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Hunter x Hunter vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!” a try!

Image courtesy of © POT (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1998-2011). All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Hunter x Hunter vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese 2.0 LPCM, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Director: Hiroshi Koujina

Series Composition: Atsushi Maekawa, Tsutomu Kamishiro

Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Art Director: Mio Isshiki

Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda

Producer: Akira Shinohara, Manabu Tamura, Naoki Iwasa, Tetsuto Motoyasu, Tomoko Yoshino, Toshio Nakatani

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Han/Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss

Keiji Fujiwara/Matthew Mercer as LeoRio

Kanako Mitsuhashi/Cristina Vee as Killua Zaoldyeck

Miyuki Sawashiro/Erika Harlacher as Kurapica

Akio Ohtsuka/Patrick Seitz as Mizaistom Nana/Uvogin

Aya Endo as Komugi

Ayumi Fujimura as Neferpito

Chisa Yokoyama as Biscuit Krueger

Cho as Bonolenov

Daisuke Kishio/Ray Chase as Hanzo

Daisuke Namikawa/Keith Silverstein as Hisoka


In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Killua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.


The “Hunter x Hunter” series is one of the most popular and long-running manga series in Japan.  Written and designed by Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho’), the manga series began in 1998 and is still ongoing to this day with 33 volumes published.

As for the animated series, the first series premiered in 1999 through 2001 and lasted 62 episodes.  A 30 OVA episodes then was released from 2002-2004.  And then nearly a decade later, a 148-episode TV series which was shown on NTV which ran from 2011-2014.

And now, the recent “Hunter x Hunter” TV series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.

This new series is a reboot of the anime series and is based on Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Hunter x Hunter” manga and this time is produced by Madhouse and is directed by Hiroshi Kojina.  The new series also features an all new voice talent (both for the Japanese and English dub).

The new series revolves around Gon Freecss, who finds out that his father who was thought to be dead, is very much alive.  Having been brought up by his aunt Mito,  Gon finds out that his father is Ging, the legendary “Hunter” and now Gon, wants to follow his father’s footsteps by passing the “Hunter Examination” and one day, to be reunited with his father.

On his path to become a hunter, he meets Kurapika (who wants to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan) and Leorio (who wants to be a hunter for the money).

In the first volume, the three arrived at Zaban City and take part in the first three phases of the Hunter exam venue.

In the second volume (episodes 14-26), the applicants arrive at Zevil Island for the fourth phase of the exam.  Each person draws a number to find out who their target is and the goal is to steal their opponents ID tag.  Each applicant must collect six points in order to pass the fourth phase.

Gon finds out that his opponent is the murderous Hisoka and thrives on near death experiences.  Leorio finds out his target is Ponzu (who specializes in traps and poison) and Kurapika’s target is Tonpa.

As the two form an alliance, they are now stalked by Hisoka.

The second volume also features the final phase of the Hunter Exam, where winners lose and the losers advance. Will Gon, Kurapika or Leorio pass the Hunter exam?

And also is included are the beginning episodes of the Zoldyck Family Arc (starting with episode 22) and Gon and friends go to Kukuroo Mountain to visit Killua.  Meanwhile, we learn about Killua’s family and childhood.


VIDEO:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Madhouse is no doubt respectful to Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga series.

As expected with a TV series, there is a slight hint of softness but for the most part, colors are vibrant and overall animation and fighting animation is done well.  I didn’t notice any major issues with artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in LPCM Japanese and English 2.0.  Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 features the clean opening and ending songs, trailers and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three post cards.


“Hunter x Hunter” is an adventure, action-packed anime series that will attract anime fans who are willing to invest their time in another popular anime series that has lasted for over a hundred episodes.

Similar to “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Dragon Ball Z”, “Hunter x Hunter” has been a popular manga and anime series in Japan and with the original series feeling that it was aiming for a younger demographic, this recent series has a more darker feel as the violence is more evident and people do die.

Having watched the original series, this latest version is quick to bring Gon and his friends to take the Hunter exam, while the original put a lot of character development into Gon and how Gon is different from other hunters since he was raised by a loving relative and lived in a village where there has not been much strife or conflict, so he is a bit naive about the world around him.  In fact, his motivation in becoming a hunter is so opposite of what other hunters are wanting it for.  But Gon’s pure and positive attitude seems to have an effect on the people that he meets.  In some ways, the original series reminded me of the character Naruto in that aspect.

But Gon is still an entertaining character to watch.   Gon has the ability to communicate with animals like his father and carries a fishing pole that acts like a weapon and helps him swing to different areas.  He is also learning more and more about his abilities as he continues on in his hunter training with his friends.

Kurapika is intelligent, a balanced fighter and also is a conjurer and specialist with the ability to materialize objects with his imagination.  He is a character that is on a mission to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan.

Leorio is a man with a hot temper but has a good heart.  He seems to want to be a hunter because of money and he is a great fighter.

The second volume shows how this friendship grows among the three but also introduces Killua Zoldyck.

But the big focus with this second volume is more focus on Hisoka, the 44th applicant who has a lust for blood and kills his opponents and it led to his failure in last year’s Hunter exam.

As for the anime series, the Blu-ray release features a solid lossless stereo soundtrack and both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted.  Animation is also very well-done by Madhouse and while there is a hint of softness, the anime series is quite colorful and looks great in HD.

While special features are the usual clean opening and ending theme, trailers and credits, “Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards.

