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Fairy Tail vol. 21 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 is an action-packed storyline continuing the battle between Fairy Tail and the demons of Tartaros.  If you have been following the series for this long, you’ll no doubt enjoy the action involving many of the members of the Fairy Tail guild.

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 21

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 240-252) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 6, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


On the demon’s playground, anything can happen. With the devastating Face weapon active, the battle against Tartaros seems desperate. The wizards of Fairy Tail must face down the Nine Demon Gates of Tartaros to stop the mass magic purge, or they will all become powerless. As the clock ticks down, what sacrifices will be made to protect the magic across the land? Will it even be enough? Natsu and his friends will have to use everything they’ve got if they want to prevent E.N.D.’s revival. But when each member is up against a different foe, things aren’t looking good for our heroes. In this battle against demons, anything goes; including their ability to resurrect?! And as if demons weren’t enough, familiar foes join the battle with demonic powers that make them stronger than before. When the battle turns in Tartaros’ favor, can Lucy summon the strength to call on the most powerful celestial spirit the Celestial Spirit King?!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” continues!

The demons of Tartaros who think they have destroyed Fairy Tail are now going after Happy, Carla and Lily.

Meanwhile, Natsu and Lisanna have escaped their cell and Erza confronts Kyoka.

Also, Wendy finds a newfound power, while Franmalth plans to absorb Natsu, Lucy and Happy’s souls.

Lucy must also make a tough decision in regards to one of her golden Zodiac keys.  And Gray takes on Silver.

All this and more in vol. 21 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 240-252) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

With the 21st volume Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 240-252.

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

And together, Natsu and Lucy develop a wonderful friendship as they grow as partners but also a guild members with their other teammates.


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 21 features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray.
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 features the following special features:

  • Episode 243 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Aaron Dismuke (writer) and Jeremy Schwartz (voice of Franmalth).
  • Episode 248 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Cherami Leigh (voice of Lucy) and Jessica Cavanaugh (voice of Aquarius).
  • Katsucon with Cherami Leigh – (7:38) Cherami Leigh talks to “Fairy Tail” cosplayers at Katsucon.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Never-End Tale”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Forever Here”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


With the seventh season “Fairy Tail” and the third arc known as “Tartaros” has begun (based on the 40th – 49th volume storyline) in which the dark guild of Zeref’s demons are trying to resurrect their master and Zeref’s ultimate creation, E.N.D.!

As the Magic Council discusses Tartaros recent activity and the decrease in dark guilds, Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the meeting and destroys the building the council are meeting at and everyone is killed including Lahar.

News of the Magic Council’s assassination spreads throughout the villages and Doranbolt, who is one of the few survivors from the attack, goes to the dungeon to extract information on Tartaros. And more members of the Nine Demon Gates continue their attacks leading to more deaths.

While this latest volume is probably one of the darkest story plots of “Fairy Tail” prior to the “Tartaros Arc” is a storyline that features the demons of Tartaros planning to destroy Fairy Tail.  And with a few of the primary characters escaping, it places each character in danger and fighting their most difficult battle yet.

In fact, major characters are having to make difficult decisions or else face death.  And also trying to prevent the powerful Franmalth from absorbing their souls.

If anything, there are major battles between Fairy Tail and the demons, including resurrected souls.

While this volume is action-packed, the concurrent storyline with “Naruto” and the resurrected souls/reanimated corpses didn’t seem all too original and the fact that there are so many characters involved, it’s another situation similar to “Naruto” that one really needs to watch “Fairy Tail” earlier on to know who the characters are, the bond they have with each other and so forth.  There are too relationships at stake with this season alone that fans of the series will appreciate, but it’s not an arc that will be easy for one to jump in, if they never watched earlier seasons.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes, voice actress Cherami Leigh at Katsucon and the opening and ending theme songs.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 21 is an action-packed storyline continuing the battle between Fairy Tail and the demons of Tartaros.  If you have been following the series for this long, you’ll no doubt enjoy the action involving many of the members of the Fairy Tail guild.

Recommended!

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

January 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Death Parade” is an anime series that was refreshing, addictive and badass!  Recommended!anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Death Parade: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: November 29, 2016


Originally created by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Screenplay by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Music by Yauuki Hayashi

Character Design by Shinichi Kurita

Art Director: Satoru Hirayanagi

Anime Production by Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Asami Seto/Jamie Marchi as Black-haired Woman

Tomoaki Maeno/Alex Organ as Decim

Atsumi Tanezaki as Mayu Arita

Kouki Uchiyama/Leah Clark as Clavis

Rumi Ookubo/Jad Saxton as Nona

Ryoka Yuzuki/Morgan Garrett as Castra

Ryoko Shiraishi/Anastasia Munoz as Quin

Tesshō Genda/Jeremy Schwartz as Oculus

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Robert McCollum as Ginti


When two people die at the same time, they’re sent to a place that’s neither heaven nor hell: a lavish bar between worlds where the stakes are high and the rules are simple: if you win you live again, if you die you’re gone for good.

Decim is the bartender charged with serving the souls who enter Quindecim. He may make a mean cocktail, but his true profession is to play the role of arbiter: a judge who determines whether or not a soul is worthy of reincarnation.

To aid in his judgment, the bar’s patrons are forced to play simple games laced with sadistic twists designed to bring their true natures to light. To Decim, judgment has always been black and white — that is until he meets a mysterious young woman whose fate seems impossible to decide. His indecision shakes the very foundation of the games and raises the biggest question of all: who is fit to judge the dead?

