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K: Missing Kings (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Viz Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: K: Missing Kings

DURATION: 75 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, English & Japanese 5.1 & Stereo Audio, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 14, 2017


Originally created by GoRA

Series Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa

Directed by Shingo Suzuki

Series Composition by GoRA

Music by Mikio Endo

Character Design by Shingo Suzuki

Art Director: Ken Naito

Chief Animation Director: Makoto Furuta

Mechanical Design: Hiroshi Okubo

Animation Production by GoHands


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Sam Regal as Yashiro Isana

Daisuke Ono/Matthew Mercer as Kuroh Yatogami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Keith Silverstein as Mikoto Suoh

Mikako Komatsu/Stephanie Sheh as Neko

Tomokazu Sugita/Patrick Seitz as Reisi Munakata

Hiro Shimono/Quinton Flynn as Kotosaka

Jun Fukuyama/Ben Diskin as Misaki Yata

Kaori Nazuka/Cherami Leigh as Dōhan Hirasaka

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Robbie Daymond as Nagare Hisui

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Saruhiko Fushimi

Masakazu Morita/Chris Hackney as Yukari Mishakuji

Miyuki Sawashiro/Carrie Keranen as Seri Awashima

Satomi Satou/Janice Kawaye as Kukuri Yukizome

Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn as Izumo Kusanagi

Yui Horie/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Anna Kushina

Yūichi Nakamura/Grant George as Rikio Kamamoto

Yuuki Kaji/Lucien Dodge as Tatara Totsuka


Silver Clan members Kuro and Neko are on a mission to find their king, Shiro, who went missing after the battle on the School Island involving four of the seven colored kings. During their search, the two discover that Red Clan member Anna Kushina has become the target of the mysterious Green Clan, which intends to use the girl’s special power to track down Shiro. Now the Silver and Red Clans find themselves joining forces to protect Shiro and Anna from this new threat. But will this unexpected alliance be enough to counter the Green Clan’s top fighters, as well as its king?


In 2012, the anime series “K” produced by the studio GoHands aired on television.

The series focused on Yashiro Isana, a normal guy who lives in the technologically advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School.  But when Tatara Totsuka, a prominent member of the well-known HOMRA is killed, many are curious of who killed him.  With the mysterious killer (known as the “Colorless King”) being identified, he looks almost exactly like Yashiro Isana.

And now the Red Clansmen of HOMRA led by the Red King, Mikoto Suoh, wants Yashiro dead and everyone is suspecting him as the killer of Tatara Totsuka.  Can Yashiro and others find out who is responsible for killing Tatara?

The series continues in the animated film “K: Missing Kings” which was released in Japan back in 2014.  The film takes place a year after the events of the TV series and a year after the disappearance of Shiro, the Silver King.  Kurou Yatogami and Neko are searching for Shiro and they run into members of the recently disbanded red clan HOMRA.

Rikio Kamamoto and Anna Kushina are being pursued by the Green Clan who will stop at nothing to get Anna and use her power.  With Anna being kidnapped, Kuro and Neko join forces with members of Scepter 4 in hopes to rescue Anna from the Green Clan.  But what is their true purpose of wanting Anna?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to emphasize that if you want the best video quality of this animated film, it is available on Blu-ray.  I am reviewing the DVD version of the film and for the most part picture quality is as good as it can get on DVD.

“K: Missing Kings” is presented in 16:9 Widescreen and is presented in English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital and stereo.  Picture quality is vibrant and with this being an animated film, much better production when it comes to backgrounds and overall character designs.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

K: Missing Kings” comes with trailers.


For those who have watched the “K” anime series, the first animated film “K: Missing Kings” is a worthy sequel as we see Silver Clan members Kuro Yatogami and Neko continuing their search for the Silver King and we see the disbanded HOMRA (Red Clan) dealing with the kidnapping of Anna Kushina.

With the Green Clan causing more problems and causing mass destruction, deaths and kidnapping Anna, the Silver clan, members of the HOMRA and members of Scepter 4 do all they can to get Anna back and stop the Green Clan.

For the most part, this animated film is action-packed and quite entertaining.  It’s a worthy sequel for the anime series but for those who have never watched the TV series, will definitely want to watch it in order to understand the characters.

Anime production by GoHands is magnificent and the voice acting in both the Japanese and English soundtracks are well done.  While I reviewed the DVD version and not the Blu-ray release, for the most part, the DVD looks very good.  But I wish there were special features included aside from the basic trailers.

