

Yuuka Nanri/Marcy Lannan as Juliet Nao Zhang

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Ami Koshimizu as Sifr Fran

Aya Endo as Lena Sayers

Yuko Sanpei as Elliot Chandler

Akeno Watanabe as Iruma Vandebelt

Akiko Kimura as Rei Juggernaut/Reito


Discover more about the power of Otome in two exciting OVAs. After the battle of Windbloom, Arika and her friends face another threat when a strange new creature appears. In the sub-only prequel, catch a new story where the powers of HiME and Otome combine, and Arika and Nina’s mothers have their own adventure.


Back in 2004, Sunrise created the anime series “My-HiME”. Directed by Masakazu Obara and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the anime series lasted for 26 episodes and would lead to a new series “My-Otome” (26 episodes, 2005-2006) and two OVA series: “My-Otome Zwei” (4 episodes, 2006-2007) and “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” (3 episodes, 2008).

“My-HiME” was Sunrise’s first Moe anime series and an animation series that captivated viewers.  While the anime series was released on DVD courtesy of Sunrise years ago, the license for all three series was acquired by Funimation and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD in January 2018.

“My-Otome Zwei” takes places one year after “My-Otome” and Arika is now an Otome (who still has yet to graduate from school).  As various nations are coming together to hold a Strategic Otome Limitation Talks and discussion about limiting the number of Otome.

But the peace in Earl changes when a mysterious shadow figure begins to attack Garderobe, meanwhile Queen Mashiro has disappeared and Arika goes to search for her, while the Otome in Garderobe try to look into who this mysterious shadow figure is.

“My-Otome o: S.ifr” is a prequel that explains who is Arika Yumemiya’s mother is (Lena Sayers) and the origins of Nina Wang’s mother (Sifr Fran), the origins of Schwartz, Aswad and the Garderobe Academy and the Five Columns are revealed.


VIDEO:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). The former was released in 2006-2007, while the prequel was released in 2008.  OVA’s tend to have better production value and it’s quite evident with the 1080p presentation.  Colors are much more vibrant, while anime production between the two series in terms of character design are different.  But for the most part, the anime series looks great in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My-Otome Zwei” is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 5.1, while “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented only in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Japanese soundtrack sounds great with the 5.1 soundtrack but for the most part, the Japanese soundtrack is well-acted, while the English dub is very good, but kind of has an old-school anime English dub vibe.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” comes with textless songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


When “My-HiME” was released over a decade ago, it was no doubt considered as an amazing anime series from Sunrise and unlike anything they have done before.

It was the studio’s first moe anime series and one showcasing a strong female cast of characters.

With “My-Otome”, the vibe of the anime series is a bit different. A series that focuses on a girl looking for her mother, decides that she wants to be an Otome and then trying to prove her worthiness by taking part in difficult training and showing that she has what it takes to be an Otome.

With the sequel “My-Otome Zwei”, the OVA series explores Arika trying to search for Queen Mashiro who has gone feeling and a mysterious shadow who has come to Earl and is causing great trouble to the people. The series reunites Arika and Nina Wang joining forces to take on a greater evil and for the most part, it’s another sequel that is action-packed and fun to watch.

“My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is a prequel that explores Arika’s mother Lena Sayers and Nina’s mother Sifr Fan, also Headmistress of Garderobe Una Shamrock.  This is an important story as Arika’s mother was often alluded to in “My Otome” and also how Arika was able to get the Blue Sky Sapphire.

But in this OVA series, Sifr is kidnapped and is rescued by Lena Sayers.  But another kidnapping attempt on Sifr is made and can Lena protect her? But why all the trouble to kidnap Sifr?

For the most part, the OVA series showcases Arika and Nina (“My Otome Zwei), while the “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” explores their parents, Lena and Sifr and how those two became close friends.

It’s not an incredibly deep storyline and unlike the TV series which is thorough in introducing characters and having a consistent plot, the OVA series are more side stories and should only be watched if you watched “My-Otome”.

But I have to say my favorite is still “My-HiME” which has a much deeper, well-written storyline.  But for the most part, I feel that “My-Otome” fans will no doubt love the OVA collection.

Both OVA series look very good in HD and are much better than their TV series counterparts (which were soft as can be expected from a TV series, especially an older series).  But te OVA Collection features better background artwork, better character designs and detailed backgrounds.

