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Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, the “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you. The episodes are action-packed and have quite a bit of humor. But if you are a purist dedicated to Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series and want to watch the main storyline in regards to the war, then this volume can be skipped over.

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


DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 284-296 (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 28, 2015


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


The Fourth Great Ninja War rages on, and danger comes from every angle. Old comrades and enemies have risen from the grave under the control of Kabuto to fight the Allied Forces. While some retain their calm, others must wrestle with their emotions. Naruto’s training has made him more powerful, but some believe his possession of the Nine Tails makes him a liability. Can the Allied Forces survive assassins and their reanimated friends to win the war?


The Fourth Great Ninja War continues as Naruto now enters the battlefield and also a side story featuring the Hidden Sand Village and the Hidden Stone Village.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut”.

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”?

Sasuke has aligned with the Akatsuki who wants to destroy the Leaf Village – Konoha. Madara has declared war and thus an Allied Shinobi Force is formed. The elder leaders of all villages, allies to the Leaf Village have realized that the Akatsuki are after Naruto (Nine Tail) and Killer B (Eight Tail Beast). They have since accomplished extracting the beasts (Jinchuriki) from others.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20”, the series now returns back to storyline that is featured on the manga series.

As Naruto tries to control the power of the nine tails, Naruto’s mother enter his consciousness to explain the secrets of his birth and learns about heir hopes and renews his vow to be come Hokage!

All is revealed about what transpired during the day of Naruto’s birth and who was responsible for attacking the Leaf Village with the nine tails. And given the final moments to meet and speak with his mother one last time.

And as Naruto has become the prime target of the Akatsuki, Yamato, Guy and a few other Leaf Ninja, including Killer B have convinced Naruto that he is on an S-Ranked Environmental Mission at an island.

In volume 22, Naruto who has trained with Bee, is starting to feel the chakra of the nine-tail fox and now he wants to know why he is being locked up and why his fellow ninja are acting strangely.

Meanwhile, as Sakura and other medics tend to the wounded, someone has infiltrated the medical unit and is slaughtering them. And he’s out to kill Sakura. Will Sakura find out who the culprit truly is?

In volume 23, a special side story features the Hidden Sand Village  and the Hidden Stone Village.  Also, a storyline that takes place after the Kage Summit as Team Kakashi is sent out on a mission to “The Hole” and investigate an incident where people are being killed.  Will Yamato, Sai ,Sakura and Naruto find out who is responsible for the deaths?


 

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 23- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

It’s important to note that in 2014, Viz has went from releasing episodes on three DVD discs to two DVD discs per volume.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23” 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 23 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Openings/Endings

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With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut”, the volume continues with filler episodes, while Masashi Kishimoto was still working on the stories in the manga series.

This tends to happen a lot when the anime series catches up with the manga and in order to give adequate time, a season is spent on filler episodes.

With episodes 284-296, these filler episodes concludes Season 13 (which aired in Japan from October 2012 to January 2013) and fortunately, the filler episodes take place during the Great Ninja War or right after the Great Kage Summit.

This time we get episodes relating to the Hidden Sand Village and Hidden Stone Village, Sai learning why people are dedicated into fighting for their friends, Tsunade on a mission and discussing why she puts her faith in Naruto.  We also get to see Kakashi taking on reanimated Kirigakure shinobi and a battle with Ameyuri Ringo.

The final episodes take place after the Kage Summit and features episodes about Yamato, Naruto, Sakura and Sai sent on a mission to investigate the death of people near “The Hole” and must take on Kabuto’s Hidan clone and the reanimated Hayate Gekou.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes on two DVD’s and special features which include storyboards, art gallery, clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based.  The good news is that the filler stories take place during the Great Ninja War and dealing with reanimated Shinobi, the bad news is that the main storyline of the Great Ninja War doesn’t continue until Season 14 (which will take place in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”).

But if you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, the “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you.  The episodes are action-packed and have quite a bit of humor. But if you are a purist dedicated to Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series and want to watch the main storyline in regards to the war, then this volume can be skipped over.

