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Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The exciting, action-packed finale of “Blue Exorcist” is here! Twin brothers, Rin and Yukio must join forces in confronting their demonic father, Satan! “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend! And for fans, “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” is definitely worth owning!

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 1

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 147 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: November 14, 2017


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…

Born the spawn of Satan, Rin Okumura decides to hide his origins, and become an exorcist. He enrolls at the Exorcism Cram School, a training institute for exorcists located on the True Cross Academy grounds. But, his cover is blown during an attack by Amaimon, the King of Earth, and he is revealed to be the son of Satan. Terrified of Satan’s blue flames, his friends start to distance themselves from Rin…

It is then that someone steals the Left Eye of the Impure King, sealed away in the deepest part of the academy, and Rin and the others find themselves embroiled in an unexpected crisis…


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 will now be released on Blu-ray 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 is trying to steal the right eye…who among the Myoda sect are responsible?

What is the secret to Rin’s sword and how did his father come to acquire it?  And can Rin stay out of trouble to prevent being executed?

Find out in “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” vol. 1!

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 1” comes with the Japanese PV’s, trailers and textless opening and closing themes.

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist:Kyoto Saga” 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”, there is a new nemesis and one who is trying to revive the Impure King by stealing its left and right eye and to return it back to the demon.  Who is responsible?  And what is the secret of Rin’s sword and how did his father come to acquire it?  All this is revealed in first volume of this 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.

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 it 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, with the release of “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga I”, Aniplex of America continues to deliver in terms of swag with a special booklet and collectable postcards.

Overall, “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend! And for fans who loved the first season, “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1” is definitely worth watching!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” will no doubt please the fans of the video games or those curious of jumping into the anime series, so they can enjoy the video games.  Dark, twisted, violent but consistent with the video games, this anime series on Blu-ray and DVD is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc

DURATION: 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: October 3, 2017


Chief Director: Seiji Kishi

Directed by  Daisei Fukuoka

Series Composition: Norimitsu Kaiho

Music by Masafumi Takada

Character Design: Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Eiji Wakamatsu

Producer: Yoshinori Terasawa

Anime Production: Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mai Nakahara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Chisa Yukizome

Minami Takayama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hajime Hinata/Izuru Kamukura

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Mikan Tsumiki

Ami Koshimizu/Brina Palencia as Ibuki Mioda

Daisuke Kishio/Aaron Dismuke as Fuyuhiko Kuzuryū

Hiroki Yasumot/Patrick Seitz o as Nekomaru Nidai

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Teruteru Hanamura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Chiaki Nanami

Kanata Hongō/Justin Briner as Ryōta Mitarai

Kotono Mitsuishi/Clarine Harp as Peko Pekoyama

Megumi Ogata/Bryce Papenbrook as Nagito Komaeda

Miho Arakawa/Natalie Hoover as Sonia Nevermind

Romi Park/Morgan Garrett as Akane Owari

Suzuko Mimori/Kira Buckland as Hiyoko Saionji

Tomokazu Sugita/Scott Frerichs as Tanaka the Forbidden

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Kyle Hebert as Kazuichi Sōda

Yu Kobayashi/Carrie Keranen as Mahiru Koizumi


Hope’s Peak High School is a special school that nurtures those with exceptional talents and abilities. While only top students are a part of the main course, anyone can join the preparatory course, like Hajime Hinata has. Hinata wants nothing more than to be part of the talented elite, but his desires lead him to a fateful encounter that drives the future of the school into despair.


The video game franchise “Danganronpa” was no doubt surprising and entertaining but in its unique way, dark and violent.

Created by Spike Chunsoft and released for the Playstation Portable, Playstation Vita and other platforms, the adventure visual novel video game “Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc” was first released on the PSP in 2010.  Followed by “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair” which followed in 2013 on the PS Vita.  And in 2017, “Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony” was released on the Vita.

And in 2016, two concurrent anime series were produced by Lerche was created, and would serve as the conclusion to the “Hope’s Peak Academy” saga.

One is titled “Danganronpa 3: Future Arc” which takes place after the events of the video game “Danganronpa 2”, while “Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” takes place prior to the events of the first game and what happened to Hajime Hinata and the cast of “Danganronpa 2” prior to the tragedy that changed the world.

And both are available on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of Funimation.

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” begins with Chisa Yukizome being assigned as an assistant home room teacher of Hope Peak Academy’s 77th class.  And she finds it difficult to get her students to attend class and she is often going around the school and bring them back to the classroom.  But as Chisa is a teacher, she is also a spy for her friend Kyosuke.

We are introduced to Hajime Hinata, a student from the Hope Peak’s Reserve Course and one of the first people he makes friends with is a gamer named Chiaki Nanami.

Meanwhile, two deaths happened on campus and the higher-ups are covering the deaths up.

As Chisa tries to keep the class together, certain students have other things in mind and as for Hajime, what happens when he  goes through a project known as Kamakura Project in which his original personality is removed form his body and is infused with many talents.

Meanwhile, two new students plan to join Hope’s Peak as part of the 78th class, Junko Enoshima and Mukuro Ikusaba.


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD! I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – An audio commentary featuring Christian Lamont (ADR Director) with Christine Marie Cabanos.
  • Episode 10 Video Commentary – (23:52) An video commentary featuring Christopher Bevins (co-ADR Director), Christian Lamont (co-ADR Director) and Natalie Hoover.
  • Textless Opening and Closing songs

 


When I first played a “Danganronpa” game, I thought it was fascinating and fun as it incorporated characters with different personalities.  That is until we saw a killer bear named Monokuma with it’s half divide image of white and evil black and big belly button.

But what hits you is the savage deaths of each individual and how people end up getting killed.

It was revealed in “Danganronpa 3” that the person responsible for the deaths is Junko Enoshima, the founder of the terrorist organization, Ultimate Despair and is the True Ultimate Despair.

And here we are now with two anime series from Lerche, “Future Arc” and “Despair”.

With “Despair”, it’s a bit different from the video games in which people were stuck in rooms and were limited to areas they had to live in and everyone being suspicious of each other, as each person had a motive to kill.

