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Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series

YEAR: 2003

DURATION: Episodes 1-30 (750 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4:3, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 7, 2017


Originally Creator: Keiko Nobumoto

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Script by Keiko Nobumoto

Music by Yoko Kanno

Character Design by Toshiro Kawamoto

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

Anime Production by BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Akio Suyama/Joshua Seth as Hige

Hiroki Shimowada/Mona Marshall as Toboe

Kaho Kouda/Kari Wahlgren as Cher Degre

Kenta Miyake/Crispin Freeman as Tsume

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kiba

Arisa Ogasawara/Sherry Lynn as Cheza

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Jagura

Mayumi Asano/Jessica Straus as Blue

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Robert Buchholz as Hubb Lebowski

Takaya Kuroda/Steven Jay Blum as Darcia

Unshō Ishizuka/Tom Wyner as Quent Yaiden


Paradise-a legend, a myth, and a hopeless dream in a world that has become a wasteland. It is not meant for everyone, only the wolves thought to be extinct yet still roam the lands. When the Flower Maiden awakens, the path to the end will open.

Kiba, a lone white wolf, wanders into a poverty stricken city on a quest. The scent of Lunar Flowers and the will to find Paradise is all he has. Along the way, he runs into other outcast wolves: Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, each with their own story and troubles. Fate bringing them together, and together they seek out the Flower Maiden, Cheza, and their way to Paradise. But, doing so is no simple matter.

Up against a world that fears them and a man with mysterious abilities, their journey is overrun with challenges and worse-sacrifices. With limited time, they must fight to protect Cheza against everyone who seeks her and discover the hidden path to their destiny. This group of broken souls will form a pack and take their journey to the doors of Paradise. But is it worth the end of the world?


Back in 2003, BONES anime studio released the 26-episode + 4 OAV anime series “Wolf’s Rain” on Fuji TV.  The series would receive a short two-volume manga retelling by Keiko Nobumoto and Toshitsugu Iida (illustrations) and serialized in “Magazine Z”.

The anime series was done well in Japan but when the anime series was released on Adult Swim, needless to say, it would attract many America viewers.  So popular that the DVD release sold well in North America .  And now 15-years later, the series will be released on Blu-ray as a complete series courtesy of FUNimation.

The series begins with a telling of an old legend that when the end of the world is coming, Paradise will appear.  But only wolves can find Paradise.

While wolves have been extinct on Earth for nearly 200-years, they still exist, but now casting illusions onto themselves to make them appear human to the public.

The anime series first introduces us to an injured lone white wolf who is going to Freeze City (where the majority of people are living in poverty).

As Kiba, the lone white arctic wolf is going to Freeze City following the scent of the Lunar Flower, Kiba is in search for this flower as it is a key to open Paradise but most of all, to protect Cheza, the flower maiden.

Kiba is rescued by a Mexican wolf named Hige, who loves to eat and talk to women.  While he feels comfortable living in human society, he decides to join Kiba in his mission to find Paradise.

Toboe is a red wolf and the youngest of the group.  He is considered the runt of the group and was raised by an old woman who found him outside the city and wears bracelets that she gave him.  He is friendly and protective towards most humans and he was saved by the rash Tsume.  He is not much of a fighter and is quite naive.

Tsume is a grey wolf with a X scar across his chest.  He is a strong fighter, rash, rude and seems as if he is mad at the world.  After his human gang leaves him, he decides to join Kiba, Tsume and Hige in their quest of paradise, even though he is skeptical that it exists.

Meanwhile, an ex-sheriff named Quent Yaiden is on the hunt for wolves, whom he blames for killing his wife and son.  Quent has developed a pure hatred towards wolves and despite hunting them, humans don’t believe that wolves exist but Quent has suspicions that wolves are disguising themselves as humans after he comes across Toboe.

He is approached by a police detective named Hubb Lebowski, who is investigating that wolves are involved, despite being skeptical.

His ex-wife Cher Degre is a scientist studying Cheza and her dedication of learning about Cheza has taken over her life, and thus her divorcing her husband.  But when Cher disappears, Hubb tries to find her.

When Hubb discovers the banned book “Book of the Moon” in Cher’s apartment, he joins forces with Quent in hopes it would lead him to his ex-wife, who he still loves.

Will any of these four wolves searching for Paradise find what they are looking for?


VIDEO:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. With this being an older anime series, it’s important to note that this is an SD Remaster.  While colors are vibrant, there is softness as one could expect for a TV series.  But for the most part, this classic anime series features wonderful animation and art backgrounds and watching it nearly 15-years later, you can’t help but feel that BONES did a marvelous job with this anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Interview 1 – (6:57) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actors: Mamoru Miyano (voice of Kiba), Kenta Miyake (voice of Tsume) and Hiroki Shimowada (voice of Toboe).
  • Cast Interview 2 – (8:18) Featuring an interview with Unshou Ishizuka (voice of Quent Yaiden), Takaya Kuroda (voice of Darcia), Kaho Kouda (voice of Cher Degre), Mitsuru Miyamoto (voice of Hubb Lebowski), Arisa Ogasawara (voice of Cheza).
  • Staff Interview – (6:08) Behind-the-scenes recording with the producers and staff about the creation of “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Pilot Film – (2:18) Japanese pilot film for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Promo Film 1 & 2 – Japanese promotional videos for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • 15-Second Promos
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back in 2004, “Wolf’s Rain” was no doubt a hit anime series that captivated not just Japanese audiences but also American audiences.

An anime series that managed to have wonderful, dark visuals plus fascinating characters and a lot of action, I enjoyed “Wolf’s Rain” for its originality and also how the series ended.

Similar to feudal Akira Kurosawa series, where you never know if the protagonists are going to survive to the end, “Wolf’s Rain” is a series that shows that in this dismal world, these wolves that dream of paradise have made the decision to move forward, whether or not paradise exists or not.

All I can say is have the tissue box nearby, you’ll be shedding a few tears watching this anime series.

As much as I enjoyed this series, as most people who followed the series back then are aware that “Wolf’s Rain” did suffer production problems.  And episodes 15-18 were recap episodes told from the perspective of Tsume, Toboe, Hige and Hubb expanding the series to 30 episodes.

With the release of “Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray/DVD you get the full series for a lower price.  Back in 2004-2005, people had to purchase all seven volumes to watch the entire series until the limited edition box set was released in late 2005 and a Perfect Collection (Anime Legends) release came out in 2009.

This release is essentially the Perfect Collection but with an SD Remaster onto Blu-ray.  So, for those wanting the better picture quality and lossless soundtrack will want to opt for this version.