 

One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as the Straw Hat Pirates take on their most powerful adversary yet, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma and we will see the group in a position that they have never been in before! Exciting and if you are a “One Piece” fan, worth watching! Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 397-409 (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: September 1, 2015


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


Luffy turns a mermaid auction into a pirate-style brawl when he knocks the snot out of a celestial dragon. The punch heard ’round the island may have saved Camie, but it lands the Straw Hats squarely in the sights of an entire fleet of marines! A little help from fellow pirates Trafalgar Law and Eustass Captain Kid buys the crew some breathing room, but the situation goes from bad to worse when an army of Kuma-clone Pacifistas make their presence felt. Throw in some Light Speed Kicks from Admiral Kizaru and Senfomaru’s battle axe, and things couldn’t get much worse for the Straw Hats.

Or could they? Luffy is forced to watch in horror as the real deal Bartholomew Kuma makes his beloved friends vanish one by one until the rubberman ends up a lonely castaway on the island of Amazon Lily!


The Sabaody Archipelago Chapter continues as the Straw Hats entered Fishman Island and they get more than they ask for when they met an old enemy Hatchan, his friends Camie and Papagg (a first mate of Gold Roger), Silvers Rayleigh and the 9 rookie pirates known as 11 Supernovas.

But what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates are attacked by Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea?

Find out in “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”, available now from 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 in its 17th season and a total of 705 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2015, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” (Episodes 397-409), available in September, 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.

So far, in “One Piece”, the group has entered Fishman Island and meet an old enemy, Hatchan and his friends Camie and Papagg.  But also the first mate of Gold Roger, Silvers Rayleigh and also 9 rookie pirates known as the “11 Supernovas”.

The Straw Hat Pirates find out that their mermaid friend, Camie is being sold off in an auction and they must rescue her.  News from the World Government arrives that they are going to execute the captured Portgas D. Ace, a move that could provoke a war with Whitebeard.

But what happens when the team fights for their life against Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea?


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. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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.

Franky  – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton.  An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


 

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 Seven, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 398 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Justin Cook (voice of Eustass Kidd) and voice actress Luci Christian (voice actress of Nami).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece in the Booth: With Sonny Strait – (22:10) Featuring an interview between Joel McDonald (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Sonny Strait (voice actor of Usopp).
  • Episode 405 Commentary –  ADR Director Joel McDonald with voice talent (with Supernovas) Laura Wetsel (Jewelry Bonney) and Major Attaway (Urouge).
  • Textless Opening – Textless opening song for “Share the World”
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

With the release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”, the episodes will complete season 11 and begin season 12 and continues the Sabaody Archipelago Chapter as the Straw Hat Pirates try to save their good friend, Camie who is being auctioned off.

But possibly one of the coolest action-driven arcs as we see the Straw Hat Pirates go against one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma.  And suffice to say, things do not bode well for our favorite pirates.

While I don’t want to spoil what happens at the end of the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, by episode 408-409, this kicks off season 12 and is a single story arc titled “Maiden Island” and is based on vol. 53 & 54 of Oda Eiichiro’s manga.

But this is probably one of the arc’s to jump into because it becomes the starting point of Portgas D. Ace being captured by the New Government and is set to be executed.  The other importance is the introduction to a new character that will play a prominent role in “One Piece”, her name is Boa Hancock.

This is a long story arc but as the storyline gets ready to jump into the Portgas D. Ace storyline, it’s one of the heaviest, action-packed storylines of “One Piece”, so it’s definitely an important for “One Piece” fans to definitely jump on the viewing bandwagon with “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”.

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks.  As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and also the latest “One Piece in the Booth” featuring Sonny Strait.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as the Straw Hat Pirates take on their most powerful adversary yet, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma and we will see the group in a position that they have never been in before!

Exciting and if you are a “One Piece” fan, worth watching!

Recommended!

