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Ani-Me Con 2017 by Derek Orchard (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

March 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Ani-Me Con 2017, March 18-19th @ the Big Fresno Fairgrounds in Fresno California.

For my latest convention report for 2017, I traveled to Fresno, California for this year’s Ani-Me Con.

Attendance was just over 7,000 for the weekend, making this year their biggest convention yet.

Some of the things you would have found at Ani-Me Con this year included the live action role playing of “Terras Wars”. As well as Ani-Me standards such as the collector card game tournaments, comedy acts, band performances, panels, dance crews and a rave on Saturday night. And also a cosplay contest that took place on both days plus a fashion show.

Special guests include voice talent Erik Kimerer, Sarah Annie Williams and Erika Harlacher and on Saturday there were panels on voice acting, experiences in the industry and autograph signings.

Band performances by “Coast in the clouds” and “Light of mine” and on Sunday a performance by the band “For the record”. Artist panel was by Hyperbooster studio who displayed his talents including drawing manga and also there was a comedy act by Vanna Vandal.

There were three different dance crews on Saturday which include “Empire Dance Crew”, “Royal T”, “Corps Dance Crew” with their hip-hop sailors scouts routine, which was a lot of fun to watch.

On Sunday we had singing and dancing performances by “Lovely Rushers”, who I think did a fantastic job, even though they were not the last act onstage on Sunday, they were a hard act to follow.

On Saturday and Sunday, Ani-Me hosted a cosplay contest. I am really impressed with the level cosplay that’s happening in the Central Valley. From beginner to advance, people are putting a lot of effort and a lot of thought into the costumes of their making. This year they had a fashion show on Sunday, featuring the designs of Miss Alphabet. Very colorful, very fun and the presentation was done very well, quite impressive.

Overall, Ani-Me has definitely grown compared to last year. I have lightly touched, on a lot of the different things that was available at Ani-Me Con.

I haven’t talked about what was on the main floor all the different items that were for sale at reasonably market prices. Like items from Japan, PVC figures, hoodies, games, card games and etc.

The convention had an artists alley with very talented artists. Cosplayers had tables where they had on display items from their different costumes. On display were props, where they could talk about how they made it and the process of what they went through and also giving tips to other people that are interested in making props and costumes.

It was a pleasure to return to Ani-ME Con this year. It will be interesting to see what they do with next year’s event.

Photos By Derek Orchard

Visit the Ani-Me Con 2017 Photos Gallery


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J!-ENT INTERVIEWS PUFFY AMIYUMI (2017) by Dennis A. Amith and Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

March 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When I first discovered Puffy AmiYumi (known as “Puffy” in Japan), they took Japan by their storm with their simple style of t-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers.  Bucking the fashion trend and dance choreography of other Japanese female music artists during the 1990’s, Puffy AmiYumi impressed audiences with their style of music and presentation.

The duo consisting of Yumi Yoshimura and Ami Onuki burst into the Japanese music scene back in 1996 dominating the charts.  And while Puffy AmiYumi would release their debut album in America and perform in the U.S., it wasn’t until their music was featured in the Cartoon Network animated series “Teen Titans” that the duo would receive recognition internationally.

In 2004, the duo would have their own animated TV series titled “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi”, would be featured on a GAP fashion ad and performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

And as I have interviewed Puffy AmiYumi for the next few years, our last interview with the ladies, was back in 2010 to celebrate the duo’s 15th Anniversary (view our 15th Anniversary Puffy AmiYumi special).

And here we are in 2017, celebrating the duo’s 21-year anniversary and knowing that there are not many female Japanese music artists that have had the same level of success of Puffy AmiYumi and continue to perform for audiences worldwide.

Starting on March 31st, the group will be performing at Anime Boston 2017 and on April 4th, the group will be performing at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, followed by a performance on April 6th at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco and on April 9th at Trees in Dallas, Texas as part of their Puffy AmiYumi US Tour 2017 “#NotLazyTour”.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Puffy AmiYumi about their upcoming U.S. performance:


I interviewed both of you when you made your debut in the United States and I have listened to your music when you first made your single debut “Asia no Junshin” in Japan. What is the biggest difference in your approach to music today versus when you first started out.

Ami: When we debuted, we really didn’t know anything. We were always surprised by how our producer, Tamio Okuda, and other musicians made music and the various things they concentrated on. But now, we really understand how that feels.

Very few Japanese acts were able to penetrate the American music scene, yet Puffy AmiYumi was able to create an audience thanks to the theme song for “Teen Titans” and you eventually had your own animated show in the United States. You had a GAP ad and performed on the Macy’s Parade on national TV. Looking back at your success and knowing that you accomplished something that many Japanese have not done, was there a lot of pressure on for the both of you to continue that success?

