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Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/GURREN LAGANN-MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)


Gurren Lagann returns in a complete TV series and 2 movies in Blu-ray box set. One of the most cherished animation titles lives in your memory forever!

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….

In the distant future, mankind has lived restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!


It’s considered one of the best mecha anime series ever created.  And now “Gurren Lagann” is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary and what best to celebrate the anime series than by re-releasing the series but also the two animated films on one complete Blu-ray set available courtesy of Aniplex USA!

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with “GURREN LAGANN”, the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.

The popular anime titled “Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann” aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it’s 27-episodes by Sept. 2007 and centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around.

But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. T

he plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans.

The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually comandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.

  1. Episode 1 – Bust through the Heavens with your Drill! – The main episodes that introduces us to Simon, Kamina and Yoko. The three join forces to take on the monster gunmen.
  2. Episode 2 – I Said I’m Gonna Pilot That Thing!! – With Simon having his own robot and more Gunmen showing up to fight, Kamina decides to get a gunmen mecha all for himself which he names “Gurren”. But they get some support from the people of Yoko’s village and the village’s top mechanic, Leeron (a savvy and intelligent mechanic but who happens to be gay and not afraid to flirt with Kamina and Simon). But with Kamina and Simon now having their own mecha’s, they name their team “Gurren Lagann”.
  3. Episode 3 – Who Do You Think You Are, Having Two Faces? – With the defeat of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, Simon, Kamina and Yoko go to hunt for some food but while Kamina retrieves some food, he runs into a Beastman named Viral. A savage warrior who becomes the major rival for Kamina.
  4. Episode 4 – Having Lots of Faces Doesn’t Make You Great! – After the battle with Viral, Simon, Kamina, Yoko and Leeron decide to destroy the Beastmen’s base. By eliminating it, the group might have that peace that they wanted. But while looking for food, the group run into another group known as the Black Siblings…friend or foe?
  5. Episode 5 – I Don’t Get It, Not One Bit! – As the group continues on their travels, they end up in another underground village and brought their by a teen named Rosiu. But in this village, they have their own strict religion and strict rules in which they can only keep their population at 50 people or less. Well, things change when a couple has a set of triplets, thus going over the 50-person mark. So, each person must draw a stick and whoever has a colored stick must leave the village and create a new life up in the surface.
  6. Episode 6 – There are Some Things I Just Have to See! – There are two versions of episode 6.  The unedited version and the OA version which is part of the special features.  For the unedited version, the group really smell bad and it seems they met some luck as they are invited to the hot springs with food galore!  The group run into their friends, the three women of the Black Siblings and as the group relaxes in the hot springs, both Kamina and Simon can’t stand hearing the women talk about their breasts.  Being the horny guys that they are, both men do what they can do get a peek of the ladies nude.  But awaiting them is some trouble as well courtesy of the Beastmen.
  7. Episode 7  – You’re Gonna Do It! – With the defeat of the Beastmen, Viral makes his return but this time, one of the four leaders who pilots a giant Gunmen fortress.  While Gurren Lagan tries to fight them, they are joined by some old friends who have followed Kamina’s lead and stolen some gunmen for themselves.
  8. Episode 8 – Later, Buddy – With Simon’s quick thinking in the last episode, the group manages to get the Gunmen fortress to be trapped.  But Kamina wants to take control of the fortress in order to protect everyone and this time have a super combination to create Dai Gurren Lagann.  So, one major battle in order to take the Beastmen leader’s mega fortress.   But while Simon starts to think about Yoko and tell her his feelings for her, he sees both Kamina and Yoko kissing.  So, as they go into battle, Kamina depends on Simon to have Lagann penetrate the fortress but because his emotions all out of whack due to seeing the kiss, it’s going to cost someone’s life.
  9. Episode 9 – What, Exactly, Is a Human? – With the events of the last episode, everyone is in mourning.  Meanwhile, a new character named Nia is introduced.  Who is she and why is she so curious about humans?
  10. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? – The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  11. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  12. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  13. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  14. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.
  15. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  16. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  17. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiue and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20’s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  18. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.
  19. Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary – The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  20. Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  21. Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  22. Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  23. Episode 23 Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone, decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?
  24. Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  25. Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  26. Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  27. Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

As for the films…

In 2008, GAINAX immediately went to work on two animated films that would capture both storyline arcs in “Gurren Lagann The Movie ~Childhood’s End” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky are Stars”.

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” is a compilation of series of events that took place in the first 16 episodes of the popular 2007 animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, while “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” features the final eleven episodes from the TV series.

The series centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group find a way to combine their own two mechs and thus Kamina and Simon form Gurren Lagann, which is also the name of the team that will fight for humanity against the Spiral King and their minions.

Throughout the film, we see how both Kamina, Simon along with Yoko leave the underground city and take on various gunmen and together with savvy, intelligent and flamboyant mechanic Leeron, along with other humans they meet along the way, one by one, Team Gurren Lagann take on the Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals: Viral, Adiane, Guame and Cytomander. And along the way, they meet with a mysterious girl named Nia and leading up to the final battle against the Spiral King.


VIDEO:

“Gurren Lagann” the series finally gets its release on Blu-ray! The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.

With the series remastered in HD, the clarity of the series is much more evident, colors are much more vibrant and overall animation is much more sharper. “Gurren Lagann” looks fantastic in HD!

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” are presented in 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080p).

The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different when comparing it to other anime series/films. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool. The artist backgrounds to the animation, explosions, character designs, mecha designs and the planning that went in to this series was quite amazing and it looks great in the film. You will noticed even more detailed artistic backgrounds and animation with the additional new footage added to the film.

Vibrant, colorful and awesome looking! Of course, with that being said, it would definitely be a plus if this film was released on Blu-ray, but since it’s on DVD, you will see edge enhancement at times. But for the most part, “Gurren Lagann” was one of the rare anime series that was unique in presentation and Gainax definitely put a lot of time and effort into the creation of this TV series and it’s so awesome to finally watch this series in HD on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Gurren Lagann” is presented in both English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

I’ve watched both episodes in Japanese and English and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, it’s great to finally listen to the audio in lossless Linear PCM Stereo. With that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have quality voice talent with Kyle Herbert as Kamina (does the voice of Son Goku in “Dragon Ball Z”), Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for “Bleach”) and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for “Naruto”) involved. So, whether you listen to the soundtrack in Japanese or English, both are well-done!

As for audio for “Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- ”, both are presented Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

Audio is well done as we can hear the dialogue and special effects and music quite clearly through the center and front channels but also hear the various sound effects coming from the surround channels as well.  Overall, a pretty awesome mix and audio is crystal clear in lossless HD.