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


In their second year at the Academy, Aladdin, Titus, and Sphintus are granted Second Class Citizenship in Magnoshutatt and are allowed to venture outside of the campus. There, the group witnesses the harsh realities of racial inequalities and discrimination among the magicians and the humans. Even though Aladdin is shocked to learn the bitter history between the two races that acted as a catalyst for these prejudices, he is unable to agree with the Academy’s Director Mogamett’s vision of building a “country solely for magicians.” Aladdin also concludes that the magicians at Magnoshutatt are somehow connected to Dark Magic after coming into contact with the black rukh in his class. After learning that Titus defected to Magnoshutatt, the Leam Empire finally declares war. With the powerful Fanalis Corp. leading the attack, the Leam military begins its invasion! As Aladdin stands between the two nations to stop them with his powers as a Magi, some familiar faces come to his aid! Now with even the Kou Empire entering the war, countless black rukh cover the skies. The clash of nations may be just the beginning of the end of this world! Contains episodes 14-25 plus a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


A year has passed and Aladdin continues his training at the Academy with other magicians.

Having made friends with Titus and Sphintus, Aladdin and friends learn that the Academy’s Director Mogamett has a goal to build a country only for magicians, but because Mogamett’s feelings towards non-magicians, the Director may be preparing to start a war.

Can Aladdin protect his friends and the innocent people who are drawn into the war?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2”.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 18 volumes) and a 25-episode anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a 25-episode second season which was completed in Japan.

And now episodes 1-13 of the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” was released on DVD in the United States courtesy of Aniplex in March 2015.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”. He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius. But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.

In the second half of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, Aladdin continues his training at the Academy but the Academy’s Director has his own plans of what he is expecting from the magician’s and that is all out war against non-magicians.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

While I was hoping for a Blu-ray release of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

Audio on the DVD is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are clear.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

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With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu for the first half.

But the storyline for the second half focuses on Aladdin and his year-long training at a magician’s academy, growing in power, learning about magic but also preparing for a major war in the Kou Empire as true evil has descended in the land.

As episodes 13-16 focuses on Aladdin’s training, by episode 17, war begins as what begins as a major battle between nations, grows to a major battle against a monster that drains all White Rukh.

But what I enjoyed about this second half of season two is the focus on Aladdin and seeing him grow.  He’s come such a long way since we first saw him and now he’s taller, he’s braver and he’s starting to get a better grasp of what is important to him but also what he wants to fight against.

I know my summary is quite vague but in truth, I really don’t want to spoil or even mentioned in the second half, who appears because the battles are intense and the storyline is quite appealing that it no doubt sets up for even more stories in the future.   Expect to see a few surprises, especially for the viewer who have followed the series for so long.  And especially in the final minutes of episode 5, which I never saw coming!

While I wish “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” received a Blu-ray release, the DVD still looks very good. And the voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done!

The DVD may not have any significant special features but for those who have purchased Aniplex products know by now, the company is known for providing swag. In this case, you get a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season!

Recommended!

 

World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

May 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series that left me wanting to watch every episode. Humorous, action-packed, unique and unpredictable, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases for 2015!

Image courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + OVA (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, Japanese 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested for 13 and Up

Release Date: April 28, 2015


Originally created by the Hunting Cap Brothers

Series Directed and Series Composition by Tensai Okamura

Original Character Design by Kouhaku Kuroboshi

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Misaki Kuno as Kate Hoshimiya/Venera-sama

Erii Yamazaki as Roboko

Kana Hanazawa as Natasha/Professor Um

Kousuke Toriumi as Yasu/Odin

M.A.O as Renge Komadori

Maaya Sakamoto as Kaori Hayabusa/White Falcon

Mariya Ise as Itsuka Shikabane/Plamja-sama

Minako Kotobuki as Miki Shirasagi

Minoru Hirota as Gorō Shikabane/General Pepel

Natsuki Hanae as Asuta Jimon/Dva

Takaya Kuroda as Kyoshiro Jimon

 


What does it take to conquer the world? Every leader of the past has thought of it… but all they have done was to merely dream of its greatness. World domination… nobody has been able to achieve it. Until one little girl by the name of Kate Hoshimiya came along. Kate Hoshimiya will shock the world! How was she was able to carry out such a magnificent stunt? So frightful! So glorious! Could this be… the Zvezda Plot!? The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!


