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Black Butler the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Black Butler the Movie” is a film inspired by the popular and anime and manga series.  But the film is it’s own storyline that is different from the story we are familiar with by Yana Toboso.  If you love action mystery films, then give “Black Butler the Movie” a chance.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Kuroshitsuji Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Black Butler the Movie

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017


Based on the manga by Yana Toboso

Directed by Kentaro Ohtani, Kei’ichi Sato

Produced by Shiho Matsuhashi


Starring:

Hiro Mizushima as Sebastian Michaelis

Ayame Goriki as Shiori Genpo/Kiyoharu

Yuka as Hanae Wakatsuki

Mizuki Yamamoto as Rin

Tomomi Maruyama as Akashi

Takuro Ono as Takaki Matsumiya

Louis Kurihara as Jay the Undertaker

Ken Kaito as Arihito Genpo

Chiaki Horan as Erika Genpo


Black Butler the Movie is inspired by the hit anime series Black Butler, this live-action adaptation brings an all-new story featuring a familiar demon butler doing what butlers do best: helping their masters seek revenge. The Black Butler is back-and there’s an all-new mystery to be solved. It’ll take one hell of a butler to figure it out!


In 2006, mangaka Yana Toboso (“Rust Blaster”) began working on his second manga that year for Square Enix’s “Monthly GFantasy” magazine. The series nown as “Kuroshitsuji” (Black Butler) would receive a large fanbase due to its bishounen characters.

By 2008, “Black Butler” would receive an anime adaptation and later, a live action film.  The popularity of “Black Butler” has led to a musical, drama CD’s, toys, a video game and books have been released in Japan.

With the live action film version directed by Kentaro Ohtani and Kei’ichi Sato, it’s important to note that this film is not about Ciel Phantomhive, the protagonist of the anime and manga series but focuses on a female character named Shiori Genpo who dresses as a boy.

The film stars Hiro Mizushima (“Beck”, “Drop”, “Kamen Rider Kabuto: God Sped Love”), Ayame Goriki (“L.DK”, “Angels and Demons”), Yuka (“Reincarnation”, “Hakuba no Ohjisama”, “Akumu chan”) and Mizuki Yamamoto (“Sadako vs. Kayako”, “The Kirishima Thing”, “I Am a Monk”) and more.

The film is set in a parallel world where the world is split into two major powers.  The West which is ruled by the Queen and the East.

The Queen uses operatives known as the Queen’s Watchdogs to investigate situations that cause concern and with many deaths.  Bodies have been found mummified and found along with these bodies is a card of a demon.  And this time, the Queen’s ambassador Anthony Campelle, was found mummified in his car, become the eighth death of a person involved in a case called “Devil’s Curse”.

We then see a warehouse in which men are stuffing women into crates.  The men’s leader questions one of the women on how she has photos of desiccated bodies but when she doesn’t tell him, he keeps kicking her.

Not long after, footsteps can be heard and a man in a butler’s uniform appears in the warehouse and reveals himself as a devil’s butler for the Genpo family.  The girl gives an order to kill them all and when the butler pulls out a butter knife, all the men start laughing.  But immediately, the butler starts killing them all and showing his quick moves.  When the leader threatens to kill the girl, he tells the butler to drop the knife or else she dies.

The butler drops the knife and is shot in the head.  When the crime boss thinks he has won, the girl tells her butler to stop kidding around and then sure enough, the butler arises.  As the girl tells the crime boss to give him details of the bodies, he refuses and he is killed.

The girl removes her wig and she is revealed to be Earl Kiyohara Genpo, a Queen’s watchdog.

We learn that the girl is really Shiori Genpo (portrayed by Ayame Goriki), the daughter of the heir of the Funtom Toy Corporation.  Her parents Arihito Genpo (a Queen’s Watchdog) and his wife Erika were killed when she was younger and when she was about to be killed, she made a deal with the devil to give her soul up once she gets her revenge on the people who killed her parents.

This contract with the devil, Sebastian Michaelis (portrayed by Hiro Mizushima), a demon with special abilities that he uses to help his master, Shiori Genpo but once she gets her revenge and finds out who is responsible for killing her parents, she will die and her soul will belong to him.

And because Shiori disappeared at that time, in order for someone to claim the Genpo Funtom Toy Corporation fortune, only a son can be in the line to obtain the fortune, so Shiori must disguise himself as Earl Kiyoharu Genpo, the bastard son of Arihito Genpo.

And serving her is Sebastian and a clumsy maid named Rin (portrayed by Mizuki Yamamoto).

The Earl and Sebastian uncover clues and with the help of her aunt, Hanae Wakatsuki (portrayed by Yuka), she is able to infiltrate the club of the wealthy along with Rin.  But while investigating, she is held captive by Shinepi Kujo, the CEO of Episilon Pharmaceuticals, the host of the party.

Kujo is then seen telling a hooded figure about Necrosis, a poisonous new drug developed.  It makes people experience euphoria and then they start bleeding from their nose, ears and eyes and they then go through desiccation.  Only two red capsules can cancel the effects of the Necrosis poison.

Will Sebastian be able to save the Earl and Rin?  And what will their investigation uncover about Devil’s Curse?  And will the Earl learn who is responsible for her parent’s death?