Overall, I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

God Eater Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 and 2 are highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-13 (141 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: January 31, 2017


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma


After the previous encounter with Dyaus Pita that left them both physically and mentally scarred, Lenka and Alisa both return to the base. Feeling there might be a correlation with the Aragami’s behaviors, Lindow decides to go off the reservation and investigate the truth behind the “Aegis Project.” At the same time, Director Johannes Von Schicksal announces the plan to accelerate the completion of the Aegis Project through Operation Meteorite – a means to wipe out a large amount of Aragami and receive their cores.

With newfound resolve, Lenka returns to the battlefield with his new God Arc, designed by Dr. Paylor Sakaki. However, when Lenka is reunited with his teammates, what awaits them is a twisted fate, and the aura of despair brought on by the black Vajra…

The epic conclusion to the anime series based on the best-selling video game God Eater by Bandai Namco Entertainment!


How does the past affect the present?

In the second half of “God Eater”, we learn how Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

And how Lenka’s heightened compatibility is caused by God Arc’s Oracle cells invading his body, but when he uses this power, it may lead quickly to an earlier death the more he uses his God Arc.

Also, the tragic past of Lenka is revealed.  And Lenka and friends must take on Pita.

All this and more in conclusion to the first season of “God Eater”!

What is “God Eater” about?

In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami. But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki. And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eaters, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc. But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella. Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

And as Lenka and Alisa join a team of God Eaters, can these New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?

Also, is there someone pulling the strings behind-the-scenes and are wanting the Aragami to succeed?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part A – (10:57) Interviews with Go Shiina and Naomi Kaitani about the music of the series.
  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part B – (8:59) Featuring an interview with the band Ghost Oracle Drive (bassist Takenori Sakauchi, guitarist Kazuki Sato, drummer Toshiyuki Wakayama and vocalist Kenta Matsukuma).
  • God Eater Extra 03 – (23:25) A special episode summary of the series and its characters with interviews with the anime staff and more.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 20-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami. And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are. How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

The second half focuses on the past of Lenka but also the past of Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

But also the true enemy is revealed.

Overall, the second half and conclusion to “God Eater” was fantastic.  A lot of drama, emotion and action featured in each episode and this second half shows us the apocalyptic world and the sacrifices that are necessary for humanity to continue on.  Unfortunately, certain people have their own interpretation of how the world should be.

But for the series as a whole, fans should be happy with the overall storyline and also a teaser of what to look forward to, if another season is created.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded. The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic. Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the special features with crew interviews plus a 20-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, dramatic and action-packed anime series, “God Eater” vol. 1 and vol. 2 are highly recommended!

 

God Eater Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (166 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 28, 2016


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma

 


In the early 2050s, unknown life forms called “Oracle Cells” began their uncontrolled consumption of all life on Earth. Their ravenous appetite and remarkable adaptability earned them first dread, then awe, and finally the name Aragami, the “Mad Gods.” In the face of an enemy completely immune to conventional weapons, urban civilization collapsed, and each day humanity was driven further and further toward extinction.

The year is now 2071… the domain of the mad gods lies here in the Far East.

One single ray of hope remains for humanity. Following the development of “God Arcs” — living weapons which incorporate Oracle Cells — their wielders are organized into an elite force.

In a world ravaged by mad gods, these “God Eaters” fight a desperate war…


In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami.  But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki.  And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eatrs, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc.  But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella.  Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

Can these two New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 00 – (23:43)  This is the “God Eater Burst Prologue” featuring the prologue and interview with the game production staff.  The OVA features God Eater Soma joining Fenrir with Lindow and Tsubaki.  The OVA takes place six years before “God Eater Burst”.
  • God Eater Extra 01 – (23:26) Featuring an interview with the anime production crew of ufotable.
  • God Eater Extra 02 – (23:23) Featuring interviews with the musical composer, Go Shiina and the music artists.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 32-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami.  And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are.  How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

Needless to say, the first half of the series leaves people with many questions but no doubt setting up for an action-packed second half, which hopefully gives us answers to why the Aragami exist?  But also, how Lenka and Allisa develop throughout the course of the series.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded.  The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic.  Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the prologue OVA and crew interviews included in the special features plus a 32-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting.  Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back.  But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

 

Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

fate-unlimited-2

Much better than the original anime series in terms of story, character development and animation, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” just rocks!  And it’s an anime series that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © TYPE-MOON, ufotable, FSNPC All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 13-25 + OVA (325 minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: February 16, 2016


Directed by Takahiro Miura

Screenplay by Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Tatsuki Ichinose

Music by Hideyuki Fukasawa

Original Concept by Kinoku Nasu

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Atsushi Ikariya, Hisayuki Tabata, Tomonori Sudou

Art Director: Koji Eto

Anime Production by ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Saber

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Archer

Kana Ueda/Mela Lee as Rin Tohsaka

Noriaki Sugiyama/Bryce Papenbrook as Shirō Emiya

Atsuko Tanaka/Megan Hollingshead as Caster

Hiroshi Kamiya/Kyle McCarley as Shinji Matō

Jouji Nakata/Crispin Freeman as Kirei Kotomine

Mai Kadowaki/Stephanie Sheh as Illyasviel von Einzbern

Masaki Terasoma/Lex Lang as Sōichirō Kuzuki

Miki Itou/Julie Ann Taylor as Taiga Fujimura

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Lancer

Noriko Shitaya/Cristina Vee as Sakura Matō

Rikiya Koyama/Matthew Mercer as Kiritsugu Emiya

Shinichiro Miki/Todd Haberkorn as Assassin

Tomokazu Seki/David Earnest as Gilgamesh

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Rider


Fuyuki City will be changed forever following the events that will come to be known as the Fifth Holy Grail War. With the Masters and Servants slowly revealing themselves and their intentions, the stage is set for the grand finale, and at the center of it all is Shirou Emiya and Rin Tohsaka.

The Holy Grail War continues, with each Master and Servant duo making their move for the omnipotent wish granter. Caster’s plans have been set in motion, beginning with taking Saber captive while Rin and Archer go their separate ways to continue their fights on their own. Without Saber’s aid, Shirou’s principles are put to the ultimate test. With many battles to come with expected and unexpected enemies, Shirou’s resolve begins to take form. Is his desire to protect people and become a hero, genuine? Or are they simply borrowed feelings? And will it be enough to carry him to the end?


When it comes to video games and its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON. This series has captivated people from all over the world, merchandise continues to sell very well (considering its price for importing) and it’s quite impressive to see how the fanbase continues to grow and are dedicated to “Fate”!

My first introduction to the “Fate/stay night” was just hearing about the original anime TV series. But it was the first PSP video game release (“Fate/unlimited codes” on the PlayStation Network that actually got me hyped for this series and made me learn more about the characters.