 

In 2014, Okamura and Meteor Hoshizora of the Japanese game company Type-Moon would go on to write “Sekai Seifuku: Boryaku no Zuvizuda” (World Conquest: Zvezda Plot) with plans of three manga adaptations and an anime series produced by A-1 Pictures and direction by Tensai Okamura.

And now, the anime series will be released on DVD courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot” begins with an introduction to Asuta Jimon, a second-year middle school who runs away from home.

Because monsters have been invading Tokyo, a curfew has been implemented in the city and while hiding from authorities, Asuta finds a young girl passed out on the road.

The currently homeless and hungry Asuta Jimon offers her some food and helps get her back on her feet.

The young girl named Kate Hoshimiya tells Asuta that she is actually Lady Venera, the leader of Zvezda, a secret organization that is planning to conquer the world and that she is looking for her stuffed animal named Galaktica.

At first Asuta thinks that she is crazy but immediately, he see a huge monster attacking Tokyo and sees a group of tanks trying to fight it.  He also sees Kate’s stuffed animal and manages to rescue it.  But as the tanks come charging at him, he runs into Kate now in her special outfit and her fellow followers.  She takes her stuffed animal and sees her generate a major weapon from it and realizes, maybe Kate was telling the truth afterall.

Immediately, Kate drafts Asuta into Zvezda and gives him a place to live but also eat.  She introduces him to Goro Shikabane, the strong man of the team; his daughter Itsuka, a girl that wears an eyepatch and is a master at swordfighting; Natalia “Natasha” Vasylchenko, a short and intelligent blonde who barely wears anything but is in charge of the science and technology for Zvezda;  their residential troublemaker, Yasubee “Yasu” Morozumi and is seen often smoking and often the person responsible for the trouble the group gets into; and their robotic girl, Roboko, created by Natasha and is powered by Udo.

And while Zvezda has certain missions they must take part in, before they can conquer the world, targeting the group is the city protectors known as White Light.


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese 2.0 stereo.  While I was surprised that Aniplex released this as a DVD, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, the series is re-released with an English dub and possibly on Blu-ray.

But on its own, animation and background art are great and the anime series is definitely vibrant thanks to the many colors employed throughout the series. Character designs are well-done and well-shaded and art backgrounds are beautifully painted.

Audio quality is clear through the front channels.  Dialogue and sound effects are very clear but once again, it’s important to emphasize that this release does not come with an English dub.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” comes with the textless opening and ending, episode 13 OVA preview, trailer and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” comes with a collectable special pin-up, soft box cover and mini-poster illustrated by “Juroboshi Kouhaku” and a 2-sided reversible DVD cover illustrated by Keigo Sasaki.


 

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I have to admit that when I watch an anime series, it is rare to find an anime that catches my attention for the first episode alone.

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot” attracted me immediately for its sci-fi elements and its crazy characters and it happens to be a series that kept me consistently wanting more and more.  So, for me, that’s a very positive sign that I was going to enjoy this anime series entirely.

And having watched Aniplex’s “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot”, it didn’t disappoint me at all and left me wondering if there would be another season?

The series features unpredictable episodes showcasing their group on their path of domination.

In one episode, the group take on Tokyo’s smokers and what happens when they manage to get many people on their side to prevent smokers spreading their second hand smoke on others.

Another episode features the group having to endure Itsuka’s terrible cooking and just the image of Asuta Jimon tasting her vegetables was hilarious!

And as the group tries to accomplish their path towards domination, you have White Light trying to stop them, and of course Asuta not knowing that the White Light’s captain, White Robin, is actually someone he knows very well.

Of course, things become more serious as the series progresses and we get to see more action as the tide turns against the team, but how they endure each challenge, you’ll have to watch each episode.

As for the DVD, this release was only released as a DVD for now with only the Japanese soundtrack.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Aniplex re-releases this title with an English dub but it’s definitely a series that I hope is considered for a Blu-ray release.  Picture quality showcases a vibrant, colorful palette and gorgeous art backgrounds.  Special features are limited, but at least Aniplex included the 13th OVA episode.

And as usual, you get the cool Aniplex swag such as a collectable pinup, mini-poster, reversible DVD cover and more.

Overall, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series that left me wanting to watch every episode.