While the English dub is featured in the TV series DVD release by Bandai Entertainment, there is no English dub featured for both films from Aniplex.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless opening and ending – For those who love the cool music of opening theme “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme “Underground” by High Voltage.
  • OA Version of episode 6 –  With this episode being quite a bit sexual as Kamina and Simon try to get a peek at the women without their clothes on in the hot tubs, this version that aired on the Sci Fi Channel features more of a flashback episode and edited with less focus on the horniness of Kamina and Simon and more about them working together as a team.

EXTRAS:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with a slipcase featuring illustration by You Yoshinari (Mechanical Design).


I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and perverseness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”. I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!

The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn’t plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment. He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!

As for Simon, he is simply the underdog. He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.

Yoko, her character is sexy and cool. Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes. Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.

And of course, you have a group of other characters that are starting to come their own and as we become supportive human characters, you take special notice of their mecha (Gunmen). They have a sort of character themselves because they are an extension of the people that pilot them but the amount of power demonstrated by them and what is unknown about the gunmen they pilot is just amazing.

And of course, this anime series is action-packed. In fact, there is a good balance of humor and action and each episode keeps your eyes glued to your television set and when it’s all done, it leaves you craving for more.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant and sharpness of the overall animation is much more evident in this HD version versus compared to the Bandai Visual releases from several years ago. Painted backgrounds feature much more detail and the overall animation looks magnificent in HD! Also, the lossless soundtrack is in Japanese/English Linear PCM Stereo, thus the soundtrack sounding much more crisp and clear.

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!”

As for the films, you’re essentially getting parts of the the series including new animation included on each of the two films to form an abridged storyline.

This is quite common in Japan to see a popular TV series and OVA series created into an animated film and the fans look at it as an extra and additional extension to the TV series, others look at it as a less time consuming way to learn about the story of a popular series in two hours versus watching 8 hours of a series.

When it comes to films like this, I’m not a big fan of them because you are losing out important details of the storyline. This first “Gurren Lagann” film is only 112 minutes and the first 16-episodes is 320 minutes of content while the second film features the final eleven episodes and trying to condense around 230 minutes or so of footage into 126 minutes. Naturally, you are missing out on other plots, especially character development driven storylines but the creators did do a good job in focusing on the essentials for the film. Personally, I recommend watching the entire TV series because this is one series that is too good to just watch the film and not knowing the true storyline of how things developed in the series.

But by no means are the films bad. They are well-done, well-edited and for the most part, a lot of thought went into how to present the complete series into two films. And while this is common in Japan for popular series, at least GAINAX went through the effort of adding new animation to the two films.

What I do like about these films and these two releases are how they are geared to the hardcore fans of the TV series. And one thing that I have wanted to see is a Blu-ray release because this series is so gorgeous, it deserved to be featured in HD on Blu-ray with a lossless soundtrack.

But if there is one major caveat if you compare the 2014 Blu-ray set vs. the Aniplex DVD set released in 2010, all of the special features and extras that came with the DVD set are not included. So, for collector’s purposes, it’s unfortunate that only the older 2010 DVD release came with the postcards and “Parallel Works” special features.

So, I approach this release in two different ways. As a fan of the series, I recommend watching and owning the original series because that is how this series was meant to be seen. I will say that on its own, it’s still a pretty good film but because they skip over many scenes, it’s quite noticeable to the fan of the series. Otherwise, if you have never seen the series, I’m sure this film would definitely be entertaining but at the same time, hopefully it inspires the viewer to go out and watch the complete series.

But the big question many people may want to ask if the set is worth owning.  And for those who own the previous Blu-ray releases, is there anything new with this set?

Well, if you own the previous Aniplex Blu-ray releases, then the answer is no.  This set is mainly for those who want to upgrade their DVD sets to HD or for hardcore fans who want to own everything “Gurrenn Lagann”.

But for those who owned the “Gurren Lagann TV Series Limited Edition” set from 2013, the special features such as the Yoko goes to GAINAX, the GAINAX Interview, Sangizen 3D Test Footage, Shokotan Interview are NOT included on this Blu-ray set.  Nor are the deluxe illustration booklets or the postcards, poster or stickers included with this set as well.

And if you own the older 2009 Limited Edition DVD releases that came with a manga and the TV series CD soundtrack, this Blu-ray set does not come with either.

But to be fair, you get better picture and audio quality, you get both films included on this set.  So, for those who want the better picture and audio quality will surely want to own the Blu-ray releases.  But for hardcore fans, if you own the previously released limited edition DVD sets, I would hold on to them for the special features and extra swag.

Overall, “Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

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GATE Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Image courtesy of © Takumi Yanai/AlphaPolis/GATE Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defense Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side.

Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


In 2006, author Takumi Yanai and illustrator Daisuke Izuka and Kurojishi created a fantasy novel series titled “Gate: Jietai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!”).

The novel would receive a manga adaptation in 2011 and spin-off mangas in 2015.  And an anime adaptation of the series was created by A-1 Pictures and released in July to September 2015 and its second half airing in January through March 2016.

The anime series is directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (“Love Live! School Idol Project”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Beyblade”, “Black Bullet”, “DNA2”, “Nana”), music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (“Dimension W”, “Love Live! School Idol Project”), character design by Jun Nakai (“Generation Gawl”, “Mardock Scramble”) and art direction by Maho Takahashi (“Amagami SS”, “Cross Game”, “Himawari!”, “KanColle”).

And with the announcement of a new novel series titled “Gate: Weigh Anchor”, the anime adaptation titled “GATE” and the complete collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on July 2017 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Yoji Itami, a 33-year-old otaku who loves doujinshi.  While he may seem like a clumsy otaku, in truth, Yoji is actually a soldier of the Japan Self Defense Force that works in Special Forces and a certified Ranger.

One day, a portal from another world appears in Ginza and soldiers from that other world including monsters attack Tokyo but the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) has advanced weaponry and manages to kill and repel the enemy.  But thanks to Itami, he helped escort hundreds of people to safety during the attack on Ginza and is promoted to first lieutenant.

And because of his heroism, the Prime Minister tasks Itami to go with a JSDF task forced backed by the United States to go through the gate and explore the new world but most importantly to capture and demand reparations from those responsible for the attack.

