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

November 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

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


TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 147 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: November 14, 2017


Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition by Toshiya Ono

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Kohta Yamamoto

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw


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

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

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


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

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

Meanwhile, the “Left Eye of the Impure King”, a demon relic was stolen from True Cross Academy.  And now someone is trying to steal the right eye…who among the Myoda sect are responsible?

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

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

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1” comes with the Japanese PV’s, trailers and textless opening and closing themes.

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

The series has developed quite well in terms of storyline pacing, animation, voice acting and just overall enjoyment and the second season is consistent.  There is a lot of action, humor and drama, especially as Rin is dragged into things and his anger tends to get the best of him.

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

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

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

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

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

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © Type Moon. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/Grand Order First Order

DURATION: 72 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 24, 2017


Original Concept by Kinoko Nasu

Directed by Hitoshi Nanba

Script: Ayumi Sekine

Music by Ryo Kawasaki

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

Art Director: Takuya Ebisawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiksuke Goto

Anime Production: Lay-Duce


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Griffin Burns as Ritsuka Fujimaru

Rie Takahashi/Erica Mendez as Mash Kyrielight

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Artoria Pendragon (Alter)

Ayako Kawasumi as Fou

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Emiya

Kenichi Suzumura/Xander Mobius as Romani Archaman

Madoka Yonezawa/Kira Buckland as Olga Marie Animusphere

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Cú Chulainn

Tomokazu Sugita/Jalen K. Cassell as Lev Lainur

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Medusa


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

November 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

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

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


TITLE: www.wagnaria!! Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episode 8-13 (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 17, 2017


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Mayuko Nakano

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Nakano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Hana Miyakoshi

Yūichi Nakamura as Daisuke Higashida

Ari Ozawa as Rui Nagata

Aya Hisakawa as Sachiko Higashida

Hideyuki Umezu as Saint Valentine

Hiro Shimono as Takuya Kōno

Kensho Ono as Yūta Shindō

Kouki Uchiyama as Masahiro Adachi

Kousuke Toriumi as Kenichirō Sakaki

Mie Sonozaki as Yōko Miyakoshi

Momo Asakura as Miri Yanagiba

Momoko Saito as Sakiko Higashida

Nana Mizuki as Kisaki Kondō


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase from RightStuf

 

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

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-6 (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Originally Created by Chiyomaru Shikura

Original Character Design by pako

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition: Junpei Morita

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design: Tomoaki Takase

Art Director: Hisayo Usui

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Faye Mata as Ryoka Narusawa

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Scott Kimerer as Yūta Gamon

Hitomi Yoshida/Kayli Mills as Miyū Aikawa

Houchu Ohtsuka as Takasu

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Draymond as Sarai Hashigami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Ben Diskin as Kōhei Izumi

Kishō Taniyama as Kiryū Kusakabe

Mamiko Noto/Michelle Ruff as Ririka Nishizono

Maria Naganawa/Xanthe Huynh as Chizu Kawabata

Miyuki Sawashiro as Aria Kurenaino

Satomi Akesaka as Asuna Kizaki

Shizuka Itou as Tōko Sumikaze

Tetsuya Kakihara as Shun Moritsuka


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/GURREN LAGANN-MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)


Gurren Lagann returns in a complete TV series and 2 movies in Blu-ray box set. One of the most cherished animation titles lives in your memory forever!

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….

In the distant future, mankind has lived restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!


It’s considered one of the best mecha anime series ever created.  And now “Gurren Lagann” is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary and what best to celebrate the anime series than by re-releasing the series but also the two animated films on one complete Blu-ray set available courtesy of Aniplex USA!

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with “GURREN LAGANN”, the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.

The popular anime titled “Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann” aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it’s 27-episodes by Sept. 2007 and centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around.

But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. T

he plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans.

The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually comandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.

