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Baywatch: Extended Cut (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

August 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” is a hilarious action comedy that pays homage to the hit TV series but also is a laugh-out loud, fun and crazy film.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but as a guy who watched the original “Baywatch” series many times during my teenage years, I can’t help but enjoy Seth Gordon’s “Baywatch”!  An action comedy worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Baywatch: Extended Cut

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 126 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition, English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

COMPANY: Paramount

RATED: R (For Language Throughout, Crude Sexual Content and Graphic Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2017


Based on the series “Baywatch” by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann

Directed by Seth Gordon

Screenplay by Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

Story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant

Producer: Ari Arad, Michael Costigan, Steven PAul

Co-Producer: Holly Bario, Jane Nerlinger Evans, Maki Terashima-Furuta

Executive Producer: Tetsuya Fujimura, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Yoshinobu Noma, Jeffrey Silver

Music by Lorne Balfe, Clint Mansell

Cinematography by Jess Hall

Edited by Billy Rich, Neil Smith

Casting by Lucy Vevan, Liz Mullane, Miranda Rivers

Production Design by Jan Roelfs

Art Direction by Matt Austin, Simon Bright, Leri Greer, Miro Harre, Ben Hawker, Richard L. Johnson, Agata Maliauka, Andy McLaren, Erik Polczwartek, Brad Ricker, Ken Turner

Set Decoration by Greg Cokerill, Elli Griff, Craig Poll, Calvin Tsoi, Brana Rosenfeld, Kitt Van Der Kidd

Costume Design by Kurt and Bart


Starring:

Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon

Zac Efron as Matt Brody

Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds

Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn

Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker

Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden

John Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Sgt. Ellerbee

Hannibal Buress as Dave the Tech

David Hasshelhoff as The Mentor

Pamela Anderson as Casey Jean Parker

Rob Huebel as Captain Thorpe


When a dangerous crime wave hits the beach, legendary Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson, The Fate of the Furious) leads his elite squad of badass lifeguards on a mission to prove you don’t have to wear a badge to save the bay. Joined by a trio of hot-shot recruits including former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), they’ll ditch the surf and go deep undercover to take down a ruthless businesswoman (Priyanka Chopra, TV’s “Quantico”), whose devious plans threaten the future of the bay.


Back in 1989, “Baywatch” aired on television.  Unfortunately, the first series didn’t last that long but when it was revived for the first-run syndication market in 1991, the show was successful not just in the United States but internationally and would air for a decade, ending with it’s final series “Baywatch: Hawaii” in 2001.

The series would receive a film adaptation but instead of drama, the film was created as an action comedy.  Directed by Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”, “Identity Thief”) and a screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift.

The film stars Dwayne Johnson (“Fast & Furious”, “San Andreas”, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”), Zac Efron (“High School Musical”, “17 Again”, “That Awkward Moment”), Priyanka Chopra (“Quantico”, “Barf!!”), Alexandra Daddario (“San Andreas”, “Percy Jackson” films), Kelly Rohrbach (“Broad City”, “Cafe Society”), Ilfenesh Hadera (“Oldboy”, “Billions”), Jon Bass (“Loving”, “Big Time in Hollywood”, “All Nighter”) and “Yahya Abdul-Mateen II” (“The Get Down”, “Aquaman”).

The film which was budgeted at $69 million and would earn $177.4 million in the box office.

And now “Baywatch: Extended Cut” is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.

The film is set in Emerald Bay, Florida and Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is doing his rounds at the beach, alongside his second-command Stephanie Holden (portrayed by Ifenesh Hadera) and fellow bodyguard C.J. Parker (portrayed by Kelly Rohrbach).  The three work on the beat for the Baywatch division and as the are planning to hire new bodyguards, Mitch is told by his superior, Captain Thorpe (portrayed by Rob Huebel) that due to a decrease in funding, for publicity, he will need to take in Olympian swimmer Matt Brody (portrayed by Zac Efron).

Unfortunately, Matt thinks he’s entitled, cocky and immediately rubs Mitch and crew the wrong way.

As for those trying out to be part of Baywatch, Ronnie Greenbaum (portrayed by Jon Bass) is a chubby (yet well-endowed) guy who has always liked CJ and each time she is nice to him, he feels that’s not good enough to be around her.  It doesn’t help that Ronnie can’t speak or does weird things when she’s around but will he make the cut for Baywatch?

As for Summer Quinn, she’s determined and blunt and often has words for Matt especially since he can’t stop looking at her boobs.

Meanwhile on the beach, Victoria Leeds (portrayed by Priyanka Chopra) is the new owner of a private bar, while sweet on the outside, she is actually a crime boss selling drugs on the beach.

When the new Baywatch team is selected, immediately they start noticing drugs on the beach and during a rescue attempt for a congressman and a few partying women, Mitch thinks the drugs and cases of homicides are related to Victoria Leeds.

And as much as he wants to bust them, Sgt. Ellerbee often reminds Mitch and team that they are not police and solving these crimes are his jurisdiction.  And Matt agrees with the Sgt., and bickers with the other Baywatch members because he doesn’t feel they should be investigating homicides but helping people who drown or people who get sunburned.

Will this new Baywatch team ever gel?  And will they find out who is responsible for the drugs and homicides that are occuring at Emerald Beach?


VIDEO:

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” receives its first 4K Ultra HD K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition.

With the film shot outdoors, colors are absolutely vibrant and the film looks colorful and wonderful in 4K Ultra HD.  Closeups show amazing detail and for the most part, this film looks great in 4K!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality is equally impressive. Featured in English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and with an English audio description.

The film has a blend of crystal clear dialogue, music and great use of sound effects during action sequences, which there are plenty.  “Baywatch” sounds amazing!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Meet the Lifeguards – (21:36) A featurette with the cast talking about the fun they are having on the set and working with each other on set.
  • Continuing the Legacy – (9:28) A featurette about creating a film re-imagining the “Baywatch” TV series.
  • Stunts & Training – (9:10) A featurette about the training that the cast had to go through for the film and the stunts they took part in.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – (10:06) Featuring six deleted and extended scenes.

