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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Season One (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is more or less a zombie storyline about human survival but there are other elements introduced that makes this storyline fresh and unique.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Season One

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 16, 2018


Directed by Tetsuro Araki

Screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi

Script by Hiroshi Seko

Original Character Design by Haruhiko Mikimoto

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music byHiroyuki Sawano

Art Direction by Shunichiro Yoshihara

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Sayaka Senbongi/Janice Kawaye as Mumei

Tasuku Hatanaka/Robbie Daymond as Ikoma

Kaito Ishikawa/Chris Niosi as Uryū

Kanae Oki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Kajika

Kensuke Satou/Kyle Hebert as Kibito

Maaya Uchida/Veronica Taylor as Ayame

Mamoru Miyano/Roger Craig Smith as Biba

Mariya Ise/Abby Trott as Yukina

Maxwell Powers/Elijah Ungvary as Suzuki

Ryota Ohsaka as Sukari

Toshiki Masuda/Jamieson K. Price as Kurusu

Yuuki Kaji/Ben Diskin as Takumi


The world is overrun with Kabane, infected humans with an appetite for flesh. While the last of humanity has retreated into fortress-like stations connected by armored trains, some remain as hopeful as Ikoma. Servicing the trains for a living, Ikoma uses his spare time to build a weapon that could defeat the Kabane. Unapologetically optimistic, he eagerly awaits the day when he can test it. When a train is hijacked by the Kabane, he may finally get his chance. But an unexpected turn of events puts him in a situation that will test not only his weapon but his own humanity.


From “Attack on Titan” director Tetsuro Araki and “Code Geass” writer Ichiro Okouchi comes the anime series “Kotetsujo no Kabaneri” (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) courtesy of Wit Studio.

An anime series that receive a lot of hype online thanks to the original character designs being created by anime industry legend, Haruhiko Mikimoto (“Macross”, “Gunbuster”,  “Orguss”).

The 12-episode anime TV series premiered in the spring of 2016 on Fuji TV’s Noitamina block and will now be co-released in the US on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of a partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation.

The series takes place during a time when a mysterious virus infects humans during the industrial revolution and turns them into kabane (corpses) and the virus rapidly spreads.  The only way to kill a kabane is to pierce its glowing heart or severing its head.  And if bitten by a kabane, the person will turn into one.

In the island country of Hinomoto, humans have created fortresses to protect themselves from kabane.  Steam locomotives (Hayajiro) transport various wares between stations and one day, a hayajiro is hijacked by kabane and it crashes into Aragane Station, allowing the kabane to attack the city.

One of the people in the city, a young engineer named Ikoma, is constructing an anti-kabane weapon.  His shop is infiltrated by kabane and he is able to use his weapon and make it work by defeating it. Unfortunately, during the battle he is bitten.

Ikoma finds a way to resist the virus thanks to jewel in his hand and resists the virus.  He becomes a Kabaneri, a human-kabane hybrid and along with another kabaneri named Mumei, the two try to fight their way to protect the human survivors.

But who are more of a threat?  The kabane or power-hungry humans?


VIDEO:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native). The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant. Great detail with character designs based on Haruhiko Mikimoto’s well-kn0w style and wonderful animation for fight scenes.  Background artwork is also very detailed.   I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese). Dialogue is crystal clear for both soundtracks, while action sequences are well-utilized for its surround channel on the English soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” comes with the opening and closing songs.

EXTRAS:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD for season 1.


At first glance, I thought “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” was going to be another zombie story clone.  Human survivors vs. the undead.

And for the most part, the humans vs. the undead is a big part of the story but what you have is a story about a steamsmith named Ikoma who develops a bolt gun-like weapon to fight against the Kabane and joins with a group of people trying to fight back.  He is protective of his close friends, Takumi (who helped him develop the gun) and Kanjika, who helps raise the orphans who lost their families to Kabane.

We learn there is another Kabaneri, a fighter who believes she must be stronger in order to not end up as a kabane and because she fights so much, she requires blood to stop herself from attacking people.

The anime series introduces us to another characters such as Ayame Yomogawa, the leader of the Aragane survivors who comes from a noble family but is trying to understand all that is happening around her.  Protecting her is a bushi named Kurusu, an excellent swordfighter who is attracted to Ayame.

And as these individuals survive and fight their way against Kabane.  By episode 7, the series starts to take a turn for a more serious story as we are introduced to a man known as Biba, a man that Mumei calls her brother.

Biba runs a group known as the hunters and is the eldest son of a Shogun.  In his mind, strength makes people superior and the weak don’t deserve a chance to live.  And because of that, he locks up Ikoma and turns his friends into slaves for blood experimentation in order to create artificial kabaneri.

So, the second half go from survival from the kabane, to survival from Biba and his group of Hunters.  To make things worse, as Ikoma wants to save Mumei, Biba has brainwashed her to fight for him and to kill Ikoma.

I absolutely loved the character designs for this anime series and Haruhiko Mikimoto’s style is quite pronounced and no doubt made me nostalgic for his classic anime work, especially for “Macross”.    His style is very unique for him and it’s always a delight to see Mikimoto’s involvement with an anime series.  Background art and overall mechanical design are well-done and the lossless soundtrack is quite solid, with its many action scenes.  The English has the upper edge with the 5.1 lossless soundtrack but for the most part, dialogue for both soundtracks are crystal clear.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first season of “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”.  The series is action-packed and there is enough story that the series is not enveloped by its action sequences.  But I will say the series goes quickly and you’re left wanting more and more.

Sure, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is more or less a zombie storyline about human survival but there are other elements introduced that makes this storyline fresh and unique.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is recommended!

 

Terraformars (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

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