VIDEO:

“Black Butler the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition. A lot of shots indoors but for the most part, picture quality is good, outdoor scenes are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Black Butler” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

Japanese soundtrack is well-done but I also watched the film with English subtitles and with FUNimation onboard, one of the major positives is they have excellent voice talent utilized by the company and the English dub is well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Butler the Movie” comes with a trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Black Butler the Movie” comes with Blu-ray and DVD.


When it comes to live-action adaptations of popular manga and anime series, sometimes instead of a faithful adaptation, we get something complete different and only a few elements from the series incorporated into the story.

With “Black Butler the Movie”, we have a film that has elements of the manga/anime series but for the most part, it’s a film with a different story and a different young protagonist.

Still, I have learned to understand that differences happen, as they do with superhero films in America and hope that we have a storyline that is entertaining.

“Black Butler” is a film that had potential to be something more. I was fine with actress Ayame Goriki as a protagonist and playing something different and not Ciel Phantomhive (the protagonist of the anime and manga series) and was thrilled that Sebastian and Rin play a major role in the film.

But with so much story written by mangaka Yana Toboso, it makes you wonder why they couldn’t create a film utilizing those stories.   While I felt the action scenes were well-done, I felt the overall storyline was lacking and the film was more of a popcorn action film with and the storyline that people fell in love with in the manga and anime was not well-realized for the film.

Still, I’m not going to say it’s a terrible film.  Unlike “Attack on Titan”(especially the second part) which writers strayed away from the original source material and the old ’90s “Street Fighter” film or the terrible “Dragon Ball” film, “Black Butler the Movie” was not that bad.  Different, yes.  Not a great script, yes.  But thanks to the action and the performance by Ayame Goriki and Hiro Mizushima, as well as the small, clumsy performance of Mizuki Yamamoto as Rin, made the film worthwhile.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good and you get a solid lossless soundtrack with both the Japanese and English dub.  There are no special features but a trailer.

Overall, “Black Butler the Movie” is a film inspired by the popular and anime and manga series.  But the film is it’s own storyline that is different from the story we are familiar with by Yana Toboso.  If you love action mystery films, then give “Black Butler the Movie” a chance.

Shin Godzilla (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Hideaki anno and Shinji Higuchi’s “Shin Godzilla” is marvelous Godzilla fan and manages to capture everything and more of the original film’s action, chaos and suspense along with political intrigue, humor and more!  I have to say, next to the original 1954 film, this is my favorite Godzilla film yet!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Shin Godzilla

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Dolby TrueHD Japanese and English 3.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017


Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi

Written by Hideaki Anno, English adaptation by Sean Whitley

Produced by Yoshihiro Sato, Masaya Shibusawa, Taichi Ueda, Kazutoshi Wadakura

Executive Producer: Akihiro Yamauchi

Chief Producer: Minami Ichikawa

Line Producer: Kensei Mori

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Cinematography by Kosuke Yamada

Edited by Hideaki Anno, Atsuki Sato

Casting by Tsuyoshi Sugino

Art Direction by Yuji Hayashida, Eri Sakushima

Set Decoration by Akira Sakamoto, Toshiaki Takahashi


Starring:

Hiroki Hasegawa as Rando Yaguchi

Yutaka Takenouchi as Hideki Akasaka

Satomi Ishihara as Kayoko Ann Patterson

Ren Osugi as Prime Minister Seiji Okochi

Akira Emoto as Ryuta Azuma

Kengo Kora as Yusuke Shimura (Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary)

Mikako Ichikawa as Hiromi Ogashira (Deputy Director of Nature Conservation Bureau)

Jun Kunimura as Masao Zaizen (Integrated Chief of Staff)

Pierre Taki as Saigo (Combat Leader)

Kyusaku Shimada as Katayama (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Ken Mitsuishi as Kozuka (Governor of Tokyo)

Shingo Tsurumi as Yajima (Joint Staff Deputy)

Kimiko Yo as Reiko Hanamori (Defense Minister)

Takumi Saito as Ikeda (Tank Captain)


In Shin Godzilla, when a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and tears through the city, the government scrambles to save its citizens. A rag-tag team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to uncover the monster’s weakness and its mysterious ties to a foreign superpower. But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.


With the US release of the 2014 film “Godzilla”, many wondered when Japan would produce another “Godzilla” (Gojira) film.

And sure enough, in December 2014, Toho announced that they would be making new Godzilla film and directing the film would be renown anime director Hideaki Anno (“Neon Genesis Evangelion” TV show and films, “Kare Kano”, “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”, “Cutie Honey”) and also renown anime and sci-fi writer/director Shinji Higuchi (“Neon Genesis Evangelion” TV series, “Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess”, “Casshern”, “Attack on Titan” and director of visual effects for the “Gamera” trilogy).

The film was released in Japan in July 2016 and received critical acclaim from Japanese critics and was a box office success and the highest grossing live-action Japanese film of 2016 and the highest-grossing Japanese-produced “Godzilla” film ever made.  The film would win seven awards out of eleven nominations for the 40th Japan Academy Prize including “Picture of the Year” and “Director of the Year”.