EXTRAS:

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I’m going to be up front about this…growing up, I absolutely enjoyed “Baywatch”.  Sure, that teenager in me loved watching the film for the many women on the show, watching surfer Kelly Slater in his first major acting gig and for the most part, it was syndicated TV that was popular for its time.

I can easily remember that after football on Sundays, there was always “Baywatch” and it was a series that was hard to resists, and also a reminder of how I wished I was at the beach during the hot summer.

So, with the announcement of “Baywatch”, I must admit that hearing about a movie adaptation but instead of being dramatic, the film is more action comedy.  And the trailer was enough to peak my interest as it had done with other ’80s shows such as “21 Jump Street”, why not “Baywatch”?

And what a hilarious and fun film this turned out to be.  Sure, I know many people are going to pan this film as “Baywatch” embodies a series that was often T&A and many guys watching for the ladies, and there were ladies who watched it for the men.  And the film retains the T&A jokes but also some of the immature comedy that one often sees with an Apatow or Sandler film.  And a lot of those films tend to turn film critics off.

The thing about this film is you don’t take it seriously.  This is not a film that tries to capture the true life of bodyguards, it’s more of a comedy of a group of bodyguards who get involved in a major murder mystery (something out of their jurisdiction) but they just want their beaches safe.

Add in sexual tension and a cocky Matt Brody with plenty of improvisation and in the end, you get a film that is crazy, fun and if you are into immature jokes, something to make you laugh.

One scene has potential lifeguard, Ronnie Greenbaum choking on his food and CJ coming to give him the Heimlich maneuver, but with each thrust on him while in her red swimsuit gets Ronnie a stiffy and before CJ could see, he falls on a wooden chair on the beach.  But doesn’t realize that his long penis gets caught in the groove and he’s literally stuck.  Needless to say, everyone on the beach see it, record him on their smartphone and CJ and Mitch are brought into the mix.

It’s stupid jokes like these that you can’t help but laugh.  But it’s no doubt one of those moments in the film that stay with you because it’s so memorable (for some reason, a scene in “Porky’s” comes to mind, but not as sexually explicit).

And of course, this wouldn’t be a “Baywatch” film without the Hoff and Pamela Anderson making an appearance.  And even the cast joking about the slow-motion running and also poking fun of the popular TV show.

It’s important to note that because of the adult humor, this is not a film to watch with children in the room!

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is absolutely fantastic.  Lossless audio is equally awesome and there are numerous special features included.

Overall, “Baywatch: Extended Cut” is a hilarious action comedy that pays homage to the hit TV series but also is a laugh-out loud, fun and crazy film.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but as a guy who watched the original “Baywatch” series many times during my teenage years, I can’t help but enjoy Seth Gordon’s “Baywatch”!  An action comedy worth watching!

 

Obit. (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

You don’t come across documentaries like this too often, nor do you come across a documentary that specifically deals with “obituaries”.  But Vanessa Gould’s documentary is fascinating, entertaining and a documentary worth watching

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Obit.

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 Surround, English with optional English SDH subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017


Directed by Vanessa Gould

Produced by Caitlin Mae Burke, Vanessa Gould 

Co-Producer: Josh Wick

Executive Producer: Geralyn White Dreyfous

Co-Executive Producer: Diana Barrett, Ann Blinkhorn, Barbara Dobkin, Nion McEvoy, Anne Milliken, Katrina vanden Heuvel

Music by Joel Goodman

Cinematography by Ben Wolf

Edited by Kristin Bye


Starring:

Bruce Weber

William McDonald

Margalit Fox

William Grimes

Jack Kadden

Douglas Martin

Jeff Roth

Daniel Slotnik

Paul Vitello


It’s a shame no one wants to talk to them at parties, because obituary writers are a surprisingly funny bunch. Ten hours before newspapers hit neighborhood doorsteps – and these days, ten minutes before news hits the web – an obit writer is racing against deadline to sum up a long and newsworthy life in under 1000 words. Obit. is the first documentary to explore the world of these writers and their subjects, focusing on the legendary team at The New York Times, who approach their daily work with journalistic rigor and narrative flair. Going beyond the byline and into the minds of those chronicling life after death on the freshly inked front lines of history, the film invites some of the most essential questions we ask ourselves about life, memory, and the inevitable passage of time. What do we choose to remember? What never dies?


From filmmaker Vanessa Gould comes a documentary that explores the worklife of an obituary writer and what best than to focus on the obituary writers of “The New York times”.

The first documentary to look into the world of those who write obituaries and because “The New York Times” is a paper read nationwide (and all over the world), the obituaries that cover prominent people is a job that involves a lot of research for the facts, figuring out which obituaries would be newsworthy, learning to keep oneself in check to not overindulge and also seeing how these journalists manage to do the job.

The inspiration to create this documentary was when Vanessa’s friend Eric Joisel, a French sculptor who was the focal point of her film “Between the Folds” died.  And when he died, she was called by New York Times Obituaries Senior Writer Margalit Fox.  And with the thorough questions that were asked by Fox, this made Gould think about the obituary writers of the New York Times.

And not long after, Gould approached the New York Times about creating a film about those behind-the-scenes writing the obituaries.

The film focuses on Obituaries Desk Editor William McDonald (former editor on NYT Metro, National and Cultural News desks and editor of three books of Times obits); Obituaries Senior Writer Margalit Fox (former staff editor, Book Reviews);  Obituaries writer William Grimes (former  book critic, restaurant critic and culture correspondent); former Deputy Obituaries Editor Jack Kadden (previously editor on the NYT Metro, National and Education desks); Assistant Obituaries Editor Peter Keepnews (former editor on Cultural News desk and Book Review); former Obituaries Writer Douglas Martin (worked at for 34-years as an energy correspondent and writer); Obituaries Photo Editor Dolores Morrison (Photo editor at the Obituaries and Metropolitan desks); Chief Pop Music Critic Jon Pareles (has worked for the Times since 1988); Jeff Roth (working the Times news morgue since 1993); Dan Slotnik (working the NYT Obituaries and Metropolitan desks since 2005); former obituaries writer Paul Vitello (previously a Metropolitan and Religion reporter for the Times and a columnist for “Newsday”);  former obituaries writer Bruce Weber (previously NYT theater critic and culture reporter)and Earl Wilson (Senior News Assistant).

