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

May 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series

YEAR: 2003

DURATION: Episodes 1-30 (750 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 7, 2017


Originally Creator: Keiko Nobumoto

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Script by Keiko Nobumoto

Music by Yoko Kanno

Character Design by Toshiro Kawamoto

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

Anime Production by BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Akio Suyama/Joshua Seth as Hige

Hiroki Shimowada/Mona Marshall as Toboe

Kaho Kouda/Kari Wahlgren as Cher Degre

Kenta Miyake/Crispin Freeman as Tsume

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kiba

Arisa Ogasawara/Sherry Lynn as Cheza

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Jagura

Mayumi Asano/Jessica Straus as Blue

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Robert Buchholz as Hubb Lebowski

Takaya Kuroda/Steven Jay Blum as Darcia

Unshō Ishizuka/Tom Wyner as Quent Yaiden


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”. A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2005-2006 BONES. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Eureka Seven: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-50) 1250 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (4×3 SD Remaster), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Funimation

RATING: TV 14

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Series Director: Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Dai Sato

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kenichi Yoshida

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa, Kazuo Nagai

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Yoshida

Anime Production: BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Keiji Fujiwara/Crispin Freeman as Holland

Michiko Neya/Kate Higgins as Talho Yuki

Yuko Sanpei/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Akio Nakamura/Kirk Thornton as Matthieu

Ami Koshimizu/Kari Wahlgren as Anemone

Aya Hisakawa/Melissa Fahn as Ray

Eriko Kigawa/Peggy O’Neal as Maeter

Fumie Mizusawa/Jessica Straus as Gidget/Linck

Juurouta Kosugi/Patrick Seitz as Charles Beams

Kouji Tsujitani/Kim Strauss as Dewey Novac

Mamoru Miyano/Steve Staley as Moondoggie

Mayumi Asano/Megan Hollingshead as Hilda

Michiko Neya/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Maurice

Rikiya Koyama/Jamieson K. Price as Norb

Shigenori Yamazaki/Peter Doyle as Dominic Sorel

Tamio Ohki/Kyle Hebert as Ken-Goh

Tarô Yamaguchi/Tony Oliver as Hap

Yasunori Matsumoto/Doug Stone as Stoner


Relive the classic era of anime with the studio that brought you Escaflowne, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain. Returning to the spotlight after almost a decade, Eureka Seven – the greatest anime love story ever told – makes its long-awaited arrival on Blu-ray!

Renton is a teenager trapped working as a mechanic in a backwater town. He dreams of joining up with a daredevil group of pilots known as Gekkostate and following in his father’s heroic footsteps.

When a mysterious beauty named Eureka shows up asking for a tune-up, Renton soon finds himself drawn into a high-flying mecha dogfight that makes him a target of the military. When the dust settles on the spectacular battle, Renton is invited to join Gekkostate, but he soon discovers that even a dream come true has a dark side.


“Eureka Seven”, the popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels, movies and also a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of six graphic novels released.  And a sequel to the anime series titled “Eureka Seven: AO” would air on television in 2012-2013 (and would focus on the character, Ao Thurston).

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” and it was a series that introduced many people to anime.

And now this anime sci-fi classic will be released as a complete collection on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

“Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

While the bulk of the main storyline of the first half of the manga series features The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.


The main characters of the series are:

Renton Thurston – The main protagonist.  A 14-year-old who loves to ride a lift board and a boy who feels that he can never live up to his father’s legacy.  He idolizes Holland, has a crush on Eureka and will do whatever he can to help her (including becoming a member of Gekko State).

Eureka – An unusual young woman with blue hair.  She is the pilot of the mecha Nirvash typeZERO.  She doesn’t comprehend these emotions she has when she’s around Renton.  She is also the adoptive mother of three young kids: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.  She and Holland are the primary pilots of Gekko State.

Holland Novak – The popular lift boarder but also the leader of the Gekko State.  He tries to analyze Renton and wonder if he is the person behind the secret power of the Nirvash typeZERO.  Holland is a former member of the SOF, a military unit but when he was ask by Norb to protect Eureka, he took her and the Nirvash from the military to protect her.  Now he is a wanted man.  Meanwhile, he has a deep hatred towards his brother Dewey.  Holland pilots the LFO known as Terminus typeR909.

Yuki Taiho – A friend of Holland and Dewey when they were in the military.  Yuki now pilots the Gekko and is a close confidant of Holland.

Gekko State – A group of lift riders and friends who support Novak’s goal.  Other members include Matthieu, Hilda, Stoner, Ken-Goh, Mischa, Gonzy, Jobs, Woz, Hap, Gidget and Moondoggie.  Also, joining the team are three orphans: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.

Colonel Dewey Novak – The main antagonist who takes control of the U.F. Force and has a deep hatred towards his brother Holland and the Coralians.   His greatest asset is Anemone who is loyal to him.

Anemone – A person who resembles Eureka but belongs to Dewey of the U.F. Force.  She can sense Eureka and she loves to eat sweet things.  She is the pilot of Nirvash LFO, typeTheEND.

Lieutenant Dominic Sorel – A young lieutenant assigned to tend to Anemone’s needs and works for Col. Dewey Novak.  Although a high ranking officer of the U.F. Force, he seems to have some differences with his superior which he keeps to himself.

The Coralians – Eureka Seven takes place 10,000 years after humanity left for space after the arrival of the aliens known as Scub Coral.  Because they merged with the planet, humans were forced to leave the planet and moved into a planet known as Land of Kanan which parts of the land are occupied by the Scrub Coral.  The Coralians are manifestations that either ravage a land, attack humans (after they have been attacked) or a human-form of Coralian who try to learn from humanity.


VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080i High Definition (SD Remaster). It’s important to note that this is an older anime series from 2005-2006 and was aired in standard format.  Overall, picture quality is good for the overall animation but there is slight softness and this series was released before anime companies would focus in creating anime in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series did not receive a Funimation 5.1 treatment, considering the series was released many years ago by Bandai Visual.  But for the most part, dialogue in Japanese and English is crystal clear and English subtitles are clear and legible.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

NOTE: Japanese audio commentary comes with English subtitles

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Mamoru Miyano (Moondoggie).
  • Episode 13 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Shigenori Yamazaki (Dominic)
  • Episode 15 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Akio Nakamura (Matthieu) and Mayumi Asano (Hilda).
  • Episode 20 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Fujiwara (Holland).
  • Episode 26 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kenichi Yoshida (character designer) and Masayuki Miyaji (storyboard artist).
  • Episode 27 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Jurota Kosugi (Charles) and Aya Hisakawa (Ray)
  • Episode 32 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Ami Koshimizu (Anemone).
  • Episode 36 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Eriko Kigawa (Maeter) and Fumie Mizusawa (Gidget)
  • Episode 39 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Yasunri Matsumoto (Stoner) and Taro Yamaguchi (Hap)
  • Episode 43 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Tsujitani (Dewey).
  • Episode 50 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (sound director) and Tomoki Kyoda (director)
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 1
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 2
  • Interview with Stephanie Sheh (Eureka)
  • Interview with Johnny Yong Bosch (Renton)
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 1
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 2
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 3
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 1
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 2
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 3
  • Kate Higgins (Talho)
  • Episode 50 (Special Textless Version)
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs 1-3
  • U.S. Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” comes with a slipcover.


Over a decade ago, “Eureka Seven” made its debut on Japanese television.

Not long after, the series would air in America on Adult Swim and for many, it gave more recent anime fans a glimpse of a sci-fi mecha anime series with a love story (while others have grown up with watching it in various “Gundam” series and “Macross”).

“Eureka Seven” is an awesome series.  From when it starts out, I really enjoyed the underdog theme going for it with Renton being this unlikely hero but turning out to be a young kid who is really turning out to be more than anyone has expected.

Eureka is also an interesting character as she is quite mysterious and the whole Gekko State team is pretty cool and for the most part, cool characters and interesting antagonists.  Throw in the alien Coralians and you have that secondary evil that made you wonder how this series will progress.

For those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.

You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven” so far has been a storyline featuring a band of renegades with stolen military technology and trying to avoid being detected by the military.

Problem is, both sides have similar technology and it’s all about who will be the last person standing, in this case…it’s either Gekko State or the UF Forces.

And as the series progresses, things really become dramatic as the Gekko State faces several tragedies and the group taking part in a major battle.  And of course, Renton and Eureka’s up-and-down friendship/relationship and much more.

As for the anime series on Blu-ray, I have to emphasize that this is an older anime series released in 2005-2006, so picture quality is featured in 4:3 standard format and 1080i, not 1080p.   With that being said, while the series is not vibrant as one would usually see in a newer anime series on Blu-ray, the upscale is still very good.  Character designs, art backgrounds and everything else about the series looks very good on Blu-ray. There is a slight softness but that can be expected with an anime TV series.

As for the audio, it’s presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and for the most part, dialogue, music and special effects are crystal clear through the front channels.

And as for special features, you get a ton of audio commentary from the Japanese voice actors (with English subtitles) and also interviews with both Japanese and English dub voice cast.

Overall, for those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”.  A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

“BONES” RENEWED FOR FINAL FAREWELL SEASON ON FOX

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Series Will Countdown to Finale With 12 Episodes to Air in the 2016-2017 Season


BONES Returns for Its Spring Premiere Thursday, April 14 on FOX

“BONES” RENEWED FOR FINAL FAREWELL SEASON ON FOX

Series Will Countdown to Finale With 12 Episodes to Air in the 2016-2017 Season


BONES Returns for Its Spring Premiere Thursday, April 14 on FOX

 

BONES, the long-running comedic procedural beloved by millions of fans around the world, will return for a final farewell 12th season on FOX, it was announced today by Dana Walden and Gary Newman, Chairmen and CEOs, Fox Television Group. The 12-episode run will celebrate the inventive series and bring the storylines of Brennan (Emily Deschanel), Booth (David Boreanaz) and the Jeffersonian-FBI team to a close, allowing the show’s loyal fans to say goodbye to these indelible characters.  When BONES ends its run, the series will have completed 246 original episodes, making it one of the longest running FOX series ever.

 

“In times like these, marked by instability and doubt, it’s comforting to know the world can count on at least one dependable beacon of stability. Apparently, that beacon is BONES,” said creator and executive producer Hart Hanson. “It just shows what you can do with an amalgam of genius cast, amazing crew, cunning writers, stalwart studio, sweat, a tough economy, a mercurial network, determination, luck, magic, miracles and the most loyal audience in the world.”

 

“This is for the fans! Thank you to everyone at Fox and, of course, Dana and Gary – for all your support,” said series star and producer David Boreanaz. “Thank you to Hart, Stephen, Ian [Toynton], Michael and Jonathan. Also to the crew and cast for their countless support along the way! And I couldn’t have done it without you, Emily!”

