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Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

January 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

swordartonline-rosario

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” is a series that longtime fans will no doubt love.  A captivating, heartbreaking and emotional storyline that maintains its action-packed setting and a Blu-ray limited edition set that will make the fans even more happy.  I absolutely enjoyed the conclusion of “Sword Art Online II” and I highly recommend checking this set out!

Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 18-24 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: January 19, 2016


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Naoki Shojo, Shuji Iriyama, Yoshikazu Mukai, Yukie Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


Hearing rumors about an undefeated player known as Zekken, Asuna decides to mount a challenge. Zekken has been seeking opponents to duel for an ultra-fast 11-hit combo original sword skill. Not a single challenger has been successful so far. Asuna comes very close and is barely defeated. To her surprise, Zekken asks Asuna to join the guild called Sleeping Knights. What is Zekken’s real intention?


The “Mother’s Rosario” arc begins as the final episodes of “Sword Art Online II” revolve around Asuna.

As ALO attracts Asuna’s curiosity with rumors of a popular swordsman known as “Zekken” accepting any battles against anyone and even Kirito losing against this person, Asuna decides to challenge the swordsman.

The swordsman turns out to not to be a male character but a female character named Yuuki.  And as Asuna is able to show that she is an excellent fighter, she holds her own against Yuuki.

This excites Yuuki who takes Asuna to visit her friends, a group known as the Sleeping Knights.

Each of them have one final goal before they go on their separate ways and that is to defeat the next floor boss with one party in order to have their name etched on the Monument of Swordsmen

Their request, for Asuna to join them in this final battle, as they need another person for their group, someone who is very strong.  And Yuuki believes Asuna is the one.

But as Asuna really wants to help the group out, her personal life is not going well as the events of “Sword Art Online” made her a year and half behind in her school studies.  Now her mother wants Asuna to stop playing any video games and is wanting to transfer her to another school and perhaps arrange her to be married with a wealthy man.

Will this be a last goodbye for Asuna to be with Kirito and her close friends?

Find out in the final volume of “Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario”!

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 five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). 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 now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academy”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario”


The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online II – Calibur -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set ” are:

  • Kirito – The main protagonist of the series. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya is a former beta-tester who fights solo and responsible for saving many lives in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online. Kirito is recruited by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to become “Kirito” once again to enter the virtual world to investigate the cause of deaths in “Gun Gale Online” (GGO).
  • Shino Asada/Sinon – One of the best players, a sniper on “Gun Gale Online”. In real life, she has a major phobia of guns after killing a robber. She is the owner of the rare gun “PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II”. She looks at Kirito is a rival but she also wants to be closer to him because of the strength he shows in battle. But she is an excellent marksman in online games.
  • Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend (a main character in the previous “Sword Art Online”). She thinks that Kirito is earning money as a tester, but not knowing he is investigating a Death Coffin member.
  • Yui – Kirito and Asuna’s “child” via artificial intelligence. She often helps both when they are in need.
  • Suguha Kirigaya – Kirito’s adoptive sister (younger cousin), she knows that Kirito has joined another online game.
  • Yuuki Konno – A wonderful swordsperson on ALO who has the nickname of “Zekken” a.k.a. “Absolute Sword”.  Yuuki is a member of the Sleeping Knights group and before her and her friends go on their separate ways, they ask Asuna to join them and help them beat the final boss with one party.

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” 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 each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on! With this volume, it’s great to have the original characters return for this arc. Kirito, Asuna, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica and Sinon all work together in this volume, so it’s great to have all voice talents together once again.

Subtitles are in English and you can choose from complete English subtitles which include dialogue and Japanese kana translations or a selection to choose just kana translations or no English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline II #7-9 –  Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Textless OP & ED (Mother’s Rosario)
  • Web Version Previews – Featuring web previews for episodes 19-24
  • Audio Commentary 19 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna) and Aoi Yuuki (voice of Yuuki).
  • Audio Commentary 21 – Featuring director Tomohiko Ito, character designer Adachi, Tetsuya Takeuchi (action cnimation director) and Yanagi (action anime director).
  • Audio Commentary 23 – Featuring Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna), Aoi Yuuki (voice of Yuuki), Megumi Hayashibara  (Asuna’s mother) and director Tomohiko Ito.
  • Audio Commentary 24 – Featuring Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna), director Tomohiko Ito, character designer Adachi Reki Nakahara (creator).

EXTRAS:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” Blu-ray also comes with a second disc titled “Sword Art Online Radio – USA- Part 3” featuring hosts Bryce Papenbrookt, Cherami Leigh and guests Erica Mendez, Erika Harlacher and Alex von David.  Over an hour’s worth of audio.

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” also comes with a slip case, a 24-page deluxe booklet with character info, episode synopsis and more, a two-postcard set, and an exclusive Weiss Schwarz Usual Yuuki/Asuna collectible PR Card.


swordartonline-rosario-b

With the riveting “GunGale Online” storyline that kicked off “Sword Art Online II” and revolved around Kirito, the final arc to end this series revolves around Asuna.

And as the beginning focuses on all-out action, “Mother’s Rosario” is perhaps one of the most emotional arcs seen in “Sword Art Online” and also features a lot of action.

Without spoiling this arc, which is based on the seventh “Sword Art Online” light novel, Asuna must deal with two different obligations.  The first is her obligation to her family and that is to do well in school.

Unfortunately, her mother feels that the school she attends is not good enough and also, with Asuna behind a year and half in school and worried for her future, her mother wants her to marry a wealthy man and attend a more prestigious school.

But also quitting all gaming and staying away from Kirito and her friends.

And this leaves Asuna in a bad emotional state, which she keeps to herself, not letting Kirito or her friends know how bad things are at home.

Meanwhile, her second obligation is to her newest online friend Yuki and their group, the Sleeping Knights on ALO.  As the group plans to take on a final boss before they go on their separate ways and stop playing the game, they want Asuna to join them in this final battle and get their names etched on the Monument of Swordsmen.

Having been won over by their kindness, Asuna decides to join Yuki and friends in defeating a major boss in ALO.  But why is this the final battle for the Sleeping Knights?

As much as I would love to go into the series, I will stop right there with the summary because the series becomes one heck of an emotional rollercoaster.  But with each episode, I was captivated right to the very end.

As for the Blu-ray release, once again, the animation looks magnificent, while backgrounds are nicely painted, CG elements are well-done and for the most part, the series continues its outstanding quality from the first series. While the lossless soundtrack remains as Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and no 5.1 soundtrack yet, the soundtrack still sounds crisp and clear as dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks and Yuki Kajiura’s music sounds crystal clear. And you also get four audio commentary with the Japanese cast and more.

And similar to the second “Sword Art Online II” Limited Edition box set, “Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” comes with a CD featuring a radio interview with several of the English dub cast.  Also, included in the set is a 24-page deluxe booklet, three postcards, a Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card with Yuki and Asuna, and a slipcase. So, Aniplex has continued to do another awesome in providing awesome swag for SAO fans!

Overall, I found “Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” is emotional, action-packed and a wonderful arc that leaves me hoping for a “Sword Art Online III” featuring the “Alicization” storyline,

But fans of the series will love the fact that you get a storyline focusing on Asuna but also manages to feature every character that is important in the lives of Kirito and Asuna.

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” is a series that longtime fans will no doubt love.  A captivating, heartbreaking and emotional storyline that maintains its action-packed setting and a Blu-ray limited edition set that will make the fans even more happy.

I absolutely enjoyed the conclusion of “Sword Art Online II” and I highly recommend checking this set out!

Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set III (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

November 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

AOA-6403B-WR Cover

I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” to be amazing. I absolutely loved how this first arc of the second season ended and I can’t wait for the second arc in the next Blu-ray volume! If you love SAO, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” (both parts) are must buy, must have and highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 15-17 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: November 17, 2015


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Naoki Shojo, Shuji Iriyama, Yoshikazu Mukai, Yukie Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


Kirito is now certain that Death Gun is also a survivor of SAO. And to make things worse, he is most likely an ex-member of the murder guild, Laughing Coffin. As the final tournament of Bullet of Bullets begins, Kirito and Sinon agree to join forces until they identify which player is Death Gun.