  1. Episode 1 – Bust through the Heavens with your Drill! – The main episodes that introduces us to Simon, Kamina and Yoko. The three join forces to take on the monster gunmen.
  2. Episode 2 – I Said I’m Gonna Pilot That Thing!! – With Simon having his own robot and more Gunmen showing up to fight, Kamina decides to get a gunmen mecha all for himself which he names “Gurren”. But they get some support from the people of Yoko’s village and the village’s top mechanic, Leeron (a savvy and intelligent mechanic but who happens to be gay and not afraid to flirt with Kamina and Simon). But with Kamina and Simon now having their own mecha’s, they name their team “Gurren Lagann”.
  3. Episode 3 – Who Do You Think You Are, Having Two Faces? – With the defeat of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, Simon, Kamina and Yoko go to hunt for some food but while Kamina retrieves some food, he runs into a Beastman named Viral. A savage warrior who becomes the major rival for Kamina.
  4. Episode 4 – Having Lots of Faces Doesn’t Make You Great! – After the battle with Viral, Simon, Kamina, Yoko and Leeron decide to destroy the Beastmen’s base. By eliminating it, the group might have that peace that they wanted. But while looking for food, the group run into another group known as the Black Siblings…friend or foe?
  5. Episode 5 – I Don’t Get It, Not One Bit! – As the group continues on their travels, they end up in another underground village and brought their by a teen named Rosiu. But in this village, they have their own strict religion and strict rules in which they can only keep their population at 50 people or less. Well, things change when a couple has a set of triplets, thus going over the 50-person mark. So, each person must draw a stick and whoever has a colored stick must leave the village and create a new life up in the surface.
  6. Episode 6 – There are Some Things I Just Have to See! – There are two versions of episode 6.  The unedited version and the OA version which is part of the special features.  For the unedited version, the group really smell bad and it seems they met some luck as they are invited to the hot springs with food galore!  The group run into their friends, the three women of the Black Siblings and as the group relaxes in the hot springs, both Kamina and Simon can’t stand hearing the women talk about their breasts.  Being the horny guys that they are, both men do what they can do get a peek of the ladies nude.  But awaiting them is some trouble as well courtesy of the Beastmen.
  7. Episode 7  – You’re Gonna Do It! – With the defeat of the Beastmen, Viral makes his return but this time, one of the four leaders who pilots a giant Gunmen fortress.  While Gurren Lagan tries to fight them, they are joined by some old friends who have followed Kamina’s lead and stolen some gunmen for themselves.
  8. Episode 8 – Later, Buddy – With Simon’s quick thinking in the last episode, the group manages to get the Gunmen fortress to be trapped.  But Kamina wants to take control of the fortress in order to protect everyone and this time have a super combination to create Dai Gurren Lagann.  So, one major battle in order to take the Beastmen leader’s mega fortress.   But while Simon starts to think about Yoko and tell her his feelings for her, he sees both Kamina and Yoko kissing.  So, as they go into battle, Kamina depends on Simon to have Lagann penetrate the fortress but because his emotions all out of whack due to seeing the kiss, it’s going to cost someone’s life.
  9. Episode 9 – What, Exactly, Is a Human? – With the events of the last episode, everyone is in mourning.  Meanwhile, a new character named Nia is introduced.  Who is she and why is she so curious about humans?
  10. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? – The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  11. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  12. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  13. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  14. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.
  15. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  16. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  17. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiue and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20’s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  18. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.
  19. Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary – The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  20. Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  21. Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  22. Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  23. Episode 23 Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone, decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?
  24. Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  25. Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  26. Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  27. Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

As for the films…

In 2008, GAINAX immediately went to work on two animated films that would capture both storyline arcs in “Gurren Lagann The Movie ~Childhood’s End” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky are Stars”.

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” is a compilation of series of events that took place in the first 16 episodes of the popular 2007 animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, while “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” features the final eleven episodes from the TV series.

The series centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group find a way to combine their own two mechs and thus Kamina and Simon form Gurren Lagann, which is also the name of the team that will fight for humanity against the Spiral King and their minions.

Throughout the film, we see how both Kamina, Simon along with Yoko leave the underground city and take on various gunmen and together with savvy, intelligent and flamboyant mechanic Leeron, along with other humans they meet along the way, one by one, Team Gurren Lagann take on the Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals: Viral, Adiane, Guame and Cytomander. And along the way, they meet with a mysterious girl named Nia and leading up to the final battle against the Spiral King.


VIDEO:

“Gurren Lagann” the series finally gets its release on Blu-ray! The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.

With the series remastered in HD, the clarity of the series is much more evident, colors are much more vibrant and overall animation is much more sharper. “Gurren Lagann” looks fantastic in HD!

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” are presented in 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080p).

The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different when comparing it to other anime series/films. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool. The artist backgrounds to the animation, explosions, character designs, mecha designs and the planning that went in to this series was quite amazing and it looks great in the film. You will noticed even more detailed artistic backgrounds and animation with the additional new footage added to the film.

Vibrant, colorful and awesome looking! Of course, with that being said, it would definitely be a plus if this film was released on Blu-ray, but since it’s on DVD, you will see edge enhancement at times. But for the most part, “Gurren Lagann” was one of the rare anime series that was unique in presentation and Gainax definitely put a lot of time and effort into the creation of this TV series and it’s so awesome to finally watch this series in HD on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Gurren Lagann” is presented in both English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

I’ve watched both episodes in Japanese and English and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, it’s great to finally listen to the audio in lossless Linear PCM Stereo. With that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have quality voice talent with Kyle Herbert as Kamina (does the voice of Son Goku in “Dragon Ball Z”), Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for “Bleach”) and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for “Naruto”) involved. So, whether you listen to the soundtrack in Japanese or English, both are well-done!

As for audio for “Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- ”, both are presented Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

Audio is well done as we can hear the dialogue and special effects and music quite clearly through the center and front channels but also hear the various sound effects coming from the surround channels as well.  Overall, a pretty awesome mix and audio is crystal clear in lossless HD.