 


From Yuzuru Tachikawa (who worked on series such as “Steins;Gate”, “Attack on Titan”, “Kill la Kill”) and Madhouse comes the anime series “Death Parade”.

Originally a short film titled “Death Billiards”, which was produced by Madhouse for the Young Animator Training Project’s Anime Mirai 2013.  The series aired in Japan between January and March 2015 and each episode was released in the United States not long after the Japan release of an episode.

The anime series is directed and written by Yuzuru Tachikawa, music composition by Yuuki Hayashi (“Gundam Build Fighters”, “Haikyu!!”, “My Hero Academia”), character design by Shinichi Kurita (“Arata-naru Sekai”, “Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV”) and art direction by Satoru Hirayanagi (“Familiar of Zero”, “Guin Saga”, “Shining Hearts”).

And now the anime series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

The series revolves around two people (different individuals for each episode) who are taken to a building managed by Nona.  And on the 15th floor, they are led into a Quindecim bar by Castra to participate in game. What these individuals are unaware of is that these games are death games.

Greetings them is a bartender named Decim, who has no human emotions.  Who happens to also be an arbiter, the person who must judge each individual and explain to the individuals of the games they are taking part in.  Assisting Decim is a mysterious black-haired woman named Chiyuki who has no memory of her past life or her real-name.

But there is also another bar on the 20th floor known as Viginti, ran by Ginti, like Decim who also must lead individuals to taking part in the death games.

The two people that come in to the bar are unaware they are dead and the purpose of taking part in the game, is to find out who gets reincarnated and who must go to the void.

And in the end of the game, they will be judged.


VIDEO:

“Death Parade” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation is from Mad House who did a fantastic job with this series when it comes to detail of the bar, character designs, lighting and overall animation.  Picture quality does have a hint of softness, as one would expect from an anime TV series.  But pallet is colorful and the series looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Death Parade” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Death Parade: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Commentary – Featuring ADR director Chris George, Bryn Apprill (voice of Mai Takada) and Micah Solusod (voice of Shigeru Miura.
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Zach Bolton (voice of Clavis), Jamie Marchi (voice of Black-Haired Woman), Jad Saxton (voice of Nona) and Alex Organ (voice of Decim).
  • OVA: Death Billiards – Featuring a special episode with Decim and Black-Haired Woman encountering two people who must compete at billiards.
  • Playing with House Money – (6:15) Jad Saxton (voice of Nona), Robert McCollum (voice of Ginti) and Jamie Marchi (voice of Black-Haired Woman) meet up in a bar for a game of billiards.
  • Textless Opening and Five Closing Songs
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Death Parade: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who have been craving for anime with original stories, “Death Parade” from Madhouse gives anime fans a series built on a fascinating storyline, some that are surprising, others quite tragic and heartbreaking but also showcasing mysterious characters.

The series pretty much is the judgment of individuals of who will be reincarnated and who must spend eternity in the void.

As two people are escorted into a bar to participate in games, they are unaware that these are death games and by playing, it slowly reveals the history and what led to the demise of an individual.

From its mysterious no-emotion bartender named Decim and a human, who is not an arbiter but is working closely for Decim for some unexplained reason.  What is the story about her?

But the stories revolve around two people who take part in death games.

For example, the first episode features Takashi and Machiko, a loving couple who are unaware they are dead.  But the more they play the game of darts, they start to realize that their relationship is troubled.

Takashi remembers when Machiko said she was pregnant but he feared that the pregnancy was due to another man.  Machiko claims that it’s Takashi’s baby but the more viewers start to sympathize with Machiko, the more the game is played, the more is revealed about her dark side or does he have a dark side?

Another two that plays the game is Misaki Tachibana, a hostess of a reality TV show who has a hot temper.  She had a baby by an abusive man and had to raise five children through multiple failed relationships.

Yousuke’s father remarried with Misaki and refused to accept her and avoided her no matter how much Misaki tried to give him love.  But what led to their demise?  And who will be reincarnated and who will go to the void?

These are just a few examples as you will see couples take part in “Death Billiards”, “Death Bowling” and more.

And of course, the series comes to a resolution with its mysterious black-haired woman, Chiyuki.

A satisfying, addictive anime series, it helps that it’s a shorter series that is only 12-episodes long and not drawn out with filler storylines that mean nothing.  In “Death Parade”, each storyline contributes to changes with other characters, especially Chiyuki and through these experiences, the story concludes with a satisfying storyline.  I really enjoyed this series!

And as one can expect from Madhouse, you get wonderful animation, background and foreground artwork and while colorful, it does have a slight softness but that is expected from anime television series.  You also get two audio commentary and a featurette with three of the voice English dub voice talents.  Plus a bonus “Death Billiards” episode.

Overall, “Death Parade” is an anime series that was refreshing, addictive and badass!  Recommended!

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DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 6 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more. But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for. If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

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


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 6

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 31-36 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


“So tonight, the Dollars are done.”

Although the childhood friends finally reunite, is it too late for Masaomi to change Mikado’s mind? As Mikado plans to end everything including the Dollars that he founded as well as his own life, Mikado’s true intentions are finally revealed…

Don’t miss the grand finale of the Durarara!! x2 series!


It was revealed that Mikado masterminded the chaos in Ikebukuro and now his best friend Masaomi Kida knows he must get to his friend before things get worse.

