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Fairy Tail – Collection Nine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying! If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail – Collection Nine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: (Episodes 188-212) 625 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 5, 2017


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

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

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


The Grand Magic Games come to an explosive end as the Eclipse Gate opens and the unthinkable happens—dragons emerge! Hell-bent on destroying everything in their path, the guilds must band together to fight the most difficult battle they’ve ever faced. But who is behind the rampaging dragons and what dire news does he bring? It’s Dragons vs. Dragon Slayers as the present and future clash!


With Natsu and others frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, the Fairy Tail Guild must participate in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to decide who is Fiore’s strongest guild.

But as the fights continue, no one is aware of a conspiracy that is taking place and involves the Eclipse Project and may lead to the destruction of the Fiore Kingdom.

Find out what happens in Collection Nine of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 198-212) available now on Blu-ray + DVD from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


“Fairy Tail” Collection Five features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment. He is also gifted with other powers not yet revealed in the first volume of “Fairy Tail”.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray. She becomes great friends of Lucy but also her rival (thinking that Lucy is interested in Gray).
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 191 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Jim Foronda (voice of Toma/Mato).
  • Episode 196 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Kyle and voice actor/writer Aaron Dismuke (voice of Hibiki).
  • Guild Pride: Mermaid Heel – (6:39) Featuring an introduction to the all-female guild, Mermaid Heel.
  • Episode 200 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Lydia Mackey (voice of Ultear) and Newton Pittman (voice of Grayful Buster).
  • Episode 205 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Cherami Leigh (voice of Lucy).
  • Guild Pride: Quatro Cerberus – Featuring an introduction to the guild, Quatro Cerberus.
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version of the series (four DVD’s, four Blu-rays) plus a slipcover.


NOTE: It’s important to note that “Fairy Tail – Collection Five” consists of the same Blu-ray sets that were released in 2015 as “Fairy Tail vol. 17” and “Fairy Tail vol. 18”. So, this set incorporates both sets into the collection.

With “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine”, the episodes featured are season seven which focuses on other members of the Fairy Tail Guild having to take on challengers in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to determine the strongest Fairy Tail Guild.  While Fairy Tail Guild is no doubt one of the most powerful, unfortunately Natsu and others are frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, so they are unable to participate.

Fairy Tail takes on the Sever Tooth Guild and Hisui initiates the Eclipse 2, Eclipse Cannon and Future Lucy makes a great sacrifice, which leads to past characters meeting their future selves and a fierce battle which leads Natsu to take on Rogue, while Lucy tries to close the Eclipse.

Meanwhile, Lucy tries to summon the twelve Zodiac Spirits but why are their changes for the celestial bodies and the revelation of Frosch’s killer is revealed.

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

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for four episodes and guild introductions.

Overall, “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying!

If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try.

Recommended!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 122-144) 575 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 23, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


As Goku and Vegeta land blow after blow in their brutal duel, an enormous amount of energy is transferred to Majin Buu. And despite Gohan’s valiant efforts, the monster reaches full power faster than anyone could have predicted. With the ancient evil awakened and free to wreak havoc across the planet, the Z Fighters must give everything they’ve got to put Buu back to bed for good.


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume eight) as a new major threat has arrived…Majin Buu.

Unbeknownst to the Z-Warriors is that an evil Warlock named Babidi and the evil Demon King Dabura are trying to unseal a monster named Majin Buu. Meanwhile, Kaoishin, the ruler of the Kaios of the Other World and his bodyguard Kibit have come to Earth in order to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight Majin Buu and Babidi.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 122-144.

The focus for these episodes is the Majin Buu Arc.  The series features:

Goku – Now an adult, married to Chichi and has a son named Gohan. Constantly training in order to become stronger. Still naive and hungry as he was when he was younger. Currently, he is deceased and using his time to train before returning back to the land of the living.

Gohan – Goku’s young son. Goku realizes that Gohan has strong potential but during an unfortunate incident, asks for Piccolo to train his son in fighting to protect people and the planet. Gohan has accompanied Bulma and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Kuririn – Goku’s childhood friend who accompanies Gohan and Bulma to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Bulma – A woman still developing products at her father’s company, Capsule Corp. and uses her intelligence to solve the Z Warriors under dire circumstances. With her Dragon Ball scanner, she joins Gohan and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in Planet Nemek.

Kaiosama – One of the Kings who trains Goku on how to fight with gravity ten times greater than Earth at Kaio’s world.

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all. Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but after being defeated by Goku, rehabilitates himself and now finds himself fighting alongside Gohan and Kuririn.

Trunks – The young son of Bulma and Vegeta who hangs out with Goten

Goten – The second son of Goku and Chichi and hangs out with Trunks.

Kaioshin – The ruler of the Kaios of the Other World, Kaioshin has taken over the position after the previous Kaoshin was killed by the warlock Babidi.  He has come to the Earth realm to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight against Babidi and Majin Buu.

Kibit – The loyal bodyguard of Kaioshin.

The main antagonists are:

Babidi – The evil warlock trying to release the seal and revive Majin Buu that was created by Babidi’s father, Bibidi.

Dabura – The Demon King who is assisting Babidi in trying to unseal Majin Buu.

Majin Buu – Created by Bibidi, Buu was created to destroy worlds and was sealed away by the former Kaoshin, until he was released once again by Babidi.  But is this the same Majin Buu who is known as the destroyer of worlds?


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 131 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Rolly Pickens (chief engineer), Kent Williams, Duncan Brannan, Monica Rial (voice of Bulma)
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part Two comes with a slipcover case.


Here we are with the next volume of “Dragon Box Z Kai: The Final Chapters” which continues the final chapter of the “Dragon Ball Z” series, which I like to call the “Majin Buu Arc”.

What can I say… if you thought the Frieza and Cell sagas were fantastic villains, the Majin Buu saga and where it will go from here is quite amazing. Personally, having grown up with the series and watching the Buu series when it aired in Japan, I was hooked and it’s so great to watch it again!

No villain in “Dragon Ball Z” has looked as cute and nonthreatening as Majin Buu but yet has managed to slaughter a millions of people and really put the Z-Warriors in a position that they have never been in before.