The film stars Hiroki Hasegawa (“Attack on Titan” films, “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?”), Yutaka Takenouchi (“Long Vacation”, “With Love”, “Oba: The Last Samurai”), Satomi Ishihara (“Attack on Titan” films, “Sadako 3D”), Ren Osugi (“Fireworks”, “The Twilight Samurai”, “Audition”), Akira Enomoto (“Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman”, “Dr. Akagi”, “The Eel”), Mikako Ichikawa (“Memories of Matsuko, “Rentaneko”, “Cutie Honey”), Kimiko Yo (“Departures”, Cafe Lumiere”) and many more.

And with the original “Godzilla” film being inspired by nuclear devastation and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, “Shin Godzilla” would be inspired by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

And now “Shin Godzilla” is available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

“Shin Godzilla” begins with the Japanese Coast Guard investigating an abandoned yacht on Tokyo Bay, not long after the boat is destroyed and the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line is flooded.

As politicians try to ascertain the damage and if it is an underwater volcano causing the damage, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (portrayed by Hiroki Hasegawa) has a theory that it may be a creature.

But his superior Hideki Akasaka (portrayed by Yutaka Takenouchi) and other senior politicians tell him to not talk such nonsense.

Not long after, the Japanese Prime Minister Seiji Okochi (portrayed by Ren Osugi) is told that a tail is showing up in the ocean and then people start to believe Rando’s theory of a creature.

As the creature is moving towards Tokyo, boats start crashing all around causing panic in the Shinagawa area.  As the Japanese Prime Minister tries to get professional explanations if the creature can come to land, Hiromi Gashira (portrayed by Mikaki Ichikawa), the Deputy Director of Nature Conservation Bureau believes the creature can come to land but once again, the higher ups don’t believe her and the Prime Minister goes on television to tell the public that they are handling the problem and to not worry as the creature will not be able to come onto the land.

But after his press conference, he is given news that the creature has made it onto the land and is causing widespread damage and many casualties.

What is spotted is a red-skinned creature crawling on ground and it has gills.  But not long after, the creature goes through its second transformation and is now able to stand on its hind legs.

As the politicians try to strike plans to stop the creature and find ways to evacuate civilians, problems happen within the politicians because there is no such policy on how to deal with a creature and the use of deadly weapons with civilians nearby, leads the Prime Minister to not want to use any force.

Meanwhile, Yaguchi and his team must find a way to research the creature and Hiromi Gashira theorizes that the creature is energized through nuclear fission due to the high ratings of radiation nearby.  But once again, no one believes her until they see readings that confirm her suspicions.  Concerned, the United States send Kayako Ann Patterson (portrayed by Satomi Ishihara) to work with the Japanese government.

And what she presents is research from a zoology professor named Goro Maki, who has studied mutations caused by radioactive contamination and theorized that there would be a creature.  Inside the abandoned yacht (presented earlier in the film) was notes left by Maki but the group are unable to decipher what Maki left behind.

The U.S. has called the creatured “Godzilla”, naming it after Maki’s research and in Japan, the name in kanji is “Gojira”. But in agreement, Japan and U.S. must work together.

And when the creature returns, not only is it much larger but now it’s making its way back to Tokyo.  The Prime Minister sends the Japanese Self-Defense Force to mobilize the creature but each weapon they use, it has no effect on Godzilla.

With a priority of protecting civilians and defeating the creature, will Japan (and the U.S.A.) find a way to defeat Godzilla?  And what happens when the United States believes the only way to defeat Godzilla is to nuke the creature in Tokyo?  Which would be catastrophic for Japan.


VIDEO:

“Shin Godzilla” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). The film utilizes a lot of visual effects and for the most part, the film looks incredible.  From the way Godzilla was created, to the destruction of areas in Tokyo and the visual effects.  Picture quality is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Shin Gozilla” is presented in Japanese and English 3.1 Dolby TrueHD.   I have to admit that I was surprised that the film was 3.1 instead of the usual 5.1 but dialogue and music is crystal clear through the center and front channels and great use of LFE during the more catastrophic and heavy artillery action scenes.

Japanese soundtrack is well-done but I also watched the film with English subtitles and with FUNimation onboard, one of the major positives is they have excellent voice talent utilized by the company and the English dub is well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shin Godzilla” comes with the following special features:

  • Godzilla vs. the Nerds – (33:05) A Funimation interview with Funimation Brand Manager Paul Fruge II and Matt Frank (comic book artist for “Godzilla” comics for IDW), Ben Cortez (Funimation Digital Video and massive Godzilla fan) and Eric Tipton (Funimation Marketing Dept and huge Godzilla fan).

EXTRAS:

“Shin Godzilla” comes with a slipcase, the Blu-ray, DVD and an UltraViolet HD code.


I grew up watching “Godzilla” and I have reviewed many “Godzilla” films.  And with each film, there are things I have come to appreciate, other things that I found a bit cheesy but in the most part, my favorite has always been the original 1954 film directed by Ishiro Honda.

Last year, while traveling to Japan, I was able to watch part of “Shin Godzilla” but due to long hours in the plane and not having much sleep the night before, I watched the film in pieces, trying to keep myself awake.  But I was out and I figured, I’ll catch it whenever it is released on Blu-ray.

And sure enough, Funimation has released “Shin Godzilla” on Blu-ray in August 2017 and I have watched it probably five times already, that is how much I enjoyed this film.