Overall, “K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

 

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

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five

DURATION: Episodes 505-516 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The tragedy at Marineford sends shockwaves around the world, and the Straw Hats struggle desperately to meet again in Luffy’s most heart-wrenching time of grief.

Incapable of protecting his friends, Luffy questions his ability to become the King of the Pirates. His crew members, scattered to the farthest reaches of the globe, are more determined than ever to keep their promise and return to Sabaody Archipelago in three days. But when ”Dark King” Rayleigh offers Luffy a stern suggestion, Luffy must choose between reuniting with his friends or joining Rayleigh in training. Luffy’s decision drives him back to Marineford, where he pays his respects to the fallen and sends a secret message to his friends. The news stirs enemies from all walks of life. Monkey D. Luffy is ringing in the New Age!


As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” features on the aftermath as Luffy wants to train harder for the next two years, so he can protect those he cares about.

As news of Ace’s death starts to reach the Straw Hat Pirates, they also know that with two years left, until they all meet again, they must get stronger and train.

Meanwhile, Luffy’ makes a daring appearance at Marineford to deliver a message throughout the world.

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 776 episodes have been aired in Japan.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 506 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Outtakes: Part 1 – (10:50) Featuring outtakes with the English dub talent for the Straw Hat Pirates.
  • Episode 515 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp).
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five”, the episodes are the final episodes of the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 505-516) as this volume features the aftermath of Ace’s death and Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates know they have two years until they reunite, but with the two years, they must do all that’s necessary to become stronger.

As Luffy needs to get a message to the Straw Hat Pirates, he must take a bold trip to Marineford. Meanwhile, Luffy must learn a new skill in order to become a stronger leader and fighter. And Rayleigh, will do whatever is possible to get Luffy ready.

Chopper must train in Birdie Kingdom and learn more medicine, on Weatheria, Nami must learn on how to become a better navigator and learn from the scientists, on Kurakiri Island, Franky must learn new skills from Dr. Vegapunk’s inventions, on Kamabakka Kingdom, Sanji must learn from Ivankov about newkama cooking, in the Tehna Gehna Kingdom, Brook must train himself to reach 40 degrees and in the Bowin Islands, despite gaining a lot of weight, Usopp is trained by Heracules to become stronger. And Robin joins up with the Revolutionaries at East Blue’s large bridge to improve herself before returning to the group.

As this DVD volume prepares viewers for Season 15 (Japan) and fastforwards two years later, the volume focuses on Luffy and the Strawhat Pirates and their commitment to get stronger and train harder for the next two years.

The episodes also bring back footage from the past as they remember why they joined the Straw Hat Pirates and how Luffy was there for them. But also seeing pirates and even admirals who will become significant characters in the series.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume finally showcases the Straw Hat Pirates and seeing what they have been up to since each of them went their separate ways and making a vow to reunite a few years years later.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

 

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

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four

DURATION: Episodes 493-504 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


A glimpse of the past, how Luffy and Ace met!

The battle at Marineford has come to a close, but the story of Luffy and Ace’s past has yet to be told! As a boy of only seven, Luffy is reluctantly taken in by the Dadan family of mountain bandits at his grandfather’s request. After many failed attempts, he finally befriends Dadan’s other charge, the moody and reckless Ace. Together with their friend Sabo, the boys loot the junkyard known as the Gray Terminal and battle mighty beasts of the forest.

 Dreaming of becoming pirates, the three form inseparable bonds of brotherhood. But the impending arrival of a Celestial Dragon throws the kingdom into a frenzy as they try to hide the garbage that has shamed their noble city. Playtime is over when Sabo’s family takes their son away and a sinister plan to destroy the Gray Terminal unfolds.


In the last volume of “One Piece”, we witnessed the tragic death of Ace.  As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” features on how Luffy and Ace met and how he, Ace and Ace’s friend Sabo would grow up together as children with dreams of becoming pirates.  But how tragedy would eventually lead them to train harder.

As Luffy remembers the past, he knows that he must train harder, become stronger and making a tough decision.

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 767 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” (Episodes 493-504), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

NOTE: Episode 492 featuring Luffy teaming up with Toriko is not included for the North American DVD release.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 495 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jessica Cavanagh (voice of Curly Dadan) and Newton Pittman (voice of Magra).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 503 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris Burnett and Morgan Garrett.
  • Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – (14:41) Funimation staff discuss Ace’s death and why it was a tragic story that affected viewers worldwide.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 493-504) as this volume features another heartbreaking story but one that gives people a breather from the shocking and tragic death of Ace but now going back in the past to show how Luffy and Ace have a special bond, but also how there was another character which Luffy and Ace considered as brothers.

