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KanColle Kantai Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2014 KanColle Headquarters. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity.


In Japan, “Kantai Collection” a.k.a. “KanColle” has captivated fans thanks to the concept, the characters and the video game.

Created as a Japanese free-to-play web browser games from Kadokawa Games, in 2015, the game had around 3 million registered players.

The series has been released as a manga series, light novels, tabletop RPG and a PlayStation Vita game.  And to coincide with the game’s release, an anime series was released in Japan in January 2015 courtesy of Diomedea.

And now the 12-episode anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the USA courtesy of Funimation.

For those not familiar with “KanColle”, the series is set when humanity has lost the seas to a monstrous fleet.  To counter this monstrous fleet, humanity has donned human girls known as “fleet girls” who wear weaponized outfits and take on various roles in the spirit of historical naval vessels depending on one’s skill.

The anime series revolves around Fubuki, who arrives at the naval base and was recommended to fight in the Third Torpedo Squadron by the admiral.  But no one is sure why, becuase fubuki is always scared, often clumsy and has never fought in battle in her life.

But when she goes out on her first mission and is rescued by Akagi, Fubuki is inspired and wants to do her best in order to train and fight alongside Akagi one day.

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

  • Fubuki – The main protagonist.  Clumsy, not a fighting girl but with a heart of a fighter who is inspired by Akagi and trains hard in hopes to one day fight alongside with her.  Fubuki is assigned to the Third Torpedo Squadron and is a Destroyer.
  • Mutsuki – The first fleet girl that befriends Fubuki and is often cheerful.  She is a member of the Third Torpedo Squadron.
  • Yudachi – A destroyer of the Third Torpedo Squadron who is laid back and often says “poi” all the time.
  • Kisaragi – A destroyer who is assigned to the Fourth Torpedo Squadron and is mature, more than her oldest sister Mutsuki.
  • Yayoi/Mochizuki – Two destroyers.  Yayoi lacks emotion, while Mochizuki is often sleepy.
  • Akagi – An aircraft carrier belong to the First carrier Division. She fires arrows with her bow which turns into aircrafts piloted by fairies.
  • Kaga – An Aircraft carrier of the First Carrier Division who frequently accompanies Akagi.  She does not like Shokaku and Zuikaku of the Fifth Carrier Division and refuses to follow Zuikaku’s orders.
  • Shimakaze – A Destroyer who claims to be the fastest in the Southwest Area Fleet.  Hyperactive personality.
  • Yamato – The most powerful naval vessel and her existence is kept as secret.

VIDEO:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant.  A lot went into the mechanical design and does a great job of enhancing one’s appreciation of the game, because of how the characters and battles are portrayed.  A slightly soft anime series that one can expect from a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the video games. Diomedea did a wonderful job with animation and artistic backgrounds.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. Great use of the surround channels for action sequences, may it be explosions or blasts, the lossless soundtrack for this anime series is very good.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial Collection
  • Japanese Warnings
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


Back in 2015, I was in Japan to cover Tokyo’s largest anime event, Anime Japan.  And my first introduction to “KanColle” was at Animate in Akihabara.  And sure enough, returning back to the US, I would often see “KanColle” cosplayers.

While English information was a bit sparse at the time, I would eventually discover “KanColle” when I was back in Japan in 2016 and purchased the PlayStation Vita video game and was captivated by the fact that unlike Japanese video games which often featured girls in tanks battling it out, this time around, you have female characters as part of the Navy.

They are essentially the naval ships – Destroyers, Carriers, Heavy and Light Cruisers, you name it and you travel the seas taking on enemies and building your team and characters.

So, when I found out there was an anime series, I was hoping it would come out in the US and now it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

While the video game focuses on the aspect of war and going into battle, the storyline of these characters are focused on in the “KanColle Kantai Collection” anime series.

Revolving around the popular character/Destroyer named Fubuki, we see how this girl who doesn’t look like she can fight, often clumsy and is always scared, would eventually train hard to become a better fighter, a better teammate but also inspired to one day fight alongside the person who inspired her, aircraft carrier Akagi.

There are a ton of characters in the game and there are a ton of characters in the series, but fortunately, the series focuses on Fubuki and her friends from the Third Torpedo Squadron.  We see how these girls train to fight and become better, but we also see how unsafe the waters are and how powerful the enemy is and you’ll see characters perishing during battle.

Needless to say, the anime series compliments the games very well.  Animation is vibrant, well-shaded and detailed, especially the background artwork.  The Japanese and English soundtrack are well done, but it’s interesting because for the Japanese soundtrack, unlike the English dub which casts a different person per role, in the Japanese version, a voice actress may have to do the dubwork for multiple people.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.

As for special features, you get a few of Japanese promotional videos, commercials and warnings.  But there are no major special features like audio commentary or significant featurettes.

Overall, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series.  And with the second part of season one, the series just gets better and better!  I can’t wait for season two! 

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 2

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-22 (275 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Originally Created by Yusei Matsu

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Screenplay by Makoto Uezu

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi, Kazuto Shimoyama

Mechanical Design by Tomohito Hirose

Production by Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Suzaki/Monica Rial as Kaede Kayano

Jun Fukuyama/Sonny Strait as Koro-sensei

Mai Fuchigami/Lindsay Seidel as Nagisa Shiota

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Apphia Yu as Karma Akabane

Ayaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Tōka Yada

Chie Matsuura/Morgan Garrett as Megu Kataoka

Eiji Miyashita/Kyle Phillips as Sōsuke Sugaya

Fuko Saito/Terry Doty as Kirara Hazama

Hisako Kanemoto as Hinano Kurahashi

Junji Majima as Ryūnosuke Chiba

Kana Ueda as Yuzuki Fuwa

Kenta Miyake as Akira Takaoka

Kouki Harasawa as Takuya Muramatsu

Mamoru Miyano as Gakushū Asano

Manami Numakura as Rio Nakamura

Megumi Ogata as Itona Horibe

Miho Hino as Sumire Hara

Minami Tanaka as Hinata Okano

Ryo Naitou as Taiga Okajima

Ryota Ohsaka as Yūma Isogai

Saki Fujita as Jiritsu “Ritsu” Shikō Kotei Hōdai

Satomi Satou as Yukiko Kanzaki

Sayuri Yahagi as Manami Okuda

Shiho Kawaragi as Rinka Hayami

Shintarō Asanuma as Hiroto Maehara

Shinya Takahashi as Kōki Mimura

Shizuka Itou as Irina Jelavic

Sho Hayami as Gakuhō Asano

Shunsuke Kawabe as Masayoshi Kimura

Subaru Kimura as Ryōma Terasaka

Takahiro Mizushima as Kōtarō Takebayashi

Takehito Koyasu as Gastro

Tomokazu Sugita as Tadaomi Karasuma

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Tomohito Sugino

Yoshiyuki Shimozuma as Taisei Yoshida


From the studio behind Danganronpa and Monster Musume comes Assassination Classroom! After the battle with Itona, the students of Class 3-E settle back into a normal routine. Well, normal for a class filled with would-be assassins! As the weather turns warm, the class can’t afford to laze about, and up their training under the guidance of Karasuma. But with the semester already half over, the government decides to send a new teacher to take over their training. Are his methods too extreme? Or will it be the push they need to become real killers?

