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

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Hunter x Hunter vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Director: Hiroshi Koujina

Series Composition: Atsushi Maekawa, Tsutomu Kamishiro

Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Art Director: Mio Isshiki

Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda

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

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Han/Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss

Keiji Fujiwara/Matthew Mercer as LeoRio

Kanako Mitsuhashi/Cristina Vee as Killua Zaoldyeck

Miyuki Sawashiro/Erika Harlacher as Kurapica

Akio Ohtsuka/Patrick Seitz as Mizaistom Nana/Uvogin

Aya Endo as Komugi

Ayumi Fujimura as Neferpito

Chisa Yokoyama as Biscuit Krueger

Cho as Bonolenov

Daisuke Kishio/Ray Chase as Hanzo

Daisuke Namikawa/Keith Silverstein as Hisoka


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Lie in April Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

yourlieinapril-2

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic! “Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Lie in April Vol. 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-22 (250 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16:9 HD Widescreen, English and Japanese 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: May 31, 2016


Originally Created by Naoshi Arakawa

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition/Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Yukiko Aikei

Art Director: Hisao Usui

Anime Character Design by Tomoaki Takase

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Kōsei Arima

Risa Taneda/Erica Lindbeck as Kaori Miyazono

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Nagi Aizato

Ayane Sakura/Erica Mendez as Tsubaki Sawabe

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Saki Arima

Ryota Ohsaka/Kyle McCarley as Ryōta Watari

Saori Hayami/Erika Harlacher as Emi Igawa

Shizuka Ishigami/Julie Ann Taylor as Nao Kashiwagi

Yuuki Kaji/Erika Scott Kimerer as Takeshi Aiza


Summer passes and Kaori spends more time in the hospital than school. After much struggling, Kousei comes to realize that he’s onstage now because of the people who support him. Playing the notes that they all gave him, Kousei pours his entire soul into his performance so that it will reach Kaori.


It has been a long road for piano child prodigy Kosei Arima.  Since the loss of his mother and the abuse he had to take as a child, he has been out of piano competitions and have been unable to play well enough to compete.

Until he met the free-spirited violinist Kaori Miyazono.

She has been able to get Kosei Arima to play again, to help him with his problems and the two have built a strong relationship.

But when Kaori starts becoming ill and unable to play, will Kosei Arima lose his will to play the piano again?

Find out in the second and final volume of “Your Lie in April”!

What is “Your Lie in April”?

Back in 2011, Naoshi Arakawa created the manga series “Shigatsu wa Kimi n o Uso” (Your Lie in April).

The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s “Monthly Shonen Magazine” from 2011-2015 and would be adapted into an anime series from October 2014-March 2015 on Fuji TV’s noitamina block.

The anime series was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Lance N’ Masques”), series composition and screenplay by Takao Yoshioka (“Elfen Lied”, “High School DxD”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Sekirei” and “Sky Girls”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, “Queen’s Blade: Rebellion”), character design by Yukiko Aikei (“Accel World”, “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”, “Aikatsu Stars!”) and art direction by Hisayo Usui (“Saint Young Men”, “Fairy Tail”, “Angel Beats!”).

With a live film adaptation of “Your Lie in April” to hit theaters in Japan in Sept. 2016, the first volume of the anime series (featuring episodes 1-11) was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Your Lie in April” is a series that revolves around a former child prodigy in playing piano named Kosei Arima. Known as the “human metronome”, he was also emotionally and physically abused by his mother who was very strict on him when it came to playing the piano and being perfect.

While he dominated piano competitions all throughout Japan, when his mother died of an illness, he suffered psychological trauma in which caused him to no longer hear the notes of the piano after playing for several minutes.

One day, he comes across violinist Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who doesn’t follow the rules of adhering strictly to the score but is beloved by audiences for her music.

While walking home, she hears Kosei playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, only for a few minutes before he starts to lose the ability to hear the notes, once he starts to concentrate.

Immediately Kaori appoints him as her accompanist for the second round of preliminaries, which he refuses and tells her that he can’t play.

