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Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

K: Missing Kings (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Viz Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: K: Missing Kings

DURATION: 75 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, English & Japanese 5.1 & Stereo Audio, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 14, 2017


Originally created by GoRA

Series Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa

Directed by Shingo Suzuki

Series Composition by GoRA

Music by Mikio Endo

Character Design by Shingo Suzuki

Art Director: Ken Naito

Chief Animation Director: Makoto Furuta

Mechanical Design: Hiroshi Okubo

Animation Production by GoHands


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Sam Regal as Yashiro Isana

Daisuke Ono/Matthew Mercer as Kuroh Yatogami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Keith Silverstein as Mikoto Suoh

Mikako Komatsu/Stephanie Sheh as Neko

Tomokazu Sugita/Patrick Seitz as Reisi Munakata

Hiro Shimono/Quinton Flynn as Kotosaka

Jun Fukuyama/Ben Diskin as Misaki Yata

Kaori Nazuka/Cherami Leigh as Dōhan Hirasaka

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Robbie Daymond as Nagare Hisui

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Saruhiko Fushimi

Masakazu Morita/Chris Hackney as Yukari Mishakuji

Miyuki Sawashiro/Carrie Keranen as Seri Awashima

Satomi Satou/Janice Kawaye as Kukuri Yukizome

Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn as Izumo Kusanagi

Yui Horie/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Anna Kushina

Yūichi Nakamura/Grant George as Rikio Kamamoto

Yuuki Kaji/Lucien Dodge as Tatara Totsuka


Silver Clan members Kuro and Neko are on a mission to find their king, Shiro, who went missing after the battle on the School Island involving four of the seven colored kings. During their search, the two discover that Red Clan member Anna Kushina has become the target of the mysterious Green Clan, which intends to use the girl’s special power to track down Shiro. Now the Silver and Red Clans find themselves joining forces to protect Shiro and Anna from this new threat. But will this unexpected alliance be enough to counter the Green Clan’s top fighters, as well as its king?


In 2012, the anime series “K” produced by the studio GoHands aired on television.

The series focused on Yashiro Isana, a normal guy who lives in the technologically advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School.  But when Tatara Totsuka, a prominent member of the well-known HOMRA is killed, many are curious of who killed him.  With the mysterious killer (known as the “Colorless King”) being identified, he looks almost exactly like Yashiro Isana.

And now the Red Clansmen of HOMRA led by the Red King, Mikoto Suoh, wants Yashiro dead and everyone is suspecting him as the killer of Tatara Totsuka.  Can Yashiro and others find out who is responsible for killing Tatara?

The series continues in the animated film “K: Missing Kings” which was released in Japan back in 2014.  The film takes place a year after the events of the TV series and a year after the disappearance of Shiro, the Silver King.  Kurou Yatogami and Neko are searching for Shiro and they run into members of the recently disbanded red clan HOMRA.

Rikio Kamamoto and Anna Kushina are being pursued by the Green Clan who will stop at nothing to get Anna and use her power.  With Anna being kidnapped, Kuro and Neko join forces with members of Scepter 4 in hopes to rescue Anna from the Green Clan.  But what is their true purpose of wanting Anna?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to emphasize that if you want the best video quality of this animated film, it is available on Blu-ray.  I am reviewing the DVD version of the film and for the most part picture quality is as good as it can get on DVD.

“K: Missing Kings” is presented in 16:9 Widescreen and is presented in English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital and stereo.  Picture quality is vibrant and with this being an animated film, much better production when it comes to backgrounds and overall character designs.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

K: Missing Kings” comes with trailers.


For those who have watched the “K” anime series, the first animated film “K: Missing Kings” is a worthy sequel as we see Silver Clan members Kuro Yatogami and Neko continuing their search for the Silver King and we see the disbanded HOMRA (Red Clan) dealing with the kidnapping of Anna Kushina.

With the Green Clan causing more problems and causing mass destruction, deaths and kidnapping Anna, the Silver clan, members of the HOMRA and members of Scepter 4 do all they can to get Anna back and stop the Green Clan.

For the most part, this animated film is action-packed and quite entertaining.  It’s a worthy sequel for the anime series but for those who have never watched the TV series, will definitely want to watch it in order to understand the characters.

Anime production by GoHands is magnificent and the voice acting in both the Japanese and English soundtracks are well done.  While I reviewed the DVD version and not the Blu-ray release, for the most part, the DVD looks very good.  But I wish there were special features included aside from the basic trailers.