The more I researched, the more I started to noticed that a lot of people online were excited about this video game and discussing the anime series and while I never really understood the commotion of the series, I figured there were so many fighting games in Japan with characters that people go crazy for.

But then the Sony PSP game came out on the PlayStation Network and the huge number of posts on Danny Choo’s official website in regards to dolls or figures, may they be the release of Nendoroids from Good Smile! or FIGMA figures from Max Factory, suffice to say, I’ve seen the popularity for this “Fate/stay night” achieve critical mass not just in Japan but all over the world.

While “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/zero” were released first and the 2010 film “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” was released in the U.S. several years ago, in 2014-2015, the action/fantasy anime series, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” aired on Japanese television and is an adaptation of the “Unlimited Blade Works” storyline from the “Fate/stay night” visual novel.

The first half of the anime series was released in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex in August 2015 and here we are with the second and final half on Blu-ray in February 2016.

It’s important to note, in order to prevent any confusion, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” takes a page out of visual novels in which you choose your adventure, this is the same for this anime series. This is not a sequel, it’s not remake, it’s another route in which the story unfolds.

Where “Fate/stay night” focused on the character of Shiro, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” focuses on the character of Rin.

Before I go on about “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, let’s first discuss “Fate/stay night”.

What is “Fate/stay night”?

“Fate/stay night” is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and was originally an adult game for the PC and then later released for the PlayStation 2. The popularity of the video games led to a manga series which was serialized in Shonen Ace magazine and in 2007, a 24-episode anime series was released and a total of four video games. In April 2012, “Fate/Zero” aired on television. While the previous serious featured anime production by Studio Deen, the 2014 series, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, features anime production by Ufotable.

While there are some differences between the various “Fate” storylines, the story of the Holy Grail War remains the same.

“Fate/stay night” takes place during a time in which a war is developing between the magi. For two centuries, seven sorcerers have gathered and engaged in a war known as “The Holy Grail War” in which the winner will be able to make their wish come true.

The Holy Grail War has occurred every 60 years and one war happened prematurely a decade ago.

For each of these magis, they will each be given a servant from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin and Caster. And these servants must abide by their master’s request. And as the magi will be able to make a wish, so will the servant.

“Shiro Emiya, like his father, he wants to be a man of justice. While staying late at school, he witnesses a fight between two servants: Archer vs. Lancer. And because Shiro witnessed it, he is killed by Lancer.

Archer’s master, Rin, comes to the aid of Shiro by bringing him back to life. Shiro has now been made to a magi and has been given the servant named Saber, and with this new power, Shiro vows to end this war for “The Holy Grail”.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person. He respects Rin for saving his life and considers her his friend. She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses.

What is “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” about?

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” begins with episode 0 and focuses on the character of Rin Tosaka and wonders why her clocks have been set an hour earlier. While she often has dreams about her final moments with her father Tokiomi, Rin must now prepare for the Holy Grail War.

As she performs a summoning ritual and hoping to summon a Saber class, instead she summons a Servant of the Archer class, which she reacts with displeasure.

But as the two get to know each other, she eventually prepares to go to battle with Archer against other Servants, including an early fight between Archer vs. Lancer, which was viewed by Shiro.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person. He respects Rin for helping him and Sabre considers her his friend. She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses. As Shiro, Saber and Rin are talking, they are attacked by Illyasviel von Einzbern and her giant servant known as Berserker.

While Saber does all she can to fight Berserker and protect her master Shiro, Rin also tries to protect Shiro….but her servant Archer is not thrilled that she has teamed up with Shiro/Saber. Rin tells him that for now, it would be good to work as a team and fight the other magi/servants.

And during the process of fighting against Berserker, Archer aims a devastating arrow towards both Berserker and Saber, hoping to kill both. But Shiro manages to protect Saber and take the brunt of the damage.

The following morning, Shiro has completely healed (thanks to his self-healing magical capabilities) and this leads to Shiro wanting to learn more about Saber, while Rin must make a decision to make Shiro her enemy or trust him and work together with him, despite the fact that the Holy Grail War is supposed to make them enemies.

In this version of the story, both Shiro and Rin are becoming closer, as he has fallen in love with her, while Rin has trouble of communicating her feelings, considering that she is finding herself falling for Shiro.

Also, by the second half, Shiro is no longer the master of Sabre and as for Rin and Archer?  You will need to find out what happens in the second half.

There are a good number of twist and turns in the storyline and the series concludes with literally a major bang.  And to tie things up, an OVA showing what happens several years later with the two main protagonists.

While both “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” have similar stories, look at both to be different and similar to the visual novel, two different routes. Also, the original Studio Deen series, “Fate/stay night” tends to add their own storyline not featured in the visual novel, handles characters a bit differently but also trying to incorporate other routes in the original anime series. There is also more character development and a noticeable difference in how action is depicted in ufotable’s “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.


VIDEO:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is much better than the original 2006 anime series. May it be budget differences, but one thing noticeable in ufotable’s “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is how much detail there is when it comes to background art, character designs and also action sequences. Ufotable really went all out in creating an anime series in which the action is more developed and looks more effective. Colors are vibrant, CG use is well-done but the detail for background artwork is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. In terms of voice acting, both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done. I actually prefer the voice acting in “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” versus the original 2006 series and the acting is much more emotional and captivating considering there is much better character development in this 2014 series. As for the lossless soundtrack, dialogue and music, including sound effects are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 2″ comes with the trailer, TV spot, CM, PV collections and textless opening and endings.

EXTRAS:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 2” comes with a slipcase with package illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi, a 24-page booklet featuring an introduction, art production gallery, production notes, conversation between scenario writer/novelist Kinoku Nasu and Takahiro Miura (animator/episode director). Also, an exclusive Weiss Schwarz Collectible PR card.

Also, included is the “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Original Soundtrack II”. The soundtrack is 1 hr. and 12 minutes long and features 24 tracks (23 tracks by Hideyuki Fukasawa, and “LAST STARDUST” by Aimer).


fate-unlimited-2

Having watched the final second half of “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, I can honestly say that I loved this storyline and it’s the best “Fate/stay night” storyline thus far!

In this alternate storyline to keep consistent with the virtual novel of choosing your own path, in this storyline, we see Shiro and Rin almost like boyfriend and girlfriend.  He is in love with her, she’s quite tsundere and without spoiling the second half, the antagonist is….  Let’s just say there are a few twist and turns in the series and you’ll be shocked.

But the build-up of the storyline and its unpredictable nature is what I loved about this series.

In previous stories, we saw Shiro and Saber as the two fighting against all odds but this time around, Sabre has been captured by Castor and to say the least, Saber is not featured as much in the second half until the final episodes.