News is spreading among the players of ALO that the legendary Holy Sword Excalibur has been discovered. This was actually the very sword that Kirito and Leafa found in the underground realm of Jotunheim several months ago when they saved “Tonky.” Hearing the news, they decide to acquire Excalibur before the other players. Summoning Asuna, Klein, Sinon, and the others, they set off for the dungeon in Jotunheim for an exciting new mission!


The “Calibur” arc begins as the next three episodes of “Sword Art Online II” (episodes 15-17) features Kiroto and friends going on ALfheim Online (ALO) to find the legendary item, the Holy Sword Excalibur.

As Kirito, Asuna, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica and Sinon try to retrieve the Holy Sword Excalibur, Yui tells the group that the quest they were given was created by the Cardinal System’s Automatic Quest Generation Function and if they don’t succeed, a final war event known as “Rangarok” will be triggered and will destroy AKO.

Will the group reach their objective?  Find out in the latest third Blu-ray volume of “Sword Art Online II”!

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 five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). 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 now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academ”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

“Sword Art Online II” is set a year after the “Sword Art Online” incident and not long after the “Gun Gale Online” arc.

One day, Suguha shows Kazuto a news article about the legendary Holy Sword Excalibur being discovered in ALO.  Wanting the legendary sword, Kazuto calls his friends Asuna, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica and Sinon to join him on ALO and challenge the dungeon in the sky of Jotunheimr, where the Excalibur is located.

But will Kirito and friends find the Holy Sword of Excalibur?


The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online II – Calibur -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set ” are:

  • Kirito – The main protagonist of the series. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya is a former beta-tester who fights solo and responsible for saving many lives in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online. Kirito is recruited by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to become “Kirito” once again to enter the virtual world to investigate the cause of deaths in “Gun Gale Online” (GGO).
  • Shino Asada/Sinon – One of the best players, a sniper on “Gun Gale Online”. In real life, she has a major phobia of guns after killing a robber. She is the owner of the rare gun “PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II”. She looks at Kirito is a rival but she also wants to be closer to him because of the strength he shows in battle.  But she is an excellent marksman in online games.
  • Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend (a main character in the previous “Sword Art Online”). She thinks that Kirito is earning money as a tester, but not knowing he is investigating a Death Coffin member.
  • Yui – Kirito and Asuna’s “child” via artificial intelligence. She often helps both when they are in need.
  • Suguha Kirigaya – Kirito’s adoptive sister (younger cousin), she knows that Kirito has joined another online game.

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” features the episodes 15-17:

  • EPISODE 15 – Kirito and friends go on ALO to find the Holy Sword of Excalibur.
  • EPISODE 16 – Who is this Freyja and can the group trust her?
  • EPISODE 17 – The group must take on the King of the Frost Giants, known as Thrym.

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” 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 each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on!   With this volume, it’s great to have the original characters return for this arc.  Kirito, Asuna, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica and Sinon all work together in this volume, so it’s great to have all voice talents together once again.

Subtitles are in English and you can choose from complete English subtitles which include dialogue and Japanese kana translations or a selection to choose just kana translations or no English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline II #6 – (11:41) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Textless OP & ED (Calibur)
  • Web Version Previews – Featuring web previews for episodes 16-18
  • Audio Commentary 17 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna), Ayana Taketatsu (voice of Leafa), Kanae Ito (voice of Yui).

EXTRAS:

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Sword Art Online Original Soundtrack II Vol. 2 – (45 Minutes)
  1. desolate landscape 2:42
  2. Tonky 2:35
  3. in this place 1:58
  4. Freyja 1:52
  5. Urd 2:28
  6. in another land 2:16
  7. the appearance of Thrymr 1:46
  8. defeat him and get it! 3:31
  9. in the battle field, once again 2:45
  10. a sad quarrel 1:40
  11. you are not alone #2 2:06
  12. light your sword 2:04
  13. heartbreaking reality 2:38
  14. you are not alone 2:48
  15. tears for you 1:51
  16. school days, with you 2:05
  17. you are not alone #3 2:05
  18. trying to understand 2:25

“Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” also comes with a slip case, a 12-page deluxe booklet with character info, episode synopsis and more, a two-postcard set, and an exclusive Weiss Schwarz Usual Silicacollectible PR Card.


With the riveting “GunGale Online” storyline that was awesome to watch on the last two volumes, the series takes a breather from any deep storylines and instead features a short-story arc of three episodes as Kirito and friends go on ALO to find the Holy Sword of Excalibur.

While the storyline is good for this short arc, I found it to be a bit average, as it feels like three filler episodes.  But the good news is that you get Kirito and friends together on ALO and you also get to see interesting character interaction between Kirito and Sinon, rather than Kirito and Asuna, which I found quite interesting.

And you also get to see Klein having more of a role in this arc since the first season.  But for the most part, the story arc goes quickly and wished that Aniplex would have included two or three more additional episodes, but I can understand if they want to save the fourth volume for the final arc of “Sword Art Online II”.  But the viewing for this set goes much quicker as can be expected with only three episodes included.

As for the Blu-ray release, once again, the animation looks magnificent, while backgrounds are nicely painted, CG elements are well-done and for the most part, the series continues its outstanding quality from the first series. While the lossless soundtrack remains as Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and no 5.1 soundtrack yet, the soundtrack still sounds crisp and clear as dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks and Yuki Kajiura’s music sounds crystal clear. And you also get an audio commentary with the Japanese cast and more.

And similar to the previous “Sword Art Online” Limited Edition box sets, “Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes with a CD featuring “Sword Art Online II – Vol. 2 Original Soundtrack”, a 12-page deluxe booklet, two postcards, a Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card and a slipcase. So, Aniplex has done another wonderful job in continuing to provide the awesome swag for SAO fans!

Overall, I found “Sword Art Online II – Calibur-: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” to be enjoyable. With only three episodes included on a single Blu-ray disc and the episodes feeling like filler episodes, it was great to see Kirito and friends working together again.  And if you want the second original soundtrack, then the third limited edition volume for “Sword Art Online II” is recommended.

If you love SAO and like many others who are fans of the popular anime series, “Sword Art Online II – Calibur: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set III” is the third limited edition volume worth the purchase.   Recommended!

Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

October 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

soa2-b-1

I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” to be amazing. I absolutely loved how this first arc of the second season ended and I can’t wait for the second arc in the next Blu-ray volume! If you love SAO, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” (both parts) are must buy, must have and highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 8-14.5 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Naoki Shojo, Shuji Iriyama, Yoshikazu Mukai, Yukie Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Souichiro Hoshi/Ben Diskin as Death Gun

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


Kirito is now certain that Death Gun is also a survivor of SAO. And to make things worse, he is most likely an ex-member of the murder guild, Laughing Coffin. As the final tournament of Bullet of Bullets begins, Kirito and Sinon agree to join forces until they identify which player is Death Gun.

Through the battles, Sinon learns that Kirito also suffers from traumatic memories from the past. But as Sinon sees Kirito trying to overcome them, she too tries to be strong. As BoB reaches its last stage, Kirito suspects that Death Gun may have one or more accomplices in the real world, and they may be targeting Shino Asada as their next target!


With”Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2″, Kirito and Sinon must become a team in order to survive and fight against Death Gun, a former “Sword Art Online” red player of the murder guild, Laughing Coffin who killed other gamers and now he is interested in doing the same in “Gun Gale Online”.

But both Kirito and Sinon must also learn to overcome skeletons from their own closet before taking on Death Gun.

All this and more in “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -“.

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 five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). 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 now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academ”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

“Sword Art Online II” is set a year after the “Sword Art Online” incident and a new VRMMORPG known as “Gun Gale Online” has become the popular game in Japan.

But one day, a top-ranked player named Zexceed appears on a streamed broadcast as his avatar and out of nowhere, a cloaked man known as “Death Gun” fires a bullet at Zexceed’s avatar causing the avatar to convulse and disconnect.

A month later, Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Virtual Division contacts Kirito for a meeting and tells him that he needs Kirito’s help. Revealing that deaths are happening in the “Gun Gale Online” game caused by the mysterious avatar known as Death Gun. He needs Kirito to go in the game and find out who Death Gun is.

While Kirito has his doubts, because he will get paid for his investigation, he joins “Gun Gale Online” and befriends a top-ranked player named Sinon in hopes it will lead him to Death Gun and what is causing his victims to die.

In Part 2, Kirito learned that Death Gun, through a tattoo on his arm, that he is part of Death Coffin, the murder guild of “Sword Art Online”.

