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

February 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

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


TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 2

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 7-12) 140 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: February 13, 2018


Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition by Toshiya Ono

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Kohta Yamamoto

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Occultic;Nine vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 14, 2018 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! Everything concludes in this dark second half for the series.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 7-12 (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: December 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”, the truth is revealed as the adventure of the Occultic Nine reaches its climax!

With the help of the young FBI detective, Asuna Kisaki, the truth behind the Inokashira Incident is revealed. Unable to accept the truth, Yuta escapes into denial and starts to lose sight of himself. At his father’s radio station, Ryoka appears and there, she reveals one final shocking truth.

What awaits the fate of the Occultic Nine? Can the evil plan behind the Inokashira Park Incident be stopped?

Everything ends here…


Who is this albino boy claiming to be the “chosen one” and what happens when an evil cult tries to execute their immortality experiment?  Can Yuta and friends stop them in time?  And the truth about Ryoka is revealed!

All this and more in the final volume of “Occultic;Nine” volume 2!

What is “Occultic;Nine” all 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?

Meanwhile, who is this evil cult about to execute this immortality project?


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” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase illustrated by character designer Tomoaki Takase, a 20-page deluxe booklet with a clear BD case with 2-sided wrap 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?

The second half of the series gets darker, especially with revelations that Yuta’s dad is the leader of the cult, the Society of the Eight Gods and how this cult is connected to the numerous suicides and what their true objective is. And Ryoka reveals herself to Yuta of what she is.  We also have episodes featuring a killer albino kid and an introduction of a new character named Asuna.

If anything, the second half is a pretty cool, darker set of episodes.  Problems are more of too many characters being introduced for a quick amount of time, while the series tries to conclude with the group taking on an evil cult.

Most series tend to get the two-season treatment but so much story is getting packed into these 12-episodes and while I enjoyed the series, having this short duration of episode, character building storylines often takes a hit and this is the case with “Occultic;Nine”.

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! Everything concludes in this dark second half for the series.  Recommended!

anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day TV Series Complete Blu-ray Box Set (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Emotional, uplifting, tragic but also a film of hope,  “anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie” is an animated film that will captivate you and a Blu-ray release that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © ANOHANA PROJECT. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day

YEAR OF FILM: 2011

DURATION: 11 Episodes (256 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 15, 2014


Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Script: Mari Okada

Music by REMEDIOS

Character Design: Masayoshi Tanaka

Art Director: Takayoshi Fukushima

Art by Takayoshi Fukushima

Chief Animation Director: Masayoshi Tanaka

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kayano/Xanthe Huynh as Meiko “Menma” Honma

Haruka Tomatsu/Erica Lindbeck as Naruko “Anaru” Anjō

Miyu Irino/Griffin Burns as Jinta “Jintan” Yadomi

Saori Hayami/Erica Mendez as Chiriko “Tsuruko” Tsurumi

Takahiro Sakurai/Ray Chase as Atsumu “Yukiatsu” Matsuyuki

Takayuki Kondou/Kaiji Tang as Tetsudō “Poppo” Hisakawa

Aki Toyosaki/Abby Trott as Tetsudō (child)

Asami Seto/Michelle Ruff as Yukiatsu (child)

Kaoru Mizuhara/Cherami Leigh as Haruna (child)

Mitsuru Ogata/Kirk Thornton as Atsushi Yadomi (child)

Asami Seto/Michelle Ruff as Atsumu (child)

Mutsumi Tamura/Tara Sands as Jinta (child)

Yui Makino/Brianna Knickerbocker as Aki (child)


“Jintan? I have a wish I want you to grant for me!”

The critically acclaimed drama series anohana returns with a brand new English dub written and directed by Patrick Seitz, now on Blu-ray for the first time!

Jinta Yadomi and his group of childhood friends had become estranged after a tragic incident split them apart. Now in their high school years, an unexpected surprise forces each of them to confront their guilt over what happened that day. They must overcome the burdens of their past, and come to terms with years of shame, hard feelings, and heartaches.