But with “Despair Arc”, it seems like a normal school setting at Hope Peak Academy.  You have a cool and caring teacher named Chisa Yukizome and students who are different but many who are just normal students.  But this is just appearances as things changes and people start to die.  And for student Hajime Hinata, he wants to seek the truth.

By episode 5, things change when Junko Enoshima and her sister Mukuro Ikusaba enroll at Hope’s Peak for the new school year and Hajime undergoes testing for the Kamakura Project.  His personality removed and his body infused with every know talent and now goes under the persona, Izuru Kamakura.

As Junko starts to see animator Ryota working on an anime that can utilize subliminal messaging to prompt emotions with viewers, she starts to leak information about experiments and murders to the Reserve Course students and then, leading Ryota to watch a grizzly video of student’s killing each other.  And then Juno telling him that she will be combining his anime with the video to brainwash people and sending them into despair and will subject his classmates to another killing game if he refuses to cooperate.

The series no doubt sets up a chain of events but seeing how far Junko will go to spread despair among everyone in the world and cause self-destructive anarchy.  And watching the events that would lead to “The Tragedy”.

For the most part, “Danganronpa” fans will enjoy the storyline as people gain more insight to how devious, cold and calculating Junko Enoshima is.  From the first game, many thought she would be just a tragic statistic but the anime series helps put the storyline into perspective.  She’s no doubt a person of true evil and while I would like to say “Danganronpa” is a series that may have hope similar to a story like “Battle Royale” where violence and students dying became common place.  But at least “Battle Royale” provided viewers/readers with a glimmer of hope.

“Danganronpa” video games and even the anime series may have given some semblance in hope but in truth, with the popularity of the video games and there is money to be made, I don’t see any end for Ultimate Despair, nor do I see Junko Enoshima going anywhere anytime soon.  She’s no doubt one of the more memorable female antagonists in an anime series and who is any close to defeating her and her terrorist organization?  That remains to be seen.

As for the anime series, the series is absolutely vibrant for a TV series and the character designs very much respects the original character design and art direction of the video games.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue, music and also sound effects through the surround channel.  English soundtrack gets a slight nod for its 5.1 soundtrack, as opposed to the Japanese stereo lossless soundtrack.  But with that being said, both are well-acted and fans of the video games should be thrilled with this anime series.  And as for special features, you get an audio and video commentary.

Overall, “Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” will no doubt please the fans of the video games or those curious of jumping into the anime series, so they can enjoy the video games.  Dark, twisted, violent but consistent with the video games, this anime series on Blu-ray and DVD is recommended!

Fate/Grand Order First Order (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

Image courtesy of © Type Moon. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/Grand Order First Order

DURATION: 72 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 24, 2017


Original Concept by Kinoko Nasu

Directed by Hitoshi Nanba

Script: Ayumi Sekine

Music by Ryo Kawasaki

Original Character Design by Arco Wada, Mata, PFALZ, Takashi Takeuchi

Art Director: Takuya Ebisawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiksuke Goto

Anime Production: Lay-Duce


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Griffin Burns as Ritsuka Fujimaru

Rie Takahashi/Erica Mendez as Mash Kyrielight

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Artoria Pendragon (Alter)

Ayako Kawasumi as Fou

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Emiya

Kenichi Suzumura/Xander Mobius as Romani Archaman

Madoka Yonezawa/Kira Buckland as Olga Marie Animusphere

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Cú Chulainn

Tomokazu Sugita/Jalen K. Cassell as Lev Lainur

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Medusa


The year AD 2017.
The last era in which magecraft still thrived.

The Chaldea Security Organization was founded to ensure the continuation of human history. They survey a world which magecraft couldn’t observe and science couldn’t measure all to prevent the certain extinction of humanity.

But one day, the future that Chaldea continued to observe disappears and humanity’s extinction in 2019 becomes clear. Rather, it had already happened.

The cause seems to be related to Fuyuki, a provincial town in Japan, in the year AD 2004. There, an “unobservable region” that had not existed before appears.

Based on the assumption that Fuyuki is the reason for humanity’s extinction, Chaldea issues an order to explore, investigate, and possibly destroy this singularity – a quest for the Holy Grail, the Grand Order.


Back in 2015, the online free-to-play RPG game “Fate/Grand Order” (based on the Fate/stay night visual novel game by Type-Moon) was created for Android and iOS.

In 2016, anime studio Lay-duce created an animated television film titled “Fate/Grand Order: First Order” which is an adaptation of the game’s prologue.

The film is directed by Hitoshi Nanba (“Dash! Yonkuro”, “Golden Kamuy”, “Jungle no Ouja Taa-chan”), screenplay by Ayumi Sekine (“Dusk maiden of Amnesia”, “Idolish 7”, “Aldnoah.Zero”), music by Ryo Kawasaki (“Altair: A Record of Battles”, “Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku”), character design by Keisuke Goto (“Gatchaman Crowds”, Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Yatterman”) and art direction by Takuya Ebisawa (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”, “Eureka Seven”, “Glass Fleet”).

And now the animated film will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” begins with a girl named Mash Lyrielight looking for her pet squirrel, Fou-san.  Fou-san rests upon a sleeping Fujimaru Ritsuka at an observatory built for the future of mankind located inside the Chaldea Security Organization.

The last thing that Fujimaru remembers is taking part in a test on the Spiriton Dive for rayshifting and that he has the potential to make a contract with a servant.

Mash explains that Chaldea Security Organization wants to ensure that humanity continues and how a mini-Earth was created inside Chaldea and that it would lead to life for 100 years but now the Earth is starting to fade and that mankind may end in 2018.  A new calamity, spacial singularity F has started to show up in Japan and is possibly the reason why mankind is fading.

So, Rayshifting allows people to go into the past in hopes to find out what may be causing to the decline of humanity and destroy it.

Fujimaru meets a Mage engineer named Leff Lynor, who happened to develop the Near-Future Observation Lens called Shiva.

The two head to a briefing held by Olga Marie Animusphere, a young woman who comes from the Mage family but because he falls asleep, he is kicked out of the briefing.  Fujimaru ends up meeting Dr. Roman and while the two are talking, an accident takes place and many people in the briefing are killed, while Mash is crushed by debris.