The high points of this season is the fact that you get a long awaited battle between Goku vs. Vegeta, you get the Super Saiyan level 3 transformation of Goku but then we get to see the fusion technique.

Each episode has a very good storyline that it’s quite easy to watch episode after episode and find yourself watching a marathon of multiple discs because the episodes were quite enjoyable and action-packed. I also, have to say that there are no filler episodes and each episode, you’re going to get hardcore battles and just non-stop action. It’s what you would expect from a series such as “Dragon Ball Z” and nothing less.

Vegeta fans will definitely enjoy his character transformation but most of all his redemption. The first half is very Vegeta intensive and in Japan, many people wanted more of him and they got it. So, to see a powerful Vegeta going against Goku was awesome.

The series manages to weave in every character close to the Z-warriors that we have known from the series in this eighth season, which is very cool. And also, for Hercule/Mr. Satan fans, you will actually get to see him in action as well.

But it’s the instability of Majin Buu’s character which is quite interesting. Because of the way this being is made, unlike Frieza and Cell, the ability to continually regenerate, makes him nearly an unstoppable character. His look and demeanor is nothing like we have seen in the first 200-episodes and to see him kill people for the sake of hunger or for enjoyment to hear things go “boom”, makes Majin Buu an interesting but moreso, a deadlier villain than any villain that has appeared on “Dragon Ball Z” thus far.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Majin Buu Arc, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 99-121) 575 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


Seven years have passed since Cell’s defeat, and the Z Fighters have returned to normal life. Goku has continued his training in the Other World, Krillin has gotten married, and Gohan has his hands full attempting to navigate the pitfalls of high school. But with the new World Martial Arts Tournament about to begin, it’s time for Goku and the Z Fighters to reunite and face off against the greatest warriors on Earth!

Meanwhile, the evil wizard Babidi has traveled across the galaxy on a quest for revenge, hoping to fulfill his father’s thwarted dreams of universal domination. The Supreme Kai has come to enlist the aid of the Z Fighters in his effort to prevent Babidi from awakening a monster of unimaginable terror—Majin Buu!


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume seven) as the safety of the world rests on the shoulders of young Gohan, as he takes on the evil Perfect Cell.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 99-121.

The focus for these episodes is the arc known as “World Tournament Saga” and takes place seven years since the battle with Cell.

Gohan is now a teenager and will be attending public high school for the first time.  As expected, with his strict mother Chi Chi, Gohan becomes a straight A student.  But you also learn that he has a seven year old brother named Goten.

As Gohan enters high school in Satan City (named after Mr. Satan because of his lie that he is the one that defeated Cell), he sees that there is trouble in the city with bank robbers and so forth, so with the help of Bulma, creates a costume for him and thus Gohan goes under the secret identity of Great Saiyaman.

In high school, he meets Bedil (Mr. Satan’s daughter) who is a powerful fighter and helps the police force take on the criminals.  Eventually, she catches on to Gohan’s identity and demands Gohan to teach her how to fly or else, she will reveal his secret identity.

I have to admit that when I first watched these episodes (when it was first released in Japan), I absolutely loved the chemistry between Gohan and Bedil.  So, it was great to see how the two fighters get close to each other and it’s almost similar to how Goku and Chi Chi became boyfriend and girlfriend (and eventually husband and wife).

For the third arc, a new World Martial Arts Tournament is happening and the Z-Fighters intend to take part.  Also, Goku has been granted a 24-hour stay in Planet Earth to take part in the tournament.  The first part of this third arc features the junior division in which Son Goten and Trunks enter the tournament.  The second part features the main division which the Z-Fighters (Goku, Vegita, Piccolo, Krillin, No. 18, Gohan, Android 18 and Trunks/Goten in disguise) are taking part in.   But introduces two mysterious characters named Shin and Kibito which somehow scares Piccolo for some unknown reason.

And then there are other fighters who seem to have superhuman power levels and along with the two mysterious characters, the Z-Fighters must find out who they are and what is their scheme.


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 112 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Andrew T. Chandler (voice of Spopovich), voice of Kyle Ebert (voice of Gohan).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part One comes with a slipcover case.


With the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”, I really enjoyed the Great Saiyaman arc.  We watched little Gohan grow up and now he is a teenager and although he doesn’t know it yet, he has met someone he cares about and willing to help her no matter what.  The chemistry between Gohan and Bedil is just awesome and episodes just focusing on these two were just great.

Also, episodes featuring Goten and Trunks and seeing these two go against each other in the Junior Division of the World Tournament was fun to watch.

And of course, to see how everyone has changed.  Especially Krillin who is now married to Android 18 and both have a daughter.  Heck, Krillin now has hair!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series later episodes finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters ” part one is primarily the tournament battle, this time, the little ones, Goten and Trunks get in the action.  Of course, these episodes are a nice diversion before going full force with the Majin Buu arc that comes afterward.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Fairy Tail vol. 22 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 is an action-packed storyline concluding the Tartaros Arc which features several deaths and a lot of destruction. And the Fairy Tail guild will never be the same.  A fantastic conclusion for season seven!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 21

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 253-265) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: December 6, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

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

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


With the battle of Tartaros still raging on, the wizards of Fairy Tail may have finally met their match. The threat of three thousand Faces hangs over them, and the power of the Demon Gates takes their breath away when they reveal their true Etherious Forms.

Right when things begin to look up, an even bigger threat appears Acnologia! Beaten and exhausted, can the wizards find the strength to take on Tartaros and this monstrous dragon? When the fire inside Natsu erupts, he will have a startling and unexpected reunion. But the time for catching up and seeking answers will have to wait E.N.D. and the ready-to-detonate Faces are moments from destroying the magical world as they know it!

The final battle for the magical world happens now!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” concludes with a devastating finale.

Gray confronts his father Silver, who reveals that he is a corpse that was brought back to life by Keyes’ necromancy curse and he desperately wants his son to kill him, but can Gray do it?

Meanwhile, the search is over for Natsu as his father, the dragon Igneel has returned, as does Mard Geer and Acnologia who intends to wreak destruction on the world.

Erza takes on Kyoka in a battle to the death.

Who will die?  Who will survive?

