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Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians – Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

January 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ikitousen-gg

“Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians – Complete Series” is the third season of the popular action-packed fighting girl anime series in which one can expect to see a lot of boobs, plenty of nudity, boobs, fan service, boobs, roundhouse kicks and did I mention boobs, to make otaku fan boys and fangirls go crazy for Hakufu and friends all over again. 

Images courtesy of © FUNimation. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians – Complete Series

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2008

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 17+

RELEASE DATE: December 31, 2013

Originally Created by Yuji Shiozaki

Directed by Koichi Ohata

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Rin-Sin

Art Director by Shigemi Ikeda

Anime Production: ARMS

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masumi Asano/Carrie Savage as Hakufu Sonsaku

Satoshi Hino/Ted Sroka as Koukin Shuuyu

Yuko Kaida/Willow Lane as Shimei Ryomou

Hitomi Nabatame/Rachel Robinson as Unchou Kan’u

Kei Shindou/B Simpson as Gentoku Ryuubi

Kikuko Inoue/Wendee Lee as Goei

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Genpou Saji

Mai Kadowaki/Megan Harvey as Koumei Shokatsuryou

Minori Chihara/Jessica Calvello as Ekitoku Chouhi

Yuu Asakawa/Michelle Knotz as Shiryuu Chouun

Akeno Watanabe/Robin Rhodpa as Ryofu Housen

Yui Horie/Laura Landa as Sonken Chuubou

The combat continues between teens guided by spirits of ancient warriors in round three of the original martial arts marathon! As the dust settles over the Battle of Red Cliffs, the fighters of Nanyo and Seito Academies form a peaceful alliance.

Hakufu’s ready to make some dough for tournaments, but her stacked reputation keeps the fearless leader up to her chest in trouble. Just when her joy peaks over meeting a mysterious sister from another mister, a foe Nanyo Academy once creamed returns! As the conflict comes to a climax, the battle vixens bare blood, betrayal, and…

This new series in the Ikki Tousen franchise reunites the original dub cast.

Back in 2000, Yuji Shiozaki created his popular fighting series “Ikki Tousen” (which translates to “Strength of a Thousand”.

One of the first major anime series that was known for its visual sexual content (ala tons of fan service) and action, the manga series is still ongoing in Japan and the anime series has reached up to four seasons including an OVA, plus a radio show and a number of video games.

While the first two anime series have been released in the United States, the third season, “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardian”, which aired back in 2008 will finally be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation on Dec. 2013.

“Ikki Tousen: Great Guardian” is directed by Koichi Ohata (“Black Lion”, “Burst Angel: Infinity”, “Cybernetics Guardian”), Masanao Akahoshi (“Freezing”, “Tegami Bachi” series, “Viper’s Creed”), music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Fairy Tail”, “Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl” series), character design by Rin-Sin (“I”s”, “Midnight Panther”, “Samurai Girls”, “Venus 5″) and art direction by Shigem Ikeda (“Afro Samurai”, “Bastard!!”, “Basilisk”, “El-Hazard: The Wanderers”, “Gantz”).

In “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians”, a mysterious girl named Shokyo has come out of nowhere to announce herself as Shokyo, a younger sister of Hakufu but yet doesn’t look like her at all.

As Shokyo and her cousin Koukin are not aware of a younger sister, they both accept her into the family.

Meanwhile, Housen Ryofu is back, long thought as dead, she has returned but without her memories.  Meanwhile, someone has been controlling people and causing problems amongst the students, who is responsible?

The main characters of “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians” are:

  • Hakufu Sonsaku – A bubbly, not-so smart and well-endowed student of “Nanyo” and of the Great Dragons.  Always caring for people always hungry and always ready for a big fight.
  • Koukin Shuuyu – The cousin of Hakufu and he is somewhat attracted to her.
  • Shoukyou – A girl who comes to visit Hakufu, claiming to be her younger sister and taken in.  She may have a crush towards Koukin.
  • Roshuku Shikei – A student from Nayo who wears bandages and an eyepatch for some apparent reason.  Often being set up for work with Hakufu and has an attraction towards Housen.
  • Unchou Kan-u – The protector of Ryubi and a fighter who doesn’t like Hakufu.  Often day dreaming about her and Ryubi making out.
  • Gentoku Ryuubi – Leader of Seito Private School.  Also, well-endowed and is oblivious that Kan-u likes her.
  • Housen Ryofu- A woman who has had her major problems.  Has dated Saji and has lost all her memories.
  • Myosai Kakouen – A female assassin in charge of Kyosho Academy due to the absence of Sousou and Kakouton.
  • Shishi Ouin/Saji Genpou – A womanizer and the antagonist of the series.  he has the power to hypnotize and control people and use them.
  • Ekitoku Chouhi – Ryuubi’s best friend and addicted to snacks.  Very powerful but often disturbing Kan-u’s daydreams.
  • Koumei Shokatsuryou – Quiet, young and also one that harbors the dragon. Loyal to Ryuubi and may have a crush on her.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in Linear PCM Stereo. To keep the compression artifacts to a minimum on DVD, Aniplex Inc. features all 12 episodes on three DVD’s. For the most part, characters are well shaded and background art is well-painted. There is a good amount of detail in the mechanical designs from the Alone to the detail on the characters Pallet Outfits.

But this is a vibrant anime series on DVD.

The soundtrack is in Japanese and I would not be surprised if Aniplex does release “Vividred Operation” on Blu-ray with an English dub soundtrack. It’s quite an enjoyable series that I do hope it does receive an HD release. But voice acting is well done and dialogue and music is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians – Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 2 Commentary – Jonathan Klein (voice director and original producer from season 1), Ted Sroka (voice of Koukin Shuuyuu) and Carrie Savage (voice of Hakufu Sonsaku).
  • Episode 5 Commentary – Jonathan Klein (voice director and original producer from season 1), Michele Knotz (voice of Chou’un Shiryuu) and Georgette Reilly (voice of Myosai Kakouen) and Jessica Calvello (voice of Ekitoku Chouhi)
  • Battle Tour Club -Sexy Cosplays, Dangerous Jobs – (14:56) Featuring six short episodes of “Battle Tour Club” in sexy cosplay (in Japanese with English subtitles) and scenes that are even more perverted than the TV episodes.
  • Great Guardians Radio Event at Tokyo Anime Fair 2008(30:32) Featuring a live radio show with a live audience at TAF 2008, hosted by Masumi Asano (voice of Hakufu) and Hitomi Nabatame (voice of Kan’u Uncho), joining them are Yuuko Kaida (voice of Ryomou) and Akeno Watanabe (voice of Ryofu).
  • Commercial Collection – (1:35) Japanese commercials promoting “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians”.
  • Promotional Video – (1:40)
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:11) FUNimation trailer.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Theme

Japan has had its fair share of anime series featuring busty fighters with every fan service shot showcasing the women in their panties and each devastating hit, somehow removing a fighter’s garment.

But if there is one series that is best known for its action and perversion and possibly jumpstarting this style of girl fighting series, is Yuji Shiozaki’s “Ikki Tousen” (which was known as “Battle Vixens” in the United States).

From “Tenjo Tenge”, “Sekirei”, “Master of Martial Hearts” and others, the series has titillated viewers who have come to expect hardcore fighting action, boobies, humor, boobies, fan service and boobies.

The series is literally an anime that worships a female fighters boobs as female characters or male characters can be seen grasping on a young woman’s boobs, each fight features the ultimate jiggle and by the end of watching a series, you are exhausted after it’s all done.

A spin on the classic Chinese novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, the first two series was focused on an all-out turf battle, while this third season “Great Guardians” focuses on body possession.

Someone has been taking control of various key people and using them to possess others and cause friction amongst friends and rivals.

Meanwhile, main protagonist Hakufu has someone named Shoukyou arriving and claiming to be her sister.  Of course, being the not-so-smart person that she is, she accepts as fact and treats her like a sister.

As for the bandage wearing Roshuku, she develops an attraction towards Housen Ryofu (yes, somehow having died in the original series, she is alive in “Great Guardians”) and helping Housen get her lost her memory back.

But it appears the reason for her lost memories and bad things happening in the city, may lead to her ex-boyfriend Saji.

Meanwhile, at Seitou Academy, Unchou Kan-u is having a hard time keeping her emotions and fantasies of Ryuubi in check and getting jealous each time another person tries to interfere and get closer to her.  But as Kan-u’s passion for Ryuubi grows, will she ever realize that her protector is very much in love with her?

While I found the original “Ikki Tousen” to be a much better series, the third season maintains the fun, the fan service and the all-out craziness that the series tends to have with girl and girl crushes, fantasies, while the usual male jerks somehow think they can go up to one of these fighters and grab their boobs.

But as other series plays out like a harem, part of the popularity of “Ikki Tousen” is its storyline featuring bisexual or lesbian characters.  These women are tough and can literally kick butt!

As for the series and it’s rating, along with the sexual perverse scenes of fondling, panty shots, there is also quite a bit of nudity, so it’s 17 and older anime series.

Also, it’s important to note that the series is being released by FUNimation on DVD and not on Blu-ray.  The soundtrack features the original Japanese voice acting and also an English dub.

While the Japanese voice acting is well-done, the English dub features the original English dub voice actors from the first season while other characters introduced in the second season were given a chance to come back and voice their characters for “Great Guardians”.  So, fans of the original series should be thrilled that Carrie Savage, Ted Sroka, Willow Lane and others are back!

Also, there are two audio commentary tracks and a good number of special features included in this DVD release, especially the live radio show from Tokyo Anime Fair 2008.

Overall, “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians – Complete Series” is the third season of the popular action-packed fighting girl anime series in which one can expect to see a lot of boobs, plenty of nudity, boobs, fan service, boobs, roundhouse kicks and did I mention boobs, to make otaku fan boys and fangirls go crazy for Hakufu and friends all over again.

Otherwise, if many well-endowed female fighters and an abundant number of panty shots is not your thing, then this anime series is not for you!  But if it is, then you’ll more than likely enjoy “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians”.

 

Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

vividredoperation

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” features a series that was no doubt a fun, upbeat sci-fi action anime series.  Unfortunately, its use of underage nudity and its numerous fan service scenes of young junior high girls was unnecessary and hindered the series.