Overall, “K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Boruto – Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”. Action-packed, full of drama and excitement. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden, BMP 2015. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Boruto – Naruto the Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 28, 2017


Originally Created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita

Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Art by Akemi Konno, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Kentaro Akiyama, Masanobu Nomura, Mutsuo Koseki, Naruyo Kiriyama, Satoshi Matsuoka

Art Design by Hiroto Tanaka, Masaaki Endou

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Yuko Sanpei/Amana C. Miller as Boruto Uzumaki

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Gaara

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Uchiha

Daisuke Namikawa/Xander Mobus as Momoshiki

Hana Takeda/Laura Bailey as Kurotsuchi

Hidenori Takahashi/Max Mittelman as Konohamaru Sarutobi

Hiroki Yasumoto/Wally Wingert as Kinshiki Otsusuki

Kokoro Kikuchi/Cherami Leigh as Sarada Uchiha

Kouki Miyata/Brian Beacock as Chōjūrō

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Uzumaki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Ryota Takeuchi/Catero Colbert as Darui

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Mitsuki

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Showtaro Morikubo/Tom Gibis as Shikamaru Nara

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

Atsushi Abe/Spike Spencer as Inojin Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee

Kengo Kawanishi/Bryce Papenbrook as Yurui

Kensho Ono/Todd Haberkorn as Shikadai Nara

Saori Hayami/Melissa Fahn as Himawari Uzumaki

Yukari Tamura/Danielle Judovits as Tenten


Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage. The Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.

Meanwhile, Sasuke who’s been on a mission in another dimension appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only to disappear in front of Boruto’s own eyes.


The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.   With 72 volumes published, the manga series ended in November 2014.  Meanwhile, the anime series, the first titled “Naruto” began in 2002-2007 and lasted for 220 episodes.  And would continue with “Naruto: Shippuden” which lasted from 2007-2017 with a total of 500 episodes created.

The original manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the film “Boruto – Naruto the Movie” which featured anime production from Studio Pierrot, direction by Hiroyuki Yamashita, a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto, music by -yaiba- and Yasuharu Takanashi and character design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto and Tetsuya Nishio and art design by Hiroto Tanaka and Masaaki Endou.

The film begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru and trying to capture a bear (or panda).   After their mission, the four go to see Naruto, the Seventh Hokage.

And as Boruto gets into a little argument with his father (for not being part of his life due to his duties as Hokage), he reminds his father about his sister and Naruto’s daughter, Himawari’s birthday and how he needs to be there.

Meanwhile a scientist comes in and introduces the group to a new invention.  Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu.  No chakra is even needed to use the new technology and the scientists want it used for the upcoming Chunin exam but Naruto is against it and believes a ninja should use their own skills.

Meanwhile, Boruto meets with the scientist and takes the special bracelet.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire.  He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage.  But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil.  But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.  During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

This leads to an argument and Boruto complains that his father is never there for him.  Meanwhile, a new evil force attacks everyone at the Chunin Exam.


VIDEO:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant.  Colors look fantastic in HD and with this being a film ,there is a good amount of backgrounds and detail in the background artwork.  Picture quality is fantastic!

I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Naruto OVA – (10:23) It’s Naruto’s big day as his inauguration as Hokage is about to take place.  But time’s getting late because Boruto and Himawari are arguing.  But what happens when Boruto upsets his little sister?
  • Clean End Credits
  • Storyboards – Featuring a gallery of the storyboards for the film
  • Art Gallery – Featuring an art gallery from the film.
  • Trailer – Featuring the Japanese trailers.

Watching “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the film focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading.

“Naruto” having lasted so long as a manga and anime series was a big part of the lives of many people who watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult.  Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father.  Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

But during this peaceful time, a lot has changed as well.  Scientists have developed bracelets with technology that allow anyone to harness jutsu used by ninjas and to make things worse, a new evil has decided to attack the Leaf Village during the Chunin exams (like what happened to Naruto and friends when he was much younger).

And I’ll leave it that.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter as Boruto will continue the storyline of the ninjas at the Leaf Village and while I’m not sure if “Boruto” will last for another 15 years but for this film to jumpstart the new generation and Naruto’s son, Boruto, now the focal point, needless to say, this series will be interesting, considering that he’s not like his father at all.

And if you think Boruto Uzumaki has special skills learned from his father, wait until one gets to see the included OVA which shows us how powerful Himawari Uzumaki can get.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is vibrant and with it being a film, has more detail when it comes to art backgrounds.  Lossless soundtrack is also well-done and the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub are magnificent.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”.  Action-packed, full of drama and excitement.

Recommended

 

Hunter x Hunter vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!” a try!