Find out in the final episodes of the “Tarturos Arc”.  All this and more in vol. 22 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 253-265) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

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

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

With the 22nd Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 253-265.

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

A Quick Summary of what “Fairy Tail” is about?:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 22 features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 features the following special features:

  • Episode 253 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with voice actor Newton Pittman (voice of Gray).
  • Episode 258 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Vic Mignogna (voice of Mard Geer) and Janelle Lutz (voice of Kyoka).
  • Fairy Tail in the Booth: Sting, Rogue and Mard Geer – (3:05) Featuring the behind-the-scenes in the studio showcasing the voice actors for Sting, Rogue and Mard Geer.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Believe in Myself”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Azayakana Tabiji”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


With the seventh season “Fairy Tail” and the final “Tartaros” arc coming to a close, we have watched as the dark guild of Zeref’s demons are trying to resurrect their master and Zeref’s ultimate creation, E.N.D.!

In the early part of the “Tartaros Arc”, as the Magic Council discusses Tartaros recent activity and the decrease in dark guilds, Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the meeting and destroys the building the council are meeting at and everyone is killed including Lahar.

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

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

In this latest 22nd volume, the battles continue as Natsu and Gajeel take on Torafuzar and Tempester, Erza takes on the final Demon Gate Kyoka, but just when all battles reach its peak, Acnolgia shows up out of nowhere and wreaks destruction in the area.

But coming to the defense of the guilds is the one dragon that Natsu has looked for, his fire dragon father Igneel.  And to make things worse, Mard Geer steals the book of the E.N.D.

Needless to say, this is a tragic arc with many deaths and something that will change the course of the Fairy Tail guild.

And what’s shocking is that we have seen the Fairy Tail guild take on powerful foes, nearly lose but are able to overcome their challenges.  But can this latest challenge be too much for them?

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

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes and also get to see a short video clip of a few voice talents recording their scene.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 22 is an action-packed storyline concluding the Tartaros Arc which features several deaths and a lot of destruction. And the Fairy Tail guild will never be the same.  A fantastic conclusion for season seven!  Recommended!

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

January 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 21

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 240-252) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 6, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

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

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


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


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” continues!

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Fairy Tail”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

Fairy Tail vol. 20 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the war between the wizards and demons begins as the “Tartaros Arc” brings us one of the darkest episodes of the series yet! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 20

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 227-239) 350 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

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

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


In Fairy Tail part 20, when a prestigious client requests the assistance of both Natsu and Gray, the boys momentarily set aside their differences and head to Sun Village – a city entombed by malevolent ice magic. Their investigation into the incident comes to a screeching halt when treasure hunters from the Sylph Labyrinth guild show up to stand in their way. As the wizards go toe to toe with the thieving trio, the battle quickly becomes the least of their worries—one by one the wizards are being transformed into adorable, child-sized versions of themselves! How can they hope to restore the village’s eternal flame if they can’t even fit into their armor?!

Meanwhile, dark forces are at work behind the scenes. Another guild is on the move, and they’ve set their sights on total domination of the magical world. Will Fairy Tail be able to rise to meet their challenge? Find out in Fairy Tail Part 20!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” continues!

Natsu and Gray receive a job request from Wizard Saint, Warrod Sequen to save the frozen town, Sun Village.

What happens when Minerva joins the dark guild, Succubus Eye and takes on Erza for what transpired at the Grand Magic Games!

What happens when Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the Magic Council meeting and kills them.

All this and more in vol. 20 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 227-239) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

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

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

With the 20th Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 227-239.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 20 features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the following special features:

  • Episode 229 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Nick Landis (voice of Rala), Scott Price (voice of Hiroshi) and Alejandro (voice of Drake)
  • Episode 237 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Rico Fajardo (voice of Jackal).
  • Guild Pride: Fairy Tail – (6:55) A featurette about the guild known as Fairy Tail.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Yume-Iro Graffiti”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Never Ever” Version 1-6
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


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

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

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

While this latest volume is probably one of the darkest story plots of “Fairy Tail” prior to the “Tartaros Arc” is a storyline featuring Natsu and Gray on a mission to save the Sun Village.  Also, Minerva joins the Succubus Eye dark build and intends to take her revenge against Erza.

So, there is a good number of entertaining storylines in this 20th volume but the main highlight is this exciting, action-packed yet dark volume of “Fairy Tail” as characters are killed and the land being attacked by those of the Nine Demon Gates.

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

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes, a Guild Pride video and the opening and ending theme songs.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the war between the wizards and demons begins as the “Tartaros Arc” brings us one of the darkest episodes of the series yet!

Recommended!

Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

makenki-two

“Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series” is an anime series that will no doubt appeal to the horny anime fanboy or those who love harem anime series, especially with a ton of fan service and nudity. It goes even further than the first season and if you loved season one, more than likely you will enjoy season two!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series

YEAR: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-10 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: April 12, 2016


Originally Created by Hiromitsu Takeda

Directed by Hiraku Kaneko

Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Cher Watanabe

Character Design by Akio Takami

Art Direction by Chitose Asakura, Junko Nagasawa

Production by Xebec


Featuring the following voice talent:

Noriko Shitaya/Monica Rial as Haruko Amaya

Tomoaki Maeno/Ian Sinclair as Takeru Ōyama

Hitomi Harada/Heather Walker as Aki Nijō

Iori Nomizu/Tia Ballard as Inaho Kushiya

Mina/Caitlin Glass as Minori Rokujō

Misuzu Togashi/Morgan Garrett as Azuki Shinatsu

Sayuri Yahagi/Chloe Ragnbone as Kodama Himegami

Natsumi Takamori/Jamie Marchi as Yuka Amado

Tyson Rinehart as Rudolf


Only nostrils of steel can prevent massive blood loss during this super sexy second season of Maken-Ki! Brought to you by the director of Ikki Tousen!

Takeru and his Leadership Committee comrades are the last line of defense when it comes to ridding Tenbei Academy of mischievous Maken users. But saving all these succulent student bodies from a hoard of hocus pocus hornballs is no easy trick. Not when there’s a pervy creeper pinning bras to the bulletin board, a magical feline turning coed cuties into irresistible sex kittens, and a must-see manga fest where the costumes get mysteriously shrunken down to scandalous sizes! Through it all, Takeru keeps his mind on the mammaries – and the mammaries on his mind – as the luscious ladies of the Leadership Committee prove that their magic is breast in class!


