“My Neighbor Totoro” is a Studio Ghibli classic and a heartwarming animated film that will entertain families and even adults for more generations to come. A beloved Japanese animated film and Studio Ghibili classic, “My Neighbor Totoro” is one of those must-own Blu-ray releases for Miyazaki and anime fans! Highly recommended!
Images courtesy of © 2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ/Tonario no Totoro)
FILM RELEASE: 1988
DURATION: 88 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), Audio: English, French and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French
RATED:G (General Audience)
RELEASE DATE: May 21, 2013
Created, Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Storyboards by Hayao Miyazaki
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Art Director: Kazuo Iga
Animation Director: Yoshiharu Sato
Director of Photography: Hisao Shirai
Executive Producer: Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Producer: Toru Hara
Anime Production by Studio Ghibli
Featuring the voices of:
Chika Sakamoto/Dakota Fanning as Mei Kusakabe
Hitoshi Takagi/Frank Welker as Dai-Totoro
Noriko Hidaka/Elle Fanning as Satsuki Kusakabe
Shigesato Itoi/Timothy Daly as Tatsuo Kusakabe (Mei & Satsuki’s father)
Tanie Kitabayashi/Pat Carroll as Granny
Toshiyuki Amagasa as Kanta
Lauded as “one of the most beloved of all family films” by critic Roger Ebert, “My Neighbor Totoro” is the heartwarming story of sisters Satsuki (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and Mei (voiced by Elle Fanning). Much to their delight, when Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei move into a new home in the countryside, they discover that their new neighbor is a mysterious forest spirit called Totoro—who can be seen only through the eyes of children. Totoro introduces them to extraordinary characters—including a catbus—and takes them on an incredible journey.
Hayao Miyazaki, the most prominent Japanese filmmaker who has created animated films that not only broke Japanese box office records but has created animated films that reflect upon nature, technology, family and more. Compared to the accomplishments of Walt Disney, Miyazaki is a filmmaker who has amassed a respect from his fans worldwide and his animations studio, Studio Ghibli, continues to be one of the most appreciated and respected animation and production studios in the world.
In 1988, wrote and directed the animated classic “My Neighbor Totoro” (Tonari no Totoro) which won the Animage Grand Prix Award in 1988 and was brought over to the United States from Fox Video/Streamline on VHS in the ’90s and on DVD in 2002. When their rights expired, Disney picked up the rights to the many of the Studio Ghibli films and redubbed the film featuring major Hollywood talent and re-released the film on DVD in 2006 but this time with both an English and Japanese audio track. In 2010, “My Neighbor Totoro” was released on DVD as part of Disney’s releases of Studhio Ghibli classics which include “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Castle in the Sky”.
In May 2013, Disney will be releasing “My Neighbor Totoro” for the first time on Blu-ray along with another Studio Ghibli classic, “Howl’s Moving Castle”.
What is “My Neighbor Totoro”?
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a film that takes place in 1958 and is about the Kusakabe family which include university professor Tatsuo Kusakabe (voiced by Shigesato Itoi/Timothy Daly) and his daughters, 10-year-old Satsuki (voiced by Noriko Hidaka/Dakota Fanning) and 4-year-old daughter Mei (voiced by Chika Sakamoto/Elle Fanning). The family has moved to a rural area in Japan to be closer to a hospital where their mother Yasuko (voiced by Sumi Shimamoto/Lea Salonga) is trying to recover from her illness.
When the daughters check out the house, they discover the home is filled with susuwatari (dust bunnies/creatures) and try to move to dark places of the house. They are greeted by Granny (voiced by Tanie Kitabayashi/Pat Carroll), the landlord of the house and grandmother of a young boy named Kanta (voiced by Toshiyuki Amagasa/Paul Butcher), a boy who is a neighbor and soon-to-be classmate of Satsuki.
The family carries on life in the country but for young Mei, one day while playing outside, she sees two rabbit like creatures in the grass. When she goes to follow them, she ends up finding this very large creature which she names “Totoro” (voiced by Hitoshi Takagi/Frank Welker) and falls asleep on him. When Satsuki finds her, she is alone but Mei tells her about this big creature she saw. Of course, Satsuki doesn’t quite believe her at first but their father tells them that Totoro is a keeper of the forest.
One rainy night as the daughters wait for their father to return by bus and doesn’t arrive, while Mei is fast asleep on Satsuki’s back, Totoro shows up and Satsuki sees the creature for the first time as he is protecting himself with a leaf from the rain. She offers him her father’s umbrella and happy about the umbrella, he gives her some nuts and seeds. Meanwhile, we see what Totoro is waiting for as a big bus-shaped giant cat (voiced by Naoki Tatsuta/Frank Welker) comes to pick up Totoro.
While Satsuki and Mei are overjoyed by seeing Totoro and other creatures, they are struck by bad news when they find out their mother will not be coming home from the hospital and both girls now worry that she may die and take the possibility of that happening very hard.
But on one day, young Mei is missing and it prompts Satsuki and the entire village to search for Mei. What has happened to her?
“My Neighbor Totoro” is just an amazing animated film which I first watched back in 1993 (in Japanese, no subtitles) and at the time, although I didn’t know what was going on, I was simply in awe with the animation. Of how beautiful the artistic backgrounds were. The village and its lush green, to the painted detail on the trunk of the trees to even the ground during rainy weather, I was impressed. Now, the film is 22-years-old and watching it again, the film still holds up remarkably well today.
For the first time in the U.S., “My Neighbor Totoro” is presented in 1080P High Definition. While one should remember that this film is old school anime from 1988, the film is not going to have the amazing detail and vibrancy of Studio Ghibli films made digitally today, but with that being said, the film is lush and beautiful too look at for a film that is 25-years-old. This is amazing cell art production of Japanese animation of the late ’80s and looks amazing on Blu-ray. Background details are much more clearer, no blurriness and the picture quality looks clean, no dust or white specks.
When it comes to picture quality, in America, this HD version of the film is the definitive version to own.
As for the audio, “My Neighbor Totoro” is presented in English, French and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is presented in English Dolby Digital Sound and also includes the Japanese and French language tracks. It’s important to note that fans of the film have heard two different English dubs of “My Neighbor Totoro” in the past (with the old FOX Streamline English dub) and the version included on the Blu-ray release is the Disney verison.
Audio is crystal clear but as I hoped a lossless upgrade to 5.1, for a film of this age, it’s understandable to get the English and French lossless soundtrack in 2.0. But the biggest news is the inclusion of the Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“My Neighbor Totoro” comes with the following special features on a second DVD disc. Included are:
- Original Japanese Storyboards - (1:26:16) – Watch the entire film but this time with the video showcasing the original storyboards.
- Original Japanese Trailer – (1:50) The original Japanese theatrical trailer.
- Behind the Microphone – (5:41) Featuring the English dub voice talents talking about their role, their appreciation for Miyazaki and his films. Also, behind-the-scenes of the talent recording their voices.
- Creating My Neighbor Totoro – (2:59) Hayao Miyazaki talks about how he came up with the concept of “My Neighbor Totoro”.
- Creating the Characters - (4:22) Producer Toshio Suzuki talks about the characters of “My Neighbor Totoro” and how “E.T. was an influence.
- The Totoro Experience – (2:00) Producer Toshio Suzuki talks about how the film didn’t do well in the box office but when it aired on television, it did remarkably well.
- Producer’s Perspective: Creating Ghibli – (1:22) Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki talks about how the named “Ghibli” came about.