Image courtesy of © POT (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1998-2011). All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Hunter x Hunter vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Director: Hiroshi Koujina

Series Composition: Atsushi Maekawa, Tsutomu Kamishiro

Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Art Director: Mio Isshiki

Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda

Producer: Akira Shinohara, Manabu Tamura, Naoki Iwasa, Tetsuto Motoyasu, Tomoko Yoshino, Toshio Nakatani

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Han/Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss

Keiji Fujiwara/Matthew Mercer as LeoRio

Kanako Mitsuhashi/Cristina Vee as Killua Zaoldyeck

Miyuki Sawashiro/Erika Harlacher as Kurapica

Akio Ohtsuka/Patrick Seitz as Mizaistom Nana/Uvogin

Aya Endo as Komugi

Ayumi Fujimura as Neferpito

Chisa Yokoyama as Biscuit Krueger

Cho as Bonolenov

Daisuke Kishio/Ray Chase as Hanzo

Daisuke Namikawa/Keith Silverstein as Hisoka


In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Killua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.


The “Hunter x Hunter” series is one of the most popular and long-running manga series in Japan.  Written and designed by Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho’), the manga series began in 1998 and is still ongoing to this day with 33 volumes published.

As for the animated series, the first series premiered in 1999 through 2001 and lasted 62 episodes.  A 30 OVA episodes then was released from 2002-2004.  And then nearly a decade later, a 148-episode TV series which was shown on NTV which ran from 2011-2014.

And now, the recent “Hunter x Hunter” TV series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.

This new series is a reboot of the anime series and is based on Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Hunter x Hunter” manga and this time is produced by Madhouse and is directed by Hiroshi Kojina.  The new series also features an all new voice talent (both for the Japanese and English dub).

The new series revolves around Gon Freecss, who finds out that his father who was thought to be dead, is very much alive.  Having been brought up by his aunt Mito,  Gon finds out that his father is Ging, the legendary “Hunter” and now Gon, wants to follow his father’s footsteps by passing the “Hunter Examination” and one day, to be reunited with his father.

On his path to become a hunter, he meets Kurapika (who wants to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan) and Leorio (who wants to be a hunter for the money).

In the first volume, the three arrived at Zaban City and take part in the first three phases of the Hunter exam venue.

In the second volume (episodes 14-26), the applicants arrive at Zevil Island for the fourth phase of the exam.  Each person draws a number to find out who their target is and the goal is to steal their opponents ID tag.  Each applicant must collect six points in order to pass the fourth phase.

Gon finds out that his opponent is the murderous Hisoka and thrives on near death experiences.  Leorio finds out his target is Ponzu (who specializes in traps and poison) and Kurapika’s target is Tonpa.

As the two form an alliance, they are now stalked by Hisoka.

The second volume also features the final phase of the Hunter Exam, where winners lose and the losers advance. Will Gon, Kurapika or Leorio pass the Hunter exam?

And also is included are the beginning episodes of the Zoldyck Family Arc (starting with episode 22) and Gon and friends go to Kukuroo Mountain to visit Killua.  Meanwhile, we learn about Killua’s family and childhood.


VIDEO:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Madhouse is no doubt respectful to Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga series.

As expected with a TV series, there is a slight hint of softness but for the most part, colors are vibrant and overall animation and fighting animation is done well.  I didn’t notice any major issues with artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in LPCM Japanese and English 2.0.  Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 features the clean opening and ending songs, trailers and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three post cards.


“Hunter x Hunter” is an adventure, action-packed anime series that will attract anime fans who are willing to invest their time in another popular anime series that has lasted for over a hundred episodes.

Similar to “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Dragon Ball Z”, “Hunter x Hunter” has been a popular manga and anime series in Japan and with the original series feeling that it was aiming for a younger demographic, this recent series has a more darker feel as the violence is more evident and people do die.

Having watched the original series, this latest version is quick to bring Gon and his friends to take the Hunter exam, while the original put a lot of character development into Gon and how Gon is different from other hunters since he was raised by a loving relative and lived in a village where there has not been much strife or conflict, so he is a bit naive about the world around him.  In fact, his motivation in becoming a hunter is so opposite of what other hunters are wanting it for.  But Gon’s pure and positive attitude seems to have an effect on the people that he meets.  In some ways, the original series reminded me of the character Naruto in that aspect.

But Gon is still an entertaining character to watch.   Gon has the ability to communicate with animals like his father and carries a fishing pole that acts like a weapon and helps him swing to different areas.  He is also learning more and more about his abilities as he continues on in his hunter training with his friends.

Kurapika is intelligent, a balanced fighter and also is a conjurer and specialist with the ability to materialize objects with his imagination.  He is a character that is on a mission to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan.

