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Initial D Legend 1: Awakening (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns. “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Initial D Legend 1: Awakening

DURATION: 60 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 L

Release Date: December 5, 2017


Originally Created by Shuichi Shigeno

Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

Script by Mayori Sekijima

Music by Akio Dobashi

Character Design: Koji Haneda

Art Director: Shinichi Uehara

Chief Animation Director: Koji Haneda

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS, SANZIGEN Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mamoru Miyano/Joel McDonald as Takumi Fujiwara

Daisuke Ono/J. Michael Tatum as Ryōsuke Takahashi

Hiroaki Hirata/Bill Wise as Bunta Fujiwara

Hiroshi Tsuchida/Eric Vale as Kōichirō Iketani

Junichi Suwabe/Brian Mountbatten as Takeshi Nakazato

Maaya Uchida/Brina Palencia as Natsuki Mogi

Minoru Shiraishi/Josh Grelle as Itsuki Takeuchi

Yūichi Nakamura/Gray G. Haddock as Keisuke Takahashi


In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, when aspiring racer Koichiro Iketani witnesses an unplanned street duel between Keisuke Takahashi, a member of a rival race team, and a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, Koichiro’s totally blown away by the skill of the 86’s driver. What Koichiro doesn’t know is that the driver is fellow gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who was making a late-night tofu delivery for his father, a legendary Mt. Akina driver himself.Unforeseen events are about to springboard Takumi into the center of the street-racing world, turning the rivalry between Iketani’s Akina Speedsters and Takahashi’s Akagi Red Suns into an all-out street war! The legendary series that introduced the west to the sport of drift racing is reinvented in an all new feature film that’s even faster and more furious than ever before: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 1: AWAKENING! Initial D Legend 2: Racer Preview.


For over 15 years, “Initial D” has been a favorite anime series for those interested in drag racing and drifting. Originally created by mangaka Shuichi Shigeno and serialized in Kodansha’s “Young Magazine” back in 1995 and still ongoing in Japan, the first season of “Initial D” was shown on television in 1998.

In 2014, it was announced that a new Initial D film would be released and it would be a three part story based on Shuichi Shigeno’s manga.

The movie is more or less a retelling of the earl stages of the manga and now “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The manga and anime is about Japanese street racing and focuses on a teenager named Takumi Fujiwara, son of Bunta Fujiwara, who owns a tofu shop. Takumi works at a gas station but when he’s at home, he delivers tofu at 4:00 a.m. and is known to speed through the mountain slopes of Mt. Akitna at high speed driving his father’s AE86 Trueno.

The purpose of this is that his father Bunta has wanted to develop his driving skills and sure enough, his skill is top notch.

But for Takumi, although he has been riding and delivery tofu for a long time and has sharp driving skills, driving fast and getting from point a to point b was merely doing it for his father and not for the sake of trying to race.

But when a well-known group of street racers known as the Akagi Red Suns come to visit Mt. Akina and Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns finds himself racing against a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 leaving Keisuke defeated.

Now fired up, Keisuke Takashi wants to know who drives the AE86 and wants to race him.

Meanwhile, the Akina Speed Stars are visited by Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi Redsuns for a joint race but in reality, its Keisuke’s challenge to whoever beat him with the AE86.

With news of an AE86 beating Keisuke Takahashi (as witnessed by Akina Speedstars leader, Koichiro Iketani), Bunta can’t help but talk about it.  But for Takumi, he has no idea with an AE86 is (unaware that the Trueno he drives is an AE86).

In dire need of a member who exceeds in downhill driving after their team leader Iketani gets involved in an accident. He learns from his boss at the gas station, Yuichi Tachibana, that the AE86 is a tofu delivery vehicle owned by Bunta Fujiwara. This leads to Iketani to plead with Bunta to race against Keisuke (unaware that Bunta is no longer delivering the food, nor does Iketani know that Takumi is Bunta’s son and is responsible for doing the deliveries).

Meanwhile, Takumi is getting closer to Natsuki and wants to take her out on a date and needs to borrow the Trueno AE86.  But his father said he can in one condition…he must use the car and race against Keisuke Takahashi.

Who will race for the pride of Akina against Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns?


VIDEO:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in 1080p High Definition and as one can expect from a newer film, the old artwork and CG that was utilized in the past has been modernized with better animation for the race scenes.  The character designs are much closer to the manga series and are well-shaded and the background artwork is also a major improvement.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The lossless audio features crystal clear audio and also utilizing the surround channels for the rev of engines and the squealing of tires but also outdoor ambiance.

It’s important to note that both Japanese and English voice actors from the past have all been replaced, with the exception of Joel McDonald who was the voice actor of Takumi Fujiwara, J. Michael Tatum who was the voice of Ryosuke Takahashi and Brina Palence (voice of Natsuki) in the original English dub soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with no significant special features but the teaser that was at the end of the Japanese credits for the film is featured.  Featuring the appearance of Myogi NightKids Takeshi Nakazato who no doubt wants to take on the person racing with an AE86.

