Top

One Piece Film Gold (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created. If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Piece Film Gold

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2016

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto

Script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa

Music by Yuuki Hayashi

Character Design by Masayuki Sato

Art Director: Kazuo Ogura 

Chief Animation Director: Masayuki Sato

Mechanical Design: Hiori Denforword Akishino 

Art Design by Nobuhito Sue

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard



“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of over 776 episodes having been aired in Japan.  Several animated films, many video games and for the most part, a very successful anime/manga series worldwide.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

And here we are with the latest film (2016) titled “One Piece Film Gold”, the 13th “One Piece Film” which will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and HD Digital in May 2017.

The film begins with the Straw Hat Pirates arriving at Gran Tesoro, a large entertainment city-ship which is owned and ruled by Gild Tesoro.

When the team arrive to the music of Tesoro and Carina, they are suddenly attacked by enemy pirates.  The group show their battle and might as a team and beat the pirates and are visited by a concierge named Baccarat.  Baccarat offers the Straw Hat Pirates VIP access to Gran Tesoro due to the group’s infamy.

When Gild Tesoro challenges the group to a dice game where they can become millionaires, the hotel will give them $300 million to spend.

When the group takes on the challenge, they start to win. Gran Tesoro offers a deal, if they win a challenge they get 10x of what they have. But when they bet it all on the competition and Gran Tesoro uses her Devil Fruit powers to take away Luffy’s luck and the group loses, Gran Tesoro demands the Straw Hat Pirates to pay for losing the $320 million they lost.  But the group accuses Baccarat of cheating and she admits to them that she used her power to make Luffy unlucky.

The group fights Tesoro and his executives, Baccarat, Tanaka and Dice but the executives outsmart the Straw Hat Pirates and they are beaten.

When Roronoa Zoro goes to attack Tesoro, he shows them his power of manipulating gold and encases Zoro’s legs.  And now, Tesoro gives the Straw Hat Pirates ’till 12:00 the following day to pay their debt.  If they don’t, Zoro will be executed.

Knowing they need money, Nami spots an former friend named Carina from her past.  Carina tells the group that Tesoro posesses 20% of the world’s wealth and keeps his riches in a suite on top of the hotel.  She offers to help the Straw Hat pirates to break into the hotel and steal the money to help repay their debut.

But can the group pull out this major heist?


VIDEO:

“One Piece Film Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant. Colors look fantastic in HD and his is probably the most detailed “One Piece” film that I have seen yet.  Great balance of CG for the detailed backgrounds, animation is well done and for the most part, character designs are great.

Overall, animation production from Toei Animation is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Piece Film Gold” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 . Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.  Music plays a big part in this film, as well as action.  So, this is no doubt one of the better lossless soundtracks I have heard in a “One Piece” film.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the following special features:

  • Place Your Bets on the Straw Hats – (28:06) A featurette featuring the English dub voice actors: Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Roronoa Zoro), Eric Vale (voice of Sanji), Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper), Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin), Luci Christian (voice of Nami) and Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp).
  • Trailers – Funimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD version of the film.


“One Piece” meets “Oceans Eleven”.

Where the majority of “One Piece” films tend to have a story about the team finding ways to outsmart their antagonist and saving locals who can’t fight for themselves, “One Piece Film Gold” is consistent with the other films with a powerful antagonist and his group, but this time, what makes the film so different is that the storyline is about outsmarting the other opponent.

Set in a huge ship that functions as a giant casino, the whole area is ruled by Grand Tesoro.  A cruel ruler who uses his Devil Fruit powers of controlling gold and able to control it and manipulate it.  Which makes him dangerous.  To make things worse, he has a group of executives such as Baccarat who makes people lose with her Devil Fruit power to make those unlucky.  And so many people become slaves (including their families and children) to Grand Tesoro to pay off their debt.

And now, Tesoro and his group has created a ruse and used deception to win against the Straw Hat Pirates and now they are in debt.

In this case, the Straw Hat Pirates are in bad situation as Grand Tesoro is threatening to execute Rorona Zoro if the group can’t come up with $320 million to pay off their debt.

The group plans to do the impossible by stealing from Grand Tesoro as his riches are kept in a suite on the top of the hotel.  And they must do it with the help of a thief named Carina that Nami knows from her past.

And just when you think the Straw Hat Pirates have enough with Tesoro and his executive team to fight against, thinks are even more complicated when the Marines arrive.

“One Piece Film Gold” is no doubt the best looking “One Piece” film I have so far.  The amount of detail for the art backgrounds and the characters are wonderfully detailed and shaded.  Toei Animation definitely put a lot of time and effort in the making of this film.

Special features include a half hour featurette with the English dub voice cast.  And you get the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD version of the film.

Overall, definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade (my favorite is still the eight film “One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and the Pirates: Adventures in Alabasta”) and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created.  If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series” is for the anime fan who loves mystery anime series.  And it’s also easier to follow since it’s only eleven episodes long.  “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is an anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete SeriesThe Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-11) 275 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally Concept by Rampo Edogawa

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Ayumi Miyakoshi

Chief Animation Director: Kouji Yamagata, Yusuke Kamata

Anime Production: Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner as Hashiba

Rie Takahashi/Jill Harris as Kobayashi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Akechi

Cho/Mark Stoddard as Nakamura

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Namikoshi

Kappei Yamaguchi/Jerry Jewell as Shitai-kun (Corpsey)

Katsuyuki Konishi/J. Michael Tatum as Kagami

Saki Fujita/Jad Saxton as Minami

Takehito Koyasu/Sonny Strait as Kage-Otoko (Shadow-Man)

Yōko Hikasa/Mallorie Rodak as Kuro Tokage (Black Lizard)


Inspired by the works of Edogawa Rampo, Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace tells a macabre detective story rife with symbolism and visual tricks that exist somewhere in the delicate balance between gruesome and gorgeous.