Images courtesy of ©Vividred Project/MBS. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen,Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: Suggested 16 and Up

RELEASE DATE: December 17, 2013

Directed by Kazuhiro Takamura

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino, Kazuhiro Takamura

Script by Hiroyuki Yoshino, Shigeru Morita, Tensai Okamura

Character Designs by Kazuhiro Takamura

Animation Director: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Design by Kazuyuki Asaga

Music by Hideyuki Fukasawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Uchida as Himawari Shinomiya

Ayane Sakura as Akane Isshiki

Maaya Uchida as Rei Kuroki

Rie Murakawa as Aoi Futaba

Yuka Ōtsubo as Wakaba Saegusa

Asuka Ōgame as Momo Isshiki

Haruka Yamazaki as Mizuha Amagi

Masaki Terasoma as Kenjirō Isshiki

Mie Sonozaki as Crow

Mika Doi as Yuuri Shijo

Sakura Nakamura as Mashiro Isshiki

On an artificial island, Akane Isshiki, an innocent 14-year-old girl, lives a simple but happy life with her level-headed little sister Momo and their genius inventor grandfather. On clear days just over the water, everyone on the island can see the revolutionary invention that solved all the world’s energy problems, the Manifestation Engine. Thanks to the Manifestation Engine, the peaceful days that everyone had dreamed of had arrived.

But suddenly, a mysterious enemy called the “Alone” appear out of nowhere aiming to attack the Manifestation Engine, jeopardizing their quiet way of life. Equipped with incredibly powerful Palette Suits designed by her grandfather, Akane and her friends must rise up together in this desperate situation. Their friendship is the only hope to save the world.

In early 2013, A-1 Pictures produced the 12-episode TV series “Vividred Operation” aired in Japan.

Having received two manga adaptations plus a PlayStation 3 video game, the anime series “Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” has made its way to American shores courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is directed and features character designs by Kazuhiro Takamura (“Strike Witches” series and film, “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World”, “Queen’s Blade”), series composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino (“Guilty Crown”, “My-HIME”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”) and Kazuhiro Takamura (“He is My Master”, “Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi”, “Mahoromatic” series) and music by Hideyuki Fukasawa (“Yatterman”, “Flowers of Evil”).

A series that features a combination of sci-fi action, magical girl-style transformations and for the otaku, plenty of fan service.

“Vividred Operation” is set in the future of Japan and the future is quite peaceful thanks to the Manifestation Engine which creates energy from the sky and has averted significant energy crisis that the planet was facing years prior.

Living on the island of Izu Joshima, teenager Akane Isshiki and her fifth grade sister Momoko live with their grandfather Kenjiro Isshiki, a renown scientist who was one of the great minds that have developed the Manifestation Engine.

Kenjiro typically locks himself in the house working on his research, while Akane works a part-time job to keep the family afloat and tends to the garden to feed the family.

As Akane is awaiting her friend Aoi Futaba, who is traveling to Izu Joshima for medical treatment, Akane and Momo hear an explosion takes place in their home and when they go to check, their grandfather has switched bodies with a stuffed otter doll and showing his research has progressed, so it seems.

But all of a sudden, the planet is attacked as an alien race known as the “Alone” has showed up on the seas near the island.  As the military try to fight against it, they are destroyed.

Worried about her friend Aoi, Kenjiro gives Akane his latest invention, an Operation Key that can access the Vivid System.  Meanwhile, Akane hurries as she sees Aoi’s plane crashing.  Close to the ledge, she and her grandfather (in otter form) rush to the area, but Akane is scared of heights and she sees the plane about to fall from the edge.  As Akane and Aoi scream for each other, the plane falls and the scared Akane, decides to run after her.

As she dives off the cliff in order to save Aoi, the Operation Key glows and activates the Vivid System which transforms Akane into a super-being, sporting a Pallet Suit and saving Aoi from death.

Sensing power within Aoi, Kenjiro gives Aoi an Operation Key giving her the opportunity to transform using the Vivid System and together they must use their new abilities to fight against the Alone.  And both work together to destroy it.

Because their new school was destroyed in the attack, Akane, Momo and Aoi begin attending New Oshima Academy and through their new friendships, they end up adding kendo student Wakaba Saegusa and computer hacker Himawari Shinomiya to the group and all four become part of the Vividred Operation to protect humanity from the Alone.

But unaware that working with the Alone is another student in their class named Rei Kuroki, who is intent in working with the Alone to destroy the Manifestation Engine.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Vividred Operation:  Complete DVD Set” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in Linear PCM Stereo. To keep the compression artifacts to a minimum on DVD, Aniplex Inc. features all 12 episodes on three DVD’s. For the most part, characters are well shaded and background art is well-painted.  There is a good amount of detail in the mechanical designs from the Alone to the detail on the characters Pallet Outfits.

But this is a vibrant anime series on DVD.

The soundtrack is in Japanese and I would not be surprised if Aniplex does release “Vividred Operation” on Blu-ray with an English dub soundtrack. It’s quite an enjoyable series that I do hope it does receive an HD release. But voice acting is well done and dialogue and music is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” comes with the textless opening and endings and the web version previews.

EXTRAS:

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” comes with a slipcover case and a five postcard set. Also, the DVD cover is 2-sided and reversible.

vividred-b

“Vividred Operation” is a sci-fi action series about a group of friends, each with their own personal quirks and also weaknesses that become part of the Vividred Operation to defend the Manifestation Engine that has helped the planet from an alien race known as The Alone.

As each episode focuses on Akane meeting friends or new people from her school who eventually obtain an Operation Key and to transform via the Vivid System to fight against the Alone, each must face their weaknesses and put their friendship to a test in order to become teammates.

And as Akane is able to get Aoi, Wakaba and Himawari to join them, they each try to get Rei Kuroki on their team, not knowing that she is working with the Alone and trying to destroy the Manifestation Engine.

The series is quite intriguing as it tries to combine sci-fi action with magical girl transformations.

And while the series is more on the fun, humorous spectrum versus more serious and deep, the series also incorporates quite a bit of fan service and also nudity (which gives it a Suggested 16 and Up rating).

But as much as I enjoyed the series for its storyline and characters, the fan service and nudity, in my opinion, was a significant hindrance.

And this is probably the difference between American and Japanese culture in which certain things just don’t happen.

The camera tends to end up shooting under the legs of a character and or focusing on a character’s rear end, may they be standing or riding a bike, it’s one thing to have fan service, especially for older characters but  it definitely makes one feel uneasy considering the characters are 14-years-old and in junior high.

In fact, the character of Rei Kuroki is shown nude during her shower sequence and and a bathing sequence and what may work in Japan, is definitely not going to work in the U.S.

I know there are anime fans that will say, “Well, this is a Japanese anime and it’s not real, so it’s OK.” or ” It goes by Japanese culture, Americans must see things in the Japanese perspective not American, so it’s OK”.

Having covered Japanese entertainment for over two decades, while I agree that there are certain entertainment where one should expect to see a different side of Japanese culture, it becomes dangerous if underage nudity of an anime character featured in an anime series becomes a cultural norm.

I don’t agree with people who have the mindset of it being OK but that is my opinion and as a parent it’s not something I can or will support.  And as a reviewer, it was unnecessary to have those scenes as the series could have done without it.

Nudity of children in anime and manga has been a debatable topic for a long time, from “Crayon Shin Chan” (and his elephant) to even the “Dragon Ball” manga being released in grade school libraries.  It’s a long debate that will always continue as debates from the old anime BBS forums to present anime forums on the Internet.  Even Usagi’s transformation scene in “Sailor Moon” was also a big discussion at the time.

So, as a parent and a longtime anime reviewer, it’s important for me to let parents and anime fans know that this anime series features under-aged nudity and unnecessary fan service for characters that are of a young age.

In the case of “Vividred Operation”, for the young characters, was it necessary to have so many shots of Akane’s butt while she rides on the bike?  Was it necessary to shoot a horizon between a character’s legs?  Was it necessary for the animators to show a naked Rei in the shower?

I’m sure there are otaku that would scream, “Yes!” but I felt the series could have done without it.  I did enjoy “Vividred Operation”, four friends who have their own personal weaknesses, joining together for the greater good to defend humanity from an unknown alien force.  The characters are enjoyable, the anime series entertaining but it’s unfortunate that certain decision to make these young junior high characters more sexual appealing, had to be incorporated to the series.

As for the DVD, the picture quality is colorful and vibrant and one would expect it to look even better in HD, if Aniplex decides to release it on Blu-ray in the future.  Voice acting in Japanese is well-done and as always with an Aniplex release, you get anime swag with a five postcard set.

Overall, “Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” features a series that was no doubt a fun, upbeat sci-fi action anime series.  Unfortunately, its use of underage nudity and its numerous fan service scenes of young junior high girls was unnecessary and hindered the series.

 

Oreshura: Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

December 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

oreshura

“Oreshura” is a delightful, entertaining and addictive harem anime series that focuses on character development and story rather than the usual fan service, nudity and lackadaisical plot.  “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © Yuji Yuji, Softbank Creative Corp./Oreshura Project. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Oreshura: Complete DVD Set

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: December 17, 2013

Original Creator: Yuji Yuji

Original Character Design: LLO

Directed by Kanta Kamei

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Character Designs by Mai Otsuka

Art Direction: Yasuyuki Yuzawa

Music by Masatomo Ota

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Chinatsu Akasaki as Chiwa Harusaki

Ryota Ohsaka as Eita Kidō

Yukari Tamura as Masuzu Natsukawa

Ai Kayano as Ai Fuyuumi

Hisako Kanemoto as Himeka Akishino

Kaori Nazuka as Saeko Kiryū

Nao Tōyama as Mana Natsukawa

Risa Taneda as Kaoru Asoi

Eita Kidou is a high school freshman with excellent grades and a disdain for love. Along with his childhood friend Chiwa Harusaki, a girl who’s nearly a sister to him, Eita lives an ordinary school life concentrating on his studies – until the school’s most beautiful girl, Masuzu Natsukawa, surprisingly confesses her love to Eita. However, her true desire is only to fool the eyes of others and pretend to be a couple.

With a “certain secret” of his in Masuzu’s hands, Eita is forced to play along. Moreover, a fierce battle over Eita begins as his ex-girlfriend, Himeka, and his virtual fiance, Ai, join the fray! Will Eita be able to continue his ordinary school life while maintaining a pretend relationship and dealing with all of his admirers?

In 2011, writer Yuji Yuji began his light novel series “Ore no Kanojo to Osanajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru” (better known as “Oreshura”) which translates to “My Girlfrend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much”.