- The Locations of Totoro – (28:34) An excerpt from a Japanese documentary on “My Neighbor Totoro” and visiting the areas that inspired Miyazaki to create the village of Totoro.
- Scoring Miyazaki – (7:17) A featurette about Joe Hisaishi’s scoring Miyazaki films and more.
“My Neighbor Totoro” comes with a slipcover.
I absolutely love “My Neighbor Totoro”. From when I first saw it in Japanese (which I didn’t understand at the time) at a Japanese animation club screening back in 1993 and now watching it over 15-years-later and watching it alongside with my son. There is this captivating quality with Miyazaki’s characters, his enjoyable to sometimes serious screenplays and Studio Ghibli always delivering when it comes to quality.
And when you consider how a lot of animated films today are 100% CG animated, when you see a Miyazaki film, you know that he doesn’t follow the mainstream. He makes the kind of films that he wants and for the most part, every film that I have seen from Studio Ghibli, I’ve been more than satisfied.
I remember watching “My Neighbor Totoro” and enjoying the lively moments from the beginning but having seen his animated films “Nausicaa”, “Laputa: Castle in the Sky” and even “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, as his films are happy and humorous, by the final half of the film, the story definitely shifts to a serious tone and in this film, it does get a bit serious when both Satsuki and Mei facing the probability of their mother dying in the hospital. These are genuine emotions that these two young girls feel but at the same time, what transpires afterward was captivating and how the film ends, Miyazaki definitely knows how to wrap up a film and make you feel content and satisfied with overall story.
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a wonderful family film and by no means is it scary. For the parents, this film is among the more lighter-toned Miyazaki films out there. Miyazaki has mentioned in interviews that he created “My Neighbor Totoro” for the children while his latest film “Ponyo” was more of him wanting to create a film for even younger children. But for the most part, if you want to introduce a Miyazaki film to your children, “My Neighbor Totoro” is a great place to start.
But the big question for many people is if “My Neighbor Totoro” is worth the investment to upgrade to Blu-ray. My opinion is yes!
While the 2010 DVD release was fantastic, the detail and picture quality on Blu-ray is much better! If you own the older 2006 Disney DVD, there are a large number of special features on this 2013 Blu-ray release that are not included in the 2006 DVD but personally it comes down to picture quality and better audio. But for those who have never owned the 2010 DVD and now the 2013 Blu-ray release, upgrading to Blu-ray is a no-brainer. The film just looks and sounds better!
I know there are some fans who prefer the original dub from the old Fox/Streamline years but that release was pretty much a barebones DVD. Yes, I still have my old copy of “My Neighbor Totoro” and I did enjoy the original dub a lot but personally, with this newer release, you get the Japanese audio track and plenty of special features that were not included in the 2006 DVD release. Also, for voice acting, I felt that Dakota and Elle Fanning did a wonderful job and Tim Daly and Lea Salonga also did a solid job with their voice acting. But of course the voice acting of the original Japanese featuring Chika Sakamoto, Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Naoki Tatsuta, Toshiyuki Amagasa is fantastic!
In Japan, the Totoro character has become so iconic that Studio Ghibli stores, may it be near the Tokyo Sky Tree or Yokohama to Kinokuniya stores in America, the Totoro character or even the Cat Bus are still characters that are featured in stores and many, including John Lasseter of Pixar has them in his office and even included it in his film “Toy Story 3″.
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a Studio Ghibli classic and a heartwarming animated film that will entertain families and even adults for more generations to come. I watched this film when I was younger and now I’m sharing it with my son, who may share it with his family in the future.
A beloved Japanese animated film and Studio Ghibili classic, “My Neighbor Totoro” is one of those must-own Blu-ray releases for Miyazaki and anime fans! Highly recommended!
Since 1993, J!-ENT has been reviewing anime (Japanese animation) from VHS to LD and now Blu-ray to DVD.
The following is a list of all the anime Blu-ray and DVD’s we have reviewed on J!-ENT thus far.
ANIME BLU-RAY AND DVD REVIEWS (Listing are alphabetical order):
Note: Reviews are from 1999-Present (NOTE: Due to the amount of reviews we have done over the years, not all are included in this listing yet. We are periodically updating this section with our past reviews. Also, please note that some of these reviews are very old and are in a different format to our current review style.)
009-1 – Volume 1 (DVD)
Cat Planet Cuties (BD)
K-ON!: Volume 4 (BD)
Shiki: Part One (BD)
Star Driver Vol. 2 (BD)
The sequel to Student Council’s Discretion simulcasts on Crunchyroll this winter
San Francisco, Calif. (January 3, 2013) – Crunchyroll, Inc., continues its winter simulcast announcements with the addition of STUDENT COUNCIL’S DISCRETION LEVEL 2, which is set to broadcast every Wednesday starting on January 9th at 10:00 am Pacific Time for its premium members. Free members will be able to view one (1) week after initial broadcast on Crunchyroll. More information can be found on www.crunchyroll.com/student-councils-discretion.
The Student Council’s Discretion is a collection of Japanese light novels by Sekina Aoi. For those of you who watched the first season back in 2009, the anime has a new staff for season 2 produced by AIC.
“The student council of the private school Hekiyo Academy is a paradise where wild delusions never rest. After successfully joining the student council due to his excellent grades, the second-year vice president, Ken Sugisaki, aims to make the female remainder of the student council his harem, but is regularly treated like nothing more than air…
The strongest little kid around, president Kurimu Sakurano; the cool and kind but super-sadistic secretary, Chizuru Akaba; the boyish vice president who’s surprisingly girly at times, Minatsu Shiina; and the sweet, lovely treasurer with several regrettable qualities, Mafuyu Shiina…
The crazy, almost out-of-control daily lives of these highly unique members is still continuing nonstop – today, tomorrow, and the day after!
But the time limit imposed by the upcoming graduation is drawing nearer… What will happen to the student council? What will its members do?! Do we never learn, making a second anime season out of this?!”
STUDENT COUNCIL’S DISCRETION LEVEL 2 will be available to Crunchyroll’s audience in the following territories: North America, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the Netherlands.
Episodes can be accessed from Crunchyroll.com, the free iPhone and iPad application, the Android application, Windows Phone, PS3™, Xbox LIVE®, Roku, Boxee, Google TV, Samsung TV, Vizio VIA, WD TV Live, additional set-top channels, and affiliate partners.
Crunchyroll premium members have access to the largest selection of anime and drama, same-day access for simulcast titles, no advertisements and can stream in up to 1080p quality on select titles. More information about the Crunchyroll membership plan can be found at: http://www.crunchyroll.com/freetrial/
About Crunchyroll, Inc.
Crunchyroll is a leading global video network and developer of social media applications for Japanese anime and Asian media. Through applications like Crunchyroll for iPhone, iPad, Android, Playstation®3, Xbox LIVE®, TV, set-top boxes, affiliate websites and its own streaming website, Crunchyroll delivers over 20,000 episodes and 10,000 hours of officially-licensed content from leading Asian media producers direct to consumers.
Crunchyroll has offices in San Francisco, Calif. and Tokyo, Japan, and is a member of the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) and Licensing International Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA). Officially launched in 2009, Crunchyroll is funded by leading venture capital firm, Venrock, Japanese entertainment giant TV TOKYO, digital publishing leader Bitway and a group of angel investors representing some of the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. More information can be found at http://www.crunchyroll.com.