Meanwhile, will Celty Sturluson leave the one man who cares about her…Shinra Kishitani?

And what happens when Shizuo Heiwajima and Varona confront each other.

Will the chaos and gang wars happening in Ikebukuro ever end?  Find out in the final sixth volume of “DuRaRaRa!! x2”!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 6 (episodes 31-36), chaos continues in Ikebukuro. But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse and Mikado wants to beat some sense into Mikado’s head.

What happens when Masaomi and Mikado finally confront each other?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with episode 19.5, a hilarious episode featuring an overweight wannabe who tries to tell people he is Shizuo and other characters and the trouble that ensues for him pretending.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro finally comes to an end.

We have seen how Mikado has confused everyone with his actions but slowly see how his strategy of trying to turn the Dollars into an urban legend has come to fruition.

But in the process of trying to pull of something so dangerous, Mikado is lost in the darkness and his friend Masaomi Kida has finally arrived to knock some sense into him.  That is until Mikado takes out his guns and possibly trying to kill his best friend or possibly himself?

Meanwhile, the truth of Celty is revealed and why she has been trying to say she has amnesia.  Will Shinra stand behind her?

And of course, so much more story involving other characters and the trouble that was unleashed on Ikebukuro and its aftermath.

Suffice to say, this was a considerable build-up to get to this final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x 2”.  To show how meticulous Mikado was and how his involvement with the Dollars has slowly twisted his logic, it was no doubt a shock to see this meek individual transform into something so dark and twisted.

But of course, with so much chaos taking place in the series, there were too many individuals who acted and are antagonists that Mikado was someone that we pity, versus seeing him as cold and calculated.

Too many things happening and too many things going wrong with other characters that until you reach these final episodes, you realized that there was a world of hurt going on not just in Ikebukuro but inside the hearts of some of these characters.

It was a long build-up to get to these final episodes and while worth the wait, there is part of me that felt it went on too long. But nevertheless, I did enjoy these final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x2” and it will be interesting to see where the story goes on for its next story arc, as the manga series is still ongoing.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more.  But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for.

If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

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Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action. If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2014

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally created by Yume Mizusawa

Directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe

Series Composition by Naruhisa Arakawa

Music by Yasaharu Takanashi

Original Character Design by Ayumu Kasuga

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita, Masahiro Yamane

Art Director: Katsuhisa Takiguchi

Art Design by Tsukasa Ohira

Anime Production by Production iMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Maaya Uchida/Morgan Garrett as Twoearle

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Austin Tindle as Sōji Mitsuka

Sumire Uesaka/Bryn Apprill as Tail Red

Chinatsu Akasaki/Mikaela Krantz as Erina Shindō

Hiromi Igarashi/Jennifer Green as Miharu Mitsuka

M.A.O/Michelle Rojas as Mikoto Sakuragawa

Tesshō Genda/Cris George as Lizadgildy

Tetsu Inada/Chris Rager as Draggildy

Yōko Hikasa/Leah Clark as Anko Isuna

Yuka Aisaka/Sarah Widenheft as Tail Blue

Yukari Tamura/Tia Ballard as Mega Neptune Mk. II


Soji Mitsuka of Gonna Be the Twin-Tail is an ordinary high schooler with an extraordinary obsession. Twin tails are his fire, his air, his will to live! But when a mysterious woman from another world enlists his help to fight hideous monsters with various moe fetishes, Soji must transform into a powerful pigtailed…girl?

With the help of his childhood friend, the class president, and his endless devotion to pigtails, Soji and his crew form a twin-tailed threesome to take on the monsters who feed on the “attribute power” of humans. But Soji’s new pigtailed powers come with a price; his surging popularity as the new heroin in town makes the twin-tailed trend explode, giving the monsters ample attribute powers to feed upon! Don’t miss the action in Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!


“Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu”…What began as a light novel series by Yume Mizusawa and illustrator Ayumu Kasuga, would become an anime adaptation in 2014 courtesy of Production IMS.

And now the anime series known as “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!” is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series revolves around teenager Soji Mitsuka. He has an obsession with twin-tail hair and one day, he comes across a mysterious girl known as Twoearle, who has come from a parallel world.

But when Twoearle arrives, so do many monsters who appear in the city and declare that all twintails belong to them. As the monsters attack and feed off the spiritual energy of humanity, Twoearle gives Soji with Tail Gear, which is an imaginary armor which gives him twintail attributes, turning him to a red-headed twin-tail female warrior.

As Soji names his female warrior persona as Tail Red, she becomes popular and becomes a hero in the city.

His childhood friend Aika has a tsundere personality and is overprotective of Soji, but she also has a crush on him. She becomes jealous when she discovers Soji with Twoearle (because she is well-endowed and Aika is not) and the two women start to have a rivalry with each other. She becomes a Twintail Warrior known as Tail Blue and is excellent in fighting and martial arts.

The three eventually meet Erina Shindo, the Student Council President of Yogetsu Private Academy and she is a masochist and exhibitionist. She falls for Soji and gets aroused when Soji calls her name and she eventually becomes Tail Yellow, despite the fact that she hates twintails.

As these three twintails try to protect humanity from the monsters, they meet another girl from a parallel world named Isuna a.k.a. Tail Black, an obsessed fan of Twoerle and her persona on Earth is a singer named Anko Isuna. Why does Isuna have a deep hatred towards Tail Red? And can Soji keep his secret that he is Tail Red?