Featuring illustrations by Ruroo and published by SoftBank Creative, the popular light novel has received four manga adaptations and in January-March 2013, the anime adaptation by A-1 pictures aired on Japanese television.

And now Ani-lex, Inc. will be bringing “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” to the U.S. in Dec. 2013.

“Oreshura” revolves around a high school teenager named Eita Kido.  With parents who have divorced and left him behind, Eita wants to make sure he does something good with his life and that is to study hard and go to medical school (despite him not being that bright).

He has an addiction to a video game in which he addresses himself as “Burning Fighter Fighter”.

But in order to focus on medical school, he decides to stay away from anything that revolves around love or even him look at other girls (which was due to his parents divorcing and finding new lovers and abandoning him), with the exception of his childhood friend Chiwa (nickname: “Chihuahua”) Harusaki.

While Chiwa is short, petite, bubbly and looks like a little sister of Eita, the truth is that she is much older than he is.  She was also involved in kendo at a young age but due to critical injury from a car accident a year before they entered high school, she had to quit.  Because of this injury, it is what inspired Eita to want to go to medical school and do whatever he can to help her.

So, avoiding love or any romance is important for Eita as it fuels his desire to go into medical school.

But one day, Masuzu Natsukawa, who is from Sweden decides to sit next to him and unlike other guys at school who stare and confess their love to her, Eita is the only one that doesn’t even look at her.  Immediately, she begins confessing her love to Eita which gets the attention of all students in his class.  And she wants Eita to walk him home.

As the two are walking home, she explains why she did what she did in class and that is she and Eita are the same.  They are anti-romance and anti-love.  She doesn’t like guys confessing their love to her and what best to keep them away than make people think that she and Eita are a couple.

Eita doesn’t want to have anything to do with Masuzu, but she reveals that one day when she bought a used book, inside was a notebook written by Eita when he was younger.  The book contains his most personal feelings about people and celebrities and information so embarrassing that Eita can’t believe she has it.  She begins to blackmail him by saying that he must be her faux boyfriend or else, the book is made public.  Embarrassed by how this information can hurt him, Eita reluctantly agrees.

As news spreads all over campus that Eita is dating the new student, this causes a bit of jealousy on Chiwa’s part.  Chiwa has always liked Eita, but because they have been childhood friends for so long, he looks at her like a little sister which she hates and wishes they never been so close, because he could never look at her as someone he can love romantically.  So, she pretends just to be a concerned friend while deep inside she really likes him and thus, sets up a rivalry between her and Masuzu.

Meanwhile, Masuzu forms a club titled “Maiden Society for Performing Your Own Life” and how to become popular.  Chiwa wants to be popular, so she goes through Masuzu’s training and eventually she gets the attention of a popular guy in school.

As Eita tries to root for Chiwa, he doesn’t know that she’s just doing it for his sake and to be close to him (and to make sure he and Masuzu aren’t doing anything too romantic).

And as Chiwa and Masuzu are constantly at each other’s throats, one day as Eita is trying to protect Chiwa from bad people, he starts to react like his video game avatar “Burning Fighter Fighter” which in turn catches the attention of another girl named Himeka Akishino.

Himeka believes that her ex-life was a person named “Burning Princess Saint Dragon Lady of Dawn” and believes in the past life, she and Burning Fighter Fighter were lovers.  So now, she wants to be reunited with her past love, which complicates things with Chiwa and Masuzu.

And just when these three young women are vying for Eita’s attention, a student named Ai Fuyuumi who grew up with Eita and signed a makeshift marriage registration back in kindergarten believes that Eita should honor their contract, thus she is in the position of being Eita’s fiance and now also vies for Eita’s affection.

What will Eita do, especially since he is anti-romance and sworn from ever being in love?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.  To keep the compression artifacts to a minimum on DVD, Aniplex Inc. features all 13 episodes on three DVD’s.  For the most part, characters are well shaded and background art is  well-painted, but not as detailed as other anime series with bigger production budgets.  But the animation style works for this series and I didn’t notice any major artifacts during my viewing of the series.

The soundtrack is in Japanese and I would not be surprised if Aniplex does release “Oreshura” on Blu-ray with an English dub soundtrack.  It’s quite an enjoyable series that I do hope it does receive an HD release.  But voice acting is well done and dialogue and music is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” comes with the textless opening and endings and the web version previews.

EXTRAS:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” comes with a slipcover case and a 16-page special booklet which includes the character profiles and episode synopsis plus images of the characters.  Also, the DVD cover is 2-sided and reversible.

Quite often I watch anime series that are too banal and this tends to happen quite a bit with harem anime series.

One guy, usually perverted and surrounded by women (most often well-endowed or wearing skimpy clothing) and the usual fan service and adult humor, they all have their similarities.

But with “Oreshura”, I love the fact that it tries to be different than other harem anime series for the fact that its male protagonist is not interested in love, let alone wanting a girlfriend.  He wants to get into medical school and he does his best to avoid any relationships or romantic commitments.  A lot of these feelings stem from his parents divorcing, finding new lovers and abandoning him.  Compounded by his compassionate heart towards his childhood friend Chiwa who has not been able to participate in any physical activities due to a car accident, and seeing her in pain makes him want to become a doctor or finding ways to heal her.

But staying away or resisting love is not easy.

The circumstances that bring protagonist Eita with Masuzu is both are anti-love, anti-romance and want to be left alone.  So, they pretend to be a faux couple.  And of course, by doing this, she starts to see beyond his attitude of disliking love and seeing a very caring person deep inside.  He may not want love for himself, but for others that he cares about, he is willing to protect them.

And sure enough, you can see Masuzu starting to open up to Eita.  Of course, throw in Eita’s childhood friend, who has always liked him but he treats her like a family member, that these two female characters see each other as rival for Eita’s time and affections.

Throw in two more girls into the loop, one who believes Eita is her past lover from a previous life and another in “Love Hina” fashion, a promise made between two kindergarten students to marry each other when they grow up.

So, we have four females vowing for Eita’s affections and their may possibly be a fifth or sixth.

I found “Oreshura” to be quite entertaining, delightful and a lot of fun.  There is fan service in the anime series but it is kept at a minimum and focuses on the characters and story rather than cheap thrills.

As for the DVD release, it’s important to note that this does not include English dubs, only a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with English subtitles.  While I do hope that the series receives an HD release and also includes an English dub for those who are more particular to watching their anime in English, I do recommend watching this series as the Japanese voice acting is very good but also, the storyline for “Oreshura” is so entertaining.

And Aniplex Inc. includes a special 16-page booklet with character profiles, episode synopsis and several pages of artwork of the main characters. Plus a 2-sided reversible cover and includes a slipcover.

Overall, “Oreshura” is a delightful, entertaining and addictive harem anime series that focuses on character development and story rather than the usual fan service, nudity and lackadaisical plot.  “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is recommended!

 

Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

pokemon-genesect

With this 16th film, not only is it action-packed but for children, they’ll love the fact that many Pokémon that they have seen in the recent video games, have an appearance in this film.  Also, a positive message within the film that one should not judge people or generalize them all as bad, as there are good people out there.  If your child loves Pokémon or a fan that is young at heart, “Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened” is recommended!

DVD TITLE: Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 70 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital, English Stereo

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV Y7 FV

RELEASE DATE: December 3, 2013

Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama

Screenplay by Hideki Sonoda

Character Designs by Kazukaki Mohri, Sayuri Ichiishi, Tokuhiro Matsubara, Toshiya Yamada

Music by Shinji Miyazaki

Original Concept by Junichi Masuda, Ken Sugimori, Satoshi Tajiri

Anime Production: Oriental Light and Magic

Featuring the following voice talent:

Eileen Stevens as Iris

Jason Griffith as Cilan

Ikue Ohtani as Pikachu

Scottie Ray as Red Genesect

Sarah Natochenny as Ash Ketchum

Billy Beach as James

Jake Pague as Eric

Jimmy Zoppi as Jessie

Kiyoe Yoshioka as Eevee

A peaceful park amid the hustle and bustle seems like the perfect new home for a group of Mythical Pokemon: four Genesect and their red leader. These new neighbors quickly become a problem for the city’s residents, though. The Genesect don’t trust people, and they’ve found a dangerous ally in the Legendary Pokemon Mewtwo, whose origins also involve human tampering. But the red Genesect doesn’t want Mewtwo’s help, and their confrontation quickly rages out of control! Can Ash and friends stop these two powerful Pokemon before they destroy the city?

As a tradition with each Pokémon film in Japan, right at the end of one animated film, most often a legendary Pokémon is featured and is usually a major character for the next film.

In “Pokemon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice”, ExtremeSpeed Genesect was introduced.   And in January, as a bonus to those who watch the 15th film in Japanese theaters, anyone who brought “Pokémon Black” and “Pokémon White” (original and second versions) were able to download Genesect to their Nintendo DS game.  By February 2013, it was revealed by writer Hideki Sonoda that Mewtwo would be featured, but a different character than the version featured in the first animated film.

The 16th film titled “Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā Besuto Uisshu! Shinsoku no Genosekuto: Myūtsū Kakusei” (which translates to “Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! The Movie: ExtremeSpeed Genesect: Mewtwo Awakens”) was released in theaters in the summer of 2013 and was quite successful in the box office earning over $50 million worldwide.

And now the film was recently released in the US courtesy of Viz Media on DVD with the title “Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened”.

The film begins with four Genesects following a Red Genesect, while not far behind are a few flying Pokémon are seen following a female Mewtwo.

As the Genesects are in a cold area in search of something, one Genesect is heard saying that he wants to go go home.

Mewtwo tries to fly out into space but nearly freezes. While she is descending, she hears the Genesect saying that he wants to go home.    Mewtwo confronts the Genesects and finds out that like her, they were created from fossils by people.

As Mewtwo explains that they are safe in the location, she is attacked by the Red Genesect and explains how the planet and their home has changed.  But because the Genesects see everyone as their enemy and thinks Mewtwo is trying to give them orders, they all escape and head towards the city.

Meanwhile, Ash, Iris and Cilan arrive towards the city where Pokémon Hills are located.   As the group let their friends play in the area, Ash and Pikachu find a Genesect (the same sad Genesect who wanted to go home) who they become friends with.  As the Genesect tells Ash and friends that he wants to go home, Ash promises Genesect that he will help him come home and Ash pets it.