 

“I am thrilled the show will have the ending it deserves for all of our amazing, loyal fans!,” added series star and producer Emily Deschanel.

 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have another season, so we can give the show, characters and fans the end they so richly deserve,” said executive producers and showrunners Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson. “Also knowing there is a Season 12, we can now write the most rewarding Season 11 finale possible – one we hope will leave our fans excited for what’s to come in this final season of BONES.”

 

“BONES has been part of the fabric of our network and studio for over a decade, and during that time it has attracted one of the most devoted fan bases we’ve ever seen.  So it was extremely important to us and to Hart, the producers and the cast that we send the show off in a way that gives those loyal fans a meaningful and satisfying conclusion,” said Walden and Newman. “We’d like to thank Emily and David for anchoring this extraordinary group of talented people, as well as Hart, Stephen Nathan, Barry Josephson and this season’s showrunners, Michael Peterson and Jonathan Collier, for delivering such an incredible series season after season.”

 

BONES returns for its spring premiere on Thursday, April 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Picking up after the explosive fall finale, the all-new episode, “The Death in the Defense,” finds Hodgins (TJ Thyne) eight weeks into his rehabilitation and forced to navigate life in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, Brennan  and Booth investigate the death of a public defender who had multiple defendants from previous cases with motives to kill her.

 

In the series, Brennan, a highly skilled forensic anthropologist who works at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and writes novels on the side, and her FBI partner, Booth, have taken on cases other law enforcement can’t solve and proven to be a formidable partnership, both at work and at home.  Over the course of the series, Brennan has devoted herself to her career, to Booth, with whom she’s had two children, and to her team at the Jeffersonian. They include best friend Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), an artist who specializes in reconstructing facial features and crime scenes; Angela’s husband, Hodgins, a conspiracy theorist and expert on insects, spores and minerals, who is affectionately known as “the slime and bug guy”; Dr. Camille “Cam” Saroyan (Tamara Taylor), the street-smart and centered coroner; and Booth’s most recent colleague at the FBI, Special Agent James Aubrey (John Boyd), a young, intrepid FBI agent with a voracious appetite for solving crime, junk food and career advancement.

 

Utilizing a wide swathe of skills, and using human remains as their roadmap, this exceptional team has cracked some of the toughest cases to cross their lab tables and, in the process,escaped near-death experiences on multiple occasions. Inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs, the series also has explored more ways for human remains to have been discovered than ever thought imaginable.

 

With Brennan leading the way as the top professional in the field of forensic anthropology, BONES has inspired young girls around the world to consider a career in science. At the same time, having stacked up more episodes than the number of bones in the human body (206!), the series has helped viewers distinguish between the patella (kneecap) and the phalanges (bones in human fingers).

The series also has proved to be a magnet for guest stars, including TV legend Betty White, ’80s music icon and Tony Award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”), Zooey Deschanel (NEW GIRL), Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”), Stephen Fry (“24: Live Another Day”), Sara Rue (“Popular”), ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, Tina Majorino (“Veronica Mars”), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (“24”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood”), Morris Chestnut (ROSEWOOD), Penny Marshall (“Laverne & Shirley”), Taylor Kinney (“Chicago Fire”), Michael Cudlitz (“The Walking Dead”), Robert Englund (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), David Alan Grier (“In Living Color”), Rider Strong (“Boy Meets World”), NFL star Ronde Barber, FAMILY GUY’s Stewie Griffin and SLEEPY HOLLOW’s Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison.

BONES is from Far Field Productions and Josephson Entertainment in association with 20th Century Fox Television. The series was created by Hart Hanson. Hanson, Barry Josephson, Stephen Nathan, Randy Zisk, Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson are executive producers.  “Like” BONES on Facebook at facebook.com/Bones. Follow the series on Twitter @BONESonFox and join the discussion at #Bones. See photos and videos on Instagram by following bonesfox.

Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end.  “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” is rather unique, well-written, unpredictable and complex but the second season was much more enjoyable than the first!  An awesome anime series that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © Kyo Shirodaira, Arihide Sano, Ren Saizaki/Zetsuen Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season

DURATION: Episodes 13-26 (300 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2014

Originally created by Kyo Shirodaira

Directed by Masahiro Ando

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Michiru Oshima

Character Design by Tsunenori Saito

Art Direction by Ayumi Sato, Tomoaki Okada

Mechanical Design by Masahisa Suzuki

Art Design by Ayumi Sato

Anime Production: Bones

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouki Uchiyama as Yoshino Takigawa

Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Mahiro Fuwa

Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe

Hirofumi Nojima as Junichirō Hoshimura

Hiroyuki Yoshino as Tetsuma Kusaribe

Junichi Suwabe as Natsumura Kusaribe

Kana Hanazawa as Aika Fuwa

Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe

Nana Mizuki as Evangeline Yamamoto

Rikiya Koyama as Samon Kusaribe

Shintarō Asanuma as Takumi Hayakawa

Yuuki Kaji as Megumu Hanemura

A month has passed since the showdown at Mt. Fuji, but the world is once again thrown into chaos with the appearance of the “Mage of Exodus.” In order to discover the truth behind Aika’s murder, Hakaze decides to return to the past. There, she meets Aika and is told something completely unexpected. If everything happens for a reason, is Aika’s unfortunate death actually a blessing in disguise? All the puzzle pieces finally come together to reveal the shocking truth!

As Yoshino Takagawa and Hakaze Kusaribe begin to work closely together, Hakaze starts to find herself falling in love with Yoshino, unaware that his girlfriend Aika was murdered a year ago.  Meanwhile, Mahiro Fuwa is destined to find out who killed Aika and who her mysterious boyfriend is.  Also unaware that his best friend is the mysterious guy that he has been looking for.

Meanwhile, along comes a guy who may be the Mage of Exodus but also what happens when Hakaze’s love for Yoshino makes her want to go back to the past to find out once and for all, who is responsible for Aikawa Fuwa’s death.

All this and more in the conclusion of “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season”, now available on DVD from Aniplex of America!

What is “Blast of Tempest”?

In 2009, “Zetsuen no Tempest” was released as a manga by Kyo Shirodaira with illustrations by Arihide Sano and Ren Saizaki. In 2012, the anime series received an anime adaptation courtesy of BONES and in August 2013, Aniplex of America will be releasing the series with the title “Blast of Tempest” with the first season (first 12 episodes) on DVD.

The series is directed by Masahiro Ando (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home” and “CANAAN”), series composition by Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Aria – The Natural”, “Anel Tales”, “CANAAN”), music by Michiru Oshima (“Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Gokusen”, “Arc the Lad”, “Gokusen”), character designs by Tsunenori Saito (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Towanoquon”, “Halo Legends”) and art direction by Ayumi Sato (“The World God Only Knows”, “Heroman”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2” and “Eureka 7: Astral Ocean”) and Tomoaki Okada (“Banner of the Stars”, “Darker than Black”, “Crest of the Stars”, “Star Driver”, “Wolf’s Rain”).

“Blast of Tempest” begins with an introduction to two teenage students, Yoshino Takigawa and Mahiro Fuwa. Mahiro gives his step-sister Aika a ride back home and with her attitude towards Mahiro, Fuwa believes that his sister dislikes his friend.

Meanwhile, we see a woman breaking out of a barrel and is stranded in an uninhabited island. Her name is Hakaze Kusaribe, the leader of the Kusaribe clan and the “Mage of Genesis”, a princess who’s goal is to protect the “Tree of Genesis”, which is the source of magic used by her clan. But it appears that she was betrayed by her aide named Samon, who had put her in the well and put her in an island to block out any of use her mage powers. His intention, to awaken the Tree of Exodus to prevent the advent of the Tree of Genesis, which he and the Kusaribe clan believe will recreate the world and destroy mankind.

Fast foward to the near future and it was revealed that Aika was murdered and Fuwa has not been seen for months after the incident.

As Yoshino wonders what has happened to Fuwa, a woman named Evangeline Yamamoto arrives and with her weapons, threatens to kill Yoshino unless he provides her with information in regards to his connection to Mahiro. Yoshino explains that he has not seen Mahiro in months and that he has been mourning the death of his sister, Aika.

All of a sudden, butterflies show up everywhere and we see how humanity has been affected with some strange disease that turns people into metal. But as Yoshino tries to fight back and escape, Evangeline shows how dangerous she can be and before she hurts him, out of nowhere, Mahiro teleports and beats Evangeline.

Mahiro explains to Yoshino that he was given this power by a mage named Hakaze, who he can communicate via a wooden doll that Hakaze had made (and Mahiro found it inside a bottle on the beach). Hakaze makes a deal with Mashiro that she would find Aika’s murder in exchange for his help in stopping the resurrection of the Tree of Exodus.

Yoshino decides to help Mahiro find out who murdered Aika as well, but what is his real motivation of assisting Mahiro? Meanwhile, Yoshino is given some of Hakaze’s power via a magical talisman that has been left behind in the city. As Mahiro and Yoshino try to find the murderer and the magic talismans, they receive word from Hakaze that there is no magic to track the culprit, which can only mean that a member of her clan may be responsible.

But with Hakaze now brought back to the world of the living and everyone willing to work together to prevent the elimination of the human race, things become more complicated as Yoshino is suspected of being the Mage of Exodus as he and Hakaze grow closer.  As Hakaze’s emotions for Yoshino eventually becomes a realization of love, others start to wonder if Yoshino is manipulating Hakaze.

But what happens when a young man shows up with abilities to show that he may be the Mage of Exodus.

Meanwhile, the investigation to the death of Aika Fuwa has yielded no results for the groups, especially as they depend on Mahiro’s efforts in saving the world.  But what happens when Hakaze, who’s love for Yoshino, makes her want to go into the past and find out who is responsible for the death of Aika?  Could it be Yoshino?  Could it be a future her?  Or something else more sinister?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Blast of Tempest” is an anime series that I expected wonderful animation, especially with director Masahiro Ando behind-the-scenes. When it comes to BONES anime productions, Masahiro Ando is one of my favorite directors because he brings quality to a film or animated series and having watched “Blast of Tempest”, I am absolutely pleased with the animation. From character designs, shading to lighting, Tsunenori Saito and staff did a wonderful job in bringing out the emotion of the characters but also to capture the action and the mechanical designs as planes and tanks go to war against the unknown.

And as one can expect from BONES, the art direction by Ayumi Sato and Tomoaki Okada is absolutely beautiful. From oceans, forests, hills, cities and just the ambiance of a certain area, they captured the environment with wonderful detail.

While I wished this series was released on Blu-ray, as some Aniplex releases are released in Japanese with English subtitles on DVD, perhaps this series will receive a Blu-ray release in the future with an English dub included.

For now, the series is presented in 16:9 LB with audio in Japanese linear PCM stereo with English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” features the following special features:

  • Textless OP – “Blast of Tempest” opening theme without text.
  • Textless ED – “Blast of Tempest” ending theme without text.