We get to see how these writers prepare obituaries but also how they prepare obituaries in advance for prominent celebrities but also how they feel about their career as an obituary writer and if they think about their own mortality, since they write obituaries.


VIDEO:

“Obit.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:781 aspect ratio) and was shot in digital.  And like many documentaries, there are a lot of archived sources from various types of footage, especially during the discussion of celebrities or high-profile figures and more.  For the most part, the film looks very good and is well-edited.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Obit.” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is primarily a dialogue-driven soundtrack which incorporates a musical score.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Obit.” comes with a theatrical trailer.


I think that anyone who has read an obituary, especially from a nationwide newspaper such as “The New York Times” has had questions of how a writer was able to obtain so much information on a deceased individual.

The Times was known for covering newsworthy subjects and there is a lot of detail on the deceased, especially their accomplishments in their career or life.

And part of the success of the New York Times is that their writers are people who have had years of experience writing for the newspaper, many who were previous editors for other departments, critics or was a reporter in some sort of fashion for the Times or other high profile newspaper publications.

Watching “Obit.”, it’s a very fascinating documentary because you get to see the perspectives of the writers, as public perception may think the job is morbid and depressing but Margalit Fox puts it into perspective that obits writeups are mostly about life and very little about death.

We learn of the great care that goes into writing obituaries but the work that goes into developing a story.

Having worked for a major newspaper corporation, I had the opportunity to see how one of our obituary writers went about her job but also to see the differences between larger to smaller newspapers.  But what these individuals have to do for the New York Times is much more intensive and they really take obituary writing to new level.  Just trying to establish contact with a family member or loved one and getting the information of prominent people in their respective industries on a daily basis, sounds quite daunting.

But these writers are up to the challenge and while there is a lot of work involved and there is something new each time they come to work each day about a deceased individual and needing to filter out what is real and what is over-exaggerated.  But also seeing their enthusiasm for the work that they do is pretty cool!

The documentary also goes into the deaths of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Meadowlark Lemon but also hearing from the obituary writers of their most memorable obits that they have worked on.

If anything, I just enjoyed of how Vanessa Gould was able to film the staff, get their personal thoughts and see them on the job, at a meeting and even sometimes having small debates with each other.  The camera is there recording but yet, the subjects of the film went on with their business as if the camera wasn’t there and it adds to the film’s efficacy.  Capturing these writers in their natural state but also allowing them to share whatever is on their mind.

May it come to death, the over-exaggeration of accomplishments by family’s or even questions of the lack of diversity of obits featured on “The New York Times”.

And last, what we see in this documentary is of a New York Times that was.  Not long after the film was release, the publication chose to focus on going digital and many writers and longtime staff were offered a buyout.  And so, a few of these longtime writers featured in the documentary are no longer employed with “The New York Times”.

The Blu-ray features very good picture quality and dialogue/music is crystal clear through the front channels.  There are no special features, so it’s a barebones Blu-ray release.

Overall, you don’t come across documentaries like this too often, nor do you come across a documentary that specifically deals with “obituaries”.  But Vanessa Gould’s documentary is fascinating, entertaining and a documentary worth watching!

 

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

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 D

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Character Design by Tomoyuki Shitaya

Art Director by Koichiro Bizen

Anime Production: J.C. Staff


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Sōma Yukihira

Minami Takahashi/Jad Saxton as Megumi Tadokoro

Risa Taneda/Stephanie Wittels as Erina Nakiri

Ai Kakuma/Juliet Simmons as Mayumi Kurase

Ai Kayano/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryōko Sakaki

Asami Seto as Miyoko Hōjō

Banjou Ginga/John Swasey as Senzaemon Nakiri

Chinatsu Akasaki/Christina Kelly as Alice Nakiri

Junichi Suwabe/ as Akira Hayama

Junichi Yanagita/Andrew Love as Daigo Aoki

Kengo Kawanishi/Corey Hartzog as Shōji Satō

Maaya Uchida/Luci Christian as Yūki Yoshino

Mamiko Noto as Hinako Inui

Mikako Takahashi as Jun Shiomi

Natsuki Hanae/Bryan Baugus as Takumi Aldini

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryō Kurokiba

Rikiya Koyama/Jay Hickman as Jōichirō Yukihira

Rina Hidaka/Jennifer Gilbert as Urara Kawashima

Saori Goto/Karlii Hoch as Nao Sadasuka

Saori Ōnishi/Brittney Karbowski as Hisako Arato

Shizuka Ishigami/Rachel Landon as Ikumi Mito

Taishi Murata/Houston Hayes as Shun Ibusaki

Takahiro Sakurai/Scott Gibs as Satoshi Isshiki

Takehito Koyasu/Ty Mahany as Gin Dōjima

Tomokazu Sugita/Anthony Hunter as Etsuya Eizan

Yūichi Nakamura/Benjamin McLaughlin as Kojirō Shinomiya

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Greg Ayres as Zenji Marui

Yuuki Ono as Isami Aldini


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Soma is determined to prove them wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase from Right-Stuf

 

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

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Directed by Atsuko Ishikzuka

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Episode Director: Taku Kishimoto

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryouhei Kimura/Austin Tindle as Riku

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Ricco Fajardo as Takeru

Kana Hanazawa/Natalie Hoover as Nana

Kensho Ono/Clifford Chapin as Hozumi

Daisuke Ono/Jason Liebrecht as Heath

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Ayumu

Junichi Suwabe/Ivan Jasso as Kyosuke

J. Michal Tatum as Yujiro Dan

Daiki Yamashita/Todd Haberkorn as Tomoe

Greg Ayres as Amatsu


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase from Right-Stuf

 