His memories from that time is his unfortunate memories of having killed people, even if they were bad.  And now, he knows he must come face-to-face with a Death Coffin member once again and put a stop to his murderous campaign on “Gun Gale Online”.  But to do that, he needs the help of Sinon…who also has skeletons in her own closet, after she killed a robber in self defense.

Both Kirito and Sinon must confront these emotional challenges together, but will they manage to defeat Death Gun?

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2” features episodes 8-14.5 (a digest episode featuring episodes 1-14).


The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set ” are:

  • Kirito – The main protagonist of the series. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya is a former beta-tester who fights solo and responsible for saving many lives in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online. Kirito is recruited by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to become “Kirito” once again to enter the virtual world to investigate the cause of deaths in “Gun Gale Online” (GGO).
  • Shino Asada/Sinon – One of the best players, a sniper on “Gun Gale Online”. In real life, she has a major phobia of guns after killing a robber. She is the owner of the rare gun “PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II”. She looks at Kirito is a rival but she also wants to be closer to him because of the strength he shows in battle.
  • Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend (a main character in the previous “Sword Art Online”). She thinks that Kirito is earning money as a tester, but not knowing he is investigating a Death Coffin member.
  • Yui – Kirito and Asuna’s “child” via artificial intelligence. She often helps both when they are in need.
  • Suguha Kirigaya – Kirito’s adoptive sister (younger cousin), she knows that Kirito has joined another online game.
  • Death Gun – The main antagonist of “Gun Gale Online”. Whoever he kills in the online game, ends up dead in the real world.  It is revealed in earlier episodes that he is a member of the “Sword Art Online” murder guild.  But who is the man behind the mask?

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” features the episodes 8-14.5:

  • EPISODE 8 – Kirito turns to Sinon to help him with details of the BoB royale.
  • EPISODE 9 – Death Gun goes after Sinon
  • EPISODE 10 – Death Gun pursues Kirito and Sinon
  • EPISODE 11 – Kirito and Sinon try to find out how Death Gun is able to kill people in the real world while in the game.
  • EPISODE 12 – Kirito and Sinon decide to take on Death Gun, but are they ready?
  • EPISODE 13 – Kirito vs. Death Gun
  • EPISODE 14 – What happens to Sinon after she logs out of “Gun Gale Online”?
  • EPISODE 14.5 – A digest episode featuring what happened to Sinon in Episodes 1-14.

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” 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 each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2-: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 English and Japanese linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. Both Yoshitsugi Matsuoka and Miyuki Sawashiro and other cast members have done a fantastic job. With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on! Both Bryce Papenbrook and Michelle Ruff did an awesome job as Kirito and Sinon. But the casting for this anime series for the English dub was fantastic. Everyone did a magnificent job with their character role.

Subtitles are in English and you can choose from complete English subtitles which include dialogue and Japanese kana translations or a selection to choose just kana translations or no English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline II #3 – (11:41) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Sword Art Offline II #4 -(12:48) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Sword Art Offline II #5 -(13:47) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Textless ED (Phantom Bullet)
  • Web Version Previews – Featuring web previews for episodes 9-15
  • Audio Commentary 8 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon), author Reki Kawahara and gun consultant Keiichi Sigsawa.
  • Audio Commentary 12 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Yoshikazu Iwanami (Sound Director) .
  • Audio Commentary 13 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Souchiro Hoshi (voice of Death Gun) .

EXTRAS:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Sword Art Online Radio -USA – Parts 1 & 2 – (39:52) Part 1 featured voice actor Bryce Papenbrook (voice of Kirito) and Cherami Leigh (voice of Asuna) with special guest Ben Diskin (voice of Death Gun).  (27:44) Part 2 features Bryce Papenbrook (voice of Kirito) and Ben Diskin (voice of Death Gun) with special guest Michelle Ruff (voice of Sinon).

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” also comes with a slip case, a 24-page deluxe booklet with character info, episode synopsis and more, a three postcard set, and an exclusive Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card.


It’s really interesting because I came with the mindset of watching “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” that there is no way this second season will measure up to the awesome first season.

Yes, I enjoyed season one a lot and enjoyed the first episodes of “Sword Art Online II”.  But watching episodes 8-14, I was captivated and impressed by each of these episodes that I’m quite torn because I loved “Sword Art Online” a lot but I have to say that this first story arc turned out to be magnificent.

The emotion, the action, the writing and the voice acting (Japanese and English dub) were amazing.

The second storyline continued the story of Kirito and Sinon working together, but this time, as a team to take on the deadly Death Gun, a member of the SAO murder guild, Laughing Coffin.  And now people are dying in the real world and Death Gun wants nothing more but to destroy Kirito.

Add in the fact that Kirito still dwells about killing people in SAO and Sinon having to deal with her skeletons in her own closet, both must depend on each other to make it through this royale in “Gun Gale Online” or die in the real world.

The storyline is so riveting but now, I wonder what is in store for the second arc of the second season?  Suffice to say, I can’t wait!

As for the Blu-ray release, once again, the animation looks magnificent, while backgrounds are nicely painted, CG elements are well-done and for the most part, the series continues its outstanding quality from the first series. While the lossless soundtrack remains as Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and no 5.1 soundtrack yet, the soundtrack still sounds crisp and clear as dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks and Yuki Kajiura’s music sounds crystal clear.  And you also get a good number of special features, such as three audio commentary from the Japanese cast and more.

And similar to the previous “Sword Art Online” Limited Edition box sets, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes with a second CD featuring “SAO RADIO – USA” with the English dub voicecast, a 24-page deluxe booklet, three postcards, a Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card and a slipcase. So, Aniplex has done another wonderful job providing these awesome swag for SAO fans!

Overall, I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” to be amazing.  I absolutely loved how this first arc of the second season ended and I can’t wait for the second arc in the next Blu-ray volume!

If you love SAO, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” (both parts) are must buy, must have and highly recommended!

Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

July 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

soa2-a

I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” to be exciting and it left me wanting more and more! I can’t wait for the second set and for anyone who loved the first season, should definitely give “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1” a try!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Naoki Shojo, Shuji Iriyama, Yoshikazu Mukai, Yukie Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Souichiro Hoshi/Ben Diskin as Death Gun

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


A year has passed since SAO was cleared. Summoned by Seijirou Kikuoka of the Virtual Division at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Kazuto (Kirito) learns of a series of bizarre murders linked to the popular VR game, Gun Gale Online (GGO). After being shot in-game by a player calling himself Death Gun, two prominent GGO players have mysteriously turned up dead in the real world.

As Kazuto logs into GGO and starts investigating the mystery, he meets a girl sniper named Sinon who wields a Hecate II rifle. Is she friend or foe? Kirito enters the virtual world once more for an all new adventure!


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 five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). 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 now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academ”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).

“Sword Art Online II” is set a year after the “Sword Art Online” incident and a new VRMMORPG known as “Gun Gale Online” has become the popular game in Japan.

But one day, a top-ranked player named Zexceed appears on a streamed broadcast as his avatar and out of nowhere, a cloaked man known as “Death Gun” fires a bullet at Zexceed’s avatar causing the avatar to convulse and disconnect.

A month later, Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Virtual Division contacts Kirito for a meeting and tells him that he needs Kirito’s help.  Revealing that deaths are happening in the “Gun Gale Online” game caused by the mysterious avatar known as Death Gun.  He needs Kirito to go in the game and find out who Death Gun is.

While Kirito has his doubts, because he will get paid for his investigation, he joins “Gun Gale Online” and befriends a top-ranked player named Sinon in hopes it will lead him to Death Gun and what is causing his victims to die.


The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” are:

  • Kirito – The main protagonist of the series. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya is a former beta-tester who fights solo and responsible for saving many lives in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online. Kirito is recruited by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to become “Kirito” once again to enter the virtual world to investigate the cause of deaths in “Gun Gale Online” (GGO).
  • Shino Asada/Sinon – One of the best players, a sniper on “Gun Gale Online”.  In real life, she has a major phobia of guns after killing a robber.  She is the owner of the rare gun “PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II”.  She looks at Kirito is a rival.
  • Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend (a main character in the previous “Sword Art Online”).  She thinks that Kirito is earning money as a tester, but not knowing he is investigating.
  • Yui – Kirito and Asuna’s “child” via artificial intelligence.  She often helps both when  they are in need.
  • Suguha Kirigaya – Kirito’s adoptive sister (younger cousin), she knows that Kirito has joined another online game.
  • Death Gun – The main antagonist of “Gun Gale Online”.  Whoever he kills in the online game, ends up dead in the real world.