As we cover a lot of pop culture worldwide, especially mainstream pop culture, we still support other industries. Industries which J!-ENT actually originally started from. From covering Asian cinema, Japanese animation, comic books, video games, we covered them since 1993. And while we may not be a website that specializes solely on Asian cinema, anime, manga, video games, etc. We still try to cover it the best we can. And one a year, we try to show our love by creating a special feature dedicated to anime, manga, cosplay, video games and J-Pop.
And in 2012, we have created our largest annual special feature on those topics for you, FOR FREE.
You can download the following PDF and view it on your iPad, Table or computer. It’s about 280-pages and about 62MB. We will consider a hi-res version of this annual feature if people request it but, we present to you our J!-ENT annual “Anime/Manga/Cosplay/Video Games/J-Pop” (wow…that was long!) special feature. And it showcases our recent interviews with cosplayers, our coverage from various events this past summer including E3, San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Ani-Jam and so much more! Enjoy!
J!-ENT ANNUAL SPECIAL FEATURE 2012: Anime/Manga/Cosplay/Video Games/J-Pop (66MB PDF): DOWNLOAD HERE!
Explode onto DVD April 24th
Each Set Includes 12 Episodes From Each Series and New Bonus Features!
CULVER CITY, CALIF. (March 5, 2012) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation release the IRON MAN ANIME and X-MEN ANIME on DVD April 24th. With 12 episodes and bonus features in each DVD, bring home the action and adventures of Iron Man and the X-Men in the classic anime style. Guided by New York Times best-selling author Warren Ellis (Iron Man: Extremis, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis) and produced by Madhouse for Marvel Television and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the distributor.
The IRON MAN ANIME stars Adrian Pasdar (Heroes, Castle, Profit) as the voice of Tony Stark. The set contains special bonus features:
· Re-Imagining Iron Man explores the plot and themes of the anime series.
· 21st Century Hero: The Technology of Iron Man introduces fans to Tony Starks high-tech suits and gadgets.
· Special Cross Talk round table discussion with the creators of the Iron Man and Wolverine anime series.
· Voicing Tony Stark, an interview with Japanese actor, Keiji Fujiwara.
The X-MEN ANIME features the voice of actor Scott Porter as Cyclops (The Good Wife, Friday Night Lights, Caprica). The set includes:
· Re-Examining The X-Men takes viewers behind-the-scenes of creating X-Mens mutant tales.
· X-Men: A Team of Outsiders provides an in-depth exploration of Marvels most heroic and infamous mutants.
· Special Talk Session round table discussion with the creators of Marvel anime’s X-Men and Blade.
IRON MAN ANIME: Tony Stark arrives in Japan to help implement his goal of world peace by building the Arc Reactor, a carbon-neutral power plant, that once operational will be able to provide limitless (thus free) energy to the world. Set to retire his Iron Man persona, and about to mass-produce a line of Iron Man armor known as Iron Man Dio, Starks plans are derailed by a series of high tech Mech monsters. Zodiac, a top secret organization funded by the terrorist group A.I.M. is out to disrupt the Arc Station, steal the Dio armor and put an end to Iron Man. The Armored Avengers fight is only just beginning.
X-MEN ANIME: The X-MEN are reunited following the death of a teammate and are summoned by Charles Xavier to Japan following the abduction of Hisako Ichiki. There, they confront the U-MEN, a lunatic cult that steals and transplants mutant organs to further strengthen its own army, and the battle for justice is on. Discovering a series of bizarre occurrences in the area they X-Men investigate only to be confronted with a terrible truth that will force them to confront long buried secrets.
Broadcast Year: 2011 (G4)
IRON MAN ANIME and X-MEN ANIME are rated NOT RATED. Visit Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on the Web at www.SonyPictures.com.
ABOUT SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPEs global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; worldwide television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.sonypictures.com.
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit www.marvel.com.
“”Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2″ is the second to last volume of the series and the most exciting yet. The many secrets that filled the series are finally revealed in this volume. A must see!”
Image courtesy of © Matsuri Hino, Hakusensha/Vampire Knight Project, Studio Deen, VIZ, All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2
DURATION: 100 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 WIDESCREEN, JAPANESE & ENGLISH STEREO
Release Date: May 17 2011
Original Manga by Matsuri Hino
Directed by Kiyoko Sayama
Music by Hozumi Goda
Art Direction by Kazuhiro Ito
Character Designs by Asako Nishida
Produced by VAMPIRE KNIGHT PROJECT
Featuring the following voice talent:
Yui Horie/Mela Lee as Yuki Cross
Mamoru Miyano/Vic Mignogna as Zero Kiryu/Ichiru Kiryu
Daisuke Kishio/Ethan Murray as Kaname Kuran
Hozumi Goda/Christopher Corey as Kaien Cross
Junichi Suwabe/Troy Baker as Akatsuki Kain
Jun Fukuyama/Bryce Papenbrook as Hanabusa Aido
Junko Minagawa/Dorothy Elias-Fahn as Ruka Souen
Susumu Chiba/Spike Spencer as Takuma Ichijo
Souichiro Hoshi/Steve Staley as Senri Shiki
Eri Kitamura/Carrie Savage as Rima Touya
Hiroki Yasumoto/Travis Willingham as Toga Yagari
Risa Mizuno/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Seiren
Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh as Sayori Wakaba
Mariko Kouda/Michelle Ruff as Juri Kuran
Hirofumi Nojima/Tony Oliver as Haruka Kuran
Tarusuke Shingaki/Patrick Seitz as Rido Kuran
Fumiko Orikasa/Wendee Lee as Shizuka Hio
Continually haunted by visions of blood, Yuki is determined to discover the secrets of her past, but Kaname repeatedly evades her questions. Zero confronts Kaname at the Moon Dormitory, and the two end up fighting. Then Kaname advances his relationship with Yuki to an entirely new level, which has the members of the Night Class in a bit of a tizzy. But Yuki’s dreams only intensify – will her past be forced into the light at last?
“Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2″ contains episodes 5-8 of the second season of the popular anime series by Matsuri Hino. Many secrets surround the students of both the Day and Night Classes of Cross Academy, and many of them get revealed in this volume. Yuki is haunted by nightmares where she and her surroundings are covered in blood. Soon she starts seeing these visions when she’s not asleep. Meanwhile Ichiru Kiryu enrolls into Cross Academy, with full intention of killing those who he believes is responsible for Shizuka Hio’s death, even his own twin brother, Zero. The school gets one more visitor, Rido Kuran, Kaname’s uncle who seems to be after something Kaname has been protecting from him for years…
“Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2″ focuses on the following main characters:
Yuki Cross – Yuki Cross is one of the main characters of the series. She is a member of the Day Class and is one of the members of the Disciplinary Committee in charge of keeping the Day and Night Classes separate. She is cute and clumsy despite being a member of the Disciplinary Committee. Yuki is the headmaster’s daughter and one of the only ones that knows the identity of the Night Class. Her earliest memory is of her about to be attacked by a vampire but being saved by Kaname Kuran. She has very strong feelings for Kaname Kuran but she also deeply cares about Zero, but more as a best friend. In this volume, she is constantly haunted by terrifying nightmares where everything around her is covered in blood. She gets much closer to Kaname in this volume and is finally able to unlock her mysterious past… but what is revealed may destroy her relationship with Zero.