The Wedding Plan (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Norma Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Wedding Plan

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital with Audio with Available English Subtitles, Subtitles: English, Spanish

RATED: PG (Thematic Elements)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 5, 2017


Directed by Rama Burshtein

Written by Rama Burshtein

Produced by Assad Amir

Co-Produced: Adar Shafran

Associate Producer: Tammy Cohen

Music by Roy Edri

Cinematography by Amit Yasur

Edited by Yael Hersonski

Art Direction by Uri Aminov

Costume Design: Hava Levi Rozelsky


Starring:

Noa Koler as Michal

Amos Tamam as Shimi

Oz Zehavi as Yos

Irit Sheleg as Sosh, Michal’s Mother

Ronny Merhavi as Feggie

Dafi Shoshana Alpern as Noam, Michal’s Sister

Oded Leopold as Assaf

Udi Persi as Ronen, Blind Date

Jonathan Rozen as Alon, Blind Date (Deaf)


THE WEDDING PLAN is a poignant and funny romantic comedy about love, marriage, and faith in life’s infinite possibilities. Michal, blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off their wedding with only a month’s notice, is unwilling to return to single life. Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. As the day of the ceremony grows closer and no suitor appears, Michal puts everything on the line to find happiness.


From filmmaker Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) comes her Israeli film “Laavor et hakir” (a.k.a. “Through the Wall”) and will be released on DVD in North America with the title, “The Wedding Plan”.

Screened at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and earning actress Noa Koler the “Best Actress” award at the Haifa International Film Festival 2016.  And the film opened in the U.S. back in May 2017 and received positive reviews from film critics nationwide.

The film begins with Michal (portrayed by Noa Koler), an Orthodox Jewish woman in her early 30s and notices that her fiance is not being straightforward with her.  When she pushes him to tell her what is wrong, at first he refuses, but after plenty of cajoling by Michal, he tells her the truth…he is not in love with her.

And their wedding which is called off.

Determined to marry 22 days later on the eighth night of Hannukkah, the film is about Michal in despair, trying to find someone to marry her.

Michal goes to a fortune teller (portrayed by Odelia Moreh-Matalon) and tells her the truth that she wants to be married, wants a man that she can love and loves her.  And the fortune teller tells her that her dreams will come true and she recommends her to seeing her son Shimi (portrayed by Amos Tamam), a man who runs a wedding hall in Jerusalem.  And Shimi tells her that he would give her a discount if she gets married at his wedding hall.

And so Michal decides rent a hall and continues to prepare for a marriage despite not having a man to marry and to continue as originally planned and leaves it up to God to decide on her groom.

Michal goes on several dates and meets a man who vows to not look a woman in the face if she is not his wife.  She meets a deaf man (portrayed by Jonathan Rozen) that she had refused to meet earlier.  And during a pilgrimate to Nachman of Breslov, she meets a man named Yoss (portrayed by Oz Zehavi), who happens to be an Israeli pop star.

But as the wedding date approaches, will Michal get married to anyone?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Wedding Plan” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD.  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a photo gallery and trailer.

EXTRAS:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a slipcover.


One of the things that I love about foreign films is to learn about culture and perspectives from other countries.  And Rama Burshtein has given us a look at arranged marriages and with her 2012 film “Fill the Void”, she gave us a perspective of a young Hasidic Jewish woman pressured into an arranged marriage to an older widower.

In 2016, Rama Burshtein tackles the topic of marriage again with her romantic comedy “The Wedding Plan”.

The film revolves around a Jewish Orthodox woman named Michal who wants to be married, wants to love and wants to be loved by a man.

And when her fiance calls of their wedding a month before their actual wedding date, this sends Michal in a path of despair.  Not wanting to cancel her marriage and is determined to get married on the date of her marriage, with the support of her family and friends, Michal goes on various dates with men who also want to be married.

But nothing goes as planned in these dates as the men she meets are not interested in her and her wanting to meet with these men is not much for love but more for despair.

And as the days near her wedding date, Michal starts to become unsure whether or not she will get married.  Will she get married?

Featuring a wonderful performance by actress Noa Koler and a soundtrack with great music, “The Wedding Plan” is unique that it’s not formulaic by any means.  Most of the time, with most films, you expect the protagonist to meet the right person they want to marry, run into complications but yet they get married.

This is not so with “The Wedding Plan”.  Until the film gets to the end, you really don’t know if Michal will marry.  And so, the film still remains fresh and leaves the viewer wondering, will she or won’t she get married?

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality good as one can expect on DVD.  Closeups look very good, outdoor scenes are vibrant, dialogue and music is crystal clear and there are few special features included such as a photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

Overall, Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!


 

Kill Switch (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for a popcorn sci-fi action film, then “Kill Switch” may be to your liking.  Just don’t come into the film expecting anything to deep.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kill Switch

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Directed by Tim Smit

Screenplay by Charlie Kindinger, Omid Nooshin

Produced by Tim Smit, Sander Verdonk, Denis Wigman, Patrick Chu

Executive Producer: Shanan Becker, Bill Bromiley, Russell Geyser, Al Munteanu, Thibaut Niels, Clay Pecorin, Milan Popelka, Aaron Ryder, Ness Saban

Co-Producer: Michael Jackman

Music by Dries Bijlsma, Rob Peters

Cinematography by Jacco van Ree

Edited by Wouter van Luijn

Casting by Rose Wicksteed

Production Design by Romke Faber

Art Direction by Nora van der Steeg

Set Decoration by Steven Van Der Zalm


Starring:

Dan Stevens as Will Porter

Berenice Marlohe as Abigail Vos

Charity Wakefield as Mia

Tygo Gernandt as Michael

Gijs Scholten van Aschat as Reynard

Kasper van Groesen as Donny

Mike Libanon as Hugo


In the future world, a physicist’s experiment to harness unlimited energy goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, Will Porter must race through an imploding world and retrieve the Redivider box to save his family – and all of humanity!