Middle school life was dull for the intelligent and charismatic Kobayashi, until the day he was framed for his homeroom teacher’s murder. After the event drew the media’s attention, an infamous high school detective inserted himself into the investigation. Brooding and brilliant, Akechi quickly cleared Kobayashi’s name and took the inquisitive young student on as his assistant. But for every case they closed, two more seemed to open in its place.

The streets were alive with whispers of one deadly name, Twenty Faces–a legendary murderer who killed criminals in the name of justice. With cryptic clues leading the way, Kobayashi and Akechi began following the trail of bodies left by the prolific killer. But will they be able to stop him before countless innocent people, inspired by his deranged cause, start following his lead?


In Japan, one of the most well-respected authors of mystery fiction novels was Edogawa Ranpo (Taro Hirai).  A pseudonym used by Taro is a rendering of one of his favorite writers, Edgar Allan Poe.

In 2015, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Edogawa Ranpo, a series titled “Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace” was produced by Lerche and directed by Seiji Kishi (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Fate/Prototype”) and a screenplay by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Danganronpa the Animation”).

The anime series is set at a middle school where several murders have taken place.  A 17-year-old middle school boy, who is mistaken for a girl named Kobayashi is blamed for dismembering his homeroom teacher.

A person who loves solving mysteries, Kobayashi and her good friend Hashiba (a popular guy who wants to protect Kobayashi at all costs) want to team up with Kogoro Akechi, a 17-year-old genius detective who solves abnormal crimes.

Kogoro offers Kobayashi to become his assistant only if he can find the killer responsible for dismembering his teacher.

As Kobayashi is successful in helping Kogoro, the trio then work on various cases such as trying to find the Shadow-Man, a thief accused of kidnapping several girls.  But also trying to find a vigilante known as Twenty Faces, who kills murderers who have not been brought to justice and killing them the way the murderers had killed their victims.

But as the trio investigates, Kogoro realizes that Twenty Faces may be tied to a person from his past.


VIDEO:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” 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. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, animation is solid throughout.  I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels but with the 5.1 soundtrack, the English dub has an edge due to the use of the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” features the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Eric Vale, Justin Briner, Jill Harris and Sonny Strait.
  • Promotional Videos
  • Commercials – Japanese commercials
  • Textless Opening and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” comes with a slipcover and also both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the anime series.


In Japan, mystery manga and anime series are quite popular.  In fact, one of the longest running anime series still on television is “Meitantei Conan” (Case Closed) which has been airing since 1996 (and the manga series since 1994).

But part of the excitement surrounding the anime series “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is that it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Rampo Edogawa.  An author known for creating mystery fiction novels and many works that were inspired by his original oeuvre.

Set for a modern age, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is a mystery anime series that focuses on murder cases, but primarily focusing on Twenty Faces, a vigilante who murders people who have not received justice for murdering their victims.

Where other mystery anime series have a humorous side and often a touch of darkness, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” has that but in a weird, unusual way, one of the main characters, Kobayashi (a boy who is often mistaken for a girl), has a different perspective of seeing things in life.  Perhaps it’s the way she was raised or the challenges in life that she has endured, but sometimes her thinking puts her in odds with her good friend Hashiba (a guy who obviously likes Kobayashi).

Meanwhile, main protagonist Kogoro Akechi is rather interesting in the fact that he also sees life in a different way, similar to Kobayashi.  But he has skeletons in his past that are slowly revealed throughout the anime series.

As for the Blu-ray, animation is fantastic as colors are vibrant and characters are well-drawn.  Lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done, with the English dub receiving the 5.1 treatment.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.  As for special features, you get an audio commentary (possibly one of the worst Funimation audio commentaries that I’ve listened to), Japanese promotional videos and commercials.

Overall, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series” is for the anime fan who loves mystery anime series.  And it’s also easier to follow since it’s only eleven episodes long.  “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is an anime series worth watching!

Purchase from Rightstuf

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five

DURATION: Episodes 505-516 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The tragedy at Marineford sends shockwaves around the world, and the Straw Hats struggle desperately to meet again in Luffy’s most heart-wrenching time of grief.

Incapable of protecting his friends, Luffy questions his ability to become the King of the Pirates. His crew members, scattered to the farthest reaches of the globe, are more determined than ever to keep their promise and return to Sabaody Archipelago in three days. But when ”Dark King” Rayleigh offers Luffy a stern suggestion, Luffy must choose between reuniting with his friends or joining Rayleigh in training. Luffy’s decision drives him back to Marineford, where he pays his respects to the fallen and sends a secret message to his friends. The news stirs enemies from all walks of life. Monkey D. Luffy is ringing in the New Age!


As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” features on the aftermath as Luffy wants to train harder for the next two years, so he can protect those he cares about.