But eventually, she convinces Kosei to play for the preliminaries and their musical journey together begins.

The main characters of “Your Lie in April” are:

  • Kosei Arima – A former child prodigy pianist known as “the human metronome”. Because of his domination at competitions, showing up to school and competitions with bruises and scratches and people seeing his mother abusing him, a lot of rumors have followed him everywhere he goes. But when his mother died, it left him in psychological trauma for some reason and he is no longer able to hear the notes when he concentrates. So, he has given up piano and is focusing on a normal life.
  • Kaori Miyazono – A free-spirited violinist who walks to the beat of her own drum, playing music the way she wants to. Despite drawing the ire of judging panels, the audiences love to see her play. She develops a strong friendship with Kosei when she asks him to become her accompanist.
  • Tsubaki Sawabe – Kosei’s childhood friend who has been with him since they were younger. She is athletic but she also has feelings towards Kosei and is jealous of the time he is spending with Kaori.
  • Ryota Watari – Kosei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend and the captain of the soccer team. He tells Kosei that Kaori is his love interest, so Kosei respects that, despite feeling a little jealous towards Ryota.
  • Takeshi Aiza – A rival pianist of Kosei. He has always respected Kosei’s domination at competition and looked to him as a hero. But as Takeshi has dominated competitions in Kosei’s absence, he has been waiting to compete against him.
  • Emi Igawa – A pianist who began after listening to Kosei play when she was five-years-old. Unlike Kosei, she wants to reach the audience through playing with emotion. She hopes to reach Kosei the same way, as she may have feelings towards him.
  • Saki Arima – The mother of Kosei who was very strict and abusive emotionally and physically towards him. She accepts nothing less than perfection. She was very ill and when she passed away, it sent Kosei into psychological trauma.
  • Hiroko Seto – Saki’s close friend from college and a renowned pianist. She is the person responsible for discovering Kosei’s piano talents. She blames herself for the abuse of Kosei, that she becomes his guardian.
  • Nagi Aiza – The younger sister of Takeshi Aiza.  She has always wanted her brother to notice her but he has been fixated with his rivalry to Kosei.  So, what happens when Nagi becomes Kosei’s student?

VIDEO:

“Your Lie in April” features gorgeous animation by A-1 Pictures. Character designs are well-done, because the anime series often takes place outdoors, the animators chose to show a wonderful amount of detail, vibrant colors and backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. Overall, picture quality is vibrant and the series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Lie in April” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Both English dub and the Japanese soundtrack features awesome performances by the voice talent. I was impressed by bot soundtracks as they are done very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Ending
  • Gag Reel – Featuring an English dub gag reel
  • Audio Commentary (Ep. 22) – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Matt Seitz and voice talents Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck.

EXTRAS:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards and a 10-track CD soundtrack (Duration: 19 Minutes) featuring music by Masaru Yokoyama.


Once in awhile, there are anime series that captivates you with its vibrant animation, its beautiful music, humor but also a deep storyline.

“Your Lie in April” is one of those series that I watched and found myself instantly hooked on its characters and its moving storyline that got better with episode after episode.

The story revolves around a former child prodigy pianist named Kousei Arima who literally has lost his will to play the piano after suffering psychological trauma after the death of his mother.

And while a loss of a family member of loved one can be banal in many storylines for film or TV series, “Your Lire in April” is different in the fact that Kousei was raised by his mother, but his mother was strict and abusive.

She never let him have any fun, disciplined and beat him when he didn’t get his notes correctly. She didn’t care about anything else about him, only that he plays the piano perfectly and she was his harshest critic.

He is looked at by many people negatively because of that lack of love or emotional demeanor. His piano playing was methodic and not emotional, he played the way his mother had taught him and beating his piano rivals at competitions were the goal. Being the perfect pianist was the only way to live his life.

But when she passed away, each time he would play, he would be swallowed by his memories of his strict mother angered at him. So much to the point that he would be unable to play the piano when trying to concentrate and literally not be able to hear the notes.

