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GATE Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Image courtesy of © Takumi Yanai/AlphaPolis/GATE Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defense Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side.

Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


In 2006, author Takumi Yanai and illustrator Daisuke Izuka and Kurojishi created a fantasy novel series titled “Gate: Jietai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!”).

The novel would receive a manga adaptation in 2011 and spin-off mangas in 2015.  And an anime adaptation of the series was created by A-1 Pictures and released in July to September 2015 and its second half airing in January through March 2016.

The anime series is directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (“Love Live! School Idol Project”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Beyblade”, “Black Bullet”, “DNA2”, “Nana”), music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (“Dimension W”, “Love Live! School Idol Project”), character design by Jun Nakai (“Generation Gawl”, “Mardock Scramble”) and art direction by Maho Takahashi (“Amagami SS”, “Cross Game”, “Himawari!”, “KanColle”).

And with the announcement of a new novel series titled “Gate: Weigh Anchor”, the anime adaptation titled “GATE” and the complete collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on July 2017 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Yoji Itami, a 33-year-old otaku who loves doujinshi.  While he may seem like a clumsy otaku, in truth, Yoji is actually a soldier of the Japan Self Defense Force that works in Special Forces and a certified Ranger.

One day, a portal from another world appears in Ginza and soldiers from that other world including monsters attack Tokyo but the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) has advanced weaponry and manages to kill and repel the enemy.  But thanks to Itami, he helped escort hundreds of people to safety during the attack on Ginza and is promoted to first lieutenant.

And because of his heroism, the Prime Minister tasks Itami to go with a JSDF task forced backed by the United States to go through the gate and explore the new world but most importantly to capture and demand reparations from those responsible for the attack.

As the Empire of the other world sends a large army to fight against the JSDF, the JSDF displays their power with modern weaponry and obliterates them.  Itami is then assigned to lead the 3rd Recon Unit and through his travels, meets the following people who are from the other world but join him on his adventures:

  • Tuka Luna Marceau – A 165-year-old High Elf.  She lost her family and fellow villagers when a flame dragon attacked her village.  She is having a hard time coping with her father’s death.
  • Lelei La Lelena – A 15-year-old sorcerer of the Rurudo nomad tribe and a student of an elderly sorcerer.  Very intelligent, she quickly learns Japanese and becomes a translator.  Her tribe was also devastated due to the Fire Dragon.
  • Rory Mercury – A 961-year-old demi-goddess and an apostle of Emroy (God of death).  She cannot die and recovers from all wounds.  When she becomes 1,000-years-old, she will become a full goddess.  She has excellent fighting skills and carries a large scythe and wears gothic lolita clothing.
  • Yao Haa Dushi – A 300-years-old Dark Elf, who seeks the aid of the JSDF to help her village which is being ravaged by the Fire Dragon.
  • Pina Co Lada – The princess from the Empire.  She is dedicated to the Empire’s welfare and wants peace between Japan and the Empire after seeing their awesome power.  But also seeing how the Japanese are not after their land and how they treat their people, including prisoners.  Seeing how they truly are, she wants to let her father, the king of the Empire know.

VIDEO:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant. From many location scenes and varying backgrounds, the background art is great.  Character designs and animation from A-1 Pictures is great and if anything, with A-1 Pictures behind the production, they really go all out and have not been disappointed with any of their anime series releases.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 1.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channels and the voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • Japanese Promo Videos
  • Animated Comic
  • Clean Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

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


There are times when I watch an anime with no expectations and if anything, I wish for something original, refreshing and overly entertaining.  Having reviewed anime since the early ’90s, I have been fortunate to watch anime series that really captivates me and just makes me want to watch it over again.

“GATE” is one of those anime series.  Each and every episode, I absolutely enjoyed them.

While one can say it’s an anime version of “Stargate”, not really.  When the otherworld invades Ginza, Japan, they are reminiscent of knights of past fighting a war with ogres and monsters in the present.

The twist is when Japan sends their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to the otherworld, with modern technology, the first army battalion sent by the Empire are literally obliterated.  Shields are not going to guard machine gun bullets.  Armies are not going to survive mortar attacks.  Battalions on horseback are not going to beat tanks.  And archers are not going to defeat military helicopters or jet bombers.

But while the JSDF seem like they may be the bad guys to those in the empire, in truth, they don’t want to kidnap, take over the land or do anything nefarious.  They want to send a warning to the empire, to put it bluntly, don’t come into our territory, kill our people and expect to rule our land.

And as much as it may seem like a serious anime, it really isn’t thanks to the person heading the operation for the JSDF to protect the people (not just in Japan but anywhere they arrive) and that’s Officer Itami.  A man who is a decorated Ranger but in truth, he just wanted a job that would allow him to be an otaku fanboy, so he can read doujinshi.

And with each tribe he meets and visits, he and the JSDF saves them and wants nothing in return.   He eventually is joined by High Elf Tuka Luna Marceau, a 15-year-old sorceress named Lelei La Lelena, a demi-goddess named Rory Mercury and a dark elf named Yao Haa Dushi.

People grateful for what Itami has done for them and now they want to help get his message across to the Empire and other people in the land.

And when Itami and the others meet Pina Co Lada, princess from the empire, at first she thinks that the “men in green” want to take over the empire but the more she stays with Itami, in hopes to spread peace and hopes for the JSDF to not destroy them, she is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with the Japanese.

And the path to protecting people is not easy, thanks to a corrupt empire with a corrupt son wanting to usurp his father, the king.  Then you have a giant flame dragon killing people all over the land.  And on Earth, you have countries who want to go after the other world friends of Itami and causing problems for the JDSF.  So, it’s not an easy path.

But no matter the difficult, Yoji Itami keeps his cool, keeps positive and is willing to go to great lengths to protect people not just in Japan but also people living in the other world led by the empire.

Also, another plus is the many supporting characters featured and the series really becomes a wonderful anime series with action, adventure and fantasy elements combined.

