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Fairy Tail – Collection Nine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying! If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail – Collection Nine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: (Episodes 188-212) 625 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 5, 2017


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


The Grand Magic Games come to an explosive end as the Eclipse Gate opens and the unthinkable happens—dragons emerge! Hell-bent on destroying everything in their path, the guilds must band together to fight the most difficult battle they’ve ever faced. But who is behind the rampaging dragons and what dire news does he bring? It’s Dragons vs. Dragon Slayers as the present and future clash!


With Natsu and others frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, the Fairy Tail Guild must participate in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to decide who is Fiore’s strongest guild.

But as the fights continue, no one is aware of a conspiracy that is taking place and involves the Eclipse Project and may lead to the destruction of the Fiore Kingdom.

Find out what happens in Collection Nine of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 198-212) available now on Blu-ray + DVD from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

 


“Fairy Tail” Collection Five features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment. He is also gifted with other powers not yet revealed in the first volume of “Fairy Tail”.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray. She becomes great friends of Lucy but also her rival (thinking that Lucy is interested in Gray).
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 191 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Jim Foronda (voice of Toma/Mato).
  • Episode 196 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Kyle and voice actor/writer Aaron Dismuke (voice of Hibiki).
  • Guild Pride: Mermaid Heel – (6:39) Featuring an introduction to the all-female guild, Mermaid Heel.
  • Episode 200 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Lydia Mackey (voice of Ultear) and Newton Pittman (voice of Grayful Buster).
  • Episode 205 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Cherami Leigh (voice of Lucy).
  • Guild Pride: Quatro Cerberus – Featuring an introduction to the guild, Quatro Cerberus.
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version of the series (four DVD’s, four Blu-rays) plus a slipcover.


NOTE: It’s important to note that “Fairy Tail – Collection Five” consists of the same Blu-ray sets that were released in 2015 as “Fairy Tail vol. 17” and “Fairy Tail vol. 18”. So, this set incorporates both sets into the collection.

With “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine”, the episodes featured are season seven which focuses on other members of the Fairy Tail Guild having to take on challengers in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to determine the strongest Fairy Tail Guild.  While Fairy Tail Guild is no doubt one of the most powerful, unfortunately Natsu and others are frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, so they are unable to participate.

Fairy Tail takes on the Sever Tooth Guild and Hisui initiates the Eclipse 2, Eclipse Cannon and Future Lucy makes a great sacrifice, which leads to past characters meeting their future selves and a fierce battle which leads Natsu to take on Rogue, while Lucy tries to close the Eclipse.

Meanwhile, Lucy tries to summon the twelve Zodiac Spirits but why are their changes for the celestial bodies and the revelation of Frosch’s killer is revealed.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for four episodes and guild introductions.

Overall, “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying!

If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try.

Recommended!

Dragon Ball Super – Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

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


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 2

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 3, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

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

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel 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/Brad Jackson 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

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus 

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After reaching an alliance with Beerus, the world is at peace once again. But one of the Z Fighters is feeling restless—namely, Vegeta! The Saiyan prince seeks a new way to become stronger and wants to do so under Whis’ guidance. When Goku finds out they’ve left to train, he’s just as eager to join in.

While two of the strongest fighters train in another world, trouble stirs for planet Earth. The remains of a powerful force have started to gather, seeking revenge for their fallen leader—the wicked overlord Frieza! When evil takes on a new form with the force of 1,000 troops, can Gohan and the remaining Z Fighters take him on? Or will Frieza’s vengeance finally see the light of day?


With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired.  The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet.  Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” (episodes 14-26) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 –  The conclusion of the battle between Son Goku vs. Beerus.
  • EPISODE 15  – Aliens come to Earth and want their champion to fight against Mr. Satan.
  • EPISODE 16 – Krillin wants to start training again and Whis trains Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17  – The birth of Pan
  • EPISODE 18 – Goku and Whis arrive on Beerus planet to see how far Vegeta is with his training.
  • EPISODE 19 – Sorbet and Tagoma look for the Dragon Balls to revive Frieza.
  • EPISODE 20 – Frieza has been revived and wants revenge against Goku and Future Trunks.
  • EPISODE 21  – With Goku and Vegeta in Beerus’ planet, they are unaware that their friends and family are taking on Frieza’s soldiers.
  • EPISODE 22 – The fight between Piccolo, Gohan, Gotenks vs. Frieza’s soldiers.  Someone dies!