But when the Red Genesect sees this, it and the other Genesects begin attacking Ash and friends, only to be rescued by Mewtwo.

When Ash tries to thank Mewtwo for saving them, Mewtwo looks at them with coldness and tells them that she was trying to save the Pokémon and not them.  When Ash tries to find out the name of the Pokémon, Mewtwo explains that Genesect is an extinct Pokémon brought back by people using the ancient fossils and had weapons implanted in them.  And explains that the Genesect woke up to a world not their own which they lived millions of years ago.  And they do not belong in this world and Mewtwo explains that she doesn’t belong in that world as she was also created by people and knows how the Genesect feels and sees everyone as their enemies.

At a distance, Jessie, James and Meowth sees the battle and want to capture the Genesect and Mewtwo, so they can rule the world.

While it’s peaceful for now, at night time at the Pokémon Hill, the Genesect begin attacking all living Pokemon, seeing everyone as their enemy.  But when a Pokémon comes to Ash and friends and warn them of trouble, they run and see the Pokémon fighting against the Genesect.

Will Ash and friends find a way to stop the Genesect?  And what about Mewtwo?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened” is another film that demonstrates that with each year, things look better for the Pokémon films . With each newer film, there is much better detail in the paintings and better use of CG.  The art backgrounds are wonderfully painted with so much detail, colors are vibrant as it can get on DVD.

Of course, with this being DVD, you are going to see mild artifacts but nothing problematic.   It’s a beautiful looking film! But I do hope that Viz Media considers a Blu-ray release for these films in the near future.

As for the audio, the audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1. Dialogue is clear and understandable, special effects sound very good coming through the center and front channels. And during the more action-based scenes, utilization of the surround channels. It’s important to note that only the English dub is featured and the Japanese soundtrack is not included.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Pokémon” comes with the theatrical trailer.

With the release of the 16th “Pokémon” film, I can easily say that I was fortunate to be in Japan during the time Pokémon was introduced and to also see it flourish in the United States.

As my 10-year-old son is a big fan of Pokémon, watching the TV series, the films, reading the manga, collecting the cards and playing every video game that he can get his hands on, suffice to say, “Pokémon” has been a part of our family household and since I watched the very first film featuring Mewtwo, here I am years later watching the film with another Mewtwo with my son.

The storyline returns to bio-engineered Pokémon, one derived from fossils but made into a killing machine with weapons, while Mewtwo similar to the first film, has a hard time looking at humans as friends.  Both the Genesects and Mewtwo  dislike people for trying to create Pokémon but where Mewtwo is compassionate towards all Pokémon, the Genesect lead by the Red Genesect looks at everything living as their enemy.

And because the world they once knew millions of years ago is no longer the same, their desire to find their old home becomes difficult as the world has changed since their kind were still on the planet.

But as one Genesect befriends Ash and friends and desperately wants to go home, he is unlike the others that he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.  He just  wants to get back home, but unfortunately they must follow the Red Genesect’s orders.

As for Mewtwo, she has gone through so much pain and has had quite a bit of hatred towards humans.  But she sees Ash and friends who try to do all they can to protect the Pokémon and learns that all people are bad.

The same can be said with the Genesect who don’t understand why the Pokémon that they tried to hurt, are also trying to protect them from harm.

So, with this 16th film, not only is it action-packed but for children, they’ll love the fact that many Pokémon that they have seen in the recent video games, have an appearance in this film.  Also, a positive message within the film that one should not judge people or generalize them all as bad, as there are good people out there.

If your child loves Pokémon or a fan that is young at heart, “Pokémon the Movie 16: Genesect and the Legend Awakened” is recommended!

 

La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking. 

Image courtesy of © 2012 HuneX/Arcana Famiglia Partners. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + OVA

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic, English and Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 VD

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Directed by Chiaki Kon

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Storyboard by Chiaki Kon

Episode Director: Chiaki Kon

Music by Yasuhiro Misawa

Character Design by Mai Matsura

Original Character Design by Chiyomi Sara, Yomi Sarachi

Art Director: Takahiro Yoneda

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Blake Shepard as Liberta

Mamiko Noto/Luci Christian as Felicitá

Tsubasa Yonaga/Kara Greenberg as Nova

Fumihiko Tachiki/Rob Mungle as Mondo

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jay Hickman as Debito

Juurouta Kosugi/Andrew Love as Dante

Koji Yusa/Chuck Huber as Jolly

Tomokazu Sugita/Kyle Jones as Pace

Yūichi Nakamura/Clint Bickham as Luca

Things are NOT going well for Felicita. For years, the island of Regalo has been protected by her father’s “organization,” the Arcana Tarocco. The organization’s success is due in no small part to the members’ unusual skills with Tarot Cards, not to mention their more usual guns and knives. But now her father has unexpectedly decided to retire and, while the fact that his position will be filled by the winner of a series of duels doesn’t worry Felicita, the fact that he’s decided to throw HER into the contest as part of the prize certainly does. Especially since some of the contestants are her cousins, which is keeping things in the family WAY too much!

 

Fortunately, our lady shark has two aces up her sleeve: as the head of the Swords Division, she’s eligible to compete for herself; and with her favored Card, The Lovers, she can snoop into the minds of her would-be suitors-cum-rivals. It’s just too bad they have their own card tricks!

 

Back in 2011, the Japanese visual novel titled “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” by HuneX and Comfort was released for teh Sony PSP, followed by a special fan disc and cooking game in 2012.

With the popularity of the game, a 12-episodes anime series adaptation from J.C. staff was created and was directed and storyboarded by Chiaki Kon (“Blue Dragon”, “Golden Time”, “Nodam Cantabile: Finale”), series composition by Masano Akahoshi (“Freezing”, “A Certain Magical Index”, “Tegami Bachi: Reverse”), music by Yasuniro Misawa (“Minami-Ke”, “Yuruyuri”), character designs by Mai Matsuura (“Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live”, “Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru”) and art direction by Takahiro Yoneda (“WATAMOTE”, “Sonic X”).

And now “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is an anime about an organization known as “Arcana Famiglia”, a group that protects the island of Regalo.

The group consists of people who have made contracts with Arcana Cards and have special abilities derived from these cards.

The organization leader known as “Papa” has decided to retire and give a member of the organization the chance to take his seat, to take control of Arcana and marry  his daughter Felicita.

So, a tournament within the family called “Arcana Duello” will take place, against Felicita’s will as she wants to prove that she can make her own decisions.  And while others vow to fight for the right to be the next “Papa”, two of the younger members, Liberta and Nova (who like her) want to fight for her freedom and protect her.

But will they be able to?

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” focuses on the following characters:

Felicita – The only daughter of “Papa” (Mondo) and the leader of the Sword.  Her Arcana Card is #6 (The Lovers) which makes her have the power to read people’s hearts.

Liberta – A soldier of the Intelligence Division, Liberta’s Arcana Card is #0 (The Fool).  He has a big crush on Felicita.

Nova – Felicita’s childhood friend and cousin, his Arcana Card is #13 (Death) and is the Captain of the Holy Grail.  Feels guilty for putting his parents in a deep eternal sleep because they were plotting a rebellion against Mondo.  He has a crush on Felicita.  Often called “Chickpea” by Liberta and hates the nickname.

Debito – Known for wearing an eye patch, he is the Bipolar captain of the Coins and his Arcana is #9 (The Hermit) and can make himself invisible.

Pace – The captain of the Wands and often cheerful and happy.  He is a substitute Captain and his Arcana Card is #11 (Strength) which makes him have incredible strength.

Luca – Felicita’s personal butler who seems to have a crush on her.  His Arcana is #14 (Temperance) and often gets jealous when others do things with Felicita.

Jolly – Mondo’s right hand man and the second highest ranking member of the Family.  His Arcana is #18 (The Moon) which allows him to draw out a person’s memory. He is often seen as col and emotionless.  A master at alchemy.

Dante –  The  Head Captain  of the Family and his Arcana is #4 (The Emperor) which allows him to remove and manipulate memories.  He was a former pirate and is like a father to Liberta.

VIDEO & AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and is presented in Japanese and English 2.0.   It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this series, you will want to go for the Blu-ray version, which will be released on the same day as the DVD.

On DVD, the series is good, art backgrounds that are well-rendered and it’s highpoint is the action and the many art backgrounds for the series.  The DVD features the typical anime TV series softness but for the most part, the series is colorful and looks good.

But the biggest difference I found with this series is the Japanese versus English dub.  With the Japanese version, for the character of Nova, Tsubasa Yonaga has a deep masculine voice while the English dub version, he sounds like a woman.  I was surprised by the complete difference as Nova’s Japanese voice acting gives an impression of Nova as a kick-butt Famiglia members, while the English dub version doesn’t.

In fact, there is another scene where the cook for the series is a woman and sounds like a woman in Japanese but for the English dub, the woman obviously sounds like a man trying to pretend he’s speaking in a woman’s voice.

So, I found the Japanese voice acting to be much better and made the anime series feel more consistent to the action featured.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.

For fans of otome video games,  “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is for you!

For those not familiar with what “otome” is, as “harem” anime typically are about a series featuring many women who fall for the same guy, “otome” is the opposite with many guys liking the female protagonist.  In the concept of the video game, “Arcana Famiglia”,  the female character Felicita must develop a romantic relationship with one of the many male members that like her or are a member of her father’s organization.

For the anime adaptation of the popular visual novel, because “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is a story about an organization of guys with Arcana powers and one female member (Felicita) who is to be engaged to the winner of the “Arcana Duello” game.

Many of the guys want the position for power and control of the organization, while others are simply in love with Felicita and want to be with her or at least protect her.

Of course, Felicita is a person who believes in her own individual freedom and the anime series tries to showcase each man trying to show why they should be the special person in her life.  But can or will Felicita ever find the guy that she will love?

While the 12-episodes try to showcase each of the main male members and how they care for Felicita, there is also a story that revolves around her father being kidnapped by pirates, Nova trying to deal with his guilt for putting his parents through an eternal sleep and is one of the members of “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” a traitor?

As for the special OVA, what happens when members of the organization somehow switch bodies?

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want very good picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  If your not picky over picture quality, then the DVD is perfectly fine as the series is a bit more on the soft side.  If there was one nitpick, it was the English voice acting as one will notice the apparent differences between the Japanese and English voice acting, especially for the character of Nova.  A prominent character with a lower, masculine voice in the Japanese version, while in the English dub, with a female voice actress providing the voice, it sort of reminds me of Venus Terzo’s voice acting of the old ’90s “Ranma 1/2″ dub of male Ranma.  Something I was not a big fan of.