EXTRAS:

“Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” comes with a slipcover with a 2-sided reversible cover, a 16-page special booklet and a reversible mini-poster.

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After watching the first season of “Blast of Tempest”, I was instantly captivated by the first season as it delved with a complex story about the Tree of Genesis and the Tree of Exodus, a yin and yang storyline which involved characters from both sides, wanting to protect each other’s interests.

We were introduced to the character of Mashiro Fuwa, is a boy who has been born under privilege and has always been treated differently because his family comes from a powerful background. While Yoshino was the person who rather keep to himself and not be involved in anything. Due to circumstances, Yoshino ended up having to help Mashiro and in the process, their relationship was not of mere friendship, as one would think. But a friendship of convenience.

The first season went into how this friendship lasted from their younger years to their older years, it is because of one important connection which one will find out as the series progresses.

But it’s the protagonist Yoshino that you are amazed to see how his storyline unfolds as each layer is peeled and you get to see a side of him that he has kept secret all this time. But how damaging will his secret be? And for Mashiro, why is his drive to find Aika’s killer, made him change to this person only seeking nothing but revenge?

The other storyline that captivates you is the storyline that surrounds the character Hakaze. She appears to be a beautiful, naive teenager but in truth, she is the powerful “Mage of Genesis”, born to be the leader representing the “Tree of Genesis” and like the concept of ying and yang, opposing the “Tree of Genesis” is the “Tree of Exodus”. Both trees locked up into an epic battle that has spawned generations and for Hakaze, she has been left on an island, hidden by a sphere and no way to use her power to leave the area.

Kept on the island, as a viewer, you feel bad for the character because she doesn’t have a mean spirit. If anything, she wants to help Mashiro and Yoshino find the murderer of Aika, but she needs their help to get her out of the island. And thus, it becomes a cat and mouse game as the Kusaribe clan now led by Hakaze’s former aid Samon sends his clan after Mashiro and Yoshino, but unlike regular humans, they have been given part of Hakaze’s power to defend themselves and others.

By the second season, there was no doubt that the storyline would become much more complex as it interweaves a story that now goes from more-action, to something more emotional but also incorporates the Shakespeare stories of “Hamlet” (a tragedy) and it’s opposite storyline of “The Tempest” (which was not a tragedy).

The second season features both Yoshino and Hakaze growing as not just people trying to solve a problem in the world, but Hakaze’s emotions as a teenager, noticing that she is starting to fall deeply in love with Yoshino, but at the same time, trying to keep her emotions in check, knowing that he has a girlfriend (unaware that his girlfriend was mysteriously killed a year prior).

As Mahiro continues his path for revenge in the name of Aika, a step-sister that he, himself had loved.  But also wanting to know who her mysterious boyfriend was.  Not knowing that his best friend, Mahiro, was secretly dating her behind his back.

And when those who have worked with Hakaze start to worry that Yoshino may be the Mage of Exodus, because of the way that he is able to affect Hakaze’s emotions.  Another person shows up, claiming to be the Mage of Exodus.

And as we start to see a mystery storyline combined with a teenage romance drama, things start to escalate as the search for Aika Fuwa’s murderer comes into play but also the final fight and a revelation that surrounds both the Tree of Genesis and the Tree of Exodus.

Suffice to say, while the first season was driven by it’s action, the second season is much more complex, much deeper and more satisfying because it becomes more character-based, more emotional and we get to see each episode escalate until the final battle at the end of the series.And I love the fact that the series does end rather nicely (so keep watching the credits).

Because of its character development and its complex but yet fascinating and enjoyable storyline, “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” was much better than the first.  I understand those who expected an all out action series may be disappointed that the action of season two doesn’t match up with season one, but personally, I would rather have more a better storyline, better character integration rather than banal action.

With this DVD release, the animation looks great and the Japanese voice acting is top-notch, but it is without an English dub which may detract people from this DVD release.

As for Aniplex swag, you do get a slipcover, a 16-page special booklet and reversible mini-power plus a 2-sided reversible cover. The booklet features episode synopsis and character artwork. While the poster features Yoshino, Mashiro and Hakaze on one side, while Aika, not Hakaze along with Mashiro and Yoshino is featured on the other side.

Overall, “Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end. It’s unique, unpredictable and complex series that was well-written and is a smart series that you just don’t see coming along often.  The fact that the second season focused on better writing, less on banal action and better use of character integration was rather well-planned.  The emotional/romantic elements in my opinion, made the second season much more captivating and a better written second half compared to the first.

If you are looking for a deep anime series that combines action, mystery and romantic drama, “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” is highly recommended!

Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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The sequel to the original “Eureka Seven” series, for those wondering what happened to Renton and Eureka, will definitely want to watch “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean”.  An exciting mecha anime series from anime studio, BONES… “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is a series that I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 11 Episodes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Kakuto Takeyoshi

Music by Koji Nakamura

Character Design by Hiroyuki Oda

Art Director: Ayumi Sato, Kazuo Nagai, Makoto Ujiie, Takeshi Waki

Mecha Design by Takehiro Ishimoto

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanako Miyamoto/Lindsay Seidel as Naru Arata

Yūtarō Honjō/Micah Solusod as Ao Fukai

Akio Nojima/Charlie Campbell as Alexander Boyd

Ayaka Ohashi/Sainty Reid as Fleur Blanc

Chiaki Omigawa/Jad Saxton as Elena Peoples

Chie Nakamura/Jamie Marchi as Rebecka Halström

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Tyson Rinehart as Georg

Ikuya Sawaki/Kent Williams as Stanley Fry

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Katsunosuke Hori/R. Bruce Elliot as Toshio Fukai

Kazuhiko Inoue/Todd Haberkorn as Truth

Keiji Fujiwara/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Keikou Sakai/Matt Thurston as Pippo

Kouichi Toochika/Duncan Brennan as Yasumochi Nakamura

Nao Tōyama/Monica Rial as Noah

Rokuro Naya/Chuck Huber as Christophe Blanc

Takuya Kirimoto/Brandon Potter as Gazelle

Tetsuo Goto/John Swasey as Ivica Tanovic

Yoshinori Fujita/Anthony Bowling as Han Juno

Sequel to Eureka Seven.

The year is 2025. Earth is engulfed in the crossfire between massive warring alien life forms that leave annihilation in their wake. While searching for clues about his past, Ao is caught in an attack and forced to fly a giant humanoid fighter craft to save himself and his island. Fragments of the teenager’s origin come to light when a hostile shape-shifter seeking revenge on Ao’s missing mother – who vanished two years after his birth – targets him instead.

Consumed with learning how his machine of war is connected to his mother and the monster that now pursues him, the young pilot will fly full throttle into combat zones without hesitation.

Contains episodes 1-12.

“Eureka Seven”, the 2005 mecha anime series from BONES that captivated viewers all over the world.

The popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels and a movie.  But the animated series also was adapted into a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of 23 chapters.

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”, the six volume manga series was previously released in the US.  But with the new “Eureka Seven” film released in US theaters in Sept. 2009 and in 2012, a new series titled “Eureka Seven Astral Ocean” was aired on television, a sequel to the first anime series and now the first part of the Blu-ray release will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in August 2013.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has received three manga adaptations (“Eureka Seven: AO”, “Eureka Seven: AO ~Save a Prayer~” and “Eureka Seven nAnO”) and also an OVA release.

“Eureka Seven: AO” is directed by Tomoki Kyoda (“Eureka Seven”, “Halo Lgends”, “Wolf’s Rain”, “RahXephon”), music by Koji Nakamura and character design by Hiro Kanzaki (“Oreimo” series).

First, getting to know “Eureka Seven”

While it helps to watch the original “Eureka Seven” series, it is not necessary.

The series takes place 10,000 years after humanity left their planet after an intelligent, sentient life form known as Scub Coral attached itself and merged with the planet.  Humanity was forced to find other planets to live.

Which now leads us to the original series. “Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

The storylined featured The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.

Leading up to “Eureka Seven: AO”

This series takes place in the year 2025 in Okinawa on the island of Iwato Jima and is about a 13-year-old boy named Ao Fukai who lives with Dr. Toshio Fukai.  His mother mysteriously vanished 10 years ago and one day while he and his friend Naru Arata are on the beach, he is nearly hit by a group of people (Gazelle, Pippo and Han Juno).  As they get into an argument, Ao accidentally takes a bracelet that was trying to be smuggled out by the group.  But somehow a Scub Coral and a G-Monster appear out of nowhere.

The group led by Gazelle were trying to smuggle an item to the Japanese Armed Forces with a hefty payday in return, but missing is a bracelet.  As the group go on to retrieve it, another Scub Coral and G-Monster appears and Cristophe Blanc of Generation Bleu makes a deal with the Union of the Okinawa Islands government to fight the G-Monster.

As for Ao, he realizes that the bracelet that the guys had actually belonged to his mother and Gazelle is wanting it back.  Ao refuses but as the they continue to argue, the G-Monster attacks Iwato Jima and in the mayhem, Ao escapes with the men for safety and ends up inside an IFO that was transported by the Japanese navy and defeats the G-Monster.  But while inside, his hair changes to turquoise.

It is revealed that the people of Iwato Jima have blamed Ao’s mother for the terrible accidents that the island had suffered and because he now has her turquoise hair, they begin hunting down Ao.  Ao is taken in by Kazuyuki Kinjo, a local musician who is apologetic for the behavior of his generation.  Meanwhile, Ivica Tanovich of Generation Bleu is looking for Ao, because he piloted the IFO..the Nirvash.  But how can that be possible?

As for the woman with turquoise hair, Ao’s mother… she had a name.  Eureka.

VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  As always, when it comes to mecha series, BONES does a fantastic job with character and mechanical designs but also a good blend of CG with art backgrounds to create a futuristic but beautiful landscape.  Mechanical design for this latest series is well-done.  Colors are vibrant when they need to be but if anything, for fans of the original animated series, will enjoy the character designs and overall look of the series.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and 2.0 (Japanese).  As always the case, the English soundtrack has much better dynamic range and use of the surround channels thanks to its 5.1 mix.  During the action sequences throughout the first 12 episodes, scenes are immersive and dialogue and music as well as the special effects are crystal clear.  As for the Japanese stereo soundtrack, dialogue is clear but doesn’t have the same immersiveness as the 5.1 soundtrack, which is understandable.  But I did like the Japanese soundtrack for the way the emotional scenes were done, but for the most part, both English dub and Japanese voice acting are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chuck Huber (voice of Blanc), Jad Saxton (voice of Elena) and Sainty Reed (voice of Fleur).
  • Inside the Booth: Eureka Seven: AO – (13:55) A special look at the voice recording of “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Tyson Rinehart (voice of Georg) and John Swasey (voice of Ivica).
  • Original Commercials  – (3:17) The original Japanese commercials for “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring four different opening songs for “Escape”.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring three different closing songs of “Stand By Me”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has been an enjoyable series to read thus far.

