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Occultic;Nine vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-6 (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Originally Created by Chiyomaru Shikura

Original Character Design by pako

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition: Junpei Morita

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design: Tomoaki Takase

Art Director: Hisayo Usui

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Faye Mata as Ryoka Narusawa

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Scott Kimerer as Yūta Gamon

Hitomi Yoshida/Kayli Mills as Miyū Aikawa

Houchu Ohtsuka as Takasu

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Draymond as Sarai Hashigami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Ben Diskin as Kōhei Izumi

Kishō Taniyama as Kiryū Kusakabe

Mamiko Noto/Michelle Ruff as Ririka Nishizono

Maria Naganawa/Xanthe Huynh as Chizu Kawabata

Miyuki Sawashiro as Aria Kurenaino

Satomi Akesaka as Asuna Kizaki

Shizuka Itou as Tōko Sumikaze

Tetsuya Kakihara as Shun Moritsuka


From the creator of “Steins;Gate”, a new adventure surrounding the occult is about to begin!

Yuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “Kiri Kiri Basara,” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “hack and slash away!” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint.

However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.


Back in 2014, Chiyomaru Shikura (best known for creating “Steins;Gate”) created a new Japanese light novel series titled “Occultic;Nine”.

A 12-episode anime adaptation produced by A-1 Pictures aired in October-December 2016 and now, the anime series will be released in North America courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

The anime series is directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Kujira no Kora wa Sajo ni Utau”, “Lance N’ Masques”, “Psycho-Pass”), series composition by Junpei Morita, music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Arakawa Under the Bridge”, “Love and Lies”, “Fate/Apocrypha”), character design by Tomoaki Takase and background art by Hisayo Usui (“AKB0048”, “Angel Beats!”, “Fairy Tail”).

The series begins with Yuta sitting in a cafe while trying to find out how to increase visits to his website, which posts news and stories about the occult in Japan.

Yuta and his friend Ryoka Narusawa watch fortune-teller and classmate Miyu Aikawa on a TV commercial and decide that if they interview her for the website, it may boost traffic for the website.   Miyu decides to join the two and interestingly, things start to go awry in the area as an occult magazine received a manuscript from Professor Hashigami and an older woman, which can’t be his mother, because she is dead.  Meanwhile, a woman named Aria Kurenaino helps a customer curse someone to death and next thing you know, she discovers a bloody scalp in her mailbox.

Meanwhile, as Yuta goes to visit Professor Hashigami for an interview, he discovers Hashigami’s corpse.  And he leaves the word “CODE” with his own blood before dying?  What can that mean?

In another situation, Miyu receives calls from a person trying to prove that she is a fake fortune-teller.  When she receives a call from a person named Sarai, she sees visions of him standing over his dead father’s body and she begs him to visit her father.

Also, a tragic mass suicide has taken place at Inokashira Park on the news.  What could have led to all these people to kill themselves? Hypnotism?  Or something more sinister?


VIDEO:

“Occultic;Nine” is presented in 1080p High Definition. A-1 Productions is one of the most well-known anime production studios that are known for creating quality anime series.  And for “Occultic;Nine”, the backgrounds are highly detailed and look realistic.  Character designs are magnificent and for the most part, the detailed, painted backgrounds compliment the colorful animation.

It’s important to note that this is a TV series, so there is a slight hint of softness.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Occultic;Nine” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM.  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with a slipcase illustrated by character designer Tomoaki Takase, a 20-page deluxe booklet and six illustration pin-up cards.


When it comes Chiyomaru Shikura, one can look at his work with 5pb. Inc. and Mages. Inc.  He is known for the concepts and overseeing the creations of “Steins;Gate”, “Chaos;Head”, “Robotics;Notes” and “Anonymous;Code” but “Occultic;Nine” was specifically written by Chiyomura Shikura.

The series has an interesting concept.  You have a teenage NEET named Yuta Gamon who runs the blog “Kiri Kiri Basara” which features news and discussion about the occult and he is wanting to drive up traffic to his website.

His good friend, the cheerful (and enormously well-endowed Ryoka Narusawa) is known for carrying a stun-gun (that looks like a toy ray gun) is always wanting to support Yuta and together, they decide to bring in popular fortune teller Miyu Aikawa to join the blog.

And as Yuta wants to keep the traffic up on his site, he (moreso, his female friends) wants to bring in other people for interviews that may drive up even more traffic to the website and his first choice is to interview Professor Hashigami.

Unfortunately, when he goes to visit the professor, Yuta finds his dead body and there are signs of foul play and a mysterious word, “CODE” written in blood by the professor.

Meanwhile, deal with Ria Minase (a delusional girl who lived with her brother and was not aware that he has been dead and she was living with his corpse), a person named Aria Kurenaino who helped put a curse on someone for that person’s death and who is this mystery caller named Sarai, that keeps calling Miyu and trying to disprove her as a fortune-teller?

So far, the first six episodes are entertaining, dark and humorous.  While some may find the enormously large breasts of Ryoka Narusawa to be overkill, this is no doubt to keep the otaku and fan service lovers who can’t get enough of Ryoka.

But as these first six episodes are more character introducing episodes, the second half will no doubt become even more interesting as Yuta and friends continue their investigation.  What will they discover?

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures did a phenomenal job with the animation and background art.  There are no major special features but the set does come with a 20-page booklet and six illustration cards.  As well as a slipcase.

Overall, “Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Originally Created by Sumihei

Director: Takaomi Kanasaki

Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Maiko luchi

Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe

Art Director: Takashi Ichikura

Art Design: Kazushi Fujii

Anime Production: 8 bit


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Clifford Chapin as Harutora Tsuchimikado

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlin Glass as Natsume Tsuchimikado

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Kon

Ayane Sakura/Jad Saxton as Suzuka Dairenji

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kyoko Kurahashi

Fumi Hirano/Wendy Powell as Miyo Kurahashi

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Tenma Momoe

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jarrod Greene as Reiji Kagami

Hisako Kanemoto/Felecia Angelle as Hokuto/Takiko Sōma

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Jin Ōtomo

Ryohei Kimura/Ian Sinclair as Tōji Ato

Shinya Takahashi as Senjirō Kogure


Harutora may seem like an ordinary guy, but he’s actually a descendant of an ancient and powerful clan of onmyouji. Born without the family talent for magic, he’d always believed he was destined for a normal, boring existence. All that changed the day Natsume, a beautiful face from Harutora’s past, barged back into his life and forever altered the course of his future.