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” features the first seven episodes of “Sword Art Online”:

  • EPISODE 1 – A year after SOA, Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Virtual Division recruits Kirito to find a cloaked man known as “Death Gun” who is killing people on the VRMMORPG known as “Gun Gale Online” and the deaths online are leaving real gamers dead.
  • EPISODE 2 – An introduction to one of the awesome players of “Gun Gale Online”, Sinon.
  • EPISODE 3 – The life of Shino “Sinon” Asada revealed and why she has a phobia of guns.
  • EPISODE 4 – Kirito logs into “Gun Gale Online” and meets Sinon who tries to help him understand the online game.
  • EPISODE 5 – Kirito and Sinon register for the game and enter their first battle.
  • EPISODE 6 – Death Gun confronts Kirito, wanting to know if he’s the real Kirito.  Meanwhile, Kirito and Sinon end up in the finals.
  • EPISODE 7 – Kirito is rocked by seeing the tattoo of Death Gun and feeling that it may be players from SOA that want revenge for him killing those players.  Meanwhile, Sinon is disturbed by Kirito.

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” 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.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 English and Japanese linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. Both Yoshitsugi Matsuoka and Miyuki Sawashiro and other cast members have done a fantastic job. With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on! Both Bryce Papenbrook and Michelle Ruff did an awesome job as Kirito and Sinon. But the casting for this anime series for the English dub was fantastic. Everyone did a magnificent job with their character role.

Subtitles are in English and you can choose from complete English subtitles which include dialogue and Japanese kana translations or a selection to choose just kana translations or no English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline 1 – Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Sword Art Offline 2 -Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
  • Textless OP (Phantom Bullet)
  • Web Version Previews – Featuring web previews for episodes 2-8
  • Audio Commentary 1 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna) .
  • Audio Commentary 4 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Yoshikazu Iwanami (Sound Director) .

EXTRAS:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Original Soundtrack CD 1 (ソードアート・オンライン II Original Soundtrack vol. 1)

The following is a 37-track soundtrack (1 hour and 11 minutes long) featuring all-instrumental tracks by Yuki Kajiura.

  • 24-Page Deluxe Illustration Booklet – Each page features illustrations with characters from the series.
  • Set of Pin-Up Illustration Postcards – Featuring two different illustrated postcards.
  • Exclusive Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card  – I’m not sure if each set is random but the card that came with this limited edition release featured Sinon & Kirito (Avatar/Weapon).
  • Rigid Box illustrated by abec (Original Character Design) – A slipcase which houses both Blu-ray cases.
  • Clear BD cases with 2-sided Japanese Cover Design

Having enjoyed the first series, I wasn’t sure if the “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1-” could retain the synergy as the first season.

Of course, being captivated by all that has happened in “Sword Art Online” and what took place in the second half of the first season in “Alfheim Online”, I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about this new storyline revolving a gun-based MMORPG.

While I was excited by seeing a few of the original characters back, I wasn’t sure how I would like this new series, especially as episodes 2 and 3 would focus on this new character Sinon/Shino Asada.  But one episode four started and seeing Kirito in “Gun Gale Online” and showing his awesome skills of adapting to different situations, it was more of a thrill to see the confrontation between Death Gun and Kirito and seeing the link to the original series (which I don’t want to spoil).

Needless to say, having watched the first seven episodes, I really like where the series is going.  I found it to be exciting, dramatic (and emotional) but because this new storyline pits Kirito in a new situation and seeing this interesting rivalry between him and Sinon, I can’t wait to watch volume 2!

As for the Blu-ray release, once again, the animation looks magnificent, while backgrounds are nicely painted, CG elements are well-done and for the most part, the series continues its outstanding quality from the first series.  While the lossless soundtrack remains as Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and no 5.1 soundtrack yet, the soundtrack still sounds crisp and clear as dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks and Yuki Kajiura’s music sounds crystal clear.

And similar to the previous “Sword Art Online” Limited Edition box sets, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” comes with an original soundtrack, a 24-page book, postcards, a Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card and a slipcase.  So, Aniplex has done another wonderful job providing these awesome extras for fans!

Overall, I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” to be exciting and it left me wanting more and more! I can’t wait for the second set and for anyone who loved the first season, should definitely give “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1” a try!  Highly recommended!

Toriko: Part Four (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Toriko: Part Four” is about partnerships but Toriko knowing that from here on in, Komatsu is going to be his partner and he must do all he can to protect him and that is by getting stronger.  So, Toriko must undergo training and prepare himself for dangers that lie ahead.  A fun and crazy volume of “Toriko” that anime fans and foodies will enjoy!  “Toriko: Part four” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Toriko: Part Four

DURATION: Episodes 27-38

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Originally created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

Directed by Akifumi Zako

Series Composition by Isao Murayama

Script: Isao Murayama, Tomoko Taguchi, Yoichi Takahashi

Music by Hiromi Mizutani

Character Design by Hisashi Kagawa

Art by Masanobu Nomura

Anime Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Romi Park/Josh Grelle as Komatsu

Ryotaro Okiayu/Ian Sinclair as Toriko

Akio Ohtsuka as Livebearer

Akira Ishida as Tommyrod

Asami Tano/Leah Clark as Rin

Kokoro Kikuchi/Heather Walker as Cruppo

Banjou Ginga as Yosaku

Hideyuki Tanaka/Chuck Huber as Acacia

Hiro Yuuki as Ootake

Juurouta Kosugi as Mansam

Kenji Matsuda as Zebra

Kenjiro Ishimaru/Chris Guerrero as Narrator

Kenyuu Horiuchi as Ichiryu

Kokoro Kikuchi as Kruppoh

Masahito Yabe as Bei

Masaki Terasoma as Midora

Masaya Onosaka/David Wald as Teppei

Mitsuo Iwata/Aaron Robers as Sani (Sunny)

Nana Mizuki/Morgan Garrett as Tina

Sakiko Uran/Juli Erickson as Setsuno

Shinichiro Miki/Scott Freeman as Stajyun (Starjun)

Shinji Kawada/Robert McCollum as Johannes

Takahiro Sakurai/Jarrod Greene as Coco

Tetsuya Kakihara as Tom

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Philip Weber as Jirou

Yuji Mitsuya/Chris Rager as Grinpatch

Get ready for the next great anime adventure from TOEI, the legendary force behind Dragon Ball Z and One Piece! Welcome to the Gourmet Age, a time when the world is full of deliciously deadly ingredients that the wealthiest appetites in existence can’t wait to devour. But only a mighty masticating mercenary like Toriko can track down the rarest animals on the planet and put them on a plate! This gluttonous gourmet hunter is one of the four Legendary Kings, superhuman warriors born to battle the likes of Troll Kongs, Gararagators, and Devil Pythons! Accompanied by his loyal Battle Wolf and the promising young chef Komatsu, Toriko will circle the globe in search of the mouthwateringly lethal ingredients that will one day make up his Full Course Menu of Life! The more ferocious the beast the bigger the feast, but never forget the code of a true gourmet hunter: You gotta eat what you defeat!

The pursuit of for culinary delights continues in “Toriko: Part Three” as Toriko and Komatsu search for the “Century Soup” but unbeknownst to the group, someone powerful named Tommyrod a Sous Chef and members of the Gourmet Corps go after them.

Find out in “Toriko: Part Three” from FUNimation!

What is “Toriko”?

In Japan, we have seen Shonen Jump series that have had a long life, not just as manga but as anime series. From the “Dragon Ball” series, “One Piece”, “Naruto”, “Bleach” and another series that has captivated readers and viewers is “Toriko”.

Created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro in 2008, the manga series has been published on “Weekly Shonen Jump” and is currently on 22nd tankobon volume, while the anime series produced by Toei Animation is still being broadcast since 2011 on Fuji TV. And now the third part of the anime series will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in March 2013.

The series is directed by Akifumi Zako (“Fresh Pretty Cure”, “Ashita no Nadia”, “Ojamajo Doremi Na-i-sho”), series composition by Isao Murayama (“Saint Seiya Omega”, “Kaidan Restaurant”), music by Hiromi Mizutani (“Hell Girl”, “Hyakko”), character designs by Hisashi Kagawa (“Bomberman Jetters”, “Hataraki Man”, “Fresh Pretty Cure”) and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“Blue Drop”, “The Big O”, “K”, “The Idolm@ster”, “Gurren Lagann”).

