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Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi / PNP / KODANSHA / TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox as Chibi-usa/Sailor Chibi Moon

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


The next set in the brand new anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal!

Usagi Tsukino is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she’s also one spirited eighth grader. One day she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon mark on her forehead, and transforms into the pretty guardian of love and justice in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi apparently has a mission to protect a princess, and to find her fellow Guardians and the phantom Silver Crystal. Meanwhile, Queen Beryl of the Dark Kingdom sends her subordinates to the town where Usagi lives. They cause strange events to occur there, all in an effort to acquire the tremendously powerful Silver Crystal… Can Sailor Moon and the other Guardians successfully find the phantom crystal, and protect the princess…!?


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2014, Toei Animation did a reboot of the anime series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” to celebrate the 20th Anniversary but instead of releasing the anime on television, the series was released online on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

The anime series would feature voice actress Kotono Mitsuichi reprising her role as Sailor Moon in Japan while in America, the series would feature an all new English cast.

There first arc titled “Dark Kingdom” was featured in episodes 1-14, while the second arc “Black Moon” is featured in episodes 15-26.  A third season “Death Busters” aired in Japan on April 2016 and a sequel/fourth season was announced in January 2017.

And now the second arc (“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2”) will be released on Blu-ray/DVD as a normal and a limited edition courtesy of Viz Media.

In the second arc, while Usagi and Mamoru are alone, a pink-haired girl falls from the sky.  She immediately points a gun towards Usagi and demands that Usagi give her the Legendary Silver crystal.

As Mamoru goes to the pink-haired girl, he finds out it is a fake gun and because her name is also Usagi, she is called “Chibi-usa”.  When they take Chibi-usa back to Usagi’s home, she immediately hypnotizes Usagi’s parents and they allow her to stay with them.

As for the others, Rei and Minako are looking into incidents of people being abducted and spontaneously combusting.

Meanwhile, the Black Moon Clan is after the Legendary Silver Crystal and with the Spectre Sisters, Rubeus and Prince Demande after the Crystal, they start to go after each of the Sailor Senshi’s and try to kidnap them in order to lure Sailor Moon.

But who can Usagi and Mamoru turn to for help?  Perhaps King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Toei Animation is vibrant and colorful.

While the first series of “Sailor Moon Crystal” received a lot of flack with its earlier animation (which had to be redone for the Blu-ray and DVD release), this second series features much better character design and animation, as well as background art.  Better shadowing and for the most part, the series looks much better!

Picture quality is great and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with the band Momoiro Clover Z Part 2 – (9:58) Featuring footage from Momoiro Clover Z’s appearance at Anime Expo and an interview with the group about their feelings of “Sailor Moon Crystal” and the characters.
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending

As a person who watched the anime series as it was airing in Japan and also reviewing it when the DVD’s were first released in the United States, “Sailor Moon Crystal” is no doubt an entertaining, action-packed, dramatic reboot without the filler episodes.

Back in the ’90s and even with today’s popular anime adaptation of successful manga, filler episodes are important to not just to allow for a mangaka to continue their work on a manga series and further the story, so the manga doesn’t catch up too quickly.

The caveat, as some have seen for series such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach”, “Naruto” and even “One Piece”, filler episodes can drag on for a long time.  But for companies banking on the successful anime to produce merchandise for years, filler episodes have become part of anime culture.

The same was the case with the original “Sailor Moon” series, as much was focused on to give various members their own identity through many character building episodes, establishing friendships, quarrels and such, and adding so many episodes that in the process, not only was there a ton of merchandising but the character was popular enough to get fans or parents to purchase the merchandise for their daughters.

In America, fans were purchasing soundtracks and video games for the 3DO and the original PSX back in the ’90s and every year since Sailor Moon appeared in Japan, conventions have always had someone sporting an outfit from the series.  It was a popular series and eventually, “Sailor Moon” was released in America.  So popular that even American band Barenaked Ladies featured the mention of “Sailor Moon” in their 1998 hit song “One Week”.

So, “Sailor Moon Crystal” as an ONA (Original Net Animation) versus being shown on television would seem like a big surprise but there was no doubt that Toei Animation was already banking on the series popularity that people would turn into the series online and for the most part, their gamble paid off as people were watching, people responded (especially about the animation in the first arc) and while opinion was mixed, “Sailor Moon” merchandise not just for children but also for adults have become popular in Japan.