If anything, I’m glad of the connection between the original series and the sequel and the whole mystery of what happened to Eureka?

For those of us who followed the original series and even watched the original film, you would hope that the storyline between Renton and Eureka ended with a happy ending.  But sure enough, “Eureka Seven: AO” continues with this all new storyline surrounding a new young teenager named Ao, who has the power to pilot a Nirvash and now he has the same hair color of his mother…. Eureka?

But just when you think that Ao was the focus, by episode 7 we are introduced to the antagonist known as Truth and he is not after Ao, he is after his friend Naru?

But so far for the first half, the storyline features Team Pied Piper along with the military engaging in war against The Secret which is appearing in various parts of the world and Team Pied Piper stand buy, wanting to intervene but the U.S. Government is against it.  So, as Teamed Pied Piper goes on various missions, more questions are left for the viewer especially towards fellow pilot Elena Peoples.

While the 12th episode leaves with a teaser, which I don’t want to spoil.  But I think fans of the original series will enjoy it!

As for non-fans who have no intention of watching the original series (especially since only the film and not the TV series are available on Blu-ray), for those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.  You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven: AO” so far has been a storyline about humanity trying to rid of the Scub Corals while a Secret tries to attack them and areas around the world.

While the first half of the storyline featured more about the Secrets attacking and the military’s response, with how the 12th episode ended, it definitely makes me excited to see what happens in the second half.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series looks great and the voice acting is well done on both the Japanese and English dub.  But with the English dub having the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, it has better dynamic range and use of the surround channels for more immersiveness.  You also get special features including audio commentary and more.

I definitely look forward to conclusion of the “Eureka Seven: AO” and for fans of the original series, because it is a true sequel, you’ll definitely want to check this sequel out!

Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end.  It’s unique, unpredictable, complex and so far, the first half of the storyline has been nothing less than great!  If you are one of those anime fans who have been wanting something original, smart and entertaining…then “Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season” is recommended! It’s definitely one of my top picks for “best anime series on DVD” to watch in 2013!

PLEASE PURCHASE THIS ANIME SERIES FROM RIGHTSTUF or BANDAI ENT. ONLINE STORE

Image courtesy of © Kyo Shirodaira, Arihide Sano, Ren Saizaki/Zetsuen Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2013

Originally created by Kyo Shirodaira

Directed by Masahiro Ando

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Michiru Oshima

Character Design by Tsunenori Saito

Art Direction by Ayumi Sato, Tomoaki Okada

Mechanical Design by Masahisa Suzuki

Art Design by Ayumi Sato

Anime Production: Bones

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouki Uchiyama as Yoshino Takigawa

Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Mahiro Fuwa

Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe

Hirofumi Nojima as Junichirō Hoshimura

Hiroyuki Yoshino as Tetsuma Kusaribe

Junichi Suwabe as Natsumura Kusaribe

Kana Hanazawa as Aika Fuwa

Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe

Nana Mizuki as Evangeline Yamamoto

Rikiya Koyama as Samon Kusaribe

Shintarō Asanuma as Takumi Hayakawa

Yuuki Kaji as Megumu Hanemura

One day, a sorceress princess was stuffed into a barrel and banished.  One day, a single girl was suddenly murdered, and the culprit still runs free.  And one day, a battle spanning time and space over magic and revenge began! Sanity and madness; sense and intelligence; self-confidence and convictions.  The tragic tale of this irrational world begins here…

In 2009, “Zetsuen no Tempest” was released as a manga byy Kyo Shirodaira with illustrations by Arihide Sano and Ren Saizaki.  In 2012, the anime series received an anime adaptation courtesy of BONES and in August 2013, Aniplex of America will be releasing the series  with the title “Blast of Tempest” with the first season (first 12 episodes) on DVD.

The series is directed by Masahiro Ando (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home” and “CANAAN”), series composition by Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Aria – The Natural”, “Anel Tales”, “CANAAN”), music by Michiru Oshima (“Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Gokusen”, “Arc the Lad”, “Gokusen”), character designs by Tsunenori Saito (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Towanoquon”, “Halo Legends”) and art direction by Ayumi Sato (“The World God Only Knows”, “Heroman”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2” and “Eureka 7: Astral Ocean”) and Tomoaki Okada (“Banner of the Stars”, “Darker than Black”, “Crest of the Stars”, “Star Driver”, “Wolf’s Rain”).

“Blast of Tempest” begins with an introduction to two teenage students, Yoshino Takigawa and Mahiro Fuwa.  Mahiro gives his step-sister Aika a ride back home and with her attitude towards Mahiro, Fuwa believes that his sister dislikes his friend.

Meanwhile, we see a woman breaking out of a barrel and is stranded in an uninhabited island.  Her name is Hakaze Kusaribe, the leader of the Kusaribe clan and the “Mage of Genesis”, a princess who’s goal is to protect the “Tree of Genesis”, which is the source of magic used by her clan.  But it appears that she was betrayed by her aide named Samon, who had put her in the well and put her in an island to block out any of use her mage powers.  His intention, to awaken the Tree of Exodus to prevent the advent of the Tree of Genesis, which he and the Kusaribe clan believe will recreate the world and destroy mankind.

Fast foward to the near future and it was revealed that Aika was murdered and Fuwa has not been seen for months after the incident.

As Yoshino wonders what has happened to Fuwa, a woman named Evangeline Yamamoto arrives and with her weapons, threatens to kill Yoshino unless he provides her with information in regards to his connection to Mahiro.  Yoshino explains that he has not seen Mahiro in months and that he has been mourning the death of his sister, Aika.

All of a sudden, butterflies show up everywhere and we see how humanity has been affected with some strange disease that turns people into metal.  But as Yoshino tries to fight back and escape, Evangeline shows how dangerous she can be and before she hurts him, out of nowhere, Mahiro teleports and beats Evangeline.

Mahiro explains to Yoshino that he was given this power by a mage named Hakaze, who he can communicate via a wooden doll that Hakaze had made (and Mahiro found it inside a bottle on the beach).  Hakaze makes a deal with Mashiro that she would find Aika’s murder in exchange for his help in stopping the resurrection of the Tree of Exodus.

Yoshino decides to help Mahiro find out who murdered Aika as well, but what is his real motivation of assisting Mahiro?  Meanwhile, Yoshino is given some of Hakaze’s power via a magical talisman that has been left behind in the city.  As Mahiro and Yoshino try to find the murderer and the magic talismans, they receive word from Hakaze that there is no magic to track the culprit, which can only mean that a member of her clan may be responsible.

And out of nowhere, Samon’s aide Natsumura tries to kill them.

Will Mahiro and Yoshino find out who killed Aika and can they also find a way to free Hakaze and rescue her out of the island?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Blast of Tempest” is an anime series that I expected wonderful animation, especially with director Masahiro Ando behind-the-scenes.  When it comes to BONES anime productions, Masahiro Ando is one of my favorite directors because he brings quality to a film or animated series and having watched “Blast of Tempest”, I am absolutely pleased with the animation.  From character designs, shading to lighting, Tsunenori Saito and staff did a wonderful job in bringing out the emotion of the characters but also to capture the action and the mechanical designs as planes and tanks go to war against the unknown.

And as one can expect from BONES, the art direction by Ayumi Sato and Tomoaki Okada is absolutely beautiful.  From oceans, forests, hills, cities and just the ambiance of a certain area, they captured the environment with wonderful detail.

While I wished this series was released on Blu-ray, as some Aniplex releases are released in Japanese with English subtitles on DVD, perhaps this series will receive a Blu-ray release in the future with an English dub included.

For now, the series is presented in 16:9 LB with audio in Japanese linear PCM stereo with English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season” features the following special features:

  • Textless OP – “Blast of Tempest” opening theme without text.
  • Textless ED – “Blast of Tempest” ending theme without text.

EXTRAS:

“Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season” comes with a slipcover, special booklet, reversible mini-poster and 2-sided reversible cover.

“Blast of Tempest” is one of the most intelligent, addicting and enjoyable anime series I have watched in the past few years.

It’s a series with a lot of twists, a series with a lot of secrets and I don’t even know how to discuss the series without revealing any major plot details.  So, the best way for me to even describe the series is a mix of murder mystery as one brother tries to find the killer of his step-sister but aided by a friend, or is he a good friend at all?

The interesting aspect of this series of its two main characters is that the character of Mashiro Fuwa, is a boy who has been born under privilege and has always been treated differently because his family comes from a powerful background.  While Yoshino was the person who rather keep to himself and not be involved in anything.  Due to circumstances, Yoshino ended up having to help Mashiro and in the process, their relationship was not of mere friendship, as one would think.  But a friendship of convenience.

How this friendship lasted from their younger years to their older years, it is because of one important connection which one will find out as the series progresses.

But it’s the protagonist Yoshino that you are amazed to see how his storyline unfolds as each layer is peeled and you get to see a side of him that he has kept secret all this time.  But how damaging will his secret be?    And for Mashiro, why is his drive to find Aika’s killer, made him change to this person only seeking nothing but revenge?

The other storyline that captivates you is the storyline that surrounds the character Hakaze.  She appears to be a beautiful, naive teenager but in truth, she is the powerful “Mage of Genesis”, born to be the leader representing the “Tree of Genesis” and like the concept of ying and yang, opposing the “Tree of Genesis” is the “Tree of Exodus”.    Both trees locked up into an epic battle that has spawned generations and for Hakaze, she has been left on an island, hidden by a sphere and no way to use her power to leave the area.

Kept on the island, as a viewer, you feel bad for the character because she doesn’t have a mean spirit.  If anything, she wants to help Mashiro and Yoshino find the murderer of Aika, but she needs their help to get her out of the island.  And thus, it becomes a cat and mouse game as the Kusaribe clan now led by Hakaze’s former aid Samon sends his clan after Mashiro and Yoshino, but unlike regular humans, they have been given part of Hakaze’s power to defend themselves and others.

Meanwhile, the government/military are trying to put a stop to whatever has unleashed the virus on humanity, which have been killing innocent people by turning them into metal.

The drive for each character is easily explained throughout the series, but within the series is this storyline about logic vs. illlogic.  In order for Hakaze and the Tree of Genesis to thrive, all actions must be based on logic.  But we see how one’s perception, may it be false, can be seen as logic in their own terms, but must be proved or discredited.

Each character is faced to evaluate situations in their life or other’s lives to find out why one is siding on Genesis vs. Exodus and the logic of why one would side by one side versus the other.  It’s a complexity that many anime do not try to touch because it requires one to think.  I just want to say that the series is not as cerebral as a Masamune Shirow animated film but it’s a TV series that stands out from other series because so much thought went into the complexities of logic and illogic and how choices affect a character and one has to prove their case.