Also, it was interesting to see the twisted nature of some of the servants, I think by the end of the series and also with the included OVA, that fans of the series will be happy with this alternate storyline.

As for the artwork, the character designs are well-drawn, well-shaded, while the art backgrounds are detailed and gorgeous. A lot of work went into this series and there is a noticeable difference between Studio Deen’s 2006 anime series with this 2014 series in terms of artwork, in terms of action sequences.

With the original, while there are many action sequences, the battles were simplistic, while for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, the artwork is fantastic as there are many sequences involved in each battle.

But possibly what makes “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” even better is how this latest series handles the characters of Rin and Archer, Shiro and Saber and the amount of character development featured. There is more emotion and a much better Shiro this time around!

And with the better development of animation, action sequences and character development, it makes a huge difference that I don’t even know if I want to recommend anyone to watch the original 2006 “Fate/stay night”. Granted, this series and the original are to be treated as “different routes”, but considering not everyone is going to play the visual novel version, if you had to choose one, I would go for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.

I do recommend watching the darker and more violent “Fate/zero”, while I don’t really recommend the film version of “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” because they improved the storyline with the anime series.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, the animation and character designs look magnificent. I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts and for the most part, I’m quite pleased of how this series looks in HD. The lossless soundtrack are English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and dialogue and musical score are crystal clear.

You get the standard trailer, TV spot, CM, PV Collections and textless opening and endings for special features and as for extras, you do get a slipcase, 24-page booklet, a Weiss Schwarz Collectible PR card and the second original soundtrack for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.

Overall, if you are new to “Fate” or a fan who has watched the previous anime series such as “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/zero” will find “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” to be well-produced, much better in terms of honoring the original visual novel. But also an improvement when it comes to animation, character development and action sequences.

Much better than the original anime series in terms of story, character development and animation, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” just rocks!  And it’s an anime series that I highly recommend!

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

bayonetta-a

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game. If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Bayonetta: Bloody Fate

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Anime News Network

RATED: M

Release Date: October 21, 2014


Director: Fuminori Kizaki

Screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota

Storyboard by Fuminor Kizaki

Original Character Design by Mari Shimazaki

Character Design by Ai Yokoyama

Mechanical Design by Katanao Akai, Takashi Watabe

Produced by Gonzo


Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsuko Tanaka/Helena Taylor as Bayonetta

Daisuke Namikawa/Yuri Lowenthal as Luka

Mie Sonozaki/Grey DeLisle as Jeanne

Miyuki Sawashiro as Cereza

Norio Wakamoto/Grant Albrecht as Balder

Tesshô Genda/David Fennoy as Rodin

Wataru Takagi/John Kassir as Enzo


Twenty years after her awakening, Bayonetta is still searching for clues that could help unravel the mysteries of her dark past. Aided in her quest by the clandestine weapon smith Rodin – and his deadly creations: Scarborough Fair – Bayonetta continues to leave a trail of angel corpses in her wake. Her search for answers leads to encounters with a mysterious – and eerily familiar – little girl, a vengeance-obsessed journalist, and a deadly white-haired beauty that seems to know more about Bayonetta than the witch herself.


“Bayonetta” is one of the well-known third-person beat’em up games in America.  Developed by Platinum Games and Sega, the game is best known for its sexy protagonist, a witch named Bayonetta, who uses firearms and special attacks to fight against the angelic enemies.

With two games released in the U.S., an animated film based on the video game was produced by Gonzo and released in Japan back in 2013.  And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Featuring the same voice cast from the video game, the animated film follows the events and the characters of the video game with slight changes.

The film starts with a narration about how the Umbra witches which serve the demons and the Lumen sages of Europe serve the angels and both worked together to ensure the balance of time.

But when a lumen sage and a umbra witch violated the decree and had a child together, the woman was imprisoned and the man was banished.

With the birth of the child, many feared what would happen.

With both clans producing an eye, to govern the power of creation, the forbidden child that was taken care of by the Umbra Witches possessed the power of the left eye.  When the eyes are brought together, Jubileas would be resurrected and would be incarnate once more.

The conflict over the left eye would lead a war between angels and demons.  In the end, it led to their destruction and the truth of their existence slipped into obscurity.  The child would grow up to be a witch but was kept in a secret place.

500 years later, the witch known as Bayonetta who slays angels has awakened with no memory of her previous life.

Meanwhile, a photojournalist named Luka tries to enter the church to expose the truth about Bayonetta and hopes to avenge his father who was killed by Bayonetta.

While Bayonetta fights a horde of angels, Luka who can not see them is unsure what is happening and tries to take pictures of her as she fights against Fortitudo, one of the four Cardinal virtues and defeats him.

As news shows the head of the Ragna believers making his first debut in public.  The head, Balder is a modern day sage and while Bayonetta, Rodan (a bartender and weapons master) and Enzo watch the news, Balder looks at the camera and says something which startles Bayonetta.

As Bayonetta continues to look into her missing memories, she feels that maybe Balder is the person that may bring back her memories.

Bayonetta heads to the valley and comes into contact with a little girl named Cereza runs toward her and calls her “mommy”.  She is surprised that the little girl can see the angels but suddenly they are attacked by angels.

As Bayonetta seeks out answers to restoring her memory, who is this young girl and why does she think Bayonetta is her mother?


VIDEO:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Gonzo did a wonderful job with the animation as the film compliments the videogame with beautiful character animation, special effects and backgrounds.  There are a few banding issues but for the most part, this animated film looks fantastic in HD with its vibrant colors and detailed character designs.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The film features a wonderful, immersive lossless soundtrack thanks to the constant action throughout the film.  There is good use of the surround channels and explosions feature LFE and crystal clear dialogue.  Both lossless soundtracks are fantastic and the voice acting is wonderful!  Fans of the video game will no doubt enjoy the film for its use of the original voice actors from the video game.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” comes with the following special features:

  • Actor Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jonathan Klein and voice actress Helena Taylor.
  • Storyboards – Navigate with your remote to see the storyboards from the animated film.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer

For anyone who has enjoyed the “Bayonetta” video game, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” serves as a solid animated film based on a video game but also provides a storyline that may will want to watch if they delve into “Bayonetta 2” on the Wii-U without having played or beaten the first video game.

The storyline is rather intriguing because it features a role reversal as the witches/demons are seen as the good group, while the angels are seen as the evil group in the film and video games.

Of course, part of the most important factor of the “Bayonetta” video game is the main character’s sex appeal as she is constantly wearing a tight leather outfit and shooting her enemies and slashing at them without fear.

While the storyline has its slight differences from the video game, the storyline is pretty much on target about Bayonetta trying to learn more about herself and discovering things that may help her jog her memory.