So, he has quit playing the piano for two years and living a normal school life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari.

But life changes for Kosei when he befriends and watches the violin performance of Kaori Miyazono.

While talented, she is free-spirited and doesn’t play for the judges, she plays for the audience.

Surprised by the way she approaches her music and the way she is as an individual, he is intrigued by her. But is shocked when she chooses him to be her piano accompanist for her preliminary competition.

Fearful and doubting himself of playing the piano again, he eventually decides to do it for this one time. But Kosei is unaware that this new friendship with the vibrant Kaori Miyazono, will change his life forever.

As we get into the second volume, after seeing Kosei grow and being able to play again, he starts to feel emotions that he has never felt for anyone and inside, he has fallen for Kaori.

Meanwhile, his childhood friend Tsubaki has started to realize that she has emotions towards Kosei and is unable to tell him, because she knows how he feels about Kaori.

And as we start to see progress with Kosei and even taking in a young student, Nagi Aiza, the younger sister of Takeshi Aiza, the pianist who has looked at Kosei as his major rival.

And just when Kosei is taking major steps to compete as a pianist again, his world is rocked once again when Kaori becomes very ill and is hospitalized.  Afraid that the same thing that happen to his mother may happen to Kaori, Kosei once again loses his will to play.

Will Kosei find the courage and the way to play the piano?

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the final eleven episodes. On Blu-ray, the animation is vibrant, detailed and looks fantastic in HD. I absolutely love the colors, the character design, the animation and background art for this anime series. And the lossless audio, may it be with the English dub or the original Japanese soundtrack, are both well-performed.

The second volume of “Your Lie in April” comes with three postcards but for those who were captivated by the music of this anime series, will be happy to know that another CD soundtrack featuring ten songs from the latter half of the anime series is included. (note: the solo piano and violin segments featured in the competitions are not included in this soundtrack.)

Overall, “Your Lie in April” is a rarity to find released in America.  As action-driven anime is what is primarily released, I have to say how happy I am that “Your Lie in April” was released and it features both Japanese an English dub. It’s a deep anime series and storywise, it’s been a long time since I have fallen in love with an anime series like this.

While the Japanese voice acting was wonderful, I just have to say that when it comes to English dubs, the acting by both Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck and also the other voice dub cast, have done an amazing job!  The writing was well done for the English version and I was amazed by the overall quality.

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic!

“Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

Your Lie in April Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

yourlifeinapril

“Your Lie in April” left me wanting to see the second half because the storyline was captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic! “Your Lie in April” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Lie in April Vol. 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (250 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16:9 HD Widescreen, English and Japanese 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: March 29, 2016


Originally Created by Naoshi Arakawa

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition/Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Yukiko Aikei

Art Director: Hisao Usui

Anime Character Design by Tomoaki Takase

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Kōsei Arima

Risa Taneda/Erica Lindbeck as Kaori Miyazono

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Nagi Aizato

Ayane Sakura/Erica Mendez as Tsubaki Sawabe

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Saki Arima

Ryota Ohsaka/Kyle McCarley as Ryōta Watari

Saori Hayami/Erika Harlacher as Emi Igawa

Shizuka Ishigami/Julie Ann Taylor as Nao Kashiwagi

Yuuki Kaji/Erika Scott Kimerer as Takeshi Aiza


Kousei Arima was a genius pianist until his mother’s sudden death took away his ability to play. Ever since then, each day was dull for Kousei. One day, he meets one violinist by the name of Kaori Miyazono. This care-free, independent, and sometimes short-tempered girl had an eccentric playing style that immediately fascinated Kousei. His once monotonous life was about to change forever.


Back in 2011, Naoshi Arakawa created the manga series “Shigatsu wa Kimi n o Uso” (Your Lie in April).

The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s “Monthly Shonen Magazine” from 2011-2015 and would be adapted into an anime series from October 2014-March 2015 on Fuji TV’s noitamina block.