But I know dubbing is all subjective and whether and you do have a choice of whether to watch the series in Japanese or English.

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking.

 

One Piece: Season Five – Voyage Three (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

onepiece-s5-v3

In “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three” , it’s an all out fight as the Straw Hat Pirates take on CP9!  Action-packed, hilarious and all-out fun, this latest volume is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 288-299 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 15, 2013

Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Izo Oikawa/Philip Weber as Iceburg

Takahiro Yoshimizu/David Wald as Paulie

Bin Shimada/Jonathan Brooks as Foxy the Pirate

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebricht as Rob Lucci

Masaya Onosaka/Christopher Corey Smith as Spandam

Kumiko Watanabe/Alexis Tipton as Fukuro

Naomi Shindo/Shelley Calene-Black as Kalifa

Hiroaki Yoshida/Andrew Love as Kumadori

Ryotaro Okiayu/Alex Organ as Kaku

Masaya Takatsuka/Phil Parsons as Jabura

All hands on deck for a Straw Hat slugfest with the assassins of CP9!

While Luffy races to save Robin from the cowardly clutches of Spandam the madman, the rest of his mates fight for their lives against the heinous henchmen of CP9! Robin steps into save Sanji from taking a beating at the hands of a lethal bathing beauty, and Chopper goes on a rampage after eating one too many Rumble Balls during his showdown with a samurai lion! Meanwhile, Franky teaches a zipper-mouthed freak a thing or two about the punching power of cola, Zoro s swordplay is hampered by being handcuffed to Usopp, and Sanji reappears just in time to introduce his wolfish opponent to the burning power of the devil s leg! The fists are officially flying, and the most epic One Piece arc ever just got brutal!

The Straw Hat Pirates take on CP9 in the latest volume of “One Piece”!

The Enies Lobby Arc continues as Luffy receives some help from Chimeney and Gonbe and continues his search for Robin (who has been taken by Spandam and Rob Lucci).  Meanwhile, the one-on-one battles vs CP9 begins as Franky takes on Fukuro and Chopper takes on Kumadori, Nami vs. Kalifa and Zoro and Sogeking vs. Kaku and Jabura.

Find out what happens during the fight against CP9 in “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three”, available now on DVD courtesy of FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide. The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is at 580 episodes and despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation Entertainment began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Four, Voyage Three”, available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

While the FUNimation DVD release is listed as season five for America, in Japan, these episodes are actually season 9.

The “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three” DVD comes with episodes 288-289 on two DVD discs.

Here are the spoilerless summaries of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 288 - Luffy continues to go after Robin, with the help of Chimeney and Gonbe.  Frank vs. Fukuro.
  • EPISODE 289 – Frank continues his fight vs. Fukuro.
  • EPISODE 290 - Chopper vs. Kumadori.
  • EPISODE 291 - A filler alternated reality “Grand Jipangu” episode about a small girl named Rika and taking in a person who needs help.  Meanwhile, crimeboss Bugg the Clow tries to get rid of Detective Luffy.
  • EPISODE 292 - Continuing the alternate reality “Grand Jipangu” storyline, Nami, Sanji and Chopper make their way to the Shogun’s Castle.  Meanwhile, someone kidnaps Princess Vivi.
  • EPISODE 293 - Chopper’s newest transformation.  The conclusion of Chopper vs. Kumadori.
  • EPISODE 294 - The Marines have arrived and Spandam tries to contact CP9 but instead, he accidentally invokes the Buster call.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 295 - Luffy vs. Rob Lucci.  Meanwhile, Nami and friends don’t understand what has happened to Chopper.
  • EPISODE 296 - Nami vs. Kalifa.
  • EPISODE 297 – Zoro vs. Kaku, Sogeking and Nami vs. Jabura.
  • EPISODE 298 - Sanji returns to take on Jabura.
  • EPISODE 299 – Franky goes to help save robin, while Zoro’s fight with Kaku continues.

VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 289 Audio Commentary - Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice talents Alexis Tipton (Fukuro) and Patrick Seitz (Franky).
  • EPISODE 290 Audio Commentary - Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice talents Sonny Strait (Usopp) and Brina Palencia (Chopper).

DISC 2:

  • On the Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece with Jonathan Brooks – (16:59) Featuring an interview between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Jonathan Brooks (Foxy the Pirate).
  • On the Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece with Jason Liebrecht – (14:34) Featuring a video interview between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Jason Liebrecht (Rob Lucci).
  • Textless Song – Textless opening song for “Crazy Rainbow”
  • Trailers - Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

We have watched as Robin has tried to leave the Straw Hat Pirates to protect her friends but how Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates will not stop in order to rescue her.

We have seen the sheer power of CP9 and now it culminates in these episodes as members of the Straw Hat Pirates go one-on-one with members of CP9.

Franky takes on Fukuro and Chopper takes on Kumadori, Nami vs. Kalifa and Zoro and Sogeking vs. Kaku and Jabura.  Suffice to say, this is an all action-packed volume as this latest fight is their most difficult challenge yet.

So difficult that Chopper has to do another transformation that literally makes him a terrifying beast with hardly any control.  While Zoro, Sanji and Nami grow from their battle.

While the episodes are primarily all fighting, all-action-based episodes, there are two filler episodes that take on an alternative reality where Luffy is a detective and everyone must try to save Princess Vivi.  Fortunately, these filler episodes are only two episodes long.  But what I love about this volume is the opponents that the Straw Hat Pirates must take on.

From the zipper mouth Fukuro and his distinguished laugh, the lying and very tough wolf fighter, Jabura and to see Kaku turn into a fighting giraffe.  It was no doubt an odd and unusual fight for the Straw Hat Pirates and yet, CP9 constantly fight as if they have no weaknesses.  So, it’s interesting to see how the Straw Hat Pirates try to counter the opponent in their solo battle.

As for the DVD, you get 11-episodes and picture quality is very good. Especially in Japan, all “One Piece” episodes since 2007 have been broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be interesting if that means the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But for the DVD, picture quality is colorful, vibrant and looks good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, it’s awesome to see FUNimation featuring more special features and in this case, two one-on-one video interviews between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and main cast members. There are also two fun audio commentaries featuring the English dub voice talent, textless opening and ending themes plus trailers.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and the Ennies Lobby Arc is quite fascinating and with this volume, very exciting and a lot of action that will keep One Piece fans glued to this arc and its episodes.

A great combination of unique storylines, plenty of action and humor.  The characters are awesome, the anime are well-acted (Japanese and English dub) and it’s definitely one of the better action anime TV series to be released in the U.S. and continues to air in Japan.  “One Piece” is the longest running action anime series in Japan and the fact that young and old continue to read and watch this series, its a testament of how addictive “One Piece” really is and how people gravitate towards this series.

In “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Three” , it’s an all out fight as the Straw Hat Pirates take on CP9!  Action-packed, hilarious and all-out fun, this latest volume is highly recommended!

 

The Future Diary: Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

futurediary-p2

“The Future Diary: Part Two” has turned out to be a complex but fascinating anime series with twists and turns that I never saw coming as each episode progressed.  For anime fans wanting something more violent, slightly creepy but also complex, you may want to give “The Future Diary” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Future Diary: Part Two

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011-2012

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: M

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Directed by Naoto Hosoda

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Original Character Design by Sakae Esuno

Character Design by Hidetsugu Hirayama

Art Director: Toshiyuki Tokuda

Anime Production: asread

Featuring the following voice talent:

Misuzu Togashi/Josh Grelle as Yukiteru Amano

Norio Wakamoto/Kent Williams as Deus ex Machina

Tomosa Murata/Brina Palencia as Yuno Gasai

Mai Aizawa/Emily Neves as Minene Uryū

Manami Honda/Leah Clark as Murmur

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Aru Akise

Asami Sanada/Lindsay Seidel as Reisuke Hojo

Eri Sendai/Kate Bristol as Tsubaki Kasugano

Hirokazu Hiramatsu/Mark Stoddard as Karyuudo Tsukishima

Hiromi Konno/Monica rial as Kamado Ueshita

Jin Domon/Jason Douglas as Takao Hiyama

Makoto Ishii/J. Michael Tatum as Masumi Nishijima

Masahiko Tanaka/Robert McCollum as Keigo Kurusu

Minoru Shiraishi/Joel McDonald as Oji Kosaka

Natsuko Kuwatani/Jamie Marchi as Ai Mikami

Takaya Hashi/Christopher Smith as John Balks

Tomokazu Seki/Brad Hawkins as Marco Ikusaba

Yoshihisa Kawahara/Ian Sinclair as Yomotsu Hirasaka

Yukana as Mao Nonosaka

Yuki Matsuoka/Caitlin Glass as Hinata Hino

Yuno’s psychotic episodes are getting out of control – but Yukiteru’s already in too deep with every diary keeper raving to take him out. He’ll have to trust her undying devotion to him if he wants to avoid the consequences. As the rules take a twist and new players enter the game, the bloodshed knows no boundaries. Manipulation leads to manslaughter, and what is real could actually be a product of chaos. With the world on the verge of collapse, there’s no predicting who’ll get the happy ending they’re fighting for.

Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano has stood close to Yuno, one because she protects him but two, because he tries to prevent her psychotic side from hurting anyone close to him.

But this time, Yuno has cross over the line, wanting to protect him and him not trying to fight her when she tries to kill others involved in the game, she poisons him.

But what happens when his life is at stake?  Knowing how crazy Yuno is…will he stick by her side or will he push her away?

Find out in the second half and the conclusion to “The Future Diary”, available now on DVD courtesy of FUNimation!

What is “The Future Diary” about?

In 2006, mangaka Sakae Esuno’s “Mirai Nikki” (Future Diary) would be serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Shonen Ace” through 2010.

With an a live-action drama series in 2012 and a three-side story manga (“Future Diary: Mosaic”, “Future Diary: Paradox” and “Future Diary: Redial”) released back in 2009-2010, the anime adaptation was shown on television in 2011-2012.