VIDEO:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation from Production IMS is good as character designs are well-done, art backgrounds are also well-done. There is subtle softness as one can expect from the majority of anime TV series but the anime series is colorful and animation is done well.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring a hilarious audio commentary with Austin Tindle (voice of Soji) and Morgan Garrett (voice of Twoerle).
  • Episode 11 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell, Bryn Apprill as Tail Red and Mikaela Krantz as Tail Yellow.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series”.

EXTRAS:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


Watching the anime series “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!”, there is a part of me that found the anime series reminiscent to the classic ’80s manga/anime series “Ranma 1/2” but also having a touch of the “Neptunia” video game series with dose of fan service included.

The series revolves around a teenager named Soji Mitsuka who has an obsession/fetish with twin-tails. And his love for twin-tails gets him into some trouble when a well-endowed being known as Twoearle comes from a parallel world, bringing monsters following her, that want twin-tails to be their own (as these monsters also have an obsession/fetish towards twin-tails).

So, Soji is given power to fight the monsters, but in the process, he turns into a female warrior with twin-tails.

At first I found the anime series to be a bit awkward, fun and crazy but also action-packed.  And was wondering if this is an anime series that would focus more on comedy or action…or would it be another ecchi perverted fanservice driven anime series.

Fortunately, the former is primarily focused on and we see Soji really getting into the role as a twin-tail warrior and despite the series having female twin-tailed characters that fall for him, he’s a kindhearted person that just has an obsession and not at all not too perverted.  Although, it would be interesting if it did go that direction.

I found the anime series to be simple, fun, action-packed but I have to admit that part of the enjoyment of this anime series came from listening to the audio commentaries, especially the slightly mature and hilarious audio commentary between voice actor Austin Tindle and voice actress Morgan Garrett, which was fun to listen to.  While the audio commentary with Mikaela Krantz and Bryn Apprill was also fun to listen to.

As for picture quality, while not a top-notch quality driven anime series, animation and character designs along with background art is good.  The series is colorful but like many other anime TV series, there is slight softness.

Overall, for those who want an escape and are getting burned out with banal anime and want to laugh and watch a crazy, action-packed anime series, may find “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!” to be to their liking.

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Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action.  If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Yu Moroboshi

Directed by Takayuki Inagaki

Series Composition by Hiroshi Yamaguchi

Music by Daisaku Kume

Original Character Design by Mikihiro Amami

Character Design by Osamu Horiuchi

Art Director: Hirofumi Sakagami, Hiroshi Kato

Art Design by Hiroshi Kato, Shingo Yonekawa

Anime Production by diomedia


Featuring the following voice talent:

Iori Nomizu/Dawn M. Bennett as Rico Flamel

Nao Tōyama/Megan Shipman as Lecty Eisenach

Nozomi Yamamoto/Tia Ballard as Misora Whitale

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Joel McDonald as Kanata Age

Chika Anzai/Lynsey Hale as Amie Mustung

Hiroki Yasumoto/Chris Guerrero as Real Nua

Ibuki Kido/Sarah Wiedenheft as Christina Balcuhorn

Jiro Saito/Jeremy Inman as Gail Whitale

Mami Kamikura/Alexis Tipton as Sasha Nielsen

Mari Misaki/Bryn Apprill as Lily Lancaster

Nichika Omori/Michelle Rojas as Coela Viper

Rina Satou/Morgan Garrett as Socie Whitale

Risa Taneda/Jad Saxton as Yuri Flostre

Saeko Zōgō/Alexis Moore as Freon Flamel

Tetsuya Kakihara/Ricco Fajardo as Lloyd Alwyn

Yuki Yamada/Megan Emerick as Chloe Sevegny

Yukiko Yao/Ryan Reynolds as Greg Hastuck

Yuko Hara/Kristen McGuire as Beach


Catch the newest magical academy series from the studio behind World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman!

Once known as the Black Master Swordsman, Kanata Age has fallen in favor with the people of Misutogan after a harrowed battle against the Devil Beetles. Deemed a traitor, he has earned the scorn of his peers and classmates. Kanata is happy enough to fade into the background, until one day he is asked to become the teacher of Fireteam E601 aka the F’ed up Fireteam.

Rico Flamel, Lecty Eisenach, and Misora Whitale make up E601 and have yet to see a single victory. But it’s hard to work together when your team is made up of a self-proclaimed goddess, a coward, and an incapable leader. Not to mention when they mistake him for a pervert. But, Kanata must take these three failures and turn them into winners. Will they trust the man known as a traitor? Or is there more to his story that he just forgot to mention?


Back in 2013, writer Yu Moroboshi and illustrator Yuka Nakajima created the Japanese light novel series “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan” (which translates to “The Instructor of the Aerial Combat Wizard Trainees”).

With a manga adaptation serialized on “Monthly Comic Alive” since 2014, a 12-episode anime series adaptation was created by Diomedea and aired in Japan from July through September 2015.

The series takes place during a time where humanity was driven off the land by magical armored insects forcing humans to live in floating cities in the sky.

To protect humanity, wizards fight the insects with magic in mid-air.

In the city of “Misutogan”, Kanata Age was known as the “Black Master Swordsman” of the elite S128 Team.  But because of circumstances, he was branded a traitor because he stopped going on missions and has received a bad reputation and no longer part of the elite team.