Quite often, there are anime adaptations that are derived from Japanese light novels.  And in 2010, Kohei Azano and illustrator Sumihei created the light novel series “Tokyo Ravens”.

An anime series was released in 2013 and ended in 2014 and in August 2017, “Tokyo Ravens” was released in North America on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series sets up the storyline of how onmyodou magic was a powerful technique used by the Japanese during World War II.  Unfortunately, when onmyoji Yakou Tsuchimikado performed a ritual to bring out Japan as a major force goes wrong and it led to the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan since then.

An Onmyo Agency was developed to monitor supernatural activity and take on spirits or demons that make their way into the world.

Fastforward to this present time in the story where many students learn onmydou magic to utilize their skills in medicine and technology.  Unfortunately for Harutora, a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family, he was born with no spiritual power at all.

But despite coming from a well-known, powerful family, without no spiritual power, he sees his life as meaningless.

He remembers a childhood promise made and one day, he and his friend Touji Ato encounter Hokuto, a girl that Harutora likes and she encourages him to become an onmyo mage.    Meanwhile, he meets his childhood friend Natsume but he accidentally offends her.

As Harutora goes to a festival, Hokuto promises him a kiss if he wins at the festival but out of nowhere, Suzuka Dairenji arrives at the festival and she learns of his true identity, she goes to kiss him and when Hokuto arrives, she is upset to see him receiving a kiss before she can give him one and leaves crying because of it.

One day, while walking home with Natsume, Harutora once again comes across Suzuka and while the Magical Investigation Bureau agents try to stop her and she unleashes her juggernaut.  Harutora tries to save one of the agents but as the juggernaut is about to kill Harutora, Hokuto gets in the way and saves Harutora but is impaled by the mecha juggernaut.

Feeling upset and despondent, Harutora decides to follow the path of becoming an onmyo mage, going to school but also becoming a familiar for Natsume.

How will life go for Harutora now that he plans to focus on school (despite not being that smart) and working together with Natsume to take on various spirits?


VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 8 bit has done a wonderful job with the animation and for the most part, the series looks very good on Blu-ray but like most anime television series, the series does exhibit some softness.  But backgrounds are well-painted, characters are well-shaded and the animation is well done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for the most part.  As for the English dub, for the most part, voice acting is well-done and I have to give major props to voice acting newcomer, Clifford Chapin on doing a magnificent job as the voice of main protagonist, Harutora.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

  • Audio Commentary for Episode 5 by Clifford Chapin, Monica Rial and Ian Sinclair.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 7 by director Colleen Clinkenbeard, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair and Clifford Chapin discussing the duties of a voice actor.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark and Jad Saxton.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 14 – Featuring audio commentary by Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum and Michael Johnson.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 18 by ADR director Zach Bolton, Jad Saxton, Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 23 – Featuring audio commentary by Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle and Jarrod Greene.
  • Kon Explains it All #1-3 – Featuring five minute featurettes (in Japanese with English subtitles) with Kon discussing various characters in the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs
  • U.S. Trailer

“Tokyo Ravens” is an interesting anime that revolves around magic, friendships and love but as Japan has created a plethora of anime series that deal with magic, someone not good at it and eventually becoming stronger to defeat the main antagonist, was this going to be another case of anime banality?

Fortunately, “Tokyo Ravens” is a series that has more going for it thanks to its plot of magical hijinks, crazy characters but also young love which leads to many hilarious situations throughout the series.

The series follows Harutora Tsuchimikado, a son of a major branch family in Japan, the Tsuchimikado Clan but despite being born from a distinguished family known for their onmyouji skills, Harutora has no such skill or magical powers.  He is not smart, many wonder why he’s attending an onmyouji school with no such skills. But he wants to go back to school to find out who was the master of his deceased familiar, Hokuto but also enjoying the friendships he makes along the way.  He has a shikigami silver-fox spirit named Kon who helps him.

He becomes  the familiar for Natsume Tsuchimikado, a childhood friend of Harutora and also from the main family of the Tsuchimikado Clan and is a prodigal onmyouji.  She has come to Harutora’s town in order to make sure he holds up to his childhood promise of becoming her familiar.  Interesting enough, Natsume is assumed to be a reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, the infamous onmyouji who performed a ritual known as “Taizan Fukun Ritual” which was to bring out Japan as a major force but instead, the ritual went wrong and brought the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan ever since.

Because of this, as a family tradition, she must present herself as a male in front of other onmyouji families and that includes attending school as a boy.  And family tradition means everything to her, while not so much for Harutora.

Harutora’s best friend is a former delinquent named Touji Ato, who knows a lot about onmyodo and often helps Harutora at Onmyo Academy.  He was a victim of the Spiritual Disaster and was possessed by an oni which caused the Spiritual Disaster and Harutora’s father helped treat him, despite Touji having the power to become half-Oni.

Meanwhile, causing problems for Harutora and Natsume throughout their time at the Academy is Suzuka Dairenji, the youngest of the 12 Divine Generals and wants to revive her brother with the Taizan Fukun Ritual.  She and her brother were experimented on by her father before and after their birth in order to create an excellent onmyouji.

The first half of the series is humorous and lighthearted and the series does a wonderful job of focusing on character development but also featuring many character interactions and developing relationships.  It’s what makes the series captivating and not being just a banal magical/action-driven anime series.

While the second half becomes more serious and darker, as it involves the Twin Horn Syndicate, A spirit disaster taking place at the Onmyo Agency branch office and a major death!

What will happen to Harutora and friends during the time of a new spirit disaster but also an ominous threat looming?

I have to say that the first half of the series kept me captivated but by the second half, the mood’s all changed (which is common in anime series) but I felt the second half became a bit more convoluted.   I like the fact that the series focused so much on character development but by the time you start caring for these characters, you are thrust into a different type of storyline for the second half, especially towards the end of the series that grows darker, becomes a bit more complex and for the most part, it went from something that had great potential to an average anime series at the end.

But I did like numerous audio and video commentaries included on this Blu-ray/DVD set of “Tokyo Ravens” and while it is a bit banal, fortunately there is a lot of character development in this series that made watching the series worthwhile.