While training is all well and good, they can’t forget about final exams! And if they want to up their chances of taking out Koro Sensei, they’re going to have to do their very best. The stakes are raised even higher when Class A makes a bet that could send Class E on the best summer vacation ever. Could an island retreat help them set up the perfect assassination?


What happens when Class 3-E gets a sadistic instructor as their new P.E. teacher?

Meanwhile, what happens when the students are poisoned by a deadly virus and the remaining students must get the antidote by infiltrating a high-security hotel and taking on their deadliest rivals yet?

All this and more in “Assassination Classroom, Volume 1, Part 2”!

What is “Assassination Classroom” all about?

In 2012, mangaka Yusei Matsui created the manga series “Assassination Classroom” (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu).

Matsui, who was known for the manga series “Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro” and also was a former assistant of mangaka, Yoshio Sawai, would eventually create one of the best selling manga series in the past few years.

Serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”, a total of 12 volumes have been collected into Tankobon format and the first volume has had over one million copies printed and was on the list for best-selling manga in 2013. Came second in Media Factory’s “Book of the Year” and won the #1 position for “2014 Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” voted by male readers for Takarajimasha.

With an anime adaptation in Japan that debuted in 2015, the first part of the first season of “Assassination Classroom” was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNIMATION.

The anime series is produced by Lerche (“Danganronpa the Animation”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Re: Hamatora”) and was directed by Seiji Kishi (“Angel Beats!”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Ragnarok the Animation”, “RE: Hamatora”), a screenplay by Makoto Uezu (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Arslan Senki: Fujin Ranbu”, “Quiz Magic Academy”, “Is This a Zombie?”), music by Naoki Sato (“Blood-C”, “Eureka Seven”, “Heroic Age”), character design by Kazuaki Morita (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Tentai Senshi Sunred”, “Persona 4: The Animation”) and art direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi (“Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Noba DC”) and Kazuto Shimuyama (“Daganronpa the Animation”, “Devil Survivor 2: The Animation”).

The series begins by introducing us to a powerful alien creature that destroyed 70% of the moon, making it a crescent moon forever. The alien has said that within a year, he will destroy the Earth but he does give mankind a chance to prevent it.

Having special speed and quick reflexes, with a number of tentacles like an octopus, the alien known as Koro-sensei, becomes a teacher for the lowly class 3-E at the prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High School.

Government worker Tadaomi Karasuma tells the entire class 3-E what problems they are facing and how Koro-sensei will destroy the Earth. But the deal the alien made with the government and military is that if he is assassinated before the end of the year, he will spare Earth. So, Tadaomi Karasuma announces that the focus of class 3-E is to kill their homeroom teacher.

And Koro-sensei is hoping the students can do it..but can they?

For volume 1, we are introduced to Nagisa Shiota, a weak student but very observant and smart and studies Koro-sensei’s color-changing moods and tries to find any weakness that he can.

Meanwhile, bad boy Karma Akabane joins class 3-E and was suspended from school prior to Korosensei’s arrival and now, Karma wants to do all he can to kill Koro-sensei.

But each time the students try to kill Koro-sensei, his mach 5 ability makes him difficult to see and kill and all fail. But when they try to kill him, Koro-sensei tries to teach each student on becoming a better person and in someways, making him likeable to a point.

With the destruction of Earth many months away, can these students kill Koro-sensei before it’s too late.

Also, a new English teacher is brought to Kunugigaoka Junior High School. Her name is Irina Jelavich who is very fashionable, sexy and no doubt has her own ways to charm the guys. But in truth, this new teacher is a mercenary and one of the best. But will she be skillful enough to assassinate Koro-sensei?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Kunugigaoka Private Academy’s principal Gakuho Asano and learn how he views Class E!

In the second part of the first season.  Government worker Tadaomi Karasuma’s former teacher in special forces replaces him as teacher for 3E, but his methods are not the most kindest and includes torture.  How will the class of Koro Sensei’s 3-E respond to their new teacher?

Many of the students of Class 3-E were inflicted with a deadly virus and the person responsible for the virus is demanding that Koro-sensei’s head be delivered to him at the Fukuma Denjo Hotel, in exchange for an antidote.

But Class 3-E must use their skills which they have learned to go against high-level assassins waiting for them.

Will they survive the ordeal?


VIDEO:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is colorful and vibrant.

Backgrounds are well-painted and it was interesting to see the darker character lines for how the main characters are drawn. But for the most part, the animation does compliment the manga series very well! And the overall anime series looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. “Assassination Classroom” is a series that features crystal clear dialogue. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 14 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Sonny Strait (voice of Koro-sensei) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Nagisa)
  • Episode 17 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Martha Harms (voice of Irina Jelavich) and Chris Ryan (voice of Tadaomi Karasuma).
  • Top 10 Moments – (11:17) Featuring the “Assassination Classroom” voice dub cast (Sonny Straight, Apphia Yu, Chris Ryan, Lindsay Seidel, Monica Rial, Micah Solusud) discussing the top 10 moments from the first season.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Jiriki Hongan Revolution” Version 1 and 2
  • Textless Closing Song – “Hello, shooting-star”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 2 comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


We have seen the students within Class 3-E grow. Grow as friends, grow as assassins, even seeing their own respect for their alien teacher. And each time they have tried to assassinate Koro-sensei, they would lose, thanks to Koro-sensei’s super speed.

But part of what makes Koro-sensei so quick and powerful is the use of his tentacles. And through failure, the class have grown adept in their ways of assassination.

In the second half of the season, we get to see the class work as a team in a baseball challenge, but also see them get a new pool.  But the main storyline is the hiring of Akira Takaoka of the Ministry of Defense Special Task Department.

He has been hired to be in charge of the training for the students, while Mr. Karasuma looks for more assassins.

But for Karasuma, leaving the kids with Takaoka freaks him out because he remembers how Takaoka, as a trainer, used torture to get what he wants.  Does he follow the chief’s order to let Takaoka teach the kids, or does he actually care for the kids and wants to protect them?

But now they must put their skills to use as classmates have been inflicted with a deadly virus and now they need to obtain the antidote from the person responsible.

Also, as students of Class 3-E were inflicted with a deadly virus, time is in the essence of getting an antidote to save them.  So, a few of the students along with Koro-sensei, Ministory of Defense teacher Tadaomi Karasuma and Ms. Irina Jelavich must infiltrate Fukuma Denjo Hotel, where the person who was responsible is staying.  But not only is he waiting for them, so are many high level assassins.

Can Class 3-E survive?