It’s important to note that “My-Otome Zwei” is presented in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and English 2.0 Dolby TrueHD, while “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” is only in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

Also, I have to note that when you put the Blu-ray in, you’ll notice the prequel is presented first and the sequel second.  I prefer watching the sequel first and then the prequel second.

Overall, “My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

 

 

My-Otome – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“My-HiME” was no doubt one of the coolest anime series to come out back in 2004. And to watch it again over a decade later as a complete series in HD was no doubt nostalgic. A well-written story, great voice acting and great animation, “My-HiME” is an anime classic worth owning on Blu-ray!

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My-Otome – The Complete Series

DURATION: (26 Episodes) 650 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (4:3), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 9, 2018


Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Art Director: Shinji Takasuka

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ami Koshimizu/Kris Rundle as Nina Wáng

Mika Kikuchi/Angie Beers as Arika Yumemiya

Yukana/Katie Rowan as Mashiro Blan de Windbloom

Ai Shimizu/Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto Minagi

Akira Ishida/Graham Ko as Nagi Dài Artai

Junko Iwao/Morgan Partridge as Akane Soir

Katsuyuki Konishi/Phil Fulton as Sergay Wáng

Kiyomi Asai/Maizun Jayoussi as Miyu

Kumiko Higa/Leah Dubbin-Steckel as Irina Woods

Mai Nakahara/Carol-Anne Day as Mai Tokiha

Mamiko Noto/Morgan Partridge as Yukino Chrysant

Minami Kuribayashi/Lori Barnes-Smith as Erstin Ho

Mitsuki Saiga/Hazel Forman as Chie Hallard

Naomi Shindoh/Melanie Risdon as Shizuru Viola

Rie Tanaka/Tracy Sutton as Tomoe Marguerite

Ryoka Yuzuki/Lori-Barns Smith as Haruka Armitage

Ryoko Shintani/Jayna Mitchell as Aoi Senoh

Saeko Chiba/Cheryl McMaster as Natsuki Kruger

Sakura Nogawa/Leda Davies as Shiho Huit

Toshihiko Seki/Ethan Cole as Rad

Youko Matsuoka/Barb Mitchell as Maria Graceburt

Yukari Tamura/Mariette Sluyter as Midori

Yuuka Nanri/Marcy Lannan as Juliet Nao Zhang


My-Otome the complete collection contains episodes 1-26 of this spin-off series of My-Hime.

While traveling the world in search of her mother, Arika Yumemiya stumbles upon Windbloom Kingdom where a new dream awaits her. Here, the academy of Garderobe turns girls into powerful warriors known as Otome—and Arika wants in! But becoming an Otome could be more than she bargained for. Dangers and secrets await as she chases her new destiny!


Back in 2004, Sunrise created the anime series “My-HiME”. Directed by Masakazu Obara and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the anime series lasted for 26 episodes and would lead to a new series “My-Otome” (26 episodes, 2005-2006), two OVA series: “My-Otome Zwei” (4 episodes, 2006-2007) and “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” (3 episodes, 2008).

“My-HiME” was Sunrise’s first Moe anime series and an animation series that captivated viewers.

While the anime series was released on DVD courtesy of Sunrise years ago, the license for all three series was acquired by Funimation and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD in January 2018.

“My Otome” shares certain characters from “My-Hime” but is a different alternate storyline.

Set in the distant planet Earl, colonized by immigrants of Earth centuries ago, “old technology” has survived but as nanomachines.  And female virgins can take the role of Meister Otome’s, may it be bodyguards, attendants, warriors that serve royalty of various kingdoms.

One day, Arika Yumemiya traveled to the Kingdom of Windbloom to search for her mother.  She would eventually meet a student of Garderobe named Nina, her forster father Sergay and a rebellious princess named Mashiro.

When a monster known as a Slave attacks the three of them, a Meister Otome named Shizuru Viola comes and defeats it.  This inspires Arika on becoming an otome and wanting to attend the school of Garderobe.

It is decided that for Arika to acquire the permission to attend the Otome School of Garderobe, she must face Nina in an exhibition battle for the coronation ceremony of Mashiro.