Zero Kiryu – Zero is a member of the Day Class. He is also a member of the Disciplinary Committee with Yuki. The headmaster brought him in four years ago after his parents were killed by a vicious vampire. Because of that fact, he hates vampires and clashes with the members of the Night Class quite a bit. He is rather cool and sarcastic, but can manage to drop a few jokes with Yuki, who he’s rather close to. Despite being a hunter who hates vampires, ironically because he was bitten as a child, he is a vampire himself. Over the course of the series, Yuki and Zero have gotten closer… but something that happens in this volume may change their relationship once and for all.
Kaname Kuran – Kaname is a member of the Night Class. He is the leader and the most powerful out of the Night Class. He saved Yuki from a vampire when she was a child and is even still very protective towards her. He has very strong feelings for Yuki even though she’s rather oblivious to that fact. For the most part, he keeps the other vampires out of trouble and is the one who helped establish this school with Kaien Cross. There is a lot revealed about Kaname’s past in this volume and what happened to his parents. His relationship with Yuki and her past is also revealed and exactly how much he really cares for her.
Kaien Cross – Kaien is Yuki’s father as well as Zero’s adoptive father. He is the headmaster of Cross Academy and a former vampire hunter. He opened Cross Academy in hopes to bring peace between humans and vampires. His personality for the most part is rather eccentric. In this volume, it becomes a bit more apparent why he gave up hunting in this volume.
Akatsuki Kain – Akatsuki is a member of the Night Class. He is a pretty calm and loyal vampire who seems to always get in trouble only because he’s around his cousin, Hanabusa who causes trouble. He never loses his temper and seems to have insight on all of his friends and their feelings.
Hanabusa Aido – Hanabusa is a member of the Night Class. He is considered an idol (which is also a pun off of his name) by the girls of the Day Class. He is cute like a child but can be very jealous and throws tantrums just like a child would as well. He is very protective of Kaname and gets jealous of anyone that gets too close to him. He is Akatsuki’s cousin.
Ruka Souen – Ruka is a member of the Night Class. She is sophisticated and beautiful and she is the idol of males of the Day Class. She has very strong feelings for Kaname.
Takuma Ichijo – Takuma is a member of the Night Class. He is from an aristocratic family and is one of Kaname’s closest friends. He is rather cheerful and friendly unlike most other vampires.
Senri Shiki – Senri is a member of the Night Class. He rarely speaks and when he does, it’s usually a single sentence. He works as a model with Rima. In this volume, we get to see a bit more out of Senri and we find out a lot more about his family.
Rima Touya – Rima is a member of the Night Class. She is petite and pixie-like and works as a model with Senri. Also like Senri, she doesn’t speak very much and is not very energetic.
Toga Yagari – Yagari is a renowned vampire hunter and is sent to Cross Academy by the Hunter Association to see if everything is running as it should be. He is also Zero’s mentor as a vampire hunter from when he was younger. He saved Zero from a Level E vampire (humans that were bitten by vampires who turned into violent monsters that thirst for blood) which resulted in him losing his right eye. Despite being ruthless in killing vampires and knowing about Zero’s situation, he still seems to have hope in him.
Seiren – Seiren is another member of the Night Class and Kaname’s unofficial bodyguard.
Sayori Wakaba – Sayori is a member of the Day Class as well as Yuki’s best friend and dorm-mate. She is kind and always worries about her best friend.
Ichiru Kiryu – Ichiru is the younger twin brother to Zero. Years ago when Shizuka killed their parents, she turned Zero into a vampire and took Ichiru. Since then, he had been serving her until her death. Even before he was taken by Shizuka, he had always held a strong grudge against Zero. Ichiru was a sickly child and even though Zero and his parents loved him very much, he always felt inferior and slowly that overwhelming love just made him resent them even more. Despite being with Shizuka, he is still human which is another reason he hates Zero. Despite being reunited with his brother, the only thing on his mind is to avenge Shizuka’s death and kill anyone who he thinks is involved, including Zero.
Juri Kuran – Juri Kuran is a pure blood vampire, Kaname’s mother, Haruka’s wife and sister, and the sister of Rido. She was also very close to Kaien and was the reason he stopped hunting. She died when Kaname was younger along with her husband.
Haruka Kuran – Haruka Kuran is a pure blood vampire, Kaname’s father, Juri’s husband and brother, and the brother of Rido. He died when Kaname was younger along with Juri.
Rido Kuran – Rido is a pure blood vampire, the brother of Juri and Haruka Kuran, Uncle to Kaname Kuran and the father of Senri Shiki. He appears at Cross Academy looking for something he wasn’t able to obtain from Juri and Haruka Kuran at the time of their death, something that is very precious to Kaname.
Shizuka Hio – Shizuka is the pure blood vampire that killed Zero and Ichiru’s parents and turned Zero into a vampire.
“Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2” features a total of 4 episodes on one DVD. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:
- Episode 5- The Subordinate’s Trap – Cross Academy gets a new student: Zero’s twin brother, Ichiru.
- Episode 6- Fake Lovers – Yuki and Kaname are supposedly a couple now, but they seem to have completely different ideas about their relationship…
- Episode 7- Kiss of Thorns – Senri comes back to Cross Academy, but seems like a totally different person…
- Episode 8- Spiraling Recollections – Yuki’s true past is finally revealed.
VIDEO & AUDIO
“Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 2″ is presented in 16:9 and audio options include both Japanese and English. Just like the rest of the series, the art in this volume is pretty but the character designs are indeed Shojo so that may attract or detract viewers. But overall, the art is great and the animation is smooth and backgrounds look great. Everyone is very pretty in this series.
Throughout the series, the Japanese cast as well as the American cast both do a wonderful job. All of the voices seem fitting and don’t seem out of place. The Japanese cast includes big names like Yui Horie, Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Kishio, Jun Fukuyama, and many others. The American cast is also full of big name voice actors including Mela Lee, Ethan Murray, Vic Mignogna, Troy Baker, Stephanie Sheh, and others.
The only special features available on the discs are Viz Trailers and DVD Credits.
Drama, angst, revenge, and questionable relationships sum up this volume of “Vampire Knight Guilty”. If you love soap operas, then you’ll love this series and particularly this volume. Secret pasts revealed, plot twists, revenge, love triangles… (Maybe even love squares): all happen.
The main event that happens in this volume is Yuki’s mysterious past is finally revealed and that throws her relationships with Kaname and Zero into a tailspin… This is the exciting volume where everything changes.
I won’t reveal the big secret in my review, but if you’re watching this volume before any other volume: stop. Nothing will make sense and too much has happened in the story. “Vampire Knight Guilty” is the second season and prior to the four episodes in this season, there are thirteen episodes in season one. This volume starts off seventeen episodes into the whole series. This series is very story driven and for the most part the story is linear, so it’s not a series you can pick up a random volume to start watching. Not to mention there are a lot of main characters to keep track of and this particular volume reveals one of the biggest secrets of the series. If you have been watching the series, this is the volume you want to watch.
The “Vampire Knight” series pretty much has non-stop drama. The whole story is rather dramatic and serious, so I am very happy that they have the breaks with the funny little moments, which I probably enjoy the most out this series. There are a lot of great characters as well and they vary in types so most viewers can find at least one character they like and or can relate to. I personally like the banter between Yuki and Aidou as well as the moments where Zero, who is usually rather serious, can have a silly moment.
The target audience for this series will probably be mostly girls, considering it’s full of drama, angst, romance, and pretty vampire boys… (of course guys can like that too) the series does have some action in it, but this particular volume is full of drama.