Leorio is a man with a hot temper but has a good heart.  He seems to want to be a hunter because of money and he is a great fighter.

The second volume shows how this friendship grows among the three but also introduces Killua Zoldyck.

But the big focus with this second volume is more focus on Hisoka, the 44th applicant who has a lust for blood and kills his opponents and it led to his failure in last year’s Hunter exam.

As for the anime series, the Blu-ray release features a solid lossless stereo soundtrack and both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted.  Animation is also very well-done by Madhouse and while there is a hint of softness, the anime series is quite colorful and looks great in HD.

While special features are the usual clean opening and ending theme, trailers and credits, “Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards.

Overall, “Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series. If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 14-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king?  Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


As Arslan and his companions continue their journey and to find people to fight alongside with them, they meet Prince Rajendra who is competing with his older brother Prince Gadevi who is also from the Kingdom of Sindhura and both are fighting for power.

As Arslan plans to team up with Prince Rajendra, they are provided a Sindhuran guide name Jaswant.  But Prince Gadevi is planning his attack against Rajendra.  Who will become victorious?

Also, Xandes must take on Daryun for the Battle of the “Keep of Saint Emmanuel”.

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 features the following special features:

  • Chapter XVI Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Ian Sinclair (voice of Prince Rajendra), J. Michael Tatum (voice of Prince Gadevi) and Marcus Stimek (voice of Jaswant).
  • Chapter XXIV Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Vic Mignona (voice of Hilmes) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2” features the ongoing journey of Arslan and his companions, this latest volume features how Arslan meets Prince Rajendra and together, they join forces to take on Prince Gadevi, Rajendra’s older brother.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask.  And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2! “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: August 23, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

Pars Era, the year 320—war is on the horizon. As the soldiers of Pars prepare for battle, a traitor within their ranks turns the tides in favor of the enemy kingdom, Lusitania. Arslan, the young Prince of Pars, survives the massacre to discover that his father has gone missing and his life is in grave danger. Unsure who to trust, Arslan escapes the battlefield, evading capture until he’s found by his loyal friend Daryun, the formidable Black Knight of Pars. With nothing but Arslan’s title and Daryun’s skill, the pair set off on a journey to return the Prince to his rightful place on the throne of Pars.


Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan.  The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people.  And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing.  Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 features the following special features:

  • Chapter II Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Jeremy Inman (Assistant Director), Rico Fajardo (voice of Daryun) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Arslan).
  • Chapter XIII Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Rachel Robinson (voice of Farangis), Jerry Jewell (voice of Gieve), Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Promotional Video – (1:31) Japanese PV for “Arslan Senki”
  • Commercial Collection #1 and #2
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back.  But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats?  I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”.  These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good.  The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding.  As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well.  But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters.  I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development.  So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2!

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

bayonetta-a

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game. If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Bayonetta: Bloody Fate

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Anime News Network

RATED: M

Release Date: October 21, 2014


Director: Fuminori Kizaki

Screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota

Storyboard by Fuminor Kizaki

Original Character Design by Mari Shimazaki

Character Design by Ai Yokoyama

Mechanical Design by Katanao Akai, Takashi Watabe

Produced by Gonzo


Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsuko Tanaka/Helena Taylor as Bayonetta

Daisuke Namikawa/Yuri Lowenthal as Luka

Mie Sonozaki/Grey DeLisle as Jeanne

Miyuki Sawashiro as Cereza

Norio Wakamoto/Grant Albrecht as Balder

Tesshô Genda/David Fennoy as Rodin

Wataru Takagi/John Kassir as Enzo


Twenty years after her awakening, Bayonetta is still searching for clues that could help unravel the mysteries of her dark past. Aided in her quest by the clandestine weapon smith Rodin – and his deadly creations: Scarborough Fair – Bayonetta continues to leave a trail of angel corpses in her wake. Her search for answers leads to encounters with a mysterious – and eerily familiar – little girl, a vengeance-obsessed journalist, and a deadly white-haired beauty that seems to know more about Bayonetta than the witch herself.


“Bayonetta” is one of the well-known third-person beat’em up games in America.  Developed by Platinum Games and Sega, the game is best known for its sexy protagonist, a witch named Bayonetta, who uses firearms and special attacks to fight against the angelic enemies.

With two games released in the U.S., an animated film based on the video game was produced by Gonzo and released in Japan back in 2013.  And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Featuring the same voice cast from the video game, the animated film follows the events and the characters of the video game with slight changes.

The film starts with a narration about how the Umbra witches which serve the demons and the Lumen sages of Europe serve the angels and both worked together to ensure the balance of time.

But when a lumen sage and a umbra witch violated the decree and had a child together, the woman was imprisoned and the man was banished.

