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

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Purchase from Rightstuf

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


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

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 19-24) 150 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: February 21, 2017


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

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

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


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

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


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

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

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

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase from Rightstuf

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as Ayato and Julis, Saya and Kirin must take on their most powerful rivals in the tournament yet as they close in on the semifinals. How will these two fighting duos do in the Phoenix Festa competition? Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”. Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2017 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 13-18) 150 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: February 21, 2017


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

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

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


After successfully destroying the Gravi-Sheath, Ayato and Julis free the Urzaiz sisters from their shackles. However, Ayato’s side effect of forcefully releasing the seal and its time limit are now known to the other teams. As the Phoenix Festa finals continue, Julis must come up with a strategy to cover for Ayato’s inability to fight at full strength due to the seal’s side effect. Will Ayato and Julis be able to survive in the Festa?


The tournament continues as Ayato and Julis must now fight Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan of Jie Long.  And Saya and Kirin’s semifinal match is against AR-D and RM-C.  Who will be the victors?

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the first episodes of season two (episodes 13-18), Ayato and Julis must take on the powerful Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan in order to move into the semi-finals.  While Saya and Kirin must take on the devastating robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C.

Meanwhile, someone has kidnapped Flora.  Who is responsible?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War vol. 3” features the following special features:

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

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 12:17) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Infusion Mix #2” featuring one music track.


As the beginning of the second season of “The Asterisk War” begins in vol. 3, the tournament continues as Ayato and Julis and Saya and Kirin take on their next competitors.

Ayato and Julis must take on Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan of Jie Long in order to make it to the semi-final.  While Saya and Kirin must take on the robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C in the semifinal.  Meanwhile, Flora has been kidnapped.

A lot has changed since the first season as Ayato and Julis have become partners who trust each other and watch each other’s back, while Saya and Kirin, who seemed like a duo with nothing in common, also have grown as partners.  But both groups must take on their most dangerous rivals yet.

While vol. 3 is more of a tournament-driven, action-packed volume, we do get backstory on Camilla.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the battle progresses as now we head into the final episodes of “The Asterisk War” season two.

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

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 13-minute soundtrack and 40-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as Ayato and Julis, Saya and Kirin must take on their most powerful rivals in the tournament yet as they close in on the semifinals. How will these two fighting duos do in the Phoenix Festa competition? Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”. Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining. Things no doubt get better with the series with this second volume as Ayato and Julis must take on various competitors from other schools.  Who will become victorious in the Phoenix Festa competition?  Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.  Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 7-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: November 22, 2016


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

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

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


The Asterisk War Volume 2  contains episodes 7-12 plus packaging illustrated by Tetsuya Kawakami (character design).

The Phoenix Festa has finally started! Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy are expected to be the most formidable. After Ayato saves Irene’s sister Priscilla from some Rewolf delinquents, he finds that their first battle will be against these sisters! Can Ayato and Julis defeat Irene who wields the Gravi-Sheath, a powerful Ser=Versta!?


Will Kirin be able to leave her abusive uncle?  And what happens when she teams up with Saya?

The Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy are expected to be the most formidable.

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

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

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

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

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy will no doubt become difficult.  But can Ayato and Julis defeat them?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes for episode 8-12.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening, Prologue and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 23:00) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Expanded Universe #1” by Rasmus Faber featuring 12 music tracks.


For those who love action-drive anime series, the first volume of “The Asterisk War” shows great potential with its interesting characters (each with their own special skillset) and it’s good balance of humor, action and for those who enjoy, fan service, you get a little of that as well.

For some anime fans, they may find it quite banal as it may feel similar to “The irregular at magic high school” minutes the brother/sister characters.

Everything takes place in the school, students are often challenging each other and the power of the main protagonist is amazing. But you have a main protagonist who is your usual nice guy, wanting to protect the people he cares about. A main female tsundere character who is amazed by the main protagonists kindness and good intentions. And you also have a group of characters that are fun, others who are mysterious and so, I can see people who may be turned off by the series feeling too similar.

Ayato Amagiri has similarities to Kirito of “Sword Art Online”, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt has a tsundere attitude similar to Chitoge Kirisaki of “Nisekoi”, Claudia Enfield is your usual flirtation, buxom character trying to seduce the protagonist, you have tech-loving and naive Saya Sasamiya and the shy but excellent fighter, Kirin Toudou.

