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Dragon Ball Super – Part 3 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a battle between brothers as Beerus and his fighters from Universe 7 take on Champa and his fighters from Universe 6 in “Dragon Ball Super” Part 3.  An action-packed arc and it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan, “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

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


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 3

DURATION: (Episodes 27-39) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: February 20, 2018


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

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

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel 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/Brad Jackson 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

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After a startling meeting with Beerus’ brother Champa goes sideways, the godly brothers decide to settle their differences in the best way possible: by putting their best fighters to the test.

It’s a battle of universes as Universe 7—the home of Goku and the Z Fighters—faces Universe 6 in a brand-new Martial Arts Tournament! And the ultimate prize is one worth fighting for—the Super Dragon Balls from Universe 6. Can Goku gather the best fighters for a chance at true glory? And who is the mysterious Monaka that Beerus boasts as his strongest warrior? Get ready for an out-of-this-world competition!


It’s the conclusion of the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza and the beginning of  the Universe 6 and 7 Invitational Fighting Tournament as Beerus team takes on his twin, Champa’s team for the Super Dragon Balls.

But Goku must take on Frost, someone that looks exactly like Frieza and what happens when Vegeta takes on a fellow Saiyan?

All this and more in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”!

What is “Dragon Ball Super” about?

With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired. The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet. Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

The conclusion as Son Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza is continued in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”.

And all was going well as Goku and Vegeta undergo intense training but all is interrupted when Champa and Vados shows up to visit Beerus and Whis.

The two have a disagreement of which universe has better food and when Beerus introduces Champa to Cup Ramen, Champa proposes a challenge. A fighting tournament featuring Universe 6’s best fighters vs. Beerus’ choice of five of Universe 7’s best fighters. Whoever wins gets access to the Super Dragon Balls and Champa’s goal is to switch Earth’s and have Beerus’ Earth switch places with the barren/devastated by war Earth of Universe 6.

All agree to have this tournament take place and now Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Boo and a fighter of Beerus’ choosing will need to take on Champa’s top five fighters.


VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native). The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant. Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes. I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese). Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

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!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 3” comes with the following special features:

  • Anime Expo 2017 Interview with Sean Schemmel & Jason Douglas – (18:48) Interview with Sean Schemmel (voice of Son Goku) and Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus).
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 3 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 27-39.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs. Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 3, we get the conclusion to the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza.  But quickly the series changes gears as Son Goku and friends will need to take on the top warriors of Universe 6. In some ways, it’s kind of an Akira Toriyama nod to DC Comics with Superman and the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 and the differences of similar universes but different outcomes for various planets in the universe.

And with volume 2, the tournament between Beerus team (which includes Goku, Vegeta and Piccolo) vs. Champa’s team (which includes Frost, who looks like Frieza; a saiyan; an assassin and a killer robot) kicks off in high gear and what an entertaining and exciting battle. More importantly, where battles last for so long in “Dragon Ball Z”, I’m glad these battles and the tournament is not stretched out for too long.

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors. Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Sean Schemmel and Jason Douglas.

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is another action-packed, thrilling series and the conclusion of the “Kyoto Saga” has proven to be wonderful!  Fans of the series will no doubt want to check out “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2”!   Recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA, Blue Exorcist Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 7-12) 140 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: February 13, 2018


Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition by Toshiya Ono

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Kohta Yamamoto

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw


Blue Exorcist, the manga by Kazue Kato which has surpassed 15 million copies in sales. Following a TV anime series and a theatrical film, the long-awaited new series has come back! Set in Kyoto, a new chapter of Blue Exorcist is about to begin…

Rin’s anger towards Ryuji Suguro releases as blue flame in front of everyone, resulting in Rin being thrown into prison. While locked up, Shura delivers a letter to Rin from Tatsuma, Ryuji’s father and the head priest of Myohda Sect. From the letter they learn of the relationship between Tatsuma and Shiro Fujimoto, as well as the secret of the demon sword, Kurikara.

Meanwhile, Todo attempts to resurrect the Impure King and Tatsuma tries to disrupt his plans, but despite Tatsuma’s best efforts, Todo resurrects the Impure King!

Now Rin and his classmates must band together and defeat the Impure King!


Nearly six years since “Blue Exorcist” first aired on Japanese television, now the 12-episode anime series “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” has aired in Japan and with a first part released in the US, now part 2 on Blu-ray will be available in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex of America, Inc.

In the “Kyoto Saga”, Rin’s secret that he is the son of Satan has been exposed and for some his friends, they realize that Rin is the son of the demon that killed their family and friends. And because of Rin showed signs of trying to use his power against evil, to be used as a weapon if his father was to reappear, he has been given a second chance. Mess up and he will be executed.

Meanwhile, the “Left Eye of the Impure King”, a demon relic was stolen from True Cross Academy. And now someone has unleashed it in the land.

Find out in “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” vol. 2!

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”. Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series (as of January 2012, there have been a total of 30 chapters released).

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan. And now the second setof “Blue Exorcist” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy. But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill satan.

The story continues as Rin continues to study along with his classmates and each are trying to be Esquires, in order to take on various missions. But others at the Academy and the higher ups want to test Rin and find out if he is a person that can be taught and eventually fight with the other exorcists in defeating demons and satan himself.

While people question a demon being an exorcist, for Rin, he makes a goal that one day, he will become a Paladin (highest level of exorcism) like his adoptive father, Father Shiro and prove that because he is satan’s son, that having a caring father like Shiro can make a big change in the life of a person, even if they are a demon.


