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Puzzle & Dragons X Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Puzzle & Dragons Part X Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Director: Hajime Kamegaki

Series Composition: Dai Sato

Music by Kousuke Yamashita

Character Design: Yukiko Akiyama

Art Director: Akihito Ougiyama, Masanobu Nomura

Art Design: Toshiki Amada

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Chika Sakamoto/Tia Ballard as Devi

Takuto Yoshinaga/Josh Grelle as Ace

Tetsuya Kakihara/Justin Briner as Lance

Tomoko Kaneda/Alexis Tipton as Tamazō

Akeno Watanabe/Jamie Marchi as Herriot

Anri Katsu/Clifford Chapin as Tiger

Aya Hisakawa/Sara Ragsdale as Rena

Chisa Yokoyama/Greg Ayres as Sturgeon Jr.

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Stephen Sanders as Donny

Junko Minagawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Dafnes

Keiji Himeno as Yamaki

Marina Inoue/Dawn M. Bennett as Hal

Minoru Inaba/Charles Campbell as Vahaton

Miyuki Sawashiro/Monica Rial as Morgan

Takahiro Mizushima/Micah Solusod as Torlie

Tomokazu Sugita/Ian Sinclair as Nyudo

Wakana Yamazaki/Trina Nishimura as Eldora


Ace is an average boy until he hears his name being called by a mysterious egg. The egg leads him to discover the existence of Dragon Callers, humans who tame monsters into allies in their fight against evil. Does this average boy have what it takes to become one?


In 2012, Japanese video game company GungHo Online Entertainment created “Puzzle & Dragons” for the iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

The company would follow up with the game “Puzzle & Dragons X” (pronounced as “Puzzle & Dragons Cross”) for the Nintendo 3DS.  But to help promote the game, an anime adaptation was released a few weeks earlier by anime studio, Pierrot.

With a total of 66 episodes created and is still ongoing in Japan, “Puzzle & Dragons X” has been released on Blu-ray/DVD in North America with the first 13 episodes included in Part One of “Puzzle & Dragons X”.

The setting of “Puzzle & Dragons X” is in the land of Dragonzola and there are those destined to become Dragon Callers, mediators between humanity and nature.

The Dragon Callers can tame powerful monsters and control them through the use of Drops.  One day, the great dragon caller known as King disappeared and no one has heard of him since.

But his child Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller but he has a long way to go.  One day he discovers an egg and it happens to be a tamadra known as Tamazo.  Thought to be extinct, the only other tamadra is the arrogant yet loyal Devi, the partner of Lance, a mysterious and uncaring draganoid, who is on a mission.

When Ace starts to show he can control drops, he makes the decision to go on a journey to become a Dragon Caller and learn how to summon dragons and one day pass the training in order to become a Guild Dragon caller.

Along the way, he meets Charo, a man who keeps information on monsters and in-battle occurrences but also wanting to become a Dragon Caller.  A lot of people thinks he is a girl but he is actually a boy and together with Ace, they want to grow stronger.

And to their annoyance, they are sometimes accompanied by a Dragon Caller named Garnet, who is stubborn but yet dreams of becoming an idol.

Will Ace & Charo pass the test and become Guild Dragon Callers?


VIDEO:

“Puzzle & Dragon X” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The animation is vibrant and colorful.  Animation is well-done for this children’s anime series and for the most part, I saw no signs of artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Puzzle & DragonX” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.   The English soundtrack has a 5.1 soundtrack, while the Japanese has lossless stereo but for the most part, the lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


When it comes to anime series that are adaptations from a video game, you have your good series and your bad.  With the popularity of “Puzzle & Dragons”, the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS video game has no doubt lent to the popularity of the series in Japan.

With colorful characters and cute dragons, there is no doubt that many people had made comparisons to “Pokemon” and while the premise are almost the similar, with Pokemon about one wanting to become the best Pokemon trainer and going on adventures to become stronger and better, the same can be said with “Puzzle & Dragons X” as Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller and goes on adventures with numerous people.

The main difference is that there are mysterious characters and powerful Dragon Callers who assist or guide Ace and friends to become better and lead them on a path to hopefully pass their exam to become Guild Dragon Callers.  But it’s not going to be easy as Ace along with Tamazo and Charo will need to learn a lot with their interactions with people and find ways to be better.

So far, the first 13 episodes are entertaining and while rated TV PG, the series is no doubt an anime series targeted for children.  You have battles (instead of monsters vs. monsters, you often see people battling each other with their monsters and unlike Pokemon, the Dragon Caller can get hurt) and you have rude monsters but for the most part, there is nothing about this series that parents should worry too much about as the series is good-natured.

The anime series is vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and lossless soundtrack is well-acted for both the English dub and the Japanese soundtrack.  Unfortunately, there are no significant special features than the banal textless opening and closing songs.

Overall, “Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

 

Occultic;Nine vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-6 (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Originally Created by Chiyomaru Shikura

Original Character Design by pako

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition: Junpei Morita

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design: Tomoaki Takase

Art Director: Hisayo Usui

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Faye Mata as Ryoka Narusawa

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Scott Kimerer as Yūta Gamon

Hitomi Yoshida/Kayli Mills as Miyū Aikawa

Houchu Ohtsuka as Takasu

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Draymond as Sarai Hashigami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Ben Diskin as Kōhei Izumi

Kishō Taniyama as Kiryū Kusakabe

Mamiko Noto/Michelle Ruff as Ririka Nishizono

Maria Naganawa/Xanthe Huynh as Chizu Kawabata

Miyuki Sawashiro as Aria Kurenaino

Satomi Akesaka as Asuna Kizaki

Shizuka Itou as Tōko Sumikaze

Tetsuya Kakihara as Shun Moritsuka


From the creator of “Steins;Gate”, a new adventure surrounding the occult is about to begin!

Yuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “Kiri Kiri Basara,” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “hack and slash away!” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint.

However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.


Back in 2014, Chiyomaru Shikura (best known for creating “Steins;Gate”) created a new Japanese light novel series titled “Occultic;Nine”.

A 12-episode anime adaptation produced by A-1 Pictures aired in October-December 2016 and now, the anime series will be released in North America courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

The anime series is directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Kujira no Kora wa Sajo ni Utau”, “Lance N’ Masques”, “Psycho-Pass”), series composition by Junpei Morita, music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Arakawa Under the Bridge”, “Love and Lies”, “Fate/Apocrypha”), character design by Tomoaki Takase and background art by Hisayo Usui (“AKB0048”, “Angel Beats!”, “Fairy Tail”).

The series begins with Yuta sitting in a cafe while trying to find out how to increase visits to his website, which posts news and stories about the occult in Japan.

Yuta and his friend Ryoka Narusawa watch fortune-teller and classmate Miyu Aikawa on a TV commercial and decide that if they interview her for the website, it may boost traffic for the website.   Miyu decides to join the two and interestingly, things start to go awry in the area as an occult magazine received a manuscript from Professor Hashigami and an older woman, which can’t be his mother, because she is dead.  Meanwhile, a woman named Aria Kurenaino helps a customer curse someone to death and next thing you know, she discovers a bloody scalp in her mailbox.