As news of Ace’s death starts to reach the Straw Hat Pirates, they also know that with two years left, until they all meet again, they must get stronger and train.

Meanwhile, Luffy’ makes a daring appearance at Marineford to deliver a message throughout the world.

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 776 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 506 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Outtakes: Part 1 – (10:50) Featuring outtakes with the English dub talent for the Straw Hat Pirates.
  • Episode 515 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp).
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five”, the episodes are the final episodes of the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 505-516) as this volume features the aftermath of Ace’s death and Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates know they have two years until they reunite, but with the two years, they must do all that’s necessary to become stronger.

As Luffy needs to get a message to the Straw Hat Pirates, he must take a bold trip to Marineford. Meanwhile, Luffy must learn a new skill in order to become a stronger leader and fighter. And Rayleigh, will do whatever is possible to get Luffy ready.

Chopper must train in Birdie Kingdom and learn more medicine, on Weatheria, Nami must learn on how to become a better navigator and learn from the scientists, on Kurakiri Island, Franky must learn new skills from Dr. Vegapunk’s inventions, on Kamabakka Kingdom, Sanji must learn from Ivankov about newkama cooking, in the Tehna Gehna Kingdom, Brook must train himself to reach 40 degrees and in the Bowin Islands, despite gaining a lot of weight, Usopp is trained by Heracules to become stronger. And Robin joins up with the Revolutionaries at East Blue’s large bridge to improve herself before returning to the group.

As this DVD volume prepares viewers for Season 15 (Japan) and fastforwards two years later, the volume focuses on Luffy and the Strawhat Pirates and their commitment to get stronger and train harder for the next two years.

The episodes also bring back footage from the past as they remember why they joined the Straw Hat Pirates and how Luffy was there for them. But also seeing pirates and even admirals who will become significant characters in the series.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume finally showcases the Straw Hat Pirates and seeing what they have been up to since each of them went their separate ways and making a vow to reunite a few years years later.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and an outtakes featurette.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four

DURATION: Episodes 493-504 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


A glimpse of the past, how Luffy and Ace met!

The battle at Marineford has come to a close, but the story of Luffy and Ace’s past has yet to be told! As a boy of only seven, Luffy is reluctantly taken in by the Dadan family of mountain bandits at his grandfather’s request. After many failed attempts, he finally befriends Dadan’s other charge, the moody and reckless Ace. Together with their friend Sabo, the boys loot the junkyard known as the Gray Terminal and battle mighty beasts of the forest.

 Dreaming of becoming pirates, the three form inseparable bonds of brotherhood. But the impending arrival of a Celestial Dragon throws the kingdom into a frenzy as they try to hide the garbage that has shamed their noble city. Playtime is over when Sabo’s family takes their son away and a sinister plan to destroy the Gray Terminal unfolds.


In the last volume of “One Piece”, we witnessed the tragic death of Ace.  As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” features on how Luffy and Ace met and how he, Ace and Ace’s friend Sabo would grow up together as children with dreams of becoming pirates.  But how tragedy would eventually lead them to train harder.

As Luffy remembers the past, he knows that he must train harder, become stronger and making a tough decision.

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 767 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” (Episodes 493-504), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

NOTE: Episode 492 featuring Luffy teaming up with Toriko is not included for the North American DVD release.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 495 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jessica Cavanagh (voice of Curly Dadan) and Newton Pittman (voice of Magra).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 503 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris Burnett and Morgan Garrett.
  • Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – (14:41) Funimation staff discuss Ace’s death and why it was a tragic story that affected viewers worldwide.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 493-504) as this volume features another heartbreaking story but one that gives people a breather from the shocking and tragic death of Ace but now going back in the past to show how Luffy and Ace have a special bond, but also how there was another character which Luffy and Ace considered as brothers.

With episodes 493-504, as Luffy mourns the death of Ace, we get to watch flashback episodes when he and Ace were young and how Ace was really bad towards Luffy but eventually they became brothers, along with another person named Sabo.

The three made a decision to become pirates and trained hard to become stronger.  But most importantly, to show how Ace was an important figure in Luffy’s life and how Luffy really had no one but Ace and Sabo.  But the three get in trouble and are captured by the pirate, Bluejam.

While the last DVD volume was truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster, we learn that both Ace and Luffy had also faced a major heartbreaking tragedy that would set them on a new path to become stronger and achieve their goals to become pirates.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume does showcase Luffy and Ace as children but it’s still action-packed, full of humor but also tragedy, so prepare yourself for another sad tragic demise of a character.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and FUNimation staff discussing the death of a major character.