“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

  • Rin Okamura – The main protagonist. The son of Satan but born from a human mother. He and his brother Yukio are twins but he inherited his father’s powers. Rin’s power was sealed inside a sword by Mephisto Pheles, so he can live a human life. Rin was raised by the priest Shiro Fujimoto as normal humans with compassion and love. Despite getting into a lot of trouble and his abilities tend to be more of fighting or cooking, since discovering his power and identity, he vows to use his power to avenge his adoptive father Shiro Fujimoto’s death and defeat Satan. He vows to attend True Cross Academy and do all it takes to become a Paladin and a “Meister” (Knight). Rin also has taken in a dog demon (Cat Sith) which he names Kuro.
  • Yukio Okamura – The son of Satan but born from a human mother. Unlike Rin he did not inherit Satan’s powers. Known as the intellectual person of the family, unbeknown to Rin was that he has been secretly trained to become an exorcist since the age of seven in order to protect his brother. So, now he is an instructor at True Cross Academy and responsible for looking after his brother. But he harbors a secret…dark spots are starting to appear on his body which Yukio has told no one about, despite being tested daily if Satan’s power is in him.
  • Mephisto Pheles – The Chairman of True Cross Academy. He and Shiro Fujimoto worked together in order to seal Rin’s power and make him human. Mephisto is a powerful exorcist but because he is a demon, many do not believe him while others believe he has proven he is on the side to fight against Satan.
  • Ryuji Suguro – Also known as “Bon” to his classmates. He has a high temper and is often fighting and arguing with Rin. But despite his attitude, he is the best student in the class and dedicated to his studies. Part of his drive is because Satan destroyed his family temple.
  • Shiemi Moriyama – The daughter of a woman who runs an exorcist-only shop. She lacks confidence and she is quite sheltered (having lived with her grandmother and her only friends were plants) but when given the chance to meet and make friends at True Cross Academy, being in school gives her a new lease on life. It appears that both Rin and Yukio may have feelings towards her. Shiemi is a tamer and can summon a greenman spirit to produce herbs and barriers.
  • Izumo Kamiki – She always has a cold attitude and known for her eyebrows. The only friend she is close to is her best friend Paku but slowly (very slowly), she is starting to befriend her classmates. She can summon two Baykko (foxes) to fight.
  • Konkomaru Miwa – Very smart but very shy. He is the strategist and is loyal to his best friend Ryuji and Renzo, since they grew up at the same temple that was destroyed. His parents were killed by Satan.
  • Renzo Shima – Carefee, loves to flirt with girls (especially Paku and Izumi) but has a major phobia of insects. He also grew up with Ryuji and Konekomaru. Renzo carries a K’rik staff to fight.
  • Shura Kirigakure – The carefree, hardly wears anything, loves alcohol, upper first class exorcist who was asked by priest Shiro Fujimoto to train Rin and help him become a “Meister”. She can draw a demon sword from her chest and stomach and is an excellent fighter.
  • Shiro Fujimoto – The priest of Southern Cross Monastery who raised both Yukio and Rin as a loving father. He is a Paladin in the True Cross Order and was the strongest exorcist. Was thought to be the only man who could not be possessed by Satan but after an argument with Rin (and Rin saying some hurtful things) which shocked Shiro, it was enough time for Satan to possess Shiro. In order to protect himself from hurting Rin and Yukio, Shiro sacrificed himself.

VIDEO:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). The anime production is well-done. The surrounding environments are well-detailed, painted nicely, while the character designs are vibrant, clear and just gorgeous on Blu-ray!

If anything, character designer Keigo Sasaki (“Night Raid 1931″, “Sengoku Basara”) does a great job of bringing the characters from Kazue Kato’s manga series to life, while art director Mahot Takahashi (“Pumpkin Scissors”, “Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Tokko”) did a wonderful job in bringing the series to life with the scenery and painted backgrounds.

Animation is vibrant, colorful and the series looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in English Linear PCM Stereo and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with English subtitles. Audio is clear coming from the front channels. Japanese voice acting for the series is excellent! I personally had my receiver set to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack. But dialogue is understandable and English subtitles are easy to read.

As for the English dub track, the overall acting is good but it’s once again an action series with Johnny Yong Bosch as the lead character. For the most part, the voice acting by the English dub staff is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2” comes with the Japanese PV’s, trailers and textless opening and closing themes.

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist:Kyoto Saga 2” comes with a 38-page booklet and comes with three collectable postcards.


I’ve always enjoyed “Blue Exorcist” from the manga and the original series and Rin and his brother Yukio trying to keep a secret that they are the children of Satan. While Rin is the primary one who has the blue flames and literally needs to control his power or he will become a demon. While Yukio looks like the level-headed, intelligent brother but in reality, he is trying to hid something dark within him.

As “Kyoto Saga” takes place after Rin’s secret is revealed, his friends are starting to treat him differently. Primarily because his father is the one who slaughtered their friends or family and for some, having a friend who can turn to evil is not easy for them.

So, for Rin, what matters most is trying to control his power and try not to get in trouble or else face the consequence and that is execution.

For “Kyoto Arc”, the Impure King has been revived and as Yukio has locked Rin up and Rin trying to understand why he should live when he feels he causes everyone so much pain, that leaves everyone trying to fight the Impure King which they are powerless again.

At a time like this, Rin’s friends must get him out of his funk and show him how much he means to them but also how important he is in the battle against the Impure King.

This will also be a test for each of them as Bon must rise to take on his father’s work and protect the village, Konekomaru proving that he is brave enough to protect or help his friends, Shiemi must prove that while she may not be the strongest, she can be useful to everyone, especially for her wanting to protect Rin.

Meanwhile Yukio must confront his true feelings of his true self and why Rin gets to him so much.

And Shura Kirigakure wonders if Mephisto is up to no good.

All this and more in the final episodes of “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga”!

The series has developed quite well in terms of storyline pacing, animation, voice acting and just overall enjoyment and the second season is consistent. There is a lot of action, humor and drama, especially as Rin is dragged into things and his anger tends to get the best of him.  The big question is whether or not he can control his anger, not become a demon and protect the people he cares about?

As for the overall series, the character designs are actually pretty cool, especially the costume designs for the characters. Also, the art backgrounds for this series is nicely detailed and range from pastels to really vibrant colors. Something you typically don’t see in a TV Series.

“Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action and an interesting concept in balance with awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds. While the action may be a bit too visual for younger anime viewers (as this is suggested for 13 and up), for fans of action-based anime or manga series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” will find “Blue Exorcist” to their liking.