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – Bulma is able to communicate to Whis of what is happening on Earth and Frieza’s resurrection and Goku and Vegeta try to get to Earth as soon as possible.
  • EPISODE 24  – Goku vs. Frieza
  • EPISODE 25 – Frieza shows his transformation, Golden Frieza
  • EPISODE 26 – The fight between Frieza and Goku continues!

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native).  The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant.  Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes.  I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).  Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

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!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Watching Dragon Ball Super with Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair – (12:02) Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Whis) and hanging out at Brina Palencia’s apartment to watch “Dragon Ball Super”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 2 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 14-26.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs.  Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 2, we get the conclusion of season one.  But here we are with season two and with this storyline, we get a lot of humor as Chi-Chi is adamant of Goku not fighting, an alien race coming to Earth to challenge Mr. Satan and also Krillin and Gohan getting an itch to wanting to fight and get in battle again.  And as the storyline of Goku and Vegeta wanting to get stronger are part of these main episodes, the surprise is Frieza’s soldiers finding the Dragon Balls to bring his body back and Frieza then showing everyone his latest transformation to Golden Frieza.

And it’s no surprise to me, as I remember when the Frieza arc was taking place for “Dragon Ball Z”, his character was among the most popular in Japanese polls at the time and it was no surprise that we see the character back again and proving to be deadly (as another character dies) and difficult to take down.

While nearly all episodes of season two are featured (the conclusion is episode 27, which will be in part 3), this is no doubt a fun and action-packed collection of episodes and I’m glad that Funimation is releasing these regularly and hopefully we’ll get caught up with the Japanese releases (unlike “One Piece” which Funimation is still hundreds of episodes behind).

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Ian Sinclair, Jason Douglas and his three children to watch “Dragon Ball Super” at Brina Palencia’s apartment.  That was something new and different but major props as this idea was very cool and hope to see more like it from Funimation!

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

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

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three” is another action-packed but also a more serious and darker volume that explores the Fishman Pirates and the division between Hordy, Arlong and Tiger and how this hatred towards humans manifested to where it is today plus a death of a character.  If you are a One Piece fan, definitely watch this story arc and check out this latest volume of “One Piece” on DVD!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 541-552 (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: October 10, 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


Fish are not friends when they’re violent pirates!

Gathered in the tranquil Sea Forest, Luffy and his crew learn the history of Fish-men and their struggle against oppression. Back then, the queen of Fish-man Island called for peaceful talks with surface-dwellers while others sought vengeance for years of slavery at the hands of cruel humans. But with every step of progress, an unforeseen tragedy deepened the cycle of hatred. Now, ignited by the flames of the past, the New Fish-man Pirates continue their crusade and threaten anyone who dares to ally with humans. Swallowing a mouthful of steroid drugs, their bloodthirsty captain, Hordy Jones, becomes an unstoppable force ready to decimate the royal guard. Determined to save the island and his crew, Luffy makes a decision that could turn a good friend into foe.


Tiger has attacked Mariejois and Hordy and Arlong go to kill humans, despite Tiger’s objections.   As Arlong kills a marine, this puts him at odds with Tiger.

Tiger tells his Sun Pirates to not seek vengeance against humans and that violence begets violence but Arlong is not willing to listen and when a group of Marines led by Strawberry tragically wounds Tiger, this leads to Arlong vowing to return to Foulshoot Island to kill all humans.  Meanwhile Jimbei becomes a warlord.  And Hordy sends out a message that he will kill all fishman who is affiliated with humans.

All this and more in “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three”!

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 809 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 Three” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 541 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Amanda Lee (voice Queen Otohime) and Gabe Kunda (voice of Tiger)
  • EPISODE 543 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Chris Raeger (voice of Arlong).