As for the animation on Blu-ray, A-1 Pictures always does a phenomenal job and they did a magnificent job with animating this series along with providing a plethora of background art, to compliment the large area of land and areas that these individuals visit.  The lossless soundtrack is 2.0 but both English and Japanese dialogue are crystal clear.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, “GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

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

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash! (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

senran

 “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” will appeal to fans of the video game series and those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a lot of fan service. It’s not one of the more deeper anime series in this genre but it is entertaining thanks to its diverse characters and their special abilities.  If you are interested in a ninja story with well-endowed female fighters that can kick butt, then “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is for you!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English DolbyTrue HD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: Suggested 17+

Release Date: July 29, 2014

Originally Created by Kenichiro Takaki

Original Story by Yukinori Kitajima

Director: Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition: Takao Yoshioka

Music by Ruka Kawada

Character Design: Takashi Torii

Art Director: Shinji Kawaai

Art Director: Shigeto Koyama, Yuji Kaneko

Anime Production: Artland

Featuring the following voice talent:

Asami Imai/Alexis Tipton as Ikaruga

Hitomi Harada/Felecia Angelle as Asuka

Kaori Mizuhashi/Bryn Apprill as Yagyuu

Yu Kobayashi/Brittney Karbowski as Katsuragi

Yuka Iguchi/Megan Shipman as Hibari

Ai Kayano/Trina Nishimura as Yomi

Eri Kitamura/Monica Rial as Homura

Juurouta Kosugi/Phil Parsons as Dougen

Kanehira Yamamoto/Bill Brooks as Hanzo

Keiji Fujiwara/Phillip Weber as Kiriya

Megumi Toguchi/Teri Rogers as Haruka

Ryoko Shiraishi/Kara Edwards as Hikage

Saori Goto/Lara Woodhull as Mirai

Suzuko Mimori/Lydia Mackay as Suzune

Asuka and her friends may look like any other girls at Hanzo Academy, but they’re secretly studying the ancient art of Ninjutsu! While other students do their homework, Asuka and the gang push their beautiful bodies to the breaking point in pursuit of their perfect form. Life is one sexy sparring session after another until a deviously demented rival clan of evil ninjas ambushes the Hanzo hotties – and steals their sacred ninja scroll.

Faced with their toughest – and most well-rounded – enemies ever, Asuka and her fellow deadly divas will have to go further than they’ve ever gone before to prove they’ve mastered the art of full frontal combat!

Back in 2011, the action 3DS video game “Senran Kagura: Shojo-tachi no Shinei” was created.

The video game would lead to “Senran Kagura Burst” for the Nintendo 3DS and for the PS Vita, a 3D fighting game titled “Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: Shojo-tachi no Shomei” was created and followed by an iOS and Android game titled “Senran Kagura NewWave”.

The video game series has received a lot of attention due to its well-endowed female characters and the popularity of the series would lead to several manga adaptations and an anime adaptation titled “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” courtesy of Artland in Jan. through March 2013.

And now, the TV series will be released on Blu-ray +DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” introduces us to a group of female shinobi who are secretly trained in the art of ninjitsu.  But these shinobi must keep their skills a secret to the world and attend Hanzo Academy and were created by the Japanese government to counter other ninjas hired by corporations and politicians.

These ninjas from Hanzo Academy include the following characters:

  • Asuka – The protagonist who has problems passing her examination exam.  She wants to be like her grandfather and become a great ninja.
  • Ikaruga – A mature, third year student who is serious about becoming a ninja.
  • Katsuragi – The blonde member of the group who is very perverted and can’t help herself grabbing onto Asuka’s breasts.  Katsuragi wants to be the strongest ninja and is trying to re-establish her family’s lost honor.
  • Yagyu – The ninja prodigy who cares for Hibari.  Known for wearing an eyepatch, she cares for Hibari because of a tragedy from her past.
  • Hibari – A first year student of the group who is childish and clumsy.
  • Kiriya-Sensei – The teacher of the shinobi students.
  • Hanzo – Asuka’s grandfather and the founder of the academy and honored as a great ninja.  But he chose to create his own sushi restaurant.

VIDEO:

“Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is a series that compliments the video games with its CG character designs.  While characters are well-shaded and backgrounds that are primarily Japanese homes and CG.  The series may not be the greatest but it does give fans what they expect and that is many scenes of fan service.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  While the series is well-acted for both Japanese and English soundtracks, the lossless soundtrack is primarily front-channel driven.  Dialogue is crystal clear with the English soundtrack adding a more edgy feel to it with adult humor compared to its Japanese counterpart.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 4 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brittney Karbowski (voice of Katsuragi).
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Engineer Chris George and Megan Shipman (voice of Hibari).
  • Promotional Videos – (5:25) Japanese PV for “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!”.
  • Japanese Commercials
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation theatrical trailer for “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!”.

“Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is a series that pays tribute to those familiar with the Nintendo 3DS and Sony Vita video games.

And part of the appeal to the video game series is because the characters are well-endowed fighters and the constant scenes of fan service.

From panty shots, partial clothing and adult situations, the series is no less an extension of the video game series and focuses on the primary members of Hanzo Academy being trained in the ninja arts but encountering other rival ninjas and using their own personal skills and becoming a team.

While the first half of the series features the group encountering dark shinobi or the girls taking part in training, the second half establishes the rival group of Hanzou Academy and that is the members of Homura Gurentai (a.k.a. the Serpent Squad).

By episode 10, we start to learn about the rival school from the Serpent Squad which consists of Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai, Haruka and Suzune and why these girls chose to become dark shinobi and how their is a connection between the Serpent Squad leader and Kiriya-sensei.

For the most part, the animation for “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is nicely done.  The battles are pretty extreme, while backgrounds are nicely detailed and well-painted for a TV series and Artland did a good job in bringing these characters from the video game to the anime series.