With this second part of the first season, the storyline is exciting as class 3-E finally get to use all what they learned and put it to practice, as they take on their greatest challenge yet!  And while this is all happening, of course, class 3-E continues to find ways to assassinate Koro-sensei.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is vibrant and colorful, voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done. You also get a good number of special features included, from two audio commentary, top 10 moments and more.

Overall, “Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series.  And with the second part of season one, the series just gets better and better!  I can’t wait for season two!

Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 1 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

assassination-classroom-1a

“Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 1 Limited Edition

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (275 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 17, 2016


Originally Created by Yusei Matsu

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Screenplay by Makoto Uezu

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi, Kazuto Shimoyama

Mechanical Design by Tomohito Hirose

Production by Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Suzaki/Monica Rial as Kaede Kayano

Jun Fukuyama/Sonny Strait as Koro-sensei

Mai Fuchigami/Lindsay Seidel as Nagisa Shiota

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Apphia Yu as Karma Akabane

Ayaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Tōka Yada

Chie Matsuura/Morgan Garrett as Megu Kataoka

Eiji Miyashita/Kyle Phillips as Sōsuke Sugaya

Fuko Saito/Terry Doty as Kirara Hazama

Hisako Kanemoto as Hinano Kurahashi

Junji Majima as Ryūnosuke Chiba

Kana Ueda as Yuzuki Fuwa

Kenta Miyake as Akira Takaoka

Kouki Harasawa as Takuya Muramatsu

Mamoru Miyano as Gakushū Asano

Manami Numakura as Rio Nakamura

Megumi Ogata as Itona Horibe

Miho Hino as Sumire Hara

Minami Tanaka as Hinata Okano

Ryo Naitou as Taiga Okajima

Ryota Ohsaka as Yūma Isogai

Saki Fujita as Jiritsu “Ritsu” Shikō Kotei Hōdai

Satomi Satou as Yukiko Kanzaki

Sayuri Yahagi as Manami Okuda

Shiho Kawaragi as Rinka Hayami

Shintarō Asanuma as Hiroto Maehara

Shinya Takahashi as Kōki Mimura

Shizuka Itou as Irina Jelavic

Sho Hayami as Gakuhō Asano

Shunsuke Kawabe as Masayoshi Kimura

Subaru Kimura as Ryōma Terasaka

Takahiro Mizushima as Kōtarō Takebayashi

Takehito Koyasu as Gastro

Tomokazu Sugita as Tadaomi Karasuma

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Tomohito Sugino

Yoshiyuki Shimozuma as Taisei Yoshida


Only nostrils of steel can prevent massive blood loss during this super sexy second season of Maken-Ki! Brought to you by the director of Ikki Tousen!

Takeru and his Leadership Committee comrades are the last line of defense when it comes to ridding Tenbei Academy of mischievous Maken users. But saving all these succulent student bodies from a hoard of hocus pocus hornballs is no easy trick. Not when there’s a pervy creeper pinning bras to the bulletin board, a magical feline turning coed cuties into irresistible sex kittens, and a must-see manga fest where the costumes get mysteriously shrunken down to scandalous sizes! Through it all, Takeru keeps his mind on the mammaries – and the mammaries on his mind – as the luscious ladies of the Leadership Committee prove that their magic is breast in class!


In 2012, mangaka Yusei Matsui created the manga series “Assassination Classroom” (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu).

Matsui, who was known for the manga series “Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro” and also was a former assistant of mangaka, Yoshio Sawai, would eventually create one of the best selling manga series in the past few years.

Serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”, a total of 12 volumes have been collected into Tankobon format and the first volume has had over one million copies printed and was on the list for best-selling manga in 2013.  Came second in Media Factory’s “Book of the Year” and won the #1 position for “2014 Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” voted by male readers for Takarajimasha.

With an anime adaptation in Japan that debuted in 2015, the first part of the first season of “Assassination Classroom” was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNIMATION.

The anime series is produced by Lerche (“Danganronpa the Animation”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Re: Hamatora”) and was directed by Seiji Kishi (“Angel Beats!”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Ragnarok the Animation”, “RE: Hamatora”), a screenplay by Makoto Uezu (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Arslan Senki: Fujin Ranbu”, “Quiz Magic Academy”, “Is This a Zombie?”), music by Naoki Sato (“Blood-C”, “Eureka Seven”, “Heroic Age”), character design by Kazuaki Morita (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Tentai Senshi Sunred”, “Persona 4: The Animation”) and art direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi (“Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Noba DC”) and Kazuto Shimuyama (“Daganronpa the Animation”, “Devil Survivor 2: The Animation”).

The series begins by introducing us to a powerful alien creature that destroyed 70% of the moon, making it a crescent moon forever.  The alien has said that within a year, he will destroy the Earth but he does give mankind a chance to prevent it.

Having special speed and quick reflexes, with a number of tentacles like an octopus, the alien known as Koro-sensei, becomes a teacher for the lowly class 3-E at the prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High School.

Government worker Tadaomi Karasuma tells the entire class 3-E what problems they are facing and how Koro-sensei will destroy the Earth.  But the deal the alien made with the government and military is that if he is assassinated before the end of the year, he will spare Earth.  So, Tadaomi Karasuma announces that the focus of class 3-E is to kill their homeroom teacher.

And Koro-sensei is hoping the students can do it..but can they?

For volume 1, we are introduced to Nagisa Shiota, a weak student but very observant and smart and studies Koro-sensei’s color-changing moods and tries to find any weakness that he can.

Meanwhile, bad boy Karma Akabane joins class 3-E and was suspended from school prior to Korosensei’s arrival and now, Karma wants to do all he can to kill Koro-sensei.

But each time the students try to kill Koro-sensei, his mach 5 ability makes him difficult to see and kill and all fail.  But when they try to kill him, Koro-sensei tries to teach each student on becoming a better person and in someways, making him likeable to a point.

With the destruction of Earth many months away, can these students kill Koro-sensei before it’s too late.

Also, a new English teacher is brought to Kunugigaoka Junior High School.  Her name is Irina Jelavich who is very fashionable, sexy and no doubt has her own ways to charm the guys.  But in truth, this new teacher is a mercenary and one of the best.  But will she be skillful enough to assassinate Koro-sensei?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Kunugigaoka Private Academy’s principal Gakuho Asano and learn how he views Class E!


VIDEO:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is colorful and vibrant.

Backgrounds are well-painted and it was interesting to see the darker character lines for how the main characters are drawn.  But for the most part, the animation does compliment the manga series very well!  And the overall anime series looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. “Assassination Classroom” is a series that features crystal clear dialogue. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Co-ADR Directors: Joel McDonald and Apphia Yu.
  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Monica Rial (voice of Kaede Kayano), Leah Clark (voice of Yukiko Kanzaki) and Clifford Chafin (voice of Tomohito Sugino).
  • Episode 0 “Meeting Time”– (10:06) Koro-sensei’s story of how he met Karasuma.
  • Interview with the Cast – (20:22) Interviews with the English dub actors Sonny Straight, Austin Tindle, Apphia Yu and Martha Harms.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Seishun Satsubatsuran”
  • Textless Closing Song – “Hello, shooting-star”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 1 comes with a chipboard box, four postcards, student handbook & school diary, slipcase for season 1 (part 1 and 2) and a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


My first introduction to “Assassination Classroom” was from the Vita video game “J-Stars Victory Vs.”  And was wondering why there is yellow octopus in the game.