It was one of the saddest anime series to debut back in 2011, the series “Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai” or “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day” debuted on television.

An 11-episode series produced by A-1 pictures and directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HiME”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”) and written by Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Vampire Knight”, “Black Rock Shooter”, “Black Butler”), the series revolves around six childhood friends that drifted apart after one of them dies in an accident.

A novelization by Mari Okada was released in 2011, a manga series adaptation was released in 2012, then an animated film was released in theaters in 2013, followed by a live action television drama series was released in September 2015.

While the animated film was released in the US back in 2014, the anime series will be released as a complete series on Blu-ray in 2017.

The animated series begins with an introduction to Jinta “Jintan” Yadomi, a teenager who looks as if he was hanging around with a girl named Menma.   When his childhood friend Naruko arrives, Menma tells him that no one can see her.

We then realize that Jinta is a teenager who has not gotten over Menma’s death.  He has not gone to school and he has not had any contact with his childhood friends since.

Jintan sees Menma’s ghost (or it’s his imagination) as he tries to piece together things in his mind about her death and then suddenly, he begins to remember the things he wanted to say to Menma on the day of her death.

As he runs into a forest area, it happens to be the old clubhouse (their secret base) where he and his friends used to hang out.  He then sees his old friend Tetsudo “Poppo” Hisakawa and tells him that she is able to see her ghost.

We then start to see each of these individuals start to see each other but circumstances have changed, friendships lost and not all of them get along.

And with each individual, they have a tie to the past that they regret and we start to see glimpses of the past and how Menma’s death changed everyone.

We learn that together with their friends (which they are known as the “Super Peace Busters”) included Naruko “Anaru” Anjo (who had a crush on Jinta), Atsumu “Yukiatsu” Matsuyuki (who likes Menma and looked at Jinta as his rival for Menma’s feelings), Chiriko “Tsuruko” Tsurumi (has feelings towards Asumu) and Tetsudo “Poppo” Hisakawa (always looked at Jinta as “cool”).

On the day before “Menma” died, everyone wanted to know if Jinta loved Menma but being a child and embarrassed, he said he would never fall for someone like her.  Embarrassed, he ran away.  But when she tried to find him, by the time he went to look for her an apologize, it was too late.  She slipped and fell into a river and drowned.

Fast forward into the future and Jinta has become depressed and anti-social after the death of his mother and Menma.  But when Menma reappears as a ghost, at first he thinks it’s his stress manifesting, but when he starts to realize that she has returned, Jinta slowly reunites with his old friends to tell him about his visions of Menma.

Of course, not everyone believes him, as he is the only person that can see her.  But some fans give him the benefit of the doubt and Poppo believes that she may be stuck on Earth because she has a goal that she must reach or a wish that she must fulfill.  But as Menma hears this, she is not sure about her thoughts nor does she remember much.

But as these friends slowly reunite, we learn that not only does Jinta feel guilty about Menma’s death, each of them do for some sort of reason.

And as the eleven episodes delve into each character’s life in the present, they also share with each other their thoughts and the pain they have felt all these years and in many ways, allowing each to receive some type of closure in regards to Menma’s death but giving them the chance to say their final goodbye and vice-versa.


VIDEO:

“anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” is a TV series that looks great in HD.  Animation is vibrant, while character designs are shaded, the background art is well-detailed and for the most part, you are drawn with the many cut-scenes and flashbacks but the lush green and vibrant colors instantly grab you.  There is a slight softness as one can expect from a TV series but I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues, while watching the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0.  This is primarily a dialogue and music-driven soundtrack, so one should not expect to hear a lot coming from the lossless soundtrack.  If anything, the surround channels are more about environment and ambiance.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary by the English Dub Cast and Director
  • English Dub Teaser
  • English Dub Trailer
  • English Dub Bloopers
  • Web Previews
  • Commercials and Trailers 
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” comes with the awesome a slipcover case, a 60-page deluxe booklet.