But while the storyline of the series is quite simplistic and for the most part enjoyable if you are into fan service/action-driven anime series, compared to similar series with a lot of fan service and action such as “Ikkitousen” or even “Sekirei”, “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is a bit tame.  Sure, you have your fair share of well-endowed characters with glistening boobs and your usual scenes of booby grabbing and panty shots, but it’s the video game tie-in that made me interested in this anime series.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good and well-shaded.  Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-painted.  But it’s important to note that this is a television series, so there is a hint of softness.    As for audio, the series features a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack, with the English adaptation having a slight edge because of its more Western dialogue and the writers giving the characters a slight edge especially with characters such as Katsuragi.

And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries, promotional video, Japanese commercial and textless opening and ending themes.

Overall, “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” will appeal to fans of the video game series and those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a lot of fan service.

It’s not one of the more deeper anime series in this genre but it is entertaining thanks to its diverse characters and their special abilities.

If you are interested in a ninja story with well-endowed female fighters that can kick butt, then “Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!” is for you!

Jormungand: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

jormungand-s1

Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Jormungand: The Complete First Season

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DolbyTrue HD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Originally Created by Keitaro Takahashi

Directed by Keitaro Motonaga

Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design by Kazuhisa Nakamura

Art Director: Yoshito Takamine

3D Director: Hiroshi Souma

Anime Production: White Fox

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Mutsumi Tamura/Micah Solusod as Jonah

Sayaka Ohara/Carli Mosier as Valmet

Shizuka Itou/Anastasia Munoz as Koko Hekmatyar

Unshou Ishizuka/Christopher Smith as Lehm

Ami Koshimizu/Brittney Karbowski as Schokolade

Gô Shinomiya/Patrick Seitz as Mao

Hitoshi Yanai/Christopher Bevins as Tojo

Katsuyuki Konishi/Ian Sinclair as R

Kenji Nomura/Akron Watson as Wilee

Kiyoshi Katsunuma/Cris George as Ugo

Masaya Matsukaze/Eric Vale as Kasper Hekmatyar

Megumi Toyoguchi/Gwendolyn Lau as Dr. Minami Amada

Saori Kato/Shelley Calene-Black as Karen Lo

Shuuichirou Moriyama/Cole Brown as Narrator

Takaya Hashi/Jerry Russell as Chen Guoming

Tooru Nara/Robert McCollum as Scarecrow

Tsutomu Isobe/Mark Stoddard as George Black

Wataru Hatano/Greg Ayres as Lutz

Yumi Touma/Clarine Harp as Chiquita

Jonah is a child soldier and the newest bodyguard for Koko, an international arms dealer with an entourage of hired guns. The cold-blooded kid hates Koko’s line of work, but following her into the darkest corners of the black market might be the only way he can find those responsible for his family’s slaughter. Besides, his employer isn’t like most merchants of death. She uses guile and cutthroat tactics to keep her clients armed to the teeth—all while cultivating her own warped plan for the future of world peace. With the CIA desperate for her capture, assassins eager to collect her head, and the potential for every contract to end in ultra-violence, Koko and her comrades in arms bring the boom to every corner of the world.

In 2006, mangaka Keitaro Takahashi’s manga series “Jormungand” was serialized in “Monthly Sunday Gene-X” magazine,

With a total of 11 volumes released, a 12-episode anime TV series from White Fox  (“Tears to Tiara”, “Steins;Gate”) was aired in Japan in spring/summer 2012, with a second season titled “Jormungand: Perfect Order” airing in fall/winter 2012.

As the manga series has been released in the US, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” ( will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Jormungand” is a series that revolves around a female arms dealer named Koko Hekmatyar, who sells weapons through HCLI, an international shipping corporation.  She and her team sell weapons in various countries through her shipping corporation, easily hiding and selling weapons from authorities and law enforcement.

Joining her are several former military veterans who are among the bodyguards at HCLI but also a young boy named Jonah, a child soldier who hates arms dealers.  A child which Koko seems to be carefree and cheerful around.

The series follows the adventures of Koko and her soldiers as they must deal with private clients, rival arms dealers and encounter a lot of trouble along the way.

The primary characters in “Jormungand” are:

  • Koko Hekmatyar  – The arms dealer and main protagonist.  She is the daughter of global shipping magnate, Floyd Hekmatyar.  While behaving in a child-like upbeat manner around Jonah, she is ruthless and calculating and is seen as a monster.
  • Jonathan (Jonah) Mar – A child soldier from the Middle East.  Taken in by HCLI, he despises arms dealers but he still acts as a bodyguard for Koko.
  • Sofia Velmer – An ex-mechanized Jager major of the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force who is smitten with Koko.  She is very good with knives and lost an eye during an attack.
  • Lehm Brick – The second in command and oldest member of Koko’s crew.  A former Delta Force operator and great with a sniper.
  • Mao – A former artillery officer from an Asian country.  He is the only officer in Koko’s group that is married with children.
  • Renato Socci – A former Italian Army Bersaglieri intelligence officer.
  • Ugo – A former mafia driver.
  • Lutz – A former sniper from the SWAT unit.
  • Akihiko Tojo – A former operator of the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s secret SR unit.
  • William (Wiley) Nelson – An African American who is an explosive expert and former ex-Lt. of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

girlspanzerova-c

VIDEO:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  First, let me discuss the backgrounds.  The backgrounds are wonderfully painted and look absolutely beautiful!  The mechanical designs are also well-done, may it be vehicles or the weapons, there is a lot of detail that went into the weaponry.

Which now leads us to the character designs.  The animation is not the most colorful, in fact, some may find the colors to be soft or not as colorful as some may hope.  But the anime series does utilize Keitaro Takahashi’s manga by showcasing detail but saturated colors.

It’s a creative style even seen in the manga covers and having read the manga series, I felt the series does give the manga some justice.  If anything, “Jormungand” is not a happy series, there is a lot of violence and so I felt the series looks great the way it does.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1  and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As one can expect, the English lossless  5.1 soundtrack sounds much better thanks to the fact that this action-driven series utilizes the surround channels.  While dialogue and music is crystal clear.  The acting for the English dub is actually very well done.  Although, those who prefer their anime with the original Japanese soundtrack, will find the acting to be very well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (ADR Director), Anastasia Munoz (voice of Koko) and Carli Mosier (voice of Valmet).
  • Casting Koko’s Crew with American Director Christopher Bevins – (20:18) A discussion with the casting for the series with ADR Director Christopher Bevins and Chris George (ADR Engineer and voice of Ugo).
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris George (voice of Ugo), Micah Solusod (voice of Jonah) and Chris Smith (voice of Lehm).
  • Textless Opening and Closing theme – Textless theme for “Borderland”, “Ambivalentidea” and “Shiroku Yawarakana Hana”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:11) FUNimation trailer for “Jormungand: The Complete First Season”.