EXTRAS:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


“Initial D” is an anime classic. I’ve watched this series when it first came out and I still don’t get bored by watching it. I’ve played the video games and there is something about the stoic underdog, Takumi Fujiwara, going from food delivery to become a top-notch racer.

But as the anime series was different and cut out a lot of backstory for the characters as featured in the manga.  And with the new “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” focused on the race between the Mt. Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns, the story doesn’t stray too much into backstories.

No focus on Natsuki’s major secret, no focus on Ryosuke’s brother Keisuke or their friend Kenji. Nor does the film get into nicknames such as Bunta’s “Ghost of Akina” or Ryosuke’s “White Comet of Akagi”.

This is a film that strictly gets to the race between both groups and who will be racing for the Mt. Akina Speed Stars against Ryosuke Takahashi and it’s an hour long film.

The Blu-ray features better artwork and background artwork, with the former respectful to the original manga series.  While the film in Japan featured a teaser for the second film at the end credits, that teaser has been made into a special feature.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the film?  Possibly the 60 minute duration, I felt that they could have added another 30 minutes at least because it was too short.  And because the film was released during the film’s 20th year anniversary, so I wish there were more special features included.

Overall, for those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns.

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

 If you are looking for a fun anime series that is more gag-based with wild & crazy antics coming from each of the characters of the series, “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One” is recommended.

Image courtesy of © 2017 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One

DURATION: (12 Episodes) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: PG

Release Date: December 26, 2017


Originally Created by Shuichi Aso

Directed by Hiroaki Sakurai

Series Composition: Michiko Yokote

Music by Psychic Lover

Character Design: Masayuki Onji

Anime Production: EGG FIRM, J.C. STAFF


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Jerry Jewell as Kusuo Saiki

Ai Kayano/Tia Ballard as Kokomi Teruhashi

Daisuke Ono/David Wald as Riki Nendō

Haruka Tomatsu/Jamie Marchi as Kusuko Saiki (Female Form)

Kenji Nojima/Chris Patton as Kūsuke Saiki

Maaya Uchida/Megan Shipman as Chisato Mera

Masaya Matsukaze as Saiko Metori

Mitsuo Iwata/Chuck Huber as Kuniharu Saiki

Natsuki Hanae/Joel McDonald as Reita Toritsuka

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Micah Solusod as Shun Kaidō

Rikako Aikawa/Morgan Garrett as Kurumi Saiki

Satoshi Hino/Kyle Phillips as Kineshi Hairo

Showtaro Morikubo/Austin Tindle as Uryoku Chōno

Tomoaki Maeno as Makoto Teruhashi/Tōru Mugami

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jarrod Greene as Aren Kuboyasu

Yukari Tamura/Jill Harris as Chiyo Yumehara


Saiki Kusuo is your typical 16-year-old high school student, except for one thing—he’s got psychic powers. Incredible ones. In fact, he’s so powerful, he could probably rule the world if he wanted to. Don’t be mistaken though, it’s really not as great as it sounds. After all, you wouldn’t want to hear the weird things people think or all the spoilers they know! And surprise parties? Forget about ’em.

No, this psychic genius is all about keeping a low profile. But high school isn’t about to let that happen. His quirky classmates and embarrassing parents just can’t leave him alone! He’s got the world at his fingertips, but the one thing he’ll never get…is a break.


Back in 2012, mangaka Shuichi Aso wrote and illustrated his gag manga series “Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan” (The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki).  The series received a serialization in Shueisha’s “Weekly Shonen Jump” and a total of 23 manga volumes have been published.

The popularity of the manga series would eventually ensure an anime TV series in 2016 and since then a total of 24-compilation episodes have been released and each episode featuring six short episodes.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation titled “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.”.  And will be released in two parts, each release featuring 12-episodes each.

The series is produced by J.C. Staff and EGG FIRM and is directed by Hiroaki Sakurai and written by Michiko Yokote.

The series revolves around Kusuo Saiki, a high school student who was born with psychic abilities and lives with his parents Kuniharu (a father who keeps sucking up to his employers) and his mother Kurumi (who can get very scary when her husband and son defy her).  Kusuo also has an older brother named Kusuke, who wears a “Telepath Canceler” on his head, so Kusuo can never read his thoughts.  But the two often argue of who is more intelligent, the psi user or the the intellectual inventor.

While his parents are normal humans but crazy, they accepted Saiki’s abilities for his special abilties.  Even though he was born reading and teleporting and being mature during the first year of his life as an infant.

As Kusuo became a teenager, he now wears two pink antennas on his head to limit his growing powers.  He has to wear glasses at all times to prevent people from turning into stone.   He never talks to anyone with his lips, he communicates telepathically.

And because he can hear everyone’s thoughts, his special abilities have given him misery and he tries to avoid any attention because he is a psychic.  He tries…

But somehow at P.K. Academy, he attracts the weirdest people.