Emotional, uplifting, tragic but also a film of hope,  “anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day is an animated series that will captivate you but it’s also an emotional series that will no doubt make you cry.

“anohana” was an animated series that was one of the saddest anime series to come out in 2011 but one that made you watch because like all childhood friends, everyone drifts apart.  But in the case of these friends, it was because one friend’s tragic death, everyone had went on their separate ways.

Some harboring guilt or feelings about their friend, Menma’s death that they have kept in their heart for so long.

And now as these young children have grown up to be young adults, they are brought together once again, because of their deceased friend.  Menma has started to show up for some reason and only Jinta can see her.

The film is about child innocence but also holding on to emotions that were kept inside but never said.  The film has a message of letting people know how much you care about them before it’s too late.  And while most people don’t get the opportunity to tell that person how they truly feel, what if you were given that final chance.

I often think about films such as “Ghost” (the classic romantic drama with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore), where the film’s protagonist is murdered and comes back as a ghost and needing to fix things in order to go back to heaven.  With “anohana”, Menma is somewhat a ghost but one that can be seen by Jinta and also one that is unaware of why she was brought back and not knowing if she would disappear if she was able to make a wish come true.  She doesn’t know.

Of course, Jinta seeing the deceased Menma is hard to believe for some individuals until Jinta shares details that only they and Menma knows about.  And to see everyone coming together, but also having these unresolved feelings… it makes for a dramatic and emotional animated series.

 

As for the Blu-ray release of “anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day”, the picture quality is vibrant, the character design is well done and the background art is fantastic for a TV series!  While the lossless soundtrack is more dialogue and music-driven with ambiance played through the surround channels.

With the Blu-ray release, you get the an English dub commentary, trailer, teaser, textless opening and endings and of course, the Aniplex swag of a cool case and 60-page deluxe booklet.

Overall, “anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” is an animated series that will make viewers easily laugh and cry thanks to its well-written storyline from Mari Okada.  It no doubt stands out among the many emotional anime series that revolved around tragedy.

Emotional, uplifting, tragic but also a film of hope,  “anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day” is an animated series that will captivate you, that will make you shed tears and a Blu-ray Box Set release that I highly recommend!

Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Review)

December 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline. I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film! A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of  2018 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


TITLE: Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2017

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: December 19, 2017


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki/Sarah Ann Williams as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda/Ryan Bartley as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga/Jamieson Price as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue/Chris Patton as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera/Marc Diraison as Akihiko Kayaba


After its overwhelmingly successful worldwide theatrical release, Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD!

The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba in 2022…a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality). 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor, the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its most popular title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).”

Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but they’re about to find out that it isn’t all fun and games…


The year 2026.

Two years after the “Sword Art Online” fiasco perpetrated by SAO creator Akihiko Kayaba which left many gamers injured or dead, a new technology is to be released.  A technology that is thought to be safe and nothing like the Nerve Gear that was used in “Sword Art Online”.

Now people can use the Augma, the successor to the Amusphere full-dive system which allows a player to play a game that simulates reality while the player is conscious (via augmented reality).

And one of the popular games created for the Augma is “Ordinal Scale”.  A game which has quickly gain popularity that Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica are playing it, but surprisingly Kirito hasn’t jumped aboard to play the game just yet until now.

As people get into the game, part of the main appeal to “Ordinal Scale” is the game’s mascot, an AI idol singer named Yuna who appears during the game to increase the stats of players.

While everyone is playing, the #2 ranked player Eiji helps the Kirito, Asuna and team defeat the level boss but Eiji uses the words “switch”, a term that was used in SAO to Asuna.

Meanwhile, Asuna tells Kirito that Eiji is most likely a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath named Nautilus, Yui tells them that the appearance of Aincrad bosses in “Ordinal Scale” are similar to the line up with the SAO dungeon maps.