For anime fans who enjoy series such as “Black Lagoon” or even “Golgo 13” will find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be a series for them.

Violence, plenty of gun battles  but somewhere along with all the bloodshed, there is humor but also a growing feel of an ominous presence within protagonist Koko Hekmatyar.

For one, you sense a screw is loose with the leader of the private/black market arms dealer.  A woman who doesn’t hesitate to kill people and has been looked at by her enemies as a monster, around a young boy named Jonah, she is always so chipper, so happy and fun around him.

And thus the first season is more or less an introductions to Koko’s group of former military veterans and why they joined with Koko and using their abilities to protect her or take out the enemies.  Meanwhile, Jonah represents a boy ravaged by war, hates weaponry and was forced to live a life of being a child soldier.   Now working with Koko and trying to understand the life that he and the others currently live.

There are not a lot of answers for the first season of the series, mainly character introductions and character building episodes to establish how deadly Koko and her group truly are.  And their arms dealings with a variety of people and military groups.

And with the escalation of deaths and violence in the last few episodes, it’s right to the conclusion of the final episode of season one that we learn that the group has a traitor.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime features character designs that compliment Keitaro Takahashi’s manga work, while backgrounds are beautifully painted and mechanical designs to be very detailed.  The lossless soundtrack is very good and well-acted, while the English dub gets the upper nod thanks to its lossless 5.1 soundtrack, over its 2.0 Japanese stereo soundtrack. The Blu-ray also comes with two audio commentaries and a video commentary track as well!

Overall, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is a fascinating series as it goes into a group that sells weapons to those who can afford it.  The episodes for season one was more about showing the danger of the arms business that the HCLI group are each involved in but with “Jormungand: Perfect Order”, I expect the series to pick up and get better!

Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

 

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

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

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

DURATION: Episodes 13-24

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

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

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

Contains episodes 13-24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

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

DURATION: Episodes 1-12

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freezing: Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A touching action anime series with plenty of one-on-one combat, boobs and panty scenes galore!  If you are an anime fan who can’t get enough of boobylicious anime, then “Freezing: Complete Series” is definitely for you!

Images courtesy of ©2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Freezing: Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-12+ 6 MINI-OVA’s (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Dolby Digital, Audio: English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV M

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2012

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi, Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Kwang-Hyun Kim

Character Design by Mayumi Watanabe

Art Director: Satoru Kuwabara

Chief Animation Director: Mayumi Watanabe

Mechanical Design by Tomohiro Kawahara

Sound Director: Kouji Tsujitani

Director of Photography: Jin Saito, Seiichi Morishita

Producer: Shinsaku Tanaka, Takashi Tachizaki

Anime Production: A.C.G.T

Featuring the voices of:

Mamiko Noto/Caitlin Glass as Satellizer el Bridget

Mitsuhiro Ichiki/Josh Grelle as Kazuya Aoi

Akeno Watanabe/Carmen Smith as Yumi Kim

Ami Koshimizu/Brittney Karbowski as Ingrid Bernstein

Aya Uchida as Tichie Fenille

Eri Kitamura/Luci Christian as Ganessa Roland

Eri Mimura as Aika Takeuchi

Fumie Mizusawa/Callie McHalen as Elise Schmitz

Izumi Kitta/Liza Gonzales as Cleo Brand

Kana Hanazawa as Lana Linchen

Kana Ueda/Monica Rial as Atia Simones

Kazuyoshi Shiibashi/Liza Gonzales as Leo Bernard

Mamiko Noto/Catherine DuBord as Kazuha Aoi

Mana Tsuzurahara as Audrey Duvall

Marina Inoue/Ceelee Rose as Chiffon Fairchild

Natsuko Kuwatani/Leah Clark as Miyabi Kannazuki

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Patrick W. Reid as Arthur Climpton

Rie Yamaguchi as Mackenzie Torisu

Rieko Takahashi/Dusty Jacks as Sister Margarett

Rumi Ookubo/Alexis Tipton as Kaho Hiiragi

Yuko Kaida/Abigail Hartman as Elizabeth Maybury

Yuu Asakawa/Jad Saxton as Arnett Macmillan

Eager to follow in the footsteps of his fallen sister, Kazuya enrolls at West Genetics Academy, a training facility for buxom heroes known as Pandoras. These courageous schoolgirls are genetically enhanced with enough sex appeal to cripple a man – and the superhuman strength to slaughter aliens by the dozen. Kazuya’s role is that of Limiter, a Pandora’s battle partner, and he quickly sets his sights on the most feared beauty in school, Satellizer el Brigette.

This full-figured annihilator of aliens is as desirable as she is deadly, but rubbing her the wrong way could lead to gross bodily harm. Can Kazuya forge a bond with his new partner and rise to the top of the ranks at West Genetics? Or will he fall victim to the mysterious bloodlust lurking within Satellizer?

In 2007, a Japanese-Korean manga series known as “Freezing” was created by Dall-Young Lim and illustrations by Kwang-Hyun Kim.   Lim who is best known for creating the manga “Black God” had written well-known manhwa (Korean comics) and in 2007, Lim’s latest manga “Freezing” would be serialized in “Comic Valkyrie”.

With several volumes collected in manga format, “Freezing” would receive an anime adaptation courtesy of  A.C.G.T. and was directed by Takashi Watanabe (“Battle Skipper”, “Casshan: Robot Hunter Casshern”, “Battle Royal High School”), screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi (“The Big O”, “Duel Masters”, “Demon King Daimao”, “Zone of the Enders”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Queen’s Blade” series, “Arakawa Under the Bridge”), character design by Mayumi Watanabe (“Koihime”, “Happy Lesson”, “Kimagure Orange Road”) and art director by Satoru Kuwabara (“Angelium”, “Burn Up W”, “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”).