  • Riki Nendo is a large and muscular student but very stupid.  So dumb that Kusuo can’t read his mind and it frustrates Kusuo because he can’t predict Nendo’s actions.
  • Shun Kaido is a know-it-all, conspiracy-loving person who calls himself “The Jet-Black Wings” and believes that the world is ruled by an evil organization known as Dark Reunion.
  • Kokomi Teruhashi is a girl who glows and considers herself “perfect” except by Saiki (who can read heer thoughts).  She is obsessed with tryin gto get Saiki to react to her, which he doesn’t.  And so it leads to her obsession towards him.
  • Kineshi Hairo is an energetic, sports-loving student who loves to motivate people.
  • Chiyo Yumehara – A romantic who always has painful experiences with guys.  She has a crush on Kusuo.
  • Reita Toritsuka – A psychic aware of Kusuo’s abilities.  He can see spirits and is haunted by the ghost of Nendo’s late father.

Will Kusuo be able to find a way to stay under the radar and not attract attention?


VIDEO:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed. Character designs are well-done and is respectful to Shuichi Aso’s manga series.  Background art is also well-painted for outdoor scenes but primarily the artwork is more focused on the characters and close-ups.  I didn’t notice any banding issues while watching the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music, the series sounds good.  Surround channels is used sparsely, mainly for action sequences but it’s primarily a dialogue-driven soundtrack.  Both Japanese and English voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell (voice of Kusuo Saiki), Micah Solusod (voice of Shun Kaido) and David Wald (voice of Riki Nendo).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song

I first discovered “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” when I first played the video game “J-Stars Victory Vs.”.  I was curious about seeing this character with pink hair with antennas and he didn’t look like your typical Jump protagonist.

Fastforward a few years later and I finally got a chance to view the anime series and realized it’s probably one of the craziest mainstream Jump-related anime series I have seen.

The anime series revolves around a boy born with special abilities and because he can hear everyone’s thoughts, because he sees everyone past their true appearance and his powers can really endanger society, he tries to keep away from people and stay under the radar.

But unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  Because he’s so aloof and quiet, he’s attracting the weirdest people at his high school and because he doesn’t give attention to the girls, a few of them have started to fall in love with Kusuo.

As for the series, these are episodes that contain six mini-stories each.  Some of them are continuations of each other but for the most part, these are episodes where Saiki has to use his powers for the greater good, well more often for his benefit in trying to drive people away from him.

But a typical episode would be like this.  For episode 11, the episode begins with a boy named Yuuta who believes Saiki is the superhero Ciderman No. 2 after seeing him use his special abilities, the next episode is about Kuniharu showing Saiki around his job at a manga editorial office, the next story features Yuuta and his family becoming Saiki’s new neighbor, the next episode features Saiki going to the summer festival and seeing one of the guys in school get pickpocketed, he becomes the next person to be robbed.  And in another episode, Kokomi and Chiyo meet each other and both wonder if the other likes Saiki.

These episodes are quite short at around four minutes each, but I enjoy the fact that each of these episodes explore the characters even more.  And yes, this is the first half of the series and character dynamics are important, but I did like how these stories build upon character introductions and mannerisms.  And to explore how crazy each of the characters are.

It’s a fun anime series so far and I look forward to watching and seeing how the anime series progresses.

The series looks vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and the dialogue is crystal clear.  You get one audio commentary track and the opening and ending theme.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun anime series that is more gag-based with wild & crazy antics coming from each of the characters of the series, “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One” is 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!

Attack on Titan: Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Attack on Titan” was one of the most heavily anticipated series to be released back in 2014 and as much hype that has come out for this series, the fact that all the hype is warranted. The characters, the storyline, the animation and it’s overall presentation from FUNimation makes this one anime series worth owning! “Attack on Titan” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Attack on Titan: The Complete First season

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV M

Release Date: January 24, 2017


Originally created by Hajime Isayama

Directed by Tetsuro Araki

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design: Kyoji Asano

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

3D Director: Shuhei Yabuta

Director of Photography: Kazuhiro Yamada

Anime Production by Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yui Ishikawa/Trina Nishimura as Mikasa Ackerman

Yuuki Kaji/Bryce Papenbrook as Eren Jaeger

Marina Inoue/Josh Grelle as Armin Arlelt

Daisuke Ono/J. Michael Tatum as Erwin Smith

Hiro Shimono/Clifford Chapin as Conny Springer

Hiroshi Kamiya/Matthew Mercer as Levi

Keiji Fujiwara/David Wald as Hannes

Kishô Taniyama/Mike McFarland as Jean Kirschtein

Romi Park/Jessica Calvello as Hanji (Hange Zoe)

Ryota Ohsaka/Austin Tindle as Marco Bodt

Saki Fujita/Elizabeth Maxwell as Ymir

Shiori Mikami/Bryn Apprill as Christa Renz

Tomohisa Hashizume/David Matranga as Bertholt Fubar (Bertholdt Hoover)

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Robert McCollum as Reiner Braun

Yu Kobayashi/Ashly Bursch as Sasha Browse

Yu Shimamura/Lauren Landa as Annie Leonhart


When the man-eating giants called Titans first appeared, humans retreated behind massive walls. After a hundred years of safety, a colossal-sized Titan smashes through the defenses, unleashing a flood of giants and carnage in the streets. Eren Jaeger watches helplessly as one of the creatures devours his mother.