And as the second volume starts to show that slight harem style anime as the female characters try to fight for Ayato’s attention, the second volume is an action-packed volume as the Phoenix Festa begins and various schools compete.

And one team catches Ayato and Julis’ attention, the team of Irene Urzaiz and Priscilla of Le Wolfe.  But what is it about Irene that makes her extremely powerful?  And why is defeating Ayato so important to her?

As the first season ends with a cliffhanger and also uncertainty, it no doubt sets up the episodes for the second season of “The Asterisk War”.

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

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 23-minute soundtrack and 40-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining. Things no doubt get better with the series with this second volume as Ayato and Julis must take on various competitors from other schools.  Who will become victorious in the Phoenix Festa competition?  Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.  Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 ” is action-packed and entertaining. It’s characters and storyline may feel reminiscent of other anime series but the series does show a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing how the characters and the storyline evolve in vol. 2. “The Asterisk War” is an anime worth checking out!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

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

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


Invertia–The astral catastrophe that annihilated many cities in the 20th century also gave birth to a new human race with special powers called the “Genestella.” At the same time, the special element found within the meteors of Invertia facilitated humanity’s technological advancement.

At the academic-city above water Rikka, also known as “Asterisk,” students from each of the six schools at Asterisk prepare for the ultimate battle tournament — known as “Festa.” Seidoukan Academy’s Ayato Amagiri takes up the challenge along with his partner Julis, a.k.a. Glühen Rose, the Witch of the Resplendent Flames. Ayato learns Julis has a big dream to achieve and decides to protect her to the end.


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

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

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

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.  The first six episodes of the 24-episode series, will be featured in the first volume.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But as Ayato continues to fight and find a reason for using his special power, what will he discover about himself?  And who is responsible for attacking Seidoukan students?  And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time?

All this and more in the first volume of “The Asterisk War”!


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes for episode 2-7.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Ending Song 1 & 2
  • Textless Prologue

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more.  Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 12:32) featuring “The Asterisk War Infusion Mix 1” by Rasmus Faber.


For those who love action-drive anime series, the first volume of “The Asterisk War” shows great potential with its interesting characters (each with their own special skillset) and it’s good balance of humor, action and for those who enjoy, fan service, you get a little of that as well.

For some anime fans, they may find it quite banal as it may feel similar to “The irregular at magic high school” minutes the brother/sister characters.

Everything takes place in the school, students are often challenging each other and the power of the main protagonist is amazing.  But you have a main protagonist who is your usual nice guy, wanting to protect the people he cares about.  A main female tsundere character who is amazed by the main protagonists kindness and good intentions.  And you also have a group of characters that are fun, others who are mysterious and so, I can see people who may be turned off by the series feeling too similar.

Ayato Amagiri has similarities to Kirito of “Sword Art Online”, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt has a tsundere attitude similar to Chitoge Kirisaki of “Nisekoi”, Claudia Enfield is your usual flirtation, buxom character trying to seduce the protagonist, you have tech-loving and naive Saya Sasamiya and the shy but excellent fighter, Kirin Toudou.   How these characters evolve later in the series is what I look forward to watching.

But that’s just the first six episodes.  I found the series to be fun, action-packed and entertaining but would like to see how the characters and the storyline evolve.

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

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub.  Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme.  But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 12-minute mix and 40-page deluxe booklet.  So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 ” is action-packed and entertaining.  It’s characters and storyline may feel reminiscent of other anime series but the series does show a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing how the characters and the storyline evolve in vol. 2.

“The Asterisk War” is an anime worth checking out!

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

January 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

swordartonline-rosario

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

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


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

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 18-24 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: January 19, 2016


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

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

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Sword Art Online”?

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

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

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.

And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television. And now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

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

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario”


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

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

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Mother’s Rosario: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set IV” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you. Wonderful anime production from A-1 Pictures.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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


swordartonline-rosario-b

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-3

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed. Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance

DURATION: Episodes 19-26 (200 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The season turns from summer to fall. This is also the time for students to prepare for the “National High School Magic Thesis Competition,” a.k.a. “Thesis Competition.” At this nationwide competition, students representing each of the nine magic schools in the country present their research on topics ranging from magic theory to magic engineering. If the Nine Schools Competition was meant to assess the students’ “physical” capabilities, the Thesis Competition evaluates their “mental” proficiency.