The anime series was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Lance N’ Masques”), series composition and screenplay by Takao Yoshioka (“Elfen Lied”, “High School DxD”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Sekirei” and “Sky Girls”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, “Queen’s Blade: Rebellion”), character design by Yukiko Aikei (“Accel World”, “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”, “Aikatsu Stars!”) and art direction by Hisayo Usui (“Saint Young Men”, “Fairy Tail”, “Angel Beats!”).

With a live film adaptation of “Your Lie in April” to hit theaters in Japan in Sept. 2016, the first volume of the anime series (featuring episodes 1-11) was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Your Lie in April” is a series that revolves around a former child prodigy in playing piano named Kosei Arima.  Known as the “human metronome”, he was also emotionally and physically abused by his mother who was very strict on him when it came to playing the piano and being perfect.

While he dominated piano competitions all throughout Japan, when his mother died of an illness, he suffered psychological trauma in which caused him to no longer hear the notes of the piano after playing for several minutes.

One day, he comes across violinist Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who doesn’t follow the rules of adhering strictly to the score but is beloved by audiences for her music.

While walking home, she hears Kosei playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, only for a few minutes before he starts to lose the ability to hear the notes, once he starts to concentrate.

Immediately Kaori appoints him as her accompanist for the second round of preliminaries, which he refuses and tells her that he can’t play.

But eventually, she convinces Kosei to play for the preliminaries and their musical journey together begins.

The main characters of “Your Lie in April” are:

  • Kosei Arima – A former child prodigy pianist known as “the human metronome”.   Because of his domination at competitions, showing up to school and competitions with bruises and scratches and people seeing his mother abusing him, a lot of rumors have followed him everywhere he goes.  But when his mother died, it left him in psychological trauma for some reason and he is no longer able to hear the notes when he concentrates.  So, he has given up piano and is focusing on a normal life.
  • Kaori Miyazono – A free-spirited violinist who walks to the beat of her own drum, playing music the way she wants to.  Despite drawing the ire of judging panels, the audiences love to see her play.  She develops a strong friendship with Kosei when she asks him to become her accompanist.
  • Tsubaki Sawabe – Kosei’s childhood friend who has been with him since they were younger.  She is athletic but she also has feelings towards Kosei and is jealous of the time he is spending with Kaori.
  • Ryota Watari – Kosei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend and the captain of the soccer team.  He tells Kosei that Kaori is his love interest, so Kosei respects that, despite feeling a little jealous towards Ryota.
  • Takeshi Aiza – A rival pianist of Kosei.  He has always respected Kosei’s domination at competition and looked to him as a hero.  But as Takeshi has dominated competitions in Kosei’s absence, he has been waiting to compete against him.
  • Emi Igawa – A pianist who began after listening to Kosei play when she was five-years-old.  Unlike Kosei, she wants to reach the audience through playing with emotion.  She hopes to reach Kosei the same way, as she may have feelings towards him.
  • Saki Arima – The mother of Kosei who was very strict and abusive emotionally and physically towards him.  She accepts nothing less than perfection.  She was very ill and when she passed away, it sent Kosei into psychological trauma.
  • Hiroko Seto – Saki’s close friend from college and a renowned pianist. She is the person responsible for discovering Kosei’s piano talents.  She blames herself for the abuse of Kosei, that she becomes his guardian.

VIDEO:

“Your Lie in April” features gorgeous animation by A-1 Pictures. Character designs are well-done, because the anime series often takes place outdoors, the animators chose to show a wonderful amount of detail, vibrant colors and backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. Overall, picture quality is vibrant and the series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Lie in April” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Both English dub and the Japanese soundtrack features awesome performances by the voice talent.  I was impressed by bot soundtracks as they are done very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Ending
  • Audio Commentary (Ep. 1) – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Matt Seitz and voice talents Max Mittelman, Erica Lindbeck, Erica Mendez and Kyle McCarley.

EXTRAS:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with three collectible postcards and a 10-track CD soundtrack (Duration: 19 Minutes) featuring music by Masaru Yokoyama.


Once in awhile, there are anime series that captivates you with its vibrant animation, its beautiful music, humor but also a deep storyline.