He vows to kill every Titan walking the earth.

Eren and his surviving friends enlist to fight against the insatiable monsters. The future looks bleak, but there’s more to Eren than meets the eye: he may be humanity’s last hope against extinction. From the director of Death Note and High School of the Dead comes the series Anime News Network calls “an intense, visceral, and graphic thrill ride.” The Titans have come to feast. Anything can happen. No one is safe.


Back in 2006, Hajime Isayama wrote a 65-page one-shot of “Shingeki no Kyojin”. Inspired during an encounter with an irate customer while working at an internet cafe, the encounter would eventually be the basis of his hit series which is known internationally as “Attack on Titan”.

In 2009, “Shingeki no Kyojin” began serialization in Kodanasha’s “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine” and is currently on its 13th tankobon volume.  With several light novel volumes, multiple video games, manga spin-offs and two live-action films, many would discover “Attack on Titan” thanks to its 25-episode anime series which began airing in April 2013.

With the announcement that “Attack on Titan” season two will be created, Funimation has released “Attack on Titan: The Complete First Season” on Blu-ray.

“Attack on Titan” is set in a world that was besieged by giant humanoid creatures over a hundred years ago.   These humanoid creatures nearly wiped out all humans and want nothing but to devour humans.

Humanity has no answer to defeat the Titans but to protect what is left of humanity, the country of surviving humans now live within three enormous walls which include the outer wall Wall Maria, the middle wall known as Wall Rose and the inner wall known as Wall Sina.

And for 100 years, despite having a team that ventures out to confront the Titans, humanity has had no such luck.

We are introduced to three children which includes the impulsive and hotheaded Eren Yeager, his friend that always protects and cares for him, Mikasa Ackerman and the often scared but very smart Armin Arlert.

One day, while these three children were together in what was supposed to be a peaceful land where Titans are unable to enter, lightning has struck and born was a 200 ft. Titan who is taller than the walls that were constructed.  The titan breaches the outer wall, allowing the smaller Titans to enter the village and devour humans.  While Eren tries to find his mother, he finds her pinned under the house.

While a family friend named Hannes is able to rescue the two kids, Eren’s final memory was seeing his mother devoured by a Titan and from that point, he has dedicated his life to defeat and destroy the Titans.

Eren, Mikasa and Armin survives the attack by the Titans and have no choice but to retreat behind Wall Rose.  But he has these nightmares of his father injecting him with something and reminding him about his key and for him to go into the cellar.

As the food shortage hits the country and refugees are forced to work in farms or fight to reclaim Wall Maria, Eren vows to destroy the Titans and to do that, he must join the army in which Mikasa and Armin follow their friend.

Fast forward five years later, Eren, Mikasa and Armin are training in the army and each meets new friends and rivals but just when they thought there was some semblance of peace, the Colossus Titan returns once again.  Mikasa is set to a different squad to backup the front lines, while Eren and Armin must prepare to attack and fight the Titans, learning that the weakness of a Titan is cutting a piece of their flesh from the nape of the Titan’s back neck.

Will the army have what it takes to protect humanity from this new attack from the Titans?


“Attack on Titan features the following main characters:

Eren Yeager – A hotheaded teenager who wants to destroy the Titans for what they have done to his family and people. Often upset that Mikasa is constantly defending him. For some reason, he has nightmares of his father injecting him with something and telling him to bring the key to the cellar.

Mikasa Ackerman – The adoptive child of the Yeager family who was rescued by Eren and her father when she was younger. She is quiet, often wants to protect Eren from trouble and cares deeply for her foster brother.

Armin Arlert – Often bullied by other kids and rescued by Eren and Mikasa, Armin has a sharp mind when it comes to strategy. But he sees himself as a person always in fear and often scared.

Levi Ackerman – A member of the Survey Corps and is seen as humanity’s most powerful soldier. He leads the Special operations Squad.

Annie Leonhart – A former member of the Military Police Brigade. A lone wolf and excels in unarmed combat.

Reiner Braun – A former member of the Survey Corps. A man with a strong sense of duty.

Hange Zoe – A former Squad Leader of the fourth squad. Conducts research on Titans and is obsessed with them.


VIDEO:

“Attack on Titan” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant. Character designs are well-shaded and I like how the series uses the strong darker lines around the character designs which shows plenty of detail. But I felt the transition of Hajime Isayama’s work from the manga series received a fantastic adaptation and bringing these Titans to life. I personally didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Attack on Titan” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. While both voice acting soundtracks are well-done, as one can expect from the English soundtrack receiving a 5.1 lossless treatment, while the Japanese is crystal clear through the front channels, the English soundtrack is immersive. Great use of sound effects from the surround channels and also great use of LFE.