With episodes 493-504, as Luffy mourns the death of Ace, we get to watch flashback episodes when he and Ace were young and how Ace was really bad towards Luffy but eventually they became brothers, along with another person named Sabo.

The three made a decision to become pirates and trained hard to become stronger.  But most importantly, to show how Ace was an important figure in Luffy’s life and how Luffy really had no one but Ace and Sabo.  But the three get in trouble and are captured by the pirate, Bluejam.

While the last DVD volume was truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster, we learn that both Ace and Luffy had also faced a major heartbreaking tragedy that would set them on a new path to become stronger and achieve their goals to become pirates.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume does showcase Luffy and Ace as children but it’s still action-packed, full of humor but also tragedy, so prepare yourself for another sad tragic demise of a character.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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

Unfortunately, episode 492 is not included on this DVD as it’s a collaboration episode between Luffy and Toriko (of the “Toriko” anime series). And possibly due to licensing issues, this episode was not included in this volume.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

 

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

September 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!  Highly recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 481-491 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


Will Whitebeard’s final stand usher in a new era? Ace is freed from his shackles but escaping Marineford isn’t going to be that easy. The Navy has their sights set on the two brothers as they make a mad dash towards freedom. Injured, but not down for the count Whitebeard rises to put a stop to his crew’s attack, giving them the order to escape to the New World and leave him for dead. Unwilling to let the man who raised him stand alone against his enemies, Ace turns back to lend a hand. Before he can reach his destination, Akainu appears to test the might of his magma against the flames of Fire Fist Ace. As their battle heats up, Luffy and the rest of the world can only watch as the legendary pirate Whitebeard strikes out with all his power and attempts to sink Marineford to the bottom of the sea.


In the long storyline of “One Piece”, there is one storyline that has struck a chord with fans, especially in Japan, as it mourns one of the popular characters of the manga/anime series.

In this latest volume  of “One Piece” (Season Eight, Voyage Three), we have watched as Luffy and Whitebeard and fellow pirates have come to the aid to save Ace from execution.

But Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that they both are dead.

And as this volume features tragedy, the battle between the pirate and marines leads to the escape of Blackbeard and the Blackbeard Pirates.  And for Whitebeard, his former teacher is now his greatest enemy.  One will win, but the other will not survive.

Do not miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” (Episodes 481-491), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 482 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy) and ason and production assistant, Katherine Salavarria.
  • EPISODE 486 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Matt Thurston (voice of Shuryu) and Cole Brown (voice of Blackbeard).

DISC 2:

  • Top 10 Moments – (18:13) Colleen Clinkenbeard, Mike McFarland, Brina Palencia, Joel McDonald, Godswill Ugwa and Katherine Salavarria discuss their top ten moments.
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 481-491) as this volume features one of the most heartbreaking episodes ever featured on “One Piece”.

Major deaths take place in this volume and the plot revolves around Luffy and Whitebeard trying to save Ace from being executed by the Marines.  And it’s not going to be an easy save, as the three powerful Admirals of the Marines are present and Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that both Luffy and Ace are dead.

Meanwhile, as the battles are taking place, destruction happens and Blackbeard and his pirates have been released and are now causing problems, which leads to another tragic death.

The volume also features the return of Trafalgar Law who comes to try to offer Luffy and Jimbei assistance. And we also see the return of Shanks and his crew!

This latest DVD volume is truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster.  If you haven’t read the manga series and are just watching the anime series, one can’t simply put into words of how these episodes will no doubt make you shed a tear if you are a “One Piece” fan.  But it’s these episodes that takes the series and its character to a new direction.

This volume is purely all action, as we get to see Ace fight for his life, Whitebeard fighting against Akainu and Blackbeard, the return of characters and so much more!  This is probably the biggest war between the pirates and the marines that we have seen thus far.  And it was no doubt the bloodiest and tragic battle yet.

Needless to say, this volume has a tremendous amount of action and “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and a few cast and crew discussing their top 10.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends are now closer to Ace but as the Marines and Pacifistas try to undermine them from rescuing Ace, will they be able to make it happen?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

Highly recommended!