As the Empire of the other world sends a large army to fight against the JSDF, the JSDF displays their power with modern weaponry and obliterates them.  Itami is then assigned to lead the 3rd Recon Unit and through his travels, meets the following people who are from the other world but join him on his adventures:

  • Tuka Luna Marceau – A 165-year-old High Elf.  She lost her family and fellow villagers when a flame dragon attacked her village.  She is having a hard time coping with her father’s death.
  • Lelei La Lelena – A 15-year-old sorcerer of the Rurudo nomad tribe and a student of an elderly sorcerer.  Very intelligent, she quickly learns Japanese and becomes a translator.  Her tribe was also devastated due to the Fire Dragon.
  • Rory Mercury – A 961-year-old demi-goddess and an apostle of Emroy (God of death).  She cannot die and recovers from all wounds.  When she becomes 1,000-years-old, she will become a full goddess.  She has excellent fighting skills and carries a large scythe and wears gothic lolita clothing.
  • Yao Haa Dushi – A 300-years-old Dark Elf, who seeks the aid of the JSDF to help her village which is being ravaged by the Fire Dragon.
  • Pina Co Lada – The princess from the Empire.  She is dedicated to the Empire’s welfare and wants peace between Japan and the Empire after seeing their awesome power.  But also seeing how the Japanese are not after their land and how they treat their people, including prisoners.  Seeing how they truly are, she wants to let her father, the king of the Empire know.

VIDEO:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant. From many location scenes and varying backgrounds, the background art is great.  Character designs and animation from A-1 Pictures is great and if anything, with A-1 Pictures behind the production, they really go all out and have not been disappointed with any of their anime series releases.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 1.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channels and the voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Promo Videos
  • Animated Comic
  • Clean Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


There are times when I watch an anime with no expectations and if anything, I wish for something original, refreshing and overly entertaining.  Having reviewed anime since the early ’90s, I have been fortunate to watch anime series that really captivates me and just makes me want to watch it over again.

“GATE” is one of those anime series.  Each and every episode, I absolutely enjoyed them.

While one can say it’s an anime version of “Stargate”, not really.  When the otherworld invades Ginza, Japan, they are reminiscent of knights of past fighting a war with ogres and monsters in the present.

The twist is when Japan sends their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to the otherworld, with modern technology, the first army battalion sent by the Empire are literally obliterated.  Shields are not going to guard machine gun bullets.  Armies are not going to survive mortar attacks.  Battalions on horseback are not going to beat tanks.  And archers are not going to defeat military helicopters or jet bombers.

But while the JSDF seem like they may be the bad guys to those in the empire, in truth, they don’t want to kidnap, take over the land or do anything nefarious.  They want to send a warning to the empire, to put it bluntly, don’t come into our territory, kill our people and expect to rule our land.

And as much as it may seem like a serious anime, it really isn’t thanks to the person heading the operation for the JSDF to protect the people (not just in Japan but anywhere they arrive) and that’s Officer Itami.  A man who is a decorated Ranger but in truth, he just wanted a job that would allow him to be an otaku fanboy, so he can read doujinshi.

And with each tribe he meets and visits, he and the JSDF saves them and wants nothing in return.   He eventually is joined by High Elf Tuka Luna Marceau, a 15-year-old sorceress named Lelei La Lelena, a demi-goddess named Rory Mercury and a dark elf named Yao Haa Dushi.

People grateful for what Itami has done for them and now they want to help get his message across to the Empire and other people in the land.

And when Itami and the others meet Pina Co Lada, princess from the empire, at first she thinks that the “men in green” want to take over the empire but the more she stays with Itami, in hopes to spread peace and hopes for the JSDF to not destroy them, she is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with the Japanese.

And the path to protecting people is not easy, thanks to a corrupt empire with a corrupt son wanting to usurp his father, the king.  Then you have a giant flame dragon killing people all over the land.  And on Earth, you have countries who want to go after the other world friends of Itami and causing problems for the JDSF.  So, it’s not an easy path.

But no matter the difficult, Yoji Itami keeps his cool, keeps positive and is willing to go to great lengths to protect people not just in Japan but also people living in the other world led by the empire.

Also, another plus is the many supporting characters featured and the series really becomes a wonderful anime series with action, adventure and fantasy elements combined.

As for the animation on Blu-ray, A-1 Pictures always does a phenomenal job and they did a magnificent job with animating this series along with providing a plethora of background art, to compliment the large area of land and areas that these individuals visit.  The lossless soundtrack is 2.0 but both English and Japanese dialogue are crystal clear.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, “GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

 

KanColle Kantai Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2014 KanColle Headquarters. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity.


In Japan, “Kantai Collection” a.k.a. “KanColle” has captivated fans thanks to the concept, the characters and the video game.

Created as a Japanese free-to-play web browser games from Kadokawa Games, in 2015, the game had around 3 million registered players.

The series has been released as a manga series, light novels, tabletop RPG and a PlayStation Vita game.  And to coincide with the game’s release, an anime series was released in Japan in January 2015 courtesy of Diomedea.

And now the 12-episode anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the USA courtesy of Funimation.

For those not familiar with “KanColle”, the series is set when humanity has lost the seas to a monstrous fleet.  To counter this monstrous fleet, humanity has donned human girls known as “fleet girls” who wear weaponized outfits and take on various roles in the spirit of historical naval vessels depending on one’s skill.

The anime series revolves around Fubuki, who arrives at the naval base and was recommended to fight in the Third Torpedo Squadron by the admiral.  But no one is sure why, becuase fubuki is always scared, often clumsy and has never fought in battle in her life.

But when she goes out on her first mission and is rescued by Akagi, Fubuki is inspired and wants to do her best in order to train and fight alongside Akagi one day.

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

  • Fubuki – The main protagonist.  Clumsy, not a fighting girl but with a heart of a fighter who is inspired by Akagi and trains hard in hopes to one day fight alongside with her.  Fubuki is assigned to the Third Torpedo Squadron and is a Destroyer.
  • Mutsuki – The first fleet girl that befriends Fubuki and is often cheerful.  She is a member of the Third Torpedo Squadron.
  • Yudachi – A destroyer of the Third Torpedo Squadron who is laid back and often says “poi” all the time.
  • Kisaragi – A destroyer who is assigned to the Fourth Torpedo Squadron and is mature, more than her oldest sister Mutsuki.
  • Yayoi/Mochizuki – Two destroyers.  Yayoi lacks emotion, while Mochizuki is often sleepy.
  • Akagi – An aircraft carrier belong to the First carrier Division. She fires arrows with her bow which turns into aircrafts piloted by fairies.
  • Kaga – An Aircraft carrier of the First Carrier Division who frequently accompanies Akagi.  She does not like Shokaku and Zuikaku of the Fifth Carrier Division and refuses to follow Zuikaku’s orders.
  • Shimakaze – A Destroyer who claims to be the fastest in the Southwest Area Fleet.  Hyperactive personality.
  • Yamato – The most powerful naval vessel and her existence is kept as secret.