This was also a very big character development volume. Yuki’s past is revealed, bringing much more depth to her character. Kaname’s past is revealed a bit more and we get to see more of exactly who he is and what exactly Yuki means to him. Zero’s self-loathing continues in this volume, but seems better when he is with Yuki… until her secret is revealed. Ichiru… still hates his brother (as well as pretty much everyone else), and is still annoying. On the other hand, one thing I enjoyed a lot was the fact that we got to see a little more of the background characters like Senri and Rima, instead of them just being in the background all of the time. They are two of my favorite characters so it was nice to see them get a little more spotlight.
As I’ve mentioned, this volume is exciting story wise, but brings to light some very, very questionable relationships among the pure blood vampire folk… I know that there are some Shojo manga series fans that LOVE this kind of stuff… but it might be a little too much for me. With that being said, if you are looking for a series full of pretty vampire men, messy love triangles, angst, revenge, drama… congratulations! You have found the perfect series for you. If you’re not looking for any of the above, this series does offer some action and quite a bit of comedy too, and the funny parts are truly funny, but the other themes are still much stronger and may be too much for some.
This volume is the final step before the conclusion of the anime series, so most of the secrets throughout the series get answered in this volume so if you have been watching the series up until this point, it’s very exciting. If you have not seen the rest of the series up to this point or know nothing about the series, I emphasize again that this volume will be confusing and full of spoilers so I definitely recommend watching the rest of the series first.
Team Kaname or Team Zero: one of them definitely takes the lead in this volume and you’ll have to watch to see which one it is. All of your questions will be answered in this volume. Be sure to pick up this climactic volume leading up to the exciting conclusion!
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be! Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series! Highly recommended!
Images courtesy of ©Hiromu Arakawa/FA Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part Five
DURATION: Episodes 53-64 (300 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011
Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa
Directed by Yasuhiro Irie
Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi
Music by Akira Senju
Character Design by Hiroki Kanno
Art Director: Takeshi Satou
Art Design: Kazushige Kanehira
Anime Production by BONES
Featuring the voices of:
Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric
Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric
Iemasa Kayumi/Kent Williams as Father
Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell
Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang
Unshou Ishizuka/Aaron Dismuke as Van Hohenheim
Ai Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mrs. Bradley
Akemi Okamura/Cynthia Cranz as Paninya
Anri Katsu/John Burgmeier as Dolcetto
Atsuki Tani as Berthold Hawkeye
Chika Fujimura/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska
J. Michael Tatum as Scar
Fumihiko Tachiki as Sloth
Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Risa (Riza) Hawkeye
Go Shinomiya as Storch
Kikuko Inoue/Laura Bailey as Lust
Wendy Powell as Envy
The Flame Alchemist’s rebel army pushes the forces of Central to the brink of collapse – until the enemy’s fallen leader returns to take control. As mortals and monsters wage war, young Edward and Alphonse Elric must face a cruel being with the unholy power of a god. After endless adventures and countless struggles, the boys find the fate of the world in their weary hands. When the Gateway closes and the circle is complete, who will be left alive to celebrate the astonishing sacrifices made?
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be! Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series! Highly recommended!
In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) has been a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa. The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 and was followed by a film to conclude the series.
The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.
Despite it’s popularity, the series could have gone on longer but because the anime series was created when the manga was only several years old, the anime series only lasted 51-episodes and there were differences between what the director featured on the anime series and what Arakawa had in the manga.
So, in 2009, a new series titled “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto) was created by BONES and this time around, the series would follow the manga much more closely. Currently there are over 60 episodes that have aired in Japan and the series is still ongoing. Also, unlike the previous anime series, this series would be created in HD (540p). The first 13 episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would feature its first 13-episodes covering the first 26-episodes from the original anime series but from that point on, the series becomes a whole new storyline which features more characters and for the most part, something new and different for the viewers, especially fans of the original series.
To make sure that there is a difference between this series aside from the storyline differences compared to the original, the staff is different this time around as well as the character designs. The director for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would be Yasuhiro Irie (who worked on RahXephon”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Macross Plus”, “Gunparade March”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Eureka Seven”, “Area 88, “Aquarion”, “RahXephon”, “RIN”, “Skullman”), music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”, “Silent Service”), character designs by Hiroki Kanno (“Angelic Layer”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ninja Scroll”, “RahXephon”) and art design by Takeshi Satou (“Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”).
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).
While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.
Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.
With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.
In part two of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, we learn that Bradley is a homunculus and that the homunculus may have infiltrated the State Military.
In part three, Ed and Al continue their search of how to get their bodies back but meanwhile, Scar tries to find out the truth of why the Ishvalans were massacred. Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves in the North needing Olivier’s help but can they divulge the information about Bradley, the Fuhrer is a homunculus? Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves teaming up with the people they have been against.
In part four of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and division in the State military have been drawn as information of Bradley being a homunculus is now known and a war between the rebellious members of the State Military led by Mustang take on the homunculus.
And here we are with the final volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”. It’s an explosive finale as we get to see Mustang vs. Envy, Scar vs. Bradley, Armstrong vs. Sloth and a whole slew of surprises that will definitely be quite exciting for the fans who have stuck with this series since the beginning.
Will Elric get Al’s body back? Will Elric get his limbs back? Will the military be able to defeat the Homunculus?
This is the way that Hiromu Arakawa had wanted “Fullmetal Alchemist” to be, how it was meant to end and what a thrilling conclusion right to the final episode!
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:
- Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time. In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”. He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military. Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
- Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor. Almost invulnerable and very strong. Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
- Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris. He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
- Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse. She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things. Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs). And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
- Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
- Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
- Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer. He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter. A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.
- King Bradley – The head of the State Military and King of Amestris who has a major secret.
- Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate. The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.
- Jean Havoc - One of Roy Mustang’s subordinates who is exceptionally trained in firearms.
- Lin Yao – A prince of Xing who is trying to find ways of immortality in order to prepare for his goal as Xing’s future emperor. An excellent swordsman.
- Lan Fan – Lin Yao’s bodyguard and a skilled fighter willing to protect her boss at all costs.
- May Chang – A young princess of Xing who goes to Amestris with her panda Xiao Mei. She has the power to heal and also manipulate energy.
- Olivier Mira Armstrong – The older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong who leads the Brigs Fortress and protects the country from Drachma. She is cold, distrusts people and inpatient. She believes in “Survival of the fittest”.
- Miles - A man who is quarter Ishvalan and wants to change the country’s perception towards Ishval.
- Buccaneer – A huge man who has two different pieces of automail (the latest type of automail which makes Winry so excited when she is around him).
The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side. They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.
- Father – The main antagonist who is the creator of all homunculi. For some reason, he looks like Hohenheim and has interest in Ed and Al.
- Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
- Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything. He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
- Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.
- Greed – A homunculi that craves money, women and worldy possessions. After being killed by Wrath, Lin Yao who is searching for immortality wants to become the new Greed.
- Sloth – A large muscular man who has great speed and strength for his size. He has been digging beneath Amestris and ends up inside the Briggs Fortress.
- Pride – A homunculus using the body of Selim Bradley, the adoptive son of King Bradley, He uses his shadows to kill.
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Part Five” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9 via a HD native source. It’s important to note that although the conversion was made to 1080p, I’ve read that the actual Japanese original masters were created in 540p. With that being said, this is a TV series and one can’t expect OVA or film quality but I manage to compare the DVD and Blu-ray version and the Blu-ray looks much more colorful, much more detailed and looked much better and more colorful than its DVD counterpart.