 

One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut” is a re-release of “One Piece: Season Six – Volume Four and Five” in a dual volume set release.  Featuring 23 episodes, the uncut sets are definitely worth it, if you are trying to catch up on the “One Piece” series and want more bang for the buck!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 373-396 (Duration: 600 Minutes, 4 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 28, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The harrowing Thriller Bark arc reaches its brutal end with a superhuman slugfest! Luffy, battered beyond belief, pushes his body past the breaking point as he seeks to save his friends and deliver the decisive blow against Gecko Moria. When the dust clears, only Zoro and Sanji are left standing to protect their fallen captain from the brutish Bartholomew Kuma. Should one of them somehow withstand a savage beating from this behemoth, the crew just might survive long enough for Sanji to meet his dream girl—a beautiful mermaid in distress named Camie! After taking her on board, the Straw Hats drop anchor at an island bursting with bubbles in the hopes of equipping their ship for underwater travel. But when Camie is kidnapped, job number one becomes saving their newest friend from the cruel clutches of the Celestial Dragons!


NOTE:  One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut features two volumes (One Piece Season Six: Voyage Four and Voyage Five)

After the fight against Nightmare Luffy,  the Strawhat Pirates takes on the Oars and Luffia takes on Moria.

And after helping out Brook, the Strawhat Pirates get a new member.

Also, the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” begins and a man named Duval is wanting Sanji dead for some reason.

Find out in “One Piece Collection 16”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 14th season and over 500 episodes having aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” (Episodes 434-445), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 377 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring voice actors Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • In the Galley with the Straw Hats – (27:17) Featuring “One Piece” voice actors pigging out and talking about their experiences on the series.  Featuring Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper), Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma), Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin), Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • EPISODE 384 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Monkey D. Luffy) and Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 387 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma) and Hunter Scott (voice of Macro).

DISC 4:

  • Villains and Fishmen: A Peek Behind the Curtain – (22:23) Featuring Hunter Scott (voice actor of Macro), David Vincent (voice of Duval) and Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma).
  • EPISODE 393 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Megan Shipman (voice of Camie).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)
  • Textless Opening Song – “Share the World”

With the release of “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut”, the episodes are from the Japanese 10th and 11th season (featuring episodes 373-396) as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and the beginning of the Sabaody Archipelago Chapter.  Please note that these episodes have been released in the US on DVD before as “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Four” and “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Five”.

With the first few episodes featured, this represents the final episodes of Japan’s 10th season as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and how Brook became a member of the Strawhat Pirates.

The episodes after that arc then begins the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” as the Strawhat Pirates vacation at Spa Islands, a ship with luxury facilities that serves pirates and criminals.  And once again, the group comes in contact with the Foxy Pirates who are in search of a special gem.

Unfortunately, this drags the Strawhat Pirates into a confrontation with the island’s owner, Doran, who has captured Sayo and will only release her if Luffy and friends find the gem.

Meanwhile, the Strawhat Pirates confront Iron Mask Duval and the Macro Gang in search of a friend.

As for the DVD, you get 23-episodes and picture quality is very good. Especially in Japan, all “One Piece” episodes since 2007 have been broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be interesting if that means the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But for the DVD, picture quality is colorful, vibrant and looks good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, you get a good number of audio commentary and other special featurettes with the English dub voice actors.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and I’m in it for the long haul. And for those who want the better value of watching “One Piece” in a collected volume, these uncut releases feature two volumes each, so it helps you catch up to the current single volume releases.

With that being said, you can join in at the beginning of any season and still be interested in “One Piece”. I do recommend at least watching the first season, so you get an idea of what’s going on with the primary characters (or read the manga). Especially to find out the goal of the Straw Hat Pirates is and how they all joined to form their crew, the Straw Hat Pirates.

But “One Piece” is definitely one of the most entertaining, exciting and action-packed series that continues to have a strong presence in Japan for over a decade.

Exciting, crazy and just an enjoyable anime series, find out why many people have enjoyed the story of the the Straw Hat Pirates and their adventures in “One Piece”!

 

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

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is the a must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season and sets the story up before the hardhitting episodes to be seen in volume three. Highly recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 469-480 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: July 26, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


In One Piece Season 8 Voyage 2, A bold rescue plan turns into a Navy trap! As Luffy and his pirate allies advance across the bay of Marineford to save Ace, the government unleashes a deadly surprise – a powerful ­squad of living weapons – the Pacifistas.

Just as the pirates’ doom seems assured, Whitebeard reveals a trick up his sleeve – a hidden ship that rises from the depths to carry them toward the only breech. The Whitebeard Pirates, along with Luffy and his allies, meet the Navy forces led by the three Admirals, in a vicious, explosive, no-holds-barred clash at the base of Ace’s execution platform. Whitebeard is faltering. Luffy can barely move. And Luffy’s grandfather, Vice Admiral Garp, blocks the way. Can the pirates rescue Ace against all odds? Find out in One Piece Season 8 Voyage 2!