In 2011, Hiromitsu Takeda created his mature manga “Maken-ki!” which was published in Fujimi Shobo’s “Monthly Dragon Age” magazine (and original in “Dragon Age Pure”).

The manga series would lead to a 12-episode anime adaptation by AIC in 2011 airing on AT-X and two OVA episodes which were bundled with the 8th and 11th volume of the manga series.

In 2014, a second season was created and now the second season will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation.

And if you thought season one was perverted…prepare for Season Two!

The anime series is directed by Hiraku Kaneko (“Kagaku na Yatsura”, “Manyu Hiken-cho”, “Qwaser of Stigmata”), series composition by Yousuke Kuroda (“Excel Saga”, “Gungrave”, “Honey and Clover”), music by Cher Watanabe (“The Prince of Tennis II”, “Gakkyu-oh Yamazaki”), character designs by Akio Takami (“Gin Rei”, “Shaman King”) and art direction by Chitose Asakura (“Fafner”, “Ranma 1/2″ films, Maison Ikkoku”, “) and Junko Nagasawa (“Big Order”, “Medabots”, “Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!”).

What is “Maken-ki” about?

“Maken-ki” is a mature harem anime series which revolved around a teenager named Takeru Ohyama, who has enrolled at Tenbi Academy. A good-hearted, clumsy teenager who has become sexually curious, his childhood friend Haruko Amaya, the student body vice-president, who has come to walk him to his new school and introduce him to the new surroundings.

But what Takeru didn’t know is that the school he is attending is a school for special students who possess magical and spiritual energy known as Elements and they each can wield personalized weapons known as Maken.

As we see Haruko wanting to protect Takeru (and having an interest towards him), on the first day of school, his clumsiness leads him to cross paths with the feisty blonde fighter named Kodama Himegami, who spots an unusual mark on Takeru and immediately makes him her enemy that she wants to kill.

On the opening day of school, Kodama immediately challenges Takeru to a battle, which concerns Haruko because it’s Takeru’s first day and he hasn’t been trained.

And during their sparring match, when Kodama is about to unleash a special attack, her attack is nullified by Inaho Kushiya, who protects him from harm and proclaims herself to be the fiance of Takeru, which shocks Takeru and Haruko.

Because Inaho wants to be close to Takeru and is her self-proclaimed fiance, she and Takeru are allowed to live together. But also requesting to live with them is Kodama. Seeing that two girls are trying to live with Takeru and not wanting to see anything happen to him, a jealous Haruko announces that she will live with them as well, in order to make sure no one is up to no good.

Meanwhile, as the new students undergo testing to see what Maken can be crafted for them, the machine is unable to detect any Maken that will work for Takeru, making the women want to protect him even more from harm. And as Takeru tries to fit in with the new school, Haruko invites Takeru to join the Maken-ki club, a club that officiates duels at school.

But during a moment where Takeru is trying to protect another student, he displays a certain power that he doesn’t remember doing in the heat of the moment. What is this unknown power that Takeru has within him?

For season two, the series revolves around Takeru and the Leadership Committee at school.  As they are the last line of defense when it comes to protect Tenbi Academy from mischievous maken users, the group must deal with a mischievous cat turning girls to cats, a teddy bear with hardcore lecherous tendencies, a creeper who keeps pinning students bras to the bulletin board and more.  But what happens when Takeru is changed into a well-endowed woman?  What happens when Azuki is mistaken for a man?  What happens when nurse Aki Nijou wants to know how a boyfriend feels like and handcuffs Takeru to her, forcing him to spend an evening with her?

Find out in “Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series”!


The characters featured in “Maken-ki Two – Complete Series” are:

  • Takeru Ohyama – The main protagonist. A teenager who appears to be good-hearted, caring, clumsy and perverted. His clumsiness leads him to falling on one of the female students or falling and accidentally grabbing to a student’s clothing and pulling them off, often his friend Haruko and Kodama which leads to them beating him up. He has a special abilities that manifest during the most extreme situations when people he cares about are in harms way.
  • Haruko Amaya – The student body vice-president and head of one of the dorms. A childhood friend of Takeru who cares about him deeply. She is jealous when other girls get close to Takeru. She is very well-endowed and is considered one of the strongest at Tenbi Academy. A member of Maken-ki.
  • Kodama Himegami – A blonde student that is a member of Maken-ki. She is often discouraged because she is not well-endowed and often eats Takeru up as he accidentally stole her first kiss when she fell from a tree. But when she sees a mark on him, she becomes curious to know more about him, as it is a mark that her brother had.
  • Inaho Kushiya – A person who has proclaimed herself to be Takeru’s fiance. She made a promise to marry Takeru when they were younger, but is hurt that Takeru does not remember her at all.
  • Kengo Usui – One of the male students who tries to get close to Haruko and Kodama and thus is seen hanging out with Takeru and both share their perverted interests.
  • Azuki Shinatsu – A short tempered student who often has a bandage on her nose. She works at the maid cafe, Macaroon.
  • Furan Takaki – The student body president who is shy around guys and very strict in enforcing rules at Tenbi Academy.
  • Yuka Amado – The student body treasurer and close friend of Furan, who often teases her.
  • Minori Rokujou – The principal and physical education teacher at Tenbi Academy.
  • Aki Nijou – The very well-endowed school nurse and staff adviser for the Maken-ki club.

VIDEO:

“Maken-ki! Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is colorful and as one can expect from a TV series, a bit soft. But the characters are well-shaded and it looks as if AIC really put a lot of detail boobs, nipples and a woman’s nether-region (especially their panties) when it comes to shadows and trying to capture the ecchi perverted nature of the series without having to resort to nudity.

Backgrounds are well-painted and the shift of character designs from well-shaded characters and super-deformed characters are fun to watch.