VIDEO:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant.  A lot went into the mechanical design and does a great job of enhancing one’s appreciation of the game, because of how the characters and battles are portrayed.  A slightly soft anime series that one can expect from a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the video games. Diomedea did a wonderful job with animation and artistic backgrounds.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. Great use of the surround channels for action sequences, may it be explosions or blasts, the lossless soundtrack for this anime series is very good.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial Collection
  • Japanese Warnings
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


Back in 2015, I was in Japan to cover Tokyo’s largest anime event, Anime Japan.  And my first introduction to “KanColle” was at Animate in Akihabara.  And sure enough, returning back to the US, I would often see “KanColle” cosplayers.

While English information was a bit sparse at the time, I would eventually discover “KanColle” when I was back in Japan in 2016 and purchased the PlayStation Vita video game and was captivated by the fact that unlike Japanese video games which often featured girls in tanks battling it out, this time around, you have female characters as part of the Navy.

They are essentially the naval ships – Destroyers, Carriers, Heavy and Light Cruisers, you name it and you travel the seas taking on enemies and building your team and characters.

So, when I found out there was an anime series, I was hoping it would come out in the US and now it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

While the video game focuses on the aspect of war and going into battle, the storyline of these characters are focused on in the “KanColle Kantai Collection” anime series.

Revolving around the popular character/Destroyer named Fubuki, we see how this girl who doesn’t look like she can fight, often clumsy and is always scared, would eventually train hard to become a better fighter, a better teammate but also inspired to one day fight alongside the person who inspired her, aircraft carrier Akagi.

There are a ton of characters in the game and there are a ton of characters in the series, but fortunately, the series focuses on Fubuki and her friends from the Third Torpedo Squadron.  We see how these girls train to fight and become better, but we also see how unsafe the waters are and how powerful the enemy is and you’ll see characters perishing during battle.

Needless to say, the anime series compliments the games very well.  Animation is vibrant, well-shaded and detailed, especially the background artwork.  The Japanese and English soundtrack are well done, but it’s interesting because for the Japanese soundtrack, unlike the English dub which casts a different person per role, in the Japanese version, a voice actress may have to do the dubwork for multiple people.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.

As for special features, you get a few of Japanese promotional videos, commercials and warnings.  But there are no major special features like audio commentary or significant featurettes.

Overall, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

 

www.wagnaria!! Volume 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series. Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WWW.WAGNARIA!!” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: www.wagnaria!! Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 18, 2017


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Mayuko Nakano

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Nakano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Hana Miyakoshi

Yūichi Nakamura as Daisuke Higashida

Ari Ozawa as Rui Nagata

Aya Hisakawa as Sachiko Higashida

Hideyuki Umezu as Saint Valentine

Hiro Shimono as Takuya Kōno

Kensho Ono as Yūta Shindō

Kouki Uchiyama as Masahiro Adachi

Kousuke Toriumi as Kenichirō Sakaki

Mie Sonozaki as Yōko Miyakoshi

Momo Asakura as Miri Yanagiba

Momoko Saito as Sakiko Higashida

Nana Mizuki as Kisaki Kondō


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


Back in 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu created a four-panel comic strip manga series titled “Wagnaria!!”.

The story which revolves around employees of a family restaurant called Wagnaria, the story was serialized on Square Enix’s “Young Gangan” manga series from 2005-20014 and has received three seasons of anime adaptations in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

A spin-off series titled “www.working!!” which aired in Japan in 2016, will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US Courtesy of Aniplex and the storyline continues to be set at another Wagnaria family restaurant location and its group of employees.

The first volume will feature the first seven episodes of the 13-episode series.

The primary characters of “www.wagnaria!!” are:

  • Daisuke Higashida – The main protagonist who is often annoyed at everyone, primarily his family and Hana Miyakoshi.  He was forced to take a part-time job at Wagnaria when his father’s business went bankrupt.
  • Hana Miyakoshi – Blunt, always hits people and she can be tough.  But she also loves making chocolates, despite having terrible cooking skills. She is a waitress at Wagnaria.
  • Sayuri Muranushi – A scary girl who works at Wagnaria because she shows hardly any facial expressions.
  • Kisaki Kondo – A single mother who is a university student that works at Wagnaria.  Often the voice of reason at Wagnaria.
  • Shiho Kamakura – The daughter of man who owns a large company, so she is quite spoiled and materialistic.  She often tends to bribe people with money, as her way of apologizing.
  • Yuta Shindo – A son of a man who has a business in major debt.  So, Yuta works several jobs in order to help pay the debt.  He is to naive to know that Shiho has liked him for a long time.
  • Koki Saki – The newest employee who is Japanese but was raised abroad and speaks English, so he can’t speak or understand Japanese that well.
  • Kenichiro Sakaki – The not-so-bright manager of Wagnaria.
  • Rui Nagata – A classmate of Daisuke.  She has a crush on him but has a problem of misunderstanding things.
  • Yoko Miyakoshi – Hana’s mother who is a cooking expert that is shocked of her daughter’s terrible cooking.  Currently, her husband is living far from her because her cooking gave him diabetes and can’t come back until his glucose levels have dropped.

VIDEO:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

www.wagnaria!!” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

www.wagnaria!!” vol. 1 comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy the humor and fun of  “www.wagnaria!!”, a character driven series about a group of people working for the family restaurant, Wagnaria.

Consistent with the previous anime series, in terms of wacky characters and situations, “www.wagnaria!!” centers around a blunt and easily annoyed teenager named Daisuke Higashida who is forced to work a part-time job after his father’s business goes bankrupt.

On the first day of the job, Daisuke meets his fellow co-workers such as the bossy and punchy teen, Hana Miyakoshi.  She’s often with Daisuke, making others think that they are boyfriend and girlfriend, especially since he eats her terrible chocolates.

They are joined by the expressionless and slightly creepy Sayuri Muranushi.  While emotionless, the fellow cook Masahiro is shy and tends to pass out when she smiles at him.  You have single mother, Kisaki Kondo, spoiled brat Shiho Kamakura and Yuta (who’s family is full of debt) and many more characters that make work at Wagnaria lively and entertaining.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation for “www.wagnaria!!” is colorful, vibrant and has slight softness, as one can expect from an animated TV series.  Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included. Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you are definitely going to get some swag with this latest release. You get four collectible illustration postcards and a slipcase.

Overall, “www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series.  Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

 

Endride: Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far.  Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and a first half conclusion that leaves you wanting to see how it all ends.  I can’t wait for part two but for now, I definitely recommend “Endride”!