Yumi: There wasn’t really any pressure. We always make sure to have fun with anything we do as a part of Puffy’s style, so when we did all of those things, I believe we did while having fun. And those were all experiences that most Japanese people aren’t able to experience much, so we are very honored.

Last year, Puffy AmiYumi celebrated their 20th Anniversary and the music scene has changed a lot in the past two decades. One difference is the popularity of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Do you feel that social media has changed the way for the both of you to communicate with your fans?

Ami: I believe that the spread of social media over the last 20 year is definitely huge. I personally have my own Instagram, and because of that, I’m able to directly receive messages of support from fans. And since we can see how our fans our reacting with so little time lag, it’s very helpful to us.

You are about to embark on another tour which includes performances in the United States (for Puffy AmiYumi US Tour 2017 “NOT LAZY”). It’s been awhile since you performed in the U.S., how does it feel to be coming back?

Yumi: Even though we hadn’t traveled to America for a while, we had been constantly doing concerts in Japan, so I think we’ve powered up even more since our last visit. So right now, we’re very excited!

As you celebrate your 21st year, after all these years…Ami, what are your top three songs that you love performing in front of a live audience?

Ami: “Asia no Junshin,” “Akai Buranko,” and “Circuit no Musume.”

I’m curious to see how your musical tastes have changed.   In our very first interview, Yumi you said you were listening to Nirvana, Eels, Hole and U2 and Ami said Red Hot Chili Peppers. But what about now?

 

Yumi: Of course, I still love all of those groups. When I listen to the albums that I love, I remember things from when I first heard the albums, or feel very nostalgic.

Back in 2002, for our second interview, I asked each of you to describe each other in one word. Yumi, you said of Ami, “Serious” and Ami, you said of Yumi “Young”. In 2010, Yumi said of Ami “Relax” and Ami said of Yumi, “Older Sister”. Ami, if you had to describe Yumi, what would you say today?

Ami: For Yumi…“Hanashi ga Tomoranai” (She doesn’t stop talking)

Yumi, you told me you were playing the video game “Ryu ga Gotoku” (known as “Yakuza” in the U.S.) a lot back then.  Ami you were playing “Dragon Quest Monsters Joker II”. Any certain games that you are playing now?

Yumi: I still love “Dragon Quest” even now and continue to play. Right now, I’m trying to figure out if I want to buy a Nintendo Switch or not.

Both of you told me you love tea! But I didn’t get to ask what kind of tea that both of you enjoy? So, I have to ask…what is your favorite tea? And if there is an area in Tokyo that serves the best tea, which area would you recommend?

Ami: We like tea… Did we actually say that? Either way, I do like tea. I like chai. I think I’d recommend the café next to Saigoyama Park.

It’s funny because in our 2010 interview, both of you said that you wished Taco Bell would open a store in Japan and now you can find a Taco Bell in Japan. And now there are more Mexican restaurants in Tokyo. But with you returning back to America, is there a certain food that you have wanted to try but never yet had the chance?

Yumi: While we weren’t in America, I can now eat some foods that I couldn’t before. For example, cilantro and lamb. Because of that, I’d like to try out some places that I never got to try before.

What final words do you have for your fans worldwide?

Ami: This year, Puffy is now in our 21st year. The reason that we’ve been able to continue for so long is the countless support we’ve received from people from various countries!! We’ll continue to work even harder so we can someday hold concerts in countries we haven’t been to yet!

Yumi: Last year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we are grateful to all of our fans! The upcoming concerts should be a lot of fun. Please come out and see us!

For more information, please visit their official website or their Facebook Page.

Photos courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Japan


Read our complete J!-ENT Puffy AmiYumi interviews and articles from 1996-2010 (Click on image)


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X Japan Shuts Down London For HMV Signing Event, Takes Top Spot On UK Rock Chart

March 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

On Saturday, March 4, X Japan performed their first major show of 2017 on #XDAY at SSE Arena, Wembley, following the release of their feature film documentary We Are X in theaters across the UK. The We Are X Soundtrack (featuring the theme song “La Venus”) was released worldwide on March 3 on Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings, taking the Number 1 spot in 9 countries on iTunes as well as the #1 position on the UK Rock And Metal Chart, Top 30 on the UK Albums Chart, and Number 3 on the UK Soundtrack Chart.