Fujimaru stays with her and a Rayshift process takes place and the two and Fou-san are sent to Fuyuki City, Japan in the year 2004.

Immediately, Fujimaru is attacked by Archer and Mash, in her Servant gear, protects him with her huge shield.  They then see Olga under attack from a skeleton army and Mash goes to help.

Olga receives a message from Dr. Roman that 47 potential Masters are in critical condition and will be put in cryo.

Mash who was killed by the falling debris was given an opportunity to live on as a Demi-Servant because she helped with investigating Singularity F and Fujimaru is now her master.

As the three search around, they come across Medusa Lancer who is turning humans to stone and killing them, and Lancer ends up trapping the three with her chains but is rescued by Caster.

Caster exlpains to everyone that during the last Holy Grail War, there was a fire in Fuyuki City and many humans were killed while leaving their Servants alive.  Saber Alter would corrupt Archer, Assassin Lancer, Rider and Berserker with a dark shadow.  And Archer and Caster are the only ones that have not yet been defeated.

The three decide to help Caster in hopes to resolve the Singularity F issue, but will it work?


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!  I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with  the Fate/Grand Order Game Opening (1:37), Fate/Grand Order Announcement Trailer (2:04), eight trailers featuring a servant character, First Order Dub PV (1:27), First Order Cast Interview (13:50) with English dub voice talents Tony Oliver (Caster), Erica Mendez (Mash) and Griffin Burns (Fujimura).

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with a 30-track (42-minute) CD soundtrack and a 20-page booklet.


I have been a big fan of the “Fate/stay night” Type-Moon Japanese visual novels, anime series and video games.

So, with the announcement back in 2015 of a “Fate/Grand Order” Android/iOS game, I was a little giddy.  The cool thing about this game is that it would be a reboot of the original Fate/Apocrypha project from 2012 and is meant to be a parallel world to “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/Grand Order” is mean to expand the prologue to the video game.

So, some fans may find the animated television film to be a bit short, considering “Fate/stay night” has received longer television seasons or an animated film, but at 70-minutes long, the story focuses on another timeline where humanity is supposed to be wiped out in 2018.

And we see the Chaldea Security Organization trying to extend humanity while trying to find out why these singularities are disrupting the continuation of human history and if they can send individuals who can rayshift (time-travel).

The anime series focuses on two individuals, Fujimaru and his demi-servant Mash, who come across the servant characters that many may be familiar with in “Fate/stay night” but seeing many of their favorites, especially the often good protagonist, Saber Alter, now corrupted by darkness.  And the two remaining servants are Caster and Archer who need to battle to the death (there is also an appearance of Medusa in a brief battle).

While entertaining, it’s a film that is meant to introduce people to the primary characters of “Fate/Grand Order” and then people can jump on aboard and find out how the story ends by playing the video game.

Overall, animation is well done.  Lay-Duce did a magnificent job with the animation, character design and background art.  Animation is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is presented in LPCM Stereo in Japanese and English.  Voice acting is well-done for both soundtracks and dialogue and music is crystal clear.

There are numerous special features, primarily trailers, but you do get a cool interview featuring Tony Oliver (ADR Director and voice of Caster), Erica Mendez (voice of Mash) and Griffin Burns (voice of Fujimaru).  But another cool addition to this release is that it comes with a 20-page booklet and CD soundtrack.

Overall, “Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

 

Endride: Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far. Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and the second conclusion made this anime series worthwhile.

Image courtesy of © ENDRIDE Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Endride: Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 13-24) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 29, 2017


Directed by Keiji Gotoh

Series Composition by Touko Machida

Music by IMAGINE PROJECT, Kohei Tanaka

Original Character Design by Kazushi Hagiwara, Nobuhiro Watsuki

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Junko Watanabe

Anime Production: Brain’s Base, Lapin Track


Featuring the following voice talent:

Karen Miyama/Sarah Wiedenheft as Alicia

Kensho Ono/Aaron Dismuke as Shun Asanaga

Toshiki Masuda/Ian Sinclair as Emilio Ranguhaimu

Akio Ohtsuka/Phil Parsons as King Delzaine

Aoi Yūki/Skyler McIntosh as Mischa

Ayaka Ohashi/Felecia Angelle as Falarion

Hiroki Takahashi/Robert McCollum as Demetrio

Juurouta Kosugi/Bill Jenkins as Alzerm Langheim

Kousuke Toriumi/Tyler Walker as Eljuia

Ryoko Nagata/Jessica Cavanagh as Makiko Asanaga

Satoshi Mikami/ as Kazunobu Asanaga

Shizuka Itou as Louise

Tetsu Inada/Jeremy Inman as Iberuta (Ibelda)

Tomoaki Maeno/Jarrod Greene as Gidoro

Yūma Uchida as Felix

Yuu Mizushima as Pascal

 


After the confrontation in Babel goes awry, Shun, Prince Emilio, and the ragtag team of rebels must face an even bigger problem than before. Without a king, the entire country is falling into chaos, and without a passage to the surface, Shun has no way home. It’s a treacherous journey back to the capital, where Pascal’s research uncovers the world’s dismal fate.


Having been stuck in Babel, what happens when Shun and Prince Emilio check underground and discover a prisoner who may provide them with answers that they are looking for.

Meanwhile, what happens when Shun and Prince Emilio are transported to the surface?  And what happens when Emilio’s memories come to life after meeting Shun’s father?

All this and more in “Endride: Part Two”, available now from Funimation!

What is “Endride” about?

“Endride” is set in a world that is underground, beneath the surface. In order to not be discovered, a myth was created that the underground is hell and demons live there. But in truth, the underground is a world unlike the surface with modern technology.

The series begins with the 16-year-old prince of Endora named Emilio Langheim who tries to assassinate his father, King Delzaine.

The reason is that King Delzaine is not his real father and raised the boy after killing his real father and Emilio wants revenge.

The King manages to defeat Emilio and put him in the dungeon. But when a group goes to the underground to cause something badly for Emilio, out of nowhere, a teenager appears from the surface, Shun Asanaga.

While Shun tries to figure out where he is, he is attacked and out of nowhere, a warp relic emerges within him. He is able to release Emilio and together they manage to escape. And Shun explains how he touched a mysterious crystal found in his father’s company and next thing you know, he was transported to Endora. And now, he desperately wants to find his way back home.