Kanata has now been assigned as the instructor of Fireteam E601, a team that has suffered 100 consecutive defeats.  Can Kanata turn this team around and get them to winning?  And what is the true reason why Kanata stopped fighting on missions?

Fireteam E601 consists of:

  • Misora Whitale – Misora is the leader of Platoon E601.  She has very good speed and stamina but because of her impulsive attitude, she is not good at giving orders nor is she good with her weapon.  Misora wants to be a sword sorcerer to honor her late mother.
  • Lecty Eisenach – A close combat fighter who is great with her weapon but because she is too shy, lacks confidence and can’t look at people that she doesn’t know, it prevents her from becoming an effective fighter. So, as part of her training, Kanata has her working at a maid cafe to develop her social skills and confidence.
  • Rico Flamel – Intelligent and a great sniper but she is narcissistic and calls herself a goddess and doesn’t feel that she should be a team player nor should she practice.  This prevents her from being a good fighter but Kanata must find a way to develop Rico’s will to fight and be a team player.

VIDEO:

“Sky Wizards Academy” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation from diomedia is good as character designs are well-done, art backgrounds are also well-done and detailed.  Mechanical designs feature good shading and CG looks good.  The anime series is colorful, vibrant and I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sky Wizards Academy” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Chapter 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tia Ballard (voice of Misora), Dawn M. Bennett (voice of Rico), Megan Shipman (voice of Lecty) and Joel Mcdonald (voice of Kanata).
  • Chapter 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Alex Moore (voice of Freon), Chris Guerrero (voice of Real) and Megan Emerick (voice of Chloe Sevigny).
  • OVA – Lecty, Animal Caretaker – (24:30) Featuring an OVA (only in Japanese with English subtitles) about Lecty discovering and caring for a Garuda chick that she names Tweetie, a chick that absorbs magical powers and the Sky Wizards are wanting to destroy it.
  • Promotional Videos – Japanese promo videos for “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan”
  • Commercials – Japanese anime CM for “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan”
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Sky Wizards Academy”.

EXTRAS:

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


Fireteam E601 is considered as the worst wizard team in the academy.

Misora is a team leader than doesn’t know how to use her weapons, Lecty is an excellent weapon user but too shy to engage her enemy and Rico is a narcissist who is an excellent sniper but can’t get along with anyone.

And someone needs to turn this team around.

Enter Kanata Age, once dubbed the strongest Sky Wizard of the elite Platoon S128 until after a major mission, he decided to never take part in any more missions.  Because of his refusal to take part in any missions to fight the insects, he has been dubbed a traitor to all wizards.

While his friends Chloe and Lloyd of Platoon S128 still support their friend, many don’t.  But when Kanata is assigned a new job and that is to be the new instructor of the terrible Fireteam E601, can Kanata Age find a way to turn this team around and make them one of the best Sky Wizard team?

The anime series is quite entertaining and action-packed but some may find the storyline to be quite simple as Kanata tries to teach these three to work as team and find ways to use their abilities.  And of course, it also has a harem vibe as each of Kanata’s students has a crush on him.

But with only 12-episodes, the series is easy to follow and for the most part, fans will find this series to be enjoyable, fun and full of action.  And no doubt, there is a lot of potential for multiple seasons, considering the storyline is ongoing in Japan.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is very good, primarily for the English soundtrack having a 5.1 surround track, while the Japanese track is 2.0 but both are well-acted.  As for special features, you get two audio commentary and the OVA episode, plus promotional videos, commercials and more.

Overall, “Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action.  If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

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Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Originally created by Takeshi Azuma

Directed by Masato Sato

Series Composition by Atsushi Maekawa

Music by Ryuuichi Takada

Character Design by Isao Sugimoto

Art Director: Daiki Kuribayashi

Art Design by Iho Narita

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Anthony Bowling as Jun’ichirō Kagami

Rena Matsui/Mikaela Krantz as Suzune Kagami

Aki Toyosaki/Tia Ballard as Kōtarō Araki

Aya Hirano as Yamato Tōne

Ayahi Takagaki as Tim Berners Lynn

Ayane Sakura as Kisaki Tenjōin/Sachiko Tanaka

Azusa Tadokoro/Dawn M. Bennett as Kiriko Shikishima

Daisuke Namikawa/Eric Vale as Hell Gates

Kana Hanazawa/Lindsay Seidel as Reiko Mukyō

M.A.O/Alexis Tipton as Madoka Kuramachi

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Kanon Chinami

Risa Taneda/Kristi Yang as Matome Nishikujō

Risae Matsuda/Felecia Angelle as Taki Komiya

Saori Ōnishi/Caitlin Glass as Makina Momozono

Satsumi Matsuda/Bryn Apprill as Nagaru Komiya

Shiina Natsukawa/Leah Clark as Moemi Kushinada

Sora Amamiya/Sarah Wiedenheft as Minako Kanō

Suzuko Mimori/Jad Saxton as Koyomi Hiiragi

Tomoko Tsuzuki/Terri Doty as Kazuya Momozono


Junichiro Kagami is on his sister’s last nerve. Despite his genius and scientific accomplishments, he’s spent most of his adult life cooped up inside, surrounded by anime and manga, working on trivial things like a blog. But now, it’s time for him to get a real job! His reason for being such a bum? He suffers from YD: a debilitating illness that means he can only do things he yearns to do. Tired of this lame excuse, his sister gets him a job doing something he’d never expect teaching!