After googling and doing my research, I eventually learned about “Assassination Classroom” and wasn’t sure if it was a horror-based storyline or a manga series with humor and action.

So, I have been anticipating Yusei Matsui’s “Assassination Classroom” and it being adapted to an anime series because it has done so well in Japan.

The anime series is quite interesting as an alien who threatens to destroy the planet, unless the students of class 3-E can kill him before the year is over.  I wonder how Yusei Matsui came up with the idea to make this series. It’s so far out but yet you welcome anything new and fresh.

And while the series features many characters, we are slowly introduced to the primary characters such as the weak but smart Nagisa Shiota; the cunning, smart and coldblooded Karma Akabane; and then there is Tomohito Sugino, who dreamed of becoming a baseball player, but his hopes lost when his grades got worse and thus, having him become part of class 3-E.

As the students do all they can to kill Koro-sensei, we get to learn how difficult it is because he is lightning quick and has various tricks, also many tentacles to have him do multiple things all at once.

But it’s not just students.  We are introduced to a sexy English teacher named Irina Jelavich, who is an actual assassin who has succeeded in using her sexy charm to allure men and then kill them.  And now, she is brought to the Academy to kill Koro-sensei…but can she?  And will her style even fit in a school setting as a teacher?

We are introduced to the principal of the academy, Gakuho Asano and we start to learn how much they despise Class E.  Of course, no one in Class E knows about Koro-sensei and the plan to assassinate him, but we learn how hostile the student body is towards the class.

Meanwhile, the government turns to a professional assassin known as “Red Eye” to assassinate Koro-sensei, as well as a fighting machine known as “Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery” joins Class E.  And much more!

The story and premise of what the students must do is the same.  As the students do all they can to kill Koro-sensei, we get to learn how difficult it is because he is lightning quick and has various tricks, also many tentacles to have him do multiple things all at once.

But each time they know they must kill him, they start to learn that he’s actually teaching them a lot about survival, their studies and are doing much better than they were before.  In fact, he’s become quite likable.  But can students kill a teacher that they like?  Unfortunately, with this alien teacher planning to destroy the planet in one year unless they kill him…they have no choice.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is vibrant and colorful, voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  You also get a good number of special features included, from audio commentary to an interview with a few of the voice talent and more.  Also, you get a slipcase (which can hold part 1 and part 2 of season one), a chipboard and art cards.

Overall, “Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series!

Robotics; Notes: Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

roboticnotes-p1

If you love sci-fi anime series and mecha, especially if you are a fan of “Steins;Gate” and “Chaos;Head”, then “Robotics;Notes: Part One” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Robotics: Notes; Part One

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2012-2013

DURATION: 11 episodes (275 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV PG

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014

Original Concept: Chiyomaru Shikura

Directed by Kazuya Nomura

Scenario by Naotaka Hayashi

Music by Asami Tachibana, Takeshi Abo, Yuuka Hayashi

Character Design by Junko Yamanaka

Art Direction: Ichirou Tatsuta

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the voices of:

 Kaori Nazuka/Leah Clark as Frau Kōjiro

Rie Kugimiya/Apphia Yu as Airi

Ryohei Kimura/Clifford Chapin as Kaito Yashio

Sora Tokui/Monica Rial as Junna Daitoku

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jarrod Greene as Subaru Hidaka

Yoshino Nanjou/Lindsay Seidel as Akiho Senomiya

Akiko Hasegawa/Kristi Yang as Rosetta Yuuki

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Daisuke Kishio/Ian Sinclair as Genki Dotō

Hiroyuki Kinoshita/Bill Jenkins as Hiromu Hidaka

Kikuko Inoue/Caitlin Glass as Misaki Senomiya

Nobuaki Fukuda/R. Bruce Elliott as Tetsuharu “Doc” Fujita

Shinichiro Miki/Chuck Huber as Toshiyuki Sawada

Takako Honda/Lydia Mackay as Mizuka Irie

Takehiro Koyama/Bradley Campbell as Ken’ichirō Senomiya

Tetsuo Kaneo/David Wald as Sumio Nagafukada

Toshiko Sawada/Linda Leonard as Kaoruko Usui

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Eric Vale as Kō Kimijima

Youji Ueda/Robert McCollum as Mitsuhiko Nagafukada

Kai and Aki dream of building a giant fighting robot based on a super-popular anime, but that’s going to be impossible if they don’t get more members into their school’s Robot Research Club. They’ll take anyone they can talk – or force – into joining them, including an eccentric robotics champion with a secret identity and a l33t video-game designer who’s spent one too many late nights online. Finally, their goal looks like it’s within reach.

But when a sentient AI program tells Kai about mysterious documents hidden on the internet, things start to get strange for everyone. As the club members track down the secret messages, they realize that the information might be far bigger – and more dangerous – than they expected.

In 2012, 5pb. best known for creating “Chaos;Head” and “Steins;Gate” released their third game titled “Robotics;Notes”.

The Japanese visual novel was released for the PS3 and XBOX 360 with six manga having been produced and now, the “augmented science adventure” will be released on Blu-ray+DVD combo courtesy of FUNimation.

“Robotics;Notes” is set in the future in which robotics clubs compete in robot tournaments.  Kaito Yashio and Akiho Senomiya are members of their school’s robotics club and are trying to recruit new members.

For Kaito, he is more interested in the fighting game “Kill-Ballad” (which he is the #5 best player in the world) on his Poke-Com devise, while Akiho is the chairman of the club and is very intent of completing a giant robot known as Gan-tsuku (GunBuild-1), based on the popular mecha anime series “Gunvarrel”.

As Akiho tries to get funding from their school, the vice-principal agrees to give the club the budget they requested if they can win the robot tournament, but if they lose, their club must disband.

As the two attend a Robo-One tournament, Kaito begins experiencing a strange sensation but briefly.  But during his battle with Mr. Pleiades (who is his classmate Subaru), Kaito experiences something special in which he is able to slow down time.

Meanwhile, Kaito begins to remember an incident back on September 11, 2010, in which he and Akiho fainted.  Later that night, he begins to hear a voice coming from his Poke-Com gaming device and a girl suddenly appears.

The girl is named AI, who is an Iru-O app that tried to contact Kaito over the past 8 years and shows him a hidden file from Ko Kimijima which details that the sun is about to explode and NASA is covering it up.

As Kaito becomes interested in learning more about Ko Kimijima, there are other organizations that have taken interested in both Kaito, Akiho and their robotics club.

VIDEO:

“Robotics;Notes” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Presented in 1:78:1, there is one thing that anime fans can expect from a Production I.G. anime series and that is wonderful animation and detailed art backgrounds.