As Asuna goes to play the game with her friends again, immediately Yuna and Eiji appear and Eiji pushes Asuna towards the level boss.

When Asuna is hit, she passes out and suddenly, Asuna starts to realize that her memories from SAO are starting to disappear. Concerned, Kirito takes Asuna to the hospital to get checked out and it is learned that the Augma device has scanned her brain for SAO memories, and it may have happened to other SAO players that are playing “Ordinal Scale”.

With Asuna’s memory loss of SAO, that means her memories of her friends, but most importantly her memories of Kirito will disappear.

A desperate Kirito tries to search for answers and promises that he will do whatever he can to get Asuna’s memories back.  But what will his search unveil?

What is “Sword Art Online”?

In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.

While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of “Accel World” would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and featuring the art work of abec.

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations. The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.  And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television.  And since then a TV special has been released.

In addition, a total of ten video games have been released and it was announced that an American live-action TV adaptation of “Sword Art Online” is being created.

And the animated film “Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale” was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Tomohiko Ito and was released in Japan, Southeast Asia and Germany back in February 2017.

In the first series, Kirito and Asuna have become an online couple and while Kirito was able to succeed and free everyone by defeating the final boss of “Sword Art Online”, he has been utilized by law enforcement to assist in troubles that have affected users (as seen in “Sword Art Online II”).

In reality, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki (Asuna) have continued their relationship outside of the game.  Asuna dreams of marrying Kazuto and having a family with him in the future.

And with the 2017 animated film “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, with Asuna’s memories of SAO fading, the dreams of her and Kirito being together may now be in jeopardy.


VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you. Wonderful anime production from A-1 Pictures.

Colors are absolutely vibrant and I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Dialogue and musical soundtrack are crystal clear in English and Japanese, while action sequences utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline – Ordinal Scale – (14:27) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the film.
  • PV & CM Colletions
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by the Japanese staff.  Yoshitsugu Tomatsu (Kirito), Haruka Tomatsu (Asuna) and Tomohiko Ito (Director)

EXTRAS:

This limited Edition of “Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale” contains a Bonus Music CD, 60-page deluxe booklet, Bushiroad’s Weiß Schwarz Exclusive Collectible PR Card (while supplies last), and rigid box.


If there is one thing that “Sword Art Online” has proved over the years, that Reki Kawahara’s light novels and the anime adaptation inspired from it, are popular among many fans worldwide.

I had no doubt in my mind that “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” would do well as a theatrical release, not just in Japan but other countries worldwide, especially the United States.

Considering the film is not a Studio Ghibli film or an animated film with no Disney or Hollywood movie studio connect, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” grossed $1.35 million in the first four days of its North American run.

In fact, the film set an opening weekend record for an Aniplex of America theatrical release and has played in 560 theaters nationwide.

And that is for a film that debuted in American theaters with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.  And for those who dislike reading during their films, Aniplex of America will be releasing the film with an English dub soundtrack in April 2017 for a limited theatrical engagement.

Watching “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, it has everything that fans have loved in the series.  A lot of action, a lot of humor but also emotional drama as viewers have watched and seen the relationship between Kazuto (Kirito) and Asuna evolve and in this film, you really see how far their love for each other has blossomed.  And so, this film has become a fight for love and Kazuto doing all that is necessary to make sure that the young woman he loves is saved from losing her memories due to a new threat.

Fans will also love seeing characters from the past making their appearance in the video game but one will no doubt be anticipating the next SOA storyline as the ending teaser (after all the credits are done) shows us another menacing threat that will surely surprise fans of the series.

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna (but I know that is quite subjective to the viewer).

Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be wanting the soundtrack.

The film looks fantastic and vibrant on Blu-ray, while the soundtrack is is presented in both Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and dialogue and musical score are crystal clear.  Surround channels are well-utilized during the action sequences.