It’s important to note that in Japan, the first episode was a cross-over special with “One Piece”. For the U.S. DVD release, this cross over episode is not included.

Toriko takes place during a time where gourmet is important. The taste, the texture of food and rare ingredients are what chefs seek for, but in order to get rare ingredients and animals, major organizations hire Bishokuya (which are “gourmet hunters”).

After the last volume of Toriko losing an arm and now going through a process that may regenerate his arm, Komatsu has been trying to find the necessary ingredients to complete the Century Soup and it appears that he has found it and may be able to help Toriko, grow back his arm.

Meanwhile, more adventures await Toriko but he needs to undergo major training in order to compete against significant foes.  But the IGO President gives him advice that from here on in, he will be best to partner with a chef for his adventures and with Toriko and Komatsu having endured several adventures, the question is if Komatsu is ready to put his life on the line for the ultimate ingredients.

Will Komatsu join Toriko in his next quest, this time to find the Ozone Grass that will put them in harms way but also to test out their partnership?

“Toriko: Part Four” features the following episodes (Note: Just to remind everyone that the episode 1 special featuring “One Piece” is not included. So, episode order is an episode off compared to what was shown in Japan.)

  • EPISODE 39 – Komatsu finds the final ingredient to complete the Century Soup!
  • EPISODE 40 – With the final ingredient, Toriko may get his arm back. Will it work?
  • EPISODE 41 – Toriko contacts his architect Smile to build him a candy house.
  • EPISODE 42 – Toriko, Sunny and CoCo look for the Seven-Color Nessie!
  • EPISODE 43 – The group continues on their quest to find the Seven-Color Nessie.
  • EPISODE 44 – Toriko wants to test his out his fighting technique against the IGO President.
  • EPISODE 45 – Toriko and Komatsu go on a mission to find the delicious Ozone Grass.
  • EPISODE 46 – Toriko and Komatsu continue on their perilous quest to find the Ozone Grass.
  • EPISODE 47 – Toriko and Komatsu find the Ozone Grass but also something sinister is also there.
  • EPISODE 48 – Toriko and Komatsu spy on what appears to be a GT Robot near the Ozone Grass.  Why is it there?
  • EPISODE 49 – Toriko goes on another training adventure!
  • EPISODE 50 – Toriko goes to the Underground Forest for training.

The main characters of “Toriko” are:

  • Toriko – A gourmet hunter and one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who loves to eat! Toriko does not kill and just eat any animal, he only will kill those that he wants to eat. A man with animal-tracking senses, superhuman strength, fighting skills and immunity to many poisons.
  • Komatsu – A five star chef who works for the Hotel Gourmet, a prestigious restaurant owned by the International Gourmet Organization. A highly skilled chef who wants to get better and that is why he wants to join Toriko on his mission to find rare ingredients and become the best chef in the world.
  • Coco – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who is a fortune teller and has exceptional stealth techniques and a wonderful animal tracker who is also immune to many poisons.
  • Sunny – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and the older brother of Rin. He has a talent of sensing ones physical state.
  • Zebra – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and is the most powerful of the four. Often angry and has a short-temper.
  • Rin – A member of IGO who is tomboyish in nature, she has a major crush on Toriko and the younger sister of Sunny.
  • Mansam – The IGO Development Bureau Director and Gourmet Research Facility Chief. An old friend of Toriko.
  • Tina – A television reporter for “Gourmet News” who is following Toriko and Komatsu.
  • Takimaru – A member of the Gourmet Knights and is able to dislodge an opponents bones and joints.
  • Setsuno – The Gourmet Living National Treasure and one of the top five chefs in the world.
  • Match – The Chief of the Gourmet Yakuza and a close friend of Toriko.
  • Teppei – A famous healer working for Yosaku and the grandchild of Jiro.
  • Yosako – Runs a revival institute in Mother Wood. Wears clothes stained in blood.
  • Grinpatch – An evil sous chef for the Gourmet Corps, best known for his black teeth, four arms and giant straw.
  • Tommyrod – An evil sous chef for the Gourmet corps. Able to shoot out parasitic bugs from his body and has no need for a GT Robo.
  • Barrygamon – 4th Branch Head of the Gourmet corps. Known for wearing special armor made from the shell of a Crush Turtle.
  • Bogie Woods – 5th Branch Chief of the Gourmet corps. Able to manipulate his bones and joints.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Toriko” is an anime series that is full of detail for a TV series. Produced by Toei Animation, the animated series has a style of a classic old school anime series in terms of character design but what catches your eye is the detailed art backgrounds which are fantastic. Some scenes are in CG (such as water effects) but I really enjoyed the animation for this series.

As for audio, “Toriko” is presented in English 5.1 surround and in Japanese stereo. The English 5.1 soundtrack has better dynamic range when it comes to use of the surround channels but both are well-acted. For the English dub, both Ian Sinclair and Josh Grelle are both FUNimation veterans who are well-known for their voice work on series such as “Black Butler”, “Bird the Mighty” and “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”.

For the Japanese soundtrack, you also get to hear veterans Romi Park (best known as Edward Elric for the “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” series and Toushiro Hitsugaya in “Bleach”) as Komatsu and Ryotaro Okiayu (Katsuhiko Jinnai in “El Hazard”, Scar on “Fullmetal Alchemist” and Kunimitsu Tezuka of “Prince of Tennis”) and Park’s delivery of the constant fear that Komatsu is often encountering is well-captured in her voice.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toriko: Part Four” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 40 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko) and Jarrod Greene (Coco).
  • Feast with the Cast of Toriko: Episode 42 Video Commentary – Featuring a video commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko), Jarrod Greene (Coco), Aaron Robers (Sunny) and Morgan Garrett (Tina) as the four have cooked and brought their own dishes and each tries each other’s food.
  • Episode 46 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko) and Josh Grelle (Komatsu).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless opening for “Gatsu Gatsu!!” by Akira Kushida and closing theme “Sabrina” by Leo Ieiri.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Toriko”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

The fun adventures of Toriko and friends continue in “Toriko: Part Four”!

With the last volume being action-packed, the storyline begins to take a breather as Toriko has to get better after his last fight and recuperate from losing an arm but knowing that he must get more training in order to prepare himself for more of these perilous adventures.

While the first half of the series deals with Komatsu finding the ingredients to complete the Century Soup and Toriko feeling good about his new attacks, he finds out quickly that it’s not even enough to go against the IGO President.  Knowing this, he needs more training.  And what best than to go on adventures with his brothers but also another adventure with Komatsu.

But most importantly, knowing that any adventures in the future, he will need to bring a partner who is a chef and what best than to put his trust into Komatsu.  The question is…with so much danger, will Komatsu want to be involved in these adventures.

For the second part of the series, it focuses on Toriko and Komatsu’s quest to find the Ozone Grass but knowing that an ominous presence is also there looking for it.  Knowing what is at stake and knowing he must do all he can to protect Komatsu in the future, Toriko knows he needs more training and to become more powerful.  Can he do it?

As for the DVD, the picture quality is pretty cool with the old school style of animation in combined with modern style of detailed art backgrounds and CG use. The series looks very good and it’s a colorful anime series that doesn’t look too soft. And for special features, you get two audio commentary from FUNimation English voice dub talent but possibly the wildest video commentary is featuring four of the voice talent cooking their own food and everyone partaking in the meal.  The video commentary was a wonderful addition to part four and I hope this become a permanent feature for each “Toriko” DVD release because not only does it makes sense, but it’s just so much fun to watch and listen to.

Overall, “Toriko: Part Four” is about partnerships but Toriko knowing that from here on in, Komatsu is going to be his partner and he must do all he can to protect him and that is by getting stronger.  So, Toriko must undergo training and prepare himself for dangers that lie ahead.

A fun and crazy volume of “Toriko” that anime fans and foodies will enjoy!  “Toriko: Part four” is recommended!