Teaching is the last thing Kagami yearns to do, at least until he comes across the various problems his students face outside of the classroom. Between their quirky dreams, serious attitude problems, and surprising secrets, Junichiro is definitely in for some far-out lessons.

What he teaches these kids will be beyond the books!


In 2011, mangaka Takeshi Azuma created the manga series “Denpa Kyoshi” (which translates to “electromagnetic-wave teacher”).

As the series is still ongoing in Japan, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures in 2015 and now the anime will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series is directed by Masato Sato (“Explorer Woman Ray”, “Silent Mobius”, “Montana Jones”), script by Atsushi Maekawa (“Digimon Adventure”, “Bakugan Battle Brawlers”, “Dragon Ball Z”), music by Ryuuichi Takada (“Idolm@ster”, “Dusk maiden of Amnesia”), character design by Isao Sugimoto (“Bakuon!!”, “Kemeko Deluxe!”, “Maze”) and background art by Daiki Kuribayashi (“Show By Rock!!”, “Code: Breaker”, “Chaos;Child”).

The anime series introduces us to Jun’ichiro Kagami, a 24-year-old mega-otaku who rather work on his anime blog.  But while a big otaku, Jun’ichiro was once an intelligent physics major who published a paper that would make headwaves in the scientific world when he was 17.  And Jun’ichiro was scouted to work at one of the most important research centers in the world.  But when he wanted to create the “Anywhere Door” that allows teleportation, he became ridiculed by academics and so far, his efforts to dispute his critics have failed and he hasn’t developed the technology to create it.

So, Jun’ichiro decudes that he suffers from “YD” and only wants to work that he yearns to do and not do anything else.  And that is be a hardcore otaku.

But his younger sister Suzune is tired of him staying at home and not making a living, and because she is responsible for the family finances, she forces her brother to get a job.  Or else she will beat him up.

So, Jun’ichiro takes up a job to become a teacher at Hiiragi Academy and help students and teach students his own way.  So, he can balance his teaching job (doing things his way) and also focus on his otaku lifestyle.

But can he teach these students with his otaku style?


VIDEO:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing.  A vibrant anime series from A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Chapter 3 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips, Mikaela Krantz (voice of Suzune Kagami), Jad Saxton (voice of Koyomi Hiiragi) and Anthony Bowling (voice of Junichiro Kagami).
  • Chapter 9 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips and voice talents Apphia Yu (voice of Kisaki Tenjoin/Sachiko Tanaka), Jarrod Greene  (voice of Seijuro Nanami) and Tia Ballard (voice of Kotaro Araki).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Ultimate Otaku Teacher”.

EXTRAS:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


What happens when you get a former intelligent academic student turned hardcore otaku and make him a teacher and allow him to teach his students with his otaku style?

This is the story of Jun’ichiro Kagami, a hardcore otaku who has kept away from working professionally because he wants a job which he can be himself.

Unfortunately, not many jobs are open to that until Koyomi Hiiragi, chairman of Icho Academy who wants Japan to be a more amusing place.  Having spied and followed Jun’ichiro, she feels that his teaching methods, no matter how absurd they may be, can teach the students at the Academy.

Each episode features how Jun’ichiro helps out a student.  For example, Jun’ichiro has to help a delinquent named Seijuro Nanami (who left school because his father, a disgraced baseball player is in heavy debt) and to help him, he challenges him to a game of soccer.

Another episode features Jun’ichiro trying to help his sister’s friend Kanan Chinami, a woman who has a voice of an anime character.  Embarrassed by this, she stops talking and only communicates via text.  So, Jun’ichiro must find a way to get Kanan to finally talk.

In another episode, Jun’ichiro finds out his partner Luce, who he plays online via the MMORPG Uroboros is a boy named Kotaro Araki who is an anti-social cross-dresser and prefers to look like a girl.  But Kotaro is afraid of how people in school may think of him because he prefers to be a cross-dresser, so Jun’ichiro must find a way to get Kotaro to not be afraid to reveal himself to his classmates.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio for both Japanese and English soundtracks are 2.0 DTS-HD MA.  For special features, you get two audio commentary.

Overall, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” is an anime series that may be compared to “Assassination Classroom”, teachers who have their own way of teaching their own students, students who are truant or have major problems at school.  Where “Assassination Classroom” is more action-packed and driven by the fact the students must grow in order to assassinate their alien teacher who plans to destroy the planet, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is about an otaku teacher who loves his anime, video games and figurines.

While he is obsessed with otaku duties, the fact that he is given an opportunity to teach at an Academy and be himself is a major plus to him.  So, using his love for video games, anime, etc. allows him to reach out to these troubled students.

It will be interesting to see how the series develops overtime.  If the focus is about a teacher helping out his students with each episode, that is something that can get quite old.    So, I hope that the storyline shows some dramatic elements and doesn’t become too banal episode after episode.

If anything the series has elements of what people tend to enjoy in an anime series.  From having an otaku protagonist, a tsundere sister and students who are helped by Jun’ichiro’s otaku ways, may it be through video games or something really weird or awkward, he manages to get the job done.

Overall, if you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” a try!

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The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series. If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 14-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king?  Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


As Arslan and his companions continue their journey and to find people to fight alongside with them, they meet Prince Rajendra who is competing with his older brother Prince Gadevi who is also from the Kingdom of Sindhura and both are fighting for power.

As Arslan plans to team up with Prince Rajendra, they are provided a Sindhuran guide name Jaswant.  But Prince Gadevi is planning his attack against Rajendra.  Who will become victorious?