UK Official Charts (link): http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/rock-and-metal-albums-chart/20170310/112/

The award-winning We Are X made its UK premiere to a sold-out audience at Piccadilly’s Picture House in London on February 28 before launching in UK theaters across the country on March 2, adding to the excitement of the band’s upcoming show 2 days later at Wembley Arena. Fulfilling the band’s promise to return to the UK after last year’s concert had been abruptly cancelled by guitarist Pata’s serious illness, the band held a special CD-signing event at HMV in London on March 3, forcing the shut-down of Oxford Street as over 1000 fans gathered to meet the members of X Japan in person.
[Check out HMV’s photo album of the record-breaking event]

X Japan has created a buzz among UK fans and critics alike with last week’s back-to-back concert, film, and soundtrack events, promising more announcements later this year.
“Their show proves eye-poppingly captivating” — METAL HAMMER MAGAZINE
“Perfection” — POWERPLAY MAGAZINE
“Intoxicatingly triumphant” — METAL TALK
“Fervently mesmeric” — RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
“X JAPAN deliver a unique, moving experience.” — MY GLOBAL MIND
“Mesmerising, they hover around a magical musical sweet spot” — MUSIC-NEWS

The We Are X Soundtrack is available now worldwide on Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings
iTunes: http://smarturl.it/WeAreX_iTunes
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/WeareX_amz
1. La Venus (Acoustic Version)*
2. Kurenai (from The Last Live)
3. Forever Love
4. A Piano String in Es Dur
5. Dahlia
6. Crucify My Love
7. Xclamation
8. Standing Sex (from X Japan Returns)
9. Tears
10. Longing ~Setsubou no Yoru~
11. Art of Life (3rd Movement)
12. Endless Rain (from The Last Live)
13. X (from The Last Live)
14. Without You (Unplugged)*
* New Recording.
Disc 2 – Japan Edition bonus tracks:
1. Rusty Nail (from DAHLIA TOUR FINAL ~Mubou na Yoru~)
2. Forever Love (from The Last Live)

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Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime Film Review)

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline. I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film! A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of  2017 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba


2022 – The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. It was a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality.) 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor – the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its killer title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).” Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but…


The year 2026.

Two years after the “Sword Art Online” fiasco perpetrated by SAO creator Akihiko Kayaba which left many gamers injured or dead, a new technology is to be released.  A technology that is thought to be safe and nothing like the Nerve Gear that was used in “Sword Art Online”.

Now people can use the Augma, the successor to the Amusphere full-dive system which allows a player to play a game that simulates reality while the player is conscious (via augmented reality).

And one of the popular games created for the Augma is “Ordinal Scale”.  A game which has quickly gain popularity that Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica are playing it, but surprisingly Kirito hasn’t jumped aboard to play the game just yet until now.

As people get into the game, part of the main appeal to “Ordinal Scale” is the game’s mascot, an AI idol singer named Yuna who appears during the game to increase the stats of players.

While everyone is playing, the #2 ranked player Eiji helps the Kirito, Asuna and team defeat the level boss but Eiji uses the words “switch”, a term that was used in SAO to Asuna.

Meanwhile, Asuna tells Kirito that Eiji is most likely a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath named Nautilus, Yui tells them that the appearance of Aincrad bosses in “Ordinal Scale” are similar to the line up with the SAO dungeon maps.

As Asuna goes to play the game with her friends again, immediately Yuna and Eiji appear and Eiji pushes Asuna towards the level boss.

When Asuna is hit, she passes out and suddenly, Asuna starts to realize that her memories from SAO are starting to disappear. Concerned, Kirito takes Asuna to the hospital to get checked out and it is learned that the Augma device has scanned her brain for SAO memories, and it may have happened to other SAO players that are playing “Ordinal Scale”.

With Asuna’s memory loss of SAO, that means her memories of her friends, but most importantly her memories of Kirito will disappear.

A desperate Kirito tries to search for answers and promises that he will do whatever he can to get Asuna’s memories back.  But what will his search unveil?

What is “Sword Art Online” about:

In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.

While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and also winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of his “Accel World” storyline would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and also featuring the art work of illustrator, abec.

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012.  The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations, two anime series, one TV film, five video games and now an animated film.

The original “Sword Art Online” series is set in 2022 and many are playing the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), “Sword Art Online” (SAO for short).

The game comes with a virtual reality helmet known as a Nerve Gear which uses the five senses of the brain and so players can control their characters with their mind.

The anime series focuses on protagonist, Kirito, one of the 1,000 beta testers of the Closed Beta version of SAO.  On November 6th, the game is released to the public and Kirito is enjoying the game and meets Klein, who has experience playing RPG’s but learns from Kirito about the basics of the game.

While the two are talking, suddenly they are transported to the main courtyard and are unable to log out.  They are told by the creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, that all of the people playing are stuck in the game.  If anyone takes of the virtual reality helmet of a player, they will die.