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 552 Video Commentary – Video Commentary featuring Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Jim Foronda (voice Vander Decken) and Larry Brantley (voice of Hordy)
  • Textless Opening Song

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three”, the episodes continue the Fishman Island arc (featuring episodes 541-552). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

In this latest volume, the episodes featured are less about the Straw Hat Pirates but about the history involving Hordy, Tiger and Arlong.  How the war between the Fishman pirates versus the pirates took place and the division within the pirates about the murdering of humans.

And as Hordy issues this declaration, he plans to execute King Neptune, killing the Straw Hat Pirates including Luffy for defying Arlong’s ambitions and meanwhile, a joyful Princess Otohime has collected signed petitions from the Celestial Dragons supporting her cause and as she tries to get the island to sign the petition.  But tragedy strikes and a character is killed.

While I don’t want to spoil anything else, I will say that Hordy uses the character’s death to use on the citizens for his own agenda.  While Luffy is intent on rescuing his crew, this will set a precedence in which Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates on a collision course with the Fishman Pirates.

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three” is another action-packed but also a more serious and darker volume that explores the Fishman Pirates and the division between Hordy, Arlong and Tiger and how this hatred towards humans manifested to where it is today plus a death of a character.  If you are a One Piece fan, definitely watch this story arc and check out this latest volume of “One Piece” on DVD!

Puzzle & Dragons X Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Puzzle & Dragons Part X Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Director: Hajime Kamegaki

Series Composition: Dai Sato

Music by Kousuke Yamashita

Character Design: Yukiko Akiyama

Art Director: Akihito Ougiyama, Masanobu Nomura

Art Design: Toshiki Amada

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Chika Sakamoto/Tia Ballard as Devi

Takuto Yoshinaga/Josh Grelle as Ace

Tetsuya Kakihara/Justin Briner as Lance

Tomoko Kaneda/Alexis Tipton as Tamazō

Akeno Watanabe/Jamie Marchi as Herriot

Anri Katsu/Clifford Chapin as Tiger

Aya Hisakawa/Sara Ragsdale as Rena

Chisa Yokoyama/Greg Ayres as Sturgeon Jr.

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Stephen Sanders as Donny

Junko Minagawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Dafnes

Keiji Himeno as Yamaki

Marina Inoue/Dawn M. Bennett as Hal

Minoru Inaba/Charles Campbell as Vahaton

Miyuki Sawashiro/Monica Rial as Morgan

Takahiro Mizushima/Micah Solusod as Torlie

Tomokazu Sugita/Ian Sinclair as Nyudo

Wakana Yamazaki/Trina Nishimura as Eldora


Ace is an average boy until he hears his name being called by a mysterious egg. The egg leads him to discover the existence of Dragon Callers, humans who tame monsters into allies in their fight against evil. Does this average boy have what it takes to become one?


In 2012, Japanese video game company GungHo Online Entertainment created “Puzzle & Dragons” for the iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

The company would follow up with the game “Puzzle & Dragons X” (pronounced as “Puzzle & Dragons Cross”) for the Nintendo 3DS.  But to help promote the game, an anime adaptation was released a few weeks earlier by anime studio, Pierrot.

With a total of 66 episodes created and is still ongoing in Japan, “Puzzle & Dragons X” has been released on Blu-ray/DVD in North America with the first 13 episodes included in Part One of “Puzzle & Dragons X”.

The setting of “Puzzle & Dragons X” is in the land of Dragonzola and there are those destined to become Dragon Callers, mediators between humanity and nature.

The Dragon Callers can tame powerful monsters and control them through the use of Drops.  One day, the great dragon caller known as King disappeared and no one has heard of him since.

But his child Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller but he has a long way to go.  One day he discovers an egg and it happens to be a tamadra known as Tamazo.  Thought to be extinct, the only other tamadra is the arrogant yet loyal Devi, the partner of Lance, a mysterious and uncaring draganoid, who is on a mission.