One thing I also want to add is that FUNimation made the right decision by bringing Mike McFarland to become the ADR Director for this series. He has done an epic job for “One Piece” and for a series this important with a multitude of characters, he’s the man for the job and the casting for the English dub was well-done. Yes, it is different for those who are familiar with the Japanese vocal talent but I felt that the comparable differences and love the fact that the voice casting was not repetitive of talent used in many other FUNimation series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Attack on Titan: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Commentary -Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Trina Nishimura, Josh Grelle and Bryce Papenbrook.
  • Episode 13 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director), J. Michael Tatum (Lead Adaptive Writer), Scott Freeman and Clifford Chapin.
  • The Making of Attack on Titan – (52:34) The first  major in-depth FUNimation featurette about how hard they worked in bringing “Attack on Titan” to the United States.
  • Chibi Theater: Fly, Cadets, Fly! – (47:10) Animated shorts in super-deformed format featuring the Cadet Corps.
  • Eyecatch Gallery – Gallery collection.
  • Textless Opening Song “Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer
  • Episode 14 Commentary -Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director), J. Michael Tatum (Lead Adaptive Writer/voice of Erwin Smith) and Matthew Mercer (voice of Captain Levy).
  • Episode 25 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Lauren Landa (Annie Leonhardt) and Bryce Papenbrook (Eren Yeager).
  • Attack on Titan at Anime Expo – (16:21) “Attack on Titan” group cosplayers from Anime Expo and also featuring interviews with producer Joji Wada.
  • Chibi Theater: Fly, Cadets, Fly! – (47:15) Animated shorts in super-deformed format featuring the Cadet Corps.
  • Eyecatch Gallery – Gallery collection.
  • Textless Opening Song “Jiyuu no Tsubasa”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Great Escape”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer

EXTRAS:

“Attack on Titan: The Complete First Season” features the series on Blu-ray and DVD and comes with a slipcover.


Once in awhile, you run across an anime series or film that becomes not just a hit among anime fans but even non-anime fans.

“Attack on Titan” has captivated fans all over the world thanks to its characters, its story of humanity’s survival but also its fight against humanoid behemoths. And along with the series comes a stylish costume design for its army which have driven people all over the world to cosplay as a military member from the anime series.

Yes, “Naruto” and even “Bleach” have captivated many fans throughout the years but any anime series tied to a Shonen Jump has no doubt become bonafide hits in Japan and outside of the country, “Attack on Titan” is rather unique as it has partnered with various companies from having a car commercial, a burger release and also a live action film that people are heavily anticipating.

The fact is “Attack on Titan” is a captivating, violent but entertaining anime series and there is no slowdown in the pacing of the anime series, it’s just one exciting episode after the other and frankly, having watched anime series and having reviewed them for decades, I found myself becoming a “Shingeki no Kyojin” fan.

I love the us vs. them storyline and this time it’s not a zombie infestation, nor is it an attack by alien species.  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what the Titans are but they have humanoid features with mouths of monsters wanting to chomp down on any human it comes in contact with.

By the second season of the series becomes very interesting as it was revealed that Eren Yeager has the special ability to transform into a Titan. While he is not sure how to control the power or his rage towards the Titans, despite being thought of as humanity’s threat, because of his determination to stop all Titans, he is also a final resort into protecting of what is left of humanity from the Titans.

As he now becomes part of the team led by Levi Ackerman, one of the best soldiers out there, Eren must learn to keep his temper in check and to become part of a team rather than fight alone.

Meanwhile, a tall female titan has appeared out of nowhere and is causing destruction to those who kill it. But with captive Titans being murdered by an unknown assailant, humanity must push forward into finding how to defeat the Titans but finding a weakness of mobilizing the female titan.

It’s important to note that while the series is popular, by no means should children watch this anime series. It is violent as body part dismemberment are shown, people being eaten or crushed by the Titans are shown and if anything, it’s visual violence adds to the viewer being interested in what happens because simply, you want to see humanity kick some major ass! That is if they can…

As for the Blu-ray, you get great picture quality as colors for the series are vibrant. Black lines are nice and solid and character design is well-done, well-shaded. Backgrounds are nicely painted and for the most part, “Attack on Titan” looks incredible in HD! As for the lossless audio, while I love the Japanese vocal track, the fact is that the Japanese soundtrack is Dolby TrueHD 2.0 while the English dub, which was well-cast, received a much better Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Great use of special effects and use of the surround channels and LFE. If anything, I loved the fact that there was amazing focus in bringing this series out to the United States with the quality that fans and anime HD fans have come to expect and fortunately received in “Attack on Titan: Complete Season One”.

And I can’t wait until second season of “Attack on Titan” is released hopefully in the near future.

Also, for special features, FUNimation really went out of their way to give fans several audio commentary, an Anime Expo featurette with Studio I.G. producer Joji Wada to show how much time was put into bringing this series to the United States. You also get a Chibi animated shorts special feature and more!

Overall, “Attack on Titan” was one of the most heavily anticipated series to be released in 2014 and to this day, there is still a lot of anticipation for the series completion.  The first season is full of action, full of drama and overall, a captivation storyline with fascinating characters and overall presentation.

“Attack on Titan” is highly recommended!

Charlotte: Volume 2 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX, INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-15 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


For the sake of his siblings, and to save every ability-wielder on Earth, Yu makes a certain decision. It is a choice that provides salvation to all of them, but at the same time, it is a choice that makes him pay a huge price in return.