Tim Smit has made a name for himself as a visual effects supervisor for the crime drama “Tiger House” and “Last Passenger” and this time, Smit makes his directorial debut for the American-Dutch sci-fi action film “Kill Switch”, which Smit is also the visual effects supervisor.

Co-written by Charlie Kindinger and Omid Nooshin, the film stars Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “The Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Berenice Marlohe (“Skyfall”, “Twin Peaks”, “Song to Song”), Charity Wakefield (“Wolf Hall”, “The Player”, “Sense & Sensibility”) and Tygo Gernandt (“Godforsaken”, “Black Death”, “Dokter Tinus”).

The film is set in the future and physicist and former NASA pilot Will Porter (portrayed by Dan Stevens) is awaiting for the project that he’s working on for Alterplex Energy, a power company to take place.  The project is to harness unlimited energy and with his sister Mia (portrayed by Charity Wakefield) and her son Donnie (portrayed by Kasper van Groesen) and all looked as if the project is working wonderfully.

The next scene begins to show Will being recruited by Alterplex and being interviewed by Abigail Vos (portrayed by Berenice Marlohe) for her boss, Reynard (portrayed by Gijs Scholten van Aschat). And how he is offered a lot of money to work for Alterplex Energy and also providing amazing benefits for Will bu also for his sister and nephew.

The film then jumps forward as Will making the jump to Echo, a mirror universe of Earth and seeing if Echo has received any damage.  And what Will finds is a quiet city with dead people all lying on the ground.  Will learns that Altiplex has pretty much taken control of the world and unleashed their security drones upon the city.

Also, an underground group has formed trying to stop Alterplex since the company turned on a tower, which has led to strange anomalies in the city.  Which includes things being sucked out from the other world and vehicles or things being dropped in Echo.

As Will moves towards the anomaly, he carries a device thinking that it will balance the power between the two universes and stop the anomalies.

Next thing you know, he sees humans fighting against the drones and finds the underground rebels going after him.  As one of the men are about to kill him, Will finds out one of the men is former Alterplex Security Michael (portrayed by Tygo Gernandt).

Michael, who is now with the underground rebels asks Will, how he survived?  As the drones come, they go to see Will and Will tells the drones that he is an employee with Alterplex and shows the Alterplex drone a device that Alterplex has given him.  The drones then say he is under arrest and that Alterplex is coming to arrest him.

But then the tower immediately actives and sucks the drones and many birds in and suddenly drops a train on top of the drones, destroying them.

Will finds out that he was killed (and is shocked that people think he was dead) is then joined by Alterplex’s Abby and she finds out that he is carrying a “Redivider”.

We are then taken back to various flashbacks and to see why Will is carrying a Redivider and what the true purpose of the Redivider is all about.


VIDEO:

“Kill Switch” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). While the shots are primarily shot indoors, the film utilizes a lot of visual effects and while the film leans more on a cool side, the visual effects works wonderfully.  And because the film is shot mostly in first person, almost like a video game, you are seeing the film as Will Porter and visual effects are heavily incorporated.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kill Switch” is presented in English5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio  and features crystal clear dialogue and many action sequences enveloping the surround channels.  As one can expect from a sci-fi action film, from drones firing off on Will and friends to the portal turning on and off and seeing objects or vehicles crashing down, the lossless audio is fantastic.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kill Switch” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Tim Smit.
  • The Visual Effect: Inside the Director’s Process – (4:51) Tim Smit talks about directing a film and also being in charge of visual effects.

EXTRAS:

“Kill Switch” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


Once in awhile, you hear about sci-fi action films that are created with the smallest budget but yet looks like a film made with a significant amount of money.

“Kill Switch” is a film that benefits from the experience of talented visual effects director Tim Smit, who makes his directorial debut.

Featuring a small cast and a plethora of visual effects, “Kill Switch” revolves around scientist and former NASA pilot Will Porter, who was recruited by Alterplex Energy, a power company that built a tower that taps into unlimited quantum energy.

Because of his skills, Alteplex sends Will Porter to take a device to a mirror universe of Earth known as Echo.

But something is eerily wrong in Echo as people are found killed, surviving rebels are fighting against Alterplex Security who pretty much rules over the land and people he knew are looking at him weird and telling him how he came back to life, because he died.

All Will knows is that his mission is to take a device to enable a power transfer between both universes in order to set things right because the tower is sending objects flying and dropping major objects from above.  Will believes his mission is to fix this problem with the device, not knowing that the device a redivider a.k.a. “kill switch”, a last resort to destroy a universe.

Showcased in a first-person viewpoint from Will and flashbacks showcasing Will getting his job at Alterplex and how he meets Alterplex’s Abigail Vos and former Alterplex Security, Michael. A big part of the flashbacks focus on Will trying to take care of his sister Mia and her special needs son, Donny.

While the film is fascinating and no doubt showcases Tim Smit’s talent as a visual effects director (in a special feature, you learn how Smit did a lot of the visual effects himself), the film has to credit Smit’s talent for taking a normal world and make it look post-apocalyptic.  Where humans are no longer living normally and Alterplex drones are flying around shooting at people.

If anything, “Kill Switch” is similar to a video game that is more visual eye candy, “Kill Switch” is a sci-fi action film that is also visual candy and a popcorn action film that doesn’t rely too much on its story but on its action/visual effects sequences.

The Blu-ray looks very good and the lossless audio definitely utilizes the surround channels and LFE for the action sequences.  Special features are primarily an audio commentary and short visual effects featurette.

Overall, some people may find the first-person perspective  of “Kill Switch” to be a bit jarring, as it primarily is Will’s focalpoint, going along with his risky mission and helping out Michael and Abigail, but also coming across the drones or human rebels and trying to avoid being killed.  The film does have a video game feel to it and the most ardent cinema fans may not like the film’s visual presentation but in some way, it does work to the film’s advantage, because today’s FPS video game generation may find this type of visual style to be something that they are quite familiar with.  So, you’ll either enjoy or dislike this film.