I did notice edge enhancement and I’m sure the conversion of a 540p source to 1080p possibly led to the jaggies that can be seen at times. Granted, I’m a bit picky when it comes to video quality but the fact that this is created by BONES (a busy anime production company) and the fact that this is not an OVA or film, for a TV series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” looks very good. Granted, it’s not uber-vibrant but there is a good amount of shading, detail, blacks are deep and overall, I felt the Blu-ray looked much better than its DVD counterpart.
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Part Five” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Overall, the 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds very good and there is a good amount of surround usage and its much more immersive than its Japanese lossless counterpart. There is quite a bit of action in this second volume, plenty of battles are featured and many episodes that utilize the surround channels.
The Japanese lossless soundtrack is still good, especially if you have a receiver in which you can change the setting to stereo on all channels. I do prefer the Japanese lossless soundtrack in terms of acting especially during the more emotional moments in this second volume (which there are many). But I’ve watched the series in both Japanese and English and for the most part, both are well done and similar to “Dragon Ball Z” and “One Piece”, the English dub has caught my attention and this time around, I was watching many of the episodes in English. But both voice acting are well done.
Subtitles are in English.
NOTE: You can not use your audio button to switch from Japanese to English and vice versa while watching the series. You will need to press your guide button to switch to another audio. Also, you can not optionally remove English subtitles unless you choose the English lossless soundtrack. So, for those who want to watch the series in Japanese with no English subtitles may be disappointed by this.
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Five” comes with the following special features:
- EPISODE 64 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and Maxi Whitehead (voice of Alfonse) and Vic Mignona (voice of Elric).
- Outtakes – (7:33) Outtakes by the English dub voice talents from the entire series (Note: there is profanity in the outtakes).
- Textless Opening and Closing Songs – The textless opening and two ending theme songs.
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.
The final episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is finally here.
And what an explosive final volume it turned out to be!
If there were two words that came to mind after watching “Part Five” it would be the words “Kick Ass”. Because there is a lot off butt-kicking in this series. You want to see Mustang go all out, oh..well, wait until you see the battle between Mustang vs. Envy. And you can learn how his anger has to be tempered but also getting to see that caring side that he has towards Risa.
Another butt-kicking moment was to see Armstrong vs. Sloth but also seeing who else comes to the rescue to battle Sloth. One of the coolest and also more hilarious moments of the series.
You get to see one of the coolest fighting moments in the series as Scar takes on Bradley. And of course, it doesn’t end there. Every character gets into the action and the battles are pretty significant, bloody but also…as mentioned, “Kick Ass”.
But most importantly, unlike the previous series, we do get a conclusion to what happens to Elric and Alfonse. And for me, this is how Hiromu Arakawa ended it, had wanted it and I would take this ending over the original series anyday. It was well-done, well-written and from beginning to end, I felt the series was much better executed.
As for the Blu-ray release, PQ and AQ is good and voice acting for both lossless soundtracks are well-done. This time around, I found myself more comfortable listening to the English dub track and this is coming from a guy who prefers to watch anime in Japanese most of the time. But both are well-acted and fans should not have a problem with either. As for the special features, we get an audio commentary with English voice talent Maxi Whitehead (Al) and Vic Mignona (Elric) to discuss their feeling of working on the series and how they felt about the series vs. the original version. And we also get a gag reel of all the outtakes during the making of the series. Plus the usual trailers and textless opening and ending themes.
I was able to compare the DVD and the Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and the artistic backgrounds and its details are much better looking on Blu, the colors are more cleaner, sharper and more colorful on Blu and for the most part, for a TV series, I’m quite content with the PQ. I felt the black levels were good and again, for a TV Series released in 2009, the picture quality is good not great (it’s not 1080p) and there is a hint of edge enhancement but it’s still pretty good. And in this part four, you also get two audio commentary as well.
Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” was fantastic from beginning to end. But this final part V pretty much validated for me that I preferred this version over the original. The story and battle sequences were intense but for the most part, I felt that “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” story-wise was very appealing, exciting and addictive.
I know there are some who are very hooked on the original that they didn’t want to try “Brotherhood” but I highly recommend giving this series a try since this series, an adaptation of the manga series that is very faithful to Arakawa’s work, unlike the previous series which creators had to come up with a different storyline because the manga was not completed at the time.
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be! Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series! Highly recommended!
Sakura-Con 2011 Report and Photography by Michelle Tymon
Sakura Con 2011 proved that the popularity of anime and Japanese culture are still very strong in the US and especially in Seattle. The attendance at the yearly convention grows every year and this year, it was no exception bringing in an amazing 19,040, over 1,000 more than last year’s number of 18,002. The weather also proved to be nice for most of the weekend, but because it is taking place in Seattle, there was still some rain.
However, that definitely didn’t stop anyone from going to the con. Anime fans could be seen walking up and down the streets of Seattle that weekend, rain or shine.
The guest lineup at this year’s Sakura Con was impressive as ever as they brought big names from both Japan and America. Guests this year included: Kotono Mitsuishi, Berryz Kobo, exist+trace, Daisuke Moriyama, Tony Oliver, Clarine Harp, Christopher Bevins, Tiffany Grant, Cynthia Cranz, Wendy Powell, Stephanie Sheh, and 6%DOKIDOKI.
For a complete listing for the 2011 guest lineup, http://www.sakuracon.org/programming/guests.php
Fans can come to Sakura Con to enjoy many activities involving manga/anime, video games, Japanese music, and Japanese tradition and culture.
For those interested in manga/anime, the convention offers panels, Q&A’s, autograph signings with industry guests, a huge exhibition hall where fans can buy all sorts of merchandise, Artist Alley where artists can show off their own art, and cosplay photoshoots.
Video game fans can enjoy 24 hour gaming rooms, video game tournaments, retro gaming, DDR and other arcade games, Microsoft playtest, and the Rock Band stage.
For fans of Japanese music, there are a few concerts during the weekend they can go to (this year it was the JRock band exist+trace and the JPop group Berryz Kobo) and people can enjoy open mic karaoke, karaoke contests, and various dances. As for those interested in Japanese culture, people can go play the game “Go”, watch various cultural and traditional demonstrations or get information through various organizations like the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle, the Japan America Society of the State of Washington, and the Hyogo Business and Cultural Center.
There are also various theaters at Sakura-Con including the AMV theater, anime theaters, and live-action theaters. They are not only a great way to watch great anime and movies, but also a great place to relax if you ever had free time in between events you wanted to go to and they are also open 24 hours.
For the past few years, Sakura-Con has been known to bring some amazing musical guests from Japan.
On Friday night, the JRock band exist+trace held a concert. exist+trace is a visual rock band consisting of all female members. At their concert, they showed that they could definitely hold their own and rock out even harder than their male colleagues. Despite some technical problems in the beginning, they still managed to rock the house and the crowd had a great time.
On Saturday night, the JPop group Berryz Kobo performed to a packed house and even brought some of their hardcore fans from Japan with them. They started out the concert talking about the earthquake and tsunami that had just devastated Northeastern Japan and kicked off the concert with a cover of the popular 1992 song “Ai wa Katsu” by Kan.
I happened to be sitting next to four fans from Japan who were jumping, cheering, shouting, and dancing through the whole show. While looking around the audience, I also spotted another older fan from Japan who was in one of the aisles dancing the choreography to each and every song they sang perfectly. The fans from Japan definitely made themselves known among the crowed but the American fans were also full of energy and enjoyed the show.
Every year at Sakura-Con they hold a charity auction. This year was no different, except this year the charity auction was for both the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as Peace Winds America, the latter to help out the relief efforts in Japan for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March of this year. Things that were auctioned off at both auctions were quite impressive this year.