As for those playing the game, if they want to be free of the game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.  But if their avatars (their game character) dies in the game, their bodies will also die in the real world.  Also,  people in the real world who were stuck in the game have died by someone removing their Nerve Gear.

In the first series, Kirito and Asuna have become an online couple and while Kirito was able to succeed and free everyone by defeating the final boss of “Sword Art Online”, he has been utilized by law enforcement to assist in troubles that have affected users (as seen in “Sword Art Online II”).

In reality, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki (Asuna) have continued their relationship outside of the game.  Asuna dreams of marrying Kazuto and having a family with him in the future.

And with the 2017 animated film “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, with Asuna’s memories of SAO fading, the dreams of her and Kirito being together may now be in jeopardy.


If there is one thing that “Sword Art Online” has proved over the years, that Reki Kawahara’s light novels and the anime adaptation inspired from it, are popular among many fans worldwide.

I had no doubt in my mind that “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” would do well as a theatrical release, not just in Japan but other countries worldwide, especially the United States.

Considering the film is not a Studio Ghibli film or an animated film with no Disney or Hollywood movie studio connect, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” grossed $1.35 million in the first four days of its North American run.

In fact, the film set an opening weekend record for an Aniplex of America theatrical release and has played in 560 theaters nationwide.

And that is for a film that debuted in American theaters with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.  And for those who dislike reading during their films, Aniplex of America will be releasing the film with an English dub soundtrack in April 2017 for a limited theatrical engagement.

Watching “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, it has everything that fans have loved in the series.  A lot of action, a lot of humor but also emotional drama as viewers have watched and seen the relationship between Kazuto (Kirito) and Asuna evolve and in this film, you really see how far their love for each other has blossomed.  And so, this film has become a fight for love and Kazuto doing all that is necessary to make sure that the young woman he loves is saved from losing her memories due to a new threat.

Fans will also love seeing characters from the past making their appearance in the video game but one will no doubt be anticipating the next SOA storyline as the ending teaser (after all the credits are done) shows us another menacing threat that will surely surprise fans of the series.

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful in its original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles were easy to read.  And having watched the original series in both Japanese and English, I’m expecting the English dub to be equally fantastic when the English version of the film is released in US theaters this April.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna.  Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be seeking to purchase the soundtrack.

But I also hope that Aniplex, a company known for giving fans a lot of swag with their limited edition releases, will include the film’s soundtrack with the Blu-ray release of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”.

I absolutely enjoyed “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” but I do recommend people who know nothing about the series to at least watch the SAO series before jumping into the film.

Overall, I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline.  I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film!

A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

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VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE HOME MEDIA RELEASE OF K: MISSING KINGS ANIME FEATURE FILM

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Film Debuts As A Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack And Standard Edition DVD Set And Resumes The Ferocious Battles
Between Warring Clans

San Francisco, CA, March 14, 2017 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing, delivers the visually stunning K: MISSING KINGS feature film home media release to audiences today.

Set for release as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and as a Standard Edition DVD Set, K: MISSING KINGS expands the story of a once easygoing teenager that becomes embroiled in a deadly war between seven bloodthirsty clans. The film’s plot takes place one year after the conclusion of the original K anime series, which VIZ Media first released in 2013.

K: MISSING KINGS features a notable English voice cast that is highlighted by Sam Riegel as Yashiro Isana, Matt Mercer as Kuro Yatogami, and Stephanie Sheh as Neko.

The K: MISSING KINGS Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack will carry an MSRP of $29.98 U.S. / $34.99 CAN and features full 1080p HD resolution, 16×9 video. The Standard Edition DVD Set will be offered with an MSRP of $19.98 U.S. / $24.99 CAN. The Combo Pack’s notable bonus features include a character bio gallery and trailers.

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

“We are very excited to expand the beautiful, thrilling world of K with MISSING KINGS’ gripping story of supernatural action and intrigue depicting the desperate search by the Silver Clan for their lost sovereign,” says Charlene Ingram, VIZ Media’s Senior Manager of Animation Marketing. “The animation by Studio GoHands is stunning and we’ve also accented the film with a stellar English voice cast. Don’t miss this extraordinary home media release coming this spring!”

For more information on K or other award-winning anime titles from VIZ Media, please visit VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Established in 1986, VIZ Media is the premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing. Along with its popular digital magazine WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, DRAGON BALL, SAILOR MOON, and POKÉMON, VIZ Media offers an extensive library of titles and original content in a wide variety of book and video formats, as well as through official licensed merchandise. Owned by three of Japan’s largest publishing and entertainment companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is dedicated to bringing the best titles for English-speaking audiences worldwide.

Learn more about VIZ Media and its properties at VIZ.com.