While the English dub is featured in the TV series DVD release by Bandai Entertainment, there is no English dub featured for both films from Aniplex.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless opening and ending – For those who love the cool music of opening theme “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme “Underground” by High Voltage.
  • OA Version of episode 6 –  With this episode being quite a bit sexual as Kamina and Simon try to get a peek at the women without their clothes on in the hot tubs, this version that aired on the Sci Fi Channel features more of a flashback episode and edited with less focus on the horniness of Kamina and Simon and more about them working together as a team.

EXTRAS:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with a slipcase featuring illustration by You Yoshinari (Mechanical Design).


I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and perverseness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”. I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!

The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn’t plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment. He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!

As for Simon, he is simply the underdog. He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.

Yoko, her character is sexy and cool. Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes. Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.

And of course, you have a group of other characters that are starting to come their own and as we become supportive human characters, you take special notice of their mecha (Gunmen). They have a sort of character themselves because they are an extension of the people that pilot them but the amount of power demonstrated by them and what is unknown about the gunmen they pilot is just amazing.

And of course, this anime series is action-packed. In fact, there is a good balance of humor and action and each episode keeps your eyes glued to your television set and when it’s all done, it leaves you craving for more.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant and sharpness of the overall animation is much more evident in this HD version versus compared to the Bandai Visual releases from several years ago. Painted backgrounds feature much more detail and the overall animation looks magnificent in HD! Also, the lossless soundtrack is in Japanese/English Linear PCM Stereo, thus the soundtrack sounding much more crisp and clear.

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!”

As for the films, you’re essentially getting parts of the the series including new animation included on each of the two films to form an abridged storyline.

This is quite common in Japan to see a popular TV series and OVA series created into an animated film and the fans look at it as an extra and additional extension to the TV series, others look at it as a less time consuming way to learn about the story of a popular series in two hours versus watching 8 hours of a series.

When it comes to films like this, I’m not a big fan of them because you are losing out important details of the storyline. This first “Gurren Lagann” film is only 112 minutes and the first 16-episodes is 320 minutes of content while the second film features the final eleven episodes and trying to condense around 230 minutes or so of footage into 126 minutes. Naturally, you are missing out on other plots, especially character development driven storylines but the creators did do a good job in focusing on the essentials for the film. Personally, I recommend watching the entire TV series because this is one series that is too good to just watch the film and not knowing the true storyline of how things developed in the series.

But by no means are the films bad. They are well-done, well-edited and for the most part, a lot of thought went into how to present the complete series into two films. And while this is common in Japan for popular series, at least GAINAX went through the effort of adding new animation to the two films.

What I do like about these films and these two releases are how they are geared to the hardcore fans of the TV series. And one thing that I have wanted to see is a Blu-ray release because this series is so gorgeous, it deserved to be featured in HD on Blu-ray with a lossless soundtrack.

But if there is one major caveat if you compare the 2014 Blu-ray set vs. the Aniplex DVD set released in 2010, all of the special features and extras that came with the DVD set are not included. So, for collector’s purposes, it’s unfortunate that only the older 2010 DVD release came with the postcards and “Parallel Works” special features.

So, I approach this release in two different ways. As a fan of the series, I recommend watching and owning the original series because that is how this series was meant to be seen. I will say that on its own, it’s still a pretty good film but because they skip over many scenes, it’s quite noticeable to the fan of the series. Otherwise, if you have never seen the series, I’m sure this film would definitely be entertaining but at the same time, hopefully it inspires the viewer to go out and watch the complete series.

But the big question many people may want to ask if the set is worth owning.  And for those who own the previous Blu-ray releases, is there anything new with this set?

Well, if you own the previous Aniplex Blu-ray releases, then the answer is no.  This set is mainly for those who want to upgrade their DVD sets to HD or for hardcore fans who want to own everything “Gurrenn Lagann”.

But for those who owned the “Gurren Lagann TV Series Limited Edition” set from 2013, the special features such as the Yoko goes to GAINAX, the GAINAX Interview, Sangizen 3D Test Footage, Shokotan Interview are NOT included on this Blu-ray set.  Nor are the deluxe illustration booklets or the postcards, poster or stickers included with this set as well.

And if you own the older 2009 Limited Edition DVD releases that came with a manga and the TV series CD soundtrack, this Blu-ray set does not come with either.

But to be fair, you get better picture and audio quality, you get both films included on this set.  So, for those who want the better picture and audio quality will surely want to own the Blu-ray releases.  But for hardcore fans, if you own the previously released limited edition DVD sets, I would hold on to them for the special features and extra swag.

Overall, “Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

1

www.wagnaria!! Volume 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series. Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

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


TITLE: www.wagnaria!! Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 18, 2017


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Mayuko Nakano

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Nakano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Hana Miyakoshi

Yūichi Nakamura as Daisuke Higashida

Ari Ozawa as Rui Nagata

Aya Hisakawa as Sachiko Higashida

Hideyuki Umezu as Saint Valentine

Hiro Shimono as Takuya Kōno

Kensho Ono as Yūta Shindō

Kouki Uchiyama as Masahiro Adachi

Kousuke Toriumi as Kenichirō Sakaki

Mie Sonozaki as Yōko Miyakoshi

Momo Asakura as Miri Yanagiba

Momoko Saito as Sakiko Higashida

Nana Mizuki as Kisaki Kondō


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


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

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

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

The first volume will feature the first seven episodes of the 13-episode series.