While the first half of the series does not end on a cliffhanger, it’s one heck of a cliffhanger because you are left wanting more and more!

Because of its character development and its complex but yet fascinating and enjoyable storyline, “Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season” was a complete surprise.  It’s a unique storyline with no abundant use of old cliche’s or typical banality seen on other anime series.

With this DVD release, the animation looks great and the Japanese voice acting is top-notch, but it is without an English dub which may detract people from this DVD release.

As for Aniplex swag, you do get a slipcover, special booklet and reversible mini-power plus a 2-sided reversible cover.  The booklet features episode synopsis and character artwork.  While the poster features Yoshino and Mashiro on one side and Hakaze with Aika on the other.

Overall, “Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end.  It’s unique, unpredictable, complex and so far, the first half of the storyline has been nothing less than great!  If you are one of those anime fans who have been wanting something original, smart and entertaining…then “Blast of Tempest: Complete 1st Season” is recommended!

It’s definitely one of my top picks for “best anime series on DVD” to watch in 2013!

PLEASE PURCHASE THIS ANIME SERIES FROM RIGHTSTUF or BANDAI ENT. ONLINE STORE

Media Q&A with Toshihiro Kawamoto (co-founder of Japanese animation studio, Studio BONES) by Dennis A. Amith and Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

April 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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In Japan, Toshihiro Kawamoto is one of the anime legends that fans just can’t get enough of when he comes to the United States as a guest of honor at an anime convention.

While in high school and after graduating, Kawamoto became interested in becoming an animator thanks to the “Macross” and “Mobile Suit Gundam” series.  Inspired by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s character designs, after graduating at Tokyo Designer Gakuin College, he was offered a job to work on the 1986 animated film “Arion” supervised by Yoshinobu Inano and mentored by lead character designer Sachiko Kamimura.

During his earlier years, Kawamoto had worked on some of the highly regard classic titles such as “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, “Metal Armor Dragonar”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack” and “Venus Wars”.

Three years later, in 1989, Kawamoto was the animation director for “Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory”, “Mobile Suit Gundam F91”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Last blitz of Zeon” and “Super Dimension Century Orguss 02”.

While Kawamoto has a long list of anime that he has worked on in his oeuvre, for American fans, he is best known for his work on “Cowboy Bebop” as a character designer and animation director, “Wolf’s Rain”, “Golden Boy” and “Kurau: Phantom Memory” as an animation director.

Toshihiro Kawamoto is also known for his work with the animation studio, Studio BONES, that he co-founded with Sunrise staff members Masahiko Minami and Hiroshi Osaka in 1998.

And in the last five years, Studio BONES have worked on anime series such as “Darker than Black”, “Skull Man”, “Soul Eater”, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”, “Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto”, “Un-Go”, “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean” and many more.

On April 6th, Toshihiro Kawamoto took part in a media Q&A at Sakura-Con 2013 in Seattle.  The following is a transcript of the press conference with Toshihiro Kawamoto which J!-ENT took part in.

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KAWAMOTO: I can’t announce the two titles right now but there are two anime series being created by BONES.  So, I really wanted to announce these two upcoming titles, but we have to put off the the announcement for a little while, so I am unable to answer any questions about these two titles right now. But if you like to ask me questions about my experience as an animator or about BONES, I’ll be more than happy to talk about that.  Thank you very much.

 

With your contribution to the Gundam universe and seeing the transition of the character designs, for example, “Mobile Suit Gundam” originally to “Mobile Suit G Gundam”, what are your thoughts about the transition of the character designs?  Is there anything you want to add or improve on?

KAWAMOTO: So, I worked on “Cowboy Bebop” in 1998, and after that, the producer at Sunrise, Masahiko Minami, who was the producer, decided he wanted to go independent and so he invited me along and that was the trigger for the creation of BONES.   I think that Minami-san wanted to work on creating something new rather than previously existing work, so that’s why he left Sunrise and left to go independent.

 

When you established BONES 12-years ago, were you confident in starting it up the animation studio?

KAWAMOTO: So, I joined BONES and joined my friend Minami-san and because I had the same thoughts as Minami-san, as far as what I wanted to create and becoming an independent animator, I wasn’t really thinking if it would be successful or not.  I was just thinking about what I wanted to create and the things that I wanted to make.  And I was very happy that many of the people that worked on “Cowboy Bebop” that were freelance animators, were able to move and join BONES as well. I was really happy about that!  And so we were able to create “RahXephon” and the actual feeling of where we were working, didn’t really change that much from “Cowboy Bebop” because we had the same staff working on it.

 

My question is the reception of “Cowboy Bebop” in the West.  And by many Western anime fans, “Cowboy Bebop” is one of the most well-regard anime.  Were you surprised by the Western reception to “Cowboy Bebop” was?

KAWAMOTO: When we made “Cowboy Bebop”, it was hard to get broadcast slots, so we didn’t know if it would become a hit or not.  So faced with all these difficulties, we shortened it from a 26-episode series to a 13-episode series.  But now, even ten years later, even outside of Japan, it’s almost a strange and surreal feeling.  With regards to a sequel, you saw the last scene, so there are no plans at this time.  I’m not part of the staff, but I heard there still may be a possibility of a live-action version.  So, we may see a Hollywood version of “Cowboy Bebop” in the future.

 

Can you please elaborate more on the difficulty of  the broadcast slots?

KAWAMOTO: When we were trying to find broadcast slots in Japan, we were facing challenges of some of the violence such as the “Bloody Eye” episode which had a lot of drug references and also the violence made it hard.  Also at the same time, there was a real-life incident known as the Pokemon shock when a youth was wielding a knife, so we had to remove a knife digitally from a particular scene because of the social impact at that time.  So, the bloody eye episode was episode #1, so we had to start broadcast episode #2 because of those kind of issues.  But the episodes #1 and #5 were released in their original format, so I was glad to be able to take care of those.

 

Who were your inspirations as a child in becoming an animator?

KAWAMOTO: There are many!  There are not so many people but their creations and the anime I was watching in high school that inspired me.  So, for example the Gundam designs fromYasuhiko Yoshikazu  and from Yoshiyuki Tomino , as well as from Hayao Miyazaki’s films.  And Shoji Kawamori of “Macross” fame and “Urusei Yatsura’s” Mamoru Oshii.  It was their work and watching their creations that I decided to join this industry.

 

Speaking of “Gundam”, for “Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory”, featured many different characters of different ethnicity, how important was that for you in being a director?

KAWAMOTO: “Stardust Memory” has a Hollywood movie feel to it, there was a request from the developer to include people of many different races. I think we became more aware of that over time, “0083” was made in the similar style of the first Gundam. I’m sorry, I’m not to familiar with the recent Gundam, so I don’t know what direction they are taking.  But my memory of “Gundam 0083” is that we thought about the different characters that the actors were representing, and we based the character design on that.  And “Cowboy Bebop” was like that as well, we thought about the characters first as well.

 

Studio BONES has done a lot of really awesome animations and there have been some that were original creations from BONES.  How does BONES approach pre-existing titles vs. anime series that you created yourself?

KAWAMOTO: For projects such as “Fullmetal Alchemist”, it was a creator at BONES named Yoshiyuki Ito  who thought it would be great to make an anime series, so he talked to the producer at BONES and then we talked to Square Enix who owns the IP.  And that’s how we created the anime for “Fullmetal Alchemist”.  And that’s how it was decided that Yoshiyuki Ito would become the character designer and main animator for “Fullmetal Alchemist”.  And of course, there are times when sponsors or the original creator of the work will sponsor the creation of an anime.  So, a recent work that I worked on was “Towa no Quon” was also based on an original work by a creator who created that work.

 

How do they choose whether or not the next project is pre-existing work or original?

KAWAMOTO: It’s all up to the President.  Whatever he says goes.  However, we all do have input in the direction the company is going.  So, we have the feeling that we do want to create our own works, and so that is a possibility.  Although it can be difficult to do that some times.  But I think there are possibility for original work from BONES.

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Given that you worked with prolific titles such as “Gundam”, “City Hunter” and “Venus Wars”, was there any fears of you working on established series?

KAWAMOTO: No particular concerns.  But there is a strong way of thought in the industry in terms of a business standpoint, it’s easier to be successful with known properties.  So, there is a tendency to prefer sequels over original works if they are already known.

 

Given that, are there any series that you haven’t worked on yet that you wanted to work on?

KAWAMOTO: No particular concerns.  But there is a strong way of thought in the industry in terms of a business standpoint, it’s easier to be successful with known properties.  So, there is a tendency to prefer sequels over original works if they are already known.  Sequels…hmm…that really is a difficult question.  I think from a sales or business success standpoint, it would make sense to do a sequel for “Cowboy Bebop”.  But that would violate the director policy to create that, so that would be a bit difficult.  And instead of existing work, creating something new or original work that would have some long term popularity and become a long term series would be great for our company.  So, there was tendency in the past to create a series with 26-episodes, which we call two packs. The tendency now is for 13-episodes or one pack series. So, there is a difficult situation of creating a 13-episode series and make a decision of whether to create an additional 13-episodes, so it’s becoming more difficult.

 

You have been part of the growing industry of constant changing styles as each new generation of anime emerges.  What do you think of animations and character designs today, compare to those from your beginnings, particularly against popular series such as “Madoka Magica”, “Sword Art Online” and “Guilty Crown”?

KAWAMOTO: I think those series that you mentioned reflect to popular face styles and character design, so I think that face balance kind of reflects the current state of the industry.  There will be a tendency where there will be a hit of a particular series with a particular art style and when that’s popular, a lot of similar series will be influenced by that art style and that style will be used and will spread.  But even within those trends, there are an increasing number of original creations and new directions.  So, I really think it’s up to our choice to choose the designs that we like and up to the fans as well to choose the designs they like.  Our job is to create designs that are requested of us by the producers and directors.

 

How does all that change from older series such the original “Gundam” and “Cowboy Bebop”?

KAWAMOTO: It’s hard to be specific, if you look at them side-by-side but you can tell.  The biggest would be the change from creating individual cells to the digital creating process.  One of the effects of digitization, previously when people were doing hand-drawn animation in cells, the width of the lines can vary.  But now with digital, all the lines have to be the same width.  There is sort of a trend to that, but that is one thing that has had an effect.  So, while the screen is clearer, you can get a very clear image.  You lose a little bit in terms of what the creator’s hand drawn works with the new digital process.  The appeal of the hand drawn aspect has been lost to some extent.

 

Do you prefer the old style as opposed to more mainstream current works?

KAWAMOTO: Of course, I’m from the cell era.  I think it’s something we need to challenge and how we can take that same feeling that we created from cells and convey it to fans using the digital process.  Other companies are working on this issue and I think there are various technologies that they are experimenting with.  So, they can reproduce this original feeling of the original cells, but it takes extra effort to bring back what was originally there.  I think another big change is that now it’s possible for individual animators to perform their own animation check digitally, so now a single animator can put something together and check how it flows very easily.