Meanwhile, as Yuta goes to visit Professor Hashigami for an interview, he discovers Hashigami’s corpse.  And he leaves the word “CODE” with his own blood before dying?  What can that mean?

In another situation, Miyu receives calls from a person trying to prove that she is a fake fortune-teller.  When she receives a call from a person named Sarai, she sees visions of him standing over his dead father’s body and she begs him to visit her father.

Also, a tragic mass suicide has taken place at Inokashira Park on the news.  What could have led to all these people to kill themselves? Hypnotism?  Or something more sinister?


VIDEO:

“Occultic;Nine” is presented in 1080p High Definition. A-1 Productions is one of the most well-known anime production studios that are known for creating quality anime series.  And for “Occultic;Nine”, the backgrounds are highly detailed and look realistic.  Character designs are magnificent and for the most part, the detailed, painted backgrounds compliment the colorful animation.

It’s important to note that this is a TV series, so there is a slight hint of softness.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Occultic;Nine” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM.  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with a slipcase illustrated by character designer Tomoaki Takase, a 20-page deluxe booklet and six illustration pin-up cards.


When it comes Chiyomaru Shikura, one can look at his work with 5pb. Inc. and Mages. Inc.  He is known for the concepts and overseeing the creations of “Steins;Gate”, “Chaos;Head”, “Robotics;Notes” and “Anonymous;Code” but “Occultic;Nine” was specifically written by Chiyomura Shikura.

The series has an interesting concept.  You have a teenage NEET named Yuta Gamon who runs the blog “Kiri Kiri Basara” which features news and discussion about the occult and he is wanting to drive up traffic to his website.

His good friend, the cheerful (and enormously well-endowed Ryoka Narusawa) is known for carrying a stun-gun (that looks like a toy ray gun) is always wanting to support Yuta and together, they decide to bring in popular fortune teller Miyu Aikawa to join the blog.

And as Yuta wants to keep the traffic up on his site, he (moreso, his female friends) wants to bring in other people for interviews that may drive up even more traffic to the website and his first choice is to interview Professor Hashigami.

Unfortunately, when he goes to visit the professor, Yuta finds his dead body and there are signs of foul play and a mysterious word, “CODE” written in blood by the professor.

Meanwhile, deal with Ria Minase (a delusional girl who lived with her brother and was not aware that he has been dead and she was living with his corpse), a person named Aria Kurenaino who helped put a curse on someone for that person’s death and who is this mystery caller named Sarai, that keeps calling Miyu and trying to disprove her as a fortune-teller?

So far, the first six episodes are entertaining, dark and humorous.  While some may find the enormously large breasts of Ryoka Narusawa to be overkill, this is no doubt to keep the otaku and fan service lovers who can’t get enough of Ryoka.

But as these first six episodes are more character introducing episodes, the second half will no doubt become even more interesting as Yuta and friends continue their investigation.  What will they discover?

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures did a phenomenal job with the animation and background art.  There are no major special features but the set does come with a 20-page booklet and six illustration cards.  As well as a slipcase.

Overall, “Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

 

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

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Originally Created by Sumihei

Director: Takaomi Kanasaki

Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Maiko luchi

Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe

Art Director: Takashi Ichikura

Art Design: Kazushi Fujii

Anime Production: 8 bit


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Clifford Chapin as Harutora Tsuchimikado

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlin Glass as Natsume Tsuchimikado

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Kon

Ayane Sakura/Jad Saxton as Suzuka Dairenji

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kyoko Kurahashi

Fumi Hirano/Wendy Powell as Miyo Kurahashi

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Tenma Momoe

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jarrod Greene as Reiji Kagami

Hisako Kanemoto/Felecia Angelle as Hokuto/Takiko Sōma

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Jin Ōtomo

Ryohei Kimura/Ian Sinclair as Tōji Ato

Shinya Takahashi as Senjirō Kogure


Harutora may seem like an ordinary guy, but he’s actually a descendant of an ancient and powerful clan of onmyouji. Born without the family talent for magic, he’d always believed he was destined for a normal, boring existence. All that changed the day Natsume, a beautiful face from Harutora’s past, barged back into his life and forever altered the course of his future.


Quite often, there are anime adaptations that are derived from Japanese light novels.  And in 2010, Kohei Azano and illustrator Sumihei created the light novel series “Tokyo Ravens”.

An anime series was released in 2013 and ended in 2014 and in August 2017, “Tokyo Ravens” was released in North America on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series sets up the storyline of how onmyodou magic was a powerful technique used by the Japanese during World War II.  Unfortunately, when onmyoji Yakou Tsuchimikado performed a ritual to bring out Japan as a major force goes wrong and it led to the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan since then.

An Onmyo Agency was developed to monitor supernatural activity and take on spirits or demons that make their way into the world.

Fastforward to this present time in the story where many students learn onmydou magic to utilize their skills in medicine and technology.  Unfortunately for Harutora, a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family, he was born with no spiritual power at all.

But despite coming from a well-known, powerful family, without no spiritual power, he sees his life as meaningless.

He remembers a childhood promise made and one day, he and his friend Touji Ato encounter Hokuto, a girl that Harutora likes and she encourages him to become an onmyo mage.    Meanwhile, he meets his childhood friend Natsume but he accidentally offends her.

As Harutora goes to a festival, Hokuto promises him a kiss if he wins at the festival but out of nowhere, Suzuka Dairenji arrives at the festival and she learns of his true identity, she goes to kiss him and when Hokuto arrives, she is upset to see him receiving a kiss before she can give him one and leaves crying because of it.

One day, while walking home with Natsume, Harutora once again comes across Suzuka and while the Magical Investigation Bureau agents try to stop her and she unleashes her juggernaut.  Harutora tries to save one of the agents but as the juggernaut is about to kill Harutora, Hokuto gets in the way and saves Harutora but is impaled by the mecha juggernaut.

Feeling upset and despondent, Harutora decides to follow the path of becoming an onmyo mage, going to school but also becoming a familiar for Natsume.

How will life go for Harutora now that he plans to focus on school (despite not being that smart) and working together with Natsume to take on various spirits?


VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 8 bit has done a wonderful job with the animation and for the most part, the series looks very good on Blu-ray but like most anime television series, the series does exhibit some softness.  But backgrounds are well-painted, characters are well-shaded and the animation is well done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for the most part.  As for the English dub, for the most part, voice acting is well-done and I have to give major props to voice acting newcomer, Clifford Chapin on doing a magnificent job as the voice of main protagonist, Harutora.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

  • Audio Commentary for Episode 5 by Clifford Chapin, Monica Rial and Ian Sinclair.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 7 by director Colleen Clinkenbeard, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair and Clifford Chapin discussing the duties of a voice actor.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark and Jad Saxton.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 14 – Featuring audio commentary by Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum and Michael Johnson.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 18 by ADR director Zach Bolton, Jad Saxton, Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 23 – Featuring audio commentary by Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle and Jarrod Greene.
  • Kon Explains it All #1-3 – Featuring five minute featurettes (in Japanese with English subtitles) with Kon discussing various characters in the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs
  • U.S. Trailer

“Tokyo Ravens” is an interesting anime that revolves around magic, friendships and love but as Japan has created a plethora of anime series that deal with magic, someone not good at it and eventually becoming stronger to defeat the main antagonist, was this going to be another case of anime banality?