Overall, “Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 6 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more. But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for. If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 6

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 31-36 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


“So tonight, the Dollars are done.”

Although the childhood friends finally reunite, is it too late for Masaomi to change Mikado’s mind? As Mikado plans to end everything including the Dollars that he founded as well as his own life, Mikado’s true intentions are finally revealed…

Don’t miss the grand finale of the Durarara!! x2 series!


It was revealed that Mikado masterminded the chaos in Ikebukuro and now his best friend Masaomi Kida knows he must get to his friend before things get worse.

Meanwhile, will Celty Sturluson leave the one man who cares about her…Shinra Kishitani?

And what happens when Shizuo Heiwajima and Varona confront each other.

Will the chaos and gang wars happening in Ikebukuro ever end?  Find out in the final sixth volume of “DuRaRaRa!! x2”!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 6 (episodes 31-36), chaos continues in Ikebukuro. But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse and Mikado wants to beat some sense into Mikado’s head.

What happens when Masaomi and Mikado finally confront each other?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with episode 19.5, a hilarious episode featuring an overweight wannabe who tries to tell people he is Shizuo and other characters and the trouble that ensues for him pretending.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro finally comes to an end.

We have seen how Mikado has confused everyone with his actions but slowly see how his strategy of trying to turn the Dollars into an urban legend has come to fruition.

But in the process of trying to pull of something so dangerous, Mikado is lost in the darkness and his friend Masaomi Kida has finally arrived to knock some sense into him.  That is until Mikado takes out his guns and possibly trying to kill his best friend or possibly himself?

Meanwhile, the truth of Celty is revealed and why she has been trying to say she has amnesia.  Will Shinra stand behind her?

And of course, so much more story involving other characters and the trouble that was unleashed on Ikebukuro and its aftermath.

Suffice to say, this was a considerable build-up to get to this final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x 2”.  To show how meticulous Mikado was and how his involvement with the Dollars has slowly twisted his logic, it was no doubt a shock to see this meek individual transform into something so dark and twisted.

But of course, with so much chaos taking place in the series, there were too many individuals who acted and are antagonists that Mikado was someone that we pity, versus seeing him as cold and calculated.

Too many things happening and too many things going wrong with other characters that until you reach these final episodes, you realized that there was a world of hurt going on not just in Ikebukuro but inside the hearts of some of these characters.

It was a long build-up to get to these final episodes and while worth the wait, there is part of me that felt it went on too long. But nevertheless, I did enjoy these final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x2” and it will be interesting to see where the story goes on for its next story arc, as the manga series is still ongoing.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more.  But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for.

If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 5 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the fifth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this final chapter is leading to the final conclusion of the season as Mikado’s ideas are revealed and new unions are born, meanwhile the unpredictable Izaya may be up to no good.If you love action, humor and all out mayhem, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 5

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 25-30 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 18, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


This is a twisted story… a story of twisted love.

Shizuo is arrested by the police, Celty is in pursuit of Kasane who has kidnapped Shinra, Chikage’s gloves come off as he challenges Masaomi, and Varona is back to being her old self as a hitman… Everyone is getting involved in some dark scheme. However, no one knows Mikado’s real plan yet…

The story is heading towards the epic finale.


Things are getting worse in Ikebukuro as Mikado and the dollars are in a battle with the yellow scarves.  Various factions want to have Celty’s head.

Will the sadistic Haruna Niekawa kill Anri?  Meanwhile, the mysterious Kasane Kujiragi has appeared and to reveal that she is a wielder of the saika.

And what is Izaya up to and the goal of Mikado and why he has changed is revealed.  Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 5” on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 5 (episodes 25-30), chaos continues in Ikebukuro. But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse and Mikado wants to beat some sense into Mikado’s head.

Izaya is back to his manipulating ways and when news of factions are going after Celty’s head, Shizuo hears of this and wants to get back into the action.

Meanwhile, the power of the saika wielders are revealed, Mikado’s reasoning of what he is doing is revealed and more!


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 5 comes with the textless opening and ending scene.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 5  comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro continues. But most importantly, we finally get answers to why Mikado has been behaving the way he has.  And to make things worse, Izaya supports him.

As factions battle for the possession of Celty’s head, various groups and acquaintances decide to form a temporary group to prevent more chaos and Celty to lead this guild.

Meanwhile, is Anri in danger?

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the fifth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this final chapter is leading to the final conclusion of the season as Mikado’s ideas are revealed and new unions are born, meanwhile the unpredictable Izaya may be up to no good.

If you love action, humor and all out mayhem, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

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

September 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 2, 2016


Directed by Kotomi Deai

Screenplay by Yasuyuki muto

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Original Character Design by tanu

Character Design by Katsuhiko Kiatada

Art Director: Eriko Shibayama, Kunihiko Inaba, Ryo Kono, Seiki Tamura, Shinobu Takahashi, Shunichiro Yoshihara

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ari Ozawa/Felecia Angelle as Nozomi Moritomo

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Yukina Kosaka

Risa Taneda/Jad Saxton as Ai Hibiki

Yumiri Hanamori/Leah Clark as Chiaya Misono

Akio Ohtsuka/J. Michael Tatum as Dandy

Ayumi Fujimura/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Masami Utoku

Fuyuka Oura/Jamie Marchi as Kuniko Shigyou

Hiroki Touchi/Eric Vale as Tomomori Moritomo


Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End) is back with Rolling Girls, a road-trip adventure filled with vibrant color, energetic style, and a whole lot of heart.