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

www.wagnaria!!” vol. 1 comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, “www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series.  Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance! 

Purchase from Right-Stuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (or 26-50 if both seasons include) (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun

 


Equipped with a charm to mask his powers as a Magi, Aladdin arrives to Magnoshutatt to study magic, with another goal—to investigate the nation’s relation with the Al-Tharmen, the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World.”

While training at the academy, Aladdin meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from the Leam Empire, who also has the same charm as Aladdin’s


With the success of conquering a dungeon, Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu Ren know that they must each embark on a new journey alone.

Aladdin must train to become a stronger magi, Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators, Morgiana heads to her homeland of Katarg and Hakuryu makes his return to the Kou Empire as a different man.

Will each of them learning anything from their training?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set”.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series (for both “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”).

And now both seasons will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”.  He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius.  But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.

Also, Aladdin continues his training at the Academy but the Academy’s Director has his own plans of what he is expecting from the magician’s and that is all out war against non-magicians.


VIDEO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu for the first half.

But the storyline for the second half focuses on Aladdin and his year-long training at a magician’s academy, growing in power, learning about magic but also preparing for a major war in the Kou Empire as true evil has descended in the land.

As episodes 13-16 focuses on Aladdin’s training, by episode 17, war begins as what begins as a major battle between nations, grows to a major battle against a monster that drains all White Rukh.

But what I enjoyed about this second half of season two is the focus on Aladdin and seeing him grow. He’s come such a long way since we first saw him and now he’s taller, he’s braver and he’s starting to get a better grasp of what is important to him but also what he wants to fight against.

I know my summary is quite vague but in truth, I really don’t want to spoil or even mentioned in the second half, who appears because the battles are intense and the storyline is quite appealing that it no doubt sets up for even more stories in the future. Expect to see a few surprises, especially for the viewer who have followed the series for so long. And especially in the final minutes of episode 5, which I never saw coming!

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer. Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster are not included. But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD! So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag? If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2015 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance!

Purchase from Right-Stuf

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor! Definitely recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


Alibaba is a young carrier who dreams of venturing into a “Dungeon,” where secret treasures lie deep within its labyrinth, to gain enough money to buy an entire country.

One day, Alibaba meets a mysterious boy named Aladdin, who can summon a mighty blue spirit from his flute. Hoping to harness Aladdin’s magical power, Alibaba invites him on his dungeon-capturing expedition.

Along the way, through numerous encounters and farewells, both of them will come to learn the truth about their destinies.


When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role.  But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college.   And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series.

Having been released on DVD by Aniplex, for the first time the entire season will be collected in a Blu-ray set and will be released in June 2017.

“Magi” begins with a young Aladdin being given one wish.

We then see Alibaba, a thief who is working for a slave master who has been trying to find a dungeon for treasure. Everyone thinks that Alibaba is searching for something that doesn’t exist. But when he starts loading up a caravan with fruit, he catches a boy (Aladdin) eating all the watermelon.

Alibaba gets in trouble but as Aladdin follows Alibaba, Alibaba talks about dungeons that appeared 14 years ago and and Alibaba explains if one can capture one, there is a genuine magi wandering around and will grant magical power to someone. And Alibaba is in search of the magical vessel.

The following day, Aladdin bumps into a slave (Morgiana). When Aladdin wonders why her legs are chained, Alibaba tries to explain to Aladdin of what a slave is. So, not wanting to see Morgiana chained, Aladdin frees her by blowing into his flute and shattering the steel chain.

But not long after, one of the slave masters start pushing and stepping all over Morgiana, Aladdin tells the man to stop and the man threatens to execute Aladdin.

Aladdin then blows into the flute, massive arms come out of the flute. Ugo is a Djinn, spirits that appear in myth and not many people thought it was a real thing, but we learn through a flashback that Aladdin was given three wishes in which he could have fortune, fame and eternal life. But instead, he just wanted one wish and that is for Ugo to be his friend. And since then, the two have been together.

Ugo has a massive body without a head. As Aladdin goes on trips with various people, we learn that Aladdin must be well fed and have had a lot to drink in order to use Ugo, but also Ugo is shy if a girl touches him.

And as Alibaba finds out that Aladdin has a Djinn vessel, he decides to use Aladdin to use and partner with him in order to find a dungeon. Alibaba’s wish is to be rich and find treasure inside buildings that have shown up all over the world. And treasures with wonderful powers are the most valuable, the one that Alibaba seeks is the Djinn’s metal vessel.

But as Alibaba sees using Aladdin as important in his plans as Aladdin’s use of Ugo can help protect them while they visit the dungeons to find treasure, but he also realizes that for Aladdin, his main thing that makes him happy is having a friendship. For Alibaba, for now, he’ll play the role of being a friend in order to find treasure and obtain a Djinn metal vessel.