Characters from the video game such as Luka and Bayonetta’s rival Jeanne, the antagonist Balder, the bar owner and weapon specialist Rodan and informant Enzo make their appearance in the animated film.  And like the video game, the profanity also carries over to the animated film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality features fantastic animation and background artwork from Gonzo.  The colors from the film feature darker colors to vibrant colors which look great in HD.  There are some scenes with banding but for the most part, the animated film looks awesome!  As for the lossless audio soundtrack, it’s another plus with this animated film because it features constant action, the animated film sports an immersive soundtrack that utilizes the surround channels and LFE.  You also get a fascinating audio commentary with English dub voice actress Helena Taylor and ADR Director Jonathan Klein, storyboards and a theatrical trailer.

Overall, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game.

If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

Nyan koi!: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Review)

December 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Nyan Koi!” is an entertaining anime series.  I enjoyed it so much that I watched it all in one setting.  There is a good amount of comedy, drama and fan-service and I have no doubt that this series will go over well with anime fans.  If you love “harem anime”, definitely give “Nyan Koi!” a try!

Image courtesy of © SATO Fujiwara – FlexComix/”NYANKOI” Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Nyan koi!: Complete Collection

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: December 31, 2013

Originally created by Sato Fujiwara

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Series Composition: Shinichi Inotsume

Music: Manabu Miwa, Shigenobu Ookawa

Character Design: Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Naoko Kosakabe

Chief Animation Director: Yukie Sako

Animation Production: AIC

Featuring the following voice talent:

Shintaro Asanuma/Connor Leach as Junpei Kōsaka

Yuka Iguchi/Lesley Pedersen as Kaede Mizuno

Atsuko Tanaka/Marcy Bannor as Nyamsas

Eri Nakao/Meg McDonald as Suzu Kōsaka

Haruka Tomatsu/Emily Neves as Kotone Kirishima

Haruka Tomatsu/Cynthia Martinez as Akari Kirishima

Jun Fukuyama/Greg Ayres as Haruhiko Endou, Tama

Juurouta Kosugi/Andrew Love as Keizou Kirishima

Koji Yusa/Sam Roman as Josephine

When cat-allergic Junpei Kosaka damages a statue of a cat deity, the cats don’t just get his tongue, they put theirs in his mouth! Now cursed with the ability to understand felines, Junpei must perform one-hundred great favors for cat-kind or face the fate of being turned into a cat himself.

Life quickly becomes a purrfect hell as every cat in the neighborhood starts sending Junpei their list of “requests.” And if the kitties weren’t already whipping him into a cat-atonic stupor, the women in his life are making things even worse. His sister, mom, and the girl he has secret feelings for are all cat-crazy; the local Yakuza’s daughter is playing cat and mouse; the local cat-owning monk’s daughters are acting catty; and Junpei’s childhood best friend is ready to use him as a scratching post!

In 2007, the manga “Nyan Koi!” by Sato Fujiwara was serialized in the free web comic “FlexComix Blood” and two years later, the manga receives its anime adaptation from AIC and makes its Blu-ray debut in the US courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series is directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi (Kowarekake no Orgel”, “Sket Dance”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”), screenplay by Shinichi Inotsume (“Kowarekake no Orgel”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”, “Sket Dance”) and features music by Manabu Miwa and Shigenobu Ookawa.  Character designs are by Kazuaki Morita (“My Bride is a Mermaid”, “Tentai Senshi Sunred”) and art direction by Naoko Kosakabe (“NieA 7″, “Kissxsis”, “Jinki: Extend”).

“Nyan Koi!” is a series about a high school sophomore named Junpei Kosaka and he is allergic to cats.  So, much that he hates them and one day, he thinks he hears his cat Nyamsus talking to him but dismisses it.

As for Junpei, he is always dreaming about his friend Kaede Mizuno and wishes he can get closer to her.  One day, while he was walking home from school, Junpei kicks a can and it hits a neko-jizo-sama statue (a cat statue that serves as a guardian deity of cats).  Having broken the cat statue, now Junpei is forced to grant 100 wishes to cats and if he doesn’t do it, he will turn into a cat which will eventually kill him because of his allergy towards cats.

And to remind him and watch over him is his family cat Nyamsus who tries to make sure Junpei know of his curse.

So, Junpei will do all he can to help cats, even though he dislikes them.  But along the way, each time he helps the cats, he encounters other girls who start to take a liking towards him (and in the process, making other girls jealous) because of the attention he is starting to receive.

The main characters of “Nyan Koi!” are:

  • Junpei Kosaka – The main protagonist who is allergic to cats.  His mom and sister love cats despite him hating them.  One day, he kicks a can and destroys a cat deity statue and in order to make up for the damage, he must fulfill 100 requests from different cats (that he can communicate with) or else he will turn into a cat and die from his allergy.   He is in love with Kaede but starts to find himself learning that other girls he comes in contact with start to like him as well.
  • Kaede Mizuno – Junpei’s classmate and the girl he has always had a crush on.  But she is so naive that she doesn’t know he has feelings for her.  She loves cats but because she has four dogs, cats tend to stay away from her.
  • Kanako Sumiyoshi – Kanako is a classmate who dresses up ala Manba (very dark make up) and tries to be tough.  But her being a manba is to stop her from crying all the time because when she and Junpei were young (and would always hang out), Junpei avoided her feelings towards her and displayed it to another female classmate and since then, she has carried a grudge towards him and hates him.  But because one of the cats she is taking care of asks for Junpei’s help, Junpei must become friends with Kanako.
  • Chizuru Mochizuki – A college student who works as a mail carrier.  She is bad with directions and is always lost but when cats lead Junpei to her, he ends up helping several cats and also helping Chizuru in the process.
  • Nagase Ichinose – Kaede’s senior who is on the track team and daughter of a powerful Yakuza family.  She is quite masculine and thus is rejected because everyone thinks she is a guy.  She is quite protective of Kaede and despises Junpei because she thinks he is not good for Kaede.  Despite being strong and athletic, she has one weakness and it’s lightning.   She has problems with soft drinks which make her drunk.  One day, when Junpei helps her, she starts to have feelings towards him.
  • The Kirishima sisters (Kotone & Akari) – Kotone and Akari are twin sisters and the daughters of Keizou Kirishima, the Buddhest monk from the temple where Junpei  destroyed the statue of the cat deity.  Kotone likes Junpei because he always has bad luck and gets very jealous if Junpei is with another girl.  Akari senses the supernatural and is very protective of her older twin sister Kotone.