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Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V – Vol. 1 by Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is a manga series with card battles that young fans and even older fans may enjoy. Personally, I enjoy the complexity of the battles and the strategy combined with a storyline featuring action and humor. And to have a protagonist who wants to be more of an entertainer (that can battle) is also fascinating. If you are a fan of card gaming and also a “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fan, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2014 Kazuki Takahashi, Shin Yoshida, Naohito Miyoshi. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V – Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2017


Action Duels have become a global sensation, but what is the dark secret behind them that threatens to destroy the world? 

Yuzu Hiiragi and her father run a Dueling school that’s seen better days. If only they had a star teacher to bring in new students! When a rogue Duelist known as Phantom appears in the city, Yuzu may have found a savior, but Phantom will have to deal with the Leo Corporation’s special forces before he can get into any community service!


In 1996, Kazuki Takahashi would create a manga series about card games known as “Yu-Gi-Oh!”. Wanting to create a battle manga that was unique and not about fighting and a fan of tabletop role-playing games, Takahashi did not imagine how popular the series would be among fans worldwide.

With the original manga serialized in Sept. 1996 through 2004, the games have been popular among anime, manga and of course, the card gaming fans in America and also around the world. The series would spawn off various series (featuring manga adaptations by other artists/writers) such as “Yu-Gi-Oh! GX” (2005-2011), “Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s” (2008-2011) and “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” (2011-2012).

With the completion of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”, the fifth “Yu-Gi-Oh!” franchise titled “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” was unveiled in 2014 and a manga adaptation serialized in Shueisha’s “V-Jump” magazine in August 2015.

And now “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is now released in America courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V”?

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” continues the card battling theme that the original series was most popular for.

The series is set in the near future in a place called Maiami City and starts off at the Syo Zo Duel School where Principal Syu Zo Hiragi and his daughter Yuzu are worried that they will be unable to pay rent because they have no students.

Meanwhile, three helicopters from the Leo Corpration are in pursuit of  Yuya “The Phantom” Sasaki and when they corner him, Shingo Sawatari confronts the hooded individual and the young man tells them he isn’t Yuya Sasaki but his name is Yuto, but he will battle them.

As Yuzu watches from another building, she comes up with an idea, what if she can get Yuto to be a teacher at the school, then the school can make money.

As the battle between Yuya and Shingo begins, Shingo thinks he will win the battle but to everyone’s surprise, Yuto unleashes a pendulum summon and then reveals himself to be the best entertainment duelist in the world, Yuya Sasaki.

And when Yuya thinks he has a fan and goes to sign a paper, thinking he’s signing an autograph for Yuzu, he actually is signing a contract to teach at the Syu Zo Duel School.

Meanwhile, Reiji Akaba of the Leo Corporation will do anything to find and capture Yuya Sasaki.  But what is his motivation for doing so?


The concept of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is one that will appeal not only to fans of the original series and love card battling.  Where previous stories allowed for building certain card characters and turning them into something more powerful, the concept still remains but you now have this pendulum factor that really make a huge difference in a battle, along with four random action cards scattered around the action field.

It’s a much different concept than the other previous series, but the storyline has mystery and humor, which fans of the series will surely enjoy.

It’s important to note that with each volume purchased of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V”, an exclusive card is featured. In this case, an Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon.

Overall, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is a manga series with card battles that young fans and even older fans may enjoy. Personally, I enjoy the complexity of the battles and the strategy combined with a storyline featuring action and humor.  And to have a protagonist who wants to be more of an entertainer (that can battle) is also fascinating.

If you are a fan of card gaming and also a “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fan, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is recommended!

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The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4 by Konami Kanata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are passionate about neko (cats) or a person who watched “Chi’s Sweet Home” and want to read the manga, definitely give Vertical Inc.’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” a try.  And if you have purchased the previous omnibus, the final “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” is definitely worth reading!

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© 2016 Konami Kanata. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4

STORY AND ART BY: Konami Kanata

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodanasha

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical, Inc.

RATED: 8-12 years old

RELEASE DATE: December 20, 2016


After six years in North America the Chi’s Sweet Home saga has finally come to an end! Chi, Blackie, Cocchi and the rest will wrap up their adventures near Green Park in this final collection. But before Chi moves on to her new role as a 3DCG anime star, will she find her new home? Or will she decide to move away in search of new adventures?


When Chi’s human family are moving to France, Chi is reunited with her kitten family.  But which family will she choose?

The story of Chi ends with the final omnibus of Konami Kanata’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4”.

What is “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home”?

In Japan, mangaka Konami Kanata is best known for her neko (cat) manga which goes as far back in 1982 with “Buchi Neko Jamu Jamu” which was published by Kodansha.