Also, Xandes must take on Daryun for the Battle of the “Keep of Saint Emmanuel”.

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 features the following special features:

  • Chapter XVI Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Ian Sinclair (voice of Prince Rajendra), J. Michael Tatum (voice of Prince Gadevi) and Marcus Stimek (voice of Jaswant).
  • Chapter XXIV Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Vic Mignona (voice of Hilmes) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2” features the ongoing journey of Arslan and his companions, this latest volume features how Arslan meets Prince Rajendra and together, they join forces to take on Prince Gadevi, Rajendra’s older brother.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask.  And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

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Maria the Virgin Witch (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is an entertaining anime series that manages to balance action, comedy and drama with efficacy. It’s a short anime series but nevertheless, a damn good one. “Maria the Virgin Witch” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Masayuki Ishikawa – KODANSHA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Maria the Virgin Witch

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese 2.0 and 5.1 TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: September 27, 2016


Originally created by Masayuki Ishikawa

Director: Goro Taniguchi

Series Composition by Hideyuki Kurata

Script by Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Masato Koda

Character Design by Yuriko Chiba

Art Director:  Shigemi Ikeda

Anime Production: Production I.G.


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Alexis Tipton as Maria

Ai Kakuma/Lara Woodhull as Anne

Bin Shimada/Barry Yandell as Guillaume

Kana Hanazawa/Leah Clark as Ezekiel

Kensho Ono/Austin Tindle as Joseph

Kenta Miyake/Jeremy Inman as Yvain

Kikuko Inoue/Caitlin Glass as Michael

Mamiko Noto/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Viv

Mikako Komatsu/Jerry Jewell as Priapos

Miyuki Ichijou/Linda Leonard as Martha

Natsuki Hanae/Joel McDonald as Gilbert

Sachiko Kojima/Alex Moore as Lolotte

Takahiro Sakurai/Sonny Strait as Bernard

Yōko Hikasa/Whitney Rodgers as Artemis


Don’t miss this intriguing tale of magic, war, and sexual politics from Production I.G., the studio that brought you Eden of the East, FLCL, and Ghost in the Shell! In the time of the Hundred Years’ War, a young and powerful witch known as Maria leads a reclusive existence. Shunned by the church – but beloved by a few locals – Maria endeavors to use her magic to bring an end to the warfare she so despises. Using her magical ability, she aids humanity alongside her two familiars: a seductive succubus and an incubus who’s a little incomplete. Though she seeks only peace, the archangel Michael despises the way she uses magic to interfere with human affairs and decrees that should she ever manage to lose her virginity, her powers will vanish! To ensure that Maria no longer mixes magic with warfare, Michael sends the angel Ezekiel to keep a watchful eye on the virgin witch. In theory, his plan is sound. But keeping a fiery young woman bound by the rules of a higher power might prove too daunting even for an ever-vigilant angel.


In 2008, Masayuki Ishikawa (creator of the manga series “Moyashimon”) created the manga series “Junketsu no Maria” (which translates to “Maria the Virgin”).

With three volumes created, an anime adaptation was created by Production I.G. from January through March 2015.

The series is directed by Goro Taniguchi (“Active Raid”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Infinite Ryvius”), screenplay by Hideyuki Kurata (“Android Ana Maico 2010”, “Bamboo Blade”, “Dragon Crisis!”, “Kamichu!”), music by Masato Koda (“Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen”, “Arpeggio of Blue Steel”), character designs by Yuriko Chiba (“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Brave Story”, “Berserk”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Black Cat”, “Basilisk”, “Bastard!!”, “Afro Samurai”).

And now the anime series has been released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The anime series is set in France during the Hundred Years’ War between the House of Plantagenet (rulers of the Kingdom of England) against the House of Valois (rulers of the Kingdom of France).

Tired of the warring nations and deaths, Maria, a virgin witch uses her succubus and incubus familiars to manipulate the opposing factions and using large-scale illusions in order to help the people and maintain peace.

While witches are seen as heretics, because of Maria’s ideal of helping people, she becomes to be appreciated (and depended on) by villagers but the Church brands her as heretic because she denounces God.

While Maria questions when she will lose her virginity, thanks to the people around her that keeps wondering if she will ever lose it, Maria starts to wonder if she will ever lose her virginity.

Meanwhile, the Archangel Michael has heard of what Maria has done and is upset that she interfered with human affairs and makes the declaration that if she loses her virginity, she will lose her magical powers.  He also forbids her from using any magic and sends an angel named Ezekiel to watch over her.

But when more fighting begins to happen again, Maria wants to interfere to stop the fighting.  But will she?  Or will she try to keep to herself?

The main characters of “Maria the Virgin Witch” are”

  • Maria – A very powerful witch who doesn’t like to see people fighting and killing each other.  So, she interferes to the chagrin of the Church and Archangel Michael.
  • Artemis – Maria’s succubus familiar who often teases Maria for her virginity.
  • Priapus – Maria’s incubus familiar who lacks a penis because Maria doesn’t know what it looks like.
  • Ezekiel – An angel sent by Archangel Michael to watch over Maria and that she doesn’t uses her power.  She begins to sympathize with Maria.
  • Joseph – Serves under Guillaume and is in love with Maria.  He is a virgin and is always there for her.
  • Garfa – A mercenary of the French army who is upset with Maria and wants revenge for her interference (and for losing an arm).