With the birth of the child, many feared what would happen.

With both clans producing an eye, to govern the power of creation, the forbidden child that was taken care of by the Umbra Witches possessed the power of the left eye.  When the eyes are brought together, Jubileas would be resurrected and would be incarnate once more.

The conflict over the left eye would lead a war between angels and demons.  In the end, it led to their destruction and the truth of their existence slipped into obscurity.  The child would grow up to be a witch but was kept in a secret place.

500 years later, the witch known as Bayonetta who slays angels has awakened with no memory of her previous life.

Meanwhile, a photojournalist named Luka tries to enter the church to expose the truth about Bayonetta and hopes to avenge his father who was killed by Bayonetta.

While Bayonetta fights a horde of angels, Luka who can not see them is unsure what is happening and tries to take pictures of her as she fights against Fortitudo, one of the four Cardinal virtues and defeats him.

As news shows the head of the Ragna believers making his first debut in public.  The head, Balder is a modern day sage and while Bayonetta, Rodan (a bartender and weapons master) and Enzo watch the news, Balder looks at the camera and says something which startles Bayonetta.

As Bayonetta continues to look into her missing memories, she feels that maybe Balder is the person that may bring back her memories.

Bayonetta heads to the valley and comes into contact with a little girl named Cereza runs toward her and calls her “mommy”.  She is surprised that the little girl can see the angels but suddenly they are attacked by angels.

As Bayonetta seeks out answers to restoring her memory, who is this young girl and why does she think Bayonetta is her mother?


VIDEO:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Gonzo did a wonderful job with the animation as the film compliments the videogame with beautiful character animation, special effects and backgrounds.  There are a few banding issues but for the most part, this animated film looks fantastic in HD with its vibrant colors and detailed character designs.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The film features a wonderful, immersive lossless soundtrack thanks to the constant action throughout the film.  There is good use of the surround channels and explosions feature LFE and crystal clear dialogue.  Both lossless soundtracks are fantastic and the voice acting is wonderful!  Fans of the video game will no doubt enjoy the film for its use of the original voice actors from the video game.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” comes with the following special features:

  • Actor Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jonathan Klein and voice actress Helena Taylor.
  • Storyboards – Navigate with your remote to see the storyboards from the animated film.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer

For anyone who has enjoyed the “Bayonetta” video game, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” serves as a solid animated film based on a video game but also provides a storyline that may will want to watch if they delve into “Bayonetta 2” on the Wii-U without having played or beaten the first video game.

The storyline is rather intriguing because it features a role reversal as the witches/demons are seen as the good group, while the angels are seen as the evil group in the film and video games.

Of course, part of the most important factor of the “Bayonetta” video game is the main character’s sex appeal as she is constantly wearing a tight leather outfit and shooting her enemies and slashing at them without fear.

While the storyline has its slight differences from the video game, the storyline is pretty much on target about Bayonetta trying to learn more about herself and discovering things that may help her jog her memory.

Characters from the video game such as Luka and Bayonetta’s rival Jeanne, the antagonist Balder, the bar owner and weapon specialist Rodan and informant Enzo make their appearance in the animated film.  And like the video game, the profanity also carries over to the animated film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality features fantastic animation and background artwork from Gonzo.  The colors from the film feature darker colors to vibrant colors which look great in HD.  There are some scenes with banding but for the most part, the animated film looks awesome!  As for the lossless audio soundtrack, it’s another plus with this animated film because it features constant action, the animated film sports an immersive soundtrack that utilizes the surround channels and LFE.  You also get a fascinating audio commentary with English dub voice actress Helena Taylor and ADR Director Jonathan Klein, storyboards and a theatrical trailer.

Overall, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game.

If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

K – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

k-complete-a

Stylishly cool, action-packed and overall fantastic!  “K- The Complete Series” was an entertaining and awesome anime series from beginning to end!

Image courtesy of © GoRA – GoHands/K-Project. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: K – The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16×9 Widescreen, 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 25, 2014

Original Creator: GoRa

Series Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa, Susumu Kudo

Director: Shingo Suzuki

Series Composition: GoRa, Tatsuki Miyazawa

Music by Miko Endo

Character Design: Shingo Suzuki

Art Director: Masanobu Nomura

Chief Animation Director: Makoto Furuta

Anime Production: GoHands

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Daisuke Namikawa/Sam Regal as Yashiro Isana

Daisuke Ono/Matthew Mercer as Kuroh Yatogami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Keith Silverstein as Mikoto Suoh