Fortunately, “Tokyo Ravens” is a series that has more going for it thanks to its plot of magical hijinks, crazy characters but also young love which leads to many hilarious situations throughout the series.

The series follows Harutora Tsuchimikado, a son of a major branch family in Japan, the Tsuchimikado Clan but despite being born from a distinguished family known for their onmyouji skills, Harutora has no such skill or magical powers.  He is not smart, many wonder why he’s attending an onmyouji school with no such skills. But he wants to go back to school to find out who was the master of his deceased familiar, Hokuto but also enjoying the friendships he makes along the way.  He has a shikigami silver-fox spirit named Kon who helps him.

He becomes  the familiar for Natsume Tsuchimikado, a childhood friend of Harutora and also from the main family of the Tsuchimikado Clan and is a prodigal onmyouji.  She has come to Harutora’s town in order to make sure he holds up to his childhood promise of becoming her familiar.  Interesting enough, Natsume is assumed to be a reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, the infamous onmyouji who performed a ritual known as “Taizan Fukun Ritual” which was to bring out Japan as a major force but instead, the ritual went wrong and brought the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan ever since.

Because of this, as a family tradition, she must present herself as a male in front of other onmyouji families and that includes attending school as a boy.  And family tradition means everything to her, while not so much for Harutora.

Harutora’s best friend is a former delinquent named Touji Ato, who knows a lot about onmyodo and often helps Harutora at Onmyo Academy.  He was a victim of the Spiritual Disaster and was possessed by an oni which caused the Spiritual Disaster and Harutora’s father helped treat him, despite Touji having the power to become half-Oni.

Meanwhile, causing problems for Harutora and Natsume throughout their time at the Academy is Suzuka Dairenji, the youngest of the 12 Divine Generals and wants to revive her brother with the Taizan Fukun Ritual.  She and her brother were experimented on by her father before and after their birth in order to create an excellent onmyouji.

The first half of the series is humorous and lighthearted and the series does a wonderful job of focusing on character development but also featuring many character interactions and developing relationships.  It’s what makes the series captivating and not being just a banal magical/action-driven anime series.

While the second half becomes more serious and darker, as it involves the Twin Horn Syndicate, A spirit disaster taking place at the Onmyo Agency branch office and a major death!

What will happen to Harutora and friends during the time of a new spirit disaster but also an ominous threat looming?

I have to say that the first half of the series kept me captivated but by the second half, the mood’s all changed (which is common in anime series) but I felt the second half became a bit more convoluted.   I like the fact that the series focused so much on character development but by the time you start caring for these characters, you are thrust into a different type of storyline for the second half, especially towards the end of the series that grows darker, becomes a bit more complex and for the most part, it went from something that had great potential to an average anime series at the end.

But I did like numerous audio and video commentaries included on this Blu-ray/DVD set of “Tokyo Ravens” and while it is a bit banal, fortunately there is a lot of character development in this series that made watching the series worthwhile.

Overall, “Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

 

Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ushio & Tora Complete TV Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-39 (975 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 29, 2017


Originally Created by Kazuhiro Fujita

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Series Composition: Kazuhiro Fujita, Toshiki Inoue

Music by Eishi Segawa

Character Design: Tomoko Mori

Art Director: Tomoyuki Shimizu

Animation Director: Mika Takahashi, Tomoko Mori

Director of Photography: Uehama Makishi, Yuuya Kumazawa

Anime Production: MAPPA, Studio VOLN


Featuring the following voice talent:

Rikiya Koyama/Brett Weaver as Tora

Tasuku Hatanaka/David Matranga as Ushio Aotsuki

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Omamori-sama

Ai Satou as Oyakume-sama

Aki Toyosaki /Brittney Karbowski as Yū Hiyama

Ayahi Takagaki/Emily Neves as Jun Moritsuna

Daisuke Namikawa/David Wald as Hyō

Fumiko Orikasa as Mikado Hizaki

Hidekatsu Shibata as Nigira

Kana Hanazawa/Carli Mosier as Jie Mei

Keiji Fujiwara as Shigure Aotsuki

Kiyono Yasuno as Mayuko Inoue

Maaya Sakamoto/Emily Neves as Sumako Aotsuki

Mamoru Miyano/John Gremellion as Giryō

Masaki Terasoma as Kyōji Atsuzawa

Megumi Han/Blake Shepard as Kirio

Megumi Hayashibara as Hakumen no Mono

Mikako Komatsu/Allison Sumrall as Asako Nakamura

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Wittels as Hinowa Sekimori

Nao Nagasawa as Izuna

Risa Shimizu/Patricia Duran as Kagari

Ryota Ohsaka/Clifford Chapin as Satoru Moritsuna

Shinichiro Miki/Jay Hickman as Raishin

Toshio Furukawa as Yamanmoto

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ian Sinclair as Nagare Akiba

Yui Makino/Kira Vincent-Davis as Reiko Hanyū

Yuuka Nanri/Tiffany Grant as Saya Takatori

Yuuki Kaji/John Gremillion as Jūrō


Ushio always ignored his father’s crazy tales about the temple where they live. All that talk of restless souls and vicious monsters are nothing more than stories, right? However, Ushio quickly rethinks his position when he discovers a locked basement with an actual demon pinned to the wall by a spear! The tiger-striped demon threatens to eat Ushio if he doesn’t free him, so Ushio naturally chooses to ignore him. However, when the demon’s presence starts to attract others, Ushio is forced to remove the spear to save himself. To make a bad situation even worse, freeing the demon, Tora, also bonds Ushio to the cursed Beast Spear, sending him on a journey where unspeakable dangers await. The battle is only beginning for these unlikely partners!


Back in 1990, Kazuhiro Fujita created the manga series “Ushio and Tora”.

So popular the series came to be, it received an anime adaptation via three OVA series from 1992-1993.  In 2015, a 30-episode animated TV series was produced by MAPPA and Studio VOLN and now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Ushio Aotsuki, the son of a temple priest and a lady shaman. He’s also a kid who stands up for his friends and can have a temper.

One day, while cleaning up books in the store room, he finds a door and when he opens it and goes inside, he discovers a tiger-like Yokai named Tora.  He also sees a spear that has held the yokai in place and Tora tries to get Ushio to remove it.  But when he tells Ushio that he would eat him and eat all humans, Ushio decides not to help him (even going so far as to kick the spear in place several times).

But when Tora’s aura starts to leak from the wounded area, yokai’s escape into the real world and the only way he can defeat these yokai is with Tora’s help, so Ushio removes the spear off of Tora.  But when Tora tells him that he will not help, Ushio starts to get angry while holding the spear and his hair grows very long, scaring Tora.  It also means that he was destined to wield the Beast Spear.

But the two make an agreement, after they rid of the yokai, Ushio will allow Tora to eat him.

So now, Ushio and Tora work together to stop the yokai that threaten humans.  But are all yokai bad?  And how will the relationship between Ushio and Tora evolve as they continue to work together?

Ushio also goes on an adventure while tracking down Yokai to know more about his mother and why the yokai are after him specifically.