Overall, “Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

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

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Hero Academia: Season One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“My Hero Academia” is fast-paced and enjoyable! The characters and their powers can be a bit way over-the-top but its unpredictability and enjoyable storyline, makes “My Hero Academia”, an anime series on Blu-ray worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2014 by Kohei Horikoshi. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My Hero Academia: Season One

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Kohei Horikoshi

Director: Kenji Nagakasaki

Series Composition: Yousuke Kuroda

Character Design by Yoshihiko Umakoshi

Music by Yuuki Hayashi

Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda, Yukiko Maruyama

Anime Production: BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Luci Christian as Ochaco Uraraka

Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner as Izuku Midoriya

Kaito Ishikawa/J. Michael Tatum as Tenya Iida

Kenta Miyake/Christopher R. Sabat as All Might

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Clifford Chapin as Katsuki Bakugō

Yuuki Kaji/David Matranga as Shōto Todoroki

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Tsuyu Asui

Eri Kitamura/Caitlin Glass as Mina Ashido

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Sonny Strait as Present Mic

Inuko Inuyama/Morgan Berry as Thirteen

Junichi Suwabe/Alex Organ as Shota Aizawa

Kaori Nazuka/Felecia Angelle as Tooru Hagakure

Kei Shindou/Trina Nishimura as Kyōka Jirō

Kiyotaka Furushima/Christopher Bevins as Hanta Sero

Kōsuke Kuwano/Joel McDonald as Yūga Aoyama

Kosuke Miyoshi/MikeMcFarland as Mashirao Ojiro

Kouki Uchiyama/Eric Vale as Tomura Shigaraki

Marina Inoue/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Momo Yaoyorozu

Masakazu Nishida as Mezō Shōji

Ryou Hirohashi/Brina Palencia as Minoru Mineta

Takahiro Fujiwara/Chuck Huber as Kurogiri

Tasuku Hatanaka/Kyle Phillips as Denki Kaminari

Tooru Nara/Cris George as Rikidō Satō

Toshiki Masuda/Justin Cook as Eijirō Kirishima

Tsuguo Mogami as Noumu

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Joshua Grelle as Fumikage Tokoyami


It’s an exciting age of heroes, where most people develop supernatural abilities known as Quirks. Bright-eyed kids like Izuku Midoriya—Deku for short—dream of the day they become champions of the people. There’s just one little problem standing in Deku’s way. In a world full of heroes, he’s Quirkless. Crushed, but not down for the count, this superhero-fanboy dedicates his time to studying the pros in hopes that he, too, can join a prestigious high school for heroes. In the face of despair, Deku’s courage catches the eye of his ultimate idol, the symbol of justice known as All Might! With special training from the big guy himself, Deku and the talented first-years of the academy may finally have a shot at achieving their dreams. But these amateurs are put to the test of a lifetime when routine training becomes a battle against real villains!


From Kohei Horikoshi, the creator of “Omagadoki Dobutsuen” and “Barrage”, came his manga series “My Hero Academia” (Boku no Hero Academia).

Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2014, an anime adaptation began in April 2016 through June 2016 (for the first season) and a second season begain in April 2017.

The anime series is produced by BONES and is directed by Kenji Nagasaki (“Classroom Crisis”, “Gundum Build Fighters”, “No. 6”), series composition by Yousuke Kuroda (“Battle Girl High School”, “Fire Emblem”, “Gundam Build Fighters”), music was composed by Yuuki Hayashi (“Death Parade”, “Haikyu!!”, “Robotics;Notes”), character designs are by Yoshihiko Umakoshi (“Air master”, “Boys Over Flowers”, “Heartcatch Precure!”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Battle Athletes Victory”, “Afro Samurai”, “Bastard!!”) and Yukiko Maruyama (“El-Hazard: The Wanderers”, “Macross Delta”, “Active Raid”).

And now the first season (featuring the first 13 episodes) is available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

“My Hero Academia” is a story that revolves around Quirks (people who begin to manifest special abilities) and all of a sudden people in the world began to have many people who became superpowered individuals.  Some who use their powers for good, some who use their powers for evil intentions.

Because the government is not equipped to deal with these superpowered thugs, a special group of heroic superpowered individuals came together to protect the people and keep the peace.

The series revolves around a boy named Izuku Midoriya, a boy born Quirkless and looked up to the world’s top hero, All Might.  And hoped that one day he could be a hero, despite not having a quirk.

One day, All Might received a near-fatal wound and now, he is losing his powers.  When Izuku proves his bravery, All Might decides to transfer some of his power on to Izuku and now, Izuku must train to learn how to use All Might’s quirk and must prove that he has the skills to attend the prestigious U.A. High School.

“My Hero Academia” focuses on the following characters:

  • Izuku Midoriya – A shy and timid boy who dreamed of becoming a superhero like All Might.  Often studying superheroes, when he steps up to save his childhood bully/acquaintance Katsuki from a villain, All Might chooses to transfer some of his quirk to Izuku.  And now Izuku has the opportunity to attend the prestigious U.A. High School.  He has a crush on Ochako.
  • Katsuki Bakugo – Izuku’s classmate and bully.  He possesses the Quirk Explosion which allows his palm to sweat to become nytrolglycerin and explode.  He is egotistical to people he deems are lower than him.
  • Ochako Uraraka – A girl who has the Quirk Zero Gravity, which makes any object she touches float.
  • Tenya Iida – The president of class 1-A who has the Quirk Engine, which gives him super-speed via jet engines in his legs.  Often seen as serious and scary.
  • Shoto Todoroki – A student in class 1-A and has the Quirk Fire and ice, which allows his left side to control fire and his right side to control ice.  He is the youngest child of Endeavor, the second top hero after All Might.
  • Toshinori Yagi/All Might – The top superhero in the world.  But only Itsuku knows his secrt that five years ago, he was severely injured in battle and now he is losing his power and can use it only for three hour a day.  He is a teacher at U.A. High School and his Quirk One For all allows him to transfer his power on to another.

VIDEO:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the anime series is respectful to the original character designs by Kohei Horikoshi.  Animation is vibrant and characters are well-drawn and shaded, art backgrounds are also well-done.