Between super-powered fighters known as “Bests” battling across the city and fanatical vigilante squads cheering them on from the ground below, it’s easy for an average girl to get lost in the shuffle. But when her town’s Best gets taken out by a rival, Nozomi Moritomo gasses up her motorcycle and sets off across Japan to take her place.

Joined by the feisty wannabe Best, Ai, the wandering artist Yukina, and the spacy but mysterious Chiaya, Nozomi and her makeshift motorcycle gang cross the country settling scores between warring districts.

In a world that favors the Best over the rest, it’s hard for an average girl to find where she belongs, but one thing’s for sure–until she gets there, it’s going to be a wild ride.


In 2014, Yosuke Miyagi and illustrator Bonkara would create two volume manga for “The Rolling Girls” for “Monthly Comic Garden” and the manga series “Ro~lling Gi~rls Inspiration x Traveler” followed by Miyagi and illustrator Sheepbox  for “Online Magazine comic Blade” is currently ongoing.

In January-March 2015, Wit Studio’s anime adaptation of the “The Rolling Girls” aired on television and in the US courtesy of Funimation Channel.  And now the series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series was directed by Kotomi Deai (“Silver Spoon”, “Natsume Yujin-Cho Go”), screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto (“Afro Samurai”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096”, “Persona -trinity soul-“), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Hyperdimension Neptuna”, “Plastic Memories”), character design by Katsuhiko Kitada (“Hal”, “Doukyusei -Classmates”).

“Rolling Girls” is set ten years after the “Great Tokyo War” and many of Japan’s political and economic elites have mysteriously disappeared. So, the country was split up to 10 prefectures and independent city-states that compete against each other.

In these competitions, the vigilantes who fought in the war are known as the “Best” (Mosas) and represent their prefecture.  And their supporters are known as the “Rest” (Mobs).

Two Best’s are often battling, Masami Utoku of Tokorozawa who assumes the design of the green-suited superhero “Maccha Green” and Kuniko, who is the “legendary executioner” and the Best of Higashi Murayama.

The rivalry between these two are huge and Kuniko despises Masami and when Kuniko takes the battle to great heights, both were barely able to survive and were hospitalized.

One of Maccha Green’s/Masami Utoku’s biggest supporters is her childhood friend, Nozomi Moritomo.  The only daughter of the Morimoto family who runs the Moritomo Restaurant in Tokorozawa.

Masami always had protected Nozomi and during the battle with Kuniko, she nearly died trying to protect her friend.

Not wanting anyone to protect her, Nozomi is told by her Best to go on a road trip with her friends Yukina Kosaka (a shy and tone-deaf runaway); a former Rest of Higashi Murayama, Ai Hibiki (temperamental and joins up with Nozomi and friends); and Chiaya Misono, a girl wearing a gasmask who somehow knows the names of Nozomi, Yukina and Ai.  She is also the adopted daughter of Haruka Misono, president of Tokorozawa.

And together, these four characters travel to find heart-shaped power stones (which gave amazing power to Maccha Green and Kuniko) and to grow as friends and to also observe other prefectures.

What will these four individuals discover during their adventures?  And can they trust and work with each other?


VIDEO:

“The Rolling Girls” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured are beautifully animated and there is wonderful use of artistic backgrounds that are beautifully painted and the use of water colors and matte like surface and also the use of purple line art for its character designs.

Colors are vibrant, black levels are deep. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, due to the detail, Wit Studio did a great job with this anime series!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done! Lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “The Rolling Girls” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 8 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Colleen Clinkenbeard (ADR Director), Jad Saxton (voice of Ai Hibiki), Monica Real (voice of Yukina Kosaka).
  • Episode 12 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary Clifford Chapin (Assistant ADR Director), Felecia Angelle (voice of Nozomi Moritomo) and Leah Clark (voice of Chiaya Misono).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Previews for Episodes 2-12
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “The Rolling Girls”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


“The Rolling Girls” is an animated series that started off with amazing potential but somehow became a little too convoluted and tried to do too much within its 12-episode run.

I loved the idea of the “Bests” and the “Rests” and how the Best represented various prefectures and how they go into battle.  It’s an interesting way to show battles between the prefectures and I absolutely loved the incorporation of some Tokusatsu with the hero Maccha Green. But after the two episodes, the series goes in another direction as it focuses on the adventures of four young ladies trying to find Power Stones which have powered the Bests.

While I found the characters to be quite cute and their adventures to be fun, the constant bickering, the politics, aliens and everything else thrown to the viewer really got me confused that I had to rewatch episodes, just in case I missed out on something.

I felt that too many things were incorporated in this anime series to attract all types of otaku but yet the storyline doesn’t have any meaningful substance.  And it’s a shame because I felt the series had better potential earlier in the series.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is presented in 16:9 widescreen and animation is very detailed and quite vibrant. Wit Studio did a magnificent job in featuring wonderful character designs but also  the use of painted background and also foreground art. The Blu-ray release comes with two audio commentaries, textless opening and ending songs.