Toriko: Part Three (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Toriko: Part Three” features even more hardcore action!  The “Century Soup Arc” features plenty of intense battles and the most powerful rival that Toriko has faced so far!  Exciting, action-packed, a lot of fun and definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Toriko: Part Three

DURATION: Episodes 27-38

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Originally created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

Directed by Akifumi Zako

Series Composition by Isao Murayama

Script: Isao Murayama, Tomoko Taguchi, Yoichi Takahashi

Music by Hiromi Mizutani

Character Design by Hisashi Kagawa

Art by Masanobu Nomura

Anime Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Romi Park/Josh Grelle as Komatsu

Ryotaro Okiayu/Ian Sinclair as Toriko

Akio Ohtsuka as Livebearer

Akira Ishida as Tommyrod

Asami Tano/Leah Clark as Rin

Kokoro Kikuchi/Heather Walker as Cruppo

Banjou Ginga as Yosaku

Hideyuki Tanaka/Chuck Huber as Acacia

Hiro Yuuki as Ootake

Juurouta Kosugi as Mansam

Kenji Matsuda as Zebra

Kenjiro Ishimaru/Chris Guerrero as Narrator

Kenyuu Horiuchi as Ichiryu

Kokoro Kikuchi as Kruppoh

Masahito Yabe as Bei

Masaki Terasoma as Midora

Masaya Onosaka/David Wald as Teppei

Mitsuo Iwata/Aaron Robers as Sani (Sunny)

Nana Mizuki/Morgan Garrett as Tina

Sakiko Uran/Juli Erickson as Setsuno

Shinichiro Miki/Scott Freeman as Stajyun (Starjun)

Shinji Kawada/Robert McCollum as Johannes

Takahiro Sakurai/Jarrod Greene as Coco

Tetsuya Kakihara as Tom

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Philip Weber as Jirou

Yuji Mitsuya/Chris Rager as Grinpatch

Toriko, Komatsu, and a host of hopeful heroes bundle up and begin the treacherous trek into the chilling confines of Ice Hell! The prize that lies ahead, Century Soup, is among the rarest of gourmet treasures – and without a doubt, the most divine delicacy ever to grace a bowl and spoon. Once every hundred years this luxurious liquid forms at the center of a chilling continent crafted completely from ice!

Toriko and his culinarily-inclined sidekick Komatsu are determined to slurp up the sweet rewards of their journey, but something evil stands in their way. While Komatsu desperately seeks the soup, Tommyrod – a Gourmet Corps henchman with insects on the inside – pushes Toriko to the breaking point in a bugged out battle for the ages. Gourmet glory awaits, but only if they survive!

The pursuit of for culinary delights continues in “Toriko: Part Three” as Toriko and Komatsu search for the “Century Soup” but unbeknownst to the group, someone powerful named Tommyrod a Sous Chef and members of the Gourmet Corps go after them.

Find out in “Toriko: Part Three” from FUNimation!

What is “Toriko”?

In Japan, we have seen Shonen Jump series that have had a long life, not just as manga but as anime series. From the “Dragon Ball” series, “One Piece”, “Naruto”, “Bleach” and another series that has captivated readers and viewers is “Toriko”.

Created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro in 2008, the manga series has been published on “Weekly Shonen Jump” and is currently on 22nd tankobon volume, while the anime series produced by Toei Animation is still being broadcast since 2011 on Fuji TV. And now the third part of the anime series will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in March 2013.

The series is directed by Akifumi Zako (“Fresh Pretty Cure”, “Ashita no Nadia”, “Ojamajo Doremi Na-i-sho”), series composition by Isao Murayama (“Saint Seiya Omega”, “Kaidan Restaurant”), music by Hiromi Mizutani (“Hell Girl”, “Hyakko”), character designs by Hisashi Kagawa (“Bomberman Jetters”, “Hataraki Man”, “Fresh Pretty Cure”) and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“Blue Drop”, “The Big O”, “K”, “The Idolm@ster”, “Gurren Lagann”).

It’s important to note that in Japan, the first episode was a cross-over special with “One Piece”. For the U.S. DVD release, this cross over episode is not included.

Toriko takes place during a time where gourmet is important. The taste, the texture of food and rare ingredients are what chefs seek for, but in order to get rare ingredients and animals, major organizations hire Bishokuya (which are “gourmet hunters”).

The series begins with a chef named Komatsu who is dispatched by the International Gourmet Organization (IGO) to find Toriko in order to capture a rare animal known as a Gararagator (level 8). When Komatsu arrives, he sees the gourmet hunter easily catching a Pincer Fish. When Toriko finds out that Komatsu is trying to catch a Gararagator, Toriko who loves the challenge, agrees.

While Komatsu is timid and often scared of the creatures in the swamp and jungle, they come across a Gararagator, which is a gigantic red alligator and Toriko manages to kill it with his “Fork and Knife” technique but instead of giving the Gararagator to Komatsu for his organization, his intention to catching it was for a full-course menu. Wanting to become a world-renown chef, Komatsu feels that by being with Toriko, he can achieve that. So he asks if he can accompany Toriko on his adventures capturing animals for gourmet and Toriko accepts.

But as the two embark on their mission, they are challenged by a rival organization known as the Gourmet Corps who are bent on controlling the world’s ingredients and wanting the two dead.

In part three of “Toriko”, the group head out in the cold, frigid weather to look for Century Soup.  Hard to find and very dangerous, Toriko and friends are ready to find the soup…but also searching for the soup is the evil Gourmet Corps and Gourmet Yakuza.

Who will get to it first?

“Toriko: Part Three” features the following episodes (Note: Just to remind everyone that the episode 1 special featuring “One Piece” is not included. So, episode order is an episode off compared to what was shown in Japan.)

  • EPISODE 27 – Toriko takes on a giant Silver Grizzly.
  • EPISODE 28 – Toriko’s hand is frozen solid during an encounter with the Gourmet corps.  Komatsu goes to find the Century Soup along with Tina.
  • EPISODE 29 – Toriko vs. Tommyrod, Takamaru vs. Bogie Woods.
  • EPISODE 30 – Takamaru vs. Bogie Woods, Match vs. Barrygamon.
  • EPISODE 31 – The battle between Toriko vs. Tommyrod continues!
  • EPISODE 32 – Teppei comes to help out, meanwhile Toriko’s battle against Tommyrod continues.
  • EPISODE 33 – The battle between Toriko and Tommyrod continues as Toriko unleashes his Thirteen-Fold Spike Punch.
  • EPISODE 34 – With Teppei coming to help, Tommyrod releases the Parasite Emperor.  Will Komatsu find the Century Soup.
  • EPISODE 35 – The Gourmet Corps has stolen the Century Soup and now Komatsu is devastated.  But Teppei comes up with an idea.
  • EPISODE 36 – Saved by Granny Setsu, Toriko and friends are taken to Life for some healing.
  • EPISODE 37 – As the group continues to heal, Toriko finds Sunny in the area.
  • EPISODE 38 – Toriko finds out that he may be able to grow a new arm.  Meanwhile, Komatsu tries to find the final ingredient to make “Century Soup””.

The main characters of “Toriko” are:

  • Toriko – A gourmet hunter and one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who loves to eat! Toriko does not kill and just eat any animal, he only will kill those that he wants to eat. A man with animal-tracking senses, superhuman strength, fighting skills and immunity to many poisons.
  • Komatsu – A five star chef who works for the Hotel Gourmet, a prestigious restaurant owned by the International Gourmet Organization. A highly skilled chef who wants to get better and that is why he wants to join Toriko on his mission to find rare ingredients and become the best chef in the world.
  • Coco – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who is a fortune teller and has exceptional stealth techniques and a wonderful animal tracker who is also immune to many poisons.
  • Sunny – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and the older brother of Rin. He has a talent of sensing ones physical state.
  • Zebra – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and is the most powerful of the four. Often angry and has a short-temper.
  • Rin – A member of IGO who is tomboyish in nature, she has a major crush on Toriko and the younger sister of Sunny.
  • Mansam – The IGO Development Bureau Director and Gourmet Research Facility Chief. An old friend of Toriko.
  • Tina – A television reporter for “Gourmet News” who is following Toriko and Komatsu.
  • Takimaru – A member of the Gourmet Knights and is able to dislodge an opponents bones and joints.
  • Setsuno – The Gourmet Living National Treasure and one of the top five chefs in the world.
  • Match – The Chief of the Gourmet Yakuza and a close friend of Toriko.
  • Teppei – A famous healer working for Yosaku and the grandchild of Jiro.
  • Yosako – Runs a revival institute in Mother Wood.  Wears clothes stained in blood.
  • Grinpatch – An evil sous chef for the Gourmet Corps, best known for his black teeth, four arms and giant straw.
  • Tommyrod – An evil sous chef for the Gourmet corps.  Able to shoot out parasitic bugs from his body and has no need for a GT Robo.
  • Barrygamon – 4th Branch Head of the Gourmet corps.  Known for wearing special armor made from the shell of a Crush Turtle.
  • Bogie Woods – 5th Branch Chief of the Gourmet corps.  Able to manipulate his bones and joints.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Toriko” is an anime series that is full of detail for a TV series. Produced by Toei Animation, the animated series has a style of a classic old school anime series in terms of character design but what catches your eye is the detailed art backgrounds which are fantastic. Some scenes are in CG (such as water effects) but I really enjoyed the animation for this series.