If you are in the mood for a popcorn sci-fi action film, then “Kill Switch” may be to your liking.  Just don’t come into the film expecting anything to deep.

 

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

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

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

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

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


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

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

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


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

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the films…

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” is truly the best season yet.  The sheer magnitude of the war, the series captivates you with the awesome special effects but also how characters are integrated this season.  Many characters who experience their lowest of lows in this season and you wonder how they will emerge after the war is over.  Simply the best season yet of “Black Sails” and I highly recommend “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season”.

© 2017 Starz Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 10 Episodes (9 Hrs., 56 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2017


Created by Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg

Directed by Steve Boyum, Alik Sakharov, Lukas Ettlin, Uta Brisewitz, Marc Jobst, Roel Reine, Jonathan E. Steinberg

Written by Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg, Tyler Van Patten, Brad Kane, Dan Shotz, Jennifer Castillo, Michael Gunn, Jillian Molin, Peter Ocko

Produced by Jonathan Brytus, Nina Heyns, Brad Kane

Executive Producer: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz

Co-Executive Producer: David Wicht, Alik Sakharov, Peter Ocko

Associate Producer: Lukas Ettlin, Pal Grinder

Supervising Producer: Nina Jack

Music by Bear McCreary

Cinematography by Gavin Struthers, David Luther, Simon Dennis, Michael Swan

Edited by Paul Trejo, Amanda Zemke

Casting by Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Wolf Kroeger

Art Direction by Christophe Dalberg, Jonathan Hely-Hutchinson, Ross Jenkin, Moray McGregor

Costume Design by Tim Aslam


Starring:

Toby Stephens as Captain Flint

Luke Arnold as John Silver

Toby Schmitz as Rackham

Hannah New as Eleanor Guthrie

Jessica Park Kennedy as Max

Clara Paget as Anne Bonny

Winston Chong as Joji

Tom Hopper as Billy Bones

Andre Jacobs as De Groot

Zach McGowan as Captain Charles Vane

Lise Slabber as Idelle

Laudo Liebenber as Dooley

Craig Jackson as Featherstone

Luke Roberts as Woodes Rogers

Zethu Diomo as Madi

Anna-Louise Plowman as Mrs. hudson

Chris Fisher as Ben Gunn

Andrian Mazive as Kofi,

Wilson Carpenter as Ellers

Alistair Moulton Black as Dr. Howell

Ray Stevenson as Blackbeard

David Wilmot as Irael Hands

Dale Jackson as Lt. Utley

Sibongile Mlambo as Eme

Aidan Whytock as Jacob Garrett

Mark Elderkin as Pastor Lambrick

Adam Neill as Mr. Soames

Rory Acton Burnell as Colin


After three successful seasons, Starz’s pirate drama ”Black Sails” will reach its end with the show’s fourth season next year. Set as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, ”Black Sails” portrays the lives of Captain Flint, Long John Silver, and their crew, roughly 20 years prior to where the book starts.


A season of betrayal.  A season of tragedy.  And a season destruction.

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” features Woodes Rogers wants nothing but the deaths of pirates, especially John Silver.

Meanwhile, Silver must decide whether or not he can trust Captain Flint and Billy Bones.

Who will survive in the bloody waters as the war in the West Indies and on the shores of New Providence Island leads to chaos and destruction.

What is “Black Sails” about?

In 2014, the series “Black Sails”was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz.

Set two decades before the events of Treasure Island and during the Golden Age of Piracy, the series began with notorious pirate, Captain Flint  (portrayed by Toby Stephens) taking in a young crew member named John Silver (portrayed by John Silver).

As pirates were seen as threatening to maritime trade in the region, civilized nations declared pirates as enemies of all mankind and were in war against the world.

As the first season focused on the search for the Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima, the second season featured the treasure being taken by pirate Calico Jack Rackham (portrayed by Toby Schmitz) and exploring why Captain Flint, a former navy officer turned to piracy.  The third season focuses on the war over the control of New Providence, as the British Empire represented by Captain Woodes Rogers (portrayed by Luke Roberts) is on the attack.

And now with the fourth season, Woodes Rodgers is now married to Eleanor (portrayed by Hannah New), trying to show how she is now a proper wife.  Knowing that the pirates are planning to retake Nassau, he pulls of a strategy that enables the British Empire to sink many pirate ships, with Blackbeard managing to pull away.

But as Blackbeard tries to chase down Rodgers, it proves to be a trap set by Rodgers and he captures Blackbeard, Rackham and Anne Bonny and their fellow pirates.   Rodgers wanting to show how his hatred towards the pirates, has his soldiers put a bag over Blackbeard’s head, hangs him on a rope upside down and keelhauled.  As Blackbeard is dropped under the ship, he is dragged on the razor sharp barnacles.

But each time he is brought back up and Rodgers planning to kill Rackham next, Blackbeard keeps showing his resilience, forcing Rodgers to kill him with a pistol. Meanwhille, Anne is beaten up severely.

As for John Silver, he has a romantic relationship with Madi.  But as he was on one of the ships sunk by Rodgers, he is dragged under the surf and wakes up alive on a beach, where he is discovered and beaten by Israel Hands (portrayed by Dave Wilmot).

As Silver plans what to do against Rodgers, he has a problem as Billy (portrayed by Tom Hopper) is trying to get him to kill Flint.  Meanwhile, Jack is upset with Flint, as Captain Flint has agreed to exchange Nassau Fort for the Urca gold.

Meanwhile, as Rodgers wants revenge and not having the support of the British, he decides to get the Spanish Armada involved.

How will things turn out for each of these individuals?