Humorous, action-packed, unique and unpredictable, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ”  is definitely one of my favorite anime releases for 2015!

 

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 212 – Original & Uncut” is a volume featuring both entertaining and action-packed filler episodes but also episodes that deal with the Great Ninja War, so there is a good balance of episodes featured. If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

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

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 271-283 (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: April 21, 2015

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

The Fourth Great Ninja War rages on, and danger comes from every angle. Old comrades and enemies have risen from the grave under the control of Kabuto to fight the Allied Forces. While some retain their calm, others must wrestle with their emotions.

Naruto’s training has made him more powerful, but some believe his possession of the Nine Tails makes him a liability. Meanwhile, Sakura and the Medical Ninja face unique danger, as an enemy may be in their midst behind the allied lines. Can the Allied Forces survive assassins and their reanimated friends to win the war?

With the latest 22nd volume of “Naruto Shippuden”, Naruto can sense the nine tail chakra within Kinkaku and Ginkaku and realizes that his fellow leaf ninja are trying to keep him locked up.  With Naruto suspecting something is awry, he wants to leave but his fellow ninja must stop him in order to protect them.

Meanwhile, the Great Ninja War is underway and the enemy has taken the appearance of allied ninja and are intending to slaughter the medical unit.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut”.

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”?

Sasuke has aligned with the Akatsuki who wants to destroy the Leaf Village – Konoha. Madara has declared war and thus an Allied Shinobi Force is formed. The elder leaders of all villages, allies to the Leaf Village have realized that the Akatsuki are after Naruto (Nine Tail) and Killer B (Eight Tail Beast). They have since accomplished extracting the beasts (Jinchuriki) from others.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20”, the series now returns back to storyline that is featured on the manga series.

As Naruto tries to control the power of the nine tails, Naruto’s mother enter his consciousness to explain the secrets of his birth and learns about heir hopes and renews his vow to be come Hokage!

All is revealed about what transpired during the day of Naruto’s birth and who was responsible for attacking the Leaf Village with the nine tails. And given the final moments to meet and speak with his mother one last time.

And as Naruto has become the prime target of the Akatsuki, Yamato, Guy and a few other Leaf Ninja, including Killer B have convinced Naruto that he is on an S-Ranked Environmental Mission at an island.

With volume 22, Naruto who has trained with Bee, is starting to feel the chakra of the nine-tail fox and now he wants to know why he is being locked up and why his fellow ninja are acting strangely.

Meanwhile, as Sakura and other medics tend to the wounded, someone has infiltrated the medical unit and is slaughtering them.  And he’s out to kill Sakura.

Will Sakura find out who the culprit truly is?

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 20- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

It’s important to note that in 2014, Viz has went from releasing episodes on three DVD discs to two DVD discs per volume.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20” 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 22 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards
  • Clean Openings/Endings
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut”, the volume features a balance of filler episodes and episodes that were actually featured in the manga in relation to the Great Ninja War.

The volume features the final episodes of season 12 and the beginning episodes of season 13.

But while some of the filler episodes are just filler, there are episodes that go into more detail in showcasing relationships.  In this case, a lot is focused on the Ino, Shikamaru and Choji team, as they must go against a re-animated version of Asuma.

The main storylines from the manga that relate to the Great Ninja War features Naruto sensing the chakra of the nine tails and wondering why is he feeling it, especially when the training room is supposed to seal all chakra.

And now Naruto, and also Killer Bee, want to escape the training room and help their fellow ninja.

The other storyline features the medical team being infiltrated by a White Zetsu who has taken appearances of various ninja including Ninja in order to kill all medical staff.  Will Sakura be able to find out the culprit?

Meanwhile, we get filer episodes featuring Ino, another featuring Kurotsuchi paying a visit to the fifth division where Deidara is being held as prisoner and Konohamaru and friends trying to protect the village.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes on two DVD’s and special features which include storyboards, clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” is a volume featuring both entertaining and action-packed filler episodes but also episodes that deal with the Great Ninja War, so there is a good balance of episodes featured.