And now the series will be released via Blu-ray and DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation in August 2012.

“Freezing” takes place in the future where Earth has been at war with aliens that have come from a dimension known as Nova.  In order to fight them, women with special fighting abilities known as Pandoras fight alongside with a male who has a special power known as “Freezing” to literally freeze an opponent and haven been designated the name of “Limiter”.

The competition among Pandora’s are high at West Genetics Academy and one of the top Pandora’s is a blonde, busty student named Satellizer el Bridget, well-known for her very cold demeanor and known to not want to socialize with anyone, as well as not having a limiter.

Meanwhile, a boy named Kazuya Aoi has enrolled at West Genetics.  Kazuya is a teenager who has found it difficult to get over his sister, Kazuha’s death.  Kazuha was one of the most talented Pandora’s at West Genetics and she sacrificed her life to defeat a powerful Nova and also give other’s a chance to live.

When Kazuya sees Satellizer el Bridget from afar, he mistakes her as his sister and runs up to her and hugs her.  For Satellizer, she is shocked that anyone is touching her, let alone hugging her.  And as she tries to get him off, he clings to her tightly and not wanting to let go.  Satellizer who is typically disgusted by a touch by anyone, for some reason, is not disgusted by being touched by Kazuya and this causes her to become distracted.  To the point that he also interferes with her match and causing her to lose.

Feeling terrible of causing Satellizer problems, Kazuya wants to be close to her.  But for Satellizer, due to a traumatic experience during her childhood, she doesn’t want to be touched and for years never wanted to be close to anyone.  But for some reason, Kazuya is the first person who has touched her and has not made her feel disgusted.  And his interested in her is genuine and caring.

Kazuya wants to be Satellizer’s limiter, but will she let him?

Together, the two become an incredible force and the two discover that perhaps their interest may lead to something more than being just a Pandora/Limiter partner.

“Freezing” features the following characters:

  • Kazuya Aoi – Kazuya is the younger brother of the famed and deceased Pandora Kazuha Aoi.  He cares for Pandora Satellizer el Bridget and understands her.  Similar to his late sister, 30% of his bone tissue is composed of Stigmata tissue, giving him the rare ability to freeze anything without the use of a Pandora.
  • Satellizer el Bridget – A powerful Pandora of West Genetics who has no limiter, until she meets Kazuya.  She is known for her cold demeanor and not having any friends.  Because she was sexually abused by her half-brother Louis, she has developed aphephobia (fear of being touched) and the main reason why she stays away from everyone.  She is a member of the powerful el Bridget family but her mother Noelle Alongrutch is the mistress of Howard el Bridget and grew up living in the same mansion as her father’s wife and children (the wife Olivia and son Louis despise them living in the same home, while daughter Violet is the only one who tried to protect Satellizer).  Because of her aphephobia, she has not gotten close to anyone until she meets Kazuya Aoi, the first person to show any care for her and the only person who has touched her, without her reacting negatively.
  • Rana Linchen – A Pandora from Tibet who was sent to West Genetics to find her soul mate (a Limiter) and she happens to fall for Kazuya Aoi.  But because Kazuya is dead set in being a partner with Satellizer, she looks at Satellizer as her rival in getting closer to Kazuya but also becomes her friend, after seeing how badly both Satellizer and Kazuya are treated at school.
  • Ganessa Roland – A Pandora from the UK who is the 2nd-ranked second-year Pandora.  She is very conceited and dislikes Satellizer.    Her Limiter is Arthur Crypton.
  • Kaho Hiiragi – The class representative for Kazuya and Arthur’s class.  She and Arthur often try to convince Kazuya from pursuing Satellizer to be his Pandora.
  • Arthur Crypton – Kazuya’s roommate and Ganessa’s Limiter, he is often trying to get Kazuya to stop pursuing Satellizer as his Pandora.

VIDEO:

“Freezing” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  As an upconvert, the series picture quality is good. It’s not a series that prides itself on beautiful artistic backgrounds and if anything, knowing its demographic is watching it for the fan service, a lot of focus goes into the closeups and showcasing a woman’s assets or numerous panty shots.  As expected for a TV series, the anime series does lean towards a more soft look but overall, because the series focuses more on character close-ups and action, this is not one of those series that is meant to make people feel in awe for its visual presence but more on its action and of course, T&A.

AUDIO:

“Freezing” is presented in English DolbyTrue HD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  While the Japanese lossless soundtrack is good via stereo and is well-acted, for its dynamic range, the English dub version is much better due to its use of the surround channels and the acting is also very well done.  But whichever version you choose, acting is well-done on both Japanese and English soundtracks but during those action scenes (and there are many), the English lossless track is better for its utilization of a 5.1 lossless, where the Japanese version is primarily front channel driven.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Freezing: Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Josh Grelle (voice of Kazuya) and Jamie Marchi (voice of Rana).
  • Episode 11 Commentary  – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass (Satellizer) and Luci Christian (voice of Ganessa).
  • OVA episodes – (18:11) Featuring six short OVA’s that focus more on the perverted fan service.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:02) FUNimation trailer.
  • Promotional Videos – (5:07) The Japanese promotional video for “Freezing”.
  • Original Commercials – (1:18) The original Japanese commercials for “Freezing”.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Themes

EXTRAS:

“Freezing: Complete Series” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

When it comes to fan service anime featuring women with big breasts and panty shots galore, there are plenty of them.  From “Gravion”, “Tenjo Tenge” to “Sekirei”, suffice to say, T&A anime are common in Japan and despite being targeted to a certain demographic, while often at times, these type of anime series can be kitsch, sometimes you are surprised when one features an in-depth storyline.