The main characters of “Black Sails” are:

  • James Flint – One of the most feared Golden Age pirates, he is a pirate captain in the Caribbean and a man who was once an officer of the Royal Navy.
  • John Silver – A former sailor turned pirate and opportunist.  His leg was crushed with an axe is season 3 and now he walks with a cane.  He is in a relationship with Madi.
  • Jack Rackham – A pirate captain wh operated in the Bahamas and was the brains behind Captain Vane.  Rackham is responsible for finding the location of the Urca gold.
  • Max – A prostitute, who has betrayed her fellow pirate friends and allies herself with Governor Rogers and Eleanor She is in love with Anne Bonny.
  • Anne Bonny – A female pirate who operates in the Bahamas and is Rackham’s lover.  Feels indebted to Rackham for slitting her abusive husband’s throat and both joined Charles Vane’s pirate crew.
  • Billy Bones – A pirate who became First Mate for Captain Flint.
  • Eleanor Guthrie – The daughter of Richard Guthrie, the wealthiest black marketeer in the Bahamas and chief fence/supplier for the many pirate crews  of New Providence Island.  She owns and operates a tavern on Nassau’s main street and is married to Gov. Rodgers.
  • Madi – The daughter of Mr. Scott and the Maroon Queen, and is expected to become the leader of the Maroon Island community of former slaves.  She is in a relationship with John Silver.
  • Woodes Rogers – The appointed Royal Governor of the Bahamas.  He hired Eleanor Guthrie to advise him and over time they grew closer and became husband and wife.  He has a deep hatred towards pirates and is the primary antagonist of seasons 3 and 4.  He wants to retake Nassau.

VIDEO:

“Black Sails” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, television shows on Blu-ray can often exhibit noise and artifacts but this latest Blu-ray release for “The Blacklist” looks very good, considering a lot of the episodes are shot outdoors. Close-up details are good, black levels are nice and deep and picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Black Sails” is presented in English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Surround and features crystal clear dialogue and music. While surround channels capture environment ambiance and action sequences from cannons shooting, ships being blasted and sunk.  All this and more.

Subtitles are in English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Inside the World of Black Sails – (18:10) A combination of small featurettes about the world of “Black Sails” and interviews with co-creator Jonathan E. Steinberg and cast.
  • Creating the World – (2:58) Creating the world and the craftmanship to build the show.
  • Roundtable: Women in Piracy – (1:53) The female cast members discuss the strong female character roles in an era which is set in a man’s world.
  • Roundtable: The Legends of Treasure Island – (2:03) The cast discuss the ties to “Treasure Island” and how their characters ties into the book.
  • Roundtable: Fearless Fans – (1:17) The guys talk about the popularity of the show and fan interaction.

EXTRAS:

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


With season three showing us the rise of Royal Governor of the Bahamas, Woodes Rogers, his hatred of pirates goes full force as the goal of the British Empire to retake Nassau is set.

Many pirate ships are sunk, John Silver barely survives and is found by pirate Israel Hands, who was a gunner for Captain Flint (note: In historical fact, Israel Hands was the second-in-command for Blackbeard).  While Rodgers captures Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham and Blackbeard.

But with the British Empire not willing to support Rodgers in retaking Nassau, Rodgers goes to his country’s enemy, Spain (both the British and Spain are at war during that time).  And the Spanish Armada shows up to show their raw power against the pirates (and also British soldiers) in the city.

Without spoiling the overall story, I can say that we see an uneasy reunion, major character deaths and Silver being cajoled to either dump Captain Flint (who made him a pirate) or Billy Bones.  But what happens when both men have their own agenda?

Meanwhile, John Silver’s girlfriend Madi has been captured by Rodgers, but can Silver get her back?

And that’s all I’m going to write about because there are major character deaths, major situations that really muddle things with certain characters and pits friends against one another.

I will say that this season is the most grand, when it comes to set design and overall chaos.  I was very impressed with the action sequences for this season of “Black Sails”.  They really went all out and it made this season stronger and exciting.  Wonderful visual effects, sound editing and really an awesome season overall.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was magnificent, lossless audio was just as awesome.  And you get numerous, short special features that are included.

Overall, “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” is truly the best season yet.  The sheer magnitude of the war, the series captivates you with the awesome special effects but also how characters are integrated this season.  Many characters who experience their lowest of lows in this season and you wonder how they will emerge after the war is over.  Simply the best season yet of “Black Sails” and I highly recommend “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season”.

 

The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who thought that “The Blacklist” was losing steam for season three, I felt the fourth season, writers really needed to bring back fans who were thinking the story was not as exciting anymore. And I feel the fourth season taking the characters to their lowest of lows and having to deal with major life-changing situations. The build-up to the final episode was not what I was expecting and that’s great. Now I can’t wait until the fifth season and I’m hooked on watching the series again. “The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” is recommended!

© 2016, 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Open 4 Business Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season

FILM RELEASE: 2016-2017

DURATION: 22 Episodes (946 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2017


Directed by Michael W. Watkins, Andrew McCarthy, Donald E. Thorin Jr., Bill Roe, Terrence O’Hara

Written by Jon Bokenkamp, Jim Capolongo, Brandon Margolis, Brandon Sonnier, Lukas Reiter, Brian Studler, J.R. Orci, john Eisendrath, Daniel Knauf, Daniel Cerone

Produced by Timothy Silver, Douglas Rowell, Tony Salama, Trever Stewart

Co-Producer: Alex Cuthbertson, Matt Fusfeld, Timothy Silver

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen


Starring:

James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington

Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper

Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe

Amir Arison as Aram Mjtabai

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Rachel Brosnahan as Jolene

Mozhan Marno as Samar Navabi

Susan Blommaert as Mr. Kaplan

Baz as Baz

Adriane Lenox as Reven Wright


Liz works to resolve the mystery of her lost childhood, but every day without the truth holds more danger for her and her family. Meanwhile, the Task Force reels from Liz’s resurrection and friendships are fractured. Betrayed by those closest to him, Reddington’s specific moral code demands justice, all the while battling an army of new and unexpected blacklisters.


Liz, Tom and their children have been captured by Alexander Kirk.  Kirk tries to get Liz to believe that he is her father and wants revenge against Reddington. Reddington and Mr. Kaplan try to rescue Liz and her child.  Meanwhile, Liz’ co-workers are shocked to find out that Liz is alive and the reason why she pretended to be dead was to get away from Red.