Overall, if you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

The Empire of Corpses (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

empireofcorpses

M”The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline. But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Empire of Corpses

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Hiroshi Seko, Koji Yamamoto, Midori Gotou

Original Creator: Project Itoh, Toh Enjoe

Original Character Design: redjuice

Character Designs by Takaaki Chiba

Chief Animation Director: Hirotaka Kato, Takaaki Chiba

Mechanical Design by Gorou Murata, Hitoshi Fukuchi, Junjya IShigaki, Shinobu Tsuneki

Art Direction by Yusuke Takeda

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayumu Murase/Todd Haberkorn as Friday/Noble_Savage_007

Kana Hanazawa/Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith

Taiten Kusunoki/J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jason Liebrecht as John H. Watson

Akio Ohtsuka/Sean Hennigan as M

Daiki Yamashita/Micah Solusod as Nikolai Krasotkin

Shinichiro Miki/Mike McFarland as Alexei Karamazov

Houko Kuwashima/Caitlin Glass as Moneypenny


From the studio that produced Attack on Titan comes The Empire of Corpses, a captivating historical action thriller based on a Phillip K. Dick Award winning novel by Project Itoh. In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe.

In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein – the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.


From anime production studio Wit Studio and director Ryoutarou Makihara (“Hal”, “Umi Monogatari”) comes “The Empire of Corpses” (Shisha no Teikoku).

An animated film adaptation of Project Itoh (creator of “Harmony and “Genocidal Organ”) and Toh Enjoe’s novel, the film was released in Japan in 2015 and had a limited theatrical release in the US courtesy of FUNimation.

And now, the animated film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

The film features a screenplay by Hiroshi Seko (“Ajin”, “Mob PSycho 100”, “Seraph of the End”), Koji Yamamoto (“Harmony”) and Midori Gotou (“Attack on Titan: Junior high”, “Hozuki no Reitetsu”, “Loups=Garous – The Motion Picture”, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Gundam Evolve”, “Rage of Bahamut”, “Cobra the Animation”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”), character designs by Takaaki Chiba (“Sengoku Basara”, “Attack on Titan”) and art direction by Yusuke Takeda (“Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Eden of the East”).

The film is set in an alternative future of 18th Century England during a time where English scientist Victor Frankenstein has created “The One” (Frankenstein) which revolves reanimating a corpse with a soul in order to think, feel and speak.

But after his creation was destroyed, another method to replace a missing soul was developed and is known as “Necroware”, which can be programmed and upgraded but unlike “The One”, it has no ability to think, feel or speak.  It follows commands.

The world has brought many corpses alive in order to use them as servants which has boosted the economy as they can be used as workers but also by the military, who can use corpse technology for military use.

The film introduces us to John H. Watson, a corpse engineer who has illegally created his own Necroware and has resurrected his deceased friend, who he names it Friday.

Watson is visited by two mysterious individuals and one of them, M, is a member of the British Secret Service and has information that Watson was experimenting with illegal Necroware.  So, he tells John that he can either go to prison or become an agent of the British Empire.  John Watson decides to join the British Empire.

Their first mission is to go to India and follow U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant but they are immediately attacked by corpse assassins who have a grenade embedded inside them and when they pull a pin from their neck, they can explode.

Fortunately for both Watson and Friday, they are rescued by Captain Frederick Burnaby and Watson receives his mission from M that he must find Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, a Russian corpse engineer who stole “The Memorandum”, the research material belonging to Victor Frankenstein on how to reanimate a corpse with a soul.

But as the three who are joined by Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary Hadaly Lilith and their guide Nikolai Krasotkin, are chased and are targeted by corpse assassins, these assassins have the ability to move differently than a regular corpse.  They are quick and also surprise Watson by showing the ability to possibly talk.

But what happens when they come across Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov and learn more about “The Memorandum” and why is John Watson so interested in it?


VIDEO:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features wonderful character design and gorgeous art backgrounds.

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters.   Overall, picture quality was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack feature crystal clear dialogue and music. Action sequences (such as the fights with the zombie corpses, explosions galore, people screaming and the sounds of the live corpses) utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Empire of Corpses” contains the following special features:

  • Funimation Short Empire of Corpses – (7:38) Featuring director/writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Alexei Karamazov) and Mike McFarland (voice of Frederick Burnaby), Morgan Garrett (voice of Hadaly Lilith) and Jason Liebrecht (voice of Dr. John Watson) discussing working on “The Empire of Corpses”.
  • Promo Videos – Featuring two Japanese promo videos
  • Original Trailer – The original theatrical trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Empire of Corpses” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


What happens when you take an alternative version of England, throw in zombie corpses that are revived and used by society to better the economy.  No more having to worry about how long one can work, these corpses can work 24/7 and follow their master’s request.

These corpses have feel no pain, can’t speak nor do they have a soul to share any emotion towards anyone.

But one corpse was given a soul and that was the creation made by Victor Frankenstein but that creation ended up being destroyed.  So, now we have John Watson trying to follow the footsteps of Frankenstein by digging up and turning his best friend into a living corpse and naming him Friday.

Unfortunately for Watson, he is caught and is given a choice…work for the British government or go to prison.  And of course, Watson chooses to become an agent for the government and try to find a Russian scientist who has obtained documents of the work of Victor Frankenstein.

But what Watson, Friday and the others are not aware of, someone has created a new type of corpse. Faster, humanlike movement and they appear to be wanting to speak.

And as Watson and others try to look for these documents known as “The Memorandum”, their research starts to uncover who is the real culprit pulling the strings of these frightening occurrences.

“The Empire of Corpses” is a complex animated film with so many twists and turns that one probably will find themselves watching multiple times, to see if they have missed anything important.

The film manages to capture the essence of zombies, combined with Frankenstein, showcasing an alternate universe of a world dependent on corpses and what happens when these controlled corpses are being utilized as weapons and possibly used for nefarious situations.