“Freezing” has the banality of action/fighting series such as “Tenjo Tenge” and “Sekirei”, “Freezing” play the underdog card by showcasing a protagonist named Kazuya Aoi who is weak but kindhearted and you eventually find out that he has a rare special ability.  Then you add in Satellizer el Bridget, your buxom blonde who is cold and deadly but also a woman who has kept herself distant because of her aphephobia of years of being sexually abused by her step-brother.

Aside from its fan service, you really want to root for both Satellizer and Kazuya because they are literally the underdogs, the outcasts and are constantly picked on.  But the bullies will quickly learn that these two are powerful when they are together.  You know these two need each other and feel good being with each other but both are also shy and not sure how to interpret their emotions.

Also, unlike other series where nudity will make a group of perverted guys having blood shooting from their noses when they nudity, “Freezing” is different by the fact that often in battle, women are seen naked and it’s like nudity is not much of a big thing.  Yes, Kazuya is your typical cherry boy who questions Satellizer’s choice of skimpy clothing at times but other than that, you don’t hear many guys going crazy about boobs but more excited about seeing the best Pandora’s in competition.  So, it’s a bit fascinating in that aspect, as those reactions separate “Freezing” from other similar anime series that play upon the show’s perverseness.

And for those who want more titillating, perverted storylines, that is where the short OVA’s come along.  These are more perverse than the actual main story and are simply short stories created visually for the horny otaku.

While the Blu-ray presentation is good for an upconvert and soft as one would expect from a TV series, voice acting is well-done on both Japanese and English lossless soundtracks but of course, the English version is much better due to its 5.1 lossless track as opposed to the Japanese 2.0 track.  Aside from the six short OVA’s, you also get two audio commentary.  And what I liked about this audio commentary is that instead of the moderator asking questions about one’s involvement in the series, the talent are answering questions written down and getting into conversations about voice actors taking part in a fan service anime series to anime con experiences.  So, if you are fan of the main English voice dub talent in this series, you will enjoy the two audio commentaries.

Overall, “Freezing” was an entertaining sci-fi series with a lot of action and fan service.  But instead of being banal in storyline, it takes a different approach of showcasing a protagonist who has had a traumatic past.  So, aside from all the T&A that is seen in this series, there is actually a fascinating plot that continues to build until the final episode.

So, if you are looking for an anime series with a lot of action and big boobs and panty shots galore, “Freezing: Complete Series” is definitely for you!

Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Incredibly emotional, hilarious and entertaining. “Clannad ~After Story~” is a perfect example of anime series that is an emotional rollercoaster that will definitely make you laugh but undoubtedly make you cry.  Tragic and uplifting, the best dramatic anime television series that I have ever seen in a very, very long time!  “Clannad: After Story Complete Collection” is a must-own anime series on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Sentai Filmworks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE:  Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection

SERIES AIR DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV PG

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2012

Original Character Designs by Itaru Hinoue

Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara

Series Composition/Screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo

Music by Jun Maeda, Magome Togoshi, Shinji Orito

Character Design by Kazum Ikeda

Art Director: Mutsuo Shinohara

Chief Animation Director: Kazumi Ikeda

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Direction of Photography: Ryuuta Nakagami

Anime Production by Kyoto Animation

Featuring the voices of:

Mai Nakahara/David Matranga as Nagisa Furukawa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Luci Christian as Tomoya Okazaki

Ai Nonaka/Hilary Haag as Fuuko Ibuki

Akemi Kanda/Brittney Karbowski as Ryou Fujibayashi

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Greg Ayres as Youhei Sunohara

Houko Kuwashima/Kaytha Coker as Tomoyo Sakagami

Kikuko Inoue/Kara Greenberg as Sanae Furukawa

Mamiko Noto/Emily Neves as Kotomi Ichinose

Ryotaro Okiayu/Andrew Love as Akio Furukawa

Ryou Hirohashi/Shelley Calene-Black as Kyou Fujibayashi

Ai Bandou as Sugisaka

A few months have passed since Tomoya declared his love to Nagisa. Now their relationship is entering a new phase, and neither is quite sure where it will take them. As their friends move on to lives of their own, Tomoya and Nagisa get ready to start a family of their own. But Nagisa’s health has always been precarious, and an event that should bring nothing but joy delivers tragedy instead.

Now Tomoya must learn to accept the bitter with the sweet and to understand that the most important thing is to hold onto love, no matter what.

When it comes to the Japanese software company Key, many fans appreciate their work as the video games tend to be dating simulators for the PC and many other video game consoles.  Known for two visual novels “Kanon” and “Air” (both were adapted to anime series), the objects of the video games tend to be the gamer controlling the main male protagonist and with a lot of female friends, answering questions correctly in order to score.  The first two video games were adult-based but in 2004, the company released “Clannad”, a series that would not show nudity or fan service and a game for all ages.

“Clannad” received an anime adaptation in 2007 with a total of 23-episodes  and was released on DVD earlier this year in the US from Sentai Filmworks.  The second season known “Clannad ~After Story~” (which takes place after the first season of Clannad and then ten years later) is now being released in the US.   The anime series is directed by Tatsuya Ishihara (“Air”, “Kanon”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”) and a screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo (“Full Metal Panic!”, “Air”, “Burst Angel”, “Gravion”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”).  The character design for the anime series is by Kazumi Ikeda (“Kanon”) and is faithful to the original designs by Itaru Hinoue (“Air”, “Kanon”).

The series was released on DVD back in 2009 by Sentai Filmworks and in July 2012, the complete series will be released on Blu-ray featuring both the Japanese and English lossless soundtracks.

A summary of “Clannad” revolves around the character of Tomoya Okazaki, a high school student who tends to be late for class and has his share of personal problems at home (he and his father have not had a good relationship since his mother’s death) and pretty much spends most of his time with his troublemaking friend Youhei Sunohara.  Tomoya was once a promising basketball player in school until he was in a fight with his father which led to his arm being injured to the point where he can’t lift his arm up past his shoulder.

But life changes for Tomoya for the positive when he meets new high school student Nagisa Furukawa who he quickly becomes good friends with and helps her out.  Throughout the school year, he meets other female students that he tries to help out and becomes their friend.  And in the process, his friendships with these people help other people who are in need of friends.