But for the most part, the series does look good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Maken-ki! Two” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD  5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. “Maken-ki!” is a series that features crystal clear dialogue. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had a bit more punch, especially when it comes to the nudity and raunchiness of the series. The English dub works quite well!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 1 – Featuring audio commentary with Monica Rial (voice of Haruko Amaya), Tia Ballard (voice of Inaho Kushiya) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Takeru).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 7 – Featuring audio commentary with Tyson Rinehart (voice of Rudolf), Jamie Marchi (voice of Yuka) and Elizabeth Maxwell (voice of Kodama Himegami).
  • OVA – Takeru turns into a Woman! Naked in a Southern Island! – (1:01:34) A raunchy OVA about what happens when Takeru is turned into a well-endowed woman.

EXTRAS:

“Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series” comes with a slipcover and a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


I have watched many mature-themed anime series from FUNimation and when the first season of “Maken-ki!” was released, I wrote about the series, “‘Maken-Ki’ has now surpassed any anime series released by the company that raises the bar in how far one can go with an anime series without being pornographic.

For those who love mature anime series and loved the uber-pervertedness of season one, you will be comforted to know that “Maken-ki!” Two” surpasses the first season.

“Maken-ki!” has become a series that manages to take everything you have seen from mature anime and turn things up a notch. The anime series has nudity, women with humongous boobs that somehow defy gravity, nipple pokies that get near Satoshi Urushihara “Plastic Little” status and detail of a woman’s nether region while wearing her panties. And I’m sure the sheer mention of this will make the fans of perverted anime have this high on their anime purchase wish list.

But let’s take a step aside from anything mentioning boobs or panties and get to the actual anime series.

“Maken-ki!” is a harem anime series that is banal in the sense that you have a good-natured, clumsy guy named Takeru who lives with beautiful women and yet somehow gets himself in the wrong situations where his clumsiness leads to undressing or getting in compromising situations.

Takeru ends up going to a high school full of beautiful women who are wearing skimpy outfits and can kick serious butt!  And because he is often wanting to do something perverted, he is often beaten up by the other women.

I was a bit surprised of how far this series would go in showing details of a woman’s vaginal area, granted she’s wearing panties but suffice to say, there is quite a bit of detailed shading in order to capture it in this anime series.

Suffice to say, while there is a storyline of a group of high school teenagers trying to watch over their school and making sure each fight is fair, and the stories of other female students trying to get close to Takeru, there is no doubt that the driving force is the mature sexual nature of this series.

Each character brings something to the series, from Haruko learning that her feelings for Takeru are more than just being childhood friends.  And for Inaho, the fact that she wants to marry Takeru but for reasons that only she remembers and he doesn’t.  You have school administration who are just as perverted as the students.

Add in other well-endowed and scantily clad characters and a perverted male character and suffice to say, “Maken-ki! Two” becomes one heck of a crazy harem anime series that targets that perverted anime fan demographic with extreme efficacy without the series becoming pornographic.

As for the Blu-ray, the anime series is colorful but as one can expect from TV series, it also has its share of softness. But the characters are well-shaded, moreso when it comes to Xebec focusing on adding a lot of details to one’s panties. Backgrounds are well-done and the shift of animation from serious to fun, cartoony or super-deformed was a nice touch. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear and one can expect more dynamic range and more surround channel activity thanks to the English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The Japanese lossless Dolby TrueHD stereo track is clear, but of course, being 2.0, doesn’t have the surround channel activity.

As for special features, the two audio commentaries for the English dub is one of the hilarious audio commentaries and an OVA that goes even further of what can be shown on the TV series as Takeru becomes a well-endowed woman and you can imagine how he takes advantage of that.

Overall, “Maken-ki! Two – Complete Series” is an anime series that will no doubt appeal to the horny anime fanboy or those who love harem anime series, especially with a ton of fan service and nudity. It goes even further than the first season and if you loved season one, more than likely you will enjoy season two!

ELISA – Millenario (a J!-ENT World Groove CD Single Review)

October 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

elisa-millenario

“Millenario” is a beautiful single and wonderfully performed by ELISA!  Recommended!

ARTIST: ELISA

CD SINGLE: ミレナリオ (Millenario)

LABEL: Sony Music Labels

CATALOG #: SECL-1497

DURATION: 19 Minutes

RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2014

  1. ミレナリオ
  2. Sign -約束の鐘-
  3. Cage
  4. ミレナリオ (Instrumental)

ELISA has been creating quite a bit of buzz amongst Anison (anime songs) fans.

You can listen to her music and wonderful voice and instantly feel that the music takes you to another world.

ELISA’s music has been featured as the opening or ending theme songs for many anime series such as “Nabari no Ou”, “Ef – A Tale of Melodies”, “Hayate the Combat Butler Second Season”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”, “Valvrave the Liberator” and more.

And now she is back with her 11th single “Millenario” which is used as a theme song for the anime series “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The Irregular at Magic High School).

There were two versions of “Millenario” released, a normal CD version and another version that comes with both CD and DVD.  The version I am reviewing is the normal version which comes with an 8-page booklet, photos of ELISA, lyrics and production credits.  Also, a small business card size photo card with a message from ELISA on the back.  Plus a small flier promoting her latest album “AS LIFE”.

The single kicks of with “Millenario”, a beautiful ballad that flows gently with it’s piano arrangement.    The song written by zopp and composed by Shihori is a love song about wanting to sing a song without fear, and if it is the end, this will be the eternal song and wanting the song to comfort people, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years from now.

The second track “Sign -約束の鐘-” (which translates to “Sign – Promise of the Bell”) is a song that is written by ELISA and is a mid-tempo upbeat track that is consistent with a lot of the music that ELISA is known for.  From her back vocals and strings playing in the background, it’s a beautiful track.

The lyrics for the song is actually quite deep but positive.  Why is there no sound?  Why is the door blocked?  Beyond the bells is a sign of the past.   Will the dream come true?  Not wanting to regret, you want to face the challenges with your own state of mind, as a sign of “Keep on Fighting” displays within yourself.

The third track is “Rain Cage” co-written by ELISA and Watanabe Sho, who also composed the song.  An upbeat ballad and like ELISA’s lyrics, are quite deep as it revolves around wanting to return to a time when two people were happy, all that is left are memories during a time when all there is only endless rain.

The fourth track is the instrumental for “Millenario”.