“Your Lie in April” is one of those series that I watched and found myself instantly hooked on its characters and its moving storyline that got better with episode after episode.

The story revolves around a former child prodigy pianist named Kousei Arima who literally has lost his will to play the piano after suffering psychological trauma after the death of his mother.

And while a loss of a family member of loved one can be banal in many storylines for film or TV series, “Your Lire in April” is different in the fact that Kousei was raised by his mother, but his mother was strict and abusive.

She never let him have any fun, disciplined and beat him when he didn’t get his notes correctly.  She didn’t care about anything else about him, only that he plays the piano perfectly and she was his harshest critic.

He is looked at by many people negatively because of that lack of love or emotional demeanor.  His piano playing was methodic and not emotional, he played the way his mother had taught him and beating his piano rivals at competitions were the goal.  Being the perfect pianist was the only way to live his life.

But when she passed away, each time he would play, he would be swallowed by his memories of his strict mother angered at him.  So much to the point that he would be unable to play the piano when trying to concentrate and literally not be able to hear the notes.

So, he has quit playing the piano for two years and living a normal school life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari.

But life changes for Kosei when he befriends and watches the violin performance of Kaori Miyazono.

While talented, she is free-spirited and doesn’t play for the judges, she plays for the audience.

Surprised by the way she approaches her music and the way she is as an individual, he is intrigued by her.  But is shocked when she chooses him to be her piano accompanist for her preliminary competition.

Fearful and doubting himself of playing the piano again, he eventually decides to do it for this one time.  But Kosei is unaware that this new friendship with the vibrant Kaori Miyazono, will change his life forever.

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 comes with the first eleven episodes.  On Blu-ray, the animation is vibrant, detailed and looks fantastic in HD.  I absolutely love the colors, the character design, the animation and background art for this anime series.  And the lossless audio, may it be with the English dub or the original Japanese soundtrack, are both well-performed.

The first volume of “Your Lie in April” comes with three postcards but for those who were captivated by the music of this anime series, will be happy to know that the first volume comes with a CD soundtrack featuring ten songs from the anime series (note: the solo piano and violin segments featured in the competitions are not included in this soundtrack).

Overall, “Your Lie in April” left me wanting to see the second half because the storyline was captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring.  It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic!

“Your Lie in April” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

J!-ENT ANNUAL 2015 is now AVAILABLE (FREE FOR DOWNLOAD)

December 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

j-entannual2015

Our yearly J!-ENT Annual for 2015 is now available for download.

And this time, J!-ENT GOES TO JAPAN!  But also many other awesome events in such as Anime Japan and Tokyo Outdoor Expo.  And in the U.S. like San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, Anime Expo, J-Pop Summit, Comikaze, ZAPPCON and many more.

Featuring over a thousand pages which includes interviews with Eir Aoi (our second interview), Little Glee Monster, Ken Ishii, GARNiDELiA, FES ☆ TIVE , Gacharic Spin, Jeanist, Amiaya,Kanako Ito, Musubizm, Jaru Jaru, photo gallery featuring Momoiro Clover Z, LinkStar’s, Cheeky Parade, Faint☆Star, Gouhou Shojou Shoukougun, FEMM, Rio Hiiragi, Ayumi Seto, YuRi, Hiko Achiha, RinRin and more!

For this year’s cosplay interviews, we interview Riki “Riddle” Lecotey, Valerie Perez, Giada Robin and Holly Brooke.

For voice talent, we interview legendary voice actress (Ghibli animated films) Sumi Shimamoto, Haruka Terui and English dub voice talents Cristina Vee, Christine Cabanos, Kyle Hebert and Erika Harlacher.

We interview “BlazBlue” creator Toshimichi Mori and voice actresses Kanako Kondo and Kana Ueda.

We also interview artists and animators Hiromi Kato, Osamu Kobayashi and also figma toy founders Max Watanabe and Masaki Apsy.