Unfortunately, episode 492 is not included on this DVD as it’s a collaboration episode between Luffy and Toriko (of the “Toriko” anime series). And possibly due to licensing issues, this episode was not included in this volume.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?  Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 13-24 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 27, 2016


Originally created by Daisuke Furuya (Storyboard), Takaya Kagami (Story) and Yamato Yamamoto (Art)

Director: Daisuke TokudoNaoyuki Tatsuwa

Series Composition by Hiroshi Seko

Music by Asami Tachibana, Hiroyuki Sawano, Megumi Shiraishi, Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Kadowaki

Art Director: Seiko Yoshioka

Anime Production: Wilt Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Ian Sinclair as Shiho Kimizuki

Kensho Ono/Justin Briner as Mikaela Hyakuya

Miyu Irino/Micah Solusod as Yuichiro Hyakuya

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Yoichi Saotome

Saori Hayami/Felecia Angelle as Shinoa Hiragi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Ferid Bathory

Yūichi Nakamura/Dave Trosko as Guren Ichinose

Yuka Iguchi/Alex Moore as Mitsuba Sangu

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Krul Tepes

Atsumi Tanezaki/Skyler McIntosh as Sayuri Hanayori

Daisuke Ono/Duncan Brannan as Norito Goshi

Kenichi Suzumura/Austin Tindle as Crowley Eusford

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Jerry Jewell as Shinya Hiragi

Tomoaki Maeno as Kureto Hiragi

Yu Shimamura/Trina Nishimura as Mito Jūjō

Yui Ishikawa as Shigure Yukimi


With the Shinjuku Battle behind him and Mika lost to the side of the vampires, Yuichiro begins searching for a way to turn his old friend back into a human. But first, he and the rest of his squad must focus on controlling the powerful demons they’ve made contracts with. If they hope to survive, they’ll have to walk the line between being possessed by their demon’s powers and being completely consumed by them. As they continue training, a new threat appears in the form of Kureto Hiragi the ruthless lieutenant general of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. While he prefers to keep his true intentions hidden, Kureto makes it clear he can match the cruelty of any vampire. When he receives intel that the main unit of the vampire army plans to attack again, Guren and the rest of the Black Demon Army are sent on a suicide mission deep behind enemy lines. Their objective: exterminate the vampire nobles before humanity makes its last stand and the Seraph of the End is unleashed.


In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

While the manga series is ongoing in Japan, the first season of the anime series was released on television in 2015 and was released on Blu-ray + DVD in the US in May 2016.

Produced by Wilt Studios, the anime series is directed by Daisuke Tokudo (“Guilty Crown”, “Hal”), series composition by Hiroshi Seko (“Attack on Titan”, “Ajin: Shototsu”, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”), character design by Satoshi Kadowaki (“Attack on Titan”, “Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”) and art direction by Seiko Yoshioka.

“Seraph of the End” begins with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test? And will Yuichiro make new friends?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair?

In the second half of the first season, Yuichiro still trying to learn more about his special abilities, must find a way to get his cursed gear Asumaru to work with him.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, interesting partnerships or rivalries created within the ranks of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires. The Japanese Imperial Demon Army plans to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s team must be ready to go into battle.

The problem is that they continue to work as individuals rather than a team and are not taking the attack as seriously as they should.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army is planning to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s squad must take on the Fifteenth Progenitor vampire, Lucal Wesker.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi work together to take on the Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess.

But with their Japanese Imperial Demon Army soldiers being depleted in the war against the nobles, do humans even have a chance?

Or is there a true enemy pulling the strings between the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the Vampires?


VIDEO:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” 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 and really does a great job of complimenting the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 16 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring Alex Moore, Ian Sinclair, Felecia Angelle and Dave Trosco.
  • Episode 21 Video Commentary -Video commentary featuring Monica Rial, Justin Briner, Eric Vale and Austin Tindel.
  • Episode 24 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Micah Solusod, Garrett Storms, Dave Trosco and Justin Briner.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • US Trailer
  • Promo Videos
  • BD/DVD Promos
  • Seraph of the Endless Parts 10-13 – (18:49) Hilarious omake that were shown at the end of each episode.

EXTRAS:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for this first season.


“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is a dark fantasy anime series based on the manga by mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya.

The three teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu” (“Seraph of the End”) and an anime adaptation courtesy of Wilt Studios. The series was rather enjoyable as the storyline featured children living underground as slaves of vampires. Literally, as cattle that they can feed upon.

Wanting nothing more but to escape the vampires even though they are not powerful, the main protagonist Yuiichiro is your typical headstrong teen who desires nothing more but to defeat them but desperately wants the power to do so.

But in order to join the Demon Army, he must make friends and learn the importance of family. But as for his orphan family and the person he was most close to, Mikaela…what will happen when Yuichiro find out the boy he called brother, has become a vampire?

While Mika became a vampire, he still harbors his hatred towards the vampires. While Yuichiro, thinking Mika is dead, has used his thirst for revenge to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires. And he has trained with his partners and received discipline and power to fight back.

But when he has a chance to kill the vampires, he is shocked to find out that the one he has to kill is Mikaela, and vice versa, as Mikaela finds out the vampire hunters he is to kill, one is Yuichiro.

But now that they know that one another is alive, what will happen to them now?

In the second half of the series, Yuichiro and his team prepare for the army’s sneak attack against the vampire nobles.  But the group are often messing around and not taking things as seriously as they should.

Do they know the ramifications if one of their own is killed in battle?  Are they ready to face the danger that is coming their way?  For now, the army thinks the team has zero chance because their lack of teamwork.

As the army prepares its sneak attack, the group must team up with Makoto Narumi’s team in order to take out the vampire, Fifteenth Progenitor Lucal Wesker.

Also, the series features the battle against Lucal Wesker but showing how the fight against the other nobles have led to the decimation of squads and now, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose needs whoever is still alive to launch a fight against the powerful vampire, Crowley Eusford and fellow nobles, Chess and Horn.