The main characters of “Clannad ~After Story~” are:

  • Tomoya Okazaki – The main protagonist.  A delinquent in school who tends to cut class or fall asleep from class, his life is changed for the positive when he meets Nagisa Furukawa.  He hangs out with his good friend Youhei Sunohara.  In “Clannad ~After Story~”, Tomoya continues to live with Nagisa’s family and are now a couple.
  • Nagisa Furukawa – A shy teenager who is passionate towards an old commercial for the Dango Family.  Her parents Akio and Sanae run a pastry shop where Nagisa helps out.  Because of her poor health, she has been forced to repeat her senior year in high school three times but has grown stronger and more appreciative of life after she has met Tomoya.  Now dating Tomoya.
  • Youhei Sunohara – Tomoya’s good friend who always gets in trouble and is often seen getting beat up.  He is known for his blonde hair and has a younger sister named Mei who constantly worries about him.  Has no real aspirations in  life.
  • Kyou Fujibayashi – The twin sister of Ryou Fujibayashi. Very tough girl who gets in Tomoya and Youhei’s face and always thinks he is mistreating her sister or other girls.  Dreams of becoming a teacher.
  • Ryou Fujibayashi – Twin sister of Kyou, she is the most reserved and quite of the two.  She’s always defended by her twin sister Kyou.  Dreams of becoming a nurse.
  • Kotomi Ichinose – The smartest girl in  school.  Plays the violin badly.  Is given the chance to study abroad and is considering it.
  • Tomoyo Sakagami– The transfer student who is rumored to be a violent girl and she demonstrates her fighting skills by taking out two gangsters.  She wants to become a student body president and idolizes Youhei’s landlord Misae (a former student body president who was tough).
  • Fuko Ibuki – A girl that Tomoya meets in school and learns about her obsession with starfish.  It is revealed in the first season that the girl Tomoya met was the spirit of Fuko, as the real person (the younger sister of teacher, Kouko Ibuki) has been unconscious in a hospital for a long period of time.
  • Yukine Miyazawa – A student who works/hangs out at the Library Reference room.  Most people go to her to listen to her problems.  A kind person who tends to help delinquents and gang members.

For the first half of “Clannad ~After Story~”, the series picks up with storylines that feature the supporting characters and also revolves around Tomoya and Nagisa who ended with the first season becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.  Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – Furukawa Bakery is challenged in a baseball match and Tomoya and friends team up to take on the opposition.
  • EPISODE 2 – Mei comes to check on her older brother Youhei.  Youhei and Tomoya feel that if he had a girlfriend to watch over him, Mei wouldn’t have to worry.  So, Youhei finds a willing person to pretend to be his girlfriend.
  • EPISODE 3 – Mei and Tomoya are disturbed that Youhei doesn’t seem to care for his younger sister.  So, to test to see how much Youhei cares, Tomoya pretends to be Mei’s boyfriend.
  • EPISODE 4 – Things start to become tends between Tomoya and Ryohei as Tomoya can’t understand why Youhei doesn’t care for his sister.
  • EPISODE 5 – Misae (Youhei’s landlord) tells her story to to Tomoya and Nagisa about a boy she knew when she was younger named Katsuki Shima.
  • EPISODE 6 – Continuing the storyline of Misae and Katsuki Shima and how the story affects Tomoya.
  • EPISODE 7 – Tomoya, Nagisa and Youhei finds out why the gang members tend to flock towards Yukine.  A rival gang mistakes Youhei as
  • EPISODE 8 – With a gang brawl about to happen, Tomoya and Youhei are brought into it and we learn the truth about Yukine’s brother.
  • EPISODE 9 – Tomoya and friends discuss what they want to do when they graduate from high school.  Meanwhile, Nagisa becomes ill again and is bedridden.
  • EPISODE 10 – Tomoya takes a job at Furukawa Bakery while Nagisa repeats her senior year in high school once again.
  • EPISODE 11 – Tomoya gets a new job and moves out of the Furukawa home in order to become independent.
  • EPISODE 12 – Yusuke tells Tomoya his story and how he went from a popular musician to working at the same electric job as him.  Also, something happens to Tomoya’s father and Tomoya and Nagisa take the next step up in their relationship.
  • EPISODE 13 – Tomoya and Nagisa plan to get married but Tomoya must win her father’s approval.
  • EPISODE 14 – Nagisa and Tomoya are now married and take another step forward into their relationship with even more happy news.
  • EPISODE 15 – Nagisa is pregnant but her illness has come back.  Tomoya is told the risks of Nagisa’s pregnancy.
  • EPISODE 16 – Nagisa is about to give birth but with her ill and the snow so heavy in their hometown, what will happen after she gives birth?
  • EPISODE 17 – Five years later, Nagisa’s parents find a way to bring Tomoya and his daughter Ushio together.
  • EPISODE 18 – While Tomoya and his daughter are on their first trip together, Tomoya learns from his grandmother of how his life is similar to how his father was when his mother died.
  • EPISODE 19 – After hearing the story of his father, Tomoya decides that he must take the important steps in making things right with his father.
  • EPISODE 20 – Tomoya now does his best in trying to raise his young daughter Ushio, meanwhile Fuko and Ushio become friends.
  • EPISODE 21 – Ushio suffers from the same illness as her mother and now Tomoya makes sure that he is there for his daughter.
  • EPISODE 22 – Final episode: We then learn the purpose of the opening sequences of each episode of “Clannad” of who is the girl and the robot and an alternate universe.
  • EPISODE 23 – EXTRA – We learn how life was for Nagisa a year before she and Tomoya met.
  • EPISODE 24 – OVA: Another World: Kyou Chapter – Similar to the Tomoyo chapter OVA, this alternate universe is about what if Tomoya and Kyou were a couple.
  • EPISODE 25 – SUMMARY – A summary of events of how Tomoy and Nagisa met, to the day they got married, when she became pregnant and gave birth and Tomoya entering into a new world with a different outcome than what he had experienced before.