As Alibaba along with Aladdin look for the treasure inside a dungeon, not far behind them is the tyrant slave owner named Lord Jamil along with two slaves, including Morgiana.

Meanwhile, nearby is another person similar to Aladdin, clad in black and evil, a magi named Judar has decided to cause trouble for Aladdin and friends?  But what happens when Aladdin goes all out in his battle against Judar?

Meanwhile, an even greater threat arrives as Aladdin and friends must take on Dark Djinn’s, while Sinbad must protect the country against Al-Thamen and his forces.

The main characters of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” are:

    • Aladdin – A young magi who doesn’t know too much about himself or the outside world. But he’s kind and goodhearted and wants to protect the people he cares about. When he blows into a flute, a headless blue giant named Ugo comes out.
    • Alibaba – A thief who appears to have a mysterious background that befriends Aladdin.
    • Morgania – A slave who comes from a country of people known for their superior leg strength and speed. She is the slave of the tyrant, Lord Jamil.
    • Amon – A djinn with fire elemental powers contained in Alibaba’s training sword.
    • Sinbad – The King of Sindria and leader of the Alliance of the Seven Seas.  He has sailed the seven seas and captured seven dungeons and is a master of seven djinn.
    • Masrur – A Fanalis who works for Sinbad and trains Morgiana in hand to hand combat.
    • Ja’far – A former assassin who becomes loyal to Sinbad.
    • Hakuryuu Ren – The fourth prince in the Kou Empire who becomes an ally of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgianna.
    • Judar – An evil Magi working for Al-Thamen.  Raised by Al-Thamen after the organization killed his parents.

VIDEO:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo.  Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


Hilarious, fun and a little naughty, Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” has turned out to be a pretty enjoyable series.

The main protagonist Aladdin is rather interesting because he has an appearance of a little boy who possesses a flute that houses a headless giant named Ugo. But there are quirks with Alibaba, for one, he’s often hungry and thirsty, which helps with activating Ugo. He’s also somewhat of a pervert as he is often wanting to rub his head on a woman’s breast.

But most importantly, it’s his strong desire to find and have friends which makes him a bit naive when people pretend to be his friend but they have ulterior motives.

One of these friends that he does make is Alibaba, a boy who is in severe debt and people who owe debts, end up being slaves for a wealthy owner (most often a tyrant). He desires wealth but most of all a Djinn, similar to Aladdin and hopes that with partnering with him, he can obtain treasure and a Djinn.

Also, adding interest to the overall storyline is the fact that everything takes place in the desert where bandits have ruled the land and many people have been killed or have become slaves. The only way to survive is by being a merchant and as a merchant, you are constantly under the threat of your merchandise being stolen by bandits and being killed. So, the storyline is set during a dangerous time where buildings have shown up all over the land and inside are treasures. But for those who have tried, all have not come back from their search.

But with the power of Ugo, Alibaba is betting that having Aladdin on his side, their chances of finding treasure and a Djinn is great.

The first quarter of the series features on developing the three characters of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana and to showcase their backgrounds but also how the three became friends.

The middle part of the first season goes into Aladdin and Alibaba being separated but both going through trying experiences but learning about the outside world within the six months they were separated.

And the final part of the series, introduces us to a more deeper storyline involving all three but also introducing us to Sinbad and establishing the true antagonists of the series, especially the taller, dark version similar to Aladdin, an evil magi named Judar.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. As episode 1 alone has a bit of nudity and showcases Aladdin’s attraction to big breasts. Another episode has nudity as well, but there is also violence, for example, you will see one scene in which the tyrant Lord Jamil is seen stabbing one of his slaves repetitively with a sword.

As for differences between the manga and anime series, the anime series almost focuses on the manga completely with the exception of Aladdin’s introduction at the Oasis of Utan, in which Aladdin tags along with merchants Laylah and Sahsa, the daughter of a caravan leader (featured in the opening chapters of the first volume of the manga series). The two are introduced later in the series but are not featured in episode 1.

But for the most part, the anime series does not stray too far from Shinobu Ohtaka’s manga series.

As the first half of Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” was lighthearted, full of humor and entertaining. The second half of the series has become much more deeper, serious and action-packed and Alibaba must make difficult decisions, Aladdin faces his greatest foe yet and Morgiana does all she can to become more powerful but to what expense?

In the first half, we watched as Aladdin was dependent on a headless giant named Ugo, but with Ugo gone after a major battle with the evil Judar, what will happen to Aladdin?

Also, a major difference between the first half of the series and the second half, is the inclusion of more characters. Sinbad plays much more of a role as Al-Thamen declares war on Sindria and Sinbad and forces must do all they can to fight against Al-Thamen and the Dark Djinn.

With the conclusion to season one featuring a battle with someone they know quite well.

But for the most part, this second half for season one is a whole different vibe than the first. While you do get the perverted humor for a brief moment, the series is primarily action non-stop with so many dire situations involving Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana.