Ushio & Tora features the following characters:

  • Ushio Aotsuki – A kind-hearted individuals who stands up for his friends and can have a bit of a temper.  He values all life and friendships and his kindness helps bridge together humans and yokai.
  • Tora – A tiger-like yokai who was pinned in the basement of Ushio’s temple.  He was once known as Nagatobimaru and was feared.  At first he hated humans but being around Ushio and friends, he is amazed to see how lifestyle has changed among humans and starts to enjoy parts of modern society, especially for hamburgers.
  • Asako Nakamura – Ushio and Mayuko’s friend.  She and Ushio grew up with each other and both care deeply about each other, despite her having more of a temper than Ushio.  Her family runs a ramen restaurant.
  • Mayuko Inoue – A friend of Ushio and Asako.  She cares for both Ushio and Asako.  She also cares for Tora and often buys him hamburgers and she may have Shaman abilities.
  • Shigure Aotsuki – Ushio’s father, who is often stern but also keeps a secret from his son of what he does behind-the-scenes.
  • Reiko Hanyuu – An orphan who’s father was very overprotective and became an oni, so any boys that try to get close to her are in danger.  As she tries to commit suicide, only Ushio can help her father realize what he is doing is hurting his daughter.  After being free, she becomes friends with Ushio and friends.
  • Hyou – A powerful Chinese exorcist who has come to Japan to seek out the yokai who killed his wife and daughter and took out his right eye and left scars on his face.  The yokai is believed by Hyou to be Tora.
  • Jie Mei – A sprit guardian who lives in the Beast Spear who sacrificed her life to create the blade of the spear.
  • Giryo – The brother of Jie Mei, a blacksmith who went insane when he couldn’t prevent his sister’s sacrifice.  His anger, remorse and regret is built and trapped in the shaft of the beast spear.
  • Yu Hiyama – A girl whose father was a pilot who died in an airplane crash due to a Fusama yokai.  She has always blamed her father’s friend Atsuzawa but when Ushio shows her the truth, she learns to forgive and help out Ushio and Tora.
  • Saya Takatori – A descendent of the white-haired women who maintain the success of the Takatori household by appeasing the childlike spirit Omamori.
  • Hinowa Sekimori – A tough and cold girl who was one of the four chosen to control the Beast Spear and she rejects Ushio for possessing it for being undisciplined and reckless.

VIDEO:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Even back when I watched the initial OVA, I was always impressed of how the animation was true to the manga illustrations of Kazuhiro Fujita.  The TV Series also captures that style with its unique character design, battle animation and for the most part, the anime series looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Ushio & Tora” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear but as I love the voice acting by Rikiya Koyama as Tora and Tasuku Hatanaka as Ushio, the English dub is very well-done and Brett Weaver does a great job in portraying Tora, as with David Matranga as the voice of Ushio.

Definitely one of the better English dubbed soundtracks for a Sentai Filmworks series on Blu-ray this year!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” comes with no special features.

 


Back in 1993, J!-ENT was founded and in our first year, one of the earlier anime series I reviewed was an OAV episode of “Ushio & Tora”.  I felt the series had tremendous potential and many people watching it at an anime club were supportive and excited each time a new OAV was release.

But that was the early-to-mid ’90s and haven’t heard anything until 20-years-later and an animated series was created courtesy of Mappa and Studio VOLN and what an awesome series “Ushio & Tora” came to be.

The television series featured more characters, more action and was able to capture the friendships that Ushio and Tora encountered through their adventures but most importantly, capturing a lot of the emotion, a lot of the action and featuring wonderful animation and voice acting.

The storyline about a human, a teenager named Ushio and a yokai named Tora (who wants to eat Ushio) in an alliance that first turns out to be like oil and water and both are not really getting a long.  But through working together, learning from each other and becoming friends, they are able to develop a relationship that works.  And while Ushio and Tora are able to take on many yokai, a bit easily in the first half of the series, by the second half, things become more dire as tons of yokai are now after Ushio and Tora and his friends do all they can to protect humanity.

With the release of “Ushio & Tora” on Blu-ray, watching it in Japanese and also with the English dub soundtrack, both soundtracks are wonderful.  And the voice acting in English is possibly one of the best I have listened to this year.  Mappa and Studio VOLN did a wonderful job with the animation and picture quality is vibrant and colorful.

Overall, “Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is for those who love action-driven anime series.  Series with a lot of heart, humor and violence.  It’s the heard of “Ushio & Tora”, a battle between humans and monsters and one human and one monsters doing all they can to protect humanity against all odds.  And with all 39-episodes collected for a great price, this Blu-ray release is definitely worth purchasing!

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

 

Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This set is magnificent. You get nearly all the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and the three films collected in one set, in high definition and for a great price. If you are a “Ranma 1/2” fan, the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection Edition

DURATION: 11 OVA’s and 3 Movies

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV14

Release Date: September 19, 2017


Original Creator: Rumiko Takahashi

Movie #1

Director: Iku Suzuki

Screenplay by Ryota Yamaguchi

Music by Akihisa Matsuura

Character Design: Atsuko Nakajima

Art Director: Chitose Asakura, Torao Arai

Animation Director: Atsuko Nakajima

Director of Photography: Mitsunobu Yoshida

Anime Production: Studio DEEN


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sarah Strange as Ranma Saotome(Male)

Megumi Hayashibara/Venus Terzo as Ranma Saotome(Female)

Noriko Hidaka/Myriam Sirois as Akane Tendou

Hiromi Tsuru/Kelly Sheridan as Ukyou Kuonji

Hirotaka Suzuoki/Ted Cole as Tatewaki Kunoh

Ichirô Nagai/Paul Dobson as Happousai

Kenichi Ogata/Robert O. Smith as Genma

Kikuko Inoue/Willow Johnson as Kasumi Tendou

Kouichi Yamadera/Michael Donovan as Ryouga Hibiki

Minami Takayama/Angela Costain as Nabiki Tendou

Miyoko Asou/Elan Ross Gibson as Cologne

Rei Sakuma/Cathy Weseluck as Shampoo

Ryunosuke Ohbayashi/David Kaye as Souun Tendou

Saeko Shimazu/Teryl Rothery as Kodachi Kunoh

Tatsuyuki Jinnai/Scott McNeil as Principal Kunoh

Toshihiko Seki/Brad Swaile as Mousse

Yuji Mitsuya/Ian James Corlett as Ono Toufuu-sensei (Dr. Tofu)

Mitsuaki Madono/Alessandro Juliani as Prince Toma

Issei Futamata/Gerard Plunkett as Toristan

Nobuo Tobita/Paul Dobson as Sarutoru


Ranma 1/2 OVA and Movie Collection Limited Edition contains 11 OVA episodes and 3 theatrical movies plus a 32-page booklet and a premium foil stamped chipboard box.

Ranma, the iconic creation of master artist Rumiko Takahashi, is back for new adventures and more than a few misunderstandings along the way! From mishaps at a holiday party to casual use of mystical trinkets to possession by cursed dolls, what’s in store for Ranma is anyone’s guess in these original anime adventures. Along with the formerly video-only antics are Ranma 1/2’s two feature-length movies and one special OVA-length movie that brought Ranma to theaters to make some big choices with his heart and not his head… which is usually what starts his trouble in the first place!


For the first time, all eleven “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and three movies will be released on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and available in Sept. 2017 courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Ranma 1/2”?

Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is no doubt a legendary mangaka who has had amazing success in Japan.

Many know her from her popular series “InuYasha” but decades before, she won over manga and anime fans through her series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, The Mermaid series and of course, her well-known series, “Ranma 1/2″.

“Ranma 1/2″ was created back in 1987 and lasted through 1996 and serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday” with a total of 38 tankobon volumes (graphic novels) published.

The series like most of Rumiko’s work received an anime adaptation and in 1989, a total of 18 episodes were created and aired in Fuji TV before being canceled.

But unlike most cancellations, “Ranma 1/2″ would get a second life on television a month later with a new name titled “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen” which was based on the manga but featured also a lot of filler episodes and characters not featured in the manga series.

While “Ranma 1/2″ was popular and would help jumpstart the careers for voice talents such as Megumi Hayashibara (“Video Girl Ai”, “Meitantei Conan”, “Slayers”, “Pokemon”), Kappei Yamaguchi (“Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “One Piece”), Noriko Hidaka (“InuYasha”, “Gunbuster”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”), Hiromi Tsuru (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Anpanman”), Kikuko Inoue (“Ah! My Goddess”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), Minami Takayama (“Meitantei Conan”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and Rei Sakuma (“Mobile Suit Gundam 0083″, “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ”).

The series would become popular overseas as it was one of the first anime series to receive a fan sub and because it would help jumpstart the anime and manga craze during the early 1990′s including “Ranma 1/2″ released in comic book format. Viz Media would then bring an English dub of the anime series to the United States.

Included in the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” are:

  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron: The Figght to Break the Rules! – A strange girl named Lychee and her giant elephant Jasmine arrive to settle a score with lecherous material arts master Happosai. Apparently, a very long time ago, Happosai gave Lychee’s great-grandmother half of a legendary scroll guaranteed to bring happiness to whoever was holding it. The women of Lychee’s family have been waiting for three generations now, and the prince still hasn’t come – but of course, the moment Lychee lets the scroll out of her hands, the prince finally appears. Only now it’s Ranma’s reluctant fiancée Akane that’s holding the scroll, and the long-awaited prince is only too ready to sweep his lucky bride off her feet. Now Ranma and company have no choice but to follow Prince Kirin’s majestic flying barge all the way to Nekonron, China, where they find themselves in a showdown with the Seven Lucky Gods of martial arts!
  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: The Battle of Togenkyo: Rescue the Brides! – When poetry-spouting swordsman Tatewaki Kuno invites Ranma & Co. for a jaunt on his new luxury yacht, the last thing the group expects is a sudden storm to shipwreck them all on a deserted island.  However, fixing the boat to get home soon becomes the least of their worries, as all the young girls in the group begin to disappear.  As it turns out, they’ve been bride-napped by Prince Toma, the youthful ruler of the floating island, Togenkyo.  Because of a magical spring which turns anything it touches instantly male, would-be bridegrooms have to kidnap girls…and in this case, Ranma’s reluctant fiancee Akane is one of them!  Now, in order to rescue the girls (and get his hands on that magical water, which could cure his own shape-changing “problem”).  Ranma must enter an anything-goes martial arts bride-off which includes events such as “survival flower-arranging” and “obstacle-course cooking.”  Can Ranma (now “in disguise” as a girl) beat scores of other kidnapped concubines, win the contest, rescue Akane, and get the magical Togenkyo water…all while wearing a push-up bra and three-inch heels?
  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: The Super Non-Discriminatory Showdown: Team Ranma vs. the Legendary Phoenix – When Kuno battles Ranma, Ranma places an egg on Kuno’s head and the egg hatches and born is the legendary Phoenix Egg that can master the arcane sword attack.  Can Ranma take on this new enemy?
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 1: Shampoo’s Sudden Switch: The Curse of the Contrary Jewel – When Shampoo discovers a beautiful broach in Cologne’s old jewelry box, she puts it on but because it’s on the wrong way, it reverses the intended effect of increasing the wearer’s romantic feelings and makes her cold towards Ranma.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 2: The Tendo Family’s Christmas Scramble – The Christmas holiday season has arrived and when Kasumi has a strange dream featuring Santa, she throws a Christmas party.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 3: Akane vs. Ranma: The One Who Inherits Mom’s Recipes Wil Be Me! – Akane discovers her late mother’s recipes and wants to start cooking, but when Ranma’s mother who is still looking for her son (unaware of his curse), she shows up to the Tendo residence, she gets some help from Nodoka Saotome but she also is challenged by female Ranma.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 4: A Storm over School: Growing Up with Miss Hinako – The new teacher, Ms. Hinako Ninomiya shows up to Furinkan High School but she happens to be a tough fighter with a secret.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 5: The One Who Carries On Part 1 – Eat and Runs are happening around town and Akane discovers the culrpits, Natsume and Kurumi, two martial arts sisters who are looking for their long-lost martial arts father and believe their father is Soun Tendo.  And now, they plan to battle Akane for the inheritance of the dojo.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 6: The One Who Carries On Part 2 – Akane continues to train for her upcoming battle with Natsume and Kurumi, Ranma (in female forn) will become her partner.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 7: Reawakening Memories Part 1 – Akane has memories of being rescued as a child and a place Ryugenzawa is being terrorized by a mysterious beast.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 8: Reawakening Memories Part 2 – As Akane headed to Ryugenzawa to find out more of her childhood memories of being rescued, Ranma goes after her.  But there is a guy standing in his way and Akane’s loyalty may be towards this man.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 9: Oh, Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love! Let My Love Be Forever – Ranma, Akane, Shampoo, Mousse, Ukyo, Ryoga, Kuo, Nabiki, Cologne, Genma, Kodachi and Sasuke go in pairs on the Cave of Lost Love, a cursed spot visited by couples.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 10: The Evil Ogre – An evil ogre was sealed in a box by a Monkey Priest.  But when the seal is fading away, the current priest goes to Ranma, Genma and Soun for a new seal, but when the box opens, the ogre is released and can Ranma stop it?
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 11: The Two Akanes: Ranma, Look My Way! – Ranma and friends pay a visit to the hot spring inn, Ninyo-Kan, teh House of Dolls.  There is a legend of a mysterious doll called the Vengeful Doll and Ranma accidentally breaks it.  The doll wants revenge!

The main characters of “Ranma 1/2″ are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father. He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son. He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts. She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend. Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome. She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane. He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma. He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival . Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction. One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died. Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self. As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.
  • Shampoo – The hero of her village in China. She despises female Ranma and loves male Ranma. She also fell in a cursed lake in Jusenkyou and turns into a pink cat. Whenever she comes into contact with cold water, she turns into a cat. When in contact with hot water, she reverts back to normal. She runs the Neko Hanten Chinese restaurant.
  • Cologne – The leader of the Chinese Amazons and grandmother of Shampoo. Around 300-years-old, she has a history with Happosai.
  • Mousse – A male Chinese Amazon and master of hidden weapons. He also happens to have terrible eye sight and is deeply in love with Shampoo. He also fell into the cursed Jusenkyo and turns into a duck.
  • Happosai – The founder and grandmaster of “Anything Goes Martial Arts” (Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu) and the master of Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo.
  • Ukyo Kuonji – An Okonomiyaki chef. Ukyo’s father and Ranma’s father made a deal that their children would marry.
  • Tsubasa Kurenai – A male who is in love with Ukyo and happens to be a cross-dresser.
  • Principal Kuno – Tatewaki and Kodachi’s father who is the principal at Furinkan High School that causes problems for Ranma.
  • Ling-Ling/Lung-Lung – Shampoo’s younger sisters who come to Japan searching for the person who beat Shampoo.
  • Hikaru Gosunkugi – An unpopular student who practices vodoo and is desperately in love with Akane and tries to do all he can to get rid of Ranma.