But with “Sailor Moon Crystal”, no filler, it’s a series straight-up trying to complete various arcs within 12-14 episodes.  No long seasons and as I grow less patient with anime filler episodes, so thrilled that “Sailor Moon Crystal” arcs manages to achieve completion quickly and not test my or others who are low on patience.

And here we are with the “Black Moon Arc”, the second series featuring episodes 15-26.  Now featuring better character designs and animation, the storyline now introduces Chibi-Usa, as well as an appearance of Sailor Pluto.

While there are not too much of an emphasis on the other Sailor Senshi, there are a few episodes where we get to see each character put up a fight against the servants of Black Moon.

This latest arc primarily focuses on Chibi-Usa and the connection she has with Usagi and Mamoru and how she entered the present-time and left the future and what had happen to everyone, but also the origins of the Black Moon.

There is no doubt an emphasis on emotional drama especially between Usagi and Mamoru but also the two and their relationship with Chibi-Usa but this latest features a focus on the emotional ties that bond these three forever.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is no doubt better with better shading and detail, while colors are vibrant and the series looks great in HD, part of the benefit with watching this series on Blu-ray is to find out how wonderful the acting is for both the Japanese and English dub.

It was awesome to have Kotono Mitsuishi return to voice Usagi/Sailor Moon for the Japanese dialogue and the Japanese voice acting by everyone else is great.  But with the English dub, I just felt that Stephanie Sheh did an amazing job as Usagi.  Both voice actresses were able to nail the emotional scenes with efficacy and also big kudos to Sandy Fox as Chibi-Usa.

Also on the Blu-ray release, the included interview with Momoiro Clover Z was also fantastic and it was great to see them discuss Sailor Moon and their opinion of the characters and hearing about their favorite character in the series.

Overall, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” features the entire “Black Moon Arc” and features a great balance of humor, drama and action.  The voice acting in Japanese and the English dub was superb and the animation is much better.

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

 

La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking. 

Image courtesy of © 2012 HuneX/Arcana Famiglia Partners. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + OVA

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic, English and Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 VD

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Directed by Chiaki Kon

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Storyboard by Chiaki Kon

Episode Director: Chiaki Kon

Music by Yasuhiro Misawa

Character Design by Mai Matsura

Original Character Design by Chiyomi Sara, Yomi Sarachi

Art Director: Takahiro Yoneda

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Blake Shepard as Liberta

Mamiko Noto/Luci Christian as Felicitá

Tsubasa Yonaga/Kara Greenberg as Nova

Fumihiko Tachiki/Rob Mungle as Mondo

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jay Hickman as Debito

Juurouta Kosugi/Andrew Love as Dante

Koji Yusa/Chuck Huber as Jolly

Tomokazu Sugita/Kyle Jones as Pace

Yūichi Nakamura/Clint Bickham as Luca

Things are NOT going well for Felicita. For years, the island of Regalo has been protected by her father’s “organization,” the Arcana Tarocco. The organization’s success is due in no small part to the members’ unusual skills with Tarot Cards, not to mention their more usual guns and knives. But now her father has unexpectedly decided to retire and, while the fact that his position will be filled by the winner of a series of duels doesn’t worry Felicita, the fact that he’s decided to throw HER into the contest as part of the prize certainly does. Especially since some of the contestants are her cousins, which is keeping things in the family WAY too much!

 

Fortunately, our lady shark has two aces up her sleeve: as the head of the Swords Division, she’s eligible to compete for herself; and with her favored Card, The Lovers, she can snoop into the minds of her would-be suitors-cum-rivals. It’s just too bad they have their own card tricks!

 

Back in 2011, the Japanese visual novel titled “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” by HuneX and Comfort was released for teh Sony PSP, followed by a special fan disc and cooking game in 2012.

With the popularity of the game, a 12-episodes anime series adaptation from J.C. staff was created and was directed and storyboarded by Chiaki Kon (“Blue Dragon”, “Golden Time”, “Nodam Cantabile: Finale”), series composition by Masano Akahoshi (“Freezing”, “A Certain Magical Index”, “Tegami Bachi: Reverse”), music by Yasuniro Misawa (“Minami-Ke”, “Yuruyuri”), character designs by Mai Matsuura (“Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live”, “Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru”) and art direction by Takahiro Yoneda (“WATAMOTE”, “Sonic X”).

And now “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is an anime about an organization known as “Arcana Famiglia”, a group that protects the island of Regalo.

The group consists of people who have made contracts with Arcana Cards and have special abilities derived from these cards.

The organization leader known as “Papa” has decided to retire and give a member of the organization the chance to take his seat, to take control of Arcana and marry  his daughter Felicita.