Meanwhile, Mikaela Hyakyuya, Yuichiro’s childhood friend who has turned into a vampire is looking for him.  But what will he find?

There is quite a bit of potential that leaved me wanting to watch more after all was done, as the humans vs. vampires war seems to get exciting with each episode.

The animation production by Wilt Studio is fantastic! The series is colorful, well-shaded and the art backgrounds was really well done! The series really compliments the original manga style with violence, darkness and more! So, on Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic! Voice acting is wonderful on both Japanese and English soundtracks, with the English dub getting a nod for its 5.1 lossless soundtrack!

And the Blu-ray also comes with a good number of special features including a video and two audio commentaries!

Overall, the second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?

Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

 

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 481-491 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


Will Whitebeard’s final stand usher in a new era? Ace is freed from his shackles but escaping Marineford isn’t going to be that easy. The Navy has their sights set on the two brothers as they make a mad dash towards freedom. Injured, but not down for the count Whitebeard rises to put a stop to his crew’s attack, giving them the order to escape to the New World and leave him for dead. Unwilling to let the man who raised him stand alone against his enemies, Ace turns back to lend a hand. Before he can reach his destination, Akainu appears to test the might of his magma against the flames of Fire Fist Ace. As their battle heats up, Luffy and the rest of the world can only watch as the legendary pirate Whitebeard strikes out with all his power and attempts to sink Marineford to the bottom of the sea.


In the long storyline of “One Piece”, there is one storyline that has struck a chord with fans, especially in Japan, as it mourns one of the popular characters of the manga/anime series.

In this latest volume  of “One Piece” (Season Eight, Voyage Three), we have watched as Luffy and Whitebeard and fellow pirates have come to the aid to save Ace from execution.

But Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that they both are dead.

And as this volume features tragedy, the battle between the pirate and marines leads to the escape of Blackbeard and the Blackbeard Pirates.  And for Whitebeard, his former teacher is now his greatest enemy.  One will win, but the other will not survive.

Do not miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” (Episodes 481-491), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 482 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy) and ason and production assistant, Katherine Salavarria.
  • EPISODE 486 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Matt Thurston (voice of Shuryu) and Cole Brown (voice of Blackbeard).

DISC 2:

  • Top 10 Moments – (18:13) Colleen Clinkenbeard, Mike McFarland, Brina Palencia, Joel McDonald, Godswill Ugwa and Katherine Salavarria discuss their top ten moments.
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 481-491) as this volume features one of the most heartbreaking episodes ever featured on “One Piece”.

Major deaths take place in this volume and the plot revolves around Luffy and Whitebeard trying to save Ace from being executed by the Marines.  And it’s not going to be an easy save, as the three powerful Admirals of the Marines are present and Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that both Luffy and Ace are dead.

Meanwhile, as the battles are taking place, destruction happens and Blackbeard and his pirates have been released and are now causing problems, which leads to another tragic death.

The volume also features the return of Trafalgar Law who comes to try to offer Luffy and Jimbei assistance. And we also see the return of Shanks and his crew!

This latest DVD volume is truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster.  If you haven’t read the manga series and are just watching the anime series, one can’t simply put into words of how these episodes will no doubt make you shed a tear if you are a “One Piece” fan.  But it’s these episodes that takes the series and its character to a new direction.

This volume is purely all action, as we get to see Ace fight for his life, Whitebeard fighting against Akainu and Blackbeard, the return of characters and so much more!  This is probably the biggest war between the pirates and the marines that we have seen thus far.  And it was no doubt the bloodiest and tragic battle yet.

Needless to say, this volume has a tremendous amount of action and “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and a few cast and crew discussing their top 10.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends are now closer to Ace but as the Marines and Pacifistas try to undermine them from rescuing Ace, will they be able to make it happen?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

Highly recommended!

One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut” is a re-release of “One Piece: Season Six – Volume Four and Five” in a dual volume set release.  Featuring 23 episodes, the uncut sets are definitely worth it, if you are trying to catch up on the “One Piece” series and want more bang for the buck!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 373-396 (Duration: 600 Minutes, 4 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 28, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The harrowing Thriller Bark arc reaches its brutal end with a superhuman slugfest! Luffy, battered beyond belief, pushes his body past the breaking point as he seeks to save his friends and deliver the decisive blow against Gecko Moria. When the dust clears, only Zoro and Sanji are left standing to protect their fallen captain from the brutish Bartholomew Kuma. Should one of them somehow withstand a savage beating from this behemoth, the crew just might survive long enough for Sanji to meet his dream girl—a beautiful mermaid in distress named Camie! After taking her on board, the Straw Hats drop anchor at an island bursting with bubbles in the hopes of equipping their ship for underwater travel. But when Camie is kidnapped, job number one becomes saving their newest friend from the cruel clutches of the Celestial Dragons!


NOTE:  One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut features two volumes (One Piece Season Six: Voyage Four and Voyage Five)

After the fight against Nightmare Luffy,  the Strawhat Pirates takes on the Oars and Luffia takes on Moria.

And after helping out Brook, the Strawhat Pirates get a new member.

Also, the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” begins and a man named Duval is wanting Sanji dead for some reason.