As a 5pb creation, Production I.G. has managed to respect the light novel series with the wonderful animation, light effects and the fact that nearly every background scene i s wonderfully detailed.  Fantastic!

AUDIO:

“Robotics;Notes” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series is primarily a dialogue driven series, so it’s a front and center channel driven anime series. There is a bit of action and scenes with ambiance that utilizes the surround channels.  But because of the action scenes, this is where the English lossless soundtrack is much better over its Japanese counterpart in terms of dynamic range. But both are well-acted and whichever your preference, should be happy with either soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Robotics: Notes; Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Monica Rial (Junna Daitoku) and Leah Clark (Frau Kojiro).
  • Episode 10 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Lindsay Seidel (Akiho Senomiya) and Jarrod Greene (Subaru Hidaka).
  • Science Adventure Series Interview Part 1 – (18:47)A group interview with Joel McDonald, J. Michael Tatum and John Burgmeier.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Robotics;Notes”.

For those who have watched a 5pb. series such as “Steins;Gate” and “Chaos;Head”, are used to learning about surprises and various twist and turns with the series.

The same can be said with “Robotics;Notes”, a storyline that may seem fun and mecha-driven about a high school club competing in robot competitions.  But as the episodes continue, things start to take a turn as a mass coverup is discovered and by episode 10, things take a turn from being a light-hearted anime series to something much more serious and technical as Kaito begins to unlock various reports left behind by Kimijima.

And one of the more exciting things to see in the series is the appearance of Nae Tennoji, the character who played Yugo’s daughter in “Steins;Gate”, making an appearance as a character in “Robotics;Notes” and not a cameo but appears in several episodes so far.

But as the series is only part one, the first half of the series focused on character building episodes, introducing us to Kaito, Akiho, Subaru, Junna but also seeing Nae as part of JAXA.  But you can expect to see the storyline start to change with what was featured in episode 10-11 and I’m looking forward in seeing the direction the series will go and what will happen to the group as Kaito and others try to find out the latest note left behind by Kimijima.  So, I’m definitely looking forward to part two of the series.

As for the animation, personally, I am quite biased towards Production I.G. anime series as I see them as one of the top notch anime studios that really go all out for a TV series.  Wonderful animation, detailed backgrounds but also great focus on mechanical designs especially during the action-sequences, I’m very pleased with the overall look of the series but also how it retains its consistency with “Steins;Gate” and “Chaos;Head”.

As for the lossless audio, as expected, the English dub soundtrack gets the better treatment thanks to its 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  But as much as I wished it utilized the surround channels for the action sequences, the dialogue and music is crystal clear and surround channels are used, just not as immersive as I would have hoped.  And you also get special features, such as audio commentary but also a fascinating feature that dwelves into the world of “Steins;Gate”, “Chaos;Head” and how “Robotics;Note” relates to the series.

Overall, “Robotics;Notes: Part One” is a fascinating mecha sci-fi anime series.  So far, the characters are enjoyable and the storyline quite in-depth in balance with the wonderful animation/backgrounds by Production I.G., but part one of the series, if like the other 5pb. anime series, is definitely setting up viewers for something awesome for the second half.  I can’t wait for “Robotics;Notes: Part Two”.

If you love sci-fi anime series and mecha, especially if you are a fan of “Steins;Gate” and “Chaos;Head”, then “Robotics;Notes: Part One” is recommended!

Shangri-La: Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 24, 2012 by · Comments Off on Shangri-La: Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review) 

An anime series that requires your attention due to the sheer number of characters and for its complex storyline, “Shangri-La” turned out to be an exciting and fascinating anime series.  It is slow-paced, it does require your full attention but things do pay off in part 2 of the series.  If you love complex sci-fi anime series, make sure you give “Shangri-La” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Shangri-La: Part 2

DURATION: Episodes 13-24 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Japanese and English Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV M

Release Date: August 21, 2012

Directed by Makoto Bessho

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Hitomi Kuroishi

Original Creator: Eiichi Ikegami

Character Design by Range Murata

Anime Production: Gonzo

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mikako Takahashi/Lindsay Seidel as Kuniko Houjou

Yui Ariga/Apphia Yu as Mikuni

Yuka Iguchi/Jad Saxton as Karin Ishida

Daisuke Hirakawa as Souichirou Hata

Hidetoshi Nakamura/Bill Jenkins as Sergei Tarsian

Houchu Ohtsuka/Randy Perlman as Mi-ko

Jouji Nakata/Kent Williams as Momoko

Jun Fukuyama/Micah Solusod as Shion Imaki

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Bryan Massey as Takehiko

Kumiko Watanabe/Trina Nishimura as Claris Lutz

Makoto Ishii/Austin Tindle as Kunihito Kusanagi

Naoko Kyooda/Linda Leonard as Nagiko Houjou

Rei Igarashi/Jennifer Seman as Ryouko Naruse

Rie Ishizuka/Anastasia Munoz as Sayoko

Sachika Misawa/Emerick Jade as Yuri Gamagoori

Takahiro Sakurai/J. Michael Tatum as Shougo Kudo

Tetsuya Kakihara/Joel McDonald as Medusa

Tomoko Kaneda/Heather Walker as Hiruko

Yūichi Nakamura as Retto Imaki

Yurie Yamashita as Yuuka Yamazaki

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Anthony Bowling as Zhang

Miyu Irino/Justin Pate as Digma 0

In the distant future, earthquakes and the effects of global warming have splintered Japanese society. Some struggle hand-to-mouth in the jungle-tangled ruins of civilization. Some live comfortably within the closed-off city of Atlas. Others lurk online, anonymously hacking the global economy. As nature grows more violent and the divide between classes expands, one spirited girl, Kuniko, must face her destiny and lead her people into the utopia of Atlas.

The city’s ruthless government isn’t going to welcome them with open arms, but Kuniko won’t give up until the gates of Atlas are kicked open for good – even if it means discovering that the promised land she dreamed of is built upon a foundation of twisted secrets and lies.

 

In 2004, writer Eiichi Ikegami and illustrator Ken’ichi Yoshida worked on a Japanese sci-fi novel titled “Shangri-La”. Featured in Newtype Magazine from2 004-2005, a manga series adaptation was released on January 2009 and featured in Kadokawa’s “Ace Assault” and “Shonen Ace”.

That same year, “Shangri-La” received an anime adaptation and now the anime series will be released in two parts on DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Shangri-La” is directed by Makoto Bessho (“Armitage: Dual-Matrix”, “Iczellion”, “Countdown”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Aquarion”, “Area 88”, “Arjuna”, “Birdy the Mighty”, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), music by Hitomi Kuroishi (“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Planetes”, “GUNXSWORD”) and character design by Range Murata (“Blue Submarine No. 6”, “Last Exile”, “Solty Rei”.

“Shangri-La” takes place in the mid-21st Century and the international committee reduced CO2 emissions to prevent the global warming crisis. This led to the economic market led to the trading of carbon.