In order to help people Yuu must make a major decision in order to save the people he cares about?  At the cost of his own memories or life.

Find out what happens to Yuu and friends in the final volume of “Charlotte”.

What is “Charlotte” about?

In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka. He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal. One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating. So, he is requested to retake the exam. When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?

In the second half of the series, Yuu starts to react over the music of the band, Zhiend.  Meanwhile, as Yuu’s memories start to come back, Yuu and his sister are approached by someone close to them that they thought was dead.

And Yuu learns a major lesson of how others want to manipulate those with special abilities.


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds. He lives with his younger sister Ayumu. After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power. He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic. She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds. Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello. Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline. She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance. She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school. She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand). She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

“Charlotte” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors!

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlotte” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Special Episode: The Strong Ones – A full OVA episode that takes place between episodes 3 and 5 and features  Yuu and Nao meeting up with a telepath named Iori Sekiguchi.
  • English Bloopers – (5:21) Featuring outtakes from the English dub sessions.
  • English Trailer
  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • Web Previews

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase featuring a box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer), a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer) and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape. And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

Meanwhile, the second half features Yuu discovering how people aim to manipulate those with special abilities.  To dissect them, to torture them and use them as experiments.  In order to save those with special abilities, Yuu will need to make a major decision in order to save them but that means losing his memories of those dear to him.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated. The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far. P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included. Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack. And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with a special OVA episode, four postcards and box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer) and a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer).

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

 

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

September 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for an uplifting, vibrant and fun anime series, “Barakamon” is one of the rare series that you come across and you can’t help be captivated by its storyline, its characters and animation. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Barakamon: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 9, 2016


Originally created by Satsuki Yoshino

Directed by Masaki Tachibana

Music by Kenji Kawai

Character Design by Majiro

Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Izumi Hoki

Anime Production: Kinema Citrus


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Ono/Robert McCollum as Seishū Handa

Suzuko Hara/Alison Viktorin as Naru Kotoishi

Atsushi Ono/Greg Dulcie as Iwao Yamamura

Fumihiko Tachiki as Vice Principal

Hiroshi Ito/Bill Flynn as Kousaku Kotoishi

Junichi Suwabe/Duncan Brannan as Takao Kawafuji

Kei Hayami as Tomoko Kido

Kouki Uchiyama/Clifford Chapin as Hiroshi Kido

Megumi Han/Jessica Cavanagh as Akihiko Arai

Nozomi Furuki as Miwa Yamamura

Rina Endō/Lara Woodhull as Hina Kubota

Rumi Ookubo/Apphia Yu as Tamako Arai

Seiya Kimura/Leah Clark as Kentarō Ōhama

Tanuki Sugino/R. Bruce Elliott as Yūjirō Kido

Toshihiko Miki/Ed Blaylock as Curator/Director

Yuuki Kaji/Austin Tindle as Kosuke Kanzaki


After an unfavorable critique drives uptight young calligrapher Sei Handa of Barakamon past his breaking point, his parents decide to ship him off to Japan’s Goto Islands to cool off. But instead of a peaceful paradise, Handa discovers a village full of quirky characters with little regard for personal space. On top of that, Handa’s temporary apartment has already been claimed as home base by the village elder’s granddaughter, Naru, who has a knack for getting into trouble. Will Handa ever be able to redeem his impulsive misdeed? Will he ever be able to write like the masters? Will the village kids ever learn to KNOCK first??


Back in 2009, Satsuki Yoshino created the manga series “Barakamon”.

Serialized in Square Enix’s “Gangan Online”, an anime series adaptation by Kinema Citrus was created in 2014.  And a spin-off series titled “Handa-kun” began serialization in November 13th, with a anime adaptation which began airing on July 2016.

The anime series was directed by Masaki Tachibana (“King of Fighters: Another Day”, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”), music by Kenji Kawai (“Death Note”, “Eden of the East”, “Blue Seed”, “Gantz”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 00”), character design by Majiro (“Macross Delta”, “Nagareboshi Lens”, “Ongaku Shojo”), art direction by Hiroshi Kato (“Black Lagoon”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Blue Exorcist”, “Boogiepop Phantom”) and Izumi Hoki (“Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods”, “Spice and Wolf”, “Tears to Tiara”).

The first anime adaptation will be released on Blu-ray & DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Barakamon” is a series that follows hotheaded yet celebrated calligrapher Seishu Handa.

Despite being a talented calligrapher, one day after being criticized by the gallery curator, Seishu punches the elderly director after being told that he needs to create his own original style (his style of calligraphy was inspired by his father’s work) because his style is unoriginal.

Wanting to find his own style, Handa’s father recommends him going to the remote Goto Islands off the western coast of Kyushu.  But also hoping his son needs his own time away.

He is welcomed by the villagers who are not familiar with him or his work and when he moves into his home, a 7-year-old girl named Naru Kotoishi acts as if the place is hers and more than often, she is often bothering Handa.

But as the villagers welcome Handa and call him sensei, the hot-headed Handa starts to warm up to the people in the area and starts to find his own way and possibly discover his own style.