But her best known series is “Chi’s Sweet Home”, which was serialized in the Kodansha magazine, “Weekly Morning” since 2004.

With a two-season anime series (2008-2009) and a 3DCG television anime adaptation (2016), a total of 12 graphic novel volumes were published in Japan.  Here in the United States, Vertical Inc. has released four omnibus featuring three volumes each.

The story of “Chi’s Sweet Home” began with a young kitten named Sarah who has wandered away from her mother and siblings while going out for a walk.

Lost and scared, a young boy named Yohei and his family take in the young kitten, despite their apartment complex not allowing pets into their home.

So, the family tries to find a new home for the kitten but to no avail, they end up taking care of the young kitten.

While the kitten is housebroken, it responded to the word “Chi” (in Japanese, the word is “Shi” and the kitten was responding to the word “Shikko” which means urine/pee)  and so, the family calls the kitten by that name.

And as Chi gets used to his human family, he also manages to make friends with other animals living outside the neighborhood.

In “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4”, Chi meets a cat named Cocchi and when Chi takes him to his human family, Cocchi is shocked to see how Chi has been living.

As Cocchi returns back to the park, he meets two other cats that look similar to Chi and he takes Chi to meet with them.  At the park, he learns about family and that his family are cats with tails and that the family he lives with are not cats.  But Chi loves going out to the park and playing with other cats and seeing animals just like him.

Meanwhile, Yohei’s father has seen a poster that have been searching for a cat that looks exactly like chi and Yohe’s parents debate on whether to call the owner since Yohei has bonded with Chi.

As Chi and Cocchi are walking, they see their cat friends with her mother, but when the mother sees Chi, she calls out “Sarah”.  The mother goes searching for Chi and finds him with a human family that has taken him in.

Meanwhile, Yohei’s father gets a job opportunity in France and that means giving up Chi, prompting him to call the number on the poster.

What will happen to Chi?  Especially to young Yohei who has bonded with Chi?


If you are a person wh o loves cats, Konami Kanata’s manga “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” will no doubt appeal to you for its storyline showing you two different perspectives, one coming from a young kitten named chi discovering this new world with other animals but his love for the human family that has taken him in, especially the young Yohei.

The other perspective comes from the human family as the parents of Yohei know they are not allowed to take in pets at their apartment complex, but seeing how their young son loves the kitten, they decide to keep it.

But with this final three volumes featured in “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home”, Yohei’s father sees a poster searching for Chi.  At first, Yohei’s parents are torn because they know their son loves Chi but with a new job offer to go to France, they decided to call the owner.

Meanwhile, as Chi has a new friend named Cocchi that introduces him to other cats at the park, Chi starts to learn about what a cat is and that there are others like him and have similar bodies.  He starts to realize the differences between him and others, including his human family.

But the more he plays in the park, Chi is not aware that he is playing with his siblings and when his real cat mother sees him, mother wants to be reunited with her lost kitten.

As Chi learns about family, which family will he prefer to live with.  His real family along with this siblings or will he want to live with Yohei and family?

A touching final volume, “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” ends with a positive, uplifting story that people of all ages can surely enjoy.  Along with volumes 10-12, the omnibus also comes with extras and a bonus cat comic.

If you are passionate about neko (cats) or a person who watched “Chi’s Sweet Home” and want to read the manga, definitely give Vertical Inc.’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” a try.  And if you have purchased the previous omnibus, the final “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” is definitely worth reading!

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Charan-Po-Rantan returns to New York City!

March 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

After a spectacular sold out performance in New York in 2015, Charan-Po-Rantan returns stateside again for two shows! The first will take place at the notable venue, Joe’s Pub at the Public, presented in association with Japan Society, for their solo performance on April 24.
Then later in the week, the duo will be part of the ‘Godzilla Legend – Music of Akira Ifukube’ event, which will be an evening filled with music from the Japanese cult classic ‘Godzilla!’ The event will take place on April 28 at Japan Society.
Don’t miss this rare chance to see Charan-Po-Rantan’s amazing live performances in New York!

Charan-Po-Rantan @ Joe’s Pub at the Public
Presented in association with Japan Society.
April 24, 2017 (Monday)
Doors 6PM
Show 7:30PM
Details/Tickets: http://joespub.publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/Joes-Pub/2017/C/Charan-Po-Rantan/

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Bak-Anime 2017 by Derek Orchard (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

March 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Bak-Anime 2017 February 25 and 26 at the Kern County Fairground in Bakersfield, CA

The 9th annual Bak-Anime, Bakersfield’s one and only Anime convention was held in the final week of February 2017.