As most TV series has a bit of softness, “My Hero Academia” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” is presented in Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Both soundtracks are fantastic and are well-acted. dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Anime Expo 2016 Interview with Kenji Nagasaki and Wakana Okamura – (12:46) Featuring director Kenji Nagasaki and producer Wakana Okamura at AX 2016 and with the duo being interviewed and having fun at AX.
  • My Hero Academia: Meet the Characters – (6:24) An English introduction to the characters of “My Hero Academia” (Funimation promos).
  • AnimeFest 2016 Interview with Ayana Nishino – (8:42) Featuring an interview with animation director Ayana Nishino.
  • AnimeFest 2016: Artist Sketches – (6:29) Featuring a sped up art feature of the artists of “My Hero Academia” drawing a sketch of various characters.
  • Anime Expo 2016: My Hero Academia Panel – (36:34) Masahiko Minami of BONES, producer Wakana Okamura, director Kenji Nagasaki and English dub actors Clifford Chapin, Justin Briner, Christopher R. Sabat.
  • Anime Expo 2016 Interview with Christopher R. Sabat & Justin Briner – (19:16) FUNimation interviews Christopher R. Sabat and Justin Briner.
  • Anime Expo 2016: Interview with Masahiko Minami – (8:08) FUNimation interviews BONES Masahiko Minami.
  • Inside the Episodes – Short Omake sketches that were featured at the end of each episode
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • Trailer – Funimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the “My Hero Academia: Season One” are included on this Blu-ray release.


At first, I was wondering if “My Hero Academy” will be like another “X-Men” style storyline of humans vs. mutants and the world fearing mutantkind.  In this case, humankind fearing Quirks.

What I enjoy about this series is the fact that our heroes are not exactly what you expect in terms of heroic characters.  Whereas superpowered individuals in American comic books often showcase a character that is ripped, muscular, charismatic or gorgeous, “My Hero Academia” features regular characters and its main protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, is wide-eyed and looks far too innocent and unlikely to be a hero.

It’s heroes vs. heroes as the focused on a yearly sports festival in which the heroes must succeed and move up in the ranks and prepare themselves for whichever challenge comes their way. We also get to see a second competition featuring one-on-one battles as Izuku Midoriya of the Hero Course takes on Hitoshi Shinso from General Studies.  And also, Hanta Sero of the Hero Course vs. Shoto Todoroki of the Hero Course.

Also, Midoriya and friends in one of the most challenging battles they have ever faced as they must take on the League of Villains Hero Killer Stain.

Meanwhile, the Academy is having its Practical Exam and must be paired to take on a Hero, but with Midoriya and Bakugo, they find out they must take on All Might.

And all this and more in the first season of “My Hero Academia”.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and BONES did a wonderful job with this TV series as not only did the animation compliment the manga series in terms of overall design but the series looked great on Blu-ray and softness was not overly evident.  The English soundtrack gets the better lossless 5.1 soundtrack and subtitles are in English.

I also have to add that this is probably one of the better FUNimation special features included with actual full panels and interviews included with both Japanese crew and English dub talent from Anime Expo 2016 and AnimeFest 2016.  I was pleasantly surprised to see FUNimation putting much effort to have these special features and definitely adds to the enjoyability of this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “My Hero Academia” is fast-paced and enjoyable! The characters and their powers can be a bit way over-the-top but its unpredictability and enjoyable storyline, makes “My Hero Academia”, an anime series on Blu-ray worth checking out!

Charlotte: Volume 2 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

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


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-15 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


For the sake of his siblings, and to save every ability-wielder on Earth, Yu makes a certain decision. It is a choice that provides salvation to all of them, but at the same time, it is a choice that makes him pay a huge price in return.


In order to help people Yuu must make a major decision in order to save the people he cares about?  At the cost of his own memories or life.

Find out what happens to Yuu and friends in the final volume of “Charlotte”.

What is “Charlotte” about?

In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka. He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal. One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating. So, he is requested to retake the exam. When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?

In the second half of the series, Yuu starts to react over the music of the band, Zhiend.  Meanwhile, as Yuu’s memories start to come back, Yuu and his sister are approached by someone close to them that they thought was dead.

And Yuu learns a major lesson of how others want to manipulate those with special abilities.


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds. He lives with his younger sister Ayumu. After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power. He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic. She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds. Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello. Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline. She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance. She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school. She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand). She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

“Charlotte” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors!

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • Special Episode: The Strong Ones – A full OVA episode that takes place between episodes 3 and 5 and features  Yuu and Nao meeting up with a telepath named Iori Sekiguchi.
  • English Bloopers – (5:21) Featuring outtakes from the English dub sessions.
  • English Trailer
  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • Web Previews

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase featuring a box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer), a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer) and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape. And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

Meanwhile, the second half features Yuu discovering how people aim to manipulate those with special abilities.  To dissect them, to torture them and use them as experiments.  In order to save those with special abilities, Yuu will need to make a major decision in order to save them but that means losing his memories of those dear to him.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated. The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far. P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included. Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack. And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with a special OVA episode, four postcards and box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer) and a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer).

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

 

Charlotte: Volume 1 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try! You won’t be disappointed. Recommended!

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


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (170 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


A small percentage of adolescents have onsets of special abilities. Yu Otosaka deftly uses an ability that takes over a target’s body for five seconds and gets accepted into a prestigious high school. Just when he is about to start a stable high school life as a popular honor student, a girl named Nao Tomori appears before him. Their encounter reveals the cruel destiny for wielders of special abilities.


In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka.  He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal.  One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating.  So, he is requested to retake the exam.  When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds.  He lives with his younger sister Ayumu.  After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power.  He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic.  She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds.  Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello.  Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline.  She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance.  She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school.  She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand).  She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

“Charlotte” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors!

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • Beginning of a New “Destiny” – (24:07) A Japanese featurette with staff interviews and main cast interviews.
  • Textless Ending Ep. 3-4
  • Web previews for Episodes 2-7

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 1 comes with a slipcase and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape.  And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

So, using their abilities, they hope to warn others.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated.  The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far.  P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included.  Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack.  And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with an entertaining featurette with cast and staff interviews and you also get the Aniplex swag of collectable pinup cards and a slipcase.

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try!  You won’t be disappointed.

Recommended!

 

Your Lie in April Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

yourlieinapril-2

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic! “Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Lie in April Vol. 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-22 (250 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: May 31, 2016


Originally Created by Naoshi Arakawa

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition/Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Yukiko Aikei

Art Director: Hisao Usui

Anime Character Design by Tomoaki Takase

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Kōsei Arima

Risa Taneda/Erica Lindbeck as Kaori Miyazono

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Nagi Aizato

Ayane Sakura/Erica Mendez as Tsubaki Sawabe

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Saki Arima

Ryota Ohsaka/Kyle McCarley as Ryōta Watari

Saori Hayami/Erika Harlacher as Emi Igawa

Shizuka Ishigami/Julie Ann Taylor as Nao Kashiwagi

Yuuki Kaji/Erika Scott Kimerer as Takeshi Aiza


Summer passes and Kaori spends more time in the hospital than school. After much struggling, Kousei comes to realize that he’s onstage now because of the people who support him. Playing the notes that they all gave him, Kousei pours his entire soul into his performance so that it will reach Kaori.