And because he never had any friends, starts to learn more about what it means to have people you care about.


“Barakamon” features the following characters:

  • Seishu Handa – A short-tempered 23-year-old master calligrapher who has dedicated his life to his art.  But after socking the director gallery after his work is called unoriginal, Seishu is shipped to the Goto Islands by his father to have his son calm down but also hopes that he can be inspired by creating his own style.  He is called “Sensei” by the villagers.
  • Naru Kotoishi – A bug-loving 7-year-old girl who likes to visit and bother Handa.  She likes Handa and goes to his home to play everyday.
  • Miwa Yamamura – A 14-year-old tomboy who hangs out with Tamako.  She also visits Handa’s home and has the keys because his home used to be her “Secret Base”.
  • Tamako Arai – A 14-year-old student who hangs out with Miwa.  She is a big fan of manga and wants to become a manga artist but she has been having difficulty with her interest to yaoi and often imagines Handa in yaoi.
  • Hiroshi Kido – The hot-headed son of the village chef.  He is a student who doesn’t do well at school but is inspired by Handa.
  • Hina Kubotai – Naru’s friend who is shy and always cries.
  • Akihiko Arai – Tamako’s younger brother who is often gaming and watches over his grandmother’s store.  Very mature for his age.

VIDEO:

“Barakamon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Gorgeous backgrounds and great animation with the character design which are well-shaded.  Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. Kinema Citrus did a great job with this anime series!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Barakamon” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Barakamon: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Alison Viktorin (voice of Naru) and Robert McCollum (voice of Seishu Handa).
  • Episode 12 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Felecia Angelle (Assistant ADR Director), Lynsey Hale (voice of Miwa Yamamura), Apphia Yu (voice of Tamako Arai), Duncan Brannan (voice of Takao Kawafuji)
  • Textless Opening Song: “Rashisa”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Innocence”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Barakamon”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Barakamon” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


“Barakamon” is a fascinating, anime series that is reminiscent to another anime series titled “Silver Spoon”, in which the student protagonist moves to the country side in order to find himself and find direction but also be inspired by the people around him.

With “Barakamon”, the protagonist Seishu Handa is a Master Calligrapher and at 23-years-old, has dedicated his life to his craft.  But because his calligraphy is inspired by his father’s style, when told by the gallery director that his work was “unoriginal”, Handa does a terrible thing by hitting the elderly director.

Impulsive and has a short-temper, Handa is sent by his father to a remote area in the Goro Islands where everything is countryside and ocean but perhaps the peace and quiet is what he truly needs to accomplish work and discover his own, new personal style.

But things do not go quiet and peaceful as Handa would hope as his home is constantly attracting a 7-year-old girl named Naru Kotoishi, who never leaves him alone, teenagers Miwa Yamamura, Tamako Arai and Hiroshi Kido and other children who happen to show up.

And because the home is the children’s former “Secret Base”, each of them have keys to get into Handa’s new house.

But while Handa short-temper does come out, he also learns to see the calming effect of the countryside, the villagers and finds himself for the first time caring for the people in the area, especially the children.

And while Handa had acted like a spoiled child, this time around, he may mature and possibly discover a new calligraphy style inspired by his stay at the island.

For the most part, the anime series is a lot of fun because it revolves around Handa taking part of things that he would never do, from fishing, watching over young children, catching bugs and for the first time, he finds out how life is, just having fun and doing whatever is necessary to be inspired by whatever he can find in the island and create awesome work to take back home to Tokyo for the next competition.

The series is episodic but there is a connection with episode after episode as it relates to Handa’s growth as a person living on the island.  But the series are quite entertaining that you may find yourself watching all episodes in one sitting.  It’s how captivating the anime series really is!

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is presented in 16:9 widescreen and animation is very detailed and quite vibrant.  Kinema Citrus did a magnificent job in featuring wonderful character designs but also gorgeous background art. The Blu-ray release comes with two audio commentaries, textless opening and ending songs.

Overall, if you are in the mood for an uplifting, vibrant and fun anime series, “Barakamon” is one of the rare series that you come across and you can’t help be captivated by its storyline, its characters and animation.  Recommended!

Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

“Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters finally take their feelings for other characters to the next level. Recommended! Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WANGARIA!!3” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-14 (42-48) (190 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by monaca

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama as Sōta Takanashi

Kana Asumi as Popura Taneshima

Saki Fujita as Mahiru Inami

Ai Orikasa as Shizuka Takanashi

Akiko Kawase as Maya Matsumoto

Daisuke Ono as Jun Satō

Eri Kitamura as Yachiyo Todoroki

Haruka Tomatsu as Mitsuki Mashiba

Hiroshi Kamiya as Hirōmi Sōma

Jouji Nakata as Hyōgo Otoo

Koji Yusa as Tōru Minegishi

Kumiko Watanabe as Kyōko Shirafuji

Momoko Saito as Nazuna Takanashi

Ryoko Shiraishi as Kazue Takanashi

Ryou Hirohashi as Aoi Yamada

Satoshi Hino as Kirio Yamada

Shizuka Itou as Kozue Takanashi

Yōko Hikasa as Izumi Takanashi

Yūichi Nakamura as Yōhei Mashiba


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


For “Wagnaria!!” fans, many have wondered when Jun would finally confess his feelings to Yachiyo.  And when Sota would finally confess his true feelings to Mahiru.