And for special features, you get the audio commentary and special short animation of “Sword Art OFFline”.  But for the hardcore fans who love the music for the film, the musical soundtrack for “Ordinal Scale” is included.  As well as an awesome 60-page deluxe booklet!

I absolutely enjoyed “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” but I do recommend people who know nothing about the series to at least watch the SAO series before jumping into the film.

Overall, I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline.  I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film!

A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you thought “Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu” and “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” were fantastic, you definitely owe it to yourself to watch “Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu”, the final film in the trilogy! 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 3: Reiketsu

FILM YEAR: 2017

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: November 21, 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 3: REIKETSU STORY

With help from Meme Oshino, the apparition specialist, Koyomi defeats the three powerful vampire hunters: Dramaturgy, Episode and Guillotinecutter. Koyomi takes back all the limbs of Kiss-Shot-Acerola-Orion-Heart-Underblade in order to become a human again. But, when he returns to Kiss-Shot, she reveals to him the cold truth of what it means to be a vampire—a creature of the night. Unable to take back what he has done, Koyomi feels nothing but regret and can only deny his dreadful fate. While Koyomi is struggling to face reality, his “friend” Tsubasa Hanekawa comes to him with a certain plan…


We have watched Koyomi Araragi take on a variety of opponents thanks to his vampiric traits.  But why is he not fully a vampire?  And why is he no longer fully human?

The final film of the “Kizumonogatari” trilogy, “Reiketsu” explores how Koyomi Araragi’s current situation came to be and why he is forever connected to Shinobu Oshino (a.k.a. Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade).

What is the Monogatari films and series all about?

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?

And here we are with the third film as Koyomi has found all of Kiss-Shot’s body parts and with the help of Meme Oshino, he can go back to becoming human.  So, he thinks.

What happens when Koyomi puts Kiss-Shot back together?  And the truth of why Koyomi and the vampire Shinobu Oshino/Kiss-Shot are forever together is revealed.


VIDEO:

“Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu” 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 3: Reiketsu” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu” 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 3: Reiketsu” comes the following special features:

  • PV – Japanese Promotional Video
  • CM – Japanese Commercials

EXTRAS:

“Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu” comes with a 68-minute, 27-track original soundtrack, a slip case package illustrated by Akio Watanabe, a 44-page deluxe booklet and a four pinup postcard set.


If you thought the first two “Kizumonogatari” films were excellent, the final film in the trilogy finally answers questions that fans of the series have been wanting to know and why is Koyomi and the vampire Shinobu Oshino forever bonded together.

I have to say that it was interesting because the first two films, Koyomi was quite dedicated in helping find the limbs of Kiss-Shot and trying to make her whole again.  But what he didn’t realize that by doing so, he was creating a monster that fed on humans.  After all, she’s a vampire.

It was a realization that Koyomi never really figured out, thinking that since they both were hungry, he thought he meant going to grab regular food to eat.  Not knowing the monster that he had unleashed.

For the most part, this third film was quite bloody, action-packed and even went to the pervy/creepy mode as the lecherous Koyomi, is quite desperate in wanting to touch Tsubasa Hanekawa’s breasts.  While I think the scene was a bit overboard, I’m sure the perverts and those who dig that type of fan service that we often see in the “Monogatari” OVA’s with Koyomi’s behavior at times, may be no surprise.  But no doubt, it was taken up a notch for this third film.

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 to the third film, which is a discovery of what he truly had done.

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.  The third film was magnificent and also important in answering a lot of questions which “Monogatari” fans probably had.

 

As mentioned, “Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu”, like the first film, is violent and bloody and has sexual situations, 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 44-page booklet and a four 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” and “Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu” were fantastic, you definitely owe it to yourself to watch “Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu”, the final film in the trilogy! It’s absolutely a must-own Blu-ray release for fans of the “Monogatari” series!

Recommended!

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!

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