Overall, “Millenario” is a much different single compared to the previous singles from ELISA.  In some ways, there was a style of music that she is known for and a style that was often compared to the group Kalafina.  But with “Millenario”, there is a feeling that she is breaking out of that mold, showcasing her beautiful voice, deep lyrics but maintaining that wonderful musical arrangement but trying something a bit different and it works.  But it remains to be seen if this musical direction is the ELISA we can expect now, or just a fitting style for a ballad release and she will return to the music that she is best known for.

Nevertheless, “Millenario” is a beautiful single and wonderfully performed by ELISA!  Recommended!

 

Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers (2014 Blu-ray release) (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Romance, action and all-out mecha battles galore! “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” is a re-imagining of the popular manga/anime TV series and easily accessible for those not familiar with the series. Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2009 Bones /Project EUREKA MOVIE. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers

DURATION: 117 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: Full English/Songs & Signs

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: PG-13 (Action, Violence and Some Nudity)

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Directed by Tomoki Kyoda

Storyboard by Hiroshi Haraguchi, Tomoki Kyoda, Yasushi Muraki

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kenichi Yoshida

Art Director: Kazuo Nagai

Mechanical Design: Hiroyuki Yanagise

Sound Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi

Director of Photography: Shunya Kimura

Animation Production by BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yuko Sanpei/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Ami Koshimizu/Kari Wahlgren as Anemone

Keiji Fujiwara/Crispin Freeman as Holland Novak

Michiko Neya/Kate Higgins as Talho Yuki

Shigenori Yamazaki/Peter Doyle as Dominic Sorel

In the year 2054, humanity is on the brink of destruction thanks to a half-century war with the strange beings known as the EIZO. In the middle of an important mission, mecha pilot Renton is reunited with his childhood friend Eureka who was kidnapped by government forces years before. But their heartfelt reunion might not last for long: Eureka’s life will soon come to an end, and the crew that Renton serves alongside on the GEKKO have their own ideas about what to do with the blue-haired girl. As mankind prepares to fire a doomsday weapon that will end the war once and for all, the fate of the world rests in the hearts of two young lovers.

“Eureka Seven”, the popular mecha anime TV series from anime studio, Bones, has spawned several video games, novels and now a movie. What began as an animated series was then quickly adapted into a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of 23 chapters.

The anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” and in 2009, “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” was released in theaters during Golden Week and fans of the series would get a chance to see a new re-imagining of the characters for the film version. Director Tomoki Kyoda (“Eureka Seven” TV Series, “RahXephon”, “Skull Man”, “Ouran High School Host Club”) wanted to make a film for those who never read the manga and never watched the anime series. So, literally a film that would be brand new for anyone watching it.

In the TV and manga series, “Eureka Seven” revolved around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment. His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun. Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston. But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it. And the girl’s name is Eureka SeveN and Renton eventually joins the group known as The Gekko State which is headed by his hero Holland Novak and at the same time, is attracted to Eureka. While Eureka the Gekko State are being pursued by the UF Force (as Holland, a former member, stole Eureka).

In “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”, the storyline is much more different as Renton and Eureka were childhood friends and Renton’s LFO mecha is a bunny-like creature named Nirvash. During this time line, Earth has been under the attack from aliens known as the Eizo who have replicated quickly to the point that their growth can easily kill of humanity.

One day, while both were just kids traveling along with Professor Dominic Sorel, as Sorel leaves off to tend to other matters, Renton and Eureka (who has a condition similar to Xeroderma – the inability to have contact with the sunlight) were separated by soldiers.

It appears that government soldiers are after the young Eureka and to prove that she is who they are looking for, they expose her to the sunlight and we see her skin being eaten away and showing a green layer underneath. Renton does all he can to stop the soldiers from taking Eureka but he is too young and weak to stop them.

Fast forward eight years later as Renton is now a teenager. He now is employed by the military and is a soldier who works under the leader Holland Novak. While he and Holland fight against the Eizo, to Renton’s surprise, he sees Eureka once again. Renton who is still in love with Eureka does not want to be separated from her again and will do all he can to protect her. But Eureka is hesitant because she is not human and was created by the Eizo to record her interaction with humans. But this doesn’t mean anything to Renton.

All Renton knows is that he will no longer be separated from Eureka and he will do all he can to protect her. But what he doesn’t’ know is that for Holland and the crew, they have a dark secret they are hiding and for them and that they are a rebel faction who are also after Eureka.

Can Renton protect Eureka from the government, Gekko and the Eizo?

VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” is a Bones production that looks awesome on Blu-ray. Featured in 1080p High Definition, the detail on the painted backgrounds are well-done and contain a lot of detail.

Fans of the manga and anime series should be happy with the character designs by Kenichi Yoshida (“Overman King Gainer”, “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie”, “Eureka Seven” TV series) and the mechanical designs by Hiroyuki Yanagise (“Sakura Diaries”, “Death Note”).

The battle sequences look fluid in animation and Bones did not skimp on details as they had a lot of key animators and in-between animators working on this film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” is featured in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. I have to say that I was pleased by the lossless soundtrack. Because of the amount of action in the film, there was great use of surround usage for explosions, weapons being shot out and hearing it pan from left to right. Good use of LFE for booms and for the most part, crystal clear audio coming from the front and center channels. Dialogue and the music by Naoki Sato (composer for “Heroic Age”, “Mouse”, “Sword of the Stranger”) sounds very beautiful in HD.

As for the dub, this is about preference and the good news is that you get both Japanese and English lossless soundtracks. I watched the English dub at the theater and once again on Blu-ray but also watched the film in Japanese to see if there were any audio differences and for the most part, action special effects and music were both fantastic on both soundtracks. I did enjoy the more emotional voice acting from the Japanese lossless track but again, its all about preference and fortunately you get both lossless soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” contains the following special features:

  • Making-of-Featurette – (50:17) The making-of “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”. Featuring director Tomoki Kyoda explaining the film and why they did a re-imagining of the “Eureka Seven” story for the film. Also, the planning of the film up, storyboards, animation, recording the voice talent, ticket sales for the first screening of the film and the showcasing the journey from the film’s infancy to the first screening of the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:06) The original theatrical trailer for “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”.
  • TV Commercials – (:17) The first Japanese TV commercial for “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”, (:17) The second Japanese TV commercial for “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer

My first exposure to “Eureka Seven” was actually from this film. I have seen bits and pieces on television but I missed way too many episodes to comprehend what was going on and thus I passed.