As for audio, “Toriko” is presented in English 5.1 surround and in Japanese stereo. The English 5.1 soundtrack has better dynamic range when it comes to use of the surround channels but both are well-acted. For the English dub, both Ian Sinclair and Josh Grelle are both FUNimation veterans who are well-known for their voice work on series such as “Black Butler”, “Bird the Mighty” and “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”.

For the Japanese soundtrack, you also get to hear veterans Romi Park (best known as Edward Elric for the “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” series and Toushiro Hitsugaya in “Bleach”) as Komatsu and Ryotaro Okiayu (Katsuhiko Jinnai in “El Hazard”, Scar on “Fullmetal Alchemist” and Kunimitsu Tezuka of “Prince of Tennis”) and Park’s delivery of the constant fear that Komatsu is often encountering is well-captured in her voice.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toriko: Part Three” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 30 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko), Jason Douglas (Match), Jerry Jewell (Bogie Woods).
  • Episode 34 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR Director) and Dave Wall (Teppei).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless opening for “Gatsu Gatsu!!” by Akira Kushida and closing for “Deli-Deli*Delicious” by Sea A and “Sabrina” by Leo Ieiri.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Toriko”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

The most intense “Toriko” arc yet!

In the first 25 episodes of “Toriko”, writers have used the episodes to introduce characters and also special abilities but to also how competitive things have been between the IGO and the Gourmet Corps.

Be episode 27, with the “Century Soup” arc, the action and fighting scenes have been increased considerably as Toriko and friends fight their greatest matchup yet.

The battle between Toriko vs. Tommyrod can be compared to epic battles such as Goku vs. Freezer (of “Dragon Ball Z”) but not as drawn out in dozens of episodes.  In the case of “Toriko”, the battle between the two show how far the two would go to win a battle and this includes the two prominent characters losing limbs.  Also, you have other characters involved in battle such as Takamaru vs. Bogie Woods and Match vs. Barrygamon going at the same time.  But if anything, grateful that these battles did not take nearly 20-episodes but half of that and we begin to learn that the rivalry between the IGO and Gourmet Corps is becoming more challenging, difficult and deadly.

There are more characters introduced in the “Century Soup” arc and the introduction of Teppei is pretty awesome as he not only heals, but he also fight!

While a more action-driven story arc, there is still quite a bit of humor and fun scenes included, especially as Komatsu tries to remake the Century Soup that he once tasted and seeing how things will develop for the next story arc involving the IGO taking part in the “Gourmet King Championship”.

While I have read many manga and watched many drama that had centered around food, “Toriko” is rather interesting in the fact that these surprising ingredients tend to be exotic fruit guarded by monsters or some type of behemoth or animals that look like they come out of the Jurassic age.

So far with the first 38 episodes, the adventures are quite enjoyable as Toriko and Komatsu are on various adventures commissioned by the International Gourmet Organization to find an exotic item for a dish or some dangerous animal. Toriko like Kenshiro of “Hokuto no Ken” is gifted with tremendous fighting ability, while Komatsu is well… a good companion and a chef that wants to be the world best.

As for the DVD, the picture quality is pretty cool with the old school style of animation in combined with modern style of detailed art backgrounds and CG use. The series looks very good and it’s a colorful anime series that doesn’t look too soft. And for special features, you get three audio commentary from FUNimation English voice dub talent.

Overall, “Toriko: Part Three” is my favorite arc so far.  Action-packed, a lot of fun and exciting adventures that fans of action/adventure anime series will surely enjoy.  Recommended!

Toriko: Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Toriko: Part Two” is a fun, action-packed animated series that combines the concept of gourmet and finding the best ingredients and meat with heavy hitting action. The concept is surely unique for an anime series and if you want something different, something fun with many crazy adventures and a lot of action, “Toriko: Part Two” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Toriko: Part Two

DURATION: Episodes 14-26

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Originally created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

Directed by Akifumi Zako

Series Composition by Isao Murayama

Script: Isao Murayama, Tomoko Taguchi, Yoichi Takahashi

Music by Hiromi Mizutani

Character Design by Hisashi Kagawa

Art by Masanobu Nomura

Anime Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Romi Park/Josh Grelle as Komatsu

Ryotaro Okiayu/Ian Sinclair as Toriko

Akio Ohtsuka as Livebearer

Akira Ishida as Tommyrod

Asami Tano/Leah Clark as Rin

Kokoro Kikuchi/Heather Walker as Cruppo

Banjou Ginga as Yosaku

Hideyuki Tanaka/Chuck Huber as Acacia

Hiro Yuuki as Ootake

Juurouta Kosugi as Mansam

Kenji Matsuda as Zebra

Kenjiro Ishimaru/Chris Guerrero as Narrator

Kenyuu Horiuchi as Ichiryu

Kokoro Kikuchi as Kruppoh

Masahito Yabe as Bei

Masaki Terasoma as Midora

Masaya Onosaka/David Wald as Teppei

Mitsuo Iwata/Aaron Robers as Sani (Sunny)

Nana Mizuki/Morgan Garrett as Tina

Sakiko Uran/Juli Erickson as Setsuno

Shinichiro Miki/Scott Freeman as Stajyun (Starjun)

Shinji Kawada/Robert McCollum as Johannes

Takahiro Sakurai/Jarrod Greene as Coco

Tetsuya Kakihara as Tom

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Philip Weber as Jirou

Yuji Mitsuya/Chris Rager as Grinpatch

Welcome to the Gourmet Age, a time when the world is full of deliciously deadly ingredients that the wealthiest appetites in existence can’t wait to devour. But only a mighty masticating mercenary like Toriko can track down the rarest animals on the planet and put them on a plate! This gluttonous gourmet hunter is one of the four Legendary Kings, superhuman warriors born to battle the likes of Troll Kongs, Gararagators, and Devil Pythons.

Accompanied by his loyal Battle Wolf and the promising young chef Komatsu, Toriko will circle the globe in search of the mouth-wateringly lethal ingredients that will one day make up his Full Course Menu of Life. The more ferocious the beast, the bigger the feast, but never forget the code of a true gourmet hunter: you gotta eat what you defeat!

The pursuit of for culinary delights continues in “Toriko: Part Two” as Toriko takes on GT Robot and comes face to face against the evil Gourmet Corps, Grinpatch.

In Japan, we have seen Shonen Jump series that have had a long life, not just as manga but as anime series. From the “Dragon Ball” series, “One Piece”, “Naruto”, “Bleach” and another series that has captivated readers and viewers is “Toriko”.

Created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro in 2008, the manga series has been published on “Weekly Shonen Jump” and is currently on 22nd tankobon volume, while the anime series produced by Toei Animation is still being broadcast since 2011 on Fuji TV. And now part two of the anime series will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in February 2013.

The series is directed by Akifumi Zako (“Fresh Pretty Cure”, “Ashita no Nadia”, “Ojamajo Doremi Na-i-sho”), series composition by Isao Murayama (“Saint Seiya Omega”, “Kaidan Restaurant”), music by Hiromi Mizutani (“Hell Girl”, “Hyakko”), character designs by Hisashi Kagawa (“Bomberman Jetters”, “Hataraki Man”, “Fresh Pretty Cure”) and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“Blue Drop”, “The Big O”, “K”, “The Idolm@ster”, “Gurren Lagann”).

It’s important to note that in Japan, the first episode was a cross-over special with “One Piece”. For the U.S. DVD release, this cross over episode is not included.