Find out what happens in “Wagnaria!! 3” vol. 2!

What is “Wagnaria!!” about?

In 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu wrote and illustrated a Japanese four-panel comic strip manga series known as “Working!!” (a.k.a. “Wagnaria!!”).

Serialized in Square Enix’s Young Gangan magazine from 2005-2014, a total of three anime seasons were created in 2010, 2011 and in 2015.

While the first two seasons were released by NIS America, the third season “Wagnaria!!3” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Wagnaria!!3” is a series about a group of people who work in the family restaurant, “Wagnaria”.

The characters are:

  • Sota Takanashi – The main character, a 16-year-old high school student who was recruited to work for the restaurant by Popura. He lives with his four sisters (three older and one younger). And because his older sisters have mistreated him, he has a dislike towards older women.  His mother also had him dress like a girl (never bought him boys clothes) and makes him do it and because he crossdresses, his female persona is Kotori.
  • Popura Taneshima – A 17-year-old student who is short and can be clumsy at times.
  • Mahiru Inami – A 17-year-old who works at Wagnaria and has a fear of men (androphobia). She tends to punch any male that comes near her. She has a crush on Sota.
  • Kyoko Shirafuji – The manager of Wagnaria and dependent on her workers, as she is apathetic to it and doesn’t really know how to run it. Nor does she put any work to it.
  • Yachiyo Todoroki – The 20-year-old chief of staff of Wagnaria. She is often seen carrying a katana. She works closely with Jun, unaware that he has a crush on her.
  • Jun Sato – Jun is a chef at Wagnaria and is deeply in love with Yachiyo but not good at expressing his emotions, as he is rather stoic.
  • Hiroomi Soma – Another chef at the restaurant who is easygoing. He often blackmails his fellow co-workers in doing jobs for him.
  • Aoi Yamada – A 16-year-old who is training at the restaurant and often gets in trouble.
  • Hyogo Otoo – The owner of Wagnaria.
  • Maya Matsumoto – An 18-year-old who has a hard time understanding her co-workers.
  • Nazuna Takanishi – Sota’s younger sister. She is volunteering at the restaurant.
  • Kirio Yamada – Aoi’s older brother who has been looking for her. He has a crush on Mahiru.

VIDEO:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wagnaria!!3” comes with the final special 14th episode.

EXTRAS:

“Wagnaria!!3″ comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy “Wagnaria!!3”, a character driven series about a group of people working for a family restaurant.

In season three, characters take the next step in hopes to have relationships with the girls they like.

Jun who has been in love with Yachiyo, decides to ask her out and finally confess his feelings to her. But each time, he made it sound like a joke.  But this time, he really wants Yachiyo to have a relationship with him.  Will he finally confess his true feelings to her?

Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru seem to have this tension as both like each other but they are not sure about their emotions and how to express them.  But when Sota starts to discover these emotions of love towards Mahiru, his mother comes back in town and once again forces him to dress like a girl.

As for Popura, is she getting shorter?  And why is Kozue feeling lonely?

For the most part, the anime series is fun and entertaining. It’s a slice of life anime series that revolve around the employees at the Wagnaria family restaurant. And the fun hijinks continues, but now we start to see more development with various relationships.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted. Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included. Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you are definitely going to get some swag with this latest release.  You get four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.

As for the second half of the series, “Wagnaria!!3” finally achieves two major relationships that many fans have wanted to see happen.  And for those who have rooted for Sota and Mahiru and also for Jun and Yachiyo, these final episodes of the third season will no doubt entertain you.

Overall, “Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters finally take their feelings for other characters to the next level. Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

Charlotte: Volume 1 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try! You won’t be disappointed. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX, INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (170 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


A small percentage of adolescents have onsets of special abilities. Yu Otosaka deftly uses an ability that takes over a target’s body for five seconds and gets accepted into a prestigious high school. Just when he is about to start a stable high school life as a popular honor student, a girl named Nao Tomori appears before him. Their encounter reveals the cruel destiny for wielders of special abilities.


In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka.  He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal.  One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating.  So, he is requested to retake the exam.  When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds.  He lives with his younger sister Ayumu.  After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power.  He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic.  She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds.  Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello.  Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline.  She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance.  She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school.  She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand).  She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

“Charlotte” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors!

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlotte” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlotte” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Beginning of a New “Destiny” – (24:07) A Japanese featurette with staff interviews and main cast interviews.
  • Textless Ending Ep. 3-4
  • Web previews for Episodes 2-7

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 1 comes with a slipcase and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape.  And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

So, using their abilities, they hope to warn others.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated.  The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far.  P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included.  Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack.  And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with an entertaining featurette with cast and staff interviews and you also get the Aniplex swag of collectable pinup cards and a slipcase.

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try!  You won’t be disappointed.

Recommended!

 

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