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With the marines now setting the execution early, Luffy and Whitebeard try to save Ace from being executed.

But the Pacifistas begin their attack on the Whitebeard Pirates while Luffy and others take on Mihawk.  But awaiting for Luffy is his grandfather, the vice admiral, Monkey D. Garp of the Marines.  The highly anticipated battle between grandson and grandfather begins!

With time of the essence, can Luffy and Whitebeard save Ace?

Find out in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” (Episodes 469-480), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 2:

  • Music Lessons with Brook – (4:38) Featuring voice actor Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) giving music lessons.
  • EPISODE 476 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jason Douglas (voice of Aokiji) and Andrew Love (voice of Akainu).
  • EPISODE 480 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Brian Mathis (Monkey D. Garp) and Ed Blaylock (voice of Sengoku).
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 469-480) as Whitebeard and Ace are much closer to saving Ace, but the Marines and the Pacifistas put an amazing fight to try and prevent them from reaching him.

This volume is truly epic as it gets close to setting up the third volume of episodes that will no doubt shock One Piece fans (who have managed to avoid any spoilers so far).

This volume is purely all action and while a lot of the episodes focuses on Whitebeard and his determination to save Ace, we see Luffy taking on two vice admirals and Kizaru.  Especially as Akainu waits for Whitebeard for battle.

Also, we get to see the return of Luffy’s grandfather, Monkey D. Garp, who is the Vice Admiral of the Marines who will do anything to prevent Luffy from rescuing Ace. And it is the highly anticipated battle between Yuffy and Garp.

Needless to say, this volume has a tremendous amount of action and “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

For “One Piece” fans, this season is possibly one of the more monumental seasons of “One Piece”, as it changes the direction of the series and the characters because of what happens in this season.

I don’t want to spoil anything for “One Piece” fans who are avoiding any reading of spoilers, but these first three volumes of season eight (US Funimation seasons) will be action-packed, surprising and absolutely heartbreaking. So, prepare yourself for one heck of an emotional rollercoaster.

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends are now closer to Ace but as the Marines and Pacifistas try to undermine them from rescuing Ace, will they be able to make it happen?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is the a must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season and sets the story up before the hardhitting episodes that will be featured in volume three.

Highly recommended!

 

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

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is the first must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season. Highly recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 457-468 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 31, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Duncan Brannan as Mr. 3

Kazuki Yao/Barry Yandell as Bon Clay


In One Piece Season 8, with the tides turned against him, Luffy’s prison break becomes a race to save Ace!

Fresh off their daring escape from the underwater prison Impel Down, Monkey D. Luffy and his band of Buggy-obsessed escapees set out to rescue Ace from being executed by the World Government. Just one problem – he’s being held at Marineford, the Navy’s most heavily guarded headquarters with a reputation for being impenetrable!

With only three hours to spare before the execution, Luffy finds himself blocked out by the large gates surrounding the base. As the legendary pirate Whitebeard and his crew declare war on the marines, the three admirals, backed by the Seven Warlords of the Sea, vow to carry out Ace’s sentence no matter what.

After a shocking family secret whips the crowd into a frenzy, the stakes grow even higher – meaning Luffy will have to get creative if he intends to stand a chance against the titanic forces standing in his way. Don’t miss the thrilling adventure in season 8 of One Piece!

 


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With three hours left until execution, the five Warlords and the three Marine Admirals prepare for their battle against Whitebeard.

And what is the relationship between Ace and Whitebeard?

Find out if Luffy and Whitebeard are able to achieve their goal in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” (Episodes 457-468), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • Episode 462 Commentary – Director Joel McDonald with voice talent Daniel Baugh (voice of Jimbei).

DISC 2:

  • Robin’s Search – (4:38) Featuring voice actress Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin) on her search for a book at the local library.
  • EPISODE 468 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Director Joel McDonald, Bruce Elliot (voice of Whitebeard) and Kyle Felix (voice of Marco the Phoenix).
  • Textless Opening Song – “Kaze wo Sagashite”
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One”, the episodes are from the Japanese 13th season and 14th season (featuring episodes 457-468) as Whitebeard has now arrived to try and save Ace.

With three hours until Ace’s execution, the Marines try to find out who the true parents of Ace and Luffy are.  And in this latest volume of “One Piece”, Ace’s origin is revealed.

For “One Piece” fans, this season is possibly one of the more monumental seasons of “One Piece”, as it changes the direction of the series and the characters because of what happens in this season.