The two are joined by Emilio’s childhood friend Alicia and get some help from the eccentric scientist and former Royal Researcher, Pascal, who left the position after he questioned King Delzaine’s plans of reconstructing Babel.

As Shun and Emilio are like water and ice and are very much different from each other and often are at odds, Shun knows that he needs Emilio’s help in trying to get back home and Emilio needs Shun’s help in order to achieve revenge.

The group meet the Ignauts and they are interested in forming a revolution against King Delzaine and making things equal among those who live in Endora. But what troubles will Shun and Emilio encounter on their adventure to achieve their goals?


VIDEO:

“Endride: Part Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Endride: Part Two” is presented in English and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0. Surprisingly, FUNimation did not give an English 5.1 dub soundtrack for this release. But dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Endride: Part Two” comes with no special features but the textless opening and closing songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Endride: Part Two” comes with a slipcover case and Blu-ray + DVD versions of the series.


“Endride” may seem like another banal storyline of a person lost in a new world and desperately trying to find his way back home, but there is more to this anime series considering the twists and turns involved and its fascinating storyline.

The story first and foremost focuses on two characters, Shun Asanaga, a 15-year-old hot tempered boy from the Surface who immediately gets transported to Endora after touching a mysterious crystal. The other character is Emilio Langheim, the 16-year-old prince who wants revenge on the man who raised him, King Delzaine, for killing his father.

The two are like fire and water, they are opposites but yet they need each other to accomplish their goals.

But to make a difference in the world, they are caught up in political situations when a group, the Ignauts are wanting to start a revolution and want equality. Seeing opportunities on both sides, Shun and Emilio join forces with the Ignauts, but will Shun ever get home? And will Emilio get his revenge?

With the release of “Endride: Part Two”, a lot of revelations take place as we learn the absolute truth of the Warp Particles and also how Shun and Emilio are connected and more!

“Endride: Part Two” looks great on Blu-ray. Colors are vibrant and for the most part, no major artifacts or banding issues. Lossless soundtrack are stereo on both soundtracks, which is surprising considering FUNimation usually creates an English dub track in 5.1. Also, another surprise is there are no special features (aside from the usual textless opening and ending and trailers), not even the usual FUNimation audio or video commentary which was surprising. So, pretty much, this is a no thrills barebones Blu-ray+DVD release.

But overall, acting is well-done and for the most part, I enjoyed the series and how the film is able to come together for its dramatic and action-packed ending.

Overall, “Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far. Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and the second conclusion made this anime series worthwhile.

www.wagnaria!! – Volume 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime who loved the original “Wagnaria” series may find the one-season “www.wagnaria!!” to feel rushed but by season’s end, will feel content of how things are resolved at the end.  Entertaining and fun, “www.wagnaria!!” is a series worth watching!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WWW.WAGNARIA!!” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: www.wagnaria!! Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episode 8-13 (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 17, 2017


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Mayuko Nakano

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Nakano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Hana Miyakoshi

Yūichi Nakamura as Daisuke Higashida

Ari Ozawa as Rui Nagata

Aya Hisakawa as Sachiko Higashida

Hideyuki Umezu as Saint Valentine

Hiro Shimono as Takuya Kōno

Kensho Ono as Yūta Shindō

Kouki Uchiyama as Masahiro Adachi

Kousuke Toriumi as Kenichirō Sakaki

Mie Sonozaki as Yōko Miyakoshi

Momo Asakura as Miri Yanagiba

Momoko Saito as Sakiko Higashida

Nana Mizuki as Kisaki Kondō


With new friends joining them, it seems this restaurant is only getting livier! Will Higashida survive Miyakoshi’s killer cooking? Will Adachi be able to withstand Muranushi’s smile? Will Shindou finally pay off his debt? Don’t miss the final volume of this restaurant comedy!


Back in 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu created a four-panel comic strip manga series titled “Wagnaria!!”.

The story which revolves around employees of a family restaurant called Wagnaria, the story was serialized on Square Enix’s “Young Gangan” manga series from 2005-20014 and has received three seasons of anime adaptations in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

A spin-off series titled “www.working!!” which aired in Japan in 2016, will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US Courtesy of Aniplex and the storyline continues to be set at another Wagnaria family restaurant location and its group of employees.

The second volume will feature the final six episodes of the 13-episode series.

The primary characters of “www.wagnaria!!” are:

  • Daisuke Higashida – The main protagonist who is often annoyed at everyone, primarily his family and Hana Miyakoshi.  He was forced to take a part-time job at Wagnaria when his father’s business went bankrupt.
  • Hana Miyakoshi – Blunt, always hits people and she can be tough.  But she also loves making chocolates, despite having terrible cooking skills. She is a waitress at Wagnaria.
  • Sayuri Muranushi – A scary girl who works at Wagnaria because she shows hardly any facial expressions.
  • Kisaki Kondo – A single mother who is a university student that works at Wagnaria.  Often the voice of reason at Wagnaria.
  • Shiho Kamakura – The daughter of man who owns a large company, so she is quite spoiled and materialistic.  She often tends to bribe people with money, as her way of apologizing.
  • Yuta Shindo – A son of a man who has a business in major debt.  So, Yuta works several jobs in order to help pay the debt.  He is to naive to know that Shiho has liked him for a long time.
  • Koki Saki – The newest employee who is Japanese but was raised abroad and speaks English, so he can’t speak or understand Japanese that well.
  • Kenichiro Sakaki – The not-so-bright manager of Wagnaria.
  • Rui Nagata – A classmate of Daisuke.  She has a crush on him but has a problem of misunderstanding things.
  • Yoko Miyakoshi – Hana’s mother who is a cooking expert that is shocked of her daughter’s terrible cooking.  Currently, her husband is living far from her because her cooking gave him diabetes and can’t come back until his glucose levels have dropped.

VIDEO:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

www.wagnaria!!” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

www.wagnaria!!” vol. 2 comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy the humor and fun of  “www.wagnaria!!”, a character driven series about a group of people working for the family restaurant, Wagnaria.