While the trio meet new friends and allies, there is also a lot of heartbreak as both Aladdin and Alibaba lose something special in their lives. So, one can expect a deep, action-packed storyline for episodes 13-25.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. There is quite a bit of violence, maybe not as bloody as some of the episodes of the first half, but there is quite a bit of fighting violence.

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer.  Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the collectable foil stamped postcards and deluxe booklets are not included.  But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD!  So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag?  If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2014 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor!  Definitely recommended!

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Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc)

May 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you thought “Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu” was great, “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” is fantastic! Action-packed, great character development and wonderful animation and artistic backgrounds. It’s absolutely a must-own Blu-ray release for fans of the “Monogatari” series! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © NISIOISIN/KODANSHA, ANIPLEX, SHAFT. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu

FILM YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 68 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 16+

Release Date: May 9, 2017


Chief Director: Akiyuki Shimbo

Directed by Tatsuya Oishi

Storyboard by Tatsuya Oishi

Music by Satoru Kousaki

Originally Created by NisiOisin

Character Design by Akio Watanabe, Hideyuki Morioka

Art Director: Hisaharu Iijima

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya as Koyomi Araragi

Maaya Sakamoto as Shinobu Oshino

Yui Horie as Tsubasa Hanekawa

Takahiro Sakurai as Meme Oshino


PART 2: NEKKETSU STORY

Koyomi Araragi was turned into a vampire by the legendary vampire, Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, and he needs to revive the weakened vampire back to her complete form to return to being human again. The only way for Koyomi to achieve his goal is to fight the three vampire hunters – Dramaturgy, Episode and Guillotinecutter.


In 2005, a light novel titled “Bakemonogatari” was written by Nisio Isin and featured the illustrations by Vofan.

For Isin, he is known for his “Zaregoto” novel series (2002-2005) which led to series such as “Ningen” and “Sekai”published by Kodansha. By 2006, Isin would begin working on the “Bakemonogatari” series which is based on short stories published in “Mephisto Magazine”.

The first story featured a first volume with three stories “Hitagi Crab”, “Mayoi Snail”, “Suruguta Monkey” and a second volume with two “Nadeko Snake” and “Tsubasa Cat”.

“Bakemonogatari” focused on a third year high school student named Koyomi Araragi. A perverted teenager with a loli complex who doesn’t do well in school. One day, Koyomi was attacked by a vampire named Shinobu Oshino, a 500-year-old vampire who once was a vicious, beautiful vampire but now has the appearance of an eight-year old girl.

Koyomi turned into a vampire but thanks to Meme Oshino (an expert in the apparitions field), he was able to become human again but still has several side effects including seeing in the dark, his eyes turning red when incredibly angry, amazing healing power and strength.

While his parents are away, Koyomi helps raise his two young sisters, Karen (the middle child who is taller than Koyomi and likes to take part in martial arts and outdoor activities) and his little sister Tsukihi, who is the opposite of Karen and rather do indoor activities but also prefers wearing a yukata (Japanese traditional outfit).

With this new power of Koyomi, in “Bakemonogatari”, he had to help characters with apparitions.

A prequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Koyomi Vamp” which focused on Shinobu Oshino and her role as a vampire before attacking Koyomi and a separate volume known as “Kizumonogatari” was published in Pandora Magazine in 2008.

In 2009, “Bakemonogatari” was adapted into an anime series.

The sequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Nisemonogatari” which was released in 2008 and adapted to an anime series in 2012.

And while the series focused on the character of Koyomi, other series and episode arcs would focus on other characters in the “Monogatari” series.

In 2014, a five episode arc was released titled “Hanamonogatari” which focuses on the character Suruga Kanbaru.

And in October through November 2015, the Owarimonogatari novels received an anime adaptation which aired on Japanese television.

Which now leads us to the three-part film series known as “Kizumonogatari”.  The films would serve as a prequel to “Bakemonogatari” and “Nekomonogatari Kuro” and features an adaptation of the Koyomi Vamp arc.

The first film known as “Tekketsu” would feature Naoetsu Private High School loner Koyomi Araragi and how he would meet the character Tsubasa Hanekawa for the very first time.  But also how Koyomi encountered the vampire Kiss-shot-Acerola-orin Heart-under-blade and how he was turned into a vampire and how he badly wants to be a human again.

With the second film “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu”, after learning in the first film of the sacrifice that Koyomi had taken to save the vampire Kiss-shot-Acerola-orin Heart-under-blade and that was by offering his blood, he becomes a vampire subordinate.

Now he has been given the task to retrieve Kiss-shot’s missing limbs that vampire hunters have taken.  But knowing the danger he’s in, as much as he loves to have Tsubasa Hanakawa near him.  He knows he can’t put her in danger, so he tries to do all he can to upset her, to drive her away.  But she is unwilling.  She wants to be by Koyomi’s side.

And now he must take on the most powerful vampire hunters such as the gigantic vampire known as Dramaturgy and the vampire-human half-breed known as Episode who has Kiss-shot’s legs and the most deadly hunter, the fully human priest known as Guillotine Cutter who has her arms.