I don’t want to spoil anything for “One Piece” fans who are avoiding any reading of spoilers, but these three volumes to be released will be action-packed, surprising and absolutely heartbreaking.  So, prepare yourself for one heck of an emotional rollercoaster.

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends have only three hours to save Ace before his execution.  But with the powerful Marine Admirals waiting for them to arrive, do they even have a chance?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is the first must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season.

Highly recommended!

 

Kingdom: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

kingdom

“Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993. “Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Kingdom: The Complete First Season

AIR DATE OF SERIES: 2012-2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-38 (Duration: 975 Minutes, 6 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Japanese Stereo, English Stereo, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Originally created by Yasuhisa Hara

Directed by Jun Kamiya

Series Composition by Naruhisa Arakawa

Music by Minako Seki

Art Director by Junichi Higashi

Animation Production by Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masakazu Morita/Justin Cook as Ri Shin (Xin)

Jun Fukuyama as Piao/Yin Zing

Junichi Suwabe as Lord Changping

Koji Yusa as Heki

Kouki Miyata as Seikyō

Masaya Takatsuka as Hou Ken

Mie Sonozaki as Yang Duan He (You Tan Hei)

Rie Kugimiya as Karyō Ten

Rikiya Koyama as Ō Ki

Yōko Hikasa as Kyō Kai

Yutaka Nakano as Shōbun-kun


When low-born servant boys Piao and Xin set out to become the world’s greatest war generals, they quickly find themselves caught up in a violent struggle between two noblemen plotting to overthrow the King. After Piao is killed protecting the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Qin, Xin sets out on a campaign for revenge that leads him straight into the fire of war.

Now, with a target on his back and an army of enemies standing in his way, it will be up to a boy with no name and a young king without a throne to return order to their war-torn country in this historical action-drama based on the Tezuka Award-winning manga, Kingdom.


In 2006, mangaka Yasuhisa Hara created his award-winning manga series “Kingdom”.

A fictionalized account of the Warring States period, the series has sold over 20 million copies in 2015 and was the grand prize winner of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2013.

The anime series adaptation produced by Pierrot aired on NHK in 2012-2013, with a second season having aired in 2013-2014.

And now the first season of “Kingdom” is now available on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation.

The anime series begins with the introduction of two war-orphans, Xin and Piao.  Both often training their fighting skills and have their dreams of becoming “Great Generals of the Heavens” in the kingdom of Qin.  But both are peasants and are household slaves.

Xin is more of the hotheaded and blunt of the two, one day while fighting, a minister arrives and gives Piao the opportunity to have a position in the Palace, while Xin who is saddened he would be separated from Piao, knows that if one of them can make their dreams come true to become a general, then their dreams will be fulfilled.

A short time has past and one day, a bloodied and near-death Piao arrives and tells Xin that he must fulfill a mission as he is unable to make it.  Piao tells Xin that an assassin hired by the Cheng Jiao Faction is responsible and that their dreams will now be up to him but he must take a map and fulfill the rest of the mission.  Piao dies and Xin wants revenge on who is responsible for killing him.

Xin is joined by Heliao Dao, the last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei and has disguised herself as a male.  Both try to find out what happened to Piao and it was learned that the reason why Piao was taken to the palace was to become the body double of King Ying Zheng who was targeted by opposing forces.  A job which Piao was proudly to take.

As Xin takes up the mantle to protect Ying Zheng (in reality, would become the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang and the person responsible for unifying China), the journey of the anime series would show how Xin would develop his skills, learn from the best generals and eventually become a field commander and prepare for his journey to make his dream of becoming a general come true.

But every step of the way, the kingdom of Zhao and their powerful generals are bent on destroying the Qin and their legendary general, Wang Qi.


“Kingdom” consists of:

Xin – The main protagonist.  A young man who dreams of becoming the “World’s Greatest General”.  The story follows this war orphan as he slowly becomes a commander and works and trains to become a general and taking part of many major military campaigns with his “Flying Xin Unit”.

Ying Zheng – The young king of Qin, who looks like Xin’s best friend Piao.  Dreams of uniting China.

Piao – Xin’s childhood friend and he and Xin dream of becoming “Generals of the Heavens”.  One day, he is approached by the minister for a position in the Palace.

Heliao Dao – The last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei.  She disguises herself as a male and is trying to find her way in the world.  She also has a crush on Xin, who doesn’t know she is a girl.

Changwen-jun – A former warrior and senior adviser of Ying Zheng.

Bi – A loyal subordinate of Changwen Jun and a 1000-man commander.