When there was discussion of a reboot, at first I was skeptical because each reboot, there were things I liked and things I didn’t and for the most part, many films strayed from the original and became tokusatsu films that I was watching more for the battles and whoever Godzilla would take on.

I missed the deep storyline, the political and scientific strategy employed of the original film but with “Shin Godzilla”, while it has elements of the original, directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi were able to craft an amazing “Godzilla” film that goes beyond destruction, but a film that features a lot of layers, from the political obstruction, the decision making of Japan’s Prime Minister and their leaders, the intervention of the United States and other allies.  There is a lot going on this film, complexities that I knew very well that Anno and Higuchi were capable of taking on, considering I am a big fan of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.

While the film features two renown directors, you have a lot of veteran talent from Ren Osugi, Akira Emoto, Kengo Kora and one of my favorite TV drama actors, Yutaka Takenouchi.  The film also has a lot of talent such as Hiroki Hasegawa, Mikako Ichikawa, Satomi Ishihara and while each of these characters has their own purpose, especially Hasegawa’s character of Rando Yaguchi and Satomi Ishihara’s Kayoko Ann Patterson.  They are considered more of a cog in a well-oiled machine of players that all contribute to a team working to find a solution in trying to stop Godzilla from causing more destruction.

Fail in finding a solution, the United States with the go-ahead of the U.N. is going to drop a nuke on Tokyo in order to stop Godzilla, especially as the monster poses a threat to the West Coast.

What I love about this film is how it uses current events, like the original “Godzilla” did after World War II and seeing the effects of the the nuclear bombs detonated on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “Shin Godzilla” uses data after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor situation after the 2011 Tohoko Earthquake and Tsunami and as many Japanese have a no-confidence feeling towards the company hiding the true results from the public, the film goes one-step to show that others are responsible for hiding the fact that a creature was feeding on nuclear waste dumped in the ocean.

And the result is Godzilla.

And no, this Godzilla is not like anything from the past.  He’s deadlier, more calculating and prepared for attacks from the nuclear laser beams emanating from its mouth and its scales throughout its body to other abilities which one will have to watch the film and see.

I also liked the fact of how the film handled the transformation of Godzilla, from its bug-eyed amphibious form to the monstrous creature it would become.

The amount of destruction and the visual effects utilized no doubt makes this film looking “Godzilla” film yet.  And has become my favorite of the many “Godzilla” films.

Picture quality is fantastic on Blu-ray and its Japanese and English 3.1 DolbyTrue HD soundtrack is crystal clear with its dialogue (in Japanese and a well-done English dub) and wonderful musical score by Shiro Sagisu (known for his work on the recent “Evangelion” and “Berserk” animated films).  And you also get a entertaining featurette as American “Godzilla” fans discuss all things Godzilla.

Overall, Hideaki anno and Shinji Higuchi’s “Shin Godzilla” is marvelous Godzilla fan and manages to capture everything and more of the original film’s action, chaos and suspense along with political intrigue, humor and more!  I have to say, next to the original 1954 film, this is my favorite Godzilla film yet!

Prince of Stride: Alternative – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2015 FIFS/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA ASCII AND MEDIA WORKS/POSA PARTNERS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Directed by Atsuko Ishikzuka

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Episode Director: Taku Kishimoto

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryouhei Kimura/Austin Tindle as Riku

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Ricco Fajardo as Takeru

Kana Hanazawa/Natalie Hoover as Nana

Kensho Ono/Clifford Chapin as Hozumi

Daisuke Ono/Jason Liebrecht as Heath

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Ayumu

Junichi Suwabe/Ivan Jasso as Kyosuke

J. Michal Tatum as Yujiro Dan

Daiki Yamashita/Todd Haberkorn as Tomoe

Greg Ayres as Amatsu


From studio Madhouse comes a new sport, a new experience, and a heart-racing series. Racers on your mark, get set—go!

Stride—where running and parkour reach new heights in a fast-paced sport that puts five runners and one Relationer’strust and speed to the test. At Honan Academy, Stride is a source of pride! Or at least it was until an incident broke the team apart. But with a new year, it’s time for the winds of change to blow in! New students Nana Sakurai and Takeru Fujiwara are ready to join, and after much persistence, pull in Riku Yagami. With their enthusiasm and abilities, this threesome is just what Honan needs to succeed. Except for one thing—their teamwork needs work. Talent is one thing, but this group of runners won’t be getting anywhere if they can’t learn to trust each other.

Together, Honan Stride may finally have what they need to compete with the best. But can this once broken team work together to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead? Just trust, connect, and find your stride.


Back in 2015, Kadokawa Games and Vridge created the otome game “Prince of Stride” for the Playstation Vita.  Based upon an extreme sport known as “Stride” in which teams compete in a race, the race includes extreme sports elements of parkour.

The following year, the game received an anime adaptation titled “Prince of Stride: Alternative”, a 12-episode anime series from Madhouse and was directed by Atsuko Ishizuka (“Sakura-so no Pet na Kanojo”) and a script by Taku Kishimoto.

The series is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” revolves around high school students who race for the “Stride” club for Honan Academy.  The first half features Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai needing to recruit six people for the club.

They try to recruit freshman Riku Yagami, who wants to play all sports and has no interest in Stride but Takeru and Nana drag Riku to their club office and are able to get him to join.