And once again, Aniplex of America continues to deliver in terms of swag with a 38-page special booklet and collectable postcards.

Overall, “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is another action-packed, thrilling series and the conclusion of the “Kyoto Saga” has proven to be wonderful!  Fans of the series will no doubt want to check out “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2”!   Recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Terraformars (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – THE OVA Collection

DURATION: (7 Episodes) 192 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese 5.2 and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 9, 2018


My Otome-Zwei

Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Art Director: Shinji Takasuka

Anime Production: Sunrise

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Directed by Hirokazu Hisayuki

Scenario: Tatsuto Higuchi

Music by Kuniaki Haishima

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Mechanical Design: Hiroyuki Taiga

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent – My Otome-Zwei

Ami Koshimizu/Kris Rundle as Nina Wáng

Mika Kikuchi/Angie Beers as Arika Yumemiya

Yukana/Katie Rowan as Mashiro Blan de Windbloom

Ai Shimizu/Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto Minagi

Akira Ishida/Graham Ko as Nagi Dài Artai

Junko Iwao/Morgan Partridge as Akane Soir

Katsuyuki Konishi/Phil Fulton as Sergay Wáng

Kiyomi Asai/Maizun Jayoussi as Miyu

Kumiko Higa/Leah Dubbin-Steckel as Irina Woods

Mai Nakahara/Carol-Anne Day as Mai Tokiha

Mamiko Noto/Morgan Partridge as Yukino Chrysant

Minami Kuribayashi/Lori Barnes-Smith as Erstin Ho

Mitsuki Saiga/Hazel Forman as Chie Hallard

Naomi Shindoh/Melanie Risdon as Shizuru Viola

Rie Tanaka/Tracy Sutton as Tomoe Marguerite

Ryoka Yuzuki/Lori-Barns Smith as Haruka Armitage

Ryoko Shintani/Jayna Mitchell as Aoi Senoh

Saeko Chiba/Cheryl McMaster as Natsuki Kruger

Sakura Nogawa/Leda Davies as Shiho Huit

Toshihiko Seki/Ethan Cole as Rad

Youko Matsuoka/Barb Mitchell as Maria Graceburt

Yukari Tamura/Mariette Sluyter as Midori

Yuuka Nanri/Marcy Lannan as Juliet Nao Zhang

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Ami Koshimizu as Sifr Fran

Aya Endo as Lena Sayers

Yuko Sanpei as Elliot Chandler

Akeno Watanabe as Iruma Vandebelt

Akiko Kimura as Rei Juggernaut/Reito


Discover more about the power of Otome in two exciting OVAs. After the battle of Windbloom, Arika and her friends face another threat when a strange new creature appears. In the sub-only prequel, catch a new story where the powers of HiME and Otome combine, and Arika and Nina’s mothers have their own adventure.


Back in 2004, Sunrise created the anime series “My-HiME”. Directed by Masakazu Obara and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the anime series lasted for 26 episodes and would lead to a new series “My-Otome” (26 episodes, 2005-2006) and two OVA series: “My-Otome Zwei” (4 episodes, 2006-2007) and “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” (3 episodes, 2008).

“My-HiME” was Sunrise’s first Moe anime series and an animation series that captivated viewers.  While the anime series was released on DVD courtesy of Sunrise years ago, the license for all three series was acquired by Funimation and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD in January 2018.

“My-Otome Zwei” takes places one year after “My-Otome” and Arika is now an Otome (who still has yet to graduate from school).  As various nations are coming together to hold a Strategic Otome Limitation Talks and discussion about limiting the number of Otome.

But the peace in Earl changes when a mysterious shadow figure begins to attack Garderobe, meanwhile Queen Mashiro has disappeared and Arika goes to search for her, while the Otome in Garderobe try to look into who this mysterious shadow figure is.

“My-Otome o: S.ifr” is a prequel that explains who is Arika Yumemiya’s mother is (Lena Sayers) and the origins of Nina Wang’s mother (Sifr Fran), the origins of Schwartz, Aswad and the Garderobe Academy and the Five Columns are revealed.


VIDEO:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). The former was released in 2006-2007, while the prequel was released in 2008.  OVA’s tend to have better production value and it’s quite evident with the 1080p presentation.  Colors are much more vibrant, while anime production between the two series in terms of character design are different.  But for the most part, the anime series looks great in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My-Otome Zwei” is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 5.1, while “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented only in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Japanese soundtrack sounds great with the 5.1 soundtrack but for the most part, the Japanese soundtrack is well-acted, while the English dub is very good, but kind of has an old-school anime English dub vibe.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” comes with textless songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


When “My-HiME” was released over a decade ago, it was no doubt considered as an amazing anime series from Sunrise and unlike anything they have done before.

It was the studio’s first moe anime series and one showcasing a strong female cast of characters.

With “My-Otome”, the vibe of the anime series is a bit different. A series that focuses on a girl looking for her mother, decides that she wants to be an Otome and then trying to prove her worthiness by taking part in difficult training and showing that she has what it takes to be an Otome.

With the sequel “My-Otome Zwei”, the OVA series explores Arika trying to search for Queen Mashiro who has gone feeling and a mysterious shadow who has come to Earl and is causing great trouble to the people. The series reunites Arika and Nina Wang joining forces to take on a greater evil and for the most part, it’s another sequel that is action-packed and fun to watch.

“My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is a prequel that explores Arika’s mother Lena Sayers and Nina’s mother Sifr Fan, also Headmistress of Garderobe Una Shamrock.  This is an important story as Arika’s mother was often alluded to in “My Otome” and also how Arika was able to get the Blue Sky Sapphire.

But in this OVA series, Sifr is kidnapped and is rescued by Lena Sayers.  But another kidnapping attempt on Sifr is made and can Lena protect her? But why all the trouble to kidnap Sifr?

For the most part, the OVA series showcases Arika and Nina (“My Otome Zwei), while the “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” explores their parents, Lena and Sifr and how those two became close friends.