Consistent with the previous anime series, in terms of wacky characters and situations, “www.wagnaria!!” centers around a blunt and easily annoyed teenager named Daisuke Higashida who is forced to work a part-time job after his father’s business goes bankrupt.

On the first day of the job, Daisuke meets his fellow co-workers such as the bossy and punchy teen, Hana Miyakoshi.  She’s often with Daisuke, making others think that they are boyfriend and girlfriend, especially since he eats her terrible chocolates.

They are joined by the expressionless and slightly creepy Sayuri Muranushi.  While emotionless, the fellow cook Masahiro is shy and tends to pass out when she smiles at him.  You have single mother, Kisaki Kondo, spoiled brat Shiho Kamakura and Yuta (who’s family is full of debt) and many more characters that make work at Wagnaria lively and entertaining.

In the second volume, what will happen when Higashida and Miyakoshi go out on a date?  What happens when creepy Sayuri Muranushi and Adachi start dating?  Will Shiho and Yuta find love?  Which relationship survives the misunderstandings?

I felt that this faster-paced one-season series was quickly trying to get these characters established, these relationships happening and then coming up with an ending with closure works for “www.Wagnaria” but some may feel that the progression of the previous series was much better because they had time to build upon characters, while “www.Wagnaria” feels that the story was rushed in order to wrap things up with the duration of episodes given and trying to pile as many gags with 13 episodes.  But the way series wraps-up was done well and I’m content.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation for “www.wagnaria!!” is colorful, vibrant and has slight softness, as one can expect from an animated TV series.  Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included. Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you are definitely going to get some swag with this latest release. You get four collectible illustration postcards and a slipcase.

Overall, “www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime who loved the original “Wagnaria” series may find the one-season “www.wagnaria!!” to feel rushed but by season’s end, will feel content of how things are resolved at the end.  Entertaining and fun, “www.wagnaria!!” is a series worth watching!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The second season continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him.  Action-packed and filled with many characters, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-8) 200 Minutes

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

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king? Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


What happens when Arslan heads to the port city of Gilan to search for reinforcements and Narsus meets his old friend Shagad.  Is he still the same man with ideals or has he changed?

Will Arslan be able to recruit more soldiers to join him?  And what happens when Narsus may need to confront his old friend on the battlefield?

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season consisting of eight episodes aired in Japan in the summer of 2016. And now the second season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.

Arslan manages to see the world and see how many areas use slavery and Arslan is very much into doing all he can to end slavery.  But in doing so, other countries are not so thrilled about and will fight against Arslan and his followers to make sure slavery continues.

While Arslan manages to gain more followers to fight for his cause.  But still his numbers of soldiers are not strong enough.  Can Arslan recruit more people to support him and end slavery?


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” features the following special features:

  • Chapter VII Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Aaron Dismuke (voice of young Arslan), Aaron Roberts (voice of Shagad) and Rico Fajardo (voice of Daryun).
  • Corporate Warrior Arslan – (3:11) Six short and hilarious parodies of Arslan in the corporate world.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” is only eight episodes, it’s eight episodes that showcases many characters, so if you want to know more about them, watching the first season is essential.

In fact, while Arslan is a key figure, much fo the second series focuses on other characters, especially Narsus who sees an old friend Shagad but finds out his idealistic friend has changed for the worse.

Meanwhile, Arslan is forced to leave Peshawar by King Andragoras and can not return until he has gathered an army of 50,000 soldiers.  And so Arslan and his friends along with the advisors leave Andragoras to follow Prince Arslan in his journey to build his army and end slavery.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask. And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

But these first eight episodes are great but it would be unfortunate if this second seasn is not completed.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get one audio commentary and a Corporate Arslan short parody episodes.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him.

The second season is worth watching, but it’s important to emphasize that due to the sheer number of characters featured, it’s best to watch the series to grasp an understaning of who these characters are and why they are helping Arslan.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Dragon Ball Super – Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

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


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 2

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 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: October 3, 2017


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 reaching an alliance with Beerus, the world is at peace once again. But one of the Z Fighters is feeling restless—namely, Vegeta! The Saiyan prince seeks a new way to become stronger and wants to do so under Whis’ guidance. When Goku finds out they’ve left to train, he’s just as eager to join in.

While two of the strongest fighters train in another world, trouble stirs for planet Earth. The remains of a powerful force have started to gather, seeking revenge for their fallen leader—the wicked overlord Frieza! When evil takes on a new form with the force of 1,000 troops, can Gohan and the remaining Z Fighters take him on? Or will Frieza’s vengeance finally see the light of day?


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.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” (episodes 14-26) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 –  The conclusion of the battle between Son Goku vs. Beerus.
  • EPISODE 15  – Aliens come to Earth and want their champion to fight against Mr. Satan.
  • EPISODE 16 – Krillin wants to start training again and Whis trains Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17  – The birth of Pan
  • EPISODE 18 – Goku and Whis arrive on Beerus planet to see how far Vegeta is with his training.
  • EPISODE 19 – Sorbet and Tagoma look for the Dragon Balls to revive Frieza.
  • EPISODE 20 – Frieza has been revived and wants revenge against Goku and Future Trunks.
  • EPISODE 21  – With Goku and Vegeta in Beerus’ planet, they are unaware that their friends and family are taking on Frieza’s soldiers.
  • EPISODE 22 – The fight between Piccolo, Gohan, Gotenks vs. Frieza’s soldiers.  Someone dies!

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – Bulma is able to communicate to Whis of what is happening on Earth and Frieza’s resurrection and Goku and Vegeta try to get to Earth as soon as possible.
  • EPISODE 24  – Goku vs. Frieza
  • EPISODE 25 – Frieza shows his transformation, Golden Frieza
  • EPISODE 26 – The fight between Frieza and Goku continues!

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 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Watching Dragon Ball Super with Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair – (12:02) Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Whis) and hanging out at Brina Palencia’s apartment to watch “Dragon Ball Super”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 2 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 14-26.