Image courtesy of © ENDRIDE Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Endride: Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 30, 2017


Directed by Keiji Gotoh

Series Composition by Touko Machida

Music by IMAGINE PROJECT, Kohei Tanaka

Original Character Design by Kazushi Hagiwara, Nobuhiro Watsuki

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Junko Watanabe

Anime Production: Brain’s Base, Lapin Track


Featuring the following voice talent:

Karen Miyama/Sarah Wiedenheft as Alicia

Kensho Ono/Aaron Dismuke as Shun Asanaga

Toshiki Masuda/Ian Sinclair as Emilio Ranguhaimu

Akio Ohtsuka/Phil Parsons as King Delzaine

Aoi Yūki/Skyler McIntosh as Mischa

Ayaka Ohashi/Felecia Angelle as Falarion

Hiroki Takahashi/Robert McCollum as Demetrio

Juurouta Kosugi/Bill Jenkins as Alzerm Langheim

Kousuke Toriumi/Tyler Walker as Eljuia

Ryoko Nagata/Jessica Cavanagh as Makiko Asanaga

Satoshi Mikami/ as Kazunobu Asanaga

Shizuka Itou as Louise

Tetsu Inada/Jeremy Inman as Iberuta (Ibelda)

Tomoaki Maeno/Jarrod Greene as Gidoro

Yūma Uchida as Felix

Yuu Mizushima as Pascal

 


When a crystal warps Shun Asanaga into a world deep beneath Earth’s surface, he confronts the moody Prince Emilio who is hellbent on killing the king. Just when the two seem perfectly at odds, Shun discovers an incredible power and winds up on a dangerous journey with a ragtag team of rebels. Seeking a portal between worlds, will the prince finally get his revenge, and will Shun find a way home?


In 2016, an anime and smartphone video game was created.  The smart phone game “Endride: X Fragments” would be released in November 2016, while an anime series would be released months before.

The anime “Endride” was created by Brain’s Base and is a 24-episode anime series directed by Keiji Gotoh and written by Toko Machida.

The series will be released in two parts on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Endride” is set in a world that is underground, beneath the surface.  In order to not be discovered, a myth was created that the underground is hell and demons live there.  But in truth, the underground is a world unlike the surface with modern technology.

The series begins with the 16-year-old prince of Endora named Emilio Langheim who tries to assassinate his father, King Delzaine.

The reason is that King Delzaine is not his real father and raised the boy after killing his real father and Emilio wants revenge.

The King manages to defeat Emilio and put him in the dungeon.  But when a group goes to the underground to cause something badly for Emilio, out of nowhere, a teenager appears from the surface, Shun Asanaga.

While Shun tries to figure out where he is, he is attacked and out of nowhere, a warp relic emerges within him.  He is able to release Emilio and together they manage to escape.  And Shun explains how he touched a mysterious crystal found in his father’s company and next thing you know, he was transported to Endora.  And now, he desperately wants to find his way back home.

The two are joined by Emilio’s childhood friend Alicia and get some help from the eccentric scientist and former Royal Researcher, Pascal, who left the position after he questioned King Delzaine’s plans of reconstructing Babel.

As Shun and Emilio are like water and ice and are very much different from each other and often are at odds, Shun knows that he needs Emilio’s help in trying to get back home and Emilio needs Shun’s help in order to achieve revenge.

The group meet the Ignauts and they are interested in forming a revolution against King Delzaine and making things equal among those who live in Endora.  But what troubles will Shun and Emilio encounter on their adventure to achieve their goals?


VIDEO:

“Endride: Part One” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Endride: Part One” is presented in English and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0.  Surprisingly, FUNimation did not give an English 5.1 dub soundtrack for this release.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Endride: Part One” comes with no special features but the textless opening and closing songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Endride: Part One” comes with a slipcover case and Blu-ray + DVD versions of the series.


“Endride” may seem like another banal storyline of a person lost in a new world and desperately trying to find his way back home, but there is more to this anime series considering the twists and turns involved and its fascinating storyline.

The story first and foremost focuses on two characters, Shun Asanaga, a 15-year-old hot tempered boy from the Surface who immediately gets transported to Endora after touching a mysterious crystal.  The other character is Emilio Langheim, the 16-year-old prince who wants revenge on the man who raised him, King Delzaine, for killing his father.

The two are like fire and water, they are opposites but yet they need each other to accomplish their goals.

But to make a difference in the world, they are caught up in political situations when a group, the Ignauts are wanting to start a revolution and want equality.  Seeing opportunities on both sides, Shun and Emilio join forces with the Ignauts, but will Shun ever get home?  And will Emilio get his revenge?

“Endride: Part One” looks great on Blu-ray.  Colors are vibrant and for the most part, no major artifacts or banding issues.  Lossless soundtrack are stereo on both soundtracks, which is surprising considering FUNimation usually creates an English dub track in 5.1.  Also, another surprise is there are no special features (aside from the usual textless opening and ending and trailers), not even the usual FUNimation audio or video commentary which was surprising.  So, pretty much, this is a no thrills barebones Blu-ray+DVD release.

Overall, “Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far.  Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and a first half conclusion that leaves you wanting to see how it all ends.  I can’t wait for part two but for now, I definitely recommend “Endride”!

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance! 

Purchase from Right-Stuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (or 26-50 if both seasons include) (625 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


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, Taichi Maezuka

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

 


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

While training at the academy, Aladdin meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from the Leam Empire, who also has the same charm as Aladdin’s


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 Blu-ray Set”.

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 a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series (for both “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”).

And now both seasons will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

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.

Also, 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:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 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 & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


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!

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer. Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster are not included. But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD! So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag? If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2015 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance!

Purchase from Right-Stuf

 

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor! Definitely recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


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, Taichi Maezuka

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


Alibaba is a young carrier who dreams of venturing into a “Dungeon,” where secret treasures lie deep within its labyrinth, to gain enough money to buy an entire country.

One day, Alibaba meets a mysterious boy named Aladdin, who can summon a mighty blue spirit from his flute. Hoping to harness Aladdin’s magical power, Alibaba invites him on his dungeon-capturing expedition.

Along the way, through numerous encounters and farewells, both of them will come to learn the truth about their destinies.


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 a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series.

Having been released on DVD by Aniplex, for the first time the entire season will be collected in a Blu-ray set and will be released in June 2017.

“Magi” begins with a young Aladdin being given one wish.

We then see Alibaba, a thief who is working for a slave master who has been trying to find a dungeon for treasure. Everyone thinks that Alibaba is searching for something that doesn’t exist. But when he starts loading up a caravan with fruit, he catches a boy (Aladdin) eating all the watermelon.