It’s not an incredibly deep storyline and unlike the TV series which is thorough in introducing characters and having a consistent plot, the OVA series are more side stories and should only be watched if you watched “My-Otome”.

But I have to say my favorite is still “My-HiME” which has a much deeper, well-written storyline.  But for the most part, I feel that “My-Otome” fans will no doubt love the OVA collection.

Both OVA series look very good in HD and are much better than their TV series counterparts (which were soft as can be expected from a TV series, especially an older series).  But te OVA Collection features better background artwork, better character designs and detailed backgrounds.

It’s important to note that “My-Otome Zwei” is presented in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and English 2.0 Dolby TrueHD, while “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” is only in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

Also, I have to note that when you put the Blu-ray in, you’ll notice the prequel is presented first and the sequel second.  I prefer watching the sequel first and then the prequel second.

Overall, “My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

 

My-Otome – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“My-HiME” was no doubt one of the coolest anime series to come out back in 2004. And to watch it again over a decade later as a complete series in HD was no doubt nostalgic. A well-written story, great voice acting and great animation, “My-HiME” is an anime classic worth owning on Blu-ray!

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My-Otome – The Complete Series

DURATION: (26 Episodes) 650 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 9, 2018


Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Art Director: Shinji Takasuka

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ami Koshimizu/Kris Rundle as Nina Wáng

Mika Kikuchi/Angie Beers as Arika Yumemiya

Yukana/Katie Rowan as Mashiro Blan de Windbloom

Ai Shimizu/Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto Minagi

Akira Ishida/Graham Ko as Nagi Dài Artai

Junko Iwao/Morgan Partridge as Akane Soir

Katsuyuki Konishi/Phil Fulton as Sergay Wáng

Kiyomi Asai/Maizun Jayoussi as Miyu

Kumiko Higa/Leah Dubbin-Steckel as Irina Woods

Mai Nakahara/Carol-Anne Day as Mai Tokiha

Mamiko Noto/Morgan Partridge as Yukino Chrysant

Minami Kuribayashi/Lori Barnes-Smith as Erstin Ho

Mitsuki Saiga/Hazel Forman as Chie Hallard

Naomi Shindoh/Melanie Risdon as Shizuru Viola

Rie Tanaka/Tracy Sutton as Tomoe Marguerite

Ryoka Yuzuki/Lori-Barns Smith as Haruka Armitage

Ryoko Shintani/Jayna Mitchell as Aoi Senoh

Saeko Chiba/Cheryl McMaster as Natsuki Kruger

Sakura Nogawa/Leda Davies as Shiho Huit

Toshihiko Seki/Ethan Cole as Rad

Youko Matsuoka/Barb Mitchell as Maria Graceburt

Yukari Tamura/Mariette Sluyter as Midori

Yuuka Nanri/Marcy Lannan as Juliet Nao Zhang


My-Otome the complete collection contains episodes 1-26 of this spin-off series of My-Hime.

While traveling the world in search of her mother, Arika Yumemiya stumbles upon Windbloom Kingdom where a new dream awaits her. Here, the academy of Garderobe turns girls into powerful warriors known as Otome—and Arika wants in! But becoming an Otome could be more than she bargained for. Dangers and secrets await as she chases her new destiny!


Back in 2004, Sunrise created the anime series “My-HiME”. Directed by Masakazu Obara and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the anime series lasted for 26 episodes and would lead to a new series “My-Otome” (26 episodes, 2005-2006), two OVA series: “My-Otome Zwei” (4 episodes, 2006-2007) and “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” (3 episodes, 2008).

“My-HiME” was Sunrise’s first Moe anime series and an animation series that captivated viewers.

While the anime series was released on DVD courtesy of Sunrise years ago, the license for all three series was acquired by Funimation and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD in January 2018.

“My Otome” shares certain characters from “My-Hime” but is a different alternate storyline.

Set in the distant planet Earl, colonized by immigrants of Earth centuries ago, “old technology” has survived but as nanomachines.  And female virgins can take the role of Meister Otome’s, may it be bodyguards, attendants, warriors that serve royalty of various kingdoms.

One day, Arika Yumemiya traveled to the Kingdom of Windbloom to search for her mother.  She would eventually meet a student of Garderobe named Nina, her forster father Sergay and a rebellious princess named Mashiro.

When a monster known as a Slave attacks the three of them, a Meister Otome named Shizuru Viola comes and defeats it.  This inspires Arika on becoming an otome and wanting to attend the school of Garderobe.

It is decided that for Arika to acquire the permission to attend the Otome School of Garderobe, she must face Nina in an exhibition battle for the coronation ceremony of Mashiro.

Unfortunately, a mysterious knight appears and attacks people during the ceremony and Arika risks her life to stop it and giving time for Brigaider General Haruka Armitage, a meister otome to stop it.

Because of her bravery, Arika is given a chance to become an Otome at Garderobe, but while she makes new friends, she also makes new enemies.

The main characters of “My-Otome” are”:

  • Arika Yumemiya – The main protagonist who came to Garderobe to find her mother.  She possesses a Blue Sky Sapphire which was passed down to her from her mother.  She is very childish and naive but cares deeply about people.  Teased by others and called “Antsy” because her hair makes her look like an ant.
  • Nina Wang – She was adopted by Sergay and dreams of becoming an Otome.  She dislikes Arika, but Arika sees her as a person that she wants to befriend.
  • Natsuki Kruger – The headmistress of Garderome and #2 of the Five Columns.
  • Shizuru Viola – #3 of the Five columns and the assistant to Natsuki.
  • Mashiro Blan de Windbloom – The heir to the throne of Windbloom.  Roommate of Arika and can be very childish and snobbish.  She is spoiled but she wants to become a better leader.  She hangs around with her fat black cat Mikoto.
  • Nagi Dai Artai – Grand Duke of Artai and very manipulative.  His rival is Mashiro and wants to take control of her country.
  • Sergay Wang – The Commander in the Artai military and is Nagi’s right-hand man and adoptive father of Nina.