So, a tournament within the family called “Arcana Duello” will take place, against Felicita’s will as she wants to prove that she can make her own decisions.  And while others vow to fight for the right to be the next “Papa”, two of the younger members, Liberta and Nova (who like her) want to fight for her freedom and protect her.

But will they be able to?

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” focuses on the following characters:

Felicita – The only daughter of “Papa” (Mondo) and the leader of the Sword.  Her Arcana Card is #6 (The Lovers) which makes her have the power to read people’s hearts.

Liberta – A soldier of the Intelligence Division, Liberta’s Arcana Card is #0 (The Fool).  He has a big crush on Felicita.

Nova – Felicita’s childhood friend and cousin, his Arcana Card is #13 (Death) and is the Captain of the Holy Grail.  Feels guilty for putting his parents in a deep eternal sleep because they were plotting a rebellion against Mondo.  He has a crush on Felicita.  Often called “Chickpea” by Liberta and hates the nickname.

Debito – Known for wearing an eye patch, he is the Bipolar captain of the Coins and his Arcana is #9 (The Hermit) and can make himself invisible.

Pace – The captain of the Wands and often cheerful and happy.  He is a substitute Captain and his Arcana Card is #11 (Strength) which makes him have incredible strength.

Luca – Felicita’s personal butler who seems to have a crush on her.  His Arcana is #14 (Temperance) and often gets jealous when others do things with Felicita.

Jolly – Mondo’s right hand man and the second highest ranking member of the Family.  His Arcana is #18 (The Moon) which allows him to draw out a person’s memory. He is often seen as col and emotionless.  A master at alchemy.

Dante –  The  Head Captain  of the Family and his Arcana is #4 (The Emperor) which allows him to remove and manipulate memories.  He was a former pirate and is like a father to Liberta.

VIDEO & AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and is presented in Japanese and English 2.0.   It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this series, you will want to go for the Blu-ray version, which will be released on the same day as the DVD.

On DVD, the series is good, art backgrounds that are well-rendered and it’s highpoint is the action and the many art backgrounds for the series.  The DVD features the typical anime TV series softness but for the most part, the series is colorful and looks good.

But the biggest difference I found with this series is the Japanese versus English dub.  With the Japanese version, for the character of Nova, Tsubasa Yonaga has a deep masculine voice while the English dub version, he sounds like a woman.  I was surprised by the complete difference as Nova’s Japanese voice acting gives an impression of Nova as a kick-butt Famiglia members, while the English dub version doesn’t.

In fact, there is another scene where the cook for the series is a woman and sounds like a woman in Japanese but for the English dub, the woman obviously sounds like a man trying to pretend he’s speaking in a woman’s voice.

So, I found the Japanese voice acting to be much better and made the anime series feel more consistent to the action featured.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.

For fans of otome video games,  “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is for you!

For those not familiar with what “otome” is, as “harem” anime typically are about a series featuring many women who fall for the same guy, “otome” is the opposite with many guys liking the female protagonist.  In the concept of the video game, “Arcana Famiglia”,  the female character Felicita must develop a romantic relationship with one of the many male members that like her or are a member of her father’s organization.

For the anime adaptation of the popular visual novel, because “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is a story about an organization of guys with Arcana powers and one female member (Felicita) who is to be engaged to the winner of the “Arcana Duello” game.

Many of the guys want the position for power and control of the organization, while others are simply in love with Felicita and want to be with her or at least protect her.

Of course, Felicita is a person who believes in her own individual freedom and the anime series tries to showcase each man trying to show why they should be the special person in her life.  But can or will Felicita ever find the guy that she will love?

While the 12-episodes try to showcase each of the main male members and how they care for Felicita, there is also a story that revolves around her father being kidnapped by pirates, Nova trying to deal with his guilt for putting his parents through an eternal sleep and is one of the members of “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” a traitor?

As for the special OVA, what happens when members of the organization somehow switch bodies?

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want very good picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  If your not picky over picture quality, then the DVD is perfectly fine as the series is a bit more on the soft side.  If there was one nitpick, it was the English voice acting as one will notice the apparent differences between the Japanese and English voice acting, especially for the character of Nova.  A prominent character with a lower, masculine voice in the Japanese version, while in the English dub, with a female voice actress providing the voice, it sort of reminds me of Venus Terzo’s voice acting of the old ’90s “Ranma 1/2” dub of male Ranma.  Something I was not a big fan of.

But I know dubbing is all subjective and whether and you do have a choice of whether to watch the series in Japanese or English.

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking.

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