The club is going through restructuring and need six people after a scandal that rocked the team last year.

But training for “Stride” is challenging, vigorous and will take everything one has in order to win eastern Japan’s top stride competition, “End of Summer”.

But when a major injury happens to one of their teammates, will Honan Academy find a replacement in time for the next major competition?

Will Riku find a way to make himself faster?  And what is Nana’s connection to “Stride” competition outside of her duties at Honan Academy?  But most of all, can these team members work together?


VIDEO:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.  Madhouse did a wonderful job with this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.  Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with the opening and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with a slipcase.


We are starting to see a number of anime adaptations based on otome video games (dating games typically a character trying to get close with one of the many male characters in a game).

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” is an anime series that some may find resembles series such as “Prince of Tennis” and “Yowamushi Pedal”, but the setting is “Stride” competitions (running/parkour), but with many male characters not just from the main Honan Academy but also guys from other competing teams.

But this anime series is crafted for guys and women to enjoy because the main story is about competition, teamwork and one pushing themselves to be better and in the end, hoping to win the primary tournament.

There is a lot of dramatic situations, as Takeru Fujiwara and Riku Yagami have their personal differences with each other.

A main arc shows how the team is hurting after a major injury to Stride racer, Ayumi Kadowaki.  The team is in need of a racer and there is one guy, Kyousuke Kuga, a former team member who quit the team after a few members ganged up on fellow team member, Heath Hasekura.  Kuga protected Heath by beating up the teammates who caused the trouble but took the blame for everything and was forced to quit the club.

This has affected the team, especially for teammates who didn’t know the truth but the breakup of the Honan Academy Stride club is well-known to other clubs around the area and many feel Honan Academy are unable to compete because they no longer have the same teammates for this year and have beginners.

But each character is featured to have some difficulty or mental block that prevents them from being better, but with teammate support, they manage to overcome their problems and move on.

As for the Blu-ray release, Madhouse is always known for quality and the anime production is well-done.  Colors are vibrant, characters are well-shaded and voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done.  Unfortunately, there are no major special features.  No audio commentary, just the opening and ending themes.  So, it’s a barebones anime Blu-ray release.

Needless to say, this is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

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

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 517-528 (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: June 20, 2017


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

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

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 human-hating Hordy Jones and his army of 100,000 troops has Fishman Island’s royal family by the gills. Luckily, the Straw Hats make it in time to show off a boatload of powerful new moves! But just when Luffy kicks into gear, an ancient ship nearly twice the size of the island heads straight for Shirahoshi. Only the cowardly mermaid can guide the vessel away before it crushes them all.


It has been two years since Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has been together and now, the promised day of reuniting has arrived and the group head back to the seas.  But when they find out a group has been impersonating them, the group has chance to show how much they have improved in the past two years.

Also, what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates head to their latest destination….Fishman Island?

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 19th season and a total of 799 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 Nine, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 519 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Eric Vale (voice of Sanji).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub – (18:59) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio as the even is celebratine a pirate theme and the cast take part in a live dub in front of their fans.
  • EPISODE 526 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!” Ver. 1 and 2

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One”, the episodes feature the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates (featuring episodes 517-528). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

Two years have passed since the War at Marineford and as the Straw Hat Pirates promised, they will reunite after they train for two years.  But the group finds out that someone has been impersonating them.  What happens when the Straw Hat Pirates come across the Fake Straw Hat Pirates?

The next storyline features the group together and go on aboard the Thousand Sunny to their destination, Fishman Island.  But they are being pursued by a pirate named Caribou and his crew.  But waiting for them in the sea is a large Kraken known for crushing ships, but what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates and the Kraken confront each other?

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 but possibly the coolest inclusion is the Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub.  One can hope that Funimation continues this for upcoming releases of “One Piece” or other titles!

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

Endride: Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far.  Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and a first half conclusion that leaves you wanting to see how it all ends.  I can’t wait for part two but for now, I definitely recommend “Endride”!

Image courtesy of © ENDRIDE Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Endride: Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 30, 2017


Directed by Keiji Gotoh

Series Composition by Touko Machida

Music by IMAGINE PROJECT, Kohei Tanaka

Original Character Design by Kazushi Hagiwara, Nobuhiro Watsuki

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Junko Watanabe

Anime Production: Brain’s Base, Lapin Track


Featuring the following voice talent:

Karen Miyama/Sarah Wiedenheft as Alicia

Kensho Ono/Aaron Dismuke as Shun Asanaga

Toshiki Masuda/Ian Sinclair as Emilio Ranguhaimu

Akio Ohtsuka/Phil Parsons as King Delzaine

Aoi Yūki/Skyler McIntosh as Mischa

Ayaka Ohashi/Felecia Angelle as Falarion

Hiroki Takahashi/Robert McCollum as Demetrio

Juurouta Kosugi/Bill Jenkins as Alzerm Langheim

Kousuke Toriumi/Tyler Walker as Eljuia

Ryoko Nagata/Jessica Cavanagh as Makiko Asanaga

Satoshi Mikami/ as Kazunobu Asanaga

Shizuka Itou as Louise

Tetsu Inada/Jeremy Inman as Iberuta (Ibelda)

Tomoaki Maeno/Jarrod Greene as Gidoro

Yūma Uchida as Felix

Yuu Mizushima as Pascal

 


When a crystal warps Shun Asanaga into a world deep beneath Earth’s surface, he confronts the moody Prince Emilio who is hellbent on killing the king. Just when the two seem perfectly at odds, Shun discovers an incredible power and winds up on a dangerous journey with a ragtag team of rebels. Seeking a portal between worlds, will the prince finally get his revenge, and will Shun find a way home?