Unfortunately, a mysterious knight appears and attacks people during the ceremony and Arika risks her life to stop it and giving time for Brigaider General Haruka Armitage, a meister otome to stop it.

Because of her bravery, Arika is given a chance to become an Otome at Garderobe, but while she makes new friends, she also makes new enemies.

The main characters of “My-Otome” are”:

  • Arika Yumemiya – The main protagonist who came to Garderobe to find her mother.  She possesses a Blue Sky Sapphire which was passed down to her from her mother.  She is very childish and naive but cares deeply about people.  Teased by others and called “Antsy” because her hair makes her look like an ant.
  • Nina Wang – She was adopted by Sergay and dreams of becoming an Otome.  She dislikes Arika, but Arika sees her as a person that she wants to befriend.
  • Natsuki Kruger – The headmistress of Garderome and #2 of the Five Columns.
  • Shizuru Viola – #3 of the Five columns and the assistant to Natsuki.
  • Mashiro Blan de Windbloom – The heir to the throne of Windbloom.  Roommate of Arika and can be very childish and snobbish.  She is spoiled but she wants to become a better leader.  She hangs around with her fat black cat Mikoto.
  • Nagi Dai Artai – Grand Duke of Artai and very manipulative.  His rival is Mashiro and wants to take control of her country.
  • Sergay Wang – The Commander in the Artai military and is Nagi’s right-hand man and adoptive father of Nina.

VIDEO:

“My-Otome” is presented in 1080i High Definition (4:3). This is an older anime series, so it doesn’t have the vibrancy of today’s anime series as one can expect. The series is a bit soft (as many TV series are) but background art is done very well, character shading and detail is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My-Otome” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My-Otome – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Otome Clips – Featuring seven Otome Clips (fun scenes usually shown at the end of an episode)
  • My-Hime Movie Trailer?
  • My-Otome vs. My-HiME
  • Textless opening and closing songs

EXTRAS:

“My-Otome” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


When “My-HiME” was released over a decade ago, it was no doubt considered as an amazing anime series from Sunrise and unlike anything they have done before.

It was the studio’s first moe anime series and one showcasing a strong female cast of characters.

With “My-Otome”, the vibe of the anime series is a bit different.  A series that focuses on a girl looking for her mother, decides that she wants to be an Otome and then trying to prove her worthiness by taking part in difficult training and showing that she has what it takes to be an Otome.

Granted, it’s not going to be easy for Arika as she doesn’t have many friends, she makes enemies, her naivety and childlike nature makes people thinks she’s dumb and weird and she’s discovering emotions that she’s never had to deal with…including love.

While part of the fascination for me with “My-Otome” is seeing how characters from “My-HiME” were utilized in this series, granted in a different manner.  Natsuki is more of a leader, Shizuru is less mysterious and less seductive towards Natsuki.  Mashiro is more spoiled and childish, Nagi is manipulative as always.

I suppose that part of the interest in watching the series is trying to find out when Mai would show up and to see if she would be any different, but surprisingly, while the same type of person, it’s Mai in an alternate world.

The two series are also very different, where it’s about women trying to learn about love and power, “My-Otome” is interesting in the fact that Otome have great power but they can’t be with any male or they lose their power.  As a male’s Y chromosome can destroy an Otome’s Nano Machines.

Another difference is the timeline where “My-HiME” happens in Earth’s modern timeline where “My Otome” takes place in the future where humans of Earth have colonized another planet.

As for the Blu-ray, this is an older anime series, so one can’t expect great picture quality but it looks good despite the softness.  Lossless audio is Dolby TrueHD 2.0 for English and Japanese, while special features include the usual ending omake scenes and two short segments plus the usual textless opening and closing themes.

It’s important to note that on the final episode, there must have been a problem because the timing of the English dub goes longer or shorter than the mouth flaps of the character, so that gets a little irritating.  I know it’s an older series, but even an older English dubbed anime series such as “Ranma 1/2” (made in the ’90s) at least tries to conform to the character’s dialogue and mouth movements.  This reminded me of almost like a bad Kung Fu film with an English dub and while the dialogue is completed, the mouth of the character is still moving.

Overall, “My Otome” is a fascinating and fun series that is much different than “My-HiME”.  While I loved the first series, the second series is still good but just a different vibe and different circumstances.

 

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