The Blu-ray release features wonderful picture quality as character designs are well-done, the art backgrounds are highly detailed and done magnificently well.  As for special features, you do get a short featurette, promotional videos and a trailer.  And you also get a digital HD code.

Overall, “The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline.

But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

 

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 4 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2-4

“Durarara!! x2” is becoming more intense at the series progresses as characters are now starting to see the change in Mikado’s demeanor.  With the return of Masaomi, in order to help his friend, he must unite the former Yellow Scarves members and destroy the Dollars.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 4

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 19-24 + OVA 13.5 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: May 24, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Izaya quietly returns to Ikebukuro and schemes a plot pulling strings of various people from the shadows. Worried that Mikado may be manipulated by Izaya, Masaomi comes back to Ikebukuro as well. But he finds out that his best friend is a different person from what he remembers… In order to save Mikado, who has gotten stuck in the darkness, Masaomi determines to gather the ex-Yellow Scarf members to crush the Dollars. Meanwhile, Izaya, while searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri” who stabbed him, incidentally finds a secret of this mysterious man and finds himself in grave danger!


Masaomi Kida, the founder of the Yellow Scarves.  And a person who left the gang he founded, vowing to never be consumed by the darkness.

But now Masaomi is back in Ikebukuro and when he sees Mikado Ryuugamine (leader of the Dollars) once again, he realizes that his good friend is no longer the same and may have been consumed by the darkness.

Masaomi tries to gather ex-Yellow Scarves members in order to crush the Dollars.

Meanwhile, Izaya Orihara searches for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 4” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 3 (episodes 19-24), chaos continues in Ikebukuro.  But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse.

Meanwhile, Izaya is now back on the scene and wanting to get more information on the person who is responsible for stabbing him.

Also, will Celty arrive in time to save Shinra who was brutally attacked?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 4 comes with the following special feature:

  • OVA #13.5 – Love-Dove Clip-Clop – Featuring a date between Shinra and Celty (and various cosplay).

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro continues.  But most importantly, we finally get to see the characters starting to see the changes that are taking place with Mikado.

As Masaomi has returned to Ikebukuro, he discovers that Mikado was in the bad place that he was once in.  Consumed by the darkness, Masaomi has vowed to never let that happen again.  But now, seeing the corruption of Mikado, he knows that he must destroy the dollars and unite his former ex-Yellow Scarves members to make it happen and somehow help Mikado.

There is also another storyline that involves Izaya searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.  Also, a storyline plus an extra OAV for those who are fans of Celty and Shinra.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

As mentioned, you do get an episode 13.5 OVA but you also get the Aniplex swag of six postcards and a deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the fourth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this ends the second chapter, while the next volume will kick off the third chapter.

If you love action, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 3 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2-3

“Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that. But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 3

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 13-18 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: March 22, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


The story continues as more chaos ensues—

In the aftermath of the assault against Izaya Orihara, the information broker, signs of new disorder begin to develop like ripples across the water. Holding his own ideals, Mikado gains the powers of both the “Dollars” and the “Blue Squares” and started “cleaning” the bad seeds inside the Dollars. Meanwhile, Shizuo Heiwajima and Tom Watanabe end up hiring Varona for their debt collecting business. Paths cross and trouble brews as the plot thickens in this complicated web of conspiracies.


We have watched Dollars leader, Mikado Ryugamine wanting to stay true to his ideals, meeting and having new friends along the way.

But since Mikado has become the temporary leader of the Blue Squares, many are starting to see a change in him.  What is going on with Mikado?

Meanwhile, Russian assassin Vorona has tried many times to defeat and kill Shizuo Heiwajima.  Having failed, what happens when Shizuo and Tom Tanaka hire Vorona for their debt collection agency?  And why is little Akane jealous?

And how far will Namie Yagiri, Chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals go to stop Mika Harima from being close to her brother Seiji?

And there is a sicko who has been stalking, idol Ruri Hijiribe.  Who is this guy?

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 3” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 3 (episodes 13-18), chaos continues in Ikebukuro as people pretending to be Dollars are attacking innocent people.  Meanwhile, Namie wants to take her revenge on Mika.

Meanwhile, Russian assassin Vorona has tried many times to defeat and kill Shizuo Heiwajima.  Having failed, what happens when Shizuo and Tom Tanaka hire Vorona for their debt collection agency?   And why would she want to help out her enemy? And why is little Akane so jealous of Vorona?

And there is a crazed maniac who has been stalking, idol Ruri Hijiribe.  Who is this guy?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen.  Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.  Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 3 comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

And I personally like the story shift that we are starting to see with episodes 13-18.

For one, you get a good combination of action, humor and a dark storyline.

The episodes kick off with the crazy Namie Yagiri learning about Seiji and Mika and going crazy about it and wanting to take revenge against Mika for spending too much time with her brother.

The next episodes are more humor and action-oriented as Vorona ends up joining the debt collection agency that Tom and Shizuo runs.  And having seen Vorona try over and over to kill Shizuo Heiwajima, it’s interesting to see her now join them (of course, she looks at it as gaining intel, but could it be that she’s starting to admire his strength?).  Of course, little Akane is jealous as she wants to be the person to kill Shizuo, even though she adores him.

And the other episodes is in relation to Ruri and her stalker.  Her stalker is strong, sadistic and has a thing about eating and licking Ruri’s photos.  So, it will be interesting to see what kind of a foe he ends up being for Ruri and her friends. But from the look of his overall design, you have no doubt, he is going to be a crazy antagonist.