Find out in “One Piece Collection 16”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 14th season and over 500 episodes having aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” (Episodes 434-445), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 377 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring voice actors Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • In the Galley with the Straw Hats – (27:17) Featuring “One Piece” voice actors pigging out and talking about their experiences on the series.  Featuring Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper), Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma), Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin), Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • EPISODE 384 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Monkey D. Luffy) and Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 387 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma) and Hunter Scott (voice of Macro).

DISC 4:

  • Villains and Fishmen: A Peek Behind the Curtain – (22:23) Featuring Hunter Scott (voice actor of Macro), David Vincent (voice of Duval) and Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma).
  • EPISODE 393 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Megan Shipman (voice of Camie).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)
  • Textless Opening Song – “Share the World”

With the release of “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut”, the episodes are from the Japanese 10th and 11th season (featuring episodes 373-396) as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and the beginning of the Sabaody Archipelago Chapter.  Please note that these episodes have been released in the US on DVD before as “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Four” and “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Five”.

With the first few episodes featured, this represents the final episodes of Japan’s 10th season as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and how Brook became a member of the Strawhat Pirates.

The episodes after that arc then begins the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” as the Strawhat Pirates vacation at Spa Islands, a ship with luxury facilities that serves pirates and criminals.  And once again, the group comes in contact with the Foxy Pirates who are in search of a special gem.

Unfortunately, this drags the Strawhat Pirates into a confrontation with the island’s owner, Doran, who has captured Sayo and will only release her if Luffy and friends find the gem.

Meanwhile, the Strawhat Pirates confront Iron Mask Duval and the Macro Gang in search of a friend.

As for the DVD, you get 23-episodes and picture quality is very good. Especially in Japan, all “One Piece” episodes since 2007 have been broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be interesting if that means the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But for the DVD, picture quality is colorful, vibrant and looks good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, you get a good number of audio commentary and other special featurettes with the English dub voice actors.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and I’m in it for the long haul. And for those who want the better value of watching “One Piece” in a collected volume, these uncut releases feature two volumes each, so it helps you catch up to the current single volume releases.

With that being said, you can join in at the beginning of any season and still be interested in “One Piece”. I do recommend at least watching the first season, so you get an idea of what’s going on with the primary characters (or read the manga). Especially to find out the goal of the Straw Hat Pirates is and how they all joined to form their crew, the Straw Hat Pirates.

But “One Piece” is definitely one of the most entertaining, exciting and action-packed series that continues to have a strong presence in Japan for over a decade.

Exciting, crazy and just an enjoyable anime series, find out why many people have enjoyed the story of the the Straw Hat Pirates and their adventures in “One Piece”!

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is the a must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season and sets the story up before the hardhitting episodes to be seen in volume three. Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 469-480 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: July 26, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


In One Piece Season 8 Voyage 2, A bold rescue plan turns into a Navy trap! As Luffy and his pirate allies advance across the bay of Marineford to save Ace, the government unleashes a deadly surprise – a powerful ­squad of living weapons – the Pacifistas.

Just as the pirates’ doom seems assured, Whitebeard reveals a trick up his sleeve – a hidden ship that rises from the depths to carry them toward the only breech. The Whitebeard Pirates, along with Luffy and his allies, meet the Navy forces led by the three Admirals, in a vicious, explosive, no-holds-barred clash at the base of Ace’s execution platform. Whitebeard is faltering. Luffy can barely move. And Luffy’s grandfather, Vice Admiral Garp, blocks the way. Can the pirates rescue Ace against all odds? Find out in One Piece Season 8 Voyage 2!


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With the marines now setting the execution early, Luffy and Whitebeard try to save Ace from being executed.

But the Pacifistas begin their attack on the Whitebeard Pirates while Luffy and others take on Mihawk.  But awaiting for Luffy is his grandfather, the vice admiral, Monkey D. Garp of the Marines.  The highly anticipated battle between grandson and grandfather begins!

With time of the essence, can Luffy and Whitebeard save Ace?

Find out in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” (Episodes 469-480), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 2:

  • Music Lessons with Brook – (4:38) Featuring voice actor Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) giving music lessons.
  • EPISODE 476 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jason Douglas (voice of Aokiji) and Andrew Love (voice of Akainu).
  • EPISODE 480 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Brian Mathis (Monkey D. Garp) and Ed Blaylock (voice of Sengoku).
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 469-480) as Whitebeard and Ace are much closer to saving Ace, but the Marines and the Pacifistas put an amazing fight to try and prevent them from reaching him.

This volume is truly epic as it gets close to setting up the third volume of episodes that will no doubt shock One Piece fans (who have managed to avoid any spoilers so far).

This volume is purely all action and while a lot of the episodes focuses on Whitebeard and his determination to save Ace, we see Luffy taking on two vice admirals and Kizaru.  Especially as Akainu waits for Whitebeard for battle.

Also, we get to see the return of Luffy’s grandfather, Monkey D. Garp, who is the Vice Admiral of the Marines who will do anything to prevent Luffy from rescuing Ace. And it is the highly anticipated battle between Yuffy and Garp.

Needless to say, this volume has a tremendous amount of action and “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

For “One Piece” fans, this season is possibly one of the more monumental seasons of “One Piece”, as it changes the direction of the series and the characters because of what happens in this season.

I don’t want to spoil anything for “One Piece” fans who are avoiding any reading of spoilers, but these first three volumes of season eight (US Funimation seasons) will be action-packed, surprising and absolutely heartbreaking. So, prepare yourself for one heck of an emotional rollercoaster.