Alibaba gets in trouble but as Aladdin follows Alibaba, Alibaba talks about dungeons that appeared 14 years ago and and Alibaba explains if one can capture one, there is a genuine magi wandering around and will grant magical power to someone. And Alibaba is in search of the magical vessel.

The following day, Aladdin bumps into a slave (Morgiana). When Aladdin wonders why her legs are chained, Alibaba tries to explain to Aladdin of what a slave is. So, not wanting to see Morgiana chained, Aladdin frees her by blowing into his flute and shattering the steel chain.

But not long after, one of the slave masters start pushing and stepping all over Morgiana, Aladdin tells the man to stop and the man threatens to execute Aladdin.

Aladdin then blows into the flute, massive arms come out of the flute. Ugo is a Djinn, spirits that appear in myth and not many people thought it was a real thing, but we learn through a flashback that Aladdin was given three wishes in which he could have fortune, fame and eternal life. But instead, he just wanted one wish and that is for Ugo to be his friend. And since then, the two have been together.

Ugo has a massive body without a head. As Aladdin goes on trips with various people, we learn that Aladdin must be well fed and have had a lot to drink in order to use Ugo, but also Ugo is shy if a girl touches him.

And as Alibaba finds out that Aladdin has a Djinn vessel, he decides to use Aladdin to use and partner with him in order to find a dungeon. Alibaba’s wish is to be rich and find treasure inside buildings that have shown up all over the world. And treasures with wonderful powers are the most valuable, the one that Alibaba seeks is the Djinn’s metal vessel.

But as Alibaba sees using Aladdin as important in his plans as Aladdin’s use of Ugo can help protect them while they visit the dungeons to find treasure, but he also realizes that for Aladdin, his main thing that makes him happy is having a friendship. For Alibaba, for now, he’ll play the role of being a friend in order to find treasure and obtain a Djinn metal vessel.

As Alibaba along with Aladdin look for the treasure inside a dungeon, not far behind them is the tyrant slave owner named Lord Jamil along with two slaves, including Morgiana.

Meanwhile, nearby is another person similar to Aladdin, clad in black and evil, a magi named Judar has decided to cause trouble for Aladdin and friends?  But what happens when Aladdin goes all out in his battle against Judar?

Meanwhile, an even greater threat arrives as Aladdin and friends must take on Dark Djinn’s, while Sinbad must protect the country against Al-Thamen and his forces.

The main characters of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” are:

    • Aladdin – A young magi who doesn’t know too much about himself or the outside world. But he’s kind and goodhearted and wants to protect the people he cares about. When he blows into a flute, a headless blue giant named Ugo comes out.
    • Alibaba – A thief who appears to have a mysterious background that befriends Aladdin.
    • Morgania – A slave who comes from a country of people known for their superior leg strength and speed. She is the slave of the tyrant, Lord Jamil.
    • Amon – A djinn with fire elemental powers contained in Alibaba’s training sword.
    • Sinbad – The King of Sindria and leader of the Alliance of the Seven Seas.  He has sailed the seven seas and captured seven dungeons and is a master of seven djinn.
    • Masrur – A Fanalis who works for Sinbad and trains Morgiana in hand to hand combat.
    • Ja’far – A former assassin who becomes loyal to Sinbad.
    • Hakuryuu Ren – The fourth prince in the Kou Empire who becomes an ally of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgianna.
    • Judar – An evil Magi working for Al-Thamen.  Raised by Al-Thamen after the organization killed his parents.

VIDEO:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  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 & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo.  Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


Hilarious, fun and a little naughty, Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” has turned out to be a pretty enjoyable series.

The main protagonist Aladdin is rather interesting because he has an appearance of a little boy who possesses a flute that houses a headless giant named Ugo. But there are quirks with Alibaba, for one, he’s often hungry and thirsty, which helps with activating Ugo. He’s also somewhat of a pervert as he is often wanting to rub his head on a woman’s breast.

But most importantly, it’s his strong desire to find and have friends which makes him a bit naive when people pretend to be his friend but they have ulterior motives.

One of these friends that he does make is Alibaba, a boy who is in severe debt and people who owe debts, end up being slaves for a wealthy owner (most often a tyrant). He desires wealth but most of all a Djinn, similar to Aladdin and hopes that with partnering with him, he can obtain treasure and a Djinn.

Also, adding interest to the overall storyline is the fact that everything takes place in the desert where bandits have ruled the land and many people have been killed or have become slaves. The only way to survive is by being a merchant and as a merchant, you are constantly under the threat of your merchandise being stolen by bandits and being killed. So, the storyline is set during a dangerous time where buildings have shown up all over the land and inside are treasures. But for those who have tried, all have not come back from their search.

But with the power of Ugo, Alibaba is betting that having Aladdin on his side, their chances of finding treasure and a Djinn is great.

The first quarter of the series features on developing the three characters of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana and to showcase their backgrounds but also how the three became friends.

The middle part of the first season goes into Aladdin and Alibaba being separated but both going through trying experiences but learning about the outside world within the six months they were separated.

And the final part of the series, introduces us to a more deeper storyline involving all three but also introducing us to Sinbad and establishing the true antagonists of the series, especially the taller, dark version similar to Aladdin, an evil magi named Judar.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. As episode 1 alone has a bit of nudity and showcases Aladdin’s attraction to big breasts. Another episode has nudity as well, but there is also violence, for example, you will see one scene in which the tyrant Lord Jamil is seen stabbing one of his slaves repetitively with a sword.

As for differences between the manga and anime series, the anime series almost focuses on the manga completely with the exception of Aladdin’s introduction at the Oasis of Utan, in which Aladdin tags along with merchants Laylah and Sahsa, the daughter of a caravan leader (featured in the opening chapters of the first volume of the manga series). The two are introduced later in the series but are not featured in episode 1.

But for the most part, the anime series does not stray too far from Shinobu Ohtaka’s manga series.

As the first half of Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” was lighthearted, full of humor and entertaining. The second half of the series has become much more deeper, serious and action-packed and Alibaba must make difficult decisions, Aladdin faces his greatest foe yet and Morgiana does all she can to become more powerful but to what expense?

In the first half, we watched as Aladdin was dependent on a headless giant named Ugo, but with Ugo gone after a major battle with the evil Judar, what will happen to Aladdin?

Also, a major difference between the first half of the series and the second half, is the inclusion of more characters. Sinbad plays much more of a role as Al-Thamen declares war on Sindria and Sinbad and forces must do all they can to fight against Al-Thamen and the Dark Djinn.