“Nyan Koi!” is 12-episodes long and is presented on two Blu-ray discs.  Here is a basic synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Scruffy Cat and the Cursed High Schooler – Junpei is a high schooler who is allergic to cats.  So, allergic that he hates them.  But after he breaks a cat statue, now he is cursed and if he doesn’t want to turn into a cat and die from his allergies, he must perform 100 favors for cats.
  • EPISODE 2 – That Man is a Manservant? – Junpei must help a cat which leads him to his childhood friend and now a girl that despises him, Kanako Sumiyoshi.
  • EPISODE 3 – Your Name Is… – A college student/postal carrier named Chizuru Mochizuki is bad with directions and a cat leads Junpei to help her out.
  • EPISODE 4 – Beautiful People – A cat owned by tomboy Nagi Ichinose leads Junpei to her.  But Nagi despises Junpei because of his friendship with Kaede.
  • EPISODE 5 – Times Square – Junpei goes to the amusement park with Kaede, Kanako and Nagase but will Junpei be able to get close to Kaede with the other two girls around?  Meanwhile, Kaede may have found out the truth about Junpei’s curse.
  • EPISODE 6 – Milk and Bitters and Sugar and Spice – Kaede meets two twins Akari and Kotone Kirishima who know about his curse.  Meanwhile, Kotone is infatuated with Junpei, while her sister is overprotective of her.
  • EPISODE 7 – Wait Until Dark – Junpei is getting prepared to go on a school trips to Kyoto with his classmates.  Also, Ichinose’s family in Kyoto will be having a meeting to decide who will be Nagase’s husband.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Passionate Private Running Coach – Junpei goes to help the next cat in need, but when he forgets to help the cat…the cat wants revenge on Junpei.
  • EPISODE 9 – Girls in the Water – The group goes out to swim but Junpei is sick and Kanako wants to take care of him.
  • EPISODE 10 – As it happened One Night – The Kirishima twins are counting on Junpei to help them deal with a spirit.
  • EPISODE 11 – Friends – It’s almost Christmas time and Junpei and Kanako spend time together.
  • EPISODE 12 – Does Heaven Await Me? – Kaede is suspicious of Junpei and Junpei must find a way to convince her that nothing bad is going on or else the curse will consume him.

VIDEO:

“Nyan Koi! – Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation tends to change from very cutesy style of anime that will appeal to the fans who love cute characters, especially for the cats and then shifting to normal anime style.  Character designs are well-done, especially the closeups.  The background art tends to differ depending on the scene with some look quite simple to others looking a bit more detailed.  I did notice more background art being used in the second half of the series and for the most part, I really enjoyed the character designs for this anime series.  For the most part, the animation and art backgrounds for “Nyan Koi!” are very good.  The colors for “Nyan Koi!” are quite vibrant and for the most part, animation is up-to-par with other TV anime related series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Nyan Koi!” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Voice acting is well done for this series.  I felt that Shintaro Asanuma did a great job with the voice of Junpei, very cool, deep voice.  Meanwhile, the voice actress such as Yuka Iguchi as Kaede, Ryoo Shiraishi as Kanako and Haruka Tomatsu as the twins, all did a fantastic job.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Nyan Koi!: Complete Collection” comes with clean opening and closing animation.

“Nyan Koi!” is quite an interesting harem anime series.  Despite the usual storyline of all females starting to like a certain guy, Junpei is an interesting character as his interest is primarily on Kaede and the only reason he was nice to the other girls was because of their cats and his obligation to grant 100 wishes for the cats or else he will turn into one and die from his allergy.  It’s a bit twisted in a way but “Nyan Koi!” is a pretty fun anime series.

Each episode is connected to each other, so there is no worry of filler episodes.  Each episodes tend to focus on Junpei fulfilling the 100 wishes but at the same time, these episodes also build upon him trying to get close to Kaede but yet the others also wanting to get closer to Junpei and we get to see him starting to care for the others but yet the writers finding ways to tease you in regards to Junpei and Kaede’s friendship and how close they will get.

But each of the characters are quite fun to watch and it does make me wonder how much crazier the actual manga gets and how many more girls are introduced to this whole harem mix.  But because this series alone focuses on not too many characters, each episode does feature plots that further the character development, relationships and jealousies that exist.  But it all comes together quite nicely.

As mentioned earlier, this is an anime series that tends to go from serious to a cutesy style but by no means is this an anime series for young children.    Yes, it does have many cute moments but it’s also important to note that while the series doesn’t feature any nudity, there is some perverted humor as characters such as Kanako Sumiyoshi (who has big breasts) tends to jiggle wherever she goes and Nagi Ichinose has this thing about grabbing on Kanako’s breast.  Also, a few pantie shots that show up form time to time. So, there is some perverted humor in this series but nothing that tends to overshadow the whole storyline.

As for the Blu-ray, you do get 12 episodes and the vibrant animation is quite pleasing.  The only downer is the lack of special features but unfortunately, with TV series, it’s becoming more of a common place to not see much special features on anime on DVD these days, “Nyan Koi!” is no different.

As for those who are video or audiophiles, it’s great to see that Sentai Filmworks bring out a Blu-ray release to the US and also give the series an all-new English dub track.

But overall, “Nyan Koi!” is an entertaining anime series.  I enjoyed it so much that I watched it all in one setting.  There is a good amount of comedy, drama and fan-service and I have no doubt that this series will go over well with anime fans.  If you love “harem anime”, definitely give “Nyan Koi!” a try!

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.  If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two

DURATION: Episodes 13-24

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rockstar in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

Contains episodes 13-24.

What is causing the “Poltergeist” incidents around the city and are multiple espers suffering from RSPK syndrome and losing control of their abilities simultaneously? Mikoto and friends try to find out in “A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two”!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index). The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers. Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City. Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the latter part of the first half of the season, it was revealed that Dr. Kiyama was assigned by her boss, Gensei Kihara, to be a teacher of a group of “Child Errors” and prepare them for an experiment.  Dr. Kiyama began to be fond of these children but somehow these children had ended up in comas and Kihara covered it up.

So, Dr. Kiyama has been trying to find ways to save her students using a Tree Diagram, but was denied. And due to the frustrations that she experienced, an AIM burst had manifested.  And the result was Mikoto taking on the AIM Burst.

By second season, it’s back to the fun and games for the girls.  Episode 13, begins with the group participating in a swimsuit photoshoot, Mitsuko gets attacked by the Skill-Out gang Big Spider but is saved by a mysterious red-headed man with a spider tattoo.  A man who may have a link to Mii.