 

How much difference from your other works was it when you were working on “Golden Boy”?

KAWAMOTO:  So, Tatsuya Egawa was the original creator and Hiroyuki Kitakubo  was the director and so meeting their vision was something that I would strive to work hard in “Golden Boy”.

 

Do you have a favorite series that you worked on?

KAWAMOTO: I get that question a lot and it’s hard to say and choose what is #1.  Of course, “Cowboy Bebop”.  And I think “The Cockpit” that I did with Hiroyuki Kitakubo  was an important because it led to “Ghost in the Shell” and “Cowboy Bebop”.

 

I know that Ed from “Cowboy Bebop” is one of the most interesting characters of that anime era and that you based your design on Yoko Kanno.  Why her? And what sort of challenges did you face in matching her to the character personality of the story?

KAWAMOTO: I’ll talk about how the character of Ed was created.  So, the original plan in additional to the characters of Spike, Jet and Fay, there would be a little boy who was a hacker and a girl that would be laying around sleeping.  So, there were five characters.  As planning progressed, it was decided to combine the hacker boy character with the girl who was always sleeping on the sofa to a single character and that became Ed.  And the idea was that the character would be like a cat lounging around all the time, but then the director said, “Like Yoko Kanno?”.  I haven’t met her at the time, so I would have to imagine in my mind but I was told that she was the kind of person who would sleep in a meeting and a a very honest and natural person.  So, although I haven’t met her, I would imagine her character.  I remember the amazing work that she did in “Escaflowne” and “Macross Plus” and it was really hard for me to fill in that gap between those amazing works and this character that I was being described.  So, why did that become Ed? It’s very interesting.  And then after the design was done, then I actually met Yoko Kanno.  Visually, she was a regular, cute and attractive girl. But when I actually saw her fall asleep on the sofa, I thought “oh yeah, that was her”.

 

Final words from Kawamoto

KAWAMOTO: Thank you all for coming today, I really appreciate it.  Thank you for your interest and support in the anime industry and I look forward to your interest in our future works.

 

For more information on Studio BONES, please visit their official website.

Top photo courtesy of Sakura-Con / second and third photo by Michelle Tymon, J!-ENT

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Created before the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 3/11, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was an anime series that posed the question of “what if” a significant earthquake hit Tokyo.  An anime series that is heartbreaking but also filled with hope.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Complete Collection

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 1-11 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Maiden Japan

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 2, 2013

Directed by Masaki Tachibana

Series Composition: Natsuko Takahashi

Music by Ko Otani

Character Design by Atsuko Nozaki

Art Director: Mika Nakajima

3D Director: Eiji Inomoto

Anime Production: BONES, Kinema Citrus

Featuring the voices of:

Satomi Hanamura/Luci Christian as Mirai Onosawa

Yuko Kaida/Shelley Calene-Black as Mari Kusakabe

Yumiko Kobayashi/Tiffany Grant as Yuuki Onosawa

Ai Nonaka/Brittney Karbowski as Aya

Christel Takigawa/Monica Rial as Newscaster (herself)

Hiroshi Naka/David Matranga as Seiji Onosawa (Mirai’s father)

Kikuko Inoue/Maggie Flecknoe as Masami Onosawa (Mirai’s mother)

Narumi Takahira as Meg

Takeshi Aono/John Swasey as Mr. Furuichi

The devastation is unleashed in the span of seconds. Yielding to centuries of unrelenting pressure, an ancient rift in the Earth gives way and a force equivalent to over a thousand atomic bombs erupts beneath the feet of the citizens of the world’s largest mega-cities! For the people of the greater Tokyo area, the results are catastrophic as even “earthquake-proof” buildings sway like weeds in the wind, gas mains rip open in gouts of flame and huge sections of the city’s vital infrastructure are torn into shreds. For sister and brother Mirai and Yuki who were caught in the earthquake while in Odaiba during summer holiday, it’s the start of a desperate journey back to their parent’s home in Setagaya. For motorcycle courier Mari, it means an equally frantic battle towards Sangenjaya and her own daughter and mother. Joining together in an epic odyssey through the mangled streets, these three must brave impossible obstacles and endure unspeakable hardships and heartbreak, with no way of knowing if their loved ones are even still alive. But they’ve no other choice! In the aftermath of nature’s fury, only the strongest of will and most courageous of heart can hope to survive in TOKYO MAGNITUDE 8.0!

The Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 2011 in which a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the coast of Japan and caused a tsunami in which 15,882 people were killed, 6,142 were injured, 2,668 people are still missing and over 650,000 people have lost their livelihood.

Prior to this devastating earthquake, there has been a lot of talk about what if a great earthquake hit Tokyo.  Because back in 1995, people of Japan were rocked when a 6.8 earthquake hit the city of Kobe.  Known as the “Great Hanshin Earthquake”, 6,434 people lost their lives but with the Kansai area a distance away from Tokyo, the only major earthquake that was recorded in Tokyo was in September 1923 when a 7.9 earthquake hit Izu Oshima Island in Sagami Bay.

The earthquake devastated Tokyo and killed over 105,000 people.

Having been to Japan and have had discussions with friends about earthquakes, the only discussion prior to 3/11 was “let’s hope it never happens in Tokyo!”.

But with the Great Tohoku disaster, many around the world witnessed the destruction, the death and how Tokyo was crippled by the disaster, even though the epicenter of the earthquake was many miles away.

But the question still persists…what if an earthquake hit Tokyo?

In 2009, the anime studio BONES and Kinema Citrus released an anime series based on that “What if?” scenario with “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.   An eleven episode series directed by Masaki Tachibana (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Eureka Seven”, “Noir”) and a screenplay by Natsuko Takahashi (“Antique Bakery”, “Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black”, “Gakuen Heaven”, “Yatterman”, “Vandread”).

The series would feature music by Ko Otani (“Eyeshield 21”, “Ashita no Nadja”, “Colorful”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, “Shakugan no Shana”), character design by Atsuko Nozaki (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ergo Proxy”, “Naruto Shippuden”) and art backgrounds by Mika Nakajima (“Motto to Love RU”, “CANAAN”, “Angel Beats!”).

The concept of the series is based on a prediction that there is a 70% chance that an earthquake that is 7.0 magnitude will hit Tokyo in the next 30 years. Wanting to achieve realism, the series would show what happens if an 8.0 magnitude earthuake hit Tokyo.  Bones collected and tabulated research on previous earthquakes and interviewed individuals who were affected by the earthquakes and also feature the efforts of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Japan Coast Guard, Tokyo Fire Department and Tokyo Disaster Medical Assistance Team deployed during the aftershocks.  Also, to add some realism to the series, FNN newscaster christel Takigawa is featured as a news reporter during the series.

And now “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” will be released in America on April 2013 courtesy of Maiden Japan.

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is a series that focuses on a 7th grader named Mirai Onozawa.  Despite attending the prestigious Rika Girls Academy, she’s a bit bothered with life as her parents are constantly working (and arguing), never having the time anymore for her and her younger brother, third grader Yuki.  And she is not sure what she wants to do in life.

With a robot exhibition taking place in Odaiba, Yuki was hoping that his parents would take him there but instead, their parents tell Mirai to take them because they are too busy with work.

Of course, Mirai is not so thrilled of having to bring her little brother to a robot event, but her parents are making her do it.  Because it’s their mother’s birthday, Yuki wants to buy their mother an earring at the gift shop.  While buying it, a motorcycle courier named Mari Kusakabe ends up taking it.  But she decides to let the kids have it and purchase it for their mother, of course, Mirai tries not to show any thanks because she doesn’t like being treated like she’s a young girl.

As the two are about to leave the center, Yuki tells his sister he needs to use the bathroom and will buy them a soda after he is done.

As Mirai is outside of the entrance, she wonders what she will do with her life and text on her cell phone that she wishes life would come to an end.  Immediately after, a great earthquake hits Tokyo Bay and Odaiba begins to crumble.

With destruction and injured people all around, during the chaos, Mirai tries to look for Yuki, putting herself in danger.  She is nearly killed but is saved by Mari Kusakabe, the woman she met at the gift shop earlier.  Mari tells Mirai that she will help her look for Yuki but to be careful because of the danger and the aftershocks.

While the two are nearly killed from falling debris, they manage to find Yuki and both head to the Fuji TV building where they seek shelter, as all roads are blocked and there is no way to get across from the bay as the bridge has been damaged.

Both Mirai and Yuki learn that Mari is a mother of a four-year-old and she wants to get back home to see if her daughter and Mari’s mother is OK.  Because their place is going the same direction of where Mirai and Yuki’s parents live, the three make a promise that together, they will get back home.

But with all the destruction in Tokyo and the danger that surrounds them, will they get back home?  Will they have a home?  But most importantly, are their loved ones alive and well?

VIDEO:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is presented in 1080i High Definition. While an anime series released back in 2009, it’s important to note that this is a TV series and that you can expect to see some softness.  But the series looks incredible in terms of detail, especially capturing the scenery of well-known areas within Tokyo.  The structures are full of detail and while character design is not as detailed compared to other series, it works perfectly for “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” as it shows the nature of the children and capturing emotion through their facial expressions.    But the series looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  It’s primarily a front-channel driven soundtrack but the dialogue and the sound effects of the rumbling of the earthquake is quite clear.  Both voice acting is well-done but for a series that is very emotional, I tend to prefer to watch the series in its original Japanese.  Satomi Hanamura, Yuko Kaida and Yumiko Kobayashi do a stellar job in this series as voice talent.  The addition of real FNN newscaster Christel Takigawa as a newscaster in the anime series is also awesome. But for the most part, depending on which version you watch, both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” comes with the following special features:

  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Digest Version – For those who want to watch an abridged hour version of “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.   I do recommend watching the entire series!
  • Clean Opening and Closing Animation

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is an anime series that dares to ask people of what if there is an earthquake in Tokyo?

In my past visits to Japan, many times I have stood looking from the largest buildings in Tokyo, and just seeing how every structure is built so close together, how traffic is so busy but also asking the question, is Tokyo prepared if an earthquake hits the area?

I surely asked this question quite a bit after the Great Hanshin Earthquake.  But the answers that I would hear from friends is they don’t think about it and just hope it never happens.

But things changed after 3/11.  I covered the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster on social media and also followed the coverage from Japan and abroad.  And while far from Tokyo, the earthquake was so powerful that Tokyo had damage, people felt it from afar and like everyone around the world, we saw the damage from that earthquake and what came afterward.

A year later, I covered the rebuilding effort and even two years later, I still feel uneasy because many people are still displaced, damage may have been cleaned up but those areas affected are uninhabitable and even the nuclear plant still has issues to this day.