But when a great earthquake destroys a large part of Japan, Tokyo becomes a jungle city that begins to absorb carbon dioxide. While the carbon tax throughout Japan is not lifted, an organization known as Project Atlas wants to rebuild Tokyo and oversee the government.

An area known as Atlas is then built to house only 3.5 million people and many are not allowed to migrate to the city. Those who live in Atlas are known as elites, while those who live in the jungles outside Atlas’ walls are seen as refugees.

But Project Atlas is opposed by the Metal Age group because they have been oppressed and opposes the government’s drastic policies on environmentalism. The Metal Age, the anti-government organization is based in Duomo where the main characters of this series live.

The series follows a teenage girl named Kuniko Hojo, a young girl who is skillful in fighting with a boomerang and defends Duomo from the military. Kuniko was imprisoned at a girls detention center for two years and while being returned to the city of Duomo, she is being grouped to be the future leader of Metal Age. Her grandmother Nagiko Hojo is the head of Metal Age and her wish is for Kuniko to lead Metal Age, but her granddaughter is not interested.

The citizens of Duomo are constantly protecting their city from Atlas attacks, because for some unknown reason, Atlas is holding Duomo responsible for an incident. During one attack, Kuniko using her boomerang and Major Kunihito Kusanagi of Atlas using a dagger, throw their weapons towards each other and when both clashed, it resonated and led to mysterious black dots appearing above Duomo and as those black dots fell, caused massive destruction.

The antagonists of the series are Project Atlus which include the sinister Lady Roko, a high authority figure who is following Kuniko’s movements for some reason. Also, featured is Mikuni, an aristocrat that uses the highways of Atlas as her playground; Karin Ishida, a young computer genius who knows how to blackmail major politicians from other countries to working with Atlas.

Karin is also one of the creators of MEDUSA, a computer program that was built by Ishida Finance used to find debts around the world in countries who’s CO2 Emissions and Carbon credits are not equal.  Using MEDUSA, they can easily manipulate countries who are in debt.

And for Lady Ryoko, she wants to know how Duomo was able to use such a destructive attack (the black dots). So, Atlas then begins to allow for a ballot to allow Duomo residents to live in the city.

Meanwhile, the attacks by Atlas on Duomo has led to residents fearing for their lives and Kuniko starts to wonder if people would be happy not living their lives like they are in Duomo, having to raid supplies that were meant for Atlas. So, after Kuniko finds out from her grandmother that her biological mother lives in Atlas, Kuniko and friends decide to take a trip to Atlas.

And what they see is a city with so much room, they wonder why the Atlas organization has limited the city to only 3.5 million people when there is enough space to take in more.

As Kuniko and friends are in Atlas, they are unaware they are being watched by Atlas. What happens when Kuniko runs into Kunihito, a Atlas military officer who has a sacred dagger identical to the dagger owned by Kuniko and Mikuni? And both are forced to go on a date, thanks to Momoko.

For “Shangri-La: Part 2”, with the attack on Atlas, Atlas has captured Kuniko and want her executed.  But thanks to Kuniko’s friends, she is able to escape.

With Metal Age now working with the military and able to gain significant air power, Kuniko gives the message for the Metal Age to continue to fight for Duomo and now an all out war between Atlas and Metal Age will begin!

But as Kuniko and her fellow Metal Age members prepare to go to war, it is revealed that Kuniko’s grandmother has a mysterious secret past that involves Atlas.

Meanwhile, as the war between the Metal Age and Atlas continues, Karin sees the opportunity to make money from the war and using MEDUSA as a way to accomplish her goals.  She also tries to hack into Zeus in order to steal the Atlas treasury, and when she is discovered for her actions, she escapes to Akihabara.

With both countries in war and former enemies becoming allies, what happens when cities in Japan get destroyed, MEDUSA starts reacting on its own and starts gaining control of the nuclear weapons and wanting to start a nuclear war and a new weapon of mass destruction is revealed.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Shangri-La” is presented in 16×9 with an English 5.1 Surround and Japanese stereo soundtrack.  For the most part, GONZO does an excellent job in taking the characters to various locations throughout Duomo, Atlas, Akihabara and Ikebukuro.  While scenery and art backgrounds are well-detailed, animation is good and well-shaded.  The mecha designs, which are 3-D based are well-detailed and for the most part, I’m a bit surprised that “Shangri-La” was not given a Blu-ray +DVD combo release.

DVD picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD, there is a bit softness and banding as can be expected and for audio, with the English dub soundtrack having better dynamic range than its stereo Japanese soundtrack.  Voice acting are well-done on both soundtracks but once again, for an anime series that has its share of action, it’s unfortunate that “Shangri-La” was not released on Blu-ray.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shangri-La: Part 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 15 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR director/line producer/writer and voice of Furukawa) with writers J. Michael Tatum (lead writer) and Patrick Seitz (writer).
  • Episode 23 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR director/line producer/writer and voice of Furukawa) with Jade Sexton (voice of Karin), Jennifer Seman (voice of Ryoko Naruse)
  • Textless Opening Song “Kimi Shinitamou Hoto Nakare” – The clean ending theme.
  • Textless Closing Songs: “Hajimari no Asa ni Hikari Are” (Version 2) and “Tsuki ni Kakuseshi Chou no Yume” (Version 2) – (2:43) The ending omake for episodes 194-197.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Shangri-La: Part 2”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers.

Who is manipulating who?  With the war between the citizens of Atlas and Duomo, what is everyone fighting for?

If only humans can live as one.  And this is the premise of the second half of the animated series “Shangri-La”.

As mentioned in my review for part one, once in awhile, you encounter an anime series that is complex for its storyline and its share number of characters.  “Shangri-La” is Japanese sci-fi series that contains the elements of war, strategy but also is accessible thanks to its younger characters.    But I have to give credit to original writer Eiichi Ikegami for developing a plot that surrounds corporate greed after a global warming crisis.  And what is interesting about “Shangri-La” is that it was created before Japan’s March 2010 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

With the talk of a second Tokyo possibly being created as a backup, just in case a natural disaster does hit Tokyo, there is no doubt that that this anime series does have an interesting concept.  In “Shangri-La”, Japan has been devastated by a major earthquake and in the world to mitigate the global warming crisis, people deal with carbon.  And in the rebuilding of Tokyo, only 3.5 million are accepted into the rebuilt city known as Atlas, while many are not and those who are living outside Atlas have been oppressed.

And thus, the series sets up a storyline between the haves and the have nots.  The government of Atlas, who look at themselves as the elites vs. the refugees of Duomo, who host the Metal Age organization who are against the government.

But now as war has raged on and Karin’s hacking has now backfired against her and MEDUSA who has awakened is now in full control and wanting to create havok on the world, former enemies now become teammates, Kuniko, Kunihito and Momoko go after Mikuni, who is set to become the successor of Atlas.

But as the three try to stop Mikuni, who will prevent MEDUSA from starting a global nuclear war?  Or will our heroes stop MEDUSA in hopes of creating a Shangri La?