As the group participates in a video game battle, a trip to the park and Midsummer festival, things start to go crazy once against when a Poltergeist incident occurs where the girls are.  Is it Dr. Kiyama or is someone else involved?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment. She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto. She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment. Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head. Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou – A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability. Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu. She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.  Revealed to be a scientist trying to save a group of children that she experimented on.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition. Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded. For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series. But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 17 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jade Saxton (Komoe), Martha Harnes (Yomokawa) and Kara Edwards (Tesso).
  • Episode 24 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Zac Bolton (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Therestina) and Anastasia Munoz (Kiyama).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun”, “Level 5”, “Dear My Friend” and “Real Force”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those looking for an anime series with a dose of humor, fun and action, will surely find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to their liking.

A bit different from “A Certain Magical Index” which had a more darker storyline, a big part of the charm of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are its characters and their mannerisms.

And after a considerable battle featured in the first half, things become more fun as the girls partake in a bikini photoshoot, going to the park, going to the festival but also dealing with people from one’s past.  But for those wanting those major battles and that special twist will surely find it by episode 20.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people. We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits. Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But there is this underlying storyline created from the first half that relates to the Poltergeist incidents and the girls wondering if Dr. Kiyama is up to no good or is she a person worth trusting?  Also, a new antagonist is revealed, and I suppose one can say “expect the unexpected” when the reveal is made.

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”. But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.

If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-12

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rock star in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index).  The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by  Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers.  Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City.  Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the first few episodes, we are introduced to a few members of Judgment and how they become friends with Mikooto and how some of them use their abilities against criminals.  Meanwhile, Mikoto is irked whenever she runs into a guy named Toma Kamijo, a teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.   For Mikoto, she is unaware of her feelings but knowing that for some reason, Toma bothers her.

Meanwhile, the girls begin to work with Dr. Kiyama, but is she friend or foe?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment.  She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto.  She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment.  Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head.  Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou –  A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability.  Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori  – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu.  She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition.  Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded.  For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series.  But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Ruiko) and Cherami Leigh (Kazari).
  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Brittney Karbowski (Mikoto) and Alison Viktorin (Kuroko).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun” and “Dear My Friend”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those who have watched “A Certain Magical Index” and enjoyed the anime series, will find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to be a show that continues the fun and humor of the series but also its action and that is one thing viewers can expect from this series, to be action-packed!

While I enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” for its darker tone, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”, for its first half of the season, is primarily character building episodes.  Featuring a variety of female characters who are friends of Mikoto and how each of them are around her and how they get involved in a variety of cases or happen to be in the wrong place in the wrong time.

There is a difference between the two series.  With “A Certain Magical Index”, there was this back-story revolving around Index and people trying to capture her and of course, Toma being a low level Esper but actually having a special ability that makes him even more powerful than other powerful Espers.  But we get to see how Mikoto ends up running into Toma and the correlation between both series.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people.  We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits.  Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But the series does start to get a bit darker and more complex around episode 9.  Especially when the girls become intrigued with a “Level Upper” that levels up a person’s skills.  But is it real or a myth?

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”.  But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

Fate/stay night – Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/stay night” is an enjoyable action-packed anime series and one of the better series based off a video game.  If you love the video games or just craving for an action anime series, “Fate/stay night – Collection 1” is recommended.

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Filmworks.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fate/stay night – Collection 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2006

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition/16×9, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14V

Release Date: January 29, 2013

Directed by Yuji Yamaguchi

Screenplay by Takuya Sato

Music by Kenji Kawai

Original Concept by Kinoku Nasu

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Megumi Ishihara

Art Director: Toshihisa Koyama

Anime Production by STUDIO DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Michelle Ruff as Saber

Junichi Suwabe/Liam O’Brien as Archer

Kana Ueda/Mela Lee as Rin Tohsaka

Noriaki Sugiyama/Sam Regal as Shirou Emiya

Atsuko Tanaka/Tara Platt as Caster

Hiroshi Kamiya/Doug Erholtz as Shinji Matou

Jouji Nakata/Taylor Henry as Kirei Kotomine

Mai Kadowaki/Jennifer Sekiguchi as Illyasviel von Einzbern

Miki Itou/Julie Ann Taylor as Taiga “Tiger / Fuji-nee” Fujimura

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Lancer

Noriko Shitaya/Sherry Lynn as Sakura Matou

Shinichiro Miki/David Vincent as Assassin

Tadahisa Saizen/Michael McConnohie as Berserker

Tomokazu Seki as Gilgamesh

Yuu Asakawa/Kevin Strassman as Rider

Kazuhiro Nakata/Patrick Seitz as Soichiro Kuzuki

Rikiya Koyama/ as Kiritsugu Emiya

Raised by a mysterious sorcerer after the horrific death of his parents, Shiro Emiya has only just begun to help others using the small tidbits of magic that he’s learned. However, when he’s suddenly caught in a battle between two more powerful Magus, Shiro finds himself performing a spell above his expected ability, summoning the beautiful spirit warrior Saber to protect him! But safety is only momentary as Shiro and Saber now find themselves thrust into in a secret world of dark magic and deadly challenges: a no-holds barred duel to the death known as the Holy Grail War!

At stake is a prize of unimaginable power, but can the inexperienced Shiro and Saber survive long enough to even enter the contest? First they’ll have to withstand waves of treachery and assassination, even as Shiro scrambles to learn everything he’ll need to know to stay alive as seven teams of Magus and Spirit Servants face off in mortal combat!

When it comes to video games and its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON.  This series has captivated people from all over the world, merchandise continues to sell very well (considering its price for importing) and it’s quite impressive to see how the fanbase continues to grow and are dedicated to “Fate”!

My first introduction to the “Fate/stay night” was just hearing about the original anime TV series.  But it was the first PSP video game release (“Fate/unlimited codes” on the PlayStation Network that actually got me hyped for this series and made me learn more about the characters.

The more I researched, the more I started to noticed that a lot of people online were excited about this video game and discussing the anime series and while I never really understood the commotion of the series, I figured there were so many fighting games in Japan with characters that people go crazy for.

But then the Sony PSP game came out on the PlayStation Network and the huge number of posts on Danny Choo’s official website in regards to dolls or figures, may they be the release of Nendoroids from Good Smile! or FIGMA figures from Max Factory, suffice to say, I’ve seen the popularity for this “Fate/stay night” achieve critical mass not just in Japan but all over the world.

At Anime Expo 2011, I attended a press conference which featured the release of a “Fate Extra” and once again, I’ve seen fans going crazy.  In 2012, the Blu-ray and DVD of “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” was released by Sentai Filmworks and now in 2013, the first volume of the original 2006 anime series will be released in January 2013.

The TV series is directed by Yuji Yamaguchi (“Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito”, “Angel Links”, “Fate/stay night”), screenplay by Takuya Sato (“Armored Troopers Votoms Case; Irvine”, “Mission-E”, “Ichigo Mashimaro”), music by Kenji Kawai (“Devilman”, “Eyeshield 21″, “Eden of the East”, “Dai-Guard”, “Blue Seed”), character designs by Megumi Ishihara (“Moonlight Lady”, “Kakyusei”) and art direction by Toshihisa Koyama (“.hack//Liminality”, “Halo Legends”, “Kiddy Grade”, “Outlaw Star”).  Anime Production is by Studio DEEN.