With discussions of having a second Tokyo which may be relocated or whatever ideas that government officials have in Japan, the fact is that the probability of a great earthquake in Tokyo is high. The expected death toll would be high.  But there has to be preparation for such devastation.

But two years prior to the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011, BONES and Kinema Citrus had created “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.  Watching this anime series, I felt numb.

I have been to Odaiba several of times and I love the area.  In Japan, it’s still the area to visit for the Tokyo Anime Fair, the Gundam Front, Fuji TV or Joypolis. It’s an area near Tokyo Bay that one wants to visit to get away (without leaving Tokyo) from the concrete jungle and be near the water.

But in the anime series, the earthquake happens right on the bay.  While images of 3/11 and the tsunami still on our mind, it’s important to remember that the wall that was built in Sendai to prevent a tsunami disaster, did not work.  The earthquake was much too powerful that the flooding was unimaginable.

While I’m not sure if the same result would happen to Odaiba, for this series, the tsunami was less of the factor but more of the earthquake and its continued aftershocks.

The efficacy of this anime series lies upon its two characters, a seventh grader named Mirai and her younger brother, third grader Yuki.  These two children are like any other children you would meet in Japan.  But without their parents, they receive help from a woman who is a mother, and together, they are stranded in Odaiba.

We see the chaos that ensues as people want to escape from Odaiba to get back into the city and the only way out is through the water bus.  But the continued aftershocks that were still big, were continuing the damage on the structures.

We know from the Great Tohoku earthquake that this is true, aftershocks continued continuously, nearly non-stop after the first major earthquake.  We learned that damage blocked any way from people getting in and out and the trains were out of commission for over a week.

But Mari, Mirai and Yuki make it back to land and are brought to Shiba Park.  For those who have been to Japan, it’s the closest park to Tokyo Tower.

In the anime series, we see emergency services that are stationed for emergency supplies.  But we see how the aftershocks are still causing damage and we see the fall of Tokyo Tower.  The falling of Tokyo Tower is important because it establishes that nothing around Tokyo is safe, major landmarks, buildings, danger is all around you, especially since everything is close in quarters to each other.

But one thing you will notice is showing the Japanese spirit of how emergency services are deployed but even with a major earthquake, there is only so much that can be done and thus, chaos will be everywhere around the city.  From people waiting to get into a port-a-potty to having no place to sleep but on the ground.

While I’m not going to explain any more details regarding the three primary characters and what happens as they try to get back home to their loved ones, it’s important to note that like the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the many stories that aired on the news, for many family’s that were near the epicenter, many stories of these individuals are not always happy.

Many loved ones are lost, many injuries, many homes destroyed, work destroyed and people are displaced to another location.  Two years after 3/11 and the stories are still the same.  People who can’t go back home.  Families separated or family leaving other family behind to pursue opportunities far from where the earthquake hit.  And this is just a few of the problems as food contamination by nuclear waste, abundance of waste still needs to be addressed and the rebuilding efforts continue.

What “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” show us is that there is hope after tragedy but also not being 100% but still showing how Tokyo can easily be destroyed by an earthquake, tsunami or fires, because everything is in close proximity.

I know that people, especially people I know in Tokyo, don’t want to imagine such disaster to happen in their lifetime but sometimes to prepare, one needs to be awakened by that possibility of “What if?”.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” did that in 2009, the Great Tohoku earthquake confirmed and also let everyone see firsthand the widespread damage but how devastating and earthquake can be for Japan and also Tokyo.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”, picture quality is very good, the detailed background art for the noticeable locations were well-done but the voice acting is absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking.   The animation and just the pain that you feel from the writing can be felt and if thought “Grave of the Fireflies” or even “CLANNAD” made you cry, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” will also make you tear uncontrollably.  As one can expect from a disaster storyline, it’s inevitable.

You also get a digest version for those who don’t want to watch all eleven episodes but seriously, I can’t imagine this series being reduced to an hour long, it’s a series that must be experienced and that is by watching all eleven episodes.

Overall, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was created before the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 3/11.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was a bold anime series that posed the question of “what if” a significant earthquake hit Tokyo and people saw a glimpse of what could happen in 2011. “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is an anime series that is heartbreaking but also a series showing hope.  Highly recommended!

Towanoquon: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

An action-packed series with a heavy hitting storyline, beautiful animation and an immersive lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray, “Towanoquon: Complete Collection” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 BONES/TOWANOQUON Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Towanoquon: Complete Collection

SERIES AIR DATE: 2011

DURATION: (6-part film series) 300 Minutes

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

RATED: TV 14 V

COMPANY: Showgate,  Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2012

Directed by Umanosuke Iida

Series Composition by Toshizo Nemoto

Music by Kenji Kawai

Character Design by Toshihiro Kawamoto

Art Diretor: Kuniaki Nemoto

Art Design by Iho Narita, Takashi Aoi

Sound Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi

Director of Photography: Toru Fukushi, Toshiya Kimura

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the voices of:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Corey Hartzog as Quon Mitsuchi

Kaori Nazuka/Jessica Boone as Tei Ryūmonji

Ryoko Shiraishi/Monica Rial as Yuriko Akatsuki

Chiaki Omigawa/Hilary Haag as Miu

Jouji Nakata/Justin Doran as Cyborg Alpha/Kaidō

Kousuke Toriumi/David Matranga as Cyborg Epsilon/Shun Kazami

Mikako Komatsu/Ty Doran as Yūma

Minako Kotobuki/Shelley Calene-Black as Cyborg Delta/Hizuru Asuka

Miyu Irino/Karl Glusman as Takao

Saori Hayami/Emily Neves as Kiri

Shinichiro Miki/Andrew Love as Genji Kamishiro

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Adam Gibbs as Ryō

Toru Ohkawa/David Wald as Seiji Kannazuki

Hiroki Shimowada as Towa

In the not-too-distant future, children are being born with special powers; marvelous and remarkable abilities. But what would seem like a wondrous gift turns out to be a dangerous curse. The world is now run by The Order, and these miraculous “deviants” are hunted down and killed.

Quon and his group of Attractors are out to rescue these children before The Order’s elite squad of ruthless cyborgs detect them. From their hideout beneath a popular amusement park, the Attractors use high tech gadgetry and their own remarkable abilities to save these children. They teach them to harness and control their powers to overthrow the very powers that seek to destroy them.

Intense action with every film, the “Towanoquon” six-film series is an exciting X-Men-like storyline from BONES.

Directed by Umanosuke Iida (“Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team”, “Hellsing”), written by Toshizo Nemoto (“Tokyo Majin”, “Getbackers”, “Chrome Shelled Regios”) and featuring music by world renown Kenji Kawai (“Eden of the East”, “Maison Ikkoku”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Mobil Suit Gundam 00”) are among the talented crew behind BONES sci-fi film series.

And now the film series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

Featuring 6 films that last around 55 minutes each, “Towa no Kwon” (named “Towanoquon” for the U.S. release) is set in Tokyo in the distant future.  Humans have awakened with special abilities, but a secret organization known as Custos are hunting them down. But to protect these individuals, a group known as the Attractors try to join forces with these people, protect and fight back against the Custos.

Led by a man who has lived for over a thousand years, Quon has the appearance of a teenager and the power of immortality.  But where most attractors have one ability, Quon has several and tries to use his power to do all he can to protect those who were born with special abilities and protect them.

And through their group of finding other humans and children, teaching them to hone their powers for good.

Quon is joined by the flirty Yuri (who has the ability of speed for 20 minutes), Kiri (special ability of healing or destroying powers by singing), Tei (the telepath), Miu (the power to communicate with animals), Takao (an unusual ability of teleportation, but each time he teleports,  the exchange of using his power leads to a major physical injury), Yuma (a young boy that can disintegrate things with his orbs) and Dr. Wakatsuki.

Meanwhile, hunting down the Attractors are Custos led by Commander Genji Kamishiro who wants to capture and kill them but for a mysterious reason.  Whenever a power fluctuation from an attractor is sensed, Genji sends his team of Cyborgs known as WTOC (Weaponed Terminator of Custos) to kill or capture them.

But just as the WTOC is there, so is Quon and his team to help defend them!

VIDEO:

“Towanoquon: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  And because these are films, not a TV series or OVA, I came into watching these films with very high expectations from BONES.  And I’m glad to say, that BONES delivered!

Not only do you get the detailed backgrounds, vibrant colors but also wonderful character designs, awesome use of lighting and visual effects and great balance between CG and cel work. The Blu-ray features vibrant colors, black levels are nice and deep, shadowing is well-done and once again, wonderful detail when it comes to scenery, may it be city landscapes or lush environments.

“Towanoquon” is a wonderful accomplishment from BONES and awesome picture quality!  I didn’t notice any banding or any artifact issues during my viewing of the six films.

AUDIO:

“Towanoquon: Complete Collection” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  And if I had one word to describe these films, the word would be immersive.  Because of the high level of action seen throughout each of the six films, your surround channels and subwoofer are put into use frequently.

Rarely do you hear anime soundtracks this immersive, so I was impressed.  This is one of the better sounding anime lossless soundtracks on Blu-ray and audiophiles should be pleased!

As for the voice acting, both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  I watched the films with both soundtracks and they are well-acted.  If anything, it’s about preference and whichever version you decide on watching, just know that both are equally fantastic when it comes to voice acting and overall soundtrack!

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Towanoquon: Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 6 commentary featuring various time dedicated for the English voice dub actors to talk about their characters and being part of the “Towanoquon” which include ADR director Steve Foster, Ty Doran (Yuma), Corey Hartzog (Quon), Elizabeth Bunch (Midori), Andrew Love (Kamishiro), David Matranga (Shun) and Emily Neves (Kiri).
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmwork trailers.

“Towanoquon” is an exciting, action-packed anime series that has many similarities to the Marvel Comics series “X-Men”.  With the storyline of humans being born with special abilities and being hunted, it does resemble the X-Men and the mutants (humans with special abilities) who are being targeted by the government and the Sentinels.

The first three films helps develop the storyline around the Accelerators vs. the Custos and how the Accelerators, or people born with their special abilities, are finding it difficult to deal with their powers and also dealing with their own kind who are very critical of their special abilities.  There are a lot of characters featured in the films, so the first three films focuses on developing the characters, showcasing their personalities and more.

But also how relations are among the accelerators and how difficult a life one lives with their ability.

For example, one episode features a boy who has the ability to talk to plants and can control them.  But he’s also bullied by other accelerators who think it’s stupid or don’t believe he can talk to plants.  And the bullying becomes so bad  that he loses it and wants to show people he can be dangerous and deadly.  But things unfortunately get out of hand.

And in the process, we see how Quon and the Accelerators grow their group but try to make sure people practice their special ability and have control over it.

By the fourth film, things start to get more intense as we get to learn more about Quon’s past.  Because he has lived for over a 1,000 years, we get to see how tragic of a life he had lived and why he is so determined to protecting other accelerators.