In 2016, an anime and smartphone video game was created.  The smart phone game “Endride: X Fragments” would be released in November 2016, while an anime series would be released months before.

The anime “Endride” was created by Brain’s Base and is a 24-episode anime series directed by Keiji Gotoh and written by Toko Machida.

The series will be released in two parts on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Endride” is set in a world that is underground, beneath the surface.  In order to not be discovered, a myth was created that the underground is hell and demons live there.  But in truth, the underground is a world unlike the surface with modern technology.

The series begins with the 16-year-old prince of Endora named Emilio Langheim who tries to assassinate his father, King Delzaine.

The reason is that King Delzaine is not his real father and raised the boy after killing his real father and Emilio wants revenge.

The King manages to defeat Emilio and put him in the dungeon.  But when a group goes to the underground to cause something badly for Emilio, out of nowhere, a teenager appears from the surface, Shun Asanaga.

While Shun tries to figure out where he is, he is attacked and out of nowhere, a warp relic emerges within him.  He is able to release Emilio and together they manage to escape.  And Shun explains how he touched a mysterious crystal found in his father’s company and next thing you know, he was transported to Endora.  And now, he desperately wants to find his way back home.

The two are joined by Emilio’s childhood friend Alicia and get some help from the eccentric scientist and former Royal Researcher, Pascal, who left the position after he questioned King Delzaine’s plans of reconstructing Babel.

As Shun and Emilio are like water and ice and are very much different from each other and often are at odds, Shun knows that he needs Emilio’s help in trying to get back home and Emilio needs Shun’s help in order to achieve revenge.

The group meet the Ignauts and they are interested in forming a revolution against King Delzaine and making things equal among those who live in Endora.  But what troubles will Shun and Emilio encounter on their adventure to achieve their goals?


VIDEO:

“Endride: Part One” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Endride: Part One” is presented in English and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0.  Surprisingly, FUNimation did not give an English 5.1 dub soundtrack for this release.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Endride: Part One” comes with no special features but the textless opening and closing songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Endride: Part One” comes with a slipcover case and Blu-ray + DVD versions of the series.


“Endride” may seem like another banal storyline of a person lost in a new world and desperately trying to find his way back home, but there is more to this anime series considering the twists and turns involved and its fascinating storyline.

The story first and foremost focuses on two characters, Shun Asanaga, a 15-year-old hot tempered boy from the Surface who immediately gets transported to Endora after touching a mysterious crystal.  The other character is Emilio Langheim, the 16-year-old prince who wants revenge on the man who raised him, King Delzaine, for killing his father.

The two are like fire and water, they are opposites but yet they need each other to accomplish their goals.

But to make a difference in the world, they are caught up in political situations when a group, the Ignauts are wanting to start a revolution and want equality.  Seeing opportunities on both sides, Shun and Emilio join forces with the Ignauts, but will Shun ever get home?  And will Emilio get his revenge?

“Endride: Part One” looks great on Blu-ray.  Colors are vibrant and for the most part, no major artifacts or banding issues.  Lossless soundtrack are stereo on both soundtracks, which is surprising considering FUNimation usually creates an English dub track in 5.1.  Also, another surprise is there are no special features (aside from the usual textless opening and ending and trailers), not even the usual FUNimation audio or video commentary which was surprising.  So, pretty much, this is a no thrills barebones Blu-ray+DVD release.

Overall, “Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far.  Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and a first half conclusion that leaves you wanting to see how it all ends.  I can’t wait for part two but for now, I definitely recommend “Endride”!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 122-144) 575 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 23, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


As Goku and Vegeta land blow after blow in their brutal duel, an enormous amount of energy is transferred to Majin Buu. And despite Gohan’s valiant efforts, the monster reaches full power faster than anyone could have predicted. With the ancient evil awakened and free to wreak havoc across the planet, the Z Fighters must give everything they’ve got to put Buu back to bed for good.


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume eight) as a new major threat has arrived…Majin Buu.

Unbeknownst to the Z-Warriors is that an evil Warlock named Babidi and the evil Demon King Dabura are trying to unseal a monster named Majin Buu. Meanwhile, Kaoishin, the ruler of the Kaios of the Other World and his bodyguard Kibit have come to Earth in order to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight Majin Buu and Babidi.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 122-144.

The focus for these episodes is the Majin Buu Arc.  The series features:

Goku – Now an adult, married to Chichi and has a son named Gohan. Constantly training in order to become stronger. Still naive and hungry as he was when he was younger. Currently, he is deceased and using his time to train before returning back to the land of the living.