It has been a long road for piano child prodigy Kosei Arima.  Since the loss of his mother and the abuse he had to take as a child, he has been out of piano competitions and have been unable to play well enough to compete.

Until he met the free-spirited violinist Kaori Miyazono.

She has been able to get Kosei Arima to play again, to help him with his problems and the two have built a strong relationship.

But when Kaori starts becoming ill and unable to play, will Kosei Arima lose his will to play the piano again?

Find out in the second and final volume of “Your Lie in April”!

What is “Your Lie in April”?

Back in 2011, Naoshi Arakawa created the manga series “Shigatsu wa Kimi n o Uso” (Your Lie in April).

The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s “Monthly Shonen Magazine” from 2011-2015 and would be adapted into an anime series from October 2014-March 2015 on Fuji TV’s noitamina block.

The anime series was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Lance N’ Masques”), series composition and screenplay by Takao Yoshioka (“Elfen Lied”, “High School DxD”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Sekirei” and “Sky Girls”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, “Queen’s Blade: Rebellion”), character design by Yukiko Aikei (“Accel World”, “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”, “Aikatsu Stars!”) and art direction by Hisayo Usui (“Saint Young Men”, “Fairy Tail”, “Angel Beats!”).

With a live film adaptation of “Your Lie in April” to hit theaters in Japan in Sept. 2016, the first volume of the anime series (featuring episodes 1-11) was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Your Lie in April” is a series that revolves around a former child prodigy in playing piano named Kosei Arima. Known as the “human metronome”, he was also emotionally and physically abused by his mother who was very strict on him when it came to playing the piano and being perfect.

While he dominated piano competitions all throughout Japan, when his mother died of an illness, he suffered psychological trauma in which caused him to no longer hear the notes of the piano after playing for several minutes.

One day, he comes across violinist Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who doesn’t follow the rules of adhering strictly to the score but is beloved by audiences for her music.

While walking home, she hears Kosei playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, only for a few minutes before he starts to lose the ability to hear the notes, once he starts to concentrate.

Immediately Kaori appoints him as her accompanist for the second round of preliminaries, which he refuses and tells her that he can’t play.

But eventually, she convinces Kosei to play for the preliminaries and their musical journey together begins.

The main characters of “Your Lie in April” are:

  • Kosei Arima – A former child prodigy pianist known as “the human metronome”. Because of his domination at competitions, showing up to school and competitions with bruises and scratches and people seeing his mother abusing him, a lot of rumors have followed him everywhere he goes. But when his mother died, it left him in psychological trauma for some reason and he is no longer able to hear the notes when he concentrates. So, he has given up piano and is focusing on a normal life.
  • Kaori Miyazono – A free-spirited violinist who walks to the beat of her own drum, playing music the way she wants to. Despite drawing the ire of judging panels, the audiences love to see her play. She develops a strong friendship with Kosei when she asks him to become her accompanist.
  • Tsubaki Sawabe – Kosei’s childhood friend who has been with him since they were younger. She is athletic but she also has feelings towards Kosei and is jealous of the time he is spending with Kaori.
  • Ryota Watari – Kosei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend and the captain of the soccer team. He tells Kosei that Kaori is his love interest, so Kosei respects that, despite feeling a little jealous towards Ryota.
  • Takeshi Aiza – A rival pianist of Kosei. He has always respected Kosei’s domination at competition and looked to him as a hero. But as Takeshi has dominated competitions in Kosei’s absence, he has been waiting to compete against him.
  • Emi Igawa – A pianist who began after listening to Kosei play when she was five-years-old. Unlike Kosei, she wants to reach the audience through playing with emotion. She hopes to reach Kosei the same way, as she may have feelings towards him.
  • Saki Arima – The mother of Kosei who was very strict and abusive emotionally and physically towards him. She accepts nothing less than perfection. She was very ill and when she passed away, it sent Kosei into psychological trauma.
  • Hiroko Seto – Saki’s close friend from college and a renowned pianist. She is the person responsible for discovering Kosei’s piano talents. She blames herself for the abuse of Kosei, that she becomes his guardian.
  • Nagi Aiza – The younger sister of Takeshi Aiza.  She has always wanted her brother to notice her but he has been fixated with his rivalry to Kosei.  So, what happens when Nagi becomes Kosei’s student?

VIDEO:

“Your Lie in April” features gorgeous animation by A-1 Pictures. Character designs are well-done, because the anime series often takes place outdoors, the animators chose to show a wonderful amount of detail, vibrant colors and backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. Overall, picture quality is vibrant and the series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Lie in April” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Both English dub and the Japanese soundtrack features awesome performances by the voice talent. I was impressed by bot soundtracks as they are done very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Ending
  • Gag Reel – Featuring an English dub gag reel
  • Audio Commentary (Ep. 22) – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Matt Seitz and voice talents Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck.

EXTRAS:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards and a 10-track CD soundtrack (Duration: 19 Minutes) featuring music by Masaru Yokoyama.


Once in awhile, there are anime series that captivates you with its vibrant animation, its beautiful music, humor but also a deep storyline.

“Your Lie in April” is one of those series that I watched and found myself instantly hooked on its characters and its moving storyline that got better with episode after episode.

The story revolves around a former child prodigy pianist named Kousei Arima who literally has lost his will to play the piano after suffering psychological trauma after the death of his mother.

And while a loss of a family member of loved one can be banal in many storylines for film or TV series, “Your Lire in April” is different in the fact that Kousei was raised by his mother, but his mother was strict and abusive.

She never let him have any fun, disciplined and beat him when he didn’t get his notes correctly. She didn’t care about anything else about him, only that he plays the piano perfectly and she was his harshest critic.

He is looked at by many people negatively because of that lack of love or emotional demeanor. His piano playing was methodic and not emotional, he played the way his mother had taught him and beating his piano rivals at competitions were the goal. Being the perfect pianist was the only way to live his life.

But when she passed away, each time he would play, he would be swallowed by his memories of his strict mother angered at him. So much to the point that he would be unable to play the piano when trying to concentrate and literally not be able to hear the notes.