VIDEO:

“My-Otome” is presented in 1080i High Definition (4:3). This is an older anime series, so it doesn’t have the vibrancy of today’s anime series as one can expect. The series is a bit soft (as many TV series are) but background art is done very well, character shading and detail is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My-Otome” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My-Otome – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Otome Clips – Featuring seven Otome Clips (fun scenes usually shown at the end of an episode)
  • My-Hime Movie Trailer?
  • My-Otome vs. My-HiME
  • Textless opening and closing songs

EXTRAS:

“My-Otome” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


When “My-HiME” was released over a decade ago, it was no doubt considered as an amazing anime series from Sunrise and unlike anything they have done before.

It was the studio’s first moe anime series and one showcasing a strong female cast of characters.

With “My-Otome”, the vibe of the anime series is a bit different.  A series that focuses on a girl looking for her mother, decides that she wants to be an Otome and then trying to prove her worthiness by taking part in difficult training and showing that she has what it takes to be an Otome.

Granted, it’s not going to be easy for Arika as she doesn’t have many friends, she makes enemies, her naivety and childlike nature makes people thinks she’s dumb and weird and she’s discovering emotions that she’s never had to deal with…including love.

While part of the fascination for me with “My-Otome” is seeing how characters from “My-HiME” were utilized in this series, granted in a different manner.  Natsuki is more of a leader, Shizuru is less mysterious and less seductive towards Natsuki.  Mashiro is more spoiled and childish, Nagi is manipulative as always.

I suppose that part of the interest in watching the series is trying to find out when Mai would show up and to see if she would be any different, but surprisingly, while the same type of person, it’s Mai in an alternate world.

The two series are also very different, where it’s about women trying to learn about love and power, “My-Otome” is interesting in the fact that Otome have great power but they can’t be with any male or they lose their power.  As a male’s Y chromosome can destroy an Otome’s Nano Machines.

Another difference is the timeline where “My-HiME” happens in Earth’s modern timeline where “My Otome” takes place in the future where humans of Earth have colonized another planet.

As for the Blu-ray, this is an older anime series, so one can’t expect great picture quality but it looks good despite the softness.  Lossless audio is Dolby TrueHD 2.0 for English and Japanese, while special features include the usual ending omake scenes and two short segments plus the usual textless opening and closing themes.

It’s important to note that on the final episode, there must have been a problem because the timing of the English dub goes longer or shorter than the mouth flaps of the character, so that gets a little irritating.  I know it’s an older series, but even an older English dubbed anime series such as “Ranma 1/2” (made in the ’90s) at least tries to conform to the character’s dialogue and mouth movements.  This reminded me of almost like a bad Kung Fu film with an English dub and while the dialogue is completed, the mouth of the character is still moving.

Overall, “My Otome” is a fascinating and fun series that is much different than “My-HiME”.  While I loved the first series, the second series is still good but just a different vibe and different circumstances.

Ace Attorney Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Ace Attorney” is no doubt an entertaining anime series.  For those who never played the video games or those who have and don’t remember the storyline (as it has been over a decade since the first video game was released), will find “Ace Attorney” to be an enjoyable anime series.

Image courtesy of © 2018 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ace Attorney Part 1

DURATION: (13 Episodes) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Ayumu Watanabe

Series Composition: Atsuhiro Tomioka

Music by Kaoru Wada

Character Design: Keiko Ota, Koji Watanabe

Art Director: Eiji Iwase

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masashi Tamaki/Christopher Wehkamp as Miles Edgeworth (Reiji Mitsurugi)

Yuuki Kaji/Eric Vale as Phoenix Wright (Ryuichi Naruhodo)

Aoi Yuki/Lindsay Seidel as Maya Fey (Mayoi Ayasato)

Yuu Sugimoto/Anastasia Munoz as Wendy Oldbag (Oba Kaoru)

Akio Ohtsuka/Bill Jenkins as Manfred von Karma (Karuma Go)

Masami Iwasaki/Bryan Massey as Dick Gumshoe (Itonokogiri Keisuke)

Chie Nakamura/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Mia Fey (Ayasato Chihiro)

Saori Yumiba/Jessica Peterson as Franzisa von Karma (Karuma Mei)

Tooru Nara/Josh Martin as Larry Butz (Yahari Masashi)

Ben Hiura/Kent Williams as Judge (Saibancho)

Reiko Takagi/Whitney Rodgers as Lotta Hart (Osawagi Natsumi)


As a brand-new defense lawyer, Phoenix Wright is learning what it means to be a true defender of justice. But when his mentor is murdered, things go downhill fast! With all evidence pointing to the victim’s sister Maya, it’s up to Phoenix to use all his wit and powerful shouting to prove her innocence. Which is easier said than done when up against Miles Edgeworth, the genius prosecutor.


In 2001, “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”, a visual novel adventure video game developed by CAPCOM was released for the Game Boy Advance.

But the video game wouldn’t become super popular until 2005, when the game was released for the Nintendo DS in Japan and North America (note: The title of the game in Japan was “Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten” and the characters names were different in the US (protagonist’s name is Phoenix Wright) and Japan (protagonist’s name is Ryuichi Naruhodo).

Since then, there are a total of eleven games with only a few that were released in the west.

But with the popularity of the “Ace Attorney” series, A-1 Pictures would create an anime adaptation of the first two games in 2016 and a total of 24 episodes were created.

The series is directed by Ayumu Watanabe (known for his work on “Doraemon”) and series composition by Atsuhiro Tomioka (“Danboru Senki” series, Inazuma Eleven” series). Music by Kaoru Wada, character design by Keiko Ota and Koji Watanabe and art direction by Eiji Iwase.

(Note: Because of the different names between Japanese and the English version, I will use the English version of the names)

The series revolves around rookie defense attorney Phoenix Wright who works for his mentor Mia Fey.  His first trial is to defend his childhood friend Larry Butz, who is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Cindy Stone.

While Phoenix was able to win his case, he would run into tragedy not long after.  As Mia calls her younger sister Maya to come and hold onto some evidence, when Phoenix arrives back to the office, he finds his Mia murdered and nearby, her sister Maya.