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 2, we get the conclusion of season one.  But here we are with season two and with this storyline, we get a lot of humor as Chi-Chi is adamant of Goku not fighting, an alien race coming to Earth to challenge Mr. Satan and also Krillin and Gohan getting an itch to wanting to fight and get in battle again.  And as the storyline of Goku and Vegeta wanting to get stronger are part of these main episodes, the surprise is Frieza’s soldiers finding the Dragon Balls to bring his body back and Frieza then showing everyone his latest transformation to Golden Frieza.

And it’s no surprise to me, as I remember when the Frieza arc was taking place for “Dragon Ball Z”, his character was among the most popular in Japanese polls at the time and it was no surprise that we see the character back again and proving to be deadly (as another character dies) and difficult to take down.

While nearly all episodes of season two are featured (the conclusion is episode 27, which will be in part 3), this is no doubt a fun and action-packed collection of episodes and I’m glad that Funimation is releasing these regularly and hopefully we’ll get caught up with the Japanese releases (unlike “One Piece” which Funimation is still hundreds of episodes behind).

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 Ian Sinclair, Jason Douglas and his three children to watch “Dragon Ball Super” at Brina Palencia’s apartment.  That was something new and different but major props as this idea was very cool and hope to see more like it from Funimation!

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!

Puzzle & Dragons X Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Puzzle & Dragons Part X Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: Japanese and English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Director: Hajime Kamegaki

Series Composition: Dai Sato

Music by Kousuke Yamashita

Character Design: Yukiko Akiyama

Art Director: Akihito Ougiyama, Masanobu Nomura

Art Design: Toshiki Amada

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Chika Sakamoto/Tia Ballard as Devi

Takuto Yoshinaga/Josh Grelle as Ace

Tetsuya Kakihara/Justin Briner as Lance

Tomoko Kaneda/Alexis Tipton as Tamazō

Akeno Watanabe/Jamie Marchi as Herriot

Anri Katsu/Clifford Chapin as Tiger

Aya Hisakawa/Sara Ragsdale as Rena

Chisa Yokoyama/Greg Ayres as Sturgeon Jr.

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Stephen Sanders as Donny

Junko Minagawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Dafnes

Keiji Himeno as Yamaki

Marina Inoue/Dawn M. Bennett as Hal

Minoru Inaba/Charles Campbell as Vahaton

Miyuki Sawashiro/Monica Rial as Morgan

Takahiro Mizushima/Micah Solusod as Torlie

Tomokazu Sugita/Ian Sinclair as Nyudo

Wakana Yamazaki/Trina Nishimura as Eldora


Ace is an average boy until he hears his name being called by a mysterious egg. The egg leads him to discover the existence of Dragon Callers, humans who tame monsters into allies in their fight against evil. Does this average boy have what it takes to become one?


In 2012, Japanese video game company GungHo Online Entertainment created “Puzzle & Dragons” for the iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

The company would follow up with the game “Puzzle & Dragons X” (pronounced as “Puzzle & Dragons Cross”) for the Nintendo 3DS.  But to help promote the game, an anime adaptation was released a few weeks earlier by anime studio, Pierrot.

With a total of 66 episodes created and is still ongoing in Japan, “Puzzle & Dragons X” has been released on Blu-ray/DVD in North America with the first 13 episodes included in Part One of “Puzzle & Dragons X”.

The setting of “Puzzle & Dragons X” is in the land of Dragonzola and there are those destined to become Dragon Callers, mediators between humanity and nature.

The Dragon Callers can tame powerful monsters and control them through the use of Drops.  One day, the great dragon caller known as King disappeared and no one has heard of him since.

But his child Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller but he has a long way to go.  One day he discovers an egg and it happens to be a tamadra known as Tamazo.  Thought to be extinct, the only other tamadra is the arrogant yet loyal Devi, the partner of Lance, a mysterious and uncaring draganoid, who is on a mission.

When Ace starts to show he can control drops, he makes the decision to go on a journey to become a Dragon Caller and learn how to summon dragons and one day pass the training in order to become a Guild Dragon caller.

Along the way, he meets Charo, a man who keeps information on monsters and in-battle occurrences but also wanting to become a Dragon Caller.  A lot of people thinks he is a girl but he is actually a boy and together with Ace, they want to grow stronger.

And to their annoyance, they are sometimes accompanied by a Dragon Caller named Garnet, who is stubborn but yet dreams of becoming an idol.

Will Ace & Charo pass the test and become Guild Dragon Callers?


VIDEO:

“Puzzle & Dragon X” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The animation is vibrant and colorful.  Animation is well-done for this children’s anime series and for the most part, I saw no signs of artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Puzzle & DragonX” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.   The English soundtrack has a 5.1 soundtrack, while the Japanese has lossless stereo but for the most part, the lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


When it comes to anime series that are adaptations from a video game, you have your good series and your bad.  With the popularity of “Puzzle & Dragons”, the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS video game has no doubt lent to the popularity of the series in Japan.

With colorful characters and cute dragons, there is no doubt that many people had made comparisons to “Pokemon” and while the premise are almost the similar, with Pokemon about one wanting to become the best Pokemon trainer and going on adventures to become stronger and better, the same can be said with “Puzzle & Dragons X” as Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller and goes on adventures with numerous people.

The main difference is that there are mysterious characters and powerful Dragon Callers who assist or guide Ace and friends to become better and lead them on a path to hopefully pass their exam to become Guild Dragon Callers.  But it’s not going to be easy as Ace along with Tamazo and Charo will need to learn a lot with their interactions with people and find ways to be better.

So far, the first 13 episodes are entertaining and while rated TV PG, the series is no doubt an anime series targeted for children.  You have battles (instead of monsters vs. monsters, you often see people battling each other with their monsters and unlike Pokemon, the Dragon Caller can get hurt) and you have rude monsters but for the most part, there is nothing about this series that parents should worry too much about as the series is good-natured.

The anime series is vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and lossless soundtrack is well-acted for both the English dub and the Japanese soundtrack.  Unfortunately, there are no significant special features than the banal textless opening and closing songs.