If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


 Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


In order to realize their objectives, the adventurers each embark on a new journey. Aladdin sets his sights on the land of Magnoshutatt to study magic while Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum. Morgiana sets sail towards her homeland of Katarg, and Hakuryu returns to the Kou Empire…

Equipped with a charm to mask his powers as a Magi, Aladdin arrives in Magnoshutatt with another goal – to investigate this nation’s relation with the Al-Tharmen – the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World.”

Meanwhile, the royal family of the Kou Empire is in mourning for their Emperor’s passing, and is shocked when the throne is passed on to someone they had not expected. An ominous cloud looms over the Empire as the flames of revenge burned within Hakuryu. The Magi of the Leam Empire, Scheherazade, also senses this threat from across the sea and grows concerned for her people.

Back in Magnoshutatt, Aladdin is hard at training at the academy when he meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from Leam. But then Aladdin realizes that Titus is also equipped with the same charm that he has! What is Titus’s true identity!?

With the success of conquering a dungeon, Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu Ren know that they must each embark on a new journey alone.

Aladdin must train to become a stronger magi, Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators, Morgiana heads to her homeland of Katarg and Hakuryu makes his return to the Kou Empire as a different man.

Will each of them learning anything from their training?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1”.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 18 volumes) and a 25-episode anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a 25-episode second season which was completed in Japan.

And now episodes 1-13 of the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” was released on DVD in the United States courtesy of Aniplex in March 2015.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”.  He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius.  But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

While I was hoping for a Blu-ray release of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

Audio on the DVD is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are clear.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

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With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu.

As Aladdin’s storyline, we get to see Aladdin grow in his study of magic.  And while we expect the character to grow and become powerful, Aladdin is the one that is most interesting.

Mainly because he arrives to his destination, looking as if he was homeless and malnourished.  With that being said, his story is the most bloody and violent as he must take on gladiators at the Colosseum and must deal with his powers, that may tear his body apart.

Morgiana’s storyline is no doubt fraught with danger but it’s her naivety that may put her in deeper trouble.

And as we expect the primary three characters to learn and grow, the most troubling would be Hakuryu.  With the first season, he was the whiner and the cry baby but by the second season, after finding his true power, we learn that he has had a twisted upbringing.  But somehow he has changed to another person that is more darker and not happy as before.  He is the question mark of the entire crew because of his unpredictability and the way he is behaving, not sure if he’ll be friend or enemy.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. There is quite a bit of violence, maybe not as bloody as some of the episodes of the first half, but there is quite a bit of fighting violence.  Also, you can expect to see Aladdin’s attraction to women with large boobs.

While I wish “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” received a Blu-ray release, the DVD still looks very good. And the voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done!

The DVD may not have any significant special features but for those who have purchased Aniplex products know by now, the company is known for providing swag. In this case, you get a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger.

Recommended!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” features filler episodes touching upon Naruto’s past but also episodes that brings us back to the Great Ninja War with the revival of deceased ninjas and criminals from the past. If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

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

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 258-270 (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: January 20, 2015

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

The Fourth Great Ninja War has begun and even the strongest fight to survive! The quest for power and struggle for control leads many heroes down hard roads. Sasuke’s revelation of Naruto’s potential and his personal defeat in combat lead him to consider the path of Orochimaru. While Naruto continues to master the power within under the watchful eye of Killer Bee, The Allied Shinobi Forces confront Madara’s army of reanimated shinobi and White Zetsu. Can the alliance hold long enough to stop the army?

With the latest 21st volume of “Naruto Shippuden”, the series takes a look back to see how Naruto has helped his fellow ninjas and changed the hearts of even his enemies.

Meanwhile, the Great Ninja War is underway as Zabuza and Haku are revived to fight against Kakashi and other ninjas.  Meanwhile, Darui and his division must take on the powerful Kinkaku and Ginkaku.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut”.

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”?

Sasuke has aligned with the Akatsuki who wants to destroy the Leaf Village – Konoha. Madara has declared war and thus an Allied Shinobi Force is formed. The elder leaders of all villages, allies to the Leaf Village have realized that the Akatsuki are after Naruto (Nine Tail) and Killer B (Eight Tail Beast). They have since accomplished extracting the beasts (Jinchuriki) from others.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20”, the series now returns back to storyline that is featured on the manga series.