Maya is accused of murder and Phoenix must prove her innocence, but he must go against his childhood friend, renown attorney Miles Edgeworth.

And now Phoenix Wright must take on even more difficult cases and take on the best attorneys in the city.  Will he be successful?


VIDEO:

“Ace Attorney” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). The series may not be very detailed but it has a type of animation that should suit most fans of the video game series.  Background art is well-detailed but for an A-1 Pictures anime series, it has animation feel to like a children’s anime series, not heavily detailed in terms of character design or shading but for the most part, it works for the overall anime adaptation.

AUDIO:

“Ace Attorney” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ace Attorney” comes with the textless opening and closing songs, Ace Attorney Outtakes: Part 01 and Episode 12 audio commentary by Kyle Phillips (Director), Eric Vale (voice of Phoenix Wright), Tyler Walker (script writer) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Maya).

EXTRAS:

“Ace Attorney” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


As a big fan of the “Ace Attorney” video games, one of the things that I often look forward to is the thrill of taking on a case and at times, feeling the onset pressure that you only had so much time to ask the right questions and win the case.

The games were thrilling and suffice to say, I was looking forward to the anime series adaptation.

And finally watching it, the series is good but for those who played the video games, it doesn’t really add anything new to the storyline.  If anything, the anime series will captivate audiences who never played the game or never played it completely.

Cases included in this Part 1 features Phoenix Wright as an attorney for his friend Larry, the second case features Phoenix Wright defending his mentor Fay’s sister Mayu (accused of murder), the third case features a popular samurai actor found dead, the fourth case revolves around Phoenix defending his Miles Edgeworth.

And what we do see sprinkled throughout each episode is the young friendship Phoenix had with Edgeworth and Larry when they were children, which is focused on in episode 13.

As for the anime series, the animation was good but not great.  Character designs of course are different from the original CAPCOM video game, which can be expected.  But I wish there was a bit more detail, as more of the design was focused on the computerized designs (backgrounds and Phoenix’s pin).  The lossless audio is both in stereo and both soundtracks are well-acted.

But once again, if you played the video game, the anime series may not be for you because it’s more or less an animated version of the story many known and played in the video games.  So, it’s not exactly new content unless you haven’t played the first “Ace Attorney” video game.

Overall, “Ace Attorney” is no doubt an entertaining anime series.  For those who never played the video games or those who have and don’t remember the storyline (as it has been over a decade since the first video game was released), will find “Ace Attorney” to be an enjoyable anime series.

Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who love idol music, especially those who love the original “Love Live!”, will definitely want to check out “Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One”.  Entertaining and a whole lot of fun, I definitely recommend this Blu-ray release!

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One

DURATION: (13 Episodes) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 5, 2017


Originally Created by Hajime Yatate

Directed by Kazuo Sakai

Series Composition: Jukki Hanada

Music by Tatsuya Kato

Character Design: Yuhei Murota

Art Director: Junichi Higashi

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Furihata/Sarah Wiedenheft as Ruby Kurosawa

Aika Kobayashi/Morgan Berry as Yoshiko “Yohane” Tsushima

Aina Suzuki/Jamie Marchi as Mari Ohara

Anju Inami/Jad Saxton as Chika Takami

Arisa Komiya/Morgan Garrett as Dia Kurosawa

Kanako Takatsuki/Megan Shipman as Hanamaru Kunikida

Nanaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Kanan Matsūra

Rikako Aida/Jeannie Tirado as Riko Sakurauchi

Shuka Saitō/Apphia Yu as Yō Watanabe

Asami Tano/Trina Nishimura as Sarah Kazuno

Hinata Satō/Amber Lee Connors as Leah Kazuno

Kana Asumi/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Shima Takami

Kanae Itō/Monica Rial as Mito Takami


Chika Takami is swept up in idol fever and ready to start her own school idol group. But getting this club started is harder than this idol-to-be expected. She’ll have to work hard to form the idol group of her dreams with her new group of friends.


Back in 2010, ASCII Media Works’ “Dengeki G’s Magazine”, the. music label Lantis and the animation studio Sunrise would create a school idol project known as “Love Live!” about a group of schoolgirls who dreamed of becoming idols in order to save their school, which was slated to shut down.

The original series introduced the group μ’s (Muse) and how a teen named Honoka would find friends to join her in creating an idol group and set their goals high to participate in the ultimate school idol competition, Love Live.

The popularity of the anime series would lead to a manga adaptation, a light novel series and video games.

Fastforward to 2016 and a new idol project was created, meant to be a spin-off of “Love Live!” and would be titled “Love Live! Sunshine!!”.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is set in Uchiura, Numazu, Shizuoka (countryside/seaside area) and begins with a girl named Chika Takami who is a big fan of μ’s (Muse) because they are normal girls who saved their school from being demolished.

With Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy planning to be closed down, the school is going to be merged with the other high school, Numazu.   Inspired by the idol group, she and her friends hope they can do the same by forming an idol group and saving their school.

But will they be able to save Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy?

The main characters in the series are:

  • Chika Takami – The main protagonist and the leader of the group.  Inspired by μ’s (Muse), she is determined to form an idol club and become idols to save their school.  She is the group’s lyricist.
  • Riko Sakurauchi – A pianist who came from Akihabara’s Otonokizaka Girls’ Academy.  She stopped pursuing her passion and moved to Numazu, so she can “feel” the sea.  She has a fear of dogs, loves yuri manga and is a composer of the group.
  • You Watanabe – A childhood friend of Chika who dreams of becoming a ship captain like her father.  She is the costume coordinator for the group.
  • Dia Kurosawa – The student council president of Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy.  She is a huge fan of μ’s (Muse) but hides her idol enthusiasm, trying to prevent Chika from creating an idol club at school.
  • Kanan Matsuura – Chika’s childhood friend who follows Chika’s lead.  Kanan lives alone with her grandfather in a nearby island where they run a diving gear shop.  Because she often needs to take care of the shop alone, she has difficult attending school.  She, Dia and Mari were childhood friends who formed an idol group known as Aquours but it didn’t last.
  • Yoshiko Tsushima – A student who calls herself a “fallen angel” for having angered God and wants everyone to call her that.  She is looked at being strange but Chika invites her to become an idol.
  • Hanamaru Kunikida – Her family runs a local temple and has never seen modern technology so much, so she is enamored with them.  A childhood friend of Yoshiko.
  • Mari Ohara – She is half Japanese and a quarter Italian and American.  Her family is wealthy and runs a hotel chain.  She was friends with Dia and Kanan and formed an idol group in the past known as Aquours but she is not sure why her former once close friends are avoiding her.
  • Ruby Kurosawa- Dia’s younger sister who has dreamed to become an idol.  She has a fear of men and is extremely shy.