Even though he is a Course 2 student and only a first-year, Tatsuya is appointed to represent his school along with his group members to present their thesis on “the technical feasibility of a Gravity Control-type Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor.” At the same time, Tatsuya is approached by his stepmother, Sayuri Shiba, to help analyze a “Relic.”

Meanwhile, in Yokohama, where this year’s Thesis Competition was scheduled to take place, local authorities investigate a series of unlawful entries into the country and work to keep the situation under control. This, however, is only the beginning of a greater conflict that would soon involve the students at the Thesis Competition…


With “Yokahama Disturbance” (episodes 19-26) kicking off a new story arc for Tatsuya and Miyuki, this time the schools will compete in a “Magical Thesis Competition”.

But their step mother enlists Tatsuya for his help in finding a mysterious and elusive relic that can change the history of magic, but another group is trying to steal it.

Find out what happens in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

With the third arc titled “Yokohama Disturbance”, a few of the students of Private Magic University Affiliated High School will be taking part in another important event known as the “Magic Thesis Competition” and the students must produce an applicable material before their deadline.

But as Tatsuya is enlisted by his step mother to replicate a relic that can change magic history, other adversaries are trying to steal it.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending 2, Ver. 1 and Ver. 2
  • Get to Know Magic Studies! #06-#07 – Featuring SD versions of the characters in three minute segments (typically shown after an episode in Japan).

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, three collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 20-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


In my previous reviews of “The irregular at magic high school”, I feel that I have complimented the series when it comes to visual design and storytelling.

From the anime series beginnings of featuring Tatsuya as a mystery underdog in a high school that looked down upon him, because he was not in the top class, part of the enjoyment was seeing him grow as a student but also proving others wrong with his mysterious abilities.

Volume 3 of “The irregular at magic high school” finally features the truth about Tatsuya Shiba and also the importance of Miyuki Shiba during a tough time as the students are attacked by armed assailants.

While previous arcs have been action-packed, “Yokohama Disturbance” becomes more serious and deadly and even various characters get injured severely at some point.

For those who love the action of the series, you won’t be disappointed by these final episodes of the series.  Featuring many of the characters working together to defeat their adversaries, it’s no doubt an action-packed arc.

Meanwhile, for those who enjoyed the more school-driven, underdog Tatsuya storyline, the series has gone beyond that and has identified Tatsuya as anything but an underdog.

And you can see a bit of Tatsuya’s power unleashed in the final episodes.

But with how the series ends overall, the question is how will the series continue and will it continue to follow the light novel series.  Time will tell.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.

Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

As usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed.

Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

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

November 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

AOA-6403B-WR Cover

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

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


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

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 15-17 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: November 17, 2015


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

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

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


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

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


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

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

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

What is “Sword Art Online”?

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

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

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.

And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television. And now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

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

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

soa2-b-1

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

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

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

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 8-14.5 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

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

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Aoi Yūki as Yuuki

Asami Tano as Nori

Atsushi Tamaru as Talken

Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya

Daiki Yamashita as Jun

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Houko Kuwashima as Urðr

Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa

Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica

Souichiro Hoshi/Ben Diskin as Death Gun

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka

Yu Shimamura as Siune

Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja


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

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


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

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

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

What is “Sword Art Online”?

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

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

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.

And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television. And now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

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

Which leads us to “Sword Art Online II”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 2 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you.  Wonderful anime production from A-1 Pictures.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-2a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better. And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition

DURATION: Episodes 8-18 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: September, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The seasons have turned to summer and the story enters the next chapter. The National Magic High School Goodwill Magic Game Convention (a.k.a. the “Nine Schools Competition”) is just around the corner. The young elites of all the nation’s magic high schools are ready to demonstrate their skills in the name of their pride.