Meanwhile, there is an interesting storyline as others worry about Mikado and how he has changed as a person.  Mikado played such a big role in the first season, but he is going through this darker transformation that makes you wonder if this good-natured guy is slowly being consumed by something much darker.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see in future episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

Unfortunately, no special features in this latst volume but you also get the Aniplex swag of six postcards and a deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues.  Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

Recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 2 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

package02

 “Durarara!! x 2” has transitioned from being a bit enjoyable to ramping things up and becoming more riveting.   Things really get chaotic and crazy and what happens to the characters after these episodes, I guess we’ll have to wait until volume 3!  If you enjoyed the first season of “Durarara!!”, definitely give this second season a chance! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 2

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 7-12 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 24, 2015


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Falling right into Izaya’s trap and framed for the murders of their members, Shizuo finds himself on the run from the Awakusu Group. Meanwhile, the rumor that the Dollars members are engaging in assaults against the Toramaru gang enrages Chikage Rokujo, the leader of Toramaru, and he rushes to Ikebukuro for revenge. Mikado is frustrated with the current situation that the Dollars are in but is unable to do anything to mend the situation. At the same time, Aoba proposes that Mikado become the new leader of the Blue Squares. Mikado makes a decision that may damage his friendship with Masaomi and Anri. Various emotions come together as an ominous scent fills the city.


Who are the two Russian assassins?  A gang war between the Dollars and the Toramaru?  Shizuo accused of murder?  And Why is Aoba Kuronuma visiting Mikado?

Chaos has once again returned to Ikebukuro and things will never be the same again!

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 2” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 2 (episodes 7-12), chaos has once again returned to Ikebukuro as two Russian assassins are creating problems, Shizuo is accused of murder and kidnapping of a young girl (Akane Awakusu).

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, tensions between the Dollars and the Toramaru gang is starting to heat up as Chikage Rokugjo exacts his revenge against the Dollars.  Leading to a gang war!

Varona and Sloan pursue Celty and Aoba Kuronuma reveals himself as the leader of the Blue Squares and confronts Mikado about being the leader of the Dollars.


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 4.5 – Hot-Pot in My Mind – (24:03) Mikado comes home to find his friends at his home for a hot-pot party.  Meanwhile, we get to see the past with Mikado and Masaomi.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

Once in a while, you will find an anime series that just surprises you for its storyline, animation, art background and overall presentation. The original “Durarara!!” is an anime that literally surprised me by its quality and I have to say, this is one of the coolest anime series I have seen in awhile and I’m so thrilled that an ongoing series is now being aired in Japan.

For anime series, you often seen the banality of reused storylines with slight changes and different animation and for the most part, while characters and storyline are different, things are much similar in concept. With “Durarara!!”, while not as dark as “Boogiepop Phantom”, and the fact it is created by “Baccano!” writer Ryohgo Narita, he still manages to craft a fresh, urban, fantasy, supernatural storyline.

And what makes it so fun is how certain scenes of different characters and storylines are interconnected.

While watching the first episodes for the first volume, I noticed that it was focusing on a lot of different characters.  Characters who usually are in the background and the only character you really see the most (from the first season) is Celty.

But now with this second volume, things get more chaotic and crazy as the storyline becomes more complex and another gang war is about to erupt in Ikeburo.   The first two episodes continues the storyline of secondary characters having their own plot lines.  In this case, the focus shifts to two Russian assassins in Japan, who are murdering and killing people.

And of course, this leads to fingers pointing towards Shizuo, who had nothing to do with it.  But his name is being thrown around that he is a murderer and a kidnapper (trying to kidnap Akane Awakusu), when he had nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, tensions between the Dollars and the Toramaru gang is starting to heat up as Chikage Rokugjo exacts his revenge against the Dollars.  Varona and Sloan pursue Celty and Aoba Kuronuma reveals himself to be the leader of the Blue Squares and he and his gang confronts Mikado with a major proposition.  And after this meeting, it’ll be interesting if Mikado will ever be the same person due to the aftermath of all the chaos that transpires.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

For those who haven’t watched the original series or forgot how the first series went, the good news is that a pre-air special is included as a special feature. You also get the Aniplex swag of postcards and deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x 2” has transitioned from being a bit enjoyable to ramping things up and becoming more riveting.   Things really get chaotic and crazy and what happens to the characters after these episodes, I guess we’ll have to wait until volume 3!  If you enjoyed the first season of “Durarara!!”, definitely give this second season a chance! Recommended!

Durarara!! x 2 Volume 1 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2

“Durarara!! x 2” is an enjoyable series.  While the first series was amazing in its own-right, the second series introduces more characters and also more interesting and deadly situations happening in the city of Ikebukuro.  The first six episodes are good, but I look forward to seeing how the series progresses overtime.

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 1

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 1-6 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: September 29, 2015


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Half a year after the turmoil that rocked the entire city of Ikebukuro – peace has once again returned to the city and people are living each day normally. The high school students enjoy their days of youth as the strongest and most dangerous man of Ikebukuro works diligently. The informant plots a new scheme and the headless rider is pursued by the cops as she rides through the night. But soon this ordinary life will be cut short by extraordinariness. Slowly but surely, the unknown will seize the city and face an all new storm.