But since the first screening of the film, I started to get acquainted with the manga and anime series and for the most part, my enjoyment of the film is what made me want to learn more about it.

I know with most people watching the film, they have some major knowledge of the TV and manga series but when I watched this film with a few friends who were also not familiar with the world of “Eureka Seven”, we enjoyed it. Now knowing the differences between the characters of the film and the manga/anime series, personally I feel that this movie is easily accessible for those not familiar with the series and that’s good thing.

As for those who are fans, like any anime that is re-imagined and different from the original, I can understand if there are fans who are not appreciative of the changes and I’m sure there are those who are open to seeing what director Tomoki Kyoda and Bones had in store for the audience. But I can tell you that watching the film on Blu-ray definitely made things more exciting as I had the opportunity to test out the lossless audio and just be in awe of how immersive the soundscape was.

For those who already own the 2010 Bandai Entertainment Blu-ray release, there is no major difference from the two releases.  There is no reason to upgrade to this 2014 FUNimation Blu-ray release, unless you are a hardcore “Eureka Seven” fan/collector.

As for the Blu-ray, the picture quality was definitely great to see in 1080p HD and I was happy to see the 50-minute making-of Japanese special feature (with English subtitles) included. But to my surprise, after the theatrical screening of “Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers”, there was a 25-minute featuring the English dub voice talent that is not included on this Blu-ray. In a way, it’s a shame because that featurette was hilarious and fun! I’m surprised it was not included at all as it would have been an excellent addition to the Blu-ray release and definitely would have made it a pretty complete release.

Overall, for those who are familiar with the series may have quite a bit to talk about in terms of differences and their own opinions of the film. But coming from a guy who watched the film along with his friends (who don’t watch much anime) and didn’t know too much about the manga and anime series at the time, the three of us enjoyed the film. The film has romance, action and all-out mecha battles. Sci-fi/mecha anime fans will definitely find something to enjoy about this film.

“Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers” is definitely recommended!

Space Battleship Yamato (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

yamato

“Space Battleship Yamato” is a film that I have watched repeatedly. Being a fan of the original animated series, Takashi Yamazaki’s film makes the storyline accessible for anyone who have never watched the anime series or watched the manga and enjoy it for its character, storyline and visual effects. The film has many twist and turns and an ending that I never saw coming, but I was entertained and captivated by this sci-fi action film from beginning to end. I may be biased towards “Space Battleship Yamato” but this film was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Space Battleship Yamato

FILM RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 138 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Giant Ape Media/FUNimation

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 29, 2014

Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki

Screenplay by Shimako Sato

Story by Yoshinobu Nishizaki

Produced by Nobuhiro Azuma

Executive Producer: Kazuya Hamana, Toshiaki Nakazawa

Music by Naoki Sato

Cinematography by Kozo Shibasaki

Edited by Ryuji Miyajima

Production design by Anri Johjo

Starring:

Takuya Kimura as Susumu Kodai

Meisa Kuroki as Yuki Mori

Toshiro Yanagiba as Shiro Sanda

Naoto Ogata as Daisuke Shima

Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as Hajime Saito

Shin’ichi Tsutsumi as Mamoru Kodai

Maiko as Aihara

Reiko Takashima as Doctor Sado

Toshiyuki Nishida as Hikozaemon Tokugawa

Toshihiro Yashiba as Yasuo Nanbu

Kazuki Namioka as Saburo Kato

Takumi Saito as Akira Yamamoto

Takahiro Miura as Furuya

Kensuke Owada as Kenjiro Ota

The year is 2199. Mankind teeters on the brink of extinction as the Gamilas, a heinous race of alien invaders, wage an endless war for the right to inhabit the Earth. The last hope for humanity lies on the distant planet of Iskander, and the only battleship capable of attempting the journey is the legendary Yamato. Armed with the devastatingly-powerful Wave Motion Cannon, grizzled Captain Okita and the Yamato’s crew venture boldly into the darkest depths of space.

The Gamilas attack at every turn, but fallen hero Susumu Kodai and ace pilot Yuki Mori fight side by side for the future of their world. Together, these young lovers unlock the secrets of Iskander – only to face a harrowing voyage home that will change their world forever!

Back in 1974-1975, Leiji Matsumoto’s anime and manga sci-fi series “Space Battleship Yamato” was a major hit in Japan.

The first anime series to win a Seiun Award, the film was dubbed in English in several countries, while in the U.S., the series was heavily edited and was known as “Star Blazers”.

So, influential, “Space Battleship Yamato” would influence Hideaki Anno, creator of “Mobile Suit Gundam” that several television sequels and films were released in Japan with a remake of the original series released in April 2012 titled “Space Battleship Yamato”.

But the excitement in Japan was the theatrical live-action release of “Space Battleship Yamato” and its all-star cast which included SMAP vocalist/actor Takuya Kimura (“Long Vacation”, “Love Generation”, “Hero”, “Priceless”, “Ando Lloyd”), actress/singer Meisa Kuroki (“Crows Zero”, “Tada, Kim wo Aishiteru”), Toshiro Yanagi (“Odoru Daisoussasen” series, “Negotiator”), Reiko Takashima (“”Azumi 2: Deah or Love”, “Railways”, “Oh! Oku”), Toshiyuki Nishida (“Tsuribaka Nisshi” films) and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (“Space Travelers”, “Ip Man”).

The film was a box office success in Japan and as fans have long-awaited the North American distribution of the film, “Space Battleship Yamato” wil be released on Blu-ray+DVD combo courtesy of FUNimation.

“Space Battleship Yamato” takes place in 2199 and begins with Capt. Juzo Okita (portrayed by Tsutomu Yamazaki) piloting a ship in a war against the Gamilas near  Mars.  With the Gamilas too powerful, in order to save many of the crew members in Capt. Okita’s ship, EDF captain Mamoru Kodai (portrayed by Shinichi Tsutsumi) uses his damaged ship, the Yukikaze as a shield and the crew sacrifice their lives.