What is “Ranma 1/2”?

Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is no doubt a legendary mangaka who has had amazing success in Japan.

Many know her from her popular series “InuYasha” but decades before, she won over manga and anime fans through her series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, The Mermaid series and of course, her well-known series, “Ranma 1/2″.

“Ranma 1/2″ was created back in 1987 and lasted through 1996 and serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday” with a total of 38 tankobon volumes (graphic novels) published.

The series like most of Rumiko’s work received an anime adaptation and in 1989, a total of 18 episodes were created and aired in Fuji TV before being canceled.

But unlike most cancellations, “Ranma 1/2″ would get a second life on television a month later with a new name titled “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen” which was based on the manga but featured also a lot of filler episodes and characters not featured in the manga series.

While “Ranma 1/2″ was popular and would help jumpstart the careers for voice talents such as Megumi Hayashibara (“Video Girl Ai”, “Meitantei Conan”, “Slayers”, “Pokemon”), Kappei Yamaguchi (“Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “One Piece”), Noriko Hidaka (“InuYasha”, “Gunbuster”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”), Hiromi Tsuru (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Anpanman”), Kikuko Inoue (“Ah! My Goddess”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), Minami Takayama (“Meitantei Conan”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and Rei Sakuma (“Mobile Suit Gundam 0083″, “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ”).

The series would become popular overseas as it was one of the first anime series to receive a fan sub and because it would help jumpstart the anime and manga craze during the early 1990′s including “Ranma 1/2″ released in comic book format. Viz Media would then bring an English dub of the anime series to the United States.

And while the anime series was released little by little with two episodes on VHS and then later with season box sets on DVD, in America, “Ranma 1/2″ has always been a fan favorite.

But when it was announced that Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier hit series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and “Ranma 1/2″ would be remastered and released in Japan on Blu-ray as part of Shogakukan’s 90th anniversary, suffice to say, fans became very excited and wondered if the series in HD would be released in America.

And sure enough, Viz Media surprised fans with the announcement that “Ranma 1/2″ was released on Blu-ray and DVD plus an omnibus release of the manga series in March 2014.

Unlike the original season box sets which features 18 episodes, “Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray Set 2″ will feature 23 episodes. And instead of going by Japanese seasons, the release will be available as collections, so you get episodes from season 5 and 6 included in “Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray Set 5”.

“Ranma 1/2″ is a story about a teenage boy named Ranma Saotome. His father Genma Saotome and his good friend Soun Tendo have made a deal that Ranma can marry one of Soun’s daughters and so both are headed to Japan after training in China.

But because both Ranma and Genma have fallen into cursed lakes, whenever they come into contact with cold water, Ranma turns into a girl, while Genma turns into a panda.

And because Akane hates boys and Ranma is half boy/half girl, her older sisters Kusumi and Nabiki volunteer Akane to be Ranma’s betrothed.

But both Ranma and Akane are like oil and water and don’t get along. Both often tease each other and Akane tends to beat Ranma up. And as the two are to try and be a happy couple, also in school, both must put up with a cast of fascinating characters including Tatewaki Kuno and his sister Kodachi, Ranma’s eternal rival Ryouga Hibiki, the Chinese fighter named Shampoo, an okonomiyaki restaurant owner named Ukyo and many others who are happy to destroy their relationship.


The main characters of “Ranma 1/2″ are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father. He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son. He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts. She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend. Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome. She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane. He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma. He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival . Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction. One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died. Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self. As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.
  • Shampoo – The hero of her village in China. She despises female Ranma and loves male Ranma. She also fell in a cursed lake in Jusenkyou and turns into a pink cat. Whenever she comes into contact with cold water, she turns into a cat. When in contact with hot water, she reverts back to normal. She runs the Neko Hanten Chinese restaurant.
  • Cologne – The leader of the Chinese Amazons and grandmother of Shampoo. Around 300-years-old, she has a history with Happosai.
  • Mousse – A male Chinese Amazon and master of hidden weapons. He also happens to have terrible eye sight and is deeply in love with Shampoo. He also fell into the cursed Jusenkyo and turns into a duck.
  • Happosai – The founder and grandmaster of “Anything Goes Martial Arts” (Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu) and the master of Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo.
  • Ukyo Kuonji – An Okonomiyaki chef. Ukyo’s father and Ranma’s father made a deal that their children would marry.
  • Tsubasa Kurenai – A male who is in love with Ukyo and happens to be a cross-dresser.
  • Principal Kuno – Tatewaki and Kodachi’s father who is the principal at Furinkan High School that causes problems for Ranma.
  • Ling-Ling/Lung-Lung – Shampoo’s younger sisters who come to Japan searching for the person who beat Shampoo.
  • Hikaru Gosunkugi – An unpopular student who practices vodoo and is desperately in love with Akane and tries to do all he can to get rid of Ranma.

VIDEO:

“Ranma 1/2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and the series utilizes the cleaned up digital remastering that was released in Japan.  It’s important to note that the OVA’s and the films were released years after the television series and because production quality is much better, the picture quality for the OVA’s and films are much better in terms of color, animation and overall background art.

While grain is visible in the remastered HD release, the main difference is much better colors. Reds absolutely pop but instead of a smeary look of its original DVD release, line art to overall colors are simply much better in HD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding.

Personally, this Blu-ray release version is the definitive version of “Ranma 1/2” to own!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio for “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is featured in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with English subtitles. You get both the wonderful Japanese soundtrack with fine performances by Kappei Yamaguchi, Megumi Hayashibara and Noriko Hidaka, Minami Takayama, Hiromi Tsuru, Kikuo Inoue, Kouchi Yamadera to name a few. And the original English dub.

It’s important to note that the English dub back in the ’90s were a much different style than the English dubs that people are accustomed to today. At the time, Viz Media and other companies were entering a new field for English dubs after many people have seen the Japanese version (due to fan subs).

So, back in the ’90s, Viz Media was criticized for its English dub soundtrack. The dub was no doubt subjective to the listener. Some didn’t mind, some were very vocal about it but the good news is that on this Blu-ray release, you have a choice between Japanese with English subtitles or the English dub.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Next OVA Episode Previews
  • Clean Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” comes with a 32-page booklet with episode summaries. Also, included is a slipcase.


Back in 1993, J!-ENT was founded and in our first year, we reviewed the first two “Ranma 1/2” film sand were also reviewing the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s.

Back then, it was quite a special time as anime was growing and the series that many people started watching from Japan and was English subtitled, was “Ranma 1/2”.  Viz Media was establishing itself as a major force in America, bringing anime and manga to the masses and “Ranma 1/2” was no doubt a series that was instrumental in introducing Japanese animation to people all over the world.