While the first half of the series showcased character development and for the most part, was quite upbeat and happy at times, the second half of the series becomes much more dismal as war has broken out and both sides suffer mass casualties.  And to make things worse, because of MEDUSA’s hatred towards the world, life for humanity doesn’t look that good at all.

And so, it relies on former enemies, rivals to team up and work together for the great good, but can they?

The first season was great in setting up the characters, so by the second half of the series, things get a bit more exciting as it focuses more on action and war.  So, the pay off for sticking with this slow-paced series was worth it.

As for the DVD, I was a little surprised that this anime series was not released on Blu-ray, but only on DVD.  But picture quality and audio are very good on DVD.  GONZO has done a fantastic job from creating this post-apocalyptic Japan and art backgrounds are really well-detailed.  There is also a good amount of action and the audio does utilize center, front and surround channels.  Voice acting is good on both the Japanese and English soundtracks and you do get two audio commentary special features plus the clean opening and ending themes.

“Shangri-La” is no doubt a complex anime series with a lot of characters and with each episode, there are a lot of things taking place that I found myself having to rewind and rewatch because of the complexities and also not only do you have characters of both Atlas and Duomo working to fight each other, there are other subplots involving Karin, the computer hacker as she wants to destroy the country’s economy and then you get to the storyline surrounding MEDUSA and Ryoko and things just get crazier from then on.

As mentioned, complex anime series is often a rarity these days as series are meant to be accessible for people of all ages and some of the series no longer tend to make it stateside like they used to.

But “Shangri-La” is one of those series that is accessible but it is also clever on its approach to Japan after a major earthquake devastating its economy and the people living in the country.  “Shangri-La″ is a slow-paced but it is a series worth sticking to, especially if you like anime series that require you to think and also requires your attention.

If there was one caveat, I just wished that Funimation released “Shangri-La” as a complete series rather than a two-parter.  But for those who do love sci-fi anime series, especially series with a lot of characters and a complex storyline, will definitely want to give “Shangri-La” Part 1 and 2 a try!

Shangri-La: Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Once in awhile, complex sci-fi anime series do make its way to American shores.  GONZO’s “Shangri-La” is a sci-fi anime series that takes on complexity in a post-apocalyptic Japan, features a wide cast of characters and a fascinating, clever storyline.  I like where this series is heading but it does require one’s attention.  “Shangri-La: Part 1” is a slow-paced but intriguing anime series that is definitely setting things up for an explosive second half.

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Shangri-La: Part 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Japanese and English Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV M

Release Date: August 21, 2012

Directed by Makoto Bessho

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Hitomi Kuroishi

Original Creator: Eiichi Ikegami

Character Design by Range Murata

Anime Production: Gonzo

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mikako Takahashi/Lindsay Seidel as Kuniko Houjou

Yui Ariga/Apphia Yu as Mikuni

Yuka Iguchi/Jad Saxton as Karin Ishida

Daisuke Hirakawa as Souichirou Hata

Hidetoshi Nakamura/Bill Jenkins as Sergei Tarsian

Houchu Ohtsuka/Randy Perlman as Mi-ko

Jouji Nakata/Kent Williams as Momoko

Jun Fukuyama/Micah Solusod as Shion Imaki

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Bryan Massey as Takehiko

Kumiko Watanabe/Trina Nishimura as Claris Lutz

Makoto Ishii/Austin Tindle as Kunihito Kusanagi

Naoko Kyooda/Linda Leonard as Nagiko Houjou

Rei Igarashi/Jennifer Seman as Ryouko Naruse

Rie Ishizuka/Anastasia Munoz as Sayoko

Sachika Misawa/Emerick Jade as Yuri Gamagoori

Takahiro Sakurai/J. Michael Tatum as Shougo Kudo

Tetsuya Kakihara/Joel McDonald as Medusa

Tomoko Kaneda/Heather Walker as Hiruko

Yūichi Nakamura as Retto Imaki

Yurie Yamashita as Yuuka Yamazaki

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Anthony Bowling as Zhang

Miyu Irino/Justin Pate as Digma 0

In the distant future, earthquakes and the effects of global warming have splintered Japanese society. Some struggle hand-to-mouth in the jungle-tangled ruins of civilization. Some live comfortably within the closed-off city of Atlas. Others lurk online, anonymously hacking the global economy. As nature grows more violent and the divide between classes expands, one spirited girl, Kuniko, must face her destiny and lead her people into the utopia of Atlas.

The city’s ruthless government isn’t going to welcome them with open arms, but Kuniko won’t give up until the gates of Atlas are kicked open for good – even if it means discovering that the promised land she dreamed of is built upon a foundation of twisted secrets and lies.

In 2004, writer Eiichi Ikegami and illustrator Ken’ichi Yoshida worked on a Japanese sci-fi novel titled “Shangri-La”.  Featured in Newtype Magazine from2 004-2005, a manga series adaptation was released on January 2009 and featured in Kadokawa’s “Ace Assault” and “Shonen Ace”.

That same year, “Shangri-La” received an anime adaptation and now the anime series will be released in two parts on DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Shangri-La” is directed by Makoto Bessho (“Armitage: Dual-Matrix”, “Iczellion”, “Countdown”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Aquarion”, “Area 88”, “Arjuna”, “Birdy the Mighty”, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), music by Hitomi Kuroishi (“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Planetes”, “GUNXSWORD”) and character design by Range Murata (“Blue Submarine No. 6”, “Last Exile”, “Solty Rei”.

“Shangri-La” takes place in the mid-21st Century and the international committee reduced CO2 emissions to prevent the global warming crisis.  This led to the economic market led to the trading of carbon.

But when a great earthquake destroys a large part of Japan, Tokyo becomes a jungle city that begins to absorb carbon dioxide.  While the carbon tax throughout Japan is not lifted, an organization known as Project Atlas wants to rebuild Tokyo and oversee the government.

An area known as Atlas is then built to house only 3.5 million people and many are not allowed to migrate to the city.  Those who live in Atlas are known as elites, while those who live in the jungles outside Atlas’ walls are seen as refugees.

But Project Atlas is opposed by the Metal Age group because they have been oppressed and opposes the government’s drastic policies on environmentalism.  The Metal Age, the anti-government organization is based in Duomo where the main characters of this series live.

The series follows a teenage girl named Kuniko Hojo, a young girl who is skillful in fighting with a boomerang and defends Duomo from the military.  Kuniko was imprisoned at a girls detention center for two years and while being returned to the city of Duomo, she is being grouped to be the future leader of Metal Age.   Her grandmother Nagiko Hojo is the head of Metal Age and her wish is for Kuniko to lead Metal Age, but her granddaughter is not interested.

The citizens of Duomo are constantly protecting their city from Atlas attacks, because for some unknown reason, Atlas is holding Duomo responsible for an incident.  During one attack, Kuniko using her boomerang and Major Kunihito Kusanagi of Atlas using a dagger, throw their weapons towards each other and when both clashed, it resonated and led to mysterious black dots appearing above Duomo and as those black dots fell, caused massive destruction.