Gohan – Goku’s young son. Goku realizes that Gohan has strong potential but during an unfortunate incident, asks for Piccolo to train his son in fighting to protect people and the planet. Gohan has accompanied Bulma and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Kuririn – Goku’s childhood friend who accompanies Gohan and Bulma to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Bulma – A woman still developing products at her father’s company, Capsule Corp. and uses her intelligence to solve the Z Warriors under dire circumstances. With her Dragon Ball scanner, she joins Gohan and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in Planet Nemek.

Kaiosama – One of the Kings who trains Goku on how to fight with gravity ten times greater than Earth at Kaio’s world.

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all. Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but after being defeated by Goku, rehabilitates himself and now finds himself fighting alongside Gohan and Kuririn.

Trunks – The young son of Bulma and Vegeta who hangs out with Goten

Goten – The second son of Goku and Chichi and hangs out with Trunks.

Kaioshin – The ruler of the Kaios of the Other World, Kaioshin has taken over the position after the previous Kaoshin was killed by the warlock Babidi.  He has come to the Earth realm to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight against Babidi and Majin Buu.

Kibit – The loyal bodyguard of Kaioshin.

The main antagonists are:

Babidi – The evil warlock trying to release the seal and revive Majin Buu that was created by Babidi’s father, Bibidi.

Dabura – The Demon King who is assisting Babidi in trying to unseal Majin Buu.

Majin Buu – Created by Bibidi, Buu was created to destroy worlds and was sealed away by the former Kaoshin, until he was released once again by Babidi.  But is this the same Majin Buu who is known as the destroyer of worlds?


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 131 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Rolly Pickens (chief engineer), Kent Williams, Duncan Brannan, Monica Rial (voice of Bulma)
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part Two comes with a slipcover case.


Here we are with the next volume of “Dragon Box Z Kai: The Final Chapters” which continues the final chapter of the “Dragon Ball Z” series, which I like to call the “Majin Buu Arc”.

What can I say… if you thought the Frieza and Cell sagas were fantastic villains, the Majin Buu saga and where it will go from here is quite amazing. Personally, having grown up with the series and watching the Buu series when it aired in Japan, I was hooked and it’s so great to watch it again!

No villain in “Dragon Ball Z” has looked as cute and nonthreatening as Majin Buu but yet has managed to slaughter a millions of people and really put the Z-Warriors in a position that they have never been in before.

The high points of this season is the fact that you get a long awaited battle between Goku vs. Vegeta, you get the Super Saiyan level 3 transformation of Goku but then we get to see the fusion technique.

Each episode has a very good storyline that it’s quite easy to watch episode after episode and find yourself watching a marathon of multiple discs because the episodes were quite enjoyable and action-packed. I also, have to say that there are no filler episodes and each episode, you’re going to get hardcore battles and just non-stop action. It’s what you would expect from a series such as “Dragon Ball Z” and nothing less.

Vegeta fans will definitely enjoy his character transformation but most of all his redemption. The first half is very Vegeta intensive and in Japan, many people wanted more of him and they got it. So, to see a powerful Vegeta going against Goku was awesome.

The series manages to weave in every character close to the Z-warriors that we have known from the series in this eighth season, which is very cool. And also, for Hercule/Mr. Satan fans, you will actually get to see him in action as well.

But it’s the instability of Majin Buu’s character which is quite interesting. Because of the way this being is made, unlike Frieza and Cell, the ability to continually regenerate, makes him nearly an unstoppable character. His look and demeanor is nothing like we have seen in the first 200-episodes and to see him kill people for the sake of hunger or for enjoyment to hear things go “boom”, makes Majin Buu an interesting but moreso, a deadlier villain than any villain that has appeared on “Dragon Ball Z” thus far.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Majin Buu Arc, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

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

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

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

June 3, 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: Heart of Gold

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 130 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine

Script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa

Music by Kohei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi, Yasunori Iwasaki

Character Design by Keiichi Ichikawa

Art Director: Yoshito Watanabe, Yukako Ogawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiichi Ichikawa

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

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Akron Watson as Psycho P

Kiko Mizuhara/Kenneisha Thompson as Naomi Drunk

Kiyohiko Shibukawa/Bryn Apprill as Ashie Miskina

Minami Hamabe/Sara Ragsdale as Orga Miskina

Shun Oguri/Troy Hughes as Mad Treasure



“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.

To help promote the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold”, a TV special (the eleventh) was released on television in July 2016.

The film begins with the World Government and a man known as Mad Treasure pursuing a girl named Myskina Olga.  The reason why they are pursuing her is she knows the location of the Pure Gold, a substance that can buy the entire world.

While managing to escape, she approaches the Straw Hat Pirates and they make a deal to split the profits if they can find the Pure Gold.

And so it leads the group to the lost island of Alchemi, which is located inside the stomach of a large anglerfish known as Bonbori.

Unfortunately, Luffy and Olga are separated from the others but while hanging out, Luffy learns from Olga that she is actually 200 years old and she harbors a grudge towards her father for the death of her mother and most of all, making the Pure Gold which was eaten by Bonbori.

As Mad Treasure and his crew are able to capture Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy who is on his own ends up meeting Myskina Acer, Olga’s father.  Who has no idea that his daughter is still alive.  Meanwhile, Zoro and Sanji who were not captured, try to stage a rescue attempt.  But standing in their way are Mad Treasure’s subordinates, Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

Will Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates discover the Pure Gold?