Items included shikishi drawings done by artists attending Sakura-Con as well as other famous artists, huge Sakura-Con 2011 posters that were displayed at the various hotels, signed anime goods, anime cels, and many other items. The first two badges for next year’s convention were also auctioned off and went for about $2,000.
The package included badge #’s 1 & 2, a free hotel room for the whole weekend as well as advanced VIP seating for all the events.
During the Peace Winds America auction, very rare and amazing things were offered with the help of Kotono Mitsuishi and Run Sasaki.
Kotono Mitsuishi offered items from her own merchandise from her website; she had three bundles available which included a signed original t-shirt, cellphone charms and a handkerchief. Mitsuishi-san also managed to get other items signed by other cast members on shows she’s currently working on and auctioned them off.
One of the most amazing things that Run Sasaki auctioned off was a replica of the coat Luffy wore in the movie, “One Piece: Strong World”. Not only was the coat a one of a kind, Mayumi Tanaka (the seiyuu who does Luffy’s voice) wore it at last year’s Sakura-Con during her performance with Team Dreamcatchers and signed it as well.
One of the items that I highly regret not getting was a one of a kind “Anpanman” handkerchief. I am not the biggest “Anpanman” fan, but this handkerchief was not sold in stores and it was signed by the cast members. It being signed by Keiko Toda (the seiyuu who does “Anpanman” is also a famous actress in Japan who has done many dramas and movies) alone would make it worth quite a bit, but since it includes so many other signatures including Koichi Yamadera (another famous seiyuu whose credits include Ryoga from “Ranma 1/2″), it was priceless.
Other items included shirts signed by Ikue Ohtani (who does Pikachu’s voice in “Pokemon” and Chopper’s voice in “One Piece”) and other amazing goodies. Both charities raised thousands of dollars for wonderful causes.
As someone who has been going to the convention since 2004, I’ve seen this convention grow quite a bit.
Every year the convention would grow in attendance and bring in even more guests and the names got bigger every year. And because of the convention’s growth each year, there have been a few minor bumps in the road along the way but this year the staff did an outstanding job keeping everything running smoothly and their hard work was very apparent.
The staff members and volunteers put in countless amount of hours every year to bring such a big event to the growing number of fans every single year. One of the biggest improvements that I saw was in dealing with the lines for the autograph signings.
In past years of Sakura-Con, the autograph signings sometimes caused frustration because there would be only an hour and some guests were so big that the line of people that would show up would be too long and not everyone would be able to get an autograph because of the time constraints.
This year the lines were still insanely long for some guests but they were better organized and the lines moved smoothly. They also held two autograph sessions at once (the room that the signings were in as huge) most of the time and also held more than one autograph signing for a number of the big guests to help everyone who wanted an autograph to get one.
One of the biggest lines that I personally witnessed for Sakura-Con was the line for Kotono Mitsuishi on Saturday. There was a slight confusion with people lining up early for the session who were given bracelets to come back later (this year the convention made a rule where people were not supposed to line up earlier than 30 minutes before the signing) but even with that, everyone there was able to get an autograph.
Another bump in the road they managed to fix this year was the wait time for registration. Last year, registration took hours for some con goers but this year, registration was speedy.
The con goers I talked to mentioned that the time to get their badges this year only took minutes and every time I passed by the registration room, the lines were very short. That is an incredible feat considering the 19,040 con goers this year. Despite some frustration that may be caused, this convention really wouldn’t be possible without the staff and the volunteers.
This year they were able to show that past problems can be resolved so it really will be exciting to see what kinds of guests and events they bring us next year.
Big guests, amazing concerts, cosplaying and tons of fun events: Sakura-Con 2011 was amazing and anime fans can definitely look forward to Sakura-Con 2012.
For more pictures check out my flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28410146@N06/sets/72157626884064456/
Culture Japan Episode 6 Review: “Impressive rides with anime graphics (itasha) explored” (J!-ENT Straight-Up Reviews)
“Danny Choo’s passion for, and uncanny access to, Japanese pop culture is a big draw for me or anyone with even a slight interest in Japanese pop culture”
TITLE: Culture Japan Episode 6
TYPE OF SERIES: Japanese Pop Culture
MEDIUM: Streaming Video
“Culture Japan” is not only the name of the web show, it is also the name of the related website with a enormous following.
“Culture Japan” episode 6 caught my attention from the initial intro of the series.
The “Culture Japan” slogan is: “Your Portal to Japan”. Watching episode 6, I felt that I had stepped through that portal and had arrived in Japan. That portal is still open, as I have been very reluctant to cease watching the episodes in a non-stop fashion.
Danny Choo, the director and host of “Culture Japan”, has a list of accomplishment and success that strike me as very impressive. Here’s the rundown, Danny Choo resides in Tokyo and runs a small web and TV production company called Mirai Inc.
Danny Also works with Japanese companies such as figurine/doll manufacturers, anime/game producers, print publishers, e-commerce retailers to name a few.
Danny Choo resume also includes working as Computer Engineer at Japan Airlines, Website Manager on the management team at Amazon and as CGM Product Manager at Microsoft. Danny Choo also speaks Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and English.
The vision of Danny Choo for “Culture Japan” was to be a medium where he can share Japanese culture with the world. The show is currently broadcast on Saturday on Tokyo MX TV and broadcasted in Asia through the Animax Asia Network. Currently, Danny Choo is working to get it broadcasted on television in various countries but for now, people can watch it through live video streaming service, Crunchyroll.com.
A great portion of “Culture Japan” episode 6 covers the” Ita-G Festival 2010″.
The “Ita-G Festival” features cars (itasha), bicycles (itachari), motorcycles (itansha), and other transportation belonging to anime fans and otaku (fanatics).
I did mention that these vehicles belong to anime fans and otaku, right?
So, it is safe to assume that these vehicles had a special flare to them; the special flare being stickers, graphics, and memorabilia of their favorite anime series or characters which transforms them into itasha and so forth.
Danny Choo was also part of the festival with an itasha featuring his very own character: Murai Suenaga which is also available for purchase as a FIGMA action figure (and also other various Mirai Suenaga related merchandise).
Danny Choo’s passion for, and uncanny access to, Japanese pop culture is a big draw for me or anyone with even a slight interest in Japanese pop culture.
This episode was bursting with so much information and addicting coverage of the itasha culture; I immediately became engorged and addicted to this show at the same time. I am sure the episodes that follow will be chocked full of the same passion and access to the Japanese pop culture that I have quickly become enamored with.
Culture Japan covers different subjects each episode but there are reoccurring segments such as the AmiAmi sponsored figure countdown. This segment features Richard Wilson along with Danny Choo as they countdown the top ten anime and manga figures available.
After watching episode 6 of this Danny Choo Production, I would blindly recommend this show with great enthusiasm to otaku of all caliber. But not only otaku but to anyone who has even a passing interest in Japan pop culture. I honestly felt like I was watching a live version of “Newtype” magazine (a longtime, popular Japanese magazine that covers otaku culture from anime, manga, models, etc.).
While watching Crunchyroll.com, anyone can watch it for free but there will be continuous advertising that will self-interrupt the viewing for a minute and then return back to the show. Premium members subscribed to Crunchyroll.com will not have their viewing disrupted by ads.
I thought Danny Choo did an excellent job as the host of Culture Japan. I was impressed at how Choo conveyed his love and fiery passion for Japanese culture in episode 6 of “Culture Japan”. If you want to be in the know of itasha culture and enjoy following host Danny Choo as he brings Japanese pop culture to the world, I recommend to you episode 6 of “Culture Japan”.