In previous years, the event has been held in a much smaller venue which they had outgrown. I have gone to other events where they had changed locations and the new locations were really too big for the event.

From my personal perspective, it was a smart choice for the convention to make the move, as there were plenty of dealers and plenty of attendees.

In fact, Bak-Anime had a record attendances with over 3,500 attendees.

The dealers room was not too crowded and t was really easy to shop around and find deals if you are looking for something special. And for those who were hungry, a Okamoto Kitchen Japanese comfort food truck and Pappa John’s Pizza were there on hand.

Bak-Anime 2017 had a returning favorite, Actor/voice actor/composer/singer/producer Vic Mignogna. And new to Bak-anime, Actress/voice actress/Producer Cherami Leigh and Voice actress/gamer, Danielle McRae.

On Saturday only, David Yost, Karan Ashley and Walter Jones from the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” were special guests at the event.

All the guest had panels and were available for signings.

All the lines seem to move pretty fast, I thought everyone was having a good time.

Pro Lab gaming was there at Bak-Anime for the video game tournaments, Paladins Game Castle and the Gaming spot sponsored the collector card games, demos and other hobby games.

They also had their 4th annual swap meet which is an event only for fans. On Saturday night, they had their late night electric dance party open for all ages. And on Sunday, the event had an art contest.

There was plenty a Cosplay to be seen throughout Bak-Anime 2017.

There were plenty of people walking around in different costumes from anime, comics, video games and movies. On Saturday afternoon, Bak-Anime 2017 had an adult cosplay contest, where just about everyone had skit or a dance routine that they did. And I actually think there was an actual marriage proposal that happened during the contest.

On Sunday, they had another cosplay contest which was for the kids only. Even though the kids had help sometimes, it is really amazing to see all the talent that is out there. People with the skills to make these elaborate and awesome costumes.

I have personally been really impressed with how Bak-Anime has continued to grow and has been so well supported by the community out there in Bakersfield.

I really do think it is a show that is worth your the time , even if it is just for one day.

If you’ve never been to a “Anime con” or a “Comic-Con” this would be a great first time show to get a taste of the con experience.

More Photos By Derek orchard

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Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 20 by Naoshi Komi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

How will Raku respond to Yui’s confession of love? Meanwhile, Raku gets jealous when Chitoge tells him that she likes a guy. All this and more in this entertaining 20th volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”.  Recommended!

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© 2011 Naoshi Komi. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 20

STORY AND ART BY: Naoshi Komi (古味直志)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2017


When Marika’s plan to watch the first sunrise of the year with Raku goes awry, they find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island! As Marika’s health begins to fail, will they find a way to see the sunrise? Plus, when Yui turns twenty, Night comes to her with a shocking pronouncement: it is time for Yui to get married!


The conclusion to Marika kidnapping Raku.  As Raku wants to know how sick Marika really is.

Meanwhile, Yui is ordered to get married, now that she has turned 20.  When she confesses her love to Raku, what will Rako do?

Also, when Raku asks if Chitoge like’s anyone and she tells him that she does (not telling Raku, it is him), Raku for some reason is starting to get jealous.  Now he wants to know who she likes.

And what happens when Raku and the ladies go to the shrine for New Year’s Day?  Will it be a repeat of last year (with all the ladies getting drunk)?

All this and more in Naoshi Komi’s hit manga series, “Nisekoi: False Love” vol. 20!

What is “Nisekoi: False Love”?

Naoshi Komi’s manga work is well-known for readers of Shonen Jump. From “Koi no Kami-sama”, “Williams” and “Double Arts”, Komi’s manga “Nisekoi” (False Love) was created as a one shot for Jump NEXT! in 2011 but then receiving the go-ahead as a weekly manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

“Nisekoi” revolves around high school Raku Ichijou. When Ichijou was a kid, he met a girl and he kept a lock, she kept the key and promised each other to get married if they one day find each other.

Since then, Ichijou has kept his promise and has worn the lock around his neck and has been hoping to meet her again.

But Ichijou’s life is a little complicated. While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future.

Meanwhile, while going to school, he sees a foreign girl jumping from a wall and landing on him. He loses the lock on his neck and is very upset of what had transpired. Next thing you know in class, that same girl becomes a new student in his class.

Chitoge Kirisaki just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. And suffice to say, when both Ichijou and Kirisaki see each other, they start yelling at each other and she nails him with a hit after he calls her “monkey girl”. People see how tough she is but to make them get along, his teacher puts Ichijou in charge of showing her around school.

He tries his best but the two are like oil and water, they just don’t get along. For the next week of trying to assist her, the two end up arguing and getting in each other’s faces.