You can download our J!-ENT 2015 annual here (Note: You will need Adobe Reader to read our Annual):


LOW-RES (Single Page Version)

PDF (210 MB) | Download from Google Drive (208MB)

Compressed ZIP Format (193 MB) | Download from Google Drive (192MB)


MID-RES (SINGLE-PAGE VERSION):

PDF (662 MB) | Download from Google Drive (661MB)

Compressed ZIP Format (646MB) | Download from Google Drive (645MB)

View on PDF Archive

PREFERRED TWO-PAGE VIEW VERSION!!! [MUST BE READ via ADOBE READER, NOT WITH A BROWSER]

(For the Two-Page View Version – Please note that in order for us to do this, we had to insert a page right after the cover, so table of contents will be off by one page)

PDF (662 MB) | Download from Google Drive (661MB)

Compressed ZIP Format (647MB) | Download from Google Drive (647MB)


HI-RES

PDF (2.7GB) | Download from Google Drive (2.8GB)

Compressed ZIP format (2.7GB) | Download from Google Drive (2.7GB)

Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An enjoyable mecha anime series with a fine balance of action, humor and drama.  “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” is a story about three teenager girls who must conquer their fears and protect the city of Kamogawa and its citizens with their mecha vox robots against aliens who have come to attack Earth.  For fans of mecha anime or for anime fans looking for something not too deep or dark, definitely give “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~Set 1” a chance.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Lagrange Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1 (輪廻のラグランジェ)

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 Minutes (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV-MA

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Chief Director: Tatsuo Sato

Director: Toshimasa Suzuki

Series Composition by Shotaro Suga

Original Character Design by Haruyuki Morisawa

Character Design by Chizuru Kobayashi, Takushige Norita

Art Setting: Michie Watanabe

Music by Saeko Suzuki, TOMISIRO

Anime Production: Xebec, Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Kira Buckland as Madoka Kyono

Ai Kayano/Karen Strassman as Muginami

Asami Seto/Sophie Roberts as Lan

Ayumi Fujimura/Erika Harlacher as Ayane Iwa/Haruka Uehara

Azumi Asakura/Midge Mayes as Machiko Iwabuchi

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Ben Diskin as Izo

Hisako Kanemoto/Saki Shin as Asteria Lizamarie De Roschefall

Iori Nomizu/Erika Harlacher as Shōko Igarashi

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Vic Mignogna as Moid

Kenji Hamada/Bubba Chow as Hiroshi Nakaizumi

Kenji Nojima/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kirius

Makoto Yasumura/Patrick Seitz as Shōzō Tadokoro

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Yōko Nakaizumi

Megumi Nakajima/Cristina Vee as Grania

Rie Tanaka/Laura Post as Eri Watabe

Madoka Kyono is an energetic girl who is full of passion. As the proud, and only, member of the Kamogawa Girls’ High School Jersey Club, she goes around helping people in need. But Madoka’s life is turned upside down when she is suddenly asked by a mysterious girl named Lan to pilot a robot. Motivated by her desire to protect the people and city of Kamogawa, Madoka agrees to pilot the resurrected Vox robot to fight against extraterrestrials that have come to attack Earth.

In the summer of 2012, Xebec and Production I.G. joined forces in releasing the mecha anime series “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~”.

With an ongoing manga serialized in Square Enix’s “Young Gangan” magazine in 2011, a total of 25 episodes were released on television and an OVA was released with a PS3 video game.  And now “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media.

The Chief Director on “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” is Tatsuo Sato (“Shigofumi – Letters from the Departed”, “Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars”, “Tokyo Tribe 2”), the series is directed by Toshimasa Suzuki (“Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”, “Polyphonica Crimson S”), music by Saeko Suzuki (“Brave King GaoGaiGar Final”, “Vampire Princess Miyu”) and TOMISIRO, character designs by Chizuru Kobayashi (“Pandora Hearts”), Takushige Norita (“Broken Blade”) and art direction by Michie Watanabe (“Wolf’s Rain”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “House of Five Leaves”).