So, he has quit playing the piano for two years and living a normal school life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari.

But life changes for Kosei when he befriends and watches the violin performance of Kaori Miyazono.

While talented, she is free-spirited and doesn’t play for the judges, she plays for the audience.

Surprised by the way she approaches her music and the way she is as an individual, he is intrigued by her. But is shocked when she chooses him to be her piano accompanist for her preliminary competition.

Fearful and doubting himself of playing the piano again, he eventually decides to do it for this one time. But Kosei is unaware that this new friendship with the vibrant Kaori Miyazono, will change his life forever.

As we get into the second volume, after seeing Kosei grow and being able to play again, he starts to feel emotions that he has never felt for anyone and inside, he has fallen for Kaori.

Meanwhile, his childhood friend Tsubaki has started to realize that she has emotions towards Kosei and is unable to tell him, because she knows how he feels about Kaori.

And as we start to see progress with Kosei and even taking in a young student, Nagi Aiza, the younger sister of Takeshi Aiza, the pianist who has looked at Kosei as his major rival.

And just when Kosei is taking major steps to compete as a pianist again, his world is rocked once again when Kaori becomes very ill and is hospitalized.  Afraid that the same thing that happen to his mother may happen to Kaori, Kosei once again loses his will to play.

Will Kosei find the courage and the way to play the piano?

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the final eleven episodes. On Blu-ray, the animation is vibrant, detailed and looks fantastic in HD. I absolutely love the colors, the character design, the animation and background art for this anime series. And the lossless audio, may it be with the English dub or the original Japanese soundtrack, are both well-performed.

The second volume of “Your Lie in April” comes with three postcards but for those who were captivated by the music of this anime series, will be happy to know that another CD soundtrack featuring ten songs from the latter half of the anime series is included. (note: the solo piano and violin segments featured in the competitions are not included in this soundtrack.)

Overall, “Your Lie in April” is a rarity to find released in America.  As action-driven anime is what is primarily released, I have to say how happy I am that “Your Lie in April” was released and it features both Japanese an English dub. It’s a deep anime series and storywise, it’s been a long time since I have fallen in love with an anime series like this.

While the Japanese voice acting was wonderful, I just have to say that when it comes to English dubs, the acting by both Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck and also the other voice dub cast, have done an amazing job!  The writing was well done for the English version and I was amazed by the overall quality.

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic!

“Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

Your Lie in April Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

yourlifeinapril

“Your Lie in April” left me wanting to see the second half because the storyline was captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic! “Your Lie in April” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Lie in April Vol. 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (250 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: March 29, 2016


Originally Created by Naoshi Arakawa

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition/Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Yukiko Aikei

Art Director: Hisao Usui

Anime Character Design by Tomoaki Takase

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Kōsei Arima

Risa Taneda/Erica Lindbeck as Kaori Miyazono

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Nagi Aizato

Ayane Sakura/Erica Mendez as Tsubaki Sawabe

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Saki Arima

Ryota Ohsaka/Kyle McCarley as Ryōta Watari

Saori Hayami/Erika Harlacher as Emi Igawa

Shizuka Ishigami/Julie Ann Taylor as Nao Kashiwagi

Yuuki Kaji/Erika Scott Kimerer as Takeshi Aiza


Kousei Arima was a genius pianist until his mother’s sudden death took away his ability to play. Ever since then, each day was dull for Kousei. One day, he meets one violinist by the name of Kaori Miyazono. This care-free, independent, and sometimes short-tempered girl had an eccentric playing style that immediately fascinated Kousei. His once monotonous life was about to change forever.


Back in 2011, Naoshi Arakawa created the manga series “Shigatsu wa Kimi n o Uso” (Your Lie in April).

The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s “Monthly Shonen Magazine” from 2011-2015 and would be adapted into an anime series from October 2014-March 2015 on Fuji TV’s noitamina block.

The anime series was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Lance N’ Masques”), series composition and screenplay by Takao Yoshioka (“Elfen Lied”, “High School DxD”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Sekirei” and “Sky Girls”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, “Queen’s Blade: Rebellion”), character design by Yukiko Aikei (“Accel World”, “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”, “Aikatsu Stars!”) and art direction by Hisayo Usui (“Saint Young Men”, “Fairy Tail”, “Angel Beats!”).

With a live film adaptation of “Your Lie in April” to hit theaters in Japan in Sept. 2016, the first volume of the anime series (featuring episodes 1-11) was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Your Lie in April” is a series that revolves around a former child prodigy in playing piano named Kosei Arima.  Known as the “human metronome”, he was also emotionally and physically abused by his mother who was very strict on him when it came to playing the piano and being perfect.

While he dominated piano competitions all throughout Japan, when his mother died of an illness, he suffered psychological trauma in which caused him to no longer hear the notes of the piano after playing for several minutes.

One day, he comes across violinist Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who doesn’t follow the rules of adhering strictly to the score but is beloved by audiences for her music.

While walking home, she hears Kosei playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, only for a few minutes before he starts to lose the ability to hear the notes, once he starts to concentrate.

Immediately Kaori appoints him as her accompanist for the second round of preliminaries, which he refuses and tells her that he can’t play.

But eventually, she convinces Kosei to play for the preliminaries and their musical journey together begins.

The main characters of “Your Lie in April” are:

  • Kosei Arima – A former child prodigy pianist known as “the human metronome”.   Because of his domination at competitions, showing up to school and competitions with bruises and scratches and people seeing his mother abusing him, a lot of rumors have followed him everywhere he goes.  But when his mother died, it left him in psychological trauma for some reason and he is no longer able to hear the notes when he concentrates.  So, he has given up piano and is focusing on a normal life.
  • Kaori Miyazono – A free-spirited violinist who walks to the beat of her own drum, playing music the way she wants to.  Despite drawing the ire of judging panels, the audiences love to see her play.  She develops a strong friendship with Kosei when she asks him to become her accompanist.
  • Tsubaki Sawabe – Kosei’s childhood friend who has been with him since they were younger.  She is athletic but she also has feelings towards Kosei and is jealous of the time he is spending with Kaori.
  • Ryota Watari – Kosei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend and the captain of the soccer team.  He tells Kosei that Kaori is his love interest, so Kosei respects that, despite feeling a little jealous towards Ryota.
  • Takeshi Aiza – A rival pianist of Kosei.  He has always respected Kosei’s domination at competition and looked to him as a hero.  But as Takeshi has dominated competitions in Kosei’s absence, he has been waiting to compete against him.
  • Emi Igawa – A pianist who began after listening to Kosei play when she was five-years-old.  Unlike Kosei, she wants to reach the audience through playing with emotion.  She hopes to reach Kosei the same way, as she may have feelings towards him.
  • Saki Arima – The mother of Kosei who was very strict and abusive emotionally and physically towards him.  She accepts nothing less than perfection.  She was very ill and when she passed away, it sent Kosei into psychological trauma.
  • Hiroko Seto – Saki’s close friend from college and a renowned pianist. She is the person responsible for discovering Kosei’s piano talents.  She blames herself for the abuse of Kosei, that she becomes his guardian.