Meanwhile, someone is trying to take down Red and the origin of Mr. Kaplan is revealed.

All this and more for season four of “The Blacklist”!

What is “The Blacklist” about?

In 2013, the series “The Blacklist” starring James Spader (“Boston Legal”, “Stargate”, “Lincoln”), Megan Boone (“My Bloody Valentine”, “Step Up Revolution”), Ryan Eggold (“90210”, “Queen”, “Trophy Kids”), Parminder Nagra (“Bend It Like Beckham”, “ER”) and Harry Lennix (“Man of Steel”, “Ray”, “The Matrix Revolutions”) became a breakout hit for NBC.

“The Blacklist” revolves around former government agent and one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Raymond “Red” Reddington (portrayed by James Spader) surrendering at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Because of the terrorist threats against America, Reddington offers to help the FBI under one condition, he will only work with one person in the FBI, rookie FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen (portrayed by Megan Boone).

For Megan, she looks at her new job as a great paying job that she and her husband Tom (portrayed by Ryan Eggold) can finally start having a family.  But in the first case to capture the terrorist, her husband was captured, tortured and nearly was killed.

And as she continues to work with Reddington, it is unclear why he chose her and why he knows so much about her.  But he appears to also know something about Tom and that he may not be the man that she thinks he is…or is this part of Reddington’s way of getting closer to her?

And after the first case of capturing the first terrorist, Reddington reveals that there are more criminals with the intent to do great harm and he can help the FBI neutralize them, as he has created a “blacklist” of criminals/terrorists worldwide.  Especially those that the FBI are not aware of.

Thus forcing FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen to work closely with Reddington.  But what is he hiding?

Since that first season, Reddington is now a confidential informant for the FBI, Liz’ husband Tom is revealed to be a covert operative and it was revealed that Reddington may be Liz’s father.

But now a man named Alexander Kirk has come and captured Liz, her husband and her baby, Agnes.  Alexander wants revenge against Red for taking his wife (Liz’ mom) and his child (Liz) away from him.

The main characters of “Blacklist” are:

  • Raymond “Red” Reddington – A former government agent and FBI fugitive who aids the FBI in capturing criminals/terrorists worldwide.  While a master criminal, he is now a confidential informant for the FBI and may be  FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen’s father.
  • FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen – An FBI special agent who had a tragic childhood.  Married to Tom Keen and recently gave birth to a baby girl named Agnes.
  • FBI Agent Donald Ressler – An FBI special agent and Acting Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.
  • Tom Keen – A covert operative married to Elizabeth Keen.
  • Aram Jobtabai – An FBI computer specialist.
  • Agent Samar Navabi – A Mossad agent working with Cooper’s FBI team.
  • Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, Harold Cooper – Always watching over his agents’ backs but trying to figure out why Reddington is so interested in Elizabeth Keen.
  • Dembe Zuma – Reddington’s bodyguard.
  • Mr. Kaplan – A former associate of Red with a mysterious past.

VIDEO:

“The Blacklist” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, television shows on Blu-ray can often exhibit noise and artifacts but this latest Blu-ray release for “The Blacklist” looks very good.  Close-up details are good, black levels are nice and deep and picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Blacklist” is presented in English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue and music.. While surround channels capture environment ambiance and action sequence.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Blacklist” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring three episode audio commentaries such as “The Thrushes” commentary with Zee Hatley and Emily E. Greene and “Requiem” commentary with Jon Bokenkamp and Daniel Cerone.
  • Deleted Scenes – With most episodes, under episode selection, you can access deleted scene(s) for each episode.
  • A Darker Shade of Red – (7:50) A featurette about Red seeing his empire coming apart.  Interviews with cast and crew.
  • Mr. Kaplan: End of an Era – (10:24) A featurette of why the mysterious Mr. Kaplan is popular among viewers.
  • Gag Reel – (3:42) “The Blacklist” Season 4 gag reel.


EXTRAS:

“The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


In the last three seasons, there are a few things that have remained constant.  Liz has been looking for answers of why she was separated from her family when she was younger.  And who is her true father?  While, Red is the cunning criminal turned confidential informant of the FBI still doing things his own way.

Also, Liz’s husband’s past has always been mysterious and Aram, always looking for a woman.

But this fourth season, writers toyed with a storyline with the first half focusing on Liz and her husband Tom, along with their baby Agness being captured by Alexander Kirk who claims to be Liz’ real father and a man bent on revenge against Red, for taking his wife and daughter.

Liz’ co-workers are shocked because they buried her, thinking that she’s dead and now, she has become a fugitive and the FBI are now pursuing her and her family.

Meanwhile, Red receives help from Mr. Kaplan, a person he could care less for, as she screwed him over.

The second arc revolves around Liz and Tom trying to get their baby back, as Alexander Kirk still has the baby.  Meanwhile, her co-workers in the FBI work on various cases and are concerned that someone is leaking information to Kirk from the inside.

And as for Red, to show his appreciation to Mr. Kaplan, he shoots her and leaves her out for dead.  But she is discovered by a mountain man who nurses her back to health but he is overly creepy and chains her to his cabin.

And the third arc revolves around someone inside Red’s empire trying to take the empire down.  Also, going as far to poison him.

But the most significant character in this fourth season happens to be Mr. Kaplan and we learn of her connection to Red and Liz’ mother but also setting things motion for the shocking last episode and also for season five.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, lossless audio also very good.  You get three audio commentaries, several deleted scenes and featurettes for season four.

Overall, for those who thought that “The Blacklist” was losing steam for season three, I felt the fourth season, writers really needed to bring back fans who were thinking the story was not as exciting anymore.  And I feel the fourth season taking the characters to their lowest of lows and having to deal with major life-changing situations.  The build-up to the final episode was not what I was expecting and that’s great.  Now I can’t wait until the fifth season and I’m hooked on watching the series again.

“The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” is recommended!

 

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

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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