Back in 2002, the DVD version of the OVA collection was released, without the first two films and the price was discouraging at over $100 for the set.  And for those who purchased the original Japanese LD’s, you only got one episode for $59.  And the VHS tapes, had two OVA’s for $34.99.

Here we are in 2017, and you get 11 OVA’s plus the three animated films for half the price at under $50.  The OVA’s and film were remastered and are provided in 1080p High Definition.  English names of the films have changed a little.  For example, the second film is no longer called “Nihao My Concubine” and is now “The Battle of Togenkyo”.

And for “Ranma 1/2” fans, getting this set along with the TV series on Blu-ray is a no-brainer.

The first two films are fantastic and the OVA’s, back then, as they came out almost like twice a year, they were looked at specially.   Back then, we had massive anime clubs (which still exist but in a different capacity as the early ’90s) and watching the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s or movies, believe it or not, dozens to a hundred people would come to watch “Ranma 1/2” in straight Japanese.  The films and the OVA’s had better animation, colors looked vibrant when compared to the TV series (as the latter seasons were not the greatest in animation quality).

The ’90s and the hook that “Ranma 1/2” and it’s music had on me.

Megumi Hayashibara (voice of female Ranma) was the best!

For me, what will always stick in my mind is the second “Ranma 1/2” film and OAV episodes 1-2 for its animation, storyline and soundtrack.  For the majority of the OVA’s, you get excellent series but I’ve always felt the weakest stories were the third film (which was more like an OVA because it was shorter in duration) and the final two OVA’s.

While there will always be debates about the voice acting of “Ranma 1/2″, I’m not going to keep saying, I wish this or that.  The fact is you get both soundtracks and if you want it in Japanese with English subtitles, that is an option.

While I have reviewed the older 2002 DVD, there are a few things that I do have to comment on and that is the fact that the specials and the final OVA have not been released in America yet.

In 2008, the 12th OVA was released but I would assume that with so much time passing since”Ranma 1/2” was produced with the original voice talent, Viz may not be interested.

Many were hoping that specials such as the “Hot Song Contest” would be included.  This special had a hilarious storyline and is considered as one of my favorites but still has never been released in the U.S..  The other specials were more like rehash of anime from past episodes along with music, which were more for the fan club back in Japan and are more for the collectors.  Also, many wonder if the live action drama special from 2011 will ever be released in the U.S.

But overall, this set is magnificent.  You get nearly all the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and the three films collected in one set, in high definition and for a great price.

If you are a “Ranma 1/2” fan, the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is recommended!

 

Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

Images courtesy of © Yuto Tsukudo, Shun Saeki/Shuiesha, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 D

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Character Design by Tomoyuki Shitaya

Art Director by Koichiro Bizen

Anime Production: J.C. Staff


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Sōma Yukihira

Minami Takahashi/Jad Saxton as Megumi Tadokoro

Risa Taneda/Stephanie Wittels as Erina Nakiri

Ai Kakuma/Juliet Simmons as Mayumi Kurase

Ai Kayano/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryōko Sakaki

Asami Seto as Miyoko Hōjō

Banjou Ginga/John Swasey as Senzaemon Nakiri

Chinatsu Akasaki/Christina Kelly as Alice Nakiri

Junichi Suwabe/ as Akira Hayama

Junichi Yanagita/Andrew Love as Daigo Aoki

Kengo Kawanishi/Corey Hartzog as Shōji Satō

Maaya Uchida/Luci Christian as Yūki Yoshino

Mamiko Noto as Hinako Inui

Mikako Takahashi as Jun Shiomi

Natsuki Hanae/Bryan Baugus as Takumi Aldini

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryō Kurokiba

Rikiya Koyama/Jay Hickman as Jōichirō Yukihira

Rina Hidaka/Jennifer Gilbert as Urara Kawashima

Saori Goto/Karlii Hoch as Nao Sadasuka

Saori Ōnishi/Brittney Karbowski as Hisako Arato

Shizuka Ishigami/Rachel Landon as Ikumi Mito

Taishi Murata/Houston Hayes as Shun Ibusaki

Takahiro Sakurai/Scott Gibs as Satoshi Isshiki

Takehito Koyasu/Ty Mahany as Gin Dōjima

Tomokazu Sugita/Anthony Hunter as Etsuya Eizan

Yūichi Nakamura/Benjamin McLaughlin as Kojirō Shinomiya

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Greg Ayres as Zenji Marui

Yuuki Ono as Isami Aldini


Ever since he was little, Soma Yukihira’s main goals have been to beat his father in a cooking contest and take over the family diner. That’s why, when his dad suddenly announces that he’s shutting the restaurant down and sending Soma to cooking school, Soma is shocked. However, Tohtsuki Academy is no ordinary cooking school.

This elite institution is filled with culinary giants like Erina “God Tongue” Nakiri, who does her best to keep a lowly short-order like Soma from even making it inside the door. However, if the snobs can dish it out, Soma can serve it up, and when he learns that only a handful of the students manage to graduate every year, he swears that the only way he’ll leave is as number one!


In 2012, writer Yuto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki created their manga series “Shokugeki no Soma” which continues to be serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

The manga was voted #3 in the Nationwide Bookstore Employees “Recommend Comics of 2014” in Japan and voted #12 in the 2014 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” Top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and continues to be a popular series in Japan.

In 2015, “Shokugeki no Soma”/Food Wars! would receive a 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff and now the hit anime series has been released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around a young teen named Soma Yukihara who works for his father, chef Joichiro Yukihira, at their local restaurant.

Trained to cook at an early age and known for trying to combine various foods together as experiments, Soma has been known to cook dishes that make people feel they have tasted the best food ever to touch their tastebuds. But his goal is to someday beat his father in cooking.

But with landsharks trying to get control of the land to build condo units where the restaurant is located, one day while returning to the restaurant, everything inside is removed.

While Soma wants to rebuild, his father tells him that he will be closing the restaurant for two or three years to travel and as for Soma, he is enlisted in Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute where the elite of the elite attend and less than 10% of its students ever graduated.

But his father gives Soma a stern message, if he can’t make it at Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, he will never beat him.

Determined to prove to his father that he can graduate as an elite cook, Soma is still looked down by his fellow students and faculty because unlike them, he is not wealthy and his family did not own a four or five star restaurant.

But Soma is determined to prove them wrong.

As Soma meets his fellow cooks and making new friends at the Polaris dorm, volume three focuses on Soma and his Polaris Dorm friends visiting the Totsuki Village to compete with other chefs in order to work at the Totsuki Hotel, where under five people have passed the test.

But as Soma and friends are getting ready, a young chef named Takumi Aldini makes himself known to Soma and becomes his rival.

Soma and his friends are participating in cooking pant, but to their surprise, they must figure out how to sell 200 dishes in a buffet location. That means creating food that will last and become tasty for a longer time. Can Soma figure out how to make meals that last instead of a meal that is meant to be eaten right away?

Meanwhile, during a visit back to his family restaurant, Soma finds out that business on Market St. is not going that well. How can he help to bring people back to the area?

Also, Soma and his fellow students find out they will be competing in the Fall Classic and finds out the theme will be about curry. But after meeting Akira Hayama, trained in the worlds best spices and great at making varieties of curry dishes, can Soma find a way to learn about the different spices in the world and compete against Hayama and the other competitors in the world.