With the conclusion to season one featuring a battle with someone they know quite well.

But for the most part, this second half for season one is a whole different vibe than the first. While you do get the perverted humor for a brief moment, the series is primarily action non-stop with so many dire situations involving Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana.

While the trio meet new friends and allies, there is also a lot of heartbreak as both Aladdin and Alibaba lose something special in their lives. So, one can expect a deep, action-packed storyline for episodes 13-25.

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.

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer.  Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the collectable foil stamped postcards and deluxe booklets are not included.  But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD!  So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag?  If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2014 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor!  Definitely recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

 

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 122-144) 575 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 23, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

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

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


As Goku and Vegeta land blow after blow in their brutal duel, an enormous amount of energy is transferred to Majin Buu. And despite Gohan’s valiant efforts, the monster reaches full power faster than anyone could have predicted. With the ancient evil awakened and free to wreak havoc across the planet, the Z Fighters must give everything they’ve got to put Buu back to bed for good.


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume eight) as a new major threat has arrived…Majin Buu.

Unbeknownst to the Z-Warriors is that an evil Warlock named Babidi and the evil Demon King Dabura are trying to unseal a monster named Majin Buu. Meanwhile, Kaoishin, the ruler of the Kaios of the Other World and his bodyguard Kibit have come to Earth in order to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight Majin Buu and Babidi.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 122-144.

The focus for these episodes is the Majin Buu Arc.  The series features:

Goku – Now an adult, married to Chichi and has a son named Gohan. Constantly training in order to become stronger. Still naive and hungry as he was when he was younger. Currently, he is deceased and using his time to train before returning back to the land of the living.

Gohan – Goku’s young son. Goku realizes that Gohan has strong potential but during an unfortunate incident, asks for Piccolo to train his son in fighting to protect people and the planet. Gohan has accompanied Bulma and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Kuririn – Goku’s childhood friend who accompanies Gohan and Bulma to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Bulma – A woman still developing products at her father’s company, Capsule Corp. and uses her intelligence to solve the Z Warriors under dire circumstances. With her Dragon Ball scanner, she joins Gohan and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in Planet Nemek.

Kaiosama – One of the Kings who trains Goku on how to fight with gravity ten times greater than Earth at Kaio’s world.

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all. Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but after being defeated by Goku, rehabilitates himself and now finds himself fighting alongside Gohan and Kuririn.

Trunks – The young son of Bulma and Vegeta who hangs out with Goten

Goten – The second son of Goku and Chichi and hangs out with Trunks.

Kaioshin – The ruler of the Kaios of the Other World, Kaioshin has taken over the position after the previous Kaoshin was killed by the warlock Babidi.  He has come to the Earth realm to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight against Babidi and Majin Buu.

Kibit – The loyal bodyguard of Kaioshin.

The main antagonists are:

Babidi – The evil warlock trying to release the seal and revive Majin Buu that was created by Babidi’s father, Bibidi.

Dabura – The Demon King who is assisting Babidi in trying to unseal Majin Buu.

Majin Buu – Created by Bibidi, Buu was created to destroy worlds and was sealed away by the former Kaoshin, until he was released once again by Babidi.  But is this the same Majin Buu who is known as the destroyer of worlds?


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

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

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

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 131 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Rolly Pickens (chief engineer), Kent Williams, Duncan Brannan, Monica Rial (voice of Bulma)
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part Two comes with a slipcover case.


Here we are with the next volume of “Dragon Box Z Kai: The Final Chapters” which continues the final chapter of the “Dragon Ball Z” series, which I like to call the “Majin Buu Arc”.

What can I say… if you thought the Frieza and Cell sagas were fantastic villains, the Majin Buu saga and where it will go from here is quite amazing. Personally, having grown up with the series and watching the Buu series when it aired in Japan, I was hooked and it’s so great to watch it again!

No villain in “Dragon Ball Z” has looked as cute and nonthreatening as Majin Buu but yet has managed to slaughter a millions of people and really put the Z-Warriors in a position that they have never been in before.

The high points of this season is the fact that you get a long awaited battle between Goku vs. Vegeta, you get the Super Saiyan level 3 transformation of Goku but then we get to see the fusion technique.

Each episode has a very good storyline that it’s quite easy to watch episode after episode and find yourself watching a marathon of multiple discs because the episodes were quite enjoyable and action-packed. I also, have to say that there are no filler episodes and each episode, you’re going to get hardcore battles and just non-stop action. It’s what you would expect from a series such as “Dragon Ball Z” and nothing less.

Vegeta fans will definitely enjoy his character transformation but most of all his redemption. The first half is very Vegeta intensive and in Japan, many people wanted more of him and they got it. So, to see a powerful Vegeta going against Goku was awesome.

The series manages to weave in every character close to the Z-warriors that we have known from the series in this eighth season, which is very cool. And also, for Hercule/Mr. Satan fans, you will actually get to see him in action as well.

But it’s the instability of Majin Buu’s character which is quite interesting. Because of the way this being is made, unlike Frieza and Cell, the ability to continually regenerate, makes him nearly an unstoppable character. His look and demeanor is nothing like we have seen in the first 200-episodes and to see him kill people for the sake of hunger or for enjoyment to hear things go “boom”, makes Majin Buu an interesting but moreso, a deadlier villain than any villain that has appeared on “Dragon Ball Z” thus far.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Majin Buu Arc, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

 

Gangsta.: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji, OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gangsta.: The Complete Series

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: May 16, 2017


Originally created by Kohske

Series Director: Koichi Hatsumi

Directed by Shukou Murase

Series Composition by Shinichi Inotsume

Music by Tsutchie

Character Design by Yoichi Ueda

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Yoichi Ueda

Animation Production by Manglobe


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junichi Suwabe/Ian Sinclair as Worick Arcangelo

Kenjiro Tsuda/Brandon Potter as Nicolas Brown

Mamiko Noto/Felecia Angelle as Alex Benedetto

Ami Koshimizu/Jad Saxton as Constance Raveau

Aoi Yūki/Bryn Apprill as Nina

Atsumi Tanezaki/Clifford Chapin as Mikhail

Hideyuki Umezu/Greg Dulcie as Uranos Corsica

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Greg Ayres as Doug

Junji Majima/Ricco Fajardo as Emilio Benedetto

Kaito Ishikawa/Aaron Roberts as Cody Balfour

Kana Ueda/Alexis Tipton as Loretta Cristiano Amodio

Katsuhisa Houki/Mark Stoddard as Daniel Monroe

Koji Yusa/R Bruce Elliott as Domenico Arcangelo

Mari Yokoo as Georgiana “Big Mama

Masako Isobe/Rachel Robinson as Joel Raveau

Mikako Komatsu/Jamie Marchi as Ginger

Satoshi Mikami/Robert McCollum as Dr. Theo

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Beretta



In the city of Ergastulum, the area is full of thieves, whores and murderers.  And as for the police, they are corrupted and chaos is king.