But this is an extreme battle in which Koyomi will find himself in the most violent, bloodiest and no doubt highly risky situation he has ever been in, in his entire life.

Will he be successful?


VIDEO:

“Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the overall animation for the film is much different compared to the TV series. The film uses a lot of pinkish colors with an emphasis on brown, red and white. Also, a heavy use of 3D CGI backgrounds and real-life photos versus the abstract, 2D backgrounds as shown in the TV series.

But as one can expect from a film, bigger budget, vibrant colors and a different style, it’s no doubt refreshing visual look especially for some of the primary characters that we have seen in the “Monogatari” TV series.

“Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” is presented in uncompressed Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is crisp and clear and being a film, while the TV series is front-channel driven, the film makes great use of music and also sound effects ala ambiance through the surround channels. Also, the musical soundtrack is also crystal clear!

It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs with this Blu-ray set.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” comes the following special features:

  • PV – Japanese Promotional Video
  • CM – Japanese Commercials

EXTRAS:

“Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” comes with a 46-minute, 28-track original soundtrack, a slip case package illustrated by Akio Watanabe, a 40-page deluxe booklet and a six pinup postcard set.


As a faithful watcher and reviewer of the “Monogatari” anime series, after watching the first film “Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu”, I felt the film was refreshing, captivating and quite enjoyable to watch.  Now having watched “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu”, I can easily say that this is the best Monogatari storyline I have watched yet!

The television series and the last film, they always have had an artsy, artistic visual side that I absolutely loved but a pretty unique style of story presentation that watching it once is not enough, you’ll probably discover new things if you watch each episode a few times.

But as the TV series featured a lot of comedy and the visual art made the series vibrant and unique, the films have been more on the darker, edgier side of a monogatari storyline.

This prequel allows us to understand the sacrifices that Koyomi has made to save Kiss-Shot but also the deadly sacrifices he will undertake in the second film to get her legs and arms back to make her whole and as an adult once again.

But with the first film, Koyomi sacrificed his humanity to save Kiss-Shot, but in part two, he has to make a major decision if he’s willing to lose his humanity in order to save someone he cares about.

A more action-driven storyline, what I enjoyed about “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” is that not only is the action well-done, but the visual presentation, the artwork to show motion, there was a lot of attention paid to making things look fluid and sometimes life-like.  The artwork is magnificent and I was blown away of how well-balanced the story and art was but how captivating the storyline was that really drew me in and couldn’t stop watching.  This second film was that good!

The second film also builds upon the friendship between Koyomi and Tsubasa and it’s great to see how close these two were earlier on but how different she was compared to what transpires with her character in “Nekomonogatari” and also as seen in the books.  Nevertheless, great character dynamics and how these two characters were developed in this film.

And with this being a film, there is a visual style that was refreshing to see and how it differs from the TV series. From character design, animation, the use of colors and 3D CG, the film looks great on HD!

It is important to note that “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu”, like the first film, is violent and bloody, so you don’t want to show this animated film to young children.

As for the lossless soundtrack, also a major difference is you get a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack in Japanese 5.1 and 2.0. No English dub was included for this Blu-ray release.

And while special features are the usual CM and PV’s, you also get the second original soundtrack on CD and also a 40-page booklet and a six postcard set.  Along with a package illustrated by character designer, Akio Watanabe.

Because this is the beginning of Koyomi’s storyline and a prequel to the monogatari TV series, once can easily jump into this film and start with the “Kizumonogatari”  films.  watch and see how Koyomi met key people like Kiss-Shot and Tsubasa Hanakawa and then watch the anime series from it “Bakamonogatari” up to “Owarimonogatari”. The visual style is a bit different from the film, as one can expect from a bigger budget film vs. a TV series. But because the series is always creative, vibrant and unique, the film exhibits creativity, different uses of color and a different presentation that fans will probably enjoy, especially for its refreshing visual presentation and its use of pinks, red and whites.

Overall, if you thought “Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu” was great, “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” is fantastic!

Action-packed, great character development and wonderful animation and artistic backgrounds.  It’s absolutely a must-own Blu-ray release for fans of the “Monogatari” series!

Recommended!

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The fourth volume of “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as we get two different types of episode arcs, one full of action as Ayato and Julis make it into the finals of the Phoenix Festa, Saya and Kirin must save Flora from her kidnappers and the final episodes featuring Ayato, Julis and friends visiting Julis’ home country, Lieseltania and more trouble stands in their way. If you have commited yourself to watching this series, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2017 FlyingDog, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 19-24) 150 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: February 21, 2017


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

Ayana Taketatsu/Cherami Leigh as Pham Thi Tram (Fan Xinglou)

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


Based on the hit light novel by Yuu Miyazaki and directed by Manabu Ono (The irregular at magic high school), the Phoenix Festa is reaching its final climax!

During the search for Flora, Ayato runs into a mysterious girl who later turns out to be the student council president of Queenvail Girls’ Academy – Sylvia Lyyneheym. With Sylvia’s help, Ayato and Julis can now face AR-D and RM-C in the Phoenix Festa final match with all their strength. After the Festa, Julis invites Ayato and the crew to her hometown of Lieseltania, where Ayato learns a shocking truth.