Now if you want seconds and thirds and fourths… You get the picture. Spoil yourself by watching all the episodes available online. For now my portal to Japan will stay open.
The conclusion of “Kurokami the Animation” is here with the final sixth volume. Kuro, Keita and friends put up one final fight against the evil Masagami… who will survive and who will die? A fitting conclusion to this action anime series and also included is a bonus episode featuring the character Excel. Overall, “Kurokami the Animation” has become an entertaining, action-driven anime series from beginning to end. It’s worth checking out!
Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume Six
DURATION: EPISODES 21-24 (100 Minutes)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,
COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment
RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)
Release Date: May 22, 2011
Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park
Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi
Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida
Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park
Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura
Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara
Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura
Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise
Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta
Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada
Anime Production by Sunrise
Featuring the following voice talent:
Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki
Laura Bailey as Kuro
Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki
Crispin Freeman as Reishin
Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure
Eva Kaminsky as Nam
Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano
Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji
Marc Thompson as Hiyou
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo
Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni
Patrick Seitz as Steiner
Stephanie Sheh as Excel
With the truth behind Reishin’s actions finally revealed, Keita learns the horrible secret behind Kuro’s power. Now Kuro must face not only the evil power behind everything but also fight against her very own nature. With their true enemy finally revealed, the Tera Guardians muster all their strength to defeat their foe… even if it costs them everything.
The final sixth volume of “Kurokami” is here!
In this final volume featuring episodes 21-24, Kuro and Keita have made a commitment to put an end to the Doppeliner System that has caused everyone so much misery! But the biggest surprise was that her brother Reishin was never an enemy, he was protecting her from being sacrificed by their village. But now, the Masagami, red and white incarnations that are part of Kuro have incredible power and wants to form with Kuro in order to rule the world and destroy the galaxy.
It’s the final battle where everything is put on the line. Who will live and who will die?
“Kurokami the Animation” Back Story
For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Equilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.
This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.
The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.
“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.
One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.
Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.
The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.
One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.
In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractees can easily be killed and are not invincible.
For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro. Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.
In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance. Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction. Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.
As Kuro and Keita barely survive against their battle with Reishin, thanks to the help of Excel and Steiner, Kuro and Keita are able to escape. But unfortunately, in order for them to escape, Steiner sacrificed his life. Meanwhile, Kuraki and Raiga then take on Reishin to for the control of the Kaionji Group.
In volume four, this begins the second season of “Kurokami”. Kuro and Keita take on the powerful Shinra and both find a way to combine their life energy. Meanwhile, Akane is revealed to be a master root. Everyone in the world except Tera Guardians and contractee’s have collapsed for some unknown reason and the Pure Land has been created.
“Kurokami: The Animation” features the following characters:
- Keita Ibuki – When Keita was young, he met a woman that looked like his mother. The following day, his mother died. One day, while trying to defend a woman who was getting beaten by a Tera Guardian, he is severely injured in the heart area and before he was to die, Kuro saves his life by forming a contract with him. As long as the two are close together, he has the ability to heal Kuro and also develops his skill as a contractee.
- Kuro Shishigami - One of the last remaining members of the Shishigami clan and a Tera Guardian. She is after her brother Reishin Shishigami who murdered everyone in the clan (including their mother) except her. She now has formed a bond with Keita and together they take on other enemy Tera Guardians.
- Reishin Shishigami - The older brother of Kuro who was thought to be the evil enemy ends up being a brother trying to protect his younger sister.
- Akane Sano – A childhood friend of Keita, Akane is in love with him but has a hard time expressing it to him. She occasionally joins Keita and Kuro on their adventures.
- Punipuni - Kuro’s small doberman pup and is always hungry. He also seems to understand people when they talk to him.
- Excel - A veteran contractee who worked with the Tera Guardian named Steiner and later Mikami. She has the ability to create Hexagon shields.
- Yakumo – A Tera Guardian that survived the massacre and does all he can to protect Kuro. His contractee is Riona Kogure and both are often traveling with Kuro and Keita.
- Riona Kogure - A contractee of Yakumo. She escaped from the Kaionji group when she found out that she was going to be experimented on.
- Mikami Houjou – A powerful Tera Guardian from the Ginko clan. She once worked for the Kaionji group for medicine to give to her dying contractee. She later forms a contract with Excel.
- Nam – A Tera Guardian who has the sole job of not interfering but recording the history of the Tera Guardian. She is also very well-endowed, hungry and having discovered real food, begins to freeload at Keita’s home.
“Kurokami” vol. 6 features the episodes 21-24 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:
- EPISODE 21 – Deity – The fight against the Masagami. Who will live and who will die?
- EPISODE 22 – Destiny – The aftermath of the fight against Masagami… but was the Doppeliner System eliminated?
- EPISODE 23 – Path - The final episode. A recap story that ends with us knowing what happened to Kuro, Keita and Akane.
- BONUS EPISODE 24 – The Tigress and the Wing – The following is a bonus un-aired episode featuring a recap of Excel’s life and her becoming the contractee for Mikami Houjou.
“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).
Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.
As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.
“Kurokami the Animation vol. 6″ contains the following special features:
- Textless ending themes - Included are two textless ending themes for “Kurokami the Animation”.
- Bandai Entertainment Previews
With the last fifth volume of “Kurokami the Animation”, the action-packed volume and also the final reveal about Reishin was a surprise and now here we are with the continuation but also the final volume of the series. While the last volume was all about the action, this final sixth volume concludes the action with episode 22 with the final fight against the Masagami but also knowing what must be done to end the Doppeliner System.
In the end, “Kurokami the Animation” gives fans closure to how the series ends and what happens to the characters. The ending of episode 23, the final episode of “Kurokami”, was quite touching but also sad at the same time. But by watching the series from beginning to end, I felt it was the only conclusion that had to happen. Especially having to conclude the Kuro – Keita – Akane angle. The final episode, features a narrative of the three protagonists of the series and gives us insight in the minds of Kuro, Akane and also Keita and it was a fitting end to this series.
Also included on the Blu-ray release (and DVD) is the un-aired episode about Excel and gives us good insight about her and the relationship she had with Steiner but also how she became a contractee for Mikami.
Although listed as “episode 24″, this is not the final episode, this is an unaired bonus episode that was created but has no place in the pacing of the series as the director kept the focus on Kuro and Keita. But it was a good bonus episode to have on the Blu-ray release and to also let us know why she is so wise despite being a teen.
“Kurokami – The Animation” is an enjoyable anime series sporting cool characters, cool animation/background art and also fight sequences. The series had its share of dark moments but also its fair share of hilarious, fun and upbeat moments. But the storyline while focusing on action, actually has a clever storyline about doppelgangers, fortunately the diverse characters in this series have made “Kurokami” worth watching.
While I know there are anime fans who are put off by the fact that this is the only Bandai Entertainment release thus far that does not contain a Japanese soundtrack, fortunately the English dub is well-done. I do wish that the Blu-ray releases had more special features outside of the usual textless ending themes but in the end, the anime series throughout its entire run was entertaining and with each release, had me wanting more and more.
Overall, “Kurokami the Animation: Volume Six” was a fun and enjoyable action series from beginning to end! Was it the best anime series, definitely not. But would I watch it again? Most definitely.
If you have been curious about this anime series, “Kurokami the Animation” is a series that I can easily recommend!