When Ace starts to show he can control drops, he makes the decision to go on a journey to become a Dragon Caller and learn how to summon dragons and one day pass the training in order to become a Guild Dragon caller.

Along the way, he meets Charo, a man who keeps information on monsters and in-battle occurrences but also wanting to become a Dragon Caller.  A lot of people thinks he is a girl but he is actually a boy and together with Ace, they want to grow stronger.

And to their annoyance, they are sometimes accompanied by a Dragon Caller named Garnet, who is stubborn but yet dreams of becoming an idol.

Will Ace & Charo pass the test and become Guild Dragon Callers?


VIDEO:

“Puzzle & Dragon X” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The animation is vibrant and colorful.  Animation is well-done for this children’s anime series and for the most part, I saw no signs of artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Puzzle & DragonX” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.   The English soundtrack has a 5.1 soundtrack, while the Japanese has lossless stereo but for the most part, the lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


When it comes to anime series that are adaptations from a video game, you have your good series and your bad.  With the popularity of “Puzzle & Dragons”, the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS video game has no doubt lent to the popularity of the series in Japan.

With colorful characters and cute dragons, there is no doubt that many people had made comparisons to “Pokemon” and while the premise are almost the similar, with Pokemon about one wanting to become the best Pokemon trainer and going on adventures to become stronger and better, the same can be said with “Puzzle & Dragons X” as Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller and goes on adventures with numerous people.

The main difference is that there are mysterious characters and powerful Dragon Callers who assist or guide Ace and friends to become better and lead them on a path to hopefully pass their exam to become Guild Dragon Callers.  But it’s not going to be easy as Ace along with Tamazo and Charo will need to learn a lot with their interactions with people and find ways to be better.

So far, the first 13 episodes are entertaining and while rated TV PG, the series is no doubt an anime series targeted for children.  You have battles (instead of monsters vs. monsters, you often see people battling each other with their monsters and unlike Pokemon, the Dragon Caller can get hurt) and you have rude monsters but for the most part, there is nothing about this series that parents should worry too much about as the series is good-natured.

The anime series is vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and lossless soundtrack is well-acted for both the English dub and the Japanese soundtrack.  Unfortunately, there are no significant special features than the banal textless opening and closing songs.

Overall, “Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

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

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! 

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 529-540 (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: August 15, 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 rough landing on Fishman Island has scattered the Straw Hats throughout Ryugu Kingdom, but a good deed earns them an invitation to the royal palace. Everything goes swimmingly until a psychic’s prophecy turns the whole island against Luffy and the crew. Backs to the wall, their honorable hosts become their hostages, but the timing couldn’t be worse.


Hordy seeks revenge against Luffy for destroying Arlong’s ambitions and threaten to destroy the Ryugu Palace.  Meanwhile, what happens when the citizens of Fishman Island thinks that Luffy had kidnapped Shirahoshi?

Meanwhile, Zoro vs. Hordy and Luffy vs. Decken.

All this and more in “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”!

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 809 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 Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 532 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Doug Jackson (Minister of the Right) and Francis Fuselier (Minister of the Left).
  • EPISODE 534 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Larry Brantley (voice of Hordy) and Jim Foronda (voice of Decken).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Q&A Panel – (32:41) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio for the Q&A.
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”, the episodes continue the Fishman Island arc (featuring episodes 529-540). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

In this latest arc, things go a little troublesome for the Straw Hat Pirates as Sharley has a prediction that the island will be destroyed by Luffy.  And with this prediction, there is a feeling that the Straw Hats must be stopped.  So, the Minister of the Left accuses the Straw Hat Pirates for the conspiracy to destroy the island and to kidnap mermaids.

But from that prediction on, things go crazy as Hordy destroy Gyro’s ship and Hordy is intent in killing Neptune and making the fishman a superior race over humans.

Meanwhile, Vander Decken IX intends to marry the princess and in order to accomplish his plans and wanting Hordy to accomplish his goals, both fishmen form an alliance in order to destroy Fishman Island.

What will happen when Hordy and Decken come across the Straw Hat Pirates?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and the Q&A at Matsuricon 2016.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”!

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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