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and a featurette with Brook voice actor Ian Sinclair.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends are now closer to Ace but as the Marines and Pacifistas try to undermine them from rescuing Ace, will they be able to make it happen?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Two” is the a must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season and sets the story up before the hardhitting episodes that will be featured in volume three.

Highly recommended!

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is the first must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season. Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 457-468 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 31, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Duncan Brannan as Mr. 3

Kazuki Yao/Barry Yandell as Bon Clay


In One Piece Season 8, with the tides turned against him, Luffy’s prison break becomes a race to save Ace!

Fresh off their daring escape from the underwater prison Impel Down, Monkey D. Luffy and his band of Buggy-obsessed escapees set out to rescue Ace from being executed by the World Government. Just one problem – he’s being held at Marineford, the Navy’s most heavily guarded headquarters with a reputation for being impenetrable!

With only three hours to spare before the execution, Luffy finds himself blocked out by the large gates surrounding the base. As the legendary pirate Whitebeard and his crew declare war on the marines, the three admirals, backed by the Seven Warlords of the Sea, vow to carry out Ace’s sentence no matter what.

After a shocking family secret whips the crowd into a frenzy, the stakes grow even higher – meaning Luffy will have to get creative if he intends to stand a chance against the titanic forces standing in his way. Don’t miss the thrilling adventure in season 8 of One Piece!

 


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With three hours left until execution, the five Warlords and the three Marine Admirals prepare for their battle against Whitebeard.

And what is the relationship between Ace and Whitebeard?

Find out if Luffy and Whitebeard are able to achieve their goal in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” (Episodes 457-468), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Episode 462 Commentary – Director Joel McDonald with voice talent Daniel Baugh (voice of Jimbei).

DISC 2:

  • Robin’s Search – (4:38) Featuring voice actress Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin) on her search for a book at the local library.
  • EPISODE 468 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Director Joel McDonald, Bruce Elliot (voice of Whitebeard) and Kyle Felix (voice of Marco the Phoenix).
  • Textless Opening Song – “Kaze wo Sagashite”
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One”, the episodes are from the Japanese 13th season and 14th season (featuring episodes 457-468) as Whitebeard has now arrived to try and save Ace.

With three hours until Ace’s execution, the Marines try to find out who the true parents of Ace and Luffy are.  And in this latest volume of “One Piece”, Ace’s origin is revealed.

For “One Piece” fans, this season is possibly one of the more monumental seasons of “One Piece”, as it changes the direction of the series and the characters because of what happens in this season.

I don’t want to spoil anything for “One Piece” fans who are avoiding any reading of spoilers, but these three volumes to be released will be action-packed, surprising and absolutely heartbreaking.  So, prepare yourself for one heck of an emotional rollercoaster.

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and a featurette with Nico Robin voice actress Stephanie Young.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends have only three hours to save Ace before his execution.  But with the powerful Marine Admirals waiting for them to arrive, do they even have a chance?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage One” is the first must-see volume of this very important “One Piece” season.

Highly recommended!

The Boy and the Beast (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

boyandthebeast

Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic!  Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Boy and the Beast Film Partners.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Boy and the Beast

DURATION: 119 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Script by Mamoru Hosoda

Original Story by Mamoru Hosoda

Producers: Takashi Watanabe, Yuichiro Saito

Character Designs by Daisuke Iga, Mamoru Hosoda, Takaaki Yamashita

Art Direction by Takashi Omori, Yohei Takamatsu, Youichi Nishikawa

Art Design by Anri Jojo

Music by Masakatsu Takagi

Anime Production: Studio Chizu


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Miyazaki/Luci Christian as Kyuta (Young)

Kōji Yakusho/John Swasey as Kumatetsu

Shōta Sometani/Eric Vale as Kyuta (Teen)

Haru Kuroki/Morgan Berry as Ichirohiko (Young)

Kappei Yamaguchi/Austin Tindle as Jiromaru (Older)

Kazuhiro Yamaji/Sean Hennigan as Iozan

Lily Franky/Alex Organ as Hyakushūbō

Mamoru Miyano/Austin Tindle as Ichirohiko (Older)

Masahiko Tsugawa/Steve Powell as Grand Master

Momoka Ono/Brittney Karbowski as Jiromaru (Young)

Sumire Morohoshi/Monica Rial as Chiko

Suzu Hirose/Bryn Apprill as Kaede

Yo Oizumi/Ian Sinclair as Tatara


The Boy and the Beast is the latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children): When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice.

Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test- a final showdown. Can the two finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage? Don’t miss the critically acclaimed film The Boy and The Beast!


It was the animated film that would take Japan by storm.

In 2015, the animated film “Bakemono no Ko” (The Boy and the Beast) which was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (“Summer Wars”, “Wolf Children”, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”) and produced by Studio Chizu, would go on to earn over $48 million in the box office.  And would be released in the the theaters in the US in March 2016.

And now, “The Boy and the Beast” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film revolves around a homeless nine-year-old named Ren.

Ren’s parents are divorced and he has not seen his father, while his mother has passed away.

Refusing to live with his legal guardians, Ren has been living in the streets of Shibuya.  Stealing food and sleeping the alley ways, he thinks about the moments in his life after his mother died.