Mikako Komatsu/Stephanie Sheh as Neko

Tomokazu Sugita/Patrick Seitz as Reisi Munakata

Jun Fukuyama/Ben Diskin as Misaki Yata

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Saruhiko Fushimi

Miyuki Sawashiro/Tara Platt as Seri Awashima

Satomi Satou /Carrie Savageas Kukuri Yukizome

Sho Hayami/Grant George as Miwa Ichigen

Shozo Iizuka/Kirk Thornton as Daikaku Kokujouji

Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn as Izumo Kusanagi

Tetsuya Kakihara/Lucien Dodge as Adolf K. Weisman

Yui Horie/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Anna Kushina

Yūichi Nakamura/Grant George as Rikio Kamamoto

Yuuki Kaji/Lucien Dodge as Tatara Totsuka

Shiro is an easygoing teenager content with just being a student – until his seemingly perfect life is halted when a bloodthirsty clan, glowing red with fire, attempts to kill him in the streets. Unbeknownst to Shiro, he is suspected of murdering a member of their clan and will need a miracle to escape their vengeance. Miraculously, a young man named Kuroh Yatogami swings in and aids Shiro in his getaway, only to reveal he’s also after Shiro’s life.

Now a hunted man, Shiro will have to evade the clans of seven powerful kings and desperately try to prove his innocence – before it’s too late!

In 2012, studio GoHands and director/character designer Shingo Suzuki’s (“Mardock Scramble” films, “Coppelion”, “Gravion”) anime series titled “K” began airing on television in Japan via MBS.

The anime series would go on to launch manga prequels, light novels, a visual novel and a sequel film slated for a summer 2014 release.

And now, “K – The Complete Series” was released on Blu-ray and DVD in February 2014.

“K” revolves around a teenager named Yashiro “Shiro” Isana, a happy-go-lucky teenager.

What would appear to be a happy day of finding a small cat which he calls “Neko” and just a normal teenage life, his life is changed when he is attacked by Misaki Yata of the faction known as HOMRA.  As Shiro tries to outrun him, he is pursued by more of the Red Clansmen of HOMRA.

But all of a sudden, he is rescued by Kuroh “The Black Dog” Yatogami, a swordsman who is hunting down the next “Colorless King” and serves the late King and master, Ichigen Miwa.

But as the Red Clansmen leave when they see Kuroh, what Shiro believes Kuroh to be a friend is actually a person who is wanting to hunt him and kill him.

Shiro is then shown a video of a future in which he murders Tatara Totsuka, a popular member from Homra.  And Shiro is seen, claiming to be the next “Colorless King”.  But Shiro claims he is not the person in the video.  The person looks like him, but it’s not him.  So, Kuroh gives him the benefit of the doubt to prove his innocence.

To make Shiro’s day even more stranger is when his cat Neko turns into a human cat girl who has pledge to serve Shiro and help prove his innocence.  Meanwhile, factions such as HOMRA and SCEPTER 4 are after Shiro.

The main characters of “K” are:

  • Yashiro “Shiro” Isana – The main protagonist who is a normal high student who is being pursued by factions who believe he murdered Tatara Totsuka of HOMRA.  A video was show of Shiro shooting Tatara Totsuka and claiming to be “The Colorless King”.  Yet, Yashiro claims his innocence.
  • Kuroh Yatogami – A swordsman serving the late king and master, Ichigen Miwa.  A man of honor, despite having a cold exterior, he is on the hunt for the next “Colorless King”.  Despite having video footage of Shiro killing Tatara Totsuka, he is giving Shiro a chance to prove his innocence.
  • Neko – A cat that Shiro found, she mysteriously changes to a girl and will do anything for Shiro.
  • Mikoto Shou – The Red King and leader of HOMRA.  Held in custody by SCEPTER 4.
  • Izumo Kusanagi – The second in command of HOMRA and owner of the Bar HOMRA.
  • Misaki Yata – A member of HOMRA who is a skateboarder.
  • Anna Kushina – The youngest and only female member of HOMRA who will do anything for Mikoto.
  • Reisi Munakata – The Blue Kiong and head of the Special Task Force Unit SCEPTER 4.  Enemy of Mikoto.
  • Seri Awashima – Second-in-Command the only female member of SCEPTER 4.
  • Saruhiko Fushimi – A former member of HOMRA and current member of SCEPTER 4.  A man with a bad attitude.
  • Kukuri Yukizome – Yashiro’s friend who often tries to help Kuroh find Shiro.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“K – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is known for its many characters, it’s beautiful art backgrounds and detailed artwork.  The look and feel of “K” is colorful and stylish and definitely one of the cooler looking 13-episode anime series thanks to the production value.  Cool character designs, awesome background art, it’s a beautiful anime series.