If anything, Ichijou focus is more on finding the lock that was lost when Kirisaki landed on him. And he wonders if Kosaki Onodera, the popular girl in school and a person who has treated him with nothing but kindness is the girl that he made the promise with. He hopes it is her.

But just when Ichijou is about to give up, Onodera pleads with him to keep his promise and Ichijou is reminded that a promise is a promise and he intends to keep it. But wants to ask Onodera if there is any chance she may be the girl he made the promise too.

What he doesn’t know is that Onodera does have a key and she has always liked Ichijou but doesn’t have the guts to tell him.

But as Ichijou wonders if Onodera is the girl he made a promise too and excited for the possibility that it might be, when he gets home, his father talks to him about something important.

The problem is that the Shuei-gumi and another rival yakuza gang are in the brink of all-out war that would damage both yakuza gangs, he and the other leader have come up with the plan. Ichijou must pretend to be dating the daughter of the leader of the opposing yakuza gang.

Ichijou doesn’t want to get involved and his father told him that he must forget dating any other girl and focus liking this girl they set him up with.

When the two are introduces, Ichijou is shocked that the girl is Chitoge Kirisaki. And for both of them, they must promise to be boyfriend and girlfriend for three whole years and be convincing to both yakuza gangs that they are truly in love.

Both don’t want to be involved with each other but they have no choice. But now they must find a way to co-exist with each other as both yakuza gangs are suspicious of their relationship especially Kirisaki’s guardian, Claude.

Meanwhile, Ichijou still wants to ask Onodera if she is the girl with the key and Onodera is about to let him know that she is. But before they can, the whole school are told that both Ichijo and Kirasaki are boyfriend and girlfriend.

And now it has made things tough for both Ichijou and Kirisaki, but can they keep this charade of being in love with each other, especially if they despite one another?

And since then, there are a few other complications as not only Chitoge and Onodera have fallen for Raku, but also Chitoge’s bodyguard Tsugumi and Marika Tachibana, who Raku’s father promised Marika’s father that they would marry?

But while Raku Ichijou and Chitoge Kirisaki are supposed to fake their relationship, Chitoge is starting to realize that with each moment spent with Raku, she is slowly falling in love with him.

For volume 19, Chitoge Kirasaki’s father has told her that she and Raku will no longer need to fake their relationship because she and Tsugumi will be moving back to the United States. This leaves Chitoge to become devastated that she will never ever confess her feelings to Raku and will never be around him and her friends. What last resort will Chitoge and Tsugumi pull in order for them to stay in Japan?

Meanwhile, what happens when Onodera and Raku goes on their first date together during the holidays? And what happens when Marika kidnaps Raku?

For volume 20, the conclusion of Raku and Marika stuck on the island and Raku wanting to know what is really wrong with Marika’s health.

Meanwhile, it’s New Year’s Day and time for Raku and friends to celebrate.

As Raku asks if Chitoge if she likes anyone and she tells him that she does, he suddenly starts to feel jealous.  Why is that?

And Yui receives an order to get married now that she has turned 20-years old.  But when she confesses her feelings to Raku, how will he respond?


With volume 20 of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”, the manga starts to heat up with the series now heading towards its final volumes.

As we have read many volumes and seeing women who have fallen for Raku, I think we are now starting to see the storylines start to narrow down which girl Raku would end up with.

With this storyline, we get to see Raku’s feelings for Chitoge start to intensify as he gets jealous when she tells him that she likes someone (not telling him that it’s him).  And it starts to eat Raku up inside and he doesn’t know why.

But the primary storyline revolves around Yui, who is now turning 20 and she is ordered to get married to fulfill her duty as Don and she must make her first major adult decision or be arranged to marry someone else.

Feeling the pressure, the only person she has had feelings for is Raku and now Yui confesses her love.  But how will he react?

20 volumes in through the series, I really enjoy this manga series because it’s fresh take on the young promise made by youngsters to marry each other and it also has that similarity to “Ranma 1/2” of two people arranged by their parents to be together, although not to be married but to have this fake romance for three years. And then having multiple young ladies vying for his attention.

But with the introduction of other girls who made promises when they were younger, we clearly don’t know which girl Raku promised to marry when he was younger. But with everyone vying for Raku’s attention (and he being totally oblivious to what’s going on), it makes for a very entertaining storyline and series!

The artwork by Naoshi Komi is well-drawn, the series is full of humor and for the most part quite delightful in capturing their emotions on each page. But Naoshi Komi’s manga series has been nothing but delightful and very entertaining!

How will Raku respond to Yui’s confession of love? Meanwhile, Raku gets jealous when Chitoge tells him that she likes a guy. All this and more in this entertaining 20th volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”.  Recommended!

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