VIDEO:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done.  But this is an anime series that focuses a lot on character close-ups and idol performances.  The anime series looks great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Voice acting are well-done on both soundtracks and dialogue is crystal clear with the English dub being more immersive due to the 5.1 soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One” comes with the promo videos, commercial, textless opening song and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD plus a Funimation Digital HD code.


“Love Live!” was no doubt one of the pop culture phenomenon that won the attention of fans worldwide. From those who loved the music or people who loved to cosplay as one of the characters, the series generated enthusiasm towards the characters and the voice actresses and also interested in various merchandise.

But in today’s Japan were idol music and idol groups are still popular, “Love Live!” came at such a wonderful time and many people loved the anime series.

So, it’s no surprise that ASCII Media Works, Lantis and Sunrise to capitalize on the popularity of the series.

Showcasing a similar concept of a group of girls trying to save their school and making it into the “Love Live!” competition, “Love Live! Sunshine!!” is an interesting perspective when things don’t always go right but also showcasing a group that worked hard in making their dreams come true, no matter the challenges they had to face.

The series begins with Chika Takami, inspired by the idol group μ’s (Muse).  Normal teenagers who went on to save their school and setting their goals to win the ultimate high school idol competition “Love Live!” and then eventually disbanding.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” connects to the original series in spirit but also goes to show that this group of idols, known as Aquours are different.  But also situations are different as Chika finds herself in opposition with the student council president, Dia Kurosawa, who is very much against not interested in having an idol group started on school campus (and Chika and friends not aware that Dia and her friends were the original members of Aqours).

But the first season spotlights on character dynamics, getting us to know the different sides of the characters and how the would come together as a group (similar to Muse).  But also showing the agony of defeat as things don’t go so well at times.

And eventually setting things up for the group preparing themselves to compete in the “Love Life!” competition for the second season.

For the most part, I found “Love Live! Sunshine!!” entertaining.  The characters are each different in their own way, from those who have phobias, those who act strangely, those with life goals and those feeling the pressure of trying to succeed for the sake of their school.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” looks great in HD with its colorful palette and for its lossless soundtrack, both soundtracks are fantastic but the English dub soundtrack has the edge thanks to its 5.1 soundtrack, the Japanese is 2.0 lossless.  As for special features, I would have thought that there would be the usual audio or video commentary from Funimation but there wasn’t anything but the usual promotional videos, textless opening, etc.

Overall, for those who love idol music, especially those who love the original “Love Live!”, will definitely want to check out “Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One”.  Entertaining and a whole lot of fun, I definitely recommend this Blu-ray release!

March Comes in Like a Lion vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are looking for a slice-of-life anime series that deals with human emotion and complex relationships, definitely give “March Comes in Like a Lion” volume 1 a chance!  Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: March Comes in Like a Lion vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: December 19, 2017


Originally Created by Chica Umino

Series Director: Kenjiro Okada

Director: Akiyuki Simbo

Series Composition: Akiyuki Simbo, Fuyashi Tou

Script by Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yukari Hashimoto

Character Design: Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kengo Kawanishi/Khoi Dao as Rei Kiriyama

Ai Kayano/Laura Post as Akari Kawamoto

Akio Ohtsuka/Taylor Henry as Raidō Fujimoto

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Tōji Sōya

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Okuyasu Yokomizo

Hiroki Touchi/Ray Chase as Masamune Gotō

Kana Hanazawa/Kayli Mills as Hinata Kawamoto

Kenjiro Tsuda/Kellen Goff as Morio Shigeta

Marina Inoue/Lauren Landa as Kyōko Kōda

Misaki Kuno/Xanthe Huynh as Momo Kawamoto

Mitsuo Iwata/Joe J. Thomas as Manabu Yasui

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Zach Aguilar as Harunobu Nikaidō

Shigeru Chiba as Sōmeiji Kawamoto

Shinichiro Miki/Kirk Thornton as Kai Shimada

Subaru Kimura as Issa Matsumoto

Takahiro Sakurai as Takashi Hayashida

Tesshō Genda as Takanori Jingūji (Japan Shogi League President)

Tomokazu Sugita/Keith Silverstein as Tatsuyuki Misumi

Toru Ohkawa/Cam Clarke as Masachika Kōda

Yōji Ueda/Doug Stone as Hanaoka

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Hackney as Yūsuke Takahashi

Yūichi Nakamura/Xander Mobus as Takeshi Tsujii

Yūji Ueda/Arnie Pantoja as Eisaku Noguchi


From Chica Umino, the author of Honey & Clover, comes the award-winning coming-of-age manga about a shogi player and the meaning of family—now brought to life in full animation for the first time by director Akiyuki Shimbou (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the Monogatari series)!

Rei Kiriyama is a seventeen year old professional shogi player. Among the youngest in history to go pro, he has many expectations for the future, yet his recent separation from his foster family has left him conflicted and his career has stagnated. However, after meeting a family of three sisters, color slowly returns to his life.


Mangaka Chica Umino is best known for her award-winning manga series “Honey and Clover”, which was adapted into an anime and live-action film.

Umino would followup with “Sangatsu no Raion” (March Comes in like a Lion), an ongoing manga series which began in 2007 and serialized in “Young Animal” and a total of 12 manga volumes have since been published.