The anime series is produced by Asread and is directed by Yukichi Namiyanagi (“Shuffle! Memories”, “Nagasarete Airantou”, “Jinki: Extend”), series composition by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts”, “Cat Planet Cuties”, “Ga-Rei-Zero”), music by Tatsuya Katou (“Needless”, “Medaka Box”, “Samurai Bride”), character design by Hidetsugu Hirayama (“Shuffle!”, “Space Battleship Yamato 2199″) and art direction by Toshiyuki tokuda (“Major”, “Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia”, “Alien Nine”, “Oreimo”).

And now the series will be released in two part DVD sets courtesy of FUNimation in Sept. 2013.

“The Future Diary” begins with people getting slaughtered by some unknown entity.

The series revolves around a teenage loner named Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano. He has no friends and feels that no one cares about him but he doesn’t mind because he spends most of his time writing his diary on his cell phone and pretending he has a friends named Deus Ex Machina, The God of Time and Space and Murmur, the servant of Deus.

But something unusual happens when his imaginary friend Desus gives him a special diary and some discussion about a game. Yuki doesn’t think much about it until he sees 90 entries that he supposedly wrote in his diaries covering the next 90 days. And those entries for the future end up coming true.

He finds out that Deus Ex Machina is in fact real and that he must now take part in a game of life and death, a battle royale with eleven other people who also has a diary that can predict the future, but differently.

The rules are simple, kill the other eleven people before the world ends, which is supposed to take place on the 90th day. If that person succeeds, they can prevent the Apocalypse and become the new Got of Time and Space.

But Yuki who is a longer and not a fighter nor a killer has no desire to win the game. But Deus announces that Yuki is the first diary owner and that he has him as the favorite to win the game and immediately making him the primary threat.

And to make things even more interesting, he is partnered up with a mentally unstable stalker named Yuno Gasai. A mysterious, weird and obsessive girl who wants nothing but Yuki to herself and wants the 90th day prediction of she and Yuki “becoming one”.

But as Yuki comes in contact with other contestants, can he trust them or will he find out that all want to kill him?

In the second part of “The Future Diary”, all bets of working together are off when Yuki who has been the weak link and having Yuno fight his battles, has now changed and has adapted himself to Yuno’s psychotic, killing ways.

Meanwhile, Yuno’s past is revealed and how she became fixated on Yuki is revealed and when Yuki’s life is changed as well, his original plan of not wanting to take part in the game and not hurt anyone has now shifted to wanting to become the new God of Time and Space, so he knows he may need to kill everyone but bring them back from the dead.

And now, Yuki and Yuno are determined in winning the game, no matter what.  Even if it means killing another.

The characters of “The Future Diary” are:

  • Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano – The main protagonist. A loner who is weak and lets the mentally unstable Yuno Gasai protect him. Not a sociable person and tends to trust anyone. He writes down his life on a cell phone diary and thought he had two imaginary friends named Deus Ex Machina and Murmur, who end up being actual beings. The first diary user, his special diary from Deus features 90 days of his future written by him (in his own perspective) in and lists everything in great detail. Not very interested in the game and rather make friends with the other competitors.
  • Yuno Gasai – A mentally unstable girl who can change from lovingly sweet to a killer. She is obsessed with Yuki and her cell diary is a Yukiteru Diary which gives her information of what Yuki will be doing in the present 10 minutes. It is not good when solely used alone, but when paired with Yuki, her diary actually solves Yuki’s weaknesses.
  • Minene Uryu – An atheist terrorist and very deadly. Her diary is the “Escape Diary” which helps her find ways of escaping a dangerous situation.
  • Aru Akise – A genius at investigating and wanting to be a great detective. His cell diary is the “Detective Diary” which can make predictions based on the predictions of other diaries.
  • Keigo Kurusu – A police captain who has no interested in the game and wants to find a way to stop the game. His cell diary is the “Criminal Investigation Diary” which tells him about crimes that will happen in the next 90 days.
  • Yomotsu Hirasaka – A blind and insane vigilante who dresses up as a super sentai character. He uses a Justice Diary which tells him about evil deeds that will happen in the future. His diary also has the power of hypnosis.
  • Reisuke Houjo -A four year old who looks harmless but is very intelligent and a killer. He has a cell diary which is the “Hyper Vision Diary” that is a coloring book but gives a summary of what will he be doing that day for morning, noon and at night.
  • Deus Ex Machina – The God of Time and Space and the creator of the diaries.
  • Murmur – Deus’ servant.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Future diary” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in English 5.1 Surround and Japanese Stereo. For picture quality, the animation is good, characters are well-shaded and art backgrounds are detailed well. There is a bit of softness as one can expect from a TV series but environments are well-rendered and painted, while the characters can often look quite creepy at times, especially the way the characters and their eyes are designed at times. Especially when you see a character go from sweet to psycho.

As for the soundtrack, the English dub track has a better dynamic range as it is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, so action scenes are much more active through the surround channels during the action scenes. Both soundtracks are well-acted, but with the English dub soundtrack receiving the 5.1 treatment, the dynamic range for the English dub is much better.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Future Diary: Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Omake #10 Minene Uryuu, Masumi Nishijima (Dear Dialogue Version) -(23:52) Featuring a story that revolves around Minene and Masumi.  And another story featuring Yukiteru being invited to a movie by Aru and what happens when Yuno finds out?
  • Episode 20 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with J. Michael Tatum (writer/and voice of Nishijima) and D. Patrick Seitz (writer).
  • Episode 23 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Josh Grelle (Yuki) and Brina Palencia (Yuno).
  • Promotional Videos – (4:58) Featuring the Japanese promotional videos for “Future Diary”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (:35) FUNimation trailer for “The Future Diary”.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – Featuring opening songs “Kuusou Mesorogii/Fantasy Mythology/Dead End” and closing song “Blood Teller/filament”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

Watching the second part of “The Future Diary”, I was shocked to see how things have changed with the characters.  From seeing Yuno’s psychotic side leader her to do something bad to Yuno but then seeing how Yuki being affected by the game due to his weakness, has now decide that playing the pacifist role of not getting involved and not harming anyone has changed.

He is now determined in killing everyone in the game in order to become the new God of Time and Space, so he will achieve the power to bring them back from the dead.

The Yuki that was scared and kind has now changed to a person who lies and kills.  But as we see what caused Yuki’s transformation, we also get to see how and why Yuno changed as well.

There is a much more complex storyline revolving alternate worlds and time travel in the second half, so the storyline does start to become much more crazy and wild as it gets near the end of the series but it was rather fascinating to see how the writers changed the protagonist to someone nearly unlikable by the second half. But also to see the complexity of the series, especially with the characters and the alternate worlds…once again, this second half was full of surprises and had no idea where the story would go.  But “The Future Diary” turned out to be a fascinating but dark series.

For those who are sensitive to violence, it’s important to note that people get murdered and maimed in this series, as the name of the game is one trying not to get knocked off, the storyline is quite intriguing and definitely not for the faint of heart.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good on DVD but surprised there was no Blu-ray release for “The Future Diary”.  But on DVD, the series looks good as environments are well-detailed, character designs are also colorful and look great and the voice acting is well done both in English and Japanese.  As for special features, the DVD contains two audio commentary tracks and an omake episode.

Overall, “The Future Diary: Part Two” has turned out to be a complex but fascinating anime series with twists and turns that I never saw coming as each episode progressed.  For anime fans wanting something more violent, slightly creepy but also complex, you may want to give “The Future Diary” a chance!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” is a fun and also corny filler volume but definitely recommended for the hardcore “Naruto” anime collector!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 180-192 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: Rated T for Older Teen

Release Date: July 16, 2013

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Sabaku no Gaara (Gaara of the Desert)

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

After Pain’s attack, the Leaf Ninja set about rebuilding their village. Naruto and Sakura are thrilled to be reunited with Tazuna and his grandson Inari from the Land of Waves, who have come to help. While the restoration proceeds, the Leaf Ninja and their friends reflect on past events that influenced the village and helped gain allies like the Sand.

Plus, we get a glimpse back into Naruto’s training journey with Jiraiya, and join the original Team 7 on a mission when Sasuke was still with them!

With the Leaf Ninja rebuilding their village after the destruction left behind by Pain and after Naruto’s defeat of Pain, as everyone tries to welcome normalcy to their village, members begin to think of various flashbacks of old missions from the old Team 7 (led by Kakashi Hatake and consisted of Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno).

From episodes of Team 7 running into various obstacles, trying to catch Mr. Ostrich or people remembering how Naruto made a difference in their lives, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that features the past adventures of Naruto and friends.

What is “Naruto”?

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

For the anime series, since 2002, “Naruto” lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes. The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.

Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities. The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need. But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.

Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities. For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions. He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older. Of course, there is so much involved in the “Naruto” anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.

“Naruto”, the first series ended with the young ninja leaving to train with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years.

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

In “Naruto Shippuden”, the storyline now features everyone a little grown up but the stakes are much higher. We learn that the Akatsuki including Orochimaru are looking for those who possess a jinchuriki. With this power, this will give too much power to evil and this can lead to the death of many people and the destruction of many villages.

In the past few volumes, the Leaf Village along with other villages have managed to defeat the Akatsuki, unfortunately the price paid was the death of Asuma and a few other members of the Leaf and Sand Ninja.

Now, Orochimaru using Kabuto, have their sites set on capturing the other jinchuriki, as do the Akatsuki who have been after Naruto.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 12 – Original & Uncut”, it is important to note that the episodes featured in DVD Set 12 covers the final episodes of “Naruto Shippuden” Season six as Naruto and his team take on the Eight Tails and learning from Madara of why his older brother Itachi massacred their family and the Uchiha clan and now this information will forever change Sasuke.

For episode 144-151, this was a shortened season seven and aired from January through March 2012 in Japan. This season features Lady Tsunade sending Team 7 and Yamato to assist Utakata and Hotaru after they learn that a clan known as Tsuchigumo and an elder named En no Gyoja developing a forbidden Jutsu.

It is revealed that Utakata is a Jinchuriki and he carries the Six-Tailed Demon Slug and a man named Shiranami is trying to kidnap Hotaru to be used as a vessel to collect natural chakra energy to release the forbidden jutsu.

Naruto and Team 7 must find a way to protect Hotaru from any harm. But another group appears to be interested in Utakata.

For episodes 152-153, this begins season 8 of “Naruto: Shippuden” and brings back the Pain storyline as Naruto is summoned to Lady Tsunade and is informed by Jiraiya’s master Fukasaku of the fate of Jiraiya in his battle with Pain and the Akatsuki.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 13 – Original & Uncut”, Season 8 of “Naruto: Shippuden” continues as the Six Paths and Konan attack the Leaf Village in their hopes of capturing Naruto in order to obtain the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox.