As Naruto tries to control the power of the nine tails, Naruto’s mother enter his consciousness to explain the secrets of his birth and learns about heir hopes and renews his vow to be come Hokage!

All is revealed about what transpired during the day of Naruto’s birth and who was responsible for attacking the Leaf Village with the nine tails. And given the final moments to meet and speak with his mother one last time.

And as Naruto has become the prime target of the Akatsuki, Yamato, Guy and a few other Leaf Ninja, including Killer B have convinced Naruto that he is on an S-Ranked Environmental Mission at an island.

But hiding among them is the Akatsuki Kisame (who was thought to be dead) and has been spying on them all this time and now is trying to leak the intel back to the Akatsuki. But in order to stop them, only one man will be to take him on…Guy.

Now, as Naruto is a prime target and has been taken away to a hidden area for training, the Great Ninja war has begun and Kabuto is reviving the great ninjas, good and bad and taking control of their bodies to fight against the ninjas.

Kakashi and his division must take on the revived Zabuza and Haku, who don’t want to fight but are being controlled to fight against their own will.  Meanwhile, Darui and his division are sent to take on the powerful Kinkaku and Ginkaku.

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 20- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

It’s important to note that in 2014, Viz has went from releasing episodes on three DVD discs to two DVD discs per volume.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20” 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 21 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Clean Openings/Endings
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

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With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut”, the volume features a balance of filler episodes that revisit Naruto’s past and seeing how he has changed people, good and bad, for the best.  While the second half continues with the Great Ninja War as Zabuza and Haku are revived against their will and must fight against the ninjas.

Also revived are Kakuzu, Dan Kato, Hyuga Hizashi, the Gold and Silver Brothers Kinkaku and Ginkaku (the two most feared criminals in the Hidden Cloud).  Sent to fight against the two Silver Brothers is Darui, who brings his division to take on the powerful and evil brothers.

For the most part, the filler episodes are literally to show how Naruto is seen as inspirational, but the goal is to drag out the series to give Masashi Kishimoto time to finish up more manga chapters.   And the fight against the Gold and Silver Brothers is spread out to multiple episodes, but to show the great power Kabuto has of reviving feared ninjas from the past.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes and special features have been reduced to the clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is an essential DVD volume for those who have waited for the storyline to get back to the Great Ninja War storyline.  While there are a good number of filler episodes, they go rather quickly and in someways, it’s rather nice to revisit past storylines contained in one episode and see how Naruto inspired people over time.

If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

 

Harlock: Space Pirate (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters. The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story. While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline. Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Leiji Matsumoto/Captain Harlock Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE:  Harlock: Space Pirate

YEAR OF MOVIE RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 111 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY:  Ketchup Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: March 31, 2015


Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Shinji Aramaki

Screenplay by Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Takeuchi

Produced by Joseph Chou, Yoshi Ikezawa, Rei Kudo

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Shun Oguri/David Matranga as Captain Harlock

Harama Miura/Adam Gibbs as Yama/Logan

Yu Aoi/Emily Neves as Miime

Miyuki Sawashiro/Jessica Boone as Kei Yuki

Ayano Fukuda as Tori-san

Arata Furuta as Yattaran

Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Roujin

Rob Mungle as Yulian

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Isora

Chikao Ohtsuka as Soukan

Maaya Sakamoto/Rebekah Stevens as Nami

Mike Yager as Ezra


Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle-cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships. Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem and that legends are born for a reason.

Harlock pushes his loyal crew forward in his death-defying mission to undo the “Nodes of Time” and reverse the Earth to an age when still inhabited by humans. It is the year 2977 and 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home. The rebellious Captain Harlock and his trusted crew are mankind’s only hope of one day righting the Coalition’s wrongs.


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Back in 1977, manga artist Leiji Matsumoto would create the manga series, “Captain Harlock”.

While the storyline of Captain Harlock has changed from the original “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” to the 1982 “The Arcadia of My Youth”.  While there have been numerous Harlock releases, Toei Animation announced a new Harlock movie in 2010 that would feature a CG-remake of Matsumoto’s manga and anime franchise.