Qiang Hui – The heir of the legendary assassin clan “Chi You”, only Xin and Dao know that she is female.  A wonderful soldier and strategist.  Obsessed with getting revenge for the one responsible of murdering her sister.

Wang Qi – The legendary Strange Bird general of the Qin Empire and one of the Six Great Generals of Qin who was a general under Ying Zheng’s father.  Responsible for conquering the middle kingdoms and is an excellent warrior and strategist.  He is the mentor of Xin and dreams of uniting China.

Li Mu – The Prime Minister of Zhao and the series primary antagonist.  A brilliant strategist seeking to destroy the Qin.

Pang Nuan – A general for the Zhao, he doesn’t command any troops and proclaims himself “The God of War”.  He is literally a one-man army and has only lost to one man in the past, Wang Qi.


VIDEO :

A fantastic anime series that compliments Yasuhisa Hara’s manga series.  The emotion of the characters are well-displayed, action on the battlefield is wonderfully presented. Colors are vibrant and I really wished this series received a Blu-ray release.  But for the most part, “Kingdom” looks great on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Kingdom” is presented in Japanese and English stereo.  Both are well-acted but since I watched the series originally in its Japanese format, I’m a bit more biased towards the Japanese voice acting.  But I’m glad that this series is presented in both Japanese and English and anime action fans can surely enjoy this awesome series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Kingdom” unfortunately doesn’t come with any special features.


It’s been long time since I have been excited about watching an anime series.

I have been aware of the rave reviews that Yasuhisa Hara’s “Kingdom” manga series had received and watching the anime series, I was in awe of how entertaining this action-driven anime series was.

From its smart display of using strategy of the Qin Empire and its enemies, the storyline is wonderfully written, pacing is excellent and unlike other anime series with plenty of characters, “Kingdom” is not hampered by complicated storylines, too much focus on other characters in order to create filler.

This is a straight-up, action-driven anime series focused on Xin’s learning of the battlefield, growing as a commander and working towards his goal of becoming a general and how he inspires people around him.

When focusing on another character, it gives short glimpses of their past, but never to the point it seems like filler just to extend a battle.  So, for those who are familiar with series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” and had to wait season after season (several years) just to finish one war, “Kingdom” doesn’t waste any time at all.  And that’s a major plus!

The series also showcases the importance of war, but also how the deaths of comrades lies on the shoulders of generals and episodes show the bonds with a leader and their soldiers.

While the first dozen episodes does a good job of introducing Xin and his temper getting the best of him, but yet showing qualities of a great soldier, it’s the overall pacing of seeing his growth on the battlefield that I found very intriguing, the strategies employed to be fascinating and the storyline is fantastic.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” features the first 38 episodes and I can’t wait for season 2.

Presented in both Japanese and English, anime fans who love war and action-driven storylines will enjoy “Kingdom”.  While I wish the anime series was released on Blu-ray, the anime series still looks good on DVD.  There are no special features included.

While not having any special features is unfortunate, the fact that you get all 38-episodes for the first season for this DVD collection at a great price is wonderful!

Overall, “Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

 

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

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

onepieces7p5-a

“One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” features Luffy’s race to free his brother Ace from execution, but Luffy must take on his biggest rival yet, Magellan.

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five

DURATION: Episodes 434-445 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Duncan Brannan as Mr. 3

Kazuki Yao/Barry Yandell as Bon Clay


The Burning Hot Hell of Impel Down serves as the backdrop for a showdown with Warden Magellan, a monster with a penchant for poisoning prisoners! Luffy throws down with the toxic terror, but no warrior escapes unscathed when pummeling a foe too poisonous to touch.

After the rubber-man succumbs to the toxins breaking down his body, Bon Clay braves subzero temperatures and bloodthirsty wolves to track down a miracle worker rumored to have vanished into the gates of hell! Enter Emporio Ivankov. This larger-than-life personality has the Healing Hormones needed to save Luffy, but the cure could take ten years off the pirate’s life!

Consequences be damned, Luffy and Bon Clay take the ultimate leap of faith as they hurtle toward a reunion with Crocodile – and prison riot that could spring them from the clink and speed them on the way to saving Ace!


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With Ace being held prisoner inside the hellish prison known as Impel Down, Luffy and Bon Clay must confront the poisonous warden, Warden Magellan.

Find out if Luffy is able to achieve his goal in “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 17th season and a total of 741 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” (Episodes 434-445), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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

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

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

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 434 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, Colin Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Duncan Brannan (voice of Mr. 3) and Barry Yandell (voice of Bon Clay).