But I recommend for anyone who wants the best picture and audio quality, to check out the Blu-ray release of “K – The Complete Series”.  On DVD, picture quality does look good!

Since the series is front channel driven, for those with a modern home theater receiver probably will enjoy a more immersive soundscape by selecting stereo on all channels.  But the voice acting in Japanese and English Dolby Digital Stereo are both well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“K – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • K Events – US Convention Highlights – Highlights of “K” cosplayers at Anime Expo 2013 and the English dub voice talent.
  • Clean Opening/Ending
  • K Trailers
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

Stylishly cool, action-packed and so much fun!  “K- The Complete Series” was an entertaining and awesome anime series from beginning to end!

What draws you into the series is no doubt the beautiful visuals but also its storyline of one teenager who happens to be hunted down by various factions for his killing of a popular member of the faction HOMRA.

Yashiro “Shiro” Isana seems like your average go-lucky type of guy until he becomes the hunted and with Kuroh Yatogami on his side (more like giving him a chance to prove his innocence or else he will slay him), it’s a rather interesting storyline with each episode building up to something more exciting with more twists along the way.

It’s one of the major positive draws of the series is its steady pacing, its attention to character building storylines and of course, the wonderful character design and art backgrounds.  And aside from beautiful visuals, the acting on both Japanese and English soundtracks are also well-done.

While my review is for the DVD version, I strongly recommend the Blu-ray version if you do prefer better picture quality.  Special features are limited but I did enjoy the short convention highlight from Anime Expo 2013.

Overall, “K – The Complete Series” turned out to be a fantastic, stylish anime series.  It’s easily accessible thanks to its 13-episode storyline but it’s one of the cooler anime series I have seen for 2014.

If you are looking for an action-driven storyline with gorgeous visuals, “K – The Complete Series” is highly recommended!

Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!

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

TITLE: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Originally Created by Monkey Punch

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi

Character Design by Takeshi Koieke

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Art Design by Takashi Miyano

Anime Production: po10tial, TMS Entertainment

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Fujiko Mine

Daisuke Namikawa/Mike McFarland as Goemon Ishikawa XIII

Kanichi Kurita/Sonny Strait as Arsene Lupin III

Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Christopher R. Sabat as Daisuke Jigen

Kanji Kodate as Count Luis Yew Armied

Katsumi Chou as Owl Head

Kouichi Yamadera/Richard Epcar as Inspector Zenigata

Yuuki Kaji/Josh Grelle as Oscar

She’s a thief. A killer. A saint and a scandal. She’s whatever you need her to be to get the job done. After sizing you up with one sinful glance, she disarms you with a touch. You’re powerless to resist. She’s walking seduction, with an insatiable itch for the priceless and a fetish for mischief. She takes your breath away to get what she wants. She takes everything else just because she can. It’s all in a night’s work for the woman called Fujiko Mine. She’s the slinky, sultry thread that holds Lupin III’s crew together – and this is the heist that started it all.

In Japan, “Lupin III” is one of the most appreciated manga franchises that still continues in Japan for nearly 50 years.

Originally created back in 1967 by Monkey Punch and first appearing in Weekly Manga Action, the popular manga series has have had many manga, anime TV series, five animated feature films, a live actoin film, three OVA’s and many specials including music CD soundtracks, video games and a musical.

“Lupin III” is about Arsene Lupin III, the world’s greatest thief.  But what makes this thief so different from other thieves is the fact that he sends a calling card to owners of the items he plans to steal.  And over the years, we have watched Lupin III and his allies such as Daisuke Jigen (the marksman), Goemon Ishikawa XIII (the master swordsman) and Fujiko Mine (femme fatale) taking on various missions while being pursued by police inspector Koichi Zenigata of ICPO.

In 2012, TMS Entertainment and Po10tial wanted to create an anime series but this time focused on the femme fatale Fujiko Mine and how she met Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII.  The series marks the first time that Lupin was not the main protagonist, the series is more faithful to the manga by featuring  a darker and serious story and also a series in which a Lupin series was directed by a female, Sayo Yamamoto (“Michiko and Hatchin”, “Galaxy Angel”, “ERgo PRoxy”, Texhnolyze”).  The series is also written by a female, Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Angel Tales”, “Black Butler”, “Black Rock Shooter”).

The series features music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi (“.hack//Legend of the Twilight”), character designs by Takeshi Koike (“Afro Samurai”, “Trava”, “World Record”) and art direction by Seiki Tamura (“Bakuju Gasshin Ziguru Hazeru”, “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya”, “K-ON!”).