Following the events from the first season of “Durara!!”, “Durara!! x2” begins with Celty being chased by Kinnosuke Kuzuhara (and also being followed by a TV van).  As the legend of Celty has made her a celebrity and with Max Sandshelt offering 10 million yen to anyone who can reveal her identity, thus a bounty has led people of wanting to capture her, there have been recent murders in the city by a criminal known as “Hollywood”.

Will Celty find out who Hollywood is? Find out in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 1” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet.  But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 1 (episodes 1-6), Max Sandshelt is now offering 10 million yen to anyone who can uncover the identity of Celty and now many are doing all they can to follow her and uncover her true identity.  Meanwhile, a new murderer known as “Hollywood” is in the city?  Who is this monster?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series.  With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds.  Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo.  There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Pre-Air SP Talk Show – (24:09) An special episode that aired in Japan to introduce or refreshen the memories of those who watched “Durarara!!” before the airing of the second series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


durarax2-b

The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

Once in a while, you will find an anime series that just surprises you for its storyline, animation, art background and overall presentation.  The original “Durarara!!” is an anime that literally surprised me by its quality and I have to say, this is one of the coolest anime series I have seen in awhile and I’m so thrilled that an ongoing series is now being aired in Japan.

For anime series, you often seen the banality of reused storylines with slight changes and different animation and for the most part, while characters and storyline are different, things are much similar in concept. With “Durarara!!”, while not as dark as “Boogiepop Phantom”, and the fact it is created by “Baccano!” writer Ryohgo Narita, he still manages to craft a fresh, urban, fantasy, supernatural storyline.

And what makes it so fun is how certain scenes of different characters and storylines are interconnected.

While the first series did a wonderful job of integrating many characters, the second series also continues that but there is a big focus on Celty, a quick introduction (didn’t take long) of who the Hollywood killer is.  But this time, we see other characters getting featured quite prominently (for the first six episodes) such as Shizuo’s younger brother Kasuka, Izaya’s younger twin sisters Kururi and Rokuji, Aoba Kuronuma.  So, there are a lot of character interactions in this second series, rather than focus on a main group.

But so far, I’m enjoying the series and seeing what direction the series will eventually go.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good.  Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM Japanese and English soundtrack.  Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

For those who haven’t watched the original series or forgot how the first series went, the good news is that a pre-air special is included as a special feature.  You also get the Aniplex swag of postcards and deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x 2” is an enjoyable series.  While the first series was amazing in its own-right, the second series introduces more characters and also more interesting and deadly situations happening in the city of Ikebukuro.  The first six episodes are good, but I look forward to seeing how the series progresses overtime.

Blade: Marvel Animated Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Marvel Comics’ well-known vampire hunter, Blade, gets the anime-style makeover with Japanese sensibility, samurai-action in a modern setting with vampire antagonists that should surely appeal to Marvel Comics and Blade fans (as well as those who enjoy vampire-related storylines).  Action-packed and a thrilling series overall, “Blade: Marvel Animated Series” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2011 Superhero Anime Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blade: Marvel Animated Series

TV EPISODE RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 12 Episodes (282 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: MADHOUSE/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASED: July 31, 2012

Directed by Mitsuyuki Masuhara

Series Composition: Kenta Fukasaku

Story by Warren Ellis

Music by Shogo Ohnishi, Tetsuya Takahashi

Originally Created by Gene Colan, Marv Wolfman

Character Design by Cindy H. Yamauchi

Art Director: Katsushi Aoki

Anime Production: Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Akio Ohtsuka/Harold Perrineau as Blade

Hiroki Touchi/Christopher Smith as Lucius Isaac

Maaya Sakamoto/Kim Mai Guest as Makoto

Masato Hagiwara/Steven Jay Blum as Kikyo Mikage

Osamu Saka/Troy Baker as Noah Van Helsing

Tsutomu Isobe/Bryce Papenbrook as Deacon Frost

Atsuko Tanaka/Nayo Wallace as Tara Brooks

Rikiya Koyama/Milo Ventimiglia as Logan/Wolverine

Eric Brooks – known as Blade – seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with Eric. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade’s quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost. In the Golden Triangle, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.

Back in 1973, a vampire slayer named Eric Brooks a.k.a. “Blade”, would make his debut in Marvel Comics’ “The Tomb of Dracula”.

A man that is a Daywalker, born half human and half vampire, Blade would become popular thanks to the”Ghost Rider” and “Nightstalkers” comic books of the 1990’s and would eventually lead to a popular live action trilogy and a television series.

In 2011, to help introduce the backstory of several popular Marvel characters to Japanese audiences, such as “Blade”, “Iron Man”, “Wolverine” and the superhero team, “X-Men”, Marvel collaborated with popular Japanese animation studio Madhouse to create a series.

Marvel gave Madhouse to have free reign with the series to appeal to Japanese audiences, as long as it remains connected to the original history of the characters/group.

The series would be directed by Mitsuyuki Masuhara (“BECK”, “Shigirui”, “Chobits) and series composition by Kenta Fukasaku (“Battle Royale”, “Yo-Yo Girl Cop”).  The English dub would feature the voice of Harold Perrineau (“Lost”, “Oz”, “The Matrix” films) and Kim Mai Guest (“G.I. Joe: Renegades”, “Ben 10”, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”).

For “Blade”, the story revolves around Blade going to Japan to hunt down Deacon Frost, the vampire responsible for killing his mother.  Throughout the series, we learn of Blade’s thirst for revenge but also his past as a young boy and as a Daywalker.  As well, as learning the challenges he faced in life as a vampire child.