VIDEO:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant. While a TV special, the animation looks fantastic and not too soft.  Colors look great!  Animation production from Toei Animation is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 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. But of course, with the English track having a 5.1 soundtrack is the better of the two.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece Film: Heart of Gold” comes with a theatrical trailer.

EXTRAS:

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


The 11th “One Piece” TV special makes its way to North America along with the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold” and serves as correlation to promote the film.

Entertaining, fun and action-packed, the series features the Straw Hat Pirates teaming up with a young girl named Olga, who looks very young but is actually 200 years old and many people are pursuing her because she know the location of Pure Gold, which will allow anyone to buy the world.

While a fun film, Olga is literally a brat.  Often arguing or critical, it’s part of her life of being alone since the death of her parents.  And she has harbored a grunge towards her father because of the death of her mother.

While Luffy and Olga search for the Pure Gold, the others (except Sanji and Zoro) are captured by the main antagonist of the film, Mad Treasure.  A formidable opponent, there to fight for their boss are Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

For the most part, the special is like other “One Piece” films with a balance of humor and action but the only thing that was not as fun to watch was Olga, who is pretty much a major brat.  But when you see her start to settle down as she sees others who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

While I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t watch “One Piece Film Gold”, you will see a few characters from the film mentioned and certain actions that lead to the group visiting the location featured in the film.  So, there is a solid connection from special to film and most importantly, make sure you watch the film after the ending credits, as there is a major teaser scene for “One Piece Film Gold”.

As for the Blu-ray, surprisingly there are no special features.  It’s a barebones Blu-ray release that looks and sounds good in HD.  Unfortunately, aside from the single trailer, there are no special features included.

Overall, an action-packed, entertaining and fun “One Piece” TV special worth watching.  Especially if you are a big fan of the anime/manga series!

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: FUnimation

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!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 99-121) 575 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


Seven years have passed since Cell’s defeat, and the Z Fighters have returned to normal life. Goku has continued his training in the Other World, Krillin has gotten married, and Gohan has his hands full attempting to navigate the pitfalls of high school. But with the new World Martial Arts Tournament about to begin, it’s time for Goku and the Z Fighters to reunite and face off against the greatest warriors on Earth!

Meanwhile, the evil wizard Babidi has traveled across the galaxy on a quest for revenge, hoping to fulfill his father’s thwarted dreams of universal domination. The Supreme Kai has come to enlist the aid of the Z Fighters in his effort to prevent Babidi from awakening a monster of unimaginable terror—Majin Buu!


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume seven) as the safety of the world rests on the shoulders of young Gohan, as he takes on the evil Perfect Cell.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 99-121.

The focus for these episodes is the arc known as “World Tournament Saga” and takes place seven years since the battle with Cell.

Gohan is now a teenager and will be attending public high school for the first time.  As expected, with his strict mother Chi Chi, Gohan becomes a straight A student.  But you also learn that he has a seven year old brother named Goten.

As Gohan enters high school in Satan City (named after Mr. Satan because of his lie that he is the one that defeated Cell), he sees that there is trouble in the city with bank robbers and so forth, so with the help of Bulma, creates a costume for him and thus Gohan goes under the secret identity of Great Saiyaman.

In high school, he meets Bedil (Mr. Satan’s daughter) who is a powerful fighter and helps the police force take on the criminals.  Eventually, she catches on to Gohan’s identity and demands Gohan to teach her how to fly or else, she will reveal his secret identity.

I have to admit that when I first watched these episodes (when it was first released in Japan), I absolutely loved the chemistry between Gohan and Bedil.  So, it was great to see how the two fighters get close to each other and it’s almost similar to how Goku and Chi Chi became boyfriend and girlfriend (and eventually husband and wife).

For the third arc, a new World Martial Arts Tournament is happening and the Z-Fighters intend to take part.  Also, Goku has been granted a 24-hour stay in Planet Earth to take part in the tournament.  The first part of this third arc features the junior division in which Son Goten and Trunks enter the tournament.  The second part features the main division which the Z-Fighters (Goku, Vegita, Piccolo, Krillin, No. 18, Gohan, Android 18 and Trunks/Goten in disguise) are taking part in.   But introduces two mysterious characters named Shin and Kibito which somehow scares Piccolo for some unknown reason.

And then there are other fighters who seem to have superhuman power levels and along with the two mysterious characters, the Z-Fighters must find out who they are and what is their scheme.


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 112 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Andrew T. Chandler (voice of Spopovich), voice of Kyle Ebert (voice of Gohan).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part One comes with a slipcover case.


With the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”, I really enjoyed the Great Saiyaman arc.  We watched little Gohan grow up and now he is a teenager and although he doesn’t know it yet, he has met someone he cares about and willing to help her no matter what.  The chemistry between Gohan and Bedil is just awesome and episodes just focusing on these two were just great.

Also, episodes featuring Goten and Trunks and seeing these two go against each other in the Junior Division of the World Tournament was fun to watch.

And of course, to see how everyone has changed.  Especially Krillin who is now married to Android 18 and both have a daughter.  Heck, Krillin now has hair!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series later episodes finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters ” part one is primarily the tournament battle, this time, the little ones, Goten and Trunks get in the action.  Of course, these episodes are a nice diversion before going full force with the Majin Buu arc that comes afterward.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

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