The 13-episode sereis focuses on Fujiko Mine, a deadly thief who takes on a variety of missions in disguise to get whatever she wants.  “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” also shows how Fujiko met Lupin the III, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa XIII and Koichi Zenigata.

VIDEO:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is one of the most unique anime series that I have watched when it comes to animation.  Featuring a manga sketched out character design and backgrounds, you really don’t come across anime series that try to be this visually creative in an artistic type of way.  So, in many ways, to see the anime series done in this style is quite refreshing and also unique.  With that being said, it’s not an anime series that one would go search for vibrant colors or excessive detail as a lot of the artwork is line-art via sketch.  While colors for characters and their face and clothing are nicely painted, buildings or vehicles tend to have this matted look.

But it’s hard to criticize a series that looks much different from other series.  Black levels are nice and deep, I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, for an artistic and creative anime series, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” looks very good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.  The lossless audio may not be immersive but the dialogue and music are crystal clear and sound fantastic. As one would expect with the English dub receiving the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  But both soundtracks are very good and well-acted.

While I grew up watching “Lupin the Third” back in the ’90s via its original Japanese presentation I eventually started listening to the English dub and my foray into Sonny Strait’s work as Lupin.  But watching “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, Michelle Ruff literally won me over with her voice of Fujiko.

While there are many female voice actresses that can sound seductive, sexy, independent or strong, somehow voice actress Michelle Ruff really gets into the character of the femme fatale.  And for this series, you need to be at your best and she rocked it!  Amazing voice dub performance!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Co-ADR Director) and Josh Grelle (voice of Oscar).
  • Episode 9 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director) with Sonny Strait (voice of Lupin III).
  • Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Cast Reunion – (26:34) Featuring Richard Epcar (Zenigata), Mike McFarland (Goemon), Michelle Ruff (Fujiko Mine), Sonny Strait (Lupin) and Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director)
  • Fujiko Mine at OkraTron 5000 – (5:46) Michelle Ruff visiting OkraTron 5000 Studios and talking about playing the character of Fujiko Mine.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunities to watch the Lupin films, to meet creator Monkey Punch and also to be around when these special or films were released in Japan.  Growing up as an anime fan during the ’90s, “Lupin the Third” was well-received by anime fans at the time and it’s been awhile since I have seen anything Lupin related.

So, as a fan of the series, I was very excited to watch “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, a series focusing on the sexy femme fatale and also starring all the other characters that we have seen in the past.

But this series is rather interesting because of its presentation, its edginess but also how Fujiko Mine is portrayed.

This is a woman who calls her own shots, doesn’t need a man to get things done, she is deadly and she gets what she wants.

But it’s probably the most mature presentation I have seen of Fujiko Mine in an anime series.  From the opening theme alone, she is fully nude and is probably the most mature opening theme for an animated TV series that I have ever seen.  It is important to note that because of the sexuality of the series and the nudity featured, the show was broadcasted in Japan at 1:29 a.m.

She’s not afraid of her sexuality, she’s not afraid to walk around nude in front of people and many of the guys that cross her path are taken by her.  Especially Lupin who seeks to conquer Fujiko Mine but finds her to be ravishing and lusts after her.  He knows she is deadly, using him but he sees her as a one of a kind rarity and loves when he is around her.

But we also get to know more about the woman and her tragic past and what drives her to do the things that she does.

The series is also fascinating because it shows how she met Lupin, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Isikawa XIII and how she has this close relationship with Koichi Zenigata and why Oscar (Zenigata’s assistant) despises her.  And also learning about this mysterious owl investigation that has been watching over her for some apparent reason.

As mentioned earlier, the presentation of “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is fantastic! As a storyline that tries to be more faithful to the manga in terms of a darker storyline, it also features characters and art backgrounds that look like they came out of a page of a manga.  Sketched out, featuring line art and a unique presentation that you don’t see with anime series.

Also, I like the fact that the series is directed and written by a woman.  I think there are some who would think by looking at the opening theme and the use of sexuality that this is some man’s perspective of trying to sexualize a popular character of a well-known anime series but that is not the case.

Both Japanese and English soundtracks were well-done but as one can expect from the English receive the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  And I have to say that I was pleased that FUNimation tried to bring back the original cast but also bringing back Sonny Strait as Lupin III.  But I was very impressed with Michelle Ruff’s voice acting for Fujiko Mine.  She literally put her voice and it embodied the character and giving one of the best performances I have heard from her.  I was very impressed with her voice acting and her ability to switch from going seductive, manipulative to emotionally losing i, she was able to put herself in the shoes of Fujiko Mine and was amazing!

You also get a few special features from audio commentaries plus a cast reunion included on the Blu-ray as well.

Overall, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!

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