Joined by a female vampire hunter named Makoto, the two find trouble in Japan,the Philippines, Madripoor and Cambodia, as both will go against the Existence, a secret organization of vampires, as Blade continues his thirst of revenge and will do all he can to find Deacon Frost.  As for Deacon Frost, he is trying to create a new vampire breed which may change the hierarchy of the vampire species.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Blade: Marvel Animated Series” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English.  And as expected from a major anime studio such as Madhouse, the character designs look very good, the art backgrounds are well painted. But very cool emphasis on the actual character designs, especially close-up of the characters faces.  There are some moments throughout the series where I felt there were better art backgrounds utilized in this anime series compared to “Wolverine: Marvel Animated Series”.

DVD quality for the most part is good, but as expected on DVD, you are going to see banding and slight softness.

As for audio, both are presented Dolby Digital 5.1 and both sound great, but it all comes down to preference. Both Japanese and English voice acting are well-done.  While I watched the series in Japanese, I was also excited to see “LOST” star, Harold Perrineau doing the voice of  Blade.  And Harold does a fantastic job of doing the voice of the vampire slayer.

Good use of the surround channels for the more action-based sequences.  Dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are easy to read, thick yellow subtitles that don’t necessarily stay in the bottom center but also are seen wherever the characters face is located. So if the character’s mouth is high, the subtitles will appear in the top. So, the subtitles remind me of closed caption subtitles in terms of subtitling placement.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blade: Marvel Animated Series” includes the following special features:

  • Special Talk Session: Marvel Anime’s Blade and Wolverine – (32:56) Featuring interviews with director Mitsuyuki Masuhara and Kenta Fukasaku (series treatment), along with “Wolverine” director Hiroshi Aoyama and Kengo Kaji (series treatment), plus a few crew members who worked on the anime series.

Back in the ’90s, I was caught up in all the Marvel Comics hype surrounding Blade, Ghost Rider, Spirits of Vengeance and suffice to say, when the live action films came out, Blade was one of the most popular characters from the Marvel universe.

An African-American hero with the stoic, no-nonsense style of Wolverine and the Punisher, a man with a black trenchcoat with an assortment of weaponry and this guy took on the most powerful vampires.  And literally, he kicked ass!

And while the hype around Blade has died down quite significantly  since the completion of the live action films and TV series, with a lot of vampire films and television series making its way not just in the U.S. but all over the world, why not take advantage of the situations by showcasing Marvel’s most popular vampire hunter.

And theme of a vampire slayer works well in Japan as there have been plenty of vampire hunting anime series such as “Vampire Hunter D”, “Blood the Vampire Hunter”, “Hellsing” to name a few.

But what I enjoyed about “Blade: Marvel Animated Series” is how the story is setup to introduce the past of Blade, his relationship with his mother and her friends and his thirst for revenge in getting back at Deacon Frost.  Also, the attention to detail of his swordsmanship.

Instead of going for a bloody, dark vampire anime series, Madhouse Studios made the series accessible by using dark elements but not having to showcase so much violence.  Yes, there are people who die, are bit by vampires and are slayed by Blade and Makoto, but the emphasis is not on gore, the anime series showcase on their abilities to fight.

In the Marvel series, there was a focus of Blade using a variety of weapons, but in the anime series, the focus was more on his swordsmanship.  For example, in the anime, Blade is a master of Yagu Shinkage-ryu, a kenjutsu (Japanese schools of swordsmanship) in which Blade utilizes three secret Yagyu techniques.  The techniques include “The First Blade: Residual Moon”, “The Second Blade: Phantom Moon” and the third technique, “The Third Blade: Chaotic Moon”.

In the special feature included on the DVD, many of the creators weren’t familiar with “Blade” as much as they knew the X-Men, Iron Man and Wolverine and their first exposure was through the Wesley Snipes live action films.  But an importance for both “Blade” and “Wolverine” was tying the stories to Japan.  Wolverine already had a tie in Japanese culture with his relation to Mariko Yashida, for “Blade” it was known that he was fluent in a variety of languages and also had learned many fighting styles.

For the Japanese version, there was an attention to showcasing Japanese swordsmanship.  From the way the character holds the sword and thus showcase Japanese action.  So, in a way, “Blade: Marvel Animated Series” becomes more of a samurai-style of storyline which Kenta Fukasaku wanted to incorporate into the script.

As for the DVD, you get all 12-episodes of “Blade: Marvel Animated Series” and the anime looks great.  You have one of Japan’s top anime studios working on these four Marvel anime series and Madhouse did a wonderful job not only in anime production but the series composition was also well-done.  As with the voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

While Blade may not be as well-known in Japan compared to Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man to name a few.  Because it does deal with vampire hunting, I’m sure the series definitely introduced anime fans overseas to the character.  While not as violent or bloody compared to other Japanese anime series featuring vampire slaying, it’s still a good story and an interesting take on the Blade character.  In fact, I enjoyed this storyline compared to many of the Blade comic books that I have read.

The anime series goes into detail of Blade’s past but also features good pacing and a very good buildup of its characters leading to the final battle between Blade and Deacon Frost.

Overall, Marvel Comics’ well-known vampire hunter, Blade, gets the anime-style makeover with Japanese sensibility, samurai-action in a modern setting with vampire antagonists that should surely appeal to Marvel Comics and Blade fans (as well as those who enjoy vampire-related storylines).  Action-packed and a thrilling series overall, “Blade: Marvel Animated Series” is recommended!

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