This is the setting for the manga series known as “Gangsta.”, written and illustrated by female mangaka Kohske.

Debuting in 2009 with the short story “Postman” for Shonen GanGan Magazine, “Gangsta” has been running in “Monthly Comic Bunch” in 2011 and a total of seven tankobon volumes have been published in Japan.  Along a spinoff series titled “Gangsta: Cursed – EP_MARCO ADRIANO” which three volumes have been released in Japan so far.

In 2015, a 12-episode anime series from Manglobe was released in Japan and now, the anime series was released in the United States in May 2017 courtesy of FUNimation.

The series director is Koichi Hatsume, director is Shukou Murase, series composition by Shinichi Inotsume, character design by Yoichi Ueda and art direction by Masatoshi Kai.

“Gangsta.” begins with a prostitute being assaulted outside a building.  Meanwhile, inside a building are two owners of the business known as “Handymen”, Nic and Worick, two men paid to take on assassination or difficult jobs that police or big business can’t handle.

As Nic and Worick are completing a job with the elder businesswoman inside the building, they see the beaten prostitute going inside the building.

The Handymen are then called for business with the police department and are sent to go after a gang leader named Barry Abbot (the man seen beating on the prostitute in the opening pages).  Both Nick and Worick are hired by the inspector to eliminate him and his gang (including his prostitutes) as they are doing business in the restricted zone.  They work out a deal that they can take whatever they can in return for killing them.

As Nic and Worick go after the gang and eliminated everyone including the gang leader known as Barry. They run into the prostitute and give her the opportunity to escape.  But instead, the prostitute named Alex comes back and instead of killing her, they decide to take her (as in agreement with the inspector) and make her as part of the Handymen as one of their employees.

Meanwhile, as Alex continues to work for the Handymen, she tries to figure both Nic and Worick out.   Is Nic an ex-mercenary, does he talk at all?  Why does Worick wear an eyepatch?

One day, Alex sees a newspaper article about a massacre of the Arcangelo family 20-years-ago, all were killed except a 13-year-old boy who was 13 at the time.  And the perpretator, said to be a boy hired as a mercenary by the family.  And Alex begins to wonder, can the two boys be Worick and Nic?  Is Worick the missing boy that was never found?

But as Alex starts to wonder about the two men that she is working for, the Handymen get involved in major trouble as they must take on a gang that is threatening Dr. Theo and his assistant, Nina.a gang war seems to be inevitable as Corsica and Cristiano are engaged in a battle of outwitting each other and destroy each other’s families with the use of Twilights.  But what happens when the Handymen come and Nic must take on another Twilight A/O.


VIDEO:

“Gangsta.” is presented in 1080p High Definition and Manglobe did a wonderful job with this series. Capture Kohske’s world that was featured in the manga, character designs were done very well.  Characters are well-shaded and backgrounds are pained and are well-done.  There is a slight softness for some scenes, as one can expect from a TV series but for the most part, the anime looks great on Blu-ray and the reds (especially with the high amount of blood) is vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gangsta.” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack. Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.  And as the voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks, for the English dub, Brandon Potter, Felecia Angelle and Ian Sinclair did a wonderful job but also great care was made in trying get Nicolas Brown’s speech right, because he is deaf and Brandon Potter did a solid job with the speech patterns.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gangsta.” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 01 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Chris Bevins, Ian Sinclair (voice of Worick Arcangelo), Brandon Potter (voice of Nicolas Brown) and Felecia Angelle (voice of Alex Benedetto).
  • Episode 2 Video Commentary  – Featuring a video commentary with Ian Sinclair (voice of Worick Arcangelo), Brandon Potter (voice of Nicolas Brown) and Felecia Angelle (voice of Alex Benedetto).
  • Episode 9.5 – A “Gangsta.” recap episode. (Japanese only)
  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial
  • Textless Opening and Closing Themes
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Gangsta.: The Complete Series” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


With the release of “Gangsta.”, we get to see somewhat of a western influence in this manga series by Kohske.

Reminiscent of Frank Miller’s “Sin City”, where the world has gone corrupt and in the city of Ergastulum, a city overrun by thugs, gangs, mafia, whores and murderers, the police are just as bad and when the going gets tough, the only way for the police to maintain order is by hiring mercenaries, in this case, the Handymen, Nic and Worick.

Nic is the silent, deadly killer with a sword. Worick is the playboy with an eyepatch that is good with a gun and together, they are two men who aren’t afraid of taking on the most corrupt people in Ergastulum. And it’s not a duty done for the sake of morality but to them, it’s money and survival.

As these two men are mysterious individuals and through the eyes of former prostitute Alex, who joins the Handymen as their personal secretary or whatever she can be used for in order to get the job done, even Alex, has her thoughts on both men and their mysterious background.

But in this city, there is no normal.  There is no peace.  And right now, a major gang war is about to ignite between the Corsica and Cristiano gang.  And for the Handymen, they have their hands tied in trying to keep people alive while Twilight A/O’s have been hired to assassinate major gang members but now all of a sudden have become the hunted as anti-twilight groups are infiltrating Ergastulum to kill them off..

Meanwhile, Alex is wallowing in her depression, not knowing what has happened to her young brother that she was unable to protect.

With “Gangsta.”, we get to see how corrupt this world they live in but how they fit in to all the chaos. There is no one that is pure in Ergastulum, everything is corrupt, a lot of violence over runs the city but there is a sense of kindness for some people and with the Handymen, while killing is their job, the act of kindness of having Alex as an employee is rather fascinating.

Kohske has developed a intriguing series full of sex and violence but also an illustration style that is unique to her style of work. The anime series is respectful to the original manga content and there is a western influence and it will be interesting to see how the story of “Gangsta.” will continue considering there is other stories left for the anime to explore in the future.

And Manglobe and anime production crew did a wonderful job with this series and staying true to the original manga.  The anime series looks and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray and there are good number of special features included as well.

Overall, “Gangsta.” is an action-packed anime series about mysterious two assassins for hire in a crime-filled land and a former prostitute who starts working for them. An intriguing and rare manga series to come from Japan, if you are looking for a manga series with a little sex and plenty  of violence, “Gangsta.” by Kohske is a manga series worth recommending!

 

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

 

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