The “Fall Classic” is a competition in which all 90 students must compete in making a special curry dish for the judges, but it’s not going to be easy. Especially after meeting Akira Hayama, a man trained in utilizing the best spices from all over the world to create delicious curry.

Having tasted his curry and seeing how great his curry really is, Soma must do all he can to research during summer vacation and come up with the best curry dish for the competition.


VIDEO:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and if anything, J.C. staff did a wonderful job of bringing Shun Saeki’s energetic and fun character designs to animation.  Vibrant, colorful and for the most part, the anime series looks great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear through the front channels and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” comes with the clean opening and ending credits.

 


As a big fan of manga and anime series about food and the culinary industry, “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” is a series that I absolutely enjoy.

For one, you have an antagonist that was cooking since he was young, often experimenting on different foods, even know that all his combinations are not always successful. But he also was brought up in a family restaurant and has to attend a school of elitist who think their food is the greatest and that they are more refined because they are wealthy.

So, it’s pretty awesome to see how far these people will put him down and until they eat his food, their reaction, and probably this may be the best word to describe their reaction to his food as “orgasmic”.

Literally, Shun Saeki draws these characters in so much pleasure that it’s rather humorous and possibly why the manga series is rated for Older Teens.

While the concept of cooking manga series has been around for decades in Japan, the fact is that there are only a few that have been released in America. “Oishinbo” by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki is one of the most popular cooking series of all time as it details a writer for a food magazine and also son of a notable food critic (who he does not get along with).

You also have “Toriko” but the cuisine is more fantasy than realistic. “Yakitate” which focuses on bread. And of course, there are cooking series popular in Japan such as “Cooking Papa”, “The Antique Bakery”, “Kitchen Palette”, “Kitchen Princess” to name a few.

But “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” has a fascinating way of combining the underdog storyline that we often see in sports manga series, bringing it to a cooking storyline but also add a few features that are not too mature but suggestive.

While Soma is the main character, you also have characters such as Erina Nakiri, the food critic that has the “God’s Tongue” and her review can easily destroy the career of any chef. And as part of the Elite 10 of Soma’s school, she has tried her best to get him disqualified because of his status but each time she has tried his food, she is even surprised by Soma’s talent but also his carefree attitude.

You also have Megumi Tadokoro, who came up in last place in the Institute’s high school advancement exam and has partnered with Soma and her fear of getting expelled due to her number of bad grades, has put her on the edge. But she learns that being partnered with Soma is not so bad after all.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series is vibrant and looks great in HD.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music and there are no special features but the clean opening and ending animations.

Overall, “Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

Purchase from Right-Stuf

 

Prince of Stride: Alternative – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2015 FIFS/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA ASCII AND MEDIA WORKS/POSA PARTNERS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Directed by Atsuko Ishikzuka

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Episode Director: Taku Kishimoto

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryouhei Kimura/Austin Tindle as Riku

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Ricco Fajardo as Takeru

Kana Hanazawa/Natalie Hoover as Nana

Kensho Ono/Clifford Chapin as Hozumi

Daisuke Ono/Jason Liebrecht as Heath

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Ayumu

Junichi Suwabe/Ivan Jasso as Kyosuke

J. Michal Tatum as Yujiro Dan

Daiki Yamashita/Todd Haberkorn as Tomoe

Greg Ayres as Amatsu


From studio Madhouse comes a new sport, a new experience, and a heart-racing series. Racers on your mark, get set—go!

Stride—where running and parkour reach new heights in a fast-paced sport that puts five runners and one Relationer’strust and speed to the test. At Honan Academy, Stride is a source of pride! Or at least it was until an incident broke the team apart. But with a new year, it’s time for the winds of change to blow in! New students Nana Sakurai and Takeru Fujiwara are ready to join, and after much persistence, pull in Riku Yagami. With their enthusiasm and abilities, this threesome is just what Honan needs to succeed. Except for one thing—their teamwork needs work. Talent is one thing, but this group of runners won’t be getting anywhere if they can’t learn to trust each other.

Together, Honan Stride may finally have what they need to compete with the best. But can this once broken team work together to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead? Just trust, connect, and find your stride.


Back in 2015, Kadokawa Games and Vridge created the otome game “Prince of Stride” for the Playstation Vita.  Based upon an extreme sport known as “Stride” in which teams compete in a race, the race includes extreme sports elements of parkour.

The following year, the game received an anime adaptation titled “Prince of Stride: Alternative”, a 12-episode anime series from Madhouse and was directed by Atsuko Ishizuka (“Sakura-so no Pet na Kanojo”) and a script by Taku Kishimoto.

The series is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” revolves around high school students who race for the “Stride” club for Honan Academy.  The first half features Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai needing to recruit six people for the club.

They try to recruit freshman Riku Yagami, who wants to play all sports and has no interest in Stride but Takeru and Nana drag Riku to their club office and are able to get him to join.

The club is going through restructuring and need six people after a scandal that rocked the team last year.

But training for “Stride” is challenging, vigorous and will take everything one has in order to win eastern Japan’s top stride competition, “End of Summer”.

But when a major injury happens to one of their teammates, will Honan Academy find a replacement in time for the next major competition?

Will Riku find a way to make himself faster?  And what is Nana’s connection to “Stride” competition outside of her duties at Honan Academy?  But most of all, can these team members work together?


VIDEO:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.  Madhouse did a wonderful job with this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.  Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with the opening and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with a slipcase.


We are starting to see a number of anime adaptations based on otome video games (dating games typically a character trying to get close with one of the many male characters in a game).

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” is an anime series that some may find resembles series such as “Prince of Tennis” and “Yowamushi Pedal”, but the setting is “Stride” competitions (running/parkour), but with many male characters not just from the main Honan Academy but also guys from other competing teams.

But this anime series is crafted for guys and women to enjoy because the main story is about competition, teamwork and one pushing themselves to be better and in the end, hoping to win the primary tournament.

There is a lot of dramatic situations, as Takeru Fujiwara and Riku Yagami have their personal differences with each other.

A main arc shows how the team is hurting after a major injury to Stride racer, Ayumi Kadowaki.  The team is in need of a racer and there is one guy, Kyousuke Kuga, a former team member who quit the team after a few members ganged up on fellow team member, Heath Hasekura.  Kuga protected Heath by beating up the teammates who caused the trouble but took the blame for everything and was forced to quit the club.

This has affected the team, especially for teammates who didn’t know the truth but the breakup of the Honan Academy Stride club is well-known to other clubs around the area and many feel Honan Academy are unable to compete because they no longer have the same teammates for this year and have beginners.

But each character is featured to have some difficulty or mental block that prevents them from being better, but with teammate support, they manage to overcome their problems and move on.

As for the Blu-ray release, Madhouse is always known for quality and the anime production is well-done.  Colors are vibrant, characters are well-shaded and voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done.  Unfortunately, there are no major special features.  No audio commentary, just the opening and ending themes.  So, it’s a barebones anime Blu-ray release.

Needless to say, this is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

Purchase from Right-Stuf

 

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

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

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

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

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


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

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

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


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

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the films…

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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