The CG animated film would be directed by Shinji Aramaki, best known for his work on series such as “Megazone 23”, “Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01”, “Genesis Survivor Gaiarth”, “Appleseed”, “Appleseed Ex Machina” and many more.

Considered as one of Toei’s second most expensive film, the story would feature a story that reflected themes of modern society written by Harutoshi Fukui.

And in 2013, “Harlock: Space Pirate” premiered in Japan and in April 2015, the DVD release of the film will be available in stores on April 2015 courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment.

The film begins with the explanation that the human race spread across the galaxy establish colonies but the population exploded and resources were exhausted.  Birthrates plummeted and the human race was in decline.

As humans went back to return to Earth, a bloody conflict of who would return to Earth would lead to the “Homecoming War” as the Earth was too small to hold all humans.  Thus a governing body known as “The Gaia Communion” would bring the war to a close and the Earth was made to an “eternal sanctuary” which no one was granted passage.

There was one man who resisted, an immortal space pirate that plundered Federation starships, the most wanted man named Captain Harlock.

As the film would explain why Captain Harlock is the most wanted man, the current story would be about Harlock and his crew taking 100 detonators from the Gaia Community to start over.  But among the crew is Yama (Logan in the English dub), a young man who is working with the Gaia Community who has worked to infiltrate Harlock’s crew trying to helping his older brother Isola (name is Ezra in English dub) of the Gaia fleet in order to take down and assassinate Harlock.

But will Yama want to assassinate Harlock when he learns the truth about why Harlock wants to return to Earth?


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VIDEO:

“Harlock Space Pirate” is presented in widescreen.  As this film would look magnificent in HD, the best we are going to get of this film is on DVD.  So, while the film was released on Blu-ray in Asia, the best we are going to get in terms of picture quality is the best one can expect to see on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with an English and Japanese 5.1 soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-done and features crystal clear dialogue and music and actions sequences from space battles to weaponry being shot, utilizes the surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with no special features.


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As a fan of the Captain Harlock anime and also a fan of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, “Arcadia of My Youth” continues to be my favorite Harlock film.

The story of aliens enslaving humanity while Captain Harlock and crew fight back has always been an exciting and fascinating film.  So, in many ways, I was highly anticipating the release of the CG version of “Harlock: Space Pirate”.

Having watched the film twice now, similar to how Captain Harlock’s story has continued to change from series to series, the CG film may share similar characters but the story is quite different.

The story takes a look at not the enslaving of humanity but the threat of humanity growing at an alarming rate, colonizing other planets that are dying and for many, the result is to return back to planet Earth, but realizing that the planet is not big enough to host so many humans and thus led to a war.

Captain Harlock’s character will always be seen as a rogue pirate but in the case of this movie, humanity’s hatred towards Harlock is because his decision to save the planet, he released dark matter in a gamble which did not protect the Earth, it decimated it and killed all life on the planet.

While I don’t want to spoil details of the film, the film would go into how the Arcadia would have some artificial intelligence, it would explain how Harlock would become “immortal” but the film would go into details of why Harlock is returning to the Earth and his true mission.

Standing in his way is a young man who sort of looks like Harlock but his goal is to infiltrate the crew on behalf of his brother and the Gaia Community and assassinate Captain Harlock.

While the film features cool CG and a complex, smartly written storyline, the film maybe of the dismay of long time fans who expected the classic story by Leiji Matsumoto.  And “Harlock Space Pirate”, is not that film.

While those who haven’t watched a Harlock anime series or film or have never read the manga series may enjoy the film much more.  The character design and the way Harlock was created no doubt looks awesome in the film, as with characters such as the alien Nibelung known as Miime and Kei, the overall look and feel of the film is its strongpoint.

The film’s story did not win me over despite enjoying it for its smart writing, I still feel that “Arcadia of My Youth” remains to be the best Captain Harlock film ever made.

While I wish the film was also released on Blu-ray and special features were included, the film looks and sounds good as one can expect on DVD.

Overall, “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters.  The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story.  While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline.

Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

 

 

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