VIDEO:

“Your Lie in April” features gorgeous animation by A-1 Pictures. Character designs are well-done, because the anime series often takes place outdoors, the animators chose to show a wonderful amount of detail, vibrant colors and backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. Overall, picture quality is vibrant and the series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Lie in April” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Both English dub and the Japanese soundtrack features awesome performances by the voice talent.  I was impressed by bot soundtracks as they are done very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Ending
  • Audio Commentary (Ep. 1) – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Matt Seitz and voice talents Max Mittelman, Erica Lindbeck, Erica Mendez and Kyle McCarley.

EXTRAS:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with three collectible postcards and a 10-track CD soundtrack (Duration: 19 Minutes) featuring music by Masaru Yokoyama.


Once in awhile, there are anime series that captivates you with its vibrant animation, its beautiful music, humor but also a deep storyline.

“Your Lie in April” is one of those series that I watched and found myself instantly hooked on its characters and its moving storyline that got better with episode after episode.

The story revolves around a former child prodigy pianist named Kousei Arima who literally has lost his will to play the piano after suffering psychological trauma after the death of his mother.

And while a loss of a family member of loved one can be banal in many storylines for film or TV series, “Your Lire in April” is different in the fact that Kousei was raised by his mother, but his mother was strict and abusive.

She never let him have any fun, disciplined and beat him when he didn’t get his notes correctly.  She didn’t care about anything else about him, only that he plays the piano perfectly and she was his harshest critic.

He is looked at by many people negatively because of that lack of love or emotional demeanor.  His piano playing was methodic and not emotional, he played the way his mother had taught him and beating his piano rivals at competitions were the goal.  Being the perfect pianist was the only way to live his life.

But when she passed away, each time he would play, he would be swallowed by his memories of his strict mother angered at him.  So much to the point that he would be unable to play the piano when trying to concentrate and literally not be able to hear the notes.

So, he has quit playing the piano for two years and living a normal school life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari.

But life changes for Kosei when he befriends and watches the violin performance of Kaori Miyazono.

While talented, she is free-spirited and doesn’t play for the judges, she plays for the audience.

Surprised by the way she approaches her music and the way she is as an individual, he is intrigued by her.  But is shocked when she chooses him to be her piano accompanist for her preliminary competition.

Fearful and doubting himself of playing the piano again, he eventually decides to do it for this one time.  But Kosei is unaware that this new friendship with the vibrant Kaori Miyazono, will change his life forever.

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with the first eleven episodes.  On Blu-ray, the animation is vibrant, detailed and looks fantastic in HD.  I absolutely love the colors, the character design, the animation and background art for this anime series.  And the lossless audio, may it be with the English dub or the original Japanese soundtrack, are both well-performed.

The first volume of “Your Lie in April” comes with three postcards but for those who were captivated by the music of this anime series, will be happy to know that the first volume comes with a CD soundtrack featuring ten songs from the anime series (note: the solo piano and violin segments featured in the competitions are not included in this soundtrack).

Overall, “Your Lie in April” left me wanting to see the second half because the storyline was captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring.  It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic!

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

vividredoperation

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” features a series that was no doubt a fun, upbeat sci-fi action anime series.  Unfortunately, its use of underage nudity and its numerous fan service scenes of young junior high girls was unnecessary and hindered the series.

Images courtesy of ©Vividred Project/MBS. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen,Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: Suggested 16 and Up

RELEASE DATE: December 17, 2013

Directed by Kazuhiro Takamura

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino, Kazuhiro Takamura

Script by Hiroyuki Yoshino, Shigeru Morita, Tensai Okamura

Character Designs by Kazuhiro Takamura

Animation Director: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Design by Kazuyuki Asaga

Music by Hideyuki Fukasawa

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Uchida as Himawari Shinomiya

Ayane Sakura as Akane Isshiki

Maaya Uchida as Rei Kuroki

Rie Murakawa as Aoi Futaba

Yuka Ōtsubo as Wakaba Saegusa

Asuka Ōgame as Momo Isshiki

Haruka Yamazaki as Mizuha Amagi

Masaki Terasoma as Kenjirō Isshiki

Mie Sonozaki as Crow

Mika Doi as Yuuri Shijo

Sakura Nakamura as Mashiro Isshiki

On an artificial island, Akane Isshiki, an innocent 14-year-old girl, lives a simple but happy life with her level-headed little sister Momo and their genius inventor grandfather. On clear days just over the water, everyone on the island can see the revolutionary invention that solved all the world’s energy problems, the Manifestation Engine. Thanks to the Manifestation Engine, the peaceful days that everyone had dreamed of had arrived.

But suddenly, a mysterious enemy called the “Alone” appear out of nowhere aiming to attack the Manifestation Engine, jeopardizing their quiet way of life. Equipped with incredibly powerful Palette Suits designed by her grandfather, Akane and her friends must rise up together in this desperate situation. Their friendship is the only hope to save the world.

In early 2013, A-1 Pictures produced the 12-episode TV series “Vividred Operation” aired in Japan.

Having received two manga adaptations plus a PlayStation 3 video game, the anime series “Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” has made its way to American shores courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is directed and features character designs by Kazuhiro Takamura (“Strike Witches” series and film, “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World”, “Queen’s Blade”), series composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino (“Guilty Crown”, “My-HIME”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”) and Kazuhiro Takamura (“He is My Master”, “Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi”, “Mahoromatic” series) and music by Hideyuki Fukasawa (“Yatterman”, “Flowers of Evil”).

A series that features a combination of sci-fi action, magical girl-style transformations and for the otaku, plenty of fan service.

“Vividred Operation” is set in the future of Japan and the future is quite peaceful thanks to the Manifestation Engine which creates energy from the sky and has averted significant energy crisis that the planet was facing years prior.