The tournament’s final matchup between Ayato and Julis vs. AR-D and RM-C. Who will be the victors?

Meanwhile, Saya and Kirin try to rescue Flora from her kidnappers.

In the final episodes, what happens when Ayato, Julis, Claudia, saya and Kirin travel to Lieseltania for winter break?  But what is this fighting tournament, Gryps Festa all about?

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

In 2012, writer Yuu Miyazaki and illustrator okiura created the Japanese light novel series “The Asterisk War” (Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku).

Published by Media factory, a two-volume manga adaptation was then created for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive”.

In 2015, A-1 Pictures would create an anime TV series adaptation with two seasons having now been completed.

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc. With volume 3, this limited edition box set features the first episodes of the second season (episodes 13-18).

The anime is set in the 20th century and an event called Invertia has destroyed many cities on Earth. Because of the collapsing economy, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation has become the leader of the world.

A parallel city of Rikka, known as Asterisk is the the main setting of this anime series.

Asterisk has six academies which hold tournaments, known as “Festas” in which humans and people with super abilities called Genestella participate in battle against each other.

Seidoukan Academy is ranked fifth in Asterik and the series focuses on main protagonist Ayato Amagiri, a Genestella, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Haruka.

On his first day of school, he meets a student (who happens to be a Lieseltanian princess) named Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld. And due to circumstances because he is new at the academy (which make him seem like a pervert), he is challenged to a duel against her.

The two get into battle and she is amazed by Ayato’s fighting ability and superpowers but the battle is ended when someone tries to send a spike towards Julis-Alexia and she is saved by Ayato (who, unfortunately lands on top of her and his hand on top of her chest).

The battle is ended early by Seidoukan Academy’s Student Council President Claudia Enfield because the match was not legal.

And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time? And why is her uncle abusive towards her and how will Ayato make an impact on her life?

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis and their friends Saya and Kirin will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools.

For the second half of season two (episodes 19-24), Ayato and Julis must take on the powerful, devastating robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C.

Meanwhile, someone has kidnapped Flora and as Ayato and Julis must complete in the Phoenix Festa, this leaves Saya and Kirin to go after Flora.

Also, Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya and Kirin travel to Liseltania but what they discover is something quite sinister.

Enter…Ophelia and Gustave and also what is Gryps Festa?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

  • Ayato Amagiri – A Seidoukan Academy student who transfers to the school to investigate his sister’s disappearance. He shows great power but can only control it for several minutes. He wants to protect Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt.
  • Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt – The fifth ranking student of Seidokan Academy and happens to be the First Princess of Lieseltania in the western Czech Republic. She is quite distant to everyone at the school but when Ayato tries to get close with her and wanting to protect her, she eventually starts to warm up to him.
  • Claudia Enfield – The blonde, buxom, second highest ranking student of Seidoukan Academy and also the Student council President. She tries her best to seduce Ayato.
  • Saya Sasamiya – A childhood friend of Ayato who moved abroad. She is an airhead at times and bad with directions. She is great with weapons and artillery and often gets Julis riled up as Saya prefers Ayato to spend time with her.
  • Kirin Toudou – The top ranking student of Seidoukan Academy. Because Ayato shows kindness to her all the time, she becomes a friend of his. But as she vies for Ayato’s attention, she deals with a demanding and abusive uncle.

VIDEO:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by A-1 Pictures.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War vol. 4” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus disc (CD included, Duration: 22 minutes) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Expanded Universe #4” featuring one music track.


With the final half of the second season of “The Asterisk War” in vol. 4, the tournament concludes as Ayato and Julis must take on the robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C in the finals. And because Flora has been kidnapped and Ayato and Julis are preoccupied, Saya and Kirin must try to save Flora from her kidnappers.

With this fourth volume, we also find out what has happened to Ayato’s missng sister, Haruka.

And a new storyline begins with Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya and Kirin travel to Listeltania for winter break.  But as they arrive, Claudia asks if they can form a team of five for the upcoming Gryps Festa.

Meanwhile, Julis has her own reasons for returning to Lieseltania.

While vol. 4 is more of a tournament-driven, action-packed volume, the final three episodes become more dramatic and story-driven as it centers around Julis’ return to her hometown of Lieseltania.

Which leaves fans of the anime series hoping that a season three will be coming soon.

As for the animation, as always, A-1 Pictures does a magnificent job with character designs, action sequences and for the most part, background art and lighting effects are well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, six collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 22-minute soundtrack and 34-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4”.

Overall, the fourth volume of “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as we get two different types of episode arcs, one full of action as Ayato and Julis make it into the finals of the Phoenix Festa, Saya and Kirin must save Flora from her kidnappers and the final episodes featuring Ayato, Julis and friends visiting Julis’ home country, Lieseltania and more trouble stands in their way.

If you have commited yourself to watching this series, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” is recommended!

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