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” covers the first season and is a series that revolves around a teenager named Madoka Kyouno.  The sole member of the Jersey Club, she is a teenager that loves to help people. May it be saving people like a lifeguard at the beach, to helping other clubs in school.  But if anything, she feels it’s her duty to help those in need in her hometown of Kamogawa.  And she also has the habit of saying “perfect” while drawing a circle in the air.  She’s also a very good athlete and tries to excel in sports.

One day after saving a child from drowning (before heading out to school), while saving the boy, someone had taken her clothes.  So, Madoka ends up wearing her gym clothes to school.  By the time she gets out, she is approached by a unusual girl named Lan, who has the habit of saying “Woof” (she was told that was a human greeting for “hello”).

Lan approaches Madoka and asks her to follow her to an offshore base and asks her if she can pilot the robot aircraft known as a Vox (Ovid).

Immediately when she touches the space craft, she experiences a flashback being submerged in water but is not sure why.   Not long after, an enemy from outer space is seen piloting an Ovid attacks a base in Kamogawa and wanting to protect her city, Madoka goes after it with her Ovid.  And using her skills she learned through athletics, she surprises the enemy using a wrestling move and defeating him.

Shocked by what has occurred, Lan reveals to Madoka that she is an alien that was sent to Earth to protect Madoka and the Ovid, both which are linked together.  She introduces Madoka to the military and learns that the planet needs her help in defeating the enemy because the De Metrio are planning to destroy the planet and a group known as KISS is starting to cause problems with their Vox.  So, Madoka is the planet’s only hope!

Not knowing if she has what it takes to protect the planet, she believes as a Jersey Club member, she must fulfill her obligations to protecting Kamogawa from KISS.

Meanwhile, along the way, Madoka becomes good friends with Vox pilots Lan and Muginami who become new members of the Jersey Club.

Can these three working together, protect the city of Kamogawa and its citizens?

Find out in “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1”!

The main characters of “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” are:

  • Madoka Kyouno – The sole member of the Jersey Club who pilots a Vox.  She is the planet’s only hope and she is always want to protect the city, her friends and the people of the city.   She pilots a Vox which she has named as Midori and has recruited Lan and Muginami as members of the Jersey Club.
  • Lan – An alien who was unable to utilize her Vox, because of knowledge of an unknown fate that happens to Vox pilots.  But since she met Madoka, she overcomes her fear and learns to control her Vox which she names Orca.  Lan attends the same school as Madoka, keeping her identity of a space alien, secret to her classmates.  She is often jealous of Muginami.  Lan also holds a secret of her true identity.
  • Muginami – A well-endowed, slow-witted person who acts naive.  Her brother is Villagiullio of De Metrio, but after trying to infiltrate the Pharos Base to steal a Vox (which she named Hupo), she is abandoned by her brother and left alone.  But feeling bad for her, Madoka takes her in as a friend and member of the Jersey Club.
  • Youko Nakaziumi – Madoka’s cousin and a researcher on underwater archaeology.  She knows a little about Madoka’s past (which Madoka doesn’t remember) and tries to prevent Madoka from getting in contact with a Vox but eventually allows her to pilot the Vox under one condition, she lives her daily life normally.  She is a former Jersey Club member and is the one who inspired Madoka to be a protector.
  • Hiroshi Nakaziumi – Madoka’s uncle and Yokou’s father who owns a restaurant.
  • Machiko Iwabuchi – A teacher at Madoka’s high school and a former member of the Jersey Club and also a friend of Madoka’s mother and Youko.
  • Shozo Tadokoro – The Commander of the Pharos base.
  • Asteria Lizamarie De Roschefall – The granddaughter of the chairman of Nomundus and is responsible for making the orders for Pharos.  She often dress in Lolita fashion and carries a secret.
  • Villagulio – The disowned prince of De Metrio who forms a rebellious organization known as “KISS”, and comes to Earth to investigate.
  • Kirius – A pilot for Kiss and is the eldest member of the three pilots working with Villagulio.
  • Izo – A pilot for Kiss and a hot tempered individual.
  • Array – A pilot for Kiss and is the youngest of the three.  He often wears maid outfits.