VIDEO:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” is definitely an improvement over the 2009 DVD release, and that is pretty good considering the original DVD was vibrant and beautiful to begin with.

So far, each anime series that were based off a Key video game such as “Kanon” and “Air” have both been fantastic anime series featuring vibrant animation, colorful backgrounds and just many settings that really make the series stand out.

The same can be said about “Clannad ~After Story~”, the animation and production is absolutely fantastic.  Kyoto Animation has done a wonderful job with the artistic backgrounds.  Also, the animation is solid and character designs are also done very well.

During my viewing, I did not see any banding or artifacting issues, black levels were deep and as mentioned, the series is absolutely vibrant and colorful.

AUDIO:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Back in 2009, the DVD featured only the Japanese audio soundtrack in stereo but now on Blu-ray, both English and Japanese lossless soundtracks are presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music coming from the front and center channels.  Surround channels are utilized for musical instruments and ambiance.

Japanese voice acting is solid and a lot of well-known Seiyuu are involved in the series.  Both Mai Nakahara and Yuuichi Nakamura were fantastic in the series and I wasn’t sure how the English dialogue would be, but sure enough, Sentai Filmworks did a fantastic job in the casting as David Matranga and Luci Christian were absolute marvelous in the English dub.  So, anime fans should feel comfort in knowing that both lossless soundtrack and the voice acting are well-done.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Ending Animation
  • Episode 16 Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary by English voice talents David Matranga (voice of Tomoya Okazaki) and Luci Christian (voice of Nagisa Furukawa).  Both voice talent discuss the anime series and their thoughts on their characters and the series as a whole.
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmwork trailers.

After gushing about how much I enjoyed the first season of “Clannad”, I was definitely looking forward to “Clannad ~After Story~”.

I’ve heard many times from fans of the series that “Clannad ~After Story~” is an absolutely wonderful conclusion of the series, so I definitely was looking forward to it.

For the most part, the first half of the series is similar to the first season of the series in that it focuses on storylines of several key characters.  In this case, a mix of the main characters but also supporting cast with a story focusing on Youhei and his sister Mei, Youhei’s landlord Misae, the library worker Yukine, the musician turned electrician Yusuke and then back to the primary characters Tomoya and Nagisa.

Like the first season of “Clannad”, the storyline for each of these characters are quite emotional.  From learning more about Youhei and his sister’s relationship and his respect for Tomoya, Misae’s storyline is quite interesting because she’s a character that is rarely featured and if anything, her storyline is tied to the character of Tomoyo.  But for the most part, her storyline is equally emotional and somewhat tragic as it deals with her past and why she has not moved on.  Yukine’s was OK and was more explaining her ties to the gang community and her trying her best to stop the fighting.  Yusuke, a character who really never factored into the first season plays an important part in Tomoya’s storyline, especially post-graduation.  But his story is short and is more to show Tomoya about protecting the person you love and doing what you can for that person.

But the underlying story in each of these episodes is the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa.  How these two are truly in love with each other and no matter how frail or how sick she gets, Tomoya’s love for her is strong and unconditional and it was great to see their relationship blossom even after Tomoya graduates from high school.

As each of the character storylines were enjoyable (and emotional at the same time), what I found interesting are the short opening animation on each episode featuring a robot and a girl which points to dismal storyline which is quite vague at this point but you suspect that something bad may happen in the series.   Is it a dream or is there some underlying meaning for those scenes?

The second half of the series is more realistic and heartbreakin.  as Tomoya and Nagisa now live their adult lives as a married a couple and eventually wanting to start a family.  We have received hints from the opening of the anime series with a girl and a robot but the storylines were vague until you reach this final half of the season.

The final half of “Clannad ~After Story~” is fantastic and emotional.    I don’t think I have cried this hard for an anime series since I have watched “Grave of the Fireflies”, that is how depressing and emotional that “Clannad ~After Story~” has gotten and episode after episode, I couldn’t stop, it was that captivating and suffice to say, you are pulled in as you have watched many episodes of Tomoya and Nagisa grow from their high school years and now to their married years and you have two bombshells dropped on you that is so emotionally hard to take in.

Also, knowing that those emotions and what you see, mirrors reality in knowing that there are fathers who have had to deal with a similar situation that Tomoya had to go through.  The series does have a happy ending and of course, the realism of the storyline can be lost but in the context of what we experienced throughout this series, especially with the Fuko and Yukine storyline, there are magical things that happen in the world of “Clannad”.  The balls of light that we have seen in several episodes and the discussion of alternate universes (especially with the two OVA’s), the screenplay plays off possibly like its video game counterpart that this is not a an anime series based on reality, it’s a series based on possibilities and anything is possible.

For the realists, one can feel that with episode 21, the tragedy that unfolds is their true conclusion.  For those who want that magical, happy ending… episode 22 and the final episode summary gives you that other option.  It’s interesting because typically, you don’t get a choice in the matter at the end of an anime series.  Pretty much at the end of a series, what is done is done (unless there is a movie or OVA version featuring a re-imagining of the series).  Not for “Clannad ~After Story~”, the series has always had its enjoyable happy moments and its emotional moments.  As a viewer, part of me felt that episode 21 is how things should be, to capture that realism of the storyline.  But knowing how things happened during the Fuko, Misae and Yukine storyline in “Clannad” and “Clannad ~After Story~”, magical things happen in the town where Tomoya and Nagisa live which can’t be explained and thus episode 22 and the summary episode is an ending that makes sense.

In the end and now watching this series from beginning to end and almost like a marathon, so captivated that I couldn’t stop, I realize why this acclaimed series is loved by many.  Definitely one of the best dramatic anime series I have seen in a very long time since “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Maison Ikkoku” and the “Video Girl Ai” OVA series.  It’s that magic that I have missed when it comes to romance and realistic drama series and it’s great to finally watch a series that really shows you the value of life and absolutely captivates you from beginning to end.

Overall, “Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” and the whole entire “Clannad” series on Blu-ray receives my highest recommendation!  5 stars!

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