Overall, “Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

Occultic;Nine vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-6 (144 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: September 26, 2017


Originally Created by Chiyomaru Shikura

Original Character Design by pako

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition: Junpei Morita

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design: Tomoaki Takase

Art Director: Hisayo Usui

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Faye Mata as Ryoka Narusawa

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Scott Kimerer as Yūta Gamon

Hitomi Yoshida/Kayli Mills as Miyū Aikawa

Houchu Ohtsuka as Takasu

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Draymond as Sarai Hashigami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Ben Diskin as Kōhei Izumi

Kishō Taniyama as Kiryū Kusakabe

Mamiko Noto/Michelle Ruff as Ririka Nishizono

Maria Naganawa/Xanthe Huynh as Chizu Kawabata

Miyuki Sawashiro as Aria Kurenaino

Satomi Akesaka as Asuna Kizaki

Shizuka Itou as Tōko Sumikaze

Tetsuya Kakihara as Shun Moritsuka


From the creator of “Steins;Gate”, a new adventure surrounding the occult is about to begin!

Yuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “Kiri Kiri Basara,” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “hack and slash away!” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint.

However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.


Back in 2014, Chiyomaru Shikura (best known for creating “Steins;Gate”) created a new Japanese light novel series titled “Occultic;Nine”.

A 12-episode anime adaptation produced by A-1 Pictures aired in October-December 2016 and now, the anime series will be released in North America courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

The anime series is directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Kujira no Kora wa Sajo ni Utau”, “Lance N’ Masques”, “Psycho-Pass”), series composition by Junpei Morita, music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Arakawa Under the Bridge”, “Love and Lies”, “Fate/Apocrypha”), character design by Tomoaki Takase and background art by Hisayo Usui (“AKB0048”, “Angel Beats!”, “Fairy Tail”).

The series begins with Yuta sitting in a cafe while trying to find out how to increase visits to his website, which posts news and stories about the occult in Japan.

Yuta and his friend Ryoka Narusawa watch fortune-teller and classmate Miyu Aikawa on a TV commercial and decide that if they interview her for the website, it may boost traffic for the website.   Miyu decides to join the two and interestingly, things start to go awry in the area as an occult magazine received a manuscript from Professor Hashigami and an older woman, which can’t be his mother, because she is dead.  Meanwhile, a woman named Aria Kurenaino helps a customer curse someone to death and next thing you know, she discovers a bloody scalp in her mailbox.

Meanwhile, as Yuta goes to visit Professor Hashigami for an interview, he discovers Hashigami’s corpse.  And he leaves the word “CODE” with his own blood before dying?  What can that mean?

In another situation, Miyu receives calls from a person trying to prove that she is a fake fortune-teller.  When she receives a call from a person named Sarai, she sees visions of him standing over his dead father’s body and she begs him to visit her father.

Also, a tragic mass suicide has taken place at Inokashira Park on the news.  What could have led to all these people to kill themselves? Hypnotism?  Or something more sinister?


VIDEO:

“Occultic;Nine” is presented in 1080p High Definition. A-1 Productions is one of the most well-known anime production studios that are known for creating quality anime series.  And for “Occultic;Nine”, the backgrounds are highly detailed and look realistic.  Character designs are magnificent and for the most part, the detailed, painted backgrounds compliment the colorful animation.

It’s important to note that this is a TV series, so there is a slight hint of softness.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Occultic;Nine” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM.  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with a slipcase illustrated by character designer Tomoaki Takase, a 20-page deluxe booklet and six illustration pin-up cards.


When it comes Chiyomaru Shikura, one can look at his work with 5pb. Inc. and Mages. Inc.  He is known for the concepts and overseeing the creations of “Steins;Gate”, “Chaos;Head”, “Robotics;Notes” and “Anonymous;Code” but “Occultic;Nine” was specifically written by Chiyomura Shikura.

The series has an interesting concept.  You have a teenage NEET named Yuta Gamon who runs the blog “Kiri Kiri Basara” which features news and discussion about the occult and he is wanting to drive up traffic to his website.

His good friend, the cheerful (and enormously well-endowed Ryoka Narusawa) is known for carrying a stun-gun (that looks like a toy ray gun) is always wanting to support Yuta and together, they decide to bring in popular fortune teller Miyu Aikawa to join the blog.

And as Yuta wants to keep the traffic up on his site, he (moreso, his female friends) wants to bring in other people for interviews that may drive up even more traffic to the website and his first choice is to interview Professor Hashigami.

Unfortunately, when he goes to visit the professor, Yuta finds his dead body and there are signs of foul play and a mysterious word, “CODE” written in blood by the professor.

Meanwhile, deal with Ria Minase (a delusional girl who lived with her brother and was not aware that he has been dead and she was living with his corpse), a person named Aria Kurenaino who helped put a curse on someone for that person’s death and who is this mystery caller named Sarai, that keeps calling Miyu and trying to disprove her as a fortune-teller?

So far, the first six episodes are entertaining, dark and humorous.  While some may find the enormously large breasts of Ryoka Narusawa to be overkill, this is no doubt to keep the otaku and fan service lovers who can’t get enough of Ryoka.

But as these first six episodes are more character introducing episodes, the second half will no doubt become even more interesting as Yuta and friends continue their investigation.  What will they discover?

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures did a phenomenal job with the animation and background art.  There are no major special features but the set does come with a 20-page booklet and six illustration cards.  As well as a slipcase.

Overall, “Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Originally Created by Sumihei

Director: Takaomi Kanasaki

Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Maiko luchi

Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe

Art Director: Takashi Ichikura

Art Design: Kazushi Fujii

Anime Production: 8 bit


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Clifford Chapin as Harutora Tsuchimikado

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlin Glass as Natsume Tsuchimikado

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Kon

Ayane Sakura/Jad Saxton as Suzuka Dairenji

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kyoko Kurahashi

Fumi Hirano/Wendy Powell as Miyo Kurahashi

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Tenma Momoe

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jarrod Greene as Reiji Kagami

Hisako Kanemoto/Felecia Angelle as Hokuto/Takiko Sōma

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Jin Ōtomo

Ryohei Kimura/Ian Sinclair as Tōji Ato

Shinya Takahashi as Senjirō Kogure


Harutora may seem like an ordinary guy, but he’s actually a descendant of an ancient and powerful clan of onmyouji. Born without the family talent for magic, he’d always believed he was destined for a normal, boring existence. All that changed the day Natsume, a beautiful face from Harutora’s past, barged back into his life and forever altered the course of his future.