The antagonists of the series are Project Atlas which include the sinister Lady Roko, a high authority figure who is following Kuniko’s movements for some reason.  Also, featured is Mikuni, an aristocrat that uses the highways of Atlas as her playground; Karin Ishida, a young computer genius who knows how to blackmail major politicians from other countries to working with Atlas.

Karin is also one of the creators of MEDUSA, a computer program that was built by Ishida Finance used to find debts around the world in countries who’s CO2 Emissions and Carbon credits are not equal.  Using MEDUSA, they can easily manipulate countries who are in debt.

And for Lady Ryoko, she wants to know how Duomo was able to use such a destructive attack (the black dots).  So, Atlas then begins to allow for a ballot to allow Duomo residents to live in the city.

Meanwhile, the attacks by Atlas on Duomo has led to residents fearing for their lives and Kuniko starts to wonder if people would be happy not living their lives like they are in Duomo, having to raid supplies that were meant for Atlas.  So, after Kuniko finds out from her grandmother that her biological mother lives in Atlas, Kuniko and friends decide to take a trip to Atlas.

And what they see is a city with so much room, they wonder why the Atlas organization has limited the city to only 3.5 million people when there is enough space to take in more.

As Kuniko and friends are in Atlas, they are unaware they are being watched by Atlas. What happens when Kuniko runs into Kunihito, a Atlas military officer who has a sacred dagger identical to the dagger owned by Kuniko and Mikuni? And both are forced to go on a date, thanks to Momoko.

Meanwhile, what happens when Lady Ryoko launches a sneak attack on the city of Duomo?  Find out in Part 1 of “Shangri-La”.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Shangri-La” is presented in 16×9 with an English 5.1 Surround and Japanese stereo soundtrack.  For the most part, GONZO does an excellent job in taking the characters to various locations throughout Duomo, Atlas, Akihabara and Ikebukuro.  While scenery and art backgrounds are well-detailed, animation is good and well-shaded.  The mecha designs, which are 3-D based are well-detailed and for the most part, I’m a bit surprised that “Shangri-La” was not given a Blu-ray +DVD combo release.

DVD picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD, there is a bit softness and banding as can be expected and for audio, with the English dub soundtrack having better dynamic range than its stereo Japanese soundtrack.  Voice acting are well-done on both soundtracks but once again, for an anime series that has its share of action, it’s unfortunate that “Shangri-La” was not released on Blu-ray.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shangri-La: Part 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR Director/Line Producer), Kent Williams (voice of Momoko) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Kuniko) and Austin Tindel (voice of Kunihito).
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR Director/Line Producer), Anastasia Munoz (voice of Sayoko), Apphia Yu (voice of Mikuni) and Randy Perlman (voice of Miko).
  • Textless Opening Song: “Kimi Shinitamou Hoto Nakare”
  • Textless Closing Songs: “Hajimari no Asa ni Hikari Are” (Version 1), “Tsuki ni Kakuseshi Chou no Yume” (Version 1)
  • Promotional Video for “Magical Gina the Akiba Fairy” – (2:29) A small preview short for the upcoming series “Magical Gina the Akiba Fairy”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

 

Once in awhile, you encounter an anime series that is complex for its storyline and its share number of characters.

“Shangri-La” is Japanese sci-fi series that contains the elements of war, strategy but also is accessible thanks to its younger characters.    But I have to give credit to original writer Eiichi Ikegami for developing a plot that surrounds corporate greed after a global warming crisis.  And what is interesting about “Shangri-La” is that it was created before Japan’s March 2010 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

With the talk of a second Tokyo possibly being created as a backup, just in case a natural disaster does hit Tokyo, there is no doubt that that this anime series does have an interesting concept.

In “Shangri-La”, Japan has been devastated by a major earthquake and in the world to mitigate the global warming crisis, people deal with carbon.  And in the rebuilding of Tokyo, only 3.5 million are accepted into the rebuilt city known as Atlas, while many are not and those who are living outside Atlas have been oppressed.

And thus, the series sets up a storyline between the haves and the have nots.  The government of Atlas, who look at themselves as the elites vs. the refugees of Duomo, who host the Metal Age organization who are against the government.

The series then showcases its characters from both cities and also from various areas that make the storyline complex and requires one to not miss an episode because there are many characters introduced.  You have Kuniko, the main protagonist from Duomo, a girl who has a specialized dagger that resonates with Atlas Major Kunihito Kusanagi’s dagger to resonate as well.  What are these daggers and why did they resonate to the point that black dots mysteriously appeared above Duomo and caused massive destruction?

The first half of the series is primarily about character development.  Establishing Kuniko and her friends and what they are fighting for and how they have lived an oppressed life.  While we are introduced to the citizens of Atlas.

Those from Atlas appear to have special abilities.  Mikuni can see through lies and is able to manipulate and crus one’s body.  She carries a dagger similar to Kuniko and Major Kunihito which resonates.  And within Mikuni’s circle are fascinating but evil characters.  Sayoko is Mikuni’s protector who thrives on Mikuni killing people.  Ryoko is a bad tempered individual who lashes out on a boy named Sion (a slave) and is responsible for controlling the Atlas supercomputer known as Zeus.

While the first half sets up the conflict between Atlas and Duomo, the storyline also features the different beliefs that are held by those living in Atlas and those living in Duomo.  And both inhabitants of both cities do not trust each other.  With Kuniko and friends entering Atlas, now knowing that they are being watched by Atlas hacker Karin, this will set up to major destruction for the people of Duomo as Atlas plans to secretly attack the city.

And the repercussions of these events will set up the second half of “Shangri-La”.

As for the DVD, I was a little surprised that this anime series was not released on Blu-ray, but only on DVD.  But picture quality and audio are very good on DVD.  GONZO has done a fantastic job from creating this post-apocalyptic Japan and art backgrounds are really well-detailed.  There is also a good amount of action and the audio does utilize center, front and surround channels.  Voice acting is good on both the Japanese and English soundtracks and you do get two audio commentary special features plus the clean opening and ending themes.

But for now, I look forward to seeing how “Shangri-La” progresses.  It’s a complex anime series with a lot of characters and with each episode, there are a lot of things taking place that I found myself having to rewind and rewatch because of the complexities and also not only do you have characters of both Atlas and Duomo working to fight each other, there are other subplots involving Karin, the computer hacker as she wants to destroy the country’s economy.

As mentioned, complex anime series is often a rarity these days as series are meant to be accessible for people of all ages.  But “Shangri-La” is one of those series that is accessible but it is also clever on its approach to Japan after a major earthquake devastating its economy and the people living in the country.  “Shangri-La: Part 1” is a slow-paced but intriguing anime series that is definitely setting things up for an explosive second half.  And for those who do love sci-fi anime series, will definitely want to give “Shangri-La: Part 1” a try!

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