VIDEO:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is presented in 1080p High Definition. While I haven’t read the manga to know if the character designs are inspired from the manga, I will say that compared to other Production I.G. series, the character designs are much simpler in terms of line art but the background art is well-detailed.  Colors are vibrant but like most TV series, there is a slight softness.  But for the most part, animation is well-done and Production I.G. did a great job animating this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Maria the Virgin” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring director Sonny Strait (voice of Bernard), voice actress Alexis Tipton (voice of Maria) and Austin Tindle (voice of Joseph).
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring director Sonny Strait (voice of Bernard), voice actor Chris Rager (voice of Galfa) and Leah Clark (voice of Ezekiel).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • US Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for the series.


I have to admit that I was surprised that Masayuki Ishikawa’s “Junketsu no Maria” would receive an anime adaptation, because only three volumes of the manga series have been created.

But considering that popularity of the manga series, the chapters created are enough for a full season and the response for the anime series has been quite positive.

For one, it’s a unique storyline that takes place during the Hundred Years’ War and involves a powerful witch who is good and wants peace, a powerful archangel and the Church and its belief that all witches are heretics and for the most part, how religious beliefs can cause issues between those who support Maria, but at the same time, do not want to risk their status or their family status by supporting a witch.

Throw in other characters and of course, comedy that teases Maria of her virginity and what you get is a action-packed comedy at first, but then the series suddenly becomes more serious and dramatic when Maria loses her powers and the Church captures her and wants to imprison her as a heretic.

For the most part, while I don’t know the differences between the manga and the anime, I will say that “Maria the Virgin Witch” manages to have an ending that is quite fitting.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is colorful and dialogue and music are crystal clear.  Voice acting is magnificent and for special features, you get two audio commentaries, textless opening and endings and trailers.  Just make sure you listen to the first audio commentary because it’s one of the more wilder (and enjoyable) audio commentaries I have heard in my life… poor Alexis Tipton.

Overall, “Maria the Virgin Witch” is an entertaining anime series that manages to balance action, comedy and drama with efficacy.  It’s a short anime series but nevertheless, a damn good one.

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is recommended!

 

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God Eater Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (166 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 28, 2016


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma

 


In the early 2050s, unknown life forms called “Oracle Cells” began their uncontrolled consumption of all life on Earth. Their ravenous appetite and remarkable adaptability earned them first dread, then awe, and finally the name Aragami, the “Mad Gods.” In the face of an enemy completely immune to conventional weapons, urban civilization collapsed, and each day humanity was driven further and further toward extinction.

The year is now 2071… the domain of the mad gods lies here in the Far East.

One single ray of hope remains for humanity. Following the development of “God Arcs” — living weapons which incorporate Oracle Cells — their wielders are organized into an elite force.

In a world ravaged by mad gods, these “God Eaters” fight a desperate war…


In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami.  But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki.  And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eatrs, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc.  But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella.  Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

Can these two New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 00 – (23:43)  This is the “God Eater Burst Prologue” featuring the prologue and interview with the game production staff.  The OVA features God Eater Soma joining Fenrir with Lindow and Tsubaki.  The OVA takes place six years before “God Eater Burst”.
  • God Eater Extra 01 – (23:26) Featuring an interview with the anime production crew of ufotable.
  • God Eater Extra 02 – (23:23) Featuring interviews with the musical composer, Go Shiina and the music artists.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 32-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami.  And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are.  How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

Needless to say, the first half of the series leaves people with many questions but no doubt setting up for an action-packed second half, which hopefully gives us answers to why the Aragami exist?  But also, how Lenka and Allisa develop throughout the course of the series.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded.  The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic.  Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the prologue OVA and crew interviews included in the special features plus a 32-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting.  Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back.  But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

 

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Charlotte: Volume 2 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX, INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-15 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


For the sake of his siblings, and to save every ability-wielder on Earth, Yu makes a certain decision. It is a choice that provides salvation to all of them, but at the same time, it is a choice that makes him pay a huge price in return.


In order to help people Yuu must make a major decision in order to save the people he cares about?  At the cost of his own memories or life.

Find out what happens to Yuu and friends in the final volume of “Charlotte”.

What is “Charlotte” about?

In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka. He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal. One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating. So, he is requested to retake the exam. When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?

In the second half of the series, Yuu starts to react over the music of the band, Zhiend.  Meanwhile, as Yuu’s memories start to come back, Yuu and his sister are approached by someone close to them that they thought was dead.

And Yuu learns a major lesson of how others want to manipulate those with special abilities.


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds. He lives with his younger sister Ayumu. After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power. He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic. She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds. Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello. Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline. She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance. She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school. She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand). She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

“Charlotte” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors!

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlotte” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Special Episode: The Strong Ones – A full OVA episode that takes place between episodes 3 and 5 and features  Yuu and Nao meeting up with a telepath named Iori Sekiguchi.
  • English Bloopers – (5:21) Featuring outtakes from the English dub sessions.
  • English Trailer
  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • Web Previews

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase featuring a box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer), a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer) and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape. And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

Meanwhile, the second half features Yuu discovering how people aim to manipulate those with special abilities.  To dissect them, to torture them and use them as experiments.  In order to save those with special abilities, Yuu will need to make a major decision in order to save them but that means losing his memories of those dear to him.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated. The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far. P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included. Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack. And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with a special OVA episode, four postcards and box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer) and a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer).

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

 

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