And then, there is another storyline that involves the character Shun Kazami.  A member of the WTOC and an antagonist in the early films.  But you also learn about his tragic past and what led him to the WTOC.  For Quon, he knows the pain that Shun has lived with and wants to embrace his ability and have him join the group, but because he’s from the other side, others are not as welcoming.

While the films are action-packed, violent and has its share of a growing body count, what I found entertaining about “Towano Quon” is its characters and how they engage in battle against the WTOC while trying to save other accelerators.  They are literally the hunted and odds are often against them.

The series also looks fantastic!  Featuring anime production by BONES, the character design and visual effects are fantastic.  The studio put a lot of time into making sure the special abilities of the characters are well-featured and lighting effects look amazing. The art backgrounds are gorgeous and full of detail. On Blu-ray, the films look vibrant, full of colors that really pop and a good blend with cel animation and CG.And the lossless soundtrack is equally impressive with LFE and the use of surrounds during those many action sequences to make “Towanoquon” quite immersive!  I do wish there were more special features aside from the one single commentary but at least a special feature was included.

While the storyline is nothing new and fans who grew up reading or watching “X-Men” will find many similarities between the the well-known Marvel series and “Towanoquon”, the main difference would be cultural sensibilities.  Because Quon has pretty much grown up during traditional Japanese times and his immortal status has taken him to Japan of the future, there is a good blend of traditional Japan and futuristic Japan featured throughout these episodes.

The characters and their abilities are well-presented and thanks to the visual effects, lighting effects and beautiful animation and background art combined with an exciting storyline.

An action-packed series with a heavy hitting storyline, beautiful animation and an immersive lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray, “Towanoquon: Complete Collection” is highly recommended!

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a wonderful film with a captivating storyline, cool new characters, plenty of action and more.  The Blu-ray also looks and sounds great and you get a good amount of special features as well.  If you want an awesome anime film on Blu-ray, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 110 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 25, 2012

Original Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Original Character Design by Kenichi Konishi

Directed by Kazuya Murata

Screenplay by Yuichi Shinbo

Storyboard by Kazuya Murata

Unit Director: Shingo Natsume

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Art Director: Kazuo Ogura, Tomoaki Okada

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Konishi

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

3D Director: Koki Ota

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Park/Vic Mignona as Edward Elric

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Matthew Mercer as Melvin Voyager

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Riza Hawkeye

Kenji Utsumi/Christopher R. Sabat as Alex Louis Armstrong

Maaya Sakamoto/Alexis Tipton as Julia Crichton

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Sakiko Tamagawa/Shelley Calene-Black as Miranda

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

A fugitive alchemist with mysterious abilities leads the Elric brothers to a distant valley of slums inhabited by the Milos, a proud people struggling against bureaucratic exploitation. Ed and Al quickly find themselves in the middle of a rising rebellion as the exiled Milos lash out against their oppressors. At the heart of the conflict is Julia, a young alchemist befriended by Alphonse. She’ll stop at nothing to restore the Milos to their former glory – even if that means harnessing the awful power of the mythical Philosopher’s Stone.

When the hit anime TV series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” was coming to a close, BONES wanted to make sure the adventures of the Elrich brothers, despite their adventure ending in the series, would still continue in the movies.

Set during a time when both brothers were still looking for the Philosopher stone, this is where director Kazuya Murata (“Eureka Seven”, “Figure 17”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”) and screenwriter Yuichi Shinbo (“Doraemon” films) would base the story for “Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no Sei-naru Hoshi” (“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos”).  The film would also feature music from rock band L’Arc~en~Ciel and the artist Miwa.

The film was announced during the final episode of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and premiered in Japan in July 2011 and screened in U.S. theaters in 2012.

For those not familiar with “Fullmetal Alchemist”, in Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) is a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa.  The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 followed by a manga faithful anime adaptation with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” airing in 2009-2010.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

What is “Fullmetal Alchemist” about?

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric (aka “Al”).  Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother.  Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm.  And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure.  In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences.  And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother.  But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing the Elric brothers every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang is assisting the Elric brothers by giving them opportunities to find the Philosopher’s Stone but to do that, the two will be part of the military.  For the Elric brothers, working together is a good idea as they hope the stone may give Edward a chance to bring his brother Al back to life and also get back his own body as well.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos”

The film is set during the time Edward and Al are looking for a way to get their human bodies back.

“The Sacred Star of Milos” begins with the Crichton family who were driven away from their home.  For a young Julia Chrichton, she saw her own people being gunned down but her brother Ashley trying to prevent her from seeing any of it.

Fast forward and the teenager Ashley is studying his parent’s alchemy books and his sister are together.  They hear a scream which Ashley goes to check, when young Julia goes to look for her brother, she notices her parents hanging dead, blood everywhere and then someone attacking her brother Ashley and then she faints.

Fast forwards many years later and a criminal named Melvin Voyager has escaped from an Amestris prison and the Elric brothers (who are always anxious to visit new areas to find more information on the “philosopher stone”) decide to chase after the escaped convict.

While on the bus, a chimera attacks people on the bus and Melvin Voyager goes after it.  Unfortunately, that causes problems on the train, so the Elric brothers try to protect the people on the train while Edward tries to go after both the chimera and Melvin Voyager, who Edward finds out is an alchemist.

Meanwhile, back at HQ, Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye wonder why Melvin Voyager would escape from prison when he was weeks away from being released in jail?  While searching his belongings, they find part of a newspaper clip cut out and when they look at what was missing, it is a photo of an older Julia Chrichton, who was arrested for entering Table City.

At the same time, a group of people with flying contraptions have shown up and go after Julia Crichton, which Melvin Voyager is also after.

As the Elric brothers are trying to figure out what is going on, their journey leads them to the borders of Amestris and Creta and in between both countries down below is Table City, an area where people who once had their own land and forced out, were sent to live in an area which is essentially a junk yard and area where both countries deposit their waste and the city is essentially a bottomless pit.

As the Elric brothers descend into Table City, what secrets will they find and what is so special about Julia Crichton and Melvin Voyager?

VIDEO

One thing I love about anime films on Blu-ray is the fact that you know that unlike TV series, studios tend to have a higher budget, more staff and more time is dedicated in the look and feel for an anime film.  “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a big example of how the film looks fantastic thanks to its beautifully painted art backgrounds, it’s 3D use for vehicles and weaponry and more.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), one of the biggest differences that this film would have versus the TV series and previous film is the character design.  The character designs have a bit of a different style when compared to the TV series and I think that was part of the reason of the difference is to show that this is not a film derived from Hiromu Arakawa’s manga but is its own storyline featuring the Elric brothers.    The art backgrounds are just heavily detailed and are beautiful too look at.  In fact, the Blu-ray really showcases the detail of the CG work and the art.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Another reason why I love anime films on Blu-ray is that you also tend to get a Japanese soundtrack in the same lossless soundtrack as the English dub.  So, both are in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  I did notice that the English version had a bit more of a dynamic range but yet both are wonderful when it came to using the surround channels during the many action sequences during the film.  Also, noticed the use of surround for ambiance as well.  And for those with a subwoofer, yes,  awesome use of LFE during the action sequences as well.

I watched the film in both Japanese and English dub and fans should feel great that both are done very well. In fact, as much as I enjoy watching “Fullmetal Alchemist” in Japanese, I will have to say that FUNimation Entertainment has always done a marvelous job when it came to the voice acting of this series.  Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead have literally nailed the voice of the Elric brothers and from the TV series to the film (as well as the other voice talents), I have always been impressed by the English dubwork, as well as the Japanese voice acting, so I had to watch the film in both soundtracks.  Both are fantastic!

English subtitles were also easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” comes with the following special features:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star of Milos – (1:04:25) Featuring the making of “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” hosted by Romi Park (voice of Edward) and Rie Kugimiya (voice of Alphonse) and featuring interviews with the crew.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • U.S. Cast Commentary – Awesome FUNimation Entertainment audio commentary featuring Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Maxey Whithead (voice of Alfonse), Vic Mignogna (voice of Edward) Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Riza), Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Armstrong) .  English dub fans will want to listen to this audio commentary!
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:03) FUNimation Entertainment trailer for “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”.
  • Web Promo – (19:13) Super-deformed version of the Elric Brothers being interviewed.
  • Theatrical Trailers – (4:07) The Japanese theatrical trailers for “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”.
  • TV Spot – (:48) The Japanese TV spots.
  • FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film and special features.

When it was announced that “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” was being made, I was quite happy.  Mainly because it gave fans a chance to enjoy the Elric Brothers and the characters once again.

With the manga series completed and the TV series also finished, despite the characters and the series being so immensely popular, it was not a long running storyline like “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach” or “Naruto”, nor was there a film being created every summer.

And that is probably a good thing as non-canon films that are derived from anime series are usually not that good, but in the case of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, the last film “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” was enjoyable but after watching “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”, I had a smile on my face at the very end because in my eye, I felt that this film was excellent.

While it did focus more on the Elric brothers and we didn’t see much action coming from Roy or Riza, they do make an appearance as with other popular characters such as Winry and Armstrong but the newer characters and the storyline created was so enjoyable and fascinating, and also a bit violent and kind of dark.

I loved how the film showcased both Amestris and Creta and seeing the people in Table City living in conflict and fear.  This really made the viewer enjoy these newer characters such as Julia Crichton and her friends.  And there are quite a bit of twist and turns, especially when transmutation starts to come into play…you know things are going to get crazy and by the end of the film, you’re left satisfied with how the story ends and how things end up for these characters.

As a film, it was enjoyable but I don’t know if I can see “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” as a final film, because just from this film alone, it does show that there are always potential to further explore adventures of the Elric Brothers.  But with that being said, I’m sure fans would even love it even more if a future film featured the involvement of creator Hiromu Arakawa.

But whether or not this film will be the last for “Fullmetal Alchemist”, based on the film alone, I enjoyed it more than the first and I really the storytelling and the characters, especially the beautifully painted art backgrounds.  Especially the stylistic choice for the film’s character design which is slightly different from the TV series.

As for the Blu-ray release, video and audio quality were great, but the making of was wonderful and for English dub fans, they will really enjoy listening to the audio commentary, especially coming from Vic Micnogna.  But you do get a good amount of special features with this release.

For those wondering if they can enjoy this film without knowing a thing about “Fullmetal Alchemist”, I think they can enjoy the film as things are explained for viewers.  But I can only hope that if one watches the film, I hope they enjoyed it enough to watch the TV series in order for things to make more sense.

For parents, this is not for young children.  There are some major sacrificing done (ie. blood sacrifice), so there is quite a bit of violence and blood, so definitely not to be watched with younger children in the room.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a wonderful film with a captivating storyline, cool new characters, plenty of action and more.  The Blu-ray also looks and sounds great and you get a good amount of special features as well.  If you want an awesome anime film on Blu-ray, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!

 

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