With so much death and destruction, Kakashi along with Chouji Akimichi and his father Chouza take on the most powerful of the Six Paths. Meanwhile, in Mount Myoboku, Fukasaku trains Naruto to become one with nature and learn Sage Mode. But will Naruto learn and master Sage Mode in a short amount of time to take on the Six Paths?

The volume ended with Naruto being pinned down by Pain and about to be killed until Shino comes out of nowhere to fight and try to break Pain’s spikes that are keeping Naruto pinned to the ground. But as she is able to remove many spikes, Pain tries to kill her off by throwing her up in the air and slamming her down as hard as he can.

With Shino being used as a playtoy to show how much pain he can inflict on Naruto, Naruto’s rage due to the Nine Tailed Fox becomes out of control.

This leads us to “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 14 – Original & Uncut” which features the remainder of the episodes from season 8 and the beginning episodes of season 9.

As an angry Naruto is unable to control the Nine-Tailed Fox, Pain is shocked of how much power the Nine-Tailed Fox has and even breaking his Chibaku Tensei technique. But as Naruto seems to be losing control, in his consciousness, someone comes to give Naruto some help and also wise advice.

As Naruto prepares his final battle against Pain (ala Deva Path) in order to find the real Nagato through Sage Mode.

Also, included is a past episode in which Naruto and friends are training in preparation for the final rounds of the Chunin Exam. It is the first time Naruto hears about “The Fourth Hokage’s legacy” from Jiraiya and Naruto wanting to break the Fourth Hokage’s record. These episodes also introduce how Naruto came up with his motto.

The eighth season concludes with Naruto confronting Nagato. What will happen when Naruto confronts the former student of Master Jiraiya?

The ninth season of “Naruto” kicks off with a flashback episode and revolves around Iruka Umino becoming Naruto’s teacher and shows how Naruto and Iruka developed a close bond as teacher and student. While episode 179 is a Kakashi flashback in which he is assigned to Team 7 and tries to get to know Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura better by spying on them.

With “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Oriignal & Uncut”, the episodes are filler episodes as they give enough time for Masashi Kishimoto to work on his manga series and create new stories, while the anime focuses on the old adventures of Team 7 featuring Kakashi, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura and also others during their younger years.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15″ is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

Especially Maile Flanagan’s Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn’t think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi’s Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. But I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.

Since the series is front channel driven, for those with a modern home theater receiver probably will enjoy a more immersive soundscape by selecting stereo on all channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 3:

  • Storyboards – View through the storyboards of episodes featured in volume 15 of “Naruto Shippuden”.
  • Omake – (1:00) One single short omake segment.
  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending
  • English Credits
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

With every exciting arc for “Naruto Shippuden”, a season of fillers tends to follow.

A typical strategy for anime companies to allow the manga to grow within a year’s time and giving Masashi Kishimoto the time to create fresh new stories before the anime series can continue.  While some anime can take a break and come back a year or many years later, “Naruto” continues to be one of the more popular characters and titles of Japan and as long as they can come up with fresh new episodes that will entertain fans or children watching the series, there is no need to halt this popular series.

With “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut”, season 9 (in Japan) features a return back to the Team 7 years when Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura were teammates.  But also showcasing storylines that feature how Naruto has influenced the lives of people.

While there are some good filler episodes featured as one involved Naruto and Jiraiya helping out a village that has been terrorized by bad ninja or a hilarious episode with Sakura getting sick and the Hokage thinking that Naruto has a major chakra virus that can harm the village, there are also episodes that are great for children but for longtime fans, some may feel it was a lack of ideas.  One episode featured Naruto and others trying to catch a talking ostrich learning ninjitsu, another featuring Team 7 disguising themselves as cats and visiting a village of cats beings.

Granted, there are talking dogs and talking frogs in “Naruto”, but episodes with a talking ostrich and talking cats may be a bit much.  But that’s how filler episodes are and the “Naruto” are full of them.  Fortunately they are not bad, sometimes you get episodes that are entertaining but for those who want to get back to the action and are impatient, this volume may not be for you, as it is all filler.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 13 episodes and a the typical special features such as storyboard, production art and the ending omake for each episode.

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” has its fun moments but with the upcoming 16th volume, episode 196 will close the filler season and get back to the primary storyline of Naruto searching for Sasuke and the Akatsuki by episode 197.  While “Naruto” anime completists will want this latest volume for their collection, it is skippable as the storyline features more on the adventures of Team 7 and when the team was much younger.

So, with that being said, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” is a fun and also corny filler volume but definitely recommended for the hardcore “Naruto” anime collector!

 

One Piece: Season Five – Voyage One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

onepiece-s5-v1

The beginning of the Enies Lodge Arc and Nico Robin’s past is to be revealed in an exciting, action-packed “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One”. Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 264-275 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: July 23, 2013

Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Izo Oikawa/Philip Weber as Iceburg

Takahiro Yoshimizu/David Wald as Paulie

Monkey D. Luffy refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his quest to become King of All Pirates. With a course charted for the treacherous waters of the Grand Line, this is one captain who’ll never drop anchor until he’s claimed the greatest treasure on earth: the Legendary One Piece!

 

Along for the ride are his loyal crewmates, a wonderfully bizarre collection of outcasts and misfits from the far corners of the world. Each member has their own special talent, and they’ll utilize their skills to help Luffy achieve his dream! Together, the rubberman and his crew can conquer any challenge and defeat any foe!

 

Story and art by 264-275.

The Straw Hat Pirates go after their former teammate Nico Robin and also Franky in the government’s stronghold island known as Enies Lobby.  With the secret assassination group Cipher Pol No. 9 (CP9), will the Straw Hat Pirates find them in time?

Find out in “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One”, available now on DVD courtesy of FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide. The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is at 629 episodes and despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation Entertainment began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One”, available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

While the FUNimation DVD release is listed as season five for America, in Japan, episode 264 is the first episode of season 9.

The “One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One” DVD comes with episodes 264-275 on two DVD discs. Here are the spoilerless summaries of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 264 - The Straw Hat pirates reach the island Enies Lobby and know that to save Robin, they must pass through the Gate of Justice.
  • EPISODE 265 – As Luffy makes it to the second gate, the marines summon the giants Oimo and Kashi, the front gatekeepers to prevent the Franky Family from getting through.
  • EPISODE 266 - The Galley-La foreman and Franky Family arrive to the second gate.  Luffy makes his way to the Courthouse Plaza.
  • EPISODE 267 - Law’s Watch Dog Unit joins the marines in the fight against the Galley-La foreman and Franky Family.
  • EPISODE 268 - The Straw Hat Pirates get into a little argument with one another, meanwhile Nami tests a new weapon.
  • EPISODE 269 - Robin finds out that the Straw Hat Pirates are coming to save her.  Meanwhile, the Straw Hat Pirates and the Franky Family make it to the Courthouse Plaza.
  • EPISODE 270 - Blueno vs. Luffy – The fight begins!

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 271 - The Franky Famiily take on the next units in Enies Lobby.
  • EPISODE 272 - Luffy vs. Blueno and the Franky Family take on Baskerville.
  • EPISODE 273 – The Franky Family take on Baskerville and the fight between Luffy vs. Blueno continues!
  • EPISODE 274 - Luffy finds Robin, but does she want to be rescued?
  • EPISODE 275 – Robin’s history when she was a child growing up on the island of Ohara.

VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, the series is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 265 Audio Commentary - Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice talents Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy), Alexis Tipton (Fukuro) and Phil Parsons (Jabura)

DISC 2:

  • On the Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece with Sonny Strait – (14:19) Featuring a video interview between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Sonny Strait (Usopp).
  • On the Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece with Patrick Seitz – (14:34) Featuring a video interview between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Patrick Seitz (Franky).
  • EPISODE 273 Audio Commentary - Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) with Eric Vale (Sanji) and Brina Palencia (Chopper).
  • Textless Songs – Textless opening song for “Brand New World” and closing song for “Adventure World”.
  • Trailers - Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

When we last saw the Straw Hat Pirates, we watched as Nico Robin left the group in order to protect them.  They know that she doesn’t want them to follow her but as a Straw Hat Pirate, Luffy and team will always be there for each other and that means following Nico Robin to hell and back.

In the case of season five, this hell is the Enies Lobby which is heavily protected by the government, especially Chief Spandam and the rest of CP9.  As deadly as CP9 are, the Straw Hat Pirates along with help from the Galley-La foremen and also the Franky Family will do all they can to help Luffy and friends get through the feared “Gate of Justice”, so they can rescue Nico Robin and Franky.

The first episodes of Season Five (in Japan, it’s season 9) features the Straw Hat Pirates, Galley-La Foremen and Franky Family trying to get past the first two gates but knowing that the marines are sending out their giants, Oimo and Kashi, the front gate keepers to take them on.   As Luffy, takes on Enies Lobby’s 10,000 men.  And what other surprises does the marines have waiting for them behind each gate?

Meanwhile, another important factor for the Enies Lobby Arc is that people get a chance to see the past of Nico Robin and as a youngster, she had a difficult childhood.  Her aunt and her family treats her as unimportant and having to do chores constantly, while the children on the island tease her.  But there is one thing that makes her happy, archaeology but also discovering forbidden research and we learn how she and a giant known as Jaguar D. Saulo became friends.

This is only the starting point of the season but already, there is so much action included and for Robin fans, this is a season that fans will not want to miss as the story delves deep into her past.

As for the DVD, you get 11-episodes and picture quality is very good. Especially in Japan, all “One Piece” episodes since 2007 have been broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be interesting if that means the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But for the DVD, picture quality is colorful, vibrant and looks good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, it’s awesome to see FUNimation featuring more special features and in this case, two one-on-one video interviews between Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) and main cast members. There are also two fun audio commentaries featuring the English dub voice talent, textless opening and ending themes plus trailers.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and I’m in it for the long haul. While, we are 275 episodes down, with a total of 612 episodes have been show in Japan, it will be a long while until we catch up. But the fact that we are getting “One Piece” in the U.S. is fantastic.

It is the longest running action anime series in Japan and the fact that young and old continue to read and watch this series, its a testament of how addictive “One Piece” really is and how people gravitate towards this series.