On Earth, Mamoru’s brother Susumu (portrayed by Takuya Kimura) is a scavenger who tries to find valuable metals outdoors in the radiation heavy atmosphere of Earth in order to trade the metals for supplies.  While looking for metals outside, a ship crashes on land and Susumu is knocked unconscious.  When he awakens, he finds an alien message capsule that has lowered the radiation but Susumu is unconscious yet again.

As the Earth Defense Force analyzes the alien message capsule, Susumu who is feared to be dying of radiation exposure, awakens and confronts Capt. Juzo Okita of sacrificing him out in space.  As he tries to punch the Capt., he is knocked out by Black Tiger Squadron ace pilot Yuki Mori (portrayed by Meisa Kuroki).

As Earth is suffering from radiation problems, Capt. Okita believes the hope for humanity lies in Iskandar and how the alien message capsule contained engineering schematics for a new warp drive and coordinates to the planet.  But they must use Earth’s final defense, the Space Battleship Yamato (an enhanced battleship with alien technology) and also recruit any civilians who have a military and science background.

Susume decides to re-enlist and to Dr. Sado, she is shocked that Susumu is still alive despite being outdoors without a mask with the problems of radiation poisoning, but he is perfectly fine.  She also finds out that Susumu was once an EDF pilot and led the Black Tiger Squadron.  Because of his past military status, Susumu is a higher rank and begins to work in the main bridge with Capt. Juzo Okita, his old friend Shiro Sanada (portrayed by Toshiro Yanagiba), chief science/technology officer; Daisuke Shima (portrayed by Naoto Ogata), chief navigator and Hikozaemon Tokugawa (portrayed by Toshiyuki Nishida), chief engineer.

And as the “Space Battleship Yamato” makes their long journey to Iskandar, they must prepare for attacks by Gamilla and Susumu must try to get along with the Black Tiger Squadron ace pilot, Yuki Mori.  A person who holds a grudge towards Susumu for leaving them and quitting the EDF.

 

VIDEO:

“Space Battleship Yamato” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1).  For a film that was created with a tight budget (much smaller than most sci-fi films), I was impressed with the overall CG effects by Shirogumi.  The vehicles are highly detailed, the special effects on the pilots were well done.  The planets look fantastic and for the most part, the colors, detail and overall contrast were among the positive factors of this Blu-ray release.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Space Battleship Yamato” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD and the action was quite immersive, utilizing the surround channels for the heavy hitting action scenes to using the effects of the surround channels.  The film also features solid LFE with explosions and if anything, I was quite pleased with the immersive state of this lossless soundtrack.  Great use of panning effects and overall dynamic range!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Space Battleship Yamato” comes with the following special features:

  • Space Battleship Yamato Pre-Visualization – (25:21) Showing the before CG scenes during per-visualization the the final cut.
  • VFX “Making Of” – (12:17) Featuring the application of special effects and visual effects to a scene with the actors.
  • Local Yamato – (1:22) a few scenes with modern Japan with the Space Battleship Yamato flying above.
  • News Flashes – (1:10) Japanese news flash promoting the film.
  • Premiere Announcements – (:49) Japanese trailers promoting the premiere of the film.
  • Original Trailers – Featuring two theatrical trailers for “Space Battleship Yamato”.

As a longtime fan of “Space Battleship Yamato” and the work of Leiji Matsumoto, the original announcement for a live-action sci-fi film made me excited.

The idea of a live action sci-fi film from Japan and to see the characters especially the Space Battleship Yamato in CG glory, I couldn’t wait until the film was released in Japan.

Not only were we getting a major series receiving a live film adaptation but the stars featured in the film was a major plus.  Actor and singer, Takuya Kimura, has proven himself for the last 20-years that nearly every film or drama that he stars in, the ratings go up and he’s a bankable star.  It also helps that he has always had the long hair, so stepping into the role of Susumu was a positive.  But also for the fact that as an actor, wanting this film to succeed, he was willing to forfeit some of his pay in order to make the visual effects much better.

The film would also bring in actress/singer Meisa Kuroki, who was quite popular at that time and the film would feature an all-star cast with Toshiro Yanagiba, Naoto Ogata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, Reiko Takashma and Tsutomu Yamazaki, to help attract the younger and older generation, especially for those who grew up watching the various anime series or films shown in Japan.

When I first watched the film, I did notice similarities to the newer “Battleship Galactica” series as the goal of the the EDF was to find the planet Iskandar in order to save humanity from the Gamilas.  Fortunately, unlike the ending of “Battlestar Galactica”, “Space Battleship Yamato” featured a surprise ending that I did not expect.

Considering the animated film “Final Yamato” from 1983 easily having a satisfying ending, “Space Battleship Yamato” doesn’t follow the path of the animated series or films in how the ending would play out and what you get is an ending that is awesome, but also can be compared to the Michael Bay film, “Armageddon”.  And I will leave it at that.

But with a budget of $23.9 million, I was amazed of how much detail and visual effects were incorporated to this film.

And I was entertained by the film and how Takashi Yamazaki and Shimako Sato were able to conceive a storyline that would appease fans but also creating something different than what was featured on television and manga.  So, the twist and turns and overall surprises was a major plus for me.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality was amazing.  The clarity, detail and colors of this film were wonderful and just to see these vehicles come to life on the big screen was a plus, but to see the detail on Blu-ray, I was pretty impressed.  As for the lossless soundtrack, from crystal clear dialogue and music, you also get an immersive soundtrack thanks to the many action scenes featured in the film.

You also get a few special features which are more visual effects-driven but sadly no audio commentary or interviews with the cast.

Overall, “Space Battleship Yamato” is a film that I have watched repeatedly.  Being a fan of the original animated series, Takashi Yamazaki’s film makes the storyline accessible for anyone who have never watched the anime series or watched the manga and enjoy it for its character, storyline and visual effects.  The film has many twist and turns and an ending that I never saw coming, but I was entertained and captivated by this sci-fi action film from beginning to end.

I may be biased towards “Space Battleship Yamato” but this film was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it!

 

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