DISC 2:

  • Cooking with Sanji – (21:59) Featuring Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) in a cooking featurette for a Thai pasta dish.
  • Episode 442 Commentary – ADR Director Mike McFarland with voice talents Colin Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Jeremy Inman (voice of Magelan) and Randy Pearlman (voice of Ivankoff).
  • Textless Opening – Textless opening song for “Kaze wo Sagashite”
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

With the release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five”, the episodes are from the 13th season (featuring episodes 434-445), Luffy and Mr. 2 (Bon Clay) are trying to find Luffy’s brother, Ace, who has been captured and sentenced for execution by the ruthless and poisonous warden Magellan.

As Magellan is prepping Ace for the Marines, Luffy is willing to fight the warden, despite his ability of excreting poison.

Meanwhile, in order to survive, Luffy may need to turn to former enemies for their help.

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy must take on his most dangerous opponent yet, Warden Magellan.  Meanwhile, trying to survive in order to save his brother Ace from execution.

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” is worth watching!

Recommended!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

naruto-24

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based but for good reason. It also manages to take bits and pieces from the manga series but build upon the Great Ninja War by showcasing other characters like Gaara, Temari, Shikamaru, Hinata and Neji in action. If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, then “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you!

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


DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 297-309 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: Rated T for Older Teen

Release Date: November 10, 2015


Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

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

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee


Naruto: Shippuden uncut set 24 opens as Gaara leads the Fourth Company into battle against the previous Kage, including his own father. Meanwhile Naruto and Killer Bee face the reanimated Itachi Uchiha, who recognizes Naruto’s growth as a shinobi and his potential to rescue his brother, Sasuke, from his path of vengeance. Kabuto assumes control of Itachi to use his Mangekyo Sharingan, but Itachi’s well of power is not yet drained. Battles rage, and all must face enemies – as well as friends – they never expected to see again!


With the 14th season of “Naruto Shippuden”, the Fourth Great Ninja War continues as Kabuto has revived and reanimated great legends and villains from Shinobi past and has control over them.  And with the White Zetsu Army being unleashed on various ninja divisions and no one able to tell who are shinobi or disguised White Zetsu Army members, Naruto and Killer Bee are now heading to the battlefield to lend their assistance.

As Kazekage, Gaara goes into the battlefield to confront his father, the Fourth Kazekage, meanwhile his men must battle against the Second Mizukage and the Third Raikage.  Meanwhile, Naruto must come across Itachi.  Meanwhile, Kabuto summons Hayate Gekko!

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”.

What is “Naruto”?

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In volume 24, the series focuses on Gaara and Temari leading their team to take on the reanimated Fourth Kazekage, Second Mizukage and the Third Raikage.  Naruto and Killer Bee rushes to the battle scene to lend their assistance.  But Kabuto has something up his sleeve.  What does he plan on doing?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

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

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24” is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Openings/Endings

With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”, the 14th season of the series manages to borrow bits and pieces from the manga series and elongate the Fourth Great Ninja War for multiple seasons.

As of January 2016 in Japan, the anime series has not yet completed, despite the manga series having ended in 2014, “The Last Naruto the Movie” being released that same year and now the storyline has shifted towards “Boruto”, as of now, it looks as if the series will continue on with its 19th season.

What writers have done is to focus on various aspects of the Great Ninja War by focusing on other characters outside of Naruto and showing them in battle.

And in some ways, I kind of like that, because the manga series focuses on other characters from other clans for a short-time and focused on the core characters much more.  With the anime series, writers want to get viewers acclimated to how huge the war is and how each member contributed in battle.

So, with “Naruto” being a series with a lot of characters, writers have more liberty to explore the characters during the war.  The only caveat by doing this is that for those wanting the story to be more tied to the manga series, may be upset that writers have managed to extend the war for so many episodes.  And others will think they are nothing more than filler episodes.

Yes, they are filler episodes but having read the manga, I feel the writers were respectful of Kishimoto’s manga work but wanted to show how everyone was affected during the Great Ninja War.  And so far, the series has been entertaining.

And with this volume, people get to see Gaara and Temari as leaders.  We get a storyline that explains why Gaara was treated the way he was by his father and others when he was younger and more!  For the antagonists side, we get to see more of Kabuto and how he is using the re-animation technique but also how he is using the White Zetsu Army.

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

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based but for good reason.  It also manages to take bits and pieces from the manga series but build upon the Great Ninja War by showcasing other characters like Gaara, Temari, Shikamaru, Hinata and Neji in action.

If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, then “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you!

 

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