Miyuki, a Course 1 student, is chosen as one of the representative athletes to compete for First High School’s prestige. Tatsuya, being a Course 2 student, knew better than anyone else that he would have no involvement in such an esteemed event as the “Nine Schools Competition.” However, to everyone’s surprise, he is actually nominated to represent First High School as the team’s engineer. It is unprecedented for a Course 2 student to compete in the tournament, and naturally the whole school is thrown into an uproar.

Students of First High School are all ready for their third consecutive victory, while the other magic high schools are not about to easily hand it over. With the students’ various expectations, the battle between the young magicians will soon begin…


The next arc known as “Nine Schools Competition” has begun for the hit anime series “The irregular at magic high school” and this time, First High School will now pit it’s best team members to participate in the inter-school sporting event.

With Tatsuya being recognized for his skills at special magic tuning, he is voted into the Engineering squad and also creates a flying CAD device.

But as the team is preparing for the “Nine Schools Competition”, someone is trying to kill the team.

Meanwhile, can the First High students defeat the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”?

Find out in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine School Competition” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

As the first arc was featured in the first volume, the second volume features the “Nine Schools Competition” arc and both Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki will be among the few competitors to face off against other top tier teams from different high schools.

But as the two prepare for the challenges await them, outside of the school is an organization that is intent of destroying First High School’s chance of winning, but most importantly, targeting Miyuki for death.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with the Get to Know Magic Studies! Shorts #4-5, Textless Opening 2, Textless Ending 1.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, four collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 24-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


irregular-2b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

And now with this latest “Nine Schools Competition” arc, a lot of things have changed for Tatsuya.  Despite being popular with a few of his female friends that are starting to take a liking towards him (and he still remains emotionless and naive), but we get to learn more about Tatsuya and what he does behind-the-scenes and the people he interacts with, especially his relationship with his father.

But we also get to see how his fellow students starting to suspect him of being more than a Course 2 student.

But with this latest arc, the action is elevated as the schools must compete in the “Nine Schools Competition”.  Competition is risky and challenging and for the guys, they know that they must face their most difficult opponent yet, the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”.

Ichijo is the eldest son and the future head of the Ichijo family, one of the Ten Master Clans and also has a crush on Miyuki, so his goal to defeat Tatsuya is even greater.

But as these two pose a great challenge to First High School, the true threat is unknown as someone is trying to kill the First High School Team, primarily Miyuki for some reason.  And Tatsuya, who has his eyes on the competition, also has his eyes out for any potential threat on his sister’s life and his teammates.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well. Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better.  And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment

DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō
Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba

 


Magic – a century has passed since this concept has been recognized as a formal technology instead of the product of the occult or mere folklore. The season is spring and it is time for a brand new school year.

At the National Magic University First Affiliate High School, A.K.A Magic High School, students are divided into two distinct groups according to their academic performances. The “Blooms,” who demonstrate the highest grades, are enrolled in the “First Course,” and the “Weeds,” who have a poor academic record, are enrolled in the “Second Course.”

This spring, a very peculiar brother and sister enroll as new students. The brother is an underachiever with some deficiencies and enrolls as a “Weed,” while his younger sister is an honor student, who enrolls as a “Bloom.” The brother with a somewhat philosophical disposition and the younger sister who holds feelings a little stronger than sibling love for him… Ever since these two entered through the gates of this prestigious school, the calm campus began to change…


In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix.  Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century.  Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores.  Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well.  So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying.  But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school but also diffuse a terrorist attack on the school.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series.  Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release.  The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels.  Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive.  It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a textless opening, three three-minute “Get to Know Magic Studies!” featuring the characters in SD format.  Also, included are the Japanese trailers and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase and three collectable pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a 24-page special booklet with episode synopsis and Q&A with creator Tsutomu Sato answers technical questions from fans of the series.


irregular-b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

While the first volume establishes the characters, Tatsuya’s powers (as well as other powers for the supporting cast members), we are shown how the divide between Course 1 and Course 2 students have escalated.  But most importantly, there is something about the protagonist, Tatsuya Shiba that no one knows about.

So, there is an interesting build up in the storyline as each episode gets better and better and I was absolutely captivated with this series and really felt it was one of the best anime series I have seen released on Blu-ray in 2015.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series.  Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.  Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic.  It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectable pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome!  “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

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