VIDEO:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition that combines beautiful backgrounds, wonderful mechanical designs and a colorful series that looks beautiful on Blu-ray.  While character designs are well-done, I’m really impressed by the architectural and also mecha design for this series.  Featuring CG and beautifully painted artwork, I was impressed by the style, look and feel of the entire series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Both are well-acted and will entertain anime viewers with either language.  If there was one thing that I wished the series had was a better lossless and immersive soundtrack.  For a series with a lot of action, it would have been great to hear a 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack.  But the fact is that a lot of Japanese animation is made in 2.0 and Viz Media tends to not stray from that.

It’s important to note that you can not change audio or subtitles with the usual button, you need to go into the menu and select English audio or Japanese audio with English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Production Art – Cycle through various production art using your remote.
  • Clean Opening and Ending
  • Kamogawa Drama – (15:13) A collection of short “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” animated clips about three minutes each.  Some feature the characters in super-deformed chibi format.  Stories examples include Madoka and friends treasure hunting in a pool, a video game competition amongst the KISS members and more.  In Japanese audio with English subtitles only.

Watching “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~”, there have been quite a few anime about the girl who pilots a mecha from “Gunbuster”, “Gravion”, “Super Robot War”, “Macross”, “Evangelion”, the concept is nothing new.  But it’s how you keep the anime series fresh and different from the other titles, that make it much more interesting and exciting.

What “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” does quite well is having a protagonist that has is not too weepy, not too weak, not too whiny and if anything, a high school student that is a bit unsure but is determined to protect others.

From her bubbly personality, Madoka wins you over with her naivety but also her determination and her “Perfect” hand gesture.  There is none of the overdone self-doubting or underdog nature that we typically see in a mecha anime series, this is a series about a teen who has made up her mind that her life is defending her friends, her city and doing it to the best of her ability.

Throw in other characters such as Lan, the girl from outerspace that is trying to understand her emotions and finds herself joining the Madoka bandwagon and confronting her own fears.  While Muginami is your bubbly personality, well-endowed character who actually has more of a difficult pass and also a more difficult situation because her brother, that she has always looked up to, is the enemy.

Put these three teenagers together and the result is a mix between a teenage high school anime series drama and an action-packed mecha battle session.  There is no worry of perverted guys, this is not a harem anime series nor is it an anime series that tries to copy other titles.  It’s enjoyable, fascinating and quite an uplifting anime series.

The first season tends to deal with character introductions.  We get to learn more about what made Madoka so brave and the fears she faced in her past after losing her mother, we learn about Lan’s fears and how Moid doesn’t expect much out of her as a Vox pilot.  We also introduced about Muginami and her past and how she is loyal to her brother and how painful it is for her now to fight against him.

While rated TV Mature, that is because the opening episodes tried to incorporate a few fan service with brief nudity and panty shots.  In many ways, I’m glad that this series didn’t turn out to be another “Gravion” of even another “Strike Witches”, if anything, it’s about three friends trying to defend the city of Kamogawa from alien enemy attack.

And a storyline with fascinating twists that will surely setup an exciting second season.

As for the Blu-ray released, Production I.G. titles tend to look beautiful when it comes to detail and art backgrounds and while a Xebec produced anime series, it’s the use of characters, the added detail and mecha design that makes “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” so gorgeous on Blu-ray considering it is a TV series.

While I wish the lossless soundtrack was much more immersive, considering the amount of mecha action, the fact is a lot of anime series are 2.0 and it’s up to the company if they choose to added an immersive soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.  But Viz Media has typically kept things to its original presentation and so both Japanese and English soundtracks are DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Both are well-acted, but I just wished it was a title that would have featured immersive lossless audio and given a 5.1 or 7.2 treatment.

Overall, “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” has turned out to be an awesome, exciting mecha series that is a lot of fun and features very cool characters.

While the series may not be as deep as other mecha series, it does try to keep a good balance of humor, drama and action and so far it’s working!

If you are looking for an upbeat mecha anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” a chance!  Recommended!

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