What is “Fate/stay night”?

“Fate/stay night” is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and was originally an adult game for the PC and then later released for the PlayStation 2.  The popularity of the video games led to a manga series which was serialized in Shonen Ace magazine and in 2007, a 24-episode anime series was released and a total of four video games.  In April 2012, the latest in the “Fate” anime series titled “Fate/Zero” (which is set 10 years before the events of “Fate/stay night”) began airing in Japan and the second season is still airing on television.

In 2010, Studio Deen released the film “Fate/stay night” and in 2012, Sentai Filmworks released the animated film, “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” on Blu-ray and DVD.  The film was comprised of important scenes from the original TV series that is 24-episodes long (12 hours) but unfortunately, with an abridged film at 105-minutes long, you miss out on a lot of story.

So, “Fate/stay night” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Fate/stay night” takes place during a time in which a war is developing between the magi.  For two centuries, seven sorcerers have gathered and engaged in a war known as “The Holy Grail War” in which the winner will be able to make their wish come true.

The Holy Grail War has occurred every 60  years and one war happened prematurely a decade ago.

For each of these magis, they will each be given a servant from one of seven classes:  Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin and Caster.  And these servants must abide by their master’s request.  And as the magi will be able to make a wish, so will the servant.

The film focuses on a young man named Shiro Emiya, like his father, he wants to be a man of justice.  While staying late at school, he witnesses a fight between two servants: Archer vs. Lancer.  And because Shiro witnessed it, he is killed by Lancer.

Archer’s master, Rin, comes to the aid of Shiro by bringing him back to life.  Shiro has now been made to a magi and has been given the servant named Saber, and with this new power, Shiro vows to end this war for “The Holy Grail”.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person.  He respects Rin for saving his life and considers her his friend.  She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses.  As Shiro, Saber and Rin are talking, they are attacked by Ilya and her giant servant known as Berserker.

While Saber does all she can to fight Berserker and protect her master Shiro, Rin also tries to protect Shiro….but her servant Archer is not thrilled that she has teamed up with Shiro/Saber. Rin tells him that for now, it would be good to work as a team and fight the other magi/servants.

And during the process of fighting against Berserker, Archer aims a devastating arrow towards both Berserker and Saber, hoping to kill both.  But Shiro manages to protect Saber and take the brunt of the damage.

The following morning, Shiro has completely healed and this leads to Shiro wanting to learn more about his servant and his new friend Rin, but also wanting to protect them.  And as Rin tries to explain that his sense of justice is going to hurt him (as they are all supposed to be enemies), Rin continues on the path of justice and wanting to protect the people he cares about.

But Shiro will quickly learn that while he may have Rin on his side, he and Saber have now become a target for the other five magi and their servants.

Will there be a true winner for this latest “Holy Grail War” or will Shiro find a way to end it?

VIDEO:

It’s important for people to know that “Fate/stay night” is an older anime series.  Not old-school but I usually feel that with series that were released 2009 and later, they tend to be HD native and look better.  But for older series, they either are remastered at a higher bitrate and in the case of “Fate/Stay night”, it’s a 1080i High Definition (16×9) release.

Fortunately, the series does look good for its age.  Colors are robust and while TV series are expected to have softness, fortunately the series is not too soft but you will see some banding and artifacts (not a lot but they are there).

But for those who have wanted “Fate/stay night” to be released on Blu-ray, for this 2006 anime series, you should be pleased by its overall picture quality as it does look better than many series that were upconverted to Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/stay night” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Typically, English soundtracks tend to have a more dynamic range as they are often fixed up for its US release.  In the case of this series, the Japanese audio actually has better dynamic range.  But both are well-acted and dialogue, music and sound effects are clear through the front channel.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/stay night” does not come with any special features.

Finally!  I can understand what the “Fate/stay night” storyline is all about!

Having played the video games and having seen the large dedicated fanbase for the “Fate/stay night” series in Japan, America and all over the world…I don’t think I have seen a video game receive so much recognition by fans worldwide.  You just don’t see people going crazy for “Street Fighter” or “King of Fighters” action figures but look online and there are fans that just go crazy for the video games and action figures.  And while I do feel that the character designs of the characters of “Fate/stay night” are quite cool to look at, I was drawn to it because of the character designs and for the fact that I am a fan of Japanese fighting video games.

And I am very  happy that Sentai Filmworks have released this animated series in the US.  Primarily to satisfy those who are big fans or are newer fans thanks to the video gae and the previous movie release.

While I do know that Japanese companies that sell the merchandise have done a fantastic job in making “alter” version and just continuing to give fans these wonderful looking versions of the characters and detailed outfits with the dolls and figures in Japan, here in America, more and more people are jumping on the “Fate/stay night” bandwagon.

As mentioned earlier, last summer I attended the “Fate Extra” reveal for the video game and the crowd went nuts when they saw the announcement of the game.  And similar to the video games, there is also innovation by trying to release the video games encompassing various genres instead of fighting video games.  From the adult PC game to the recent strategy tactic PSP game, fans are really enjoying the “Fate/stay night” series.  May it be the action figures, the dolls or the games, this is one series that fans all over the world are passionate about.

And therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if fans go after the Blu-ray or DVD release of “Fate/stay night”.

I’m quite biased towards the characters already and to finally now the context of what the story is about and the war between the seven magi’s, it’s a rather enjoyable concept, not necessarily unique, but it’s the characters that make this worthwhile.  There is non-stop action and while the animated series tends to focus more on Shiro and Rin, Saber and Archer fans will also enjoy this series.

A lot of action is featured throughout each episode and as mentioned earlier, unlike the movie which is 105 minutes of footage taken from the series, fans who saw the movie first, should be happy that they can see the series in its entirety on Blu-ray.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s a 2006 anime TV series, so it is an upconvert, but compared to other anime series upconverts, it does look good.  Colors are vibrant at times but there are hints of softness, artifacts and banding as well.  But it’s expected for a series that is slightly older.  My only disappointment is the lack of any special features.

Exciting and action-packed, the first half of the series pretty much focuses on Shiro Emiya and Saber developing a relationship and taking on various challenges.  But things are definitely going to become much more difficult for the second half of the series.

Overall, “Fate/stay night” is an enjoyable action-packed anime series and one of the better series based off a video game.  If you love the video games or just craving for an action anime series, “Fate/stay night – Collection 1” is recommended.

 

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