Meanwhile, in the Beast Kingdom known as Jutengai, the lord has announced that he will retire in order to reincarnate as a deity and is looking for two successors.  It would be either the popular Iozen, father of two kids or the powerful but lazy Kumatetsu.  But the Grandmaster suggests to Kumatetsu that he needs to find an apprentice/disciple in order to succeed him.

Back in Shiibuya, as Ren is trying to survive and avoid the police (who want to send him back to his legal guardians), one day, two hooded figures approach Ren and it happens to be Kumatetsu and his companion, Tatara.  Tatara jokes around that Kumatetsu should take a human to become his apprentice.

Ren is shocked to see that the individuals are not human and Kumatetsu asks Ren if he is willing to become his apprentice.  While not willing, Ren still follows Kumatetsu and he finds himself in the Beast Kingdom and unable to go back home.

Ren is taken by Hyakushubo, an apprentice monk and finds Ren and worries that he accidentally came into the Beast World.  But Kumatetsu shows up and tells Hyakushubo that Ren is his new assistant, shocking both Hyakushubo and Tatara, because no one brings a human into their world, let alone take him as an apprentice.  And Kumatetsu allows Ren to stay at his place.

One day, a battle begins between Iozen and Kumatetsu and Ren sees how everyone is supporting Iozen and Kumatetsu is alone.  Feeling the same as Kumatetsu, Ren cheers for him, despite Kumatetsu losing in the battle.  But because the actual duel of succession has not been officially announced, the battle does not count.

Ren takes in Ren, but because Ren won’t give out his real name, Kumatetsu names the boy, Kyuta.

Ren and Kumatetsu are like oil and water, they often argue and do not get along.  But in truth, both are very similar.  They grew up without parents, they grew up alone and both can understand each other’s pain.

But when the kids from the Beast Kingdom start teasing Kyuta as being weak, Ren decides to follow Kumatetsu’s lead and train together.

Fastforward eight years later and Kyuta has become a wonderful assistant for Kumatetsu and because Kyuta has become stronger, many people want to be trained by Kumatetsu.

But one day, while walking in the Beast Kingdom, Ren finds a way to go back to the human world.  How will life change for him?

And with the big battle between Kumatetsu and Iozen coming soon, who will be the next successor for Jutengai?


VIDEO:

“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features designs that are helped by the talented character designers Daisuke Iga, Takaaki Yamashita and of course, Mamoru Hosoda.  The beautiful, lush backgrounds courtesy of the art direction by Takashi Omoro, Yohei Takamatsu and Youichi Nishikawa. And with Studio Chizu responsible for the animation production, I was very impressed with the overall look of the film.  Gorgeous!

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters. Also, how vibrant colors were, from the blue skies, to the sun going down with the reddish purple haze over the horizon.  Even small details such as flies flying around the light and picture quality is amazing!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack produced the same results when I was testing scenes. Action sequences utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Boy and the Beast” contains the following special features:

  • Original Teaser
  • Japanese Trailer #1 and #2
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Boy and the Beast” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


I think that enough years have passed that I can easily say that whenever there is a film that Mamoru Hosoda is part of, especially in a writing and directing capacity, it’s no doubt something special.

You usually see the high expectations of an animated film when it is Studio Ghibli or Makoto Shinkai related but I can easily say that Mamoru Hosoda has earned it with a string of successful films from “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars” and “Wolf Children”, the same can be said about “The Boy and the Beast”.

From a wonderful, captivating story and gorgeous animation and background art, Mamoru Hosoda has no doubt achieve the respect of viewers that his films are successful in Japan.

And with “The Boy and the Beast”, it’s an inspirational tale about a runaway 9-year-old, living on the streets and is given a chance to become an apprentice for the strong, lazy and loud Kumatetsu.

Both have a similar upbringing, brought up alone and no one to be there for them.  But now these two lonely souls have each other, and as much as they are different and are often screaming and arguing at each other, both know that they need each other.  And despite not being human, Kumatetsu is more like a father to Ren (Kyuta).

And their friendship or relationship is no doubt put to the test as Kumatetsu is training for a major battle to become the next lord, Ren finds a way to go back into the human world and discover that his real father is alive but also a twist that leads to a chaotic ending that I never saw coming.

It’s no doubt a wonderful and delightful film that I was quite impressed with its characters and touching storyline.  Granted, the conflicts and characters are not as intricate if compared to Miyazaki film, but nevertheless, I do believe that Mamoru Hosoda manages to capture something magical with “The Boy and the Beast”.

And as the Blu-ray release, the animation for “The Boy and the Beast” is fantastic.  The background art is very detailed and looks gorgeous, while animation as well as character design is on par with other Mamoru Hosoda works.  As for the lossless audio, both soundtracks are fantastic.  Action sequences and crowd ambiance utilizes the surround channels effectively and there is also good use of LFE.

As for special features, there aren’t that many aside from the original teaser and Japanese and U.S. trailers.  The Blu-ray does include an UltraViolet code, which you can watch the film on your PC/Mac, Tablet or phone (as long as you can access Vudu).

As for the PG-13 rating, it’s because there is violence. Actually towards the final half hour of the film, the violence escalates and one of the primary protagonists gets injured badly.  So, this film is surely not appropriate for young children.

Overall, Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic!  Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!

 

Next Page »

Bottom