Quite often, there are anime adaptations that are derived from Japanese light novels.  And in 2010, Kohei Azano and illustrator Sumihei created the light novel series “Tokyo Ravens”.

An anime series was released in 2013 and ended in 2014 and in August 2017, “Tokyo Ravens” was released in North America on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series sets up the storyline of how onmyodou magic was a powerful technique used by the Japanese during World War II.  Unfortunately, when onmyoji Yakou Tsuchimikado performed a ritual to bring out Japan as a major force goes wrong and it led to the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan since then.

An Onmyo Agency was developed to monitor supernatural activity and take on spirits or demons that make their way into the world.

Fastforward to this present time in the story where many students learn onmydou magic to utilize their skills in medicine and technology.  Unfortunately for Harutora, a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family, he was born with no spiritual power at all.

But despite coming from a well-known, powerful family, without no spiritual power, he sees his life as meaningless.

He remembers a childhood promise made and one day, he and his friend Touji Ato encounter Hokuto, a girl that Harutora likes and she encourages him to become an onmyo mage.    Meanwhile, he meets his childhood friend Natsume but he accidentally offends her.

As Harutora goes to a festival, Hokuto promises him a kiss if he wins at the festival but out of nowhere, Suzuka Dairenji arrives at the festival and she learns of his true identity, she goes to kiss him and when Hokuto arrives, she is upset to see him receiving a kiss before she can give him one and leaves crying because of it.

One day, while walking home with Natsume, Harutora once again comes across Suzuka and while the Magical Investigation Bureau agents try to stop her and she unleashes her juggernaut.  Harutora tries to save one of the agents but as the juggernaut is about to kill Harutora, Hokuto gets in the way and saves Harutora but is impaled by the mecha juggernaut.

Feeling upset and despondent, Harutora decides to follow the path of becoming an onmyo mage, going to school but also becoming a familiar for Natsume.

How will life go for Harutora now that he plans to focus on school (despite not being that smart) and working together with Natsume to take on various spirits?


VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 8 bit has done a wonderful job with the animation and for the most part, the series looks very good on Blu-ray but like most anime television series, the series does exhibit some softness.  But backgrounds are well-painted, characters are well-shaded and the animation is well done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for the most part.  As for the English dub, for the most part, voice acting is well-done and I have to give major props to voice acting newcomer, Clifford Chapin on doing a magnificent job as the voice of main protagonist, Harutora.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

  • Audio Commentary for Episode 5 by Clifford Chapin, Monica Rial and Ian Sinclair.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 7 by director Colleen Clinkenbeard, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair and Clifford Chapin discussing the duties of a voice actor.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark and Jad Saxton.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 14 – Featuring audio commentary by Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum and Michael Johnson.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 18 by ADR director Zach Bolton, Jad Saxton, Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 23 – Featuring audio commentary by Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle and Jarrod Greene.
  • Kon Explains it All #1-3 – Featuring five minute featurettes (in Japanese with English subtitles) with Kon discussing various characters in the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs
  • U.S. Trailer

“Tokyo Ravens” is an interesting anime that revolves around magic, friendships and love but as Japan has created a plethora of anime series that deal with magic, someone not good at it and eventually becoming stronger to defeat the main antagonist, was this going to be another case of anime banality?

Fortunately, “Tokyo Ravens” is a series that has more going for it thanks to its plot of magical hijinks, crazy characters but also young love which leads to many hilarious situations throughout the series.

The series follows Harutora Tsuchimikado, a son of a major branch family in Japan, the Tsuchimikado Clan but despite being born from a distinguished family known for their onmyouji skills, Harutora has no such skill or magical powers.  He is not smart, many wonder why he’s attending an onmyouji school with no such skills. But he wants to go back to school to find out who was the master of his deceased familiar, Hokuto but also enjoying the friendships he makes along the way.  He has a shikigami silver-fox spirit named Kon who helps him.

He becomes  the familiar for Natsume Tsuchimikado, a childhood friend of Harutora and also from the main family of the Tsuchimikado Clan and is a prodigal onmyouji.  She has come to Harutora’s town in order to make sure he holds up to his childhood promise of becoming her familiar.  Interesting enough, Natsume is assumed to be a reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, the infamous onmyouji who performed a ritual known as “Taizan Fukun Ritual” which was to bring out Japan as a major force but instead, the ritual went wrong and brought the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan ever since.

Because of this, as a family tradition, she must present herself as a male in front of other onmyouji families and that includes attending school as a boy.  And family tradition means everything to her, while not so much for Harutora.

Harutora’s best friend is a former delinquent named Touji Ato, who knows a lot about onmyodo and often helps Harutora at Onmyo Academy.  He was a victim of the Spiritual Disaster and was possessed by an oni which caused the Spiritual Disaster and Harutora’s father helped treat him, despite Touji having the power to become half-Oni.

Meanwhile, causing problems for Harutora and Natsume throughout their time at the Academy is Suzuka Dairenji, the youngest of the 12 Divine Generals and wants to revive her brother with the Taizan Fukun Ritual.  She and her brother were experimented on by her father before and after their birth in order to create an excellent onmyouji.

The first half of the series is humorous and lighthearted and the series does a wonderful job of focusing on character development but also featuring many character interactions and developing relationships.  It’s what makes the series captivating and not being just a banal magical/action-driven anime series.

While the second half becomes more serious and darker, as it involves the Twin Horn Syndicate, A spirit disaster taking place at the Onmyo Agency branch office and a major death!

What will happen to Harutora and friends during the time of a new spirit disaster but also an ominous threat looming?

I have to say that the first half of the series kept me captivated but by the second half, the mood’s all changed (which is common in anime series) but I felt the second half became a bit more convoluted.   I like the fact that the series focused so much on character development but by the time you start caring for these characters, you are thrust into a different type of storyline for the second half, especially towards the end of the series that grows darker, becomes a bit more complex and for the most part, it went from something that had great potential to an average anime series at the end.

But I did like numerous audio and video commentaries included on this Blu-ray/DVD set of “Tokyo Ravens” and while it is a bit banal, fortunately there is a lot of character development in this series that made watching the series worthwhile.

Overall, “Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

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