For this latest arc, it’s about Nico Robin and her mysterious past and it’s one thing that fans have been wanting, to know more about her character.  And for those into the action, immediately starting with episode 264 and kicking off the new season, there is action galore with each episode.

“One Piece” is definitely one of the most entertaining, exciting and action-packed series that continues to have a strong presence in Japan for nearly a decade.”One Piece: Season Five, Voyage One” is recommended!

 

The Future Diary: Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

futurediary-p1-a

“The Future Diary: Part One” is a creepy, bloody and violent anime series about a game of life and death in which people must eliminate others in the game within 90 days or else apocalypse will come!  If you love horror and creepy anime, “The Future Diary: Part One” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Future Diary: Part One

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011-2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: M

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Directed by Naoto Hosoda

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Original Character Design by Sakae Esuno

Character Design by Hidetsugu Hirayama

Art Director: Toshiyuki Tokuda

Anime Production: asread

Featuring the following voice talent:

Misuzu Togashi/Josh Grelle as Yukiteru Amano

Norio Wakamoto/Kent Williams as Deus ex Machina

Tomosa Murata/Brina Palencia as Yuno Gasai

Mai Aizawa/Emily Neves as Minene Uryū

Manami Honda/Leah Clark as Murmur

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Aru Akise

Asami Sanada/Lindsay Seidel as Reisuke Hojo

Eri Sendai/Kate Bristol as Tsubaki Kasugano

Hirokazu Hiramatsu/Mark Stoddard as Karyuudo Tsukishima

Hiromi Konno/Monica rial as Kamado Ueshita

Jin Domon/Jason Douglas as Takao Hiyama

Makoto Ishii/J. Michael Tatum as Masumi Nishijima

Masahiko Tanaka/Robert McCollum as Keigo Kurusu

Minoru Shiraishi/Joel McDonald as Oji Kosaka

Natsuko Kuwatani/Jamie Marchi as Ai Mikami

Takaya Hashi/Christopher Smith as John Balks

Tomokazu Seki/Brad Hawkins as Marco Ikusaba

Yoshihisa Kawahara/Ian Sinclair as Yomotsu Hirasaka

Yukana as Mao Nonosaka

Yuki Matsuoka/Caitlin Glass as Hinata Hino

Reality quickly unravels for antisocial Yukiteru when Deus Ex Machina calls him into a death match to determine the new god of space and time. Each mentally scarred player possesses a prophetic device tuned to his or her personality disorder, giving them control over their future… and the fate of their opponents. It’s their strongest weapon – and their greatest weakness.

Within hours of abusing his digital diary’s predictions, Yukiteru is cornered by a crazed classmate. Yuno – who is obsessively stalking him with her own psychic cell phone – is cute, sharp, and great with an ax. Still, her psychosis hides a vile secret. As a serial killer, a cult priestess, and a volatile escape artist take a stab at eliminating the teens, Yuki can cheat death under Yuno’s maniacal protection or – DEAD END.

In 2006, mangaka Sakae Esuno’s “Mirai Nikki” (Future Diary) would be serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Shonen Ace” through 2010.

With an a live-action drama series in 2012 and a three-side story manga (“Future Diary: Mosaic”, “Future Diary: Paradox” and “Future Diary: Redial”) released back in 2009-2010, the anime adaptation was shown on television in 2011-2012.

The anime series is produced by Asread and is directed by Yukichi Namiyanagi (“Shuffle! Memories”, “Nagasarete Airantou”, “Jinki: Extend”), series composition by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts”, “Cat Planet Cuties”, “Ga-Rei-Zero”), music by Tatsuya Katou (“Needless”, “Medaka Box”, “Samurai Bride”), character design by Hidetsugu Hirayama (“Shuffle!”, “Space Battleship Yamato 2199″) and art direction by Toshiyuki tokuda (“Major”, “Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia”, “Alien Nine”, “Oreimo”).

And now the series will be released in two part DVD sets courtesy of FUNimation in Sept. 2013.

“The Future Diary” begins with people getting slaughtered by some unknown entity.

The series revolves around a teenage loner named Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano.  He has no friends and feels that no one cares about him but he doesn’t mind because he spends most of his time writing his diary on his cell phone and pretending he has a friends named Deus Ex Machina, The God of Time and Space and Murmur, the servant of Deus.

But something unusual happens when his imaginary friend Desus gives him a special diary and some discussion about a game.  Yuki doesn’t think much about it until he sees 90 entries that he supposedly wrote in his diaries covering the next 90 days.  And those entries for the future end up coming true.

He finds out that Deus Ex Machina is in fact real and that he must now take part in a game of life and death, a battle royale with eleven other people who also has a diary that can predict the future, but differently.

The rules are simple, kill the other eleven people before the world ends, which is supposed to take place on the 90th day.  If that person succeeds, they can prevent the Apocalypse and become the new Got of Time and Space.

But Yuki who is a longer and not a fighter nor a killer has no desire to win the game.  But Deus announces that Yuki is the first diary owner and that he has him as the favorite to win the game and immediately making him the primary threat.

And to make things even more interesting, he is partnered up with a mentally unstable stalker named Yuno Gasai.  A mysterious, weird and obsessive girl who wants nothing but Yuki to herself and wants the 90th day prediction of she and Yuki “becoming one”.

But as Yuki comes in contact with other contestants, can he trust them or will he find out that all want to kill him?

The characters of “The Future Diary” are:

  • Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano – The main protagonist.  A loner who is weak and lets the mentally unstable Yuno Gasai protect him.  Not a sociable person and tends to trust anyone.  He writes down his life on a cell phone diary and thought he had two imaginary friends named Deus Ex Machina and Murmur, who end up being actual beings.  The first diary user, his special diary from Deus features 90 days of his future written by him (in his own perspective) in and lists everything in great detail.  Not very interested in the game and rather make friends with the other competitors.
  • Yuno Gasai – A mentally unstable girl who can change from lovingly sweet to a killer. She is obsessed with Yuki and her cell diary is a Yukiteru Diary which gives her information of what Yuki will be doing in the present 10 minutes.  It is not good when solely used alone, but when paired with Yuki, her diary actually solves Yuki’s weaknesses.
  • Minene Uryu – An atheist terrorist and very deadly.  Her diary is the “Escape Diary” which helps her find ways of escaping a dangerous situation.
  • Aru Akise – A genius at investigating and wanting to be a great detective.  His cell diary is the “Detective Diary” which can make predictions based on the predictions of other diaries.
  • Keigo Kurusu  – A police captain who has no interested in the game and wants to find a way to stop the game.  His cell diary is the “Criminal Investigation Diary” which tells him about crimes that will happen in the next 90 days.
  • Yomotsu Hirasaka – A blind and insane vigilante who dresses up as a super sentai character.  He uses a Justice Diary which tells him about evil deeds that will happen in the future.  His diary also has the power of hypnosis.
  • Reisuke Houjo -A four year old who looks harmless but is very intelligent and a killer.  He has a cell diary which is the “Hyper Vision Diary” that is a coloring book but gives a summary of what will he be doing that day for morning, noon and at night.
  • Deus Ex Machina – The God of Time and Space and the creator of the diaries.
  • Murmur – Deus’ servant.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Future diary” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in English 5.1 Surround and Japanese Stereo. For picture quality, the animation is good, characters are well-shaded and art backgrounds are detailed well. There is a bit of softness as one can expect from a TV series but environments are well-rendered and painted, while the characters can often look quite creepy at times, especially the way the characters and their eyes are designed at times.  Especially when you see a character go from sweet to psycho.

As for the soundtrack, the English dub track has a better dynamic range as it is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, so action scenes are much more active through the surround channels during the action scenes. Both soundtracks are well-acted, but with the English dub soundtrack receiving the 5.1 treatment, the dynamic range for the English dub is much better.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Future Diary: Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with voice talents Emily Neves (Minene), Ian Sinclair (Yomotsu) and Robert McCollu (Keigo).
  • Episode 13 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with josh Grelle (Yuki),  Caitlin Glass (Hinata), Ashleigh Domangue (Mao).
  • Omake #5 Yomotsu Hirasaka (Yoshihisa Kawahara Version) – (23:52) Featuring a video commentary with Cherami Leigh, Morgan Garrett, Jad Saxton and Austin Tindle.
  • TV Spots – (1:14) Featuring the Japanese TV spots for “The Future Diary”.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – Featuring opening songs “Kuusou Mesorogii/Fantasy Mythology” and closing song “Blood Teller”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

“The Future Diary” is an intriguing, last person standing anime series.

A series that has elements of “Battle Royale” and “Eden of the East”, “The Future Diary” is an anime series that features your awkward protagonist, Yukiteru,  a loner paired together with a sweet, obsessive and mentally unstable girl named Yuno, who can go from being sweet to a dangerous killer.  And what is interesting about the animation is the emotions within the eyes.

It’s interesting to see different pairs of eyes on the character of Yuno.  From the sweet girl, to psycho crazy girl to the eyes of a person that is out to kill you.  You have Yukiteru who tries to use his influence and try to prevent Yuno from killing but with Yuno obsessed of becoming one with Yuki by day 90, she wants to defeat and kill the other eleven competitors as quickly as possible, but the same can be said about the others as they have Yuki in their primary target for elimination.

But the name of the game is trying to kill eleven other people before one reaches day 90, each participant in the deadly game have a cell phone with each diary giving one a certain ability.

People get murdered and maimed in this series, as the name of the game is one trying not to get knocked off,  the storyline is quite intriguing and definitely not for the faint of heart as it’s probably the first anime series in which you see a 4-year-old killer, but also watching a child being stabbed to death.

So far, part one is more or less establishing the characters and the game itself.  And various characters who are either allies or enemies, things tend to change as each episode progresses.  But how Yukiteru discovers something different about Yuno each time they spent more time with one another.  At first, he uses her to protect him because he’s constantly whining and so weak.  But eventually it’s their partnership that makes them unique and you wonder if these two can fall in love, despite their lives in constant danger.  But there are twists and turns as you don’t know if you can trust the character of Yuno.  She’s very mentally unstable and hard to predict!

The final 13th episode does begin a new direction for the series as events have been manipulated and Deus Ex Machina looking for who is responsible!  And it sets up the second half of the season.

Overall, “The Future Diary: Part One” is a creepy, bloody and violent anime series about a game of life and death in which people must eliminate others in the game within 90 days or else apocalypse will come!  If you love horror and creepy anime, “The Future Diary: Part One” is recommended!

 

 

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