In 2016, an anime series adaptation was produced by Shaft and a second season completed at the end of 2017.  A two-part live-action film adaptation was released in March and April 2017 and now the first season of Umino’s anime series will be released in America on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Aniplex of America, Inc.

The series revolves around a 17-year-old professional shogi player named Rei Kirayama.

Shogi is a Japanese version of chess and is a two-player strategy board game which originated in India back in the 6th century and tournaments are held in Japan and the best players compete professionally.

Rei is a loner and often retreated to his room and the only thing he knew in his life was shogi. Often bullied throughout his life and at a young age, his parents and younger sister were killed in a car accident.  Because he was good at shogi, he was taken adopted by his father’s friend and shogi rival, Koda  and would become his apprentice in shogi.

Because Koda put a lot of interested in Rei, he often was hard on his own two kids who were trying to be great shogi players to gain favor with their father but because they were not as good as Rei, he was often bullied and beaten by his older step sister Kyoko.

Because of the abuse at home, Rei left home early to become a professional shogi player, quitting school and trying to live life alone.  But unfortunately things didn’t go well for Rei and one day, he was found abandoned and sick by a young woman named Akari Kawamoto.

Akari is the eldest of three sisters and lives in Sangatsu-cho (March Town) and raises her two younger sisters after their mother died.  She often helps her elder grandfather run a traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionery) shop and in the evening, works as a hostess at a bar in Ginza.

Akari and her two sisters, middle school student Hinata and preschool student Momo care about Rei like a family member and often are concerned about him.

But for Rei, while he was considered a shogi prodigy, he has lost two matches and on the brink of being demoted.  And now he must take on a variety of people including Harunobu Nikaido, a wealthy shogi player who considers Rei his best-friend and lifelong rival.

But as Rei lives in darkness, not knowing what is out there in life if he loses in shogi, will that mean there is nothing left in life for him?

The people he comes in contact with will play a big part in trying to show Rei that he is not alone but will he open his eyes to the people around him and show that there is so much more to his life and how he has made an impact on the people around him?


VIDEO:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” is presented in 1080p High Definition. SHAFT did a wonderful job with this anime series and immediately, you can see, by watching the anime series is how the brought Chica Umino’s characters to life with this anime series.  The character designs and art backgrounds are colorful, vibrant and look great in HD!

I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues while watching this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “March Comes in Like a Lion” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM. The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” vol. 1 comes with a Textless Opening & Ending, Trailer and Commercial, Meow Shogi Song, “Moving Meow Shogi” Special.

EXTRAS:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” vol. 1 comes with a Digest plus a deluxe booklet, rigid box with package illustrated by Nobuhiro Sugiyama.


I was a huge fan of Chica Umino’s “Honey and Clover”, which was more or less a slice-of-life manga series that focused on art school students and complex relationships.

The same thing could be said about Umino’s “March Comes in Like a Lion” which focuses on a 17-year-old professional shogi player named Rei, who has gone through a lot of tragedy and abuse in his life that his only solace in life is playing shogi and coming home alone, so he would no longer be hurt.

And he left home with his adoptive family to escape abuse (from his older step-sister) to focus on becoming a professional shogi player and quitting school in order to live on his own.

Unfortunately, life is not going easy for Rei, once called a shogi prodigy, he has lost a few matches and any more losses will lead to a demotion and it would take years to build his rank back up.

And because he has known nothing in life but shogi, the depression is setting upon him.  He has lived through so many terrible things in life, with the death of his parents and younger sister, relatives not watching to keep him and the only person willing to take him in is his father’s shogi rival and friend Koda.

Leaving home and moving to Sangatsu-cho (March Town) has given him his own freedom but Rei has not had many social relationships and the depression and pain he harbors is still within him but that has all changed when he met the Kawamoto family, which consists of Akari, Hinata and Momo, who took him in like a family member and often invite him to their home, despite eldest Akari often having to take care of the family with the money she makes working at her grandfather’s confectionery shop and a hostess job in Ginza.

But the Kawamoto sisters care for Rei and when they saw him sleeping with his glasses with tears in his eyes, the sisters are not aware of what kind of pain he has gone through but want to be there for him.

The series also introduces us to Shogi players that are part of Rei’s life, even though he doesn’t want to be that close to them.

One includes the wealthy Harunobu Nikaido, a four-dan shogi player who self-proclaims himself as Rei’s best friend and lifelong rival.  While Nikaido gets on Rei’s nerves, he has a lot of great qualities and also hides the fact that he is chronically ill.

And there are other shogi players that Rei often comes in contact.

But while Rei worries about his losing streak and how he needs to win more matches in order to not lose his ranking, out of nowhere, his abusive older step-sister Kyoko Koda has mysteriously shown up to him recently.

The first season of “March Comes in Like a Lion” is a fantastic series that manages to capture human emotion, where “Honey and Clover” tend to focus on love triangles, problematic relationships and graduation and employment angst, this series focuses on shogi, which is usually rare in manga or anime series.  But also focuses on complex relationships, good and bad.

Umino has done a great job with character development and series director Kenjiro Okada, director Akiyuki Simbo and writers Simbou and Fuyashi Tou have done a great job in adaptating Umino’s manga to an anime series.  Everything is on-point with is pacing and the character designs and background art are absolutely beautiful to look at.

The Blu-ray is vibrant in HD and the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Both Japanese and English dub soundtracks are well-acted.  As for special features, there aren’t many aside from the textless opening and ending, commercial, trailers plus a “Meow Shogi Song” and “Moving Meow Shogi” Special.  And as one can expect from Aniplex, you get a deluxe booklet including end card illustrations and packaging illustration by Nobuhiro Sugiyama.

Overall, as an Umino fan, I may be biased towards her work but she’s such a good artist and storyteller that SHAFT has done a great job of giving her series an anime adaptation that focuses on wonderful storytelling, artwork and voice acting.

If you are looking for a slice-of-life anime series that deals with human emotion and complex relationships, definitely give “March Comes in Like a Lion” volume 1 a chance!  Recommended!

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