Toriko takes place during a time where gourmet is important. The taste, the texture of food and rare ingredients are what chefs seek for, but in order to get rare ingredients and animals, major organizations hire Bishokuya (which are “gourmet hunters”).

The series begins with a chef named Komatsu who is dispatched by the International Gourmet Organization (IGO) to find Toriko in order to capture a rare animal known as a Gararagator (level 8). When Komatsu arrives, he sees the gourmet hunter easily catching a Pincer Fish. When Toriko finds out that Komatsu is trying to catch a Gararagator, Toriko who loves the challenge, agrees.

While Komatsu is timid and often scared of the creatures in the swamp and jungle, they come across a Gararagator, which is a gigantic red alligator and Toriko manages to kill it with his “Fork and Knife” technique but instead of giving the Gararagator to Komatsu for his organization, his intention to catching it was for a full-course menu. Wanting to become a world-renown chef, Komatsu feels that by being with Toriko, he can achieve that. So he asks if he can accompany Toriko on his adventures capturing animals for gourmet and Toriko accepts.

But as the two embark on their mission, they are challenged by a rival organization known as the Gourmet Corps who are bent on controlling the world’s ingredients and wanting the two dead.

In part two of “Toriko”, Toriko’s adventures for BB Corn and the Legendary Soup puts him at odds against the evil organization known as the Gourmet Corps.  Meanwhile Komatsu without Toriko, must complete his fish dish by finding an exquisite sauce.  Will he be able to complete it in time?

“Toriko: Part Two” features the following episodes (Note: Just to remind everyone that the episode 1 special featuring “One Piece” is not included. So, episode order is an episode off compared to what was shown in Japan.

  • EPISODE 14 – Sunny takes on the GT Robot and someone is hunting Toriko and the gourmet hunters.
  • EPISODE 15 – How will Komatsu respond when the GT Robot takes away his favorite knife.
  • EPISODE 16 – After tasting jewel meat, a revived Toriko is ready to fight against the GT Robot.
  • EPISODE 17 – Komatsu is on a mission to find a rare sauce, while Toriko is in the jungle looking for food for his Battle Wolf.
  • EPISODE 18 – Terry, the Batle Wolf takes on a Zombie Wood.
  • EPISODE 19 – Just when Toriko and Terry find BB Corn and are having a great time, Komatsu on the other hand takes on a giant lizard.
  • EPISODE 20 – Toriko takes on the Gourmet Corps assassin, Grinpatch.
  • EPISODE 21 – The battle between Toriko vs. Grinpatch continues.
  • EPISODE 22 – Toriko and Komatsu travel to the city of culinary dreams and has dinner with a gourmet legend.  Meanwhile, the evil Gourmet Corps continue their search for Jewel Meat.
  • EPISODE 23 – Komatsu and Toriko take a tour of Setsuno’s kitchen.
  • EPISODE 24 – Toriko and Komatsu search for the legendary Century Soup, but not far behind are the Gourmet Corps.
  • EPISODE 25 – A GT Robot and Tunda Dragons stand between Toriko and the Century Soup.
  • EPISODE 26 – Toriko vs. the Freezer Bison, Zonge ends up confronting angry Growlruses.

The main characters of “Toriko” are:

  • Toriko – A gourmet hunter and one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who loves to eat! Toriko does not kill and just eat any animal, he only will kill those that he wants to eat. A man with animal-tracking senses, superhuman strength, fighting skills and immunity to many poisons.
  • Komatsu – A five star chef who works for the Hotel Gourmet, a prestigious restaurant owned by the International Gourmet Organization. A highly skilled chef who wants to get better and that is why he wants to join Toriko on his mission to find rare ingredients and become the best chef in the world.
  • Coco – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” who is a fortune teller and has exceptional stealth techniques and a wonderful animal tracker who is also immune to many poisons.
  • Sunny – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and the older brother of Rin. He has a talent of sensing ones physical state.
  • Zebra – One of the “Four Heavenly Kings” and is the most powerful of the four. Often angry and has a short-temper.
  • Rin – A member of IGO who is tomboyish in nature, she has a major crush on Toriko and the younger sister of Sunny.
  • Mansam – The IGO Development Bureau Director and Gourmet Research Facility Chief. An old friend of Toriko.
  • Tina – A television reporter for “Gourmet News” who is following Toriko and Komatsu.
  • Grinpatch – An evil sous chef for the Gourmet Corps, best known for his black teeth, four arms and giant straw.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Toriko” is an anime series that is full of detail for a TV series. Produced by Toei Animation, the animated series has a style of a classic old school anime series in terms of character design but what catches your eye is the detailed art backgrounds which are fantastic. Some scenes are in CG (such as water effects) but I really enjoyed the animation for this series.

As for audio, “Toriko” is presented in English 5.1 surround and in Japanese stereo. The English 5.1 soundtrack has better dynamic range when it comes to use of the surround channels but both are well-acted. For the English dub, both Ian Sinclair and Josh Grelle are both FUNimation veterans who are well-known for their voice work on series such as “Black Butler”, “Bird the Mighty” and “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”.

For the Japanese soundtrack, you also get to hear veterans Romi Park (best known as Edward Elric for the “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” series and Toushiro Hitsugaya in “Bleach”) as Komatsu and Ryotaro Okiayu (Katsuhiko Jinnai in “El Hazard”, Scar on “Fullmetal Alchemist” and Kunimitsu Tezuka of “Prince of Tennis”) and Park’s delivery of the constant fear that Komatsu is often encountering is well-captured in her voice.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toriko: Part Tw0” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 15 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko), Heather Walker (Grupo), Morgan Garrett (Tina) and Scott Freeman (Starjun).
  • Episode 20 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko), Chris Guerrero (Narrator), Chris Rager (Grinpatch).
  • Episode 26 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (Toriko), Kyle Phillips (ADR Engineer) and ADR Director Tyler Walker.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless opening for “Gatsu Gatsu!!” by Akira Kushida and closing for “Satisfaction” by FT Island and “Deli-Deli*Delicious” by Sea A.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Toriko”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

Another action-packed adventure of “Toriko”, where the first 13-episodes were about establishing the characters, this time around, the series showcases much more action and introduces even more deadly opponents for Toriko with the introduction of the sinister Gourmet Corps.

As Toriko, Komatsu and members of the Gourmet Hunter team continue their adventures, they are unaware how much danger lies ahead of them.

While I know that “Toriko” is a popular manga and anime series in Japan and I have friends who are crazy over the series, I haven’t watched or read the series yet.

But now watching the first 26 episodes, I have to say that the gourmet concept is rather intriguing and in some way, it reminds me of older “Dragon Ball Z” episodes when young Gohan had to catch his own food and going after dinosaurs and other creatures. In the case of “Toriko”, it has the fun of a series like “One Piece”, a protagonist that reminds me of “Hokuto no Ken” (Fist of the North Star) with its buffed out character, Toriko and of course your timid follower, who wants to be grow and mature with the character of Komatsu.

While I have read many manga and watched many drama that had centered around food, “Toriko” is rather interesting in the fact that these surprising ingredients tend to be exotic fruit guarded by monsters or some type of behemoth or animals that look like they come out of the Jurassic age.

So far with the first 26 episodes, the adventures are quite enjoyable as Toriko and Komatsu are on various adventures commissioned by the International Gourmet Organization to find an exotic item for a dish or some dangerous animal. Toriko like Kenshiro of “Hokuto no Ken” is gifted with tremendous fighting ability, while Komatsu is well… a good companion and a chef that wants to be the world best.  Part two of “Toriko” does a great job of showcasing Toriko’s special abilities, now that he is put up against the most powerful opponents.

From fighting giant robots to battling the evil sous chef Grinpatch, we get to learn that these opponents are not an easy fight for Toriko and because the evil Gourmet Corps are also after the legendary Jewel Meat, that means trouble will always be around for Toriko and Komatsu.

As for the DVD, the picture quality is pretty cool with the old school style of animation in combined with modern style of detailed art backgrounds and CG use. The series looks very good and it’s a colorful anime series that doesn’t look too soft. And for special features, you get three audio commentary from FUNimation English voice dub talent.

Overall, “Toriko: Part Two” is a fun, action-packed animated series that combines the concept of gourmet and finding the best ingredients and meat with heavy hitting action. The concept is surely unique for an anime series and if you want something different, something fun with many crazy adventures and a lot of action, “Toriko: Part Two” is recommended!

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