Living on the island of Izu Joshima, teenager Akane Isshiki and her fifth grade sister Momoko live with their grandfather Kenjiro Isshiki, a renown scientist who was one of the great minds that have developed the Manifestation Engine.

Kenjiro typically locks himself in the house working on his research, while Akane works a part-time job to keep the family afloat and tends to the garden to feed the family.

As Akane is awaiting her friend Aoi Futaba, who is traveling to Izu Joshima for medical treatment, Akane and Momo hear an explosion takes place in their home and when they go to check, their grandfather has switched bodies with a stuffed otter doll and showing his research has progressed, so it seems.

But all of a sudden, the planet is attacked as an alien race known as the “Alone” has showed up on the seas near the island.  As the military try to fight against it, they are destroyed.

Worried about her friend Aoi, Kenjiro gives Akane his latest invention, an Operation Key that can access the Vivid System.  Meanwhile, Akane hurries as she sees Aoi’s plane crashing.  Close to the ledge, she and her grandfather (in otter form) rush to the area, but Akane is scared of heights and she sees the plane about to fall from the edge.  As Akane and Aoi scream for each other, the plane falls and the scared Akane, decides to run after her.

As she dives off the cliff in order to save Aoi, the Operation Key glows and activates the Vivid System which transforms Akane into a super-being, sporting a Pallet Suit and saving Aoi from death.

Sensing power within Aoi, Kenjiro gives Aoi an Operation Key giving her the opportunity to transform using the Vivid System and together they must use their new abilities to fight against the Alone.  And both work together to destroy it.

Because their new school was destroyed in the attack, Akane, Momo and Aoi begin attending New Oshima Academy and through their new friendships, they end up adding kendo student Wakaba Saegusa and computer hacker Himawari Shinomiya to the group and all four become part of the Vividred Operation to protect humanity from the Alone.

But unaware that working with the Alone is another student in their class named Rei Kuroki, who is intent in working with the Alone to destroy the Manifestation Engine.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Vividred Operation:  Complete DVD Set” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in Linear PCM Stereo. To keep the compression artifacts to a minimum on DVD, Aniplex Inc. features all 12 episodes on three DVD’s. For the most part, characters are well shaded and background art is well-painted.  There is a good amount of detail in the mechanical designs from the Alone to the detail on the characters Pallet Outfits.

But this is a vibrant anime series on DVD.

The soundtrack is in Japanese and I would not be surprised if Aniplex does release “Vividred Operation” on Blu-ray with an English dub soundtrack. It’s quite an enjoyable series that I do hope it does receive an HD release. But voice acting is well done and dialogue and music is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” comes with the textless opening and endings and the web version previews.

EXTRAS:

“Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” comes with a slipcover case and a five postcard set. Also, the DVD cover is 2-sided and reversible.

vividred-b

“Vividred Operation” is a sci-fi action series about a group of friends, each with their own personal quirks and also weaknesses that become part of the Vividred Operation to defend the Manifestation Engine that has helped the planet from an alien race known as The Alone.

As each episode focuses on Akane meeting friends or new people from her school who eventually obtain an Operation Key and to transform via the Vivid System to fight against the Alone, each must face their weaknesses and put their friendship to a test in order to become teammates.

And as Akane is able to get Aoi, Wakaba and Himawari to join them, they each try to get Rei Kuroki on their team, not knowing that she is working with the Alone and trying to destroy the Manifestation Engine.

The series is quite intriguing as it tries to combine sci-fi action with magical girl transformations.

And while the series is more on the fun, humorous spectrum versus more serious and deep, the series also incorporates quite a bit of fan service and also nudity (which gives it a Suggested 16 and Up rating).

But as much as I enjoyed the series for its storyline and characters, the fan service and nudity, in my opinion, was a significant hindrance.

And this is probably the difference between American and Japanese culture in which certain things just don’t happen.

The camera tends to end up shooting under the legs of a character and or focusing on a character’s rear end, may they be standing or riding a bike, it’s one thing to have fan service, especially for older characters but  it definitely makes one feel uneasy considering the characters are 14-years-old and in junior high.

In fact, the character of Rei Kuroki is shown nude during her shower sequence and and a bathing sequence and what may work in Japan, is definitely not going to work in the U.S.

I know there are anime fans that will say, “Well, this is a Japanese anime and it’s not real, so it’s OK.” or ” It goes by Japanese culture, Americans must see things in the Japanese perspective not American, so it’s OK”.

Having covered Japanese entertainment for over two decades, while I agree that there are certain entertainment where one should expect to see a different side of Japanese culture, it becomes dangerous if underage nudity of an anime character featured in an anime series becomes a cultural norm.

I don’t agree with people who have the mindset of it being OK but that is my opinion and as a parent it’s not something I can or will support.  And as a reviewer, it was unnecessary to have those scenes as the series could have done without it.

Nudity of children in anime and manga has been a debatable topic for a long time, from “Crayon Shin Chan” (and his elephant) to even the “Dragon Ball” manga being released in grade school libraries.  It’s a long debate that will always continue as debates from the old anime BBS forums to present anime forums on the Internet.  Even Usagi’s transformation scene in “Sailor Moon” was also a big discussion at the time.

So, as a parent and a longtime anime reviewer, it’s important for me to let parents and anime fans know that this anime series features under-aged nudity and unnecessary fan service for characters that are of a young age.

In the case of “Vividred Operation”, for the young characters, was it necessary to have so many shots of Akane’s butt while she rides on the bike?  Was it necessary to shoot a horizon between a character’s legs?  Was it necessary for the animators to show a naked Rei in the shower?

I’m sure there are otaku that would scream, “Yes!” but I felt the series could have done without it.  I did enjoy “Vividred Operation”, four friends who have their own personal weaknesses, joining together for the greater good to defend humanity from an unknown alien force.  The characters are enjoyable, the anime series entertaining but it’s unfortunate that certain decision to make these young junior high characters more sexual appealing, had to be incorporated to the series.

As for the DVD, the picture quality is colorful and vibrant and one would expect it to look even better in HD, if Aniplex decides to release it on Blu-ray in the future.  Voice acting in Japanese is well-done and as always with an Aniplex release, you get anime swag with a five postcard set.

Overall, “Vividred Operation: Complete DVD Set” features a series that was no doubt a fun, upbeat sci-fi action anime series.  Unfortunately, its use of underage nudity and its numerous fan service scenes of young junior high girls was unnecessary and hindered the series.

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